December 3, 2014
by Sam Bourne
1 Comment

Reading Therapy Dogs Boost Confidence, Improve Grades


Pooches have been used for therapeutic reasons before, whether it was lying down with sick children or comforting elderly adults living in nursing homes. But did you know that reading therapy dogs can help children improve their literacy skills?

According to LancasterOnline, the Milanof-Schock Library in Mount Joy, Pennsylvania, has launched its own children’s reading program complete with therapy pooches, such as border collie Widget. Third-grader Abigal Horst has been reading to Widget for the last few months and has since become quite the bookworm.

The library’s Reading with Dogs program involves one-on-one time between pooches and kids, who take a book of their choice into a quiet area and read to their furry pals. Jan Betty, Milanof-Schock’s children and youth coordinator, explained that approximately 16 children come in weekly to participate.

“We get a lot of positive feedback from reading specialists and the parents,” Betty told LancasterOnline. “The concept behind it is that it takes the pressure off of the child. They’re not going to bark if you get a word wrong.”

Kids can struggle with their confidence when it comes to learning how to read, and having a friend to help them goes a long way. Psychology professor Debra Verdenburg-Rudy, Ph.D., stated that having a dog present lowers the children’s heart rates and blood pressure, improving their focus and determination to read.

New Dog Friendly Activities to Try

If you’ve made it this far in the article, it is clear that you are not in dire need of a reading therapy dog. However, if reading about reading therapy dogs made you yearn for a fun new activity for you and your pooch to try out, you might consider one of the following, as suggested by Active magazine:

  • Kayaking: If you live near some accessible lakes and ponds, take your pooch out for a trip on the water (assuming they can swim). They can enjoy the new scenery and watch fish and other creatures swim under the kayak. Not to mention, you’ll get a nice arm and back workout from paddling around the water.
  • Yoga: Deep breaths and long stretches aren’t strictly reserved for people, as dogs can get involved in yoga, too. Called Doga, it uses many of the same movements from traditional yoga, but tweaks them to include your four-legged pal. It can help you both feel very relaxed and even bring you closer together.
  • Hiking: Long jaunts through hilly trails can be a great bonding experience for you and Fido. You’ll get to walk through the scenic mountains as your furry friend picks up new smells along the way.

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December 2, 2014
by Sam Bourne

Prisons Start Dog Training to Aid Veterans, Autistic Children


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

How Dogs Employ Advanced Physics Whenever They Drink


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
1 Comment

Choose the Best Dog Birthday Presents


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

Why Do Dogs Kick Their Legs When Scratched?


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.