Guest Author

From time to time, I invite guests to submit a post. This fills in gaps in my knowledge, and lets others share their expertise. I hope you enjoy!

Nov 122011
 

Recently, my brother got a puppy.  He’s always been a dog kind of guy, but hasn’t had time for a puppy until recently.  He lives by a dog park and every day he’d come home and see all the dogs out playing, so he finally decided it was time.  He found an adorable little black lab, and named him Duke.  He is definitely a cute little guy for sure.  Duke loves the dog park and everyone at the dog park loves him.  All the women there flock to the adorable little puppy and with all the attention Duke gets, my brother is right there with him.

I thought one of the perfect puppy gifts for Duke would be one of the available personalized pet tags for dogs.

Personalized Pet Tags For Dogs
Be a “chick magnet” and get your pooch
personalized pet tags for dogs

My brother loves Duke and would definitely be devastated if he were ever lost.  I knew I wanted all of my brother’s information but I also wanted something a little extra for Duke.  I found the perfect tag for him!  It says, “Chick Magnet” with a picture of a magnet and a little chick and has all of my brother’s contact information on the back of it.  My brother loved it and so does Duke.

Dog id tags are very important.  Statistics show that 16% of all lost dogs never return home because they don’t have id tags on them.  If a neighbor or passerby finds your dog, the only way they are going to know whose dog it is for sure is by the id tag they wear on their collar.  60% of all dogs that make it to animal shelters don’t have id tags and were once someone’s pet and unfortunately these dogs are humanely euthanized.  Pet id tags are essential for your pet’s safety!  Sometimes dogs get lost, it’s nobody’s fault, but make sure your dog will return home with their new id tag.

This is a guest post from BowWowzerZ, two friends who understand how important it is to give your dog(s) (and cats!) a way to get home. They are proud supporters of animal rescue and all of their pets are rescues.
Nov 112011
 

Thinking about and buying gifts for loved ones is a big part of Christmas nowadays. For many families this year it won’t just be the people of the house that are looking forward to gifts on the morning of the 25th, but also the pets. So, here are a few ideas to get you started on what to buy for your friends in the animal kingdom.

  • If there’s one thing that pets probably love above all else, it’s food, and food in the form of a treat is no exception, which I why this one is top of the list. Exactly what food will of course depend on the particular pet that you have, but most owners will know what theirs favourites, and if not now’s a good time to find out!
  • Another obvious choice for dogs is of course a brand spanking new chew toy. The selection to choose from these days is huge, not even starting on the varieties available online, so it shouldn’t be hard to find something that fits. There are squeaky toys, toys that are good for their teeth and plain old plush characters to name but a few.
Holiday Cat Toy Filled Christmas Tree

  • For households that only have one pet, and also have the time, attention and affection spare for another animal, then a companion for your current pet is a fantastic Christmas gift. Before making a decision like this however, it’s important to think very hard about whether you have the resources to give a new pet the care it needs To quote the old advert, a dog is for life not just for Christmas!
  • For our four-legged friends more specifically, i.e. cats and dogs, pet houses are a good gift idea. Wooden dog kennels for dogs in warmer climes or for the summer months, or a cat cabin complete with a log cabin exterior and cat flap at the front. Easy to install and long-lasting, pet houses are a different way to treat your pet.
  • Many companies now offer the novel idea of Christmas stockings filled with gifts specifically for certain pets. A dog-centred one for example might have inside it a chew bone, a squeaky toy and some food treats, whilst one aimed at cats could contain a scratching post, catnip and ball of string. They’re an easy way to treat your pet over the Christmas period, and won’t cost the earth either.
This is a guest post from tigersheds.com who specialize in outdoor buildings of all kinds from sheds to pet houses.
Nov 092011
 

There are a million and one things to consider when decorating any room in your home, and the process is made even more complicated when you have pets thrown into the equation. It’s their home as well as yours, and it’s important to make sure that any additions in terms of interior furnishings are compatible with your furry friends. This can mean in terms of both comfort and safety.

One such furnishing that needs to be carefully considered is your choice of window treatments. There are a wide range of choices which means that your decision should be an extremely thought out one. Perhaps the least convenient choice is curtains, because there are so many possibilities to what pets can do to them. This point is particularly relevant to cats and dogs, who may be extremely tempted to scratch, climb and pull at them all day long. An alternative window treatment that doesn’t provide such temptations is a set of roller blinds.

Animal House Style: Designing a Home to Share With Your Pets

Perhaps the main benefit of these blinds is the functionality. If you have a pet that is a regular scratcher or general nuisance with window treatments, this can be easily avoided by simply rolling the blinds up and out of their reach. This can also be achieved with curtains, however this involves tying them high and out of reach which also takes away from the visual appeal. Roller blinds, on the other hand, allow fewer chances for your four legged friends to get a firm grip.

As a result of this, you will end up saving money with roller blinds. The rough treatment curtains and other window furnishings will receive on a daily basis will take their toll over time and will eventually need replacing. This will inevitably hit your wallet hard. In addition, general wear and tear on curtains in particular is likely to make them a safety hazard to both you and your pets, with the potential for injury being high.

It’s easy to get too bogged down in the safety issues however, and ignore the comfort factor of roller blinds in the home. They are available in a wide range of opacity’s, which means both you and your pet can easily get a good night’s sleep no matter how light it is outside. During the day time, they can be easily rolled up out of the way, allowing everyone in the home to take in the sun on those warm summer days.

Remembering that your home needs to be the perfect environment for a pet as well as yourself is so important when decorating. Every choice needs to be thoroughly considered and pros and cons need to be weighed up for both you and your companions. Roller blinds are one way to provide a comfortable and practical environment for all concerned.

This is a guest post from Roller Blinds Direct, a company that has specialized in supplying designer made to measure roller blinds for over 15 years.
Nov 092011
 

As you walk down the street and are lured into a nearby bakery by the lingering smells of sweet potatoes, blueberries, spinach, peanut butter, carrots and more. It might be a surprise to you to find out that those smells aren’t coming from a hip new restaurant or dessert shop, but rather, those delicious scents are coming from the local dog bakery! Yes, that’s right—there are now even bakeries for dogs!

Yummy Treats to Share

You can find yummy treats for your pooch that include peanut butter bones, sweet potato cats and carrot-flavored birds. On a side note, the bakeries assure customers that no cats or birds are ever harmed during the baking process. If you locate a bakery for dogs in your neighborhood, chances are that the owners and employees are animal lovers and serve only the highest quality products. What’s really great about a bakery especially for dogs is the opportunity to bring your furry friend along. There’s no guarantee that your hungry hound will stop at only inhaling one snack, so often times, the snacks are behind glass for just this reason.

Natural Balance Dry Dog Food, Grain Free Limited Ingredient Diet Venison and Sweet Potato Recipe, 28 Pound Bag

Healthy Foods to Love

Creating demand for a bakery for dogs has become more popular as more dog owners are interested in purchasing healthy dog food. There are now a variety of websites that help to educate consumers as to what healthy food for dogs is really all about. For instance, the following is a list of quality, key ingredients that should be included in your doggy’s diet:

  • Real meat
  • Whole grains
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Natural sweeteners
  • Healthy fats
    • Omega 3
    • Omega 6
    • Canola oil
    • Olive oil
    • Flax seed oil

If you’re searching for puppy dog food, you should look for the same ingredients as well as increased antioxidants, minerals, proteins and fats for proper growth and development.

Ingredients to Avoid

Ingredients to avoid when choosing any dog food include the following:

  • Bone meal
  • Meat byproducts
  • Artificial sweeteners
    • Glucose
    • Fructose
    • Sucrose
  • Unhealthy fats
    • Vegetable oil
    • Lard
  • Vague grains
    • Rice meal
    • Oat hulls
  • Chemical additives
  • Artificial preservatives
  • Dyes
    • Blue 2
    • Red 40

Basically, you want to find ingredients in a dog food that sound appetizing to you. If you enjoy eating the ingredients (in a salad as opposed to a bowl on the floor), chances are that your pooch will too.

Notably, when you’re in a dog bakery, take a few minutes to ask the employees for their recommendations on healthy options for your canine companion. The employees are often pet owners themselves and will be happy to share their favorite dog food brands and products.

This is a guest post from Jessica. One of Jessica’s favorite things to write about is pets. For more information regarding puppy dog food, please visit Cesar.com
Nov 072011
 

There’s a challenge in finding a dog toy that’s not only eco-friendly, but also functional and tough enough for a dog’s everyday life. We’d like to introduce West Paw Zogoflex, a toy Collection that incorporates both of these characteristics.

How are these toys eco-friendly?

The West Paw Zogoflex collection dog toys are 100% recyclable, leave behind little to no waste during the manufacturing process, and are also non-toxic. In addition they are also BPA-free, phthalate-free, and dishwasher safe. You can feel confident with these toys as they are designed with a dogs’ health in mind.

How tough are Zogoflex dog toys?

It’s important to be weary of any toy that claims to be ‘indestructible’, but we’re telling the truth when we say these toys are tough with a capital T. Ranging in toughness – (Zisc –> Tux), these toys will withstand your dogs chewing, tugging, and fetching. Each toy has a different purpose (Hurley is great for chewing, while Bumi is perfect for tugging and pulling), but they’re all meant for active play.

And in the rare chance your pup does manage to destroy the toy you can return it for a full refund. All Zogoflex toys come with a One-Time Guarantee. Simply return the toys and get your money back. No sweat.

Not sure which Zogoflex toy is the best choice for your dog? We’ve created a simple guide below. For more product information visit GreenDogLove.

  1. Bumi (great for pulling, tugging, and of course – tug-o-war)
  2. Hurley (perfect for tossing and fetching)
  3. Tux (hide treats inside!)
  4. Zisc (great Frisbee option!)
  5. Huck (dogs love to fetch and chew)
  6. Twiz (great shape for pulling and tugging)
This is a guest post from Carly Messmer who is co-owner of GreenDogLove, a website that sells eco-friendly dog products. GreenDogLove is committed to selling dog products that are not only great for your dog, but also great for our environment.
Nov 052011
 

A feral cat is one that you might see around your neighborhood, hiding under porches, or parked cars, existing on the fringes of human society. Unfortunately, these poor creatures all share a very typical fate: difficult lives that end far sooner than cats who have someone to love and care for them. Fortunately however, reaching out a caring, helping hand isn’t difficult, and it’s also very rewarding, with long term benefits.

A feral cat can be defined in this way: “a cat who has no socialization, or, is too poorly adapted to be handled, and cannot be adopted into a typical home”. That is a heart breaking definition. Even more heart breaking – today, there are an estimated 80 million ferals roaming the streets in cities and suburban areas all across the United States; that’s just as many feral cats as cats who live in suitable homes. And, as female cats can become pregnant as early as 16 weeks of age, and then go on to produce up to three litters per year, the problem is almost incomprehensible – one single female cat and her offspring can in turn produce 420,000 more.

street cat

It might be easy to envision a cat roaming free and enjoying the life of a hunter and tiny tiger, master of its domain, but that is sadly not the reality of a feral cat’s life. The truth is that they live in all types of weather, often without adequate shelter, and certainly without shelter beyond what they can provide for themselves, all while avoiding cars, scavenging food from trash dumpsters, and being preyed upon by other wild animals.

They are subject to diseases, the never ending cycle of pregnancy, birth, nursing and weaning, and the abuse of any random person who has a mind to do them harm. It’s little wonder that the lifespan of the typical feral cat is a maximum of three years, while well cared for cats in loving homes can easily live into their teens. It’s also worth pointing out that feral cats cause a variety of issues for the humans who co-exist with them such as noisy cat fights usually in the wee hours of the morning, territory marking, infestations of fleas and of course, the breeding.

Many animal experts advocate TNR programs – which stands for “trap-neuter-return”. TNR programs are aimed at reducing the overall incidence of unwanted cat populations by taking the proactive steps necessary to break the endless cycle of reproduction among ferals. The programs work in this fashion: the cats are captured humanely, examined by a veterinarian, vaccines are administered, and they are then surgically sterilized and observed for any issues before being returned to their familiar, wild environment. At this point the hope is that caring volunteers from the community might provide food and shelter whenever possible, and observe the feral population for any signs of illness. Those who do advocate these programs claim that the advantages for cats include fewer health problems, and of course the end of unwanted litters. Not all animal advocacy groups stand in support of TNR programs.

They assert that releasing the cats back into the wild is simply abandonment all over again, and the larger problem remains unaddressed. These groups often offer relocation or euthanasia as alternative measures. Relocation may seem like a humane solution at first blush, but, it is ineffective in the long term because a so-called “vacuum effect” exists in feral cats. No matter where these animals are released a new colony will eventually form in that location, because due to their instincts, feral cats gather where they are able to obtain food, water, and shelter – however meager and inadequate. There are still more reasons why relocation isn’t a viable solution. Cats are territorial creatures by nature, and it’s completely natural for a cat to try and return to its established territory, and along the way, while trying to return “home” they are at risk of grave injury or death. As for euthanasia or eradication, while the public will often give generously in charitable support of TNR programs, once the idea of “putting down” animals becomes known, the charity tends to dry up.

You might be asking yourself why feral cats aren’t being tamed and adopted out to loving pet parents. The sad reality is, an adult feral cat has returned to a wild state of existence and is therefore virtually impossible to tame. Even through rigorous effort, the percentage of ferals who are eventually socialized in a way that’s sufficient to become a pet, is exceedingly low. The ASPCA supports the continued adoption of available cats and kittens currently living in shelters and awaiting their forever homes. Ultimately, the solution must consist of a final human component. Once the feral cat populations have been trapped and then released, there must be a human caregiver who is willing to adopt the colony and provide for them.

If you have a heart for animals, and I’m sure you do if you’re still reading this article, there is one single action you can take that’s vitally important – don’t contribute to the problem. Our society is more aware than ever of the importance of spaying and neutering our pets, and that’s a good thing. Also, please consider keeping your cat exclusively indoors, to keep him/her as safe as possible, and so they can never be lost and end up a tragic statistic. Beyond that, donate your time, and your money, as often as possible, in whatever ways are possible.

It is our obligation as members of a civilized society to care for those who exist at our mercy. That responsibility absolutely includes domestic animals whom we elected to take from the wild and make our dependents.

This is a guest post from Stephani Spitzer, who contributes to Advance Me America’s Leading merchant cash advance provider. However, that’s just her day job. As she says: “feral cats [are] something that I’m extremely passionate about.” She and a neighbor are taking care of a feral cat colony in their neighborhood and working a TNR program.
Nov 052011
 

Before writing this I thought to myself: “Why would you even consider buying pet houses for your dogs”? I’ve got two dogs of my own and could not stand the thought of not having them lying next to me on the couch. I asked some people and did some research that I would like to share.

The first thing that is of huge importance when deciding upon keeping your dog outside is the sort of area/climate you live in. Obviously you would not want to keep your dog outside when the city you live in is known for its low temperatures, even not in a pet house. So let’s say that you live some place warm, Auckland – New Zealand? Temperatures do not get below 15 degrees and summers are not too hot, on average 27 degrees. Would it still be ok to put your dog in a pet house?

Next to the area, keeping your dog outside might also be highly dependent on is the kind of dog you have. Rottweiler’s and German Shepherds are for example known to be one of the top breeds for life outdoors. So is it ok to keep a dog outside if you 1. Live in a relatively warm area and 2. If your dog loves the outdoors?

Pet HouseMany people would still say no, but others that I have asked said yes, as long as the dog has shelter, water and food. Another dog owner said that it is ok if the dog is used to living outside because the dog does not know any better. Hmm…

According to current studies in dog psychology there is a big misconception about keeping dogs outside and thinking that they are happy. These studies have shown that dogs have more behavioural problems due to a lack of in-house training and a weak bond between the dog and its owner(s). Moreover, dogs are pack animals that love to be social. Therefore it might not be a good idea to keep your dog outside because you are limiting the amount of human companionship.

I am still not sure whether I am for it or against it, but if you are thinking of keeping your dog outside, here are a couple of suggestions when buying a pet house.

  1. Make sure that the pet house is big enough for your dog to fit in. But keep in mind that the house should not be too large because your dog’s body heat will get lost.
  2. If you live in a warm area make sure to place your pet house in the shade. This may sound very obvious but you’d be surprised how many pet houses are placed in an open spot.
  3. Also ensure that your pet house has the right insulation material.
  4. Finally, have bedding in the pet house for your dog to lay on. This will protect your dog’s joints from the hard surface.
This is a guest post from tigersheds.com who specialize in outdoor buildings of all kinds from sheds to pet houses.
Jun 292011
 

Using a crate or kennel can make training a puppy an enjoyable, stress-free experience for both you and your new companion. A crate is great for potty training, instilling a sense of independence, and providing a necessary safe haven when direct supervision isn’t possible. No puppy is too young to begin crate training, but it must be done in a carefully researched and positive manner – you can’t rush progress!

Training a puppy requires supplies, of course. Puppies grow fast, and it is recommended that you start with a crate model that has adjustable walls. There should be just enough room for Fido to sit, lay down, and turn around – any extra space just invites bad potty behavior.

Getting Started: Clicker Training for Dogs

Leaving a young pup alone in a crate is not a very good idea for the first few weeks. But you can definitely begin building a positive relationship between your canine and his brand new bedroom with a little positive reinforcement puppy training. If your pet is old enough for treats and toys, you can use his favorites to lure him into the cage and reward him with love, play, or praise for successful attempts. Every impression is critical – a single bad experience can make your puppy fear the crate for months to come.

Get your hands on a positive resource on clicker training for dogs – a clicker is a great way to communicate with your pup to teach commands like “go in” or “bedtime”.

It’s important to remember that young puppies have almost no capacity for bladder control and must be taken outside on a careful potty schedule. Your pup may need to go every thirty minutes for the first few weeks, and generally won’t be able to hold it for an hour until two months of age. You can expect half a year before you can reduce breaks to four or five times a day.

Training a puppy to sleep through the night or potty at the appropriate time used to be difficult and unpleasant – but crate training makes it headache free and supremely positive!

This is a guest post by HalleBalleDog, a couple and their dog who share what they’ve learned about dogs and dog training. As they say about themselves:

We’re life partners, designers & entrepreneurs that are dedicated to the well being of our beautiful Weimaraner – Halle! We’re all about caring for your dog the natural way. When it comes to pet training, we’re all about balancing positive reinforcement with the right dose of discipline.

Jun 082011
 

When it comes to our pets, people generally love to have them looking good (as I write I think of my own little hound’s oldest collar, with its “diamonds” barely on anymore – definitely time for an upgrade!) The other reason for personalized dog collars is a more practical purpose, and definitely adds to peace of mind, is a way of having an ID that cannot be torn off too easily. This is especially important if you dog is the kind that like Houdini reincarnated.

You will have the choice, with personalized dog collars and leashes, of them being made of leather or synthetic materials. It really depends how “loud” you want to go and on your budget. For a timeless look: an engraved plate riveted onto a quality leather collar will do the job perfectly. However, for someone who’s dog spends as much time as possible in the water, a synthetic personalized collar, or even a reflective collar, will be more suitable. A reflective collar is also a good idea if you go walking at night. A tip: if you do want a leather collar embossing is probably a better idea than with laser engraving, as the latter can fade, defying its original purpose!

Personalized Pet Collar - Small, Medium or Large - You Design it!

To really make a statement, a synthetic personalized collar may be better. Fortunately, these are very budget friendly. They come in all the colors of the rainbow and more; the choices available really are huge. For a young pup, buy one that will grow with him. Look for a sliding adjustable version, then have your details embroidered on it so they won’t fall off or fade as he gets older.

On the other hand, if you own a teeny weeny tea cup breed, personalized dog collars for smaller dogs are widely available, meaning we don’t need to use a cat collar anymore!

If you own a bigger dog, perhaps you would a personalized collar and leash set, instead of just a collar. These are suitable for German Shepherd training, and other strong breeds. Make the investment in quality fittings; after all a chain is only as strong as its weakest link and the last thing you want is a clip breaking when you’re out in public!

Some of the best accessories I have bought have been from stopping other owners and asking where they got theirs – most people are very happy to talk to fellow dog lovers. This way you can compare companies and prices but still have first-hand knowledge of how they look and how well they last. And – your pooch will be as “flash as a rat with a gold tooth” in no time!

This is a guest post by Wynne. She has always lived with animals and says of herself:

So I can “read” most animals and have always take for granted what all these animals taught me growing up.

Jun 062011
 

Where do you go to get dog obedience training advice? There are lots of places to try – the library, the web, friends, trainers, etc. Some of the advice is good – some not so good. The only problem is, just like training a child, you find out whether the advice was good or not months or years later. However, there are a few basic rules to follow when training your dog. These are some of the most important.

First, the best investment you can make is in professional training. True, there is a cost involved, but it’s truly a good return on investment. If you’ve never had a dog before, training can involve a learning curve, at times rather steep. If you factor in your time, effort, false-starts and failures, the value of a professional trainer becomes obvious. And, although the first thought of a trainer is for general obedience training, they all have classes on puppy training, aggressive dog training, and off-leash training. Check with your local pet store and community center for obedience training classes in your area.

Second, starting young is solid advice. Puppies are like sponges, and pick up new techniques quickly. You can teach an old dog new tricks, but puppies are easier and more gratifying.

Cesar's Way: The Natural, Everyday Guide to Understanding and Correcting Common Dog Problems

Third, you must be consistent with your training. He needs to know that you, and everyone that he sees regularly, acts the same way in the same circumstance. If it’s not OK to jump on people at the front door, but it’s OK for him to greet you that way when coming home from work – that’s inconsistent.

Fourth, provide immediate feedback. When you reward your dog for doing something right (“attaboy”, “good dog”, patting, treat), it must be immediate – not a minute or two later. He must learn to associate the good behavior with the reward right away. Otherwise he may become confused and wonder if it was the behavior or something else he’s done in the couple minutes since that was the proper behavior.

Fifth, dogs should be trained with positive feedback, not negative feedback. Positive feedback is the treat, the patting, the “good dog”, etc. Negative feedback is yelling, pulling on the leash, striking or hitting, “bad dog”, and the rest. Just as with humans, negative feedback doesn’t work – you end up with a scared and angry dog. Would you rather be told when you did a good job, or constantly pointed out when you mess up? Dogs feel the same way. So, only use positive feedback.

While there are many important things to consider when training your dog, these are five of the most important!