life with dogs
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
1. TURTLE DOG
Keep your dog nice and warm with a stylish and soft hand-knitted neck gaiter. Made of 100 percent merino wool yarn, no chemicals or dyes. Long-necked dogs will love their Turtle Dog as much as 10-year-old Patrick does his. Machine washable. 5 sizes (XXS to L) to fit dogs up to 65 lbs.
Available for $20 to $28.
2. K9 SPORT SACK
Little dogs have all the fun! From puttering or biking around town to shopping or hiking trips, your small pooch will be safe and sound up on your back. The washable, comfortable Sport Sack comes in three sizes, and fits dogs up to 23 inches long. Since sizing is important, email them a photo and they’ll recommend the best size to order.
Starts at $49.95
We love the Doghook, the perfect hitching post with many uses. Strong and secure, this versatile, sturdy, stainless-steel hook can be mounted to wood, laminate, masonry and metal, and comes in three sizes with a capacity range of 5 to 150 pounds. Order one for your favorite café, vet office or groomer, or for your own patio or mudroom. Made in the USA
Available for $24 to $36
4. PURA-TIPS EAR CLEANSING SYSTEM
A new easy and safe way to keep your dogs’ ears fresh and clean. Removes oil and dirt with a cleansing serum that contains organic mullein oil and witch hazel, naturally anti-inflammatory and antiseptic. The gentle Pura-Tips can be rinsed off and reused. No synthetic dyes or perfumes, comes with 30 tips. Made in the USA.
Available for $19.99
5. PETTURA’S HEALTHY JOINTS
A veterinarian-formulated liquid supplement that helps support joint function and enhance flexibility. Made with glucosamine, MSM and chondroitin, the top three ingredients known to specifically target joint and mobility concerns. Just add to your dog’s food. Easy-to-dose pump action, fast-acting and drug-free.
Available for $29.99
6. TRAIL TRASH
A clever way to “carry.” The folded Trail Trash bag attaches to the leash; when needed, simply unfurl and stash those full poop bags until you reach the next disposal opp. Perfect for trail hikes or neighborhood walks. Made in the USA.
Available for $12.97
Good Dog: Behavior & Training
When shopping for a trainer, look behind the advertising language.
If you live in a big city like I do, you’re overwhelmed with choice for just about any service you can think of. I could get a different coffee and haircut every day of the week and never leave my local neighborhood. This is great, in theory, but how do I choose the best place for my morning latte? Who should I trust to get my hair faded just right?
Choice is also a benefit when you’re looking for a dog trainer, but you can end up facing the same kind of issues, with a lot more riding on the outcome than a bitter drink or a less-than-stellar ’do.
So how do we find the right trainer if we have only Google to go on? Online reviews are hardly fair and balanced, but we don’t always have the luxury of a personal recommendation. The answer is to learn how to interpret the language used on dog-training websites.
Think of a trainer’s website as an infomercial. Although we know it’s designed to convince us to sign up, if we’re savvy we can also pick through the language to find clues about a trainer’s methods and beliefs. Let’s start with the most common word, one that pops up on almost every trainer’s site: effective.
Of course, we all want our dog trainer to be effective. Who would sign up for Dave’s Ineffective Dog Training? We’re spending time and money trying to help our dogs become well-mannered citizens, and we don’t want to feel like our efforts have been wasted. However, there are many different ways to accomplish training goals, some more fraught with potential pitfalls than others. Efficacy is important, but ethics are important too, and are something that trainers also reflect in their word choice.
Words like compassionate, fair and humane indicate what trainers believe about themselves, but they don’t add much clarity for potential clients. All three are subjective terms; what I believe represents compassionate training might not be what you envision. Besides, what counts as humane and compassionate is determined by a trainer’s beliefs about how dogs learn and how best to teach them, so these words raise questions rather than answer them.
Trainers also use a relatively small number of more specific, objective sounding terms on their sites. Because these can provide a general idea of the kinds of things that might happen to a dog during training, it’s useful to understand what they mean. Following is a list of the most commonly used.
Trainers who describe themselves as “force free,” or some variation of “purely positive,” will never deliberately use pain or fear in their training. They will focus on finding ways to reward a good behavior that is incompatible with the behavior they don’t want to see, like sitting politely instead of jumping up on guests. Often, they’ll use a clicker and treats, paired with ignoring the dog when he’s doing something inappropriate.
The key thing to remember here is that although these trainers might see themselves as using only positive, gentle methods, what really matters is how the dog sees things. Force-free trainers who put clients’ dogs in situations where they feel uncomfortable, or who can’t teach their guardians the skills required to carry on after the session, can cause frustration and anxiety and even reinforce undesirable behavior.
Trainers who describe themselves as “balanced” may use everything from electronic collars to clickers in their approach. The balance here is between things designed to punish bad behavior and things designed to reward good behavior. However, not all balanced trainers will use every tool, or the same balance of rewards and punishments. Some will use punishment only in certain cases, others will use it most of the time. Many balanced trainers make distinctions among different breeds of dog, or different types of problems that they believe won’t respond to the kinds of reward-based approaches on which force-free trainers rely.
For example, many balanced trainers claim that although dogs can learn tricks using a clicker and treats, they can be taught to avoid rattlesnakes only by associating the snakes with something unpleasant, like a shock. Force-free trainers strongly disagree with claims like this, which has led to serious rifts within the dog-training community.
LIMA AND HUMANE HIERARCHY
These terms are less common than the previous two, but they are gaining traction in professional circles as a way to explain both an ethical stance and a practical approach to dog training. LIMA stands for “Least Invasive Minimally Aversive,” meaning that with any set of possible interventions, the trainer will always try whatever is least likely to cause pain or punishment first, only moving to more potentially unpleasant options if he or she feels the need. (This position is endorsed by the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants and the Association of Pet Dog Trainers.) The Humane Hierarchy was developed by Dr. Susan Friedman as one way of organizing potential interventions, from most to least punishing. A trainer who uses these terms is engaged with the latest thinking on ethics and wants to display this engagement to potential clients. It’s very unlikely that trainers who align themselves with LIMA will use punishment, especially for basic obedience issues.
BOOT CAMP (and other military terms)
This kind of language usually suggests that the trainer believes in punishment as the best way to manage behavior. Trainers who sell themselves as providing this type of intervention often also subscribe to ideas about dominance and “being the alpha.” They appeal to frustrated owners who are faced with dogs who seem rude and out-of-control, but their approaches can be harsh and lead to suppression, not modification. Trainers who describe themselves or their approach in this controlling, militaristic language are probably best avoided altogether.
NO SUBSTITUTE FOR SUBSTANCE
Although being able to parse these terms and understand them gives us more of a picture of how a trainer operates than the words “humane and effective,” it’s clear that each label still represents a spectrum of beliefs and approaches.
The only way to get the clearest possible information is to ask trainers directly. That means you’ve got to shop around, get in front of trainers, and ask unambiguous and substantial questions about what is going to happen to your dog, and why. Dog behavior consultant John McGuigan proposes the following questions, which every trainer ought to easily be able to answer: What will happen to my dog if she gets it right? What will happen to my dog if she gets it wrong? Are there less invasive alternatives to what you propose?
These questions don’t cover everything, and they can’t inoculate you against a marketing spiel, but they’re a good place to start. If you’re not comfortable with the answers you get; if the trainer becomes evasive and starts using concepts like “energy,” talking around the question or invoking his or her years of experience; or if the answer involves anything that is designed to cause pain, to startle or to do anything else unpleasant, think twice. It’s your responsibility to exercise due diligence when choosing a dog trainer, and it’s always better to risk being seen as a busybody than it is to put your dog in a situation you didn’t want or expect.
Dog's Life: Home & Garden
Home Design Tips for Dog People
When Vern Yip talks style, we listen. Not only is he a multi-talented fabric and accessory designer and an HGTV Design Star judge with multiple seasons under his fashionable belt, he and his family share their Atlanta home with big dogs. Following are a few fieldtested pointers. For more decorating advice, pick up a copy of his new book, Vern Yip’s Design Wise: Your Smart Guide to a Beautiful Home, from Running Press.
• While I prefer the idea of a comfy dog bed with a great-looking, washable cover next to the main seating area, if you want your dog on the sofa, go for a low-maintenance, stain-resistant indoor/outdoor fabric or distressed leather. Many leathers scratch easily, so it’s best to avoid anything with too fine a finished surface. (Washable slipcovers also work in these instances, but staying on top of keeping them laundered does add to the chore list.)
• Does your dog sleep in your bed? If so, avoid dry-clean-only fabrics for duvets and decorative bedding items. Sending bedding out to the dry cleaner with any frequency can get expensive. Alternatively, place a dog bed alongside your bed. Having multiple dog beds throughout your home is a great way to keep your canine companions with you but off the furniture.
• To keep your house looking clean, go for rugs and upholstery with patterns, which tend to hide dirt and hair better than solids.
• If you have tall dogs with long tails or active dogs who run through your rooms, secure your easily damaged decorative items with museum wax. Museum wax can be purchased online and in many hardware stores, and doesn’t permanently stick to surfaces. However, objects secured with it won’t move until you intentionally sever the bond. Test a bit of the museum wax in an inconspicuous spot to be sure it won’t harm whatever surface you’re working with.
• Select furniture that goes all the way to the floor or has taller legs, which will allow you to see under the piece. Dog hair is notorious for traveling everywhere; when your sofas and chairs are on small, low-profile, block legs, it’s easy to miss all the hair that collects underneath, and vacuuming it up means moving the furniture.
• Is your dog a drooler? If so, avoid silk for upholstery, curtains or any other material surface. Silk is a beautiful home décor fabric but it does stain.
• When you refinish wood floors, choose a durable product such as Bona Traffic, a waterborne commercial and residential hardwood floor finish, to help ward off claw dings.
• Consider carpeting your stairs or installing a runner. Smooth surfaces such as wood, stone and tile may be easy for your dog to negotiate when he’s younger but can cause problems as he ages. Carpet not only protects your steps, it also provides dogs with reassuring extra traction.
• Putting in a tiled floor? Use bigger tiles to minimize grout joints. Tile is wonderfully hard wearing, but grout can become stained, dirty or damaged; smaller grout joints (¹/₁₆-inch is ideal) help keep that to a minimum. Fewer and smaller grout joints are also beneficial if your dog has an accident, since grout tends to be porous.
News: Guest Posts
When people try to be helpful but aren’t
Advice is wonderful (really it is!) but only when you want it and are ready for it. It’s certainly nothing close to wonderful when people are condescendingly presenting it to you like a gracious gift with the attitude that they are brilliant and you are ignorant. Dogs are well loved by so many people who are knowledgeable about them, which is a good thing. However, what is NOT a good thing is when that leads to unsolicited advice with the assumption that the receiver knows nothing about dogs.
Over the years, a great many people who don’t even know me have volunteered their opinion on what I should or shouldn’t do regarding the dog I am holding, walking, training or playing with. I’m not sure why it’s so common to feel confident that after observing a dog for 30 seconds, they have all the answers, but that’s often the case. I have been told I needed to be tougher with the dog and show him who’s boss more times than I can count. People have informed me that the breed of the dog I am with is dangerous or vicious. Some unsolicited advice has involved letting me know that the dog will never be properly trained if I use treats to teach him what to do.
Here are some other examples of unsolicited dog advice that has come my way:
I generally respond with a cheerful, “That’s certainly something to think about.” It usually gets the person to leave me alone and it is completely non-committal. Best of all, it leaves me free to think that the advice was unwelcome, unhelpful and wrong without having been dishonest. I know other trainers and behaviorists who refuse to respond to a person giving unsolicited advice or actually say, “Shut up!” but neither of those suit my style.
What unsolicited advice about your dog could you just as well have done without and how did you respond?
News: Guest Posts
Can you do it with a simple phrase?
Sometimes, people tell me who their dogs are with such concise and clever accuracy that their explanations stay with me forever. Describing complex individuals of any species takes insight and skill, but to capture the essence of someone with just one phrase is particularly challenging. Most of the time, the phrases people use are positive, but a few may seem derogatory. Let me assure that even the ones that aren’t obviously complimentary were expressed with such love that I know the guardians meant them in the nicest possible way. Perhaps you’ve had or met a dog who matches one my favorite explanations of who a dog truly is.
How would you describe the essence of your dog’s personality in a single phrase?
News: Guest Posts
There are few more joyfully optimistic moments in life than the day you bring a new dog into your home. Your new bundle of fluff will add a new dimension to the household, helping you to see your home in new ways, providing unexpected moments of love and humour, and bringing demonstrable benefits to your mental health. But that element of surprise a pup brings can turn into stress when your new best friend discovers ways to damage your stuff – or herself – that you had never imagined in the days of anticipation before picking up her up.
The right preparation is crucial when introducing a new dog into your family, and even if you’ve had dogs before, chances are it’s been a decade or more since you went through that difficult teething period – so a little refresher is called for. Every dog has it’s own needs, and you’ll want to check with the breeder or rescue home as to your new pal’s particular dietary and exercise needs – and any emotional quirks of which you need to be aware. Shop for the toys, tools and barriers you’ll need in advance, and set out a plan as to which areas of the house she will be allowed in, and where on your property she will sleep, play, go to toilet and so on. Ensure everyone in the family knows the rules, and their own responsibilities.
Once she arrives, it can be tempting to just play with and dote on her until you both collapse exhausted on the sofa – but establishing some ground rules straight off is essential. Take her to her toilet place, and remain with her until she’s done: do this regularly until she knows where’s where. If you already have a dog, introduce the new siblings on neutral ground. To your first dog, this suspicious character will be an intruder on their territory, so getting them to bond is a sensitive business.
There’s a lot to consider in preparation for bringing a new dog home, but thankfully this new infographic breaks it down into a handy checklist. Be sure to go through it in detail before pooch arrives, and you’ll be set for a beautiful – and fun-filled – life together.
A guide to bringing a dog home for the first time [Infographic] by the team at Santa Fe Animal Shelter
Good Dog: Behavior & Training
I am crazy about the pet stroller!
As far as I’m concerned, it is the greatest invention. I originally bought one to take my senior dog Red on outings, but sadly I now have another use for my stroller. Jack, my young dog (around 4 years) recently underwent spinal surgery. He is unable to walk yet and facing a long recovery, so I take him out twice a day to relieve boredom.
If you need a stroller in your life but your dog refuses to have anything to do with it, don’t worry, because this training will help.
If your dog is unsure or even downright terrified, please do not pick him up and plop him in. That can make him more fearful, and turn this into a bigger deal than it ever needed to be.
Step 1: Set the stroller up somewhere in your house, then leave it there for your dog to investigate.
Step 2: If he’s calm, give him a treat, or play with a favorite toy near the stroller.
Step 3: If he’s nervous, back up until he’s at a distance he’s comfortable with, then play with him or give him a treat. Make sure he can see the stroller.
Step 4: Gradually move closer and give him a treat or play with him.
Step 5: Once he’s fine next to it, pick him up, put him in and give him a treat. If at any point he panics, stop and resume the training later, from the last point where he was still comfortable.
Step 6: Start rolling. My dogs get very irritable if I put them in the stroller, and we don’t start moving within seconds. If that’s happening with your dog, he may just want to get going already.
Step 7: Roll him out into the garden. If he’s uncomfortable or nervous being outside, repeat the first few steps, only this time outside. You may be able to breeze through once he gets used to the change in environment.
Step 8: Time to hit the streets! Start off close to home then venture further afield. Try a quiet street, the park, then a busier area, public transport perhaps.
Why so many steps?
Some dogs will love the stroller right away, but for those that need time, taking training slowly greatly increases the likelihood of success. Offering treats and favorite toys creates positive associations. You want him to see how many great things happen when he’s in the stroller.
Keeping him safe
Put a harness on your dog, and attach a leash that you hold, to prevent him jumping out in a stressful or uncomfortable situation. If I’m in the middle of a crowd, and my dog(s) seem a bit nervous, I zip the awning to enclose the stroller, creating a den they can relax in.
Pet stroller training: conclusion
Your dog may hop right in and wonder why he’s not moving, or take a bit of convincing. For dogs that need time to adjust, this pet stroller training will get you teaching your dog to ride in a stroller in no time.
Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Recently, our dog Lola got a little too personal with a skunk and wound up with a face full of stink. To remove the offensive smell, we very carefully washed her with the go-to formula of 4 cups hydrogen peroxide, ¼ cup baking soda and 1 teaspoon dish soap—that did the trick. Her leather collar was still pretty smelly, however, so I took another approach for it. After soaking it in warm water with 2 teaspoons baking soda and letting it air dry, I applied Skidmore’s Leather Cream with beeswax to both sides to recondition and soften it up. That not only worked like a charm, it also added a refreshing aroma.
Dog's Life: Travel
National Conservation Lands
National Conservation Lands protect 32 million acres of this country’s most ecologically rich and culturally significant landscapes. Each is different, not only in terrain but also in history. These lands are made up of National Monuments and National Conservation Areas and similar designations, Wilderness and Wilderness Study Areas, Wild and Scenic Rivers, and National Scenic and Historic Trails.
They are overseen by the Bureau of Land Management and, unlike other public lands, such as those administered by the National Park Service, they have a much more tolerant policy about off-leash dogs.
There are more than 30 sites in the western states in which you and your dog can freely explore. It’s important to note that while dogs need to be on-leash in developed areas and campgrounds, generally, they are not required by law to be leashed in the backcountry. However, in some regions, for their own safety, dogs should be under leash control; hunting and fishing are allowed on most of these lands, more reason to keep the safety of your dog in mind. Be sure to follow the rules at each individual park, and—of course—to pick up and pack out your dog’s waste.
Steese National Conservation Area
Agua Fria National Monument
Gila Box Riparian National Conservation Area
Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument
Ironwood Forest National Monument
Las Cienegas National Conservation Area
San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area
Sonoran Desert National Monument
Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
Fort Ord National Monument
Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument
Carrizo Plain National Monument
King Range National Conservation Area
Mojave Trails National Monument
Piedras Blancas Outstanding Natural Area
Sand To Snow National Monument
Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument
Browns Canyon National Monument
Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area
Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area
McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area
Basin and Range National Monument
Black Rock Desert-High Rock Canyon Emigrant Trails National Conservation Area
El Malpais National Conservation Area
Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument
Prehistoric Trackways National Monument
Rio Grande del Norte National Monument
Fort Stanton-Snowy River Cave National Conservation Area: the cave is off-limits to all but scientists. Around the Fort and backcountry trails are fine.
Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument
San Juan Islands National Monument
Fall is a great time to visit. For a complete listing of dog-friendly National Conservation Lands, see conservationlands.org
Good Dog: Behavior & Training
How Do Dogs Remember?
In her new book, The Secret Language of Dogs, trainer and Animal Planet star Victoria Stilwell explores the ways recent canine studies show us how to better understand the hidden language of dogs.
Memory is crucial for problem solving, hunting of prey, smell recognition, facial recognition, and general learning. Dogs need to memorize environmental landmarks so they can find their way around as well as construct mental maps of where these landmarks are located. Although dogs use visual markers to navigate their surroundings, they rely more heavily on how things smell. This mental mapping is important for remembering territory and territorial boundaries as well as being able to reach a food source or an area of comfort and safety.
Dogs also need to have a good working memory if they have to find food for themselves. They have to remember that if the prey they are chasing goes behind a rock and disappears, it might still be there even though they can’t see it.
It’s believed not only that dogs have good olfactory memory and can remember smells for years afterward, but also that smell is linked to their emotional memory, just as it is in humans. The smell of a veterinary hospital may always elicit negative emotions, whereas the odor of a favored person triggers happiness and joy. Auditory memory is also important and is especially useful when it comes to remembering the sound, tone, and pitch of a human vocal signal that is linked to a certain action or behavior.
Dogs can not only recognize the voices of people they know but also learn and remember that different vocal pitches and tones mean different things. Their physical reading skills can help them determine what human vocalizations mean, and because people tend to speak in higher pitches when they are being affectionate and lower pitches when they are upset or angry, it is easy for dogs to learn the difference and respond accordingly. You can help your dog learn by being consistent with your vocal pitch as well as being aware of how to use tone when talking to your dog or giving cues. In general, the type of cue will determine the type of tone and pitch you use. You can use highenergy vocalizations to excite your dog into playing, for example, or to get your dog to come back to you when you call; use medium tones for everyday cues such as “wait” by the food bowl or “stay” by the front door when a guest is entering. You can use lower tones to tell your dog how you feel about a certain behavior, but take care not to frighten him into compliance. The canine memory is so good that he will truly remember and recognize the difference! Dogs that have been raised in positive, stimulating environments tend to have better memory function than dogs that have been raised in social isolation, because the more pleasant experiences a dog has in early life, the more chances its brain has to develop.
Reprinted from THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF DOGS Copyright © 2016 by Victoria Stilwell. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
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