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Join the Conversation for a Chance to Win 3 Great Books
Special feedback request: How can we make our website better?

Welcome back to Off Leash, Bark’s Wednesday open thread, your chance to catch up with other Bark readers and our editors and contributors during a real-time chat. We’ve had some wonderful expert guests during the past few weeks talking about veterinary care, service dogs, rescue and behavior but today Bark readers are center stage. You set the agenda—tell us what’s on your mind.

Well, mostly. We do have our own little agenda; we’re brainstorming ways to improve TheBark.com, and we want your feedback. So while you’re here, tell us: What can we do to make our website better? Members of the Bark team will be stopping in all day with this and related questions.

Plus, we have an extra special incentive today, one open thread participant will be selected at random to receive three excellent dog books handpicked by Bark editor Claudia Kawczynska. The worthy summer-read trifecta includes:

So let your voice be heard, and be sure to include your email when you register to comment, so we can contact you if you win.

Please note: We let you speak your piece on the open thread without editing but obscene, abusive, offensive or commercial comments will be taken down. We close the thread at 4 p.m. PST.

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Submitted by Claudia Kawczynska | May 25 2011 |

Great news. I just wrote John Bradshaw's publisher about his appearance on Terry Gross' Fresh Air—we had been told that he was going to appear last week, but they tell us that he'll be on tomorrow. Do listen to him, he should be great. Hope Terry asked some good questions. I did a very long interview with him that is appearing in the June issue. His book, Dog Sense, is one of the books we are offering you as an incentive to give us your feedback. Do tell everyone about the NPR interview.

Submitted by Carolyn | May 25 2011 |

I'll definitely be tuning in. I thought Dr. Bradshaw held his own under sort of difficult circumstances on the "Colbert Report." Terry Gross and Fresh Air should allow a lot more depth -- his book sounds fascinating.

Submitted by Heidi | May 25 2011 |

I just got a dog over a year ago and I have been a subscriber for only about 6 months, but I really enjoy the articles. Some are geared toward new owners, some to trainers and animal professionals, and some to experienced owners. As long as you keep citing researchers and academics in your articles, I'll keep reading!

Submitted by Claudia Kawczynska | May 25 2011 |

Hi Heidi
Welcome to the dog world, tell us more about your new dog? What made you get a dog?

Submitted by Heidi | May 25 2011 |

We adopted Tunie - a Boston - about 14 months ago. She just turned 4. I had never had a dog in my life (except a farm dog when I was 5 or 6), but I became allergic to cats and wanted a pet now that I am a home owner and well into my career. So we found our first dog at the largest Rocky Mountain shelter - the Denver Dumb Friends League. We love her, despite her severe separation anxiety and megaesophagus! We don't get the dog we want, we get the dog we need, right? :)

In just 14 short months, I've become a rabid animal protector and am keeping up on animal protction laws, puppy mill raids, etc. It's the ugly underbelly of human nature but I feel I have a responsibility to be aware and take action when I can, no matter how horrific the story or video that crosses my computer. It's the least I can do for those who cannot speak.

Submitted by Cameron from Th... | May 25 2011 |

Hello Heidi, congrats on your Boston! They are great dogs! How did you come up with the name Tunie? Last fall I published a book on vintage photobooth snapshots ... with dogs in them, and we used a picture of an adorable Boston on the cover. They are so photogenic ...

Submitted by Heidi | May 25 2011 |

They are great dogs and I DID see the cover of the photo booth book. Cute! Sso many older folks stop us and tell us they used to have a Boston as a child. They were the most popular dog in the 30s I think.

Her name is actually Petunia and it was given to her by the backyard breeder who used her as a breeding dog. We thought about changing it to Coco (as in Chanel) or Sophie, but it didn't stick!

Submitted by Cameron from Th... | May 25 2011 |

I am so happy that Petunia found her forever home. Sounds like she was in a terrible situation. So nice of you to rescue her and give her the life she deserves!

Submitted by HeatherLeigh | May 25 2011 |

I just adopted a pomchi from a breeder that was forced to downsize due to negligence. She was a true puppy mill...so many dogs that they went with no interaction. Isabella had been raised in a rabbit hut outside and only saw the breeder to be fed! She was bred during her last heat and had not been to a vet....the lady didnt even know an estimate of when she was due. She ha been with us for over a week and has won our hearts! She was infested with fleas, malnourished, and dehydrated. Had not even had her rabies (which will now have to wait til pups are born). We have worked patiently with her. Each one spending one on one time and letting her come to us. She now prances around, wags her tail, and has put on weight. I had to explain to my kids that she had never been loved or petted, never had a dog bed, a treat, or even a toy! It makes me so mad and so sad to know we only saved one and her pups....but we were so lucky to bring Bella home!

Submitted by Lindsay | May 25 2011 |

I really enjoy the magazine and the website. I would like to see some videos posted online to go along with the content in the hard copy of the magazine -- particularly training videos, because that's where my interest is centered, but it would also be helpful to have videos on how to do some of the activities highlighted in the magazine.

Submitted by Claudia Kawczynska | May 25 2011 |

Hi Lindsay
Videos would be a great addition and one that we are actively pursuing. Where are you with your training program with your dog? Beginning/advanced?

Submitted by Tamara Cook | May 25 2011 |

Is there any way I can ensure that the smiling dog pictures I send in are received? I've submitted a bunch, but don't get a response.

Thanks,
Tamara

Submitted by Claudia Kawczynska | May 25 2011 |

Hi Tamara, we (me actually) receive thousands of smiling dog photos, I look at each and every one, but cannot reply to them all because it would simply take too much time. We have a rather big back log of photos for posting online and in the magazine. It is best to only send one photo though.

Submitted by Claudia Kawczynska | May 25 2011 |

Hi everyone,
I am turning this over to Cameron Woo, Bark's cofounder and our art director. I have to home to play with the pups, and then bring them back to the office. We do "swing" shifts with the dogs, Lenny, our 18 year-old, and Lola come in the mornings, then Holly and Kit join them for a "4" dog afternoon visit. Do anyone of you bring your dogs to work? I'll be checking in again during the afternoon, but for now, here's.... Cameron!

Submitted by Tamara Cook | May 25 2011 |

My husband will occasionally bring in the dog to my workplace. It's a nice break and seems to be a calming effect. My dog is mostly Belgian Malanois (if not all- we're not sure if he's a pure breed or not)and is quite a tactile dog.

Submitted by Cameron from Th... | May 25 2011 |

Bringing your dog to the workplace is such a great benefit, what kind of job do you have? Do other people bring their dogs to your workplace?

Submitted by HeatherLeigh | May 25 2011 |

My yellow lab went to work with my ex husband almost everyday! He loved it and would wait by the door. Kids would take pics with him:)

Submitted by Tamara Cook | May 25 2011 |

I work in the sales department for a distributor. The visits are acceptable but bringing in the dog for longer than an hour is not. Here in Madison WI, they are extremely pet friendly. If I could bring my dog to work everyday, I would.

Submitted by Sara CV | May 25 2011 |

I actually work at United Kennel Club and I bring a dog to work often. My australian cattle dog Carly (who was one of the smiling dogs in the April issue!),goes in the most. Everyone in the company loves her-in fact she has many people trained to give her treats! She often jumps up in chairs across from people's desks and appears to have meetings with them : ) I love having a job that is all about dogs where I can bring my dogs to work!

Submitted by Cameron from Th... | May 25 2011 |

Hello Everybody, thanks for all of the thoughtful comments. Hearing from our readers and the many dog devotees ... is encouraging and a big help as we fine tune our magazine and website. As the art director at Bark, I'll be helping spruce up our site, refresh the look and feel, and make it more user-friendly. -Cameron

Submitted by CJ and Jasmine | May 25 2011 |

I think everyone loves sharing pics and video of their pets. So if you have the room to host it, it would be cool to see on your site. Also- photo contests that you can share on Facebook/ Twitter are always popular.

~ CJ and My Favorite Pup Jasmine =)

Blog: http://www.myfavoritepup.blogspot.com/
Tricks: http://www.youtube.com/user/MyFavoritePupJasmine

Submitted by Daniela Lopez | May 25 2011 |

Thanks for sharing CJ. We are planning for new ways for our readers to share pictures and other information about their dogs. Adding Video would be great too!

Submitted by Cameron from Th... | May 25 2011 |

People love sharing photos of their dogs — sending in smiling dogs, me & dog submissions, posting photos on Bark's Facebook page. I was wondering if people are interested in posting video of their dogs. We're thinking about holding a DIY video film festival ... would people participate or enjoy seeing other people's video shorts?

Submitted by Carolyn | May 25 2011 |

What a great idea! I would enjoy watching others' videos and making my own. There could be all sort of "themes": humor, tricks, life in my neighborhood, play, etc. etc. Endless ideas.

Submitted by Cameron from Th... | May 25 2011 |

Good to hear your response, Carolyn. I think with the ease of cell phone video, and the easy access simple editing tools — everybody has the potential to be a filmmaker! We'd love to see how people capture their dogs in moving pictures.

Submitted by Connie | May 25 2011 |

I count on Bark for all things dog, especially dog health and behavior. I would like to learn more about veterinary care. I could be better informed about the range of choices for prevention and for treatment of common maladies. I would feel like a better dog mom!

Submitted by HeatherLeigh | May 25 2011 |

I agree! I stay online educating myself:)

Submitted by Cameron from Th... | May 25 2011 |

Maintaining a dog's health is something that all of us are concerned about, and it can be quite a challenge keeping up with new developments, as well as being well-versed in the common maladies. I think we could do a better job of organizing this information, and presenting in our magazine and online. We got a good response from our issue that highlighted senior dog health issues, I think we could do the same sort of theme editorial on young dogs, active dogs and other life stage.

Submitted by Carolyn | May 25 2011 |

What about a special area for people to post profiles of their dogs and favorite activities, aka "Barksters." Forum areas where Barksters might meet up and discuss local dog parks, dog resources, even play dates?

Submitted by Cameron from Th... | May 25 2011 |

That's a great idea! Is there a site or service that you use currently to share such activities? How do you hook up with other dog people for get-togethers and play dates — do you do that online currently?

Submitted by Carolyn | May 25 2011 |

Well, I don't, but it seems like an idea with possibilities. I am in Belize 11 mos. out of the year. For that one month when I am in Michigan, I would love to have a trusted source for where/when the dog events are, what dog parks are great, where the best shops are for dog supplies, etc. Having followed a few threads here on Bark on-line, it seems that Bark readers are very considerate about poo pick up, leashing, and manners. Those are the kind of people and dogs I'd like to meet for a play date.

Submitted by Daniela Lopez | May 25 2011 |

That makes sense and I agree that adding a central resource and meeting area would be very helpful.

Submitted by Cameron from Th... | May 25 2011 |

We have a new Barker joining us for the next hour or so — Daniela Lopez. Daniela handles all of our web production and manages our site ... and lives with 2 dogs. So send any questions about the our site or dogs her way ...

Submitted by Daniela Lopez | May 25 2011 |

Thanks Cameron!

Submitted by Daniela Lopez | May 25 2011 |

Is anyone starting any Training Classes soon or sometime this summer?

I'll be starting a training class tomorrow with my new pup! I'm pretty excited. Right now we'll be focusing on leash reactivity but I'm hoping soon we can move on to bigger and better things!

Submitted by Anonymous | May 25 2011 |

Yes!! We are doing agility in June!

Submitted by Marie Muscolino | May 25 2011 |

Fun! Will this be your first foray into the agility ring?

Submitted by Claudia Kawczynska | May 25 2011 |

And I'm going to start Kit on a class in early June. At first I thought you might not be ready in terms of her shyness, especially to new indoor places, but I'm hoping she'll be alright. She really has progressed so much more than Holly. It has been really challenging with our undersocialized pups.

Submitted by Kerry | May 25 2011 |

Love the magazine and the website. My only rec is a minor one about this thread. It would be nice if there were time stamps to better understand the flow.

Submitted by Daniela Lopez | May 25 2011 |

hmm.. that does make sense. We'll see what we can do!

Submitted by Anonymous | May 25 2011 |

keeping a dog healthy seems to be more and more costly, I am looking for economical and simple diet plans to help maintain good health.

Submitted by Daniela Lopez | May 25 2011 |

Boy, I hear you! I think we can present the nutrition section in away way that makes it easier to find what you are looking for.

Submitted by Marie Muscolino | May 25 2011 |

I hear that! It's great that you are thinking in terms of prevention. Here's a great article from the archives about cooking for your dog: http://www.thebark.com/content/save-money-homemade-dog-food .

If you get serious about cooking for your dog or feeding your dog a raw diet, a great way to save some money is to join a raw food co-ops. Searching on Yahoo Groups is a great way to find groups in your area.

Submitted by Lacey | May 25 2011 |

I like the idea of having an area to post videos of our dogs! I think it would also be great to have a section for videos that are training specific.

Submitted by Daniela Lopez | May 25 2011 |

Hi Lacey,

We've done a couple training videos in the past and we'd like to do more! Are you looking for videos on basic training or more advanced/trick training?

Submitted by Lacey | May 25 2011 |

I'm more interested in advanced training and trick training. Stuff that is more complicated and harder to conceptualize from reading about it. Like BAT training, or complicated tricks. But, I think it'd be great to have more basic training covered, too, for people who are just getting into positive training :)

Submitted by Marie Muscolino | May 25 2011 |

Hi all! I'm Bark staffer, Marie. Daniela and I are here to chat through the end of the day.

Submitted by Claudia Kawczynska | May 25 2011 |

Hi, wondering if any of you read any of the books we are giving away today? I really loved all of them, learned a lot from them as well. So they come highly recommended by me.

Submitted by Carolyn | May 25 2011 |

Not yet! I always have a running list of dog books to read with BARk as my source. I'm looking forward to all 3 of these. A reading/discussion group on the Open Thread might be fun? Possibly with the author hosting?

Submitted by Marie Muscolino | May 25 2011 |

What an interesting idea... Like a virtual book club. I like it!

Pages

More in Open Thread:
Special Guest: Lee Harrington
We’re Talking Dogs ... About Dogs, That Is
We’re Talking Rescue and More
Special Guest: Behaviorist Sophia Yin
Special Guest: Veterinarian Nancy Kay
Julia Kamysz Lane Joins the Conversation
Special Guest: Beth Finke
It’s Your Turn, Again
Let’s Talk