Chihuahua in a teacup

5 Reasons Why Pet Ownership Will Prepare You For Parenthood

“Hey, wake up.”


“It’s your turn to take Mr. Kermit outside.”

“Oh, right. Just five more minutes.”

Two minutes later: BARK BARK BARK.

“Alright, alright.”

I’ve heard plenty of stories over the years of people who’ve used pet ownership as a test run for baby ownership. Is ‘ownership’ the right word? Maybe not, but the best pet owners treat their dogs with the same level of care they would a newborn baby.

Well, almost. But the truth remains that a dog can teach you and your significant other a lot about how you’d fare as parents.

1. Babies and Dogs Get Hungry

When a baby is hungry, he or she will let you know about it. Dogs operate on more of a schedule, but they need to be fed just like new tiny humans. The good news is that instinct will allow dogs to eat on their own, so it’s an easy warmup compared with the demands of a hungry infant who just wants to throw their food all over the kitchen.

2. Natural Business

Scooping up dog waste on the sidewalk might not seem like a lot of fun at first (or ever, really), but it pales in comparison to the experience of changing a baby after the deed has been done. Coping with a dog’s natural habits will break down any previously held discomfort for the act, so when the time comes to deal with a child, it won’t be so bad. Hopefully.

3. The Art of Teaching

Raising a dog and raising a child isn’t so different in the early years. Teaching both to behave in a certain way is based off a simple system of rewards. Want to teach your dog to sit? Use treats. Want to teach your child to clap? Perform the action yourself and then smother them with praise and affection when they’re successful. Children will grow out of this stage, but by this time you’ll have an understanding of how they learn and how you can communicate best with them. Pets? Just keep using treats.

4. The Art of Discipline

No one is saying that kids and pets react the same way to different types of discipline. Heck, different kids react differently – wait, the same child can react completely differently one minute to the next. Since kids lack the same logic centres as their adult counterparts, it’s tricky to teach them to respond to reason. What pets can teach you about discipline, however, has more to do with how you react to something bad, rather than how your pet or your eventual child will react.

5. Learning More About Your Parenting Style

Finally, the real benefit of pet ownership before owning a child is analyzing what type of parent you’ll be. Will you be patient? Supportive? Rigid? Creative? These are all attributes you might not be aware you possessed before taking pet ownership for a spin. And in the case of both dog rearing and people rearing, ‘a spin’ in each case is a life-long commitment to providing the care and attention required by your human offspring or your furry canine child.

Pet ownership teaches you what parenting is like when you don’t feel like being a parent. It’s in these instances we learn the most about how we’re truly going to react to the challenges of parenthood.

Owning a pet teaches us responsibility, compassion and leadership. Not to the extent required by actual children, but it gives us a headstart.

Just remember, once a child does come along, you’ve still got a responsibility to keep your dog happy. And by that point, chances are you’ll be well prepared for the job.

Dog Collar

The Benefits of Reused Pet Products

In the world of pet ownership, pet grooming and pet veterinary care, there’s just as much room for rescued animals as there is for animals bought from a breeder.

Why? Because they all have teeth and they all have needs. Different types of dogs are suitable for different types of owners, but no matter where you found your dog, he or she doesn’t care where they came from, just as long as they’re smothered with love and care.

Another thing dogs don’t care about? Where their leashes come from. Or where their doggy beds were made. 

People spend obscene amounts of money on pet products like bejewelled cat doors and mink fur coats for their pets. Or a crystal cat house for $32,000! Seriously, cats, you’re giving pets a bad name! Wait, there’s a dog tiara on that list for 4.2 MILLION dollars.

Seriously check that link above, those items are real.

Got $3,000 to spend on a gold-thread pet mattress? No? Then head to Upcycled Canine and buy a durable, comfortable dog bed made with natural, reused pet products.

Wait, you do have $3,000 to spend on your dog?

Here’s a better idea: donate it to a dog shelter.

Supporting Local Goods & Services

Let’s stop talking about money, I’m getting dizzy. Another key benefit to buying reused pet products is the relationship you can build with local companies, like our pals at Upcycled. Independently owned pet shops have a vested interest in helping animals because it has a distinct effect on their bottom line. These companies go the extra mile to please their customers because they deal with them face to face. The organic human interaction is priceless.

That’s not to say you can’t be friends with the clerk at the chain pet store downtown, but you’re not going to get the same quality of care with someone who’s going to make a sale whether you show up or not.

With local independent retailers, you can ask about the origins of the materials and you can see exactly who’s making the products.

When it comes to the chain store, who knows where those collars were made? Scarier still, who knows the age of their makers?

The Environmental Impact

Climate change is a reality we’re all faced with whether we like it or not, but it can be tough to make a significant difference to the future of our planet. After all, it’s a big place.

We can, however, make a significant difference to our own small corner of the world. We recycle containers and packaging, we compost our food waste and we pack our groceries in re-usable bags – so why stop there? Buying reused pet products is just another way to shrink our carbon footprint. Even if you’re not keen on buying something used by another dog, buying products made of recycled materials is still a good way to minimize your impact on the environment.

Dogs Don’t Care About Money

People care about money.

I know, sorry to belabour the point, but there are better ways to spend your money than superficial pet products. Buy them organic food or buy yourself a vacation home with a huge yard instead. Your pet will appreciate that more than a diamond-studded leash.

Your pet only wants to be loved and cared for. If you buy them a leash, bed or collar created with recycled materials, they won’t know it’s been recycled.

But you will, and so will your planet.

Puppy With His Toy

5 Steps to Take 2 Weeks Before the New Pup Arrives

The day is here! The new puppy arrives! Getting a new dog to join your family is an important event in both your life and the dog’s life, an exciting time for both man and beast!

Hopefully you’ve taken the time to consider the best breed for your lifestyle or the size of your home, particularly if you live in an apartment. It’s handy when your personalities match as well. Most of the time, anyways.

After all, puppies come with growing pains. The good news is you can avoid a lot of problems by following a few simple guidelines.

1. Puppy-Proof Your Home

Not only do you want to avoid the destruction of a pair of expensive shoes, more importantly, you don’t want your new pup to get his teeth on something that could harm him. Dogs chew for plenty of reasons, one of them being the simple desire to explore, just like a baby. Some breeds like to chew more than others, but all puppies will get their teeth into something they shouldn’t at some point. Get your pup a variety of toys and encourage chewing of ‘his’ things, not yours.

2. Respect the Neighbours

Your dog will bark. It’s going to happen. If you live in an old apartment with thin walls then it’s probably a good idea to look for a breed that doesn’t bark at his own shadow. Either way, it’s a good idea to slide a note under your neighbour’s door to let them know of the impending arrival. They’ll be a lot more likely to cut you some slack when the barking starts.

3. Set Up a Private Base

Everyone needs a quiet place to which they can retreat when they get tired or overwhelmed. A crate or a bed your dog can call his own will give them somewhere to nap or relax. The natural denning instinct in dogs is different than humans – we don’t like being confined, but dogs need their own space where they can feel safe and secure. If you have young children, it will also help them learn to respect their new roommate’s space.

4. Mental Prep

Before the new pup arrives, and even before you give strong consideration to adopting a new member of the family, it’s crucial to ask yourself the tough questions.

      • Can our home handle it?
      • How will we react when he chews up the remote control?
      • Will we be able to give him all the comfort and attention he needs?

Welcoming a new member of the family is always accompanied by good moments and difficult ones. There’s no need to hide from the those tough moments like barking, chewing, slobbering or bathroom accidents, but it’s just important to be aware of them and prepared for them.

5. Set Up A Support Network

This one is easy – people love puppies – and crucial. Finding a neighbour or a cousin or a co-worker to puppy-sit or take your pup for walks shouldn’t be too hard. Just make sure you prepare them for potential issues, like barking at other dogs or running wild off-leash. It’s ok to seek assistance with a new dog because we all need breaks sometimes. Plus, being busy with life and work shouldn’t make dog ownership impossible.

We need to make sure we’re prepared when a new pup arrives so we can spend time enjoying the new addition. Following these simple steps will alleviate stress for everyone.

Now, do you feel prepared? Yes? Then there’s only one thing left to do!

Running dog

Owner Behaviour: The Magical Key to Grooming Calm Dogs

The first thing Sylvia MacDonald, K9’s owner, sees in the dogs that come through the front door of the shop?

The owner.

“We really look at the owner first because most issues stem from the owner,” Sylvia tells me. “We talk to the owner as we assess the dog’s behaviour. You can’t just approach any dog because we’re strangers, so we assess the behaviour of both.”

For Sylvia and dog groomers everywhere, it’s important to read the connection between dog and owner. Once that understanding is established and the groomer is comfortable with the relaxed attitude of everyone involved, only then do they put their hands in a the dog’s mouth.

1. How can people comfort their pets?

Dogs read their owners. The majority of their reactions are based on how their people react. The more calm and natural the owner is, the more relaxed the animal will be. Anesthetic-free teeth cleaning is a natural, non-invasive procedure so the dog will inevitably respond the same way the owner responds.

2. Do dogs read people?

“Absolutely.” Dogs are intelligent and they’re intuitive. They pick up on the energy of their people and the people around them. “If you’re really nervous it goes right down the leash,” says Sylvia.” Let’s say you’re walking your dog and you see a pitbull running at you – how will you respond? How will your dog respond?”

Whether you’re training a new pup or reinforcing habits like refraining from barking, it’s important to be assertive with your dog but it depends on the situation. Every dog has a different personality, just like humans. Once you tap into a dog’s personality training that dog will get easier, but understanding their owner’s personality gives groomers a headstart.

3. How do you know when to be assertive and when to be supportive?

It’s handy to know the characteristics of your dog’s breed. For instance, a sheltie is a very timid dog, so groomers like Sylvia are very careful and gentle when they work on their teeth. On the other hand, Sylvia approaches a growling cocker spaniel much differently. Another unique situation is the rescue dog who’s been mistreated. In that situation patience is key.

4. Is it difficult to build trust when you’re grooming a new dog?

It depends on the dog, their breed and their history. “Every dog has a unique personality and that’s what a behaviourist looks for,” says Sylvia. “What’s going on in that dog’s head? What was their history? How can we help this particular animal?”

Not only do dog behaviourists work to understand their animals better, a big part of their job is understanding the circumstances that helped shape that dog.

5. What’s it like when you finally establish that trustworthy relationship?

“It’s beautiful, as soon as a dog is confident with you he’ll let you do anything,” says Sylvia. Building a relationship from scratch and establishing trust with a dog demonstrates your ability and your willingness to take care of him. He or she knows you won’t hurt them and they know they can relax and go with the flow.

6. Ever thought about bigger game? Like cleaning alligators’ or elephants’ teeth?

“You know what, humans always say to me, can you clean my teeth? I always say no, you bite, the dog doesn’t. I thought about horses but I’m not a horse trainer or know enough horse training, so no, I’m going to stick with dogs.

“Working with dogs is what I know and it’s what I’ve always known.”

And for Sylvia, it helps that the dogs know it, too.


3 Ways to Help Your Dog Get Comfortable with the Toothbrush

Ever tried to shove your hand in the mouth of an angry child to brush their teeth? Well, the process is even less fun when it comes to dogs. Their teeth are sharp, after all!

But teeth cleaning is crucial to your dog’s health. The more you maintain your dog’s teeth the less you’ll need to visit groomers or veterinarians down the road. It’s an ongoing business for dog owners, but if you do it right then it can actually be an enjoyable experience.

Signs of poor oral health:

  • Bad breath
  • Drooling
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Trouble eating

If you’re noticing any of these symptoms, bring your dog to a groomer right away. Otherwise, here’s 3 steps to take to avoid dental issues.

1. Start ‘Em Young

Young children are constantly putting things in their mouths in order to explore. Dogs are no different. If you start young then they’ll be more comfortable with something other than food in their mouth.

Gently playing with your dog’s mouth teaches them to trust that process. You can make it fun too – use peanut butter or another snack to help them associate contact with reward. Food rewards are a powerful way to build trust with your dog.

2. Slowly Introduce a Toothbrush

Once your dog gets comfortable with contact in the mouth, the next step is to get comfortable with the toothbrush. It’s a foreign object that can’t be eaten, so it’s tough to predict your pet’s reaction. Try using a treat like beef to associate the toothbrush with something positive.

Keeping the toothbrush close, use your fingers to gently massage the gums and the teeth in the front and back of the mouth. Again, this associates positive energy with the presence of the toothbrush so you can slowly start using the toothbrush full time.

Just like humans, bacteria is hard on your system. Your mouth and your dog’s mouth are breeding grounds for unwanted guests. Brushing your dog’s teeth regularly will help their oral health and ultimately help them live longer and happier lives.

3. Raw Food

The problem with a lot of commercial dog food you find on the shelf is that dogs only use the back teeth, the molars, to chew. The food is tough so its pushed to the back of the mouth. The result? The front canines and incisors aren’t used and therefore aren’t cleaned naturally through the eating process.

Raw food, on the other hand, utilizes all 42 teeth. It has tissue that slides in between teeth and acts like dental floss. Bones are handy as well; dogs will hold a bone with their paws and go to town using as many teeth as possible.

Happy Mouth, Happy Dog

There’s nothing worse than walking around worrying about your mouth. Well, dogs aren’t self-conscious enough to know when their breath is terrible, let alone when their mouth needs some serious attention.

The best way to combat poor oral health is to get ahead of the problems before they start by regularly brushing your dog’s teeth or by simply visiting a groomer or pet-health educator.

Like us! (Sorry for the shameless self-promotion, just couldn’t be avoided any longer!)

photo credit: Greyhound Run 2011.01.01 via photopin (license)

Tofino Dog Bed

Why Upcycled Canine is Revolutionizing Natural Dog Products in BC

Picture the sun rising over the horizon as you take your dog for a walk. The air is crisp, the trees are green and you’re clipping along without a care in the world. And your best friend is by your side the entire way home.

This is the image I got when I spoke with Sara Bartlett a couple weeks back. A year ago Sara started building a company called Upcycled Canine in order to offer consumers an alternative to processed, over-priced dog products.

“I’m definitely a dog person, we had five dogs at times when I was growing up,” says Sara. “I’m a big fan of the planet, too. Upcycled was created to chip in a little bit, to make a difference to the environment for people and their pets.”

Read on to learn more about the value of re-used pet products and why it’s crucial we take more care in choosing the material our animals sleep on each night.

Kelvin: Tell me about the path that led you to starting Upcycled. 

Sara: About a year ago I started looking at the market for products and it was obvious really quick that there was a need for eco-conscious products for my dogs. There was just not a lot to choose from on the market. So we looked at different options for supplies, came across ropes and other materials we could re-use to make nice products instead of buying new things.

So you’re saving time, energy and money. Creating natural dog products means less energy used because of the lack of manufacturing new products. 

Exactly. The whole focus has been on re-using things instead of going through manufacturers. Everything we use is local or upcycled materials. I’ve always been a dog person, I used to run a dog-walking and care company in Vancouver, but I sold that as Upcycled grew and now its my focus.

What was the philosophy of going through all the trouble to start an online store, a company and a philosophy of sustainable, natural dog products?

The goal was to put environmentally conscious products into the market, into circulation, products that are environmentally conscious moreso than the average product. It’s a labour of love, it’s a ton of work but we’re definitely passionate about we do and for the people who use it.

Check out Upcycled’s brand new colourful dog collars.

We have a certain type of customer who appreciated what we do and is passionate about the philosophy as we are. We’ve got a small cult following at this point, the people who are really focussed on this type of issues. Some people care more about hand-made materials and eco-conscious products. Our stuff is really geared toward the outdoors-type clientele but obviously anyone with a dog can use them. The products still look great, the insides of the products are natural and stylish at the same time.

What are some of the dangers of buying different things off the shelf?

There are quite a few issues, there’s the social aspect, you don’t know if it’s a ten year-old kid who sewed that dog bed together. You don’t know how it got to the shelf, those products could be made in China or Taiwan in some horrible factory that’s creating a damaging environmental footprint. Materials are quite cheaply made because large corporations are so concerned with cost. The environmental footprint, the energy to get it shipped and mass-produced is inefficient and our focus is completely different from that.

You work with a local organization, Our Social Fabric. How are your beds made?

They’re an organization in Vancouver, they take fabric from crafters, manufacturers, places like Lulu Lemon, Mountain Equipment Co-op, all different kinds of stuff. Sometimes those companies pay someone to destroy it or it ends up in a landfill. Our Social Fabric takes the materials by donation and they hold sales every month and sell it to the public at wholesales.

Check out Our Social Fabric textile recycling initiative.

If you could train a dog to do one magical thing, what would it be?

Well I have two dogs, one’s a Pom-Chihuahua, and the other is a Great Pyrenees Newfoundlander, so I guess if they ever could, I would go with turning the lights on and off.

Check out Sara and Upcycled over at their shiny new website, perhaps your pup needs a new eco-friendly leash/collar combo?

Beach Dog

What Our Pets Mean to Us (& Why It’s So Hard When They’re Gone)

Name the last week where you didn’t make some type of mistake.

Sorry for the negativity, but believe me, there’s a point to this.

So think about it, any mistake. A mixup at work, a speeding ticket, a dropped plate in the kitchen – mistakes happen, they’re a part of life.

Now, think of the last time your dog judged you for that mistake.

Empathy Minus the Judgment

What do our pets mean to us? First we should ask what we mean to our pets. Dogs, cats, hamsters, goldfish – it doesn’t matter what your pet is, they’re part of the family. They love us unconditionally no matter what happens. Well, cats might be another matter, but as long as we feed them, right?

Dogs are with us when we go for long hikes during gorgeous sunsets. They stand by our side when people break up with us. They comfort us when loved ones pass on. They even stand in support when our kids turn three and we start pulling our hair out.

Dogs are with us through thick and thin, a powerful symbol of family, love and support.

And they never have to say a word.

A Reflection of Character

Part of the reason we love our pets so much is how unique they become even though they look exactly like other breeds. Think about it – your Alaskan Husky, the big softy. Your Jack Russel, curious about everything. Your … cat. Just, angry at everything.

Our pets remind us that it’s alright to be unique in a world where everyone is supposed to buy the same clothes and the same gadgets. Dogs don’t care what they look like when they’re mindlessly chasing butterflies in the park, so why should we care what we look like when we pull the ol’ jogging pants out of retirement?

We shouldn’t care. If humans were more like pets then we wouldn’t be self-conscious about our weight, our hair or wearing that AC/DC shirt from 1982.

(I wasn’t alive in 1982, but still.)

Plus, your dog would most likely love to help you get back in shape!

When They’re Gone

Animals, with us to the end, teach us not only about their lives, but about our own mortality. They die earlier than us in most cases, and they remind us to live our own lives to the fullest.

They develop special bonds with our children, teaching them unmatched love and appreciation for the things we have while we still have them. Indeed, they inspire our children in ways we could never imagine and never hope to replicate.

But the hardest thing about watching our animals die? Well, it’s also the best part:

They don’t say anything. They quietly go to sleep without requiring anything from us – not a painful goodbye or another forced sentence. They let us live on with the knowledge we gave them a good life.

And in return, they gave us something we could never find anywhere else.


Sylvia MacDonald & a Lifetime Spent Grooming Our Furry Friends

What are you passionate about? What gets you up in the morning? What keeps you up at night?

Some of the best companies in the lower mainland are those built on passionate the labour-of-love shops created just because the owner wanted it to happen, rather than needing it to happen.

When it comes to pets, dogs in particular, there’s nothing else that stirs those emotions more strongly for Sylvia MacDonald, the owner of K9 Brite Barks.

That’s right, I scored some time with the boss! Enjoy!

Kelvin: Describe your background – what led you to opening up a dog grooming and teeth cleaning shop in North Vancouver?

Sylvia: I’ve been working with dogs since I was 8 years old, I’ve loved dogs and animals my entire life. I started showing dogs when I was 8. My parents were presidents at the Alberni Valley Kennel Club. By the time I was 15 I became a professional handler. I was handling dogs in the ring, getting paid and working for people. I loved everything about the dog business. At around 16 I started grooming dogs with my own business in my basement. My next door neighbours would bring their dogs over. By the time I was 17 my dad built me a store, I called it The Barking Lot…

Wait, seriously? A dog grooming business called The Barking Lot? That’s incredible.

(Laughs) Yep! At about 20 I moved to Victoria and that’s when I opened up my business training people all over the world in grooming show dogs. The Barking Lot became a post-secondary trade school teaching people proper dog grooming. Then I opened a doggy day care with 7 groomers working for me. Then a retail store.

So it’s your life’s work then. There’s no other way to cut it.

I suppose so! K9 Brite Bark came about when I was grooming and I started hearing stories from people losing their pets to anesthetic when they were put under. It was horrible, sometimes there’s no avoiding it, but it’s just so sad. I started researching and using new tools because you can’t show a dog with bad teeth. So I went into it in further depth and I started volunteering with veterinarians to learn as much as I could. I ultimately decided to sell the Barking Lot to get into teeth cleaning full time. My manager took over and I started promoting anesthetic-free teeth cleaning in the store. After dogs were groomed by The Barking Lot they got their teeth cleaned. From there I opened up K9 Brite Bark in Victoria and the rest is history!

When did K9 open up officially?

I think it was 2002, time flies, wow. Now it’s a full business in different cities, we have 3 stores just in Victoria, one in North Van and one in Duncan. We’re mobile as well, we go to Gibson’s and to Castle Rock once a month. We have 6 stores in Calgary, too. People line up the dogs and we do education sessions with everybody on good oral health, how to hold your dog and how to brush your dog. That’s the whole thing with dental, people just don’t know how to do it and we educate them along with doing the cleaning and polishing.

Let’s talk more about the philosophy behind the business. Why do you believe in anesthetic-free teeth cleaning?

First, I don’t believe every dog should be put under, but sometimes it’s necessary. What we do is determine when it’s not necessary, when the teeth can be cleaned ultrasonically. Sometimes the tartar, isn’t underneath the gum line. We can treat a dog before there are severe problems. It’s non-invasive. A lot of different breeds, the dogs with the pushed-in faces, they can’t go under anesthetic, it’s too hard on them. To be able to take them somewhere where they can get their teeth cleaned is exactly like a human going to the dentist and having the hygienist do your teeth. If there are issues we can’t deal with we send people to a vet right away.

We’re behaviourists as well, that’s the key. We’re trained to work with difficult dogs in different situations. That’s the skill, getting into a dog’s mouth, being gentle to the point where they’ll actually let you do it. Our ultrasonic girls come and they have to have 6 months of training and then there’s a long process. It’s all about handling that dog in a gentle way where the dog actually enjoys it.

Can I call my house The Barking Lot if I get more dogs?

(Laughs) Whatever you need to do, you go for it.

Police Dog

4 Reasons Why Dogs Are Boosting the Mental Health of Humans

Praising your dog and giving him treats does a lot for his self esteem. Can you imagine perfectly performing a trick and being gifted with a treat? Every time? That would be amazing!

Unfortunately for humans our emotions aren’t so easily swayed. Sure, we operate on a basic system of rewards as well:

  • We work, we get paid
  • We eat, we get full
  • We exercise, we get healthy
  • We watch Old Yeller, we get sad

But the human mind isn’t so cut and dry. Human beings’ self awareness means we’re constantly considering elements that have nothing to do with rewards. How long will we live? Why do I feel this way? Does life get any easier?

Now, the bulk of this conversation is just slightly too vast for your friendly neighbourhood dog blogger, but one thing we do know is that our pets go a long way toward improving our daily mental condition.

How, you ask?

1. They Make Us Feel Useful

Let’s start with the positive aspects of the human-pet relationship. We all want to feel useful in life – useful to our kids, useful at our jobs and useful to the world. Sometimes it just isn’t accurate though.

Except when it comes to our pets.

We feed our pets. We shelter our pets. We share a love with our pets that’s often stronger than the love we share with other people!

And for that, our pets are eternally grateful.

2. They Treat Us The Same When We’re Sick

There comes a time in everyone’s life when the ol’ clock starts to tick and we realize we’re getting older. Often it’s the same time things start to go wrong and we come down with different illnesses.

It’s why pet therapy is a growing practice in hospitals all over the world.

Why? Because pets don’t care if we’re sick. All they need is love and they’ll return the affection tenfold, enough to help us forget our problems if only for a moment.

3. They Can Be Jerks, Too

Just wait, hear me out.

When was the last time watching the news put you in a better mood? The petty crimes, the arrogance, the inconsiderate people out there – it’s frustrating to say the least.

Well, you know what? Dogs can be jerks, too. Dogs will tear up the couch just because. Dogs will go to the bathroom on the floor while staring you straight in the eyes.

But not all dogs. Heroes exist in the canine world just the same as they exist in the human world.

Plus, the jerk dogs? They can be trained to grow out of this jerk-tastic behaviour.

That gives me hope that humans can be trained as well. And hopeful is a powerful mental state in which to be.

4. They’re Family

Dogs are so much more than domesticated beasts trained to fetch sticks and balls. Dogs have a natural part to play in the overall family dynamic. When they arrive we celebrate. When they die we mourn.

The lifespan of a pet is an accelerated look at our own mortality. Sharing your home with a pet attaches us to reality, it reminds we’re human beings who will grow, learn and, if we have the desire, become anything we want to be.

Dogs are happy every day and all they really need is a comfy bed and a loving home.

And truthfully, do humans really require much more than that to find that same state of contentment?

Go hug your dog everybody.

photo credit: Kobold … 9-11 Therapy Dog via photopin (license)

Puppy Chewing

4 Tips to Deal With Chew-happy Puppies

For most dogs, chewing a toy or a stick or a bone isn’t just a hobby for young pups, it’s a naturally ingrained method of cleaning and strengthening their teeth.

Plus it’s the funnest thing ever, right? I mean, I’d way rather spend an hour chewing a plastic toy then brushing my teeth for 3 minutes. Wouldn’t you?

What was I talking about?

Oh yeah, tips for aggressive chew-happy puppies. If you’ve got a young pit bull terrier, a golden retriever or a beagle, then you’ve likely come home to a chewed up shoe or remote control on more than one occasion. There are plenty of breeds of dogs who take chewing seriously, and there are plenty of chew-happy pups who couldn’t care less what their breed is.

Fortunately for pet owners everywhere there are special ways to help you avoid a shredded couch.

1. Try to Determine the Problem

Sure, maybe your pup is going through a stage that he or she will outgrow. But what if it’s not a phase caused by youth? What if there’s another factor at work?

Ask yourself:

  1. Are your dog’s teeth clean? Dogs will try to work off excess material by finding new things to chew.
  2. Is your dog hungry? Often it’s necessary to restrict, um, chubby dogs to calorie-reduced diets. We all know what it’s like being on a diet.
  3. Is your dog lonely? Dogs will find something to chew to deal with separation anxiety. If your buddy is spending too much time alone, look into a day-care shelter or pay a neighbour to take your buddy for walks.

2. Keep a Calm & Consistent Attitude

Just like children, dogs rarely respond how we think they’ll respond. Yelling and losing your temper will only confuse your dog. It could even encourage them to find something else to chew even better. This is particularly true in the puppy stage when the young’n’s are learning about their surroundings through taste and they’re teething.

Punishing your dog after they’ve chewed something does not help the situation. Remember, he’s a dog – he won’t associate the punishment with an act he already committed. People believe dogs act guilty because they know what they’ve done, when in fact they’re acting that way because they’re frightened by their owners’ threatening demeanour. No, if you don’t catch ‘em in the act, then it’s too late.

3. Exercise & Fresh Air Always Helps

Your dog might be tearing up the sheets because he’s bored, but that’s not his fault. Consistent exercise outside will tucker your dog out and give him an appetite for real food. Dogs who don’t get enough exercise based on their breed, their upbringing and their individual characteristics don’t simply decide to chill out on the couch. A dog with energy needs to do something with that energy, even if it means gnawing on your brand new shoes.

4. Toys!

Finally, the simplest solution of all. There are so many different types of dog toys on the market that the hard part is deciding which works best. Nothing works off the stress like biting into a hard rubber object for hours on end. There are plenty of natural bones on the market, plus rawhides, pig ears, dental-specific KONGS and other teeth-friendly items.

Make sure you avoid table scraps like wings or ribs – these can splinter and be dangerous on the way down.

Sounds like a fun way to grow up! Remember that puppies are just like little kids – they’re trying to figure everything out as they go. It’s not their fault their instincts tell them that your particular shade of green couch will be delicious. Be patient, puppy-profs your house and keep your little buddy moving and your chewing days will be over soon!

photo credit: Puppy via photopin (license)