December 2, 2014
by Sam Bourne
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Prisons Start Dog Training to Aid Veterans, Autistic Children

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Man’s best friend has worn many different hats throughout the year, from the most basic couch companions to search-and-rescue heroes. Recently, pooches have been patrolling prison yards to help rehabilitate inmates in California.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that canines have been brought to the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in Otay Mesa, California, to be trained by participating inmates. Dantie, a 15-month-old Labrador retriever, is one of four dogs who are members of the prison’s new Prisoners Overcoming Obstacles and Creating Hope Program, which pairs pooches with inmates.

The dogs are trained to be companions and guides for wounded veterans and autistic children in San Diego County. The program launched just two months ago with three canines and three inmates, who are all members of the prison’s fire crew.

POOCH helps inmates by giving them a productive way to gain responsibilities and skills to take with them when they’re eventually released from prison. On weekends, staff members take the dogs home to get them used to socialization and environments that have escalators and coffee shops – things they wouldn’t encounter inside the prison.

The dogs are brought in at a young age to further encourage training and ensure that lessons stick with them during their early lives.

Why it’s important to start dog training early
All dog owners take different approaches to raising their young pups. They might even spend hours poring over books that detail various strategies about topics such as potty training. The entire process relies on communication, but pet parents shouldn’t try for the hardest tricks right from the start.

Cesar’s Way recommended that owners take dog training in small steps and set aside time every day to work on it. Pooches require constant discipline, which can lead to some serious frustration for owners. The best strategy is to remain calm and assertive, or else pooches will sense the negative energy and their efforts will drop.

During the earliest days of owning a dog, everything pet parents do or say around their furry friends should be considered training. From body language to vocal commands, constant reinforcement of discipline will help Fido maintain good behavior. In addition, owners need to find rewards that work the best with their pooches, as not all dogs will be motivated by delicious treats.

Sign up for PetPlus to get discounts on accessories that help make puppy training easy.

December 2, 2014
by Sam Bourne
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How Dogs Employ Advanced Physics Whenever They Drink

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After a long day of playing fetch and running around the woods, you pour water into your pooch’s bowl and watch them lap it up. But have you ever stopped to think exactly how they manage to get the water from the bowl into their mouth? The science behind a dog drinking is actually surprisingly complex and interesting! It is also quite sloppy, as anyone who had to mop up around their dog’s water dish will tell you.

Discovery News explained that new research from the American Physical Society’s Division of Fluid Dynamics described what makes pooches inherently sloppy when it comes to lapping up water. According to study author Sunny Jung, M.D., dogs drink liquids differently than cats due to how they withdraw their tongues from the surface.

Canines create a greater amount of acceleration when they drink, which Jung estimated was roughly five times more than gravity. This movement creates water columns that feed up into their mouths. In addition, dogs create a ladle-like shape with their tongue tips that become filled with water, but requires pooches to open their mouths wider to drink liquids. The maneuver contributes to more splashing.

Jung and his colleagues noted that heavier dogs tend to drink water with a larger area of the tongue, which causes them to make even bigger messes than small-sized pooches, such as Shih Tzus.

Keeping your dog hydrated and healthy
While summer is the most important time of the year to focus on your canine’s hydration, Fido can still experience the side effects of dehydration during the winter. Water isn’t just for keeping their mouths moist and bellies full – it’s necessary for nourishing their bodies.

The amount of water canines need depends on their activity levels, size and age. According to Cesar’s Way, an average dog requires between 8.5 to 17 ounces of water per day for every 10 pounds they weigh. For example, a 50-pound pooch needs roughly 42 to 84 ounces of liquids.

Water is critical to keeping your dog hydrated and healthy, as it helps flush toxins from their body. Without it, the harmful substances could accumulate and cause serious damage to vital organs, such as the heart or kidneys. Once they’re absorbed, your furry friend could get very sick and require immediate medical assistance. In addition, water helps regulate body temperature, which is important throughout all of the seasons.

To boost your canine’s health, sign up for PetPlus and gain access to thousands of discounted supplements and medications without breaking the bank.

December 2, 2014
by Sam Bourne
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Choose the Best Dog Birthday Presents

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When it comes to birthday presents, there are some people that cannot be overlooked — parents, siblings, your significant other, and close friends all warrant a little birthday something. But there is one special someone frequently skipped. Do you have any plans for a dog birthday present? You should!

From delicious rawhide treats to new toys, dogs can love birthdays as much as the youngest child. But rather than pick out something that’s been done thousands of times over, try to choose a creative and unique dog birthday present for your furry pal.

Keeping track of your pooch
The International Business Times recommended that dog owners purchase the Puppy Tweets Tag for their four-legged friends. During long work days or errand runs, many pet parents might be concerned about what their canines are doing when they’re all alone. That’s where this innovative tag comes in handy.

The Puppy Tweets Tag helps owners monitor their dogs’ behaviors while they’re gone. It includes a sound and motion sensor that can be attached to pooches’ collars and connected to a Twitter account. Anytime your dog moves or barks, the tag sends a tweet to your computer for you to review with ease. The tag can help put your mind at ease about leaving Fido at home while you’re out on the town.

Teaching dogs to help themselves
People go through the numerous challenges of training their canines to follow specific commands when it comes to going outside, sitting still or staying off the kitchen counter. But have you ever tried teaching your dogs how to give themselves water? Bored Panda suggested the Pawcet as a fun gift for pooches.

It’s a simple design that involves a small paddle lever that connects to any outdoor hose around your house. From there, all your pooch has to do is step on the lever and they’ll be lapping up fresh, cold water with ease. It’s a fun and practical gift that both owners and dogs will love.

Giving the gift of health
If doggy presents aren’t up your alley, then you should consider signing up for a PetPlus membership. With this handy membership you’ll be able to provide your furry friends with plenty of natural supplements and accessories that can have them wagging their tails every day.

Joining PetPlus also gives you access to more than 4,000 veterinarian offices around the country at discounted prices to ensure that Fido is always healthy and happy.

November 26, 2014
by Sam Bourne
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Why Do Dogs Kick Their Legs When Scratched?

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You come home from a long day of work and who is standing right by the door? It’s your dog itching for a belly rub or a scratch behind the ears. You oblige, and once you hit a sweet spot, they start kicking a leg – but why does this happen?

According to Colorado-based canine expert Marc Bekoff, D.V.M., dogs kicking their legs while being scratched is an involuntary reflex of self-preservation, The Huffington Post reported. At times, the sensation of scratching or tickling might be reminiscent of your dog itching from being infested with fleas or other dangerous parasites. As such, the kicking is a built-in reflex to remove the insects from their skin.

The movement is akin to when you burn your hand on an iron and immediately – and involuntarily – yank it away from the hot surface. That entire sequence involves your brain recognizing the pain, sending signals to your spinal cord and your nervous system responding by forcing you to pull back from the iron.

Veterinarians might use a dog itching reflex to diagnose potential neurological problems in pooches. This is similar to when your doctor taps your knee with a rubber mallet to measure reflexes.

What’s the best spot to scratch your dog?
According to Shiba Shake, most canines enjoy a healthy scratch on the top of their heads. The ideal spot is around the ears, which can cause your pooch to twitch and kick his or her leg. Some dogs might also enjoy petting on their muzzles or between their eyes, but you should always approach each pooch differently, especially if they’re not your own.

VetStreet also recommended giving canines some good scratching on their chests, shoulders and the base of their necks. These spots can be hard for them to reach on their own and you could be seriously soothing some dog itching. In addition, dogs have specific spots where they love to be petted, such as the base of their tails or the area of their necks where the collars sit. A long day of leather or chain rubbing on their skin can get irritating, so take off their collars once they’re inside for the night and massage their necks.

By signing up for a PetPlus membership, dog owners can purchase foods, treats and accessories that can keep their pooches happy and healthy for years to come.

November 26, 2014
by Sam Bourne
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Airports Enlist Calm Dog Breeds to De​-stress Passengers

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Therapy dogs have worn many hats over the years, from visiting with the elderly to lying down with sick or injured patients to brighten their spirits. Recently, airports have jumped on the therapy dog bandwagon and are starting to employ calm dog breeds to help de​-stress passengers before flights.

USA Today reported that Mineta San Jose International Airport in California has 13 teams of volunteer handlers and pooches that patrol terminals a few hours each day throughout the week. The K-9 Crew visits with passengers to ease anxieties about traveling through the air. The dogs include a variety of calm dog breeds, such as Cocker Spaniels, Rottweilers, Golden Retrievers and Mini Schnauzers.

Every canine on the team is certified by Therapy Dogs International, which tests potential therapy pooches on factors like obedience and willingness to be approached in noisy environments, such as airports. Handlers also go through security clearances before joining the team.

Following the program’s success at SJC, roughly 27 airports have brought therapy dogs into their facilities, including Miami International Airport, San Antonio International Airport and Will Rogers World Airport. Even Los Angeles International Airport launched its own Pets Unstressing Passengers program on April 15, 2013, with 31 dogs wearing red vests that indicate “Pet Me” to patrons.

A fear of flying and canceled or delayed flights can raise people’s stress levels, but with pooches by their sides these situations might be more manageable. Especially when you’re traveling with your furry friend in tow.

Keeping your dog relaxed in flight
Whether your pooch belongs to one of the calm dog breeds or not, preparing Fido for a long flight can be very challenging for owners. Pooches often experience their own levels of travel-induced stress. The airport and entire experience might be completely new to your canine and it’s important to make sure they’re prepared for the endeavor.

According to VCA Hospitals, travel requirements for pets will vary between airlines and destinations. What’s acceptable at your departure city might be entirely different from where you arrive. If your pooch is small, they can most likely be brought on board in a carrier that fits underneath your seat. Breeds like Shih Tzu’s and Yorkies are able to stay with their owners during the flight.

But keeping your dog relaxed during flights can be stressful, as you don’t have a way of knowing how he’ll react to the travel experience. Pet Travel Blog recommended placing the carrier in your lap so it faces the window, blocking your dog’s view of the passengers. You can also hug him tightly during the trip to console him if he starts whimpering.

Prior to taking the trip, check out PetPlus for any supplements or accessories that could make flying with your dog easier.