A Better Dog 4U

Helping Dog's and the Humans that Love Them

A Better Dog 4U

Is This Heaven?

A man and his dog were walking along a road. The man was enjoying the scenery, when it suddenly occurred to him that he was dead.

He remembered dying, and that the dog walking beside him had been dead for years. He wondered where the road was leading them.

After some time, they came to a high stone wall made of fine marble. There was a tall arch with a golden gate that glowed in the sunlight.

When he was standing at the magnificent gate he saw a man at a desk to one side. The man called out and said, ‘Excuse me, where are we?’

‘This is Heaven, sir,’ the man answered. ‘Wow! Would you happen to have some water?’ the man asked.

Of course, sir. Come right in, and I’ll have some ice water brought right up. ‘The man gestured, and the gate began to open.

The traveler and his dog began toward toward the gate when the man at the desk said, ‘I’m sorry, sir, but we don’t accept pets.’

The man thought a second or two and then turned back toward the road and continued down the road with his dog.

After another long walk, he came to a dirt road leading through a farm gate that looked as if it had never been closed.

As he began down the dirt road he saw a man. He was leaning against a tree, reading a book.

‘Excuse me!’ he called to the man. ‘Do you have any water?’

‘Yeah, sure, there’s a pump over there, come on in.’

‘How about my friend here?’ the traveler gestured to the dog. ‘Sure, there should be a bowl by the pump.’

They went down the road a bit further were they found an old-fashioned hand pump with a bowl beside it.

The traveler filled the water bowl and took a long drink. Then he refilled the bowl and gave it to the dog.

When they were full, he and the dog walked back toward the man who was standing by the tree..

‘What do you call this place?’ the traveler asked. ‘This is Heaven,’ he answered.

‘Well, that’s confusing,’ the traveler said. ‘The man down the road said that was Heaven, too.’

‘Oh, you must mean the place with the tall arch and golden gates! Nope. That’s Hell.’

‘Doesn’t it make you mad for them to use your name like that?

‘No, we’re just happy that they screen out the folks who would leave their best friends behind.

Question and Answer Time.

ImageIn and effort to help make the lives of dogs and humans better we’d like to offer you any help you might need.

Do you have any questions, comments …. or even some good answers about dogs, dog training, healthcare & maintanence of dogs?

Post them here and if we can’t give you an answer, we’ll find some who can!

Preparing Your Dog for the Cold Winter Weather

510-3 Unless you own a Malamute or Husky, or unless you live in Alaska or in the Arctic, your dog is probably not able to live in extreme winter weather conditions.

This being said, if you have an outdoor dog you need to be aware of temperatures when they dip below the Freezing Point. In order to make sure that your dog is safe, you need to set up an area for your outdoor dog that is inside and out of the wind, ice and snow. Since your outdoor dog is acclimated to colder temperatures you could put a kennel or travel crate in your basement for those really cool days and nights. If this is not an option, you need to set up an area in an enclosed building or your garage. Just make sure it has “some” ventilation but is out of the wind. Normally an enclosed garage or barn can be 5-15 degrees warmer than the outside temperatures as long as the doors are closed to the outside air. You can also add straw, hay or old blankets to the area or crate to aid in keeping your dog warm. Avoid using a forced air heater that is pointed directly at the dog. If you use a heater it should indirectly warm the area, not just the dog.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that a dog house with some straw in it is a perfect winter weather haven! It’s NOT!!!

The reason that this is not true is that often these structures are no warmer than the outside because they don’t block enough of the cold. One way to check if your dog’s cold weather hideaway is warm enough is to get in it with a light jacket or sweatshirt on and see if it provides you with adequate shelter from the cold and wind.

If your dog is going to be outside and has access to a warm, dry shelter, it is also important to make sure that it has drinking water that isn’t frozen. It’s food should be covered as well. Most importantly, don’t neglect to spend time with your outdoor dog just because it’s cold outside. Remember, your dog needs to know that you are there and that you care.

OK, now let’s talk about your inside dog!

I know that your dog looks cute when it is all dressed up in it’s little coat and booties, but you really need to resist the temptation to outfit your dog with a “winter wardrobe” before it gets really cold. Your dog was born with a fur coat for a reason. That natural coat will keep it warm as long as it is not exposed to wet conditions or the cold temperatures for long periods of time.

Neka loved the cold. She looked forward to going out and laying in the snow.

Neka loved the cold. She looked forward to going out and laying in the snow.

Dog clothing and accessories are more enjoyable to pet owners than they are to the pets who wear them. In some cases these outfits can actually distress the pet.

Make sure that the clothing actually meets the dog’s needs, not yours. Make sure that the clothing you buy fit properly. If they are to tight it can actually cause the dog to become chilled instead of doing what it was actually designed to do. It should also not be pulling the dog’s fur, impede natural movement, or block openings for elimination.

Next, have you ever gone into your bathroom on a cold morning and wished that the seat had a heater? What do you think your dog is thinking when you open the back door to let it out during the winter? To make your dog’s outdoor experience more pleasant during the winter months try clearing the area where your dog regularly goes to the bathroom. Remove snow and ice from the area and create a path to this area. This will do several things. It will help aid your house training by keeping the dog’s routine as consistent as possible. It will also keep your dog warmer and drier because it won’t have to walk in deep snow, and it will reduce the amount of snow tracked into your home.

tired-patchs Inside, make sure that your dog has a warm, dry and comfortable place to sleep. Make sure that it is free of cold drafts. This can be done is several ways. You can just lay a blanket on the floor in a warm place or you can spend a few dollars on a bed designed to fit your dog. The cost of these beds can range widely so shop around and get the right bed for your dog’s needs. I also suggest that you keep an old towel by the door to dry off your dog’s paws and belly after it goes outside. This will keep the dog’s coat clean and dry.

Play with your dog more in the winter.  When winter weather makes it hard to get out and do things, your dog is just as bored as you are! It’s very easy for us as humans to “veg-out” when the cold weather gets here. And we adjust to this reasonably easily. Dogs do not adjust nearly as easy! A lot of us pet owners are less likely to take the dog on walks or to the dog park for exercise so this means that your dog is going to be looking for something to do to stay busy. If you don’t play with your dog, your dog will start to look for things to do. And trust me, you may not like what it finds to do.

Taking regular daily breaks to play with your dog will provide necessary exercise and mental stimulation to keep your dog healthy and happy. It also offers some human benefits as well. Playing with your dog reduced stress and blood pressure and can also alter your mood. I use the winter months to reinforce training and to work on all of the tricks and commands that I have taught my dog over the years. We also use the time to learn a few new tricks every winter.

No matter whether your dog is an inside dog or an outside dog, winter feeding recommendations for your pet may change too. If your dog is going to be outside it should have a food that is higher in fat because your dog burns fat to stay warm. Always check with your vet to make sure that your pet’s food is the right one for your dog’s needs. Also make sure that you aren’t over or under feeding during the winter months.

snowdog1 Since your dog relies on a warm coat when it goes outside we advise that you skip going to the groomer and avoid unnecessary bathing in the winter months.

Many vets recommend not bathing your dog more frequently than every 6 to 8 weeks to allow the natural skin oils to replenish. So plan your last bathing session for mid November and hold off with the bathing until it warms back up. There are a lot of great “dry” shampoos that you can use through the winter months if you must bath your dog. You can also wipe down the dog with a damp cloth rather than submerging it in water. Try to skip a mid-winter grooming appointment altogether or just ask for a trim instead of a full cut.

Protect Your Dogs During Cold Weather


With the current cold snap pushing in on the Midwest and Eastern United States it is very important that you watch your Dogs and other pets very closely so that they don’t become sick from overexposure to the elements. 

Cold weather can be just as hard on pets as is it on people. Sometimes pet owners forget that indoor pets are just as acclimated to the indoors as they are. Some owners leave their pets outside for extended periods of time thinking that all animals can adapt to the outdoors because they have a natural fir coat. This kind of thinking can put their pets in extreme danger of serious illness and even death.

It’s true that some pets can remain outside longer in the winter time than others can. But this is NOT true for all pets! Use your common sense: long-haired breeds like Huskies and German Shepherds will do better in cold weather than short-haired breeds like Dachshunds and Dalmatians. Small dogs that have to wade through the deep snow will feel the cold sooner than larger animals.

Your pet’s overall health will also affect how long it can stay out. Diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, and hormonal imbalances can compromise your pet’s ability to regulate body heat. If your pet is not generally in good health, it should not be exposed to long periods of winter weather. Only allow them to be out long enough to do their “business” and bring them back inside. Very young and very old pets are susceptible to illness during the cold months as well.

An average sized dog in normal health can feel the effects of the cold weather in as little as 10 minutes. When there are severe weather conditions that time can be easily cut in half. Frostbite can occur on a dog’s paws and noise in just a few minutes when wind chills reach below -10 degrees.


Patchs is Ready for the Cold Weather

A good rule of thumb is: if you are cold outside, so is your pet.


Don’t Worry, My Dog is Friendly – Giving Other Dogs and Owners Their Space

While it is very true that not all dogs get along with each other, most actually do! After all, dogs are basically very social animals. But just like humans, there is always that possibility that there can be a conflict of personalities between dogs. It’s not necessarily a German Shepherd vs. Doberman thing, or even a Pit-bull vs. Pit-bull thing. It’s usually just a difference in energy levels, amount of socialization or a resource guarding issue.

Because of this it is the dog owner’s duty to make sure that their dog has proper leadership and is always under their complete control. It is also important that the owner doesn’t try to force a meeting if either of the dogs is not in a completely calm state of mind.

When less social dogs are in public they need to be given every possible chance to interact with other dogs and humans. This is a great way to desensitize them. But interaction should only be done in a controlled environment with the help of a trained professional. It’s not something that should be done in passing on a public sidewalk. This is how people and dogs get hurt!

As a responsible dog owner you must be able to read the signs and the body language of both, your dog and any approaching dog you cross paths with. If you see that your dog is getting over excited, distressed, or even aggressive you need to remove it from what ever is causing the problem. That means stop advancing, turn away, or make whatever correction it takes to calm the dog. You also need to let the other person know that something is wrong, and they need to stop too. It is NOT rude to do this. Most owners will actually appreciate it.

I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve heard, “Oh, It’s OK … My Dog is REALLY a Very Friendly Dog!” To which I usually think to myself, “Sure it is …that’s why it’s barking, growling and trying to bite through his leash!” Frankly, this person is either: A). an owner that is in denial, B). doesn’t know any better or C). just lacks proper leadership skills. Unfortunately, it’s up to you to figure out which of the three it is.

When I’m out in public with my dog, or with a dog I’m working, I am relaxed and in the moment. And we usually have a great time on our walks. But I’m also very aware of what’s happening around me. I’m always scanning the area to see if there are any possible issues that I may need to address. With my dog, we are currently working on her pray drive. When she sees something move, she gets very excited and wants to give chase!  So you can imagine what she is like when we meet another dog! But she is learning that she has to remain calm or she doesn’t get to meet them.

Many loving families share their lives with dogs. Some choose (for a variety of reasons) not to socialize their dog with other dogs or humans. We should be very careful NOT to judge them for this. A lot of times, there are some good reasons for it. Here are a few for you to think about.

  • The dog is going through service dog training
  • The dog has injuries or a painful physical condition
  • The dog is intolerant toward other animals
  • The dog is recovering from surgery
  • The dog suffers from uncontrollable fear or an anxiety disorder
  • The dog is elderly and frail
  • The dog is owned by someone that want to be left alone
  • The dog is used as a personal protection animal
  • The owner is in a hurry and doesn’t have time to stop and talk

These dogs have every right to be out in public without having to interact with humans or other canines. When you come in contact with someone walking his or her dog, be sure to ask if it’s OK to interact. I do it all of the time, and no one has ever had a problem with it.

I have a lady in my neighborhood with an American Pit Bull Terrier that has had a very tough past. It is very aggressive toward other dogs, but is very sweet with humans. On occasion I find myself walking down the same section of street with them. We spoke in passing several months ago and she told me the story of her dog. So, now when I cross paths with her, I move to the far side of the street and make my dog sit as quietly as possible until they pass. This serves two purposes. She and her dog don’t feel pressured to interact, and her dog learns that not all dogs are out to get her. Over the past few months I’ve seen a marked improvement in the dog’s reaction to my dog.

It is very important that we give other dogs and owners some space. We need to learn that imposing ourselves on other dogs and owners is not always good for the dogs. Well meaning dog owners need to ask if it’s OK for them to meet, NOT insist on meeting them. It’s all about showing respect and realizing that we don’t always know what’s best. After all, we don’t always know the full story behind the other person and their dog.

Our Pets – Our Teachers (Learning from Dogs)

Today was a particularly rough day! Nothing went right … well except that it finally ended.

My Best Friend Patchs

I’m sure we’ve all had them. I’m not saying that I’m the only one who has a bad day! But I did find a way to beat it. So, that’s why I’m sharing this with you.

I totally stressed. My deadline is only a day away, and I’m sure that I’m not going to make it! Then it happened!

I was reminded about de-stressing and shown what is really important in life by, none other than, my dog.

At the height of frustration, she crossed the room, walked over to me, and sat down next to my chair. Then she looked up at me and gave me a tiny little whine. You know, the wine that says: You need a break, and you haven’t payed any attention to me in hours. And the one that says: I can help! You just need to come down on the floor and play with me for a while. Then finally: I’m not going away! You are going to have to come down and play!

The funny thing is, It turns out that she knew exactly what I needed. It took just a few minutes and I had forgotten all about what was bothering me. I was calmed down, and we were having a great time playing with her toys.

She had once again shown me, what every dog I’ve ever had has shown me at least a dozen times over the years. And that is: that nothing is THAT big of a deal! You have to live in the moment and go with the flow! She showed me in just a few brief moments that the only important thing is what you are doing right at that moment.

Then it came to me. The Dog’s Code of Life!
Which is: If you can’t play with it, eat it, or chase it … piss on it … and move on!

Thanks Patchs, you are truly a great friend!

Give Your Dog a Break During the Holidays

As we all know, the holidays can get a little crazy sometimes. Between all of the parties, family gatherings, family members coming home from college or coming from out of town, our schedules can get really mess up.

This time of year can be especially stressful for our pets too. They don’t read calendars, they don’t understand holidays and they surely don’t understand what to think of all that noise and people coming and going at all hours. Even the most laid back dog can become overwhelmed when it’s routine is turned upside-down and completely disrupted.

So before all of your guests, relatives and friends begin to arrive, take a few moments to make sure your dog has a quiet place to go so that it can escape the all of the craziness.

Even if it’s just moving the dog’s bed or crate into a quiet corner of the basement or into your bedroom, it can be enough to create a quiet retreat for a stressed out dog.

The first signs that your dog is becoming stressed out is that you will see the dog pacing, panting, licking it’s lips, yawning or just trying to find a place to be alone. Your dog may also become easily irritated or want to go outside or anywhere it can get away from everyone. If you see any of these signs, make sure you do something to remove the dog from stressful situations. If there are young children around, make sure that you ask them to leave the dog alone for a while. Just tell them that the dog needs a nap, break, or even a time out.

So give your dog a break from the holidays … give it quiet place of his own.

Holiday Pet Safety

The holiday season is a time to get together with family and friends. It is a time to create memories that will last a lifetime. It is a time for family and friends to come together for parties and festive meals. It is also a season full of sights and smells that wake the senses. Christmas trees trimmed with colorful decorations, turkey, stuffing, pies and cookies baking in the oven, and lots of new presents and wrapping paper all over the floor on Christmas day.

Unfortunately, with all of the added festivities the holiday season brings, it also brings new dangers to our pets.

Most seasoned pet owners know that the items listed below can be very dangerous. But sometimes it helps to be reminded. For the newer pet owners, maybe this is the first time you’ve seen this list. If this post saves just one family from a disaster this holiday season it will have been worth it.

Holiday parties often include a few alcoholic beverages meant to lighten the mood. But if they’re not kept out of the reach of pets, even a small amount of alcohol may cause vomiting, loss of coordination, and disorientation in your pet. Larger amounts may even cause death. Keep a careful eye on shots and mixed drinks. They can do damage faster.

Any cooked bones can be dangerous. Turkey and chicken bones are extremely dangerous because the splinter very easily. Ham and beef bone also splinter, just not as easily. All cooked bones have dangerous effects when ingested and can internal injury. Never intentionally give cooked bones to your pets. When you lay out the meals on your counters and tables, make sure that your pets can’t get to the food. Also make sure that they can’t get to the surfaces where the dirty dishes are placed.

Candles can offer an intimate and elegant element to the holiday. They can also ad a very dangerous element as well. Make sure they are nowhere near the reach of your dogs and cats. Flames can easily find wagging tails and curious noses, they can then be tipped into things that can easily catch fire. Need we say more?

Most pet owners know that chocolate is toxic to pets. Unsweetened baking chocolate and dark chocolates are the worst. But all chocolate, fudge, and other candy is bad as well. Symptoms of chocolate poisoning include: diarrhea, vomiting, seizures, nervousness, and even death.

Christmas Decorations
The shininess of tinsel, decorations, ribbons and bows is bound to attract curious dogs and cats. Accidental ingestion of these decorations can cause bunching and the possible perforation of intestines. This is a life-threatening condition requiring emergency surgery.

Christmas Trees
You only need to see a Christmas tree from your dog’s eyes to understand this danger. All of the sudden there’s a big tree in the house. If it doesn’t out-n-out frighten him, it will most likely raise some major curiosity in him. To avoid your tree falling over after a few bats of the paw, be sure to secure your tree in a sturdy stand and block off any access to it. You may also want to limit the amount of decorations you use on the bottom of the tree and make sure there isn’t anything dangling that your dog can get a hold of or pull on.

Garbage Cans
Once your holiday parties and the family feast is over, make sure the table scraps, foil, and other waste goes into a sealed trash can. Be aware that dogs and cats have a great nose and they may be able to open cupboards, doors and garbage cans. So make sure these places are well secured.

Pine Needles
If your dog or cat likes to chew, it may chew on or ingest pine needles from a real tree. If this happens it can cause vomiting, abdominal pain, depression, and possibly obstruction of the GI tract. In addition, Christmas trees are often sprayed with paint or preservatives. If a fertilizer is used it can also be extremely harmful.

Some holiday plants are harmful to pets. These plants include poinsettias, mistletoe, and holly. Ingestion of plants like these can cause mouth and stomach irritation, seizures and death. If you use these plants to decorate your home, keep them out of the reach of your pets.

Your pets are counting on you to keep them safe from dangers like these. A few simple preventative steps can assure that this holiday season will be a healthy and happy experience for your family and friends. Including your four footed friends.

I hope you will all have happy and healthy holiday season.