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A Beginner’s Guide to Stand-Up Paddle Boarding With Your Dog

Image by Bill Reynolds via Flickr   A Beginner’s Guide to Stand-Up Paddle Boarding With Your Dog   Looking for something new to try with your dog this summer? How about stand-up paddle boarding (SUP)? There’s a lot to love about this increasingly popular water sport, and dog owners are catching on.    The next time you’re on the water, bring Fido along! Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a SUP newbie, this guide is for you.  Is stand-up paddle boarding right for my dog? The best part about SUP is that anyone—and any dog—can do it. That is, any dog who’s fond of the water. If your dog isn’t keen on swimming, paddle boarding may not be the ideal summer activity for him.    That said, there are ways to encourage your hesitant pooch to enjoy the water. While you should never force your dog to swim, a little coaxing never hurt anyone. Pick a practice site that’s calm and easily accessible to your dog—like a quiet beach or pond, if possible. Let your dog get used to the water on his own terms, and reward him with plenty of treats and praise afterwards.   Another consideration is your dog’s size. That’s not to say your beefy Boxer can’t learn to SUP—this sport is for small and large dogs alike. But you may need to go with a larger board. Most paddle boards can accommodate 200-300 pounds, so please shop accordingly.  The benefits of stand-up paddle boarding with your dog Image by Joyce Cory via Flickr   Aside from being a total blast, SUP offers a full-body workout for both humans and man’s best friend. Your dog will work his core and leg muscles while improving his balance (not a bad way to burn some calories, if you ask us).   Learning a new skill is also mentally enriching for your dog. SUP requires focus and practice, which can help ward off canine boredom and anxiety.    For most people, being on the water is the ultimate stress reliever. SUP is a relaxing and tranquil activity that will leave you feeling centered, refreshed, and at peace.    Perhaps the greatest benefit of stand-up paddle boarding with your dog is the bonding that occurs. As you and your dog work as a team to stay balanced, you’ll need to anticipate one another’s movements. Trust also comes into play, which acts as glue between a dog and his owner.    SUP boards are easy for your dog to access, and they provide him more freedom to move around than a canoe or kayak. With practice, the sport is fairly easy to pick up. It’s also the perfect activity when you’re trying to practice social distancing. What you need to SUP with your pup Image by Ralph Katieb via Unsplash   Getting into SUP shouldn’t cost you an arm and a leg. Here’s what you’ll need to get started.    Life Jackets: Even the strongest canine swimmers need to be suited up with a dog-specific PFD. Make sure the life jacket fits snugly, and let your dog try it on at home to get used to it ahead of time. Some jackets come with a handle on top, a handy feature if you ever need to lift your dog out of the water. The right board: To SUP with your dog, you need a stable board. Look for paddle boards that are longer and wider—aim for a minimum of 10 feet long and 32 inches wide. Weight is also a factor. A larger dog (or multiple small dogs) will require a larger board to keep from tipping over. Waterproof bag: If you’re embarking on a longer trip, you may need to pack some water, treats, bowls, and waste bags. A dry bag will protect your gear.  For best results, proceed slowly We know you’re eager to be on the water, but everyone will fare better if you ease your dog into the sport at his own pace.    Before hitting the water, let your dog become acquainted with the board and his life jacket in the comfort of your living room. Allow him to sniff and explore the board until he understands that it doesn’t pose a threat. Place some treats on the board to encourage your dog to get on it, and praise him when he does so. Same things goes for Fido’s life jacket: let him get comfortable with his new ensemble beforehand.   Once your dog seems at ease with things, it’s time for a dry run. Stand on the board with your dog as if you were on the lake, and practice paddling and rocking. After several practice sessions on dry land, your dog will be ready for the real deal.  Preparing for your first SUP excursion Image by Joyce Cory via Flickr   You’ve got your gear. You’ve practiced. Your dog is comfortable with the board. What next?   1. Master commands for getting on and off the board: A dog who dismounts as he pleases could make balancing on the water virtually impossible. Avoid getting tossed overboard by teaching your dog to get on and off the board on command.    2. Trim your dog’s nails: Because no one wants a scratched up paddle board.    3. Reward good behavior: For best results, use positive reinforcement to motivate your dog. Keep a stash of treats on hand, and reward your SUP pup for performing well.    4. Exercise energetic dogs beforehand: Feisty puppies aren’t exactly the best at sitting still for any length of time. Since the last thing you need is a hyper pup throwing you off balance, it’s smart to tire out your dog before getting on the water. Play a game of fetch, take a long walk, or go for a swim first.  SUP safety tips Image by Filios Sazeides via Unsplash   Here’s how you can keep your dog safe on the water.   Master your paddle board first: If you’re a newbie to SUP, give yourself time to become a confident paddler before inviting your furry friend to join. Dogs are natural empaths and if you’re uncomfortable, your stress could transfer to your pooch. Use sunscreen on your dog: Dogs can get sunburned just like humans. Apply a dog-specific sunscreen to protect him from the harsh rays reflecting off the water. Bring a first aid kit: For longer trips, a basic first aid kit is a smart thing to toss in your waterproof pack. Hose off afterwards: Since sand and salt can irritate your dog’s paws and skin, give him a good rinse after your trip.    One of the things we love most about SUP is that it encourages you to be “in the moment” with your dog. Free from outside distractions, you’ll be able to focus your attention on your dog and the task at hand. It’s a lovely way to spend a summer day, and we think your dog will agree!

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The 20 Best Dog Breeds for Runners

  Image by Leon Liu via Unsplash    The 20 Best Dog Breeds for Runners   Most dogs like to run. But if you’re looking for a dedicated jogging partner, some breeds will rise to the occasion more readily than others. Certain dog breeds are just born to run. Naturally athletic and built for endurance, these 20 dog breeds are well suited to folks who like to hit the pavement. Whatever your running style—marathon fanatic or sprinting superstar—there’s a dog breed on this list for you.    So, lace up your tennis shoes, and let’s get to know these impressive canine athletes.  1. Vizlas  Image by Andrea Arden via Flickr   According to the American Kennel Club, Vizlas are the quintessential canine athletes. These energetic powerhouses have both stamina and enthusiasm in spades. They’re also relatively easy to train, making them the perfect jogging companion for people who’re serious about the sport. These red-coated beauts also excel at jumping, retrieving, and navigating obstacles. 2. Rhodesian Ridgebacks Image by Janwiersma via Pixabay   For the Rhodesian Ridgeback, a steamy summer day is the perfect time for a run. Bred in Africa to hunt lions (yes, lions), this breed is accustomed to higher temps. If you live in a warmer climate, the Rhodesian Ridgeback will have no trouble keeping up with you. And for folks who like to change up their fitness routine, the breed is equally adept at swimming, tracking, agility, and hunting.  3. German Shorthaired Pointers Image by Harold Meerveld via Flickr   With muscular hindquarters and energy to spare, the German Shorthaired Pointer is a great match for dedicated runners. These strong and speedy athletes are built for endurance and can really go the long haul. GSPs love spending time outdoors, and they prefer to be near their favorite human as much as possible.  4. English Setter Image by Eddie Junior via Unsplash   The spunky English Setter will happily accompany you on your daily jog. These lovely dogs are as obedient as they are athletic, so training them should be a nonissue. Since the breed’s long fur is a magnet for unwanted burrs and brambles, steer clear of wooded areas and stick to groomed paths instead. 5. American Foxhound Image by David Fulmer via Flickr   These good-natured canines require a lot of exercise, making them well-suited to owners who don’t mind breaking a sweat. Known for their speed, American Foxhounds were originally bred to chase prey. As an added bonus, the breed’s short, no-fuss coat allows them to exercise in hot and cold climates alike. 6. Boxers Image by Alexas_Fotos via Pixabay   If you favor shorter sprints over marathon treks, a Boxer could be your new BFF. These popular pups are capable of reaching impressive speeds over shorter distances. If you’re looking to push yourself, however, a Boxer can be trained to cover more ground with proper conditioning. 7. Greyhounds Image by David Merrett via Flickr   The famously fast greyhound is a sprinting whiz. Built for speed, this graceful breed features shock-absorbing paw pads and long, lean legs. Sprinters by nature, Greyhounds need to build up to longer distances gradually. To start, keep your runs under one mile and increase the distance slowly.  8. German Shepherds Image by Vilve Roosioks via Pixabay   Daily vigorous exercise is non-negotiable for the German Shepherd. Large and agile, this intelligent breed is capable of some impressive physical feats, from long-distance running to tracking and herding. They also won’t complain about running in the cold.  9. Blue Heelers (AKA: Australian Cattle Dogs) Image by Kenny via Unsplash   These medium-sized herding dogs are natural-born runners. Blue heelers thrive when given a job to perform, so they’re the perfect partners for runners who need a little motivation. 10. Beagles Image by Arun B via Unsplash    If running short distances is more your style, the affable Beagle will gladly tag along. At 20-25 pounds these dogs are hardly tipping the scales, and yet they still require a minimum of 30-60 minutes of exercise per day. A Beagle is happiest in the company of his owner, so chances are he’ll be stoked to join you for a jog.  11. Malamutes Image by Samantha Kulpinski via Flickr   Love to run in the winter? The thick-coated Malamute might be for you. These stocky dogs were bred to carry heavy loads across icy terrain. While some breeds may balk at frigid weather, the Malamute gladly embraces it. These dogs will surely face the elements with you, without protest.   Other cold-weather breeds who love to run include the Siberian husky and the Finnish Spitz.  12. Labradors Image by Rudy and Peter Skitterians via Pixabay    Lean yet sturdy, the labrador retriever makes an excellent running buddy. This breed is capable of hitting high speeds on a quick dash as well as enduring longer runs. They’re also intelligent and fairly easy to train.  13. Weimaraners Image by Martin Tajmr via Pixabay   The long-limbed Weimaraner is a favorite among runners. The breed features a muscular build, energetic personality, and the ability to run both short, high-speed sprints and long-distance treks. The Weimaraner’s short, low-maintenance coat is a boon to runners who live in hotter climates.    Weimaraners are fearless, trainable, and tend to get along with just about anyone. They can navigate difficult terrain with ease, and they desire to spend time with their owner above all else.   14. Portuguese Water Dog Image by Rachel via Flickr   With his signature curls, the robust Portuguese water dog certainly stands out. This affable breed is always eager to get in a workout—especially with their favorite human. An athlete to his core, the Portuguese water dog also excels at obedience, tracking, agility, and dock diving.  15. Standard Poodles Image by NandaArt via Pixabay    Poodles can be unfairly pigeonholed as stuffy divas, but the truth is, these spunky pups are anything but dainty. Poodles are playful, energetic, intelligent, and obedient dogs who prefer runs that are long and slow.  16. Jack Russel Terriers Image by Michael Frascella via Flickr   He may be on the smaller side, but the Jack Russel Terrier is remarkably athletic and zippy. These tiny bundles of energy are scrappy and upbeat, and they can endure surprisingly long runs. Jack Russels make ideal partners for active people with a sense of adventure.  17. Dalmatians Image by Nick Fewings via Unsplash   Originally bred to run alongside horse-drawn carriages in Victorian England, the Dalmatian has running in his blood. These dignified dogs feature strong hindquarters, a graceful gait, and incredible stamina.  18. Border Collies Image by Jacqueline Galand via Pixabay    You’ll need to keep your running shoes handy with a Border Collie around. These workaholics thrive when given a job to do and they make superb running buddies. Nimble and agile, Border Collies are also pros at agility.   19. English Springer Spaniel Image by TheOtherKev via Pixabay   Don’t underestimate the athletic prowess of this sweet-faced breed—the English Springer spaniel may surprise you with his running abilities. These dogs crave companionship and regular exercise, and they’re best suited for attentive, active owners.    20. Fox Terrier Image by AHLN via Flickr   If a smaller dog is more your style, consider the Fox Terrier. Endlessly perky and bred with the stamina to participate in hours-long foxhunts, this breed will be happy to exercise with you.   Running with your dog is a great way to encourage bonding while staying in tip-top shape. A dog can also provide the nudge you need to get motivated and hit the track. Happy trails!

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How to Choose the Best Toys for Your Dog

How to Choose the Best Toys for Your Dog Are you in the market for a new dog toy but overwhelmed with all the options out there? We hear you, we do. With so many dog toys available today, it’s easy to find yourself utterly baffled in the aisles of your local pet boutique. Plus, what if you buy something Fido has zero interest in? There’s nothing more disappointing than a dog who prefers to play with a ratty pair of socks over the latest canine gadget you just threw 30 bucks at.  The thing is, different toys suit different dogs. When it comes to dog toys, you’ll need to consider your pup’s age, breed, personality, energy level, and chewing habits. Balls. Chew toys. Peanut butter-filled Kongs. Timeless classics (we’re looking at you, squeaky teddy bear) or trending up-and-comers (have you seen these pet fitness robots? Wild.) Whatever your pup’s preference, we’re here to help you narrow down your hunt for the perfect dog toy.  But first, let’s explore why your dog needs toys in the first place.  How do toys benefit my dog?  Toys are more than just amusing novelties—they provide the stimulation your dog needs to stay mentally sharp and engaged. Without adequate mental stimulation, a frustrated and bored dog may resort to undesirable behaviors like chewing the LazyBoy cushions or yowling non-stop. Nobody wants an unhappy pooch with poor manners. As such, toys are a necessity, not a luxury.  Interactive dog toys alleviate boredom, promote weight management, and relieve stress. They’re also a good way to promote bonding and can help ease separation anxiety.  Sold? Us too. Now that we’re clear on the importance of dog toys, let’s dig into some canine favorites.  Balls and Retrieval Toys Ah, the quintessential dog toy. If your dog is especially fond of fetch, a glow-in-the-dark ball means you can get in a game right before bedtime. Have an eager chewer? Choose a ball that can stand up to the abuse. Kong balls are durable and should be able to withstand the most aggressive chompers.  Be sure to choose a ball that’s the right size for your pupper. It should be small enough to fit comfortably in your dog’s mouth and large enough that it doesn’t become a choking hazard. Tennis balls work for most dogs, but keep in mind they aren’t particularly durable.  For the less athletic among us, Chuck-Its are a great way to extend your throw. They’re fun to use, and your dog will be able to clock in more steps.  Frisbee is another canine classic. You can’t go wrong with this sturdy Kong flying disc, which should be able to endure some major chewing.   Chew Toys Image by Anna Dahlhaus via Pixabay Not all chew toys are created equal. And since chewing is just a natural part of being a dog, you’ll want to provide your pup with some quality chews that can hold up under pressure.  When it comes to chewies, size matters. Too small, and you’ve got a choking hazard on your hands. Too large, and your dog may find it uncomfortable to chew. Take note of your dog’s chewing style as well. Is she an aggressive chewer or more of a dainty nibbler? The former would benefit from a tough and sturdy chew toy, while the latter could get by with something softer.  What about rawhides? Safe or off-limits? Vetstreet has this to say: “it depends on the individual dog.” Heavy-duty chewers who inhale their food should steer clear, as they can break off choking-size chunks during a chewing frenzy. Contamination is also of concern. If the rawhide was processed under less stringent protocols, it could contain trace amounts of toxic chemicals or be contaminated with Salmonella or E. coli.  Even so, many dog owners think the benefits of rawhides outweigh the risks. As PetMD points out, rawhides help your dog maintain his dental hygiene by removing plaque and tartar buildup. They can also strengthen your dog’s jaw.    Plush Dog Toys Image by Marieke Koenders via Unsplash Is there anything cuter than a dog snuggled up to her favorite plushie? We think not. However, adorable though they are, stuffed toys usually have a short lifespan. Since active chewers can tear apart a stuffed teddy in minutes, it’s not a bad idea to supervise your dog with plush toys. You know, to avoid a living room filled with stuffing entrails.  Opt for toys made specifically for dogs without any plastic pieces or ribbons that could be tempting to your undiscerning pooch.  Puzzle Feeders and Treat-Dispensing Dog Toys Give your dog’s brain a workout with a challenging puzzle toy that will test his wits and determination. Puzzle feeders are a great way to keep your dog’s cognitive skills up to par while channeling his energy in a positive way.  The built-in reward system of treat-dispensing toys makes them a hit with most dogs. As your dog tries to figure out how to access the treats inside, he’ll be flexing his mental muscles—and he’ll have fun doing it!   Rope Toys and Tug-of-War Toys Image by Kongerdesign  via Pixabay Maybe your dog is into a little competitive tug-of-war. If so, braided rope toys are sure to please. These popular dog toys are great for chewing, playing fetch, or boisterous games of tug-of-war.  If your dog is a heavyweight, choose a tug toy that can hold up to his strong pulling. It should be comfortable for you to hold in your hands and for your dog to grip with his teeth. Once your dog’s rope has reached the end of its days (ie: it’s a frayed and worn-out pile of threads), it’s time to toss it. Loose strands can wreak havoc on your dog’s digestive system if they’re swallowed.    Water Toys Image by Patrick Hendry via Unsplash Some dogs can’t get enough of the water. If this sounds like your pup, he would surely appreciate some floating toys to spice up pool time. Look for toys made specifically for this purpose, to ensure they won’t sink or fill up with water. And always, always rinse them after playtime to prevent mold from developing. Crush canine boredom with a monthly pet subscription box Want to take the guesswork out of things? It doesn’t get easier than signing up for a monthly pet subscription box. These popular pet delivery services ship regular parcels to your pooch, filled with high-quality items hand-picked by industry experts. Some offer healthy, organic treats and others donate a portion of their proceeds to dog rescues. And they can save you money too! Intrigued? Check out the ever-popular BarkBox, which offers customized goody boxes, or Pet Treater, which has a “toys only” option for subscribers.  Additional dog toy tips Here are a few more tips to keep your dog safe and happy with his new toys.  1. Get the right size It’s simple: large dogs need larger toys, and small dogs need smaller toys. Toys that are too teeny can become lodged in your dog’s throat, and toys that are too large…well, those are no fun at all.  Your chewy labrador, for instance, should avoid toys with itty-bitty pieces that could break off and be swallowed. A teeny chihuahua, on the other hand, needs a toy that’s small enough for him to carry around with ease.  2. Recognize potential choking hazards Be careful with damaged toys, or toys with tiny pieces that a strong chewer could break off.  3. Supervise playtime with new toys If you’ve just gifted your dog a new chew toy, observe how he handles it before leaving him to his own devices. This way you can determine whether or not the toy is safe for your dog—or if you need to find an alternative.  4. Discard old, broken toys Damaged toys are dangerous toys, as they can cause choking or other intestinal complications. Dog toys aren’t meant to last forever. When they begin to break down after heavy use, it’s time to say goodbye. 5. Rotate your dog’s toy once a week To boost the longevity of your dog’s toys, The Humane Society of The United States recommends rotating them on a weekly basis. This has the added benefit of keeping things fresh and exciting for your furry friend.  A dog just isn’t the same without his toys. Does your four-legged pal have a favorite? We want to hear all about it!

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Dog Barking 101: Why Your Dog Barks—And What You Can Do About It

Dog Barking 101: Why Your Dog Barks—And What You Can Do About It Dogs bark. It’s what they do. And while this fact may be widely accepted among dog owners, it doesn’t make living with a relentless yapper any easier.  Because non-stop barking can send even the most unflappable person perilously close to the edge, we decided to round up some expert advice on the matter. And, thankfully, we found there’s more than one way to curb excessive yowling.  But before we get to the solutions for incessant barking, it’s helpful to understand why our dogs bark in the first place.    Why does my dog bark? Image by Greg Newman via Pixabay One word: communication. Just as humans use language to convey information, our dogs bark to “voice” their feelings and needs. Barking is your dog’s way of expressing joy and fear. It’s how he announces the mailman’s arrival, or tells you the water bowl needs filling. It’s how he requests more treats or asks for more bellyrubs. As such, barking is a fundamental canine behavior. One that you can’t (and shouldn’t!) try to stamp out entirely.  With careful observation, you should be able to pinpoint the why behind your dog’s barking, which will help you determine whether any further action needs to take place. Here are six common reasons your dog might be barking.  1. He’s scared Is your dog on the jittery side? A high-strung pooch who’s easily startled may resort to barking as a fear response. According to PetMD, fear-based barking is usually deeper and long-lasting. Watch your dog’s body language, too—a lowered head and a tail tucked between his legs could indicate a dog who’s feeling vulnerable.  2. He’s bored or lonely Dogs get bored just like people do. If left alone all day, an under-stimulated dog may turn to barking as an outlet for his frustration. Naturally, many pet parents aren’t aware their dog is barking all day (unless an affected neighbor brings it to their attention). To that end, a pet camera can come in handy. Setting up a camera allows you to monitor your dog during the workday, so you can observe what kind of barking he might be doing. 3. He suffers from separation anxiety Many compulsive barkers suffer from separation anxiety. According to the ASPCA, this type of barking is usually accompanied by at least one other symptom, such as pacing, depression, destructive behavior, or potty accidents.  4. He’s being territorial Does your pup’s inner watchdog come out every time someone approaches your home? A dog who barks at perceived threats may be acting on his canine instinct to defend and protect his home turf. If you think this applies to your dog, look for alert posture and aggressive body language.  5. He wants something Sometimes, barking is just your dog’s way of asking for something: a treat, another round of fetch, a potty break, your attention, even. While this type of barking is fairly innocuous, PetMD warns dog owners to be careful about giving in to their pup’s every whim. If your dog is rewarded with treats every time he barks, it will only reinforce this bad behavior.  6. He’s playing Barking isn’t always indicative of something negative—dogs also bark when they’re excited or happy. Just as an exuberant toddler howls with giddy excitement at the playground, our canine pals can get extra barky during playtime.  Playful barking tends to be higher-pitched and is common among puppies and younger dogs. And unless it escalates into headache-inducing territory, this type of barking isn’t worrisome. It’s just how your dog expresses happiness in his uniquely canine way.   How much barking is TOO much barking? And what’s normal?  Image by Robert Gramner via Unsplash The truth is, you’ll never be able to completely silence your dog’s barking—nor should you. Barking is a healthy way of communicating and allows our dogs to express their needs and emotions. The key is to distinguish ordinary, communicative barking from excessive, nuisance barking.  Which, yes, can be tough. At what point does ordinary canine vocalization tip over into maddening nuisance barking? When is barking acceptable, and when is it time to intervene? This can be a hard line to draw. To determine the appropriate level of barking you should allow, it helps to nail down the reason behind your dog’s chattiness. A dog who barks when the doorbell rings isn’t really cause for concern. A dog who barks because he’s anxious and lonely, on the other hand, requires some attention.  That said, there are times when “demand barking” is warranted. For example, a puppy in potty training may bark or whine when he needs to go outside. And since we’d rather listen to a little barking than clean up yet another accident, this type of barking is more positive than it is negative. Your neighbors should also factor into the equation. If you live in an apartment building where neighbors are just a thin wall away, consider asking nearby residents if your dog’s barking is an issue. After all, they’ll have a better idea if your dog is barking all day while you’re at work. If you find that your dog’s barking is bothering neighbors, or that it appears to stem from negative conditions, don’t lose hope! It’s no small task, but there are ways to minimize your dog’s excessive nuisance barking.  Here’s our guide to putting an end to over-the-top yowling, whining, and yapping. (You’re welcome.)   How to stop nuisance dog barking Image via Pixabay If your dog is giving his vocal cords a daily (or hourly) workout, here are some tips for adjusting his volume dial.  1.Ignore the barking While it may seem rude, The Humane Society of the United States assures us: it’s perfectly OK to ignore your dog’s nuisance barking. You’ll need to be persistent for this to work. If your dog is vying for your attention, ignore his barking until it stops.  And when we say “ignore” we mean IGNORE. As in: no touching, no eye contact, no interaction whatsoever. Any amount of attention bestowed upon your dog is giving him exactly what he wants, which only enforces the behavior. When your dog realizes that nothing good will come of his barking and he decides to relent, reward him with a treat. 2.Block his view of potential stressors You know what they say: out of sight, out of mind. The same applies to certain barky dogs. You can curb territorial or alarm barking by 86-ing anything your dog might see as threatening. Close the blinds, turn up the TV or radio to drown out outdoor sounds, and move furniture that gives easy access to windows.  A dog who can’t see outside “threats” won’t bark at them. 3.Exercise your dog Since exercise tends to relax our canine counterparts, it’s a great way to reduce barking. A dog who’s pleasantly tuckered out will be less likely to bark out of boredom or frustration.  4.Bust boredom with toys or puzzle feeders Boredom and barking often go hand-in-hand. Combat your dog’s urge to bark all day by providing him with a variety of interactive and mentally stimulating toys. Treat-dispensing toys are a great way to keep your dog entertained while you’re away at work. 5.Plug in a calming pheromone diffuser If separation anxiety or stress is triggering your dog’s barking, dog-calming pheromone diffusers might be the answer. Studies have shown that the use of synthetic dog-appeasing pheromones (DAP) is effective at eliminating undesirable behaviors, including barking.  You can purchase a plug-in pheromone diffuser, or pick up a pheromone spray or collar.  6.Work on your dog’s social skills If your dog’s social skills are rusty, he might develop the tiresome habit of barking at unfamiliar people and pets. To discourage this behavior, the American Kennel Club recommends making it a priority to socialize your dog. Introduce him to the neighbors, the mailman, the friendly Boxer across the street. Don’t forget to reward your dog’s positive interactions to reinforce this behavior. 7.Teach your dog a “Quiet” command  If your dog’s penchant for barking is spiraling out of control, it’s essential to teach him to be quiet on command.  How, exactly, do you accomplish this? The experts at DogHealth.com offer these guidelines for keeping the peace: Teach your dog the command for “speak”—No, that’s not a typo. Believe it or not, your dog will need to master speaking on command before he can learn the command for “quiet.” (Here’s a handy guide on training your dog to “speak,” in case he hasn’t mastered that one yet.)When you’re ready to start training, give your command for “speak,” and let your dog bark for a moment.  Give your “quiet” command—While your dog is barking, use your command for “quiet” (“hush” or “enough” are also acceptable). Use a kind but firm tone.  Utilize treats—Place a tempting morsel near your dog’s sniffer. When he stops barking to smell the treat, reward him with a tasty bite.   Be consistent—Practice makes perfect, so continue with these lessons until they sink in. Eventually, your dog will learn to button up when you say so. Barking is one of those canine habits we’re not particularly keen on. But with patience, persistence, and (in some cases) professional help, it’s something you and your dog can work on together.When you’ve reached your barking limit and you’re ready to hire a local trainer to help with training, Grumble Dog has your back. With thousands of local pup professionals, you’ll have no trouble finding the perfect fit. 

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Summer Camp for Dogs: 7 Unforgettable Camps to Take Your Dog this Summer

Summer Camp for Dogs: 7 Unforgettable Camps to Take Your Dog this Summer Many of us have fond memories of summer camp: swimming in the lake, hiking along woodland trails, munching on s’mores by the bonfire. The only thing that could improve those idyllic summer nights? Your dog, of course! Much to our delight, more and more dog-centric camps are springing up across the U.S. These camps have it all: swimming, agility, training, crafts, and campfire howl sessions. Guests make lifelong memories, learn new skills, and deepen the bonds they share with their pups.   Soak up the dog days of summer at one of these paw-some summer camps for dogs.   1. Camp Dogwood—Highland Park, Illinois Camp Dogwood was the brainchild of two long-time friends who found it increasingly hard to find dog-friendly spaces in the Chicago area. By combining their shared love of the outdoors, camping, and spending time with their precious pooches, the founders set out to create a special retreat for dogs and their owners.  Camp Dogwood seeks to promote human-canine bonding through educational programs and fun activities. The camp offers agility courses, core conditioning, group hikes and swims, and dog yoga. Guests can also participate in dog treat-making and the camp’s “Night Howl Campfires.” Sessions are offered in the spring, fall, and winter.  Schedules vary from session to session, so check their website to plan your stay.    2. Camp Gone to the Dogs—Front Royale, Virginia Image by Christoph Wesi via Unsplash Pixabay Operating since the ‘90s, Camp Gone to the Dogs  is considered the “Original Dog Camp.” This groundbreaking site is located in the lush countryside of Front Royale, Virginia, and it’s a great place to meet other dog-lovers.  The folks at Camp Gone to the Dogs are pretty clear about their love for all things canine: “Our camps are a celebration of dogs and all the ways they bring joy into our lives.” As such, the camp offers a range of activities and seminars for attendees—from agility and “scent fun” to barn hunts and lure coursing.  Need to work on your dog’s manners? The camp includes obedience and behavior classes led by professional trainers who stick with positive training techniques. They can also help your pup get into agility, even if he’s a first-timer.   3. Canine Camp Getaway—Gettysburg, PA & East Durham, NY Canine Camp Getaway is the ultimate dog-lover’s retreat. With a June session hosted at their Pennsylvania site and a September session set in the Adirondacks of NY, this unique dog camp really pulls out all the stops for their canine (and human) guests.  The motel-like accommodations feature basic amenities such as air conditioning, private baths, cable, and mini fridges. Meals are included, and well-behaved dogs can even join their owners at the camp’s outdoor dining area. Guests of the camp have their pick of enriching activities. Choose from doga (dog yoga), hiking, agility training, and yes, even freestyle doggy dancing. Lounging poolside is another a popular favorite. Oh, and don’t fret if your dog has never tried agility before—at Canine Camp Getaway, all experience levels are welcome.  Channel your crafty side at the camp’s “Barks & Crafts,” or give Fido’s sniffer a workout at a scent detection workshop. The camp also hosts costume contests, movie nights under the stars, and a fun-filled yappy hour.   4. Dog Scouts of America—St. Helen, Michigan With agility courses, water sports, and obedience training, there’s something for everyone at the Dog Scouts of America Camp. This camp is on a mission “to improve the lives of dogs, their owners, and society through humane education, positive training, and community involvement.” To that end, we think they’re absolutely crushing it.  One of the most unique features of this camp is their use of canine merit badges. Designed to encourage canine socialization, this goal-oriented aspect of the camp is a fun way to work on your dog’s skills in things like obedience and community service. Show off your hard work by displaying your badges on your dog’s backpack, crate, or travel carrier.  At the Dog Scouts of America, you won’t find breed discrimination of any kind. All dogs are welcome, provided they pass a test (along with their owner) to demonstrate their responsibility and good manners.  Please note: due to Covid restrictions, the Dog Scouts of America is postponing their summer 2021 camp.   5. Camp Unleashed—Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, & Georgia Image by Eric Sonstroem via Flickr At Camp Unleashed you can spend four lovely days with your pup in the picturesque countryside. As a guest at one of the camp’s three stunning locations, you’ll have the opportunity to participate in an array of dog-approved activities while meeting like-minded dog-people.  Camp Unleashed caters to every type of dog personality, from high-octane puppies to more leisurely senior dogs. As their website puts it: “There’s a lot to do or nothing to do—it’s completely your choice.”  And they’re not kidding when they say “there’s a lot to do.” This camp boasts a plethora of outdoor activities for Fido, including water sports, canoeing, flyball, scent-tracking games, and dock diving. You can brush up on your dog’s freestylin’ moves with musical freestyle training or try out agility courses with expert trainers as your guide. Blow off steam solo or in a group by exploring the camp’s miles of scenic hiking trails.  Itching for something new? Attend a nutrition class, or try your hand at dog portraits (non-artists are just as welcome to participate!) The camp also offers arts-and-crafts, canine massage, and daily wine and cheese hour (ok, we’re in!)   6. Yellowstone Dog Sports—Roberts, Montana Image by Jimmy Conover via Unsplash Featured in TIME and Modern Dog magazine, Yellowstone Dog Sports is one getaway you and your dog won’t forget. Set in the gorgeous wilderness of Montana, the camp spans 90-acres and boasts scenic hiking trails and tranquil swimming ponds.  What can you expect to do on your stay? For starters, you can get in some cardio and experience the majestic Montana landscape on a dog-friendly nature walk. Then take your pick of canine nutrition seminars, agility courses, freestyle lessons, and obedience classes—all with experienced instructors. Your dog can also brush up on his tracking skills or participate in flyball or dock diving.  Interested in something a little different? How about sheep herding practice. That’s right—the camp provides sheep just for that purpose. And if you’re looking for something completely out of the box, Yellowstone Dog Camp even offers reiki energy work and homeobotanical healing.  Please note: Yellowstone Dog Camp is booked for 2021. Check out their website for future camp dates.    7. Wild Blue Dogs—Lake Tahoe, California Wild Blue Dogs is the ultimate interactive camping experience for dogs and their owners. At this all-inclusive camp on Lake Tahoe your dog can go kayaking or paddleboarding, practice his nose-work skills, or participate in dog therapy training. Wild Blue Dogs also offers courses in pet photography, grooming, nutrition, positive training, and animal massage. And bonus: all profits go towards canine cancer treatment and research—something we’re happy to support. The benefits of attending summer camp with your dog are many. Plus, it’s just plain fun! For more tips on vacationing with your dog, check out our posts on planning a roadtrip with your dog and flying with your dog.

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11 Cold Weather Safety Tips to Protect Your Dog this Winter

For pet owners who live in colder climates, winter can present some serious challenges. From blinding whiteouts to perilous ice patches, your dog has a lot to contend with when braving the elements at this time of year. Your dog is counting on you to keep her safe, so it’s important to ask yourself—are you doing everything you can to keep your dog healthy and happy this winter? We’ve rounded up some cold weather safety tips to help you answer that question. Take a gander and see which practices you’ve already adopted, and which ones you need to work on.   The “DO’S” of Cold Weather Dog Safety Via Pixabay 1. DO humidify your home You’re not the only one afflicted with alligator skin in the winter—as the humidity outside plummets and we steadily crank up our furnaces, your dog may also experience dry and itchy skin. To keep him (and yourself!) comfortable, The ASPCA suggests running a humidifier in your home during the dryer months. Another way to combat flaky, chapped skin is to serve your dog supplements or treats rich in fatty acids. This option provides a natural way to alleviate your dog’s dry skin while maintaining the health of his coat. Talk to your vet about ways to introduce these fats into your dog’s diet. 2. DO protect your dog’s feet Via Flickr/Wonderlane Even though our dogs’ paws are designed to withstand stress, there’s still a limit on how much they can handle. It’s critical that pet owners pay extra attention to their dog’s feet in the winter months.  There are several ways you can do this: Make it a habit to wash and dry your dog’s feet (and stomach, while you’re at it) after every walk. Take special care to remove any ice or salt that’s clinging to her paws or in between her toes.  After you’ve cleaned them, examine your dog’s paw pads, keeping an eye out for cracks, redness, or bleeding. Use petroleum jelly or paw protection wax to provide a barrier between your dog’s feet and the frozen ground. More of a DIY-er? The American Kennel Club offers this tutorial for a simple paw balm you can make on your stovetop. If your dog will tolerate them, booties are a great option. They go a long way towards protecting worn out paws, and they’re beyond adorable. Win-win. Stash baby wipes in your pocket during winter walks. You can use them to wipe off stinging sidewalk salt. In extreme weather, you may need to shorten your daily walks. Fido will forgive you, I promise! Also, pay attention to your dog’s behavior: if he’s favoring one paw, or avoiding placing weight on it, it’s time to head inside.  3. DO use pet-friendly products One easy way to help protect your dog’s paws: ditch harsh sidewalk salt, which can cause major irritation. Opt for paw-friendly ice melts, instead. Another thing to be mindful of is your car’s antifreeze. Pets are drawn to its sweet taste, but this stuff is highly toxic. If you have a spill, wipe it up immediately. You may even want to consider using a safer type of antifreeze that contains propylene glycol instead of the more harmful chemical, ethylene glycol. 4. DO modify your dog's calorie intake The cold is a serious energy-sapper. And since her body will be burning more calories to keep itself warm, your pup may need more food during the winter. Your vet can help you determine if an extra scoop of kibbles is a good idea.

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6 Healthy Valentine’s Day Dog Treat Recipes for Your Special Pup

Is there a special canine in your life that you want to celebrate this Valentine’s day? There’s no better way to show your pooch a little extra love than with a delectable homemade treat. Which is why we’ve scoured the internet to bring you some amazing Valentine’s Day healthy dog treat recipes. Virtually foolproof, these dog treat recipes are beginner-friendly, even for someone who can’t distinguish a sifter from a whisk. (Trust me—I’m no baker, but I’d try my hand at any one of these.) All it takes to whip these up is a little bit of effort and a few wholesome ingredients that you probably already have stocked in your pantry. They’re healthy. They’re fun. They’re crazy delicious! (at least, your dog will think so.) Now, that’s what I call love! 1. Heart-Shaped Beet Treats Photo by FOODISM360 on Unsplash Kait over at Habits of a Modern Hippie brings us these darling red heart-shaped doggie treats that will have your pup licking his chops with excitement. The crimson color of fresh beets makes this healthy veggie a no-brainer when it comes to Valentine’s Day. Plus, the beets lend a natural sweetness to this treat. This recipe is sure to score you major brownie points with your favorite pup! Best thing about them? They only require four ingredients. That’s right. Couldn’t be easier. Oh—and they freeze well. So double up, and stash some away for a rainy day. Ingredients: 2 ½ C Whole Wheat Flour2 Large Eggs1 Large Beet, cubed½ C Peanut Butter Instructions: 1. Preheat oven to 350°F2. Process the cubed beet with the eggs, until well-blended3. Add peanut butter to the mix and process until fully incorporated4. Slowly add flour, and process in increments until the mixture is completely blended (feel free to add a small amount of water if needed)5. Dump out the mixture and knead well. Roll out the dough to your desired thickness, and use a cookie cutter to cut out heart shapes7. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and bake for 20-25 minutes 2. Apple and Peanut Butter Hearts Image by Ylanite Koppens from Pixabay Get your dog’s tail wagging with a batch of these scrumptious apple-filled Valentine treats. Seriously, you can’t go wrong when peanut butter’s involved! This wholesome and healthy dog treat recipe is adapted from The Itsy Bitsy Kitchen. Ingredients: ⅔ C grated apple1 ¼ C whole wheat flour (plus, more if needed)1 C all-purpose flour (plus, extra for dusting)3 tbsp flax seeds (finely ground)¾ C warm water⅔ C creamy peanut butter Instructions: 1. Preheat oven to 350°F2. Squeeze excess moisture from the grated apple with a paper towel3. Combine both flours with flax seed in a mixing bowl4. Add water and peanut butter. Stir with hands until combined5. Add grated apple and knead the dough until all elements are fully incorporated6. Roll out the dough and use a cookie cutter to cut out desired shapes7. Bake 26-30 minutes, until treats are a light, golden brown 3. Healthy Cranberry Valentine Treats Image by dapuglet from Flikr Nothing says Valentine’s Day like a fresh batch of cranberry-filled treats. The folks over at Pretty Fluffy came up with these irresistible Cranberry hearts as the perfect way to show your pup how much she’s loved. Ingredients: 2 eggs1 ½ C almond flour1 Tbsp coconut oil3-4 Tbsp coconut flour½ C dried cranberries Instructions: 1. Preheat oven to °325 F2. Beat the eggs, and set aside3. In a bowl, combine the flour, coconut oil, and cranberries4. Using your hands, combine the eggs into the mixture until the dough comes together (it will be pretty wet)5. One tbsp at a time, add in the coconut flour. Aim for a consistency that is both easy to roll and not too sticky. The dough should easily form into a ball.6. Roll out the dough and use a cookie cutter to punch out cute shapes7. Place cutouts on a parchment-lined tray and bake for 15-18 minutes (or until crisp) 4. Carrot Oat Applesauce Treats Image by pasja1000 from Pixabay Tracy over at Baking Mischief has developed a simple but satisfying healthy dog treat that’s just perfect for Valentine’s Day. With just four ingredients, you can make some of thee yummy love tokens too! Ingredients:½ C quick oats½ C unsweetened applesauce½ C (about 1 large) carrot, finely grated½ C all-purpose flour Instructions: 1. Preheat oven to 350°F2. Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl3. Using a spoon, drop spoonfuls of mixture onto a parchment-lined baking tray4. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until the treats are firm and crispy. Pro tip: When stored in the refrigerator, these treats keep for 5-7 days 5. Doggie Conversation Hearts Image by samdogs from Flikr Who doesn’t have fond memories of this saccharine-filled Valentine staple? Love em’ or hate em’, there’s no denying that Valentine’s Day just isn’t the same without a little box of conversation hearts. This dog-approved version is brought to you courtesy of The Dapple. Biscuit ingredients: 1 C plain pumpkin puree1 C whole wheat flour1 C cornmeal⅓ C peanut butter Icing Ingredients: ½ C dehydrated yogurt¼ C arrowroot starch¼ C tapioca flour¾ C waterFood coloring of your choiceEdible marker Instructions: 1. Preheat oven to 350°F2. Add pumpkin puree, flour, cornmeal, and peanut butter to a large bowl and mix until smooth3. Roll dough out onto a floured surface (it should be approx. ¼” thick), and use a cookie cutter to punch out your cookies (heart or bone shapes are perfect!)4. Bake for 20-25 minutes (you’ll know they’re finished once they begin to turn golden) To make the icing: 1. Whisk together dry ingredients2. Slowly stir in water until the icing is smooth (reminiscent of Elmer’s glue)3. Color with food coloring4. Allow cookies to cool completely, then cover with a smooth layer of icing5. Let the glaze harden for a couple of hours before adding your cheeky phrases to the cookies with your edible marker 6. Pink Strawberry Frozen Yogurt Treats Image by PactoVisual from Pixabay If your dog’s a fan of ice cubes, here’s a frozen treat he’ll love. This recipe from Sparkles to Sprinkles is so easy, it’s kind of ridiculous. Live in a hot climate? These make killer summer treats as well. Instead of using sugar-laden flavored yogurt, this recipe calls for fresh fruit to bring a touch of sweetness into the mix. Ingredients: 2 C sliced strawberries1 ½ C banana1 C plain Greek nonfat yogurt Instructions: 1. Purée all three ingredients in a blender until creamy2. Pour the mixture into 2 ice cube trays and freeze for at least 4 hours3. Once frozen, pop the treats out and store in a freezer Ziploc bag for up to 3 months Easy peasy! If you’ve ever dismissed making homemade dog treats as just another tedious, time-consuming chore, perhaps it’s time to reconsider. They’re easier than they look! Using accessible, ordinary ingredients, dog lovers can churn out these tasty treats with minimal time and effort. It’s just one more way to shower your dog with love this Valentine’s Day. Not ready to venture into the realm of cooking dog treats?  No Problem! Check out the highest rated pet stores in your area from Grumble Dog.

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Spay and Neuter Awareness Month: Everything You Need to Know

We all recognize February as a month for “puppy love,” but did you know it’s also Spay and Neuter Awareness Month? This timely awareness campaign is one answer to the surge of puppies and kittens that will enter animal shelters during the spring and summer months. Spaying and neutering are the most effective tools we have to combat pet overpopulation. Not to mention, these operations offer a tremendous number of medical and behavioral benefits for both dogs and cats. Still on the fence? Let’s take a look at some commonly held myths surrounding pet sterilization and get the story straight. 5 Myths about spaying and neutering debunked Image by Sven Lachmann from Pixabay Myth 1: “Neutering (or spaying) my pet will make him fat.” When it comes to weight gain, sterilization is not to blame. The true culprits of a pudgy pup are overeating and a lack of exercise. Keep your dog trim with daily walks and regular playtime. Your vet can help you determine how much food your pet needs to maintain a healthy weight. Myth 2: “I can’t afford such an expensive operation.” The cost of a neuter or spay operation is more affordable than you might think, usually falling somewhere in the range of $35-300. There are a number of programs that will perform the operation at a discount—or even free! When you consider the expense of caring for an accidental litter, the one-time cost of a spay or neuter operation is unquestionably preferable. If you are looking for a low cost spay or neuter clinic in your area – check out the resources on Grumble Dog. Myth 3: “Sterilization will destroy my dog’s ‘masculinity.’” It’s easy to assign human emotions and thoughts to our pets. But the reality is, dogs don’t have a sexual identity the way humans do. Trust us, they aren’t going to miss their testicles. Myth 4: “Sterilization will change my dog’s personality.” Your dog’s personality is largely determined by genetics, so removing his reproductive organs won’t affect his friendly disposition or his protective instincts.    Myth 5: “My pet stays indoors, so spaying/neutering isn’t necessary.” Pet overpopulation aside, neutering or spaying your dog brings with it a host of health benefits that can’t be overlooked. Studies show that dogs who are “fixed” enjoy a longer lifespan than those who are not. Spaying your female dog also reduces her risk of uterine infections as well as certain types of cancer.  Myth 6: “The operation causes unnecessary pain, and I don’t want my pet to suffer.” No one wants their pet to suffer needlessly. But when you weigh the pros against the cons, the choice to spay or neuter wins every time. Plus, your dog will receive pain medication prior to and following surgery to minimize his or her discomfort. Follow your vet’s instructions for administering meds to keep your pet as pain-free as possible.   5 Benefits of having your dog spayed or neutered Conscientious pet owners will be happy to hear that a spay or neuter operation is a surefire way to improve their pup’s health and happiness. Read on to learn all the ways your dog can benefit from this procedure. 1. Cancer Prevention We all want to give our pets the best chance of a long, healthy life, and sterilization is an excellent way to achieve this. Spaying your female dog will greatly reduce her risk of developing ovarian and breast cancer. In males, the operation eliminates the risk of testicular cancer. Not a bad bonus. 2. Keep your pet from roaming A dog looking for a mate will stop at nothing to achieve that goal. This includes jumping fences and bolting if he’s allowed off-leash. Don’t let this happen! If your dog gets loose, there’s a world of trouble he can find himself in such as encounters with unfriendly dogs (or people) and traffic injuries. Having your dog spayed or neutered will drastically reduce his likeliness to roam, keeping him right where he should be—safe at home with you. 3. Improved behavior A better-behaved pup? Yes, please. Neutering your dog will make him less aggressive and less prone to mark his territory (ie: urinating all over your home.) 4. It helps your entire community A dog on the loose can be a real nightmare for your neighborhood. WebMD points out that roaming dogs can cause car accidents, attack wildlife, damage local fauna, and scare children, so you’ll be doing your community a service by having your dog spayed or neutered. 5. It reduces pet overpopulation Unplanned litters account for a high percentage of the millions of pets entering shelters each year. A simple spay or neuter operation will go a long way towards reducing these numbers. 5 Ways you can fight dog overpopulation Photo by Anoir Chafik on Unsplash Want to help, but unsure how to do it? There are a few easy steps you can take to help combat the pet overpopulation crisis. Here are a few ideas to get you started. 1. Spay and neuter your pet Not to beat a dead horse, but having a pet spayed or neutered is the number one way to reduce the staggering number of animals that enter shelters every year.  2. Don’t intentionally breed your pet Sure, we all love cuddly puppies and kittens, but there are already so many out there without a loving family to take care of them. Even if you find a home for your pet’s entire litter, those puppies are taking homes away from shelter animals who desperately want to be rescued. Please don’t take away their chances of being adopted.  3. Adopt your next pet from a shelter Instead of shopping around with breeders or pet stores, check out your local rescue shelter when you’re ready to bring home another pet. Even if you’re looking for a purebred dog, there are plenty of breed-specific rescue organizations out there for you to explore.  Grumble dog is an excellent resource for finding a shelter or rescue in your area that will meet your needs.  4. Don’t intentionally breed your pet We can’t stress this enough: adopting a pet is a lifelong commitment. It’s not something you can abandon once the thrill of a cute puppy wears off. Be sure you’re fully prepared to care for your dog for his entire lifetime, no matter what changes life might throw at you. 5. Spread the word! Educate your children, friends, family, and co-workers about the harsh realities of pet overpopulation and the importance of neutering and spaying. The simplest way you can do this is by sharing this post with your online community. All it takes is one easy click. It’s that simple. According to the ASPCA, over 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized in the United States each year. If that stat doesn’t sit well with you, do something about it! Even if it’s just a simple Facebook post, you’ll be doing your part to keep animals out of shelters and placed in loving fur-ever homes.

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The Ultimate Guide to Finding a Good Dog Trainer

Selecting a dog trainer can be a bewildering task—you want the very best for your dog, but in an industry that is largely unregulated, how do you separate the pros from the quacks? In honor of dog training education month, we’re bringing you some solid advice on how to choose a dog trainer who’s right for you AND your dog. But first things first: let’s take a look at why you need a professional trainer in the first place.   Why you need a dog trainer (even if you don’t think you do) Image by pasja1000 from Pixabay It’s time to change the way we think about professional dog training. Rather than a luxury reserved for pampered pooches, every dog owner—and every dog—can benefit from working with a pro. If you’re concerned that hiring an outside trainer reflects poorly on your own dog-rearing skills, please set those fears aside. Working alongside a professional dog-trainer in no way implies failure on your part. On the contrary, it shows your willingness to invest in your dog’s well-being.   Reasons to hire a dog trainer: You’re a first-time dog owner, and you’d like someone to hold your hand through the daunting process of puppy training  You want to address some bad habits, like your dog jumping on guests or begging Your dog has stopped following commands, and he needs a refresher You want to socialize your dog Benefits of hiring a professional dog trainer: You’ll be a more confident dog owner It will strengthen your owner/dog bond You’ll learn how to communicate more effectively with your dog You’ll get an objective, outside opinion—your dog trainer can help you spot problems or interpret your dog’s behavior in a new way   Where to find a reputable dog trainer  Image by roy3004 from Pixabay As you can see, there’s no denying the benefits of a good dog trainer. But where do you begin your search? Some ideas to get you started: Ask for recommendations from your family and friends Check with your vet for a reputable trainer Your groomer can be a good source for names Ask around at places where like-minded dog owners can be found—the dog park or pet supply store, for instance Check out the directory compiled by the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT), or search for local trainers at The Association of Professional Dog Trainers. As you gather recommendations, highlight the ones that have some credentials attached to their name. While there’s no standard certification required for dog trainers in the United States, certification through an organization like the CCPDT is a pretty good indicator that a trainer takes his profession seriously. A trainer who invests in keeping up-to-date with the latest research on dog behavior demonstrates passion for the field—and that’s just what you want.   Be clear on what you want from a trainer Photo by Jeffrey F Lin on Unsplash There are several different formats dog training can take, and every trainer offers different services. Before you commit to a trainer, figure out exactly what you want by asking yourself the following questions:  Do you want to participate in group classes, or do you prefer one-on-one lessons? Do you mind taking your dog to a facility for training, or would you prefer to have a  trainer come to you? Are you interested in general training or are you looking to address a specific behavior? (if it’s a specific problem, you can look for an expert who specializes in that area) What’s your budget? Some trainers will charge more than others, depending on what services they offer. Private, in-home lessons, for instance, will cost you more than group classes at a facility.   7 things to ask prospective trainers Photo by Arseny Togulev on Unsplash So, you have your list of names. You’re clear on what you want. Time to make sure you and any prospective trainers are on the same page. Here are some questions you can ask a potential trainer to help you make your decision. Be sure to ask your trainer about their preferred training philosophy. The American Kennel Club recommends going with a trainer who uses positive reinforcement. By the same token, the CCPDT warns dog owners to steer clear of trainers who use techniques based on dominance or submission. Run—don’t walk—from any trainer who is still using antiquated punishment-based methods. Ask about their credentials and/or experience. Some trainers will have an academic background, while others may have gained their skills during an apprenticeship. Both are valuable. Even better? Trainers who are actively furthering their education with ongoing courses. This shows commitment to understanding the science behind canine behavior, and it’s a trait you’ll see in the best dog trainers. Ask for references from other clients to get a feel for how other people have felt about the trainer’s work. Speak with the trainer to make sure you’re comfortable with her. Since you’ll be working together quite closely, a trainer’s people skills are just as important as her understanding of dog behavior. Ultimately, the trainer is teaching you how to train your dog. She must be able to communicate clearly and demonstrate techniques so that you can repeat them at home with ease. If she’s rude, unclear in her instructions, or makes you feel uneasy—find someone else. Ask if you can observe a class before you commit to working with a trainer. Pay special attention to the other dogs and their owners in the class—do they look happy? Does the trainer get easily flustered, or is she generally calm, cool, and collected? Observing a class can give you a good sense of how the trainer approaches dog training, and allows you to make an educated decision about enrolling your pup. Look for a trainer who encourages family involvement. A good trainer is willing to work with all members of a dog’s family, including children. If you can, opt for a trainer who’s willing to be accessible after formal training ends. If a concern arises or you need clarification on something, you’ll be more at ease knowing there’s someone you can call. Image by StockSnap from Pixabay A good trainer can make all the difference when it comes to your dog’s behavior. Whether you need to brush up on some basic commands, or you want to address a troubling obedience issue, a pro can guide you through the process. If you’re still on the fence, remember: hiring a trainer can only strengthen the bond you have with your special canine. And, really, you can’t beat that.  Be sure to check out the Grumble Dog App to locate professional dog trainers near you. 

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Dog Grooming 101: From Nails to Hair, Get Your Pup Cleaned Up

Grooming your dog is a vital part of being a good dog owner. And while dogs vary in their grooming needs, every dog can benefit from regular upkeep. Proper dog grooming helps keep rogue dog hairs under control, prevents tangles, maintains your dog’s glossy coat, minimizes offending pet odors, and helps strengthen the bond you share with your dog. With a little preparation and a fair amount of patience, you can get your dog looking (and smelling) his best. Here’s the low-down on how to groom your dog—the right way. Five signs that your dog needs grooming Unsure if your pooch needs a little primping? Look for these 5 telltale signs. Image by Jakob Strauß from Pixabay 1. His fur is matting Some dogs are more prone to mats than others, particularly long-haired dogs and heavy shedders. These unsightly tangles aren’t just a cosmetic issue, though. Mats can trap dirt and debris, which hurts your dog’s skin while introducing diseases. As Preventative Vet points out, heavily matted fur can also throw your dog’s temperature off-kilter. The best way to avoid mats? You guessed it: regular brushing. 2. His coat is dull, dry, or itchy When you neglect your dog-brushing duties, dead skin can build up, which makes poor Fido itchy and miserable. Plus, his coat will lose its lustrous sheen, becoming dull and discolored. Brushing regularly helps to distribute the natural oils produced by your dog’s skin, keeping his coat healthy and shiny. Image by Mylene2401 from Pixabay 3. His fur has pests! This one might be obvious, but if you spot any unwelcome pests lurking in your dog’s fur, his coat needs some attention. Evict those nasty creepy-crawlies with the appropriate treatment to keep your dog comfortable and avoid a full-blown house infestation (yikes!) 3. His fur is dirty Again, we may be stating the obvious, but if your dog’s fur has become home to bits of dirt, rocks, and grass—it’s grooming time! One important thing to note: you don’t need to wait until your dog has filthy, knotted hair before you groom him. Regular brushing is a great way to bond with your dog since it requires trust and closeness. Plus, a lot of dogs actually enjoy a good brushing session. So get to it! Tools of the trade: 6 basic grooming tools every dog owner should have Image by Pexels from Pixabay While you don’t need a fully stocked salon, there are a few grooming products you can pick up at your local pet store that you should get your hands on to keep your dog looking his best. Brushes and combs: A simple Google search will yield brushes upon brushes for you to choose from. So, which brush do you actually need? Consider your dog’s hair type, and go from there. Long-haired dogs will benefit from a slicker brush (breaks up tangles) and a wire pin brush. For short-haired dogs, stick with a bristle brush, which works well for most hair types. Definitely get yourself a flea comb. They can’t eliminate an infestation, but they’re a handy tool for detecting and removing fleas. Detangler:  Make sure you only use spray detangler intended specifically for dogs. Human detanglers can cause adverse skin reactions on your pooch. Dog shampoo: Never use your own shampoo on Fido—it will dry out his skin! Nail Trimmers: There are 4 basic kinds to choose from. Plier-style clippers: best used for large dogs that require more force to trim their thick nails. Guillotine clippers: work exactly how you’d expect. Insert nail into hole, and slice. Scissor clippers: since they don’t have a spring, these trimmers work best on small dogs with thin or delicate nails. Grinder tools: The American Kennel Club recommends grinder tools for dogs who won’t tolerate clippers. Another useful product to have if you intend on trimming your dog’s nails yourself: styptic powder. This stuff helps stop nail bleeds if you cut too close to the quick (the part of your dog’s nail that contains nerves and blood vessels). Electric dog hair clippers: while not all dogs need to be trimmed regularly, some dogs will benefit from the occasional shave. Ask your vet or a professional groomer to help you select the appropriate blade for your dog’s coat. Pro tip: For cutting out matted fur, use electric clippers—NEVER remove them with scissors. Otherwise, you risk cutting your dog’s skin! Dog toothpaste and toothbrush: don’t forget about those pearly whites! Just like humans, dogs can be afflicted with cavities, gum disease, and plaque buildup. Aim for a minimum of three weekly teeth brushing sessions. Just don’t use human toothpaste—it can give your dog a major bellyache. Brushing basics: tips for keeping your dog’s coat in tip-top shape Photo by Anniina Rutatnen on Flickr First, let’s talk about why you need to brush your dog on a regular basis: Brushing removes dirt and debri from your dog’s coat It removes loose, dead hair, reducing the amount of fur that ends up on your clothes, sofa, and carpets Grooming stimulates oil production and distributes the oils throughout his coat, keeping it healthy Regular brushing helps you familiarize yourself with your dog’s body, so you’ll notice any concerning lumps that might form It’s a pleasant way to bond with your dog Convinced? Great. Now we need to ease your pup into a regular brushing routine. Start slow, and allow your dog to get acquainted with the process gradually. Ray Truting, a professional groomer based in Connecticut, offers this suggestion to PetMD: try brushing for a few minutes several times a week to build up to longer sessions. Offering positive rewards doesn’t hurt either. How often do you need to brush your dog? It depends. Every breed has different brushing requirements, but most dogs need to be brushed at least once a week. Long-haired breeds, dogs with thick, double coats, or dogs with silky hair will need more frequent brushing—sometimes daily! Tips for bathing your dog Photo by Aqua Mechanical on Flickr Our top bathing tip: don’t over do it. Not only is frequent bathing unnecessary for your dog, but it also removes important oils from his skin. This will leave your pooch itchy and miserable. For the average healthy dog, a few yearly baths ought to be enough to keep him fresh and relatively odor-free. Before your dog makes his big splash in the tub, be sure to brush his coat. Focus on combing out any mats—once those get wet, they’re a nightmare to deal with. Brushing also keeps your dog’s coat cleaner in between baths. Place a bath mat or towel in the bottom of your tub to make the surface less slippery. Another tip offered by PetMD: dilute your dog’s shampoo to make rinsing a breeze. When it’s time to rinse, be thorough! Shampoo residue will leave your dog’s fur looking dull. No one wants that. Tips for cutting or shaving your dog’s hair Image by Manfred Antranias Zimmer from Pixabay When does your dog need a haircut or shave? Look out for the following signs: Heavily matted hair usually needs a cut A coat that looks unhealthy or untidy could benefit from a trim Dogs with hair that tangles frequently may require a cut If your dog can’t see because his bangs have covered his eyes: definitely a time to break out the trimmers Only trim a dog who is clean and dry. It’s best to shave your dog in a quiet area free from distractions that could startle him. Using a sharp blade kept flat against the skin, start at your dog’s neck and work your way down. You may want to check the blades for heat occasionally to prevent accidental burns. Uneasy about taking on this daunting task yourself? Don’t feel bad about handing it off to a professional groomer. It takes practice and experience to approach this part of grooming with confidence. Tips for trimming Fido’s nails Image by ulisesbeviglia from Pixabay Do your dog’s nails announce his presence with a distinct clicking sound every time he enters a room? If the answer’s yes, it’s time for a nail trim. Generally, your dog will need his nails trimmed every 1-2 months. Neglecting to trim your dog’s nails puts him at risk for painful paw injuries. Plus, long nails can damage furniture or cut your own skin. For dogs with white nails, trim until you see the quick. If your dog has black nails, err on the side of caution by clipping off a little at a time. When the center of the nail appears white or gray, stop trimming. It’s also important to use sharp sheers and to clip without hesitation to ensure a clean cut. Like trimming or shaving your dog’s hair, if you’re uncomfortable with clipping his nails, consider leaving this job for the pros. There are trained professionals who do this for a reason! Alternatively, you can ask your vet to show you how to clip your dog’s nails during his next checkup. One of the most important things to keep in mind when you’re starting out: take your time! Let your dog adjust to your new grooming routine at her own pace—trust me, you’ll both be happier.

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Should Dogs Sleep in Your Bed?

If you share a bed with your dog, you’re in good company. Nearly half of Americans report that they sleep alongside their beloved pet. But for every fan of co-sleeping is another pet owner who wouldn’t dream of letting their dog join them in bed. It’s a topic that dog owners love to debate. And, as with most things, there’s a positive—and a not-so-positive—side to consider. Only you can make the final decision on your dog’s sleeping arrangements. We’ve rounded up some of the pros and cons of co-sleeping with your pooch so you can make the choice that’s best for both of you. The pros of sharing a bed with your dog First, let’s examine the positive side of sleeping alongside your dog. 1. Your dog will keep you warm Photo by Claudia Mañas on Unsplash Ever hear someone refer to a bitterly cold night as a “three dog night?” This phrase was coined in reference to the Australian Aborigines who slept alongside their dingos to stay warm on freezing nights in the outback. Of course, we’re not braving the elements while we sleep, but if you’re looking to slash your heating bill, cozying up to your dog can be just the thing. Dogs have a higher body temperature than humans, so they make pleasantly warm sleeping buddies. It’s like having a fuzzy, heated blanket to cuddle with. You can’t beat that! 2. You’ll sleep better A recent study conducted by the Mayo Clinic found evidence that people who co-slept with their dogs actually experienced a higher level of sleep efficiency than those who did not. By monitoring the sleep patterns of both human and canine participants, researchers determined that co-sleeping can actually improve our sleep quality. 3. You’ll feel safe and secure Having a dog present while you sleep is undeniably comforting. No matter his size, a protective watchdog can alert you to any potential intruders, allowing you to rest easy through the night. People who live alone may find the extra sense of safety that their dog provides is well worth the trouble of sharing a bed. A 2018 study published in the Anthrozoos Journal turned up some interesting findings about women who co-slept with a dog: by and large, the women reported that they felt greater security sleeping next to a dog than they did with a human bunkmate! 4. Your stress level will decrease Photo by Irina on Unsplash Did you know that pet ownership comes with some serious health perks? It’s true—dogs (and cats) are top-of-the-line stress relievers. Just being around a pet can lower both your blood pressure and cortisol level (stress hormone). Cuddling your dog at night is a great way to capitalize on his stress-minimizing skills. Being close to your canine companion will boost your flow of oxytocin, making you feel relaxed and calm. 5. You’ll bond with your dog We all know that dogs are pack animals. Hence, their preference for sleeping in cozy heaps together. Co-sleeping with your dog is a fantastic way to reinforce the bond you share. Sleeping together is also a great way for your dog to display his complete trust in you: since dogs are most vulnerable during sleep, a dog who sleeps with you is confirming your status as “one of the pack.” 6. You’ll make-up for time spent at the office Piggybacking on our last point, co-sleeping with your dog can be a great way to get some extra time in with him. Most of us spend 8-10 hours per day away from our pets—and sleeping with your dog helps to fill in those gaps. Between the pre-snooze cuddles and the early morning wake-up kisses, you’ll enjoy plenty of quality Fido time. 7. It will make you a morning person (hopefully!) Photo by Ryan Stone on Unsplash Up and at ‘em! A doggie roommate won’t be shy about letting you know when it’s time for his morning walk. Be prepared for a friendly onslaught of licking and pawing until your feet hit the floor. For those of us who need a little persuasion to get out of bed, this can be a welcome source of motivation. The cons of sharing a bed with your dog Of course, bunking down with a dog isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Check out these potential downsides to sleeping next to your dog. 1. It can interrupt your sleep If you have a fidgety, restless sleeper on your hands, sharing a bed might mean fewer zzzz’s for you. A yappy guard dog or a dog who snores like a freight train could seriously hurt the quality of your sleep. I think it’s safe to say that most of us have experienced the havoc that a compromised sleep schedule can wreak on our overall health and happiness. If this is you: perhaps it’s time to train Fido to sleep in his own quarters. 2. You could lose valuable bedroom real estate Photo by Cheryl Senko on Unsplash There’s also the issue of space. If you have a large dog, you could end up with a itty-bitty sliver of mattress to sleep on. Just something to think about. If you are worried about your dog being comfortable, you can find mass produced and even custom dog beds at local pet stores. 3. It could interfere with your romantic relationship Although some people may find this hard to believe, not everyone loves dogs. It’s important, therefore, to consider your partner’s feelings towards canines. If he’s less than thrilled to share your bed with the dog, things could escalate into a serious case of resentment down the line. Plus—there’s no getting around it—having some extra company in bed usually translates to less spontaneous bedroom activity. Total buzzkill. 4. You could be inviting fleas to the slumber party Fleas, ticks, worms, parasites—dogs can bring home all kinds of unwelcome critters. Letting your dog sleep in your bed carries the risk of a full-blown bedroom infestation. But, for the most part, this doesn’t need to be a top concern. As long as your dog is in good health and is up-to-date on vaccinations and vet visits, the risk of him spreading an illness to you is very low. The one exception is anyone who suffers from a weakened immune system. For cancer patients, HIV patients, and transplant recipients, PetMD advises against co-sleeping with a pet. 5. You’ll have extra laundry duty Even the tidiest pooch carries some unwanted dirt around. Be ready to wash your sheets more frequently. And for pet owners of heavy shedders (we’re looking at you, Golden Retrievers) a hair-filled bed takes on a whole new meaning. 6. Your allergies could get worse Photo by Martin Behrendt on Unsplash Allergy-sufferers, be warned: sleeping next to your dog could send your allergies into overdrive. Even if you’re not allergic to pet dander, your dog is likely to carry dust and pollen into bed with him. If sneezing and sniffling all night long isn’t your idea of a good time, you may want to reconsider your position on canine co-sleeping. 7. You may need to deal with some potty accidents All puppies have accidents—it’s just a part of puppyhood. But accidents on your lovely duvet cover? Ghastly. Especially if it requires a steam cleaning mattress service. Incontinence can also become a problem with senior dogs, so just keep that in mind. In the end, it all comes down to personal preference. You could read all the studies in the world on the topic, but if you and your dog are happy with your current sleep arrangements, there’s no need to change things up. There’s zero harm in letting your dog join you in bed, as long as you’re both comfortable and able to get adequate rest. You’ll need it once your loveable, furry alarm clock wakes you up with all the early morning puppy kisses.

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14 Surprising Foods Your Dog Should Never Eat

Most of us know that dogs can’t eat chocolate or grapes, but are there other human foods that they should avoid? As a nod to National Poison Prevention Week (March 15-21), we’re looking at some common human foods that can be dangerous or potentially toxic to our canine companions. It can be hard to say “no” to those pleading puppy eyes, but if you want to keep your dog healthy, you’ll need to keep him away from a number of ordinary kitchen staples. Read on to discover which foods you may need to be more careful with around your dog. 1. Onions and garlic Photo by Shutterbug75 via Pixabay While beloved by most home cooks, members of the onion family are off the table for dogs. Alliums like chives, leeks, onions, and garlic can severely damage your dog’s red blood cells. Even onion powder or juice can be dangerous. The most toxic of these plants is garlic, which can cause anemia in dogs. The AKC points out that symptoms of garlic or onion poisoning in dogs may be delayed, so it’s important to be extra vigilant if you suspect your dog may have helped himself to a little garlicky snack. Watch for vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, stumbling, loss of appetite, and dark urine. 2. Raw bread dough If you have an avid baker in your household, make sure Fido doesn’t have easy access to any raw bread dough. According to WebMD, if a dog consumes raw yeast dough, the gas that’s produced could yield some serious health complications. Keep any raw dough out of reach, as it can expand and essentially twist or tear your poor pup’s stomach. If you suspect your dog has eaten raw dough, watch out for the following symptoms: a swollen belly, yelping when you touch his stomach, loss of appetite, or a dog who avoids lying down. 3. Macadamia nuts While nuts may be nutritious and sustaining for us humans, for dogs it’s a much different story. The American Kennel Club warns pet owners of the dangers Macadamia nuts pose for our canine companions stating, “these are some of the most poisonous foods for dogs.” This nut can cause vomiting, a spike in temperature, lethargy, and most alarming—an inability to walk. The AKC also warns that Macadamia nuts can wreak havoc on a dog’s nervous system. 4. Ice cream Photo by Christian Bowen via Unsplash Ok. So maybe this one doesn’t exactly qualify as “surprising.” Nevertheless, ice cream warrants a place on this list. Because in the dog days of summer, nothing’s more tempting than a creamy, cold vanilla custard (or chocolate…we all have our favorites.) How can you not want to share a spoonful or two with your furry friend? It’s tough, I’ll be the first to admit. But, unfortunately, ice cream is a big no-no for dogs. All that sugar is no good for your pup. Interested in an alternative? Refresh and reward your dog with some frozen fruits like berries or pineapples as a special treat. It will cool him down while satisfying his sweet tooth. 5. Bones There’s nothing more familiar than a dog enjoying a bone. But experts warn: don’t give your dog leftover chicken bones from last night’s roast. Because they can easily break into sharp pieces, bones pose a serious risk for dogs. Keep your pooch safe from painful broken teeth, bloody mouth injuries, and esophageal or stomach problems. Besides, there’s plenty of safer alternatives out there to satiate even the most enthusiastic chewer. Give your dog a safe chew toy to satisfy his urge to gnaw. 6. Raw Fish Image by RitaE via Pixabay Sushi, anyone? We may love this Japanese delicacy, but our dogs—not so much. Or at least, not their stomachs. If your dog gets his paws on a raw salmon filet, he could be looking at some unpleasant side effects including vomiting, seizures, and in the worst case—death. 7. Artificial Sweeteners Photo by Joanna Kosinska via Unsplash Dog owners beware: the artificial sweetener, xylitol, can trigger a host of health complications for your dog. This sugar substitute, found in sugar-free gum, mints, candy, and even toothpaste, can mess with your dog’s blood sugar levels, and may even cause liver damage. If you think your dog may have ingested xylitol, monitor him for weakness, clumsiness, and seizures. 8. Alcohol Your dog may be the life of the party, but she’s definitely unwelcome at the bar. Alcohol, no matter the amount, is super dangerous for your furry friend. Fortunately, most pets balk at the taste, but you should still practice caution by keeping open drinks out of your dog’s reach. 9. Apple cores Image by Uli Ebner from Pixabay The fact is, apples are marvelously nutritious—and yummy—for your pup. They provide him with vitamin C, fiber, calcium, and phosphorus, and he’ll love the fruit’s sweetness and crunch. It’s an apple’s core that’s the problem. For one thing, it’s a major choking hazard. And if your dog consumes too many of them, he could be at risk for cyanide poisoning, as the seeds contain small traces of the chemical. If you want to treat your dog to a healthy snack, stick with small apple slices and discard the core. 10. Avocados Photo by FoodieFactor via Pixabay It’s not the skin or the pulp of an avocado that’s iffy for your dog. It’s the pit that’s off-limits. Your dog’s digestive system will have a hard time breaking it down, and there’s always the risk that it will become lodged in his intestines. Snacking on too many avocados could also leave your pooch with a serious bellyache. This fruit contains a compound called persin, which can upset your dog’s stomach if eaten in large quantities. Some dogs who are sensitive to the fruit can even develop pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), a condition that can be fatal. Play it safe and keep your avocados to yourself. 11. Caffeine For most of us, caffeine is an essential part of our morning routine. But even though it gives you a boost of energy, it could send your dog’s heart into overdrive. Keep your beloved pets away from coffee, tea, soda, and caffeine pills. 12. Almonds Image by Steve Buissinne via Pixabay Do you have a dog who scarfs down food without really chewing it? Mixing this behavior with almonds poses a serious choking hazard for dogs. While they’re not exactly poisonous like macadamia nuts, almonds can tear your dog’s windpipe if not chewed properly. 13. Cinnamon It may be a baking staple in your pantry, but cinnamon is an unwelcome guest in your dog’s digestive system. While not technically a toxic substance, cinnamon can irritate your dog’s mouth or cause vomiting or diarrhea. 14. Moldy Food This one is kind of a no-brainer, but your dog shouldn’t be eating moldy food. The ASPCA instructs pet owners to watch for the following symptoms if their dog has gotten into something rotten: vomiting, diarrhea, muscle tremors, seizures, and an elevated body temperature are all things to look out for. The easiest way to avoid this? Bolster your trash can’s security, and don’t let your dog roam, as he’s liable to come across some tempting trash bins. Emergency vet visits are never fun, so exercise caution with food storage and disposal. It’s the easiest—and most effective—way to keep your dog safe.

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13 Smart Ways to Puppy-Proof Your Yard This Spring

With spring just around the corner, you’re probably looking forward to spending more time outside. And if you have a puppy in your home, you can bet he is too! Of course, your puppy’s safety is always a top concern. Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can keep Fido out of harm’s way while enjoying some fresh air and exercise together. We’ve rounded up some top tips to puppy-proof your yard just in time for warmer weather! 1. Make sure your fence passes the “puppy test” Image by Skeeze via Pixabay Make a habit of routinely checking your perimeter to ensure that your pup stays put. Examine your fence line: are there any gaps wide enough for a wriggly puppy to squeeze through? How about gate latches—are they secure and functioning properly? Patch up any potential escape routes to keep your curious pup from making a break for it.  Check out local companies in your area – they may have innovative solutions you can implem ent to keep your puppy in your yard. 2. Enclose all bodies of water Image via Pixabay Ponds and swimming pools can pose a serious risk to your puppy—even for those who are fond of the water. It’s imperative to place a boundary around any bodies of water in your yard to prevent a tragic accident. PetMD also recommends training your pup from an early age how to safely enter and exit a pool. 3. Provide Shelter When the hot July sun sends you reaching for sunscreen and shades, don’t forget about your dog’s comfort! It’s up to you to protect him from the elements by providing adequate shelter outdoors. A cozy dog house can shield your pooch from rain, drafts, and unbearable heat. 4. Nix toxic plants Image by Hendo Wang via Unsplash Did you know that many common flowers are actually poisonous to our beloved canines? While a striking foxglove or a cheerful group of daisies is a welcome sight to us humans, these plants can cause serious health complications if ingested by our dogs. For a complete list of toxic plants, the ASPCA has you covered. Be sure to check out their guide if you’re in the planning stages of gardening. 5. Stick with natural, non-toxic gardening solutions Unfortunately, many of the lawn and garden products on the market today are loaded with harmful chemicals that could cause serious illness in your dog. But not to worry—there are a number of safe gardening alternatives for you to try: Use white vinegar spray to keep your pup from munching on your precious tomato plants. The vinegar is unharmful to your plants, but it has an unpleasant odor that will keep your dog at arm’s length. Marigolds are an interesting option: these popular flowers actually contain a scent that your dog finds offensive (really!) Try planting them among your veggie garden for optimal puppy-proofing results. Make your own citrus spray to deter trespassing. (Dogs hate the smell!) Keep in mind, these puppy-proofing odors will fade over time. So you’ll need to reapply them regularly to maintain their effectiveness. You can also use these tricks to discourage your pup from chewing things you’d rather he leave alone, such as patio furniture. 6. Secure garbage cans Trash bins can be a tempting smorgasbord for inquisitive puppies. Consider swapping out old bins for cans with sealing lids to keep your dog away from rotting garbage. Or you can store your trash cans outside of your yard’s fence line to keep your pup from ingesting harmful chemicals or leftover dinner scraps. 7. Protect Fido from poisonous lawn treatments Before using any harsh lawn treatments, be sure to read the ingredient list carefully to identify any possible toxins. If you treat your grass with weed killer, fertilizer, or insecticide, be sure to keep your dog off the lawn for a full 24 hours. 8. Opt for dog-safe pest control You don’t need to deal with common garden pests like beetles or ants just because you have a dog. While you should steer clear of toxic pesticides, you can still put some non-offending products to work in your lawn. Some options include: Essential oils: tea tree oil kills parasites and pine can repel mosquitos Diatomaceous earth: eliminates beetles, ants, and slugs, but poses zero threat to your dog Boric acid: harmless to canines, boric acid controls pests, weeds, and funghi 9. Mow your lawn! Image by Joe Caione via Unsplash No, we’re not trying to create more work for you, but cutting your lawn is actually one simple way to keep your yard pet-friendly. Since ticks and fleas can hide out in tall grass, maintaining your lawn wipes out their habitat and keeps your pooch tick-free and happy. 10. Clean up any debris This one’s especially important if you have a relentless chewer on your hands. Outdoor debris such as sticks or rocks can be tempting morsels for a puppy. Regular yard cleanup—especially after a storm—is the best way to keep debris out of your dog’s mouth where it could cause a serious injury. 11. Replace damaged dog toys Image by Myriam Zilles via Pixabay During your regular lawn upkeep, look out for any damaged dog toys on the lawn. If you find any—toss them. Broken pieces can injure your puppy’s mouth or stomach, so it’s best to replace old toys. 12. Put chicken wire to work If your puppy is an enthusiastic digger, consider burying chicken wire a few inches below the ground. Of course, this is an incredibly labor-intensive task, so only try it if your dog refuses to give up his digging habits. 13. Supervise your puppy outdoors Always, always remember this puppy-proofing basic: young puppies should never be left unattended in the yard. If you have a fence, it can be tempting to leave your puppy alone to explore on his own while you catch up on chores inside. But a puppy can—and will—get into all kinds of trouble while your back is turned towards him. Don’t leave your dog to his own devices. Keep him safe, and keep your eyes on him. Our puppies’ safety is in our hands. Please, don’t disregard this responsibility as you gear up for warmer weather. All it takes is a few minor tweaks to make your yard a space that you and your pup can enjoy together all season long.

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Heartworm Prevention – How to Keep Your Dog Safe

April is Heartworm Awareness Month, so we’re taking a closer look at how you can protect your pet from this deadly parasite. The importance of heartworm prevention can’t be overstated. This is a disease that kills, and once it takes a hold of your pet, treatment can be off the table. It’s one disease you absolutely need to nip in the bud before it takes over. What is heartworm, and how can my dog get it? We’ve all heard of heartworm disease before—but what exactly is it, and what makes our dogs vulnerable to it? Not that we need more reasons to detest mosquitos, but they’re actually the culprit behind the spread of heartworm among dogs. Acting as a transitional host, the mosquito provides a place for the worms to live until they become “infective.” At that point, all it takes is one little bite for the mosquito to transfer the parasite to your unlucky pooch. Image by ekamelev via Pixabay This is not an immediate process, though. PetMD tells us that after a dog has been bitten, it will take up to seven months for the larvae to mature and take up residence in the dog’s heart and lungs. Once that happens, the worms will reproduce and can cause severe organ damage, heart failure, and even death. One small silver lining in all of this is that heartworm disease isn’t contagious between dogs. Only the bite of an infected mosquito can spread the disease, so there’s no need to keep dogs separated. Signs your dog has heartworm Because it takes such a long time for the worms to reach adulthood, you won’t be able to detect any immediate symptoms after an infection occurs. When symptoms do start to surface, their severity will be determined by the number of worms living inside the dog and how long they’ve been there. A persistent cough Fatigue and weakness Disinterest in exercise Loss of appetite Weight loss A swollen abdomen (from fluid accumulation)     Image by Mirko Sajkov via Pixabay If the infestation is large enough, a dog can develop something called caval syndrome. This life-threatening condition occurs when the worms grow so numerous that they form a blockade, cutting off the heart’s blood supply. The only remedy is immediate and risky surgery so, unfortunately, caval syndrome is almost always fatal. Signs of this cardiovascular collapse include: Difficulty breathing Abnormal lung sounds Pale gums Bloody or dark-colored urine How to Prevent Heartworm in Your Dog The key thing to remember here is that heartworm is much easier (and cheaper) to prevent than it is to treat or cure. You know the old adage that tells us “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?” It applies to heartworm 100%. Fortunately, there are some strategies you can easily set in place to keep your dog from contracting this devastating disease. 1. Reduce the number of mosquitos While it’s impossible to completely eradicate those pesky insects, you can take certain measures to minimize your dog’s exposure to them. Consider the following tips to keep those mosquitoes in check. Nix standing water. Mosquitoes love hanging out in boggy spots, so get rid of any standing water in your yard where they’re likely to flourish. Keep it cool. Since mosquitoes thrive in hot, sticky places, you can discourage them from gathering in your home by keeping things cool and dry. Use screens. Leaving a screenless window open is like rolling out the welcome mat for the mosquito brigade. Keep those pests out of your home with the proper barrier. Use bug spray. Insect repellent could be your best bet to keep bugs away. Look for pet-safe varieties to minimize your pup’s chances of getting bit. Other deterrents like citronella candles and bug lights can also be used to keep mosquitoes at bay. Avoid times of high mosquito activity. We’ve all experienced what it’s like to try enjoying a sultry summer meal al fresco, only to become “dinner” ourselves for a swarm of hungry mosquitoes. While we’re not suggesting you keep Fido indoors indefinitely (that would be a touch overboard), but you can limit outdoor time in the evening when bugs are most active.     Image by Isabela Kronemberger via Unsplash 2. Give your dog a prescribed preventative In terms of efficacy, a preventative medication is your best route to avoid heartworm disease. Your vet can prescribe either a topical or a chewable heartworm preventative, which you’ll administer monthly. Some meds even have the added bonus of preventing other parasites from using your dog as a host. If you need to find a trustworthy veterinarian in your area, check out the list of providers from Grumble Dog. 3. Get your dog tested The American Heartworm Association has two words for you: “think 12!” This ongoing initiative was developed as a way to combat the incidences of heartworm by prompting pet owners to administer heartworm preventatives 12-times per year and to have their dogs tested for heartworm once every 12 months. Chances are your vet will recommend a heartworm test before he’ll prescribe preventatives for your dog. For one thing, if your dog is already infected, the preventatives won’t do any good, and immediate action will need to be taken to treat the infection before permanent organ damage occurs. Other reasons to test yearly include human (and dog) error. It’s possible you could miss a dose at some point. And it’s not implausible that your dog could spit up one of his pills, unbeknownst to you. Since there are no immediate symptoms to watch for, testing is the safest way to ensure your dog stays healthy and parasite-free. But the process isn’t something you should worry about. According to the AHA, testing is inexpensive and relatively painless. A simple blood sample taken during your dog’s annual well visit is all it takes to ensure he’s in the clear. Heartworm disease is not something to take lightly. It’s a serious and deadly condition—one that your dog can’t hide from. It’s up to you to keep him safe, and all it takes is a visit to the vet to get him protected with testing and prescribed preventives. Please don’t neglect this simple duty. Your dog is counting on you!

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America’s Most Scenic Places to Bring Your Dog When You Need to Get Away From It All

When cabin fever strikes, there’s nothing quite like a rejuvenating trek through nature. And it’s probably safe to say that your pup whole-heartedly agrees. Nothing gets tails wagging quite like a romp through our country’s varied and picturesque landscapes. From challenging inclines to stunning lakeside views, you and your canine companion will find no shortage of dog-friendly trails in our vast country. So pack an extra serving of doggy treats and prepare to get your heart pumping as we explore the most scenic places to bring your dog when you just need a break from the rat race. 1. Laurel Highlands Trail, Pennsylvania If you’re looking for a place to unwind without clamoring throngs of people, a hike along the Youghiogheny River is a safe bet. You and your pup can enjoy some blissful solitude as you make your way through this forested trail in the hardwood hills of Pennsylvania. 2. Shenandoah National Park, Virginia Image by Steve Byrne via Flickr Located just 75 miles outside of D.C., you’ll find a welcome respite from city life among the mountains and forests of Shenandoah National Park. Partial to waterfalls? Check out the park’s White Oak Canyon Trail, where you’ll spot six of them. Fido can cool off with a splash in areas where the water is shallow. 3. Bear Peak, Colorado As long as you keep him on a leash, your dog will have a blast accompanying you along the winding paths of Bear Peak. Let him stop and smell the wildflowers that grow abundantly there. You’ll get a solid workout on this trail, as it increases in difficulty towards the finish. 4. Acadia National Park, Maine Image by Eric Vaugh via Flickr Boasting a nice blend of both easy and challenging trails, Acadia National Park is a stunning place to get some exercise with your dog. He won’t be allowed on the beaches or some of the trickier hiking trails, but there are still loads of paths to explore together. If you’d like to make a weekend of it, you’ll be happy to hear dogs are welcome in the park’s campgrounds. Just remember to keep your canine companion leashed at all times. 5. Gatlinburg Trail, Tennessee While most of the trails in the Great Smoky Mountains are off-limits to dogs, Gatlinburg Trail is an exception. This forested path is relatively flat and you’ll enjoy picturesque views of the Little Pigeon River. 6. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona Image by Patrick Hendry via Unsplash We’d be remiss if we failed to mention the Grand Canyon in this round-up. One of the world’s seven natural wonders, this breathtaking site is an epic place to exercise your dog. Trails above the South Rim of the canyon are dog-friendly, as are the park’s campgrounds. Your dog won’t be able to hike the Inner Canyon with you, but if your heart is set on experiencing it, you can take advantage of the dog kennel located at the South Rim. 7. Inspiration Trail, North Carolina At less than one mile in length, Inspiration Trail in Raleigh, North Carolina is a great starter trek for less experienced hikers. Park benches offer the chance to rest with your pooch while enjoying the wooded beauty that surrounds you. 8. Runyon Canyon, California In the heart of L.A. lies a dog-friendly trail where your pup can run off-leash to his heart’s content. As you drink in the dreamy views of Hollywood and the Pacific Ocean, your pup will surely thank you for this slice of wilderness heaven. 9. Kootenai National Forest, Montana Image by U.S. Forest Service via Flickr With hundreds of miles of trails, plenty of scenic picnic areas, and gorgeous, towering cedars, the Kootenai National Forest is the perfect spot to reconnect with nature. If your dog loves to swim and he’s not adverse to frigid water, he can take a dip in the lake. You’ll have to plan a trip here in the summer—the area’s heavy snowfall means this forest is closed during the winter. 10. Fishhook Trailhead, Alaska If you have an active dog who prefers more vigorous exercise, lace up your hiking boots and check out Fishhook Trailhead. It’s an uphill climb, but the view from the top of Marmot Mountain is well worth the effort. 11. Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Nevad If you’re looking to trade in the excitement of Las Vegas for some peaceful outdoor activity, consider a trip to the Red Rock Canyon. A desert landscape will provide interesting wildlife for your dog to experience. All trails allow dogs, but they should be leashed and don’t forget the waste baggies—pet owners must clean up after their dogs. 12. Kealia Trail, Hawaii Only moderately difficult, the Kealia Trail has a gradual incline that culminates in an arresting mountain top view. You may want to hit the trails in the early morning before the temperatures escalate—especially if your dog is sensitive to heat. Luckily, most of this scenic path is shaded. 13. Fairmount Park, Pennsylvania Image by David King via Flickr If you’re a Philadelphian looking for some green space to stretch your limbs, try a walk through Fairmount Park. This urban park offers woodsy trails and a relaxing waterfront. Your dog is welcome to join in on the fun, just keep him close with a leash no longer than 6 feet. 14. The Cascades at Lake Mohegan, Connecticut This off-leash dog park is a great place to get in your workout. With plenty of trails to choose from and several dog-friendly swimming areas, you’re guaranteed a fun time with your furry friend. 17. Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio Ohio’s only national park provides a sanctuary for native plants and wildlife, and it’s a delightful place to take a stroll with your dog. A varied landscape of meadows, forests, and marshy wetlands will keep things interesting as you wind your way around the Cuyahoga River. 18. Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado Image by Christian Collin via Flickr Maybe you’re looking for something a little less conventional. The Great Sand Dunes National Park is a fascinating place to recharge—and it’s completely open to dogs! Definitely keep Fido on a leash, though, since the park is home to all kinds of wildlife, including deer, squirrels, elk, and coyotes. Also, keep in mind the sand dunes can become scorching hot once summer hits. Protect your dog’s paw pads with booties, if he’ll tolerate them. Taking the same old walk around the neighborhood can get stale, so it’s a special treat to explore some of our country’s beautiful landscapes.  If you don’t have the time or resources to travel, check out the dog-friendly trails, beaches and parks in your are on Grumble Dog. The most important thing, though, is that you move. Committing to an exercise routine is one of the best ways you can keep your dog healthy and happy.

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How to Prevent – or Find – a Lost Dog

According to the American Humane Association, a staggering 10 million dogs and cats will be lost or stolen in the U.S. this year. If this number leaves you anxious about your own pet’s safety, don’t worry—there are plenty of ways you can prevent your dog from joining that grim statistic. In recognition of National Pet ID Week (April 16-23),we’re looking at how pet owners can prevent the tragedy of a lost dog as well as the steps you should take if it happens to you. One of the best ways to increase your chances of finding a lost dog is by having him microchipped. This relatively painless procedure involves placing a tiny chip underneath your pet’s skin, usually between his shoulder blades. Once implanted, the chip can be scanned by most shelters and veterinarians, ensuring your dog’s safe return. Why is microchipping your dog so important, anyway? Is microchipping your pet really necessary? The short answer is: yes, absolutely. But if you need further persuasion, we have a few things for you to consider. 1. Collars aren’t infallible As your first line of defense, a good, old-fashioned dog collar and ID tag is a simple and inexpensive way to keep your dog from getting lost. But they’re not foolproof. Collars can break and tags can become lost, damaged, or illegible. A microchip, on the other hand, isn’t going anywhere. If your dog wanders off, the chances of a happy reunion increase greatly when pet owners utilize both tools. 2. It boosts your odds of finding your lost dog According to a study conducted by Ohio State University, a microchipped dog is 2.5 times more likely to be returned to his owner than a dog who is not. 2.5 times more! You can’t ignore those odds. 3. It proves ownership When your dog’s chip is scanned, your registration information will identify you as the rightful owner. For pets who have been stolen, this feature is especially important. 4. Technology continues to improve As research progresses, chip manufacturers are rolling out enhancements that many pet owners will find useful. Microchip company, HomeAgain, for instance, offers microchip pet feeders that only open for a designated pet. Pet doors can operate similarly, by being programmed to respond only to your dog’s microchip. 5. They last forever This is a one-and-done deal. Once you get your pooch outfitted with his chip, you don’t need to give it another thought. The microchip will last a lifetime, and it’s not going anywhere. How to keep your dog from getting permanently lost While microchipping is an indispensable way to protect your pet, it’s not the only way to do so. A combination of several safety measures will give you the best chances of keeping Fido from getting lost. Read on to discover what you should be doing to keep your dog from getting lost. 1. Keep ID tags up-to-date Image by Steve Baker via Flickr If you’ve ever moved or changed your phone number, then you’re well aware of the many places that need to be updated. But after you’ve updated your address with the post office, magazine subscriptions, club memberships, and billing companies, don’t forget one of your most valuable assets: your beloved dog! Protect your canine companion by keeping his ID tag accurate and up-to-date. Otherwise, it’s a useless accessory that doesn’t do your dog any good. 2. Keep his microchip up-to-date Similarly, enter any changes of address with your dog’s microchip registration company. If your pup goes missing and a shelter tries to access his chip info, you’ll want that data to be correct. 3. Keep your dog leashed Image by Jingie Wong via Unsplash A curious pup is bound to wander—don’t give him the opportunity! Always keep your dog leashed during walks, even if he’s the most well-behaved dog in town. You can never predict what may catch his attention and lure him away from you. Equally important is finding the leash that is best for your dog’s size and strength. A brawny Newfoundland will need a stronger leash than say, a pint-sized Chihuahua. 4. Supervise all outdoor play It may not seem like a big deal to let your dog explore the backyard on his own, especially if the yard is fully fenced-in. But, left to his own devices, even the most obedient dog can be tempted to bolt at something on the other side of the fence. A dog that’s motivated enough can find a way to break free, so it’s critical that pet owners keep a close eye on their dogs at all times. 5. Maintain your fence line Image by Nate Tribbs via Pixabay Checking the integrity of your fence from time to time is a good habit to get into. Periodically, examine the perimeter of your yard, looking for any signs of damage that could compromise your dog’s safety. 6. Get your pet “fixed” Where there’s a will there’s a way, and a dog struck with “puppy love” will do whatever it takes to find a mate—including scaling your fence or digging an escape route. Having your dog spayed or neutered will lower his or her urge to roam. Your Content Goes HereMy dog is lost. What do I do? The unfortunate truth is that even the most vigilant and responsible pet owner can experience the heart-racing panic that comes with a lost dog. Stay calm and act fast. Here’s what you can do: Start with the basics. Call your pet’s name, using a can of his favorite food to encourage his return. Check any places he could become trapped, such as a shed or a basement. Alert your neighbors of your predicament, and start your search in your own neighborhood. Check local shelters. Daily. In addition to calling local shelters every day, be sure to visit them in person. Even if you describe your dog to the shelter staff with great detail, you’re the only one who can recognize him instantly. Call animal control. These agencies work through the police department, picking up stray animals. Give them a call to see if they’ve picked up your dog. Make flyers. Using the clearest picture you can find of your pet, print up a bunch of “lost pet” signs to distribute around your town. Consider placing them in pet stores, veterinary offices, coffee shops, libraries, grocery stores, and post offices. Don’t forget to take your flyers down once your dog returns home, so everyone knows that he’s safe and sound. Image by Randy Laybourne via Unsplash Write up a newspaper ad. Offering a reward can encourage people to return a lost dog. Inform your groomer and/or vet. Alert any professionals who help you take care of your dog in case they receive a phone call about his whereabouts. Give local radio stations a call. Some stations will gladly help you locate your lost dog by broadcasting a detailed description of your pet and how you can be contacted. Use the internet. Hop on social media to rally your community to take up the search for your lost dog. Websites like Petfinder and Craigslist are another useful tool to bring your lost dog home. There’s an app for that! Did you know that the Grumble Dog app includes a section dedicated to reuniting lost dogs with their owners? By hopping over to the app’s “Lost Dog” section, you can easily list or search for your lost pup. The app allows you to enter critical information about your dog, and you can upload as many as six photos to boost your chances of a reunion. Try to give the most descriptive details about his appearance as you can. If you’ve lost your dog, download the Grumble Dog app to set up a lost dog request—it’s just one more way to boost your chances of getting your furry friend back home.

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Could My Dog Have Allergies?

Spring is definitely in the air. And for many people, that means insufferable runny noses and itchy, watery eyes. But what about our dogs? Can they suffer from allergies, too? And what about other types of allergens—can our pups become allergic to certain foods or materials like humans can? Can dogs have allergies? Yes, dogs can experience allergies just like humans do. In fact, allergies are fairly common across all dog breeds, typically appearing once a dog has reached the age of one or two years. Some of the most common canine allergens include pollen, mold, dust mites, flea bites, and certain medications and foods. Fortunately, there are ways to treat and alleviate your dog’s allergy symptoms. But first, you’ll need to pinpoint what’s causing his reactions in the first place. How are dog allergies diagnosed? Image by Tony Alter via Flickr When it comes to diagnosing allergies in your dog, the path isn’t exactly straightforward. There’s no simple test that your vet can run to determine if your pet is actually allergic to something. Because many canine health conditions such as mange and ringworm mirror the symptoms we see with an allergic reaction, it’s important to rule those out first. Your vet can run some tests to make sure your dog doesn’t have any underlying medical conditions that need to be addressed. Once he’s been given a clean bill of health, your vet will want a full rundown of your dog’s daily diet. If a food allergy seems plausible, your vet will most likely recommend a food trial during which your dog will be kept on a strict prescription diet for several weeks. Should his issues resolve, the presence of a food allergy is a safe bet. Testing for environmental allergies in dogs looks a little different. Your vet may conduct a skin test in which he’ll inject a harmless amount of the suspected allergen underneath your dog’s skin, noting any subsequent redness or swelling. Symptoms of allergies in dogs Image by Donnie Ray Jonesvia Flickr While confirming allergies can be a complicated process, there are some common symptoms to look out for. If you have reason to believe your dog is experiencing an allergic reaction to something, take note of the following telltale signs: Scratching and biting—your dog may favor one specific body part to gnaw on, or he might itch all over Excessive paw-licking Red, itchy, inflamed skin Red/runny eyes Hives Swelling of the face, ears, lips, or eyelids Extra shedding “Scooting”—or rather, dragging his rear end along the floor Difficulty breathing—your dog may also develop a cough or sneezing fit Vomiting and/or diarrhea Chronic ear infections—dogs with ear inflammation are more prone to bacterial infections, according to PetMD. Because your dog’s ear canal is moist, dark, and warm, it’s an ideal breeding ground for bacteria to thrive. If you notice any ear discharge or your dog is scratching his ears more than usual, he could be suffering from an ear infection, requiring veterinary intervention. Types of allergies seen in dogs Image by Isa Karakusvia Pixabay When you’re trying to get to the bottom of your dog’s allergy issues, it’s helpful to break down the types of allergies he can suffer from. Canine allergies fall into one of three main categories. 1. Skin allergies Reactions caused by direct contact with an allergen are rarely seen in dogs. There are some dogs, however, who may be sensitive to certain materials such as wool or carpeting. They can also develop allergies to lawn pesticides or even the pyrethrins found in their flea collar. 2. Food allergies Although relatively uncommon, canine food allergies can occur at any point during your dog’s life. A dog who happily snacked on carrots one day can suddenly exhibit adverse reactions to them the next day. Food allergies may not manifest in your dog how you would expect them to. Instead of a miserable bellyache, it’s much more likely that your dog will experience adverse skin reactions such as itchiness or lesions. Some of the most common foods that dogs can be allergic to include soy and dairy products, wheat gluten, eggs, beef and lamb. 3. Environmental allergies Seasonal allergy sufferers already know what an uncomfortable nuisance allergies can be. What you might not know is that our canine companions can also suffer from reactions to grass, pollen, and dust. Pesky insects can also trigger an allergic reaction in your dog. Common offenders include spiders, ticks, horseflies, mosquitoes, and bees. But, by and large, the most common insect allergen seen in dogs are flea bites. For dogs with flea allergy dermatitis (FAD), a single bite will lead to agonizing itching that can drive a dog to scratch himself so badly that he even removes some of his fur. Treatment options for allergies in dogs Image by Angela Antunes via Flickr So your dog has allergies. Now what? Truthfully—it depends on the type of allergy. In most cases, avoidance of the allergen is the best route but, of course, it’s not always feasible. You can’t very well banish offending insects or stamp out all airborne pollen, after all. Sometimes, dealing with dog allergies will require a minor lifestyle change. For food allergies, the only treatment option is to remove whatever foods trigger your dog’s allergic reaction. Protective booties can help a dog with a grass allergy (if he’ll tolerate them), as will a good wipe down of his feet after he’s been outside. Aside from avoiding the irritant altogether, there are a number of treatment options you can explore. Bathe your dog: Regular bathing can remove irritants that become trapped in your pet’s fur. Be sure to use a dog-friendly hypoallergenic shampoo, which can soothe raw, itchy skin. Your vet may also prescribe a topical treatment to manage your dog’s symptoms. Not thrilled by the prospect of having to wash your pup on the regular? Consider hiring a professional groomer to do the dirty work for you. Rinse your dog’s eyes and clean his ears: Using an ordinary eye cleansing solution can also provide Fido with some much-needed relief. Don’t forget his ears—the ear canals can harbor all kinds of irritating allergens, so using a pet-friendly ear solution to gently flush out any offenders is a good idea. Get your flea situation under control: Fleas are never a good time, but for dogs allergic to flea saliva, they can become unbearable. It’s crucial that you follow your vet’s instructions for applying your dog’s prescribed flea and tick medicine. It’s equally smart to boost your vacuuming frequency and to use a dog flea comb from time to time.Antihistamines: Over-the-counter anti-inflammatories like Benadryl can help take the edge off your dog’s allergic reaction. Just make sure you clear things with your vet before you go ahead and administer any new drugs to your dog. Try supplements: Omega-3 fatty acid supplements have an anti-inflammatory effect, and they can help promote healthy skin. Talk to your vet about the benefits these supplements might provide for your dog. Desensitization therapy: Weekly allergy shots are one treatment option to consider if you’re able to identify the cause of your dog’s allergies. Your dog will be injected with negligible amounts of the offending irritant until his immune system is adequately desensitized. We all want the best for our dogs, and seeing them suffer from an allergic reaction can be incredibly upsetting. Don’t let your dog suffer needlessly—he’s relying on you to keep him healthy and allergy-free.

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Lyme Disease in Dogs: Everything You Should know to Keep Your Dog Safe

With our sights set on warmer weather and all the summertime activities that go with it, it’s a good idea to prepare for the unique challenges you can face as a pet owner at this time of year. Once spring arrives, we hear a lot of talk about Lyme disease—but how serious of a threat is this illness? And should you be taking extra precautions to lower your dog’s risk of contracting it? We’ve done some digging, and we’ve turned up some answers. Here’s your comprehensive guide to preventing and treating Lyme disease in your dog. What exactly IS lyme disease? Simply put—Lyme disease is a bacterial illness transmitted by ticks. Also known as Lyme borreliosis, the disease earned its name after a number of cases cropped up in Lyme, Connecticut, in 1975. While cases in the United States are concentrated in the upper Midwest, the Pacific Coast, and the Northeast, PetMD reports that the disease is burgeoning nationwide, making it an area of concern in every state. Lyme disease is particularly troubling because not only is your canine companion at risk of transmitting it, but it can also be transmitted to other animal species—including humans. How can my dog get Lyme disease? Image by Nicooografievia Pixabay The culprits behind Lyme disease are pesky deer ticks who carry the bacteria, Borrelia. These sneaky parasites hide out on vegetation, waiting to hitch a ride with an unknowing passerby. From spring through early fall, ticks come out of their hiding places in droves, making this time of year especially risky. Interestingly, ticks can’t fly or jump. To latch onto their targeted host, they hang out on leaves and tall grasses until an unsuspecting critter brushes up against them. Once the tick grabs on to an animal, he crawls in search of the perfect place to chomp down. Infection doesn’t occur immediately after a bite, but only after the tick has been latched on for about 24-48 hours. Which is good incentive to give your dog’s coat the once over after a good romp through the woods—the sooner you spot a tick and remove it, the better your dog’s chances are of avoiding infection. Once the bacteria enters your dog’s bloodstream, it can spread to different areas of the body, wreaking havoc on his organs. Can I be infected with Lyme disease by my dog? Not directly, no. Once a dog has been infected, there’s no way for him to transmit the disease to you, or to any other household pets. The only way to contract Lyme disease is through a tick bite. That said, your dog could carry some unwanted passengers into your home if you’re not careful. If your dog picks up a tick, he could unwittingly transfer the pest to you or another family member or pet. 5 ways to prevent your dog from getting Lyme disease Image by Tyler Delgado via Unsplash The key here is prevention. It’s much easier to prevent Lyme disease than it is to treat the aftermath of an infection. Here are some ways you can actively prevent your dog from getting Lyme disease. 1. Give your dog a prescribed flea and tick medication. This can include collars, topical solutions, and chewable tablets that kill ticks. As an extra preventative, it’s also not a bad idea to ask your vet to conduct a tick check during your dog’s regular examination. 2. Avoid places where ticks congregate. During tick season, try to stay away from heavily wooded areas or thick foliage, as much as possible. Ticks hang out on foliage, just waiting for someone to kindly give them a ride. Don’t let your dog (or yourself!) be that someone. Equally important: don’t neglect lawn care. An unmowed lawn is another popular hangout spot for hungry ticks. 3. Do a fur and skin inspection. After hitting the trails, examine your furry hiking partner’s coat thoroughly. Focus on your dog’s feet (ticks can lodge themselves between the toes), underneath his tail, and around his lips, eyes, and ears. Don’t forget inside the ears, too. 4. Protect your dog with a vaccination. A less common approach in preventing Lyme disease is to have your dog vaccinated. You can discuss with your vet whether or not your dog is an appropriate candidate for this option. 5. Remove the tick immediately. When it comes to tick removal, there’s no time to lose. Because it takes upwards of 24-48 for a tick to transmit the infection, it’s critical that you get rid of him ASAP. If you find a tick, follow these tips from the Pet Health Network to remove it safely and effectively: Wear gloves for protection Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to your dog’s skin as possible. It’s important to avoid crushing the tick during the removal. Clean your dog’s skin with soap and water. Signs that your dog could have Lyme disease Image by Pitsch via Pixabay Lyme disease can be tricky to detect. It can take months for symptoms to appear, if they surface at all. There are, however, still some subtle signs that may suggest your dog is infected with Lyme disease. Here are the most common ones: Fever Loss of appetite Lethargy and resistance to exercise Recurrent lameness caused by inflamed joints, which may become swollen, warm, and painful A stiff and uncomfortable gait Swollen lymph nodes Sensitivity to touch Depression Difficulty breathing More concerning, Lyme disease can cause serious kidney damage. This will usually manifest as vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, weight loss, lethargy, swollen limbs (from built-up fluid), and increases in urination and thirst. And while rare, Lyme can also cause problems with your dog’s heart or nervous system. How a dog is diagnosed with Lyme disease For a dog presenting clinical signs of Lyme disease, most veterinarians will conduct a combination of different tests to confirm diagnosis, including: Blood tests Urinalysis Fecal examination X-rays Analysis of fluids drawn from affected joints Treatment options for dogs with Lyme disease Image by Patrick Hendry via Unsplash The most effective way to combat Lyme disease in your dog is to get him started on a 30-day antibiotic regimen. Most vets will prescribe Doxycycline, which is given by mouth twice a day for four weeks. Happily, PetMD informs us that a dog’s symptoms should improve dramatically within 24-48 hours. If your dog appears to be in significant pain, your vet may also prescribe an anti-inflammatory to make him more comfortable. Unfortunately, antibiotics don’t entirely eliminate the problem. Symptoms may dissipate, only to rear their ugly heads at a later date. The unfortunate truth is that once a dog is infected with Lyme disease, he will always carry the bacteria in his body. The possibility of a relapse is a very real problem, so owners of an infected dog must remain vigilant, looking out for the most common signals: fever, swollen lymph nodes, and lameness. If you follow your vet’s advice for prevention and administer flea and tick medications properly, it’s unlikely you’ll ever have to deal with the headache of Lyme disease. Just be smart, and practice caution when you head out with your pup for that long-awaited camping trip.

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16 Tips for Taking Instagram Worthy Photos of Your Dog

A picture is worth 1000 words, they say. But perfect photos of your dog balancing a biscuit on her nose? Priceless. Of course, nailing that perfect shot is easier said than done. More often than not, we end up with a series of dull, blurry photos that fail to capture our pup’s true spirit and charm. How do pet photographers do it? What makes for a truly sensational puppy photo sesh—one that’s worth sharing across social media? How do you get that one show-stopping picture that makes you gasp and say, “Now, that’s a framer.” Getting the perfect dog photo is harder than it looks. But if you hone these tricks of the trade, your canine fashionista may be on her way to becoming Insta-famous. 1. Stay cool, calm, and collected Image by Treddy Tren via Unsplash A relaxed environment will encourage your darling model-in-training to give her best performance. Avoid high traffic areas where noise and distractions can get in the way of clinching the perfect shot. This is especially important to consider if you’re photographing a dog who’s particularly nervous or high strung. Equally important here is making sure your pup is comfortable with the camera. If you’re using a new device that your dog has never seen before, she could be startled by the flash or she may just dislike having a camera (or phone) shoved in her face. Your best option is to start slowly. Before you start clicking, allow your dog to sniff the camera so she can see it’s not a threat. It’s also a good idea to turn off your flash so it doesn’t distract her while you’re shooting. 2. Prepare with some primping No, we’re not talking about giving your dog a new hairdo. Simply give Fido a quick once over: wipe out any gunk in his eyes and brush out his coat to remove any unsightly particles that you don’t want showing up in your photos. 3. Choose your background wisely While your dog is obviously the star of the show, don’t underestimate the effect that a good background can have. Or, on the other side of the coin, don’t forget how ugly (not to mention, distracting) a pile of laundry can become in an otherwise perfect photo. Take into account your dog’s coat color, too: a white dog may look washed-out against a completely white wall. Make sure to take note of any objects that might interfere with a successful photo shoot. Trust me, you’re not going to be pleased with a bunch of photos where your dog looks like he has a tree branch sprouting out of his head. Seasoned pros will also take advantage of their camera’s blur effect to make the background less intrusive, making their dogs the main focus. 4. Make lighting work to your advantage Image by Daniel Borker via Pixabay Most of us know that lighting plays a major role in good photography. But since most of us aren’t professional photographers, we might not know exactly how light affects our photos. Here are a few pointers to get the lighting just right. First, shooting in natural light is your best bet. For candids indoor shots, opt for a room with adequate natural light. It will probably take a bit of experimentation for you to nail down the best time of day for indoor dog photos, so be patient. If you’re taking things outdoors, it’s important to avoid direct sunlight if you can. Aim, instead, for what photographers refer to as the “golden hour”—shortly after sunrise or just before sunset. Since bright sunlight can create harsh photos, cloudy days are your best friends when it comes to outdoor photo shoots. If you’re shooting in relentless sun, try to find a bit of shade for better results. Whatever you do, turn off the flash. There’s nothing cute about a dog with red eye. 5. Work those angles Image by Nancy Sticke via Pixabay In the age of selfies, most of us have learned how to make front-facing camera angles work to our advantage. Now put those skills to work for your canine companion! Play with different camera positions to capture that one-of-a-kind shot. Photograph your dog from above, from behind, and from the floor looking up at him. You never know what may yield the most unique,interesting shot. 6. Get low, get low Crouching down to your dog’s level gives your photos an up-close and intimate effect. Instead of viewing him through your own lens, getting low allows you to see things through Fido’s perspective. Which is pretty handy when you’re cruising for Instagram likes. 7. Make it worth your dog’s while Image by Claudia Peters via Pixabay The average dog will need a little coaxing to look directly at a camera, so try motivating your pooch with his favorite treats. Carrots are a good choice if you’re watching your dog’s calorie-intake. And if you’re looking for a playful shot of your dog with his tongue out, give him a scoop of peanut butter and snap away! If your dog isn’t particularly food-driven, his favorite squeaky toy is a good alternative to hold his attention until you get that perfect shot. 8. Go natural Sure, a well-staged pose can create a funny and memorable photo. But don’t forget to capture some candid images of your dog just being a dog. Spontaneity can work in your favor here. Anytime you explore a different environment together or your dog experiences something new for the first time (like snow or the beach)—this is a great opportunity to capture his unique personality “in-the-moment.” 9. Bring in some props Image by Charles Deluvio via Unsplash Let your dog photos tell a story with some curated additions. Consider photographing your dog with blankets, toys, or even a hat or bow tie to make your pictures more engaging. (Just make sure your dog is a willing participant if you’re going to dress him up.) You can also use props to add a pop of brilliant color to your photos. 10. Get your dog to smile! You know the face: the one where your dog’s lolling tongue makes him look like a grinning goofball. You just can’t beat it. But how do you get your dog to “smile?” Simple—just head outside for a vigorous play session. Once your dog is panting, whip out your camera to catch that smile in action. 11. Take a LOT of pictures Dogs are not unlike squirmy toddlers when you’re trying to take their picture. The odds of getting that perfect shot on the first try are…well, pretty dismal. There’s a reason portrait photographers snap multiple shots of the same thing during a photo shoot. Boost your chances of catching your dog’s expression flawlessly by taking tons of pictures. You can just go through them later and delete any flops. 12. Equipment matters (but not too much!) Image by Pooya Ramezani via Unsplash We’re not saying you have to drop a heap of money on fancy camera equipment to get some meme-worthy photos of your dog. But it doesn’t hurt if you happen to have some extra cash tucked away. One piece of equipment that is definitely worth considering is a tripod. This will free up your hands and ensure a steady photo. Plus, you’ll be able to set a timer and pose next to your pup! Can you say “perfect holiday card?” 13. Don’t forget to edit Good photography is in the details. So if you want your Instagram account to really shine, brush up on some basic editing skills. There are plenty of editing programs for you to choose from, so go with something that matches your own level of experience. A few choices include PicMonkey, Snapseed, Lightroom, and of course, Adobe Photoshop. A few simple adjustments of your photo’s lighting or color saturation can make a world of difference. 14. Discover your muses Do you follow any Instagram accounts that really capture the aesthetic you’re shooting for with your dog? Take a closer look at your favorite pet accounts: what is it that you find so appealing in these photos? Is it the photographer’s use of props or his unique settings? Be inspired by their techniques, and try to mimic some of them. You may just surprise yourself. 15. Be Patient You can’t exactly explain to your fidgety dog why you want him to sit still while you repeatedly shove your phone in his face. During your efforts to get the best photos of him, don’t lose sight of that fact. And if you find yourself becoming frustrated that your dog would rather play ball than pose for you, take that as your cue to call it a day. 16. Have fun with it! Look—this isn’t meant to be a laborious chore. Photographing your furry friend should be a fun and bonding experience. If you’re not enjoying the process, it’s probably time to take a break. If you’re looking for new activities to share with your dog, why not up your photography game and make your little starlet shine? All it takes is practice, patience, and a little bit of luck to achieve Insta-worthy dog photos you’ll treasure forever.

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Tips for Bathing Your Dog at Home

Baths are one of those things most dogs never learn to love. Fortunately, there are some strategies you can use to make bath time a little less scary for your pup, and a little more enjoyable for yourself. Here’s some sound advice for making bath time an activity your dog won’t dread.  How often should you give your dog a bath? We’ve all asked this question: does my dog actually need a bath? Just how often do we really have to go through this? Not that often, we’re happy to report. At a minimum, you should aim to give your dog a good cleaning every three months. A few factors will determine how long your pooch can go between baths. Hair length: Perhaps most obviously, your dog’s hair length will be a deciding factor when it comes to timing baths. Dogs with longer coats are more likely to carry extra dirt and debris that becomes trapped in their fur, so they’ll need to be bathed more often. Energy level: Do you have a rough-and-tumble firecracker on your hands? If your dog is the active, outdoorsy type, he’s probably going to get dirty quicker than a dog who spends most of his day chilling on the couch. Allergies: A dog with a skin condition can benefit from bathing with an antimicrobial shampoo. Ultimately, you’re going to rely on your nose for Fido’s bath schedule—if he’s especially stinky, it’s time to hit the showers. One thing to keep in mind: make sure you’re not over-bathing. Frequent bathing can strip your dog’s skin of its natural oils, leaving it dry and irritated. Should I hire a professional groomer to bathe my dog? Image by Karlin Richardson via Pixabay Giving a frightened, jumpy dog a bath can be a challenge, to say the least. Why not hand off that task to someone professionally equipped to handle it? A professional groomer will save you a lot of time and energy. Some other benefits to consider: 1. They have the right tools Aside from a few dog-grooming essentials, it’s unlikely you own any special equipment such as an adjustable grooming table or a dog-specific hair dryer. A professional groomer will have an assortment of clippers and dog-friendly shampoos to get any type of dog looking her best. 2. They can handle all kinds of dogs Elderly dogs, anxious dogs, aggressive dogs—your groomer has seen them all. And she knows how to work with them. If you’re at all intimidated at the prospect of bathing your nervous pup, a professional groomer can ease your worries. And if sedation is required, your groomer will be able to administer it. 3. They’ll do the dirty work for you There are some aspects of dog-bathing that we find…unappealing. A professional groomer will tackle the yuckiest of chores, from cleaning anal glands to shampooing a dog who’s been skunked How to find a professional dog groomer If you’ve never worked with a dog groomer before, fellow pet owners are usually eager to offer their recommendations. Your vet will also be able to provide you with a few names. Many online resources exist to help narrow down your search, including our Grumble Dog service page, where you can read descriptions and reviews of local groomers. Download our app to get started today! How to prepare for bathing your dog Image by Amanda Cullingford via Pixabay So you’ve decided to go the DIY route—we applaud your gumption! Here are a few steps you’ll want to take before lathering up Fido with shampoo. 1. Get the right products Stick with a dog-specific shampoo, or your furry friend could end up with some majorly dry skin. According to Vetstreet, shampoo made for humans has a different pH level than dog shampoo, so it’s important to get this right. If you’re unsure about which shampoo is best, hit up your veterinarian for advice. He or she can also recommend therapeutic shampoos if your canine companion sufferers from an uncomfortable skin condition. 2. Pick the right bathing location For most dogs, a bathtub with a detachable showerhead will do just fine. Smaller dogs or puppies may be more manageable in a sink. And if you have the space to store it, an elevated tub made just for dogs is another option. Don’t rule out the backyard for baths if the temperature is warm enough. As Gina Fera, owner of Perfect Paws Pet Grooming in Wakefield, Rhode Island reported to PetMD: the garden hose can be a good choice for large breeds with heavy coats or dogs who shed excessively. Try bathing your dog in a kiddie pool—just make sure you position it on a flat surface like a deck or driveway. Otherwise, you could be looking at a muddy, grass-covered dog immediately after all your hard work. 3. Gather supplies ahead of time There’s absolutely nothing fun about realizing you forgot to grab a towel when your dog is already dripping with sudsy water. Plan ahead and set up your bathing station with all the tools you’ll need before you start your dog’s bath. It’s also not a bad idea to prepare yourself for bath time by switching into clothes you don’t mind getting wet, hairy, and possibly dirty. 4. Brush first! It’s easy to overlook this crucial step, but it’s imperative that you give your pup a good brushing before his bath to smooth tangles and remove loose hair. Be sure to get rid of any mats in your dog’s coat before his bath—once those get wet, they’re a nightmare to deal with. 5. Make it safe Use a non-slip mat or place a towel in the bottom of the tub to prevent your dog from slipping. Tips to make your dog’s bath time a success Image by Amanda Cullingford via Pixabay Once you’re ready for your dog to take the plunge, here are some tips to make it as painless a process as possible. 1. Stay cheerful This can be a stressful time for your dog. A positive attitude goes a long way in calming his nerves. Speak in a kind tone, be patient, and always have a treat ready to reward your dog’s cooperation. Over time, he’ll learn to view baths as a harmless activity. 2. Use cotton balls If your dog will tolerate them, you can (gently) place some cotton balls in his ears to prevent water from getting inside. Just remember to remove them after the bath is done. And if he’s not a fan of having foreign objects placed in his ears, no worries: just be extra careful not to get water in them. 3. Get the temperature right Humans aren’t the only species particular about their shower temperatures. But unlike the scalding hot showers that most of us enjoy, dogs should be bathed in lukewarm to warm water, according to PetMD. Water that is too hot can easily burn your dog’s skin. If the weather is warm and your dog has a heavy coat, cool water is also acceptable. 4. Work your way up When you begin shampooing your dog, start at his paws, and then work your way up to his neck. To protect your dog’s eyes and mouth, use a wet washcloth to clean his face. 5. Rinse thoroughly Don’t be stingy when it’s time to rinse. Residual shampoo that’s left behind on your dog’s skin can cause itchy flaking. Save your dog from any discomfort by rinsing his coat thoroughly. Some vets even recommend that you rinse twice as long as you think you need to. 6. Dry your pup Drape your dog in a thick towel immediately after his bath to help him retain heat and prevent him from shaking water all over you. A hair dryer is a quick remedy if your dog is chilled after his bath—just be sure to set the temperature to a cooler setting to avoid injuring your dog’s skin. You may even consider purchasing a dog-specific blow dryer if it’s a tool that you’ll get a lot of use out of. In-between baths, you must remember one thing: brush your dog’s coat! Brushing your dog regularly helps prevent painful mats from forming, and it also extends the time between your dog’s baths by keeping him cleaner. If you approach bath time with a cheerful and relaxed attitude, you can bet your dog will follow suit in no time. In the end, this once unpleasant task can become a cherished bonding experience between you and your dog.

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How to Dog-Proof Every Room in your House

Whether you’re bringing home a brand new puppy for the first time, or you’d just like to make your home a safer place for the family dog, there are a few ways you can dog-proof your home and create a more dog-friendly space. But where do you begin? It’s helpful to go through each room of your house systematically, looking at each space through your dog’s eyes. Some dangers are glaringly obvious (laundry detergent is not an appropriate puppy snack). Others—like mothballs or your lovely Calla Lily plant—not so much. Use this comprehensive guide to ensure that your home is as safe as possible for your dog. Dog-proofing your kitchen Image by Charles Deluvio via Unsplash The first stop on your dog-proofing mission should be the kitchen. This hub of family life usually poses the most dangers to your pet, so it’s important to assess and remove any possible threats. 1. Make trash inaccessible. To your dog, an open trash can is a smorgasbord of delicious delicacies. Aside from the obvious yuck factor, your dog could be harmed by swallowing something toxic or choking on a sharp bone. Remove the temptation by keeping all garbage cans securely covered. 2. Keep Fido from counter-surfing. You might be able to trust your spouse or kids not to go near your freshly baked chocolate cake that’s resting on the counter. Your dog, however, is another story. He just can’t resist helping himself to a sample (not that we blame him. I mean—it’s chocolate cake we’re talking about.) If this happens, not only will you have to deal with the devastation of a destroyed cake, but you’ll also have one seriously sick pup on your hands. A lot of “human food” is off the table for our canine companions, even things that may seem innocuous like onions or apple cores. Keep food out of reach at all times. Childproof latches come in handy if your pet is particularly curious and clever. 3. Install barriers. A baby gate is an easy solution to keep your dog out of areas that are off-limits when you’re not around to supervise. Dog-proofing your bathroom and laundry room Image by Leo Gonzales via Flickr Another two rooms that require special attention are the bathroom and the laundry room. Make them dog-proof with the following tips. 1. Put down the lid. Some dogs find toilet bowl water a refreshing thirst quencher (gross, I know.) Prevent Fido from ingesting harsh chemical cleaners by making it a habit to keep the toilet lid down at all times. 2. Keep medicine out of reach. Did you know that the most common cause of pet poisoning is human medication? Don’t let this tragedy happen to your dog, and store all medicine and supplements in a secure cabinet or drawer. 3. Remove access to harmful chemicals. While it might seem obvious, it bears repeating: ensure that all cleaners, detergents, fabric softeners, and bleach are not accessible to your dog. Canines explore the world through their mouth, and we definitely don’t want your pup exploring any of these toxins. 4. Check the dryer. This is usually more applicable to cats, but it’s still good practice to peek in the dryer before using it, as this appliance can be a popular napping spot for pets. Better yet—keep the dryer door closed when not in use. 5. Pick up stray socks. We’ve all blamed the dryer for “eating” our socks, but it’s more likely Fido who’s to blame. Dogs, as you know, are fanatical chewers. This is a major problem if they’re swallowing bits of fabric from towels or socks that can become lodged in the esophagus or cause painful gastrointestinal issues. Dog-proofing your living room Image by Paolo Nicolello via Unsplash The main living spaces in our homes contain dangers that may not even occur to you during your dog-proofing process. Let’s take a closer look. 1. Be mindful of toxic plants. Who doesn’t love a bit of green foliage to brighten up our indoor space? Unfortunately, there are a number of ordinary houseplants that are toxic to pets, so you need to be judicious in your selection and placement of greenery. The ASPCA lays out a helpful guide to plants that are poisonous to dogs and cats, which is worth looking at if you’re an avid plant lover. 2. Watch out for electric cords. Protect your dog from the risk of electrocution or burns by keeping all wires from tvs, lamps, and other devices out of reach (Bonus: it will make your home look tidier!) You can also use protective cord covers to keep your dog from gnawing on them. Don’t forget to provide chew toys to satisfy his urge to chew. 3. Remove anything breakable or valuable. I’ll be the first to admit, this one has caused me some avoidable heartbreak. If you own things you’d rather not have broken, chewed up, or otherwise destroyed (say, like a precious family heirloom?)—keep them out of your dog’s reach. This is especially important if you have a curious and energetic puppy who hasn’t yet gotten over his urge to chew everything in sight. 4. Tidy up. After a competitive game of Monopoly, make sure you put away all those tiny game pieces, which can be a choking hazard to your dog. If you’re a crafter, don’t leave out supplies (especially sewing needles and thread!) that could be tempting to your pooch. 5. Keep an eye on your fireplace. Nothing’s cozier than a roaring fire—just don’t forget to keep a screen in place, or your dog could be harmed by the flames or a flying spark. According to the Pet Poison Hotline, fire starter logs are another thing to watch for, since they can cause obstruction or poisoning in dogs. 6. Use caution with candles. Don’t place candles in precarious places where your dog could easily knock them over. Dog-proofing your bedroom Image by Bennilover via Flickr Your bedroom doesn’t pose many threats to your dog, thankfully. But there are still a few minor things you should consider. 1. Keep cosmetics tucked away. If you use makeup, lotions, hair products, or perfume, keep these things out of sight. The same goes for jewelry and hair clips. 2. Don’t leave laundry lying around. No, we’re not concerned with how tidy your home is. The problem with leaving laundry strewn across your bedroom floor is that strings and buttons can pose a serious choking hazard to pets if ingested. It’s just another incentive to get your family to pick up after themselves. 4. Place mothballs wisely. If you use them, make sure your dog can’t get to them, since mothballs are toxic to pets. Dog-proofing your garage and/or basement The garage and basement are two places in your home where you probably store a lot of chemicals and tools. Avoid disaster by adhering to these simple guidelines. 1. Store chemicals on higher shelves. Perhaps this is self-explanatory, but keep things like gasoline, coolants, pesticides, and antifreeze out of your dog’s reach or behind locked doors. Antifreeze deserves special consideration since it has a temptingly sweet taste to animals and is lethal if ingested. Clean up any spills immediately to keep your dog from lapping up a deadly sample of this stuff. 2. Store tools safely. Sharp garden shears and other dangerous tools should be kept somewhere your dog cannot get at. This also applies to tiny choking hazards like screws, nails, and bolts. 3. Be careful with rat poison. A rat infestation is problematic enough—don’t let your dog ingest that nasty stuff, or you’ll be facing an even bigger issue. According to PetMD, if you use rat poison, you should be on the lookout for dead rodents so that you can dispose of them immediately—before your dog gets to them. Dog-proofing your home can be an involved and time-consuming process, but it’s one that is well worth the effort. You’ll rest easy, knowing that you’ve done everything in your power to keep your beloved canine safe. For tips on dog-proofing your outdoor space, check out our blog post on how to puppy-proof your yard. Believe me, your dog will thank you for it.

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Five Fruits and Veggies You Should be Sharing with Your Dog

When you’re looking for a way to use up your bountiful farmers’ market haul this season, don’t count out the family dog. While some human foods are simply off the table for our canine companions (onions and grapes , for instance, are big no-no’s,) there are still many nutritious fruits and veggies that both humans and dogs can enjoy. Calorie intake always needs to be a consideration when feeding your dog extra treats, and fortunately, these five fruits and veggies won’t make Fido tip the scales. They also have loads of nutrients that your dog needs to live his best life. And, perhaps most importantly, your dog will find them irresistible! So go ahead and give him an extra serving…after all, we all love spoiling our sweet doggos from time to time. 1. Watermelon Image by Kathleen Conklin via Flickr Who doesn’t love a juicy slice of watermelon in the summer? Lucky for your pooch, this is one summer treat that’s totally shareable. Low in calories and big on taste, watermelon is sure to be a hit with your dog! One of the major health benefits of this popular melon lies in its name: watermelon is over 90% water, so it will hydrate your parched pup on hot days. Plus, it packs a punch in the nutrient department, containing potassium as well as vitamins A, B6, and C. The American Kennel Club advises dog owners to dish up seedless, rindless melon chunks to avoid intestinal blockage. Aside from that minimal prep work, serving your dog watermelon is a guilt-free way to show him some extra love. The next time you come home from the market with a gorgeously green melon, give your furry friend a few seedless chunks. And if he’s a fan, try treating him to another dog-friendly melon, like honeydew or cantaloupe. Bon appetite! 2. Carrots Image by Andy Carter via Flickr At some point, you’ve probably witnessed a dog go bananas over these orange, crunchy delicacies. They’re a regular favorite with dogs, who can’t seem to get enough of their yummy sweetness. Luckily, not only are these healthy veggies good for humans, but they’re also a nutritious powerhouse for our dogs! Carrots are high in fiber, which aids in digestive regularity. Plus, they’re loaded with beta carotene, which works as an antioxidant, boosting your pet’s immune system. Carrots can also help your dog maintain proper dental hygiene, cleaning his teeth as he chews. Since teeth-cleaning is one of those tasks often overlooked by pet owners, having a few carrots on hand is an easy way to make sure your dog’s teeth stay pristine and strong. Your dog will love these crunchy snacks so much, you might want to consider replacing all bagged dog treats with them. Affordable and low in calories, carrots can make the ideal training reward for dogs. They’re also a safe option to relieve teething puppies. Try freezing a couple of carrots for a refreshing summertime chew toy that your dog will love. You can even add cooked carrots or sprinkle raw grated carrot over your dog’s dinner for some added vitamins and flavor. 3. Green Beans However you serve them—cooked, raw, or frozen—green beans are basically canine superfood. And unlike your finicky 5-year-old, the family dog will happily scarf down these healthful bites. Green beans are an excellent source of vitamins A, B6, C, and K, as well as fiber, magnesium, calcium, folic acid, iron, potassium, beta carotene, and omega-3 fatty acids. We all know that weight management is a crucial part of maintaining our dogs’ overall health. Carrying around extra weight can really take its toll, physically. In fact, excess pounds can reduce your dog’s life expectancy by two years! The fiber content and low calories of green beans make this a satiating snack, helping your dog stay full longer. So it’s not a bad idea to stock up on these tasty veggies if your dog likes them and could use a little help staying trim. Experts at the American Kennel Club advise against giving your dog canned green beans with extra salt. Equally important is watching out for toxic ingredients that are often paired with green beans in popular side dishes, such as garlic or onions. Stick with plain beans that aren’t loaded with offending accompaniments like oils and spices. Along with his nutrient-dense commercial dog food, green beans can contribute to your dog’s overall well-being. Swap out his less healthy dog biscuits with some beans to help your furry friend stay in shape and live a long, pain-free life. 4. Bananas Image by Karisjo via Pixabay The key to feeding your dog bananas is to do it in moderation. For the most part, this sweet fruit is a healthy treat alternative for dogs, packed with potassium, biotin, copper, fiber, and vitamins B6 and C. On the flipside, bananas contain a significant amount of sugar, so it’s important that you don’t go overboard with them. What about the peels—is it safe for our dogs to eat them? Yes and no. While they’re not actually toxic to dogs, banana peels can be difficult to digest and may cause intestinal issues. So while you don’t need to dial the emergency vet if your dog devours a whole banana, peel and all, you still shouldn’t intentionally offer him a peel. For a refreshing summer treat, try freezing a whole banana before peeling and slicing it for your dog. You can also mash it into his food or fill his Kong toy with it for a tasty treat. Your dog is going to love it! 5. Pumpkin Image by Jamie Street via Unsplash Once Autumn hits, pumpkin-flavored goodies are everywhere we look. We’re happy to report that your dog can enjoy this seasonal treat with you! Both cooked fresh pumpkin and the canned variety are a healthy treat that most dogs find utterly delicious. This scrumptious and festive fruit offers some mega health benefits too, providing substantial doses of fiber, beta carotene, magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc, and vitamins A and C. Their seeds also deliver a good amount of omega-3 fatty acids as well as antioxidants, which strengthen your dog’s immune system and can prolong his lifespan. Pumpkins have the added bonus of maintaining your dog’s digestive health, regulating his bowel movements and relieving diarrhea. In addition to being healthy and affordable, canned pumpkin has convenience on its side and is available year-round. If you’re shopping for canned pumpkin to treat your dog, steer clear of sugar and spice-laden pie filling. Opt, instead, for plain pumpkin puree to avoid giving your pooch an upset stomach. One pro-tip to try is freezing pureed pumpkin in ice trays to avoid waste (once opened, canned pumpkin has a short shelf life of about one week). For many pet owners, balancing tasty rewards with healthy living can present quite the challenge. But it doesn’t need to be this way. The next time you want to treat your dog for his good behavior, try one of these wholesome fruits or vegetables—it’s a simple way to squeeze some extra nutrients into his diet, and your dog will be absolutely thrilled! Are there foods that you should avoid? YES! Check out our post on 14 surprising foods your dog should never eat.

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Disaster Preparedness: How to Keep Your Pets Safe During a Crisis

Most families have some sort of emergency plan in place to keep their loved ones safe should an unforeseen disaster occur. But what about our pets? Are they included in your plans? While it might not be the first thing on your mind when you bring home a new puppy, disaster preparedness is something every pet owner needs to spend some time thinking about. June is National Pet Preparedness Month, so we’re looking at ways you can prepare for any disastrous event, from a hurricane to a sudden evacuation. Use this comprehensive disaster preparedness guide to keep your furry, four-legged friends safe.Your Content Goes Here The ultimate disaster preparedness checklist for pet owners Image via Pixabay 1. Get a pet rescue window decal Many parents already have these rescue alert stickers in place for their children, but did you know you can also use them to notify rescue personnel of any pets in your household? Rescue decals can be found in most pet stores, and the ASPCA even offers them for free! Just fill out a simple form, and they’ll mail you a decal where you can include the type and number of pets in your home. Place the sticker somewhere highly visible, preferably the front door. The ASPCA also recommends that if time allows, you should write “EVACUATED” across the sticker if you end up leaving with your pets during an emergency. 2. Keep your pet’s license and collar info up-to-date If you move or change your phone number, always make sure to update your contact info on Fido’s collar. It’s good practice to periodically check that this info is clearly legible, and be sure to include your contact info on your dog’s carrier in case you become separated. Microchipping your dog is one of the easiest ways for rescuers to identify your pet and have him returned to you, should he go missing. 3. Select a temporary caregiver Choose a temporary caregiver before disaster strikes, so if you ever need to place your pets with a trusted individual, you won’t have the added stress of finding someone who’s up to the task. Ideally, you’ll choose someone who lives close by and has easy access to your home. Swapping keys is a good idea, and make sure to keep this person’s contact info safe and accessible. 4. Select a safe haven If you need to evacuate suddenly, finding temporary housing for your pets may be necessary. Never leave your pets behind! Remember, if it’s not safe for you, it’s not safe for your dog or cat. Your veterinarian can be an excellent source for safe boarding options. Call your local animal shelter to determine if they take pets during an emergency, and create a list of pet-friendly hotels outside of your immediate area. You can also include friends and family on this list, if they are willing to help by housing you and your dog. Image by Coco Parisiennevia Pixabay 5. Have pet carriers on standby Emergencies can strike when we’re least expecting them. Store your pet carriers in an easy-to-access place where you can retrieve them at a moment’s notice. If your dog or cat isn’t used to the carrier, the CDC suggests practicing loading them into it ahead of time. Having your pets get used to being in the car is another good idea to make an evacuation less stressful. 6. Plan for emergencies with your geographic area in mind Your particular area may be prone to earthquakes, floods, or widespread fires. Pack and plan an emergency kit (more on that below) accordingly. 7. Have a plan for sheltering in place If an emergency requires you to shelter in place, make sure you choose a room that is safe for your pets. Select a room with the least amount of windows, and remove any toxic chemicals or plants from the area. 8. Practice caution when returning home After an emergency, things may look or smell different, which can be disorienting and frightening to your dog. Keep your pup leashed when you go outside, to prevent them from bolting until he becomes familiarized with his new environment. You’ll also want to check the area for any of the following hazards: downed power lines, spilled chemicals, contaminated water, and exposed wiring. How to create a pet emergency kit Image by Matan Vizel via Pixabay When you’re in panic mode, things tend to slip through the cracks, so creating a simple pet emergency kit is a smart move when it comes to disaster preparedness. It doesn’t take long to put together, and should the unthinkable happen, you’ll be glad you did. All you need to do is stock an easy-to-carry backpack with critical pet necessities, and then stow your kit in a safe place—preferably near the front door of your home. Try to keep the backpack as light as possible so it’s easy to carry. To prevent it from being left behind, you may want to designate one person in your family who will be in charge of grabbing the bag if an emergency leads to an evacuation. Items to include in a pet emergency kit Food: Aim for a three day supply, and keep in mind—canned food lasts longer. Choose cans with pop tops, or be sure to pack a can opener. Don’t forget to rotate and replace food items as they expire. Bottled water: Plan on one bottle per day. Four bottles should be sufficient. Collapsible feeding bowls: these convenient space savers will make feeding time easier, and they’re inexpensive additions. You may also want to pick up a dog water bottle, designed specifically for our canine companions. Pet first aid kit: this item is an absolute must. Pick up a compact kit (and a pet first aid book while you’re at it) from Amazon or your local pet store. The American Veterinary Medical Association also notes the importance of following up any emergency first aid administered to your pet with immediate professional veterinary care. Medications: If your pet takes medication regularly, make sure to include several doses in your kit. A leash and extra collar: These important items may be forgotten in the hurried confusion of an emergency. Pack an extra of each to be on the safe side. Booties/paw protectors: These will protect your dog’s feet from frigid temps, broken glass, stones, and uneven terrain. Creature comforts: Stress levels will be high during an emergency situation. Ease any frazzled nerves by packing your dog some familiar comforts such as toys, blankets, and treats. Flashlight/glow sticks: In the event of a power-outage, extra lighting will come in handy. Important paperwork: Keep all paperwork dry by storing it in a sealed ziplock bag. Include vaccination records, your vet’s contact information, an emergency contact list, a medication list, feeding instructions, and a list of pet-friendly hotels in case you need a safe place to stay. A current photo of your dog: In case you become separated from your dog, a photo will help others identify him, and it will also prove your ownership once you’re reunited. Image by Maddie via Unsplash Where to Find Items For the money-conscious among us, you’ll be happy to hear that dollar stores are a great place to scoop up many of the items on this list. You can pick up cheap chew toys, treats, and a stash of glowsticks there. You may even be able to find a compact emergency foil blanket! Amazon is a good place to search for a well-stocked pet first aid kit. You can check out Walmart or Target for most of your other pet emergency needs. Be sure to save your shopping bags, too—they make perfect poop bags. (You can never have too many poop bags.) Our pets are an integral part of our families, and it’s our duty to protect them. Keep this disaster preparedness guide handy the next time you’re out shopping so you can start accumulating supplies as they go on sale. You’ll sleep better at night knowing you are prepared for whatever unexpected curveball might come your way. Preparation is the key player in boosting your pet’s survival odds during a disaster, so please consider sharing this post to help fellow pet parents prepare for the unexpected!

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How to Prevent—and Treat—an Overheated Pup in the Dog Days of Summer

For dogs, overheating isn’t just an uncomfortable experience—it can be fatal! And since our beloved canine companions overheat much more swiftly than we do, pet owners must be extra-vigilant during the blistering hot days of summer. Unlike humans who cool down by sweating, dogs dissipate heat through panting. But as Dr. Marty Becker DVM reports to Vetstreet, this isn’t exactly the most efficient cooling system in the animal kingdom. If your dog’s body temperature reaches dangerous levels (between 106-109 degrees F), the cells in his body may be irreparably damaged. This doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy the summer activities we look forward to all year long. Just exercise caution in the heat, and learn how to recognize common signs of distress in your dog to keep him safe. 11 ways to prevent your dog from overheating Image by Ignacio Amenábar via Unsplash As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This expression rings true when it comes to protecting our dogs from heat exhaustion, so keep these tips in mind when you head out with your dog this summer. 1. Never leave Fido in the car: Even if your car is parked in the shade and the windows are cracked, a dog’s temperature can rise dangerously high in a vehicle within minutes. And if you travel with your dog in a crate, make sure it offers good ventilation. 2. Provide shade at all times: Everytime you head outdoors to enjoy the sun with your favorite furry friend, be sure he has access to shady respite. A doghouse won’t help here—in the summer heat, they became broiling ovens. A better option (if your yard doesn’t have adequate shade from trees) is to hang a tarp overhead—preferably one that’s designed to block the sun’s harsh rays. Headed to the beach? Bring an umbrella so your dog can beat the heat. 3. Keep your pup hydrated: Always provide plenty of cool water for your dog to drink. Toss in some ice cubes and refresh his water regularly. 4. Give canned food a try: Consider adding canned food to your dog’s diet during the summer to keep him hydrated. Or try dishing up some cold treats to keep your dog comfortable in the heat—it can be something as simple as freezing a banana, or you can splurge for some delectable doggy ice cream. Either one will have his tail wagging. 5. Exercise during the coolest parts of the day: Avoid those afternoon runs when the sun is at its peak. Opt, instead, for a brisk walk during the early morning or in the evening, when temps aren’t ridiculously high. 6. Check the pavement: Use your hand to determine if the surface you’re walking on could scorch your poor pooch’s paw pads. If the sidewalk or street feels hot to the touch, it’s best to avoid taking your dog for a walk on it. Image by Stefan Glazer via Pixabay 7. Break out the kiddie pool: If your dog likes to swim, having access to a small wading pool provides a welcome break from the sweltering heat. 8. Crank up the AC: If you live in a particularly hot and humid area, your dog will surely thank you for keeping your home at a cooler temperature. 9. Dress for the occasion: Dog clothing with cooling properties can be a literal lifesaver when the mercury rises. Outfit your dog with an evaporative cooling vest, designed to accelerate the removal of heat from your dog. 10. Skip outdoor events: It’s ok to cancel plans (we promise!) If you’re concerned about how Fido will fare in the heat, scrap your outdoor itinerary and opt for a chill day of air-conditioned bliss. After all, there’s still plenty of summer to enjoy. 11. Sleep better: It’s beastly trying to sleep when it’s hot out. Give your dog some relief from the heat with a specially designed cooling bed or an elevated bed designed to improve airflow. Dogs who need special consideration in the heat Certain dogs are more at risk for heatstroke than others. If you have any of the following dogs, pay special attention to their comfort levels during the hottest days of the year: Senior dogs Overweight dogs Brachycephalic dogs (flat-faced breeds like pugs and bulldogs) Dogs with thick fur Dogs with underlying medical conditions (like laryngeal paralysis) How to detect an overheated dog Image by CocoParisienne via Pixabay Heatstroke in dogs is not something to be taken lightly—it’s a life-threatening condition that can result in permanent organ damage or, in the worst cases, death. There are certain signals you can watch for to determine if your dog’s internal temperature has risen to a dangerous level. Monitor your pet in the heat, and if you notice one of more of the following symptoms, intervene immediately. Get your pooch to a cooler area ASAP to de-escalate his rising temperature and to prevent an emergency situation from occurring. Signs that your dog is overheating: Excessive panting Drooling Reddened gums Vomiting Diarrhea Lack of appetite Uncoordinated movements, clumsiness A dog who is unwilling (or unable) to love Collapse Mental dullness, confusion, even loss of consciousness Glassy-eyed expression Fast or irregular heartbeat How to treat an overheated dog Image by Andi via Pixabay If you suspect your dog is suffering from heat exhaustion, it’s imperative to take immediate action—your dog’s life depends on it! First, remove your dog from the hot environment. That means bringing him indoors (preferably somewhere air-conditioned) if it’s hot and humid outside. Next, you’ll want to bring down his temperature by either submerging him in cool water—you can use your bathtub or a garden hose—or covering him with a towel soaked in cold water. While you may be inclined to use ice to cool down your dog quickly, this is a big no-no. According to PetMD, this can actually prevent heat loss by constricting your dog’s blood vessels. As you cool down your dog with water, pay special attention to his neck and the back of his head, but don’t submerge his head completely underwater, otherwise you risk aspiration pneumonia, warns PetMD. Provide cool water for your dog to drink, but don’t force him—this could cause your dog to pull water into his lungs. According to Vetstreet, a dog’s normal temperature is 101.5 degrees F, and a degree above or below this is fine. If, however, a dog’s temp spikes above 105 degrees F, he is at risk for heatstroke. If you have a thermometer, take your dog’s temperature every five to ten minutes or so, until his temp drops below 103 degrees. Even if your dog appears to have recovered from heat exhaustion, it’s still a good idea to give your vet a ring. Serious health conditions can go undetected as a result of overheating, such as kidney failure or brain-swelling. If your vet determines that your dog needs treatment, he may recommend intravenous fluids and monitoring for underlying issues like changes in blood pressure or neurologic problems. Recognizing the signs of heat exhaustion and understanding the appropriate way to respond to this serious condition is critical to keeping your pup safe during the hottest months. Follow these precautionary steps so you and your canine companion can enjoy a fun-filled (and safe) summer together!

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How to Bring Your Dog to Work: Tips for a Successful Office Visit

If you’re anything like the majority of pet owners, you’ve probably wished you could bring your dog to work at some point. After all, one of the hardest parts of heading off to work every day is leaving your beloved doggo behind. Those pleading puppy eyes are enough to melt anyone’s heart! But did you know that Take Your Dog to Work Day is a thing? Every year, on the Friday after Father’s Day, workplaces nationwide go to the dogs—literally. If you’re lucky enough to work for a company that participates in this fun holiday, well, that’s terrific! But before you pack Fido into the car for your daily commute, there are a few things you’ll want to consider first. A little bit of preparation goes a long way towards ensuring you both have a paws-itive experience at the office. But before we dive into HOW you should proceed with bringing your dog to work, let’s take a quick look at WHY you should do it in the first place. Why you should bring your dog to work: the benefits Image by Nicholas Jones via Flickr Aside from the opportunity to show-off how brilliant and beautiful your dog is, bringing him to work comes with a host of benefits. If you’re unconvinced that letting your dog shadow you at the office is a good idea, consider the following benefits of having a dog in the workplace: 1. Dogs relieve stress: If your workday does a number on your nerves, we’ve got some good news: a study conducted by the Virginia Commonwealth University in 2012 discovered that employees who worked alongside their dogs had lower hormonal stress levels than those who didn’t. Not a bad reason to bring your dog to work! 2. Dogs are an immediate mood booster: With their silly antics and unconditional love, dogs have a way of brightening even the darkest of days. It kind of goes without saying, but having a dog in the workplace is a surefire way to boost morale and lighten the office’s mood. 3. You’ll be more productive: This may sound counterintuitive, but bringing your dog to work can actually enhance your performance. Employees are more inclined to deliver their best work when they’re enjoying themselves. And how can you not enjoy sending off emails with your charming Boston Terrier in your lap? 4. Dogs are the perfect battery recharger: When your eyes begin to bug-out after staring at a computer screen all day, your dog is always happy to help you refresh your body and mind. Take a quick walk outside, or simply give your dog a good cuddle, and trust us— you’ll feel a million times better. 5. Dogs build a sense of community: Dogs are a great icebreaker, and they can encourage positive interaction among coworkers. 6. When you bring your dog to work, you’ll encourage adoptions: Take Your Dog to Work Day isn’t just a playfully fun holiday for pet parents. Originally, it was established by Pet Sitters International as a way to promote dog adoptions. Because: who wouldn’t want to adopt a sweet shelter puppy after meeting your darling dog? 7. Decreases pet care costs: If your furry friend regularly attends doggy daycare while you’re at the office, you’ll save major bucks by bringing him to work with you instead. How to bring your dog to work: 13 tips for a pleasant office visit Image by Vlad Shu via Unsplash Here’s how you can enjoy a workday with Fido in tow, minus any headaches or added stressors. If you’re planning to bring your dog to work with you, follow these guidelines to enjoy a safe and memorable day at the office together. 1. Make sure shots and vaccines are up-to-date This is a must to protect your coworkers and their pets. If you’re unsure if your dog’s shots are up-to-date, contact your vet to double-check. 2. Get your pup groomed ahead of time Your dog is always handsome, of course, but you’ll want him looking extra dapper when he makes his office debut. Schedule a grooming appointment beforehand to get your dog looking his best. 3. Feel out your co-workers ahead of time This may come as a surprise, but not everyone is a dog-lover. Some people have allergies, others may be afraid of dogs. It’s wise to get a sense of how your coworkers feel about a dog in the workplace before you bombard them with your charming pug. Always discuss things from a place of respect. If a coworker isn’t exactly keen on having a dog at the office, listen and respond appropriately. 4. Only bring a well-trained dog This is kind of a no-brainer, but only bring your dog to work if he understands basic commands like “sit” and “stay.” A dog who barks or whines excessively can be a distraction to fellow employees, so keep your dog at home if he isn’t able to listen. It’s also important that you only bring your dog to work if he’s already housebroken. 5. Keep your dog’s personality in mind You might be eager to show off your adorable dog, but how does she feel about it? Consider how your dog behaves when meeting new people. Is she shy or suspicious? Is she anxious in unfamiliar environments? If your dog is uncomfortable with new things, perhaps it’s best to leave her at home. Image by Christina Rutz via Flickr 6. Dog-proof your work area Scout out your work area for items that could pose a danger to your pet. Pay special attention to the following common office items that could harm your dog: Paper shredders: Protect your curious pup’s tails, ears, and tongue (yikes!) by keeping paper shredders unplugged when not in-use. Electrical cords: An enthusiastic chewer could suffer serious injuries if he gets a hold of an electric cord. Garbage cans: Is your dog an avid garbage-surfer? Trash bins contain all sorts of tempting morsels for your pooch, many of which can be either a choking hazard or contain materials that are toxic to your dog, such as leftover onions from your coworker’s lunch. Purses: Watch your dog around purses and backpacks, which could contain medications, cosmetics, or harmful foods like chocolate. Plants: If you’re unsure if your office’s lovely Umbrella tree is toxic to your dog, check out the handy toxicity guide developed by the ASPCA. (**spoiler: it IS toxic to your dog.) 7. Pack a doggy bag Anticipate your dog’s needs ahead of time, and pack a bag accordingly. You’ll need food, bowls, treats, a leash, poop bags, chew toys, and cleaning supplies for any accidents. You may want to bring along a baby gate or a crate, especially if your workplace has an open floor plan. 8. Bring some distractions Of course, this is still a work day (albeit, a special one) and that means work still needs to be done. Puzzle toys can serve as a great distraction for your pooch when you need to buckle down. Chew toys or Kongs filled with a tasty treat are also winners. Just leave the squeaky toys at home—your coworkers will surely thank you. 9. Provide a comfy place to sleep Your Content Goes HereCubicles aren’t exactly the coziest places to curl up for a midday siesta, so set up a comfy bed for your dog—he’ll appreciate having his own designated spot where he can feel safe and comfortable. 10. Take frequent potty breaks To avoid the embarrassment (and mess) of an accident in the office, take your dog outside more frequently than you normally would at home. Image by Michael Coghlan via Flickr 11. Introduce your dog gently to minimize stress When you arrive at the office, take your leashed dog for a quick meet-and-greet with your coworkers. If other employees have brought their dogs as well, have them meet on neutral ground outside of the office. Reward your dog and offer praise when he makes a new friend. 12. Watch for any signs of distress Some dogs handle new situations better than others. Monitor your dog for signs of stress, such as pulled-back ears, a tucked tail, sudden scratching, shaking, cowering, or growling. If your dog appears uneasy, take a break from the office and go for a walk together, or let him collect himself in the safety of his crate. Don’t forget that not everyone knows how to read your dog’s body language, so politely inform overzealous coworkers if they are stressing your dog out. 13. Have a plan B Sometimes, despite our best efforts, things won’t go as planned. Have a backup plan in place in case a problem arises, whether it’s a friend coming to take your dog home, or keeping your dog in an unused conference room. No matter what, never leave your dog in your car. It takes only minutes for the temperature inside your car to reach a dangerous level. If you plan to bring your dog to work with you next week, we wish you all the best. If you prepare appropriately, your darling pup is sure to be a hit with your coworkers!

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Dogs and Fireworks: How to Keep Your Dog Calm This Summer

Typically, dogs and fireworks are two things that just don’t mix well. The loud booms and sizzling lights can send your dog into sensory overload and diving under the covers for protection. Watching your poor pooch cower in fear can put a real damper on your 4th of July festivities. And since you can’t exactly explain what all the ruckus and bright lights are about to your dog, you’ll need to approach things from his point of view. If your dog is a bundle of nerves every firework season, we’ve here to help. Check out our top tips for handling dogs and fireworks to help your dog keep calm and summer on.   Desensitize your dog For a more long-term solution, you can gradually build your dog’s tolerance for loud noises. You’ll need to begin the process well in advance, but if time allows, this is probably your best option for coping with the stress of dogs and fireworks.  First, hit up Youtube for a free video of firework sound effects. When you’re ready to start the desensitization process, always remember: the key is to proceed slowly and gently so that you don’t overwhelm your dog. Play the video for a short period, at the lowest possible volume, while treating your dog to a special snack or toy. Repeat this process several times throughout the day, making sure to monitor your dog for signs of distress or anxiety.  Once your dog is comfortable with the low volume setting (it may take several days to get to this point), gradually raise the recording’s sound while continuing to shower your dog with praise and treats. Eventually, your dog should be able to hear full-blown fireworks without freaking out.   Muffle the sound Image by Alexas Fotos via Pixabay If you live in an area where loud fireworks are a regular thing, try drowning out the sound to calm your jittery dog. Keep your windows closed and use a white noise generator or turn on the TV or radio. Noise-canceling ear muffs designed specifically for dogs are another option if your dog will tolerate them.   Close the curtains When it comes to dogs and fireworks, loud crashing isn’t the only thing that’s stressing Fido out. Eerie streaks of bright light flashing across the sky can also startle a frightened dog. To counteract this, leave on some indoor lights—this will mellow out the harshness of the bright fireworks.   Exercise your dog beforehand Since a tired dog is less likely to react to fireworks, try wearing him out before they begin. Plan ahead and take your dog on a long walk during the day, or spend some extra time tossing the frisbee in the backyard. When the booming starts, your pup will be more interested in napping than what’s going on outside.   Leave your dog at home If you plan on going to see a fireworks display this year, keep your dog safe at home in an escape-proof room. The risk of loud noises triggering his impulse to bolt is far too great.   Use distractions Image by Matthew Coulton via Unsplash Never underestimate the power of a special treat to keep your dog at ease. A classic Kong toy layered with yummy goodies or a favorite chew toy will give your dog something to focus on until the fireworks have ended.   Create a “safe place” All dogs love to have a special place where they can retreat when they feel vulnerable. If your dog normally spends time in his crate, cover it with blankets or a sheet to make it extra cozy. Just don’t lock him there—your dog should have the option to come and go as he pleases.  Draping blankets over a table is another alternative, or you can designate one area of your home as your dog’s safe space. Lay down heaps of pillows and plush blankets to cozy things up, and try using a calming dog pheromone spray for added relaxation.   Try an anxiety vest Image by Maja Dumat via Flickr A soothing ThunderShirt is a valuable tool for dealing with nervous dogs and fireworks. These vests gently “hug” your pet, making him feel safe and secure. If you plan to use it for a specific event—like the 4th of July—it’s a good idea to get your dog used to the vest’s pressure ahead of time.   Stay cool Your dog is highly intuitive—if you feel anxious, you can bet he’ll know something’s up. Be aware of your body language and what it could be telling your dog. Try to not jump at the fireworks, and reassure your dog by staying cool, calm, and collected.   Be gentle If your dog wants to hide—let him! There’s no reason to drag him out of his hiding place or force him to “face his fears.” Pushing him past his comfort zone will only aggravate the situation and may even make him lash out aggressively.   Comfort Your dog Image by Myriam Zillles via Pixabay For most pet owners, this is second nature. When we see our dogs in distress, we’re naturally compelled to comfort them. There are, however, naysayers out there who insist that comforting your dog during times of stress is a bad idea because it will only reinforce his fears. But, according to PetMD, this simply isn’t the case. Reassuring your frightened dog by gently petting him and speaking to him softly is an appropriate response. Rather than reinforcing your dog’s fears, providing comfort will simply reinforce his trust in you as a caretaker and companion. Take precautions to prevent a lost dog According to the American Kennel Club, more dogs go missing on the 4th of July than any other day of the year, proving yet again that dogs and fireworks just don’t go together. Severely anxious dogs have been known to chew through doors or even jump out of windows! Keep your dog from joining that unhappy statistic by adhering to the following guidelines: Make sure your dog is wearing ID tags: In terms of lost dog prevention, this is the bare minimum. Ensure that your dog’s collar fits properly (so it doesn’t get removed) and double-check that your contact info is accurate and up-to-date.  Get your dog microchipped: This safe and painless procedure is an affordable way to increase your odds of being reunited with your dog if he goes missing. If you move or change phone numbers, always update your pet’s microchip info. Make your home escape-proof: Keep your “Hairy Houdini” from escaping by closing all windows and doors. Make sure everyone in the household understands they need to be careful entering or leaving the house, so your dog doesn’t slip through.   Talk to your vet about medication If all else fails, talk to your vet about prescribing your dog a sedative or anti-anxiety medication. In severe cases, this is the only way to alleviate a dog’s stressful reaction to fireworks. It’s also worth having a chat about CBD products that can help calm a stressed-out pooch. While the summer months are filled with fun activities, they also bring with them a unique set of challenges for pet parents. Your dog’s fear of fireworks doesn’t need to be one of them. Minimize his or her nerves with these tips, and enjoy your summer together!

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Dogs in Cars: How to Prepare for a Road Trip

Taking a road trip with a dog is a lot like traveling with a toddler in tow. There’s extra prep involved, you’ll need to be on your toes, and car-sickness can strike at the most inopportune times.  But while it’s a touch more complicated than cramming your dog into the car and heading on your whirlwind adventure, that doesn’t mean it can’t be successful—and fun! With patience, a fair amount of planning, and a good sense of humor, you’ll be well on your way towards creating lifelong memories with your dog and family. Lets go over some tips on how to prepare for a road trip with your dog!   How to prepare for a road trip with your dog A little preparation goes a long way towards ensuring a safe and enjoyable vacation with your dog. Like young children, dogs have particular needs (*ahem*…frequent bathroom breaks) that you’ll need to consider before setting out on your epic car trip. Get ready for your grand adventure with the following steps. Image by Yolanda Coervers via Pixabay   1. Master basic commands beforehand No need for your pup to be a straight-A pupil, but a basic understanding of the following commands will prevent some major stress headaches along the way: Train your dog to wait in the car until you give permission for him to jump out. Make sure your dog is comfortable walking on a leash (ie: no pulling.) A well-socialized dog will be much easier to deal with at busy rest stops.  Teach your dog to come on command. If he gets loose while you’re pulled over on the side of the road, this is absolutely essential.   2. Practice car travel ahead of time The fact is, some dogs are better travelers than others. And if your pup only associates car travel with stressful vet visits, you could be in for an unpleasant trip.  Start small, and gradually acclimate your nervous pooch to the car with short trips to innocuous places like, say, the local dog park. As he becomes more comfortable with car travel, build up his tolerance by taking longer day trips somewhere fun—a lake or favorite hiking spot are good choices. Over time, he’ll identify the car with good times, instead of something to be feared.  Once he stops equating car rides with unpleasant destinations, he’ll be much more relaxed when it’s time to take that 10-hour family road trip you’ve been planning.   3. Make sure your dog’s health is up-to-snuff If time allows, take your dog for a physical to confirm he’s in tip-top shape before you trek out to a new place with vets who are unfamiliar with your dog. Some states require a health certificate, so it’s wise to pick one up if you’ll be crossing state lines. And last, but certainly not least, make sure that your dog is up-to-date on all vaccinations.   4. Check your dog’s ID tags and microchip A lost dog is much more likely to be returned to his owners if he’s wearing an ID tag. Make sure your contact info is up-to-date and clearly legible. Boost your odds of a happy reunion by getting your dog microchipped as well. Microchipping is a painless and affordable safety precaution that prevents the tragedy of a permanently lost dog.   5. Consider your choice of car If you have options when it comes to your mode of travel, choose wisely. A teacup-sized puppy can ride comfortably in a teeny sedan. A burly German Shepherd? Not so much.    6. Don’t feed your dog right before your trip No one wants a carsick dog minutes into a long road trip. Feed your pet a few hours before you plan to depart, and avoid feeding him during the drive.   What to bring for your dog Image by Kazuo via Pixabay Your bags are packed and ready to go. But what about Fido? He’ll require some different items on your journey, so bring the following: Food and water with bowls: consider collapsible bowls for easy storage. A dog water bottle: these are specially designed to avoid spills. Vaccination records: if your dog requires medical attention during your trip, you’ll be relieved to have these. Keep records dry in a sealed zip lock bag. Meds: if your dog takes them, bring along enough to last the vacation. Benadryl is a good thing to have handy as well, in case your dog has a sudden allergic reaction. Leash: anytime he’s outside of the car, your dog should be leashed. Favorite toys and chews: these will help him pass the time—just leave the obnoxious squeaky times at home. Creature comforts: a favorite blanket and comfy pillows will make your dog feel more at home. Favorite toys and chews: these will help him pass the time—just leave the obnoxious squeaky times at home. Creature comforts: a favorite blanket and comfy pillows will make your dog feel more at home. Treats: reward your pooch with a tasty snack. (They’re also useful for luring a loose dog back to safety.) Poop bags: Please be considerate—pick up after your pet. Pet first-aid kit: You can find fully stocked kits at most pet stores. A recent picture of your dog: this will come in handy if your dog goes missing.     9 Tips for a pleasant car ride Image by StockSnap via Pixabay So you’re prepped, you’re packed, and you’re ready to go. Keep things flowing smoothly with these 9 travel tips.   1. Use restraints It may seem like an unnecessary inconvenience, but using a harness is infinitely better than letting your dog have free reign of the vehicle. An unrestrained dog can be injured in an accident. Plus, he can be a major distraction to whoever’s driving. Keep everyone safe by outfitting your dog with a harness that attaches to your car’s latch hardware.  If you have space, keeping your dog in a crate that’s strapped down is a smart way to travel. Choose a crate that’s well-ventilated, and watch where the sun hits as it can overheat your dog.   2. Take regular bathroom breaks Plan to stop for potty breaks every few hours. While you’re outside, tie in a solid walk to burn off your dog’s excess energy—he’ll be happier and more relaxed if you do.   3. Stick to your dog’s normal routine You don’t need to be militant about it, but try to maintain your dog’s eating schedule as much as you’re able. If dinnertime is normally at 5 PM, plan to take a meal break around that time.   4. Keep your dog’s head inside the car Image by Jay Heike via Unsplash It’s tempting to let your dog enjoy all the exciting new scents, sounds, and sights with his head out the window. They look so happy! Unfortunately, this is a big no-no. Bugs and debris can damage your dog’s eyes, and worse—he could fall out. Equally unsafe is allowing your dog to ride in the back of an open pickup truck. Keep your dog safe and sound inside the vehicle at all times.   5. Give your dog his own space Designate one special area of the car for your dog. Cozy things up with familiar blankets, pillows, and toys to make “his spot” one that he’ll be happy to occupy for the long haul.   6. Be realistic about your travel itinerary As we’ve already mentioned, not all dogs are the best travel companions. Add in all the extra potty breaks and walks you’ll need to squeeze in, and you’re looking at a slightly different travel agenda than you may have originally anticipated. Give yourself enough time to reach your destination without feeling pressure to rush things. An extra day of driving, while not ideal, might be the way to go to keep frazzled nerves at a minimum.   7. NEVER leave your dog unattended in the car It takes only minutes for a car’s interior to reach dangerously high temps. Opened windows and ample shade are no match for the summer’s blistering heat. Protect your pup from heatstroke, which can lead to serious health complications and even death.   8. Pick up after your dog Don’t be that guy. Please, please pick up after your dog relieves himself.   9. Understand (and accept) the fact that your car will get dirty There’s no getting around it—dogs aren’t the tidiest creatures. If you’re traveling by car with your dog this summer, you’ll have fur, slobber, and dirt to contend with. If you’re something of a neat freak, pack some Lysol wipes and a few quick-drying towels in case your dog gets wet. Waterproof seat liners are perfect if you plan to take future trips with your dog (which we hope you do!) No matter what challenges you face while traveling by car with your dog, keep in mind: this is meant to be fun! As long as you do your homework and prepare well in advance, you and your dog will go off on the adventure of a lifetime. 

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How to Find the Perfect Dog Sitter

From the Search to the Interview: How to Find the Perfect Dog Sitter Planning a special getaway this summer? Don’t forget to make arrangements for the furry members of your family!  We understand that leaving your dog with someone new can be a nerve-wracking experience—for you and your pup. This is why we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to finding the perfect sitter for your canine companion. Check out these pro tips so you can fully enjoy that vacation you’ve been waiting for.   Step # 1: Get clear on the TYPE of dog sitting services you want Image by Marvin Meyer via Unsplash Pet sitting is not a one size fits all deal. Every sitter operates differently, so it’s important to figure out exactly what services you’re looking for. Ask yourself: what type of sitter best suits your dog’s unique needs?  Do you want a sitter to stay in your own home, or would you prefer bringing your dog to a sitter’s home? What about a sitter who stops over in 30-minute increments a couple of times per day? Think about your dog’s personality and preferences. A particularly anxious dog may fare better in his own home, while others will have no problem spending a long weekend somewhere new.  You’ll also need to consider the level of service you prefer. This can vary greatly from sitter to sitter. Some dog sitters will include little extras such as grooming, training, outdoor exercise, and even weight loss regimens. Do you need someone to water your plants or bring in the mail? Plenty of pet sitters include these duties with their services.   Where to find a professional pet sitter Image by Leonides Ruvalcabar via Unsplash Ok, so you’ve decided on the type of sitter you want—now where can you find one? Here are a few reliable sources: Ask your vet: A sitter who has a professional rapport with your vet should be at the top of your list. You may even discover that staff members at your vet’s office offer pet sitting services on the side. Ask fellow pet owners: Friends who’ve had a positive experience with a sitter are a great resource to find someone you can trust. Go online: Pet Sitters International offers an easy-to-search database of certified professionals where you’ll find sitters who are as dedicated to your pet’s safety and well-being as you are. The National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS) is another solid organization to find a trustworthy sitter. There’s an App for that! The Grumble Dog App makes finding responsible pet sitters a breeze. Plug in your location and scroll through the results to find the professional who’s right for you!   10 Interview questions you should ask potential dog sitters Image by Alexander Lowenthal via Unsplash While being an animal-lover is a definite plus, it doesn’t exactly qualify someone to handle an emergency situation. And, as we all know, when you’re dealing with pets, the unexpected can certainly occur. Interviewing potential caretakers will help you weed out inexperienced sitters, so you can be confident that your dog is in good hands. Before you dive into the nitty-gritty of questioning, set up a meet-and-greet in your home or a public place where you can observe how the sitter interacts with your dog. This trial period is eye-opening, and will ultimately help you gauge how well someone gets along with your beloved pooch. Is the sitter friendly and comfortable around your pup? And—more importantly—is your dog happy and comfortable around him?  This initial meeting is critical because it helps you and the sitter assess whether or not this is a good fit. Keep in mind that while most pet sitters will happily schedule a meet-and-greet for free, some will charge a nominal fee to compensate for their time and travel. Once you’re pleased with how the sitter interacts with your dog, it’s time to dig deeper. Use the following questions for a successful interview.   1. Do you like pet-sitting? This may seem like a silly question, but trust us—you want to leave your dog with someone who enjoys taking care of him. It’s not unheard of for someone to get into pet-sitting because it’s an easy way to make cash that requires very little skill or knowledge. You don’t want someone like that. You want someone who adores animals and will dote on your dog as if he were their own.   2. What kind of experience do you have? Sure, you could take the easy route and simply leave your pup with your dog-loving niece or friendly neighbor. But the truth is—you’ll feel more at ease leaving your pet with someone who has experience dealing with unexpected situations. Ask the sitter: How long have you been dog sitting? Do you have pet-specific training (such as first aid or CPR)? Do you have experience with special needs pets (if applicable)?   3. Do you have references? A pet sitter who takes their business seriously will be able to procure a list of clients willing to vouch for their professionalism. The feedback you’ll get from other clients will form a clear picture of how reliable the sitter is and what you can expect should you hire him.   4. Are you insured? This will cover expensive accidents that could occur while you’re away. If your pet requires emergency medical attention, for instance, insurance means you won’t be arriving home to a hefty medical bill.   5. What is included (and NOT included) in your rates? Image via Pixabay Make sure you understand what you’re paying for. Beyond their daily rate, some sitters will charge fees for additional services such as watering plants, taking your dog to the park, or tidying up the house.  Find out what their payment terms are as well. Do they require a deposit beforehand? Or will you pay-in-full after you return home? Avoid complications by getting money issues squared away ahead of time.   6. Will you provide a contract? A well-written contract will clear up any misinformation and set expectations about the duties your sitter will perform. The document should cover topics such as emergency care, payment terms, and communication plans. Things will run more smoothly if everyone is on the same page.   7. How would you handle an emergency? An experienced sitter will have a plan in place should a crisis occur, whether it’s a medical mishap or a runaway dog. Make sure you provide the sitter with your vet’s contact info and let them know where the nearest emergency vet office is located.   8. How much time will you spend with my dog? If you’re hiring someone to make drop-in visits, find out how long you can expect your sitter to stay with your dog. If you feel more comfortable with a longer visit, ask your sitter if this is an option with additional compensation.  If, on the other hand, the sitter will be staying in your own home, you’ll want to stick to your dog’s routine as much as possible. If your dog is used to having a full-time companion in the house, try to find a sitter who is able to accommodate this.   9. Are you comfortable taking care of my dog’s special needs? Be upfront about any special needs your dog may have. This includes things like medication or specially prepared food. Make sure the person you hire is comfortable handling these extra details.   10. What’s the best way to stay in touch? Photo by FLOUFFY on Unsplash Establish a method for keeping in contact with your sitter while you’re away. Seasoned sitters will have a system in place to keep you up-to-date on your dog’s wellbeing, whether it’s a quick phone call or a daily text. If your sitter is willing to send them, regular photos of your pet are a good way to alleviate any anxiety you have with leaving your pet behind.   What you need to give your dog sitter To ensure a safe and pleasant experience for everyone, make sure you supply your pet sitter with the following: Contact info: include your cell number (and the number of someone traveling with you, as a backup), your hotel info, your vet’s info, an emergency vet number, and the number of local family members or friends (in case you can’t be reached). Your dog’s medical history: Notify your sitter of any known allergies or meds your dog takes (with instructions for administering them). Also let your sitter know if your dog is prone to things like seizures or heatstroke. A detailed account of your dog’s routine: Fill your sitter in on any noteworthy habits or preferences your dog may have. Where does your pooch normally sleep? Does he wolf down his meals or does he prefer to graze all day? Is he a rascally escape artist? How does he react to other dogs during walks? Knowing these little details will make all the difference for your sitter and your pet. Feeding instructions: write out a thorough description of how much and how often your dog needs to be fed. Food, bowls, toys, and leashes: keep any dog-related necessities handy in one centralized place, so your sitter can find what he needs when he needs it. House keys: give your sitter a set of keys so they can lock up if they need to leave the house. We get it—leaving your pet with a sitter for the first time can be majorly unnerving. They are part of your family, after all. Just take your time interviewing potential candidates—your dog’s perfect sitter is out there.

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Taking Your Dog on a Plane: Here’s What You Need to Know

To fly or not to fly—that is the question faced by thousands of pet owners itchin’ to get away this summer. Luckily, we’ve got you covered with everything you need to know before you book Fido’s flight. Read on to make preparations for a (mostly) stress-free and unforgettable plane trip with your dog.    1. Choose your airline wisely Not all airlines are created equal. Pet protocols run the gamut from enforcing no-dogs-allowed policies to welcoming canines with open arms. Because every airline has a different approach to pets, flying with your dog requires a bit of research. Compare several airlines policies on pet travel: what kind of fees can you expect? What type of carrier will you need? How much advance notice does the airline require? Will your pup be able to stay with you in the cabin? Some airlines employ size and breed restrictions, and others require a vet-approved certificate of health for dogs to fly. Keep in mind that policies can change overnight, so it’s good practice to give your airline a ring every time you plan to travel with your dog. Image by CDC via Unsplash   2. Book early Anyone who’s ever flown sandwiched between two strangers for several unpleasant hours knows this undeniable truth: planes have finite space. They can only fit so many dogs on each flight—usually just one or two. Before you buy your ticket, call the airline to confirm there’s still a space for your dog.   3. Fly direct Make life easier by booking a direct flight, if you can. Dragging your poor pooch through a crowded O’Hare is never good for your nerves (or your dog’s nerves, for that matter). If a non-stop flight isn’t in the cards, try booking on a weekday when airports are less busy.  If your dog is traveling in the cargo hold, remember that it can get uncomfortably hot or cold in there, depending on the weather. In the sticky heat of summer, fly in the morning or evening. In the winter, travel midday to avoid extreme temperatures.   4. To check or not to check Image by Minda Haas Kuhlmann via Flickr Whether or not your dog will travel with you in the cabin depends largely on his size. If he’s on the smaller side—say, under 20 pounds—he should be able to fit in a carrier under the seat in front of you.  One of the pros of in-cabin travel is the peace of mind it will give you. You’ll know how your dog is doing at all times. On the other hand, sometimes knowing how your dog is doing at all times can cause more stress than peace. If your dog is particularly barky or you’re concerned about his potty habits, keeping your dog close-by could be agonizingly stressful. Your other option is to check your dog into the cargo hold. Not every airline offers this option, so if you have a larger dog, check ahead of time. The Humane Society of the United States warns travelers to be prudent if they plan to check their pets into cargo. For the most part, pets will enjoy an easy flight, free of incident. But, unfortunately, several tragedies have occurred over the years, so do your homework and look into an airline’s performance history before committing to a flight.   5. Prepare the right crate Image by Tanya Yule via Flickr Flying with your dog in-cabin? A soft-sided carrier is your best bet. If you’re unsure if a carrier will underneath the seat in front of you, remove all doubt by purchasing a carrier directly from the airline. For folks flying their dog in cargo, choose a crate large enough for your dog to stand and turn around in. Keep the door securely closed, but don’t lock it. You want airline personnel to have access to your dog, in the event of an emergency. Whether in-cabin or in-cargo, carriers should be labeled with your name and cell number. Line the floor with absorbent towels (just in case), and consider securing a small bag of dog food to the outside of the crate, so airline employees can feed your dog during an extended layover. The ASPCA advises pet owners to advocate for their dog’s safety. Don’t be afraid to vocalize any concerns, and alert flight attendants that you have a pet in cargo. The more people who are aware of your dog’s presence, the safer he’ll be. A final word about pet carriers: introduce them to your dog ahead of time. Weeks before your travel date, take little trips in the carrier, and let your dog familiarize himself with it. Always shower your dog with praise and treats when he’s calmly enjoying his crate.   6.  Double-check your dog’s ID tags Before you jet off on your grand adventure, make sure your dog’s ID tags are legible and up-to-date. If time permits, get your dog microchipped (if he isn’t already). Microchipping is a safe and noninvasive way to prevent your dog from becoming permanently lost.   7. Visit the vet Get the all-clear from your vet before boarding. If you have any reservations about your dog’s health when it comes to air travel, your vet should be your first stop. He or she can advise you on whether or not your pooch will be able to handle the stress of flying. You can also make sure his vaccinations are up-to-date, and obtain a health certificate, which may be required in certain states. Image by Andy Blackledge via Flickr   8. Pack a doggie bag Be prepared for anything by packing a bag with doggo essentials. Include treats, food and water, feeding bowls, toys, a leash, poop bags, any medications your dog takes, and his medical paperwork.   9. Fly on a (mostly) empty stomach No one wants a pup with an upset tummy, so avoid feeding him right before your flight. If it’s feasible, aim for a meal about four hours before takeoff.  It’s equally important to get some exercise in before your dog is stuck in his crate for the long haul. A nice walk will tire him out and keep him calm during travel.   10. Plan potty breaks Once you’re on the plane, there’s nothing that can be done about Fido’s full bladder, so give him plenty of outdoor time to do his business beforehand. Did you know that many airports actually have “pet relief stations?” They’re exactly what they sound like—a small area with fake grass and baggies. Beyond brilliant, if you ask me.   11. Board early to get settled Traveling with a dog can be tedious, so take full advantage of your airline’s early boarding option. If they call for people who need extra time boarding, this includes you! Get to your seat before the mad rush so you don’t need to climb over passengers with your clunky dog carrier.  Traveling with pets can be overwhelming—but it doesn’t have to be. Plan ahead, be prepared and follow these guidelines for a comfy and safe trip. Happy traveling!

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A Beginners Guide to Dock Diving

If your dog loves to play fetch and he can’t get enough of the water, perhaps you should give dock diving a try. This fast-growing dog sport is an exhilarating and simple way to blow off steam while bonding with your beloved pup. Interested? Keep reading for the lowdown on this unique dog sport.   What is dock diving? Image by Bruce Simmons via Flickr The concept behind dock diving is simple: you toss a toy into a pool, and your dog leaps from a dock to retrieve it, with the goal of jumping the farthest. While competitive distance-jumping is the most popular version of the sport, you’ll see a few variations—such as measuring how high a dog can jump and how fast he can retrieve a toy.  Dock diving made waves at the 1997 Purina Incredible Dog Challenge, appearing on ESPN three short years later. Dock diving’s popularity is no surprise—what’s not to love about dogs running full speed into a body of water? The sport captures your happy pooch in his element, and we are fully on board with that! Since it requires both a dog and a human handler, dock diving fosters bonding and companionship. It’s also an inclusive activity—anyone can do it! Whether you have an athletic labrador or a feisty chihuahua, dock diving is something any water-loving dog can enjoy and excel at. If your dog can jump—and swim—he can dock dive.   How to get involved in dock diving Image by Phrawr via Flickr If you and your pup are ready to take the leap, there are three organizations to check out: North American Diving Dogs (NADD), Dock Dogs, and Ultimate Air Dogs. Each group has its own rules and regulations, and they also offer memberships if you’re looking for some friendly camaraderie.  Once you find a competition in your area, all you need to do is register and pay any fees required. To keep things fair, your pet will compete against dogs with similar abilities, so don’t worry about your beginner status. This is one sport where participants are happy to help out the newbies.   Benefits of dock diving for dogs Still need convincing that dock diving should be your new hobby? Check out all the ways you and your dog can benefit from this activity. It’s good exercise: Running, jumping, swimming—dock diving will get your dog’s heart pumping without being too taxing. It’s safe: If you’re looking for a gentler sport that won’t strain your dog’s joints or muscles, it doesn’t get much better than this. Even senior dogs can get involved in dock diving. It’s a great way to beat the heat: In the dog days of summer, dock diving will more than take the edge off.  It will strengthen your bond: Like most canine sports, dock diving will bring you and your dog closer together.  You can choose the level of competitiveness: Dock diving doesn’t need to be about winning. If you’re not the competitive type, it can just be a new way to have fun with your furry friend!   Spitfire “The Flying Dog” Dock diving dogs come in all shapes and sizes, but one famous doggo exists in a category all his own. Introducing Spitfire, “the Michael Jordan of Dogs.” This 7-year-old Whippet has beat multiple world records, including height and distance jumps as well as speed retrieving. In 2018, this champion took things next level when he jumped a whopping 31 feet! So yeah. He’s kinda a big deal.    How to get started Image by Bruce Simmons via Flickr Have we given you enough incentive to give dock diving a try? Excellent. Let’s look at how you can get started.   1. Brush up on your dog’s fetching skills Hopefully, your dog already has this trick in his back pocket, but if not, now’s the time for some lessons. The American Kennel Club has laid out some easy-to-follow steps if you need some guidance.   2. Add water It should go without saying, but your dog needs to be fond of the water if he’s going to get anywhere with dock diving. For dogs who are on the hesitant side, you’ll need work on his level of comfort with water. Private swimming lessons are an option for inexperienced dogs, and PetMD recommends using a dog life jacket for the first few sessions. It’s also important to practice in water that’s deep enough for your dog’s big splash landing.  If you don’t have access to water, you can contact one of the three dock diving organizations mentioned earlier to help you find an available swimming pool for practice. Image by Bruce Simmons via Flickr   3. Master the dive Once your dog is comfortable in the water, it’s time to move on to the exciting part: the diving!  First, let your dog familiarize himself with the length of the dock by walking up and down it together. When you’re both ready, toss a ball or toy into the water—chances are instinct will kick in, and your dog will leap for the toy without any prompting from you.  Continue working on your throws, and encourage your dog to jump as far as possible. Just keep things fun! If you or your dog is getting bored, tired, or frustrated—it’s time to take a break.   4. Get the right equipment Thankfully, dock diving doesn’t require an expensive array of equipment. Beyond the obvious (you need a dog, a dock, and a body of water) you’ll want a waterproof dog collar and some floating toys such as a dog-training dummy or just a plain ol’ ball. (Dogs aren’t picky.) PetMD suggests making these toys for dock diving only, so your dog will get excited every time you bring them out.  As far as summer activities go, splashing around with our doggos ranks pretty high. Go ahead and give it a try—you may find that dock diving is your new favorite.

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Inspiring Dog Stories

8 Inspirational Dog Stories That Will Melt Your Heart We could all do with a dose of happy these days, wouldn’t you say? And nothing says “happy” quite like a heartwarming story of man’s best friend. We’ve rounded up eight of the sweetest, most inspiring dog stories we could find. These pups are brave. They’re resilient. And above all, they’re loving to their core.     # 1—Miniature Schnauzer Visits Owner in the Hospital Nothing can stand in the way of true love. And no one proved this better than Sissy, a devoted Schnauzer who couldn’t stand to be separated from her hospitalized owner, Nancy Franck.  Sissy was no ordinary Schnauzer. This spirited pup took canine devotion to the next level by escaping her family home to track down her human, traveling 20 miles in the process. Nancy’s husband Dale was astonished when he received a call from a hospital security guard informing him that they had found Sissy on the hospital grounds. Talk about loyalty!   # 2—Missing dog treks 60 miles to her old home Some ties can’t be broken. This was certainly the case with Cleo, a yellow labrador-mix who went missing earlier this month. Thankfully, Cleo was found, but it was in the unlikeliest of places—her owner’s previous home. When Colton Michael found an unfamiliar dog on his porch, he assumed it belonged to a nearby neighbor. Once he earned Cleo’s trust, Michael took her to have her microchip scanned. The results were astonishing—Cleo belonged to his home’s previous owner! Even after two years, Cleo was still attached to her old house. Despite what they say, you really can go home again.   # 3—Dog saves owner’s life by detecting cancer When Lauren Gauthier adopted a one-eyed rescue dog named Victoria, she had no idea that this intuitive pooch would one day save her life.  It was Victoria’s persistent sniffing of a red blemish on Lauren’s nose that drove the owner to schedule a doctor’s appointment to check things out. Suspicions were confirmed when testing came back positive for basal cell carcinoma. Lauren underwent surgery to remove the cancer, and has her beloved dog to thank for sounding the alarm.    # 4—Great Dane helps boy with cerebral palsy walk again Dogs can be the ultimate motivators. This proved to be true for Hunter VanBrocklin, a young boy with cerebral palsy who underwent surgery for hip dysplasia in 2016. When Hunter needed to learn how to walk again, his beloved  Dane, Wendy, rose to the occasion. With a gentle leader harness around her neck, Wendy helped Hunter maintain his balance, making it possible for the boy to enjoy active pursuits—even hiking!   # 5—Retriever saves 27 people from drowning Retrievers are known for being skilled swimmers, but Swansea Jack was a cut above the rest. Jack, a black retriever, lived with his owner near the River Tawe in Wales during the 1930s. This tenacious pup earned his status as “hero” after rescuing a boy who was drowning in the river, pulling him to shore by the scruff of his neck.  One heroic feat is more than most dogs will accomplish in their lifetimes, but for Jack this was just the beginning. Over the course of a decade, this fearless swimmer saved at least 27 people from the treacherous river! Jack’s rescues were honored with a number of rewards, including a silver collar from the local council, a Silver Cup from the mayor of London, and two bronze medals from the National Canine Defense League.  A statue stands in Jack’s honor on the St. Helen’s Rugby Ground, and he was even dubbed “Dog of the Century” in 2000 by the Newfound Friends of Bristol.    # 6—Barry the Saint Bernard Did you know that Saint Bernards were bred by monks in the 1800’s specifically to rescue travelers stranded in the snowy Swiss Alps? One special dog named Barry took his job very seriously, saving 40 people in his lifetime.  Even after his death, Barry’s legacy was immortalized by the Swiss monks who continue to keep one dog named Barry in their monastery at all times.   # 7—Collie recovers missing World Cup Just months before the 1966 FIFA World Cup tournament was to be held, an unthinkable crime was committed—someone had stolen the Cup! The ensuing frenzy to find the missing trophy was resolved when a Londoner named David Corbett was walking his Collie, Pickles. When something in the bushes caught Pickles’ attention, he walked over to sniff around. In this case, the dog’s curious nose paid off—he had found the missing Cup! Pickle’s discovery catapulted him into a life of fame and fortune. A pet food manufacturer named him “Dog of the Year,” and rewarded him with a year’s worth of free dog food. Pickles also attended a celebration banquet in his honor and starred in several movies and TV shows.   # 8—Golden Retriever wards off poisonous snake In 2004, a courageous Golden named Brutis risked his own life to save a young girl who was perilously close to a deadly coral snake. As the snake slithered closer, Brutis snatched the predator, enduring a nasty bite in the process. Thankfully, this fearless canine survived and went on to receive the National Hero Dog award. We wouldn’t be surprised if one of these selfless acts of canine heroism inspired you to march straight over to your local animal shelter in search of your new best friend. Or maybe you already have a plucky pup at home. Either way, these eight dogs are in a league of their own, and we enthusiastically applaud their bravery. 

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13 Tips For Living in an Apartment with a Dog

13 Tips For Living in an Apartment with a Dog Are your current living arrangements making you second-guess the practicality of dog ownership? It doesn’t need to be this way! Just because you live in an apartment, you don’t have to rule out the joys of sharing your space with a happy pooch. With proper planning and a dose of common courtesy, your rental could be the perfect home for a canine companion. Check out these tips to ease the stress of living in an apartment with a dog.   1. Choose your dog wisely Of course, this advice only applies to folks who are in the market for a new dog. The truth is, some breeds are better suited to apartment life than others. You may have your sights set on an active Border Collie, but this type of dog could find such confined quarters to be stressful.  When searching for your new pupper, keep in mind that size is not the chief concern here. A giant Greyhound, for instance, can thrive in a smaller space just as well as a teacup-sized Shih Tzu. The thing you need to pay attention to is the breed’s energy level—a feisty dog (no matter his size) will be miserable if he’s unable to stretch his legs regularly. A bored dog will often resort to destructive behavior to release his frustration.  Whether you’re looking for a puppy or a senior rescue, you should consider the breed’s exercise needs, chewing habits, and tendency to bark. Your neighbors will thank you. Here are a few breeds that make ideal apartment roommates, according to CertaPet: Boston Terrier: These dogs aren’t yappy, they don’t shed a lot, and they’re easy to train. Plus, they’re adorably fun-sized. Pug: Clownish charmers at heart, pugs are a perennial favorite among dog lovers. They don’t have an aggressive bone in their body, making them ideal residents in apartment buildings. Great Dane: Yes, you read that correctly. If you have a larger apartment, Danes make great roommates. They’re easy-going, don’t bark a lot, and are frequently referred to as “the world’s largest lap dog.” Cavalier King Charles Spaniel: Cavalier’s are famously adaptable, docile, and quiet dogs. Chihuahua: These portable pups don’t need a lot of exercise and they’re enormously loyal. Basset Hound: This medium-sized hound is conveniently low-energy, making him a hit with renters. Mastiff: For people who prefer larger breeds, Mastiffs are an excellent choice. These gentle giants are mellow couch potatoes, so you won’t need to worry about them getting antsy in a smaller space.     2. Make sure dogs are allowed Image by Justin Veenema via Unsplash Before you commit to puppy parenthood, clear things with your landlord first. You’ll probably have to pay an extra fee to cover any dog-inflicted damage, so make room in your budget accordingly. If you plan to move in the near future, remember that it can be challenging to find a dog-friendly apartment. Have realistic expectations to protect yourself from disappointment down the road.   3. Socialize and desensitize your pup Apartments can be bustling places with people—and pets—constantly coming and going. Obedience classes and social interaction can help your dog get comfortable living in such a busy environment.  Loud noises are another factor that can lead to a stressed-out pooch. While white noise can usually drown out boisterous neighbors, sometimes it just doesn’t cut it. When this is the case, try treats. Every time a door slams or a loud argument occurs, toss your dog some treats. Before you know it, he’ll learn to associate noise with good things, and his stress level will diminish significantly.   4. Set aside an emergency “destruction” fund Even the best-behaved dogs have slip-ups from time to time. If your little angel one day discovers he quite likes the taste of carpet—you’re in for a hefty bill. Be smart, and plan ahead.   5. Plan for potty training Image by Omid Tavallai via Flickr House training your dog is a whole different ball game if you live in an apartment. Unlike a homeowner who can simply open the back door to let a dog do his business, you may have stairs, elevators, and neighbors to contend with.  Establishing a scheduled potty routine will make things run more smoothly. You may want to consider using puppy pads, especially if you live in a high-rise building. Setting up a balcony potty is a smart solution for emergencies. Faux grass is a life saver if your puppy needs to go in the middle of the night.  And last, but certainly not least—ALWAYS pick up after your dog.   6. Find ways to exercise Sure, you may not have a private yard to let Fido run laps, but there are other ways to get in his daily exercise needs. Set aside time every day for leashed walks, hit up the local dog park, or consider hiring a trusted dog walker to help him burn off steam.  A dog without an energy outlet is prone to behavior issues like chewing or excessive barking, so don’t ignore this basic canine need. You’ll reap the benefits, too—walking your dog will get you outside, encourage you to explore your neighborhood, and help you meet neighbors.   7. Make sure Fido’s vaccinations are up-to-date Be a good neighbor and ensure that your dog is vaccinated and parasite-free. This is especially important when you’re sharing outdoor space with children and fellow residents.   8. Control your dog’s barking Image by Robert Grammer via Unsplash A relentless barker can cause serious rifts between otherwise friendly neighbors. Be courteous, and find ways to curb your dog’s yappy vocalization before the complaints start pouring in. Regular exercise, puzzle toys, and removing stressors (ie: closing blinds and using white noise) are a good place to start.   9. Don’t bring him to the pool If you’re lucky enough to live in a complex with a community pool, please don’t consider it an open invitation for your dog to take a dip. His nails could cause serious damage, someone could get injured, and it’s just not the most sanitary thing to do.   10. Create a sound barrier If you live in an apartment where neighbors are just a thin wall away, find a way to block out the extra noise. Pro tip: play soft, soothing music while you’re away to keep your dog calm. A TV or portable fan can have a similar effect. The less disturbance your dog hears, the less likely he’ll be to sound his barking alarm.   11. Be careful when entering or exiting If your dog always reacts to other people or pets, check to make sure the coast is clear before walking through doors. Maintaining a friendly rapport with your neighbor down the hall is easier when you’re not startling him everytime you come home with your dog.   12. Keep your dog leashed Image by Artistic Operations via Pixabay It might be hard to believe, but not everyone is fond of your giant Boxer. In fact, there are plenty of people who consider him a threatening menace. Be sensitive to your fellow neighbors, and keep your dog leashed everytime you leave your apartment.  This courtesy extends well beyond your neighbors—it also keeps your dog from getting loose or running into traffic.    13. Consider hiring a professional trainer Some dogs need a little extra help correcting bad habits. If this is the case with your pup, don’t be afraid to work with a professional trainer. A pro can help you with obedience lessons and mitigate nuisance barking. Owning a dog can be one of life’s greatest joys. Don’t let your living situation keep you from experiencing it!

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What are Dog Spas—and Why Do You Need to Visit One ASAP?

What are Dog Spas—and Why Do You Need to Visit One ASAP? Most of us will use any excuse to spoil our precious pups. And quite frankly, we can’t think of a better way to acknowledge National Spoil Your Dog Day (Aug. 10) than a doggie spa session. That’s right—dog spas are the latest trend sweeping the pet industry. From blueberry facials to chic haircuts, dog spas are the perfect way to show your dog some love.   What exactly IS a dog spa? We all know what to expect when we schedule our own day of self-care at the spa. But what exactly does a dog spa day entail? Gone are the days of a simple shampoo and nail trim. Today’s pet spas are pulling out all the stops, offering a range of luxurious ways to pamper your furry friend. In addition to your dog’s routine grooming needs, some spas provide relaxation therapies and even veterinarian care and rehab for pets recovering from surgery. Depending on where you live, you may be able to enjoy the convenience and undivided attention that comes with a mobile spa service. These “Spa-On-Wheels” will come to you, so there’s no need to deal with the stress of carting your nervous pooch across town. A traveling dog spa will probably put a larger dent in your wallet than a traditional brick-and-mortar salon, but we say it’s worth the splurge!   What kind of spa services can my dog enjoy? Image by Evan P. Cordes via Flickr Beyond the standard bath and haircut, how do pet spas give your dog the royal treatment? Here’s a few of our favorite canine salon options: Deep Conditioning: Got a dog with longer hair? Get his luscious locks looking their best with a deep conditioning treatment that will prevent tangles and make his fur irresistibly  soft. Pawdicure: Your dog’s paws undergo a lot of stress, and they should be cleaned and moisturized regularly to keep them from cracking in extreme heat or cold. Your dog can have his nails trimmed, shaped, and even painted at the spa. Deshedding Treatments: Another popular spa service is having your dog’s coat thinned out. Professional groomers use special deshedding tools that remove loose fur and keep the hair on your clothes and furniture to a minimum. Plus, your dog will be more comfortable without that thick layer of extra fur—it’s a win-win. Dog Massage: Who doesn’t love a good massage? Watch your dog melt into a puddle of relaxed contentment with a therapeutic rub-down. Giving your dog a massage can reduce anxiety, improve circulation, and diminish pain. Facials: Yes, dog facials are a thing. And they’re a great way to fortify the fur around Fido’s face. They can also help remove tear stains, keeping your furry friend’s face bright and lovely. Aromatherapy: Dogs are expert smellers, so aromatherapy can be an effective way to soothe jittery nerves. Pet-friendly colognes are a fun way to keep your dog smelling his best. Oral Care: The grooming task most commonly neglected by pet owners is brushing our pets’ teeth. Freshen up your dog’s breath with a thorough brushing and fresheners. Medicated Bath: If your dog suffers from itchy allergies, perhaps a medicated shampoo is the answer. Ask your vet for recommendations, and bring the shampoo along to your dog’s spa day.    How your dog can benefit from a day at the dog spa Image by Germanny via Flickr Still unsure if a doggie spa day is the right move? These benefits should convince you.  Your dog will be more comfortable: No one likes tangled hair—not even your dog. Failure to groom your dog on a regular basis can result in painful mats and an accumulation of irritants like pollen and dirt. If you’re finding it hard to keep up with your dog’s grooming needs, a day at the spa is in order. Disease detection: An experienced groomer will be able to detect health issues with your dog’s skin, fur, or ears.  Spas are an effective stress reducer: Whether he’s receiving a massage or a deshedding service, your dog will experience a whole new level of relaxation and comfort at a spa. This is especially true for dogs who suffer from chronic pain. Spa services that offer pain relief will help an anxious dog to sleep better and to be more interactive.  Nail care is important: Ordering your dog a pawdicure is more than just a vain indulgence—it’s essential for maintaining a healthy gait and posture. Overgrown nails can lead to painful paw injuries, not to mention damage to your furniture. Your furniture will be (mostly) hair-free: Keeping your home clean is easier when your dog’s loose hair is removed on a regular basis.  You’ll have one spiffed up pup: We can’t forget to mention how dashing your dog will look and how lovely he’s going to smell!   How to create a DIY dog spa at home Image by JeongMin Yi via Pixabay Maybe you don’t have the dough to splurge on professional spa services right now. Or maybe your local boutique is temporarily off-limits during these times of social distancing. Either way, your dog doesn’t have to miss out on all of the fun. Why not bring the spa to your own home? Here are our top tips for creating a blissful at-home spa experience for your canine pal.  Exercise first: Going for a nice walk before your spa session will tucker your dog out, making him easier to handle at bathtime. Get the mood right: The goal here is make your environment as calm as possible. Dim the lights, use soothing scents, and speak in a soft voice to make your dog feel safe and comfortable. Try a massage: Aside from the health benefits of a good massage, they’re also a great way to bond with your pet. Find a quiet spot in your home, and start with slow, gentle strokes to alleviate tension. Clip his nails: Make sure to use sharp shears, and clip without hesitation. Relax with a pre-bath brush: This will remove excess hair before your dog gets into the tub. Hit the showers: Using lukewarm water and a shampoo intended for dogs, get your dog’s coat fresh and clean with a relaxing bath. Make sure you’re thorough with rinsing—residual shampoo can cause irritation and flaking. End things with a treat: Remind your dog how much he means to you by rewarding him with a favorite snack.  Dogs enrich our lives—they love us unconditionally, they’re loyal to the end, and they’re always up for a cuddle. I’d say it’s time to return the favor and show our pets just how much we care. No matter what dog spa services you choose, a little pampering goes a long way. 

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14 Brilliant Dog Tattoos That Celebrate Man’s Best Friend

    Nothing says “I’m a dog lover” quite like a canine-inspired tattoo. It’s one of the boldest ways you can showcase your affection for man’s best friend. Plus, they look super rad.  Here at Grumble Dog, we’ve rounded up the top dog tattoos we could find. Some of these tats are realistic, some are more abstract. Some use striking colors, others are done in classic black ink. Whatever your personal aesthetic, there’s something here to suit all tastes.  Prepare to be inspired.   1. Keep it simple No need to showcase your dog’s exact likeness in a tattoo. This clever dachshund tat is minimalism at its finest. https://www.instagram.com/p/B8A-rvXnu6A/   2. Watercolor paws for the win Sure, you could go with a standard black paw print to show off your dog lover status. But why do “standard” when you could do “spectacular?” This dreamy watercolor tattoo definitely hits all the right notes. https://www.instagram.com/p/CD-LrfDBUHD/   3. A stunning work of art Artist Charlotte Ross from Scotland’s tattoo studio, FLOCK, plays up the gorgeous backdrop in this colorful masterpiece. https://www.instagram.com/p/CD8nM8UFVXz/   4. Keep it classic This 2-dimensional canine profile is a study in simplicity, and we’re totally digging it.  https://www.instagram.com/p/CD8T-J-BRYh/   5. Play with shapes This playful geometric dachshund is proof that “simple” doesn’t have to be boring. https://www.instagram.com/p/CD7ENxdnMZ5/   6. I’ll high five to that This playful geometric dachshund is proof that “simple” doesn’t have to be boring.A perfect depiction of the human-canine bond. https://www.instagram.com/p/B8HYR8Il75x/   7. Dalmatian nation Because who doesn’t love a sweetly illustrated doggo? https://www.instagram.com/p/CDzSEw6guQ0/   8. Un unlikely duo As a lifelong cat AND dog lover, this one just speaks to me. https://www.instagram.com/p/CD_UiLggxl5/   9. Think outside the box With its nod to Henna art, this stylized dog tattoo is next level creative. https://www.instagram.com/p/CDzErrfhLVA/   10. Embrace your colorful side The use of drippy watercolors in this dynamic dog tattoo is sure to turn heads. We can’t get enough of it, TBH. https://www.instagram.com/p/CD6i_qSDMJj/   11. A precious portrait Darling Scottish Terrier tattoo? Yes please! https://www.instagram.com/p/CD-hV3IFZJD/   12. Have a sense of humor No one ever said tattoos need to be serious. And this pant-wearing, sweater vest-clad pupper wholeheartedly agrees. https://www.instagram.com/p/CD4SHn7lFQj/   13. Icy hues Adorable dog? Check. Smart use of color? Check. Flawless technique? Check and check! https://www.instagram.com/p/CD7PFQ7jqXw/   14. See things from a different angle This tattoo gets up close and personal. And we’re ok with it. https://www.instagram.com/p/CD0HCMvpGUT/   15. A striking likeness A good artist will be able to capture your dog’s unique personality. It’s fair to say this one nailed it https://www.instagram.com/p/CBBWTp7iEe0/ Getting inked with your dog’s name or picture is the ultimate way to celebrate your furry best friend. Do you have a favorite dog tattoo from our list? Or do you have a special dog tattoo of your own to share? We’d love to see them!

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An Unlikely Duo: How Dogs are Helping Cheetahs in Zoos

Historically, dogs and cats aren’t known for their mutual camaraderie. But that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. Take the San Diego Zoo, for instance, where trailblazers in species conservation have made incredible discoveries about the positive effects a dog can have on an edgy cheetah.   An unusual friendship at the San Diego Zoo Image by Zach Tirrell via Flickr The first dog-and-cheetah pairing was established in 1980 when a male cheetah named Arusha was teamed up with a golden retriever named Anna. Their friendship blossomed, revealing the rather remarkable effect that a canine companion can have on a wild cat.  San Diego zookeepers noticed the benefits these friendships provided and developed a dog-and-cat buddy system that has caught on in at least 15 zoos across the country, including Virginia and Dallas. Zoos have seen success with different dog breeds, but primarily employ labs, golden retrievers, and Anatolian shepherds.  One of the most close-knit friendships seen at the San Diego Zoo developed in 2014, when Raina, a female Rohdesian ridgeback puppy, hit it off with a male cheetah cub named Ruuxa. Raina watched over her playmate vigilantly while he recovered from surgery, and the two became inseparable—playing together during the day and cuddling together at night.   Why are zoos pairing dogs with cheetahs? Image by Heather Paul via Flickr Beyond the obvious cute factor, why are zoos playing matchmaker with their cheetahs? What are the benefits of this relationship? According to National Geographic, cheetahs can be easily agitated. Timid and shy by nature, a cheetah in captivity has tremendous amounts of nervous energy. A dog, on the other hand, has an easygoing and confident demeanor. Dogs are also comfortable around humans—a trait trainers hope will rub off on their cheetah counterparts.  No doubt you’ve experienced the calming effects of a dog yourself. Cheetahs also pick up on that mellow vibe, and they learn to model their behavior after their canine pal. Dogs offer important social cues that help the cheetahs thrive. Ultimately, the end goal here is the long-term preservation of an increasingly vulnerable cheetah population. Since anxiety doesn’t exactly encourage breeding, zookeepers have been seeking ways to comfort and relax their stressed out cheetahs. They found that bringing a sweet pupper into the mix puts the cheetahs at ease, which improves the overall survival of the species.  What’s in it for the dog? The benefits are actually mutual. Typically, zoos recruit dogs from shelters, giving these sweet doggos a second chance at life. Plus, they gain a lifelong friend and snuggle buddy!   What does the dog-and-cheetah pairing process look like? A cheetah-dog friendship doesn’t develop overnight. The pairing process takes place gradually, over weeks, or even months.  When a cheetah reaches the age of three months, zoologists pair him with a friendly, 6-month-old rescue puppy. First, the animals are introduced with a divider between them so they can see and smell each other. After they’ve become comfortably acquainted, the partition is removed and the pair can experience brief, leashed visits, supervised by handlers. Every dog-and-cheetah pairing is unique, and the amount of time it takes to establish a friendship varies—sometimes it takes weeks, sometimes months. But once that special bond is formed, the two will be virtually inseparable, and they will spend every waking—and sleeping—moment together. The only exception is meal time, which is enjoyed separately.   Dogs and cheetahs in the wild Image by Sharon Joy via Pixabay Beyond the symbiotic bond they share with cheetahs in captivity, dogs are also being employed to further conservation efforts in the wild.  Farmers in Namibia, Africa have frequent run-ins with cheetahs who try to prey on their livestock. To protect their property and livelihood, farmers resort shooting and trapping wild cats, drastically slashing their population in the process.  In 1994, the Cheetah Conservation Fund found a solution and established the Livestock Guarding Dog Program to help save this dwindling species. The program breeds and raises dogs (mostly Anatolian shepherds) alongside herds for protection. If a hungry cheetah comes lurking, the dogs spring into action and scare the cat away.  This clever predator management system has been hugely successful, with the wild cheetah population steadily rising since its implementation. According to the organization, cheetah killings have been down by 80 percent!   Other unusual dog friendships Image by Amaya Eguizábal via Pixabay Cheetahs aren’t the only animals who’ve forged a special bond with a loveable pooch. Check out these other perplexing—yet adorable—inter-species friendships.  1. Bella and Bubbles This playful duo has been charming visitors at the Myrtle Beach Safari for years. Bubbles, an African elephant, and Bella, a black labrador, love to play fetch and swim together.  2. Milo and Bonedigger Opposites do attract, after all. This meltingly sweet friendship between a 500-pound lion (Bonedigger) and a diminutive dachshund (Milo) is one for the books. The two can be found playing and sunbathing together at the G.W. Exotic Animal Park in Wynnewood, Oklahoma.  3. Kate and Pippin When a helpless fawn was found on Isobel Springette’s lawn, the woman’s Great Dane, Kate, immediately stepped in as a foster mother. The fawn, dubbed Pippin, became fast friends with Springette’s gentle Dane, who remained glued to her side for life. 4. Osiris & Riff Here’s an oddly sweet couple for you: against all odds, Osiris, a Dutch shepherd therapy dog befriended Riff, a rescued pet rat who can’t get enough of his canine buddy. Riff Rat displays the ultimate trust by regularly climbing into Osiris’s mouth to clean the pup’s teeth. 5. Susie and Tabitha Susie the boxer and Tabitha the piglet make their home in Hillside Animal Sanctuary in Norwich. This impossibly cute pair are inseparable, spending their days frolicking and play-fighting to their heart’s content.  They may be unconventional, but that’s what makes these inter-species relationships so fascinating. Acting as emotional support animals for cheetahs in captivity, dogs prove once again that they are the masters of unconditional love.

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Do I Really Need Pet Insurance? A Look at the Pros and Cons

Do I Really Need Pet Insurance? A Look at the Pros and Cons Owning a pet isn’t cheap. Especially when we’re talking about vet bills. According to a survey conducted by the American Kennel Club, dog owners can expect to pay an average of $446 for annual vet care. And that’s not counting any potential emergency vet visits, which can leave you with a daunting bill on your hands.  No one wants to be in the position of basing their furry friend’s medical treatment on finances. But does the risk of an unforeseen financial burden make it worth shelling out the extra bucks for monthly insurance premiums? Is pet insurance worth it?  Let’s take a closer look.   How does pet insurance work? Image via Flickr Pet insurance can help minimize the cost of keeping your cat or dog healthy. Depending on your budget and preferences, you can choose from an array of coverage levels. Policies can charge monthly or yearly premiums. Unlike human health insurance, however, pet insurance works on a system of reimbursement. When your pet receives vet care, you’ll still be expected to pay the bill in full. Once you’re all squared up, you’ll submit a claim to the insurance company and they’ll reimburse anywhere from 20-100% of the costs.  Similar to human health insurance, many pet insurance plans have a deductible that can range from $0-$2500. You’ll have to cover this amount before insurance providers will foot the bill.  When shopping around for pet insurance, be sure to gather quotes from several companies, keeping in mind that rates are determined by your pet’s breed and age as well as your location.   How much does pet insurance cost? Ah, the million-dollar question—how much money are we talking? According to Consumer Reports, the average cost of pet insurance for dogs is $22 per month, and the cost for cats comes to about $16 per month. The actual amount you’ll have to shell out might be higher or lower, depending on your pet’s breed, age, and the coverage option you’ve selected.   What does pet insurance cover? Image via Flickr There are a few options when it comes to the type of coverage you want for your pet.  Accident insurance: this is the cheapest policy your money can buy. Accident and illness insurance: in addition to coverage of accidental injuries, this type of plan will cover unexpected illnesses like cancer and arthritis. Wellness coverage: this covers routine care, flea medication, and vaccinations. But what about specifics? What exactly can you expect your pet insurance to cover?  According to Petplan, here are some things that are generally covered: Diagnostic tests: This includes tests such as MRIs, X-rays, and blood analysis. Chronic conditions: This includes illnesses like diabetes, asthma, arthritis, and cancer. Rehab: If your pooch ever requires rehabilitation, the costs should be covered. Prescription meds: keep in mind this doesn’t include over-the-counter drugs, like flea preventatives. Alternative therapies: Most insurers cover alternative treatments such as acupuncture and chiropractic visits, however, some companies require you to buy an add-on policy to cover these services.  How about things that aren’t typically covered by pet insurance? Spay and neutering: Most insurance providers consider these procedures to be elective surgeries, so they’re not typically covered. Dental care: Routine cleanings are considered preventative and aren’t usually covered.Other dental treatments such as tooth extractions or treating gingivitis may be covered. Pre-existing conditions: If your pet had an illness or injury before the start of your policy, insurance will not cover its treatment. When you purchase a new pet insurance plan, you may need to bring your pet in for a vet visit to rule out any pre-existing conditions. Wellness visits: Unless you opt for a wellness plan, routine examinations and care won’t be covered. This means you’ll still need to pay out of pocket for things like yearly checkups, vaccinations, and teeth cleaning. Cosmetic procedures: If it’s just for looks, it won’t be covered. Which means you can expect to pay full price for procedures like ear cropping and tail docking.   Pros of purchasing pet insurance Image by Cassiano Psomas via Unsplash If, after all of that, you’re still unsure if pet insurance is right for you, we’ve got some benefits for you to consider. 1. Your pet can receive the best preventative care If you opt for a policy that includes wellness care, you may be more inclined to bring Fido to the vet for regular visits. Wellness plans can include things like your pet’s yearly examination, vaccinations, heartworm testing, and dental cleaning. 2. Pet insurance rates are reasonable In the grand scheme of things, pet insurance premiums are fairly affordable. If you purchase a policy while your pet is still young and healthy, you can enjoy some peace of mind without forking over boo koo bucks.  3. You choose your own vet With pet insurance, you never need to worry about your vet being “out of network” or “accepting” your plan. You can see the vet of your choice—just get a copy of your vet’s invoice, submit your claim for reimbursement, and you’re all set!   Cons of purchasing pet insurance What about the negative side of pet insurance? Here are some factors that might make you hesitate to sign up for a policy. 1. You’ll still need to save money for vet bills  As we’ve pointed out, even with pet insurance, you’ll still need to pay for vet bills out of pocket. Even if you have coverage, it’s smart to have an emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses while you wait for reimbursement.  2. Your premiums could be high While pet insurance is usually affordable, premiums can skyrocket if your pet is older or has a pre-existing condition. You could wind up paying more than it’s worth. 3. Not everything is covered Things like routine wellness visits and pre-existing conditions won’t be covered by pet insurance, and no matter what policy you choose, you’ll still have to pay a percentage of your pet’s medical bills. Some plans even limit the amount of expenses you can claim annually.  4. You could end up wasting money if your pet only needs wellness care If your pet is consistently healthy and only needs routine vet care, your savings won’t be something to write home about. If your dog never needs emergency care or surgery, you could end up paying more for insurance premiums than you bargained for. Ultimately, you need to weigh the costs of pet insurance premiums against your personal circumstances. While your policy may never pay for itself, having a safety net might be worth it to you. In the event of an emergency, you’ll be happy to have it!

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13 Famous Presidential Dogs Who Lived in the White House

13 Famous Presidential Dogs Who Lived in the White House Our country has a longstanding fascination with presidential dogs. There’s even an entire museum in Williamsburg dedicated to the pets of our former presidents! Pet ownership is something most Americans find relatable, so it’s no wonder we’re all smitten with the dogs who’ve taken up residence in the White House.  Let’s take a closer look at 13 of these famous pooches.   1. President Barrack Obama and Bo Image by Chuck Kennedy, White House photographer / Public domain In 2009, former president Barrack Obama made good on his promise to get his daughters, Malia and Sasha, a puppy. Because of Malia’s allergies, the family selected a hypoallergenic Portuguese water dog named Bo. The family’s adoption process was covered extensively by the media, and Bo quickly adapted to celebrity life. In 2013, the family added a second dog of the same breed, named Sunny. It was First Lady Michelle Obama who organized the pair’s hectic schedule, approving appearances and photo shoots. Image by CDC via Unsplash   2. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Fala FDR and his Scottish terrier, Fala, were quite the pair. The two traveled together, attended meetings together, and slept together. The President absolutely doted on his adorable pup: Fala (short for “Murray the Outlaw of Fallahill”) was brought a bone every morning, met with dignitaries, and was even dubbed an honorary Army private during WWII!   3. President Lydon B. Johnson and Him & Her LBJ and his famous pair of sibling beagles, Him and Her, could be frequently spotted roaming the grounds of the White House and attending meetings together.   But Him and Her weren’t the only dogs to grace the Oval Office during Johnson’s term. The President also lived with his beloved Yuki, a mixed-breed who accompanied Johnson everywhere she could. The President also owned two other beagles named Edgar and Freckles as well as a collie named Blanco.   4. President George W. Bush and Barney Image via Wiki Commons Former First Dog Barney Bush became so popular that he was given his own official website. To capture day-to-day footage of Barney’s life for his fans, a camera was tied around the Scottish terrier’s neck. The videos taken with this “Barneycam” were (no surprise) a massive hit.   5. President George Washington and Sweet Lips Our country’s first president was a serious dog enthusiast—he owned many different breeds, and always kept a group of hunting dogs at his Virginia estate. Washington enjoyed giving his hounds quirky names such as Sweet Lips, Madame Moose, Truelove, Drunkard, and Vulcan. Washington is even credited with contributing to the development of the American foxhound.   6. President Richard Nixon and Checkers Although Checkers never officially lived in the White House, the cocker spaniel was catapulted to fame after Richard Nixon delivered his famous “Checkers Speech” on September 23, 1952.  When the former president was accused of misusing 18,000 dollars of campaign funds, he appeared on national television to defend himself. The most interesting part of Nixon’s speech (and the bit that resonated with many American viewers) was about his dog, Checkers. The puppy had been given to Nixon’s family by a supporter, and Nixon wanted to make perfectly clear that, regardless of the controversy’s outcome, Checkers would be staying put. I think most of us can understand that level of loyalty.   7. President John F. Kennedy and Pushinka Image via National Archives and Records Administration / Public domain When John F. Kennedy took up residence in the White House, he brought quite the menagerie with him. And we’re not just talking about dogs! The Kennedys also had birds, hamsters, a cat, a rabbit, and a pony.  During the Cold War, Soviet Union leader Nikita Krushchev gifted Kennedy with Pushinka—a mixed-breed whose Russian name translates to “Fluffy.” Pushinka’s mother, Strelka, was one of the first dogs to make it home alive after being shot into space. According to History.com, Americans interpreted this gift as a reminder that the Soviet Union was still leading the Space Race. Unsurprisingly, Pushinka had to be inspected by the Secret Service for electronic bugs before she could move into the White House.  Pushinka struck up a romance with the Kennedy’s Welsh Terrier, Charlie, and had a litter of puppies that the president cleverly referred to as “Pupniks.”   8. President Theodore Roosevelt and Pete Unlike the other charming canine companions on this list, Teddy Roosevelt’s dog, Pete, was quite the hassle. The Boston bull terrier didn’t always make the best first impression. In fact, he bit several of the president’s guests, including several naval officers, cabinet members, and two police officers.  One time, Pete took things a little too far and made headlines after taking a bite at French Ambassador Jules Jusserand, who ripped his pants in the ensuing scuffle. The French government issued a formal complant about the incident, and truthfully—we can’t say we blame them.   9. President Warren G. Harding and Laddie Boy Image via National Photo Company / Public domain Harding’s Airdale terrier was no stranger to the spotlight. Laddie Boy was regularly covered by the press, who published playful interviews and photographs of the dog in newspapers. Harding was so fond of his pup that he hosted festive birthday parties for him, complete with elaborate dog biscuit birthday cakes.   10. President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Heidi While rarely photographed, Eisenhower’s Weimeramer, Heidi, was said to be sweetly affectionate and friendly. The dog was the best of both worlds: she played gently with the Eisenhower children, but she also made an effective guard dog.  Despite her sweetness and good intentions, Heidi was the ONLY dog to be banned from the White House. Her crime? Having an accident on a 20,000 dollar rug. Yikes!   11. President Herbert Hoover and King Tut Image by Herbert E. French / Public domain The Hoovers were big dog lovers, but Herbert was particularly fond of the family’s Belgian Shepherd, King Tut. To soften his stiff and unapproachable public image, Hoover strategically orchestrated a photo op with King Tut. The snapshot was widely circulated across America, rebranding Hoover as a friendly “dog person.”   12. President George H.W. Bush and Millie Once called “the most famous dog in White House history,” Bush’s beloved English springer spaniel, Millie, had a way with words. In 1990, she “penned” Millie’s Book: As Dictated to Barbara Bush. The book was a hit and ended up selling more copies than the President’s autobiograpy. Not bad for a dog.   13. President Ronald Reagan and Rex Of all the pets owned by the Reagans, it was the family’s Cavalier King Charles spaniel, Rex, who stole their hearts. According to reporters at the time, Rex appeared to have a sixth sense—whenever the dog approached the allegedly haunted Lincoln Bedroom, he would bark relentlessly, refusing to step foot inside.  If we’ve learned one thing from these canine profiles, it’s that dog love is universal—even when your job is running an entire country. Our nation’s leaders prove once and for all that dogs really are man’s best friend.

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13 Pet-Related Nonprofits That Could Use Your Help in 2020

13 Pet-Related Nonprofits That Could Use Your Help in 2020 If you’re as passionate about protecting innocent, vulnerable animals as we are, check out this comprehensive list of some of the best pet-related charities in the United States. These organizations are making a real difference by raising awareness on animal cruelty and providing homes to abandoned or abused pets.  If you don’t have the extra funds to make a monetary donation, consider donating your time to one of these organizations. Most of them are volunteer-run and rely on help from generous folks like yourself.   1. Austin Pets Alive Austin Pets Alive is on a mission to eradicate animal euthanasia, and they’ve been on a roll in that regard—the nonprofit has rescued over 80,000 cats and dogs since its launch in 2008. In fact, Austin Pets Alive had a major hand in establishing the city as a no-kill zone. In February of 2011, Austin became the largest no-kill city in the country! The secret to their success was addressing the underlying reasons pets are euthanized, while providing resources, education, and programs to end the killing of companion animals.   2. Animal Friends of the Valleys This West Coast nonprofit is dedicated to ending animal suffering and overpopulation. Their Animal Control Officers regularly investigate potential cases of animal cruelty, rescuing stray, sick, and injured animals.  Animal Friends of the Valleys espouses a set of core values, including compassion for animals, community service, and ongoing educational programs. They believe it’s our human responsibility to advocate for animals, and their passion for animal welfare is evident in the work that they do.   3. The Underdog Rescue Image by Timothy Perry via Unsplash As a pet rehabilitation and placement center, the Underdog Rescue fights on behalf of animals who are often overlooked at shelters. Partnering with the Minneapolis Animal Control team, this rescue group is committed to finding loving, permanent homes for unpopular pets who have a harder time being adopted, like pitbulls and black cats.  Without a brick-and-mortar facility to keep animals, the organization’s success is due in large part to the generous fosters who house the pets until they find their forever home.   4. House with a Heart Based in Gaithersburg, Maryland, House with a Heart caters to senior dogs and cats who have little hope of being adopted. This animal sanctuary gives dogs a loving home for life, providing the affection, attention, and shelter they so desperately need. Many of them also receive medical care and diagnostic screenings, so they can live out the rest of their days in comfort. Volunteers maintain the premises, as well walk, bathe, and care for the residents.   5. Hope For Paws When Eldad and Audrey Hager kicked off their LA-based animal rescue in 2008, their mission was clear: to put an end to animal neglect, abuse, and homelessness. Their team strives to realize this vision by rescuing strays, providing them with veterinary care, and bringing them to partner adoption centers.  Hope for Paws takes advantage of social media to raise awareness for their cause and to educate the public on the role that companion animals play in our society. Their YouTube channel where they document rescues has been wildly successful, reaching over 4 million viewers! (Give it watch: it’s going to pull on your heartstrings, we guarantee it.)   6. Animal Welfare Institute Image by Madeline Bowen via Unsplash The Animal Welfare Institute has been advocating for animal rights since the 1950s. When the organization was first established, their main focus was to abolish the cruel treatment of animals in research facilities. They have since broadened their scope, engaging policymakers, scientists, and the general public in an array of issues, from the preservation of endangered species to implementing more humane slaughter of animals raised for food.   7. Kansas City Pet Project The goal of this no-kill shelter is to create a safer community for pets and people alike. Working in tandem with fellow animal welfare organizations, the Kansas City Pet Project cares for over 10,000 animals every year. Since 2012, the rescue has been promoting pet adoption and offering financial support for pet owners experiencing financial hardship.   8. Best Friends Animal Society As the nation’s largest no-kill sanctuary, the Best Friends Animal Society is leading the way in our country’s fight for animal rights. The group works tirelessly on adoption events, education campaigns, and fundraisers, with the end goal of achieving no-kill status nationwide by 2025. With locations in LA, NYC, Salt Lake City, and Atlanta, Best Friends Animal Society is steadily spreading their mission, one city at a time.   9. Aunt Mary’s Doghouse This volunteer-run nonprofit is making a huge difference in the lives of abandoned and homeless dogs. Because the organization does not have a physical shelter to house animals, it relies on the generosity of volunteers to foster pets until they can be placed in a forever home.  What makes Aunt Mary’s Doghouse so remarkable is their recognition of the underlying causes of pet homelessness. Their solution: education. Aunt Mary’s advocates for spay and neuter procedures to combat overpopulation, and they’re vocal about pet-related issues like puppy mills.   10. Dogs Deserve Better Crusaders in the fight to free chained or penned-up pups, Dogs Deserve Better is working hard to end animal suffering. They strive to provide a better life for abused and neglected dogs through educational programs, advocating for humane legislation, and the promotion of spay and neuter programs.   11. National Disaster Search Dog Foundation Image by Ilona Krijgsman via Pixabay The National Disaster Search Dog Foundation gives rescue pups a new purpose in life by pairing them with firefighters and first responders. The organization recruits bold, high energy dogs who demonstrate an aptitude for search and rescue duties, but would be unsuitable as a family pet. Trained to search and rescue people buried in the wreckage of a natural disaster, the dogs are given lifetime care.    12. Face Foundation FACE Foundation believes that access to medical care should be extended to all animals. The program recognizes the financial burden that veterinary care can mean for many pet owners, so they’ve made it their mission to support those at risk of losing their beloved pet. Based in San Diego, they provide financial assistance to low-income families, seniors, veterans, disabled individuals, and anyone struggling to make ends meet.   13. Homeward Pet Adoption Center As one of the leading nonprofit no-kill shelters in Washington State, Homeward Pet Adoption Center is dedicated to creating a more humane world for animals. They offer medical care, positive behavior training, and facilitate successful adoptions of both cats and dogs.   Are there any pet-related charities that are special to you? Share with our readers to spread the word!

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Everything You Need to Know About Boxers

Everything You Need to Know About Boxers The quizzical-looking Boxer has been a perennial favorite among American dog-owners for years. And it’s no wonder—Boxers are as affectionate as they are intelligent, and their loyalty knows no bounds. Plus, we can’t get enough of that adorably wrinkled mug! If you’re considering adding one of these popular pups to your household, read on to learn more about this fun-loving canine.   Breed Characteristics If your living quarters are on the small side, take heed: Boxers are a whole lot of dog. Male Boxers can be expected to reach a height of 23-25 inches, with females reaching an average of 21.5-23.5 inches. A full-grown male will clock in at around 65-80 pounds, and females will be about 15 pounds lighter.  The most distinguishing physical features of the breed are its wrinkled forehead and expressive eyes, which lend the breed a curious and alert look. A Boxer has muscles to spare, which is evident in the powerful and energetic way in which they carry themselves. The American Kennel Club sums up the Boxer’s proud gait perfectly, stating, “he combines strength and agility with elegance and style.”  The breed sports a short coat that comes in shades of fawn or brindle with white markings. About a quarter of all Boxer puppies are born white: a trait that generations of breeders have sadly tried to weed out through euthanasia. Thankfully, this practice is no longer considered acceptable, and more white Boxers are being placed in loving forever homes. Typically, a healthy Boxer will live for 10-12 years.   Boxer Temperament Image by Alexas_Fotos via Pixabay If you have kids, you’ll be happy to hear that Boxers get along beautifully with children. Their clownish antics and admirable patience make them the ideal playmate for rambunctious little ones.  On the flipside, Boxers also make incredible guard dogs. One look at that square jaw and chiseled frame ought to keep any intruders at bay. The loyalty of this breed runs deep, and they’re naturally protective of their human pack. While they’re not an aggressive dog, Boxers tend to be prudently wary of strangers. Until a friendly introduction is made, of course—a well-socialized Boxer loves to make new friends! Boxers bond closely with their owners, preferring to be near them as much as possible. They have a sweet, silly, and sometimes mischievous personality that we can’t help but find endearing. Playful and energetic, a Boxer is always up for a game of frisbee or a stroll around the neighborhood.   Boxer Grooming and Health Needs Image by Alan Smith via Pixabay You won’t need to devote heaps of time to maintaining a Boxer’s coat. A weekly brushing is all it takes to keep his shiny coat in tip-top shape. And unless he has a little too much fun in the mud, a Boxer won’t require frequent baths as they tend to be a clean breed.  While a Boxer’s muzzle isn’t as short as other flat-faced dogs, he’s still considered a brachycephalic breed, which means he could have breathing problems. It’s important to monitor a Boxer on particularly hot and muggy days, as they don’t tolerate extreme heat well.  The breed is prone to certain heart conditions such as aortic stenosis and cardiomyopathy. They can also develop degenerative myelopathy—a progressive spinal cord disease. Genetic screenings can reveal whether or not a puppy’s parents are carriers of the condition. If both parents are clear, the puppy will also be clear.  Like other large breed dogs, Boxers are at a higher risk for bloat—a life-threatening condition in which the stomach twists and fills with gas. Bloat can strike suddenly and quickly, so if you observe any signs of the condition (drooling, pale gums, restlessness, unsuccessful attempts to vomit, apparent pain), you must call your veterinarian ASAP. Boxers are also prone to allergies, skin issues, thyroid deficiency, and certain cancers, including lymphoma. According to Vetstreet, the breed can’t tolerate acepromazine, a common canine sedative.   Boxer Energy Level and Training Needs Keep your running shoes handy—the Boxer is no couch potato. These athletic dogs need plenty of exercise to burn off excess energy, and they’ll happily join you for an hour-long walk, a heart-pumping game of fetch, or the latest canine sport. If a Boxer isn’t able to blow off steam, he’s liable to redirect his pent-up frustration towards destructive behaviors like chewing or barking. Boxers are incredibly intelligent dogs, and with consistent training, they can be molded into a delightful companion. Just be sure to change things up, now and then—the breed is known for becoming easily bored with repetitive lessons. A firm and fair approach is best, and positive reinforcement with his favorite treat is a great way to encourage good behavior.  Their stamina and intelligence make the Boxer an excellent candidate for competitive canine sports, including agility, herding, and flyball. They also make brilliant service and therapy dogs and are frequently employed by search-and-rescue teams.   Breed History Image by Alexas_Fotos via Pixabay Evidence suggests that the Boxer can trace his lineage back to a medieval-era German breed, the Bullenbeisser (“bull biter). This massive, powerful canine accompanied noblemen on their hunts to bring down big-game. Later the breed would assist herders with keeping livestock from wandering off. By the mid-1800s, however, Germany’s large estates were split up, and the Bullenbeisser became obsolete.  The Boxer as we know him today was developed in Germany in the late 19th century. The origin of the breed’s name is up for debate. Some insist that it’s an alteration of the word “beisser,” while others believe the breed was named for its ability to stand on its hindquarters and play with its front paws, mimicking the stance of a human boxer.  When the breed was first registered by the American Kennel Club in 1904, it wasn’t an immediate hit. Prejudices towards German breeds during World War I did nothing to boost the breed’s popularity. By the 1940s and 50s things began to turn around, and the Boxer gained a place of endearment in many American hearts.  Today, the breed is ranked #11 out 196 for popularity among American dog owners.   Is a Boxer right for you? Image by BoxerDogMadness via Pixabay Could a Boxer be in your future? The breed has a lot going for it, but they’re not for everyone.  First, be honest with yourself about your energy level. Are you a fitness junkie who’s looking for a running or hiking partner to keep up with your active lifestyle? If so, a Boxer could be a perfect match for you. If, on the other hand, you’re more of a Netflix-and-chill kinda person, perhaps a more mellow breed would suit you better.  Climate is another consideration. As brachycephalics, Boxers cannot tolerate extreme heat or humidity. So if you live in a hotter region you’ll need to crank the AC and let your poor pooch stay indoors during the day.  Boxer’s aren’t exactly the daintiest of eaters, and mealtime can be a messy affair. The good news is that they’re only moderate shedders, and you won’t become a slave to their grooming routine as their coat is fairly low-maintenance.  Overall, Boxers make a wonderful family pet. There’s something about that mischievous face and happy-go-lucky attitude that has us swooning over the breed. If you’re searching for a friendly, sociable, and affectionate companion, a Boxer could be just the thing!

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How to Mud-Proof Your Dog This Fall

How to Mud-Proof Your Dog This Fall Fall brings with it some of our favorite things: beautiful foliage, cozy sweaters, and homemade apple pies. But fall also signals the onset of some less than pleasant things. Like mud. And leaves. And dirt.  When the weather shifts to rain and slush, dog owners face a unique challenge: combating an endless siege of muddy paw prints that never seem to stop. If you’re at your wits end, here’s how to deal with all the mud Fido is tracking into the house   Use a dog-approved door mat Place an absorbent mat just outside your door to mop up some of the excess dirt and water on your dog’s paws before he enters the house. There are several mats on the market that are designed specifically for this purpose. Utilizing microfiber strands to trap dirt, these dog-friendly mats offer a simple solution to your muddy situation.   Set up a mud-control station at the door Image by Nathan McDine via Unsplash Get things under control with a paw-washing station. Make sure to gather your supplies ahead of time, so you’re ready to tackle those paws when the muddy season strikes! You won’t need much: just grab a shallow pan or bucket of lukewarm water, a rag or scrub brush, and a towel for drying. Soak the rag in the water, and lift each paw to gently scrub away any dirt or debris. Once you’re done scrubbing, inspect your pup’s paws, and use a towel to dry them. Don’t forget to toss the dirty water—you don’t want your dog drinking it! A simpler alternative is to keep a container of wipes by the door. You can purchase dog-specific wipes, but ordinary baby wipes work just as well—just make sure they’re alcohol-free.  One more consideration: after a romp in the rain, a hair dryer goes a long way in keeping your dog comfy and warm.    Condition your dog to tolerate having his feet touched Just like humans, not all dogs are fond of having their feet touched. If your dog is hesitant to let you handle his paws, take it slow and build up his tolerance over time.  World-renowned dog trainer and author, Victoria Stilwell, offers the following advice to Dogster: First, place a towel on your lap and hold a treat above it.  Once your dog steps onto the towel, reward him with the treat and praise. Soon, he’ll be comfortable with placing both paws on the towel.  When your dog is OK with placing both paws on the towel, fold it over one of his paws. When your dog is comfortable with the feeling of his paws being inside the towel, try wiping them—gently. Don’t forget the treats! Before you know it, your dog will learn to associate his paw-washing ritual with rewards.    Master some basic commands Instead of letting your pooch come barreling into the house immediately after his potty break, teach him to “sit” and “stay” on cue. Believe us, these simple commands will make the whole paw-wiping ordeal much more tolerable and headache-free.   Teach your dog to wipe his own paws Image by Ayla Verschueren via Unsplash Get your dog to do the dirty work for you! Teaching your dog to “dig” into a towel or mat is an easy way to mud-proof your home this fall.  With your dog watching, hide a favorite treat in a towel or mat near the door he typically uses. When your dog sniffs or walks on the towel, reward him with praise and a treat, repeating the process several times.  When your dog begins to associate the towel with treats, it’s time to stop rewarding. Most likely, he’ll start digging into the towel to get at the treat you’ve hidden (which is exactly what you want him to do).  Reward your dog for digging, and add a cue, such as “wipe” or “dig.” Once he learns the command, you’ll be able to ask him to wipe his paws every time he comes into the house!   Give your dog a haircut While you should never fully shave your dog when the temperature starts to dip, it’s a good idea to trim him up before the muddy season strikes. Dirt that clings to long hair can be tracked into your living room, and it can also contribute to painful matting. During the high-shedding summer months, it’s easy to remember to groom our dogs. But once fall hits, we tend to neglect this important routine. Keep the hair on your dog’s paws and belly short to minimize the amount of dirt he picks up.   Use gentle products Image by Simon Elliott via Pixabay Since you’ll be washing your dog’s paws more often, it’s important to use products that won’t be harsh on his sensitive skin. Use gentle soap, or try a dry shampoo. A paw conditioner or moisturizer will help prevent chapped paw pads. Equally important is resisting the urge to bathe your dog every other minute. It’s easy to get carried away with baths during the muddy season, but don’t overdo it. Frequent bathing can strip your dog’s skin of necessary oils, leaving him itchy and uncomfortable.    Get your pup smelling fresh There’s no mistaking the smell of wet dog. Banish this unpleasant odor by swiping a dryer sheet over your dog’s coat—it will get him smelling fresh in no time.   Try a dog-cleaning glove A microfiber glove makes easy work of paw-washing time. And with so many options on the market, you’re sure to find one that suits your needs best.   Give dog booties a try Aside from being adorable, dog booties can also help keep mud at bay. Look for washable boots that you can toss right into the washing machine after your dog comes in from a rousing romp around the yard. Booties have the added benefit of keeping your dog’s paws warm and dry during the colder months. Keep in mind that not all dogs take to wearing booties. Use positive reinforcement and let your dog get used to them gradually.   Protect your furniture with blankets or sheets Image by Candid_Shots via Pixabay Washing a blanket is easy. A vintage sofa? Not so much. If you allow your dog on the furniture, throw some washable blankets or sheets over your beds and couches for protection.  If the couch is off-limits and Fido is relegated to his own dog bed, make sure it’s one that’s easy to wash. Dog beds with removable covers are the simplest way to keep things clean. In a pinch, a thick towel placed over his bed is the next best thing.   Keep your car mud-free Toss an old blanket in the backseat of your car to protect seats after a muddy trip to the dog park. It’s also a good idea to keep a stash of wipes in your car for particularly messy outings.   Get a quality vacuum cleaner No matter how hard you try, it’s impossible to keep your home entirely dirt-free. When your dog tracks mud into your house, your best bet is to wait until it dries and then vacuum it up.  Having a dog can be a messy affair, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. A few muddy paw prints is a small price to pay for the love we share with our furry companions.

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College Football Dog Mascots: Our Top 10 Canine Cheerleaders

College Football Dog Mascots: Our Top 10 Canine Cheerleaders With college football in full swing, we can’t help but get excited about our favorite canine college mascots. Perhaps we’re biased, but we think that dogs make the perfect mascot: they’re loyal, they’re enthusiastic, and they’re natural team players. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite dog mascots. From bulldogs to greyhounds, these 10 canines are always ready for an energetic pep rally—go team!   1. Yale—Handsome Dan the English Bulldog Image via Wikimedia Commons Arguably the most famous of canine college mascots, Handsome Dan made history when Yale adopted him as the country’s first live animal mascot in the early 1890’s. Legend has it that student Andrew B. Graves bought the English bulldog from a local blacksmith for $5. The pair became inseparable, with Dan tagging along to events all over campus. Graves’s fellow classmates grew fond of his new shadow and swiftly appointed Dan as Yale’s official mascot. When the original Handsome Dan passed away in 1898, the owner had him taxidermied and put on display in the school’s gymnasium. Since that time, 17 more bulldogs have assumed the role of mascot, keeping Handsome Dan’s legacy alive and well for generations.  Today, Handsome Dan continues to inspire confidence and collegiate pride within the Yale community. His popularity keeps him on his toes with a jam-packed schedule of sporting events and fundraisers. He’s even appeared in student films and led Yale’s Commencement procession in 2017.   2. Boston University—Rhett the Boston Terrier Image via Unsplash We can’t think of a more fitting mascot for Boston University than the college’s beloved Boston Terrier, Rhett. Named after Rhett Butler, Scarlet O’Hara’s love interest in Gone With the Wind, this black and white charmer is the face of devotion and unceasing loyalty. Rhett has held his position as the school’s mascot since 1922.    3. University of Tennessee—Smokey the Bluetick Coonhound It doesn’t get more “Tennessee” than a coonhound. In 1953, the University of Tennessee’s Pep Club held a contest to select the perfect mascot to represent their athletes. They were determined to find the best “houn’ dog” for the job.  One by one, the hounds were introduced, and the students cheered for their top picks. When they came to a lively bluetick coonhound named Smokey, the crowd went wild, and the choice was clear.  Unfortunately, the original Smokey met an early end in 1955 when he was fatally hit by a car. But the hound’s gig as team mascot, however brief, kicked off a tradition that continues to this day. Before games, Smokey can be found leading the school’s football team onto the field or cheering on players with his costumed sidekick. He resides on-campus with members of the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity.    4. University of Indianapolis—Grady the Greyhound Image by David Merrett via Flickr In the 1920’s, students at the University of Indianapolis decided it was high time to ditch their stale “Warrior” mascot in favor of something sleek and new. They landed on the greyhound because of the breed’s athletic prowess: these dogs are fast runners, able jumpers, and determined competitors. After a long hiatus, the university decided to reintroduce a live canine mascot to their sporting events in 2019. Grady, a three-year-old retired racing dog from Florida, made the cut and leads his team with pride.   5. North Carolina State—Tuffy the Tamaskan They may call themselves the Wolf Pack, but the athletes of North Carolina State didn’t actually choose a wolf to represent their teams. While Tuffy resembles a wolf, with his silver fur and pointed ears, the mascot is, in fact, a Tamaskan dog. Hailing from Finland, this breed is a cross between the Siberian husky and the Alaskan malamute. Tamaskans are known for being agile, intelligent, and friendly, making this wolf-like breed a solid mascot choice.   6. Texas A&M University—Reveille the Rough Collie Image by Patrick Boyd via Wikimedia Commons Known as “The First Lady of Aggieland,” Reveille has made quite a name for herself since her first appearance in 1931. Adopted by a group of students after she was struck by a car, the dog became the school’s official mascot for 13 years. After her death, several unofficial mascots filled the role until Reveille II hit the scene eight years later. Reveille III was the first purebred Rough Collie to serve as A&M’s mascot, and the school has stuck to that breed ever since. Every year, the school assigns one lucky Mascot Corporal to look after Reveille, and they take the job very seriously. Reveille attends classes with the student, goes on dates with him or her, and joins the student’s family for holidays.  Reveille I—and every Reveille since—is buried near the football field, where the school has erected a special scoreboard for the former mascots to keep tabs on their beloved team.   7. Siena College—Bernie the Saint Bernard When Siena College decided to choose a mascot, they looked to their namesake, Saint Bernardino of Siena. What better way to represent their school than a noble Saint Bernard? A costumed Bernie made his debut in 1989, entertaining the crowd with his comedic acts. Siena College isn’t the only university to choose a Saint Bernard as their symbol. The Saints of Emmanuel College in Massachusetts are also led by an enthusiastic Saint Bernard in costume.   8. Agnes Scott College—Scotty the Scottish Terrier Image by Kelly Hunter via Flickr With their proud Scottish history, it’s no surprise that the students at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia settled on a darling Scottish terrier for their school mascot. Dubbed “Victory,” the endearing Scottie is a fan favorite, and she gets the crowd cheering at every home game.   9. University of Washington—Dubs the Alaskan Malamute While the sports teams at the University of Washington may call themselves “The Huskies,” their live mascot is actually an Alaskan malamute. Similar in appearance to the Siberian husky, malamutes hit high marks for strength, speed, and endurance.  The school’s current malamute mascot, Dubs, lives with a family of UW Alumni in Sammamish, Washington. Not only is Dubs a pro at revving up the crowd at game time, but he’s also an accomplished show dog.   10. University of Georgia—Uga the Bulldog Handsome Dan isn’t the only famous bulldog in the world of college sports. Uga (named for the university’s initials) first hit the spotlight in 1956. Since then, nine bulldogs have taken on the role as mascot, sporting their own official jerseys and traveling with the team to attend games. Each Uga is honored after their death with a burial in a marble vault at the school’s stadium. The gravesite is visited by hundreds of fans every year. We love our football, and we love our dogs. Put the two together, and it’s a perfect match. What about you—do you have a favorite canine mascot?

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8 Reasons You Should Adopt Your Next Dog

  Could a new canine pal be in your future? October is “Adopt a Shelter Dog Month,” so it’s the perfect time to take a closer look at what life might look like with a special rescue dog at your side.  Welcoming a dog into your home requires some careful planning. One thing you’ll need to decide is whether to adopt or buy your new pooch. If you’re on the fence, we’ve laid out some of the benefits of dog adoption. Take a look and see why adopting a shelter dog is the way to go   1. You’ll save a life Image by Audrius Vizbaras via Pixabay Every year, space limitations force shelters to euthanize over a million otherwise healthy cats and dogs. Be a part of the solution by adopting a dog who might be facing a grim future. When you adopt a shelter dog, nothing beats the joy of knowing you’ve saved an innocent life.   2. You’ll be helping out multiple animals When you opt to adopt, you’ll not only save your own rescue dog—you’ll  also be helping other shelter residents by freeing up valuable space. With adoption, you’ll be giving another dog or cat the opportunity to find his forever home. Running a shelter is a costly endeavor, and your adoption fee helps mitigate the cost of maintenance and food. You’ll enjoy knowing your money is helping the shelter carry out its mission.   3. You’ll help eradicate puppy mills Don’t hand your money over to factory-style puppy mills! These inhumane operations breed female dogs without a break between litters. The dogs are usually kept in appalling conditions without access to proper medical care. Held in cages and deprived of human companionship, these dogs frequently suffer from health and behavioral problems. Once a dog can no longer produce offspring, it’s either abandoned or euthanized.  Instead of buying your dog from a pet store or questionable online seller, take a look at your local animal shelter. You’ll be doing your part in putting an end to such cruel practices.   4. You’ll have plenty of options Image by Chewy via Unsplash Animal shelters house an array of different dogs, so you’ll have no trouble finding your perfect match. Whether you’re looking for a spunky extrovert or a mellow couch potato, chances are there’s a hopeful rescue pup out there who perfectly fits your lifestyle.  Have your heart set on a purebred? Don’t rule out rescue shelters. According to The Humane Society of the United States, purebreds make up 25% of shelter dogs. Breed-specific rescues also exist—the American Kennel Club’s Rescue Network is a good place to start.   5. Rescue dogs are often house-trained and socialized Most dogs enter a shelter through no fault of their own. More often than not, they’ve been cast aside by owners facing financial hardship or housing struggles. What does this mean for you? When you go the adoption route, you’ll probably be looking at dogs who have already been housebroken and socialized with people. Which, honestly, makes your job as a dog parent significantly easier.    6. You’ll save money Who isn’t looking to save a few bucks whenever possible? By adopting a rescue, you’ll be slashing some hefty vet bills. Most shelters include vaccinations, spaying or neutering procedures, and even microchip placement in their adoption fee. All that saved cash just means more chew toys for your precious pooch.   7. You’ll be happier Image by Tamas Pap via Unsplash Pet ownership is a major commitment—but it’s one that comes with some considerable advantages. Animal companions can vastly improve your life by encouraging exercise and socialization, while combating loneliness, stress, and depression.  According to the CDC, pet owners often have lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels than their pet-free counterparts. Mentally, pets have been shown to add to their owner’s happiness. Not only does a pet shower you with endless love and affection, but they can also give you a fulfilling sense of purpose.  If you’re looking for an easy way to make some new friends, adopting a dog can be a great way to get yourself out there. Pet parents love to bond over their fur babies! Is there anything better than the unconditional love we receive from our furry pals? When you adopt a pet, you’ll be bringing home a friend for life, and you’ll wonder how you ever lived without him.   How to adopt a shelter dog Once you’ve decided to take the leap into dog ownership, there are several ways to find your ideal canine match. The Shelter Pet Project makes it easy to find a rescue cat or dog. Just plug in your zip code and their extensive database will pull up a bunch of darling pups waiting to be adopted. Petfinder is another good option. Make plans to visit your local animal shelter in person, too. Online databases won’t include every single adoptable dog out there. And hey, you never know—you could experience love at first sight.  Adopting a rescue dog can be one of the most rewarding experiences in your life. We’d love to hear your adoption stories—please feel free to share them!  

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12 of the Cutest Dog Halloween Costume Ideas

12 of the Cutest Dog Halloween Costume Ideas The countdown to Halloween is on—does your furry friend have his costume ready yet? Whether you’re going the DIY route this year or opting for a simple store-bought outfit, nothing is cuter than a canine in costume.  But before we get to our list of adorable dog costumes, let’s take a look at whether you should get your dog one in the first place.   Should dogs wear Halloween costumes? Our Instagram feeds may be flooded with precious doggos in full Halloween gear, but we have to ask ourselves: is it ok to dress Fido up in costume? Or is this one holiday practice that should be left to us humans? According to PetMD, it depends on the pet. Some dogs will happily parade around town in a pumpkin costume, while others will find the whole thing intolerable. You know your pet better than anyone else, so if costumes are part of your Halloween plans this year, it’s important to consider the following: Watch for signs of distress When you know what to look for, spotting a stressed out dog is easy. Monitor your dog for signs that he’s not loving being in costume: Lowered tail Pinned back ears Attempts to remove the costume Fussing with the costume Anxious running Cowering Excessive scratching If you suspect your dog is feeling overwhelmed or uncomfortable, ditch the costume—no amount of cuteness is worth stressing him out. Make sure the costume is safe Some costumes are more dog-friendly than others. Look out for small, loose pieces that could pose a choking hazard to curious canines. Visibility is another important factor: hats or wigs that block your dog’s vision are off the table. And even if it clashes with your picture perfect costume, don’t take Fido Trick-or-Treating without a leash.  Make sure the costume fits  Ill-fitting costumes are a recipe for disaster. Don’t put your dog in anything that is too tight or restricts his movements. Equally important is forgoing any costume that is too loose, as the extra fabric can be a tripping hazard.   Spectacular dog Halloween costumes As long as you heed these safety considerations and your dog isn’t phased by wearing clothing, you should be all clear for a costumed night of fun! Need inspiration? We’ve got you covered with a dozen of the most charming, hilarious, and creative dog costumes we’ve ever seen.   1. Spider Image by Stacie Joy via Flickr Eek! This fuzzy arachnid is too adorable to frighten us. Even Miss Muffet agrees.   2. Wind-up Dog Image via Flickr OK, this dog is so winning Halloween this year. We’re loving the creativity and thought that went into this costume—just give your special pooch a few cranks, and let the good times begin!   3. Gru and his Minions Image by Stacie Joy via Flickr He’s already your little minion, so why not have your pup dress the part? These dog owners get in on the fun with coordinating costumes of their own.   4. Yoga Dog Image via Flickr If your furry pal is a fitness fanatic, this yoga getup is just the thing. The matching pink yoga mat is too cute!   5. Chia Pet Image by Stacie Joy via Flickr Calling all DIYers—this nostalgic dog costume brings out our inner 80’s kid, and we’re totally digging it. Ch-ch-ch-chia pup!   6. Poe’s “Nevermore” Raven Image by Stacie Joy via Flickr This spot-on raven costume hits all the right marks. Spooky? Check. Clever? Check. Edgy and literary? Check and check.   7. Hot diggity dog Image via Flickr A hotdog costume is an obvious choice for say, a Dachshund or a Corgi, but we gotta say—this Boxer is killing it. Pass the mustard.   8. Superman Image via Flickr This pooch might not be able to “leap tall buildings in a single bound,” but he’s still a Superdog. We’ve seen our share of Superman dog costumes, but this one takes the cake. The faux arms have us in stitches!   9. E.T. and Elliott Image by Stacie Joy via Flickr Instantly recognizable, this crafty DIY costume is simple, yet effective. If your dog can tolerate being bundled up in a comfy blanket, this could be the costume for you.   10. Pineapple Image via Flickr Talk about cuteness overload! There’s no doubt this handsome pug will be lighting up smiles all weekend.   11. Skeleton Sweater Image by Anne Heathen via Flickr Sometimes keeping it simple is where it’s at. And this sweater-clad sweetheart definitely agrees.   12. Dalmatian Image by Ranjan Gupta via Flickr Maybe your teacup pup fancies himself a fierce Dane or, in this case, a feisty Dalmatian. Why not indulge his fantasy, and let him try being another breed for the night?  These adorable dogs have got us giddy with excitement for the upcoming Halloween festivities! Do you have a favorite costume on this list? Did we leave anything out? Let us know in the comments, and have a safe and happy Howl-O-Ween!

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8 Therapy Dog Programs that are Helping US Veterans

8 Therapy Dog Programs that are Helping US Veterans From post traumatic stress disorder to feelings of isolation and depression, US veterans reacclimating to civilian life face a long, hard road. Thankfully, a number of charitable organizations are working to smooth the path forward by partnering highly trained service dogs with veterans in need.  The human-animal bond is a powerful thing. Animals—dogs in particular—can help us heal while improving our overall quality of life. Research shows that service dogs offer comfort and support, reduce stress and depression, and ease social reintegration.  As we honor our country’s courageous veterans this month, Grumble Dog is taking a closer look at 8 incredible organizations that have made it their mission to pair loving dogs with our nation’s military heroes.    Pups4Patriots Image by Chief National Guard Bureau via Flickr Connecting a therapy dog with a veteran is not an easy or expense-free endeavor, and roadblocks such as long waiting periods and steep training costs can halt the process. Pups4Patriots is dedicated to eradicating these obstacles by pairing rigorously trained shelter dogs with veterans, free of charge.  Sponsored by American Humane, this program leads the way in the development of national training standards, with the end goal of maximizing the success these dogs have in treating veterans with post-traumatic stress or traumatic brain injury. Pups4Patriots also offers hands-on training to help veterans bolster the bond they share with their new pup.   NEADS: World Class Service Dogs Formerly known as National Education for Assistance Dog Services and Dogs for Deaf and Disabled Americans, NEADS addresses the needs of veterans with permanent disabilities or debilitating hearing loss. The program provides fully-trained therapy dogs with zero charge to eligible veterans—even if their disability isn’t service related.  NEADS dogs are trained to help with a variety of tasks, including: Retrieving items Turning lights on and off Barking for help Pushing automatic door buttons Bracing their partner for added stability If a veteran struggles with hearing loss, their canine counterpart can alert them to important sounds such as smoke detectors, alarm clocks, a ringing phone, or a knock at the door.    United States Veterans Service Dogs Navigating the path to a “new normal” is never easy for veterans suffering from mental and/or physical disabilities. United States Veterans Service Dogs is committed to mitigating the difficulty of this process by placing specially trained service dogs in the homes of veterans. Looking for a life-changing, dog-related volunteer opportunity? This organization recruits responsible puppy raisers to teach good foundational behaviors to dogs from the age of eight weeks to 14-18 months. Prior experience is not required—all you need is the resolve to provide adequate socialization opportunities (plan for at least 1 outing per week) and basic obedience training. Resources, including a supportive community, are provided for puppy trainers to ensure success.  Once all training is complete, puppy trainers are invited to attend a graduation ceremony where they present their former pupil to his new owner.    Pets for Vets Image by Greg Woods via Flickr Pet ownership comes with a host of mental and physical health benefits, according to the CDC. Recognizing the power that the animal-human bond holds, Pet for Vets seeks to place companion animals with soldiers transitioning back to civilian life. It’s a win-win: the rescue pet is finally placed in a loving home, and the veteran receives unconditional love and support of an animal who will help ease the effects of stress, depression, and loneliness.  Pets for Vets employs a unique strategy for placing shelter residents in loving forever homes. Their systematic “Super Bond” program rejects the one-size-fits-all approach in favor of a tested process that matches the right pet with the right person. After taking a close look at each applicant’s personality and lifestyle, Pets for Vets strives to find the dog that is best suited for him or her. This deliberate approach establishes a profound connection between the veteran and his canine partner.   Paws Assisting Veterans (PAVE) Funded entirely by grants and donations, Paws Assisting Veterans is a nonprofit organization committed to bettering the lives of veterans by pairing them with highly trained service dogs. They aim to “pave” the way towards wellness for veterans suffering from PTSD and other ailments.   PAVE therapy dogs are trained to perform specific tasks, depending on their recipient’s individual needs. They can learn how to retrieve objects, turn lights on and off, open and close doors, and even interrupt nightmares! In addition to providing service dogs to veterans free of charge, Paws Assisting Veterans also promotes public knowledge of the important role that service dogs play in the treatment of veterans suffering from physical and mental disabilities.    Next Step Service Dogs Image by New Jersey National Guard via Flickr Next Step Service Dogs has a broader scope of services than most of the organizations on this list. Not only do they provide well-trained service dogs to veterans in need, but they also work with active military personnel and first responders who are suffering from PTSD or TBI.  This program assists participants in training their own dogs to perform helpful tasks. They also offer career opportunities to unemployed veterans by teaching them to train service dogs for fellow service members in need.    Alpha Bravo Canine This Philadelphia-based non-profit was founded by a mother and son team with experience in both dog training and the struggles of combat-related disabilities. Alarming suicide rates among veterans prompted the duo to launch Alpha Bravo Canine—an organization that puts trained service dogs into the homes of veterans suffering from physical or psychological issues.   Blue Star Service Dogs In 2010, Blue Star Service Dogs was founded to promote the healing of veterans transitioning from military to civilian life. Their tagline says it all: “We Rescue One to Heal Another.” The organization gives qualified shelter dogs a second chance at life by training them to be service animals for veterans diagnosed with post-combat conditions. By significantly reducing depression symptoms, Blue Star Service Dogs also decreases the need for meds, improves community integration, and gives veterans a greater sense of purpose.  For service members trying to reenter civilian life, the road ahead can appear daunting and lonely. Companion animals can offer the motivation and support necessary to keep moving forward. If you love animals and you’re looking for a way to show your appreciation for our nation’s veterans, consider donating your time or money to one of these organizations. 

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How to Exercise Safely with your Senior Dog

How to Exercise Safely with your Senior Dog We all know exercise is important. But for senior dogs suffering from stiff joints, arthritic hips, limited mobility, or diminished stamina, getting enough exercise can prove quite the challenge. Even though his puppy years are far behind him, your senior dog still needs regular exercise. This, of course, will look different from the all-day frisbee marathons you used to have—but there are still ways you can keep Fido trim and feeling his best.  Here are some tips for keeping your senior dog in tip-top shape.   Keep things short and sweet While your senior dog may have loved long, strenuous hikes in his youth, those epic treks become less and less plausible as he enters his golden years. And that’s ok! He may not be able to run three miles with you first thing in the morning anymore, but that doesn’t mean you should rule out exercise entirely.  The key to keeping your senior dog fit and healthy is adjusting his exercise regimen to suit his limited mobility and endurance. Just dial things back a bit—perhaps a short stroll down the street and back is all he can handle.  No matter what type of exercise you choose to do with your dog, remember: slow and steady wins the race. In fact, forget the race altogether—this isn’t a competition. If you’re introducing your senior dog to a new routine, start slowly, keep things short, and take breaks whenever you feel he needs one. Pushing your dog beyond the point of exhaustion will only result in pain and discomfort, so watch for signs of overexertion.   Tips for walking your senior dog Image by Mabel Amber via Pixabay Walking is an effective, low-impact exercise for dogs (and humans) of all ages. It’s also a great way to get your pooch outdoors, experiencing new sights and smells. But walking your senior dog is a little different than walking a high-octane puppy. As your dog ages, things like the weather and the surface you’re walking on can have a greater impact on his comfort level and walking ability.  When it comes to surfaces, opt for grass and sand whenever possible, and try to avoid impossibly uneven, rocky terrain, scorching pavement, and icy sidewalks. This doesn’t mean you should completely rule out uneven terrain or paths that are on an incline. As long as the surface is manageable for your dog, he can actually benefit from the challenge, as Dr. Mike Paul, DVM reports to the Pet Health Network. As long as you watch for signs of fatigue and pain, encouraging your older dog to work all four legs on reasonably rocky surfaces can benefit his health.   Take your senior dog for a dip Image by Joshua Choate via Pixabay If your dog fancies a dip in the lake, you’re in luck: swimming is a fun, low-impact activity that’s easy on your senior dog’s body. It’s gentle enough for older dogs with joint pain and still offers an effective, full-body workout. In the summer, swimming offers relief from the relentless heat—especially important for older dogs who are more sensitive to extreme temperatures.  Some senior dog swimming pointers to bear in mind:  Not all dogs are able swimmers. The American Kennel Club points out that brachycephalic breeds like pugs or bulldogs, for instance, are prone to aspiration pneumonia. Because of their flat faces, these dogs have a hard time keeping their muzzles above water.  A dog-specific life jacket is never a bad idea. Especially if he’s a newbie.  Check out local rehabilitation centers. If your senior dog doesn’t know how to swim, your veterinarian can point you towards rehab centers that offer safe water therapy.   Pay attention to weather conditions Image by Bata Stojanovic via Pixabay There’s more than one way to exercise with your senior dog, so don’t limit yourself to walking. When you engage in a variety of physical activities, your dog has the opportunity to strengthen certain muscles, while resting others. Changing up your dog’s exercise routine has the added benefit of stimulating his mind as well as his body.  So, what kinds of activities can your older dog participate in? To keep things from becoming stale, look into one or more of the following: Canine pilates: Yes, pilates for dogs is a thing. And it’s a great way to strengthen your dog’s muscles, improve posture, and prevent fatigue.  Yoga for dogs: Your canine companion is already an expert on “downward-facing dog,” so why not add some new moves to his repertoire? Canine yoga classes (AKA “doga”) reduce stress, improve circulation, and increase your dog’s range of motion.  Visit a dog park: Dog parks are an excellent way to burn off some steam while making new friends. Try a new trick: Forget what they say: you CAN train an old dog new tricks. No matter how old he gets, training sessions are a great way to bond with your dog while keeping him sharp and alert. Treat your dog with a new toy: Give his brain and body a workout with a new toy. The AKC makes several recommendations, from softer chew toys to plush puzzle toys.   Pay attention to signs of pain According to PetMD, dogs instinctively hide their pain, so it’s not always easy to tell when your poor pooch is suffering. You need to pay attention to more subtle indicators that his body needs a break. If you observe any of the following, reevaluate your dog’s fitness routine and adjust accordingly: Panting  Shaking Limping Inability to walk upstairs Difficulty lying down (or getting up) Refusal to walk Excessive licking Excessive barking Restlessness Aggression  If your senior dog is exhibiting any of these telltale signs, consult with your veterinarian about possible pain management strategies.   Extra tips for keeping your senior dog healthy Image by Stephen Hanafin via Flickr To maximize the benefits of your dog’s routine and make exercise easier, there are several strategic moves you should make.  Maintain your dog’s ideal weight: excessive weight gain makes it more difficult for your dog to get around, so keep those extra pounds from piling up. Keep up with grooming: keep your dog’s nails trimmed—long nails make maneuvering trickier. Provide comfortable bedding: If your senior dog has arthritis or chronic pain, a comfy bed goes a long way in alleviating symptoms. Keep up with his vet visits: A new fitness routine can introduce aches and pains into your senior dog’s life. Talk to your vet to make sure you are exercising your senior dog correctly, and find out if pain management is appropriate. Reassess your dog’s ability regularly: As your dog’s physical abilities fluctuate, take note and make changes whenever necessary. You may need to adjust your pace or the frequency of your walks, depending on how your pup handles the increased activity. At the end of the day, it’s our responsibility as pet owners to keep our furry friends happy and healthy. If given the choice, your senior dog would probably spend his days snoozing on the couch, so you need to be proactive about getting him up and moving. You’ll both benefit from the effort!

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Dog-friendly Thanksgiving Bites for Your Special Pup

Dog-friendly Thanksgiving Bites for Your Special Pup For many of us, the holidays serve as the perfect excuse to spoil our furry, four-legged friends. And really, with so many inviting dishes in our Thanksgiving spread—can you blame us? But what foods are safe for your pup to chow down on, and which ones are “off the table”? Are there any dishes we can serve Fido that won’t result in an unpleasant digestive issue later?  If you’re in the habit of slipping your dog table scraps, you’ll be happy to hear there are a few tasty Thanksgiving morsels your dog can safely enjoy—but conditions apply. We’ve broken down the main elements of the Thanksgiving meal, so you can see which foods get the thumbs up, and which ones are a no-go. Be sure to share this information with your guests, so no one’s sneaking your dog any potentially dangerous snacks.    Turkey Image by Charlotte Govaert via Pixabay Let’s talk turkey. The star of your Thanksgiving dinner is (mostly) safe for dogs—but it must be unseasoned. Skip the skin, which is packed with fat and has likely been prepared with butter and spices that can cause pancreatitis or gastrointestinal upset in dogs.  Turkey bones, however, are off-limits. While your hungry pooch may love the taste, bones can easily splinter, causing painful intestinal blockages or internal bleeding.   Pumpkin What’s Thanksgiving without a little pumpkin pie? As tempting as it may be to indulge your dog with a tiny slice, all the sugar and spices in this dessert can cause major tummy problems. That said, plain pumpkin puree is not only safe (and delicious) for Fido, but it’s also a healthy superfood for dogs. Rich in fiber, pumpkin keeps your dog’s digestive system in good working order. It also contributes to healthy skin and fur.  Just make sure you’re feeding your dog fresh, plain pumpkin—not a spiced pie mix. And be prepared for a few extra trips to the yard since this special treat can increase your dog’s erm…regularity.    3. Fly direct Make life easier by booking a direct flight, if you can. Dragging your poor pooch through a crowded O’Hare is never good for your nerves (or your dog’s nerves, for that matter). If a non-stop flight isn’t in the cards, try booking on a weekday when airports are less busy.  If your dog is traveling in the cargo hold, remember that it can get uncomfortably hot or cold in there, depending on the weather. In the sticky heat of summer, fly in the morning or evening. In the winter, travel midday to avoid extreme temperatures.   Green Beans Green bean casserole is a Thanksgiving classic, but it’s one your dog should skip. Most recipes call for mushrooms and onions, which are actually toxic to dogs.  If you don’t want your dog to miss out on the health benefits these crunchy veggies bring to the table, you can serve them up raw and unadorned (ie: zero butter or seasonings). Raw green beans will give your pup a hefty dose of vitamins C and K, manganese, and fiber.  Plain peas are another dog-friendly option—just avoid creamed peas, as the fat can cause a tummy ache.     Apple Pie Image by Charles Deluvio via Unsplash Apple pie, anyone? Anyone other than the family dog, that is.  While everyone has their own preferences when it comes to apple pie (I’m a crust-lover, myself), this traditional American treat is not one we should be sharing with our dogs. High in fat and filled with bellyache-triggering ingredients such as sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg, apple pie can lead to high blood pressure, liver disease, and even seizures.  Instead of pie, slip your dog some plain, fresh apple slices—before they get baked. Your dog will enjoy a healthy serving of fiber and vitamins A and C.  Make sure you ditch the core, too—overconsumption of apple seeds can be toxic to dogs, according to the American Kennel Club.    Sweet Potatoes Touted as a nutrient-packed superfood for humans, sweet potatoes also carry some serious health benefits for our canine partners. Consumed in moderation, they’re a great source of vitamins A, B6, and C, as well as potassium and fiber. Vitamin A contributes to healthier skin, fur, muscles, and nerves, so this is one vegetable that’s earned its place on your dog’s Thanksgiving plate.  To take advantage of this seasonal veggie’s benefits, try roasting them without any additional seasonings. Raw is cool, too. This should come as a no-brainer, but never serve your dog sweet potatoes with marshmallows. These sweet confections contain xylitol, an artificial sweetener that is highly toxic to dogs.    Cranberries While plain, raw cranberries get the green light here, you need to watch out for cranberry sauce. This tart side can contain ingredients that are dangerous to dogs, such as raisins, sugar, and liquor.    Bread Image by Engin Akyurt via Unsplash For carb-aholics, a basket of warm dinner rolls is always a welcome sight. If you can’t resist sharing, it’s safe to offer your dog a small amount of plain, white bread—just avoid any bread with add-ins like nuts, raisins, or spices.  One caveat: don’t overdo it. Bread has zero nutritional value for dogs, and it can lead to weight problems.   Corn Image by Bruno via Pixabay Who doesn’t love corn? It should come as no surprise that dogs love it, too. Thankfully, it’s safe for dogs to consume corn in moderation. Never let your pooch gnaw on the cob, though—it poses a serious choking risk.    Mashed Potatoes For some people, Thanksgiving without the humble potato is unthinkable. But can your pup enjoy this creamy, dreamy sensation too? Not exactly. Undressed mashed potatoes are safe, but you’ll have to leave out all the things that make them irresistible like butter, cheese, sour cream, and gravy. These additions, while delicious, can lead to pancreatitis and intestinal discomfort in dogs. The AKC recommends serving your dog a boiled or baked potato, without any seasonings.   Stuffing It may seem harmless enough, but stuffing actually contains several ingredients that are toxic to dogs. Garlic, onions, and leeks can result in an elevated heart rate, pancreatitis, anemia, and kidney failure.  Here’s a dog-friendly tip: save some of the carrot and celery slices from your stuffing prep. These low-cal bites are filled with nutrients. Plus, your dog will love them! Do you have a special holiday treat prepared for your dog this Thanksgiving? If so, let us know what you plan to dish up!

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12 Unique Christmas Gifts for the Dog Lover in Your Life

12 Unique Christmas Gifts for the Dog Lover in Your Life Christmas shopping have you stumped this year? Don’t fret—Grumble Dog’s got you covered. We searched high and low for the most charming, unique, and and high-quality dog-related gifts we could find. Many of these gifts are handcrafted by independent mom-and-pop shops, and all of them feature products guaranteed to make any dog-lover swoon.  Spread the love this holiday season with a thoughtful, dog-themed gift from one of the shops below.   1. “Dog Mom” Tumbler https://www.instagram.com/p/CD9NXSdJnQn/ Keep your drinks cold while proudly declaring your dog mom status with this adorable tumbler from Doodle Doo Threads. This small family-run business also sells handmade bandanas, collars, and leashes, so you can kill two birds with one stone by picking up some chic accessories for your doggo too.   2. Dog-Themed Beer Glass https://www.instagram.com/p/CBSrOrrh_V9/ Not only does Buffalo-based BrewDogs and FeWines wins the title for “Cleverest Shop Name Ever”—they also let you shop for a cause. Up to 40% of your purchase helps the animal rescue of your choice. The owners’ mission? “To not only make fun, one of a kind merchandise, but to also raise awareness for pet rescues and adoptions.” Born from a combined love of adult beverages and pooches (#relatable), this shop also sells bags, clothing, and pet apparel.    3. Dog Coasters https://www.instagram.com/p/CHP9cEjI3lp/ Coasters are the perfect gift for that hard-to-shop-for friend: they’re useful, affordable, and highly customizable. For the Dachshund fanatic in your life, check out these darling illustrated coasters from In Your Dog House. This online retailer offers a charming collection of on-trend, dog-related homeware and accessories. Everything you need to make Christmas extra special this year. WIth every purchase from this shop, you’re supporting small, independent British designers. Plus, all of the profits made by In Your Dog House go towards their #GreatDogWalkTogether initiative, which encourages dog walking to promote well-being and socialization.   4. Dog Treat Advent Calendar https://www.instagram.com/p/CHZqbzKH7Y2/ Counting down to Christmas is more fun with this refillable doggy treat Advent calendar. Designed by woodworker Emma Freeman, this adorable handmade gift features your pupper’s personalized name burned into the wood. Check out Freeman’s full collection of gorgeous rustic home decor at her Etsy shop, Made By A Little Elf.   5. Crocheted Dog Cozies https://www.instagram.com/p/CHntFF6sz4l/ These handmade canine cozies take cute to the next level! Created by Angel Doherty for her Etsy shop, Hooked by Angel, these darling cup holders celebrate the artist’s love for animals and all things yarn. For all you crafty types, crochet patterns are also available for purchase.    6. Matching Face Masks and Dog Bandanas https://www.instagram.com/p/CGLuEAtJBjz/ Celebrate the holidays in true 2020 form with these coordinating face masks and bandanas from ResponsibleChic. With plenty of fabulous patterns to choose from, you’re sure to nail this year’s family Christmas photo.    7. Dog Owner Doormat https://www.instagram.com/p/CFvbcE-gOLR/ The Doormatory is your solution to all Christmas shopping woes. This small husband-and-wife-biz operating out of Ventura, California offers cheeky doormats for every occasion. Their succinct and playfully worded “Hope-you-like-dogs” mat will inspire smiles wherever it’s placed.   8. Dog Tote Bag https://www.instagram.com/p/B_7PAmalgla/ For guaranteed smiles, try a gift from Fond Company—your one-stop shop for playfully illustrated gifts and homeware. Inspired by her love for animals and nature, artist and founder Hannah Catchlove has created a winsome collection of animal-themed greeting cards, fine art prints, totes, and tea towels.  This tote featuring 13 of Britain’s most popular pooches is the perfect bag for your dog-loving friend to stash some extra puppy treats. We absolutely love it!   9. Personalized Pet Pillow https://grumbledog.com/product-details/167 While you can’t beat a good snuggle session with your favorite pup, we think this personalized pillow is the next best thing. From our very own Grumble Dog Store, we present our personalized pupper pillows. The process is simple: just upload your dog’s picture, and we’ll create a one-of-a-kind gift that people actually want to receive.   10. Handmade Leash Rack https://www.instagram.com/p/CGBYN9ynVnX/ A Plus Teacher offers a wide assortment of wooden wall hangings, but this custom-made leash holder takes the cake. It adds just the right amount of flair to your entryway—and we think your dog-loving friends and family will agree! Make it your own with your choice of wood color and hooks. Have a custom request in mind? The shopowners will happily oblige.   11. Pet Portrait https://www.instagram.com/p/CDlbNMOHaEy/ Shopping for that impossible pet lover who has everything? MokaMeta creates custom pet portraits that’ll leave the recipient in stitches. Memoralize your pet’s distinct personality with a digital download that’s sure to be a priceless conversation piece in your home.   12. Custom Dog Book Photo courtesy of I See Me Give your dog-loving friend something they’ll treasure forever. This personalized storybook from I See Me includes your dog’s name (and the names of up to four family members) throughout the pages. You can also include a personal dedication message and two paw-some photos in the front and back of the book.  For quirky and unusual gifts, shopping small is the way to go. Not only will your dollar go towards supporting small, independent businesses, but you’ll also find an array of unique, personal gifts that any dog-lover would love.  Enjoy your holiday shopping!

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How to Keep Your Dog Active this Winter

How to Keep Your Dog Active this Winter Brrrr! The weather outside is frightful, but that doesn’t mean you can ignore your dog’s exercise needs. It just means his routine might look a little different these days.  Exercise is essential for your dog—regardless of the frosty weather. Failure to exercise your dog can lead to destructive behaviors like chewing and barking, as well as aggression issues. When the mercury dips below freezing and a walk through the icy cold is the last thing on your mind, try your hand at one of these indoor exercise options. These activities will help your dog maintain a healthy weight while strengthening your bond with him.   Walk off the winter weight with a dog treadmill Yes, they exist. And with a price tag hovering around the $500-1,000 mark, they aren’t on the cheap side. Nonetheless, a dog treadmill could be the wisest investment you’ll ever make for your dog’s health.  Running at a quieter volume than human treadmills, dog treadmills are less panic-inducing (great news for your high-strung fur baby). Dog treadmills are less bulky than human ones, so it will take up less space in your home. They’re also designed with safety features (such as raised sides) made specifically with your canine pal in mind.  For first time users, let your dog adjust to the treadmill slowly. Start at the lowest speed, and gradually increase the difficulty over time.  Our final thoughts: if you’re able to make the splurge, a dog treadmill can be a great way to get your pup moving when the wind chill dips into single digits.   Play a game of scent search Image by Petra via Pixabay Nose games are a stimulating way to keep your pup entertained while using his natural talents. Hide your dog’s favorite toy, instruct him to find it, and then reward him when he retrieves it. Get the whole family in on the action by taking turns hiding the toy.  For a variation of this game, try a round of hide-and-seek to get your dog’s heart pumping. Instead of hiding a toy, hide yourself! When you’re out of sight, have your dog use his sense of smell to find you. Not only will your dog be getting in some solid cardio, but he’ll also give his brain a killer workout.   Run your dog up and down the stairs Have a staircase in your home? If so, you’ve got a built-in winter-friendly activity at your disposal. Exercising your dog can be as simple as putting on his leash and talking a few trips up and down the stairs. You’ll use more muscle power than a plain old walk. And you’ll stay warm and dry! Here’s another way to get Fido’s heartrate up: standing at the top of the stairs, throw a toy down to your dog and have him bring it back up to you. It’ll only take a few rounds of this before your dog is ready for a midday siesta.    Create an indoor obstacle course for your dog OK, so maybe this one sounds a little crazy. But c’mon: who didn’t love a good obstacle course as a kid? Look around your home—you’d be surprised at how many items you have lying around the house that you can use. Gather some cushions, blankets, chairs, stools, even a hoola-hoop.  For inspiration, check out Animal Wellness Magazine’s list of DIY obstacle course ideas.   Give your dog a puzzle feeder Exercise is more fun when there are treats involved! Puzzle feeders are an excellent get-up-and-move motivator. Depending on the design, your pup will have to use his paws, nose, or teeth to retrieve his reward. He’ll also enjoy the added benefit of stimulating his mental muscles!   Try a round of fetch—indoor style Fetch doesn’t need to be a strictly outdoors affair. Bring this canine classic inside for some respite from the cold. Provided you have the space, of course.   Sign your pup up for a class Image via Pixabay You may be surprised to learn there are all kinds of local classes available to your dog. Consider enrolling your pup in indoor swimming lessons, a dance class (seriously), or a flyball team. If those are less than appealing, obedience training courses will be sure to tire your dog out. Added bonus: your pup gets some extra socialization.    Practice some “Doga” Dog yoga (AKA “doga”) is the next big thing. It’s a wonderful way to reduce stress, improve circulation, and increase your dog’s range of motion. So what exactly does doga involve? Participants stretch and perform modified yoga poses—with their dog as their partner. If you can’t find a local doga class in your area, check out Youtube for free videos you can watch from the comfort of your home.   Give skijoring a shot Image by Bob Denaro via Flickr What’s “skijoring?” Think of it as a hybrid between cross-country skiing and dog sledding. If you and your dog are fans of the snow, this lively winter sport could be your new favorite hobby.  To participate, you’ll need one to three dogs, a harness, and a pair of skis. As long as your dog‘s fond of running, weighs at least 35 pounds, and is polite around strangers, skijoring is definitely worth giving a shot.   Organize a puppy play date To beat the winter blues, Invite your dog’s bff over for an afternoon of fun. If it’s not too cold outside, they can chase each other around the yard. Just make sure to monitor the temps and bring the dogs inside if the weather becomes too harsh. If you’re stuck indoors, they’ll keep each other entertained while staying active.   Your dog’s health is in your hands Ultimately, it’s your responsibility to keep your dog mentally and physically fit. Proper exercise is a must, regardless of what the weather is doing. Staying active can decrease your dog’s anxiety, lower his aggression, and curb undesirable behavior such as chewing.  Try incorporating one of the above exercises into your routine this week—you may just discover a new favorite activity you can share!

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Yorkshire Terriers: the Complete Lowdown on this Feisty Dog Breed

Yorkshire Terriers: the Complete Lowdown on this Feisty Dog Breed Great things come in small packages, they say. And the spirited Yorkshire terrier is no exception. These fun-sized darlings are classified as Toy dogs, but don’t let that demure appearance fool you—Yorkies are a playful and spunky bunch. Developed in 19th century England, the breed got its start hunting rodents in mines and textile mills. Eventually, the breed’s popularity skyrocketed, and Yorkshires became a coveted “accessory” for trendsetting Victorian women. Have your sights set on a Yorkshire terrier? Let’s explore whether or not this vivacious dog could be in your future.   Yorkshire Terrier Breed Characteristics One thing’s for sure: space isn’t an issue for a Yorkshire terrier. They may have big personalities, but at 7 pounds, Yorkies are one of the smallest dog breeds in existence.  Coupled with his adorably compact build, A Yorkie’s luscious locks make quite the statement. His silky, floor-length coat is the envy of all his canine pals. It hangs evenly and perfectly straight, coming in a glossy blend of steel blue and golden tan.  Yorkshire terriers are known for their confident gait and bright expression—two reminders that there’s more to them than meets the eye.  Thankfully, one thing a Yorkie enjoys is longevity. On average, these dogs live between 14 and 16 years.   Yorkshire Terrier Temperament Image by Jan Vasek via Pixabay Don’t make the mistake of equating this breed’s prim and proper look with a dull personality. They’re anything but boring! A terrier through and through, Yorkies are famously brave, energetic, and full of life. Their plucky personality can even cross into bossy territory (but we gladly forgive them for that.) If a lazy lapdog is what you’re after, consider searching elsewhere. These mischievous canines are always up for an adventure, and they certainly love to play. Yorkshire terriers are intelligent and curious dogs, making them endlessly fun companions.  While they’re friendly and personable, Yorkies can have a stubborn streak, and their fearless attitude can also translate into bold assertiveness towards unfamiliar animals.    Yorkshire Terrier Grooming and Health Needs Maintaining a Yorkie’s coat is no small task. If he’s sporting a longer ‘do, it’ll require daily brushing. Tying your Yorkie’s hair into a topknot will keep it from blocking his vision or irritating his eyes. “Puppy” clips are popular among Yorkie parents, but you’ll still need to make regular visits to a professional groomer. The American Kennel Club also recommends weekly baths. The good news is that Yorkshire terriers don’t shed much, so you won’t wear out your vacuum cleaner with one of these pups in your home. For the most part, Yorkshire terriers are healthy dogs with a long lifespan. They are, however, prone to a few health conditions including hypothyroidism, cataracts, bladder stones, tracheal collapse, and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).  The breed is also prone to luxating patellas, a defect in which the dog’s kneecaps pop out of place. It’s important, therefore, to keep your Yorkie from jumping from great heights.  Legg-Calve-Perthes disease is another ailment to watch for. The disease diminishes blood flow to the bones in your dog’s rear legs, causing limping. A liver condition known as portosystemic shunt commonly afflicts Yorkies. Luckily, both of these defects are treatable with surgery. Because Yorkshire terriers are so small, dental issues can occur, such as overcrowding and improper development. Regular veterinary dental care is a must.    Yorkshire Terrier Energy Level and Training Needs Image via Pixabay Yorkies require moderate exercise to stay healthy and happy. Two short walks per day should suffice. To help your exuberant pooch burn off some extra steam, try tossing a tennis ball in the yard.  Don’t rule out competitive dog sports just because your dog is teeny. After all, they’re called the “Tomboy Toy” for a reason. The sprightly Yorkie is as smart as he is energetic, and participating in activities like flyball or agility courses will challenge both his stamina and his mind. Plus, he’ll love the extra attention! Vetstreet reports that these perennial people-pleasers are easy to train. As a rule, Yorkies are intelligent and love to make their humans happy, so positive reinforcement goes a long way in developing good manners. Have treats on hand and shower your dog with praise to encourage obedience.   Yorkshire Terrier Breed History Long before they became the pampered favorite of posh Victorian ladies, Yorkshire terriers had more of a blue-collar life. Developed in the 19th century by crossing several types of terriers, Yorkies were originally employed as rat exterminators in the mines and textile mills of England. No doubt, their compact size and fearless attitude made this hard-working terrier the perfect dog for the job.  The tables turned in 1886 when England’s Kennel Club officially recognized the breed. As Yorkies became the “next big thing” for fashionable ladies in England, the dogs traded in their working papers for a life of luxury. Dog fanciers swooned over the breed’s elegant beauty and diminutive size—a trait that breeders began to favor as the dog’s popularity among pet owners grew.   Is a Yorkshire Terrier right for you? Image by Mieczysław Samol via Pixabay Yorkies have a habit of charming the socks off of everyone they meet. They’re a lively heap of pocket-size fun—what’s not to love?  Overall, Yorkshire terriers make terrific pets. Their small size and confident personality make them ideal for urbanites living in smaller apartments. Barking can be an issue, but Yorkies are super responsive to training and can learn to stop yapping on command. You’ll need to up your grooming game with a Yorkie. Daily brushing is essential, but for fans of the breed’s lovely locks, the extra work is well worth the effort. And since their coat more closely resembles human hair than animal fur, the breed is also considered hypoallergenic. If you have kids, you’re in luck: the affectionate Yorkshire terrier loves to run and play. Just don’t let playtime get too rambunctious—a Yorkie may have a bold personality, but he’s still a fairly fragile 7-pound dog. The tenacious Yorkie is one of the world’s most popular pets, and it’s not hard to see why. If you’re planning to bring home one of these sweet dogs, you’ll have a loyal and affectionate new best friend.

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11 New Year’s Resolutions To Make With Your Dog For The Best Year Ever

11 New Year’s Resolutions To Make With Your Dog For The Best Year Ever At this point, most of us are itching to ring in the New Year. Why not start 2021 on the right foot with some goal-setting that includes your precious pooch? New Year’s resolutions need not be a strictly human affair, after all. Help your dog live his best life by adopting simple changes that will benefit his overall health, security, and/or happiness.  Interested, but not sure where to start? Here are 11 foolproof New Year’s resolutions you can make with your dog for a year you’ll never forget.   1. Help your pup lose his holiday paunch “Losing weight” ranks high on most people’s resolution lists. Unfortunately, our furry friends can also struggle with weight problems.  According to a 2018 study conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, more than half of the pet dogs in America are overweight. Excessive weight gain can lead to a host of medical problems including arthritis, labored breathing, heart disease, cancer, and ultimately, a lower quality of life. In other words: extra weight isn’t something to take lightly (pun fully intended). Start small, and commit to a reasonable routine that you can actually accomplish. This might look like a couple more walks per week or an extra 10-minutes of walking per day. Bonus: you’re likely to get fit in the process.   2. Evaluate your dog’s diet Image by Mat Coulton via Pixabay It’s easy to fall into a rut with our diets, and it’s no different for our dogs! If you’ve been feeding your dog the same generic kibbles, year and year, it’s not a bad idea to give the label a closer look.  As your dog ages, his caloric and nutritional needs will change. A growing puppy, for instance, requires specific nutrients like calcium and phosphorus. If your dog is a golden oldie, on the other hand, he may need a boost in protein to keep his muscles strong. Compare labels and buy dog food tailored for your dog’s current life stage.  Perhaps even more important than selecting the right dog food is measuring Fido’s dinner properly. Be honest: do you actually measure your dog’s daily intake, or do you just eyeball the amount you dump into his bowl every day?  To keep your pup from packing on the pounds, closely inspect the instructions on your dog food label. Factors like your dog’s breed, age, and exercise routine will all affect how much he should be eating.  Another worthwhile dietary resolution to adopt? Kick your habit of passing Fido scraps under the table. (That is, if you can resist those pleading puppy eyes!)   3. Spend more time outside It’s remarkable how much a brief romp in the great outdoors can boost our moods. Not surprisingly, our canine companions can also benefit from a little sunshine and fresh air.  As the Animal Wellness Magazine points out, daily outdoor time helps our dogs maintain a healthy weight while mitigating boredom and anxiety.  This year, make it a point to get outside more. Go for a walk. Explore a new place together. Immerse yourself in nature. You’ll both benefit from the experience.    4. Learn a new trick together Image by Claire Diaz via Pixabay Contrary to popular belief, old dogs most certainly CAN learn new tricks. Dogs are, by nature, curious creatures, and they are constantly observing and learning, well into old age.  When it comes to mastering a new trick, it’s a matter of determination and consistency. That and choosing the right trick. Catching a frisbee mid-air, for instance, may not be the best idea for your achy senior dog. Some better options? How about teaching your dog to speak on command, or helping him nail a high-five.  Practicing a new trick together will boost your bond with your dog while keeping him mentally stimulated. All good things, when it comes to your pet’s health.   5. Commit to teeth-brushing Keeping those pearly whites intact is important to your dog’s overall health. And yet, teeth brushing is one of the most commonly overlooked grooming tasks among pet owners. Protect your dog’s chompers with a pet-specific toothpaste (the human stuff can give your pup a major bellyache), and aim for a minimum of three weekly brushing sessions.    6. Learn a new dog-friendly recipe This one’s for all you MasterChefs out there: why not add some wholesome pup-approved treats to your cooking repertoire? With just a handful of readily available ingredients, you can whip up this comforting dog-friendly stew from Dogster. For a sweet treat, try your hand at these delectable frozen yogurt goodies. Yum!   7. Enrich your dog’s environment Image by Sarah Brown via Unsplash You work hard to give your dog the best life ever—but does your home satisfy his basic canine instincts? Environmental enrichment caters to your dog’s natural behaviors by creating a space that is mentally engaging and interesting. It encourages species-specific behavior by providing an environment that mimics the conditions he would experience in the wild.  Warding off doggy boredom can be as simple as introducing a new toy, or as elaborate as setting up a DIY agility course in the backyard. Here are some additional ways you can take your dog’s environment up a notch: Satisfy his hunting instinct: In the wild, dogs are natural hunters and foragers. Reacquaint your dog with this behavior by hiding food around the house or scattering kibbles around the yard. A puzzle feeder also works wonders here. Encourage nose work: Our dogs are champion sniffers. Reinforce this skill with a game of “scent search,” hiding a few treats or cotton balls doused in essential oils.  Embrace novelty: Keep things fresh by introducing your dog to new people or places. Take a different route on your nightly neighborhood stroll, rotate his toys, expose him to other dogs. Changing things up will keep your dog stimulated and engaged while avoiding canine restlessness.    8. Try a new activity together Image by Murilo Viviani via Unsplash Are your dog’s days becoming a tedious stream of ho-hum monotony? Spice things up by joining a new sport like flyball or dock diving. You’ll bond with your dog while keeping him in peak mental and physical condition. He may even make some new doggy pals along the way.    9. Get your dog microchipped We’d like to think it will never happen to us—but the sad truth is that one in three pets will go missing at some point during their lifetime. Avoid this tragedy and give your dog his best chance of returning home by having him microchipped. This relatively painless procedure can prevent heartbreak and provides peace of mind, all at an affordable cost.   10. Make a pet emergency preparedness plan Are you ready if disaster strikes? It’s wise to have a plan in place for the furry members of your family should the unthinkable happen, whether it’s an earthquake or a sudden evacuation.  For more tips on preparing your pets for an emergency, check out our comprehensive disaster preparedness checklist. We hope you never need to use it, but you’ll be happy you have a plan if things ever go south.   11. Start a pet emergency fund As pet owners, we know that veterinary care isn’t cheap. A single emergency visit can land you with a bill in the 1000’s.  Dealing with your fur baby’s upset tummy or painful paw injury is hard enough. Don’t let the financial side of things add to your distress. Starting a pet emergency fund today will bring you peace of mind tomorrow.  Embrace a better you—and a better pet—with a dog-approved New Year’s resolution. And no matter what resolutions you adopt, never forget your number one goal: to always love your dog as much as humanly possible.

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Are You Walking Your Dog Wrong? 8 Common Dog-Walking Mistakes

Are You Walking Your Dog Wrong? 8 Common Dog-Walking Mistakes Did you know that January is Walk Your Dog Month? Since we’ve already brewed up some ambitious New Year’s resolutions for your dog to tackle this year, why not resolve to be the best dog walker you can be in 2021? If you’re ready to take your dog walking experience to the next level, here are some pitfalls to watch for. Every dog owner has committed at least one of these dog-walking faux pas at one time or another, so I think it’s safe to say we all have room for improvement.  Here are 8 common dog walking mistakes—and how to fix them.   Dog Walking Mistake # 1: walking too much—or too little Do you know how much exercise your dog needs? Every dog is unique, and the number of walks he requires will depend on a number of factors including his age, his breed, and his physical condition. A Collie or a Dalmatian, for instance, is going to need more exercise than, say, a lowkey English bulldog who can get away with fewer daily steps. To nail down your dog’s ideal walking time, PetMD offers the following solution: first, walk your dog as you normally would, monitoring his energy level the entire time. If your dog’s pace steadily decreases after about 25-30 minutes of walking, he’s probably getting maxed out. At this point, you should head back home, again checking your dog’s pace the whole way. If your dog slows down even more during your walk back home, you’ve walked too far. Continue monitoring your dog once you’ve returned home. Does your dog head straight to the water bowl upon arrival? Does he take an hours-long nap after a long walk? Does he limp during or after a walk? All of these signs can indicate that your dog has pushed himself too far, and you need to dial back his walking time. That said, your dog’s stamina can certainly increase over time, as long as he’s healthy. By gradually building up his tolerance to exercise, eventually your dog should be able to enjoy longer without injuring himself.   Dog Walking Mistake # 2: using the wrong leash Image via Pixabay Choosing the right leash can mean the difference between a positive walking experience and a negative one, so it’s one thing you want to get right.  But with such a vast array of leash options on the market these days, choosing the right one can be a complicated affair. Dog leashes come in a variety of lengths, materials, and styles, so it’s no wonder selecting the right one can be so confusing.  A few considerations for you to mull over when leash shopping: Shorter leashes are great for city-walking, but for leisurely walks through the park, a longer leash is a good bet. They allow your dog to explore and perform some nosework while still keeping him safe. Got an enthusiastic puller? Anti-pull tech has come a long way from the days of nasty choke collars. No-pull harnesses discourage Fido from yanking on his leash, and contribute to a more pleasant walking experience for both parties. Odor-resistant leashes are ideal for messier dogs. For added visibility, a reflective leash is a good idea. Leash thickness and strength should be based on your dog’s size and weight. A wiry Chihuahua, for example, won’t need a leash as thick as a burly Newfoundland. Avoid retractable leashes. Not only do they teach dogs that pulling is ok, but they also fail to offer enough control over your dog.   Dog Walking Mistake # 3: letting your dog take the lead Despite how Fido feels about it, you are the pack leader. It’s critical that he understands this hierarchy during your walks.  How do you make your alpha status undeniably clear? For starters, your body language says a lot. As pack leader, you must exude confidence and control—so keep your head up and make your dog walk beside you, instead of in front of you.  To keep the momentum going, reward your dog with treats and praise whenever he walks steadily by your side and at your established pace.   Dog Walking Mistake # 4: keeping your dog from sniffing Our dogs are expert sniffers. In fact, the canine sense of smell is 10,000 times more powerful than our own. This remarkable talent is how our dogs experience the world around them. And yet we’ll be the first to admit, overzealous dog sniffing can be a downright nuisance when you’re trying to get in some extra steps.  But even though you may want to halt your dog’s desire to sniff his surroundings, it’s not a bad idea to let him sniff as he pleases. In fact, letting your dog sniff during his walk can be an enriching activity. It works his brain and helps to wear him out during his walk.  So the next time you’re out and about, let Fido stop and smell the roses from time to time.   Dog Walking Mistake # 5: taking the same route. Every. Single. Time. Image by Mircea via Pixabay We’ve all heard that variety is the spice of life. This adage certainly applies to your dog’s daily stroll. Giving your dog a change of scenery periodically offers your pup the chance to experience new smells, sights, and sounds, keeping him engaged and mentally stimulated.  If you find yourself in a dog-walking rut, it’s time to get creative. This can be as simple as strolling down a street parallel to your usual route, or exploring a new nature park with your pooch.    Dog Walking Mistake # 6: Leaving essential items at home You’ve got your leash and your walking shoes. What more could you need for a 30-minute jaunt around the neighborhood? A few things, it turns out. Number one on our list is the indispensable poop bag. Always, always, ALWAYS pick up after your dog, or you could be facing a hefty fine. Plus, it’s just common courtesy.  Hydration is key, so it’s worth picking up a portable dog water bottle for your walks. And don’t forget the treats! They’ll come in handy when you want to reward your dog for good behavior.   Dog Walking Mistake # 7: Zoning out A leisurely stroll may seem like an opportune time to make a phone call or recenter yourself with some silent meditation. But walking your dog with your head in the clouds is a recipe for disaster. If you’ve checked out mentally, you may miss dangerous threats along the way.  Practicing dog safety is much easier when your head’s in the game. By staying engaged during your walk, you can keep Fido safe from: Traffic Fellow dog walkers  Wildlife Sidewalk trash and debris When you’re paying attention, you’re more likely to react quickly to a dangerous threat. Besides, a walk is the perfect time to bond with your dog. Don’t waste it.    Dog Walking Mistake # 8: yanking at the leash Image by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen via Unsplash Pulling aggressively on your dog’s leash is a big no-no as it can injure his neck and trachea. Not to mention it’s majorly frustrating for your curious pup who just wants to explore. Instead of jerking your dog’s leash to correct bad walking habits, outfit him in an anti-pull harness and practice leash lessons regularly.  To curb leash-pulling, the American Kennel Club suggests walking with the leash loose between you and stopping to change directions any time your dog walks ahead of you. When your dog catches up, reward him with a treat, and then keep walking. Sooner or later, he’ll catch on, and you’ll see vast improvements with his walking.  When it comes to your dog’s health, walking is where it’s at. With a little bit of practice and some motivation, you can get the most out of your daily stroll. Do you have any additional tips to make dog walking a breeze? We’d love to hear them in the comments!

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13 Cold Weather Dog Breeds that Love the Winter

13 Cold Weather Dog Breeds that Love the Winter For some of us, winter can be a real drag. It’s cold. It’s wet. It’s dark. It lasts for what feels like a lifetime.  But for dogs bred specifically to endure harsh weather conditions, winter brings with it a sense of adventure and excitement. These snow-loving pups will be happy to brave the elements with you, while keeping you warm with furry snuggles all winter long.  Why not embrace the cold this year with a hardy canine companion by your side? Here are 13 dog breeds that thrive in the winter (beyond the obvious Siberian Husky).   1. Tibetan Terrier Image by Manfred Antranias Zimmer via Pixabay Without question, the crowning glory of the Tibetan Terrier is his voluminous, water-resistant double coat. And while his stylish locks are certainly runway-worthy, what makes the breed’s coat so remarkable is its capacity to retain heat. Underneath that long, silky topcoat lies a thick, wooly undercoat that helps the Tibetan Terrier stay warm and cozy, even on the most frigid days.  But long hair isn’t the breed’s only winter-proof feature. Tibetan Terriers also have what the American Kennel Club refers to as “snowshoe feet:” large, flat, round paws that made travel across the snow-capped mountains of their homeland possible.  Looking for someone to trudge through the snow with you? The Tibetan Terrier will happily oblige.    2. Alaskan Malamute Image by Brando via Flickr Not to be confused with the slightly smaller Siberian Husky, The Alaskan Malamute is built for colder weather. One look at this dog, and it’s not hard to picture him fearlessly pulling a sled across the perilous tundra.  Malamutes sport a long, heavy coat that makes winter not just tolerable, but preferable. If you live in an icy climate, and you’re looking for a canine who’ll accompany you on wintry walks, this could be the breed for you.   3. Newfoundland Image via Pixabay Newfies are famously fond of the cold. A trait that made easy work of their original role as rescuers aboard Canadian fishing boats. Thanks to their water-resistant coat, sturdy build, and webbed feet, Newfoundlands became literal “lifesavers” of the North Atlantic.  These gentle giants are no stranger to subzero temps, and they’re always up for their next winter adventure!   4. Akita Image by Monika via Pixabay A symbol of good luck in Japan, the Akita is one dog we’d like to have around. Originally, the breed assisted hunters in the rugged northern regions of Japan. As such, Akitas were bred specifically to endure less-than-pleasant weather conditions. Kept warm by a thick undercoat and a rough outer coat, Akitas are some of winter’s biggest fans.    5. Saint Bernard Image by Claudia Wollesen via Pixabay It’s an image we’ve all seen: a burly Saint Bernard lumbering across the Alps to rescue stranded travelers, brandy keg fixed to his collar. While these brave dogs didn’t actually tote barrels of booze around their necks, they did successfully rescue hundreds of people who would have otherwise perished along Switzerland’s treacherous Saint Bernard Pass. The giant breed has come a long way from their hard-working days in the snowy Swiss mountains. Nowadays, Saints enjoy a simpler life as a companion animal—they’re as friendly as they are massive, making them the perfect snowy day companion for families with kids.   6. Norwegian Elkhound Image by Harold Schock via Flickr Your search for the perfect winter-hiking buddy ends here. Not only does the Norwegian Elkhound love an active lifestyle, but his stunning double coat means that he can stay warm and dry, even on the coldest days of winter.  Hailing from the frosty region of Scandinavia, this Nordic pooch is accustomed to hunting in an icy climate. Just keep your snowboots handy—this high-octane pup is always up for a romp through the snow.   7. Finnish Lapphund Image by Ullakaren via Pixabay The reindeer-herding Lapphund is the quintessential cold weather dog. Bred by the nomadic Sami people of Lapland (a region north of the Arctic Circle), Finnish Lapphunds aided hunters in tracking and bringing down reindeer across the frozen tundra.  In addition to reindeer duty, Lappies also put their rugged coats to good use—the dogs were a welcome bedfellow for tent-dwelling Sami people when the arctic winds kicked up. We gotta say, we wouldn’t mind cuddling up to one of these luscious beauts!   8. Tibetan Mastiff Image by Petful via Flickr Rugged. Strong. Imposing. There’s no doubt that the substantial Tibetan Mastiff makes one impressive guard dog.  The origins of this ancient breed are shrouded in mystery. Mastiffs have been around so long, it’s impossible to know exactly when they were first developed. One thing we do know: these densely-coated behemoths thrive in a colder climate. As guardians of the Himalayas, Tibetan Mastiffs boast a thick double-coat, which they shed only once per year. And while the Tibetan Mastiff may exude a certain air of nobility, with proper training and adequate physical activity, he can make a lovely and loyal family companion. Just prepare to clear some space—these pups aren’t exactly dainty lapdogs.    9. Keeshond Image by Herbert Beiser via Pixabay Who wouldn’t want to befriend a dog nicknamed “The Smiling Dutchman”? Lively and outgoing, the Keeshond’s friendly antics are hard to resist. And his luxurious, plush coat doesn’t hurt, either. Raised as guard dogs aboard Dutch shipping vessels, the Keeshond’s sturdy frame and abundant fur make him the perfect cold-weather canine.   10. Samoyed Image by Tierkunst via Pixabay Sturdy yet graceful, the “Smiling Sammy” got his start as a reindeer herder for the semi-nomadic Samoyed people. The breed’s fluffy white coat is able to withstand some pretty brutal conditions, which came in handy when the harsh Siberian temperatures dropped as low as -60°. (Yikes!) Even the breed’s perennial smile served a purpose: According to the AKC, the upturned corners of a Samoyed’s mouth help to prevent drooling, keeping icicles from forming on the dog’s face.  To survive their harsh climate, the Samoyed people huddled closely to their dogs, forging a profound human-canine bond that continues to exist today.    11. Great Pyrenees Image by April Anderson via Pixabay If we had to sum up the Great Pyrenees in one word, it would probably be “majestic.” These elegant dogs have a gentle, zen-like quality about them, which was likely cultivated during the many hours they spent patiently watching sheep atop the frigid mountains of France.  One thing’s for sure: the howling winds of winter are no match for this breed’s ample double coat.    12. Shiba Inu Image by Petra Goschel via Pixabay One of Japan’s most popular dog breeds, the fox-like Shiba Inu isn’t afraid of a little ice and snow. The breed’s formidable coat and hardy disposition make him nearly impervious to the cold. So if you enjoy the occasional blizzard, the Shiba Inu will gladly share in your excitement.   13. Chesapeake Bay Retriever Image by Marilou Burleson via Pixabay Bred to withstand the frigid waters of the Chesapeake Bay, these athletic retrievers were developed with some very specific traits in mind. First, Chessies have an oily outer coat that not only keeps them insulated, but also repels water. They’re also equipped with webbed feet, powerful hindquarters, and a broad chest that cuts straight through the icy water.  These snow-loving dogs are a good reminder that there’s joy to be found in every season—even in winter. Especially in winter! So grab your cold weather gear and get ready to hit the great outdoors with your favorite furry friend.

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Skijoring: The Complete Lowdown on This Exhilarating Winter Dog Sport

Skijoring: The Complete Lowdown on This Exhilarating Winter Dog Sport Looking to level-up your winter activity game? Allow us to introduce skijoring, a trending winter dog sport that’s one part sledding and one part cross country skiing.  Intrigued? Awesome! All you need is a snow-loving pup, some basic ski equipment, and an unflappable sense of adventure. Whether you’re looking to blow off some competitive steam, or you just want to enjoy a leisurely trek through the wintry landscape with your dog, skijoring could be your new favorite hobby.  Let’s see what this winter dog sport is all about.   What exactly is Skijoring? Image by Bob Denaro via Flickr Simply put, skijoring (pronounced skee-JOAR-ing) is cross country skiing with a twist. The sport takes things up a notch by adding a towing agent: namely, your eager, snow-loving pooch. Tethered to each other with special harnesses, canine and human participants whip through the stunning winter scenery at breakneck speed. Unlike dog sledding, reins and whips are nowhere in sight (participants rely on verbal commands, instead). Skijoring is also considerably easier to pick up, making it the perfect starter activity for folks who want to dip their toes into the world of winter dog sports.  For those of us in colder climates, keeping our dogs active during the winter can be a real challenge. Enter skijoring—the ultimate winter workout for canines and humans alike. This invigorating sport is an exciting way to boost your dog’s stamina and overall health. Plus, it’s a terrific way to bond with your dog while making some new friends along the way. Why not make the most of winter by mastering an outdoor activity you’ll actually look forward to?  A brief history of skijoring While only recently popularized in the US, skijoring has been around for centuries in Scandinavia.  This Nordic-style of mushing can be traced back to the 1850s, where it was used as a means to travel and exchange goods. That’s right—before becoming a recreational activity stateside, Norwegian skiers and their trusty dogs traversed the country’s snowy terrain to deliver fur pelts, mail, and other domestic necessities.  While today’s skijorers no longer practice the sport to trade housewares, the activity remains hugely popular in Norway and across Europe.   Can my dog participate in skijoring? Think skijoring is strictly reserved for hefty, giant breeds? Think again! While muscles certainly come in handy, pure enthusiasm and drive can usually compensate for a small (but mighty) dog. You’ll be helping add to the momentum with your skis and poles, after all. For safety reasons, your dog should be in good physical condition and weigh a minimum of 35 pounds. If your dog meets the weight requirements and he’s fond of the snow, he could be an ideal candidate for skijoring. Some hardy breeds that are natural-born skijorers include: Siberian Huskies Alaskan Malamutes Great Danes Labradors Greyhounds Border collies Rhodesian Ridgebacks Poodles Bulldogs Tibetan Mastiffs German Shepherds Golden Retrievers Japanese Akitas Dalmatians Samoyeds Norwegian Elkhounds No sweat if you don’t see your dog on this list—canine participants vary widely and include a wonderful assortment of both purebreds and mutts. One thing they all have in common: a love for snow, running, and pulling.  Naturally, there are certain canine features that boost a dog’s chance of success with this sport. Consider yourself ahead of the game if your pup has any of the following: A thick, weatherproof coat to protect him from frigid temps The ability to focus, even with throngs of people milling around A keen desire to obey verbal commands Disinterest with chasing prey (a strong prey drive can be problematic during a skijoring competition, as you might imagine.) One minor caveat: If your dog doesn’t appear to enjoy this winter activity—don’t force it. His safety and comfort should always take precedence.   What type of equipment do I need for skijoring? Image via Flickr Thankfully, skijoring doesn’t require you to lay down bookoo bucks on new gear. You can buy equipment piecemeal, or, for the sake of simplicity, you can invest in a complete skijoring kit that includes everything you’ll need to get started.  Not sure if you’re ready to invest in a new hobby that you (or your dog) may end up hating? No problem—many skijoring sites offer affordable rentals for newbies. Here’s what you’ll need. Harnesses Look for skijoring-specific harnesses—for you and your dog. Skijoring with two dogs? You can purchase gear that connects their harnesses, allowing them to run in tandem. Towline You’ll also need an 8-10 foot tug line to tether yourself to your canine counterpart. Skijoring towlines are specially designed to minimize injury from any sudden yanking. Skis No need to break the bank here. Just a nice set of standard cross-country skis will do. Skip the metal-edged skis in case you collide with your dog—opt, instead, for classic waxless skis. Winter Weather Clothing Heat-retaining, wind-blocking clothing is a must. Undergarments should be made from moisture-wicking material. And don’t forget the waterproof boots! Dog Jacket This one’s optional, but if your dog isn’t blessed with an abundant weatherproof coat, a quality dog jacket isn’t a bad idea. Paw Wax Our dogs’ paws are designed to tolerate the cold, but they can only take so much stress. Paw wax or petroleum jelly provides an added layer of protection for your dog’s poor feet. Where can I go skijoring? Ready to hit the trails? Great! There’s no shortage of sites where you can join a skijoring competition or brush on some basics with skijoring lessons. If you’ve already got a willing canine participant and the necessary equipment, you can skijor basically anywhere that’s dog-friendly and suitable for cross-country skiing.  If you’re located in the States, here are some skijoring sites you can hit up. Wisconsin Minocqua Winter Park Justin Trails B&B Resort in Sparta Chase’s Point Chippewa Moraine State Recreation Area in New Auburn, WI Indian Lake Country Park Pike’s Creek and Jerry Jay Jolly Trails, both located in Bayfield, WI Seeley Hills Trail in Hayward, WI Interstate State Park in St. Croix Falls If you’re gung-ho about racing, Wisconsin also hosts a bunch of winter events and skijoring competitions, including the Merrill Winterfest, the Madison Winter Festival, and the Barkie Birkie event in Haward, WI.  Colorado Devil’s Thumb Ranch in Tabernash, CO  Montana Paws Up Resort in Greenough, MT Minnesota Three Rivers Park District in Plymouth, MN Theodore Wirth Park offers group skijoring sessions every winter Utah North Fork Park in Liberty, UT Alaska Nome Creek Valley in Fairbanks, AK New York Winona Forest Recreation Association in Lacona, NY New Hampshire Gunstock Mountain Resort in Gilford, NH California Tahoe Donner in Truckee, CA   Some final tips for skijoring beginners Image by Randi Hausken via Flickr If you’re seriously considering skijoring, here are some tips to get you started. Make sure Fido can follow commands: Avoid language that you use every day. Some basics you’ll need to master include commands for “move faster,” “slow down,” “turn left” (or right), and of course, “stop!” This could take several months to master, so patience is key.  Start training before the snow hits: Ease your dog into skijoring gently by introducing him to the harness and equipment before you hit the trails. Make sure he’s comfortable wearing the harness to avoid a nervous reaction the day of his first race. Use positive reinforcement: Rewards-based training elicits far greater results than negative training methods, which can turn your dog off to learning. Use encouragement and praise to help your pup associate his harness with good, happy times.  Join a local skijoring club:  Learn some new skills, meet fellow dog lovers, and let your pooch do some socializing.  Keep training fun: Don’t lose sight of why you got into this in the first place—to have a good time! Remember to loosen up and enjoy yourself. Not only will this enhance your overall experience, it will encourage your dog to learn the sport more quickly. If you’re looking for a way to break up the bleary days of winter, a new outdoor activity could be just what the doctor ordered. With some basic training and the right attitude, you and your pup could be headed for skijoring stardom!

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15 Pet-Friendly Resorts for the Perfect Winter Getaway

15 Pet-Friendly Resorts for the Perfect Winter Getaway At Grumble Dog, we believe that vacations are just better when our dogs can join us. Which is why we’ve rounded up the country’s most dog-centric vacation resorts for the ultimate winter getaway. These luxurious destinations feature all the things your dog really loves: outdoor activities, pet-friendly sleeping quarters, and, of course—scrummy canine treats! Whether you’re driving or flying with your dog, get ready for a tail-waggin’ good time.   1. The Lodge at Spruce Peak—Stowe, Vermont Calling all ski-lovers! If your idea of the perfect vacay involves skis, slopes, and snow, then Stowe, Vermont is the place for you. Hailed as “the Ski Capital of the East,” this quaint New England town is an absolute dream for avid skiers and dog owners alike.  After a long day of vigorous outdoor fun, you can cozy up with your pooch at the dog-friendly Lodge at Spruce Peak. As long as he’s leashed, your dog is welcome to explore the hotel’s common areas and outdoor terraces. Fancy a stroll? Hit up the hotel’s walking path (conveniently tricked out with doggie waste stations).   2. Lake Placid Lodge—Lake Placid, New York Image by Lou Stejskal via Flickr Show your furry friend the good life at the Lake Placid Lodge in Upstate New York.  This resort pulls out all the stops to ensure your canine pal is perfectly pampered and comfortable, providing him with a plush dog bed, adorable bone-shaped mat, and food and water bowls. At check-in, your dog will be spoiled with a pupper-ific gift bag stashed with all of his favorites: dental chews, cleanup bags, and toys to make his stay one to remember. Nestled in the frosty Adirondacks, there’s no shortage of winter activities to choose from here: cross-country skiing, skijoring, or snowshoeing are all popular diversions at the resort. A leisurely stroll around Mirror Lake is another classic way to spend a winter day here.  For recommendations on pet-friendly services like groomers or veterinarians, the lodge’s concierge will happily point you in the right direction.   3. Savage River Lodge—Frostburg, Maryland If a week of tranquil serenity is what you seek, look no further than the Savage River Lodge. Located in the aptly named town of Frostburg (brrr!) this peaceful winter getaway is next-level “paw-some.”  During your stay, your pooch will enjoy a host of amenities, including a doggy wash station, a “Bone Appetit” pet menu, and a homemade biscuit every morning. When you’re ready to stretch your limbs, hit up the hotel’s frisbee field or explore the acres upon acres of trails.  If you visit in the summer months, your dog can participate in the resort’s weekly “Yappy Hour,” where he’ll socialize with fellow canine guests.   4. Gunflint Lodge—Grand Marais, Minnesota Situated on the north shore of Lake Superior, Gunflint Lodge offers majestic scenery and plenty of outdoor activities for your pet to enjoy. Take your pick of any number of snowy winter excursions: skijoring, snowmobiling, or cross-country skiing. If hiking is more your style, be sure to check out the dog-friendly trails of Superior National Forest.  This charming destination also hosts three “Dog Lover’s” weekends per year where you pup can stay free of charge and participate in the special dog-centric activities planned by the hotel.   5. El Monte Sagrado—Taos, New Mexico Image by Heritage Hotels and Resorts via Flickr The staff at El Monte Sagrado welcomes canine guests with open arms. That and a complimentary goodie bag filled with treats, waste bags, a bandana, and a ball for Fido to play with.   For fans of the winter, Taos is positively dreamy. Whatever your preference—skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing—they have it all at El Monte Sagrado. On chilly nights, warm up with your pup by the large outdoor fire pit. When you’re ready to retire for the night, you can catch up on some puppy snuggles in front of the warm glow of your room’s own fireplace.   6. Red Mountain Resort & Spa—Ivins, Utah When it’s time to unwind, Red Mountain has it all: a world-class spa, healthy living activities, and a vast red rock landscape that inspires and recenters its weary visitors.  Upon arrival, your VIP guest will receive organic doggy treats as well as dishes for food and water. Rest assured, your dog will have no trouble meeting his daily quota of exercise here—he can blow off some steam running across the resort’s 55-acre lawn or in the nearby Snow Canyon Park.   7. Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite—Fish Camp, California Image by Bruce Tuten via Flickr The staff at Tenaya Lodge takes the concept of “treat yo’self” to a whole ‘nother level. Sign up for the hotel’s Deluxe Pampered Pet Package, which comes with a dog bed, dishes, toys, fresh-baked treats, and waste bags.  Want to go somewhere Fido can’t? No sweat—your Deluxe Package also comes with two hours of pet-sitting.  For the ultimate nature experience, Yosemite National Park is right outside your door, waiting for you to explore. Or if your pooch prefers a little R&R instead, treat him to a professional dog massage at the resort’s Ascent Spa.   8. Barkwells—Asheville, North Carolina The Barkwells’ tagline says it all. Touted as “The Dog Lover’s Vacation Retreat,” this destination was designed with dog people in mind. Let your worries melt away as you relax in one of their eight luxurious cabins. The resort’s entire perimeter is fenced-in and features a pond where your dog can take a dip if he likes.   9. The Muse—NYC, New York If you’re less of the outdoorsy type, and more of an urban explorer, The Muse in NYC awaits your reservation. This boutique hotel is just steps away from Times Square, but feel free to ask the knowledgeable concierge about other nearby pet-friendly establishments that you can visit during your stay.  Bonus: the hotel welcomes ALL pets (regardless of breed or size) at no extra charge.   10. Viceroy Palm Springs—Palm Springs, California Image by Clacourte via Flickr If snow isn’t really your thing, a stay at the Viceroy offers the perfect winter reprieve. Catch some sorely missed sun rays while taking full advantage of the hotel’s pet sitting and walking services. The resort’s specially curated canine menu will have your dog’s mouth watering—PB&J bites, anyone?   11. The Little Nell—Aspen, Colorado Located in the picturesque Rocky Mountains, The Little Nell is the premier spot to experience the winter wonderland of Aspen, Colorado. From dogsledding to snowshoeing, this is one winter vacay that won’t leave you twiddling your thumbs. Enjoy the sweeping views while your pup munches on epicurean delicacies from the resort’s special pet menu. To make their stay more comfortable, all canine guests are gifted a “puppy jet lag kit,” which includes a Little Nell dog leash, treats, and a comfy bed.   12. Salamander Resort & Spa—Middleburg, Virginia This popular Virginia resort offers all the amenities you and your dog could ever wish for. You’ll have your pick of recreational diversions: guests at the Salamander Resort enjoy equestrian programs, cooking classes, spa services, and fine dining. Plus, your four-legged friend will be treated to complimentary food and water bowls, organic treats, an impossibly cozy bed, and plenty of dog toys.   13. Snow King Resort—Jackson Hole, Wyoming The folks at the Snow King Resort understand that a vacation just isn’t the same without your precious pooch. Which is why they’ve nixed all weight limits and breed restrictions. (woohoo!) While you hit the slopes, your dog can make some puppy friends at the hotel’s canine daycare. Make sure to set time aside to explore Jackson Hole’s pet-friendly trails together—you’ll both sleep soundly after a full day of hiking.   14. The Resort at Paws Up—Greenough, Montana Image by Wicker Paradise via Flickr This all-inclusive resort is about as pet-friendly as they come. Located in the stunning Blackfoot Valley of Montana, the hotel boasts 37,000 acres of untouched wilderness: ideal for a day of hardcore hiking.  At Paws Up, your dog can expect to be treated like royalty. During your stay, he’ll receive his very own doggie bed, locally-made treats, toys, and even a letter from Coco, the resort owner’s dog.   15. Justin Trails Resort—Sparta, Wisconsin If you and your dog enjoy an active lifestyle, a winter vacation at Justin Trails Resort in Wisconsin could be just the thing you need. The resort’s 10-mile trail system is a treat for both avid snowshoers and skijoring fanatics. When Fido feels like doing some socializing, feel free to visit the hotel’s on-site dog park.  Have you ever taken your dog on a  winter vacation? Let us know in the comments—we’d love to know where you’ve been!

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How to Celebrate Your Dog on National Love Your Pet Day

How to Celebrate Your Dog on National Love Your Pet Day Not that we need a reason to spoil the canine members of our family, but National Love Your Pet Day sounds like a pretty solid excuse to us. Show your dog how much you care with some extra love this February.   1. Share a meal at a pet-friendly restaurant Are you and your pooch diehard foodies? Celebrate your mutual love for tasty treats over a dish at a dog-friendly restaurant. If you live in a warmer region, you can meet up with fellow dog parents at a favorite outdoor patio. Don’t forget to bring treats for Fido and his friends! Alternatively, a home-cooked meal is always appreciated. This mouthwatering Turkey and Rice Casserole from Dogster is sure to get your dog’s tail waggin’. For dessert, whip up a batch of dog-friendly frozen yogurt treats.  Trust us—your dog will feel the love with every bite.   2. Have a doggy movie night Image by Tumisu via Pixabay Is there anything cozier than a winter movie night with your special pup? We think not.  Pile on the blankets, grab a special treat for Fido, and break out the classics: 101 Dalmatians, Beethoven, All Dogs go to Heaven, or Best in Show.  For all you sports-lovers, check out clips of this year’s Puppy Bowl on YouTube. It’s a riot. You may even be inspired to start up a game of your own.   3. Volunteer together For the duo who wants to make a difference, a day of volunteering is the perfect way to recognize Love Your Pet Day. Plenty of dog-centric volunteer opportunities exist. You can: Look into therapy dog certification. Your dog brings you endless joy—why not pass that happiness on to those who need it most? As a certified therapy dog, your furry friend can spread smiles at a senior living center or comfort anxious people in hospital waiting rooms. Run a marathon together. Is your dog a champion athlete? Put his stamina to good use at a marathon or charity walk that’s raising funds for a dog-related cause. Just make sure that pets are allowed before signing up. Donate blood. Humans aren’t the only ones who need blood. With his donation, your dog will be helping out another animal who’s either injured or facing surgery. Your dog will need to pass a physical examination first, but as long as he’s healthy and fully grown, he should be eligible to donate. Foster another dog. Temporary foster homes help shellshocked pets brush up on their social skills before being adopted. If opening your heart and home to another pup sounds feasible, contact a local animal shelter to explore your options.  If you’re pressed for time, consider making a financial donation to a local shelter in honor of this special day. Your generosity will give a less fortunate animal the chance to find his own loving fur-ever home—you really can’t beat that.   4. Take a vacation together Itchin’ for a getaway? Recharge with your dog at a pet-friendly hotel or an Airbnb. More and more establishments are welcoming canines these days, so you shouldn’t have trouble finding a suitable place to stay. Whatever your style—rustic log cabin, cozy bed and breakfast, a winter wonderland resort—there’s a pet-friendly destination out there that’s just right for you. Taking a mini-vacation with your furry friend is something you won’t regret. Go ahead and splurge a little—you’re on vacation, after all. Some resorts offer doggy spa packages or special doggy menus that will make your dog think he’s in heaven.   5. Set up a pet photoshoot Image by Sarah Richter via Pixabay You know that your dog is a superstar. Let the rest of the world in on his awesomeness with a fabulous Instagram photo sesh. With some charming accessories (bow ties for the win!) and a patient attitude, you’re sure to capture your dog in his element.   6. Treat your dog to a professional massage Watch your pup melt into a puddle of pure bliss with a relaxing massage. Many pet owners will gladly vouch for the efficacy of canine massage therapy, maintaining that it strengthens immunity, increases circulation, improves digestion, and relieves stress. Plus, your dog absolutely loves it! A massage isn’t the only indulgence your dog can enjoy at the dog spa. You can also pamper your pooch with: A “pawdicure”  a doggy facial  De-shedding treatments Deep conditioning Aromatherapy Oral care A medicated bath   7. Take a nap together Image by Jamie Street via Unsplash No, seriously. You need to take a nap with your dog. It’s one of life’s most underrated pleasures. Press pause, cuddle up on the bed with your furry companion, and catch up on some well-deserved zzz’s.   8. Visit a pet bakery Show your dog the good life with a visit to a bakery that caters exclusively to him. For online purchases, Etsy is a great place to score healthy doggy delicacies. With a simple search, you can find everything from dog-friendly doughnuts to festive macaroons. Yum!   9. Schedule a puppy play date Invite your dog’s puppy pals over for a day of playful tomfoolery. A puppy play date is the perfect way to teach your dog proper canine etiquette while letting him burn off some steam.   10. Play in the snow Image by Anastasia Ulyanova via Unsplash Even if you’re not particularly fond of the fluffy white stuff, you can bet your dog is. Bundle up for a winter weather excursion that will get hearts pumping and tails wagging. Favorite dog-friendly winter activities include snowshoeing, skijoring, and hiking.    11. Spoil your pup with dog-friendly “people” food Not all human foods are off the table for our pets. Treat your beloved dog to something special like watermelon, pumpkin, carrots, or blueberries. These healthy treats provide loads of nutrients, and they taste delicious!   12. Go shopping together Enjoy some retail therapy with your furry bestie at a dog-friendly store. Let your dog take the lead—he’s sure to spot some new toys or a stylish collar that he just can’t live without.   13. Shower them with affection In the end, our dogs are easy to please. In fact, the thing they want most—quality time with their favorite humans—doesn’t cost a thing.  It’s easy to get caught up in our own busy lives, but it’s important to slow down and enjoy the occasional quiet moment with our furry friends. This February, share the love by showering your dog with praise, cuddles, and all the belly rubs.  How do you plan to celebrate your dog this year? To find a top-rated pet bakery or doggy massage parlor, check out Grumble Dog’s business page, and let us bring the pet professionals to you!

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Are You Ready for a Second Dog? Here’s What You Need to Consider

Are You Ready for a Second Dog? Here’s What You Need to Consider Two heads are better than one…but two dogs? It can go either way. Sure, you’ll have double the puppy kisses (awesome!) But you’ll also have double the hair and double the vet bills (less awesome.) The decision to bring home a second dog is one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. You’ll need to take a long, hard look at your current lifestyle to see if adding another pup to your pack is a wise choice.  We’ve made things easy for you by rounding up the key questions you should ask yourself before hitting the adoption listings.   3 bad reasons to get a second dog Image by Yuki Dog via Unsplash There are good reasons to get a dog. And there are some not-so-great ones. If your desire to get a second dog stems from one of the following, you may want to rethink your decision.  1. Your family members want another dog Are your kids constantly pleading for another playmate? Does your spouse insist that a second dog will make your family complete? Perhaps they’re onto something (double the puppy love sounds like a swell deal.) But here’s the thing—if you’re not thrilled at the prospect of two canines tearing through your house, it could lead to some major resentment down the road.  The decision to get a second dog is one that affects the entire household. If your sole motivation for dog adoption is to placate certain family members, we urge you to reconsider.  2. You want to teach your current dog some manners Teaching your dog proper etiquette is important. But getting a second dog in the hopes that his good behavior will rub off on your pup is not the best way to go about it. According to the American Kennel Club, this approach is likely to backfire, and your dog could inadvertently transfer his fear or aggression onto his new roommate.  It’s critical, therefore, to deal with any behavioral problems with your current canine resident before welcoming another dog into your life.  3. You’re looking for a babysitter If you think that giving your dog a furry sibling will keep him out of your hair, think again. Yes, your dog will have a built-in playmate, but that doesn’t mean they won’t both need your love and attention. One dog, two dogs, twenty dogs—no matter the number, dog ownership requires hard work.   9 things to ask yourself if you’re thinking about adopting a second dog Image by JenniGut via Pixabay We understand it’s hard to resist the prospect of snuggling up to two happy pooches. But before you dive headfirst into round two of puppy parenthood, please ask yourself the following questions (and be honest with your answers). 1. Can I really afford this? Dog ownership isn’t cheap. Does your budget allow for the added costs that come with owning two dogs?  Think about all of your canine-related expenses—food, vet visits, grooming costs, doggy daycare—and multiply that number by two. You’ll also need to double up on pet gear: two dogs require two leashes, two dog beds, two feeding bowls, two crates, extra toys…(you get the picture.) 2. Do I have any major life changes coming up? We can’t predict every twist and turn that our lives will take. But there are a few things we can usually account for: are you planning on having children in the near future? Perhaps a cross-country move is in the cards. Or maybe retirement is just within reach (congrats!) and you’re hoping to travel the continent in your refurbished Winnebago.  Make no mistake—dog ownership can certainly coincide with these significant life changes. But it can also put a major strain on your time and finances. Can you handle the added stress? 3. Is my entire family on board? Getting a second dog is a life-changing commitment. And if you have family members who are less-than-enthused about sharing their space with a second dog, you could be in for some serious stress headaches.  Before hitting the adoption pages, make sure everyone in your household is on the same page. If your spouse or kids aren’t keen on the idea, it could lead to unpleasant resentment when the chores keep piling up. 4. How does my first dog feel about it? So your family’s gung-ho about a second dog—but how does dog #1 feel about it? Bringing home a second dog can shift your household’s dynamics, so it’s important to consider how things look from your current dog’s point of view.  First, consider his temperament. In general, is your dog a laidback, go-with-the-flow type? Does he get along with unfamiliar dogs? If your dog has been known to exhibit fear or aggression, pairing him with a furry sidekick isn’t in anyone’s best interest.  If your current dog is struggling with behavioral problems, keep in mind that those issues won’t just go away. In fact, they’ll become more of a nuisance once you add another dog to the mix. To avoid becoming impossibly overwhelmed, address any training issues with your first dog before introducing a second pup to the family.  Don’t forget to consider your dog’s age. An older dog probably won’t be enthused about adjusting to a high-octane puppy dashing around the house. Similarly, if your dog has any medical conditions, it might be a good idea to hold off on a second dog—the extra stress could exacerbate any pre-existing health conditions.  5. Is your place big enough? Space is a valuable commodity—do you have enough of it to comfortably accommodate another dog?  This applies not only to your home, but also to your car, your bed, and your yard. Do you have enough room in your vehicle to bring both dogs to the vet? Is your bed roomy enough to welcome another dog? Can your lawn hold up to two energetic pets?   6. Do you have the time and energy that two dogs require? Image by Alvan Nee via Unsplash Dogs are expert energy-zappers. if you’re already overwhelmed with one pooch, imagine the toll that two dogs will take.  Do you really have what it takes to raise two feisty canines?  Some people mistakenly think that adopting a second dog will take care of their pets’ exercise needs—but it doesn’t work like that. Sure, your two dogs will play together, burning off energy in the process. But that doesn’t mean you’ll be exempt from dog-duty. Both pups will still need attention and care. Before your second dog is trained, you may even have to walk them separately. Does your schedule allow for this? Is it worth the extra effort? If your energy is in short supply these days, the answer is likely a resounding “no.” 7. Are you willing to go through puppy training again? Puppy training isn’t for the faint of heart. It requires dedication, hard work, and consistency. Going through that process once is difficult enough. Are you ok with repeating it? If your answer to this question is a hard no, perhaps an adult or senior dog is a better match for you. Many shelters are filled with well-trained dogs who are looking for their forever homes. 8. Are you cool with extra fur/mud/accidents? There’s no way around it—dogs are messy creatures. If the thought of doubling up on poop-scooping duties has you breaking into a cold sweat, hold off on dog #2.  9. Are you in it for the long haul? Sure, you’re excited about bringing home another dog now—but could things change down the line?  The decision to adopt should not be made on a whim. Pet ownership is a huge responsibility that can’t be shirked once the initial excitement wears off. Think about where your life could take you over the next decade or so—how does a second dog look in your future? Are you willing to provide the best for him, no matter where life takes you? Despite the challenges they might pose, we can’t deny that our dogs bring endless joy to our lives. When you’re ready to take the plunge with dog #2, we’re here to help. Check out Grumble Dog’s directory of pup-loving professionals for the very best in local pet care. 

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The Top 10 Things You Need to Do With Your Dog in Denver this Winter

The Top 10 Things You Need to Do With Your Dog in Denver this Winter Denver, Colorado is a great place to be a dog. From pup-approved campgrounds to dog-friendly breweries, the people of Denver definitely know how to show Fido the good life.  Whether your dog is a snow-lover or a let’s-stay-toasty-by-the-fire type, Denver has it all. We’ve collected a mix of indoor and outdoor activities that can be enjoyed in the “Mile High City” by humans and canines alike.  Get ready to add some items to your bucket list.   1. Blow off some steam at Elk Meadow Park Image by Suzie Tremmel via Flickr If there’s snow on the ground, head over to Elk Meadow Park to take in the picturesque scenery. This stunning winter wonderland of snow-capped pines features over 3 miles of trails for your dog to explore.  When your free-spirited pup is in the mood for a leashless romp with his buddies, check out one of these off-leash dog parks in the Denver area.  Stapleton Dog Park—With shade trees aplenty and water fountains to quench your dog’s thirst, Stapleton Dog Park is one of Denver’s most popular off-leash dog parks. Lowry Dog Park—Located near the Lowry Air Force Base, this park features a designated area for off-leash play. Kennedy Dog Park—With separate sections for high-energy and low-energy dogs, Your pup will always feel comfortable at Kennedy Dog Park. Railyard Dog Park—This fenced-in dog park is centrally located and has ample free parking. Please note: the water fountains may be out of service in the winter months, so be sure to bring enough water for yourself and your dog. Glendale Farm Open Space Dog Park—If you’re looking for space to let Fido roam, Glendale Farm fits the bill. A short drive south of Dever, this off-leash dog park features 17 sprawling acres of space for your dog to run free. There’s also a 1.6-mile trail where your leashed dog can get in some cardio.   2. Try skijoring Looking for something new to try with your dog this winter? Enter: skijoring—an exhilarating winter activity that combines dog-sledding with cross-country skiing. This exciting dog sport is gaining fans statewide, and it’s easy to see why—skijoring is a fun way to exercise and get outdoors. Plus, it’s fairly easy to pick up! Where can you go skijoring near Denver, Colorado? Check out one of the sites below: Devil’s Thumb Ranch—Just 75 miles west of Denver, Devil’s Thumb Ranch offers 5 miles of skijoring trails. Newbies can even request skijoring lessons or rentals at this dog-friendly resort.  Breckenridge Nordic Center—With breathtaking views of the Rockies, this scenic trail is perfect for skijoring or snowshoeing with your favorite doggo. Gold Run Nordic Center—Make sure you check out the Breckenridge Gondola: rides are free for both humans and leashed canines.    3. Do some winter camping at Cherry Creek State Park Image by Tim Umphreys via Unsplash Just because it’s chilly (ok—freezing), it doesn’t mean camping is off the table. We have to admit—there’s something undeniably alluring about camping in the winter. It’s quiet, the snowy landscape is breathtaking, and the cold is oddly invigorating.  For folks with a sense of adventure, Cherry Creek State Park has campgrounds open year-round. Your pup will enjoy access to a large off-leash dog area, and during the winter, you can take advantage of the cross-country ski trails. When planning your visit, bear in mind that fees apply. Entrance to the park costs $10, with an additional $3 fee for the dog park area. If you plan on enjoying this beautiful park all year long, consider purchasing an annual pass for $83, which will grant you access to the park anytime you like. (A yearly pass for the dog park area is an additional $25.)   4. Explore the beauty of Red Rocks Amphitheatre While he can’t attend performances at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, your pooch is welcome to explore this unique site during the off-season, as long as he’s leashed. Red Rocks is stunning year-round, but we think it’s extra special in the winter. Without the usual throngs of concertgoers, the venue transforms into a peaceful oasis of quiet. Grab your camera and prepare to marvel at the powder-kissed rock formations.   5. Throw some axes at Denver’s Axe Whooping Channel your inner Viking at Axe Whooping, Colorado’s largest axe throwing range. Yes, dogs are welcome. Yes, it’s a blast. Yes, you should try it.   6. Check into the Ritz Carlton for a night of luxury When you’re in need of a winter getaway, pack your bags for a stay at the Ritz. This pup-loving resort pulls out all the stops for their four-legged guests. Upon arrival, your furry friend will have his very own Ritz Carlton-insignia dog bed as well as complimentary food bowls and waste bags.  Enjoy the view of Beaver Creek in the resort’s impressive “Great Room” with your dog. Then head over for refreshments at the dog-friendly dining area. Or stay in bed and order room service—they offer doggy meals on the menu! And don’t worry—you’ll both be able to work off the calories on one of the nearby hiking trails.  When your dog is ready to relax, treat him to a special “Pampered Pooch” dog massage courtesy of the hotel’s spa.   7. Toss back a beer (or two or three) at The Great Divide Image by James Lacey via Unsplash If you’re not deterred by the cold, Denver is home to loads of breweries with dog-friendly patios. Beer connoisseurs can enjoy an award-winning brew at the Great Divide Brewing Company, where your dog is welcome to join you at the outdoor patio. Tummy rumbling? Food trucks are usually on-site every day. Denver has been called “The Napa Valley of Beer,” and it’s not hard to see why. Raise a glass at one of these other dog-friendly bars in the city: Denver Beer Company—Your leashed dog is allowed indoors at this popular watering hole. Be sure to treat him to the brewery’s signature “Dog Beerscuit.” Renegade Brewing Company—Enjoy a craft beer with your dog at this hip brewery located in Denver’s Arts District on Santa Fe. Banded Oak Brewing Company—Stop by on a Saturday for some food truck grub to go with your brew.    8. Sip Zinfandel at The Infinite Monkey Theorem More into wine? Unwind with a glass of red at Denver’s own urban winery. The Infinite Monkey Theorem welcomes your dog to socialize on the patio while you imbibe. Cheers!   9. Grab a meal together at the Ugly Dog Sports Cafe A lively sports bar with an attached dog park? We’re sold.  The Ugly Dog Sports Cafe welcomes your dog with open arms. Snag a pitcher of Coors and let your pooch have a blast at the dog park right outside. When the cold is too much to bear, head indoors for something to eat. According to the restaurant’s website, “…your furry friends, big or small, can stretch out on the bare floors inside.” Let your dog pick something off the doggy menu: fan favorites include an organic beef patty and raw or cooked eggs.  When it comes to dog-friendly restaurants, Denver doggies certainly have their pick: The Watering Bowl— Part dog park, part bar, the Watering Bowl features a heated canopy, perfect for the cold Colorado winter. The Brutal Poodle—The name of this dog-centric tavern says it all. This restaurant is edgy, yet inviting, and it’s the perfect way to spend an unconventional Saturday with your furry pal. Forest Room 5—The staff at this charming establishment will go out of their way to accommodate your dog. On chilly winter nights, you can warm up with your pup at the outdoor firepit.   10. Top it off with a doggy-approved dessert Who’s hungry for some pupcakes? Three Dog Bakery has been dishing up healthy, dog-approved bakes for years, They pride themselves on using fresh, wholesome ingredients—free of salt, sugar, or harmful chemicals. Yum! As you can see, there’s no shortage of dog-friendly activities in Denver, Colorado. What’s on your doggy’s winter bucket list this year?

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Surprising Household Items You May Not Know Are Toxic To Your Dog

Surprising Household Items You May Not Know Are Toxic To Your Dog Things don’t need to taste good for our dogs to eat them—to Fido, just about everything is a chew toy.  But what’s safe for our dogs to nibble on, and what’s not? In recognition of National Pet Poison Prevention Month, we’re here to identify some common household items that could be toxic to your dog. Watch out for these potential dangers hiding in plain sight.   Toxic items in the kitchen This hub of family life is probably the most dangerous to your dog. Let’s take a look at some common kitchen items you should keep out of his reach. Coffee and coffee grounds  Most of us need a hot cup O’Joe to get going in the morning. Our dogs—not so much. They’re more sensitive to caffeine than we are, and while a casual slurp or two of coffee isn’t cause for alarm, overconsumption could lead to a hospital visit. Don’t let your dog get at used coffee grounds or tea bags either, as both can cause problems. Raw bread dough You might not find raw dough particularly appealing, but your dog is less discerning. If he gets into your batch of homemade pizza dough resting on the counter, it could be problematic. Raw dough expands in the stomach, sending carbon dioxide and alcohol into the bloodstream. This process causes a dog’s stomach to bloat and twist on itself, requiring immediate vet care. If your dog ingests raw dough, be on the lookout for a distended abdomen, vomiting, or retching.  Grapes and raisins​ Harmless though they may seem, even a small amount of grapes can be fatal to dogs. Give your furry friend a safe alternative with one of these dog-friendly fruits and veggies. Booze There’s nothing like winding down with a good cocktail. But never share with your pup, warns the ASPCA. Your poor pooch is much more sensitive to alcohol, and even a small amount can cause a lack of coordination, vomiting, diarrhea, and even death. Gum  Most gum and breath mints contain xylitol, a substance deadly to dogs. Be careful about where you toss your purse after work—if your dog ever got into a package of gum, he could wind up with a very unhappy tummy. Vinegar No, vinegar isn’t exactly toxic to dogs, and most medium-sized canines can handle a diluted teaspoon or two. The problem arises if your dog gets greedy and helps himself to more. Especially if he’s not in optimal health.   Toxic items in the bathroom and bedroom Image by Matthew Henry via Unsplash Moving on to the bedroom and bathroom. Are any of these less-obvious threats laying around your home? Toothpaste and mouthwash Maybe your dog is drawn to the minty-fresh smell of your Colgate, but human toothpaste and canines don’t mix. Like gum, many kinds of toothpaste contain the artificial sweetener, xylitol. According to the American Kennel Club, this toxic substance could lead to a drop in blood sugar or even liver damage.  Vitamins and herbal supplements We all want our dogs to have good nutrition. But sharing our multi-vitamins with them is not the way to achieve it. PetMD tells us that human supplements deliver an excessive amount of vitamins in dogs. While swallowing a couple of pills won’t seriously hurt your dog, making a meal of them will cause complications. Especially if they’re prenatals or vitamin D supplements.  Acetaminophen  If you’re in the habit of popping your nightly pills and stashing the bottle on your nearby nightstand, your dog could be in danger. The sweet, candy-like coating of many over-the-counter meds makes them especially tempting to dogs. According to American Humane, all it takes is one of two of these pills to cause serious problems, including liver damage and kidney failure. It’s also important to remember dogs are pros at chewing through plastic. Don’t rely on the childproof cap to keep Fido out. If he’s determined to get at those pills, believe me—he will. Tea Tree Oil​ Reported to have antifungal and antibacterial properties, tea tree oil is frequently used for medicinal purposes. But that doesn’t mean you should let your dog near it. The Pet Poison Helpline reports that an amount as small as 7 drops can cause serious harm to pets, and 10-20 ml can cause death.  Mothballs  The chemicals used in mothballs (paradichlorobenzene, camphor, and naphthalene) can be toxic to both cats and dogs. If ingested, they can cause vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst, and even seizures.  Dryer sheets  These fragrant sheets may smell appealing to our canine pals, but they’re harmful if chewed or ingested. Dryer sheets are coated with chemicals that can irritate a dog’s skin, stomach lining, or mucous membranes.    Toxic items in the living room On to the garage—home to all sorts of potential puppy threats. Some that you may not have considered include: Tiki torch fuel If you have some of these summertime staples in storage, make sure that your pup can’t get to them. Tiki torch fluid can cause drooling or difficulty breathing in dogs. Rodent poison Rodenticides are the most common cause of poisoning reported to the Pet Poison Helpline. Your dog could also be harmed if he gets at a rat that’s ingested the poison. Signs of poisoning can take anywhere from two days to several weeks to appear.  Gorilla Glue  Gorilla Glue and other similar adhesive products contain a chemical compound that expands rapidly in the stomach. If your dog gets into this stuff, it could lead to emergency surgery. Antifreeze  This stuff is temptingly sweet to animals, but even a small amount is lethal. According to PetMD, just three ounces of antifreeze can kill a medium-sized dog. Always clean up any spills immediately to keep your dog from lapping up a deadly sample.   Potential dangers lurking in your yard Image by Mylene via Unsplash Even if your yard is fully puppy-proofed, these sneaky dangers could still harm your dog. Scan your yard for the following: Mushrooms Luckily, most of the mushrooms in your yard are perfectly edible. But not all of them. A  small percentage of fungi contain muscarine, which can be fatal to dogs. VCA Animal Hospitals shares this advice: don’t take your chances. Assume that any mushroom you encounter is a poisonous one. You can’t be harmed if you avoid them all. Compost The rotting food and mold found in compost bins can contain tremorgenic mycotoxins, which are toxic to pets and wildlife. Caterpillars These fuzzy cuties seem like the furthest thing from threatening, but they can harm a curious pooch, warns the ASPCA. While not life-threatening, the hairs on these garden occupants can irritate the lips, mouth, and throat. If ingested, caterpillars can cause vomiting and diarrhea.  Toxic toads  Several types of toads found in Colorado, Arizona, Texas, Florida, and Hawaii secret toxic substances when threatened. Once they enter the bloodstream, these chemicals can wreak havoc on the heart, blood vessels, or nervous system. Cigarettes  If you’re a non-smoker, cigarette butts probably aren’t on your radar. But a roaming dog could encounter them on the sidewalk or street. Nicotine can cause an alarming hike in your dog’s blood pressure or heart rate. Daffodils  This quintessential spring flower can give your pup an upset tummy or make him sleepy and uncoordinated. Other toxic flowers to watch for include: Amaryllis Azaleas Hydrangea Calla Lily Rhododendron Tulips If you suspect your dog has gotten into something toxic, call your emergency vet right away. For more tips on keeping your dog safe, check out our Grumble Dog blog post on dog-proofing your home.

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150 Unique Irish Dog Names for Your Lucky Pup

150 Unique Irish Dog Names for Your Lucky Pup When an ordinary name just won’t do for your new pup, why not turn your eyes to the Emerald Isle for inspiration? Whether your family has Irish ancestry or you just like the sound of Gaelic, there’s an Irish name to suit every taste. Read on for our top picks of adorable Irish dog names.   Our favorite male Irish dog names Looking for the perfect Irish name for your furry gentleman? Here are our top picks for male Irish dog names:  Declan Donovan Brody Keegan Sean Flynn Cody Colin Ryan Connor Finnegan Patrick Tristan Angus Conan Fitzgerald Riley Liam Brennan Dorian Logan Finn or Finley Miles Seamus Gallagher Doyle Kirby Kane Kieran Sullivan Ronan Alistair Finbar Orin Oscar Fergus Cillian Colm Fionn Nolan Lennox Braden Corwin Elwynn Erwinn Fergie Loch Eamon Niall Rian   Our favorite female Irish dog names Image by Magdalena Smolnicka via Unsplash Your female dog deserves an Irish name as lovely and unique as she is. You’re sure to find your little lady a suitable Irish moniker from our list below. Shannon Fiona Teagan Aoife (pronounced EE-fa) Muriel Sinead Isla Blair Ciara Keeley Roisin Enya Oona Glenda Kiera Ryan Ita  Mab (Queen of the fairies) Sloane Ceili Reagan Tara Kari Rosalyn Sybil Riona Maeve Siobhan Delaney Aileen Kara Brianna Shayla Caitlin Bridget Kaylee Kylie Molly Kennedy Kiara McKenna Rory Saoirse Flannery Quinn Aisling Aisling  Aoife  Orlaith  Kenzie   Dog names inspired by the color green Image by Bennilover via Flickr The color green evokes tranquility and nature—not bad associations for your dog’s name to have. Clover Emerald Chartreuse Fern Pickles Juniper Forest Olive Kermit Meadow Ivy Aspen Basil Cash Yoda Holly Kiwi   Dog names inspired by Irish drinks Ireland is known for its bold brews. Why not give your pup a name inspired by your favorite Saint Paddy’s Day beverage? Cheers! Guinness Killian Harp Murphy Jameson  O’Hara Bailey Whiskey Shandy Smithwick   Dog names inspired by Irish places Have a favorite spot in Ireland? These location names pay homage to the Emerald Isle. Blarney Galway Killarney  Cork Limerick Moher Wicklow  Dingle  Kerry Donegal Fingal Wexford Kilkenny   Dog names associated with luck Give your dog the luck of the Irish and celebrate his good fortune with a luck-inspired name. Lucky (an obvious choice, but still darling) Clover Chance Goldie Loki  Destiny Charm Zen Ace Puca (a creature from Irish folklore who can bring either good or bad luck)   Popular Irish dog breeds we can’t get enough of There’s something about an Irish dog that melts our hearts. These 8 Irish breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club are off-the-charts cute! Irish Setter Aside from their good looks, Irish Setters are known for their boundless energy and sweet dispositions. Graceful and swift, this stunning redhead is friendly with children and other pets. Irish Water Spaniel  With his signature curls and affectionate disposition, the Irish Water Spaniel is a hit with families. These expert swimmers are alert, playful, and inquisitive. Irish Terrier This breed is classically Irish: bold and daring, with a brilliant red coat to match his fiery personality. These dogs have gumption and bravery in spades, earning them the nickname, “Daredevil Dogs.” Irish Wolfhound These affable giants might look imposing, but they’re total softies! Easygoing and patient, Irish Wolfhounds make wonderful playmates for children. Kerry Blue Terrier The energetic Kerry Blue Terrier will keep you on your toes. These spirited athletes sport one of the most extraordinary coats of the canine kingdom.  Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier This exuberant Irish farm dog is loyal to his core. We especially love the breed’s silky, wavy locks and charming peek-a-boo hairstyle. Glen of Imaal Terrier These “vertically-challenged” pups are slightly less intense and energetic than other terriers. Glens are scrappy fellas—bred to hunt badgers and other household pests, these dogs are brave and won’t back down from a fight.  Irish Red and White Setter These Irish beauts have all the qualities of a good hunting dog: they’re powerful, athletic, and hardworking. If you have the stamina to keep up with this high-octane dog, he could make a lovely companion.   Advice on naming your new dog Image by Susan Frazier via Pixabay Names are a big deal. And since your dog will be tied to his new moniker for life, you’ll want to get this right.  First, always remember: your dog is one-in-a-million—his name should reflect that! Consider your dog’s physical characteristics, his temperament, and his coat. What is it about your pup that makes him unique?  Different names evoke different associations. Is your dog a playful “Fergie” or a powerful “Conan?” A good name will match his unique personality.  Still stumped? Here’s our top dog-naming tips: Play up the irony of a name: For an unexpected twist, highlight your dog’s signature traits with a contrasting name. A Tibetan Mastiff named “Teacup” or a slow-paced Basset Hound named “Bullet” are cheeky choices that will have folks chuckling. Think about your favorites: Favorite movies, book characters, foods, vacation destinations—they can all serve as creative sources for names that stand out in all the right ways.  Perform the “backyard test:” Keep in mind that whatever name you choose, you’ll be saying it A LOT. It should be something that makes you happy! Even when you’re calling it out your backdoor. You may feel silly, but try it out—if you can’t shout your dog’s name within earshot of the neighbors without cringing, choose something else.  Consider pronunciation: Avoid tongue-twisters. A name that’s hard for people to say (and for your dog to understand) can spell trouble. Stick with a name that rolls off the tongue with ease. Our final words of advice: Have fun with it! This isn’t a chore. Trust your gut, and pick a name that you love. Believe us—your dog is going to love it, too! Once you’ve chosen the perfect Irish name for your new pup, start your journey into pet parenthood on the right foot with the perfect dog trainer, groomer, and sitter. Grumble Dog has you covered with everything you need to treat your new family member right.

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The Ultimate Guide for Surviving the Rainy Season with Your Dog

The Ultimate Guide for Surviving the Rainy Season with Your Dog April showers bring May flowers. But they also bring the unmistakable smell of wet dog and less-than-optimal walking conditions. What’s a devoted dog owner to do? You can’t skip your dog’s walks entirely. He still needs exercise—regardless of what the weather is doing. Thankfully, there are ways to make walking in the rain more tolerable for you and your pooch. Armed with the right tools and a bit of preparation, you can make a stroll in the rain something you both look forward to. (or at the very least, something you don’t loathe.) Here’s our top advice for helping your water-averse dog cope when the weather report calls for rain.   Potential dangers of rainy weather for dogs The rainy season brings with it a unique set of challenges for dog walkers, from diminished visibility to freezing winds. Be mindful of the following hazards when staying indoors isn’t an option.   1. Poor visibility When it’s raining cats and dogs (see what I did there?) low visibility becomes a serious issue. If drivers can’t see your dog, he could be in harm’s way. Minimize this risk with bright clothing or reflective gear. This Blazin’ Safety LED collar makes it possible to spot your dog from 350 yards away.   2. Contaminated puddles Image via Pixabay Much to our dismay, most dogs love themselves a good puddle. Aside from having a muddy dog to contend with, the problem with standing water is that it’s a potential breeding ground for all sorts of bacteria. If your curious pup throws back a few glugs, he could come in contact with leptospirosis, an infectious disease that affects both animals and humans. There’s also the risk that the water has been contaminated by motor oil or lawn chemicals.  Even if your dog doesn’t actually drink the water, he could still be at risk if his paws get wet and he licks them later on.  Combat your dog’s inclination to view puddles as giant drinking fountains by keeping him well hydrated before, during, and after your walk. Raining or not, your pooch needs plenty of water to feel his best.    3. Cold temps Typically, rainy weather comes with a drop in temperature, which poses a threat to your dog. If left exposed to the cold for too long, a dog can develop pneumonia. According to PetMD, dogs most at risk are senior dogs and puppies, as well as dogs with a weaker immune system. As soon as you come indoors, thaw your poor pup with a good towel dry. Then get your cozy on with a blanket-filled cuddle sesh. (Honestly, this part makes a rainy walk well worth the effort.)   4. Lightning It’s true that the odds of being struck by lightning are pretty low (ok, REALLY low). But it’s still wise to avoid walking your dog during a lightning storm. The biggest danger here is your dog’s reaction: if he’s especially jumpy, thunder and lightning could spook him enough to make him bolt.   7 Tips for walking your dog in the rain Image by Chewy via Unsplash Rain can be a major bummer, but you needn’t skip your daily walks just because of a little water. Here are some tips to keep your dog safe and maintain your own sanity during the next few soggy months. 1. If the forecast calls for rain, dress accordingly Live in a region that sees a lot of rain? It’s not a bad idea to spring for some waterproof clothing—for you and your dog. Here are some rainproof must-haves: A doggy raincoat: A quality rain jacket will keep your dog warm and dry. PushPushi offers a range of clear-hooded jackets, which are fabulous because they don’t obstruct your dog’s vision. (Plus, oh my goodness, they’re so cute!) Doggy rain boots: If your dog will tolerate them, booties can help keep his paws from getting drenched. Hands-free umbrella: These handy contraptions make walking your dog in the rain a piece of cake. Trust us—you won’t miss juggling your old umbrella with your keys/phone/dog leash. 3. Remain visible at all times Anytime a driver’s visibility is compromised, your dog is at risk. Consider purchasing safety items like reflective vests, blinking lights, or flashlights to ensure that you and your dog are always visible.  Another option is a flashing LED dog collar and brightly colored clothes. 4. Keep things short and sweet Some dogs will never love the water. If your dog falls in this camp, it’s ok! While rain isn’t always avoidable, you can minimize the amount of time your dog needs to spend in it. Keep rainy day walks on the short side, and your dog will thank you.  5. Use positive reinforcement For dogs who aren’t fans of walking in the rain, take the edge off with a treat or two. A little reward can make the whole process less painful. For optimal results, continue praising your dog throughout the walk and anytime he goes potty. 6. Teach your dog a potty command We all recognize this scene: it’s 3 AM, and your puppy decides it’s the perfect time to take a quick tinkle. Except that it’s not quick, and now you’re stuck outside in the miserable rain for what feels like forever, waiting for your dog to just do his business already.  The solution? Teach your dog a “go potty” cue. Once he learns to go on command, you’ll both be spending less time in the rain. (Win!) 7. Be patient We get it—walking your dog in the rain isn’t high on your list of favorites. But chances are, it’s not high on his list either. Instead of scolding or yanking your uncooperative dog, try to stay calm and positive. Odds are your dog will pick up on your upbeat tone, and he’ll relax enough to tolerate the weather. He may even learn to like it!   How to protect your home in the rainy season Image by Andrew Price via Pixabay From muddy paws to drenched carpets, our homes can take a real beating during the rainy season. Keep things as dry and clean as possible with these tips. 1. Always dry your dog after a walk in the rain If you’d rather not deal with muddy water being tracked all over your living room, don’t neglect to dry your dog after a soggy run. A specially-designated towel can usually do the trick. Or you can speed up the process with a blow dryer on a low setting.  Pro tip: keep a cordless hairdryer in your home’s entryway to minimize the hassle of having to find an outlet. Easy-peasy. 2. Set boundaries (and make sure your dog knows them!) Protect your bed linens and couches by establishing clear boundaries about where your dog can roam when he’s wet. Barricade rooms that are off-limits, shut bedroom doors, and train your dog to stay off the furniture until you give the all-clear. 3. Think ahead Sometimes a preemptive approach is your best bet. Invest in a waterproof dog seat cover for those mucky drives back from the dog park. Stash the car with towels and pet wipes, so you’ll always have them when you need them. 4. Say “NO” to wet dog smell (yuck!) Odors are nothing new to seasoned dog lovers, and typically, wet dog smell is something we just learn to live with. But when you’ve reached your breaking point, there are ways to minimize the assault on your nostrils.  First, dry your dog as soon as possible. A hairdryer can help in this regard, or you may want to trim your dog’s coat to decrease the amount of time it takes for him to air dry. Follow-up with all-natural pet grooming wipes or a deodorizing spray to keep the stink at bay. As you can see, walking your dog in the rain doesn’t need to be a dreaded chore. With a little effort (and a fair amount of common sense), you and your dog can enjoy walking in any kind of weather. 

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Grumble Dog Blog

Easter With Your Dog: Fun and Safe Ways to Celebrate this Spring Holiday

Easter With Your Dog: Fun and Safe Ways to Celebrate this Spring Holiday Got a touch of spring fever? Us too. And nothing says “spring is here!” quite like a dog-friendly Easter celebration. There are so many ways to include your dog in your Easter festivities, from community-wide egg hunts to a special shared meal. Take a look at some of our top ideas to make this Easter one to remember.   Organize a dog-friendly Easter egg hunt Image by Sven Lachmann via Pixabay Who says Easter egg hunts are just for kids? As an expert sniffer, your dog is bound to enjoy and excel at this popular springtime tradition.  Why go through the trouble? For one thing, it’s a great way to work his scent-tracking abilities. Since our dogs experience the world largely through their nose, encouraging Fido to use his impressive olfactory skills will keep him engaged and mentally stimulated.  Most of us could benefit from some extra exercise and fresh air, and your dog is no exception. Hosting an egg hunt is a terrific way to get your dog moving while boosting the bond you both share. If you’re up for it, involve the neighbors and invite your dog’s buddies over (while practicing safe social distancing, of course.) And if it’s too cold out, feel free to take the hunt indoors.  Here are some more “eggs-cellent” tips for a memorable Easter egg hunt with your dog. Serve up some real eggs Did you know that eggs are actually good for your dog? According to the American Kennel Club, not only are eggs safe for our furry friends to nosh on, but they also offer an excellent source of protein, fatty acids, and vitamins.  So, go ahead and place some hardboiled eggs around the yard for your dog to find. He can even eat the shells if he’s so inclined, but feel free to peel them if that grosses you out. A few words of advice: limit the number of eggs your dog eats because too many could lead to major tummy trouble. Also, keep track of how many eggs you hide—you don’t want your dog getting at a months-old rotten egg if one accidentally gets left behind.  Plastic eggs are ok too, but be careful Traditional plastic eggs are ideal for hiding a few of your dog’s favorite treats. They do, however, pose a choking risk, so proceed with caution. If your dog is an overactive chewer, real eggs are your best bet. Or just hide the treats without eggs (trust us—your dog won’t miss them.) If you decide to go for plastic eggs, let the scent escape by poking a small hole in one end. It’s also not a bad idea to let your dog watch you while you work—it could help him get a better sense of what this game involves.  Keep things at your dog’s level When choosing hiding spots for the eggs, keep your dog’s tracking ability in mind. If he’s a newbie, place the eggs where they can be spotted fairly easily. If the hunt is too challenging, it could cause your dog to lost interest, and nobody wants that. Keep kids and dogs separate We all know what happens when our dogs get into a stash of chocolate. Minimize the risk by hosting your dog’s egg hunt separately from your kids’ search. Alternatively, you can distinguish the doggy eggs with a pawprint sticker or special color. Opt for smelly treats Give your dog’s sniffer a hand by hiding only the most odor-ific treats around the yard. Fragrant kibbles are a great choice, as are bits of unseasoned chicken, nibbles of bacon, or small chunks of cheese.  Keep all dogs leashed For safety reasons, this should be a joint effort, with both dog and owner participating. Keep your dog from swallowing something he shouldn’t by using his leash at all times. Make your dog a spectacular Easter basket  Show your dog some love with a special basket filled with his favorite treats and toys. Or better yet—put your goodies in a new dog bed so your pup can take a well-deserved snooze after Easter dinner.  Avoid dangerous filler items like fake Easter “grass,” and cut off any tags and packaging on new toys. If swallowed, these choking hazards can cause intestinal obstruction, requiring an unpleasant vet visit—the literal opposite of how you want to spend your Easter holiday. Here are some dog-approved ideas for Easter basket goodies:   Puzzle feeders to keep his brain in tip-top shape A new outdoor toy to enjoy together (maybe this is the year your pooch masters frisbee?) A stylish new collar (think: spring colors and florals!) A pair of bunny ears (if your dog will tolerate them) Plush toys and chew toys Doggy ice cream  Hardboiled eggs Doggy dental chews (to keep those pearly whites clean and healthy)   Set up an Easter photoshoot Image by Caity via Pixabay Commemorate your special time together with an Instagram-worthy photo sesh that will get all the “likes.” Gather some props (bunny ears are a given), and get snapping. You’ll probably need to take a lot of photos to land that perfect shot.  Treat your dog to a special Easter meal Why not spoil your dog with something he really likes: food! There are plenty of nutritious human foods that are ok to share with our canine counterparts.   While ham is a popular entree at the Easter dinner table, it’s not the best meat to share with your dog. Healthier protein options include lamb, salmon, and chicken, provided, of course, they don’t have any seasoning or spices on them. If you’d like to serve your dog some meat or fish this holiday, remove his portion and cook it separately without oils or seasonings.  What else can you pile on your dog’s dinner plate? Carrots are a doggy favorite. Feed them to your pooch raw or cooked, but again—no seasonings. For some extra vitamins, treat your dog to some green beans, peas, or brussel sprouts. Making your famous deviled eggs? This year, set aside one or two hardboiled eggs for Fido. To satisfy your dog’s sweet tooth, serve up some apple slices—minus the seeds and the core, which are toxic to dogs.  As you can see, Easter affords us the perfect excuse to show our dogs some extra love. No matter how you choose to celebrate, getting your dog involved is half the fun. How do you celebrate spring with your furry pal?

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Grumble Dog Blog

12 Dog-Approved Ways to Experience San Diego with Your Canine Pal

12 Dog-Approved Ways to Experience San Diego with Your Canine Pal If you’re looking for dog-friendly activities in the San Diego area, you’ve got more than a few options. In fact, you’d be hardpressed to find a city that’s more pandering to your precious pooch. Home to multiple dog beaches, hiking trails, and dog-friendly restaurants, San Diego is the perfect travel destination for dog owners. Whether you’re vacationing or you’re a lifelong resident, there’s no shortage of ways to explore and enjoy “America’s Finest City” with your furry friend. Here are 12 wonderful ways to experience San Diego with your dog.    1. Take in a baseball game at Petco Park’s Barkyard Celebrate your love for America’s favorite pastime with a ballgame at Petco Park’s Barkyard. You can now cheer on the Padres from one of five semi-private, dog-friendly viewing booths.  $100 will get you reservations for a booth that accommodates up to four people and two dogs. Your ticket also comes with sun-blocking umbrellas, a watering station, a designated pet relief area, and a pet concierge to escort you and your dog to your seats.   2. Share a memorable meal at the Lazy Dog Restaurant and Bar Image by Alison Pang via Unsplash Take advantage of San Diego’s balmy weather by dining alfresco with your furry friend. The Lazy Dog Restaurant and Bar hits all the right notes with its relaxed ambiance and dog-friendly outdoor seating. Their eclectic American menu includes options for your doggy date. Along with a bowl of refreshing H20, your dog can dine on his choice of hamburger or grilled chicken and rice. Bone appetite!  Of course, Lazy Dog is far from the only dog-friendly restaurant in the San Diego area. Indulge your inner foodie and get a reservation at one of the following dog-friendly joints: The Quartyard—this unique event space, constructed with repurposed shipping containers, hosts a variety of cultural events, concerts, and markets. Dogs are welcome at this hip venue that features a coffee shop, beer garden, dog run, art space, and eatery.  The Wine Pub—it’s no secret the folks at the Wine Pub have a soft spot for canines. Their website states: “Don’t leave your pup at home—bring them with you!” This Point Loma wine bar graciously invites you to imbibe with your furry pal on their dog-friendly patio. Be sure to order Fido something special from their doggy menu. Backyard Kitchen & Tap—this casual Pacific Beach eatery has a dog-friendly patio where your canine companion can dine on fresh treats made in-house.    3. Hit up one of San Diego’s many dog-approved hiking trails Image by Ewen Roberts via Flickr Looking for a way to blow off steam with your dog? San Diego has you covered with plenty of dog-friendly walking trails. Batiquitos Lagoon—Enjoy the view of the lagoon’s north shore along this scenic trail. Dogs are welcome to explore the 3-mile trek at this popular nature center, but they must be leashed. Penasquitos Canyon—With roughly seven miles of trails, there’s ample terrain to explore in San Diego’s Penasquitos Canyon. This preserve features a breathtaking waterfall, majestic sycamore groves, and diverse wildlife.  Sunset Trail, Laguna Mountains— At Sunset Trail, you’ll enjoy the cool forest shade, beautiful meadows with a variety of plant life, and a tranquil lake. Mission Trails Regional Park—Get your cardio in at this sprawling park that features 60-miles of dog-friendly trails.    4. Blow off steam and socialize at Balboa Park Work on Fido’s social skills while getting some exercise at Nate’s Point Dog Park, located at Balboa Park’s West Mesa. This 2.3-acre off-leash area is completely fenced-in and features a watering fountain and picnic tables.  Other San Diego dog parks to check out:  Capehart Park—At the corner of Felspar and Soledad Mountain Road, you’ll find Capehart Park: a one-acre dog park complete with drinking fountains, picnic tables, and parking. Capehart features two separate pens, one for small dogs and one for big dogs, both filled with artificial turf. Cadman Community Park—Ditch the leash, and let your dog roam freely at San Diego’s Camdman Community Park.  Doyle Community Park—Located in University City, this dog park features separate fenced areas for small and large dogs, shade structures, and a barbeque area. Dusty Rhodes Neighborhood Park—Share a day of fun in the sun at the Dusty Rhodes Dog Park. This large park has wide open spaces perfect for your energetic pupper. Rancho Penasquitos Dog Park—Just across the street from the Penasquitos library, this off-leash dog park welcomes all dogs, big and small.   5. Visit the beach Image by Alonso Reyes via Unsplash Love the beach? Drink up San Diego’s stunning coastline with a sunny trip to the beach. You have your pick of dog-friendly choices:  The Original Dog Beach—This San Diego hotspot is considered the first dog beach in the state. Soak up some rays while your pooch runs freely sans-leash. If you work up an appetite, follow your beach day with a stroll to one of the area’s dog-friendly bars or restaurants. Fiesta Island—For avid swimmers, check out this peninsular park in Mission Bay. Fiesta Island offers plenty of space for Fido to run in the sand dunes, and the area’s calm bay waters provide ideal conditions for a little doggy paddling. Coronado Dog Beach—Your dog will have the time of his life at the Coronado Dog Beach on Ocean Boulevard. In fact, the entire Coronado island is teeming with dog-friendly amenities, from hotels to boutiques and restaurants.   6. Work up a sweat at a “Leash Your Fitness” event Launched by Dawn Celapino in 2005, Leash Your Fitness is dedicated to promoting physical activities outside of your standard dog-walking routine. As such, these “all-purpose” exercise classes combine elements of yoga, cardio, core strengthening, and balance.  Join fellow dog-lovers at a group hike, running club, yoga class, or boot camp. This doggy-and-me fitness program wins bonus points for incorporating obedience training into every workout.    7. Try stand-up paddleboarding Itching to try something new? Allow us to introduce SUP Pups: a private one-hour course that teaches eager dogs and their owners the ins and outs of paddleboarding. Whether you’re a fledgling newbie or a seasoned pro, stand-up paddleboarding is a delightful way to spend a day with your favorite four-legged friend.   8. Feed your sense of adventure with a doggy kayaking excursion Image by Miguel B via Flickr Maybe you’re more into kayaking, in which case Aqua Adventures has you covered. This water-sports rental center in beautiful Mission Bay is a great way to introduce your pup to kayaking. Once he’s properly outfitted with a doggy life jacket, your dog will learn to appreciate this popular sport, while you brush up on water safety basics.    9. Volunteer together For folks looking to make a difference in their local community, volunteering with your dog can be both rewarding and fun. If your dog is friendly and outgoing, perhaps he’d thrive as a canine volunteer for the San Diego Humane Society. As part of this program, your dog can educate children in the classroom or visit with people at local events.  If your dog is on the calmer side, perhaps he can participate in their Pet-Assisted Therapy program. These dogs provide comfort to people in nursing homes and hospitals.    10. Rent a hydrobike with your pup For a new way to experience the water, hop on a hydrobike rental from Hydrobikes San Diego. Dogs ride free and will delight in the sights and sounds of Mission Bay. Doggy life vests are included with your rental.   11. Spoil your furry friend with a shopping spree at Muttropolis Reward your dog for being his awesome self with a stylish, new collar or a cozy dog bed from Muttropolis. This canine boutique in Solana Beach offers convenient curbside pickup and free next-day delivery for residents within a 5-mile radius of the store.   12. Dig into dessert together Dessert is the cherry on top of a perfect doggy day. Treat your pooch to a canine-approved confection at Paw Pleasers. This pet bakery in North Park whips up custom doggy cakes, surfer-shaped biscuits, and novelty ice cream flavors for both cats and dogs.  If your dog has a sweet tooth, check out these other San Diego bakeries that cater specifically to our animal friends: Three Dog Bakery—These dessert pros pride themselves on using fresh, “from-scratch” ingredients. Perennial favorites include: “SnickerPoodle Cookies”, “Peanut Mutt-er Woofles,” and “Cinna-Mutt Roll Cookies.”  Sprinkles Cupcakes—This bakery makes sugar-free “pupcakes” in La Jolla. San Diego certainly knows how to celebrate “man’s best friend.” For more dog-approved businesses in the San Diego area, visit Grumble Dog today.

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Grumble Dog Blog

How to Choose the Best Toys for Your Dog

How to Choose the Best Toys for Your Dog Are you in the market for a new dog toy but overwhelmed with all the options out there? We hear you, we do. With so many dog toys available today, it’s easy to find yourself utterly baffled in the aisles of your local pet boutique. Plus, what if you buy something Fido has zero interest in? There’s nothing more disappointing than a dog who prefers to play with a ratty pair of socks over the latest canine gadget you just threw 30 bucks at.  The thing is, different toys suit different dogs. When it comes to dog toys, you’ll need to consider your pup’s age, breed, personality, energy level, and chewing habits. Balls. Chew toys. Peanut butter-filled Kongs. Timeless classics (we’re looking at you, squeaky teddy bear) or trending up-and-comers (have you seen these pet fitness robots? Wild.) Whatever your pup’s preference, we’re here to help you narrow down your hunt for the perfect dog toy.  But first, let’s explore why your dog needs toys in the first place.  How do toys benefit my dog?  Toys are more than just amusing novelties—they provide the stimulation your dog needs to stay mentally sharp and engaged. Without adequate mental stimulation, a frustrated and bored dog may resort to undesirable behaviors like chewing the LazyBoy cushions or yowling non-stop. Nobody wants an unhappy pooch with poor manners. As such, toys are a necessity, not a luxury.  Interactive dog toys alleviate boredom, promote weight management, and relieve stress. They’re also a good way to promote bonding and can help ease separation anxiety.  Sold? Us too. Now that we’re clear on the importance of dog toys, let’s dig into some canine favorites.  Balls and Retrieval Toys Ah, the quintessential dog toy. If your dog is especially fond of fetch, a glow-in-the-dark ball means you can get in a game right before bedtime. Have an eager chewer? Choose a ball that can stand up to the abuse. Kong balls are durable and should be able to withstand the most aggressive chompers.  Be sure to choose a ball that’s the right size for your pupper. It should be small enough to fit comfortably in your dog’s mouth and large enough that it doesn’t become a choking hazard. Tennis balls work for most dogs, but keep in mind they aren’t particularly durable.  For the less athletic among us, Chuck-Its are a great way to extend your throw. They’re fun to use, and your dog will be able to clock in more steps.  Frisbee is another canine classic. You can’t go wrong with this sturdy Kong flying disc, which should be able to endure some major chewing.   Chew Toys Image by Anna Dahlhaus via Pixabay Not all chew toys are created equal. And since chewing is just a natural part of being a dog, you’ll want to provide your pup with some quality chews that can hold up under pressure.  When it comes to chewies, size matters. Too small, and you’ve got a choking hazard on your hands. Too large, and your dog may find it uncomfortable to chew. Take note of your dog’s chewing style as well. Is she an aggressive chewer or more of a dainty nibbler? The former would benefit from a tough and sturdy chew toy, while the latter could get by with something softer.  What about rawhides? Safe or off-limits? Vetstreet has this to say: “it depends on the individual dog.” Heavy-duty chewers who inhale their food should steer clear, as they can break off choking-size chunks during a chewing frenzy. Contamination is also of concern. If the rawhide was processed under less stringent protocols, it could contain trace amounts of toxic chemicals or be contaminated with Salmonella or E. coli.  Even so, many dog owners think the benefits of rawhides outweigh the risks. As PetMD points out, rawhides help your dog maintain his dental hygiene by removing plaque and tartar buildup. They can also strengthen your dog’s jaw.    Plush Dog Toys Image by Marieke Koenders via Unsplash Is there anything cuter than a dog snuggled up to her favorite plushie? We think not. However, adorable though they are, stuffed toys usually have a short lifespan. Since active chewers can tear apart a stuffed teddy in minutes, it’s not a bad idea to supervise your dog with plush toys. You know, to avoid a living room filled with stuffing entrails.  Opt for toys made specifically for dogs without any plastic pieces or ribbons that could be tempting to your undiscerning pooch.  Puzzle Feeders and Treat-Dispensing Dog Toys Give your dog’s brain a workout with a challenging puzzle toy that will test his wits and determination. Puzzle feeders are a great way to keep your dog’s cognitive skills up to par while channeling his energy in a positive way.  The built-in reward system of treat-dispensing toys makes them a hit with most dogs. As your dog tries to figure out how to access the treats inside, he’ll be flexing his mental muscles—and he’ll have fun doing it!   Rope Toys and Tug-of-War Toys Image by Kongerdesign  via Pixabay Maybe your dog is into a little competitive tug-of-war. If so, braided rope toys are sure to please. These popular dog toys are great for chewing, playing fetch, or boisterous games of tug-of-war.  If your dog is a heavyweight, choose a tug toy that can hold up to his strong pulling. It should be comfortable for you to hold in your hands and for your dog to grip with his teeth. Once your dog’s rope has reached the end of its days (ie: it’s a frayed and worn-out pile of threads), it’s time to toss it. Loose strands can wreak havoc on your dog’s digestive system if they’re swallowed.    Water Toys Image by Patrick Hendry via Unsplash Some dogs can’t get enough of the water. If this sounds like your pup, he would surely appreciate some floating toys to spice up pool time. Look for toys made specifically for this purpose, to ensure they won’t sink or fill up with water. And always, always rinse them after playtime to prevent mold from developing. Crush canine boredom with a monthly pet subscription box Want to take the guesswork out of things? It doesn’t get easier than signing up for a monthly pet subscription box. These popular pet delivery services ship regular parcels to your pooch, filled with high-quality items hand-picked by industry experts. Some offer healthy, organic treats and others donate a portion of their proceeds to dog rescues. And they can save you money too! Intrigued? Check out the ever-popular BarkBox, which offers customized goody boxes, or Pet Treater, which has a “toys only” option for subscribers.  Additional dog toy tips Here are a few more tips to keep your dog safe and happy with his new toys.  1. Get the right size It’s simple: large dogs need larger toys, and small dogs need smaller toys. Toys that are too teeny can become lodged in your dog’s throat, and toys that are too large…well, those are no fun at all.  Your chewy labrador, for instance, should avoid toys with itty-bitty pieces that could break off and be swallowed. A teeny chihuahua, on the other hand, needs a toy that’s small enough for him to carry around with ease.  2. Recognize potential choking hazards Be careful with damaged toys, or toys with tiny pieces that a strong chewer could break off.  3. Supervise playtime with new toys If you’ve just gifted your dog a new chew toy, observe how he handles it before leaving him to his own devices. This way you can determine whether or not the toy is safe for your dog—or if you need to find an alternative.  4. Discard old, broken toys Damaged toys are dangerous toys, as they can cause choking or other intestinal complications. Dog toys aren’t meant to last forever. When they begin to break down after heavy use, it’s time to say goodbye. 5. Rotate your dog’s toy once a week To boost the longevity of your dog’s toys, The Humane Society of The United States recommends rotating them on a weekly basis. This has the added benefit of keeping things fresh and exciting for your furry friend.  A dog just isn’t the same without his toys. Does your four-legged pal have a favorite? We want to hear all about it!

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GrumbleDogFun

Best Super Bowl Ads With Dogs!

Another Super Bowl is almost here, and as millions will tune in to watch their favorite teams battle it out on the field, guess what we’ll be looking out for? That’s right, more commercials featuring dogs! Super bowl ads can cost a fortune for companies to produce and air, so there's usually some creative thought behind the best ones. Here are some of our favorite commercials featuring dogs from the past few years! This Doritos-loving pooch really takes the game of Fetch seriously! The Subaru ad featured a family of dogs driving on their way to the pet supply store: The Heinz Weiner Stampede featured a pack of adorable Dachshund hot dogs running toward their favorite Heinz condiments. Too funny. What's it like when a dog shops for a new car? Budweiser’s heartwarming 2014 Super Bowl commercial (in which a puppy befriends a horse) has been ranked the most popular ad ever to air in the 51-year history of the NFL’s premier event.

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GrumbleDogFun

5 Best San Diego Spots for Dogs!

We scored 278 places to take your dog in San Diego, CA and picked the Top 5 activities! From dog parks and beaches to pet boutiques and dog yoga, here are some of the best ways to experience San Diego with your four-legged friend! 1. The Beach! San Diego is best known for its beaches - there are 8 great ones in the city limits - and also for three great spots where your pup can play in the sand and surf! The North Beach Dog Run in Coronado is a dog friendly beach that's off-leash 24/7 and is great for dogs who love strong surf. The most popular spot is Dog Beach in Ocean Beach - it's off-leash all the time and is a great spot for any dog, although it can get crowded at times. Fiesta Island is located in MIssion Bay meaning there aren't any big waves to worry about. It's a spot for picnics, swimming, paddleboarding and more - for you and your pup!   2. The Food! We know your pup would much rather be out on the town with you than watching TV alone at home. Things may be restricted right now in 2021 due to COVID-19, but when restaurants are fully reopened there are a lot to choose from in San Diego! Here are just a few of our favorites: DOWNTOWN AND GASLAMP QUARTER Union Kitchen and TapInspired by San Diego's appreciation for craft beer and craving for fresh, creative cuisine, Union Kitchen & Tap is uniquely suited to provide guests with the best of both worlds.  Knotty BarrelFeaturing fine, locally-sourced food and a selection of over 100 local, domestic and imported beers from around the world, including over twenty craft beers on tap. During football season, the Knotty Barrel opens earlier on Sunday at 9am for breakfast. Pier CaféMore than just a casual café, the Pier Café sits along the Harbor at SeaPort Village and offers a full menu—from burgers to seafood specials. And the best part is, they're pet-friendly. Sally's Fish House & BarLocated on the Harbor at SeaPort Village, this restaurant is part of the Manchester Grand Hyatt and offer fresh seafood in an upscale atmosphere. Pets are welcome on the patio. HILLCREST AND UPTOWN Baja Betty'sLocated in the historic Hillcrest district, Baja Betty's is famous for their Sunday brunch with bottomless Mimosa's. The Regal BeagleA quaint bar located just off the 5 FWY at India St., The Regal Beagle offers a good selection of craft beer, grilled sausages and appetizers. Pooches are welcome on the patio. The Prado at Balboa ParkLocated in the heart of Balboa Park, The Prado is a San Diego favorite. Owned by San Diego's famous Cohn Group, the restaurant features upscale California Cuisine in a beautiful setting. Bring your dog for brunch on the patio - you won't be disappointed. Parkhouse EateryNeighborhood hipster eatery with good food, relaxed atmosphere and open arms to furry friends. LA JOLLA The Public HouseThis historic house turned diner features indoor and outdoor seating and hundreds of beers, over 40 on draft. For the truly ambitious, join the 80 beers in 80 days club to be entered to win a brewery tour destination trip. MISSION BAY AND BEACHES Backyard Kitchen and TapBackyard Kitchen & Tap is a chic, yet cozily coastal American eatery and natural fit for the laidback vibe of Pacific Beach. Dogs are allowed in the outdoor areas, which are celebrated with three cabanas, live walls, fire pits and an indoor/outdoor bar. For a tasty brunch, lunch or dinner, Backyard satisfies every palate with scrumptious American favorites and spirits. Bayside LandingBayside Landing features quality food anc local craft beers. All along the streetside is a large bay window and counter where dogs are welcomed. The Local Pacific BeachThe Local brand was born over a decade ago with the opening of The Local in downtown San Diego. This recent addition by the beach features local musicians, craft cocktails and beer, and great food. Dogs are allowed downstairs on the patio. Fig Tree CaféThe café inhabits an old cottage with a dog-friendly patio, surrounded by a garden-like setting just off the beach-goers' beaten path. According to local lore, the flagship locale even includes an old putting green, left intact underneath the deck. MISSION VALLEY AND OLD TOWN CosmopolitanThis historic setting in Old Town offer contemporary cuisine and welcomes pets on their beautiful patio. Lazy DogAll dogs are welcome here. It's in the name! Lazy dog has a cozy open air patio with a fire pit and a great happy hour. Brunch is served Saturdays and Sundays. Fred's Mexican CaféCharming café in the heart of Old Town, Fred's offers traditional me Mexican food and drinks plus welcomes furry friends "no problema." NORTH COUNTY COASTAL Pipes CafeHit the surf early, shred some gnar, get pitted, then head to Pipes for a post-shred session rejuvenation. Named after the nearby surf break, Pipes is the perfect follow up to an epic morning of surfing. Afterwards head across the street to Seaside Market for some Cardiff Crack. Honey's Bistro and BakeryA family owned restaurant, Honey's combines a unique menu, great atmosphere and friendly staff to create an excellent dining experience. POINT LOMA, HARBOR ISLAND, AND SHELTER ISLAND Pizza PortAbout as San Diego as San Diego itself, Pizza Port has been around since 1987 and is widely considered some of the best pizza in San Diego. To top it off, they brew their own delicious craft beer. Stop in with your dog and enjoy a pie, a pint and the ocean breeze on the large outdoor patio. Slater's 50/50Football specials and over 100 craft and local beers on tap. Dogs are welcome on the patio. They also have a special menu just for dogs. CORONADO Leroy's Kitchen and LoungeA veritable hangout for locals and tourists alike, Leroy's is a departure from conventional island eateries. They also have live music Wednesday and Thursday nights, and Sunday during brunch. EAST COUNTY Anthony's Fish Grotto La MesaA San Diego landmark, come on in and try delicious lobster, fresh seasonal catches, salads, pastas, Mama's famous clam chowders and crispy fish & chips.   3. The Parks! Nobel Leash-Free Park Where: 8820 Judicial Drive, La Jolla Hours: Open 24 hours *Closed Tuesdays and Thursdays, 8 a.m.-11 a.m. Amenities: Off-leash, small and large dog separation pens   Doyle Dog Park Where: 8100 Cargill Avenue, La Jolla Hours: 6 a.m.-11 p.m. Amenities: Off-leash, small and large dog separation pens   Kearny Mesa Dog Park Where: 3170 Armstrong Street, Kearny Mesa Hours: 6:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Amenities: Off-leash, drinking fountains, water bowls   Grape Street Dog Park Where: Grape and 28th Street, Balboa Park Hours: Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday-Sunday 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Amenities: Off-leash, water fountains    Maggie Houlihan Memorial Dog Park Where: 425 Santa Fe Drive, Encinitas Hours: 8 a.m.-Sunset *Closed for maintenance Thursdays, 1 p.m.-3 p.m. Amenities: Off-leash, small and large dog separation pens, drinking fountains   Rancho Bernardo Dog Park Where: 18448 West Bernardo Drive, Rancho Bernardo Hours: Dawn-Dusk *Closed Thursday mornings, 10 a.m.-12 p.m. Amenities: Off-leash, water bowls, large and small dog separation pens, ball fields   Nate’s Point Dog Park Where: 2500 Balboa Drive, Balboa Park Hours: Open 24 hours Amenities: Off-leash, fenced in, dog drinking fountains   Alga Norte Dog Park Where: 6565 Alicante Road, Carlsbad Hours: 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Amenities: Off-leash, small, medium, and large dog separation pens, agility course   Canine Corners Dog Park Where: 9550 Milden St., La Mesa Hours: 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Amenities: Off-leash, water bowls, small, medium, and large dog separation pens   Mayflower Dog Park Where: 3420 Valley Center Road, Escondido Hours: 6 a.m.-9p.m. Amenities: Off-leash, small and large dog separation pens   4. Dog Yoga!     Any dog trainer will tell you that your dog will behave much better when he is mentally stimulated and exercised until he is tired.  The dog park and/or a daily walk is fine, but to really tire your dog you need to mentally AND physically tire him. If you want results for you AND your dog – check out Leash Your Fitness Dog Yoga!   5. Hiking! What's the point of living in or visiting a place with the nation's best weather if you don't get out and enjoy it? If you think humans enjoy getting out of the city for a bit of fresh air and sunshine, then just imagine the explosions of joy your dog will experience when he or she gets out on the trail for a walk in open space. San Diego's mild climate and diverse array of habitats offer a number of great hiking experience for dogs and their owners, ranging from wide, sandy beaches to pine-rimmed meadows.   Elfin Forest Difficulty: Moderate to Moderately Difficult - 3-7 milesFee: FreeHours: 8:00 am to 30-45 minutes before sunset Trails in San Diego County almost universally require dogs to be on leash while they hike, but the trails in the higher reaches of Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve from Monday through Friday, dogs under effective voice control are allowed to walk with their owners without a leash. Dogs must remain on leash on the Way Up Trail, which ascends a steep hill from Escondido Creek to the trail network around the Olivenhain Reservoir.   San Dieguito Lagoon Difficulty: Easy - 3-4 milesFee: FreeHours: Dawn to Dusk The initial stretch of the county's ambitious Coast-to-Crest Trail traverses the northern shores of the lagoon between the Del Mar's North Beach, commonly known as "Dog Beach" and a shopping center on Via De La Valle. From the trailhead on San Andres Drive, hikers and their dogs can walk toward the beach, first along a smooth dirt path and then along a boardwalk before following a trail along the lagoon's inlet to North Beach. North Beach allows dogs to play off-leash between Labor Day and June 15th.   Batiquitos Lagoon Difficulty: Easy - 3 milesFee: FreeHours: Dawn to Dusk While this popular dog-walking spot requires dogs to remain on leash, this prohibition has not prevented the scenic trail along the lagoon's north shore from being one of the most popular dog-walking trails in the county. Bring your pup to join the daily parade of canines.   Beach Trail, Tijuana River Trail Difficulty: Easy - 1 mileFee: FreeHours: Dawn to Dusk Outside of dog-friendly Del Mar, this scenic stretch of coast south of Seacoast Drive in Imperial Beach is one of the few stretches of beach that allows hikers and their pups. Walk along crashing waves to the mouth of the Tijuana River.   Blue Sky Ecological Preserve Difficulty: Moderate to Moderately Strenuous - 3-6 milesFee: FreeHours: Dawn to Dusk This trail through a dense gallery forest of coast live oaks and, depending on your dog's fitness level, climbs either to Ramona Lake or up and around Lake Poway. Be aware that temperatures here routinely soar into the mid-80's during summer.   Sunset Trail, Laguna Mountains Difficulty: Easy - 3 milesFee: FreeHours: Dawn to Dusk For a different kind of canine hiking experience, take your dog to this gentle loop that traverses broad meadows to a tranquil pond known as Water in the Woods. The cool shade of the forest and the variety of plant life provides a banquet of olfactory experiences for your pup's sensitive sniffer.   Penasquitos Canyon Difficulty: Easy to Moderate - 3-7 milesFee: West Trailhead - Free. East Trailhead - $3 Day UseHours: West Trailhead - Dawn to Dusk. East Trailhead - 8:00 AM to Sunset Penasquito Canyon's perennially flowing creek, gentle terrain, and relatively cool coastal temperatures are a perfect habitat for dogs. If you have a water-loving dog, you may have a tough time keeping him or her out of the water at the various crossings, but for your dog, that is all part of the fun.

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GrumbleDogFun

How to Keep Cabin Fever Away For You and Your Dog

If ever there was a time where we're getting cabin fever, it's now. Most of us have been cooped up at home more than we'd like for months now, with many offices, restaurants, and social gathering spots shuttered as we continue to deal with the effects of COVID-19. Now that we've added a nice dose of winter weather in much of the country, we have a perfect recipe to stay inside and get bored... really bored. And it's not just affecting us - our dogs are feeling it too! So what are some ways to keep your pooch mentally active and avoid cabin fever? Attention. Because you are managing your two children who are home from CPS, trying to keep up on how many celebrities are positive, and Google-deep-diving whether coronavirus can be transmitted through ESP, you may not think that spending 10 minutes here and there playing tug-o-war with your dog is a priority. But don’t underestimate the stress dogs can pick up on. Even a small amount of attention can help them through this. Respect boundaries. Though most of your cats and dogs love having you around, it also the case that the sudden increase of bodies home at all times can be a stressor for your 18-year-old cat that is used to the quiet and freedom to sit on the couch alone during your work day and actually enjoy some alone time. I’ve heard from numerous people over recent weeks that they think that their dog and cat may not actually miss them as much as they assumed when they were at work every day. If your animals separate from your space to be alone, it may not mean something is wrong; you just may be annoying. Let them be and make sure there are places for them to retreat to without the clatter of your new bread-making hobby and experimentation with rave-reggae dominating your shared environment. Toys. Please don’t run to the store and get a bunch of toys right now, but make the existing toys in your house nice and clean and available. Make toys out of your old clothes or use a discarded water bottle, toilet paper rolls (especially you hoarders), etc. If you Google DIY dog toys, you’ll see a lot of ideas. But be careful you don’t use anything toxic or things that your dogs can swallow. I like this page: https://www.wisebread.com/10-diy-dog-toys-you-can-make-for-pennies Train/Teach your dog new tricks. Don’t give up on your sometimes jerk of a dog who stubbornly will not generally or ever listen to you. Don’t as it’s literally and figuratively never too late to try to teach your old dog new tricks. Maybe this is the time you spend teaching her to sit, shake, solve geometry puzzles, speak Turkish, etc. There are tons of trainers who are helping to do things remotely. I plan to have my dog braiding my hair by the summer. Go outside. Go outside. Go outside. It may seem contrary to our brains’ frenetic power to actually go in our yard (if you have one) and sit down, but leave your house, walk outside, even though you may need to cross the street to avoid people. You can check Twitter on your front steps with your dog as well as in your living room. Divide and comfort. Not all households with multiple animals live in harmony. We have an upstairs cat and downstairs cat. Both are annoyed at the upstairs and downstairs dog. Maybe your herd is split up in different ways. Just like playing tug-o-war with your dogs for 10 minutes could go a long way in fulfilling her needs, try to spend some alone time with each of your animals for a bit. Go upstairs and have a 10-minute pet-fest with your shy cat that hates your power hungry younger cat that generally hogs all the attention. —Brett Grossman, DVM

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GrumbleDogFun

Funniest Dog Tweets of the Month

      As dog owners, we get access to some of the world's best entertainment every day - our pups! With many people working from home this year during the pandemic, even more hilarious dog antics have been witnessed by their owners. Here are some of the funniest examples of the month!

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GrumbleDogFun

For this feisty Shih Tzu, two rescues in one day!

For Spring, a three year-old shih tzu, it was her lucky day. She had just been rescued from a puppy mill, along with a few other dogs, and was on her way to New York where she would begin a new life. But when her transport stopped for a break in Chardon, Ohio, Spring escaped from the van and went running - right onto a frozen lake! The Chardon Fire Department responded, and eventually had to break the ice and wade out into the frigid water to rescue the little dog. Thanks to the great work of the firefighters, Spring is now safe and warm. See more of this story here:https://www.news5cleveland.com/news/made-us-smile/chardon-fire-department-saves-rescue-dog-named-spring-from-half-frozen-lake

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GrumbleDogFun

These dogs are getting revenge on the Elf on the Shelf! FUNNY!

This is too fun not to share! Surf Dog Ricochet writes, "Elf on the Shelf showed up at our house again. He's been pranking my dogs, Ricochet and Rina. They've had enough and are getting revenge against him!" Read the full article on BoredPanda: https://www.boredpanda.com/my-dogs-are-getting-revenge-against-elf-on-the-shelf/

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Pamela Loves Pets

The Love of Dogs

#QuoteOfTheDay “It is amazing how much love and laughter they bring into our lives and even how much closer we become with each other because of them.” – John Grogan #petsitting, #petboarding,#DogDaycare   Take a good look at anyone before you choose a Pet Sitter

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