Nothing says the holidays like family, friends — and vomiting dogs. We talked to animal experts and fellow dog owners for tips (especially to avoid that vomiting part) on how to take the stress out of holiday travel with your dog. If you’re part of the 37 percent of people who travel with their pets, according to the American Pet Products Association’s 2015-16 National Pet Owners Survey, read on!

1. Educate yourself (and others!) on what not to feed your dog

A dog begging for food at the holiday part table.

A dog begging for food at the holiday part table. Photography ©Rasulovs | Thinkstock.

A big part of the holidays is the food, most of which is bad for dogs and can cause vomiting, diarrhea or even pancreatitis — no one’s idea of holiday festivities. Your biggest challenge may be training your hosts not to give their scraps to your soulful-eyed dog. A small piece of turkey meat is fine; skin or fat isn’t.

Then there’s food you bring for others. “If you’re giving gifts of food, put a Post-it on it that it’s not dog safe,” said Marty Becker, D.V.M., Dogster’s own Chief Veterinary Correspondent. Additionally, “Put it in a closet or on a high shelf until the day of celebration.” (I learned this the hard way when our English Bull Terrier, Medusa, sniffed out the peanut brittle I got for my mother-in-law and unwrapped the gift, luckily not eating any of the candy.)

Alicia Halloran, an animal communicator based in Henderson, Nevada, also learned the hard way what can happen when a dog eats the wrong food — and way too much of it — before traveling. Her Shih Tzu, Odie, got into a big bag of cat food the night before traveling for Thanksgiving. “The next day we were at O’Hare airport in the United Club. I took him out of his carrier because he was very fidgety. We were told dogs weren’t allowed in the Club, and right before we left, he passed gigantic gas. Now I feed Odie lightly before traveling, as though for surgery.”

2. Be prepared and help your dog navigate a location change

If your trip has multiple stops, Dr. Becker recommended getting disposable ID tags. “Every time you change location, include where you’re staying and the phone number,” he said.

Ticks may not be prevalent where you live, but they might be where you’re going. “Research where you’re going and ask if there’s anything your dog should be protected against,” Dr. Becker said.

Alicia’s Odie is blind, and she found a way to help him navigate new surroundings. “My parents’ home has been the hardest. There’s a very strange layout with a lot of corners, and he would get stuck.” Using Muffin’s Halo (a device for blind dogs) made all the difference. “After a couple of hours of using the Halo, he got the lay of the land, and it gave him confidence.” She points out that the Halo may also be helpful for dogs who are partially blind, have dementia, or any issues getting around. (For more about Odie’s adventures, follow him on Instagram at @odieseyes.)

3. Condition your dog to enjoy his crate or carrier before you travel

Before the trip, consider some trial runs. “If your pet will be contained in a crate or carrier, condition him to spend time in there,” said Kat Miller, Ph.D., CAAB, Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist with the ASPCA. “Keep the experience positive by providing something yummy for your dog while inside. Let him out before he has a chance to get upset about the confinement, gradually increasing the duration.”

Speaking of carriers, Dr. Becker recommended placing a light cover over it or using curtains on the windows to block out visual stimuli, which can cause stress.

4. Research pet-friendly accommodations and plan your route

One of the most common mistakes is not researching accommodations, according to Steven Appelbaum, president and CEO of the Animal Behavior College, in Valencia, California. “A couple who lived in Southern California decided to visit relatives in Texas during the holidays. They assumed they’d be able to find hotels/motels along the way that would take pets. Unfortunately, the first night they found themselves with zero options. Rooms were either booked or didn’t take pets.

“These nice folks spent the first night sleeping in their car with their pets. Fortunately, the weather wasn’t too cold. The entire experience could have been avoided with proper planning.”

5. Bring your dog’s health and medical records

Planning includes paperwork. “If you’re traveling across state lines, bring along your pet’s rabies vaccination record,” Dr. Miller said. “While this generally isn’t a problem, some states require this proof at certain interstate crossings.”

And plan for the unexpected. Dr. Miller also recommended packing extra medication your dog takes in case you are delayed.

6. Plan your stops in advance

A big part of going on a trip, especially with dogs, is stopping. Dr. Becker pointed out that at official rest stops, every traveler’s dog has used that same patch of grass. Instead, “Pull off the road, find an area with a large patch of grass,” Dr. Becker said. “You can use the bathroom at a rest stop, but don’t let your pets go there.”

Remember Steven’s hotel story? That’s not the only one. “I know of another dog owner who ignored the rules and booked a motel room,” he said. “The facility didn’t take pets, but he figured his dog was quiet and older and no one would notice. So he checked in, and given that this was the type of motel where you can drive to the approximate location of your room, he simply requested a room in the back of the motel. Later he went out for a quick bite to eat leaving his dog asleep on the bed. When he returned, he had a message from the manager. His dog awoke in a strange place and started barking excessively. Other guests complained, and since the motel didn’t accept pets, this man found himself on the road at 12:30 a.m. looking for another place.”

7. Pack familiar toys / items for your dog

When packing for yourself, pack a bag for your dog, too, including his own food, bowl, bed/pillow, and toy. “The more you can create a familiar and safe environment for your dog, the less stress they are likely to feel,” Steven said.

Another way to ensure your dog’s comfort is establishing a time-out location. “Make sure wherever you go there will be a quiet ‘retreat’ area available for your pet if he or she gets overwhelmed by the day’s activities,” Dr. Miller said.

8. Schedule pet grooming appointments early

Have a dog that needs regular grooming? Shelley Williams, a professional groomer and staff member with Animal Behavior College, said that groomers get very busy during the holidays. One owner learned this the hard way. “She ended up giving her dog a haircut Edward Scissorhands style! His haircut was a mess,” Shelley said. “Schedule holiday pet grooming appointments early so you don’t embarrass your pet and yourself in front of family and friends.” Holiday photos where all anyone notices is your dog’s crazy ’do is not the way you want to remember Christmas 2016.

If you get your dog groomed where you are visiting, bring some “after” photos to ensure the desired results. “By doing this, it is unlikely that your dog will be returned with very, very short hair or naked,” Shelley said. This, too, would result in some highly unfortunate family photos.

Plus, horror stories about holiday travel with dogs:

A few dog owners share their own not-so-pawsitive experiences with holiday travel:

“Inform everyone of your dog’s eating schedule and quantity. Wilbury, my Australian Cattle Dog mix, frequently gets away with a ‘second breakfast’ when we travel because my family doesn’t realize I have already been awake to take him out and feed him. And my Wilbury would never fess up to having already eaten.” — Tiffany Herron, Columbus, Ohio

“Always bring your dog’s toys when visiting someone with pets. I didn’t once, and my Keeshond mix, Trooper, shredded the host dog’s toys!” — Martha Everett, St. Louis, Missouri

“We have an 80-pound black German Shepherd Dog, Bella. We were hiking in Colorado, and there were lots of elk hunters. We were told there was a good chance she would be mistaken for a black wolf and shot unless we put an orange vest on her. Then, we got chased by a moose.” — Larry Molmud, Monterey, California

Shelley WilliamsWhat are your tips for surviving holiday travel with dogs? Tell us in the comments!

Thumbnail: Photography by The Dog Photographer. 

Editor’s note: Have you seen the Dogster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting room of your vet’s office? Subscribe to Dogster and get the bimonthly magazine delivered to your home.

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In my family, the holiday season means lots of food, lots of grocery-store runs, and lots of dogs underfoot. For the last several years, we have celebrated the holidays at my sister’s place. She has two little dogs, a yappy (but adorable) old Bichon and a cranky (but adorable) old Shih Tzu. Since my parents live about six hours north of the city we three kids are in, they bring along their two senior dogs. A couple of years ago, my brother got himself a pair of Miniature Schnauzer puppies, which increased the holiday guest list to six dogs, eight adults, and one human child — a multi-dog Thanksgiving.

My husband and I were the only ones who weren’t bringing a dog to holiday get-togethers, but that changed in October when our rescue Lab-mix GhostBuster attended his first (Canadian) Thanksgiving dinner.

There were already four smaller dogs (including one who is blind and another who is deaf) crowding into my sister’s kitchen when GhostBuster arrived, but somehow our Dogsgiving wasn’t really that chaotic.

I’m pretty sure I was more stressed out than all of the dogs combined. Here are five tips — based on our recent experience — for keeping calm with an extended family of dogs under the table.

1. Don’t panic (like I did)

Two puppies hanging out together.

Attending a Thanksgiving celebration with other dogs? Here’s how to make it an enjoyable experience for all involved. Photography ©Voren1 | Thinkstock.

I hadn’t planned for GhostBuster to join us for Thanksgiving dinner. I didn’t know if my brother would be bringing his two dogs, and I figured that if he was, seven dogs would just be too many to have at my sister’s house (thankfully, my brother’s pups did not attend this year).

It was my husband who insisted on bringing GhostBuster (after I called him once there and asked if he would ever be making an appearance). I was nervous as I waited for them to walk the five blocks between our place and my sister’s, and when I looked out the living room window and saw the pair coming up the driveway, I felt my muscles tighten with anxiety. I wasn’t afraid that GhostBuster would behave badly, I was just afraid that I would feel like we were imposing — and I let my anxiety get the best of me.

2. Decide: All dogs inside or all dogs outside?

I was reluctant to add to the chaos already happening in the house, and as a result I wasn’t being fair to my dog or my husband. When my guys first arrived, I put poor GhostBuster in the backyard until we could figure out how to integrate our ungainly Lab mix into the crowded kitchen without him moving about like a bull in a china shop.

GhostBuster is never left outside on his own at home, so he was quickly doing his World’s Saddest Dog act. I knew I wasn’t being fair, and my husband encouraged me to either bring GhostBuster inside or let the other dogs out. We proceeded with an indoor meet-and-greet before a group pee break.

3. Introduce your dog to new dogs with caution

GhostBuster knows my sister’s dogs pretty well. They’ve gone for lots of walks together and hung out in the backyard a bunch of times. My parents’ dogs, on the other hand, didn’t know GhostBuster at all — and since Pagan the Jack Russell Terrier has been known to start scraps with my siblings’ dogs, a slow and steady introduction was needed.

When we first brought GhostBuster into the kitchen, I stood right beside him while the other dogs all circled around my feet. To Carlos and Sophie, he was old news, but Pagan and her BFF Rags were leery of this new giant before them.

My mom kept a close eye on her little Pagan as the five dogs sniffed around each other. GhostBuster was not a hit with Pagan, who growled at him — twice. My mom and I calmly separated the two, but didn’t move them very far from each other. It was obvious that Pagan was intimidated by GhostBuster, so we just kept him at a distance by until she got used to him.

By the time the humans were moving on to pumpkin pie, Pagan had begrudgingly accepted GhostBuster as a fellow member of this temporary Thanksgiving pack.

4. Don’t be a helicopter pet parent

When the turkey came out of the oven, the dogs were all very excited to do a little (safe!) taste testing of the Thanksgiving treats, and they congregated in the kitchen to get their collective beg on. My mom was giving each of the dogs a little bit of turkey, but when she got to GhostBuster, I butted in.

“It’s better if you hold it flat in your hand instead of dropping it,” I told her.

I knew I was being ridiculous, but GhostBuster’s (one and only) biting episode was still fresh in my mind, so I also tried to school my dad on the best way to deliver treats.

“Stop hovering!” my husband scolded me. “They’ve given treats to dogs before! He’s fine.”

My husband was right. My parents have probably delivered hundreds of thousands of treats and table scraps into the mouths of many dogs in their lifetimes, and GhostBuster was being a perfect gentleman, sitting and waiting for these nice people to feed him.

Once I backed off a bit and stopped trying to control every interaction, GhostBuster was able to relax and enjoy the holiday a little more.

5. Know when to call it a night

Just like holidays are stressful and overwhelming for some people (obviously, myself included), they can be overwhelming for dogs.

My husband and I were very, very proud of GhostBuster for how well he did for his first multi-dog Thanksgiving. We left Thanksgiving dinner rather early and took him on a nice, relaxing evening walk to calm down from the hectic holiday.

Tell us: How do you handle a multi-dog Thanksgiving? What are your tips and tricks?

Thumbnail: Photography ©Liliya Kulianionak | Thinkstock.

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About the Author: Heather Marcoux is a freelance writer in Alberta, Canada. Her beloved Ghost Cat was once her only animal, but Specter the kitten and GhostBuster the dog make her fur family complete. Heather is also a wife, a bad cook, and a former TV journalist. Some of her friends have hidden her feed because of an excess of cat pictures. If you don’t mind cat pictures, you can follow her on Twitter; she also posts pet GIFs on Google+.

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New Dog Collection from CB2

Posted: November 18, 2017 in Uncategorized

New Dog Collection from CB2

A few weeks ago we featured the new dog accessories and gear collection from Crate & Barrel, and now we’re excited about the companion collection over at sister store CB2. The collection follows a similar black, white, and grey motif and includes beds, leashes and collars (leather and nylon), and toys. Designers of the collection include Dog Milk favorites Found My Animal and Ware of the Dog. Take a look over at CB2.

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© 2017 Dog Milk | Posted by Katherine in Beds + Furniture, Collars + Leads, Toys | Permalink | No comments

Physical differences between male and female dogs are both slighter and less obvious than those between other kinds of domestic pets or farm animals. Distinguishing between a male and female turkey, for example, tends to be quite easy, especially once they reach maturity. Differences in size and plumage between these birds are clear and striking. The male turkey is much larger, more colorful, and has a more dramatic appearance. Among dogs, average height and weight of females and males does vary, but the difference is normally only a few inches in the first case, and can be as little as 10 pounds in the latter. When we’re talking about newborn baby puppies, the differences are inconsequential. All newborn baby puppies are super tiny. So, how can you tell if a puppy is a boy or a girl? Let’s investigate.

Why does differentiating sex in puppies matter?

It's impossible to tell whether this tiny adorable baby puppy is a girl or a boy. Newborn English Bulldog puppy by Shutterstock.

Is this puppy a girl or a boy? Newborn English Bulldog puppy. Photography by WilleeCole Photography / Shutterstock.

Even when dogs are fully matured, telling a male from a female dog can be difficult. How many times have you, as a dog owner, passed someone on the street or at the park and heard some variation of, “What a beautiful dog! May I pet her?” And how many times have you gently corrected, “Actually, he’s a boy!” I make that mistake all the time with other people’s dogs, and people make it all the time with mine.

If you’ve recently had or are preparing to welcome a litter of puppies, and people are asking to adopt one, they may have a specific sex of puppy in mind. Some people are particular about male or female puppies. Perhaps they’ve had better experiences with one sex of dog over another. Reasons can be difficult to parse, and impossible to understand or predict. If both you and the interested parties are patient, things will become clearer by the time they are ready to be weaned.

Can urination habits help tell if a puppy is a boy or a girl?

One of these baby puppies is a boy, the other a girl. One-week-old Labrador Retriever puppies by Shutterstock

One of these baby puppies is a boy, the other a girl. One-week-old Labrador Retriever puppies. Photography by ARTSILENSE / Shutterstock.

Some might huff at the very question, assuming that the stereotypical images of fully grown dog urination habits — squatting for girl dogs and the leg lift of boy dogs — will make the distinction clear enough. In baby puppies, however, one must remember that as puppies’ hindquarters develop and mature, puppies of both sexes squat. The positions that puppies take do not diverge for a while after whelping.

Indeed, male and female puppies may assume identical positions for up to two months. Puppies do not practice independent bowel and bladder evacuation in their first couple of weeks of life. Nor, for the first few weeks, do puppies have sufficient strength and stability in their hindquarters to make urinating activities distinguishable. Male puppies may not fully adopt the wonted leg lift until around their fourth month; for some male puppies, it may not become habitual until they are nearly six months old.

So, how can you tell between a male and female puppy?

Be careful handling newborn puppies. They should not be kept from mom for more than a couple of minutes. Golden Retriever mom and day-old puppies by Shutterstock

Be careful handling newborn puppies. They should not be kept from mom for more than a couple of minutes. Golden Retriever mom and day-old puppies. Photography by By stockphoto mania / Shutterstock.

There is, in fact, a way to discern the difference between female and male puppies. Be cautious and patient, though. The relationship between newborn puppies and their mother can be tenuous. Taking a baby puppy from a mother for more than a few minutes in the first several weeks after whelping can disturb their bonding. A mother dog may become wary of a puppy who spends too much time away from her and the rest of the litter.

Basically, male puppies can be distinguished by two small, raised circular marks on their bellies. People often ask where a dog’s belly button is located. Unlike in humans, the spot where the umbilical cord was attached to a dog disappears, healing over very quickly. It is right below the base of the rib cage. About an inch past that, there will be another small circular spot. This is where the penis will emerge.

Female puppies will have only the belly button mark, with the rest of their tiny little bellies bare. A careful examination of a female puppy’s rear end, from the base of the tail to the start of the lower abdomen, will reveal two openings. The anus, of course, will be just beneath the tail, and the vulva is a small, leaf-shaped structure located almost exactly between the legs.

The belly and rear end are the points to observe most carefully in determining a puppy's sex. Newborn puppy by Shutterstock

The belly and rear end are the points to observe most carefully in determining a puppy’s sex. Newborn puppy. Photography by Soraluk Chonvanich / Shutterstock.

Always exercise patience and caution

Turn a baby puppy over very carefully, preferably cradled in a warm towel. Puppy dog resting in woman's hand by Shutterstock.

Turn a baby puppy over very carefully, preferably cradled in a warm towel. Puppy dog resting in woman’s hand. Photography by Pushish Images / Shutterstock.

To put it most simply, to figure out whether a baby puppy is female or male, examine a puppy’s rear end, right beneath the tail. Female newborns will have two points, male puppies only one. It is best to be patient and exercise great caution. In a puppy’s first few weeks, support a baby puppy with a warm towel, turn her over carefully, and only for a couple of minutes at most. Return the puppy to her mother and litter immediately after checking.

Baby puppies begin learning from their mother the moment they are born. Handling newborn puppies too often before three to four weeks of age risks alienating the puppy from the mother, which can not only cause stress, but also trauma to newborns. For the sake of satisfying curiosity alone, under no circumstances should you poke or prod at newborn puppies to determine whether they are girls or boys.

Thumbnail: Photography by Image Source Pink / Thinkstock. 

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Dog Vision: What Do Dogs See?

Posted: November 17, 2017 in Uncategorized

If we humans had to name the sense that was most vital in helping us navigate the world, many would choose vision. Sure, hearing is highly advantageous; and some might argue that taste, touch and smell help make life worth living. But if you stop and consider, even our human language is oriented toward the visual: we “see” the point; have high “regard” for things we like; share different “views” on a subject. But dog vision is a much different use of this sense.

How Dogs Use Sight

There's a good chance you and your dog have similar character traits.

How dogs see and use sight is very different from us humans. Woman and dog in glasses. Photography by Dirima / Shutterstock.

Few individuals would examine their brand-new smartphone by giving it a few experimental sniffs. Yet that’s exactly how our dogs acquaint themselves with new situations. For canines, noses and tongues easily trump eyes when it comes to sensory input.

That certainly doesn’t mean dog vision is useless — but “contributory” might be a reasonable term. In fact, most vets would agree that blind and low-vision canines can learn to get along perfectly well by letting their snouts and taste buds lead the way.

“Blind canines generally adapt quickly to their environments, especially if furniture placement and routines are kept consistent,” notes Dr. Lisa McIntyre, owner and founder of The Welcome Waggin’ mobile veterinary service. “They rely on senses such as hearing and smell much more than they rely on their vision to assess and navigate their surroundings.”

Placed side-by-side, diagrams of the canine and human eye might initially seem comparable. The basic apparatus is, in fact, fairly similar. Eyelids protect the cornea, which is a transparent covering for the iris and pupil. The iris narrows or widens to allow light into the eyeball’s interior structure. This light travels through a lens, which focuses the light as it hits the retina toward the back of the eye. The retina converts the light and sends the optic nerve a signal, which allows the brain to interpret whatever is in the visual field.

Examined from several perspectives, however, dog vision and what dogs see clearly differs from human vision and what humans see. Here are a few distinctions worth noting.

1. The Placement of Your Dog’s Eyes

A dog looking scared or nervous.

Did you ever notice the placement of your dog’s eyes? Photography ©MichaelRenee | Thinkstock.

Look directly at your dog for a moment. Notice the eye position? Instead of pointing straight ahead, the eyes of most canines are actually directed slightly outward. Proportionally, they’re also spaced more widely than human eyes.

In her book Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know, cognitive scientist Alexandra Horowitz observes that this placement facilitates enhanced peripheral vision and “a panoramic view of the environment: 250 to 270 degrees, as contrasted to humans’ 180 degrees.”  The trade off, unfortunately, is that canine depth perception can be somewhat compromised when there’s less overlap in the visual field.

2. Pupil and Sclera Size in Dogs

Another discernible difference is pupil size. The pupil is the black center of the eye that admits light. In humans, its size can vary considerably — huge when we’re afraid, dramatically diminished when we glance at the noon sun. Horowitz observes that canine pupils tend to be more fixed in size, regardless of external stimuli. She also notes that humans have a more prominent sclera, or “white area,” which makes the direction of our focus fairly apparent. Because most canines have relatively little sclera showing, the precise object of their attention isn’t always easy to identify.

3. Dogs Have Third Eyelids

Dog eyes also have a nictitating membrane — essentially, a third eyelid. “This membrane helps protect the cornea and clear away debris, like a windshield wiper,” Dr. McIntyre explains. “It also contains a gland that helps supply tears to the eye; plus lymphoid tissue, which can help discourage infection.” The membrane normally isn’t in plain sight from day to day, but Dr. McIntyre notes that you might glimpse it when your dog is asleep. It’s also more visible when it’s functioning as an active barrier to wind, dirt or sand.

4. How Retinas Affect Dog Vision

In both humans and canines, the eye’s retina contains two types of receptors: rods and cones. Rods help the eye perceive motion and shades of light. Cones let the eye perceive color and fine detail. Horowitz explains that dogs have a lower cone density than humans. This can impact things like visual acuity and the ability to distinguish levels of brightness.

In humans, there’s an area called the macula in the central part of the retina. Within the macula, cone concentration is highest. In contrast, Dr. McIntyre explains that dogs have a horizontal band called a “visual streak.” She describes this as the area of greatest visual acuity, with the highest concentration of cones and lowest concentration of rods. She also explains that the width of this area generally depends upon the length of the snout; with shorter-nosed canines tending toward much shorter streaks. Horowitz notes that dogs with longer streaks have better panoramic and peripheral vision.

5. Can Dogs See Color?

One popular misconception is that dogs can’t see any color. That’s untrue — but because they have a higher number of rod cells and fewer cone cells, says Dr. McIntyre, “they’re not able to see details or colors as well as humans.” Horowitz points out that “the density of rods in dogs’ eyes varies, but they have as much as three times as many rods as we do.”

Dr. McIntyre explains that the human retina contains three types of cones, each sensitive to a different range of the color spectrum. These cones allow us to see shades of blue, green and red. Canines, in contrast, only have two types of cones: sensitive to yellow and blue. That means a dog’s color perception is similar to that of a human with red/green color blindness. “A dog’s world mainly appears in varying shades of yellow, blue and violet,” Dr. McIntyre explains. “So, an orange Frisbee will appear yellow on green grass — which, to a canine, also looks yellow!”

6. Dogs and Low-Light Vision

Some dog parents are moderately freaked out when they see their dog’s eyes shining eerily in photographs. Horowitz explains that this glow is due to a unique feature called the tapetum lucidum (in Latin, “carpet of light”). This thin, triangular film of tissue sits behind the canine retina, and rebounds light like a mirror. Rods therefore get a bonus chance to capture the visual.

In part, that’s why dogs have such superior low-light and night vision. Dr. McIntyre notes that this enhanced acuity is also due to the higher number of rod cells, which help canines see more shades of gray, black and white.

7. Dog Vision Has a Higher Flicker Rate

This higher concentration of rods also helps dogs perceive movement, explains Dr. McIntyre. Canines can perceive a higher “flicker rate” than humans. “Our world is seen through a series of snapshots that are fused together to form a static image,” she notes. “We humans see about 60 images per second; while dogs see around 70 to 80 snapshots per second.”

Why are most dogs able to find that orange Frisbee so readily? “Because they can easily see it sailing through the air,” Dr. McIntyre says, “and they can also track it by its distinctive smell.”

So, What Do Dogs See?

In numerous ways, our dogs are a lot like us. But next time you watch your pooch navigate the living room, chase a toy or focus on the treat in your hand, take some of these visual variances into account.  Our canines sit faithfully by our side as we regard the world together. Yet on many occasions what we actually see can be remarkably, distinctively different.

Thumbnail: Photography by fotoedu/Thinkstock.

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Holiday Bandana Collection from Howl + Hound

The holiday season is in full swing and it’s time to get festive! Howl + Hound‘s collection of holiday bandanas are perfect for dogs wanting to get in on the celebrations. Each bandana is available in 6 sizes to suit dogs of all shapes, as well as your choice of traditional tie-on or a snap closure style. Check out all the holiday offerings at and make sure to get your orders in before 12/15 for Christmas delivery.

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© 2017 Dog Milk | Posted by capree in Clothing | Permalink | No comments

Sadie, my chocolate Labrador Retriever, came into our lives when she was 5 years old. Her elderly owner had passed away, and she had nowhere to go, so we took her in and fell in love with her immediately. Sadie loved everyone and, in typical Lab style, enthusiastically invaded the personal space of anyone who met her, saying hello by sticking her nose straight into their crotch area. While this made perfect sense to Sadie — she was simply gathering information about them through their unique scent signatures — it caused untold amounts of embarrassment for our guests and drew numerous apologies from us. We love our dogs, but sometimes their behavior is not socially acceptable and can be downright embarrassing, especially when guests come into the home. Is your dog embarrassing in front of guests? There are ways you can prevent and change these behaviors.

Make a plan before guests come over

Use a baby gate to keep your dog contained, preferably one that lets your dog see your visitors.

Use a baby gate to keep your dog contained, preferably one that lets your dog see your visitors. Photography courtesy Melissa Kauffman.

The best way to deal with any faux pas is to put a management plan in place before you do any training. Think about how you can change your environment to prevent the behavior from happening in the first place. The less your dog can practice the behavior, the easier it will be to change it.

Some management tips include:

  • Keep your dog on leash when visitors arrive, using two people (Mom greets visitors while Dad holds the dog’s leash a few feet back). Wait until the visitor has settled and your dog is less excitable before you allow him to greet.
  • Use doors, crates and baby gates to keep your dog contained. To avoid frustration you can use visual barriers such as covered gates/crates and doors, but it’s preferable to let your dog see the visitor coming into the home, so he knows what to expect when he is finally allowed to greet.
  • If your dog is particularly rambunctious or fearful of visitors, put him in the backyard, upstairs or in another room (preferably supervised or with appropriate toys to stay busy) when guests arrive.

Distract your dog from sniffing your guests’ private areas

For dogs who like to sniff certain delicate areas, hang a bag with an even more enticing smell outside the door, such as liver or a hot dog, and have the person hand feed or toss treats toward the dog on the ground as they enter. This is sometimes called the Go Find It game and is a great way to put a dog’s energy into searching for something else than saying an embarrassing hello.

If your guests do not want to handle food, you can play the game with your dog as your guest comes in. You can also teach your dog a “leave it” cue and then redirect him to something else such as a toy or treat, or you can teach him to target a person’s hands for a treat/petting as an alternative.

I taught Sadie to grab one of her toys and show it proudly to my guests instead of sniffing their “regions of interest.” Any other incompatible behavior like rolling over for a belly rub or running and sitting on a mat can be put on cue. Practice makes perfect!

Prevent dog humping

Humping is another embarrassing dog behavior and occurs when dogs get overexcited or anxious, so try to limit your dog’s arousal levels by teaching calming behaviors including “settle.”

Learn more about dog body language that can help predict when your dog is getting excited, and teach him an alternative behavior before the humping occurs. You can also advise visitors on how to be calm in your home to set your dog up for success and not raise the level of his excitement, frustration or anxiety.

Small children tend to get humped first. If you know you have young ones coming over, have a special toy at the door they can give your dog when entering. If your dog is kid friendly, have two toys so that older children can toss one after the other (while avoiding taking the toy from the dog).

Show younger children how to stand still and “be a tree” to help set the dog up for success and limit his exuberance around greetings. You can show kids how smart your dog is by teaching him another behavior such as walking away and lying on a bed, doing a play bow or some other kind of activity that encourages your dog’s energy to go elsewhere.

Stop inappropriate peeing and pooping issues

One of the biggest faux pas dogs make is when they toilet in a home they are visiting. Be sure your dog has eliminated before arriving at a friend’s home, or ask that the same thing be done before a friend’s dog comes over to yours. Keep your dog in a smaller space, such as a tiled kitchen until he is relaxed.

Avoid vertical surfaces or expensive rugs, and keep your dog tethered to you until he is calm in the new environment, and you are sure he will not eliminate. Explore new environments together to prevent marking in new places. If you know your dog is likely to mark, allow him some playtime in the backyard first before coming inside.

Following these few simple guidelines will set your dog up for success and save you from having to endure embarrassing situations.

Tell us: Is your dog embarrassing in front of guests? Does your dog hump, jump or sniff your company? How do you handle it?

Plus, what if your dog snaps at a guest? Whole Dog Journal tells you how to handle the situation>>

Thumbnail: Photography ©madcorona | Thinkstock.

Victoria Stilwell, renowned dog trainer, TV personality, author and public speaker, is best known as the star of the hit TV series It’s Me or the Dog, through which she reaches audiences in more than 100 countries. Appearing frequently in the media, she’s widely recognized as a leader in the field of animal behavior, is editor-in-chief of, CEO of the VSPDT network of licensed trainers and the founder of the Victoria Stilwell Academy for Dog Training & Behavior — the leader in dog trainer education. Connect with her on Facebook and on Twitter at @VictoriaS.

Editor’s note: This article appeared in Dogster magazine. Have you seen the new Dogster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting room of your vet’s office? Subscribe now to get Dogster magazine delivered straight to you

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