Posts Tagged ‘Dogs’

Say No To Pet Store Canines

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They are cute, and to some people, irresistible. Pet store puppies are placed in areas that are easy to access so those with interest in adopting them can play with them. This is part of the sales process. It is designed to pull people in, introducing them to puppies that need a home. But hidden behind the bright lights and cute, playful dogs are potential problems that may not surface until later.

A lot of professional trainers recommend staying away from canines sold through pet stores. But the reasons may be unclear. Below, we’ll present several compelling arguments for resisting the urge to adopt one.

Potential Health Issues

Most of the canines in pet stores arrive from puppy mills. These are facilities that are designed specifically to breed dogs. Very little care or attention is given to the health of the animals in the mill’s care. They live in unsanitary conditions, and often suffer from problems affecting their digestive systems, hearts, lungs, and other organs. Nutrition and veterinary care is a low priority for those who operate the mills.

The result of this attitude is that the canines often suffer severe health problems that cannot be easily resolved. Unfortunately, these issues are usually hidden from customers. In many cases, the employees at the pet stores are unaware of them.

Many people adopt dogs from the stores only to discover later that a major health issue exists. Sadly, some owners abandon the animals to shelters due to the costs of treating the issues.

The Pursuit Of Profit Over Breed Quality

Pet stores and puppy mills are focused on breeding as many purebreds as possible. Little attention is given to preventing genetic diseases from contaminating the breed. Instead, the emphasis is placed on profit. The more purebred canines, the more money the mills and stores will make. This is the reason many purebred dogs suffer from serious genetic problems, such as hip dysplasia, deafness, and a variety of recurrent skin diseases.

By contrast, when professional breeders produce canines, they dedicate themselves to keeping the breed clean. If they discover signs of genetic problems in a dog, the animal is prevented from contributing to future offspring. Here, breed quality is prioritized over profit.

Potential Behavioral Problems

Many of the animals found in puppy mills – and eventually, pet stores – suffer from one or more behavioral issues. The reason is because they have never had the opportunity to learn social signals. Nor have they been exposed to other people and animals outside the mill. In many cases, these puppies are taken from their mothers and littermates too early, depriving them of the chance to learn their first socialization cues.

When these animals are introduced to a home environment, they often become frightened and shy. If they are approached in a way that seems threatening to them, they may react with aggression. Pet store dogs can be trained to accept others, and respond with friendliness, but the training may require substantial time and patience on the part of the owner.

One notable problem involves housetraining. Under normal circumstances, a canine will avoid urinating and defecating where he sleeps and eats. However, dogs found in mills and stores are usually forced to do so. This makes it more difficult for their new owners to teach them appropriate elimination.

Save A Shelter Dog’s Life

Shelters are overcrowded. Animals that are not adopted are euthanized. According to the Humane Society, millions of would-be pets meet this unfortunate fate each year. When you adopt a dog from a shelter, you essentially save his life. On the other hand, when people buy canines from pet stores, they support and perpetuate the puppy mills.

Is it possible to adopt a healthy, socialized, and pleasant canine companion from a pet store? Yes. But given the risks involved, most people would be better-served by working with a reputable breeder, or visiting a local animal shelter.

May 12, 2011 |  by  |  Best Of  |  Comments Off

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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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