Archive for Pets

Finding the right Dog

English: Chesapeake Bay Retriever puppy (6week...I never had a dog as a child. I had three brothers and three sisters so my father was not to keen on another mouth to feed.

The first dogs I ever owned came with a seven acre horse farm we purchased in Virginia Beach. The owners moved out of state and “forgot” to take their two dogs.

Chessie was an aloft Chesapeake Bay Retriever who spent her days chasing ducks and birds, while Bobbi, the black Lab, spent his days swimming across Back Bay and hiking to the Ocean Beach at Sandbridge. Animal Control would arrest him for being a public nuisance and lock him up on a weekly basis.

Both dogs grew to love my ex-husband and tolerate me as I slowly learned the intricacies of dog ownership. Over the next several years we became a family and when we lost Chessie to Coon Dog fever I felt the empty space left in my heart.

A new baby and a move to a smaller lake house a hundred miles away meant that our Bobbie also made a move of his own to a friend’s farm where he would continue to have plenty of room to roam and new places to explore.

With a husband that constantly traveled and a new baby to care for, another dog was out of question. Besides, I missed Chessie and Bobbi and didn’t feel they could be replaced.

When my son was five, my ex-husband decided it was time to get him his first dog, of course I knew the dog wasn’t for my son but it was my ex’s way of getting a pet and having me take charge of caring for the pet. He chose a cute little German Sheppard puppy that quickly turned into a 100 lb rambunctious puppy. Samson was a sweet-heart, but it was obvious from the start, that he was not the right dog for a five year old. He found it amusing to tackle my son and his friends and treated them like toys. Even after some very expensive training, Samson had to be locked up in his pen whenever children were around.

Chasing the neighbor’s chickens, cars and anything that moved forced us to keep him penned up for his own safety. Somehow, Samson just didn’t seem to fit into our family.

It was very different when we found Bonkers, a tiny bundle of Shih Tzu fluff, we knew from the moment we met that he belonged with us. My son was eleven by this time and ready to care for a pet. Bonkers is a tough little guy that can take all the rough housing that a herd of pre-teens can dish out and still smart enough to run to Mommy when he’s had enough. He has even won over the cat.

I can’t tell you what dog is right for you, but I can give you some basic guidelines and tell you to follow your heart.

  1. If you have children, make sure you choose a child-friendly, size appropriate pet.
  2.  Wait until your children are the right age to care for a pet
  3. Puppies are like babies, so if you’re not prepared to put in the extra time, get an older dog.
  4. When buying a puppy, watch how the puppy interacts with his litter mates. You want the one that is not the leader or the wimp. The leader can often be more aggressive and challenge you or your children’s authority. This was our problem with Samson. He wanted to be “lead dog, alpha male”. A puppy that is wimpy and easily frightened can react with aggression out of fear.

I love having pets and can no longer imagine life without a dog in the house, but I do recommend that you take the time to find the “right” dog for your home and give them plenty of dog treats

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May 24, 2011 |  by  |  Pets  |  1 Comment

Key Considerations When Adopting A Canine For Your Children

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Left to their own devices, kids and dogs seem to gravitate toward each other. Both are curious and playful, and find mutual companionship easy and natural. For this reason, many parents of young children adopt a dog for their family, thinking it will provide their kids with the opportunity to enjoy a lifelong friendship. This is a good decision meant with the best intentions. However, there are several critical factors to consider before bringing a pooch home.

Below, we’ll explore the issue of adopting a canine for your children in more detail. We’ll explain the reasons large dogs are often a better choice for small kids. You’ll learn the importance of ongoing supervision and some of the drawbacks of adopting a puppy. Lastly, we’ll offer a few tips of encouraging your son or daughter to become a responsible pet owner.

Little Children, Big Dogs

Large breeds are less susceptible to injury than smaller breeds. Their bodies are bigger and capable of withstanding more pressure. This is important in the context of playing with young kids, because children often fail to realize how easily their actions can harm small canines.

For example, a Chihuahua might become injured if a toddler falls on him. A Papillon may suffer broken bones if a child accidentally steps on his paw. By contrast, a Great Dane or German Shepherd is practically impervious from any physical injury a toddler can cause.

Also, keep in mind that smaller breeds may feel more exposed to danger when a child is near them. If they feel threatened in any way, they might respond physically.

Making Sure Kids And Canines Behave

Even though a dog might seem completely docile and harmless, never leave him unsupervised with a baby. He may injure an infant without meaning to do so. Sometimes, canines will display aggression to babies because they feel their position in the pack’s hierarchy is at risk. Other times, they simply don’t realize how constant licking and nudging may harm an infant. Your presence not only serves as a reminder that you are the pack leader, but it also helps prevent any physical exposure that leads to injury.

As babies grow older and mature into toddlers, their activity becomes more difficult to monitor. Try to do everything possible to make sure you keep an eye on your little one and your dog at all times. Avoid leaving them alone together; young children can frighten canines and trigger a physical response.

Is A Puppy Appropriate?

Parents often think a puppy will make an ideal companion for their kids because they can grow up together. While this is true, puppies introduce other potential issues. First, like small breeds, they’re vulnerable to injury. Second, puppies tend to be rambunctious and unaware their claws can hurt a young child.

For most families with kids, an adult canine is a more appropriate choice. By the time a dog has reached one year in age, he is usually more calm and collected than in his youth.

Teaching A Child To Be A Responsible Pet Owner

Teaching kids to care for a dog is a balancing act. On the one hand, it’s important for parents to establish expectations regarding feeding, dog treats, walking, and meeting a canine’s basic needs. This is part of becoming a responsible owner. On the other hand, parents cannot simply leave the pooch in their kids’ care. Children become easily distracted. Unfortunately, this can lead to missed meals, accidents in the home, and other problems.

Create a schedule for your son or daughter that details specific tasks related to caring for your canine. Then, follow up with them on a regular basis to make sure they’re fulfilling their responsibilities.

A dog can make a wonderful companion for small kids. The friendship that emerges between them is a long-lasting and rewarding one. Review the factors above to help your children and canine get along and enjoy each other’s company.

April 16, 2010 |  by  |  Pets  |  Comments Off

Dog Owner’s Guide To Promoting Good Dental Health

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BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - MARCH 10: A Dogue de Bor...

Your canine’s teeth are susceptible to decay and disease in the same way as your own. The problem is, dogs are unable to brush their teeth and gums like people. As a result, your pooch relies on you to help maintain his dental health.

Sadly, most owners neglect to provide their pets with good dental care. Even worse, many are unable to recognize the warning signs of oral disease and tooth decay. With this in mind, we’ll provide a quick blueprint you can use to make sure your dog’s teeth and gums remain in good condition. We’ll describe some of the common signs of trouble and explain how to do a thorough job brushing his teeth.

The Sniff Test

Once a week, smell your canine’s breath. If it smells awful, it may indicate a problem with his oral health. Excessively bad breath in dogs is often caused by bacteria that has accumulated in the mouth. This bacteria may be a sign of gingivitis. It begins with the buildup of plaque, which gradually turns into tartar. This tartar eventually causes inflammation of the gumline, which sets the stage for gingivitis and causes bad breath.

It may be mildly unpleasant to smell your pooch’s breath, but doing so is worthwhile. This is one of the first signs of a dental problem.

A Visual Inspection

Visually inspect your canine’s teeth and gums at least once a week. You’ll need to pull back his lips and take a close look at the gumline. Look for pieces of food that have become stuck within small spaces. Make note of tartar that has formed on his teeth. Look for a pinkish hue to his gums. Redness is usually a sign of inflammation – as mentioned earlier, this suggests gingivitis.

Your pooch may initially resist your attempts to look at his teeth and gums. Be persistent. He’ll eventually grow accustomed to your weekly inspections.

How To Brush Your Pooch’s Teeth

If you have never brushed your dog’s teeth, you’ll need to acclimate him to the experience. Let him taste the toothpaste before you begin brushing. If he shows signs of disliking the flavor, switch to another.

You may also need to familiarize him with the sensation of having a toothbrush applied to his teeth and gums. Start by gently applying toothpaste with your finger (your finger is soft and won’t startle him). Gradually introduce the toothbrush by allowing him to lick the toothpaste off the bristles. Again, use a flavor he enjoys.

Once he has grown accustomed to the flavor and texture of the paste, and the feeling of the bristles in his mouth, begin brushing his teeth with gentle circular motions. Hold the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against his gumline. Doing so will help dislodge food particles while cleaning plaque from the surface. Go slowly to avoid startling your canine.

As you’re brushing, praise him for remaining still and calm. Your voice will be comforting to him, especially if this is his first time. The experience may not be particularly pleasant for him, but he’ll still enjoy having you nearby and hearing your praise.

Be Aware Of Possible Dental Disorders

Take the time to learn about the disorders and diseases that can affect your canine’s oral health. Learn how to spot plaque and tartar buildup. Learn to identify the signs of gingivitis and periodontal disease (i.e. redness, sensitivity to touch, etc.). Speak with your dog’s veterinarian regarding the type of dental care he or she recommends. Make sure oral examinations and routine cleanings are a regular occurrence.

Even though dogs rarely get cavities, they can suffer from the same dental disorders people develop. You can help keep these disorders at bay by regularly inspecting your canine’s teeth and gums, and brushing them daily. That’s the best way to protect his oral health over the long run. Also provide them with high quality dog treats to help with their overall physical and dental health.

April 6, 2010 |  by  |  Pets  |  Comments Off