Author - Global Pets Finder

Dog Health

How To Give Your Dog a Massage

Dim the lights, put on some relaxing spa music, light the peanut butter scented candles… you’re on the right path to give your dog a wonderful relaxing and rejuvenating massage! Just like the scent of your candles would be different to appeal to your pooch, so should your massage technique. Dogs are often very stoic creatures, and especially if it is their beloved owner, they will not react or let you know if you are massaging too hard. This is just one tip I learned from a certified professional canine massage therapist who is helping my senior dog feel as good as she possibly can in her golden years. We’ve had wonderful success with acupuncture helping her arthritis and other issues, but after one really amazing squirrel chase resulted in serious injury (of my dog, the squirrel is fine of course), we needed something more. Part of that “more” is massage. While I can’t safely teach you how to give your dog an injury rehabbing massage in a single blog article, what I can do is explain how to give a simple, gentle, and safe massage to a non-injured pet. Gentle massage can have wonderful benefits for both physically for the dog being massaged, and when done by a caring owner or foster parent, can be an enjoyable way of strengthening the bond between human and canine. Note: This is a gentle massage technique for healthy, non-injured dogs to promote bonding and relieve stress. This should only be done on a dog you know well.
  1. Pick a time of day when your pet is most relaxed. For some pets this is after their morning walk, during a mid-day snooze, or at the end of the day before bed.
  2. Ask them to lie down in a comfortable, quiet place. If they don’t want to lie down, sitting or standing is fine too, though lying down is best.
  3. Start petting them in their favorite spot to be pet. Most dogs prefer their chest, neck, or back. The petting should be slow and soothing, so each stroke of the pet ise a full second. You can count in your head to get the hang of it, saying “one Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi.”  Count to ten.
  4. The strength or pressure of your stroke should be the same gentleness you use for regular petting – NOT the strong pressure used in a human massage. You can do more harm than good with too much pressure.
  5. Move to their second favorite spot, then their third. As they relax, you can try the petting massage on other spots too, like their ears, between their eyes (with your finger tips), their thighs, the sides of their chest.
  6. You can cycle through all the spots they enjoyed as long as you both are enjoying it! You can also alternate the petting strokes with small circles using the tips of your fingers.
If your dog wants to move away or shows any other sign of not enjoying the massage petting at any time, you of course should let him or her move away and stop. You can try again another day. Most pets enjoy this kind of “petting massage,” but some don’t, so be respectful of your pet’s desires. For those that enjoy it, but not for long, you can build up the length of your massage sessions slowly. The goal is a relaxed and happy pet! To get the full benefits of massage, such as increased circulation, decreased muscle pain, enhanced flexibility, and improved autoimmune response, have your dog massaged by a certified canine massage therapist, or have on safely teach you the proper technique on your dog. You can ask your vet for a recommendation to a certified doggie masseuse near you.

Top 5 Ways to Stop Pet Itching

When my vet recently told me that the number one reason people bring pets to her veterinary hospital is because of itching and related skin issues, I wasn’t surprised. In Southern California especially, the dry desert air combined with watered tropical landscaping and natural flora and fauna are a mecca for allergens and itch-causing critters. Dogs especially seem to be prone to scratching fits, but cats are not immune. In the decades I’ve worked and volunteered for large shelters and rescues, I hear the same common complaints time and time again. Dogs scratching ‘hot spot’ sores on their paws, cats itching keeping their owners awake at night, puppies chewing up their tails, red irritated skin and fur falling out every where! So what are the top 5 causes of canines and felines itching and scratching? How can you stop your pet’s discomfort? Ask your vet about our top 5 ways to stop a pet from itching. They are… 1. Fleas. Fleas are the number one reason dogs and cats scratch and itch. If your pet is sensitive to fleas, even one flea can cause a frantic dance. Imagine how you’d feel if there was a bug crawling in your hair and biting you. Even if your pet is on flea control, sometimes it takes multiple methods of both environmental cleanup (daily vacuuming, bed and carpet disinfecting) and products for your pet to fully get the flea problem under control on an ongoing basis. 2. Food allergy. Just like humans, some pets can have or develop (even after a long time of being fine with it) allergies to certain things they eat. Sometimes simply switching to a different flavor of pet food or treats and eliminating the old ones can stop a pet that is itching. After your vet has ruled out fleas, they may have you do a “food trial” where you temporarily feed a strict limited-ingredient diet for 8 weeks.  Then it can be trial and error process of introducing other foods slowly one at a time until your pet starts itching again. Voila! You’ve identified the tipping point trigger to avoid. 3. Dry skin. Especially when its cold and dry outside, and heated inside, pets can get dry, flaky, itchy skin. Even if you don’t notice flaking, ask your vet if a topical or dietary Omega 3 supplement for pets can help your pet if they have dry skin itchiness. 4. Environment. Pollen, dust, yard sprays, cleaning products, laundry detergent, shampoo, grass, plants… all of these and more can come in contact with your pet’s fur, paws, and skin and be a potential irritant. Figuring out which one or combination is causing your pet to itch can be quite a puzzle. Try one piece at a time. Give your pet a “bath” using just water, thoroughly rinsing their fur all the way down to their skin. Wash their bed and anything else washable (sheets, cushion covers, rugs) in hot water without any detergent. If they go outside, before they come back inside, wipe their paws and legs down with one or more damp papertowels, using long strokes as if you were erasing a blackboard… for dogs you can even dunk their feet in a tray or bucket of warm water to give a quick rinse before coming inside. 5. Stress. Any big life change can cause stress and anxiety in a pet’s life. They may not show it in other ways, but itching due to stress or anxiety is quite common. Ways to reduce a pet stress include: 1) De-stressing any humans the pet comes in contact with, since pets are stress sponges; 2) Establishing a rock-solid routine of feeding, playing, and sleeping at the same times every day; 3) Engaging your pet in more daily exercise they enjoy, be it chasing a laser toy around the living room, or going on a long hike together; 4) Giving them a safety zone hideout. For dogs this can be a crate where they can den up with a favorite chew toy and know they will be safe and undisturbed, for cats it might be a tall cat tree with a big top shelf or hidey-hole, or a nest in the bottom of a rarely used closet. Your vet plays a key role in helping you figure out if one or more of the above causes and cures is the best treatment protocol for your and your pet. If your pet is suffering, they can suggest medications that can mask the symptoms to give your pet immediate relief while you figure out a permanent solution to your pet’s itching.

Why Does My Dog Have Eye Stains?

Does your dog get stains under his or her eyes? This can mean that something is preventing your pup’s tears from the normal function of emptying into the nose and down the throat. Often this causes tears to just sit on the fur under the eyes, keeping that area wet. Since fur holds onto moisture and might even breed bacteria, this can result in that dark-colored staining you sometimes see on a dog’s face. Certain breeds seem to be more prone to this, and if your pooch’s coat is white it’s likely even more prominent. There is the aesthetic component to eye stains which may or may not bother you, but it could also be a symptom of a more serious issue that needs addressing. Many products out there offer to help with eye staining, but it’s recommended that you first talk to your veterinarian to diagnose and treat it. By making sure you address the problem that could be behind it, you can make decisions that are best for your dog!

Why Outside Only Is Not Best For Dogs

We’ve all seen it before. We drive by that house every day on our way to work, or maybe it’s a home in our own neighborhood. Unfortunately there are still many people who keep their dogs solely outside. Dogs who are outdoors all the time are often extremely lonely and bored. Their lack of mental (and often physical) stimulation often results in bad habits such as digging, chewing or incessant barking. Worse case scenario, the lack of socialization can cause outdoor only dogs to become aggressive with other animals or people. Dogs are pack animals and are meant to be with their pack, their people, their family. Even still, people have many reasons for keeping their dogs outside, but all of those explanations do have solutions. If you see a backyard-banished dog and are able to educate the owner, let them know there are ways to bring Fido into the home. Coming inside or having both indoor and outdoor access is such a better life for a dog, but it’s the people who really gain the most. Unconditional love, companionship, a silly furry face to make you smile as you walk in the door. If you’re looking to adopt a puppy or dog and plan on keeping him outside, please reconsider. Pets who live among their pack and are truly integrated in the home are the happiest, healthiest, and most well-balanced. The bonding that occurs inside the home makes it all worthwhile!

Dog Safety

What To Do (And Not Do!) In A Dog Fight

When a dog fight suddenly and surprisingly breaks out, it can be an incredibly frightening experience for humans and dogs alike. The sounds made, the teeth bared, the sheer speed by which dog fights usually happen – it’s all very unsettling. Although we don’t like to think about it, it’s important to remember that dog fights can occur anywhere: at the dog park, during a play date in your own yard, even during walks. So it’s advised to be prepared, and to know what works best and doesn’t work best when it comes to breaking up a dog fight. The most important things to remember are to stay calm and not put your hands in the middle of the fight! Different people have different opinions about what to do to actually break up a fight, but all agree that you should never stick your hands in a dog fight, even if you are trying to break it up. Also, do not pull at your dog’s collar because it’s best to steer clear of the mouth area. Most dog bites occur because a person is trying to break up a dog fight, and the dog will turn around and redirect onto the hand. Please avoid this trap. There are other ways to get separate dogs such as getting a broom or piece of cardboard to stick in the middle of the fight. Dogs fight for some reason or another, so it is almost never for “no reason” that the fight happens. Often it’s hard to pinpoint what the trigger may have been, but common culprits are battles over food, bones, toys, or prey instincts that kick in when a dog an off-leash dog attacks an on-leash dog. There are some pooches who also just don’t like other canines, and it’s best to know that about your dog so you can stay away from other pups, keeping your own dog and others safe. It can also be very helpful to learn to your dog’s communication signals, and those of other dogs. Dog fights usually happen after a series of signals and warnings that too often we guardians miss. Last but not least, if you find that your pup is getting into regular scuffles, please consider seeking the help of a certified, professional, positive-reinforcement-based dog trainer nearby who can help you asses and manage the behavior.

Traveling With Pets Guide

What better way to really connect with your furry companion than to vacation together, and you don’t even have to pack an extra bathing suit for your pet. Of course, sometimes we travel with a pet because we must, like during a cross-country move. Whatever the reason, everybody (including your pet) needs to get to where they are going safe and sound. Here are a few tips from our traveling guide.

5 Tips When Traveling With Pets

  • Make sure the pet has proper identification.
  • Label your pet’s carrier prominently with your name, address, and phone number.
  • Consider your flight schedule and any time your pet might be outside being moved in and out of the plane.
  • Book a direct flight with no layovers.
  • Never sedate your pet before a flight without consulting your veterinarian first.

4 Tips to Stop Your Pet’s Destructive Chewing

Puppies most often destroy and chew things out of boredom, frustration or anxiety. There are mild displays of this behavior that are to be expected, especially in kittens, puppies, and young or high energy dogs – like a puppy chewing a shoe, or a dog ripping apart one of her toys. There are also more extreme levels of this behavior, where the pet will hurt himself or do serious damage to doors or other household items. If that’s the case, please consult with a professional pet behaviorist or trainer. In either case, for safety’s sake, keep your pet away from anything they can chew on by containing them and/or keep items out of reach. Crate training, baby gates, or closed doors allow you to create a chew-safe pet area while you train them. The best solution for wire and cord chewers is to completely cover all wires with hard plastic tubing, secure cords out of reach, or keep the pet closed out of those rooms.  In addition, for mild to moderate chewers, we have these four helpful tips: 1. Physical Exercise. Many dogs chew because they are bored, and have excess energy and/or anxiety. Chewing is fun and a stress relief for them! You can help eliminate this kind of chewing by giving them more daily exercise. Just like you would do, build up the length and difficulty of your pet’s “workout” which can be any kind of athletic activity – walking, running, biking, hiking, playing ball, running around the yard with a dog friend. Just keep in mind that you will need to maintain the amount of exercise you give them every day pretty much EVERY DAY. Even if its just 10 minutes a day, you’ll need to stick to it. If you take up daily exercise with your pet for a few weeks and then stop, the chewing will very likely return. 2. Mental Exercise. Exercising a pet’s MIND is just as important in warding off chewing boredom as physical exercise. Obedience training, learning new tricks, agility classes, walks in new neighborhoods, visits to friends house, joy rides in the car, window perches, pet TV… many possibilities abound, just use your mind to help your pet use theirs! 3. Provide appropriate chewing items. Many dogs and puppies chew because it is an instinctual desire. Giving them something appropriate and desirable to chew on can eliminate their chewing on things you don’t want them to! There are many commercially produced chew toys to choose from – knowing the strength of your dogs chewing will help you to pick the correct one. Some popular ones include hollow rubber toys which can be stuffed with food and treats and even frozen for many hours of amusement, and fun fill-able balls which the pet must roll around to get the treats out. Another option, with your vet’s approval: big raw fresh uncooked bones (raw so they will not splinter, cooked bones are NOT safe) from the butcher can provide hours of supervised, extremely passionate chewing! 4. Redirection. If you catch your pet chewing on something inappropriate, you can say “no” and offer them one of their chew toys. It can help to have 7 different chew toys, and place out a “new” toy each day, taking up and putting away the “old” toy at the end of the day. Pets just love getting something “new” – its more interesting and therefore keeps their attention for longer. It may take some trial and error to find a chew toy that they like more than what they’ve chosen (your table leg for example). You can make your household items less desirable by spraying them with a pet-safe chew deterrent, closing the pet out of the area with those items, or covering them with tin foil or another not fun to chew cover as a temporary solution to get them in the habit of chewing on their chew toys instead.  

Dog Basic Care

Top Reasons to Spay or Neuter your Dog

For those of us who understand the benefits of spaying and neutering our dogs, it can be hard to comprehend why anyone wouldn’t get their their pets fixed. Those in the know can help by sharing knowledge of the benefits, and debunking the all-to-common myths that are still believed by too many pet owners. If you are researching the pros and cons of spaying your dog, or are looking for information to share with a friend or neighbor to educated them, this article will help you with facts so you or they can make a responsible, informed decision as a loving pet owner. Here are just some of the great reasons to spay or neuter your dog, and myths below that, courtesy of HSUS and the ASPCA: 1. Your pet will be happier.  If you care about your pet’s happiness, spaying or neutering is one of the kindest things you can do for them. See below for many of the reasons why. 2. Your pet will be healthier. In females, spaying helps prevent uterine, ovarian, and breast cancer which is fatal in about 50% of dogs . Females spayed before their first heat (4-5 months old) are the healthiest, but it helps at any age. For males, especially if done before 6 months of age, it prevents testicular cancer and prostate problems. 3. Your pet will live longer. Because they are healthier (see #2), spayed and neutered pets have a significantly longer average lifespan. Also, neutered pets are also less likely to roam or fight (see #4), lengthening their lifespan. 4. Your spayed female won’t go into heat. This means you don’t have to deal with blood staining, yowling, and the more frequent urination – which can be all over your house! Female felines usually go into heat four to five days every three weeks during breeding season. That’s a lot of mess and noise! 5. Your male pet is less likely to roam. An un-neutered male pet is driven by strong hormones to mate, and will often turn into a Houdini escape artist to get out of their home or yard, especially if there is a female in heat close by, or sometimes even miles away! 6. Your male pet will be friendlier. A fixed male is less likely to want to fight with other pets, even females, who may not appreciate his annoying ongoing advances. 7. Your female pet will be friendlier. When a female pet goes into heat, the hormones can make her behavior become erratic. A usually friendly pet who goes into heat can suddenly become aggressive with both people and other pets in the home. 8. Marking & humping will be reduced or eliminated. This true is for both dogs, and especially for males. Also male dogs will be much less likely to ‘hump’ other dogs… or people’s legs or your couch cushions! 9. It will save you money. Fixed pets have fewer health problems so vet bills are lower. They are less likely to bite, avoiding potential costly lawsuits (80% of dog bites to humans are from intact male dogs). They are less likely to try to escape and do damage to your home or yard, or cause a car accident. 10. You are saving pets lives. You may say your pet will never get out or run away, but that’s what almost every pet owner thinks – accidents happen! Pet overpopulation is a problem everywhere. For every human born, 15 dog. There simply aren’t enough homes for all these animals. SPAY NEUTER EXCUSES & MYTHS vs. FACTS Here are some of the common myths, with the truths explained: Excuse: It is more natural to leave my pet unaltered. Fact: It would also be more natural to live in a cave and not have pets at all. But humans have chosen to domesticate dogs, and with that comes a responsibility to keep them safe, happy and healthy. See above for how spaying and neutering is an integral part of that responsibility. Myth: My pet’s babies won’t contribute to pet overpopulation. Fact: Even if your pet is a purebred, and you can find homes for all their babies, those are homes that could have adopted a pet – there are purebreds of almost every single breed  in shelters and rescues. And though you might be a lifetime pet owner, can you be sure that all your babies’ homes will never give up their pet to a shelter? Myth: It will change my pet’s personality. Fact: A dog’s personality is formed by genetics and environment, not by sex hormones. Ask anyone that has fixed their pet! There are some behaviors that are typically reduced by fixing your pet, but they are undesirable… unless you like a pet that territorially urinates, tries to fight more with other pets, or tries to escape to get out to find a mate! Myth: My pet will get fat. Fact: Just like with people, metabolism and food intake is what determines if a pet becomes overweight. Just visit a shelter to see all the overweight unfixed pets! Fixed pets can be calmer, so do sometimes need to eat less. Excuse: My pet will never escape. Sit at an animal shelter intake desk for 1 day, and listen to how many owner’s reclaiming their pets say exactly that. Accidents happen. Don’t let the accident be your pet escaping and causing yet one more oops litter.

Puppy Basics – tips for a good start

Getting ready to adopt a new puppy? These guidelines are not a complete guide to raising a puppy (there are entire books devoted to that topic!) but will give you some of the basics, to help you prepare for the arrival and first few months of your new puppy. This basic training, socialization, and guidelines can be used starting at the age of 8 weeks, the earliest age at which most people would be bringing a puppy into their home. If your puppy is slightly older, as long as they are under 6 months old, these steps can still be followed. For puppies older than 6 months, many of these tips still apply, but start with our 10 Tips For Welcoming Home Your Newly-Adopted Dog blog article, and stay tuned to this blog for future older puppy & dog training articles here too. Prepare for puppy’s arrival Being prepared can mean the difference between getting a good start, or getting started off on the wrong paw. A puppy needs a safe, warm environment. Being raised indoors with as much human contact as possible is critical at this stage. Make sure you have all the basic supplies you need, including a great dog food. * Puppy-proof a play area. Puppies will chew everything, from electrical wires to socks and shoes. You need a secure, puppy-proof, enclosed area and a crate for those times you cannot directly supervise your puppy (see our article about crate training for tips). Puppies typically are not housebroken, and should be kept in an area when it is ok to have accidents. * Establish a daily routine from day one. A puppy feels secure having dinner, playtime, lessons and walks at the same time each day. Also, being left alone all day on Monday after having spent his entire first weekend with you can cause lots of anxiety! If you do bring him home on a weekend, leave him alone for progressively longer periods of time. Schedule your puppy’s feedings so that all meals are fed by 5-6 pm (if you go to bed at 11), and so your puppy drinks very little water after that. Be regular about your (and your puppy’s) bedtime and time getting up in the morning to help your puppy learn to hold it through the night. * Establish your house rules. If you do not want your adult dog on the furniture or jumping up, do not allow the puppy on the furniture or to jump up. Ask all visitors (and family members!) to follow your house rules. No matter how cute it is when he’s tiny, most people do not want their full grown dog jumping on everyone. * How you deal with crying, whining and barking. This depends your puppy’s age, temperament and experiences. There are preventative steps you can take for training your puppy not to cry in his crate during the night (which we will detail in our future crate-training blog article) but we’ll mention a key point: The worst thing to do is to let the puppy cry and bark for a long time, and then go get it out or give it attention. When you do that, you teach the puppy to PERSISTENTLY make noise in the crate, because you have shown the puppy that persistence pays! You don’t want to respond quickly to a puppy making noise in the crate, provided you are sure the puppy’s needs have been met. Teaching basic commands At the minimum, your dog should learn to come when called, walk on a leash and sit/stay. * Never repeat a command. Repetition is dulling, and having the puppy ignore you when you say “come here come here come here” is training him NOT to come when called. * Try saying “come here” in a fun, high tone of voice every time the puppy starts running towards you,and give the puppy lots of rewards/tummy rubs/verbal and food treats whenever he comes running to you. * Say “Good sit!” every time the puppy sits for the first week. Then begin asking for a sit, and use a treat to lead the puppy by the nose toward you, then put your hand over the puppies head to so he looks up, and backs into a sit (this can take some practice – on your part!). You can also use your other hand or a wall to gently stop the puppy from backing up as you lead the nose up and back. Do not push down on their behind to ‘make’ them sit. You want to teach them to sit on their own! * If the puppy does something undesirable, you can use a calm, firm “no”, but avoid a harsh tone and never yell and NEVER use physical punishment. Punishment and yelling serve only to make your puppy afraid of you. Cowering does not mean your puppy ‘knows’ he did something wrong, he is just reacting to your voice right at that moment and showing submission. It will not help him learn what is the right thing to do. If your puppy is cowering when you are verbally correcting him, use a softer tone of voice, and focus on rewarding the positive and avoiding/redirecting negative behaviors. * Be consistent. Always use the same command to elicit the same result. Don’t use the same word to mean two different things. When you say “down” do you mean lie down or get off the counter? When you clap, does that mean “come here” or “stop chewing on that sofa leg”? * Socialization during a puppy’s early months is critical. Time spent with the family means the puppy will become comfortable with the sights, smells and sounds that people make, and grow up accustomed to them, rather than afraid of them. Puppies can usually be left alone in a puppy-safe area (crate, kitchen, puppy run) for 1-2 hours for every month of age (i.e., a 2 month old puppy can be alone for 2-3 hours). Leaving young puppies alone for too long means they are not being properly socialized. Try to plan your absences during naptime, or play with your puppy to tire him out before leaving. Using safe toys to entertain while you are gone, such as rubber toys stuffed with goodies, can make time alone easier. Crates can make being alone less frightening as well, by giving them a small secure “den”. What’s next? With the basic guidelines above, you are off to a good start getting ready for your new puppy! You’ll want to read up on housebreaking, teaching bite inhibition, possibly crate training, and when your puppy is fully vaccinated (usually at 4  months old), walking on leash and exploring the world outside your home. Enroll your puppy in a puppy socialization class, and then follow up with  a good dog obedience class. Dog training and socialization are an ongoing process usually throughout a dog’s adolescence, and are a wonderful way for you and your dog to enjoy time together, and with other dogs.

Adopting a Dog

10 Tips For Welcoming Home Your Newly-Adopted Dog

Congratulations! You’ve adopted a dog! Your life is about to be enriched in ways you’ve never dreamed possible. So… now what? Bringing your new dog home is such an exciting and fulfilling experience, but it can be a bit daunting as well, especially if you’ve never shared your home with a furry companion. Here are some tips to get your relationship off on the right foot (or paw, as the case may be)!

  1. Be prepared: Before you adopt your dog, know which training method you’re going to use (we love clicker training and other positive-reinforcement techniques) and read up on it so you can employ the philosophy from day one. Research dog care and nutrition in advance as well, and decide which food you’ll feed your dog and how many times a day he’ll eat (usually once or twice).The more prepared you are, the smoother your new family member’s transition will be.
  2. Be flexible: While it’s good to be prepared, remember that your new dog is a living being with a mind of his own, and he may well express preferences that run counter to your plans. If the sleeping arrangements you’ve laid out just don’t work for him, you may have to shuffle things around a bit. If the sound of the clicker scares him to death, a different training method may be in order. Maintain a good sense of humor and try not to get exasperated. The transition period won’t last forever. Take it slow: get your routine set that works for both of you, introduce new people, pets and places after you’ve had a chance to bond with your pet over the first week or two. Soon you and your new buddy will have a well-established routine.
  3. Shop for the basics: You’ll need a leash, collar, a bed, food and water dishes and, of course, food! It’s a good idea to have these items in place even before you bring your new dog home. One other thing to buy right away: an ID tag! Put the tag on your dog immediately—we can’t stress that enough. By the way, you’ll notice that a crate isn’t on the list of things to buy in advance. If you plan on crate-training, it’s best to take your dog with you when you shop for the crate so you can find the correct size.
  4. Make sure all family members are on board: Set some ground rules and make sure everyone in the family agrees to follow and enforce them. For instance, if you don’t want your new pup on the couch, all the training in the world won’t help if your daughter lets him sit there with her when you’re not home. Also, if caring for your dog will be a family effort, be certain everyone understands and agrees to their particular roles and responsibilities.
  5. Help your new pal adjust: Over the first few days to few weeks, your new dog will be going through an adjustment period. You may notice some symptoms of anxiety, including a lack of appetite and suppressed bowel habits. Your dog may even hide under or behind furniture or stay in one particular room for a few days. Don’t be alarmed—this is absolutely normal behavior. By showing your new friend patience and understanding, you’ll be helping him through a tough, scary time and showing him how wonderful his new home really is!
  6. Establish a schedule of feeding and walking and be consistent: Try to walk him and feed him at the same times each day, and signal the walking and feeding times with the same key words every time. For instance, right before you feed him, you might say, “Dinner time!” A reliable routine is an important tool in successfully integrating your new dog into your family and helping him feel secure.
  7. Set aside time to bond: Spend some quiet time with your dog each day, petting him gently and speaking in a soothing voice. Touch is an incredibly powerful method of communication, one that is almost impossible to misunderstand. Show your dog he’s safe and loved, and your relationship will get off to a beautiful start.
  8. Everyone needs time alone: Your dog is no exception! Give him time every day to be alone and to explore his new surroundings. Observe from a distance to make sure he’s safe, but not close enough to intrude on his “me” time.
  9. Slowly introduce him to new things and people: We know you’re dying to show your amazing new family member to all of your other family and friends, but take it slowly! A good rule of thumb is to introduce no more than one new person to your dog each day. Also, save the first trip to the dog park or any other busy environment for a few weeks later, to avoid overwhelming and confusing him.
  10. Get him a tune-up: Schedule a first visit to your dog’s new veterinarian during the first week (or immediately upon adoption if you have other pets at home or suspect your new pup might be ill). Bring any and all medical and vaccine records supplied by the shelter or rescue from which you adopted your dog. Many veterinarians will even provide a free first checkup to folks who adopt a pet! This first visit is a great time to get clues about your dog’s personality and past history, so don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions. Also, have your dog microchipped right away (if he’s not already), so you can be reunited if (gasp!) you ever get separated. True love is hard to replace!

Dog Nutrition

The overall health of your dog  starts with a good foundation and nutrition is a key building block in keeping that foundation strong. Dogs on proper diets enjoy happy tummies and good digestive health. This all translates into a longer life span. Owning a puppy is all about change; change in size, behavior, and eventually even eating habits. As your puppy grows into adulthood his nutritional needs will change, but how do you know when your puppy is ready for adult food? As a general rule, dogs that are less than one year of age are considered puppies, and it is important during that year that they are being fed puppy formula pet food. But if your puppy is getting close to that one-year mark could it be time to switch to adult dog food? A veterinarian is always a good resource, but you can gauge the best time to switch as well.  The experts at Purina put together tips to help you figure out when to make the change. Some indicators of the right time to change from puppy food to dog food are: dog size, breed, and age. When to switch a puppy to adult dog food IF YOUR PUPPY IS A SMALL OR MEDIUM BREED: Both small and medium breed puppies are considered adult at about one year of age, so your dog’s birthday indicates when to switch from puppy food. Toy breeds can be an exception to this. Some are considered adults at nine months of age. Dog weight varies. Small breed puppies are those who weigh less than 20 pounds at maturity. Medium breed puppies weigh between 21-50 pounds at maturity. IF YOUR PUPPY IS A LARGE OR GIANT BREED: You should switch to an adult dog food when your puppy is anywhere from 18 months to 24 months old. Large or giant breed puppies take a little longer to reach maturity, and many of them are still growing until they turn two years old. Large or giant breed puppies’ weight varies so it doesn’t offer as good an insight on when to switch from puppy food to dog food. Since maturity and adulthood can be difficult to predict, you can talk to the shelter, breeder, or rescue groups where you adopted your dog as well as talking with a veterinarian to be certain of when to switch a puppy to dog food. The importance of switching lies with nutrition. Why transition from puppy food to adult dog food? When your puppy is growing, he needs more nutrients and calories than an adult dog, which is why puppy foods have higher levels of protein and fat to support growth, as well as nutrients like DHA, an omega fatty acid found in mother’s milk. Once your puppy reaches adulthood, he doesn’t need as many calories. Rich puppy food can quickly lead to excessive weight gain for adult dogs, so the transition is important. Sometimes owners note weight gain and then ask an expert when to switch a puppy to dog food. But a proactive approach is better for puppy health.

What Dog Breed is Best for You?

How important is breed?

If you're just starting your search, you may be asking yourself what kind of dog  would be best for your lifestyle. You may be diligently researching the characteristics of each breed, making a list of which breeds would and wouldn't be a fit. To you, we say: Relax! It's okay to do your research, but don't feel like breed selection is the ultimate key to finding your perfect match. It really is about much more than what looks good on paper t's about the individual dog personality and the chemistry you feel together (yep, we have chemistry with animals just like we do with other humans!). And don't forget about those marvelous mutts! Not only do you get a one-of-a-kind companion, but many veterinarians say that mixed-breed dogs tend to be healthier than purebred dogs, who tend to be prone to certain genetic conditions, depending on the breed.

What's important to you?

Good with Kids

We get it: adopting a pet when you have children can seem daunting. Many of us here at are parents ourselves, so please take it from us: adopting a dog is every bit as safe (and we think even safer) than buying a puppy. We have some tried-and-true advice for those of you trying to make sure the dog you bring home will blend 1. Train your children. Yes, we all know the importance of training your dog (and, don't get us wrong, that's one of the most important things you can do to make your adoption a success), but it's equally important to teach your children how to interact with dogs in a safe manner. Before you bring any dog home, make sure your kids know how to approach a new dog: extend a hand, palm down, and allow the dog to sniff. If the dog gives your child the "Okay" signal (wagging tail, kissing, no signs of aggression, fear, or nervousness), your child should pet the dog on his side rather than reaching over the dog's head. Teach your kiddos to treat their own dog with respect, and always to touch him gently, 2. Go for an adult dog. Puppies are great, but they're not perfect for kids. They mouth tiny hands with razor-sharp teeth, they jump, and they're also easily injured. Also, contrary to popular belief, you can't always tell or control what personality traits your puppy will develop. On the other hand, when you adopt an adult dog, what you see is what you get. Their personalities are fully-formed and on display for the world to see! It's much easier to tell if an adult dog is great with kids now than to guess if a puppy will grow up to be.

Apartment Friendly

Live in an apartment, but longing for some canine companionship? Not to worry. Many, many apartment-dwellers have successfully adopted dogs. In fact, in dog-friendly cities like New York, most people live in apartments, so don't despair. If they can do it, so can you! You just need to take into consideration a few things. First, make sure your apartment allows dogs, and understand that if you move to a new apartment, you'll need to find another that allows dogs. Next, you'll need to provide training to make sure your dog doesn't bark incessantly and disturb neighbors while you're away (this is where adopting from a rescue group, where dogs have been in foster homes, can really make a difference. They'll know if the dog you have your eye on is prone to barking). Finally, you will need to make sure your dog has adequate access to the outdoors for some exercise and potty breaks. A dog-walker and doggy daycare are great resources to use if you work long days. Whether or not a dog can thrive in an apartment has much more to do with his personal traits than his breed. Most breeds can adapt to apartment life. But all dogs, no matter what breed, require some level of exercise to remain happy, healthy and well behaved. An under-exercised or bored dog can become quite destructive in any home. Keep an open mind when you begin your adoption search. Many large breeds do surprisingly well in apartment life. Though they are very large, both breeds are generally quite happy to be couch potatoes when indoors as long as they are provided some outdoor activity each day. Conversely, some small, high-energy dogs who are prone to barking when left alone may not be the best choice for shared-wall living. However, and we can't stress this enough: it's all about the individual dog, not about the breed, and a mixed-breed dog very well may end up being "the one"!

Tips for the First 30 Days of Dog Adoption

The first few days in your home are special and critical for a pet. Your new dog will be confused about where he is and what to expect from you. Setting up some clear structure with your family for your dog will be paramount in making as smooth a transition as possible. Before You Bring Your Dog Home:
  • Determine where your dog will be spending most of his time. Because he will be under a lot of stress with the change of environment (from shelter or foster home to your house), he may forget any housebreaking (if any) he’s learned. Often a kitchen will work best for easy clean-up.
  • If you plan on crate training your dog, be sure to have a crate set-up and ready to go for when you bring your new dog home.
  • Dog-proof the area where your pooch will spend most of his time during the first few months. This may mean taping loose electrical cords to baseboards; storing household chemicals on high shelves; removing plants, rugs, and breakables; setting up the crate, and installing baby gates.
  • Training your dog will start the first moment you have him. Take time to create a vocabulary list everyone will use when giving your dog directions. This will help prevent confusion and help your dog learn his commands more quickly.
  • Bring an ID tag with your phone number on it with you when you pick up your dog so that he has an extra measure of safety for the ride home and the first few uneasy days. If he is microchipped, be sure to register your contact information with the chip’s company, if the rescue or shelter did not already do so.
First Day:
  • We know moving is stressful — and your new dog feels the same way! Give him time to acclimate to your home and family before introducing him to strangers. Make sure children know how to approach the dog without overwhelming him.
  • When you pick up your dog, remember to ask what and when he was fed. Replicate that schedule for at least the first few days to avoid gastric distress. If you wish to switch to a different brand, do so over a period of about a week by adding one part new food to three parts of the old for several days; then switch to half new food, half old, and then one part old to three parts new.
  • On the way home, your dog should be safely secured, preferably in a crate. Some dogs find car trips stressful, so having him in a safe place will make the trip home easier on him and you.
  • Once home, take him to his toileting area immediately and spend a good amount of time with him so he will get used to the area and relieve himself. Even if your dog does relieve himself during this time, be prepared for accidents. Coming into a new home with new people, new smells and new sounds can throw even the most housebroken dog off-track, so be ready just in case.
  • If you plan on crate training your dog, leave the crate open so that he can go in whenever he feels like it in case he gets overwhelmed.
  • From there, start your schedule of feeding, toileting and play/exercise. From Day One, your dog will need family time and brief periods of solitary confinement. Don’t give in and comfort him if he whines when left alone. Instead, give him attention for good behaviour, such as chewing on a toy or resting quietly (Source: Preparing Your Home For A New Dog).
  • For the first few days, remain calm and quiet around your dog, limiting too much excitement (such as the dog park or neighbourhood children). Not only will this allow your dog to settle in easier, it will give you more one-on-one time to get to know him and his likes/dislikes.
  • If he came from another home, objects like leashes, hands, rolled up newspapers and magazines, feet, chairs and sticks are just some of the pieces of “training equipment” that may have been used on this dog. Words like “come here” and “lie down” may bring forth a reaction other than the one you expect. Or maybe he led a sheltered life and was never socialized to children or sidewalk activity. This dog may be the product of a never-ending series of scrambled communications and unreal expectations that will require patience on your part.
Following Weeks:
  • People often say they don’t see their dog’s true personality until several weeks after adoption. Your dog may be a bit uneasy at first as he gets to know you. Be patient and understanding while also keeping to the schedule you intend to maintain for feeding, walks, etc. This schedule will show your dog what is expected of him as well as what he can expect from you.
  • After discussing it with your veterinarian to ensure your dog has all the necessary vaccines, you may wish to take your dog to group training classes or the dog park. Pay close attention to your dog’s body language to be sure he’s having a good time — and is not fearful or a dog park bully.
  • To have a long and happy life together with your dog, stick to the original schedule you created, ensuring your dog always has the food, potty time and attention he needs. You’ll be bonded in no time!
  • If you encounter behavior issues you are unfamiliar with, ask your veterinarian for a trainer recommendation. Select a trainer who uses positive-reinforcement techniques to help you and your dog overcome these behavior obstacles.
Congratulations! If you follow these tips, you’ll be on your way to having a well-adjusted canine family member.

General Dog Care

BEHAVIOR All dogs are descended from their wild cousin, the wolf, and share many traits seen in wolves. Dogs, and puppies in particular, are denning creatures and feel more secure in small, snug areas with low roofs, thus the success of the training crate. Dogs are pack animals and do not enjoy being alone. Puppies who stay with their litters until eight weeks old easily will become members of human packs/families. Each pack needs a leader. Ideally all human family members should be ahead of the dog in the pack order. Your dog should not be the leader, as this can result in aggression or other dominance displays. Before You Bring Your Dog Home You will need food, water and food bowls, leash, collar, training crate, brush, comb and canine chew toys. Cleaning Up Keep your dog on a leash when you are outside, unless in a secured (fenced-in) area. If your dog defecates on a neighbor’s lawn, the sidewalk or any other public place, please clean it up. Feeding Puppies 8 to 12 weeks old need four meals a day. Puppies three to six months old need three meals a day. Puppies six months to one year need two meals a day. When your dog is one year old, one meal a day is usually enough. For some dogs (such as larger ones or those prone to bloat), it’s better to continue to feed two smaller meals. Premium-quality dry food provides a well-balanced diet and may be mixed with water, broth or some canned food. Your dog may enjoy cottage cheese, cooked egg, fruits and vegetables, but these additions should not total more than 10 percent of your dog’s daily food intake. Puppies should be fed a high-quality brand-name puppy food (avoid generic brands) two to four times a day. Please limit “people food,” however, because it can cause puppies to suffer vitamin and mineral imbalances, bone and teeth problems and may cause very picky eating habits, as well as obesity. Have clean, fresh water available at all times. Wash food and water dishes frequently. Exercise Every dog needs daily exercise for mental and physical stimulation. The proper amount depends on the breed type, age and health status of your dog. Providing enough exercise will improve your dog’s health and prevent household destruction and other behavior problems common in underexercised dogs. Grooming You can help keep your dog clean and reduce shedding by brushing her frequently. Check for fleas and ticks daily during warm weather. Most dogs don’t need to be bathed more than a few times a year. Before bathing, comb or cut out all mats from the coat. Carefully rinse all soap out of the coat, or dirt will stick to soap residue. Handling Small dogs, sometimes referred to as “lap dogs,” are the easiest to handle. The larger breeds, such as German Shepherd dogs, are usually too large to lift. If you want to carry a puppy or small dog, place one hand under the dog’s chest, with either your forearm or other hand supporting the hind legs and rump. Never attempt to lift or grab your puppy or small dog by the forelegs, tail or back of the neck. If you do have to lift a large dog, lift from the under-side, supporting his chest with one arm and his rear end with the other. Housing You will need to provide your pet with a warm, quiet place to rest away from all drafts and off of the floor. A training crate is ideal. You may wish to buy a dog bed, or make one out of a wooden box. Place a clean blanket or pillow inside the bed. Wash the dog’s bedding often. If your dog will be spending a great deal of time outdoors, you will need to provide her with shade and plenty of cool water in hot weather and a warm, dry, covered shelter when it’s cold. Licensing and Identification Follow your community’s licensing regulations. When you buy your license, be sure to attach it to your dog’s collar. A dog license, ID tag, implanted microchip or tattoo can help secure your dog’s return if he becomes lost. Training A well-behaved companion animal is a joy. But left untrained, your dog can cause nothing but trouble. Teaching your dog the basics”sit,” “stay,” “come,” “down,” “heel,” “off” and “leave it”will improve your relationship with both your dog and your neighbors. Start teaching puppies basic sit and stay commands. Use little bits of food as a lure and reward. Puppies can be enrolled in obedience courses when your veterinarian believes they are adequately vaccinated. Contact your local humane society or SPCA for training class recommendations. Start teaching your puppy manners NOW! HEALTH See a veterinarian if your dog is sick or injured. Take him for a full check-up, shots and a heartworm blood test every year. Dental Health Puppies replace their baby teeth with permanent teeth between four and seven months of age. Clean their teeth with a dog toothpaste or a baking-soda-and-water paste once or twice a week. Use a child’s soft toothbrush, a gauze pad or a piece of nylon pantyhose stretched over your finger. Some dogs develop periodontal disease, a pocket of infection between the tooth and the gum. This painful condition can result in tooth loss and is a source of infection for the rest of the body. Veterinarians can clean the teeth as a regular part of your dog’s health program. Fleas and Ticks Daily inspections of your dog for fleas and ticks during the warm seasons are important. Use a flea comb to find and remove fleas. There are several new methods of flea and tick control. Speak to your veterinarian about these and other options. Heartworm This parasite lives in the heart and is passed from dog to dog by mosquitoes. Heartworm infections can be fatal. Your dog should have a blood test for heartworm every spring, because it is important to detect infections from the previous year. A once-a-month pill given during mosquito season (which varies in different areas of the country) will protect your dog. If you travel south with your pet during the winter, your dog should be on the preventive medicine during the trip. In some warmer regions, veterinarians recommend preventive heartworm medication throughout the year Neutering Females should be spayed (ovaries and uterus removed) and males neutered (testicles removed) by six months of age. Spaying before maturity significantly reduces the risk of breast cancer, a common and frequently fatal disease of older female dogs. Spaying also eliminates the risk of pyometra (an infected uterus), a very serious problem in older females that requires surgery and intensive medical care. And spaying protects your female pet from having unwanted litters. Neutering males prevents testicular and prostate diseases, some hernias and certain types of aggression (which differ from protectiveness, which this surgery won’t affect). Medicines and Poisons
  • Consult a veterinarian about using any over-the-counter or prescription medication.
  • Do not give your dog chocolate.
  • Make sure your dog does not have access to rat poison or other rodenticides.
  • Call your veterinarian or The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (ASPCA/APCC) for 24-hour animal poison information if you suspect your animal has ingested a poisonous substance. The numbers are: (888) 4ANI-HELP (888-426-4435), or (900) 680-0000. A consultation fee applies.
  • Vaccines protect animals and people from specific viral and bacterial infections. They are not a treatment. If your pet gets sick because he is not properly vaccinated, the vaccination should be given after your companion animal recovers.
  • Puppies should be vaccinated with a combination vaccine (called a 5 in 1) at 2, 3 and 4 months of age and then once annually. This vaccine protects the puppy from distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvovirus, and parainfluenza. A puppy’s vaccination program cannot be finished before four months of age. Rottweilers, Doberman pinschers and American Staffordshire terriers/pit bulls should be vaccinated until five months of age. If you have an unvaccinated dog older than four or five months, the dog needs a series of two vaccinations given two to three weeks apart, followed by a yearly vaccination. Do not walk your puppy or your unvaccinated dog outside or put her on the floor of an animal hospital until several days after her final vaccination.
  • Since laws vary around the country, contact a local veterinarian for information on rabies vaccination. In New York City, for example, the law requires all pets older than three months of age to be vaccinated for rabies. The first rabies vaccine must be followed by a vaccination a year later and then every three years.
  • Other vaccines for dogs are appropriate in certain situations. Your dog’s veterinarian can tell you about these vaccines.
Worms It is common for dogs, even in urban areas, to be exposed to worms and possible infestation. Microscopic eggs produced by intestinal worms in infected dogs and passed in their feces provide a source of infection for other dogs. There are several types of worms and a few microscopic parasites that commonly affect dogs. Because most of these cannot be seen in feces, a microscopic fecal evaluation is the only satisfactory way to have your puppy or dog checked for intestinal worms and other parasites. Most puppies, even from healthy mothers in good homes, carry roundworms or hookworms. All puppies should be dewormed by a veterinarian regardless of fecal evaluation. Additional Information:
  • The average life span of a dog varies from 8 to 16 years, depending on breed type, size, genetics and care.
  • For more information, search the dog care section on our web site:
  • Write to ASPCA Animal Sciences at 424 East 92nd St., New York, NY 10128 for a list of free behavioral materials.
Recommended Reading:
  • “The ASPCA Complete Dog Care Manual”
  • “The ASPCA Complete Guide to Dogs”
  • “The ASPCA Pet Care Guide for KidsPuppies”
  • “The ASPCA Dog Training Manual,” Dr. Bruce Fogle

20 Questions to Ask Before You Foster A Dog

Fostering pets has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life and is something I encourage everyone I know to do. But I’ve learned some big lessons along the way.

For the experience to turn out well for the foster parent and the rescue organization (and, most of all, the dog), it’s crucial that all parties communicate and be clear about their expectations and responsibilities. Here are some questions to ask the rescue group or shelter before you sign up to foster (the group will most likely have you fill out a foster-home application as well). Don’t be alarmed if the group doesn’t have answers to all the questions you ask. Each organization has its own procedures. Questions about the dog:
  1. How did he come to be with the shelter or rescue group and how long has he been there?
  2. Why does he need a foster home now?
  3. Does he have any medical concerns or need medication?
  4. Has he been neutered (or spayed, if the dog is female)? If not, when will he be?
  5. Is he up to date on his vaccinations and has he been tested for diseases such as heartworm?
  6. Since conditions such as kennel cough and upper respiratory infections cannot be tested for, how long should I keep him separated from my own pets?
  7. Does he have any behavioral issues or concerns? How are they dealt with?
  8. Do you know how he is with kids, cats, dogs and/or strangers? Can my children or pets meet him before I commit to fostering him?
  9. Do you know how he does when left alone? Is he crate trained?
  10. Is he housetrained?
Questions about the fostering process:
  1. How long will I be expected to foster this dog? If it’s until a suitable home is found, how long do you expect that to take?
  2. What happens if I can no longer care for the dog?
  3. Who pays for medical bills if they arise? Does that include treatments for my pets if they catch something from my foster dog?
  4. What should I do if there’s a medical emergency?
  5. Who is responsible for communicating with potential adopters, screening them and introducing the dog to them?
  6. Will I be required to bring him to adoption events and, if so, where/when?
  7. Will you provide food, litter, supplies (such as a leash or a litter box), medications, etc., or will I be expected to?
  8. If I have a problem, whom can I contact? If I leave a message, how quickly will that person get back to me?
  9. Could my foster dog be deemed unadoptable and, if so, what happens then?
  10. Can I adopt him if I choose?
Even the best-prepared foster parent should expect the unexpected. But it’s so worth it. Like Marge, the cat with cerebellar hypoplasia whom I planned to keep for two weeks as she recovered from an upper respiratory infection — but who stayed for four months when it became obvious that she wouldn’t do well in the shelter. Marge had to be isolated and needed daily physical therapy and enrichment work. She was one of my greatest challenges, but that just made it all the more rewarding when she found the perfect home, a devoted couple who continued her physical therapy. Last I heard, Marge is able to climb and descend stairs like a champ — something we never thought possible when she first came to the shelter.

Preparing Your Home For A New Dog

Bringing home a new puppy is truly one of life’s joys. Thoughtful pre-puppy preparations and a well-planned first 24 hours can give your new best friend a head start and make your dreams of the perfect family dog come true. Before the Big Day

Once household discussions have established that everyone wants a dog of a certain age and breed, use to search available pets for adoption.   Also, take time to create a vocabulary list everyone will use. If Mom says “down” when Puppers climbs on the couch, Dad says “down” when he wants him to lie down, and Junior utters “sit down” when he expects the pup’s rear to hit the floor, the result will be one confused dog! Putting the schedule and vocabulary list in writing prevents confusion and will help dog walkers, nannies, and others involved in raising Puppers. Next, draft a shopping list and purchase supplies: food and water bowls, chew toys, grooming supplies, bedding, collar and leash, identification tag, crate, gate, and odor neutralizer. Pre-puppy shopping allows you to order from wholesale catalogs or visit the pet superstore in the next county without the pressure of Puppers needing it right now. You’ll need to puppy-proof the area where the youngster will spend most of his time the first few months. This may mean taping loose electrical cords to baseboards; storing household chemicals on high shelves; removing plants, rugs, and breakables; setting up the crate; and installing gates. Once you think you’ve completely puppy-proofed, lie on the floor and look around once more to get a puppy’s-eye view. If you have children, hold one last meeting to lay down the rules: Don’t overwhelm Pup the first day, and don’t fight over him or create mob scenes showing him to the neighborhood. Now you’re off to get Puppers. Getting Off on the Right Paw When you pick up your pup, remember to ask what and when he was fed. Replicate that schedule for at least the first few days to avoid gastric distress. If you wish to switch to a different brand, do so over a period of about a week by adding one part new brand to three parts of the old for several days; then switch to equal parts; and then one part old to three parts new. From the start, consistency is important. On the way home, Puppers should ride in the back seat, either in one person’s arms or, preferably, in a crate or carrier. Once home, folks who plop the excited newcomer on the Oriental and let the kids chase him will be mopping up in no time—and regretting the lesson they taught their new pup. Instead, take him to his toileting area immediately. From there, carry out your schedule for feeding, toileting, napping, and play/exercise. From Day One, your pup will need family time and brief periods of solitary confinement. Solitude may be new to Puppers, so he may vocalize concern. Don’t give in and comfort him or you may create a monster. “Gee, if making noise brought them running once, maybe more whimpering is needed to get their attention again,” reasons the pup. Give him attention for good behavior, such as chewing on a toy or resting quietly. Doing things correctly from the start prevents confusion. Through puppy preparedness, you are one step closer to your Dream Dog.