Month: February 2021

How To Road-Trip With Your Dog

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Ready to hit the road with your dog? Traveling with your furry friend can make hours in the car fly by, but don’t set out for your trip unprepared. To ensure it’s an enjoyable experience for both you and your dog, plan out a schedule of pit stops and pack your pet’s essentials. Be prepared to take frequent breaks, and pay attention to how your pet is feeling along with way. Read on for our top road trip tips for dogs.

Scout Out Dog-Friendly Pit Stops

Check helpful sites like bringfido.com and gopetfriendly.com to find spots like ParkGrounds, right off I-20 in Atlanta, which is half coffee shop and half dog park. The Trails at Fontanel, off I-24 just outside of Nashville, are another recommended stop for fresh air and stretching legs. Plan bathroom, feeding, and exercise breaks around your pet’s normal schedule. Pay attention to how your pet is feeling during the trip; if he seems antsy, then it might be time to pull over.

Cruise at a Lower Speed

Dogs’ sense of smell is nearly 40 times more powerful than humans, so it’s no wonder they love to hang their head out the window—they are taking in a lot of new scents! But flying debris poses a major risk to dogs’ ears and eyes. If you can’t bear to roll them up, Dr. Mary Burch of the American Kennel Club (AKC) Family Dog program suggests restricting window time to 25 mph or below drives through the neighborhood.

Secure Them in the Back Seat

For their own safety, dogs need to ride in the rear of the car and be buckled with a pet seat belt or crated. This won’t make the ride any less fun. Fluff their assigned seat with a familiar blanket, and pack their favorite toys for a comfortable ride.

Grab the Right Gear

Don’t hit the road without a few travel essentials.

  • This lightweight crate will help your pet feel safe while riding in the car. When you arrive at your destination, it folds into a compact carrying case for easy storage. BUY IT: EliteField 3-Door Collapsible Soft-Sided Dog Crate, from $34; chewy.com
  • If your pet prefers to stretch out, throw this quilted, water-resistant cover over the backseat to keep it clean of dirt and dog hair. It’s made with a viewing window so your pet can peek into the front and say hello. BUY IT: Grip-Tight Windowed Hammock Seat Protector, from $169; orvis.com
  • Food, water, and a bowl can all fit snuggly into this convenient carryall. BUY IT: The Odd Dog Co. Dog Bowl and Dog Food Carrier Travel Set, $36; etsy.com

By Southern Living Editors 

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Why Dogs and Humans Love Each Other More Than Anyone Else

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This is excerpted from TIME How Dogs Think: Inside the Canine Mind, now available at retailers and on Amazon.

You speak dog better than you think you do. You may not be fluent; that would require actually being a dog. But if you went to live in a dogs-only world, you’d be pretty good at understanding what they’re saying. You can tell a nervous yip from a menacing growl, a bark that says hello from a bark that says get lost. You can read the body language that says happy, that says sad, that says tired, that says scared, that says Please, please, please play with me right now!

Think that’s not a big deal? Then answer this: What does a happy bird look like? A sad lion? You don’t know, but dog talk you get. And as with your first human language, you didn’t even have to try to learn it. You grew up in a world in which dogs are everywhere and simply came to understand them.

That, by itself, says something about the bond that humans and dogs share. We live with cats, we work with horses, we hire cows for their milk and chickens for their eggs and pay them with food—unless we kill them and eat them instead. Our lives are entangled with those of other species, but we could disentangle if we wanted.

With dogs, things are different. Our world and their world swirled together long ago like two different shades of paint. Once you’ve achieved a commingled orange, you’re never going back to red and yellow.

But why is that? It’s not enough to say that the relationship is symbiotic—that dogs hunt for us and herd for us and we keep them warm and fed in return. Sharks and remora fish struck a similarly symbiotic deal, with the remora cleaning parasites from the shark’s skin and getting to help itself to scraps from the shark’s kills as its pay. That underwater deal is entirely transactional; love plays no part. Humans and dogs, by contrast, adore each other.

The relationship began—well, nobody knows exactly when it began. The earliest remains of humans and dogs interred together date to 14,000 years ago, but there are some unconfirmed finds that are said to be more than twice as old. The larger point is the meaning of the discoveries: we lived with dogs and then chose to be buried with them. Imagine that.

It was only by the tiniest bit of genetic chance that our cross-species union was forged at all. Dogs and wolves share 99.9% of their mitochondrial DNA—the DNA that’s passed down by the mother alone—which makes the two species nearly indistinguishable. But elsewhere in the genome, there are a few genetic scraps that make a powerful difference. On chromosome six in particular, investigators have found three genes that code for hyper-sociability—and they are in the same spot as similar genes linked to similar sweetness in humans.

Our ancestors didn’t know what genes were many millennia ago, but they did know that every now and then, one or two of the midsize scavengers with the long muzzles that came nosing around their campfires would gaze at them with a certain attentiveness, a certain loving neediness, and that it was awfully hard to resist them. So they welcomed those few in from the cold and eventually came to call them dogs, while the animals’ close kin that didn’t pull the good genes—the ones we would come to call wolves or jackals or coyotes or dingoes—would be left to make their way in the state of nature in which they were born.

When humans ourselves left the state of nature, our alliance with dogs might well have been dissolved. If you didn’t need a working dog—and fewer and fewer people did—the ledger went out of balance. We kept paying dogs their food-and-­shelter salary, but we got little that was tangible in return. Never mind, though; by then we were smitten.

Our language reflected how love-drunk we’d gotten: the word “puppy” is thought to have been adapted from the French poupée, or doll—an object on which we lavish irrational affection. Our folk stories were populated by dogs: the Africans spoke of Rukuba, the dog who brought us fire; the Welsh told the tale of the faithful hound Gelert, who saved a prince’s baby from a wolf. Aristocrats took to including the family dog in family portraits. Wealthy eccentrics took to including dogs in their wills.

Today, at least in areas populated by humans, dogs are the planet’s most abundant terrestrial carnivore. There are about 900 million of them worldwide, just shy of 80 million of whom live in the U.S. alone. The single species that is the domestic dog—Canis lupus familiaris—has been subdivided into hundreds of breeds, selected for size or temperament or color or cuteness.

The average American dog owner spends more than $2,000 a year on food, toys, medical care and more, and some people would be prepared to pay a much higher, much dearer price. When Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in 2005, so many people refused to evacuate without their dogs that Congress passed a law requiring disaster preparedness plans to make accommodations for pets.

What began as a mutual-services contract between two very different species became something much more like love. None of that makes a lick of sense, but it doesn’t have to. Love rarely touches the reasoning parts of the brain. It touches the dreamy parts, the devoted parts—it touches the parts we sometimes call the heart. For many thousands of years, it’s there that our dogs have lived.

This Story Originally Appeared On Time

By Jeffrey Kluger 

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Dogs Rush to Help Owners When They Cry

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The research, published in the journal Learning & Behavior, found that dogs moved faster to open a door to reach their owners when they made crying noises and repeated: “help” in a distressed tone compared to those owners who casually hummed “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” and repeated “help” in a calm tone.

A new study has proven what dog lovers have known all along: not only do pups know when their humans are in distress, they will also rush to help them every day

Though the number of dogs in both groups who opened the door was quite similar—nine in the humming group and seven in the crying group—researchers were able to record a significant difference in the speed in which they did.

On average, the dogs whose owners sounded distressed opened the door within 23.43 seconds, while the dogs whose owners hummed took an average of 95.89 seconds to open the door.

Basically, every dog has a secret Lassie inside them.

“It’s really cool for us to know that dogs are so sensitive to human emotional states,” Emily Sanford, a graduate student in psychological and brain sciences at Johns Hopkins University, and a co-author of the study, told CNN.

The study, though relatively small, could prove essential in better evaluating what influences canines, and service dogs in particular, to assist their humans in emergency situations.

WATCH: Dog Saves His Whole Family Before Their Home Burns To The Ground

“It is interesting to think that all these anecdotes of dogs rescuing humans, they could be grounded in truth, and this study is a step toward understanding how those kinds of mechanisms work,” Sanford added.

Aaron McDonald, a canine behaviorist based in Birmingham, Alabama, told CNN that he’s seen a number of cases of what appear to be dogs exhibiting empathy with humans. McDonald, who was not involved in the study, believes these kinds of responses are a product of the close attention dogs pay their owners.

“They record every rhythm and interval of their behavior, the order in which they move from room to room, how long it takes them to dry their hair in the morning and the sound and rhythm of their footsteps,” he explained to CNN.

“They also record all of our facial affectations, our speech patterns, and memorize all of our cognitive blind spots—when and where we don’t pay attention,” McDonald continued. “Dogs profile humans much like an FBI investigator might document the lifestyle of a suspect. Dogs record and memorize every nuance of their human caregivers’ lifestyle.”

Seriously y’all, where would be without our dogs?

Another reason to love dogs!

By Meghan Overdeep

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How to Take Care of New Puppy

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Start potty training the moment you bring your dog home. Be patient and consistent. Take your puppy outside after waking up, eating, and playing, and be sure a bathroom break is the last thing that happens before bed.

Whether it’s your first pup or you’re a seasoned dog owner, bringing a new puppy home has a way of knocking you off your feet. Sometimes literally those first few walks are tricky, The unbearable cuteness, the late-night cries for attention, the puppy breath, the never-ending curiosity puppyhood has a magical way of turning your life upside down.

Adding a puppy to your family is a big commitment with a wonderful payoff, but it’s incredibly important to be prepared. As much as we all want to take home every puppy that prances our way, owning a dog is a big responsibility. Responsible pet owners, new and old, know that a dog’s unconditional love comes with a commitment to care for all of its tennis ball-filled days.

If you’re ready to become a puppy parent, here’s what you need to know to survive the first 30 days.

Before You Bring a Puppy Home

Pick the Right Breed

Every puppy is cute. It’s true. Determining the breed that is right for you and your family, though, is more than skin deep. How big or small of a dog do you want? What kind of temperament and activity level fits best with your lifestyle? Shedding or non-shedding? Be sure to do some research.

Buy the Right Supplies

Even if you have another dog, make sure your new puppy is prepared with a few items of its own, like food and water dishes, bed, and toys. Stock up on puppy training treats and pick an Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) approved puppy food. Make sure you have a leash, collar, and ID tag for your pup as well as a brush that’s appropriate for your breed’s fur type.

Purchase a crate with a divider to create a safe, den-like space that’s also a helpful training tool. This will allow you adjust the size of your crate as your puppy grows. The crate should be just big enough for a puppy to turn around in, stretch out while laying down, and stand up without bumping its head.

Prepare Your Home

Set up your new supplies before your puppy arrives. This will help your existing pets (and people!) adjust.

Puppy proof as much as possible. That means tucking in electrical cords, keeping shoes and other items off the floor, and ensuring items small enough to swallow are out of reach. Consider setting up puppy gates to keep your curious pup away from off-limits or dangerous spaces in your home and store breakable items completely out of reach. While we can train puppies not to chew inappropriate items, owners have to take some responsibility in keeping these things out of doggy range as well.

The First Week:

Prep for the Trip Home

Whether it’s a short trip or long ride, your first day of puppy parenthood will likely involve some kind of travel with your dog. Be sure to bring something to chew and something soft, like a blanket or towel, and beware that an accident may be unavoidable. Young puppies aren’t known for their bladder control, so the excitement of a first car ride may result in an accidental potty. Also, a towel with the scent of the mother or littermates may go a long way in making your new little one feel at home.

Visit the Vet

Establish healthy pet habits from the get-go. Take your new pup to the veterinarian within the first 48 hours getting home. A first examination will help determine any immediate heath concerns, start a vaccination schedule, and introduce your dog to new sweet people and yummy treats. It’s also a time to discuss your dog’s diet, including food type, amount, and frequency.

While you’re there, the vet will provide information on what kind of activity you and your puppy should engage in or avoid based on your dog’s age and stage in vaccinations. You may need to avoid public places with lots of dogs and people for a few weeks based on your puppy’s vaccination schedule, and the vet can provide great insight on how to do this without avoiding healthy socialization completely. This is also a chance to ask any questions you’ve run into since bringing your furball home.

Explore the House

It’s a whole new world, and that comes with bold curiosity with a side of skepticism. Your puppy doesn’t know that falling down the stairs hurts and that the puppy staring back at them in the mirror isn’t actually another dog here to play. Oh, and what’s that terrifying new box on the floor the mailman brought? That wasn’t there earlier!

Let your pup explore and sniff out new territory under your supervision, one space at a time. You may even want to keep your pup on a leash inside of the house for the first little bit, since free reign can be overwhelming and potty prone. When an object that isn’t dangerous something seems scary, be sure to speak in a sweet, encouraging tone and let your puppy sniff it until he or she realizes there isn’t anything terrifying about a box, for example.

If you already have another dog, it may be helpful to introduce the two on neutral ground, like a neighbor’s yard. Be patient and give plenty of treats. It can take a few weeks for your dog to warm up to your new friend.

Establish a Routine

Play, eat, sleep, potty, cuddle, repeat. Your puppy is growing, so expect busts of energy and long periods of sleep. While it may feel like your puppy’s energy level rules the show, establishing a schedule is the best way to start the potty-training process and teach your new puppy what life is like in its new home.

A routine helps give your puppy context. Sticking to a feeding schedule allows a bit more predictability in bathroom breaks and making a bedtime will help set expectations for sleeping. Be consistent anytime you can. If you always go out the same door to use the bathroom outside, your puppy may start to associate that door with alerting you to the need to use the restroom. If you always put your pup down in the same spot of grass, he or she may start to associate that grass and the surrounding smells with using the bathroom.

Potty Training

Start potty training the moment you bring your dog home. Be patient and consistent. Take your puppy outside after waking up, eating, and playing, and be sure a bathroom break is the last thing that happens before bed. As a loose guideline, be sure to take your puppy out every 2-3 hours until your furball proves he or she can hold it longer. Create a short routine command, like “go potty” to associate with the bathroom. When you’re not actively watching your puppy, make use of the crate for short increments of time to keep your dog safe and avoid accidents inside the house.

Stay strong. There will be accidents, but that doesn’t mean your pup isn’t trying.

The First Month:

Socialization

While it’s important to follow any guidelines your veterinarian provided on visiting public places based on your dog’s vaccination schedule, seeing the world and meeting new people is also important to your puppy’s development. The critical socialization stage for a puppy is usually between 10 and 16 weeks of age. During this time, positively introduce your puppy to all types of people, animals, and situations that you’d like him or her to accept as an adult dog. Everything and everyone at this stage of the game is brand new, and the more he or she sees as a young puppy the less chances there are for unfamiliar situations to provoke bad behavior in adulthood. You can make everything your dog comes across either a neutral or positive stimulus instead of scary by bringing treats along as rewards.

You can do this while also adhering to health concerns by avoiding high traffic areas where disease is more likely to be present, like doggy daycare, dog parks, and pet stores. Carry your pup instead of placing him or her on the grown as you go about your day and make playdates with dogs you know are fully vaccinated.

Teething

At this stage of the game, everything within reach is prone to chewing. If your pup can put it in its mouth, assume it will happen. That includes your fingers, feet, clothing, you name it. Teething is a natural part of puppyhood, so although annoying, it’s completely normal for puppies to nibble and bite.

Teach your puppy that biting you too hard hurts by making a high-pitched “ouch” sound, similar to a yelp one of his or her littermates might have made if they nipped at each other while playing. Now that your pup knows that biting you is painful, introduce toys that are okay to chew. Each time he or she goes after your fingers or the furniture, replace the inappropriate object with an acceptable toy instead.

WATCH: 4 Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Sleeping Dogs

Puppy School and Training

As a responsible puppy owner, it’s up to you to set your dog up for success whenever possible. Training your puppy from a young age sets a solid foundation for structure and makes you and your puppy happier and more confident. Start by teaching basic commands like sit, come, and stay, and work your way up from there.

Keep in mind that training your puppy also involves a bit of self-discipline as well. Learning to keep things out of reach and keeping a regular routine requires some human training, too. When you and your puppy are ready, take things to the next level by working with a professional at puppy school. Here, you can learn how to best interact with your puppy, including interpreting his or her body language and behaviors correctly, and pick up a few tricks for daily commands.

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How Much Exercise Does a Dog Need Every Day?

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Wondering how much exercise your dog needs every day to stay healthy and happy? Here’s what you need to know about walking, hiking, and play sessions with your pup.

You may have pats on the head, belly rubs, and nutritious treats well in hand when it comes to keeping your dog happy and healthy, but what about exercise? In fact, you may be wondering just how much exercise does your dog really need every day?

“Exercise requirements in adult dogs can vary based on your dog’s breed and if they have underlying conditions,” says Dr. Carly Fox, staff veterinarian at NYC’s Animal Medical Center.

For example, a 5-year-old border collie requires a whole lot more exercise than a 5-year-old French bulldog. In general, adult sporting and herding dogs like collies, shepherds, and golden retrievers need about 1-1.5 hours of exercise a day.

Whereas toy breeds like Pomeranians, yorkies, and dachshunds and brachycephalic breeds (short-headed breeds that often have pushed in faces) like pugs, Boston terriers, and boxers only need about 30-60 minutes a day.

If your dog happens to be a senior or has any underlying medical conditions, like arthritis, they still benefit from daily routine exercise. Typically, geriatric dogs are over 8 years old for small breeds, over 10 years old for mid-size breeds, and over 11 years old for large breeds. “In general, they require 30-60 min of exercise, broken up into several sessions throughout the day,” says Dr. Fox.

How Much Exercise Do Puppies Need?

Puppies are in an exercise class of their own. “Puppies have tons of energy but also require periods of rest (like a toddler),” Dr. Fox says. You should exercise or play with your pup in 5 to 10 minutes sessions. This will make the most of your play since they have loads of energy to burn off yet less stamina to go the distance than an adult dog. Be sure to allow them to nap and rest. When they’re up again, they’ll be ready for round 2—or 3 or 4, for that matter.

What’s the Best Exercise for Dogs?

Just like people, dogs love various types of exercise and play. Most love a good walk or long hike. Others benefit from a more vigorous run with their owner. Many enjoy swimming, fetch, or agility. Some love playing with other dogs and wearing themselves out wrestling. For still others, a trip to the dog park where they can run, wrestle, and fetch all in one play session works well.

“The degree of exercise depends on your dog’s level of fitness, breed, and age,” says Dr. Fox. “In general, herding/sporting dogs can handle more prolonged periods of high-intensity exercises, like running and hiking.”

Don’t Overdo It

“Regardless of breed, any dog that begins to exercise regularly requires training periods, just like people. It’s always better to start slow and increase the length and intensity of exercise gradually to prevent injury and excessive fatigue,” Dr. Fox says.

Remember to keep exercise to the early and later parts of the day in warm weather so your dog doesn’t get overheated. Let your pooch be your guide to when he’s had enough. That pooped, tongue-hanging-out-of-the-side-of-his-mouth look can clue you in. Dogs are sufficiently tired out when they lie down, pant heavily, stop playing, or lose interest. Be careful not to overdo it.

Don’t forget that dogs benefit just as much from mental games like training, learning new tricks, puzzle toys, and obedience work.

Plus, the benefits of exercising your pet also extend to you. Fox says that people who walk their dogs regularly are less likely to be overweight, have heart disease, and Type 2 diabetes. It’s also fun and a great stress reliever for both of you. Now thats a win-win situation.

By Jennifer Nelson 

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