Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Reading Dog Body Language

Reading your dog's signals can be confusing. When first starting to learn, start by breaking it down into each body part - then look at the whole picture! Only basing an interpretation on one body part can be misleading, as sometimes it takes looking at everything together. For examples of body language along with pictures, please check out the sites below:

Paws Across America; How to Interpret Your Dog's Body Language, Facial Expressions, and Vocalizations: http://www.pawsacrossamerica.com/interpret.html

Carol Byrnes; Reading Dog Body Language: http://www.diamondsintheruff.com/diagrams.html

APDT Website; Dog Park Body Language: http://www.apdt.com/petowners/park/bodylanguage.aspx

There are also several books and DVDs on dog body language...

1. Aloff, Brenda. Canine Body Language: A Photographic Guide to Interpreting the Native Language of the Domestic Dog.

2. Rugaas, Turid. On Talking Terms With Dogs: Calming Signals.

3. Kalnajs, Sarah. The Language of Dogs (DVD).

And many more...!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Interactive, Puzzle Toys!

Looking for some GREAT puzzle toys? These are great for when your dog is home alone and needs something to do! Also, excellent just for feeding times. Instead of using a boring ol' bowl for food, put your dog's kibble into a puzzle toy and see how much fun he/she has!

Some sites to check out:

1. Nina Ottosson -- Makes excellent wood or plastic toys. Fairly expensive, but well worth it -- www.nina-ottosson.com

2. Busy Buddy Toy Line -- Can find these at most pet stores, too -- www.busybuddytoys.com

3. Starmark Interactive Toys -- www.triplecrowndogs.com

4. Canine Genius Toys -- Also available at stores -- www.caninegenius.com

5. Booda Rip-Ems by Aspen Pet -- www.pawtasticpet.com

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

How to Pick the Right Pet For YOU!

So, you are interested in obtaining a new pet for your household. Pets help us feel loved, needed, and accepted. They can help relieve loneliness, stress, and make us laugh. Before making the decision to get a pet, spend some time to determine why you want one and what type of pet would be best for your family.

First, you need to figure out why you want a pet. Are you seeking a companion, some prestige, an exercise buddy, a hobby, for the kids, to make money, for security, to show, or something else? A pet should not be obtained for something to do. This needs to be a well-thought out decision – remember, some pets can live 10-20 years!

Really look at your lifestyle: How physically active are you? Do you want your pet to be a part of an active lifestyle? A couch potato? Somewhere in-between? Do you and any household member have allergies to pets? How settled is your life? Are you expecting major lifestyle changes over next several years? A pet that fits into your life today needs to also fit in tomorrow.

Other considerations are time, space, and money. Do you have a lot of free time now? How much time do you have every day to spend taking care of a pet? Time is precious, and adding a pet will take more of your time. Some animals require more time than others (dogs, cats, etc). Also, all pets need to live indoors and be part of the family. Do you have enough space for the type of pet you are thinking about? How safe is it for your pet? Do you have an effective and humane way of confinement? Do you plan to move or relocate in the next few years? Do you own or rent? Are you willing to spend the time looking for a place that will take an animal if you have to move?

Finally, how much money are you willing to spend for the original cost and set-up of the animal? Some things to consider are housing, licenses, food, spaying/neutering, initial vet expenses, toys, and collar/leash. This is not a comprehensive list. Other things that may come up during the year are: emergency care, replacement housing, yearly vet expenses, boarding/pet-sitting, and grooming.

After you have thought about these questions, it is time to research your pet of choice. If you have narrowed down a specific breed, do more research! Investigation is important to confirm that that particular pet/breed will indeed fit into your life. Look at expected temperament, size, grooming needs, diet and health concerns, exercise and space requirements, etc. All this information will give you more detail in making a decision. You can find more information at libraries, the vet, book stores, dog and cat shows, friends and neighbors, dog trainers, animal shelters, and other computer online services.

Once you have researched your specific pet/breed, you can set your selection criteria. Do you want a purebred or mixed breed? Male or female? Adult or infant? There are advantages and disadvantages to each one. Please see pg 6 of “Choosing a Pet”: http://www.seattlehumane.org/~shsshs/files/images/Choosingapet.pdf

Have you completed your investigation? You may be ready to start looking! Other things to do prior to beginning your real search: resolve any conflicts that stop you from making a lifetime commitment, obtain all the necessary equipment, take time off of work to help animal adjust, make time to take animal to vet within first week, and understand that you may not find the right animal for you the first time you look. Avoid impulse selection, selection by what the animal looks like (would you buy a car based only on color?), selection as a gift for another person, and selection out of misguided pity.

Pondering and researching your decision is very important because when an animal is right in front of you, it is human nature to throw common sense to the wind and take it home. By utilizing your list of needs, you will ensure picking the appropriate pet for your lifestyle.

More resources can be found online - just search "How to Pick a Pet."