Like Dog, Like Owner: What Your Dog’s Breed Says About You

It is said that you can tell a lot about a person based on the company he keeps, but, bet you didn’t know this adage also rings true for dog breeds. It makes sense for pup parents to gravitate towards dogs that have similar temperaments as they do. After all, don’t most people have a type?  So, here’s a quick rundown of the various human personality traits associated with some of our favorite dog breeds.

thumbnail-like-dog-like-ownerBulldogs: Bulldogs are very determined and persistent, as they were originally bred for bull baiting. Thus, people who take care of bulldogs are said to be tenaciously stubborn, but can also have a great sense of humor. They are also said to be very meticulous, methodical and efficient when it comes to their work.

Terriers: These dogs are fun-loving and energetic companions. Similarly, terrier owners are said to be feisty, competitive, and are not likely to back down even when faced with seemingly insurmountable odds.

Labradors and Golden Retrievers: These breeds are the most popular choice for a family pet because they are friendly and good-natured. People who own Labs and Retrievers are said to be very close to their families and friends, easy-going and laid back.

Toy Breeds: Small dog breeds like Chihuahuas and Poodles are energetic and fiercely loyal companions. They’re also brave and known to “take on” much larger dogs without fear. Owners of toy dogs are said to be neat and organized. Everything in their homes must be put away in its proper place. Or else…just see how fierce they can be!

German Shepherds: While Shepherds may be a large dog breed, they are rather shy around unfamiliar people. Once they warm up though, they are fiercely loyal and protective dogs. Likewise, German shepherd owners are the kind of people who would do anything for their loved ones and therefore find it hard to say no to friends and family.

Dachshunds: Despite their stature, dachshunds are some of the bravest and tenacious dogs out there. Thus, owners of dachshunds can be bossy at times and often dislike not getting their way. However, if asked for help, they will do everything in their power to assist you.

Rottweilers and Doberman Pinschers: These dog breeds are often described as intense and unrelenting, with an almost unlimited amount of courage. People who own these dogs can often be laid-back and relaxed, but when provoked, become quickly agitated and upset. These are the type of people you don’t want to be at odds with; stay on their good side, and they’ll be your best friend.

Siberian Huskies: These dogs like physical activity and would rather be outdoors than cooped up inside the house. The people who gravitate towards huskies are usually athletic or at the very least, big sports fans. Just like their dogs, owners of huskies are said to be strong-willed, but very lovable.

Pitbulls: Unfortunately, due to popular misconception, Pitbulls have a bad reputation. However, if they are raised properly, these dogs can actually be very sweet dogs who are willing to do anything for their loved ones. People who raise Pitbulls may put up a stern image, but can be sweet as sugar once you get to know them.

Boxers: Boxers are busy and highly energetic dogs, so therefore their owners are often seen to be living life to its fullest.  Boxer people are playful, happy-go-lucky and rarely stressed.

Cocker Spaniels: Sweet, respectful, family-friendly dogs, Cocker Spaniels are a gentle and popular breed. Spaniel owners are said to be charming, affectionate and trustworthy who maintain a tight-knit group of friends and would much prefer a small circle than a large party with strangers.

English Pointers, Weimaraners, Irish Setters: These breeds are naturally energetic and athletic, enjoying long hikes, runs at the park and a love for the outdoors. Owners of these breeds are typically highly active, enjoying extreme sports or hunting and can get bored easily if not faced with new experiences. They are also intelligent, motivated and courageous.

Greyhound, Whippet, Basenji: Besides being fast and agile, Sight Hounds enjoy the company of a small circle and tend to be more introverted than some of the other breeds out there. Thus, owners of these breeds are often athletic or outdoorsy, and prefer social outings with a close group of friends.

While all of this information is interesting and fun to know, take these generalizations with a grain of salt. After all, haven’t you also heard the saying, “Opposites attract?”



10 Weird, Yet Common Dog Behaviors Explained

While you likely think your pup is the sweetest, most adorable furry creature in the land, you also have probably raised your brow regularly at or worried about some of his strange, funny behaviors. As pooch experts, we’re here to explain some of these questionable tendencies, and assure you they’re completely normal!

  • Sneezing…In Reverse
    If your dog’s sneeze sounds like he is rapidly pulling air into his nose, rather than blowing air out of his nose, he may have what is called a “reverse sneeze” medically known as a pharyngeal gag reflex. In most cases however, this is not something to worry about and could be caused by a variety of environmental irritants, mucus, or infection similar to a regular sneeze. If the sneezing seems to be getting worse or more frequent, visit your veterinarian. Typically, an antihistamine or decongestant will effectively reduce a dog’s involuntary reflexes.
  • Chasing Shadows or Lights
    Some dogs, especially those with high chase drive, become fixated on lights, shadows or reflections. This behavior is typically the result of boredom. Chasing can be an effective game to self soothe and relieve tedium. The best way to combat this habit is to distract your pooch with a more positive and interactive form of exercise such as fetch or tug of war. If your dog has this affinity, you may want to avoid shiny toys or bowls which reflect light.
  • Sniffing Other Dogs’ Rear Ends
    Dogs sniff each other’s bottoms as a form of greeting. Consider this somewhat off-putting habit as a form of the human handshake. Since the rear end has the strongest odor on the body, it’s the most popular area for dogs to whiff in order to get to know one another.
  • Scratching the Ground After Potty
    An evolutionary behavior descended from wolves, scratching the ground after defecation is your dog’s way of leaving his scent and a visual message to other pooches who may pass by later. Dogs possess scent glands underneath their paws and between their toes. So, when a dog scrapes the ground near fresh poop, the scent from these glands is then transferred to the ground. This is a way to mark and protect territory, which back in the day was too large to patrol each day. Also, long and deep scratch marks on the ground send the message to other dogs that the dog is strong and powerful.
  • Circling or Scratching Before Lying Down
    Before you attribute your pup’s habit of circling or scratching to a nervous tick or obsessive compulsion, understand that these behaviors are derived from your dog’s ancestors long ago. As a way to pat down uncomfortable grassy patches or raised dirt on the ground, dogs would circle their sleeping space in order to create a cozy, warm spot. Also, because dogs used to sleep in packs together, the reason many of them curl up in a circle formation while sleeping is to protect themselves from outside danger.
  • Eating Poop
    There are several causes of coprophagy (the medical term for consuming feces). This behavior, while common, should not be ignored and should be remedied as soon as possible because eating feces can result in serious illness such as contracting parasites. Contact your veterinarian to determine whether your dog is hungry, missing key nutrients from his diet or simply acting out to get attention.
  • Humping Dogs, Objects or People
    If your dog is neutered or spayed, contrary to popular belief, this embarrassing behavior is not of a sexual nature. Fixed dogs hump because they are excited or seeking attention. To prevent this from happening, firmly say “no” and redirect your dog’s attention with a treat or toy.
  • Tilting Head to One Side
    thumbnail-weird-behaviorsWhen a dog cocks his head intently to one side after hearing an unfamiliar noise, he’s trying to intently focus, listen to the sound and figure out where it’s coming from. Since canine hearing is more than 1,000 times more sensitive than human hearing, it’s not surprising for a strange sound to catch puppy’s attention, even amidst distraction.
  • Scooting on Butt
    While common, again this behavior is not something to ignore. Your dog is scooting or dragging his butt along the ground because his rear end is uncomfortable and itchy. The culprit is typically an anal gland problem. Anal sac disease is easily treated by expression of the glands by a veterinarian. If the problem persists and the glands continue to be severely infected or impacted, surgery may be required. When in doubt, call the vet.
  • Eating Grass
    Did your pooch turn into a cow overnight? Don’t fret, eating grass every once in a while isn’t a cause for concern. However, dogs that frequently choose to consume grass could either be missing core nutrients from their diet such as potassium and fiber, or are instinctively trying to remedy an upset stomach. Frantic grass eating is typically a sign of a gastrointestinal issue. Grass texture can trigger vomiting or a bowel movement, which can relieve tummy discomfort. Monitor your dog’s grass eating behavior closely and consult with your veterinarian to discuss a change in diet.


DIY Grooming in Five Easy Steps

If you’re on a budget and looking to save on what can be costly professional grooming appointments (especially if your breed requires a cut every 4-6 weeks or if you have multiple pets), DIY grooming may be right for you. The keys to successful at-home grooming are time and preparation. So, if you can commit to the idea that the process can be time-consuming, and that you’ll need some basic, necessary tools in your “home salon,” DIY grooming can be done by following these 5 simple steps. And get the camera ready – nothing is cuter or funnier than a soapy, wet pooch!

  1. Brush

Begin the process by gently brushing your dog from head to tail. Be sure to choose the right brush. For instance, if your dog has a long, thick or difficult to manage coat, you’ll need a detangling brush. If Fido has soft, oily hair, a bigger bristle brush designed to remove excess oil may be necessary. Take your time and do your due diligence in removing all debris and locating all matted knots that need to be cut out. You’ll quickly notice which areas will require the most of your attention.

  1. Bathe

As you get ready to bathe your dog, reassure him with a sweet, encouraging tone. Many dogs get skittish in and around water, so now is a good time to offer comfort if needed. It’s best to wash your dog in a sink or shower with a nozzle/spray attachment for easy, comfortable access and control. Your dog will do best in lukewarm water (a damp, cold dog will shiver). Choose a baby or pet shampoo made for sensitive skin to be safe. If your dog has dry, flaky skin, you’ll want to buy a moisturizing shampoo. If your dog may have fleas, you’ll need a flea-specific shampoo. Lather your pup up well and be careful to avoid his eyes and mouth. After washing the body, clean eyes and ears with a warm cloth only. Towel dry with a large towel and try to remove as much excess water as possible.

  1. Cut

thumbnail-dyi-grooming-cutYou’ll need to purchase a pair of special grooming scissors from a pet store or online. Never use regular scissors on your pet! For an even cut, you’ll need the blades sharp and cut at a blunt angle. Always be extra careful around the face and in hard-to-reach areas like the belly, bottom and feet. And remember to clean up all the fallen hair so you don’t see it tracked all over your home afterwards!

  1. Dry

thumbnail-dyi-grooming-dryDrying your dog’s hair the right way can also be the scariest part of the process for your pup! The only way to get your dog’s hair completely dry and free of that awful “wet dog smell,” is to use a hair dryer but the mere sound of the blower can often make your dog want to run in the opposite direction. To speed up the process, ask a friend or family member to help hold your dog in place while you dry your anxious pup. Brush your dog’s hair simultaneously while using the dryer for the optimum soft, fluffy coat.

  1. Reward!

You did it! And your pup not only survived, but now looks fresh, clean and more adorable than before!  Celebrate with hugs, kisses, treats and verbal praise. That way, Fido associates bath time with positivity and well-deserved rewards.

After your first DIY grooming session, you may think twice about doing it again, but remember – it gets easier with practice!  Your hard work as a stylist is not only a cost-saver, but also provides other benefits. Grooming your dog yourself gives you total control over how your dog is handled (rather than entrusting a stranger) and offers your dog the familiar environment of home where he can be less stressed and have a more relaxed experience. Rest assured that the more you do it, the more of an enjoyable experience it will be…for both you and your dog!



Top Three Training Methods: Which is Right For You?

If you ask ten different people on the street their opinions on how to train a dog, you’ll surely receive ten different answers. How you approach dog training is a personal decision, but before you decide what method is best for you and your pup, understanding the thinking behind each is important.

Traditional Dominance Training

The most popular and widely used method employs the philosophy that dogs behave poorly because they are trying to obtain dominance or gain higher rank over their owner or trainer. Traditional trainers will use physical stimulus such as yanking a leash to get a dog to heel or firm verbal commands to grab the dog’s attention away from distractions. Popular dog trainer Cesar Millan’s “wolf pack” method draws on dominance theory and establishing “alpha influence” in the trainer in order to exert dominance over the dog. Good behavior is rewarded with praise and positive reinforcement while bad behavior is punished. While touted as successful by many, critics say the result of dominance training is that the dog’s behavior is suppressed and the dog’s personality becomes more subdued in order to avoid disciplinary action. It’s also important to note that the wolf pack theory has come under scrutiny in recent years based on the fact that dogs are an entirely different species than wolves and that most canine problems are a result of insecurity and/or a desire to seek and maintain safety and comfort – not from a desire to establish higher rank and dominance.

Scientific Training

Many veterinarians and animal behaviorists promote “science-based training,” which is guided by the philosophy that dogs are hardwired to want to “please” their owners. Therefore, science-based training first teaches the dog desired behaviors using rewards and then, when the dog behaves badly, the reward is taken away. For example, if you’re playing a game of fetch and your dog jumps to nip your hand before you toss the toy, the disciplinary action would be to clearly hold the toy away from him so he understands that he will not get the toy if he continues this behavior. Once the dog sits calmly and waits, you toss the toy back and continue the game. This method does not rely on force or coercion, but rather encourages the trainer to “work with” the dog by removing a perceived award so dog learns unwanted behavior is not tolerated.

Positive Reinforcement Training

thumbnail-top-training-methodsThis “humanistic approach” relies strictly on positive reinforcement. The dog is never reprimanded; rather only rewarded for good behavior. Bad behavior is ignored under the philosophy that while you your dog may behave badly at times, they require unconditional love and care. A good example of this method which you may have heard of is “clicker training,” is a method based on behavioral psychology that relies on marking desirable behavior and rewarding it. However, critics argue that only employing positive reinforcement is not effective because the dog doesn’t know which behaviors to avoid. Moreover, this method can often lead to even worse behavior because dogs are confused as to right and wrong. For example, if the dog is continuously barking and the trainer ignores the barking and instead pets or hugs the dog, the dog can easily misconstrue your distraction as encouragement or a sign that you want to play.

Whichever direction you choose, there are a few overarching concepts that apply to any/all successful training – strong communication, positive feedback, exercise, motivation and boundaries. It’s also important to have a plan and set expectations for yourself and family members up front. If any of these methods interest you, research the various proponents and equip yourself accordingly with the skills and knowledge necessary to move forward.