We’re in the dog days of summer, making this the perfect time for today’s holiday: National Mutt’s Day! Celebrated on July 31st, Mutt’s Day provides us an opportunity to focus on the joys of mixed breed dogs.
Labradoodles, Cockapoos, Whoodles, and Daisy Dogs are just a few of the mixed-breed dogs popular today. As varied in temperament as in their appearance, mixed-breed dogs can display the genetic traits of two or more breeds. While agility and obedience competitions were formerly limited to purebreds, mixed breed dogs now have opportunities to compete in those competitions through the American Mixed Breed Obedience Registry, or AMBOR, as well as the Mixed Breed Clubs of America (MBDCA).
Mixed-breeds can offer several advantages over their purebred counterparts. Given their wider gene pool, they are often less likely to have some of the genetic defects that some breeds are known for. Mutts are truly unique with a wide range of characteristics, personalities, and energy levels. Although it’s difficult to validate, many people believe that mutts live longer and are smarter than purebreds.
Now are you ready to celebrate this special day dedicated to mixed-breed dogs? Here are a few ideas to get you started:
First, set aside some extra time to engage in your mutt’s favorite activities. From a fast-paced game of fetch or Frisbee to a long walk through the neighborhood (with plenty of stops to check out interesting landmarks along the way), your mutt is bound to appreciate the extra attention.
Second, pick up some extra special treats. You know that gourmet dog treat bakery around the corner from work? Why not stop by and pick up something tasty? For those who know their way around a KitchenAid, how about mixing up a batch of homemade treats? Here’s a recipe that’s sure to please the pickiest eater: http://www.marthastewart.com/264802/homemade-dog-biscuits?center=0&gallery=904143&slide=264802
Lastly, take some photos to commemorate the event. With the variety of pet-themed scrapbooks, papers, embellishment kits as well as online templates, you may want to create an album dedicated to your special canine. Search Pinterest or Scrapbooks Etc. for pet scrapbook ideas to get your own creative juices flowing. If scrapbooking isn’t your thing, perhaps you could turn that photo into a memorable gift for you or your pet. From a personalized totebag for your dog’s belongings to a custom phone case or coffee mug to carry your furry friend’s face with you wherever you go–the options are as endless as your imagination. Shutterfly and Snapfish both offer pet-themed photo gifts for every occasion.
We want to be a part of your celebration of National Mutt’s Day! Share your favorite pictures, stories, or memories of your favorite mutt with us on Facebook so we can join in on the fun!
Anyone who has come home to find the mini-blinds torn to shreds or your favorite pair of leather shoes marred with bite marks knows the damage a bored pet can inflict. Other than hiding your shoes and keeping your blinds up, what’s a pet owner to do? Here are some ways you can keep you home intact and your pet amused in your absence.
Make sure your schedule includes at least 15 minutes of exercise and playtime each day. If you woke up a little earlier, could you squeeze in a brisk walk around the block or a quick game of fetch before work? What about adding a daily playtime when you return home? Mornings and early evenings are often when energy peaks in pets (as well as people!) so take advantage of that time to burn their extra energy and satisfy their need for attention.
Use technology to your advantage. Many pets enjoy the companionship of a radio or television to keep them company throughout the day. Choosing a program or musical genre that they will be familiar with can help tap into positive associations they have with those sounds and images. Or, you might try a cd or DVD made especially for your pet like Through a Dog’s Ear: Music to Calm Your Canine Companion or DVD for Dogs: While You Are Gone. For an added dimension of interest, try setting a timer to have a program come on and turn off at a certain time.
Some owners will call their at-home answering machine to give their pet a chance to hear their voice. You can even use video surveillance to keep a watchful eye on your pet. If he’s having a bad day, you can hopefully intercept him before he tears apart the sofa.
While a clear view to the outside world might seem like the perfect entertainment solutions, evaluate the scene from your pet’s perspective first. Birds feeding at a feeder outside, pedestrians passing by, the constant arrival and departure of a city bus—these can trigger frustration and add to your pet’s anxiety about being left alone.
Sometimes a second animal companion can help ease the tedium of being alone all day. Plan regular visits to the dog park to give your dog a chance to socialize with other dogs. Is there another pet owner near you that you could arrange play dates with? Perhaps the two of you could set up a rotating pet care arrangement that minimizes the time that your pets are home alone. Or maybe, a second pet would make a welcome addition to your family. Think about the options that might work best for your family.
Work to help your pet associate your departure with something positive rather than negative. One way is to hide treats throughout the house as you’re getting ready to leave (while your pet is distracted or obeying a ‘stay’ command). As you walk out the door, encourage him to find all the treats you’ve hidden. You can also have special toys or objects that only come out when you’re gone. Be warned though, your pet may get so excited about these special rituals and toys that they start looking forward to your next exit.
Who doesn’t like treats throughout the day? With the vast array of food puzzles and treat balls on the market today, it’s easy to provide stimulating activities to keep your pet busy all day long. Check out www.kongcompany.com or http://www.interactivedoggames.com/ for a glimpse of the different kinds of interactive toys available as well as recommendations for games and recipes to make playtime even more exciting.
You can even repurpose household objects to create entertaining toys. Stuff a tennis ball or an empty plastic water bottle inside of a sock for a simple play object. Freeze peanut butter, apple slices, small carrot sticks, or dog food in a treat ball or ice cube tray to create an entirely new experience. You may even consider adding a water fountain to arouse their interest as well as provide a constant supply of fresh water.
Some pets have a hard time adjusting to being alone all day. Follow their cues and bring in outside help if necessary. Perhaps you need to work out more flexible work arrangements so you can spend lunches at home or have a dog walker visit your home to provide much-needed stimulation. Visit your local pet daycare program to see whether that might be a fit for you and your pet. Ask a retired neighbor or responsible teen to pet sit for part of the day. If one approach doesn’t work, be willing to try another until you find the right solution for your family.
Keeping your pet occupied in your absence takes some forethought, creativity, and planning. However, both your pet and your pocketbook will attest that it is well worth the effort!
Ranked the #1 most popular breed by the American Kennel Club for 22 consecutive years, the Labrador Retriever is a lovable, family-friendly dog known for its stable temperament and good-natured demeanor. Classified in the Sporting Group along with pointers, setters, and spaniels, retrievers have been an AKC recognized breed since 1917. Originally called a St. John’s Dog, Labrador Retrievers originated from Newfoundland where they helped fisherman pull in their heavy fishing nets. Their webbed feet, strong tail, and water-resistance double coat made them well suited for this role.
Labs, as they are commonly called, come in three colors: black, chocolate, and yellow (ranging from golden to vanilla). They grow to be between 55 and 80 pounds and 21.5 to 24.5 inches tall and have a broad head, strong jaws, and short, dense coat. Although Labs can retain their puppy-like behavior longer than other breeds (often through their first three years), they are easily trained and have an even-tempered disposition.
Due to their gentle nature, trainability, size, and love for retrieving objects, Labs are a first choice for service animals, often assisting the blind, elderly, disabled, and hard of hearing. Police also use Labs to help sniff out narcotics and explosives, to patrol borders, and to assist in search and rescue efforts.
Highly active, intelligent, and eager to play make Labs a top choice for active individuals and families. Labs are generally well-behaved around children as well as other pets (though you should never leave a child unattended with a dog). Due to their large size, Labs need daily exercise to ensure they maintain a healthy weight and keep out of trouble. Some of their favorite activities are retrieving and swimming, along with walking, running, and playing. Contact your vet to learn more about whether a Labrador Retriever is a good fit for your family or to find a Lab rescue shelter in your area or Breeder in your area.
Famous Labrador Retrievers:
From moviestars Old Yeller and Marley to former President Clinton’s dogs Buddy and Seamus, Labrador Retrievers have long held a place in history as well as our hearts. Here are a few famous Lab facts:
• The second Earl of Malmesbury at Heron Court started the first kennel of Labradors, keeping it stocked until his 1841 death.
• The first dog to ever appear on the cover of Life Magazine was a black lab called “Blind of Ardenhttp://www.feilbach.org/blind-of-arden.html” in 1938. He is the winner of the open all-age stage of the Long Island Retriever Club.
• Two yellow lab guide dogs, Dorado and Roselle, were in the Twin Towers on 9/11. Both guided their blind owners through the smoke filled stairwells to safety minutes before the first tower collapsed.
• Endel, a yellow lab service dog in England holds the title of “the world’s most decorated dog.”
• Lucky and Flo are twin black Labs who sniffed out $2M in pirated DVDs in Malysia and in Queens, New York.
• Sadie, a black Lab who saved dozens of soldiers in Afghanistan when she detected a bomb.
The American Kennel Club released their list of the most popular dogs in the U.S. and while many of the breeds retained their ranks, there were a few notable changes. The Golden Retriever moved from the fourth position to become the third most popular breed last year, switching places with the Beagle. The Bulldog and Yorkshire Terrier switched places, as did the Rottweiler and Dachshund, reflecting a trend towards bigger breeds. According to Lisa Peterson, spokesperson for the AKC, “The popularity of the pint-sized, portable pooch just gave way to a litter of larger breeds in the Top 10. These predictable, durable, steady breeds, like Labs and Goldens, are great with kids and offer the whole family more dog to love.”
Is your dog one of the 10 most popular breeds in the U.S.? Check the list below to find out:
1. Labrador Retriever
2. German Shepherd
3. Golden Retriever
6. Yorkshire Terrier
Each month we are going to spotlight one of the top ten breeds, giving you details about their heritage, their characteristics, and tips for their overall care and health. Check back later this week for a focus on Labrador Retrievers, America’s top dog. Interested in a little dog breed trivia? Pop on over to this American Kennel Club’s quiz on the most popular breeds.
Fireworks displays, family picnics, and festive parades are a few traditional 4th of July occurrences. Unfortunately, losing a pet is another one. More pets run away around Independence Day than any other time of year, largely due to their anxiety over the booming, flickering firework shows so prevalent in early July. How can you make sure your pet stays safe this holiday? Here are a few ideas to help ease your pet’s nerves and ensure that they don’t become a 4th of July statistic.
1. Leave your Pets at Home. While furry Fido may love joining you at the Farmer’s Market each weekend, he’s not going to have the same enthusiasm about the Independence Day celebrations going on throughout the area. There are a number of elements that can compromise your pet’s health and safety, from large crowds, hot pavement, and discarded trash, bones, and food to loud noises, alcohol, and fireworks. Remember, never leave your pet in a vehicle for any length of time. Home is the safest place for your pet on the 4th of July.
2. Create a Safe Haven. Your crate-trained pet will feel much more secure within the confines of their kennel. If that’s not an option, secure your pet into an area where they will be most comfortable, away from the bright flashing lights and noises or any nearby fireworks displays. Many pets will panic at the continuous sound of fireworks and may go to extreme lengths to escape the noise. Some have gone so far as to jump through glass windows, chew through screens, dig under fences, or leap over constructs, following their instincts to flee from the threatening situation.
3. Get Some Exercise. Spend a portion of the day walking, hiking, and playing so that your pet is tired out by the time all the evening revelries begin.
4. Lock Up Explosives. If you have personal fireworks, make sure to keep them in a safe location that your pet cannot access. Curious cats and dogs may be tempted by the fancy streamers, decorations, and scents of fireworks. Most fireworks are toxic to pets, containing harmful substances like potassium nitrate, charcoal, sulfur, and coloring agents. If your pet has ingested a firework, contact your vet or emergency animal hotline to get help immediately.
5. Check ID. Make sure that your pet is wearing their identification tag and that all your contact information is up-to-date. Even inside pets should wear a collar and ID—the loud noises can trigger a flight response that prompts them to escape however they can.
6. Try the Mozart Effect. Play some soothing classical music to create some comforting background noises for your pet. The music doesn’t need to drown out the fireworks; aim for a distracting and continuous melody at a regular listening volume. If classical music isn’t your forte, try a white noise machine, fan, or television program, all of which can provide a welcome diversion.
7. Under Pressure. A Thundershirt for your dog or cat may provide some additional relief. Designed to exert constant pressure on your pet’s torso, these wraps are designed to relieve anxiety much in the same way that swaddling a newborn baby creates a sense of security and comfort.
8. Enlist Help. If your pet shows extreme anxiety, talk to your vet to find out whether anti-anxiety medications may help them get through the noisy holiday season with minimal stress.
With a little planning and preparation, the 4th of July can be an enjoyable time for both you and your pets. Happy Independence Day!