Don’t Cry! The 411 On Dog Tear Stains

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It’s likely you’ve noticed a dog with red or brown stains around its face and eyes. These stains aren’t a result of playing in the dirt; rather they are actual “tear stains” caused by a variety of physical factors. Just like humans, dogs produce tears that keep their eyes moist and protect them from environmental irritants. Some breeds are more prone to tear stains than others, but white pups are most likely to have visible staining because of their light color. Pigments in canine tears dye white fur easily, making these light-colored pups’ eyes the hardest to keep bright and clean!

Several factors that can contribute to tear stains on your pup include:

  •  Excessive tear production: If your dog is producing too many tears, there is nowhere for them to go, so they end up immediately outside of the eye, on the snout area.
  • Faulty tear drainage: Dogs have small holes that drain tears away from the eye (called “puncta”), but a variety of conditions can affect the functionality of this system. Eyelids turned inward, shallow eye sockets (as in snub-nosed breeds), and blocked drainage holes can all contribute to your dog’s tear drainage not working properly.
  • Long hair around the eyes: Overflow of tears is more likely and heavy when there is more hair growth around the eye. Thus, long-haired breeds may be prone to staining.

Puppies are also susceptible as they are born with the conditions that cause tear stains. Prevent the stains from forming by incorporating “face grooming” into your daily maintenance routine. A quick wipe down of your puppy’s face and eye area every day can go a long way in keeping those stains under control. Make sure to:

  • Use a cotton ball or soft cloth to clean the eye area. Moisten the cotton or cloth with a saline eye-wash solution, and rub gently underneath and around the eyes. (Pre-made saline solutions are perfectly fine, but if you prefer a homemade solution, mix boric acid powder into distilled water and boil. Keep refrigerated until use.)
  • Trim hair around the eyes as often as necessary to keep excess hair from irritating the eye and wicking away tears.
  •  Wash hair on the snout with a wet cloth and a gentle dry shampoo or hydrogen peroxide to remove stains.
  • Keep moist areas dry by wiping away excess water after your dog drinks or goes for a swim. For added moisture absorption, sprinkle cornstarch under the eye and around the muzzle. Moisture in these areas can lead to the growth of bacteria and yeast, which will likely cause irritation, or even infection.

There are plenty of special grooming products available for removing tear stains under your puppy’s eyes (check out these wipes and this comb). It’s always worthwhile to check with your vet as well, to confirm there is no medical problem and no foreign body present that may be causing excess tearing. If a medical problem is present, your vet can usually suggest an effective treatment and send your pup on his way to cleaner eyes in no time.

Getting to Know Guide Dogs

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Guide dogs, also known as seeing eye dogs, are special pooches that help the blind navigate their world. Guide Dogs of America provides blind and visually impaired people with guide dogs free of charge in North America. Now that deserves a “round of a-paws.” Let’s get to know more about these paw-some pups and how they perform heroic acts every day.

The first school for training service animals, including seeing eye dogs, was established in Germany during World War I to assist veterans blinded in war. Outside of Germany, interest in service dogs did not become widespread until the mid-1900’s. The first guide dogs were German Shepherds, appropriately coming from the service dog school’s country of origin. In 1929, Nashville resident Morris Frank succeeded in convincing Americans to grant people with service animals access to public transportation, hotels and other open public areas. By Federal law, blind people with service dogs are now allowed to go anywhere the general public is allowed, including restaurants, hospitals, stores, airplanes and taxis.

The dog breeds used in guide dog service are chosen for their easy trainability and sound temperaments. The most common breeds selected as guide dogs are Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers and German Shepherds, but other breeds have also been known to be good choices, such as Labradoodles, Standard Poodles, Collies, Border Collies, Australian Shepherds, Havanese and Vizslas.

Many guide dogs are trained from birth for the special task of aiding the visually impaired. Dogs who start training at birth take about 18 months to complete their program (DGP for Pets). Just like all domesticated dogs, guide dogs must first learn housetraining and basic obedience before receiving additional guide dog training. After about one year, the guide dog meets her partner and they train together for two weeks.

The guide dog recipient is just as responsible in training as the dog. It is the responsibility of the visually impaired person to use his or her senses to judge whether or not it is safe to cross the street, for example, but the guide dog may refute the action if she deems it hazardous. The dog’s intentional refusal of a command is called “intelligent disobedience.”

Meeting a Working Guide Dog Team

If you encounter a visually impaired person with a guide dog, you should treat this person as you would any other stranger on the street and respect boundaries. Do not pet, feed or talk to a guide dog without asking for the owner’s permission first. While they may be irresistibly cute, guide dogs are at work and should not be distracted. After all, the owner depends on his or her guide dog to be vigilant of dangers.

Guide dogs are special service dogs that have helped aid the blind for decades. Their ability to learn techniques above and beyond basic training techniques in order to devotedly assist their partner is truly remarkable. We never cease to be amazed at what dogs can do in our everyday lives.

9 Things You Didn’t Know About the Golden Retriever

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Golden Retrievers always rank high among the most popular breeds in the United States, and they’re #3 on PuppySpot’s list. These loyal, sociable dogs are excellent with children and families, and excel at obedience training and therapy work. They’re eager-to-please companions that can adapt to many environments, from apartments to larger living spaces. Here are 9 facts you need to know about Golden Retrievers!

1. They’re talented.
Not only do they make great family pets, but Goldens are also helpful to greater society. They’re used as hunters, guide dogs, search-and-rescue dogs and more. Their great trainability and keen sense of smell makes them useful for many jobs.

2. They love to swim.
Golden Retrievers give meaning to the term “doggy paddle.” These dogs have a knack for swimming in their blood; they even have water-repellent coats! They’ll joyfully take a dip in the pool or the ocean with you (sometimes without being asked).

3. They’re all over TV and cinema.
The camera loves Goldens, and is it any wonder why? Their friendly smiles and lovable character are irresistible to viewers everywhere. You might recognize the breed from the Disney movie franchise “Air Bud” or from Comet in the TV series “Full House.” This breed is a favorite in television and movies, and we’re not complaining!

4. They’re considered the fourth smartest dog breed.

According to the AKC, Golden Retrievers are the fourth smartest dogs behind the Border Collie, Poodle and German Shepherd. That must be why they’re so good at many different jobs!

5. They belonged to presidents.
US presidents Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan both had Golden Retrievers as pets while serving in the White House. The name of Ford’s Golden was Liberty, and Reagan’s was Victory.

6. They come in three recognized colors.
When it comes to Golden Retrievers, there’s not just one version of “golden.” The three standard colors of this breed are gold, light golden, and dark golden.

7. They’re calm and cool.
Despite their size and strength, Goldens are not particularly loud. They don’t bark much, except for if a stranger comes to the door. Most of the time, this majestic breed is quiet and well-behaved.

8. They get along with others.
Cat, dog, goldfish—doesn’t matter, a Golden can get along with just about anyone. They’re also very gentle around small children, though supervision is still needed because Goldens can get overexcited and accidentally knock over a child.

9. They set the bar for obedience.
Goldens excel in tests of obedience. In fact, they were the first three consecutive winners of AKC’s Obedience trials starting in 1977. These champs are truly outstanding dogs.

Westminster Insight
A Golden Retriver named “Tamarack And Blueprint’s Defying Gravity” placed in third among the Sporting Group at the 2017 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

What do you love about your Golden Retriever? Comment below!

The 411 on Hot Spots

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Does your dog itch, scratch and lick himself so often in certain places that the affected areas become red, hot, irritated, or even bloody and scabbed? This ailment, also known as “hot spots” or “moist eczema,” is caused by a variety of factors such as bites, poor grooming, skin infections, stress or boredom, but is quite often the result of environmental allergies.

Allergens in the air such as dust or pollen often consistent with a change in seasons, increase a dog’s histamine levels, which set off uncomfortable itching that the dog tries to self-remedy by scratching, licking and biting. Not to be ignored, environmental allergies, also known as “atopic dermatitis” typically occur post puppy-hood after a dog is one years old, and become progressively worse over a dog’s lifespan.

Hot spots can not only be quite painful and irritating for dogs, but are also upsetting for the owner who has to watch and listen to a dog licking, scratching and inflicting self-trauma. Hot spots can severely affect the quality of the dog’s life and if left untreated, the hot spots will only worsen and develop into bacterial infection sites due to the combination of an open wound and surrounding moistness.

Certain breeds are more susceptible to hot spots, including Retrievers, Terriers, Boxers, Dalmatians, Bulldogs, Shepherds, Beagles and Irish Setters.

Medication Treatments for Relief:

Antihistamine Medication – Similar to treatment offered to humans who suffer from allergies, an antihistamine such as Benadryl or Claritin can be helpful as a first line of defense, at least for temporary relief. Remember to consult with your vet regarding the appropriate dosage for your dog based on weight. Unfortunately, these medications can often lose effectiveness if used too often and only work on 30% of dogs.

Steroid Medication – The next option, if an antihistamine isn’t doing the trick, is to discuss corticosteroid medications with your vet. A stronger Rx, these meds are often effective, but you must be careful with continued use, as they can present possible severe and permanent side effects.

Immunotherapy – Many veterinarians will say allergy shots are the only effective method to stop the progression of allergies. Similar to the skin testing performed on humans, a veterinarian will inject various allergens into the dog’s skin to test which cause reactions, and to which degree. The allergens are then mixed together to formulate the injection, which over time and if performed consistently, will desensitize your dog’s immune system. It’s recommended to start young as the older the dog gets, the less effective the treatment can be.

Immune-Suppressants – This option should only be explored if immunotherapy is not showing positive results or improvement. Immune modulator drugs suppress the immune system so that it does not respond to harmless allergens. However, these medications can cause side effects such as vomiting and diarrhea, and present an increased risk of infection from other illnesses.

Sublingual Immunotherapy – This is an alternative to allergy shots, if you’re concerned your dog may have a negative or aggressive reaction to an injection. With this treatment, the medication is administered by squeezing into their mouth.

Please know that each option should be thoroughly discussed and weighed with your veterinarian as treatments will vary based on the dog’s breed, size, and medical history.

Non-Medication Treatments for Relief:

Keep Your Dog’s Paws Clean – As a preventative measure, it doesn’t hurt to manually remove potential allergens from your dog’s paws after walks or hikes by washing or wiping thoroughly.

Use Medicated Shampoo – For bathing, ask your vet dermatologist for a recommendation on a specially-formulated shampoo designed to control inflammation on skin.

Try Supplements – Certain dietary pills with fatty acids such as biotin and Omega-3s are supposed to suppress itching and improve coat health.

Avoid Products with Known Allergens – If you’ve done a skin testing for your dog and are able to isolate certain allergens, take care with buying food or skincare free of those allergens.

Bathe Often and Follow Flea Control Regimen – A regularly groomed dog taking consistent flea prevention medication will have less risk of fleas and other irritants, which can cause hot spots.

Offer A Stress-Free Environment – Make sure your dog gets regular exercise and opportunities for play to relieve boredom.

Use a Temporary E-collar – While annoying for your dog, an Elizabethan collar or cone can be effective for stopping the itching and allowing the hot spot to heal.

How to Crate Train a Puppy

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The philosophy behind crate training your furry companion is to create a familiar and safe location where your dog will want to enter of her own will and enjoy relaxing and sleeping inside her very own comfy and cozy spot. Because dogs don’t like to soil their sleeping areas, they are then more likely to eliminate (do their potty business) once taken outside. Crate training also makes for an easier way to supervise the puppy and prevent full access to the home, which will result in much less opportunity for your new pal to get into any mischief. Added bonuses include a convenient carrier for traveling and a way to easily confine your dog if non-dog-friendly guests visit your home.

While crating can be beneficial in many ways, it is important to not over-use crate time or use it improperly. If a puppy is kept in a crate for more than a few hours at a time during the day, the puppy could learn that crate time is a punishment, which would ultimately be counterproductive during training. If you plan to crate train, it’s imperative that the dog is taken out to play and exercise every few hours. The crate is not a place to leave your pup for 8-10 hours while you leave for the day.

Here are 5 simple tips to successfully crate train your dog:

1. Meet and Greet
Be patient. Introducing your pet to her crate could take anywhere from a couple minutes to a few days. Make the crate as comfortable as possible by adding padding, blankets or pillows. The crate should be located in a highly trafficked area of the home, such as next to the couch in the family room or near the table in the kitchen, so your dog considers it a safe place, amongst her family. Start by ensuring that the door remains open and won’t accidentally close in your puppy’s face or lock behind her. Show your dog the crate with enthusiasm and make sure your voice is positive and happy. Decide on a specific command you will use consistently for telling your dog to go inside the crate. Make sure everyone in the family is on board with the command and use it 100% of the time when telling the dog to go inside. Place a treat at the entrance of the crate and gradually move the next few treats further and further back inside the crate until your dog has to go all the way to the back to get the treat. Never ever push or force her into the crate; always allow her to go in at her own pace. Once she is comfortable going all the way to the back of the crate to get her treat, feed her next meal while she is still in the crate. Ensuring the door is open, place her bowl of food at the very front of the crate. This will teach her that this is a safe, happy territory for her to eat and sleep.

2. Eat a Meal in Privacy
Once your dog is comfortable going in and out of the crate at her own will, place her bowl of food all the way in the back of the crate. If she still seems to be a bit reluctant or anxious, you may start with the food at the front of the crate and gradually move it to the back the way you did with the treats. Once she is able to finish an entire meal while inside the crate, begin closing the door. Let her sit inside the crate with the door closed for about 10 minutes after finishing her meal before opening the door. If she starts whining, you may be moving a little too fast. Be sure to use tons of positive reinforcement when opening the door to show your pup that her behavior is being rewarded.

3. Stay a While
After your dog is comfortable eating inside the crate, you are ready to condition her for longer stays. Start by getting her favorite food or treat, holding it in your hand and pointing to the crate while using your special command. Once she is inside, give the treat and close the door. Hang around the crate for a few minutes and then move away from the crate so that you are completely out of sight. Remain out of sight for about 10 minutes. When you return, let her see you but don’t let her out for another few minutes. Repeat this exercise until your dog is comfortable alone in the crate with the door closed for 30 minutes. At this point, you should be able to leave her alone in the crate for short periods of time and in the evenings to sleep.

4. Transition to Alone Time
Once your dog is comfortable staying in the crate for 30 minutes while you are out of sight, she is ready to be left alone in the crate while you leave the home. It is important to remember that you shouldn’t leave her alone for too long. A good rule of thumb is to gradually increase the length of intervals. Start with an hour long outing and gradually increase to a few hours at a time. To ease the transition, you should try putting your dog in the crate 10-20 minutes before you leave the house so that crate time doesn’t become associated with you leaving. Use your command word or phrase to put him in the crate and use lots of positive reinforcement. Make sure not to make the goodbye too long or emotional.

5. Good Night, Sleep Tight
Night crating is the last step in your training. Start by moving the crate next to your bed in your bedroom, especially if the dog is a puppy and in the process of potty training. That way, she’ll know you’re close by, but you’ll also hear her whine in the middle of the night if she needs to be taken outside. As time goes on, it is okay to move the crate further away from your bed.

A Special Note on Whining:
Whining can mean one of two things, either your dog needs to be taken outside to go to the bathroom or she is testing you. Similar to a young toddler who will cry until they get what they want, a puppy can be smart and learn quickly how to manipulate her owner. If you find out your puppy doesn’t have to go and is whining for attention, it’s imperative that you not give in. Once the whining begins, ask the dog if she needs to go potty, with the phrase you would normally use when taking her outside. Middle of the night trips outside must be used for potty. If the dog doesn’t go, put her immediately back inside the crate so as not to allow the dog to associate the trip out of the crate with playtime. As painful as it may be to listen to ongoing whining, put on headphones or try to block out the noise. By ignoring it, the dog will quickly come to understand whining doesn’t mean attention. No matter how frustrating, never bang on the crate or yell at the dog. Simply ignore. If the whining lasts longer than a few minutes, you may need to go back to earlier steps in crate training.

Remember: Patience, consistency and positive reinforcement are key to successful crate training!

7 Fun Yorkshire Terrier Facts To Know

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Pint-sized and playful, Yorkies rank #4 on our list of most popular pups. The oft-spoiled Yorkshire Terrier has risen to fame as a pampered lap dog with an attitude that beats its size. But there’s a lot more to this pup beyond its cute and cuddly appearance.

Here are 7 Fun Yorkshire Terrier facts to know:

1. Their history is less than lavish.

The Yorkie was brought to Yorkshire, England by Scottish workers to work in the coal mines, textile mills and factories during the Industrial Revolution. Yorkies were originally used as ratters (rat catchers) until they eventually found favor among British elite as well as American gentry.

2. Their name is misleading.

Contrary to the “terrier” in their name, Yorkies are registered as part of the Toy group, according to the AKC.

3. They change color with age.

The steel-blue and tan Yorkie we know and love isn’t actually born that color combination. As a matter of fact, Yorkie puppies are born black and tan, almost looking like mini German Shepherds, then develop their characteristic fur color after a few months.

4. They make good watchdogs.

Sure, their small toy bodies aren’t enough to take on a threatening intruder, but since Yorkies don’t realize how small they actually are, they’re not afraid to give someone much bigger a piece of their mind. A Yorkie’s sharp yelp can alert owners of a trespasser, and the Yorkie won’t give up until the threat to safety is gone.

5. The first therapy dog was a Yorkie.

The use of therapy dogs for hospital patients, veterans and the disabled has gained popularity in recent years. While modern-day therapy work most typically employs dogs like the Labrador Retriever and German Shepherd, the first ever therapy dog was a Yorkie named Smoky who comforted wounded soldiers after WWII.

6. Their fur is a lot like our hair.

If you’ve ever seen a Yorkie show dog, you’ve noticed its long, flowing, silky hair. Yorkies are one of a few dog breeds that don’t shed; instead, their hair grows continuously, much like human hair. Their coat can grow up to two feet long! Therefore, owners who don’t want their Yorkies to have unmanageably long fur should get their dogs regular trims.

7. This dog has graced the White House.

Though former US President Richard Nixon is widely known for his Cocker Spaniel named Checkers, few know about his Yorkie, Pasha. While Pasha didn’t get the spotlight time that Checkers did, she was one of Nixon’s three pooches who joined him in the White House.

Westminster Insight
A Yorkie named Cede Higgins won Best in Show at the 1978 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

Enjoy our list of Yorkshire Terrier facts? Check out our available Yorkshire Terrier puppies today!

The Bark Side: How to Stop Incessant Barking

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The reality of the matter is that dogs bark. Dogs bark for a variety of reasons such as separation anxiety, attention or boredom, but as a general note, dog owners should understand that occasional barking is not only normal and to be expected, it’s the only way canines know how to communicate vocally. Similar to a newborn baby who cries for anything and everything he wants, puppies can do the same, especially prior to being trained.

However, there are certain dogs who are prone to excessive barking throughout the day and night, which can be annoying, disruptive and frustrating for not only pup parents, but also neighbors and guests. This type of continuous barking should not be ignored, as it can develop into a bad habit which only worsens over time.

Training a dog to curb barking can be a difficult task, but with consistency, practice and patience, you will definitely see progress. By following the following do’s and don’ts, you’ll be steps closer to keeping your dog quiet and getting the barking under control.

1. Do make sure to exercise your dog frequently. A tired dog is a quiet dog. Oftentimes, dogs bark out of boredom or loneliness. To combat these common causes, offer up regular activities and playtime for your dog – a game of fetch, a trip to the dog park, a walk around the block, or if needed, an investment in agility training or cage-free doggie daycare, are all options to keep your dog active and busy. If your dog is alone for long stretches of the day, provide toys or long-lasting chew bones to keep his attention span focused.

2. Do teach your dog the command, “Quiet!” When your dog is barking, say “Quiet,” in a firm, yet calm voice. Once he stops barking, even if it’s just to pause, praise and reward him with a treat. Just be very careful not to give treats while he’s barking. It’s imperative that he associates good behavior with a reward, and that bad behavior is ignored. You can pair “Quiet” with holding a finger to your lips mimicking the “shhh” sound, as some dogs pick up sign language faster than vocal commands. Above all else, it is important not to yell or scream at your dog in anger. Besides being an unhealthy way to reprimand, shouting is counter-productive as it simulates the barking noise and many dogs will think you’re just joining in with them, rather than scolding them.

3. Do bring a barking outdoor dog indoors. For somewhat obvious reasons, dogs that bark all night should be brought inside the house. A dog barking outside in the yard can easily bother the neighbors and potentially rile up other dogs in the vicinity. When a dog is brought inside a quiet, peaceful, comfortable home with his family members, he will quickly learn to settle down and sleep. Plus, a dog sleeping close by is added protection and security for the family!

4. Do remove barking triggers from your dog’s living environment. If you notice that your dog barks out of alarm or fear, and at particular objects or environmental factors, adjust or remove those triggers. For example, if your dog continues to bark at other animals or people through a fence, consider switching to an enclosure without slats. If your dog barks whenever your doorbell rings, you may want to ask guests to knock on the door instead.

While it’s unreasonable to change life dramatically to accommodate barking, there is nothing wrong with making minor adjustments that pose little inconvenience, if they’ll bring you some peace and quiet.

5. Don’t allow the problem to continue. The longer bad behavior goes on and on, the more ingrained the conduct can become in the dog’s personality. Barking can be a pleasant form of release for dogs who bark to seek attention, communicate anxiety or fear, or even to express a desire to play. If at home training is proving ineffective, take your dog to a behavioral specialist who specializes in barking issues. Nip the problem in the bud, before it’s too late.

6. Don’t give up when your training method isn’t working. Because barking occurs for a multitude of reasons, it’s important to address the issue even when at-home or professional training methods fail. There is the rare potential that your dog is barking for a medical reason that needs veterinary attention. A health issue as minor as pain from a bee sting to something as serious as brain disease can cause excessive barking. So, if you’re ever at a complete loss, it doesn’t hurt to do your due diligence and get a thorough checkup for Fido.

7. Don’t use a shock collar, muzzle or “debark” your dog! Shock collars, which deliver painful currents to jolt your pet whenever he barks, cause harm and can make dogs aggressive if they begin to associate the person, dog or object they’re barking at with pain. Similarly, a muzzle, which is used as a means of constraint to keep a dog quiet, is a dangerous device, especially if used when the dog is unsupervised. Debarking, which is often considered an inhumane and antiquated procedure, is a surgery designed to leave dogs with a raspy bark, instead of a full bark. Complications are common and “debarking” can be life threatening. Other “bark prevention tools” such as water sprayers or noise makers to deter your dog from barking can reinforce traditional training, but should not be used as standalone training mechanisms. Rewarding your dog for good behavior is still the most effective and humane training method.

Teaching Your Dog to Fetch

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As simple as it may seem, teaching your pooch to retrieve can be quite a challenge! Depending on the breed and personality of your dog, it might be a skill they learn quickly, or the game could take some serious practice. Some dogs might enjoy chasing after a toy or item, but don’t understand the concept of bringing it back to you, while others will chase and come back to you, but not release the item from their mouths. Start with the basics, and you’ll have your pup fetching in no time!

Before You Start
It’s a good idea to master basic commands before working on more advanced tricks. Establishing a foundation of obedience is essential to your dog becoming successful at learning more difficult commands. Also, make sure you know what motivates your dog. Does he work for treats, affection, or play? Many dogs are treat-motivated, but if affection or a favorite toy is enough of a reward for your dog, consider those alternatives. It’s possible that if your dog knows you have treats, he won’t leave your side to actually fetch anything! Lastly, make sure you are teaching your dog to fetch something he is actually interested in. Whether it be a stick, favorite ball, or Frisbee, use something that will get your pup excited.

Chasing the Object
First, you want your dog to go after the toy you chose. (For some dogs, this might be the easy part!) Toss the item, verbally encourage your pup to go after it, and reward him with praise as soon as he picks it up. Take the object away and repeat this process several times until your dog is consistently chasing after the item. If your dog isn’t interested, take a step back and first reward him for touching the toy when it is in front of him. Gradually, he will figure out that he must touch the toy to be rewarded.

Bring it Back!
The next step is to get your dog to actually bring the toy back to you (usually the harder part!). Try calling your dog once he is holding the object. If he comes back and drops the object, reward him. If not, coax your dog to come back to you with your voice, a treat or another toy. You might also need to tug firmly on the item in his mouth to encourage your pup to drop it. If he won’t drop it, show him a treat or toy as motivation. He will likely drop the first toy to go after whatever new item you’re holding. Reward your pup as soon as he drops the item you tossed. Repeat this process several times, rewarding your dog immediately each time he comes back and drops the item in front of you. The repetition and consistency will encourage your dog to make a clear connection between dropping the item and receiving a reward.

Change the Variables
As your dog gets better at fetching, start switching things up by increasing the distance you toss the item. The game then becomes more challenging, as your dog has more time to get distracted on the way to retrieving. You can also start alternating the item you toss, whether it be a ball, toy, stick, Frisbee, etc. While you change each individual variable, make sure to keep yourself in the same position and practice in the same area so it’s not too many changes at once. Small steps will give your dog a chance to master each new aspect of the trick.

Be Patient
Don’t get frustrated with your dog if he doesn’t catch on right away, especially if he is young! Be patient and clear about which behaviors get rewarded. Practice for a small period of time up to several times a day, making sure to give your pooch plenty of time to relax and have fun in the process. Patience and positive reinforcement are the best ways to get your dog fetching like a pro in no time. And remember, in the grand scheme of training priorities, fetch is pretty low. Laugh through the process and have fun!

6 German Shepherd Facts You Didn’t Know

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Intelligent. Brave. Strong. These are three words describing the German Shepherd (formally known as the German Shepherd Dog), America’s second-favorite dog, just behind the Labrador Retriever, and #2 on PuppySpot’s list of most popular dog breeds. But there’s more to these popular working companions than what you might think. Here are 6 facts you need to know about German Shepherds!

1. They are very trainable.
Despite their reputation as an intimidating and stubborn breed, Germans take direction well and are valued in police and service work, among other jobs. As quick learners, these active dogs are favorites for all types of training including military, obedience and agility skill sets. They live to learn and obey commands, whether it’s sniffing out explosives at the airport, or fetching a Frisbee in a game at the park.

2. They weren’t always called “German.”
Like their name suggests, German Shepherds originated in Germany as sheep-herding dogs on farms during the twentieth century, but the name did not totally stick. Due to tensions between Germany and the US during World War I, the AKC temporarily renamed the breed the Shepherd Dog. Also during that time, the English started calling them Alsatian Wolf Dogs and now, they are known widely as Alsatians in Europe.

3. They make great watchdogs.

Because they are so loyal to their owners, German Shepherds will go out of their way to offer their family protection. In this way, they live up well to their image as fearsome guard dogs. They’ll bark at suspicious strangers and can intimidate aggressors with their size alone, yet a well-trained German is gentle and friendly, especially towards children, making the breed a versatile companion.

4. They come in several different colors.
While the traditional German Shepherd you’ll see is more often than not black and tan, Germans can come in a variety of colors and patterns, including full black, black and silver, blue, gray, sable, and even white. Don’t be fooled, though; despite what some may want you to believe, no one color of German Shepherd is more “rare” or valuable than the common bi-colored coat.

5. They’re movie stars.
This breed first gained fame after WWI Corporal Lee Duncan rescued the German Shepherd “Rin Tin Tin,” who went on to make several appearances in war movies. Other featured roles by the German Shepherd include “Wolfie” in The Terminator, “Hobo” in The Littlest Hobo and “Delgado” in Beverly Hills Chihuahua.

6. They’re everyday heroes.

There are countless stories of German Shepherds assisting and even saving the lives of their human companions. According to Les Anges Gardiens, in 1970, a German Shepherd named Kanaka was recognized for her numerous rescues and success in uncovering evidence for police in Ontario. Another famous German, Orient, graduated from the Seeing Eye Program and became the dog of Bill Irwin, leading him through the grueling Appalachian Trail. Nearly every day in the news, you’ll hear about a courageous German Shepherd having saved a life, making the world a more secure place to live in.

Westminster Insight
A German Shepherd named Rumor was awarded Best In Show at the 2017 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Rumor is one of the only two dogs to win Best in Show from the Herding Group. The last was a German Shepherd Dog named Covy Tucker Hill’s Manhattan in 1987. 

How has having a German Shepherd changed your life? Comment below and share with us!

How Your Dog Can Help You Make Friends and Meet People

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Owning a dog comes with many perks. There’s the unconditional love, health benefits and a sense of security, just to name a few. But what you may not know is that your furry friend can help find more human companionship, too. Read on for ways to put your best paw forward and form new relationships with other dog owners.

The Classic Dog Park Interaction
Going to the dog park is an obvious choice for dog owners seeking to meet like-minded individuals. For one, at the dog park you’re bound to find other dog-owners who share the same love for their furry friend as you do. Also, since people frequent the dog park during their leisure time, you’re not likely to trouble another dog owner by striking up a conversation. Get the most out of your visits to the dog park by establishing a routine schedule for your visits. That way, you’ll be more likely to see the same familiar faces over and over again and eventually get to know them on a deeper level than just a simple hello. If your dog approaches another dog, or another dog shows interest in yours, use this interaction opportunity as an ice-breaker to converse with the other dog’s owner and ask questions. The owner will surely have a lot to say about his or her dog, and it shouldn’t be too hard to find something in common. Over time, you might gain not just a new playmate for your pup, but a friend of your own too.

Join a Meetup Group or Breed Club
There are tons of groups that are formed for the sole purpose of dog owners and their dogs to socialize together. Find one in your area by searching Facebook or checking out services like EventBrite. Breed clubs are also a great way to meet people with an appreciation for the same breed of dog, and often organize events and activities centered around this shared interest. You can find a club near you by browsing AKC’s website.

Make Small Talk at the Vet or Groomer
Since a visit to the vet’s office or groomer can leave a dog owner feeling anxious, some words of reassurance to your fellow pup-parent in the waiting room can be a welcome mood-lightener. You can also exchange tips and tricks for caring for your pup from another experienced dog owner. Just keep the conversation casual, and you never know what friendship might develop.

Enroll in an Obedience Class

At an obedience class, the shared goal of wanting your dog to succeed in training gives dog owners something to bond over. A good conversation starter could be something as simple as a compliment on another dog’s conduct, or a question like “How do you get your dog to sit still like that?” To give you and your dog more time to socialize with others, come to classes early and stick around for a few minutes afterward. At the very least, the obedience training will hopefully help make your dog better behaved and approachable to new dogs and new people.

With your dog by your side, friendship opportunities can be found all over the neighborhood. Whether it’s a dog-based organization or just your local coffee shop, few can resist the lovable sight of a four-legged friend.

How does your dog help you meet new people? Comment below and share with us!

Giardia-The Common Puppy Parasite

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Giardia is a common intestinal parasite that affects both humans and pets, including our canine friends. If you’re worried about your new puppy being infected by Giardia, have no fear. We’ve laid out all you need to know about Giardia, answering some common questions and debunking misconceptions about the ailment.

What is Giardia?
Giardia is not a virus, bacterium or worm, but instead is a single-cell parasite that frequently infects the intestines of puppies. Some dogs with the parasite do not show any symptoms unless they develop Giardiasis, the disease that can result in severe diarrhea. While Giardia is rarely serious,  it can cause uncomfortable symptoms in dogs such as diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss and overall poor condition. While these symptoms are concerning for any dog owner, PuppySpot Veterinary Consultant Dr. Brandon Sinn says “this is not a scary illness as dogs and cats can get this and recover relatively easily and lead normal lives.”

How do dogs get infected with Giardia?
Dogs become infected with Giardia by drinking water contaminated by the virus or by ingesting infected feces. According to Dr. Sinn, “Giardia is directly transferable, meaning dogs need only to come in contact with contaminated feces and ingest it to be infected themselves.” Additionally, “human infection of Giardia from a dog or cat has not been conclusively demonstrated in North America,” says Dr. Sinn. Therefore, an individual is not likely to contract Giardia from an infected pet, but you should be mindful of washing your hands after coming in contact with Giardia-contaminated feces or water.

How can I prevent Giardia?
You can prevent your dog from getting Giardia by being vigilant in places where dogs meet, like daycares or dog parks. Watch to make sure your dog does not drink water or eat soil where feces is nearby. For optimal safety, your dog should only drink clean water from a water bowl. If your dog is already infected, can prevent it from spreading to other dogs by immediately disposing of your dog’s feces using gloves or a scooper, washing hands, and avoiding contact of the feces to your skin.

What is the treatment for Giardia?
Dogs with Giardia will likely be prescribed an antibiotic such as Metronidazole in conjunction with baths to eliminate all Giardia cysts from skin and coat. According to the Companion Animal Parasite Counsel (CAPC), the combination of Metronidazole and another anti-parasitic drug, Fenbendazole, can be used for five days to effectively wipe out the parasite. Follow-up fecal exams may be required to confirm that the parasite has been eliminated. If your puppy is severely dehydrated, your veterinarian may recommend additional treatments.

While Giardia is an irritating parasite that can cause discomfort in your dog, the prognosis for dogs with the infection is very good with treatment. Regular maintenance of your dog’s hygiene can also help curb the spread of the parasite, and in general, every dog owner can benefit from giving their dogs regular pup-keep.

How to Deal With Your Dog’s Separation Anxiety

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If you leave your pooch alone for extended periods of time (anywhere from 3-8 hours) on a regular basis, he will likely experience separation anxiety. Separation anxiety is especially prevalent among puppies who were recently taken away from their biological mothers and are adjusting to life outside of the litter.

While it can be heartbreaking to watch a pup suffer from this mental health issue, it can also be destructive to your home and put intense stress on the important relationship you should be building with your pet. Separation anxiety manifests itself in your dog misbehaving in a variety of ways including but not limited to destroying furniture, peeing and pooping in the house in unexpected places, nonstop barking, or all of the above. Given the fact that many people have to leave their dogs unattended for long periods of time due to work obligations or lifestyle, the question then becomes how to work through separation anxiety and make life for your pup (and you) as comfortable as possible.

Select the Breed Carefully
Certain breeds are more prone to anxiety as they require constant companionship. If you don’t have a puppy yet, while you look, ask PuppySpot’s puppy counselors about which breeds are best for you and your family’s personal lifestyle. Be upfront and frank about your regular weekly schedule and how much time you’re able to devote to being present with your pet. This information is crucial in determining the right breed for you.

Wean Your Pooch off Anxiety
If you already have a pup who is battling anxiety, it’s imperative to implement training tactics to get him used to your absence. Start with a few minutes at a time of putting your dog in another room out of sight and then reward him with treats at consistent intervals. Slowly increase alone time to 5, 10, 15, 30 minutes. Then go up 1, 2, 3, 4 hours. If your dog starts to bark or become destructive, don’t show yourself, but rather say “bad dog.” Showing yourself only reinforces the barking and destructive behavior.

Keep Your Pup Well Occupied
Once your pooch gets used to being alone, make sure he has plenty of toys to play with to keep him busy and content. Another trick to help ease your pup’s attachment is to put a used shirt of yours (preferably one you’ve sweated heavily on, then dried) in his space or bed so that he feels you’re close by and is comforted by your scent.

Consider Doggie Daycare
By enrolling your pooch in a doggie daycare program, he will have the opportunity to be immersed in social activity and distracted throughout the day by other dogs and caretakers. While this option can be expensive, if you choose a daycare which doubles as a training center, you may feel it’s worth the investment (and peace of mind).

Go High Tech
Another alternative to help your pup acclimate to his solitary surroundings (and again, to give you peace of mind) is to wire your home for remote camera access. All you need is a personal computer, laptop, or tablet with a camera and internet connectivity. Place it in a location where your dog can easily be visible and equally as important, where the device is visible to your dog. You can then set up a system where you can remotely access the camera of the unit at your home with your PC or mobile device. This way you and your pooch see each other and can interact. For best results, use a web cam that you can remotely manipulate.

Homeward Bound
When you do finally get home, take your pooch out of his crate or confined space, give him a big hug and immediately take him out for a walk or play with him. Your pooch waited for you and now he deserves your undivided love and attention.

Big or Small? Choosing a Dog Breed Based on Size

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When it comes to deciding what kind of puppy to add to the family, size is a factor that should be considered. The difference between big and small dog breeds is for some, the difference between two completely different dogs. They’re not only different physically, but many argue that big dogs and small dogs have different personalities, too. Below are some things to keep in mind in order to make an informed decision about which size dog is right for you.

The size of your home should be a deciding factor in what size dog you should choose to live in it. While small dogs can do well in both apartments and houses, a large dog may not thrive as well in small living spaces due to its energy level and exercise needs. Some big dogs, like Great Danes and Greyhounds, can manage in an apartment because of their lower energy levels, but as you are probably already aware, some buildings do not allow tenants to have larger dogs, no matter the personality. And even if you have a house with a large yard, a big dog will still have to be taken out to get plenty of exercise to fulfill its physical needs. If you’re someone who loves the outdoors and lives an active lifestyle, then a big dog could be the right fit for you.

Training and Behavioral Issues
When it comes to training, bigger dog breeds are generally more open to taking to direction, while things like house-training tend to be harder to teach smaller dogs. Smaller dogs are also known to have more behavioral issues and excitable demeanors. There’s a name for it—small dog syndrome—which is characterized by a small dog that acts much bigger than its size, including yapping, barking, and intimidating dogs much larger than itself. According to Psychology Today, this might be due in part to the way owners treat their small dogs as compared to big dogs. However, while big dogs may be more obedient, the physical aspects of training a big dog, such as retraining the dog from getting into something he shouldn’t or catching him when he runs away, can be more difficult.

It takes more to maintain a big dog than it does a small one. While some fashionable small dogs such as Pomeranians carry a large price tag, big dogs can be more expensive in the long run because of their additional needs. Because they eat considerably more than small dogs with lower exercise needs, big dogs necessitate greater spending on food, which is one of the biggest dog-related expenses. In addition, groomers typically charge more to take bigger dogs, but the frequency of needed visits of course depends on your dog’s coat type.

Small dogs have a longer lifespan than big dogs. Since large dogs age faster though, they will also be more mature for the duration of time you have them. With a small dog, you might have a puppy-acting adult on your hands for quite a few years.

There are some exceptions to these generalizations. For example, toy and miniature Poodles are small dogs with calm, even temperaments and are highly trainable, while Siberian Huskies are often difficult for a pup-parent beginner to control. Despite these characterizations, personalities differ from one dog to another, so training is key to ensure you make the best out of whichever size dog you choose.