How to Make a Clicker for Dog Training

29 Mar 2015 | Filed in Dog Training

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The two essential ingredients of clicker training, a marvelously effective method of positive reinforcement, are treats and a noise. A clicker is just something that makes a distinctive sound, preferably one that your dog is unlikely to hear in other contexts. While commercial clickers aren’t especially expensive, it’s simple enough to make your own. If you are just beginning this sort of training with your dog, practically anything will do. If you started with a commercial clicker, you need something that makes the same sort of sound.

1Save a small metal jar lid with a safety button. Safety buttons are the raised areas that pop up when you open the jar so you can be sure the container has not been tampered with. Baby food and pickle jars usually have suitable tops. It needs to be small enough to fit comfortably in the palm of your hand.

2Wash any food remnants off the lid and dry it. It’s worth preparing more than one, so you have a spare clicker on hand if the original gets damaged or lost.

3Push the safety button out farther with the hammer. Hold the head of the hammer against the underside of the button and hold firmly onto the lid while pushing with the hammer head. The bottom, not the sharp end, of a screwdriver or similar tool also works for this purpose. Enlarging the safety button increases the sound level.

4Test your clicker by pressing the button and push it out again until you are getting a loud click. Don’t worry if the lid becomes distorted.

5Hold the lid in the palm of your hand with the top side uppermost while training. Push the button with your thumb whenever you need to click.

What Problems Do Maltese Have?

24 Mar 2015 | Filed in Dog Problems

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One of the oldest of dog breeds, the tiny, pure white Maltese has been a favored companion since the days of the ancient Greeks. Smart, brave and energetic, these little dogs usually bring joy to the lives of their owners. Still, the Maltese can experience some problems, whether behavioral or medical. Just because a dog is little doesn’t mean that training isn’t required. It’s important that your dog receive annual visits to the vet.

Tiny Dogs, Big Mouths

Your little white pup makes a good watchdog. He’ll let you know if anyone comes near your home. On the other hand, Maltese can become problem barkers. That’s especially true if they’re frequently left alone. They were bred as companion dogs and don’t like solitude. You might be unaware that your tiny pal is a nuisance barker until your neighbor complains. Lots of exercise and playtime might alleviate minor barking problems, but for serious issues, contact a dog trainer.

Tiny Dogs, Big Nerves

Although the Maltese is among the smallest of the toy breeds, weighing less than 7 pounds at maturity, he doesn’t realize he’s a little guy. A tiny dog with a lot of nerve can cause a problem when he encounters other canines. Adjectives like “spunky” and “bold” often describe the Maltese personality, but that also means your courageous little dog might have no fear about taking on a more powerful animal. It’s up to you to protect your best friend when he’s in the company of other dogs.

No Small Children

Tiny dogs and tiny kids don’t mix. A Maltese can make a good family dog for older kids who know how to handle him. He’s just too small a dog for young children, who can inadvertently hurt him. That can result in kids being bitten in self-defense. If you occasionally host small visitors, keep them away from the dog or supervise them very carefully.

Maltese Grooming

If you aren’t fond of frequently brushing your dog, choose another breed. While grooming isn’t a Maltese “problem” per se, if it’s not done regularly you’ll have one. Your Maltese requires daily brushing and regular trips to a professional groomer. His hair mats easily, so can quickly become a mess. Matted hair can lead to skin infections.

Health Issues

Maltese aren’t prone to a lot of serious health problems. Among the most common is liver shunt, a genetic disorder found in many small dog breeds. It occurs when a prenatal vein that carries blood for the fetus fails to close after birth. Blood in these dogs bypasses the liver, which has the job of filtering toxins. Special low-protein diets can manage liver shunt in some dogs, while others require surgery to correct the condition. Other health issues affecting the Maltese include luxating patellas, also known as popped kneecaps, periodontal disease and, rarely, a neurological condition known as shaker dog syndrome.

Will Hernias in Puppies Be a Problem Later in Life?

22 Mar 2015 | Filed in Dog Life Style

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If your vet diagnoses your adorable new puppy with a hernia, don’t panic. Umbilical and inguinal hernias, the most common types, are quite treatable and shouldn’t cause problems for your pup as he grows into adulthood. A hernia means that there’s a tear or hole in a part of the body’s wall, through which an organ or another body part protrude.

Umbilical Hernias

If you notice a protrusion in the area of your puppy’s belly button, underneath his rib cage, it’s likely he has an umbilical hernia. In some puppies, these hernias close up and disappear before the age of 6 months. If it doesn’t go away, surgical removal is advisable. While most umbilical hernias don’t bother adult dogs, there’s always the slim possibility that part of his intestines could become trapped, cutting off the blood flow. This results in strangulation, requiring emergency surgical correction.

Inguinal Hernias

Inguinal hernias are less common in puppies than umbilical hernias. They can occur in male puppies, but are more often found in female dogs going through pregnancy or estrus. You might notice a swelling in the area of your dog’s groin, or in the scrotum of an intact male dog. Inguinal hernias are usually painless and don’t cause problems unless a strangulation results.

Correction

Hernias in puppies are often corrected when the dog is spayed or neutered, since the animal is already under anesthesia. Scar tissue formed around an umbilical hernia is removed. The site is then closed by suturing. With an inguinal hernia, any organs that protrude are put back in place, with stitches or a muscle graft repairing the hernia. Most puppies experience no complications and hernia recurrence is rare. The puppy might need to wear an Elizabethan collar for several days after surgery, but that also would be necessary to keep a spayed female from bothering her incision.

Diaphragmatic Hernias

Unlike inguinal or umbilical hernias, diaphragmatic hernias result from trauma. Your puppy could experience a diaphragmatic hernia if he’s hit by a car, mauled by another dog or receives any type of severe blunt force. A tear occurs in the diaphragm, which separates the chest from the abdomen. Through this opening, the gastrointestinal and other organs can enter the chest cavity. If you did not witness the trauma your puppy went through, the most obvious sign of a serious diaphragmatic hernia is difficulty breathing. Puppies with small tears might be asymptomatic. If your dog receives any serious blow, take him to the vet for an examination even if he seems fine.

How Does Pregnancy Affect Canine Health?

17 Mar 2015 | Filed in Dog Health

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Mother Nature decrees that a pregnant animal’s body must devote itself to the development of the babies. That means a female dog should be in good physical shape before she’s bred. Those two months of gestation take a lot out of a dog. A malnourished dog’s inner workings will utilize all the nutrients necessary to nourish the fetuses, at the risk of the mother’s life and those of the puppies.

Feeding

The mother dog is eating for more than eating for two. She might be eating for six or more. The American Kennel Club recommends feeding a high-quality diet consisting of at least 29 percent protein and 17 percent fat — a diet for puppies or high-energy dogs. Start feeding her such ration as soon as she becomes pregnant, no more than normal. After her gestation’s first month, gradually increase her food intake, up to 25 percent extra daily by the time she’s ready to give birth. As she gestates, offer her several small meals throughout the day rather than one or two large feedings.

Exercise

Unless your dog participates in strenuous physical exercise, she can maintain her normal routine for the first month of her pregnancy. Taking regular walks helps maintain her muscle tone. By the sixth week of pregnancy, she’ll have gained considerable weight and her mammary glands will have gotten bigger. By that point, she should take it relatively easy. Short, easy walks in good weather are fine, but don’t let her do anything to potentially cause overexertion.

Considerations

Because anything she consumes can affect the puppies, don’t give your dog any supplements or over-the-counter medications without checking with your vet. Keep your home as quiet and stress-free as possible. This is not the time to do major home renovation or anything disrupting normal routine, such as adding another dog to the household. Make sure your dog has a private area of her own where she can rest, away from other pets or children.

Vaccination

Ideally, your dog is up-to-date on vaccinations before breeding. In most cases, it’s not a good idea to vaccinate a pregnant dog, as it could harm the fetuses. If a pregnant dog is in a high-stress environment — such as a shelter — with an unknown vaccination history, the risk of coming down with a serious disease might outweigh potential fetal damage. That’s especially true in the case of distemper or parvovirus.

Blow Dryers for Dog Grooming

14 Mar 2015 | Filed in Dog Gooming

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Giving your pooch a full blow out after a luxurious scrub down is an essential finishing part for her spa day. A thorough dry job can help prevent matting, lock in that fresh-smelling scent and prevent her from getting the chills on a cold day. Not all blow dryers are the same though, and if you’re using one at home, you must follow a few precautions.

Doggie Dryers

When you drop your fluffy princess off with the groomer, he’ll put your fur ball in a crate with a specialized doggie blow dryer after her bathing is complete. Dog blow dryers basically are big motors with several tubes attached. Often one or more tubes go to multiple crates to dry several dogs at once. These dryers gently blow a steady stream of air onto your pooch, getting rid of every last bit of moisture. However, they don’t blow heated air, only room temperature air to lessen the risk of burns. You also can purchase smaller versions of these types of dog dryers to use at home, which might be beneficial if you tend to bathe your canine on your own frequently.

Hand-Held Dryers

You can use your personal hand-held blow dryer to dry off your beloved pal, but you must be very careful. Human-grade dryers have heating elements inside, designed to make the air very hot for faster drying. This extremely warm air can burn your pooch if you crank up the heat and blow over one spot repeatedly. If you do decide to use your own dryer, turn it to the coolest possible setting. When it comes time to dry your furry lady, keep it on the low stream of air, keep it several inches away from her and move the dryer all over her body, rather than focusing on one spot.

Getting Over Fear

No matter which type of blow dryer you use, it’s perfectly reasonable for her to be scared. After all, blow dryers are noisy and uncomfortable, blowing air right in her face. If your dog runs in fear the split second you whip out the dryer, start associating it with positive things. Leave the blow dryer lying out, without turning it on, and let her sniff at it on her own. When she approaches it, toss a few treats in her direction. After several days of that, she’ll become best friends with the dryer, since she gets rewarded every time she goes near it. As soon as she feels comfortable around it, try turning it on when she’s in the room, only for a few seconds at a time, while offering her treats. It’ll take some time, but if you’re patient and take baby steps, she’ll stop fearing the blow dryer eventually.

Special Considerations

Your little friend has no way of telling you if the blow dryer is bothering her. It could be too hot, burning her fragile skin, or it could be forcefully blowing air directly into her eyes. Because it may be difficult to hear her whimpering with the noisy blower going, watch her closely for signs of distress. If you see her opening up her mouth to cry, shaking in fear or moving away in discomfort, it might be time to put the blow dryer down for a while and let her relax. Towel dry her as much as possible before going back at it again.

Homemade Dog Food in a Slow Cooker

13 Mar 2015 | Filed in Dog Food

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There is quite a difference between table food and homemade dog food. Your table food is not good for your dog unless it balances the nutrients he needs to be healthy. The correct proportions of proteins, carbohydrates and vegetables allow you to make many different combinations of healthy food in your slow cooker. Your family pet will feel entirely grateful that you’re making him food that smells like your dinners.

1Crack eight eggs into a non-stick skillet. Scramble the eggs with a fork and cook them over high heat, stirring constantly until they are firm. Eggs must be cooked thoroughly to prevent stomach upset in dogs.

2Spray your slow cooker with cooking spray to prevent your dog food from sticking to the pot. Dump the scrambled eggs into the slow cooker.

3Chop 1/2 pound of boneless skinless chicken or other lean meat into small bite-sizes pieces. You can use any boneless form of protein such as ground turkey, beef or lamb. Choose different meats to tempt your four-legged friend’s taste buds.

4Wash 2 pounds of potatoes and dry them. Dice the potatoes with skins on into 1-inch squares and add them to the pot. You can substitute other carbohydrates that your pet loves, such as sweet potatoes at the same amount or choose pasta, brown or white rice at the rate of about 1 cup. Pastas and rice double in size when cooked.

5Pour 1 cup of frozen peas and carrots into the slow cooker. You may choose other veggies such as green beans, broccoli, cauliflower or squash. Frozen or fresh veggies are better for your pooch than vegetables in a can. You will also cut out the preservatives and additional salt that canned veggies have in them.

6Add water to the slow cooker to cover all ingredients up to about three-quarters of the slow cooker’s top. Measure and add 1 teaspoon of bone meal powder.

7Stir the mixture thoroughly with a large spoon. Put the slow cooker on the “low” setting and check the mix for doneness in about four to six hours. If the mix is especially thick when using rice or pasta, add additional water and stir it. The dog food is done when the vegetables and meat are all tender and cooked thoroughly.

8Turn the slow cooker off and allow the dog food to cool. Pour the food into a large bowl and mash it with a potato masher until it is thick but smooth. Add additional water if needed to thin the mix.

Pugged Nose Dog Breeds

9 Mar 2015 | Filed in Dog Breeds

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The pug is not the only dog with a pug nose, but because of his name he stands out from the rest. In veterinary terms, he’s a brachycephalic dog. This term refers to a number of breeds with a broad, flat-shaped skull and “squished” nose. This physical characteristic makes it difficult for these dogs to breathe because they have a very short nasal passage.

Brachycephalic Breeds

Apart from the pug, the oriental Pekingese and shih tzu are both brachycephalic. The King Charles spaniel has a pug nose and French bulldogs and Boston terriers share this characteristic. The largest brachycephalic breed is the pugnacious-looking English bulldog. Images of English bulldog skull formation show that in earlier times it had a longer nasal passage, but this has been bred out during the 20th century. In 2009, the UK Kennel Club announced changes to the English bulldog breed standard in order to stop breeders producing dogs with exaggerated characteristics that create health problems.

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