Just because a dog can’t see, that’s no reason for them to stop having fun. When my Chuck lost his sight to diabetes, I wanted to be sure his life was still stimulating and interesting. That meant we continued his daily walks … and even our trips to the dog park.

But, I had to make sure the park remained a safe place for him.

Hey! Something new to smell! (Photo by Amber Avines)

If your pup loses his sight due to age, disease or even if he was born that way, he can still do all the things a sighted dog can; it’s just up to you to do a little of the seeing for him!

Here are some tips to ensure your blind dog’s trip to the park is fun and as safe as can be.

1. Do a walk-through

The first few times you take your blind dog to the park, keep him on leash. Walk throughout the property and let him explore. He’ll stay safe as you guide him and will become increasingly confident in his ability to navigate.

2. Go during off hours

You dog will enjoy the park most if he doesn’t get overwhelmed; that means avoiding peak hours (like going after work). A few dogs in the park is good, but too many will mean your dog is more likely to bump into other pups, and that could spark an altercation.

It’s a great day to soak up some sun at the dog park. (Photo by Amber Avines)

It’s a great day to soak up some sun at the dog park. (Photo by Amber Avines)

3. Make sure your dog is on solid ground

Many dogs love to dig holes, especially when they’re at dog parks. That means, if your park is like mine, there are usually at least a few craters around. You certainly don’t want your pooch falling into one, so walk around the park and if you see a hole, kick the dirt back into it.

4. Scout the park for obstacles

Take a look around to identify any items that your dog can bump into. Our park has plastic chairs that people move around throughout the day; if those chairs aren’t being used, I’ll pick them up and group them around the trunk of a tree. That way I just need to be sure Chuck says away from that one area.

The park might also have pooper scoopers, which are frequently propped against a fence for easy access. Collect the wayward obstacle and put it next to the garbage can. Same goes for water bowls; put them next to the water spigot. Again, the goal here is to group moveable obstacles with stationary ones so there’s fewer places to avoid.

I’m outta here! (Photo by Amber Avines)

I’m outta here! (Photo by Amber Avines)

5. Go on doody duty

Although everyone at the dog park should clean up their own dog’s poop, not everyone does. That means your dog could very easily step in some strange dog’s mess. Not only is that unsanitary, it’s unhealthy, too. So, as much as you shouldn’t have to do this, for the safety of your blind pup, be sure to pick up any poop you see. It’ll be way easier to clean it up, than to scrape it out from between your dog’s paws (gross, but true).

6. Stay clear of the play zone

At some point when we’re at the dog park, there’s usually someone who is playing fetch with his dog. That means some lucky pup is all keyed up and running like greased lightening to chase down a ball. Make sure you’re watching the park for when these games begin so you can keep you dog away from action. Better yet, relocate to the other end of the park.

7. Inform others your dog is blind

Depending on who’s at the park and their demeanor, I sometimes tell other park patrons that Chuck can’t see. Mostly so they know if they move toward him, they shouldn’t expect that he’ll move out of their path. That way they don’t trip over Chuck, or hurt him by plowing into him. This seems like a basic thing, but it’s the basic things that you need to consider when your dog can’t see.

8. Stay attentive

Just if you were to have a blind child, a blind dog requires your complete attention. Don’t let yourself get lost in a conversation or become distracted while at the park; stay engaged.

Well, hello. Nice to meet you! (Photo by Amber Avines)

Well, hello. Nice to meet you! (Photo by Amber Avines)

In closing, remember that confidence is the key to your blind dog having a fun time at the park. If he is confident that he won’t have any negative encounters (like falling into a hole, bumping into a pooper scooper pole or getting run over by a ball chasing youngster), he’ll be more apt to roam about happily.

Creating a positive experience for your blind pup at the dog park is almost entirely in your hands. Take that responsibility seriously…and then have some fun!

The post 8 Tips for Taking Your Blind Pup to the Dog Park appeared first on Dogster.

Everyone loves a Pug — and now there’s a book coming out that’s dedicated to looking at the world through the eyes of one of these sagely squat dogs. It’s called The Tao of Pug, and it’s the brainchild of Nancy Levine. The Pug who stars in the book is Wilson, and he lives his life according to the ancient Chinese philosophy of Tao Te Ching. Now he’s all about sharing his wisdom with the world.

Let’s check out some of Wilson’s advice to help you reach a zen state of being.

The Tao of Pug is out via Skyhorse Publishing.

The post Find Your Zen With Wilson the Pug appeared first on Dogster.

Your wedding is supposed to be one of the happiest days of your life. Celebrating love with your friends and family obviously includes your fur babies, right? More and more people are adding their dogs to their wedding party, so it’s really no surprise that when my fiancé and I began planning our wedding, a common question was “Are your dogs going to be in it?

Which brings me to my very first point about dogs and weddings. The answer to that question for us is no, our dogs will not be at our wedding. Is it because I don’t want them to be a part of our special day? Not at all. It’s because I know they wouldn’t want to be a part of it. Between Sadie’s stranger anxiety, Buster’s overexcitement and Daisy thinking that every person in the world would be there just for her, it would not be a relaxing experience for any of us. They will be much happier waiting for us to come home afterward.

Even if your dog can't be in your wedding, they can be in your pictures. (Photo by Shutterstock)

Even if your dog can’t be in your wedding, they can be in your pictures. (Photo by Shutterstock)

How to decide if your dog should be in your wedding

If you are considering having your dog be a part of your wedding, there are a few things to think about first:

  • Does your dog have the right temperament to be around that many people? Are they friendly and confident?
  • Do theylisten to commands?
  • Does your venue allow dogs? (Many have a no-pets policy.)
  • Is there someone you trust to “be in charge” of your dog throughout the day, making sure they are in the right places, have bathroom breaks, and get fed?
  • Is there a place where your dog can safely hang out before and after?

Once you’ve figured out those logistics, the fun part begins!

What is he going to do during the wedding?

Just like everyone else in the wedding party, you need to decide what role your dog will have. Some ideas include:

  • Have them walk up with the flower girl (which is adorable, by the way).
  • Tie the rings around their collar and have them be the ring bearer.
  • They could simply be the “Hound of Honor” and walk with the Maid of Honor.
  • Have your dog walk in front of you with a “Here Comes the Bride” sign.
  • If your dog is well-behaved enough, have them sit next to the groomsmen/bridesmaids so they are truly a member of the wedding party.
With a little planning, your dog can definitely be a part of your big day. (Photo by Shutterstock)

With a little planning, your dog can definitely be a part of your big day. (Photo by Shutterstock)

Other considerations

  • While you may get really excited and want to include your dog in every part of the wedding process, have a safe place for them to hang out after the ceremony. The reception can be really loud and a little too much for even the friendliest pups.
  • It’s also important to rehearse with your dog as much as you can. The more they are familiar with the smells and sounds of the venue and the area around it, the easier things will be on the big day. Be sure to have them wear a special collar/sign/outfit before the day of the wedding, too. While it would be cute for your dog to stop in the middle of the aisle to roll around and try to get the sign off of her, I think we can all agree that it’s not ideal.
  • Also let your photographer and guests know that your dog will be there. This way no one will be surprised, and people with allergies will be prepared.
  • Make sure your flowers are dog-friendly. There are some plants and flowers that are actually poisonous to dogs.
  • And last, but not least, make an appointment for the groomer before the wedding. It may sound like common sense, but once you get caught up in everything that needs to be done in the weeks and days before your ceremony, you might forget. As much as we love our dogs, no one wants to actually smell like one on the big day.

The post How to Include Your Dog in Your Wedding appeared first on Dogster.

The following post is brought to you by FETCH. We’re very paw-ticular about our partners and only feature those we think are top dog.

FETCH Exclusive: Leashes and Harnesses from Big & Little Dogs

FETCH is known for serving the fashion-forward dogs of New York in their brick and mortar store, but if you can’t make it in person (pawson?), their online shop will bring all the trendiest dog wares to you! While we love all the brands they carry, we’re super excited to see that Australian brand Big & Little Dogs is now available in the U.S. exclusively through FETCH!

FETCH Exclusive: Leashes and Harnesses from Big & Little Dogs

FETCH Exclusive: Leashes and Harnesses from Big & Little Dogs

Big & Little Dogs creates harnesses, along with matching leads and collars, with dogs of all sizes in mind! This collection focuses on maximizing comfort and style, which is most apparent with their comfy reversible harnesses. There are currently six fun designs to choose from, all of which are available exclusively through FETCH. Oh, and fun fact: FETCH offers free shipping on all U.S. orders! How pawesome is that?

We talked to Karen Durka, the founder and co-owner of FETCH, to learn more about her shop and latest finds!

Can you tell us a bit about what inspired you to open FETCH? 

I loved shopping for my dog CoCo. But most of the time I found a very limited selection and sizing was always a problem, which was frustrating. I also noticed that most stores that I shopped in did not spend much time on merchandising apparel and accessories or store design. There were so many wonderful boutiques for women, men and children but not many at all specifically catering to dogs. When I decided I wanted to open my own business, the concept of a beautifully designed boutique that people would enjoy shopping in with their dogs, filled with well merchandised products seemed like something out of the ordinary and worth pursuing.

FETCH is the first retail shop in the US to carry Big & Little Dogs. What do you love about this brand?

What made me notice the brand was the prints. They were all so much fun! Then I realized that many of the harnesses were reversible which made me love the product even more. I also love how well made the products are and most importantly how comfortable they are. Every customer that has tried the harness has been pleased with how it fits. The only issue with the brand is that customers can’t decide which print to choose because they want them all!

What is your go-to source for staying on top of the latest pet trends? What is one trend you’re most excited about for 2017?

Dog Milk of course! I also do what I always did in my former career as a Children’s apparel manufacturer. I spend time researching what the trends in colors and fabrics and prints will be for the coming season. Then I translate that knowledge and merchandise collections in the boutique that will be suitable for dogs. We are very excited about stripes, whimsical prints and embellished denim for Spring 2017. For Fall 2017 we will focus on a neutral color palette, plaids and metallics.

Thanks Karen!

FETCH Exclusive: Leashes and Harnesses from Big & Little Dogs

FETCH Exclusive: Leashes and Harnesses from Big & Little Dogs

Shop the complete Big & Little Dogs collection online, and check out all the other available goodies, at fetchshops.com.


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Being a breeder for 15 years, we’ve not had experience with spaying or neutering dogs. We are now closing that chapter of our lives, and are looking to get our French Bulldog Louie neutered. I had no idea how many options were available. I thought it was as simple as making an appointment and suffering through healing with your dog, but that is no longer the case.

Louie is being retired as a stud dog. (Photo by Karen Dibert)

Louie is being retired as a stud dog. (Photo by Karen Dibert)

I talked to my vet about what neutering involves, and got the 411 on sterilization options available for male dogs.

“It is important to discuss your reproductive concerns with your veterinarian. There are pros and cons to neutering,” explained our vet, Dr. Stacey Sheahan of Animal Medical Center. “It reduces roaming, allows population control, can reduce some behavioral issues, and decrease risk of prostate problems and testicular cancer. The cons can be urinary incontinence and increased risk of certain cancers. Research is being done to develop safe methods for sterilization while reducing risks.”

Traditional neuter

“The traditional neuter, or orchiectomy, removes the testes,” said Dr. Sheahan. This can be done as a traditional surgery or with lasers. The laser option has advantages in terms of cauterizing, but the procedure is the same.

Scrotal ablation

Another option is scrotal ablation.This is in addition to a neuter.

“Scrotal ablation removes the scrotum as well as the testicles,” explained Dr. Sheahan. “This prevents some post-op issues in larger dogs, such as scrotal seromas and swelling. There is a lot of space left after you take the testicles.”

This makes sense in larger dogs, and may also be an option to consider for Louie. As an older dog (3 years old), his scrotum is stretched to the point where it may not shrink much after simply having a neuter.

“There are also testicular implants, such as Neuticles, if people don’t like the look of a neutered dog,” said Dr. Sheahan. Neuticles are generally implanted at the time of neutering, but can be implanted years afterward in most cases.

Vasectomy

A vasectomy is another option for dogs, and is just like the procedure for humans. The testicles remain, but the dog is unable to reproduce due to the removal of the vas deferens, which conducts the sperm from the testes. This option may not eliminate behaviors associated with an intact male. Louie has issues with mounting, so I would definitely be looking for behavior-altering options, and hope it takes care of the problem.

Zeuterin

Zeuterin is one of the newer options on the market. It is an injectable sterilization for dogs 3 to 10 months of age that kills sperm. It is considered very effective and allows a dog to keep his testicles. He will also have limited hormone production, so while there may be some behavior modification, you can’t rely on this to remove unwanted behaviors. Dogs who are Zeutered will get a “Z” tattoo to let others know he’s been altered. Louie is too old for this option, so he’ll not be getting his first tattoo with surgery. It’s kind of too bad; I may have asked them to add a heart with MOM in it as long as they were tatting anyway.

Louie heard we planned to neuter him. (Photo by Karen Dibert)

We haven’t decided, yet, which route we’re choosing for Louie, but I’m glad that I took the time to discuss options with my vet. Being educated helps me make the best decision for my dog. While it didn’t apply to our situation, you’ll also want to consult your vet about what age is best to neuter your dog based on his breed and/or size. According to Dr. Sheahan, “A lot of the recommendations are to neuter later in larger-breed dogs. Part of the reason for later is growth reasons, and there are some studies about reduction in cancers.”

The bottom line is that each dog is different. “You and your veterinarian can tailor a plan for your pet based on your pet’s needs,” said Dr. Sheahan.

The post What I’ve Learned About the Latest Neutering Methods as I Prepare to Have My 3-Year-Old Dog Fixed appeared first on Dogster.

“Pet her gently!” “Give Finley space!” “No swatting, please!” I spend most of my days playing zone defense between my active, always-wanting-to-play toddler and my equally active and always-wanting-to-play dog. As a parent to both human and furry children, I want nothing more than for them to like each other and get along. But I have to constantly manage their interactions because they’re both too young to understand things like being gentle and giving personal space. That kind of maturity and trust is still many, many years away. Plus, my dog, Finley, is super anxious by nature. So I asked leading pet expert Alyona DelaCoeur of Why Does My Dog for her tips on how to vigilantly supervise and proactively guide the five most frequent dog-toddler interactions in my home.

1. Toddler wants to pet the dog

My daughter frequently wants to pet Finley, but she’s not always as gentle as I’d like her to be. To work on making this kind of interaction safer, I’ve taken to keeping my dog’s head cradled in my hands while my daughter practices petting her on the neck and body. This seems to please both my daughter and my dog. DelaCoeur says I’m on the right path and should also give lots of treats with marker words like “Yesssssss” or “Gooooooood” that I should exaggerate to really hit the point home for my pup. I shouldn’t let my daughter hug the dog, but since Finley will often lick her in response to being close, I can allow that kind of closely monitored kiss if everyone seems comfortable. DelaCoeur just says I need to watch Finley for nervous body language, like bulging eyes, flat ears, heavy breathing and a tucked tail, and separate them if I see any of those behaviors.

2. Tot wants to feed the dog

My toddler daughter loves helping around the house and one of her favorite things to do is pour kibble into Finley’s feeder and even hand-feed her a little. DelaCoeur says that hand feeding is the best thing for fostering a good bond between child and dog. As long as my daughter is using an open hand and isn’t reaching into Finley’s bowl to get the food, I can let them enjoy this time together, while closely supervising of course. “Some other things that she can do with the dog during feeding is to leave a trail of food on the floor for the dog to follow around. She can also hide little piles of food for the dog to find and clean up,” DelaCoeur says, which sounds like a fun way to keep both of them busy. When my daughter has more language skills, I can also instruct her to have Finley stay and then release her once the food is in her feeder.

3. Both want to play tug-of-war

Both my dog and daughter desperately want to play tug-of-water together. If there’s a rope or plush toy within arm’s reach, one of them will grab it and coax the other to play. But a 19-month-old is way, way too young for this kind of roughhousing, so DelaCoeur suggests never leaving my dog and toddler alone (since I know they’ll engage with each other) and always playing with my own two hands on the toy at all times at a level that I’m comfortable with given their disparate size and strength. She also points to “conditioning” play, which means helping them play for about 20 seconds, then asking Finley to let go and lie down, or sit or give a paw before resuming play again. “This makes sure the dog never crosses the threshold,” she says.

4. Child wants to hold the leash

I take Finley for daily walks with my daughter, and recently she’s been wanting to hold the leash. I wasn’t sure if I should be allowing my child to “help” by holding the very end while I keep a firm grip closer to my dog. DelaCoeur says it’s fine and that I should include my daughter in as many bonding experiences with my dog as possible, as long as I keep control in case either one of them pulls on the leash. “Each time your dog is around your daughter, it should be the best time your dog can have. So, lots of loves and treats from you and lots of treats from your daughter,” she adds. But I should always keep in mind that if Finley needs space, we have to respect that and give it to her. Even if my daughter is begging to take her for a walk.

5. Little friends come over to play

I usually crate Finley when my daughter’s friends are over because kids are so unpredictable and I can’t control how other children are going to behave around or react to my dog. DelaCoeur assures me this is the smartest and safest thing to do, and that I should also make sure Finley’s time in the crate is pleasant and not a punishment. I always give Finley a treat for going into the crate, but I need to get into the habit of giving her something to chew on or a Kong filled with food or peanut butter. I also need to relocate the crate out of our living room and into our dining area, where kids won’t come right up to it and bother Finley in any way, DelaCoeur says. I can also consider putting up a baby gate to create an entirely safe zone for my pup.

Overall, I’m happy that my dog and child want to engage with one another and seem to enjoy each other’s company, but I know that I can never leave them together unsupervised. But that’s a good thing, because I don’t want to miss a moment of their sweet togetherness.

The post 5 Ways Your Toddler and Dog Want to Interact, and How to Help Keep Everyone Safe appeared first on Dogster.

We all fall into the trap. Because we consider our beloved dogs as family, we start treating them like they’re human. These four breed representatives jumped at the chance to set us straight.

1. Shih Tzu

Shih Tzu courtesy Troy-Clifford Dargin, Falling Star Shih Tzu

I know I look cute in a ponytail. And since I only weigh about 12 pounds, I’m easily carried. But here’s the deal: Cute as I am (and I’m okay with ponytails!), I’m not a human baby. Heck, I’m full grown at a year old! I’m also sturdier than I look. How about I strut my stuff on the pavement? I’m an esteemed breed with a rich, royal history. We’re little lion dogs, a beloved pet of imperial rulers in China. So please balance carrying with walking time for my ideal lifestyle. And let me mention booties: With consistent outdoor activity, my paw pads grow thicker and more keratinized, offering great protection. So skip the boots unless we’re in an unusually rough environment. And remember that we were developed in relatively cold countries, so our natural coats offer fine protection. I know I look darling in sweaters, but nothing competes with the beauty and function of my own coat!

2. Bouvier des Flandres

Bouvier des Flandres courtesy Karen Kimbrough

Since I may weigh 100 pounds, I won’t lament (as my Shih Tzu cousin above does) that you carry me too much. Instead, I’d like to talk to you about Words. Humans seem preoccupied with words. Talk talk talk. Then more talk! Dog communication style prefers body language, and (if you humans simply must speak) hearing a few meaningful words. Explore your own dog breed’s history, especially before you chide him for certain traits. We’re individuals, but each breed has a temperament stemming from historical development. Case in point: We Bouvier were developed to work with farmers and cattlemen in France. Our stable temperament, coupled with a drive to protect, was crucial to our job. So when I stand in front of a newcomer in our home (he may be your best friend from kindergarten but I’ve never seen him!) with a polite but aloof expression on my face, skip the lecture on friendliness. I am who I am.  In time the newcomer will earn a greeting.

3. Flat-coated Retriever

Flat-coated Retriever courtesy Alexandra Latta, Flat-coated Retriever Society of American, Inc. 

I completely agree with the Bouvier: Study your breed! Once you’ve researched my working history, you’ll know why I thrive with activity and exercise. I’m an exceptionally versatile breed, developed in Great Britain as a companion and hunting retriever.  I’m renowned for wagging my tail (often!) and retaining a youthful joy well into my senior years. While I appreciate your kind words, please remember that Love is a verb to me. Yes I’m wonderful, but stop gushing over me and instead, engage me in an activity. Take me hunting, swimming, jogging or trekking to best show your love. And instead of baking me a cake, singing to me or taking dozens of photos on my birthday, how about taking me on a hike? It’s mainly you humans who like mushy sentiment!

4. Shetland Sheepdog

Shetland Sheepdog courtesy Laura Simonelli

We domestic dogs come in an abundance of shapes and sizes. With a few exceptions, most of us were developed to work for (and with) man. I myself was developed in the Shetland Islands to protect gardens, herd sheep and work alongside man. Since I’m one of the most intelligent dog breeds, I’m especially qualified to offer insights. Let’s review some science: We’re Canis lupus familiaris. You’re Homo sapiens. We do share some traits, such as bonding closely to loved ones. But we also have distinct canine traits, likes and dislikes, and certainly expectations for life. You bred us for work, but today we find some of our occupations are obsolete. We aren’t ready to retire before we even had a chance to work! How about trying some new dog activities to give us purpose? I hear Rally-FrEe and Trick Dog are up and coming sports. And lastly, philosophically, remember that we dogs live in the moment. We only going to be around for some dozen years, but fortunately we live in the present. You’ll do well to follow our lead on that one!

Notice the irony of dogs speaking like humans to tell us to stop treating them like human? I asked the dogs above about this contradiction. I either heard them reply “no comment,” or “woof.” Not sure….

Top photo: Flat-coated Retriever courtesy Alexandra Latta

Title photo: Shetland Sheepdog courtesy Laura Simonelli

The post 4 Dogs Read Us the Riot Act for Treating Them Like Humans appeared first on Dogster.