Top 3 Pieces of Advice for First Time Dog Owners

Bringing home a new dog is incredibly fun and exciting, but it’s natural to have a lot of questions, especially if you’re a first-time dog owner. After all, picking out your new dog is the easy part. But now that you’re a pet parent, it’s your job to keep your new best friend happy and healthy. It’s also vital to teach him how to be a well-mannered member of the family.

There’s a ton of advice out there, and it can all be a little overwhelming. We’ve got your back though as we’ve listed out our top advice for first-time dog owners to help you make all of the most important decisions with confidence.

1. How to Choose the Best Food for Your New Dog

One of the first things you’re probably concerned about is how to choose the best food for your new dog. There are tons of them to choose from, and most of them are adequate for meeting your dog’s nutritional needs.

Here’s a look at the different types of dog food, as well as the pros and cons of each type:

Dry kibble: Dry kibble is available in a wide range of price points, from very affordable to fairly expensive. It’s readily available in most stores and will stay fresh for several weeks after opening as long as it’s stored in a cool, dry place and kept in a sealed container.

Unfortunately, many of the more affordable brands of dry kibble contain a lot of carbohydrates, such as grains and legumes. While they are fine for providing energy, grains and legumes are common allergens for dogs, and they are also more likely to cause unhealthy weight gain.

Wet canned food: The biggest pro of choosing wet canned foods is that they are usually lower in carbohydrates and higher in protein. It is shelf-stable for months, but once it’s opened it will need to be stored in the refrigerator and used within a couple of days.

Raw dog food: Raw dog food is often made at home, but it can also be purchased pre-made. It’s made mostly from uncooked animal protein and ground-up bones, and sometimes it contains fruits and vegetables for added flavor and nutrition. Proponents of raw dog food recommend it because it’s unprocessed and contains live enzymes that may help with digestion.

However, there can potentially be some drawbacks to feeding a raw diet. First, raw meat can contain pathogens or parasites that may be dangerous to you, your family, or your dog, especially if the food and equipment used to serve and prepare it aren’t handled properly. Just don’t worry, just be aware of that, and buy your raw food from a brand that gets good ratings.

And, if you are making the food yourself, you must take great care to ensure you are meeting all of your dog’s nutritional needs. Of all the types of dog food available, feeding a raw diet is generally the most expensive.

Make Sure To Ask Your Vet

When it comes to choosing the best food for your new dog, most experts will agree that you should choose the best food you can afford that works for your dog and your lifestyle. You may have to experiment by trying a few different brands to find the perfect fit.

If you’ve found the right food, it will show in your dog’s healthy skin and shiny coat, firm stools, and of course, overall good health. Your dog will have a good appetite and normal stools that are neither too firm nor too soft. If you have any questions or concerns, your vet will be able to offer valuable insight based on your dog’s medical history and current condition.

2. Providing Preventive Care to Keep Your New Dog Healthy

According to experts at Bond Vet, a Brooklyn-based veterinary hospital, preventive care is crucial to your dog’s wellbeing. This includes annual checkups, dental care, and regular grooming. Start by taking your new dog to the vet for a checkup before or soon after you bring him home.

It’s not uncommon for shelter dogs and puppies to have fleas, worms or other parasites, dental issues, or other problems that should be addressed as soon as possible. Once your new dog is given a clean bill of health, he should be groomed by you or a professional, including a bath and brush out, a haircut (if needed), cleaning out his ears, and trimming his toenails.

At these initial appointments, consult with the vet and groomer to find out how often your dog should have checkups and grooming. Keeping to a regular schedule of preventive care will go a long way toward maintaining your pet’s health and catching any potential issues before they become serious.

3. Teaching Your New Dog How to Be a Well-Mannered Member of the Family

When it comes to training your new dog, be wary of outdated advice that tells you to be your dog’s “alpha,” or pack leader. Most animal behaviorists agree that you will get a lot further with positive reinforcement and teaching your dog boundaries, rather than using force or punishments that will only teach your dog to be fearful and anxious.

For example, if you catch your new dog chewing on something he shouldn’t, take the object away and give him a chew toy instead. When he starts chewing on the toy, offer praise. Make sure to provide lots of stimulating toys and keep other items out of reach until your dog learns boundaries.

It’s probably best to assume your new dog isn’t housebroken, just in case. Using a crate or confining your dog to one “dog-safe” area when you’re not home is probably a good idea when you aren’t available to supervise.

Crate training is a great way to housetrain most dogs. Take your new dog out every couple of hours, especially when he first wakes up and after a meal. Supervise him closely and take him outside right away if he starts sniffing around or showing other signs of needing to go to the bathroom. Always offer praise when he goes outside, but don’t yell or punish him for having an accident in the house. That will just teach him to hide the behavior.

Final Advice for New Dog Owners

Don’t hesitate to talk to a professional anytime you have questions about caring for or training your new dog. That’s what they are there for, and most vets, groomers, and trainers are happy to answer questions and make recommendations. Attending a basic obedience class is a great way to strengthen your bond, get some valuable training advice, and provide some valuable socialization for you and your new pooch.

5 Signs That Your Dog Needs Flea Treatment

Similar to humans, dogs can feel discomfort and pain when insects prey on them. One of the top enemies of your furry best friend is fleas.

These little critters thrive during warm weather and feed on the blood of your pup. Worse, they also bite humans, which poses a significant problem if you have kids.

You can choose from several flea treatments on the market today. Most cures are applied topically, so you can just put them on during or after bathing your fur baby. Companies like Fleamail even have a monthly home delivery subscription service to ensure that your dog gets continuous treatment to keep fleas at bay.

If you want to know for sure that your dog needs flea treatment, here are the signs to watch out for:

1. Constant Scratching

A primary indication that your dog has been infected with fleas is that they keep on scratching themselves. Abnormal and constant scratching is a sign that something’s bothering them. If you see your pup with this problem, you should have them treated to get rid of fleas if that is the problem.

Aside from developing anemia due to flea bites, your dog can also become infected from the
wounds that they inflict on themselves. Flea control is one of the best things you can do to keep your pet healthy, so you should invest in the right treatment for them.

Some tips to prevent your dog from getting flea bites:

Avoid Flea-Infested Areas: While you can’t stop your pup from mingling with other animals, you can help them avoid this bug issue by not going to areas that are known to be flea-infested. For instance, you can talk with other pet owners and listen to their
experiences about a certain park or pet store where their fur babies may have contracted the pests.

Clean Your Home: If your dog has gone through initial treatment, you should wash your beddings and vacuum the floors to get rid of flea eggs and larvae that might have jumped or fallen from your pet when they scratched an itch. This way, you reduce the chances that they’ll get infected again.

Treat Your Dog Regularly: Flea treatment isn’t just a one-time deal. You must continue with the medication to ensure that all pests are killed and that no bugs will live on your dog’s skin again.

Consult Your Veterinarian: Talk with your pet’s doctor about possible flea treatments and anti-pest shampoo that you can use for your pet. You must also ask for routines or practices that they recommend to avoid having the flea problem again.

2. Red Bumps on the Skin

One tell-tale sign of flea infestation is red bumps on the skin. Often, these inflammations are a result of the flea bites, while other times, it can be the consequence of your dog’s scratching and nibbling.

These symptoms appear on various parts of your pup’s body, like their groin, belly, under the legs, and near the tail or butt.

Scratching these bumps can lead to dry skin. Worse, your dog can get self-inflicted wounds, which can turn to lesions and result in an infection.

3. Presence of Black Specks

Another way to tell if your dog has fleas is to look for unusual black or reddish-brown specks on their body. If you find this type of “dirt,” it may be flea waste that’s made of digested blood.

The presence of these black specks indicates that fleas may still be present on your dog or in your home. If so, your pet still isn’t safe from getting bitten.

One way to tell the difference between regular dirt and the kind that comes from these bugs is to wet them with water then wipe the surface using a plain white paper towel. If the grime appears to have a reddish color, then it’s highly likely that it’s flea dirt.

4. Hair Loss

Alopecia or hair loss can be caused by flea bites due to the reaction of your dog’s skin to the chemicals that these pests expel when they bite your dog. It can also be a result of the physical tugging or scratching that your pup does.

5. Pale Gums

You should also check the color of your dog’s gums. Paleness can be an indicator of anemia, which can be a direct result of flea infestation. This is why you must treat your pet for fleas immediately.

Conclusion

Flea bites are uncomfortable and painful for your dogs. You’ll know if there’s an infestation if your pet keeps on scratching themselves or if you notice red bumps on their skin. Black specks (also known as flea dirt), hair loss, and pale gums, are also indicators of a flea problem.

Ultimate Training Guide for Your Belgian Malinois

If you’re considering purchasing a Belgian Malinois personal protection dog for your family, it’s essential that you know how to train your dog. These are amazing animals that need consistent training to become the best possible member of your family. Here’s everything you need to know to help your Belgian Malinois fit in.

Start With the Basics

As with any puppy, training needs to start at the very beginning. The earlier you begin training your pup, the better he will respond, and the faster your training becomes cemented. As commands transition from foreign to familiar, your pup will learn to obey you. They’ll start to look to you as the lead dog, and they will be far better prepared to continue training with you as they progress in age.

Socialization

Socializing your dog is vital and should start as early as possible. From four to fourteen weeks especially, expose your dog to as many places and people as you can. This will teach your dog that new, varied, and exciting places and people are part of regular life.

When first introducing your puppy to high-traffic areas, you can carry them so they don’t feel overwhelmed and threatened. Help them get used to being around people in the comfort and safety of your presence. As they gain confidence, have them walk with you on a leash through the same places. This exposure helps them learn that not all strangers and unfamiliar people are dangerous.

Socialization should also happen at home. Have a variety of friends and family members come over to visit. This will help your dog understand that it is normal for people he may not know to come to your home. When you have friends over, they’ll be used to the occurrence rather than feeling threatened.

Create a Solid Bond

Nothing takes the place of creating a bond with your dog. Engage in daily playtime with your puppy to build your relationship. Belgian Malinois are very loving and will thrive in an active environment where they get to spend time with you. Daily playtime should begin when you bring them home and continue throughout their lives. Mals need a minimum of 30 minutes of play every day as a puppy. When they’re older, they’ll require much more time to burn off energy.

Teach Commands

Obedience and following commands are the lifeblood for well-trained dogs. Begin when they’re young and start with basic commands you’ll use every day such as, “sit,” “lie,” “stay,” and “come.” As they get older, you can progress to more complex commands and tasks. Belgian Malinois are known for their keen intelligence and ability to learn nearly any command or job given to them. Commands, however, are where you should begin, along with potty training, to help your dog develop an even and responsive temperament.

Use Rewards-Based Training

Belgian Malinois family dogs respond to rewards-based training far better than anything else. The idea is to reward them every time they perform a command perfectly and act appropriately. Did they sit all the way down when you said, “sit”? Reward them with a treat or a pat on the back, and say, “Good girl!” For training to be effective, they need to follow through on commands perfectly. If someone comes to the door and you say “stay,” and they stay for a few seconds, then get up to follow you to the door, go back to where the dog was supposed to be, and repeat the command. When they stay the entire time and watch you greet your friend and return to the room where they’re at, then give them a special treat. Rewards help solidify the command and help your dog learn what you expect them to do.

Discourage Bad Behavior

If rewards-based training is misused, your dog will get the wrong message, and confusion will ensue. If your dog isn’t trained to obey completely, they will take half-hearted obedience and run with it. Just as much as you should encourage correct behavior, any bad behavior should be firmly and consistently discouraged.

If you find that your pooch has begun to bark every time the doorbell rings, you’ll want to train your dog with a “leave it” command. If they tend to jump up on you, you’ll want to teach and reinforce “down.” Any action that you do not like or is inappropriate should be addressed and corrected every time it happens. Consistency and a loving but firm voice are the most significant factors when training a Malinois to behave and discourage bad behavior.

Highly Trainable Dogs

Thanks to the Belgian Malinois’s incredible intelligence, they can be trained to do nearly anything. It’s vital, however, to be consistent and dedicated to the training process if you want a dog that responds well to your commands. Are you ready to begin training your dog?

Max the Mini-Goldendoodle

Max is a Mini-Goldendoodle. He is six years old and when he first came to me I had a serious accident and had to spend three months in bed. Needless to say Max, who was very patient and calm whenever it was just him and me, became very attached to me. He is loving this work from home business, and I can’t imagine having to return to work with him at home. Submitted by Robin M.

 

Zoe the Shiba Inu

Zoe is an 8 year old Shiba Inu. She’s a handful! One of the most curious dogs I have ever met. She has to have that nose of hers in everything you are doing. She will let you know if she disapproves, too! Like vacuuming, digging in the garden, dragging your foot across the carpet (ouch!). Zoe is Mrs. Social Butterfly when she stays at our kennel. She loves playing with other dogs. She is such a sweetheart! Submitted by Ran R.

 

Managing Osteoarthritis in Dogs

Osteoarthritis is a common problem in senior dogs. It is a progressive, degenerative joint disease that worsens with time and has no cure. The best thing that you can do to save your dog from the annoying symptoms of osteoarthritis is to take preventive measures and starting treatment early. Initiating appropriate osteoarthritis management measures on time will help improve the quality of your dog’s life and keep it active.

What is osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease, is a progressively worsening inflammation of joints as a result of the deterioration of the cartilage tissue. Cartilage is the elastic tissue in joints that covers and protects the end of bones at the joints.

In a healthy joint, cartilage acts as a cushion to prevent friction between the two bones when the joint is moving. Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage begins to break down as a result of repetitive stress, injury, disease, or age. The loss of the protective cushion causes pain, inflammation, and reduced range of motion. Osteoarthritis can form at any joint, but it is more common in the lower spine and limb.

Early signs of osteoarthritis in dogs

Osteoarthritis in dogs can be difficult to detect when it is still in its early stages. Some dog breeds are also good at hiding their pain until it becomes severe. To start treatment on time before the condition worsens, you should monitor your middle-aged or senior dog for the following early symptoms of joint disease:

— Difficulty waking up
— Reluctance to play, jump, or run
— Changes in behavior
— Pain when touched
— Loss of muscle mass
— Difficulty posturing to defecate or urinate
— Lethargy
— Weight gain

If your dog has any or some of the above early symptoms of arthritis, you should have him evaluated by a veterinarian. The vet will perform a full physical examination and may recommend an X-ray to be able to rule out other diseases that have similar symptoms. The X-ray will also help the vet estimate the extent of the damage to the joint. If the vet confirms that your dog is suffering from osteoarthritis or any other form of arthritis, you should start treatment immediately.

Treatment of osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a progressive disease, and it doesn’t have a cure. Fortunately, there are some things that you can do to prevent its development. Failure to start the treatment on time may result in the symptoms worsening with time and may even leave your dog unable to walk. Here are some of the measures you can take to prevent its progression and improve the quality of your dog’s life.

1. Joint supplements

Your vet will recommend joint supplements to slow the progression of the damage, reduce inflammation, and improve joint function. Glucosamine and chondroitin are the most common joint supplements for both human beings and dogs. Dog glucosamine works by reducing inflammation, increasing water retention in the cartilage, and promoting healing. By increasing water retention in the cartilage, the cartilage is then able to provide cushioning.

2. Weight management

Many pet parents forget about managing their dog’s weight once they develop arthritis. The lack of exercise makes the dog gain more weight, which adds more stress to the damaged joints. The excess weight adds more pain and speeds up cartilage break down. To maintain a healthy weight and keep your dog active, you should try some gentle exercises. Walking the dog for about 30 minutes a day may help reduce the excess weight.

To prevent increasing the progress of osteoarthritis damage to the joint, you should not force an exercise your dog is not comfortable with, and also avoid exercises that put more stress on the affected joints.

Apart from exercise, you can also prevent obesity by putting your dog on a healthy diet. You should also confirm with your veterinarian the amount of food that is safe for your dog. Feeding your dog too much food will also promote weight gain.

3. NSAIDs

Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) are the best pain control medications for osteoarthritis. They help reduce both pain and inflammations on the joints. Unfortunately, NSAIDs have some side effects after continued use for a long time. You should discuss the risks and benefits of NSAIDs therapy with your veterinarian. If your dog has a poor liver or kidney function, the vet may recommend alternative pain management medications.

Your vet may recommend acupuncture, dog arthritis supplements, massage, physical therapy, laser therapy, or a combination of them to reduce joint pain and improve the quality of your dog’s life. You should not give medications to treat osteoarthritis without your veterinarian’s approval.

4. Trim your dog’s nails

Long nails can increase the risk of skeletal changes that may cause stress on the joints. The extra stress on the joints increases the risk of osteoarthritis. Trimming the long nails in a dog can help prevent the progression of the damage. Putting a carpet runner on hardwood floors can prevent your dog from slipping, which creates unwanted stress on the joints.

Lucy the Terrier

Her name is Lucy, and she is a nine month old American Staffordshire Terrier. Lucy is a very active and smart dog. She is not aggressive and loves to play. She loves to go outside and run around. She likes taking pics if she is not playing with her toys or chewing on her bone which she absolutely loves. She belongs to my son but she is granny’s big baby. I love my grand-dog and I hope these pics are good. Submitted by Timerria E.

 

How To Keep Your Dog on the Right Side of The Fence

Ah yes, dogs. We love them for just how goofy they can be. We love them for the brightness and joy that they bring into our lives. We love them for the companionship they offer us, never leaving our sides even when the world is going belly up. All they have to do is look up at us with doleful eyes and the go-getter that has been lying low inside you comes out in full force.

We love our dogs so much, and we want to provide them with the best that we can. We get a house with a yard or garden specifically for them to play around in. Somehow though, they often don’t seem to want to stay within the confines of the fence.

Your lovely Fido is an excellent pole vault Olympian, sprinting up to full speed and using the fence as an aid to his adventures in the sky, and voila! He or she is over the fence. But it’s not all dogs that can jump over the fence… the others are experts at digging under the fence to get to the other side.

Whatever it is you do, to your dog it seems like the fence is just a challenge, a game for him to play. In reality though, it is quite dangerous. Your pup could end up getting hit by passing cars, or even stolen by passers-by. If he ends up going into someone’s property and causing damage, you will be liable for any damages, and you might end up having to pay a fine.

But how do you keep your dog inside your fence?

1. Keep the fence clear of anything that may aid their escape.

You have to understand that your pup is one smart cookie. All she needs is sufficient motivation, and a means to escape. The next thing you will see is your dog taking a leap over your fence. To this end, you will need to undertake various steps.

The first is remove any aids that may be along the fence. These include things like trash cans or other low-lying platforms that your dog can simply leap onto. This platform may be the point at which they vault over the fence.

The other thing that owners tend to overlook a lot is the presence of a tree in the yard. Yes, a tree is beautiful and absolutely beneficial to the value of your home, but a determined dog can simply get up a tree and leap to “freedom” over the fence. If you have a tree that’s near or overlooks a fence, you might want to remove any branches that the dog can use to get over the fence.

2. Stopping the High Jump Champions.

There are other dogs that can get over your fence without needing an aid. All they need is to get up to speed in your yard, point their nose towards the portion of fence that they want to go over, and then take a massive leap like a high jump Olympian. If your dog doesn’t need any aids to jump over the fence, then you should consider adding height extensions to your fence to keep your pup from vaulting over

Another thing you should consider is adding a horizontal portion to the top of your fence. This will form an upside-down L. When your pup tries to get over the fence, the best they can do is hit the upper portion of the fence and lift off is denied. Be sure to reinforce both the fence and the L portion of the fence to prevent strong dogs from knocking them loose.

3. Stopping those who see the opportunity under the fence.

There are some dogs who when denied the opportunity to express their jumping prowess will resort to going under the fence. Though your fence may reach the ground, remember your pup is well equipped to deal with this. They will simply tunnel under the fence and when enough space is achieved, they will squeeze through and off they go.

This is especially true if you have or are planning to get a Siberian Husky. These dogs were bred to provide the native Chukchi people in Arctic regions with fast and economical transport options. As such, they would travel more than 50 miles a day. Modern house-trained Huskies still retain these characteristics and it’s why Huskies are known for wanting to explore and travel.

An excellent way to stop tunneling pups is to add some chicken wire to the bottom of the fence to form an L-Footer. You would need to lay a foot of chicken wire on the ground, and then bend the remainder upwards to nail or wire to the fence. You will then need to nail the chicken wire to the ground to keep the pups from bending it.

4. Reduce their view to the outside.

Dogs get pretty excited at the thought of exploration. This is why whenever you mention a walk, your pup may go haywire with anticipation, with some even fetching their own leashes and waiting by the door or gate. In your yard, you pup may have explored every single square inch.

The view under the fence may look enticing, especially if people are passing by, or cars are zooming around. This will pique the interest of your pup and they naturally will want to investigate.

Depending on the type of fencing that you have, you may have a number of options. For picket fence types, you have the option of buying reed fencing and attaching it to the inside of the fence. This will reduce the dogs view, and their curiosity. If you have a chain link fence, you can get quality plastic slats to weave through the spaces in the links.

Another option you have is to plant vines along the fence. These provide an excellent option for keeping your dogs in, but also add to the value of your home.

Brutis the Terrier

His name is Brutis. He’s a 14 year old American Staffordshire Terrier, and loves his bow tie.. When my son bought him home as a puppy we didn’t know if he would make it. My son found him locked up in a garage with no food or water. He had trouble standing on his own. As you can see he did live through all of that, and he’s the best dog we ever had. Submitted by Sharon D.