How To Teach Your Dog To Settle On A Mat

Settling on a mat or a dog bed is a fantastic skill that every dog should learn. Ideally you want to teach this to a puppy as soon as you bring him home, but even an old dog can learn a new trick and become a master at staying on his mat. By following the simple steps outlined in this article, your dog will be patiently waiting on his mat in no time.

Advantages Of The Behavior

It is very convenient to be able to tell your dog “Go to your bed and stay there for now.” When your dog is in the kitchen while you’re cooking and you are worried about him getting underfoot; when visitors are coming to your house; when you want to settle in at night and watch TV; or when you take your dog to a park or the beach: “Go to mat” will always come in handy.

It is a lot nicer for your dog to simply go to relax on a mat when told, rather than having to go to a crate every time. Stick with this training and you will thank yourself soon that you taught your dog this behavior.

Starting Out

First of all, you want to choose a mat or bed that your dog already likes. You will make the training process much shorter and easier if you pick a mat that is comfortable and inherently inviting for your dog.

Next, pick a time of the day when your dog is naturally calm. You do not want to start trying to teach him a stationary behavior when all he wants is to romp around and play.
Take a bunch of treats, lure him onto his mat and ask him to lie down. Then deliver a lot of treats (at least 5-10) in the position. Lure him off the mat and repeat the process.

Be Patient

The more you reward your dog in the correct position on the mat, the better he will understand that this is the “place to be.” The most common mistake owners make at this point in the teaching process is that they rush their dogs too much and spend too little time rewarding them in the correct position. In order to make it very clear to your dog how much you appreciate him being on his mat, you need to be very generous and patient when rewarding him.

Build Distance

Once your dog is good at going to and settling on his mat when you are close by, try standing a little farther away and sending him to his mat from there. This is not going to happen in a single day — building distance for behaviors is one of the aspects of dog training that can take time. Start out by sending your dog from 1 foot away, then 2 ft. away, 3 ft. away etc.

Every time he is successful, praise him profusely and deliver many treats to him.

Take Her To Different Places

Dogs are very situational learners, which means that they will associate the behaviors they learned heavily with the setting they learned them in. If you only ever practice settling on the mat in your living room, your dog will be really great at doing it in the living room, but possibly nowhere else. By taking your mat to different places, he will show you what he has learned in all locations.

Start out by practicing in different rooms of your house, and eventually advance to your front yard, back yard, and taking your mat on the road: to parks, neighbors’ houses, coffee shops that allow dogs, etc.

A Word At The End…

As with all dog training, you need to be patient and encouraging towards your dog during the process. Remember that he does not know what you are teaching him, it is his first time learning and he is always trying his best.

Top 5 Most Adopted Dog Breeds and What You Should Know About Them

Finding the perfect dog for yourself, your family, or a specific task can be a long process. There are many breeds and even more mixes. However, familiarizing yourself with the traditional look, personality, and health profile of the most popular dogs can be a good place to start.

It’s also worth noting that many mixed-breed dogs will retain some, if not all of the traits found in the breed that makes up most of their genetic profile. This applies to both positive traits, like the ease of training or long life span, as well as negative traits, like the likelihood of respiratory issues and how likely they are to run.

The following list elaborates on the most recent iteration of the AKC’s most popular breeds list. This list takes into account all of the purebred puppies registered with the AKC. In addition to basic information about the size of the breed, their temperament and any common health problems are also noted below.

Labrador Retriever

The Labrador Retriever has been the undisputed most-adopted dog for the last decade. There’s more than one reason for that popularity. Labrador Retrievers are a working dog that was originally bred as a hunting companion. As a working dog, they are often rated as one of the smartest and most obedient dog breeds.

On average, the Labrador Retriever will live up to 12 years. They can be a light blonde color, black, or a dark brown color, traditionally. The ideal for a Lab is to weigh about 70 pounds, though males can weigh a bit more.

Due to their working-dog personality, Labrador Retrievers make excellent companions for long runs or games of fetch. They have relatively few health problems as long as they are kept fit.

German Shepherd

German Shepherds are similarly sized to Labs, weighing in at about 70 pounds for females and up to 90 pounds for males. They’re about 2 feet tall at the shoulder, require weekly brushing, and need a lot of exercise. As another working dog, the German Shepherd is also eager to learn and please. They excel at herding more than retrieving.

Unlike the Labrador Retriever, a German Shepherd is less open to strangers and may be “slow to warm up,” though this can be mitigated if they are exposed to a lot of different people and animals while they are young. These dogs tend to live up to 10 years.

German Shepherds have a few breed-specific diseases to watch out for. The number one health concern is hip dysplasia, a condition where the ball of the hip may not fit properly into its socket. The only official treatment is surgery, though keeping the dog moderately active and within its goal weight can alleviate the most problematic symptoms. This is a condition that many puppies are born with, though it may not be detected until they are older.

Golden Retriever

The Golden Retriever is another working dog known for its smarts and good disposition. These dogs are frequently described as “happy” and “friendly.” For these reasons, the Golden Retriever, or “Golden” is often chosen to be trained for search and rescue positions, or as a guide dog.

Goldens have a somewhat long coat and require a quick daily brushing to be at their best. Their coat is longer than many other retrievers as they were originally meant to be “water dogs” and retrieve prey from ponds and lakes. The longer hair helped them stay warm in cold water.

This breed weighs about 60 to 70 pounds, with little size difference between males and females. They can live for 12 years or longer if well cared for and with the right genetics. For similar reasons, it’s important to choose a responsible breeder with no health-history of genetic illnesses like dysplasia of the joints or heart diseases, as these are the most common illnesses that affect Golden Retrievers.

French Bulldog

French Bulldogs, also affectionately called “Frenchies,” are very similar to the standard Bulldog in appearance, though they have very different temperaments. French Bulldogs are excellent watchdogs, and very quiet compared to many other small dog breeds. They have large, erect ears and spend a great deal of time simply being “alert.”

At an average of about 25 pounds, but only 12 inches tall, the French Bulldog is very compact. They are also rated as very playful by many owners, and their short coats require very little grooming. Wiping them down with a warm, damp cloth can help keep their shedding under control.

While the shortened face or snout is a trademark of sorts for the Bulldog breeds, it also results in many respiratory issues for these dogs. All French Bulldogs make a few snorting or grunting sounds due to the way they are made. However, if your dog ever seems habitually short of breath it’s worth it to get dog insurance to ask the vet more questions about possible treatment.

However, French Bulldogs are the least likely of all Bulldog-like breeds to be strongly affected by these issues. High altitudes can aggravate breed-specific breathing problems in Bulldogs.

Bulldog (Or English Bulldog)

Whether they’re called Standard Bulldogs, English Bulldogs, or just Bulldogs, this breed is noted to be loyal, calm, and dignified. Bulldogs require just a little light exercise each day, though their diet must be closely monitored as it’s easy for them to put on weight and this weight can aggravate any breathing issues.

Bulldogs can weigh up to 50 pounds but are only a little over a foot tall. They live as long as 10 years if well taken care of. Their coats are short, but they do shed somewhat and a quick wipe-down with a warm, damp cloth may do more than a brush.

Currently, about half of all Bulldogs have brachycephalic syndrome to varying degrees. This means they have a little too much soft tissue in their upper airways and it interferes with their ability to breathe. Most of what determines which dogs will have severe trouble with this syndrome is genetic. If or when you are working to pick out a Bulldog puppy, ask to observe the parents. Larger nostrils are a good sign, excessive panting is not.

Tips for Hiking Mountains with Your Dog

Hiking is an amazing activity for people, but it’s also a great way to have a fun adventure with your dog and strengthen your bond. But before you take your pup to the mountains, you need to make sure he is ready for such a feat. If you prepare well and train your dog, both of you will get to enjoy the adventure, knowing you’re safe and comfortable. Here are some tips to keep in mind for hiking mountains with your dog…

Start with training

When your pup runs away somewhere near home, that’s a dangerous situation in itself. Now just imagine having a lost dog deep in the mountains! So, if your pup isn’t the best-behaved travel companion, make sure to have a few obedience classes before you hit the mountains. Your dog needs to be able to come when called, stop when ordered to stop, and leave anything that you might deem dangerous. Ideally, you should have your dog on a leash at all times to prevent straying and scaring wildlife and other hikers. Plus, many trails in the USA and other parts of the world only allow pets on leashes. And just for some extra security, think about investing in a GPS pet tracker.

Make sure you’re healthy

You probably know very well how to take care of your own health before a hike, but what about your dog’s health? Visit your vet before you embark and make sure your companion is up to date with necessary vaccinations. You might even need some extra vaccines if you’re traveling to certain exotic areas. All in all, pests like fleas, ticks and mosquitoes can carry various deadly pathogens like heartworm, so ask your vet about different parasite prevention measures. Today you can find anti-parasite collars, chewables, topicals and even injectables, so there’s really no reason to risk your dog’s health and comfort.

Get some good gear

When you’re climbing mountains you can of course expect to come across various rough terrain and extreme weather that can hurt your pup’s paws and cause cuts or frostbites. Make sure to take good care of your dog’s paws with protection wax and buy some dog booties. These will take some time getting used to, but they can keep your dog’s feet warm and provide them with some extra traction. And don’t forget about your own warmth. In order to ensure you’re warm, invest in good socks and shoes. And look into some good gloves. If you don’t know where to start your search, look for some winter gloves ratings online and you’ll find just what you need for all weather conditions. You don’t want to risk frostbite on your hands when you have to take care of both yourself and your dog!

Pack a first aid kit

There are many amazing benefits of hiking, but it’s not a risk-free activity. Both you and your pup can get hurt on the trail, so make sure to bring a good kit with disinfectants, tweezers, and bandages to cover injuries until you can tend to them more carefully. When traveling with your pup, make sure to double up your first aid kit and pack it safely among your dog’s food, water, collars and raincoats.

Grab a doggy backpack

As you can see, your dog will need plenty of things during your mountain hike, so let him carry some of the extra load. These days you can buy practical doggy backpacks that will allow your pup to carry its water, food and clothes. Just make sure your dog is fit and that his body can handle the extra weight.

Once you and your dog are ready physically and mentally for your mountain adventure, and equipped with all the necessary gear, you can be sure both of you will fall in love with hiking and make it your go-to activity!

5 Ways to Make Your Backyard a Doggie Paradise

Making your backyard dog-friendly is the best way to keep your dog from getting bored or wanting to explore the other side of the fence. If your yard is a fun and enjoyable place for your pooch, chances are he’ll hang out there.

Making your backyard a doggie paradise is not as difficult as it may sound. Think of bushes to sniff, obstacles to jump over and generally speaking, romping and racing without the risk of injuries.

Here are some ideas that will delight your pup…

1. Create Paths & Hidden Trails

Paths will not only spruce up your yard, but they will also provide an extra thrill for your best buddy.

Wandering about paths is the dogs’ favorite pastime, but make sure to opt for materials that stay cool and are easy on the paws. You can use rock, comfy mulch, or wood chips to create paths.

Hidden trails and areas out of sight will give your dogs more opportunities to explore. Having them in your backyard is a great way to make them feel like they are in the wilderness.

Bushes to venture through will keep your four-legged friend stimulated and occupied.

2. Digging Area

Lots of our furry friends love to dig, which may become an issue when you have prize roses in your garden. Don’t worry… you don’t have to say goodbye to your gardening efforts. There is a much better solution for you and your pup!

Designate a part of the yard to be the digging area. Burying some toys or bones can help you teach your dog to use that area only.

Tougher grass breed like Bermuda is a superior choice for damage-prone areas. If you are looking for natural and organic ways to ease the lawn care process, aeration is the key.

Lawn aerator shoes can help you create a healthy and lush lawn without much fuss.

Also, installing artificial grass can help you discourage digging, and as a bonus, it never needs mowing and always stays green. Artificial turf can, however, get very hot in direct sunlight, so it’s best to install it in shaded areas.

3. Include Natural Elements

Building a small backyard pond is not too difficult and it will not only keep your dog entertained and cool in the heat, but it will also look awesome. Of course, this will only work if your dog loves the water.

Decorating the pond with plants, stones or mulch will beautify the space.

The pond should be shallow enough that your pooch can get in for a dip easily, and also get out without hassle.

Access to fresh and clean water is an absolute must. If you want to splurge a bit you can get a doggy water fountain.

4. Provide Plenty of Shade

Protection from the sun is necessary, especially if you reside in a warmer climate. If you have lots of trees in your yard you don’t have to worry about dehydration, heatstroke, and sunburn.

But if you don’t you will need to provide your pup with a place to cool off.

Overhead tarps can be useful protection. You can also opt to build your dog a shelter to get out of the sun and protect him from the rain.

5. Outdoor Tunnels for Extra Fun

Our furry friends have almost an unlimited supply of energy, so is there a better way to let them burn off some of that energy than to incorporate a playground area?

Running through the tunnel can provide a lot of fun and excitement both to the pooches and the kids. You can buy or build an outdoor tunnel yourself.

By shaping a tunnel into different curves you can create a variety of challenges for your dog.

They are also great hiding spots for your pup when the days are hot.

Safety’s first, no matter what. Always make sure that the materials you use in your yard are dog-friendly. If you plan to add plants and vegetation to your backyard, check the list of plants that are poisonous to dogs first thing.

If your furry buddies spend their time outdoors it is important to design your garden to meet their needs. When designing your pup’s dream backyard, think of his or her particular traits and personality. You may also want to think about fencing your yard and consider some various dog fence ideas.

And the better you can accommodate his or her characteristics, the happier your pooch is going to be.

How Much Does a Personal Protection Dog Cost?

Sometimes referred to as guard dogs, protection dogs are working dogs bred for specific tasks such as guarding property or protecting an owner and their family.

While these animals are also pets, they are much different than your typical dog in that they require a lot of attention and work to keep them focused and prepared to handle a situation should it arise. You shouldn’t get a protection dog and treat it as you would a regular family pet because both you and the dog may become miserable.

Before we look at the price of a protection dog, let’s look at what breeds are best for this work and what you, as an owner, can expect should you purchase one.

Protection Dog Breeds

If you’re in the market for a dog to protect you and your home, there are a variety of breeds from which to choose, so you must find a dog you’ll be comfortable owning and will meet your needs.

While most dogs can act as protection dogs, the ones bred for the task all have similar attributes such as loyalty, an athletic build, being responsive to training, and a fearless demeanor. It’s a mistake to think that guard dogs need to be aggressive because that’s not the case.

What you do want, however, is a dog that is loyal and willing to defend you when the situation arises. There’s a difference between a dog that barks at strangers and one that immediately runs off to attack.

So, what dog breeds are best suited to be protection dogs?

Akita

The Akita is a very loyal dog that is courageous and alert and has a natural suspicion of strangers. Akitas are easily trained and responsive to commands, which make them ideal as personal protection dogs.

Bullmastiff

One look at the Bullmastiff and you can see why people choose them as protection dogs. These animals look the part with their large, muscular bodies, which is often enough to intimidate and deter a would-be attacker.

Like other guard dogs, these animals are bred to be protectors and workers, but they are also known to be loving and affectionate with their families.

German Shepherd

Probably the most popular protection dog, the German Shepherd has a long history of service in guarding animal flocks and helping soldiers during wartime. Today the military and police use the German Shepherd because of its ability to learn commands, and its natural instinct to protect makes it the perfect candidate for a civilian looking for a protection animal.

Doberman Pinscher

While some people think these dogs are overly aggressive, nothing could be further from the truth. These animals, while intimidating in their looks, can be very docile and affectionate with the proper training.

However, don’t let that fool you because these animals are all business when they sense danger.

Belgian Malinois

Like the German Shepherd, the Belgian Malinois is a preferred breed for police and military because of its loyalty and obedience.

Rottweiler

Another dog on this list that has a bad reputation as being overly aggressive, the Rottweiler can in fact be a very affectionate and sometimes “goofy” animal with its family. Also, much like the Doberman, this animal is very loyal and ready to defend its home and owners from harm when called on.

While there are other breeds to consider, the above represents the most popular — and depending on your needs — you should be able to choose one from the above list, provided you understand what you’re in for.

Getting a guard dog means getting an animal that receives training early in its life, usually up until about 1.5 years of age. Most trainers also recommend “training tune-ups” to keep the dog sharp and ready. It’s also vital for the owner to ensure they have the time and resources to dedicate to the animal.

Since most guard dogs are large, they require plenty of room to roam and must receive regular exercise. Also, creating tasks for them to accomplish keeps them alert and from getting bored. A bored guard dog can become mischievous and can make life more difficult, so be sure you’re ready to put in the time.

Lastly, to ensure you and your animal are on the same wavelength, you’ll also have to learn commands to give to your dog and practice them so the dog will respond appropriately when required.

Cost Of A Protection Dog

Like anything, the cost of a personal protection dog ranges depending on the breed, the training, and what you’re looking for. However, it’s fair to say you’ll pay considerably more for a protection dog than you would a regular family pet.

You can expect to pay anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000 or more depending on the breed and your specific needs.

There are a variety of factors that affect the price, such as whether you’re buying from a reputable breeder and paying a trainer, or if you’re buying a dog from a random seller.

The truth is that if you’re investing in an animal for protection, you’re better off getting the dog from a reputable breeder and trainer so you can trust you’re getting an animal that will do the job.

Meet the Exotic Shorthair Cat

This quirky little cat is known as “the lazy man’s Persian” because its coat is easier to groom. These kitties are easy to live with, a little more laidback than their Persian cousins and are becoming increasingly popular. So today, let’s meet the Exotic Shorthair Cat!

What is the Exotic Shorthair Cat?

This sweet cat has a face full of expression and has a round, soft profile. Characteristic round, wide-set eyes on large heads make for an unforgettable appearance. The coat is plush and short, making for easy grooming. The Exotic Shorthair Cat tends to be great with other pets, if socialized from a young age. They even get along well with children and are loyal to their owners. These are quiet cats and aren’t known for vocalizing. However, they can be needy for attention.

The History of the Exotic Shorthair Cat

In the 1950’s, Americans who loved Shorthairs and who liked Persians began breeding the two distinct breeds together. This hybridization led to a heavier-boned cat with rounded head and shorter nose. The coat is denser but short and easy to manage. Ears are round tipped, small and tilted slightly forward.

Although most Exotic Shorthairs have short hair, some carry the recessive longhair gene. Therefore, if two cats mate, there’s a one in four chance that the offspring will have long hair. The Cat Fanciers’ Association does not count these as Persians, however. The International Cat Association, by comparison, will accept them as Persians.

Exotic Shorthair Cat Personality

Exotic Shorthair Cats are easygoing, and they make a wonderful addition to any family. They are super adorable, clean and peaceful. How’s that for a great personality? These cats tend to take longer to mature than other breeds, but meet milestones faster than some other breeds.

Exotic Shorthair Cats make great lap cats due to their love of affection and loyalty to their owners. Their calm nature means they make amazing apartment cats. Even if you don’t live in the city, the Exotic Shorthair makes a great companion. They are known to be pretty good mouse hunters!

The Body of the Exotic Shorthair

First, in order to meet the Exotic Shorthair Cat, it’s a good idea to describe this unique breed…

— Eyes: The eyes of this cute cat are one of their best features! These are three descriptors: big, round and prominent. Eyes are set far apart and are brilliant in color. Eye color depends on the coat color.

— Ears: The ears are round and tipped forward. They are set far apart but appear low on the head. Yet, the head still has a round shape even with the ear’s profile.

— Head: The Exotic Shorthair has a large, round head. The eyes and nose are the prominent features on the head. Speaking of the nose, it appears flat and broad.

— Neck: Their necks are short and wide.

— Body: The Exotic Shorthair has a cobby type of body with low legs and a deep chest. The cat has a good muscle tone without much propensity for obesity. These shorthairs tend to run medium to large in size.

— Coat: Exotic Shorthairs have varied coats of all colors! Those with long hair have a thick coat that stands away from the body. The ruff is large with a deep frill that grows between the front legs. Shorthairs have a dense, plush fur with a thick undercoat.

— Paws: Paws are round, large and have a firm pad. They have five toes in front and four toes behind.

— Tail: Their tails are short but proportional to their bodies. It’s carried low with a rounded tip.

Health of the Exotic Shorthair

Because this cat is a brachycephalous breed, which means they have issues with their nose and eyes being so close together. This pushed in face can cause issues with tear ducts and sinuses. In addition to that, tooth crowding due to a short jaw may also occur. Here are some more common health issues…

— Brachycephalic airway obstructive syndrome: This is also known as congenital obstructive upper airway disease. It can cause airway resistance, strain on the heart and inflammation of the airway. Treatments for this syndrome include weight loss, avoiding hot environments and surgery.

— Feline polycystic kidney disease (PKD): Exotic Shorthairs, along with Persians, have a high likelihood of getting PKD. This disease leads to kidney failure. For preventative measures, ultrasound scans show any issues that might be happening. DNA screening is suggested for all Exotic Shorthairs to see if they have a chance of having PKD. In some breeding programs, cats with PKD are spayed and neutered to prevent the spread of the disease.

— Dystocia: This happens to cats who are in labor. Dystocia happens when a kitten has a big head and gets stuck in the mother during labor.

— Calcium oxalate urolithiasis: These are bladder and kidney stones. Often, cats with this disorder are often put on special foods to prevent the calcium deposits from forming. Infections can also cause bladder or kidney stones in cats.

Exotic Shorthair Care & Grooming

Unlike Persian cats, the Exotic Shorthair does a great job grooming themselves. However, to keep the fur extra clean, we suggest brushing every week to get debris and extra hair out. Consider getting a grooming glove to brush your cat, it might be easier for you both. Also, the tear ducts tend to drip and can cause staining on the face. So, wiping the cat’s face with a moist towel can help prevent the stains from getting bad.

Final Thoughts

The Exotic Shorthair cat breed is one that everyone is familiar with due to their unique physical characteristics. They are lively yet sweet, with lots of love to give. When it comes to care, they pretty much take care of themselves. However, for extra care, we suggest periodic grooming. Health-wise, it’s important to keep an eye on certain things. Any good vet will know common health risks with Exotic Shorthairs and be able to help you navigate them. We hope this gives you a good breakdown of what it would be like to meet the Exotic Shorthair Cat. They are a lovely breed with lots to offer your household.

5 Life-Hacks for Training Large Breeds

Are you the proud owner of a German Shepherd, Great Dane or maybe a Mastiff? While these dogs are a joy to be around and devoted companions, training them can be a bit more tricky than training smaller dogs. Here are 5 life-hacks you need in order to succeed.

Down Only On Soft Ground

You have probably taught your dog to lie down already, and might have found that he seems to refuse to go down onto hard ground such as tile floor, concrete or asphalt. Large dog breeds tend to have very sensitive elbows which hurt easily if we ask them to lie down on hard surfaces. Over time this can lead to the dog refusing to lie down altogether. To avoid this, only ask your dog to lie down on soft ground such as grass or carpet. If you are planning to take your dog along to a restaurant patio or coffee shop, take a soft mat with you that your dog can lie down on and relax.

Small Treats Work

You might think that big dogs need big treats for training. This is not true! Large breeds need to be watched especially close so that they do not put on too much weight. Every extra pound is problematic on their joints and overweight large dogs are prone to developing arthritis.

The good news is that even big dogs can work for small treats! Since most dogs practically inhale their training treats anyway, they won’t even notice if the cookie they get is the size of a cherry or the size of a pea. By breaking up your treats into smaller pieces or buying small training treats, you can not only manage your dog’s weight, but also save some money and get more out of your training sessions!

Longer Leashes

Large dogs have long backs. The size of some big breeds such as the Great Dane makes it very difficult to walk them on a regular 4-to-6 foot long leash. The dog will automatically be pulling when he is walking in front of you just because of the length of his back. Luckily there are leashes of all lengths on the market. 8 foot leashes work much better for large breeds, and will be more comfortable for both you and the dog. Finding the right leash is going to vastly improve training walks for the two of you.

Body Awareness Training

Many large dogs are unaware of their size. They might crash into people while playing, knock over vases with their wagging tail, or even push over smaller dogs just while walking around the house. Their lack of body awareness can however be improved with the right training approach. Dogs can be taught to know and pay attention to where their body is and how to move it carefully. You can start by setting up a little obstacle course for your dog in your living room: Pool noodles to walk over, cardboard boxes to step in, and cushions to balance on. Over time, your dog’s skills will grow and he will be a lot more mindful of his body.

Big Does Not Mean Bold

Large breeds often are quite fearful. The size of their body does not always go along with bravery. Make sure that your dog does not get scared or intimidated by other dogs at the dog park, other people that want to pet her, or loud noises. Fears and phobias can best be avoided by carefully monitoring the dog’s emotional state and always giving him the option to leave a situation when she is uncomfortable. Let your dog choose what she feels happy with and what not. A large dog that has deeply ingrained reactivity can be very difficult to manage, so make sure that your dog does not learn it in the first place.

Have fun training your large breed dog!

Oil painting of Oliver Taco, the cat which is now proudly displayed in the recipient's living room.

Personalized Pet Portraits: The Best Way to Honor Our Furry Companions

Pets claim a special place in the hearts of all who own them so that they feel much like members of the family. Are you in search of a way to pay tribute to the pet currently in your life or one who has recently pass away? Or perhaps you’re looking for the perfect gift for the animal-lover in your life?

There are many beautiful ways to honor our furry companions and keep them close to our hearts always, one being the creation of a pet portrait.

What Do People Do to Memorialize Pets?

When a cat or dog claims a portion of his owner’s heart, it is understandable that he or she will wish to have some token of their pet’s memory once the animal has passed. One popular way of holding onto the treasured memory of a pet is in getting footprints in ink or clay.

Photographs are another way to treasure the impact pets have on their owners’ lives. Just as many people choose to keep pictures of loved ones in plain sight so as to be reminded of their shared love, pet enthusiasts often do the same.

Having something even more permanent than a photograph takes the sentimentality one step further. Commissioning a pet portrait in honor of a beloved canine or feline is a great way to cherish their memory.

How Much Money Should a Pet Photographer Cost?

The price to have professional snapshots taken of your pet varies. According to Puptrait, some photographers do not charge the client anything before he or she has been given the chance to view the pictures that were taken.

Others charge for the session based on factors like how much time will be spent on photographing and the skill of the photographer.

In general, the prices for pet photography vary from studio to studio. At Puptrait, a $99 fee is charged up front for the session, excluding the price of prints. Once it is time to pay for the actual pictures, you have a great deal of flexibility as you’re allowed to spend as little or as much as you wish for as many or as few prints as you’d like.

I Want a Painted Portrait of My Pet. Who Would Be the Best Choice?

Paint Your Life is a fantastic option when it comes to having a personalized painting created of your pet. The process is made simple and hassle-free.

1. Browse the artists. Start the process of turning your own picture to painting by viewing the gallery where you’ll be able to see the work of all the talented painters who partner with Paint Your Life. These artists specialize in oil, charcoal, pencil, watercolor, acrylic, and pastel.

2. Select a photo for the painter to follow. Perhaps one of the pet photos you got from a photographer or a memorable snapshot from home. After it is uploaded, a proof will be created so that you can see exactly what the artist of your choice will be following in order to produce the painting.

3. Select a frame and sizing. You may choose to pick your frame at the start or wait until the end once you’ve seen the completed work.

4. Wait for the updates. Throughout the creation of the painting, you will receive frequent updates in order to ensure complete satisfaction with the end product. If there are changes that need to be made along the way, the artist will accommodate them at your request.

5. Arrival of the perfect pet tribute. The portrait will arrive at your doorstep framed and ready to be hung, ready to be admired for generations to come.

The Power of a Personalized Pet Portrait

Receiving a customized pet portrait generally elicits a great deal of emotion from the recipient, particularly that of joy, which is apt considering the delight our animals bring to us everyday.

Take a look at what one fortunate customer had to say about the beautiful pet portrait in this paint your life review.

And here a few priceless responses to the beauty of a customized pet portrait are captured on video, leaving no doubt as to the power of creating a memory such as this…

The decision to choose a customized painting is made even more simple by the 100% satisfaction or your money back guarantee from Paint Your Life. Pets are important and the company takes great pride in creating the memory of your pet that you have in mind, just as you envision.

If you’re looking for the perfect way to memorialize and honor a pet that has made an impact on your life, or that has impacted someone you care about, consider commissioning a personalized pet portrait and create a lasting memory.

Best Dogs for First Time Owners

If you’re considering getting a dog for the first time, you have a lot to think about! Dogs come in all different shapes and sizes. While this allows you to choose the perfect first dog for your lifestyle, it also means that you have plenty of dog breeds to sort through before you find the perfect one for you.

Not all companion dog breeds are equally suitable for novice owners. Some breeds require near-constant training or might come with a high likelihood of health problems. Here are some of the best dog breeds every first-time dog owner should consider…

Golden Retriever

The Golden Retriever is a popular breed that is a good choice for new owners who are looking for a larger dog. They have a friendly, easy temperaments, don’t get into much mischief, and don’t require a strong trainer.

They are somewhat high-energy, so we only recommend them to those with active lifestyles. They require a lot of exercise. Expect to take them on at least a mile walk per day. Their larger size does mean that they’ll consume more food than a smaller dog, which can make them a more expensive option over time.

Poodles

These popular dogs can be suitable for some first-time owners. These lovable dogs take very easy to training and are not very stubborn. They’re loyal and pretty easy to handle for most owners.

With that said, they also require a lot of grooming and exercise. Expect to take them for a long walk each day and wear them out in a fenced-in yard. They are very active dogs. They will need daily brushing as well as regular trips to the groomers.

Labrador Retriever

Labs are known for being some of the friendliest dogs around. They’ve been the number one dog in the United States for the last several years, and for a good reason. They’re friendly, easy to train, dependable, and loyal. They are not stubborn and pretty much listen to whatever their owner says.

These mellow dogs do require a bit of exercise each day, so they are suitable for all dog owners. They shed and do need to be brushed regularly, especially during the changing seasons when they tend to shed particularly bad.

Papillon

This is one of the best little dogs for new owners who are in the market for something small. They only reach about 7 to 9 pounds when fully grown, making them perfect for apartment living. Furthermore, these small dogs do not have the negative health consequences that other small dogs tend to have.

These tiny dogs don’t require much exercise, though you should plan on taking them for walks or letting them romp around in a fenced-in area. They have low energy levels, so you definitely want to find the best dog food to keep them healthy.

They have decently easy-going personalities and are very low maintenance, though they can be a little yappy. They are not particularly shy or aggressive towards other dogs or people.

Bichon Frise

These tiny dogs are another great lap dog. They’re a little bigger than the Papillon, reaching about 15 pounds, but they love to cuddle. They require regular grooming as well and would probably benefit from a trip or two to the groomers. They do not have many health problems, especially when compared to other dogs. They do not shed very much, and they are not hypoallergenic.

They are not very active and many would prefer to spend the day on the couch. After a short 30 minutes of play time, many of these dogs are good for the rest of the day.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

These laid-back dogs make great companions and family dogs. They can easily become your best friend. They’re a little bit on the smaller size at around 15 pounds, which makes them suitable for those living in apartments. They are often considered gentle and playful. They have about the same activity level as the Bichon Frise, preferring to spend much of their day lounging around.

They do require regular brushing, with a daily brushing usually being necessary to keep their coats healthy.

Greyhound

While greyhounds are popularly known for their speed, they’re actually couch potatoes. They can run very fast, but don’t have the stamina to run for very long. It would be in your best interest to take them on daily walks, but they don’t need any more activity than any other big dogs. Despite their larger size, they are also one of the best dogs for apartments.

These dogs are not the easiest to train. Not because they’re stubborn, but because they just have a hard time paying attention.

How to Keep Your Dog Happy While You Are Away

Dogs are loyal and happy animals. Walk through the front door of your house after a hard day’s work, and your furry friend will be more than ready to greet you. Tail wagging, barking, spinning, and jumping, he is excited to see you back home.

Do you have any idea of what happens to your dog while you are away? Your neighbors may have told you stories of your pup barking, howling, or whining throughout the day while you were away. If this is the case, your four-legged companion could suffer from dog separation anxiety.

In the wild, dogs always travel and stay with a pack. Even centuries of domestication have not eliminated this behavior. In the eyes of your mutt, you are his pack, and he misses you every time you are away.

Knowing how to deal with the symptoms of separation anxiety goes a long way. It’s not just for when you leave home for a few hours each day to go to work, or for an afternoon or evening to eat out or catch a movie. By teaching your pup how to effectively handle the time he spends on his own, you can soon go on a vacation or business trip lasting a few days without worrying about your dog.

Experts on dog boarding in Abu Dhabi share a few tips on easing your dog’s separation anxiety when you’re out of the house for the day…

1. Go for a walk together before you leave

Give your dog her exercise before you go by taking her out for a walk around the block or the nearby park. The objective is to leave while Fido is resting. By doing it this way, your dog won’t miss your presence as much, and you can quietly make your exit while he is resting.

Depending on the schedule you have established, you may choose to feed your dog before or after the walk. Either way, your pooch may need to rest before getting to the next activity. Just don’t forget to give your dog enough water to keep him hydrated, and remember to take him out to do his business before you leave.

2. Don’t say goodbye

The goal is to make leaving the house seem like a routine occurrence. In some cases, it’s our behavior as the owner that triggers the anxiety. As much as possible, avoid touching, talking, or making eye contact at least five minutes right before you leave and up to an hour after you get back.

It can be tricky not making any physical contact with your pup right before exiting the house or after coming home. The best you can do is to make your movements as low-key as possible.

In more extreme cases, your pup knows your routine well enough that even specific movements can trigger anxiety. Your dog might start acting up once you start picking up your coat, putting on your shoes, or grabbing your keys. So what you can do is to mix up your routine.

Instead of leaving right away, maybe you can watch TV after getting your keys and coat. By doing so, you are making your movements less predictable. Your dog won’t automatically assume that you are leaving.

Alternatively, you can go into a room and disappear for a few seconds, then reappear. Then, slowly increase the amount of time during which you disappear from his sight. What you want to do is to get your pup used to not seeing you all the time.

3. Create a calm environment

A dog’s sense of smell is more sensitive than a human’s. Some canine pets take comfort just by having their owner’s scent nearby. You can use this to alleviate your dog’s stress.

Leave a worn shirt or a piece of clothing that you’ve worn recently and haven’t washed. The smell of your skin on the shirt can help ease some of the anxiety your pup might be feeling. You can also use some natural calming supplements.

Before you leave, you can also give your pooch a toy or a stuffed treat. Similar to taking your dog out for a walk, this will keep your pup busy and preoccupied. You can take away the toy or treat some time after you return.

By offering toys and treats before you leave, you are changing the way your pet sees the event of your departure. Instead of creating anxiety, your pet will think of your trip as a positive thing as he will get his favorite toy or treat while you are away. You can readily buy dog toys online or from a nearby shop and see which one your pup enjoys.

4. Provide space

Even pack animals need their space. Giving him space teaches him to be independent and how to have fun even when by himself. One way of doing so is by giving him a dog bed.

Let him sleep in his own bed rather than yours. It may be difficult at first, but establishing a bit of distance, even while at home, will be beneficial in easing his anxiety.

Keep in mind that the training process takes time. You may need to follow these tips and instructions for a few weeks before you observe any progress.

If you need to leave for more than a day, consider other alternatives. Ask a relative, friend, or neighbor to look in once in a while, hire a sitter, or take your pup to a boarding facility to ensure your pet is well taken care of while you are away.