Animal Behavior College Blog

Where Animal Lovers Pursue Animal Careers

Safe Halloween for Your Dog

A Safe and Sound Halloween

Tips for a Safe Halloween for your dog

With these precautions, your dog can have a howling good time.

By Audrey Pavia

Halloween is a fun time for kids and grown-ups alike, but it can be scary and even dangerous for pets. You can keep your dog safe this year—and even enjoy his participation—by following some precautions.

Trick-or-treaters can be a real hoot, but all that door-knocking and bell ringing can drive your dog crazy. To prevent your dog from barking all night and stressing out over the strangely clad visitors, consider keeping him in a back room of your house or apartment. Leave a radio or TV on to help block out the noise, and give him something to chew on to divert his attention. If your dog is particularly high-strung, consider administering a dose of a natural calming product to help ease his anxiety. (Rescue Remedy is one such product, available in health food  and pet stores.)

If you won’t be home on Halloween, keep your dog inside the house or locked in a garage while you are away. Dogs can become frightened by all the activity on the street and can escape from a yard. They also need to be protected from pranksters, who might gain access to them from a gate. Turn the lights off in your house so trick-or-treaters will avoid your home in your absence.

If you plan to take your dog trick-or-treating with the family (a good idea only if your pooch is friendly to strangers, well-behaved and not easily stressed), be sure to fit him with a secure collar and ID tag. Keep him on leash at all times for his safety and the safety of others. If he will be wearing a costume, make sure he’s not upset about wearing it and that it’s comfortable. Watch out for strings, straps and any other part of the costume that might restrict your dog’s movement or sight, or wrap tightly around his neck. Keep an eye on your dog while he’s wearing his costume to make sure it doesn’t affect his ability to move. Some dogs will even chew on their costumes and swallow it in pieces, so watch for this dangerous activity as well.

Halloween decorations can also pose a safety hazard for your dog. Keep an eye on your pet to make sure he doesn’t chew on decorations (especially strings of lights) or knock over lit candles. Some dogs have a hankering for pumpkin, so make sure your jack-o-lantern is out of reach. While it won’t seriously hurt your dog to eat an entire pumpkin, it will mostly likely give him digestive upset.

Candy gathered during Halloween can be dangerous to your dog, too, if he gets into it. In large amounts, chocolate can even be fatal. Theobromine, a chemical found in chocolate, can cause serious damage to a dog’s heart. The fat and sugar also present in chocolate can cause pancreatitis if consumed in large quantities. Xylitol, a natural sweetener that is becoming popular in candy, is also highly toxic to dogs. It is often found in gum and some hard candies. For this reason, it’s wise to keep all Halloween candy well out of your dog’s reach. Be sure to remind your children to keep candy up high up in their rooms where your dog can’t reach it.

With the right amount of precautions, your dog will stay safe and sound on Halloween.


About the Author: Audrey Pavia is an award-winning freelance writer and author of “The Labrador Retriever Handbook.” She is a former staff editor of Dog Fancy, Dog World and The AKC Gazette magazines. To learn more about her work, visit www.audreypavia.com.

Best Pet-Friendly Flooring

Best Flooring Choices for Fido and Fluffy

Utility, style and value are not mutually exclusive when it comes to what goes under your and your pets’ feet.

By Stacy Mantle

Pet friendly flooring, what to know about purchasing flooring with pets in mind

These days, we have more flooring choices than ever. More than 60 percent of families in the U.S. share their homes with pets, so it’s no surprise the flooring industry is getting creative with options that are durable, inexpensive and stylish. Here is a look at some of the best pet-friendly flooring options on the market today. 

 

Cool, Natural and Affordable Solutions

Those in warm southern climates can benefit from the cool, natural flooring options that are so often associated with showcase homes.

Stone: Naturally beautiful, scratch-resistant and easy to clean, stone is probably one of the best options for a pet-friendly household. Since it’s not as slick as tile, you won’t have pets falling throughout the house or causing injury to their hips, and if you’re in the Southwest, it can keep you cool all summer long. The drawback is stone can be uncomfortable for pets to sleep on throughout the day, so it’s very important you provide them with plenty of options for bedding, particularly senior pets.

Tip: Look for stone that doesn’t need to be sealed.

Tile: Easily one of the most popular flooring options for pet owners with allergies, tile is cool, easy to maintain, inexpensive to install and very pet-friendly. Be sure to incorporate some stylish, nonslip rugs into the design. Rugs help ensure young animals don’t slide into walls while playing and create a soft area for senior animals to rest their arthritic bones.

Tip: Stock up on extra tiles at time of purchase to keep color consistent during repairs.

Concrete: Decorative concrete is the new “in” design across the country. Whether you choose to stain, stamp or paint, there is a look you can mimic using the highly versatile concrete. There are an unlimited number of ways you can make concrete look as expensive as marble. Rated as the best alternative for people with pets, concrete can make a beautiful and inexpensive option for your pet-friendly floor.

Tip: Incorporate radiant heating into design to lower winter heating costs.

 

Warm, Inviting and Durable Solutions

If you live in an “all-weather” region, you might likely be on the hunt for warm, durable solutions. These include vinyl, laminate and carpet-tile options. While wood is beautiful flooring, it’s one of the least durable options for homes with pets—sharp claws can make short work of the floor. Instead, look for chic, aesthetically pleasing options that are easy to maintain.

Vinyl: Vinyl flooring is very durable and resistant to moisture, which makes it a favorite in the rainy areas. Simple to maintain, it has the added bonus of muffling the sounds your pets nails make as they click across the floor. Vinyl flooring comes in a large variety of colors and designs so you never have to sacrifice style for comfort.

Tip: Inlaid vinyl is thicker and has richer colors.

Laminate: If you’re looking for the aristocratic feel of wood floors without all the maintenance; laminate flooring is a durable solution that can hold up to the hard nails of your pet without scratching. While it’s not quite as durable as vinyl, laminate is affordable, easy to maintain and lasts much longer than wood.

Tip: Check the warranty—they range from 10 years to a lifetime.

Carpet Tiles: This is an excellent alternative to heavy floor rugs or to cover up and preserve wood floors. Simple to assemble, these can be used as an entire floor or as a way to preserve a high-use area. Cleaning is as simple as removing the carpet tile that is soiled by running it under water or tossing it in the washer. A vacuum can clean up any larger areas. Use as a runner for areas your pets like to charge through and eliminate any problems of getting toenails caught in shag. The pattern variety enables custom design and you can also make it the perfect option for concrete floors.

Tip: Visit Flor.com for clever ideas to create unique, affordable designs.

 

Green, Natural and Renewable Solutions

Flooring made from long-lasting, renewable resources is in vogue, which makes cork and bamboo two of my favorite flooring options.

Cork is a natural antimicrobial that reduce smold and other allergens—making it a perfect flooring solution for homes with pets. It also absorbs sound nicely (an excellent selling point if you dogs bark a lot). However, cork floors can fade and discolor if they see too much sunlight, making it a bad option for sunny regions. Consider coating it with a high-quality urethane to reduce wear and tear.

Tip: Avoid cork-vinyl composites. If using sealer, select a low-VOC product.

Bamboo is also an excellent option as it’s the hardest of hardwood—making it very durable and long-lasting. Cleaning is a breeze but remember, while cork and bamboo floors are naturally water-resistant, you need to get stains cleaned up quickly as they will eventually cause discoloration.

Tip: Look for FSC-certified products that have had no formaldehyde added.

Whatever new flooring you select, focus on easily maintained, durable and mildew-resistant designs. Any of the above options can last a long time and add value to your home. Pet-friendly (and pet-resistant) flooring also ensures you won’t grow frustrated with damage caused by your four-legged family members. These days, you don’t have to sacrifice comfort and durability for style.


About the Author: Stacy Mantle is the founder of PetsWeekly.com and the bestselling author of “Shepherd’s Moon.” Learn more great tips for living with animals by visiting PetsWeekly.com or get to know a little more about the author at  www.StacyMantle.com

Cat Treats Still Have Calories

Treating Without Fattening Up Your Cat. 

Calories count for felines, too.

By Sandy Robins

How many treats are too many. Learn how to reward your cat with treats that are low calorie

There’s no question that giving treats to your adoring and appreciative feline is very much a part of the human-animal bonding experience.

But it’s important to remember that all treats have calories. This must be taken in to account in determining your cat’s daily food allowance. Fortunately, manufacturers are cognizant of this, too, and many go to great lengths to put the number of calories per treat prominently on their packaging. So, it’s entirely up to you to establish the desired number to dish out daily in terms of your pet’s optimal weight and health.

There is also no shortage of types of treats in terms of tastes and textures. And, in order to make the reason for treating cats on a regular basis more “palatable” to pet parents, manufacturers have added a silent “ingredient” to treats: functionality. That’s part of the reason there is a slew of treat products with special ingredients that claim to help prevent ailments such as tartar buildup, bad breathe or even hairballs.

Instead of indiscriminate treating, it’s a good idea to give your feline specific reasons to expect a reward. Grooming is a perfect example. While most cats enjoy long massaging brushing strokes, they often get wriggly when its time for that mani-pedi. To make nail clipping more pleasurable, treat your cat when it’s over and eventually she will begin to realize there is something good about the whole process. In addition, rewarding only for good behavior also helps control the number of treats you give your cat on a regular basis.

I use Fudge’s favorite freeze-dried fish treats as an incentive to get her to sit still for a couple of minutes twice a week when I have to give her subcutaneous fluids. From being totally resistant, she’s now tolerant of the procedure.

As people become more aware that it’s possible to train cats—even if it’s something as simple as getting them to sit on command—a treat is a wonderful reward for an action well done. Consequently, treats are very much a part of the popular clicker-training process whereby cats (and dogs) are trained using the click-and-treat positive-reward methodology.

Cats in the wild are used to hunting and working for food. Consider setting out a treasure hunt in your home by hiding treats and some of your cat’s favorite toys in different locations. This is a great way to prevent boredom and keep her engaged and “on the hunt” when she is home alone. You can also hide treats in specially designed cat puzzle toys or treat balls to keep the games going. And, if your cat has a favorite treat, change things up by trying different ones from time to time.

Another way to control treats—and prevent you from handing them out indiscriminately all day— is to use them to build a routine. I have a friend who likes to treat her three felines just before her bedtime. The cats know this and line up in front of the treat drawer every evening at 10:00 pm.

There might be occasions when your veterinarian says “No treats—ever,” for health reasons. However, you can take a small percentage of your cat’s daily kibble allowance and use it as a substitute for actual treats. By doing so, she still gets to enjoy the treating process without countering the vet’s instructions.

Finally, be sure to store your treats in a well-sealed treat jar, in a kitchen drawer or closet. You want to make sure your feline’s ingenuity for getting into things won’t enable her to party until the packet is finished, defeating your goal of keeping everything under control.


About the Author: Sandy Robins is the 2013 winner of the “Excellence in Journalism and Outstanding Contribution to the Pet Industry Award.” Her work appears on many of the country’s leading pet platforms, such as MSNBC.com, MSN.com and TODAYShow.com. She is a regular contributor and columnist in multiple national and international publications, including Cat Fancy, as well as the author of the award-winning books “Fabulous Felines: Health and Beauty Secrets for the Pampered Cat” and “For The Love of Cats.” Learn more about Sandy on her website or Facebook page. #welovecats

 

Forever Warriors Founder – Training Service Dogs While Changing the World for Vets

Jason Young puts Animals & Soldiers First in His Quest to Change the World for Veterans.

Training Service Dogs in Los Angeles

Jason Young Founder of Forever Warriors. Now training service dogs with Big Paws Canine in Los Angeles, CA.

Young, a graduate of Animal Behavior College’s Dog Obedience Program is now Training Service Dogs While Changing Veteran Lives.

ABC Graduate Dog Trainer Jason Young

Jason Young served in the Navy Seabees Construction Battalion.  After coming home from his tour, Jason Young was in school to complete his education in Computer Networking. During his program training he was diagnosed with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).  His doctor recommended that he consider a new career while going through the rehabilitation recommended to heal his TBI.

“Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a complex injury with a broad spectrum of symptoms and disabilities,” according to http://www.traumaticbraininjury.com.

“One moment the person diagnosed can be seen as normal and the next moment life has abruptly changed. Brain injuries do not heal like other injuries. Recovery is a functional recovery, based on mechanisms that remain uncertain. No two brain injuries are a like and the consequence of two similar injuries may be very different. Symptoms may appear right away or may not be present for days or weeks after the injury.  Most often, these body structures heal and regain their previous function.” says  traumaticbraininjury.com.

After considering his options Jason again consulted with his doctor. He mentioned that he may want to pursue a vocational career that involved peer counseling. Young’s doctor recommended considering a career in training service dogs. Jason liked the idea of rehabilitation training that could benefit the lives of soldiers and veterans using Dog Training as the tool to heal himself and others.  He loves working with service dogs and highly recommends Animal Behavior College to other veterans as a great place to learn Dog Obedience Training.

Jason graduated from Animal Behavior College in September 2013. Before completing his final exam and externship he was offered a position as a Dog Trainer at Big Paws Canine Academy and Foundation, Inc.

We had the chance to ask Jason Young why he chose Animal Behavior College and specifically the dog training program? Here is what he had to say:

“The course was great! I loved the externship and working at the shelter. My main goal before I started the course was to learn to train Service Dogs for Veterans. Myself being a veteran wanting to help other vets I had thought about becoming a peer counselor, but I didn’t want to bring that home with me every day. After one of the VA doctors asked me if I had ever thought about training service animals. It was the perfect idea, considering all the service dog providers there are popping up all over the country very few people are looking at becoming a dog trainer. I have been communicating with numerous providers in the last year like: Pets for Vets, TADSAW, Battle Buddy and many others. I would refer veterans to whichever one that was closest or fit the Veterans needs best. About a week before I received my certificate in September, Big Paws Canine Academy offered me a training job training Veterans and their dogs at the VA hospitals. It is the perfect fit for me. I can help other veterans alleviate anxieties caused by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) naturally and possibly lower the doses of mood altering medications that some veterans are becoming dependent upon for every day life. It’s a win, win{situation}, for me. I get to work with animals and help heroes.”

Jason’s passion truly shows that it is not about the money. He actually turned down a paid position at Big Paws Canine Academy and opted for working as an intern so that Big Paws CA could afford to hire more trainers. Together Jason and Big Paws CA are on a mission to make rehabilitation available to more vets returning from war.  They are not the only ones. Jason is also participating in the Battle Buddy Run, a 5K fundraiser to assist the placement of service dogs with soldiers who have PTSD. This event is taking place in Fresno Calif. on October 26th.  https://www.facebook.com/battlebuddyrun

Service Dog Obedience Training by Jason at Big Paws Academy

Jason teaching Service Dog Obedience class at local Lowe’s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In his spare time Jason enjoys speaking with other soldiers and vets.  He assists injured soldiers and vets by pairing them with an organization that would best suit their needs. He also posts content about service dogs, service dog news, and information needed on his Forever Warriors page. https://www.facebook.com/WeAreForeverWarriors?ref=stream

 

October is National Adopt a Shelter Dog Month

October is
National Adopt a Shelter Dog Month
Adopt A Shelter Dog Month

Shelter dogs and cats deserve a forever home. By adopting or fostering a shelter pet, you are saving an animal’s life. Even if you can’t adopt a new pet, there are several great ways you can help save a dog or cat who is currently living in a shelter.

Use Social Media to Raise Awareness
Share with your friends and followers that October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month. By doing so you become a part of the saving lives formula. Help raise awareness by using Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, 4square, Tumblr, and Instagram. Consider using #hastags such as #welovedogs, #savedogs, #fosterdogs, #traindogs, and #dogs in your posts. This helps them be found by people searching for industry-related articles on social networking trend walls and blogs, as well as RSS feeds.

Volunteer to Train Shelter Dogs

At Animal Behavior College (ABC), our students and employees have been training shelter dogs since 1998.  It is a fact that a trained dog in a shelter is far more likely to be adopted then one who has not had behavioral training. Since 2004, ABC’s dog training students have collectively donated more than 93,000 hours to animal shelters. This program is called Students Saving Lives. The success has been revolutionary in the fight to save animal lives.
Read more about Students Saving Lives.

Animal Behavior College also offers a Continuing Education Program called Training Shelter Dogs. This program is a great way to help certified dog trainers establish themselves in the dog training industry while doing their part in assisting shelter dogs by providing the behavioral training they need.

Foster Pets from Shelters like, Best Friends or Unwanted NYC Pets

If you love pets but aren’t ready to adopt, opening your home as a foster parent is a great way to help out. Many foster programs make it as easy as possible, giving you the support you need. Here’s how it works:

You provide a temporary place to crash, water, exercise and love.
You receive food and supplies, veterinary care, any support and guidance you need, endless love from your foster pet, and the satisfaction of helping an animal in need.

Best Friends will work with you to find the best match possible for your home and lifestyle. If at any point the foster situation is not working out, Best Friends will take the animal back into its care and find another that will work for you.

Take the Pledge
Join the more than 100,000 people who have already taken the “No Pet Store Puppies” pledge to help fight puppy mill cruelty by refusing to buy anything—including food, supplies or toys—at pet stores and from websites that sell puppies.

Animal Shelters & Rescues in the U.S.

Best FriendsBestFriends.org

Best Friends Animal Society is the only national nonprofit animal welfare organization focused exclusively on ending the killing of dogs and cats in America’s shelters. An authority and leader in the no-kill movement for more than 30 years, Best Friends runs the nation’s largest no-kill sanctuary for companion animals (at its headquarters), regional centers in Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, and New York, as well as life-saving programs in partnership with rescue groups and shelters across the country.

Did you know that more than 9,000 dogs and cats are killed each day in America’s shelters? More than 4 million lives are lost each year simply because they don’t have a safe place to call home. These pets deserve to be saved. At Best Friends Animal Society, they believe no animals should have to die in shelters when solutions exist to save them—solutions like adopting, fostering, spaying/neutering and Trap/Neuter/Return (TNR).

Unwanted NYC Pets - UnwantedNYCpets.org
Unwanted New York City Pets or Unwanted NYC Pets is spearheaded by Betina Wasserman and her team of close knit animal confidants. Together they rescue pets from the kill list and save dogs and cats from all across New York City’s Tri-borough area. Betina is also the founder of Unwanted NYC Pets, a 501-C3 non-profit organization. The Unwanted NYC Pets team is determined to help make the world a better place by saving the lives of dogs, who would otherwise be put down if not rescued. Betina’s message: Don’t buy dogs, please adopt them! Read More

Animal Shelters & Rescues in Canada

Animal Rescue and Outreach Society (AROS) is a charitable, non-profit organization serving the Alberta Capital Region. Their mission is to rescue and rehabilitate displaced pets, and to provide education and support to pet owners.
Learn more about Animal Rescue and Outreach Society

September – Veterinary Assistant Program Student Of The Month – 2013

ABC Veterinary Assistant Program Student of the Month
September 2013

Charlene Dodson

Charlene Dodson - Student of the Month

Charlene Dodson, a western riding instructor who lives in Colorado Springs, Colo., has a passion for animals. She was raised with all sorts of pets and is comfortable working with them. All those years of caring for her own animals inspired Charlene to pursue a career working with them. As her life revolves around her horses, Charlene said she would eventually like to primarily work with large animals. Continue reading

September – Grooming Instruction Program Student Of The Month – 2013

ABC Grooming Instruction Program Student of the Month– August 2013

Brittany Moore

Brittany Moore currently resides in Glen Alpine, N.C. She works as an independent contractor at the grooming shop where she completed her externship. Brittany likes working for herself and setting her own hours, which is part of the reason she enrolled in ABC’s certified pet grooming program. She works Monday through Friday and leaves when the last dog is complete and up to her standards. Brittany always had a passion for animals but wasn’t quite sure of what to do with her eagerness and drive. She really enjoys grooming and is very content with her life. Continue reading

Dog Groomers Wanted!

Dog Grooming, Animal Behavior College, Dog Grooming Certificate

Careers in Dog Grooming on the rise. To meet the high demand in professional Dog Grooming trades Animal Behavior College offers a Dog Grooming Certification online. Courses available throughout the United States & Canada.

Become a Dog Groomer

Dog groomers are among the most sought-after professionals within our industry–and the demand for qualified personnel will continue to grow for years to come. Becoming a Dog Grooming professional might not sound like the most employable career in the pet care industry, but there is an overabundance of companies locally and nationally that are hiring experienced groomers and newcomers to the field.

Animal Behavior College offers a combined online and hands-on Dog Grooming certification program that teaches Pet Health and Safety, Dog Grooming basics, and How to Bathe, Brush, and Dry the animals, as well as the use of Clippers and proper Scissoring techniques. This course also covers Cat Grooming, Business Building, Hands-on Training, and the Professional Dog Groomers toolbox.

Just last month, there were a half-a-dozen graduate students discussing their choice of profession on Facebook. From the July 30th section of the Animal Behavior College Facebook Timeline:

Shelbi Richey wrote,

I can say that I am very happy with my ABC experience. I took the Dog/Cat grooming course. The people I had to speak with to get enrolled were very efficient with timing, and seemed to really care about my education. I never felt as if I was in the dark or had unanswered questions… I was very lucky to do my externship at such a great salon with a good teacher, that was KEY! I feel you need to be VERY dedicated to learning this business if you sign up for classes, due to the amount of reading you have to do, if it’s not something you’re very passionate about, it may become hard to follow or get boring for you. The book stages were easy to read though, and even had humor so it didn’t feel like you were reading a history book. I even convinced my sister to take the same course and she is on her way to graduating now. I give ABC an A!

Suzette Sabie said,

I have opened up my own Grooming Shop in less than 1 yr!!!!

Julia Creadore wrote,

I’m currently in my externship stage & absolutely loving it! I can’t wait to graduate & start working with dogs full time! You’ll love the experience! I’ll never be sorry for choosing ABC! If you’re a natural reader, you’ll be able to absorb the written material quite easily! I was excited to read & learn everything I could, and value the knowledge I’ve gained more than I can ever describe! During my externship, I’m seeing everything I learned from Stages 1-9, being put into action & it’s amazing just how much easier it is to understand what I learned once I see it with my own eyes! You’ll love ABC!!!! Good luck in whatever you choose to do!

This morning, I was reading through Groomer to Groomer magazine, on the first page was a full page PetSmart ad that boasted about offering Dog Grooming positions, as well as Salon Managers and Professional Bathers–and full-time work. And not only a full-time job with medical benefits, but PetSmart also offers dental, 401K, tuition reimbursement, paid holidays, vacation and sick pay.

It’s not only the major pet store chains looking for the Dog Grooming help either. Kimberly A. Bandusky of a local Mokena/Tinley, Ill., shelter is also in need of a Dog Groomer.

She said, “The shelter I teach classes at is in need of a groomer.”

Dog Groomer, Dog Grooming,  The Beloved Dog Daycare and Grooming

Jeff Damon, Dog Grooming Professional, Animal Behavior College Graduate and our Canadian Student of the Month

The list goes on and on; a few months back we posted a Spotlight on the Student of the Month, Jeff Damon. Jeff, an ABC graduate who started his animal career as a volunteer at shelters, is expanding his knowledge by completing ABC’s grooming program  http://goo.gl/VQFpfZ

Read more about things to know when considering a career as  a Dog Groomer.

Things to Know When Considering a Dog Grooming Career

Is Dog Grooming a Career for You?

Before Becoming a Dog Groomer

Dog Grooming Certifications – Animal Behavior College

 

Besides the high demand for good Dog Groomers, the profession offers other benefits, including being able to a build strong, meaningful relationships with clients and their pets.

Dog Groomers’ relationships with their four-legged clientele and their owners can, in turn, lead to referrals, which is a great form of networking.

And professionals who do exceptional work can earn tips from their appreciative customers. Plus, there’s always an opportunity to show-off your creativity with specific breed cuts and client requests.

In addition, Dog Grooming is a very mobile profession. If you are someone who often moves from city to city, you can still groom pets no matter where you live. There are Pet Businesses across the U.S. and Canada.

Dog Groomers can work practically anywhere: from home, mobile shops, brick & mortar locations, veterinary offices, doggie day cares, kennels, shelters and rescues.

Some Things to Know Before becoming a Dog Groomer

  • You should be someone who animals, specifically dogs, are attracted to
  • You should be someone who is creative and artsy
  • You should be a patient person who doesn’t mind getting wet

Dog Grooming is hard work but its rewards and flexibility can make it a very rewarding career.

How to Be a Responsible Dog Owner

How to Be a Responsible Dog Owner

By Lisa King

Responsible owners make sure their dogs get enough exercise and play time.

Responsible owners make sure their dogs get enough exercise and play time.

Dog Ownership 101

Being a responsible dog owner starts before you even get a dog. Before visiting a shelter or calling a rescue, be certain that you have the time, energy and finances to properly care for a new pet. Here are a few rules to follow before the fact:

1. Don’t get a dog for your children unless you are prepared to do 100 percent of his care, if not right away then when they move out of the house. This is the voice of experience speaking.

2. Do your research and choose a breed or mix whose activity level matches your own. If you’re a couch potato, don’t get a Border Collie. If you want to go running or biking with your dog, forget the Pug.

3. How much space do you have? A large dog will be miserable in a studio apartment, while a small lap dog will be quite comfortable.

4. Do you want to deal with all the training required for a puppy? Adopting an adult dog who’s already housetrained puts you ahead of the game.

Now that you have an idea of the type of dog you’d like, go online and search local shelters for a dog who fits your requirements. If your heart is set on a purebred, these can sometimes be found at shelters. Breed-specific rescues are also good sources for purebred dogs. If you go to a breeder, do some research to ensure she’s reputable. DO NOT buy a dog from a pet shop—these adorable puppies usually come from puppy mills, which keep breeding animals in deplorable conditions.

Dog Health Tips

Once you get your dog home, follow these 10 tips to ensure he has a long, happy and healthy life.

1. Take him in for regular vet checkups. Spay or neuter your dog if it hasn’t already been done. Keep him current on shots, dewormer and flea and tick protection.

2. Give your dog plenty of exercise according to the needs of his breed or breeds.

3. Train your dog. Take him to a training class or train him yourself by consulting books, magazines and online resources. He should know basic commands such as “Come,” “Leave It,” “Sit” and “Lie Down.” Keep him on a leash when not in a secure, fenced yard. Even a well-trained dog with a strong prey drive can be distracted by squirrels or other small animals and run into traffic.

4. Brush your dog regularly to prevent mats. The frequency of brushing depends on his coat type. Take him to a reliable groomer if he is a breed that needs more complicated grooming, such as a Poodle or a Maltese. Keep his nails clipped. If you’re nervous about clipping them yourself, have your groomer or vet do the job.

5. Wash your dog regularly. Depending on the dog’s coat and environment that can mean once a month, once every couple of weeks or even more often if he gets into something nasty. Use a high-quality natural shampoo. Don’t wash him too often, though; too-frequent baths can cause dry, itchy skin.

6. Secure your dog in the car, either in a crate or with a harness that hooks onto the seatbelt. A dog who’s loose in the car becomes a dangerous projectile in a crash. If he’s in the front seat, or God forbid on the driver’s lap, he can be killed if the airbags deploy.

7. Provide proper ID for your dog so he can be returned to you if lost. Attach a tag bearing his name and your phone number to his collar. For added safety, consider having your vet microchip him.

8. Feed him the best diet you can afford. Your options are many: kibble, canned, frozen raw and freshly made cooked. Find a food that makes you both happy. Keep dishes clean and always provide plenty of fresh water.

9. Be a good neighbor and pick up your dog’s poop. Cleaning up after him even in your own yard is important to keep harmful bacteria out of groundwater.

10. Provide plenty of love and affection; it will be returned tenfold.


About the Author: Lisa King is a freelance writer living in Southern California. She is the former managing editor of Pet Product News International, Dogs USA, and Natural Dog magazines. Lisa is also the author of the well-received murder mystery novel “Death in a Wine Dark Sea.”