April 2017

Features

The Pros and Cons of Dog Parks

Dog parks are lifesavers for the owners of dogs who need extra exercise and outdoor stimulation in order to be able to relax and behave well at home. But well-enforced dog park etiquette is a rare thing, so what happens when badly behaved dogs at dog parks start influencing your dog? Taking your dog to the dog park for the first time should warrant caution; even securely fenced parks hold risks simply because they involve lots of strange, unleashed dogs. How do you know if you should try your local dog park? Just as with so many other dog training and behavior questions, it depends!

Suggested Dog Park Rules

The most successful dog parks have rules – and people who enforce them. Registration and numbered armbands make it easier to identify rule-breakers, which helps with enforcement. Here are some suggested rules for dog parks, which you should feel free to share with your community.

Best Dog Gear of the Year: 2017

When it comes to our own needs, we’re pretty boring shoppers. But send us into a good independent pet supply store, and we might not come out for an hour – with a store employee helping us carry stuff we just had to try out. Hunting for unique, attractive, fun, and/or useful dog gear is so much more satisfying than shopping for anything else! We found many of the following items at pet product trade shows, and the rest in our favorite pet supply stores. We hope you enjoy them as much as our dogs have been!

Dog Food Digestibility Levels Matter

What is digestibility and why does it matter? Digestibility reflects a food’s ability to deliver essential nutrients to the dog who eats it. This ultimately affects not only defecation quantity and quality (how much your dog poops and how the poop looks and smells), and a dog’s propensity for flatulence (no explanation needed), but more importantly, a dog’s long-term health and wellness. The graphic on this page summarizes how digestibility is measured using feeding trials with dogs.

The Safest Types of Dog Collars (and the Most Dangerous)

What type of collar should your dog wear? It depends on your dog, your personal taste, and your training goals, philosophies, and needs. But from our force-free perspective, there are some types of collars we wholeheartedly endorse, some we support with caution, and some that we regard as unnecessary and risky.

The Best Canned Dog Foods Review

Which canned dog food is best? What is wet dog food made out of? What common ingredients of canned dog food do I NOT want my dog eating? Since the start of Whole Dog Journal 20 years ago, we have worked to seek out and highlight the pet food companies who are dedicated to high quality dog food ingredients, fair prices, and national accessibility. There are more "healthy" and "natural" dog food options than ever before; WDJ is here to separate the truly good canned dog food from just the well-marketed ones.

WDJ's Approved Canned Dog Foods List of 2018

Lotus is another company we love. They make only a few foods, but with ingredients they source close to the cannery they built and operate themselves. They invited us to come and watch them make canned food and allowed us to take as many photos as we liked, of anything we saw. We love transparency!

The Best Pet Steps for Senior Dogs

Older dogs tend to develop mobility issues, whether from arthritis or injury. Many aging dogs will experience increased difficulty getting on and off furniture, in and out of cars, or up and down steps. Quality pet stairs come in many styles and prices. A small stepping stool designed for pets could be just what your senior dog needs to continue living comfortably!

From Rescued Dogs to Rescuer Dogs

The National Disaster Search Dog Foundation is the brainchild of Wilma Melville. It started when her retirement hobby as a civilian canine search-and-rescue handler took her to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in the wake of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing in 1995. At the time, Melville and her canine partner were one of only 15 canine teams certified by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in the entire country.

Successful Dog Adoption, Part 1: Develop an Adoption Criteria

So, you’re thinking about adopting a dog. Wonderful! Your whole future with your prospective new dog is ahead of you, and all things are possible. Visions of agility, rally, obedience, trick and/or nosework titles may be dancing in your head, or perhaps long, relaxing walks in a nearby park and snuggles in front of the fireplace on cold winter nights. Maybe you’d like to give back to the community with the warm comfort of a therapy dog. Perhaps you’re looking for a pal for your child.

Successful Dog Adoption, Part 2: What To Do at the Shelter

So – you’ve made your list of desired qualities and located a well-regarded shelter, rescue group, or breeder, and are ready to start your search. Perhaps you’ve already identified a prospect on an organization’s website. What now? Go meet some dogs!

Feeling Alone in Group Training Class

Group training classes are a mixed bag of pros and cons. And I say this as someone who has made a fair amount of my annual income by teaching group training classes. I also attend group classes with my own dog. By design, the “ideal candidate” for a positive-reinforcement group manners class is the generally happy-go-lucky, emotionally stable, food-oriented dog whose worse transgression is maybe a minor lack of impulse control, simply because he hasn’t yet been taught how to do better – that’s why he’s there.

Getting Rid of Fleas in the House

The job of getting rid of fleas in your house or yard really consists of taking on both the adults and all the other flea life stages. One could think of the non-adult phases of the flea as another species of pest, given that each stage has differing life needs and vulnerabilities. Because flea eggs, larvae, and pupae all have the potential for turning into fleas, destroying the insects in the non-adult stages is critical to preventing the population from repeatedly bouncing back into your and your dog’s lives.

Over-the-Counter Flea Medicine for Dogs

Last month, in “Bravecto, Nexgard, or Other: Which Oral Flea Control Should You Use?,” we described the five oral medications that veterinarians may prescribe to stop or prevent a dog’s flea infestation. This month, we’ll describe the four oral medications that kill fleas on dogs and are available to owners as over-the-counter (OTC) products – no prescription necessary. As with last month’s installment in this mini-series on flea-control options, the descriptions of these products should not be taken as a recommendation or endorsement.

Do Electric Shock Collars Harm Dogs?

Do you use an underground electric shock fence to contain your dog? Are you considering having one installed? I hope reading this will change your mind. More and more neighborhoods prohibit or limit the useof fencing, and as this occurs, the use of these non-visible electric shock perimeters has drastically increased. Manufacturers and retailers claim that these products are humane, effective means by which to safely confine dogs without disrupting the aesthetics of neighborhoods.