July 2018

Dog DNA Tests: Mixed Results

While some of the early mixed-breed identification tests used a blood sample, all of the products on the market today extract DNA from cells swabbed by the dog’s owner from the inside of the dog’s cheek. The swab is sealed in a container provided by the company and mailed off to the company’s lab. There, technicians extract your dog’s DNA from the swab, and use computers to identify and compare specific bits of it to bits taken from dogs of known lineage.   More...

Dogs and Carbs: It’s Complicated

Subscribers Only — The question of how best to feed dogs stimulates great debate and evokes strong emotions among dog folks. (Yes, this an intended understatement.) One of the most contentiously defended viewpoints in recent years is that dogs should not be fed diets that contain digestible carbohydrate (starch). Two primary arguments are used to defend this position.   More...

How to Potty Train A Dog

Preventing your dog from pottying in the wrong place is the first and most important housetraining task. Since most of us cannot keep our eyes on our dogs every minute, having a safe, comfortable confinement area is key to housetraining success. Most dogs naturally avoid going potty in their sleeping areas, so confining your dog in a small enough area that is more bed-like than room-like not only prevents unwanted accidents but also will help him develop bowel and bladder control.   More...

Canine Influenza: Is Dog Flu Something to Worry About?

Symptoms of dog flu include sneezing, coughing, runny nose, fever, lethargy, and loss of appetite. About 80 percent of the dogs who are infected with the virus will have only mild symptoms, with about 20 percent of infected dogs showing no symptoms whatsoever (these dogs, however, are still able to spread the virus). Most dogs recover in two to three weeks.   More...

The Allure of the Lure

Subscribers Only — Luring means using something the dog wants, most often a food treat, to draw her or guide her into doing what you want her to do. With her nose glued to the treat like a magnet, you can lure her to sit, lie down, jump up on a surface, spin or twirl, and perform a very long list of additional behaviors by slowly moving the treat in the appropriate direction. Hence the “allure of the lure” – you can use this training technique to easily entice your dog to perform a behavior that you can then reward and reinforce.   More...

Dog Has Bad Breath?

The odor was there. Not overpowering, but “off” and definitely not normal. My six-year-old Bouvier Atle’s breath simply never, ever stank. Yet here it was. Some kind of skanky odor emanating from his sweet little face. Was it time for a dental cleaning?   More...

Signs of Progress

I got a little whiny in one of my blog posts recently. I was feeling a little depressed by my latest foster project: a mixed-breed mama and her nine teeny puppies. They were surrendered to my local shelter in sad shape: thin, infected with coccidia, and infested with fleas. The mom knows absolutely not one cue, not even “sit,” though she is super sweet and friendly – how can someone let such a nice dog get into such bad shape, and pregnant to boot? Ugh! Some days it just feels like we humans are making no progress in our ability to care for and manage our dogs.   More...