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10 Tips to Keep Your Dog Happy

Your dog's happiness is not something you should take for granted. Dogs are aware, sentient beings that need a number of things in order to be content and to enjoy life. Dog owners need to get out of the mindset that dogs are mere possessions and begin to establish caring and responsible relationships with these fine animals. For all the loyalty and love dogs give to humans they deserve consideration in return. Bearing this in mind, here are some tips you can use to keep your dog healthy, motivated, and happy.

Pat and be affectionate with your dog.
This seems simple enough, but in the general bustle of a busy schedule it can be forgotten. Take at least a few minutes each day to just pat your dog and show your love. If you don't understand how this leads to a happier dog, then perhaps dogs aren't for you.

Let your dog have a chance to run outdoors.
This is neglected even more often than the previous tip. Dogs are naturally active, athletic animals. Both to for simple physical exercise and to maintain their sense of psychological zest dogs need to run and jump. So take you dog to dog parks, on hiking trails, or out to a safe yard (fenced or far from roads) and let it actually run or at least vigorously walk.

Clean fresh water.
Many people leave water in bowls for days on end. It accumulates dust and dirt, becomes stagnant, and if outdoors even provides a breeding ground for insects. Change your dog's water daily, and make sure to use clean, fresh water. Also make sure the bowl doesn't run dry for long periods. Just as it is for humans, drinking enough water is one of the keys to efficient and balanced physical functioning. Insuring your dog has good, fresh water is an important step toward insuring good health.

Give your dog high quality food, and food it likes.
Dogs need good high quality, healthy food of course. There's some controversy as to what the best dog foods are of course, but one thing to keep in mind is that your dog should also like the food he or she gets. Experiment with both canned "wet" dog food and dry - ones that are high in nutritive value and protein, and recommended by professionals. Though you may hear it advised, don't feed your dog only dry dog food. Dogs are primarily carnivores and need actual meat in their diet.

People may also tell you not to feed a dog leftovers. But as a matter of fact, any meat leftovers are fine. You can also give your dog bones from the butcher (never of fowl, only large animal bones), which they love. As long as you do these things responsibly, your animal's diet will be more varied and they will be both healthier and happier. Reminder: never feed your dog scraps directly from the table or you will train it to beg and stare every time you eat dinner. Feed dogs any scraps in a separate room and at a different time then your meal times.

Play with your dog and/or give it an activity to learn.
Dogs need stimulation, activity, and learning. They are susceptible to boredom and need something to give their time purpose, just as humans do. So whether indoors or out, spend time being active and playing with your dog. This could take the form of simple wrestling or playing fetch with your dog to more complicated teaching/learning activities such as training your dog to fetch the newspaper.

Take preventative health care measures.
Health and happiness go hand in hand. So take measures to protect your dog's health, preferably before any problems occur. Check regularly for fleas and ticks, especially during the season when these pests are a problem. Here's some advice you may not hear often - avoid the major brand flea and tick defenses such as Frontline and Advantage. These products have been shown to contain neurotoxic compounds and have resulted in health problems for dogs and other animals, and even deaths. There is a product called Best Yet that uses cedar oil to fight fleas, and cedar oil in itself is a natural flea killer with no harmful effects. In general, favor natural health products, and read up on any health products you use on your dog.

Pay attention to changes in your dog's energy level, temperature (an overheated dog will have usually have a warm dry nose, while one at the optimal temperature will usually have a cold, wet nose), appetite, and excretory patterns. If any seem abnormal for an extended period, it may be for a veterinary examination. In general, give your dog a check up at the vet at least once a year.

Train and keep good control of your dog.
Dogs understand authority. If you're vague on control you'll confuse the dog. This does NOT mean to strike, repeatedly yell at, or otherwise abuse the dog. It simply means that in a firm and friendly way you make clear to the dog that you are in control. More often than not this will be in the form of training that involves positive rewards rather than scoldings and yellings. Occasionally you may need to speak loudly to your dog or give it a quick swat. But it is proven fact that dogs learn far better with positive as opposed to negative reinforcement. Your dog will respect and obey you much better if you are kind and firm at the same time.

Give your dog adequate shelter and bedding if it is outdoors a lot.
If your dog spends a lot of time outdoors, make sure you have provided adequate shelter in the event of rain, snow, cold, and so on. This will generally be a dog house or other sheltering structure such as a porch. Provide clean bedding in dog houses and change it at least one every few weeks.

Don't chain your dog up or leave it outdoors for long periods.
In general the "dog on a chain" idea is long overdue for a change. Chaining a dog up and leaving it outdoors for long periods is abuse, plain and simple. It limits the mobility of the dog, exposes it for over long periods to the elements, and deprives it of needed contact and interaction. If you must use a chain, make sure it is fairly long (at least 15 feet) so that it allows your dog to move around relatively freely. And make sure that the dog is on the chain for only part of the day.

Leaving your dog outdoors for extended periods is inhumane. Even though dogs have fur, they can only remain warm to a limited degree. In winter temperatures leaving them outdoors for more than a few hours should be avoided. And they definitely shouldn't be left out over night. Inside a house or warm garage is the best place for dogs to sleep, especially in the winter.

Let you dog interact with other dogs and people.
Dogs are social in nature. Indeed, they are pack animals. So if possible, let your dog meet other dogs and play. Dog parks (preferably large ones where people are allowing their dogs to run and play) and dog socialization/training classes are good places for this to take place. Even on an ordinary walk to can let your dog meet and sniff another dogs as long as they don't seem to be snarling at one another. Another option you might consider is simply getting a second (or third) dog. Dogs that can group together and play in yards or your living room will be extremely happy - and a lot of the responsibility for entertaining will be off your shoulders.

If you can't arrange any of this, at least allow your dog greet friends, guests, and people you meet. Don't keep them straining at the leash while you chat. As long as you train the dog well there is nothing wrong with it being friendly and making contact.

Following these tips will help keep your dog happy. In general, try to leave behind the old conditioning in which dogs are thought to be insensitive, greatly different creatures about which you must have only the most minimal consideration. Dog's are not merely playthings for you're your amusement. They need you and are intelligent, aware, and active creatures. They are capable of suffering, depression, and boredom, and equally capable of happiness and excitement. Treat them well and they will surprise you with their energy, joy, and ability to learn.

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A Father, a Daughter and a Dog

A story by Catherine Moore

"Watch out! You nearly broad sided that car!" My father yelled at me. "Can't you do anything right?"

Those words hurt worse than blows. I turned my head toward the elderly man in the seat beside me, daring me to challenge him. A lump rose in my throat as I averted my eyes. I wasn't prepared for another battle.

"I saw the car, Dad . Please don't yell at me when I'm driving.."

My voice was measured and steady, sounding far calmer than I really felt.

Dad glared at me, then turned away and settled back. At home I left Dad in front of the television and went outside to collect my thoughts... dark, heavy clouds hung in the air with a promise of rain. The rumble of distant thunder seemed to echo my inner turmoil. What could I do about him?

Dad had been a lumberjack in Washington and Oregon. He had enjoyed being outdoors and had reveled in pitting his strength against the forces of nature. He had entered grueling lumberjack competitions, and had placed often. The shelves in his house were filled with trophies that attested to his prowess.

The years marched on relentlessly. The first time he couldn't lift a heavy log, he joked about it; but later that same day I saw him outside alone, straining to lift it. He became irritable whenever anyone teased him about his advancing age, or when he couldn't do something he had done as a younger man.

Four days after his sixty-seventh birthday, he had a heart attack. An ambulance sped him to the hospital while a paramedic administered CPR to keep blood and oxygen flowing.

At the hospital, Dad was rushed into an operating room. He was lucky; he survived. But something inside Dad died. His zest for life was gone. He obstinately refused to follow doctor's orders. Suggestions and offers of help were turned aside with sarcasm and insults. The number of visitors thinned, then finally stopped altogether. Dad was left alone...

My husband, Dick, and I asked Dad to come live with us on our small farm. We hoped the fresh air and rustic atmosphere would help him adjust.

Within a week after he moved in, I regretted the invitation. It seemed nothing was satisfactory. He criticized everything I did. I became frustrated and moody. Soon I was taking my pent-up anger out on Dick. We began to bicker and argue.

Alarmed, Dick sought out our pastor and explained the situation. The clergyman set up weekly counseling appointments for us. At the close of each session he prayed, asking God to soothe Dad 's troubled mind.

But the months wore on and God was silent. Something had to be done and it was up to me to do it.

The next day I sat down with the phone book and methodically called each of the mental health clinics listed in the Yellow Pages. I explained my problem to each of the sympathetic voices that answered in vain.

Just when I was giving up hope, one of the voices suddenly exclaimed, "I just read something that might help you! Let me go get the article..."

I listened as she read. The article described a remarkable study done at a nursing home. All of the patients were under treatment for chronic depression. Yet their attitudes had improved dramatically when they were given responsibility for a dog.

I drove to the animal shelter that afternoon. After I filled out a questionnaire, a uniformed officer led me to the kennels. The odor of disinfectant stung my nostrils as I moved down the row of pens. Each contained five to seven dogs. Long-haired dogs, curly-haired dogs, black dogs, spotted dogs all jumped up, trying to reach me. I studied each one but rejected one after the other for various reasons too big, too small, too much hair. As I neared the last pen a dog in the shadows of the far corner struggled to his feet, walked to the front of the run and sat down. It was a pointer, one of the dog world's aristocrats. But this was a caricature of the breed.

Years had etched his face and muzzle with shades of gray. His hip bones jutted out in lopsided triangles. But it was his eyes that caught and held my attention. Calm and clear, they beheld me unwaveringly.

I pointed to the dog. "Can you tell me about him?" The officer looked, then shook his head in puzzlement. "He's a funny one. Appeared out of nowhere and sat in front of the gate. We brought him in, figuring someone would be right down to claim him. That was two weeks ago and we've heard nothing. His time is up tomorrow." He gestured helplessly...

As the words sank in I turned to the man in horror. "You mean you're going to kill him?"

"Ma'am," he said gently, "that's our policy. We don't have room for every unclaimed dog."

I looked at the pointer again. The calm brown eyes awaited my decision. "I'll take him," I said. I drove home with the dog on the front seat beside me. When I reached the house I honked the horn twice. I was helping my prize out of the car when Dad shuffled onto the front porch... "Ta-da! Look what I got for you, Dad!" I said excitedly.

Dad looked, then wrinkled his face in disgust. "If I had wanted a dog I would have gotten one. And I would have picked out a better specimen than that bag of bones. Keep it! I don't want it" Dad waved his arm scornfully and turned back toward the house.

Anger rose inside me. It squeezed together my throat muscles and pounded into my temples. "You'd better get used to him, Dad . He's staying!"

Dad ignored me... "Did you hear me, Dad ?" I screamed. At those words Dad whirled angrily, his hands clenched at his sides, his eyes narrowed and blazing with hate. We stood glaring at each other like duelists, when suddenly the pointer pulled free from my grasp. He wobbled toward my dad and sat down in front of him. Then slowly, carefully, he raised his paw.

Dad's lower jaw trembled as he stared at the uplifted paw Confusion replaced the anger in his eyes. The pointer waited patiently. Then Dad was on his knees hugging the animal.

It was the beginning of a warm and intimate friendship. Dad named the pointer Cheyenne. Together he and Cheyenne explored the community. They spent long hours walking down dusty lanes. They spent reflective moments on the banks of streams, angling for tasty trout. They even started to attend Sunday services together, Dad sitting in a pew and Cheyenne lying quietly at is feet.

Dad and Cheyenne were inseparable throughout the next three years. Dad 's bitterness faded, and he and Cheyenne made many friends. Then late one night I was startled to feel Cheyenne 's cold nose burrowing through our bed covers He had never before come into our bedroom at night. I woke Dick, put on my robe and ran into my father's room. Dad lay in his bed, his face serene. But his spirit had left quietly sometime during the night.

Two days later my shock and grief deepened when I discovered Cheyenne lying dead beside Dad 's bed. I wrapped his still form in the rag rug he had slept on. As Dick and I buried him near a favorite fishing hole, I silently thanked the dog for the help he had given me in restoring Dad 's peace of mind.

The morning of Dad 's funeral dawned overcast and dreary. This day looks like the way I feel, I thought, as I walked down the aisle to the pews reserved for family. I was surprised to see the many friends Dad and Cheyenne had made filling the church. The pastor began his eulogy. It was a tribute to both Dad and the dog who had changed his life.

And then the pastor turned to Hebrews 13:2. "Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it."

"I've often thanked God for sending that angel," he said.

For me, the past dropped into place, completing a puzzle that I had not seen before: the sympathetic voice that had just read the right article... Cheyenne 's unexpected appearance at the animal shelter... his calm acceptance and complete devotion to my father and the proximity of their deaths. And suddenly I understood. I knew that God had answered my prayers after all.

Old German Shepherd

An old German Shepherd starts chasing rabbits and before long, discovers that he's lost. Wandering about, he notices a panther heading rapidly in his direction with the intention of having lunch. The old German Shepherd thinks, "Oh, oh! I'm in deep shit now!"

Noticing some bones on the ground close by, he immediately settles down to chew on the bones with his back to the approaching cat. Just as the panther is about to leap, the old German Shepherd exclaims loudly,

"Boy, that was one delicious panther! I wonder, if there are any more around here?"

Hearing this, the young panther halts his attack in mid-strike, a look of terror comes over him and he slinks away into the trees.

"Whew!," says the panther, "That was close! That old German Shepherd nearly had me!"

Meanwhile, a squirrel who had been watching the whole scene from a nearby tree, figures he can put this knowledge to good use and trade it for protection from the panther. So, off he goes.

The squirrel soon catches up with the panther, spills the beans and strikes a deal for himself with the panther.

The young panther is furious at being made a fool of and says, "Here, squirrel, hop on my back and see what's going to happen to that conniving canine!"

Now, the old German Shepherd sees the panther coming with the squirrel on his back and thinks, "What am I going to do now?," but instead of running, the dog sits down with his back to his attackers, pretending he hasn't seen them yet, and just when they get close enough to hear, the old German Shepherd says...

"Where's that squirrel? I sent him off an hour ago to bring me another panther!"

Moral of this story..

Don't mess with the old dogs... Age and skill will always overcome youth and treachery!

Bull Shit and brilliance only comes with age and experience.

* Got this from a forwarded email.

7 Tips To Make Moving House With Your Dog Less Stressful

It's time to prepare for moving house and you know it is going to be stressful for everyone involved including your dog. There will be so much disruption, imagine what it is like for your family dog, their normal routine has gone as everyone is busy doing different things. The whole world your dog has become familiar with, such as smells and household objects has changed dramatically and you should be aware that your dog could become stressed.

One consideration is to place your dog in a boarding kennel for the whole period of the move. If you decide to do this you will need to ensure the dog is up to date with vaccinations and worming. Placing your dog in boarding kennels ensures your pet is kept safe and has a minimal affect on their stress levels whilst you and the rest of the family deal with the move. After the move to your new home and everything is unpacked and a semblance of normality has been restored you can collect your dog. It is important that you then give the dog the required time and attention needed for it to settle into the new environment.
However, for whatever reason boarding kennels may not be an option and you will want to keep your dog with you. If this is the case then here are 7 tips to help make the move as smooth as possible.

  1. As early as possible on the day of the move empty one room as quickly as possible and then that room can be used to keep the dog in. Make sure that all the doors and windows are closed, that way you know the dog is safe and where to find it when it is time to go. Let the removals people know where the dog is so that they do not let it out by mistake and also so that they do not enter the room and either scare the dog or get frightened themselves.
  2. If you can, feed your dog as you normally would but try not to feed it too close to the actual moving time. If you do, your dog may become ill during travelling especially on a long distance journey.
  3. Hand over responsibility for the dog to one member of the family. That nominated person should know how your dog is doing and where your dog is at all times.
  4. Everyone will be excited on your arrival at your new home and that includes your dog. You should do exactly what you did when leaving your old house, find a room to keep the dog in and leave some familiar belongings in the room with the dog and don't forget to provide the dog with a bowl of water. Once again make sure the doors and windows are closed and if you can, lock the door to that room and even put a notice on the door telling everyone who is inside, this should prevent anyone opening the door accidentally.
  5. Once you have your dog safely in a room you and your family can get on with moving everything into the house. As you work through the day please think about your dog and remember to feed them. Also, provide your dog with a blanket or an old jumper which smells of your old house, this will make your dog feel more secure and keep them warm if it gets a little cold.
  6. Don't forget your dog will need exercise at some point during the day. Whilst you have been looking around your new surroundings you should findan area around your home where you can exercise your dog. The opportunity to have some free exercise will be greatly appreciated by your dog especially after being cooped up in one room for a large part of the day.
  7. At the end of the day walk around the house and garden with your dog at your side. This will let you and your dog explore the new surroundings together without your dog becoming too overwhelmed. Make sure your garden is secure before you do this. Take this time to explore and get to know your new home together.
If you follow these tips your move to your new home should be less stressful for both you and your dog.

Rosie Harvey runs a site on dog training and dog care. This site provides tips, advice, reviews, products and information all about training and taking care of your dog. []

5 Surefire Ways to Show Your Dog You're The Boss

You Must Be The Alpha Dog

First, let's take a look at what a "pack mentality" means. Dogs are born into packs - in the wild, packs are the essential social order. Unlike humans, who use a variety of political processes to determine leadership and rank, dogs sort out their social order by dominance and power. In a wolf pack, there is a Top Dog - a clear leader who is the dominant, Alpha male. He's the Big Dog, with pride of place at the dinner table (well, if wolves had a dinner table!), first in mating, first in decision making for the pack.

Whether you realize it or not, your dog views your household as his own personal wolf pack. The pack mentality is so engrained in your dog's psyche that he will either view you as a leader - or a follower - depending on your actions. If you are to have a well-trained dog, you must establish that you are the leader, and he is the follower. Your dog has to know in his heart that you are the Alpha Dog, the Head Honcho, the Big Dog, the Top Dog - call it whatever you want, but your dog needs to know you're in charge.

Dogs are a little like children in one respect - they're looking for someone else to be the leader - they want rules and regulations because that makes their role in the pack more clear-cut and understandable. It's scary being the leader - if you're not up to it, your dog may assume the role - because someone has to be in charge!

If that's what's happened at your house, you need to re-establish your position as the Top Dog, or "Leader of the Pack." But here's an important note: being the leader of the pack has absolutely nothing to do with harsh punishment. It has everything to do with consistency and setting limits.

A simple rule to remember (and one people have great difficulty keeping in mind) is that you are the leader, not your dog.

1. You Go Through The Door First
Even something as straightforward as who walks through the door first can reinforce your position as "dominant dog." Leaders lead. Followers follow. If you allow your dog to charge through the door ahead of you, he perceives that as asserting his dominance over you. Put your dog on the leash, and make sure you're the first one through the door.

2. You Eat Before Your Dog
Who gets fed first in your house - you or your dog? In a wolf pack, the leader eats first, and when he is done, the rest of the pack can dine. Do you feed your dog first because he pesters you when you're cooking your dinner, and it's simply more convenient to have him quiet and out of the way when you're eating?

Food is a powerful motivator that can be used to clearly demonstrate who is the ruler of the roost at your house. In no way, shape or form am I suggesting that you withhold food from your dog - that's cruel and unusual punishment any way you look at it. What I am suggesting is that you control the timing of the food - you should eat first, your dog second, after you're done with your meal.

3. Don't Walk Around Your Dog
Does your dog lie on the floor and expect you to walk around him? In the wild, dominant dogs lie wherever they want, and dogs lower in the social order go around so they don't disturb the Big Dog. If you walk around your dog, he will assume this to be an act of submission on your part; therefore he must be the leader, not you.

If your dog is lying in the middle of the hallway, or right in front of your easy chair, make him move. If he's on the couch and you want to lie down, make him move. Don't step over him. Just gently nudge him and make him get out of your way. You're the Big Dog, remember?

4. You Determine When Your Dog Gets Attention
Even asking for attention or affection can be seen as an act of dominance from your dog's point of view. Dogs that demand attention are asserting dominance, so if your dog gets pushy, ignore him. When you're ready to give him attention or affection or pet or play with him, ask him to sit first.
Don't run after him just so you can pet him. Make him come to you when you're ready to give him attention, or play with him. And when you play with a toy, make sure that you end up with possession of the toy, and then put the toy away when you're done. (Note: I'm not talking about his favorite toys that you leave in his crate. I'm talking about play toys that the two of you use for games.)

5. Don't Let Your Dog Sleep In Your Bed
This is a tough one for a lot of people, but when you let your dog share your bed, at best you're making him an equal to you. He should have his own bed, either a dog pad or his crate that he feels comfortable in - you can even put the dog pad next to your bed if that makes both of you happier - but don't let him take over the sleeping arrangements. Before you know it, he'll be trying to make you sleep on the floor!

Again, reinforcing or retraining your dog to recognize you as the Head Honcho has absolutely nothing to do with harsh discipline. These are changes you can make that will change the way your dog thinks about you. And making even small changes like these can have an enormous impact on the way your dog views the social hierarchy in your home - all without a harsh word being spoken!

Charlie Lafave, author, "Dog Training Secrets!" To transform your stubborn, misbehaving dog into a loyal, well-behaving "best friend" who obeys your every command and is the envy of the neighborhood, visit:

photo credit: julinelli

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