Friday, March 29, 2013

A Dog-Friendly Easter

 How do you celebrate Easter?  Do you have a big family gathering?  Do you go to a large community Easter egg hunt?  Do you go to church or prepare a special meal?  However you choose to celebrate, memories of Easters past may have a very special place in your heart, and you most likely want to share those joyous traditions with others.  And whether those others include children or not, there is no reason you can’t enjoy those traditions with your dog.   

The Dog-Friendly Easter Egg Basket
Do you remember coming out of your room and discovering an Easter egg basket?  It was like Halloween and Christmas combined.   An Easter egg basket for your dog 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 dog 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.  These bakeries also have a snack bar of treats to choose from where you can decide how much you want to buy of each treat.  Check out Jackboy Bakery (which has many convenient locations throughout the Inland Empire and Orange County) or even your local Petco. 

The Dog-Friendly Easter Egg Hunt
The Easter egg hunt is always highly anticipated by children.  How many eggs will I find? What will be in them?  You can have this same anticipation with you pup by creating a dog-friendly Easter egg hunt.

1.     Get fillable plastic eggs and place 1 smelly treat in each (the eggs should be appropriate for your dog’s size).  The treats can be small bits of hot dog, cheese, or any other smelly treat safe for dog consumption.  Keep the treats bite-size because each dog will likely find 6 – 10 eggs, and you don’t want them to get sick. 

2.     Have your dog wait somewhere while you hide the eggs around the house or in the yard. Keep the hiding places very simple to ensure your dog can find them with very little help.

3.     Release the hound then watch him sniff and work open eggs for his prize.  It’s ok to guide him in the right direction sometimes, especially if your dog wasn’t bred for his tracking abilities.

The Dog-Friendly Easter Brunch
While there are a few restaurants that specifically cater to dogs, like the Lazy Dog Café, most restaurants with an outdoor eating area will allow dogs. If you have a restaurant in mind already you should check out their website or call first to make sure you can bring your pooch along. Dog-friendly restaurants like the Lazy Dog Café expect you to bring your dog so he can try their dog-friendly menu. But before you make plans to take your dog to brunch you should consider your dog’s temperament around large crowds of people, other dogs, and food. Sunday brunch is a busy time and Easter brunch will be that much busier. And of course, there is no reason to ruin a perfectly pleasant day so be sure your dog can handle such an atmosphere without being overwhelmed.

 While your dog may not create nostalgic memories around Easter like you have, he will definitely get excited and have a good time with you.  So, however you choose to celebrate Easter, have a wonderful and safe celebration.  And remember to keep all candy, especially chocolate, out of reach of the pets.  

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Spring Training for Your Pup

Does your dog know the difference between his toy and your shoe?  Not only is destructive chewing a hazard to your property, it’s a hazard to your dog’s health as well.

Puppies are terrible about chewing.  Like babies and toddlers they feel the need to discover the world with their mouth.  Throw that on top of teething and you don’t own any furniture that hasn’t been chewed.  If you fail to curb this bad habit while he or she is still a puppy then you will end up with a destructive chewing adult dog that can do more damage.  It’s very important to teach your pup the difference between what can be chewed (his toys) and what things are off limits (everything else). 

Teach your dog to know his toys from yours

1.       Grab a handful of items. This handful should be a mix of things around the house with a few dog toys.  It can be toys (kid toys and dog toys), chew sticks, bones, shoes, clothes, books, remote control, etc.  Just be sure to include the items that you specifically DO NOT want your dog to chew on.

2.       Place the items randomly in a circle.  Have your pup wait patiently while you do this.

3.       Once the items are set, allow your pup to go check out the items and encourage him to bring one back to you.  Use a command like “Get your toy”, even if he doesn’t understand the command yet.  You want him to associate that word ‘toy’ with his things.

4.       When he picks up a dog item, praise him in a happy tone and reward him with a treat if you choose (praise may be enough of a reward).

5.       When he picks up an item that is off limits, use a very stern “NO” then quickly remove the off-limits item and replace it with a dog item. Once he has the dog item give lots of praise.  If a dog doesn’t want to let go of an off-limits item then you can use a shaker or something to quickly distract him while you take the item away.

6.       Continue this exercise for 10-15 minutes.  Any longer and your pup will lose interest and easily become distracted (which is true for any training exercise).

Practice this circle at least once a week until your pup no longer bothers to pick up forbidden items. 
And remember, correcting a dog when chewing an off-limit item should only been done when you catch your dog in the act.  No matter how guilty a dog may seem to act after you find your favorite shoes destroyed, he is really just reacting to your anger without understanding why he is in trouble.  Instead, when you catch him chewing on a forbidden item quickly remove it and replace it with a dog item then praise him. 

If your dog continues to chew on items that have your scent, try sticking one of his toys in your laundry hamper for a week, so your scent will be on his toy.  Or try rubbing a yummy scent, like chicken broth, on one of his toys instead. 
While this training exercise won’t work with furniture exactly, you can try other tactics to curb that habit.  For one, you should ensure your pup has plenty of teething toys for him to chew on.  You should also be sure to give your dog plenty of exercise to safeguard against chewing out of boredom.  And lastly, you can try spraying the furniture with bitter spray.  If you are consistent and none of these tactics work, you may just have to wait for your puppy to grow out of the teething phase.  But if your dog is destroying your house and it’s creating unnecessary stress in your home then it’s time to contact a professional trainer to help you reclaim your home.     

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

St. Patty’s Day with the Pups

Have big Irish plans for St. Patrick’s Day this Sunday?  Since you may be a little indulgent with Irish traditions on March 17th, why not do something guilt-free with your dog the day before? 
This Saturday, March 16th, the 21st Annual ‘Walk with the Animals’ will take place at Fairmount Park in Riverside.  This family-friendly event is hosted by the Mary S. Roberts Pet Adoption Center (formerly the Riverside Humane Society) and put on each year in an effort to raise money to help care for the thousands of homeless animals they take in each year.  This event will leave you feeling good by walking for your health and raising much needed funds for a local animal shelter.
Participants are encouraged to bring their dog(s) to join in the 1.3 mile walk around the park as well as family and friends of all ages to enjoy the activities and entertainment afterward. 
Registration begins at 8:00 a.m. along with a delicious pancake breakfast.  The walk begins at 9:00 a.m. and will be led by Grand Marshals Mayor Rusty Bailey and his dog Zoe (a former Pet Adoption Center resident).  After the walk, participants are welcome to enjoy activities such as ‘Kiss the Blarney Dog’ – Kissing Booth, Doggie Costume Contest, as well as exhibits, boutiques, baked goodies for sales (human and canine), and local rescue groups to check out.  Low cost vaccinations and microchipping will be available as well, if your pup is behind on his vaccinations or you have been waiting for a more affordable chance to get him microchipped.  
Whether you can or cannot participate in the walk this Saturday, you can help raise funds or give a donation through  Check out the Mary S. Roberts Pet AdoptionCenter website for more information, ways to donate, or to see dogs and cats available for adoption.
The smallest amount of green can make a difference this St. Patrick’s Day, so give what you can to help support your community and its homeless pets.


Friday, March 1, 2013

A Whale of an Event this Weekend

Have you ever wondered what makes Dana Point so special?  Probably not, but the Californian Gray Whale seems to be rather fond of the area.  And after this weekend, you and your pup may be fond of the cozy beach town too.   
California Gray Whales migrate each year from Alaska to Mexico to give birth or mate, making their 5,000 mile journey the longest mammal migration.  From December to March 40 – 50 whales pass by Dana Point every day.  Experts believe that Dana Point’s location (halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego) and its 200ft cliffs that jut out into the sea serve as a navigational landmark for the whales.  And California Gray Whales aren’t the only sea mammals coasting by; Humpback Whales, Fin Whales, Blue Whales, and even Killer Whales have been seen too.

The Festival of Whales began 42 years ago in the coastal community of Dana Point.  As an important part of the community, the festival has continued to this day with ocean-themed events and activities keeping an emphasis on education and environmental responsibility. 
This whale of an event is jam-packed with things to do for two consecutive weekends, celebrating the roundtrip voyage of the whales.  The first weekend, March 2nd -3rd, will feature art lessons, live music, an art show, a parade, a street fare, marine mammal lessons, seashore family hikes, sailing ride, a stand-up paddling clinic, whale watching, a movie in the park, pancake breakfast, sand sculpting competition, clam chowder cook-off, rubber ducky derby, a free fishing clinic and trip for kids, and so much more!

While the second weekend, March 9th – 10th, will offer most of the same activities as the first weekend it is the weekend of the 10k and 5k Grunion Run/walk.  This marathon (which also has a 1k run/walk for kids) is not to be confused with the actual yearly grunion run, but just a fun name to go with the theme of the weekend.  Along with a classic car display, beach clean-up, a Polynesian connection, and Captain Dave’s carnival, the weekend is sure to be a great one for the whole family.
For a complete weekend schedule, directions, and any other information you may like to know about this event, check out the Festival of Whales website.  This event is family and dog-friendly, so no need to leave anyone at home this time.  All day parking is $8 and there is a free shuttle back and forth to the event site.  The address to map for this event is 34675 Golden Lantern, Dana Point, Ca 92629.

So now that you have something to do this weekend, grab your dog, some extra water, and sun block and head to the beach for some fun in the sun.