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No Noisy Metal Crates Please

Have yIMG_3121ou ever traveled with a metal dog crate/pen?  I have, the shake and rattle noise just about drove me CRAZY!  With only a few miles under my belt, I stopped and tried to find a way to muffle the noise. I put a blanket around it, I positioned my luggage and some coats around it, none of it helped.  I finally figured out that not only was the whole crate/pen shaking but the door and latch system was shaking independently.  I thought there must be a quiet system somewhere.

Wood is the answer to this problem: a wooden door and latch system that is quiet and easy to open and locks.  It’s so wonderful!  Check out Pupperton’s quiet and beautiful hardwood pens.

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Cold Weather Dog Play

DayligPlay in Snowht is dwindling in the evenings and early morning hours too.  It seems as if I feed my dogs more in the winter months than I do in the spring and summer. Or, I give them more treats when we are “stuck inside” when it’s colder outside?  For sure we are less active and not by choice.  It’s so easy to open the door and run outside without a jacket, no shoes even! Warm sun shiny daylight, of course we miss it and so do our dogs.

I’m going to have to get creative to keep my dogs fit and hopefully not gain weight.  I know how this weight gain thing happen all too well, a snack/treat here and there… sitting on  the couch watching TV.  Too dark in the morning and evening for the long jogs/walks we like.  I won’t even comment on the cold weather.

Here’s my plan to increase my dogs activity level this cold weather season.  I’m going to buy some new toys and hide them.  I will bring out the new toy on particularly sedentary days like during a snow storm.  I will also try to introduce some new games that require training and concentration. This will be good for me also to learn new skills with my dogs.  Of course I will not abandon going outside altogether, in fact, on mild winter days a romp in the snow is a great work out. I still can throw a ball and my dogs has a blast trying to find it in the snow.  We always come back in and are happy and snuggle.

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Doggie Drama

DogStareCatMy little dog Annie is smart, cuddly and loves to play. There is one thing that annoys me though; she is obsessed with keeping an eye on my cat, Skittles.  Skittles is calm and serene. Annie is obsessed with that cat.  Skittles is bigger than Annie by about 2 inches and 3 lbs. Actually Skittles is not fooled, she knows a wimp when she sees one. She has helped raise many a pup in her day. (She is 13 years old.)  I have recently seen slight progress with Annie’s paranoia with Skittles.  Annie has learned that she gets little cat food scraps from the cat food can.  So Annie sees some benefit to having a cat around. Gotta love the little doggie mind drama, it makes me laugh and I catch Skittles chuckling sometimes too.

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Keep Calm and Get Cozy

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Trick and Treaters will be coming out in full force this week.  Knocks on the door, the doorbell ringing and little kids running and squealing with joy.  Sounds fun to most people, but to my small dog Annie, this is a recipe for barking and confusion.  It’s not just the little kids, who in her experience love to chase little dogs, but any commotion that is out of her routine makes her on edge.  (i.e. repair people, special cleaning like air ducts, etc.) Do yourself and your little dogs a favor, put them in a cozy room in their pen or crate. Putting soothing music on will help to muffle the crazy noises. They will feel safe and you will have peace of mind that they will not run out the door or get stepped on.

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A Puppy and a Party – Oh MY!

So you’rKidsPartye hosting a party? How exciting!  Music, drinks, food, loud noises, the front door opening and closing and many personalities will all converge in your home.  Have you thought how this scenario will be for your puppy?  Has your puppy been around other people let alone A LOT of people at one time? Well, I’m asking you to put some thought into it. 

If you have already conditioned your puppy to meet and greet strangers and stay controlled and calm, that’s great! But most likely your puppy’s energy level will escalate as more and more people arrive.  You have several choices to ensure that your puppy is safe and you have a fun and worry free time at your party.

1.      Assign someone that your puppy knows to be the puppy “handler” at the party. That means that person has a leash on your puppy and takes care of its needs along with monitoring others interactions. 

2.      Put your puppy in a pen to keep out of harm’s way. Give a toy or treat stuffed kong.

3.     Bring your puppy to a kennel for the day.  You will have peace of mind and you will be able to relax at your party.

It all depends on your comfort level, your puppy’s personality and the guests at your party.  I recommend a combination of 1 and 2 if your guest list is small and they have all met your puppy before.  If it is a large party and you are not sure of everyone’s reaction to a dog, perhaps to make your life easier and keep your puppy safe, a neighborhood kennel may be best.  Safety first – have fun at your party!!

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Jogging With Your Small Dog

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Hot summer days have come to an end.  Getting out and running with my dogs is one of my favorite things to do in the cool days of autumn.  I have a 60 lb Black Lab and a 10 lb Rat Terrier and yes, I run with both of them.  First of all, I’m a slow jogger not a fast racing type.  I stop and walk if I see one of them needs a rest.  Many people may think that a little dog cannot go for runs. My little girl loves it!  Of course, we do not go very far – 2 or 3 miles at most.

Before you go running with your small dog, keep in mind the breed they are.  If your dog has high energy levels, running is a great way to burn that energy off.  If you have a breed that is calm and likes to sleep more and is slow moving, perhaps sticking to walking is good exercise for them.  Always start with short distances and work your way up over a course of several weeks to months for longer distances.  Your dog will need time to get in shape and build endurance just like humans do.  Check the pads of their feet before, during and after each run. Look for slivers of wood or glass or a cut.  Offer water during the run, more often if the temperature is warm out.  Have fun with your furry work out companion this fall!

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Helping Small Dogs with Anxiety

dushshundHeadHandsPanting, trembling, crouching – these are just some the signs of anxiety in dogs.  Certain breeds of small dogs especially, are more prone to anxiety.  My little rat terrier could write the book on anxiety.  You name it, she gets anxious.  Some of her anxious behaviors have actually lessened since we rescued her seven years ago.  But some behaviors remain strong and we are still working on her severe reactions.

My number one way of dealing with her is by acting calm at all times.  If I get worried for her when a thunderstorm is approaching and start to overly cuddle her, she will expect that every time.  I remain calm and go about my business as if nothing is happening.  I also like to put calming music on and play it a bit loud to counter act the noise going on outside. Giving her one of her favorite treats at this time has also helped.

Thank goodness my little dog loves her pen at night.  It is her sanctuary after a long day.  She really likes to be a safe place if she is stressed and she often curls up in her pen during storms.  If we have company that comes with little children, she knows that she will often get chased around.  I allow her to go into her pen – her “safe place” to get away from the raucous.  This is a signal to me that she has had enough and no one is allowed to disturb her.

Once small dogs acquire an anxiety, it is difficult to eliminate it entirely. Some small dogs may be so anxious that they may need medication in certain situations. (i.e. traveling)  Consult your Vet on medications or Herbal formulas.  Consistency in how you remain calm and support your dog will go a long way and takes time and patience.

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Get The Groom On

Grooming my littleGroomOn Annie can be a nightmare.  She is a little 9 lb. rat terrier.  Brushing her teeth is not only hard, but small dogs are prone to cavities and teeth that get loose and fall out.  She squirms like the dickens when I trim her nails.  This squirming has caused me many a time to clip slightly too much nail.  That pain only adds to her fear.

If you have a small bundle of energy of a dog, I highly recommend you enlist someone to help you as you bush teeth and clip nails.  Praising you dog before and after is a great thing to do.  Give your dog a treat when the grooming session is over.  My Annie quickly learned to associate the grooming with the treat.  Giving her the best treats she loves helps too.  Doing this day one when you bring a new puppy home will go a long way to creating a love for grooming, or at least a non-squirming tolerance.  Annie was a rescue dog that I brought home when she was already two years old.  So I acquired her with many fears already.

If this is all too much for you to handle and you can afford it, bring your puppy or dog to a groomer, they will help you with these chores and may even teach you a few trick to begin at home.

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Sleep Puppy Sleep – Pleeease

SleepPupSleepNew puppies are like newborn babies – they cannot sleep through the night without the need to eliminate.  This is the reality of puppyhood.  So now what?  It will take several months before your little puppy will be able to hold it through the night.  Setting a schedule up immediately and resigning yourself to be on board with it will make this a more positive experience for you and your puppy.

Pen/Crate/Kennel training is a great way to help your puppy learn that outside is the place to go, not in the house.  If you are an apartment dweller and you have a small breed dog, you can train them to go on pads in the house in a certain location.  But we will start with the pen and doing the “business” outside.

Once you have purchased a pen for your puppy, put its bed or soft blanket in to lie on. You want your puppy to come to love being in its pen.  Give your puppy a treat when they run into their pen and putting a chew toy in its bed to play with is also a good idea.  Always give praise to your puppy each time it enters its pen.

Don’t feed your puppy too close to bedtime.  Allow several hours before bedtime for digestion and a small walk outside.  Right before bedtime another trip outside to encourage it to go. Lavish your puppy with praise when it relieves itself outside. 

So now it’s bedtime.  Your puppy should go into the pen to lie down.  Again give praise.  For several weeks to several months you will need to get up during the night to take the little one outside.  This will be your routine for awhile.  Perhaps set your alarm for 3-4 hours after you turn out the light.  Your puppy will most likely cry when it’s alone at night in its pen at first.  Ignore the cries, it should subside, you can reassure it with soft talking.   Hang in there.  My puppy cried at first.  I did give her a teddy bear to snuggle.  She loved that teddy bear.  Also, it took close to six months before she was totally trained or did not have the urge to go in the middle of the night.  Always be patient and loving.  Scolding a puppy for an accident or for crying is not helpful and could cause more problems down the road.  Good Luck!

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Canine Chaos!!

SnarlI did not want to create canine chaos in my home by bringing a new puppy into an already happy dog family.  What was I to do?  How do I introduce a new energetic bundle of joy without a huge amount of rivalry and jealousy? I wanted my new puppy to feel accepted as a new member of the family not an invader.

So I set up a first meeting outside, not in the house or next to the older dog’s bed or food bowls. Making sure the atmosphere was calm with not a lot of activity going on around us.  I gave lots of praise and pat my older dog in the presence of the new puppy to reassure them they are loved.  Then I also pat the puppy.  This puts the scent of each dog onto the other so they could smell that also.

We then ventured into the house. I remained as calm as I could, displaying no over excitement, etc.  While watching the puppy explore, I was careful to monitor my older dog for signs of jealous reactions.  Sure there may be a power, dominance exchange, as long as it is not aggressive in nature.  Remember, every dog pack has a hierarchy it establishes, as long as there is no aggression involved, this is normal.  I now know, as both my dogs get older, which one is the alpha dog and which one is more submissive. But their individual personalities still shine through and they both know that they are loved and cherished as a family member.