Tuesday, April 26, 2011

National Kids and Pets Day

Do you have kids?  Do you have a dog?  “We got the dog for our son, but since I’m the only one taking care of the dog now it’s like I have one more kid to clean up after.”  Does this sound familiar?  You got the dog for the kids but you are the only one who ends up taking care of the dog.  It doesn’t have to be like this and what better day to make a change then on National Kids and pets day?
Having your kids help raise the dog is a great way for them to learn about responsible dog ownership, safe interaction with dogs, and responsibility for caring for another living creature.  These skills will be invaluable to your children as they get older because it will help them succeed in future relationships not only with animals but with humans as well.  Children learn a lot by example so it is up to you to start their dog education at home.   After all, raising the family dog should be a family activity.
5 things to do with the kids and the dog
1.       Go for a walk- Exercise is the best way to show your dog a little extra love, because they absolutely love and need daily exercise.  A daily walk is not only great for their physical and mental health but yours as well.  By setting aside time in your day to walk the dog you get a little one-on-one time with your child (alternate days with multiple children so they each get personal time with you) to talk about your day and unwind.  This forms great bonds and habits of walking the dog regularly and getting outside regularly.  This is also a great time to teach your children how to walk the dog and correct any bad behavior the dog may have while walking around the neighborhood.
2.       Play hide and Seek- This game can work inside or outside, but there are fewer distractions inside.  Give your child a few dog treats and have them go “hide” (start with standing in plain sight) in another room while the dog waits with you.  Have your child call the dog with a “Come” command and let your dog find him or her.  (If you have more than one child have each child stand in a different room and take turns calling the dog with the “come” command.)  Instruct your child to give the dog one treat each time they are found.  After the dog has found your child in one location wait with your dog while your child moves to another location and repeat the activity, hiding in a new location each time.  Once the dog gets better at this game your child can start actually hiding (i.e. behind doors or under beds).  This is a great way to train the dog to come when called and have fun with your family at the same time.  
3.       Take the dog to the park- Everyone needs a break from day to day life; kids, adults, and dogs alike.  The park is a great place for everyone to get fresh air and enjoy the day.  If you live near a neighborhood park take the extra time to walk with your kids and dog there.  An alternative to the neighborhood park is going to the dog park.  Going to the dog park with your children is a great way for your kids to watch the dogs interact, read their body language, learn how to interact with new dogs, and become comfortable around dogs.  Check out Carlson Dog Park in Riverside for a little different day at the dog park by trying out the agility course.  For more info and park reviews visit doggoes.com  
4.       Play fetch- Another great way to work on training while having fun with the family.  Having your children use basic commands such as “Fetch” and “Drop it” is another way to teach your dog to listen to your children when they give commands, teach the dog how to play with children (i.e. no nipping or jumping on them), and continually brush up on their good doggy manners while giving them the daily exercise they need.
5.       Feed the dog together- Knowing what your dog eats and what he needs to be eating is an important part of responsible dog ownership that is most often disregarded.  Try spending family night learning about a dog’s diet, proper food portions for your dog’s size, and how to read dog food labels.  Just like humans, a dog’s diet affects not only their basic health, but more specifically their skin, coat, nails, eyes, weight, joints, energy level, and digestion.  A poor diet will lead to poor health and possibly further behavioral issues like depression and aggression.  Once you have your dog diet education try spending a family night cooking a meal for the dog or baking some dog treats.  For great recipes, check out http://www.easydogrecipes.com/ or simply Google Dog food recipes for even more ideas.  Don’t forget, good manners can go a long way so have your dog sit and wait before giving them any food. 

For more advice on raising children and dogs together check out these resources

Friday, April 22, 2011

5 Fun things to do with your dog on Easter

1.       Give your dog an Easter basket- It doesn’t have to be big and it certainly should not have candy or chocolate in it.  Instead, it should have dog treats, kibble, and toys.  Don’t have extra money for treats or new toys? That’s fine. Throw some dog food in a baggie or buy just one small can of wet dog food and he’ll think it’s a treat.  And never underestimate the power of your dog’s favorite toy.  Just throw his favorite toy in the basket and he will be more than happy to see it.

If you want to splurge, you might consider going to the local dog bakery to pick up some gourmet dog cookies, or even some cake.
Jackboy’s Dog Bakery, Inland Empire
Scraps Dog Bakery, 7204 Archibald Ave., Rancho Cucamunga
Three Dog Bakery, Southern California

2.       Create an Easter egg hunt- Fill a few plastic eggs with a little bit of kibble, hot dogs, or any smelly treat your dog loves.  Get her in a sit, stay position or lock her out of the room while you hide the eggs.  You shouldn’t hide them above your dog’s eye level, unless they have an amazing tracking nose.  Once you have hidden all the eggs, let her back in the room to begin the fun of the hunt.  
Note: You may need to help your pup once in a while, especially with food or treats that don’t have a strong scent.  And be sure to take the egg away from your dog as soon as she retrieves the treat to avoid her eating the plastic egg as well. If she doesn’t show interest in finding the eggs, ditch the eggs and just place treats around the house and watch your dog find those.

3.       Go for Easter brunch – There are a handful of restaurants that have outdoor patios and are more than happy to have your dog dining with them.

Crest Café: 5225 Canyon Crest Dr., Riverside

For more pet friendly restaurants in Riverside or any other city you may be visiting this Easter, visit BringFido.com 

4.       Go for a stroll in the park- Whether it’s the dog park or just a neighborhood park, you’re dog will love some afternoon exercise.  Taking your dog out for a walk to burn some energy is also a great way to prepare them to behave for any guests you may be expecting. You will be surprised at how well your dog will listen to you and remain calm (despite all the Easter excitement) once they are exhausted from some good exercise.

5.       Play fetch with a rabbit- Not a real rabbit of course, unless you want PETA knocking down your door, but a squeaky toy or stuffed toy will do just fine.  If your dog doesn’t fetch then it might be a great time to teach them (Check out my 5 easy step to teach your dog to fetch).

Bonus: Take your dog to an Easter parade.  Whether it’s the city, or your kid’s school, or your
church, all sorts of different organizations have Easter parades, large and small. You may even
consider going to another nearby city to enjoy their parade.  It may be hard to find a parade this
close to Easter so if you can’t find one this year make a point to look out for one next year.

Bonus: Get a picture with the Easter Bunny.  Another great idea but sometimes it is hard to find that elusive Easter bunny.  Downtown Riverside held an Egg Extravaganza last weekend where they had a paw-traits booth available for your dog.  And some years Petsmart will have the Easter bunny at a local store as well, so you have to keep your eyes and hears peeled for new opportunities each year.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Celebrate Earth Day with your dog

We all want to give back to the Earth, if not regularly then at least once a year.  And what better day to do it on then Earth Day? 
Fun Facts
Earth Day was founded by United States Senator Gaylord Nelson on April 22, 1970.  It is now celebrated in 192 countries with over 1 billion participants, making it the largest civic observance in the world. 

So how can you get involved and have fun with your dog at the same time?

5 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day with your Dog
1.       Start buying and using biodegradable poop bags- The bags decompose in about the same amount of time as an apple.  
     2.    Recycle by donating to a rescue or animal shelter- Instead of throwing out old blankets or sheets, donate them to a local rescue or shelter (of course, please wash them first).  One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and shelters are always grateful for donations.  Your old newspapers may also be appreciated since they are used as cage liner.  Check out the Riverside Animal Shelter’s wish list 

3.       Make a toy out of an old sock (or a sock missing its mate)- “Making a toy out of an old household product is a great way to re-use rather than consume”-Cesar Millan.  If you need help making your own dog toy, visit Make-and-Build-Dog-Stuff.com.
4.        Cook your dog a natural, holistic meal-  Eating organic is good for your health, your dog’s health, and the planet.  Need Recipe ideas? Check out easydogrecipes.comIf you don’t have time to cook a meal for your dog you can change your dog’s food to a more holistic food, without low-grade animal by-products and preservatives.  Do this by avoiding food with meat by-product, wheat (or grain), corn (or corn meal), or gluten. Check out dogfoodscoop.com to further understand dog food labels and all other dog food questions.
5.       Go Chemical Free- Buy and use household cleaning products that are chemical free.  This is not only healthier for you and your pets but also reduces the amount of harmful runoff into our ground and water sources.  Instead of using bleach to clean you can use vinegar and water, “It’s a green alternative that removes odor and kills mold and bacteria” –BestFriends.org.  In addition, you can buy and use pet shampoos, conditioners, and other grooming products that are biodegradable and do not contain harmful pesticides or chemicals. 

For more ways to celebrate Earth Day while helping animals in need check out The Best Friends Network.

Or check out the Earth Day Network or Inland So Cal for more opportunities to take part in Earth Day activities in your community .

Monday, April 18, 2011

Ode to the Hound dog

Easter weekend is only a few days away.  Many people will dust off the baskets, glaze up and the ham, and press their Easter dress in preparation for the day. More importantly, people will begin the tradition of dying hardboiled eggs in preparation of the “great Easter egg hunt”. Ok, so your family Easter egg hunt isn’t that grand to be given such a title, but it’s the one thing every child and parent looks forward to, which makes it a great tradition. So what better time than now to honor the breed of dogs best known for their tracking and hunting skills? I’m speaking of course of the Hound dog (and I don’t mean Elvis’ song).
 “Most hounds share the common ancestral trait of being used for hunting.  Some have acute scenting powers to follow a trail. Others demonstrate a phenomenal gift of stamina as they relentlessly run down quarry. “- AKC.org.
You may think you know a hound when you see one, but you’d be amazed at how many different dogs fall into the hound category.   The AKC recognizes 25 distinct breeds in the hound family.  Not only that, but hounds are also divided into further categories, such as sight hounds and scent hounds. 
Sight hounds, also known as gazehounds, hunt their quarry by using their exceptional sight rather than smell.  Their physical features give them a greater advantage.  Their long jaw and extended neck increases their ability to see long distances while their lean muscular body, deep chest, and long powerful legs allow them to be fast and agile to keep up with their prey.  Of course this definition makes you think of the Greyhound or Whippet, which are both sight hounds but not the only ones.
Scent hounds hunt their quarry by following their scent.  These hounds do not need to have good eye sight, be fast or agile. They were built for endurance and can follow a scent for miles, even across running water.  Scent hounds have large noses (with deep, open nostrils) and loose moist lips which both help to pick up scent particles, while their long ears help them focus on their nose.  Naturally we think of Bloodhounds, Basset hounds, and Coon hounds which are just a few of many scent hounds.
Scent hounds are often used in police detection work, including investigations for our own Riverside Sheriff’s Department.  
Do you have a hound or might be thinking about getting one? Here is a list of local clubs and rescues to help you get involved and save a life.
Pharaoh Hound Club of America: www.ph-club.org
Orange Coast Rhodesian Ridgeback Club: www.ocrrc.org
Inland Empire Hound Club: www.ranesaw.com/IEHC/
For more breed specific clubs near you, visit www.akc.org and click on ‘Clubs’ tab.

Afghan Hound Club of America: www.ahrsc.org
Basset Hound Rescue of Southern California: www.bhrsc.info
Beagles and Buddies: www.Beaglesandbuddies.com
Mary S. Roberts Pet Adoption (formerly the Riverside Humane Society): http://www.petsadoption.com/
Riverside County Department of Animal Services: http://rcdas.org/home/
Moreno Valley Animal Services:

For more rescue opportunities check out

Thursday, April 14, 2011

In honor of ‘Prevention of Animal Cruelty Month’

Did you know it is ‘Prevention of Animal Cruelty Month’?  Not many people do, but I wanted to take a minute to reflect on what that awareness means and how I can contribute to the cause.
You have read the organization name ASPCA before, and you may already know they are a strong authority in the pet community, but who are they and what do they do exactly? ASPCA stands for The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The ASPCA was the first humane organization in the western hemisphere.  They “work to rescue animals from abuse, pass humane laws, and share resources with shelters nationwide.”- ASPCA website.

Not so fun facts
According to pet-abuse.com, there were a reported 987 cases of animal abuse in the United States in 2010. Of 21 different abuse categories, California was listed in 15 categories; 4 of which California was listed in the top 6 highest number of cases and 8 of which California was listed in the top 2 highest number of cases.  These categories include: beating, burning- caustic substance, choking/strangulation/suffocation, fighting, hanging, hoarding, kicking/stomping, and mutilation/torture.

How can I help?
The ASPCA investigates animal abuse day in and day out, but they work mostly off of tips from the public.  In other words, it all starts with you educating yourself on what to look out for.  Courtesy of the ASPCA and our own local animal services, here is a list of signs and symptoms of animal abuse that you should look for in your neighborhood:

·         Tick or flea infestations (conditions left untreated can lead to death)
·         Wounds on the body
·         Patches of missing fur
·         Extremely thin, starving animals
·         Limping
·         An owner striking or otherwise physically abusing an animal
·         Dogs who are repeatedly left alone without food or water, often chained in the yard
·         Dogs who have been hit by a car, or show signs listed above, and have not been taken to a vet
·         Dogs who are kept outside without shelter in extreme weather conditions
·         Animals who cower in fear or act aggressively when approached by their owners
·         Animal hoarding
·         Any person, maliciously and intentionally maims, mutilates, tortures, wounds, or kills a living animal
·         Any person overrides, overloads, overworks, torments, or deprives an animal of necessary food, water, or shelter
·         Any person intentionally, for amusement or gain, fights any animal against another animal
·         Any person permits an animal to go without veterinary care for an injury
So now that you know what to look for how can you help prevent animal abuse?

5 Ways to prevent Animal Abuse

1.      Get to know and look out for the animals in your neighborhood – Being aware will make you more likely to notice sudden changes in an animal’s appearance, behavior, or regular habits. 

Example: My friend moved to Arizona, where summer days reach 90 degrees by 9am.  The next door neighbors had a Rottweiler that would bark at her dogs through the fence every day.  The neighbors told my friend they were moving and did so overnight.  A few days after they moved my friend started hearing barking coming from inside the house.  Come to find, the neighbors had abandoned the dog, locked her inside the house with a bucket of water and a bag of food on the floor and never said a word about it.  No cracked window, no dog door for her to be able to potty outside; she was trapped inside the hot and empty house for days.  I am happy to report that my friend rescued this Rottweiler before it was too late and found her a new home.  And it was possible because she was aware of the neighborhood dogs and kept an eye/ear out for sudden changes.

2.      Make the Call – Most animal abuse investigations start with a phone call from a concerned neighbor. “It all comes from the public, it all starts with YOU – that’s why it’s so important to keep your eyes and ears open.” - ASPCA.com

·         First, know who to call!

To report abuse in Riverside and unincorporated areas of Corona:
Riverside County Animal Services: 951-358-7387
To report abuse in the city of Corona:
                                    Corona Animal Control: 951-736-2309
To report abuse in San Bernardino:
                                    Animal Care & Control: 1- 800-472-5609
To report abuse in Orange County:
                                    OC Animal Care: (8 a.m. – 5 p.m.) 714-935-6848 and
    (5 p.m. – 8 a.m.) 714-935-7158

To report abuse in Los Angeles County:
            Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (spcaLA):
1-800-540-SPCA (7722)

Or report abuse online:

·         Second, provide as much information as possible when reporting animal cruelty.  It helps to first write down the type of cruelty you witnessed, who was involved, the date of the incident and where it took place. 
In other words, Who, What, When, Where

3.      Set a good example for others – Be a responsible pet owner and always show your dog the love and care they deserve by ensuring their safety inside and outside of the house.  Remember, you don’t have to physically intimidate your dog to get them to behave.  Its mental dominance they respect, in a calm and assertive leader and that doesn’t require physical force.  If you need help learning to discipline or train your dog without using physical force contact a qualified trainer who can help you learn techniques like Cesar Millan practices.
And most importantly, teach your kids how to treat animals with kindness and respect as well.  Everything you do sends a message, and you never know what little eyes may be watching. 
“Children who abuse animals are more likely to commit crimes as adults, but there are many factors that play into why children abuse animals, these can include witnessing violence or abuse in the home or community where the animal becomes a scapegoat for what the child is feeling”, said Steve Steinberg Mental Health Services Manager for the County of Riverside.

4.      Support your local shelter or animal rescue – It’s a great way to make a difference and give an animal a second chance at a good life.  You can show your support by becoming a foster parent, volunteering your time, or donating (needed supplies, food, money, etc.).  Every little bit helps, and every little bit make a big difference in the life of an animal.

5.      Get involved – You can get involved by fighting for the passage of strong anti-cruelty laws on federal, state, and local levels by joining the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade.

I hope this knowledge empowers you to make a difference in at least 1 animals life.

“We speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.” – G.T. Angell

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Teach Your Dog to Fetch

5 Easy Steps

Do you wish your dog would retrieve toys? Not all dogs are natural born retrievers, but it is possible to teach them. Fetching can be a rewarding game for your dog by giving them an activity with purpose and a great workout.

Step 1: A simple game
Start in a room with no distractions. Sit on the floor with your dog. Have their favorite toy in one hand and treats in the other hand.
Toss the toy, within reaching distance of yourself, and let your dog spring on it. Take the toy from their mouth while saying “Good Fetch” and hold a treat in front of their nose until they drop the toy. Give your dog the treat as soon as they drop the toy
Practice this game in 5 minute blocks a couple of times a day.

Step 2: Add a release command
Once you feel your dog has mastered the simple game, add a “Thank you”, “Drop it”, or “Let go”. You should use whatever command comes naturally to you; the only importance is that you be consistent, using the same release command every time.

Step 3: Slowly increase distance
Throw the toy a little farther each day or as slowly as you need to.

Important: If your dog does not bring the toy back to you do NOT chance him or make a fuss.

Step 4: Repeat, Treat, Repeat
Repetition and positive reinforcement are key.  You can switch up the game by playing in a different room or using a new object to retrieve. 

Step 5: Add a start que
“Fetch”, “Get it” or whatever comes naturally to you; Add a command to start each game and gradually fade the use of treats.