Common Hazards for Your Dog at Christmas

With the holiday season in full swing, it is important to be extra vigilant of the many hazards for our beloved pets. This is not an exhaustive list. In a previous post I covered Poisonous Plants for Pets Around Christmas which though not inherently deadly, can cause a lot of problems if they are ingested. Those include Poinsettias, Mistletoe, Holly Lilies, Daffodils, Amaryllis, Christmas Cactus, and Pine Needles. Some are more toxic than others. An … [Read more...]

Understanding Your Dog’s Body Language

Understanding your dog’s body language is very important, especially when around strangers, small children or new dogs. Bites can happen in an instant. Children often want to hug a cuddly dog and often go in face first.  This can frighten even the most stable dogs. A playful encounter can quickly turn antagonistic. Odds are a dog's sharper teeth and claws will win out over a young child's softer skin most every time. At the Peaceable Kingdom shelter, we … [Read more...]

November is Adopt a Senior Dog Month

Please consider adopting a senior dog. The harsh reality is that senior dogs are abandoned more than any other dogs. It is usually because their owners cannot, or do not wish to pay for their care anymore. They also just don't want to be bothered with the extra attention an older dog might need as they age. Old dogs tend to have more trouble getting around or maybe they can't hear or see very well. Sadly a lot of dogs come into the shelter because their … [Read more...]

Top Halloween Costumes for Dogs in 2016

In 2016 total spending for Halloween is expected to reach $8.4 billion, an all-time high, according to the National Retail Federation, the world's largest retail trade association whose members include department stores, specialty, discount, catalog, Internet, and independent retailers, chain restaurants, and grocery stores. The survey, now in its 11th year, culled the results from 6,791 consumers. More than 171 million Americans plan to celebrate … [Read more...]

October is National Adopt a Shelter Dog Month

October is National Adopt a Shelter Dog Month and if I have not already stressed the point enough in previous posts, there are an abundance of reasons to take in one of these lovely souls. PetFinder.com has a useful tool to find a pet shelter and rescue organization in your area. According to the ASPCA, here are some eye-opening statistics.. Approximately 7.6 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year. Of those, … [Read more...]

Does Your Dog Understand the Words You Say?

When I speak to my dogs, they seem to understand what I am saying. And the latest research is providing some evidence that may be true. According to many experts like Stanley Coren, PhD, a researcher from the University of British Columbia, the average dog can understand at least 150-165 words. And with training and repetition, that number is likely to increase. Just try saying "scooby snack" several times a day while offering a delicious morsel and … [Read more...]

Celebrate National Dog Day – August 26th

It is National Dog Day again! Celebrated each year on August 26th, the event was started by animal advocate Colleen Paige in 2004 as a way to bring attention to the plight of animals and encourage adoption. Her family family adopted their first dog named Sheltie when Colleen was 10 years old on an August 26 date. Colleen has also initiated National Puppy Day, National Mutt Day, and National Cat Day. According to her website, "National Dog Day celebrates … [Read more...]

DogFACS: Interpreting Your Dog’s Facial Expressions

Recent studies are now lending scientific weight to the belief dogs really can pick up on human emotions and interpret what we are thinking. But what about the other way around? The Facial Action Coding System has been around since the 1970s and taxonomizes all the expressions a human face can make. But the Dog Facial Action Coding System (DogFACS) has been adapted from the original FACS system and seeks to identify and code facial movements in dogs based … [Read more...]

Is This Great Dane the World’s Tallest Dog?

A three year old Great Dane named Major is in the running for recognition by the Guinness Book of World Records as the tallest dog in the world. He stands over 7 feet tall on his hind legs and and 4 foot 3 from paw to shoulder and weighs 168 pounds (17 stone). Major and his owners Julie and Brian Williams from south Wales, England will find out next month but there is competition. Two other Great Danes measure over 7 feet tall -  four year old Freddy … [Read more...]

Do Dogs Really See Themselves In The Mirror?

If you are a dog lover, few things are funnier that watching videos of sweet puppies barking at themselves in the mirror. OK, maybe dogs playing with babies, dogs playing in a pile of leaves, dogs taking steps into their first snow - but you get the point. But what do dogs really see when they look at their reflection? Human beings are not born with the ability to recognize themselves in the mirror. Up until the age of 18-24 months, babies may be … [Read more...]

The Dogs of our Founding Fathers

In honor of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence at the Second Continental Congress in 1776 by delegates from the thirteen colonies, here's a look at just a few founding fathers and their canine associations. Happy Fourth of July America! GEORGE WASHINGTON - Served as commander in chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War - In 1787 was elected president of the convention that wrote the U.S. Constitution - … [Read more...]

Beware the Hot Asphalt When When Walking Your Dog

With temperatures climbing during these hot and soon to be hotter summer months, it is important to take extra precautions when walking your dog. They may act like their paws are all-purpose combat boots, but in reality they are more like very callused feet. So when it is too hot for YOU to walk barefoot outside, take note. That asphalt and concrete heats up quickly. Air temperature is not an accurate reflections of ground temperature. As surfaces like … [Read more...]

DNA Testing in Dogs

Do You Know What Your Dog Really Is? Have you ever wondered what breed or breeds your dog is? A pedigree dog must have papers to show that he is purebred for three generations. However this is based on the breeder’s information only (unless the breeding was supervised and can be verified by a vet.) So let’s just say accidents can happen. Maybe your dog isn’t what you think. I know someone who had their dog’s championship title stripped because the dog … [Read more...]

Are You A Pack Leader?

Recently I added one more dog to our pack. I wasn’t planning on another dog but this one needed some loving care. He is a sweet senior Chihuahua I took home from the shelter because he was quite sick. He has since recovered and is doing well. Adding another dog to a good sized pack can be a challenge. People often ask me if my dogs all get along. I say, yes, they have to! I’d like to think that is because I am a confident and consistent pack leader. The … [Read more...]

Signs of Stress and Anxiety in Dogs

In my last post I wrote about the debate over hugging your dog and received a lot of feedback. The argument against says that while we humans feel this is a natural way of showing our affection and fostering the bonding experience, for the dog it can cause stress and anxiety. Their fight or flight instincts can make them feel trapped. One celebrity dog trainer Joel Silverman, writes that it really all depends on the dog, and I agree. "Just because a dog … [Read more...]

Should You Hug Your Dog?

Should you hug your dog? I would guess if you love your pet, you have probably given him a squeeze now and then. Some people do it more than others. If makes us feel good as well as our dog - or so we think. However, according to a study by psychologist and author Dr. Stanley Coren, hugging your dog actually raises its stress and anxiety levels. I saw several news items related to this article recently - two on the local TV news plus the New York Times … [Read more...]

Common Health Problems For Popular Dog Breeds (part 2)

Last week we covered the most common ailments for several breeds including the Labrador Retriever, German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, Bulldog, and Beagle. This week we take a look at five more including the French Bulldog, Yorkshire Terrier, Poodle, Rottweiler, and Boxer. FRENCH BULLDOG The French Bulldog is a small breed known for its pushed-in face and compact body. It has a lifespan of 10-12 years. Because of its stocky build and breeding … [Read more...]

Common Health Problems For Popular Dog Breeds (part 1)

Our favorite furry friends share many of the health concerns that we as humans experience, often resulting from poor diet, lack of proper exercises, or general aging. But there are certain ailments that are more acute in canines. We'll cover common health problems in the most popular dog breeds, as recognized by the AKC. This week it is the Labrador Retriever, German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, Bulldog, and Beagle. LABRADOR RETRIEVER The Labrador … [Read more...]

Hip Replacement Surgery For One Lucky Dog

Hip replacement surgery is a common and highly successful procedure for humans. But did you know that dogs also can have a hip replaced? For dogs that have been injured or suffer from hip dysplasia, this can be life-saving. I saw a very heartwarming story on the news the other day about one very lucky dog. Percy, an 18 month mixed breed, was roaming the streets in the Bahamas. He had been hit by a car and was found crawling around unable to walk. Percy … [Read more...]

Social Referencing Behavior in Dogs

Can your dog sense if you are uncomfortable around a certain person or stranger? I have heard the statement on many occasions that 'If my dog doesn’t like you, then neither do I.' And it is one I have always endorsed. If you have ever walked your dog and encountered someone that made you feel uneasy, you have probably observed that your dog has shown a similar reaction. A study led by Charlotte Duranton of Marseille University and published in the … [Read more...]

Dog Breeds, Then and Now

Recently I came across a photo of a champion Chihuahua from the late sixties. I was surprised at how different the dog looked compared to champion Chihuahuas today. The breed has certainly changed and evolved over the years. The Chihuahua was first recognized by the AKC in 1904. The first champion, “Beppie” was registered in 1908. The first registered Chihuahuas were long coats. The two coat varieties were recognized in 1952. Chihuahuas of … [Read more...]

Most Popular AKC Dog Breeds for 2015

Which dog breed is the most popular? According to the AKC, the Labrador Retriever is number one again - for the 25th consecutive year. The German Shepherd was #2 and the Golden Retriever ranked third. The rest of the top 10 included the Bulldog, Beagle, French Bulldog, Yorkshire Terrier, Poodle, Rottweiler, and Boxer. Coming in at #11 was the German Shorthaired Pointer, a breed that includes this year's Westminster Best in Show winner, CJ. My favorite … [Read more...]

Westminster 2016 Dog Show Results And Wrap-up

This year's top dog at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show was a German Shorthaired Pointer named C.J. He beat out more than 2700 other entries to win 'Best in Show' at the main event in Madison Square Garden. Owner and Handler Valerie Nunes-Atkinson led the triumphant GCH Vjk-Myst Garbonita's California Journey (aka C.J.) to the contest's top prize on Tuesday evening. Reserve Best In Show was awarded to "CH Belisarius Jp My Sassy Girl." a Borzoi. See … [Read more...]

140th Annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show

Westminster 2016 begins this weekend in New York! On Saturday, February 13th, "Meet and Compete" will feature the WKC Masters Agility Championship and the AKC’s Meet the Breeds® at Piers 92/94 in Manhattan. Then on Monday, the main event starts at Madison Square Garden with final judging for BEST IN SHOW beginning Tuesday at 7:30 PM. “Meet the Breeds” is a showcase for the public to meet various dog breeds and learn about dog ownership. You can get up … [Read more...]

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) for Dogs

In case of emergency, do you know how to give your dog CPR to save its life? Cardiopulmonary resuscitation is normally used when you cannot hear or feel the dog’s heartbeat. Once the dog stops breathing, the heart will go into cardiac arrest and cease beating. While in-class training may be hard to find except for professionals, there are a wealth of resources available for responsible pet owners who want to learn. But be careful; CPR is hazardous and … [Read more...]

Tips For Protecting Your Dog in Cold Weather

It’s wintertime and the cold weather is upon us. We are bracing for an especially harsh blizzard this weekend. My little dogs are not fans of snow. They may venture outside for a moment but I never take my eyes off of them and limit their exposure to a couple of minutes. Fortunately they are paper trained so they do not have to go outside at all if it is brutally cold. If we have to be outside for a while, I will put a coat on them, but none of them like … [Read more...]

Can Dogs Read Human Emotions?

How tuned in are dogs to our emotions, thoughts and moods? I have always believed my canine children certainly knew when I was happy or angry, irritated or melancholy. Now the results from scientific studies are backing up the belief that dogs truly recognize emotions in humans and other dogs. Daniel Mills, a Vet Professor from Lincoln University, tested 17 pet dogs in front of a screen and flashed up images and audio from other dogs to gauge their … [Read more...]

Most Popular Dog Names

If your dog is named Max, Charlie, Buddy, Bella, Lucy, or Daisy, then you are not alone.  Those are some of the most popular names for dogs in 2015 according to Rover.com. The website poured over its own database of research, surveys, and articles, along with external sources to come up with the year's biggest trends. Human names are the #1 choice for pet parents as that figure reached 49% in 2015 - up from 19.88% in 2013 and 21.17% in 2014. According … [Read more...]

Top Dog Breeds of 2015

The most popular dog breeds for 2015 have been announced and the Golden Retriever is at the top of the list - at least according to DogVacay, a dog-sitting and boarding company. They combined their own findings along with Google's results.  Of course, there is no singular ranking that will end all debate. The AKC earlier this year placed the Labrador Retriever at the top of its list for 2014.  That was followed by the German Shepherd with the Golden … [Read more...]

Poisonous Plants for Pets Around Christmas

There are many increased risks to your pet's health around the holidays. Well-meaning guests who feed the dog table scraps may rank right up there. But one of the most overlooked dangers reside in the plants, flowers, and foliage which are are often popular this time of year. Here's a quick rundown of the most common ones. Poinsettias The Poinsettia plant is often a fixture in holiday decorations. However, despite its reputation, it is not deadly. Its … [Read more...]

Keeping Thanksgiving Happy and Safe

Thanksgiving is upon us, and I hope all my readers are able to feel the warmth and hear the voices of loved ones this holiday. So as our tables are laden with wondrous eats and our hearts overflow with good spirit, please remember to keep this time safe your pet as well. Here are a few common trouble areas: Fats & Skins Table scraps are best for the trash, not your furry friend. Keep the leftovers for the next day's meal (or midnight snack.) … [Read more...]

The Dangers of Xylitol Poisoning in Dogs

Xylitol is a naturally occurring substance that is used as a sugar substitute. Chemically, it is a type of sugar alcohol extracted from plants. It is often manufactured into a white powder which is safe for humans and has many beneficial uses. But in dogs the results can be life-threatening. You can find Xylitol in sugar-free vitamins, toothpaste, dental floss, mouth washes and anti-cavity rinses, nasal sprays, baked goods, peanut butter, and in many types … [Read more...]

Can Dogs Sense the Supernatural?

Dogs are certainly sensitive creatures that are much more aware of nature than we are. Their hearing and eyesight are highly developed. They know when someone is coming to the door before you do, when a family member is coming home from work or if that squirrel they’d like to catch is outside. When weather events are closing in, dogs seem to know. They can often predict an oncoming storm. But do they see ghosts? Many a paranormal investigator will … [Read more...]

Chocolate Poisoning in Dogs

With Halloween is just around the corner, your home will probably be filled extra sweets and candies. If the kiddies and the grown ups don't munch on them all before the big day, your furry children may try to get their share. Chocolate is toxic to dogs because it contains theobromine, which is a stimulant found in the cocoa bean. It's similar to caffeine and is used medicinally as a diuretic, heart stimulant, blood vessel dilator, and a smooth muscle … [Read more...]

Halloween Costumes for Pets

With Halloween just a couple of weeks away, this can be a fun time of the year for both you and your pets.  In a future post, I will I go over some of the steps you can take to keep your dog safe and free from anxiety when the tricker-or-treaters come around. For now, let's talk costumes! According to the National Retail Federation’s Halloween Consumer Spending Survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, Americans are projected to spend $1 on … [Read more...]

October Is ‘Adopt A Shelter Dog’ Month

If you are willing to open your heart and home to a dog in need, now is a good a time to do it. There are so many wonderful dogs in shelters waiting to be adopted. Unfortunately some people think that if a dog ends up in a shelter it must be their fault, he’s a biter or barks too much or urinates in the house, so they shy away from adopting a “problem” dog. It’s simply not true. There are great dogs in shelters, they just need a second chance. I have … [Read more...]

Mushroom Poisoning in Dogs

When my oldest Chihuahua, Carl was about three years old, he suddenly became very lethargic and started vomiting. I took him to my vet. After running some blood tests the vet discovered very high liver enzymes in Carl’s test results. One of the first questions the doctor asked me was, do you think he might have eaten a poisonous mushroom. It never occurred to me that such a dangerous hazard could be in my own backyard. Carl was not a dog that generally … [Read more...]

Flea Season Is Here

Now that autumn has arrived you might think flea season is coming to a close. Think again! This time of year, even here in Pennsylvania, fleas are thriving. In fact, as the days grow cooler fleas are still everywhere. Although fleas and tics are generally found in the woods and high grasses your dog can still pick up fleas no matter where he is. Many years ago when we lived in New Jersey, in a busy suburb of New York, I did not think fleas were a … [Read more...]

Driving With Dogs

Many years ago we adopted a beautiful Pembroke Welsh Corgi name Rae, who was a retired show dog.  When we went to pick her up, the breeder put Rae in a sturdy travel crate and carefully placed her in the back seat of my car for the ride home. She showed me how to fasten the seat belt correctly and emphasized how important this was. I will never forget the story she told me. She said to always drive with your dog secured in a strong crate for safety. … [Read more...]

The Search and Rescue Dogs of 9/11

This week marks the 14th anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington D.C. and the flight that was taken down in Pennsylvania. For most of us, we remember exactly where we were and what we were doing on that tragic day. I still cannot get through September 11th without shedding some tears. A strong memory of that day for me was sitting outside with my dog, a sweet Corgi, named Rae. It was completely … [Read more...]

Guilty Dog Face or Just a Good Faker?

We've seen the dog shaming memes where pets are photographed with signs explaining what they did wrong. And boy do they look guilty! They just tore up a box of tissues, grabbed some chicken bones out of the garbage bin, or left a stinky mess in the hallway. Our lovable yet trying fur children act just like human kids when we've caught them drawing with crayons on the wall. But is that apologetic shame they are expressing or are we anthropomorphizing … [Read more...]

National Dog Day shifts to August 31 next year

As so many people observed online with photos of their furry friends, National Dog Day was this past Wednesday. It's been traditionally held on August 26 of each year since its founding in 2004 by Colleen Paige. However, due to a calendar conflict with Women's Equality Day, National Dog Day will be observed next year on August 31. According to their website, "National Dog Day serves to help galvanize the public to recognize the number of dogs that need … [Read more...]

Popcorn Paws and Frito Feet

Do your dog's paws smell like popcorn or corn chips? No it's not your imagination. Some people do think they detect the scent of a late night snack when they whiff their furry friend's feet. I wrote about this in my first book, Dog Show Confidential - Sneaking in the Back Door of Westminster. My dogs' paws remind me of popcorn - AND I LOVE IT! For the most part, a case of the popcorn paws or frito feet is nothing to worry about. According to The Daily … [Read more...]

What I Learned About Parvo (Canine Parvovirus)

A few weeks ago a pit bull mix puppy named Topaz was brought into the shelter where I volunteer. She was in bad shape, covered in mange and very thin. But in spite of her condition, she had plenty of energy, love and personality to share with everyone around her. She was put into isolation and given medication for her mange. "Mange is a skin disease of mammals caused by parasitic mites and occasionally communicable to humans. It typically causes severe … [Read more...]

Tips For Including A Dog In Your Wedding

I have attended two doggie weddings. Each was complete with a bridal party, flowers and cakes for dog and human guests. Both involved Chihuahuas. One was quite formal, the pretty Chihuahua bride was dressed in a lovely, long white gown and the groom looked quite smart in his tuxedo. The other wedding was a bit more casual. That wedding was for my oldest Chihuahua, Carl’s parents, BamBam and Baja. My dear friend, Barb, the owner of the happy couple … [Read more...]

Chester’s Final Journey – a rescue dog’s story

Several heart-warming stories about loving dog owners treating their terminal pets to a grand farewell have made the news recently. One was Neil Rodriguez from New York City who took his 16-year-old dog Poh on a seven-week, 12,000 mile bucket list trek across the country. But another story hit especially close to home because this one involved a shelter dog. His name is Chester, a mixed breed with maybe a little miniature schnauzer in him. In April, he … [Read more...]

Are Small Dogs Harder To Train Than Big Dogs?

A question I am often asked is, are small dogs hard to train? The simple answer is yes! The first small dog I had was a Pomeranian. He was only two pounds when I got him and completely adorable, that is until he started biting everyone in the house. He also decided that his favorite place to urinate was under the dining room table. Clearly, I had a problem. Charlie, as we called him was one bad little dog! But I was determined to train him … [Read more...]

Tips for Keeping Your Dog Safe During the Summer Heat

With temperatures approaching triple digits in many places across the country, it is now more important than ever to take extra precaution in keeping your dog cool and safe during the the extreme heat. I have always subscribed to the guiding rule that if it was too hot for me outside, it was too hot for my pet. Many many pet owners forget that hot surfaces like asphalt and cement can be especially problematic. Animals walking so close to the ground … [Read more...]

Why Do Dogs Roll in Smelly Stuff?

Last weekend I gave a bath to Kate, my Long Coat Chihuahua. She looked so pretty, her cream colored coat was fluffy and soft. Kate smelled of French vanilla and white tea. All combed and dry she was allowed to go play outside. When she came back in wagging her lovely tail, I noticed a strong stench in the house. It was enough to gag the strongest of stomachs. It smelled like a very long dead ground hog. I went to investigate and found the unfortunate … [Read more...]

Are You Making Your Dog Fat?

When you go to the grocery store do you check out the calories on the food you buy? I do and would like to think I try to purchase healthy food items and snacks for me and my family. But what about your pet? But do you also check the calorie content of the snacks you buy your pet? Do you look for healthy food and treats for your best friend? If your dog is overweight, maybe you need to take a good look at what they are eating. When I had my two … [Read more...]