Archive for the ‘New’ Category

Canine Couch Potatoes: It’s Time To Get Your Dog Involved

Gemma | October 7th, 2005
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Canine Couch Potatoes: It’s Time To Get Your Dog Involved In Sports (Rally Obedience)

Sporting events are considered the most engaging activity that any proud owner of a sporting breed can enjoy. Complete and total stimulation for the mind and body, your dog will get the exercise of its life while becoming a smarter and more obedient companion.

Even dogs without registration papers can compete and earn titles in most activities. To compete in the American Kennel Club (AKC) or United Kennel Club (UKC) events, your dog will need an Indefinite Listing Privilege (ILP) or Limited Privilege (LP) number, all of which can be easily obtained through these organizations.

Before you get started though, be sure that your dog is healthy and in good shape. Always have the veterinarian check your dog before starting any sports that require a lot of exertion or jumping. If you have a puppy, wait until it’s about 2 years of age (or is cleared by your vet) before competing in activities that can stress it’s growing joints, such as agility, flyball, flying disc or sledding.

Rally Obedience

Rally obedience, or rally, is best described as a cross between a rally car race and an obedience trial. Your dog must perform a series of commands, such as jumps and weaves around people or objects, in order as directed by a series of signs on a course.

At each station, the sign states which exercise to perform. Performances are judged on the proper completion of the course within the time limit, but judging tends to be looser than in formal obedience trials. Handlers can talk to their dogs as much as they want and may give multiple commands.

Rally is a great way for people and dogs who normally don’t like the rigidity of traditional competitive obedience to have fun and compete. When running a rally course, you must perform exercise such as a halt, right turn, send over a jump and a finish (a finish is a return to a site or the heel position). And like other types of competitive obedience, your dog will need 170 out of a possible 200 points to qualify for a leg.

To compete successfully in rally your dog should be familiar with basic obedience commands and should be able to heel on and off leash. Familiarity with some basic agility obstacles such as bar jumps and weave poles is also helpful.

Rally is a fairly new sport and as of January 1, 2005, you can earn titles through the AKC. Contact the AKC for information and rally events. As in formal obedience, taking classes with a professional trainer is a great way to get started in this sport. Trainers who specialize in obedience are often familiar with the training requirements for rally, which can be found in your local phone directory under dog training.

Canine Couch Potatoes: It’s Time To Get Your Dog Involved

Gemma | October 4th, 2005
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Canine Couch Potatoes: It’s Time To Get Your Dog Involved In Sports (Music Freestyle)

In musical freestyle (also known as freestyle obedience or dancing with dogs), you and your dog can dance your way to a title. This amazingly fun sport is open to purebreds and mixed breeds alike.

Musical freestyle started in the 1980s, and as of 2004, there were two major sanctioning organizations for musical freestyle competitions – the World Canine Freestyle Organization (WCFO) and the Canine Freestyle Federations (CFF).

The WCFO has two basic formats to freestyle dance: heelwork to music and musical freestyle. Heelwork to music requires that the dog maintain a 4-foot or shorter distance from the handler. To jazz up these performances (expanding on the classic heel position), competitors perform fun moves, such as weaves through legs.

The CFF has four levels of competition, Level I being the shortest and easiest; Level IV is the longest and most complex. The Level I and II requirements include right and left-side heelwork and pace changes. The Level III requirements include right and left-side heelwork and backing up. Level IV includes right and left lateral work and distance work (dog and handler separated by a minimum of 6 feet).

A panel of judges scores freestyle competitions, similar to the Olympics, and performances are rated on technical and artistic merit. You may compete in juniors, singles, pairs and team (three or more pairs of handlers and dogs) divisions.

You’re only limited by your imagination and the safety of your dog when performing musical freestyle. Handlers (and sometimes dogs) wear costumes appropriate for the music and routine. Freestyle allows variations on any move, provided it’s not dangerous to the dog. For example, competitors may hold their arms open, and have the dog jump through (although this trick may not be so easy with a larger-sized dog).

Your dog can excel in the sport of freestyle because of his intelligence and desire to please thus allowing him to quickly learn complex maneuvers. Start training in freestyle by teaching your dog the basics of obedience: heel, sit, stay, stand and down. The more obedience your dog knows, the better (and that goes for all doggie sports).

Next, start teaching your dog more complex moves, such as backing up, weaving through your legs, spins and pivots using positive reinforcement techniques, such as treat rewards and clicker training. You can’t use food, toys or training collars (slip collars, prong collars, etc.) during a freestyle routine, but basic, flat collars and leads are permitted.

The WCFO and the CFF both offer a variety of different titles and levels in which to prove you and your dog’s proficiency as a dancing team. Contact the WCFO or the CFF for information about titles, events, groups and trainers nearest you.

Canine Couch Potatoes: It’s Time To Get Your Dog Involved

Gemma | October 2nd, 2005
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Canine Couch Potatoes: It’s Time To Get Your Dog Involved In Sports (Flyball)

Does your dog love to fetch tennis balls and run? If so then why not put the two together and add hurdles – now you’ve got flyball – a fast-paced, team relay sport! Not only is flyball an excellent form of exercise for your pet, it also is a great way for you and your pooch to bond.

Of course not all dogs are cut out for this event, but most active sporting breeds are, and that includes common household pets such as the Labrador Retriever, Pointers, and various Setter breeds.

A flyball team consists of four dog-and-handler pairs. Each dog runs one at a time over four hurdles to a flyball box; steps on the box’s lever which ejects a tennis ball into the air; catches the ball; then returns back over the hurdles so the next awaiting dog can be released by its handler.

Flyball is said to have originated in the 1970s after Herbert Wagner invented the first tennis-ball launcher. The North American Flyball Association (NAFA), which is open to all breeds and mixed breeds, sanctions flyball events and award titles.

Dogs earn titles according to the number of points scored per run. For example, if a team’s time is faster than 32 seconds, each dog on the team earns one point. If the team’s time is faster than 28 seconds, each dog earns five points.

A flyball team earns points when it makes a qualifying run so beating another team’s time is not required to score points. Each team’s hurdle height is adjusted according to the height of the smallest dog (at the shoulder) on the team.

The best way to get started in flyball is to spark your dog’s interest in catching and retrieving tennis balls, which is a naturally rewarding activity for most dogs, especially for the active, sporting breed-types. Your dog will also need to learn to jump hurdles going toward and away from you. If you can combine both skills together you may have a potential flyball champion.

As in all canine sports, mastery of basic obedience commands is a must, especially a solid recall (the come command), so that your dog doesn’t just take the ball and run. In addition, your dog should be in good physical shape (not overweight) and cleared by your veterinarian for strenuous jumping.

Look for dog trainers or flyball clubs in your area that may specialize in training for flyball. You may also contact the NAFA for information on events and local teams.

Canine Couch Potatoes: It’s Time To Get Your Dog Involved

Gemma | October 1st, 2005
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Canine Couch Potatoes: It’s Time To Get Your Dog Involved In Sports (Disc Dogs)

Does your dog look spectacular catching a Frisbee in mid-air? Is he amazingly accurate and can snag it just about every time the disk is thrown at him?

If so then your family companion could actually compete as a flying-disc dog. You may have seen these flying wonders on television making those incredible twisting, back-flipping grabs as they leap off their owner’s backs or legs in freestyle competitions.

The International Disc Dog handler’s Association (IDDHA) oversees many canine-disc events worldwide. The IDDHA organizes events, awards titles, and unites handlers and clubs nationwide. Events vary from competitive (earning titles) to professional, and many have corporate sponsors, but the main idea in this sport is to have fun.

Flying-disc competitions welcome purebreds and mixed breeds alike. The most commonly seen competitive classes in flying-disc events include catch and retrieve, freestyle, accuracy and long distance.

Catch & Retrieve: Each dog-and-handler team has a set amount of time to catch as many discs as possible. Only one disc is used so the dog must return the disc to the handler before the next throw. Longer throws are awarded more points.

Accuracy: The dog must catch discs in one of the designated areas, usually a series of circles marked on the ground. More distant catches receive higher point scores.

Freestyle: Time routines, often set to music, feature an astounding array of tricks, throws and catches. Creativity is rewarded and you’ll see flips and twists from the dog.

Long Distance: Several organizations sponsor long-distance events in which the longest successful catch wins it all.

To be successful at this sport your dog must master the basic obedience commands and have a solid recall. Most flying-disc experts recommend increasing your dog’s interest in discs by making it a special toy, used only for flying-disc training.

Placing your dog’s meals in a flying disc is one way to pique interest. You can also use a disc throw, called a roller, in which you spin the disc on its edge so it rolls a short distance, to encourage your dog to chase and grab it.

An ideal flying disc is light, thin and soft, but rigid. The softer discs are good for beginners and the dentally challenged dogs. Most competitors choose a light-weight plastic disc, and keep the discs clean and smooth (using sandpaper) to avoid cutting the dog’s mouth.

Your dog may be a larger breed, therefore a bit heavy and stocky to make ideal disc dogs, but the leaner ones can really put on a good show. Their prey drive, high energy and willingness to please all add to success.

Caution: Any tendency toward hip dysplasia will be aggravated by the jumping and leaping required for this sport, so have your dog thoroughly checked out by your veterinarian before starting this event.

Canine Couch Potatoes: It’s Time To Get Your Dog Involved

Gemma | September 26th, 2005
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Canine Couch Potatoes: It’s Time To Get Your Dog Involved In Sports (Competitive Obedience)

This article is dedicated to all of you canine couch potatoes out there. It’s time to get up, get out, and start having some real, competitive fun with your dogs – I’m talking about dog sports!

Did you know that dog sports are a great way to have fun and show off your pet’s skills and intelligence? Whether you’re into earning titles or just looking to have a good time, you and your dog can have tons of fun with dog sporting events.

From basic obedience to splashing in a lake, active breeds can succeed at almost any canine sport. Most energetic breeds possess stamina, strength, courage, drive and a willingness to please their owners.

Do not underestimate your own dog’s intelligence and ability to learn new things, including complex maneuvers that will earn you top titles in competitive events, or at the minimum the family appreciation award at home after an exciting day playing outside.

Competitive Obedience

The first sport we’d like you to learn about is called competitive obedience trials. Does your dog have the perfect sit? Well this is the perfect sporting event to show it off. Your dog will perform a series of exercises in a ring while a judge evaluates the performance. The rules are strict you can’t give treats, extra commands or encouragement to your dog as it performs.

In general, the types of breeds best suited for these sporting events are Labrador Retrievers, Irish Setters, Pointers and Spaniels. These dogs make excellent obedience dogs because of their willingness to please, but are sometimes a little difficult to train because they can have a stubborn streak.

Competitive obedience consists of several increasingly difficult levels Novice, Open and Utility. Novice-level competition primarily demonstrates the dog’s ability to heel on and off leash, stand for exam, come, and stay in a site and down position.

In the Open Class, your dog will perform retrieving and jumping exercises in addition to off-leash heeling and long sits and downs; in the Utility Class, your dog must also discriminate between scented articles and retrieve specific items.

To earn titles, your dog must score no less than half the points allotted for each exercise. For most titles, he must earn three legs, or qualifying competitions, in which you must earn at least 170 points out of a possible 200. He must be able to consistently follow a variety of basic and advanced commands (sit, stay, stand, come, heel) to be a successful obedience dog.

The best way for a novice to learn to compete is to find a professional dog trainer that specializes in competitive obedience training. Simply look under dog training in the phone directory and you will find plenty of qualified individuals and schools at your disposal.

Biking With Your Dog How To Have Safe Fun

Gemma | September 22nd, 2005
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Biking With Your Dog How To Have Safe Fun By Biking With Your Dog

Most dogs love to run, and some breeds are physically bred for speed and endurance, such as the Greyhound, who can run up to 45 mph. Other dogs that are built for speed are the Afghan Hound and the Saluki. But regardless of the breed or the size of your dog, expect that he can enjoy a good jog in the park, or even a quick run around the block. And if riding a bicycle is something that you enjoy doing, taking your dog with you (depending on his size and physical condition) is a wonderful way to spend time with him while getting and good workout yourself at the same time.

Bike Rides Can Be Safe

If you usually ride your bicycle around town or in your neighborhood, it won’t be difficult for your dog to keep up with you. The safest way for riding a bike with your dog in this type of location is to keep him on a lead. There are products out there, such as the Springer and the Walkiedog, that keeps both your hands on the handlebars while giving you the ability to keep your dog on leash at the same time. These two products can be easily mounted under the bike seat and offer protection and comfort for both you and your dog.

Problem With Distraction?

Your dog will less likely get bothered by distractions if he knows how to heel. Therefore, practice his obedience skills like Off, and Leave it before you begin your ride. Also, make sure you bring along his favorite snack. Whenever he comes across a distraction, tell him to Leave it and then give him a snack. It’ll be easier for him to pay attention to you, above anything else, because he knows that you brought along his favorite snack. Also do this exercise before you ride.

Don’t Forget The Basic Commands

If you like to ride along trails, bringing your dog with is one of the best treats you can give him. With a little basic training, your dog can be the best companion for a mountain biker.
In fact, there are a lot of mountain biking spots that you and your buddy can go where dogs can run free without a leash, such as along the trails of a National Forest, as long as you can keep your dog under your control and under voice command. Therefore, practice the Heel and the Come command until you are confident that your dog is able to obey you 100% of the time.

Attention All Lazy Puppy Owners: Yes, That Means YOU!

Gemma | September 19th, 2005
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The day your puppy was taken away from its mother and placed in your care is the day you became 100% responsible for the young pup. Accept your role as leader responsibly by training the four basic obedience commands necessary to every civilized dog’s schooling.

Though your work schedule or distance from a qualified dog instructor often preclude working with an experienced trainer, teaching your puppy to sit, lie down, come and stay falls well within the average owner’s capabilities. Combined with frequent outings to assure proper socialization, suitable at-home training turns your little rascal into the dog that other dog owners wish for.

Helpful Hints

Most new owners agree that teaching critical lessons, such as not pottying in the house, destroying couch cushions or raiding the garbage, to name just a few, leaves precious little time for anything else. How then, do top trainers who work full-time, raise a family and compete in various canine sports, manage to do it all?

For one thing, you don’t need to spend an hour per lesson teaching basic commands. Puppies have an extremely short attention span, which is best worked within 5 to 10 minute sessions. That’s only one or two sets of television commercials!

Use whatever time you have to your advantage. A favorite technique amongst many trainers is for you to let your puppy follow you around while you do light housework by putting it on a leash and tying the other end to your belt. This gets the puppy in the habit of staying with you without the worry of it wandering off into mischief. Plus, it presents an easy opportunity to periodically stop what you’re doing to interact and get in a bit of training.

Realize that consistency is key in any level of training. Everyone in the home should be on the same page concerning the puppy’s guidelines so the puppy doesn’t get mixed signals about acceptable behaviors from different family members.

Additionally, don’t be a nag. Avoid repeating the same command over and over. If sometimes you say something once and expect compliance, but on other occasions you repeat the command five times before getting the behavior, this lack of clarity creates confusion for a young dog. Be willing to wait and allow the puppy to think for itself about what you just asked for. You might be happily surprised at what you see.

When Was The Last Time You Checked For Fleas?

Gemma | September 18th, 2005
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It is quite easy to check your dog for any flea infestation. Do so whenever you are brushing or even petting your dog. Always take note of the animal’s skin condition, checking his fur as well.

When you do this, a few things to keep an open eye for are:

1) Is the skin clean?
2) Is the fur clean?
3) Does the dog have an odor, even within 24 hours of a fresh bath?
4) Where is the odor coming from?

The Most Common Culprit Is The Flea

95% of the time any issues you find will be the result of fleas feeding off your pet. The flea causes much irritation on your dog due to sucking the canines blood. Flea saliva can cause your pet to become allergic to the bite. This will cause far worse scratching than a dog that does not have this sensitivity.

What is even more terrible about fleas is they spread tapeworms inside your pet. If the dog ingests the flea then it tapeworms start to grow. All it takes is a small group of these vampires to cause problems.

Where Do They Come From?

The tiny flea that jumps around is visible on the pet’s skin. Every time you take your dog for a stroll or a romp in the yard he is a potential victim to these parasites. The flea might not be there when you go out the door, but after that bush that you strolled by, the flea has just hitched a ride after a 2 foot jump!

The flea only bites to suck blood that will nourish it’s eggs. Then it will hop off most likely in your home especially the carpet. Then come the eggs that hatch into a mob.

If you start to see your dog scratching more than usual after an outing then check for fleas. Fleas can sometimes look like little moving black dots. If your dog has fleas bad enough you might see what is called flea dirt. This is a waste product from the flea like dried blood and even at times eggs.

So brush your dog often and move that fur around to check for parasites. Check his back, the ears, along his neck and torso. Also check the belly and around the tail. If you find fleas then bathe your dog and get flea repellent for the inside of the house. And do not panic when the flea comes for a visit every dog owner will encounter this problem at one point or another. It’s just part of having a family pet.

Parasites 3: More On Fleas And Ticks

Gemma | September 14th, 2005
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Fleas and ticks are external parasites that cause annoyance and health problems on your pets. The following are two questions answered about fleas and ticks.

How Can I Keep My Dogs Free Of These Parasites?

Flea control products such as Prevention and Frontline works very well for most pets. In areas of heavy parasite concentration, constant supervision is necessary. When used according to instructions supplied by the veterinarian or product manufacturer, fine collars are fine to use in mild to moderate flea infestations.

Caution must be taken to use only those products designed for felines on your cats and to avoid wetting the flea control collar which, when moistened, release dangerous concentrations of poison too rapidly for the animals body to tolerate.

Houses with rugs and carpets should consider flea stoppers. These products, when applied to rugs and carpeted areas, will kill flea eggs and larvae for up to one year. Vacuum the carpet at least twice a week, focusing in areas where your pet frequents.

For ticks or very heavy flea infestation, more extreme methods such as routine dipping, spraying, or powdering may be necessary to keep the situation from getting out of hand. In areas where Rocky Mountain spotted fever is not widespread, individual ticks may be soaked with alcohol and removed with tweezers. However, spraying and dipping act not only to kill ticks present on the pets body but serve also to prevent another infestation for at least ten days following treatment.

Oral medications are also available that work internally to kill any flea or tick that bites your pet but these medications must be given under strict veterinary supervision. In fact, before using any flea control product, especially pesticide, it is wise to consult your vet for suggestions and instructions to ensure safety applications of these potentially dangerous products.

What About Fleas & Ticks In The House?

This can be quite a problem. Many products have been used to try to prevent fleas and ticks from nesting and breeding in human living quarters, doghouses, and shrubbery. However, there are strains of fleas and ticks resistant to commonly used chemicals. Consult your vet for the best flea prevention product to use for your home. When applying a flea prevention product, special care should be taken that all window casings, wall boards, and door sills be thoroughly treated.

Since many of these products are toxic to your pet, as well as the fleas, humans and all pets should be removed from the area for several hours after treatment. This is an ideal time to treat the animals themselves so that no parasites are reintroduced into the house when they return. Many clients and pet owners find it easier to hire a professional exterminator to rid their homes, kennels, shrubbery, or cattery of fleas and ticks.

Keeping your dog free of fleas and ticks this summer may not be the easiest or most enjoyable task to accomplish, however, because of the many problems related to infestation with external parasites, eradication of fleas and ticks is an important goal, both for your dogs health and comfort, as well as your own. Your vet can provide specific information and resources on controlling particular parasites common in your area.

Parasites 2: More Questions About Fleas and Ticks

Gemma | September 12th, 2005
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Do Different Parasites Prefer Certain Host Animals?

Yes, there are fleas that prefer cats and those that would rather have their meal on dogs. However, while some fleas do exhibit certain preferences, they are not usually host-specific. That is, in the absence of the preferred host, the flea will attack a less desirable host such as birds, rats, and even humans.

Ticks are more commonly associated with dogs but in areas of extremely heavy infestation, cats can be infested also. Ticks too, are not reluctant to dining out of humans when other hosts are not readily available or are already in great demand by other parasites.

Where Can My Pet Pick Up These Parasites?

There are several common ways for your pet to become infested with fleas and ticks. Animals living in wooded areas, or walked-in fields of tall grass, or near shrubbery, are likely targets for parasites lying, waiting to leap on the appropriate host.

Frequently, a new pet brought into the household introduces the parasite problem to other animals in that home. A visit to a grooming parlor, medical center, boarding kennel, dog or cat show, or even a simple visit to a neighbors home can spread infestation from animal to animal if rigid preventive hygiene is not practiced.

Furniture, bedding, rugs, walls and floors can retain parasite eggs for a long period of time and produce young fleas and ticks to attack pets newly arrived on the premises.

Why Are Fleas & Ticks Such A Complex Problem?

In addition to the purely mechanical irritation produced when a flea jumps from place to place along your dogs body, and the tiny sting when he stops to take a meal, the mouth-parts of the flea contain saliva to which some unfortunate animals are highly allergic.

Such dogs and cats are in constant misery, biting and scratching incessantly, losing hair down their spines and rear legs, creating secondary bacterial infections from self-trauma, breaking the skin while biting or scratching themselves and allowing bacteria to enter, and occasionally losing enough blood to create a severe anemia.

To make the situation even worse, the flea is the intermediate host for the tapeworm which can infest your pet after he swallows even a single flea. The flea might also be a suitable host for the heartworm.

The tick can create skin problems of his own as the irritation he causes may be the initial stimulus in the creation of the moist dermatitis or hot spot. In addition, certain types of ticks (Dermacentor Andersoni) can actually cause paralysis and spread the terrible disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, that affects hundreds of people every year.

If I Live In The City Or In Colder Areas, Will My Pets Be Free Of These Parasites?

Unfortunately, no. There are fleas and ticks that have adapted themselves to living in cold climates as well as in urban environments. In fact, most of the city parasites are the most difficult to get rid of, since they, like the common housefly or cockroach, have become quite resistant to chemicals used by exterminators.