poodle service dog hugs person

International Assistance Dog Week

It’s International Assistance Dog Week and I’ve been pulling my hair out over writing this article. This topic is so close to my heart. After working with service dogs and their handlers for over three years now, I’ve seen how these dogs positively affect the lives of their humans and their families. It’s breathtaking to watch a service dog team work together. It’s incredible to see their connection, their love for each other, and the ability of both the human and the dog to communicate with each other. The bond is so real and so completely unreal at the same time. It’s hard to put into words what I see and experience when working with a service dog team.
I’ll tell you a little about the actual week that recognizes the strong, exceptional animals and their handlers and trainers.

The phrase “working like a dog” came about because frankly, when a dog is given a job, they work tirelessly until that job is finished. Dogs are driven, focused, and very capable animals that have helped humans for hundreds of years. History suggests that the earliest work our canine companions did alongside humans was hunting, then as time goes on, you begin to see dogs living with humans, traveling with humans, and ultimately working and assisting humans in all facets of life in today’s society. It only makes sense that they assist in the daily life of those that are physically or mentally limited in some way or another. And when asked, they boldly stepped forward and haven’t looked back.

The first Sunday in August marks the beginning of International Service Dog Week where devoted and hard-working assistance dogs are recognized for helping their humans mitigate disabilities. Assistance dogs help to transform life as their humans know it. Many people with disabilities can’t go about life as normal because of physical and/or mental limitations. Assistance dogs help to fill the gaps and offer aid when needed. These dogs become close friends and a member of their human’s family, and not only provide physical assistance, but are a loving soul to trust and confide in. Dogs are able to give disabled humans a sense of freedom and the confidence to get out there and enjoy life.

Many humans with disabilities are unable to train their own service/assistance dogs due to limitations they experience. Because of this, International Assistance Dog Week also recognizes and honors the trainers and puppy raisers who put in so much time to help those in need.


Service/assistance dogs usually spend their early life with puppy raisers before going to specialized training for a specific job. They’re usually placed with a disabled person between 18-24 months old. Service dogs provide much needed assistance that can save their human’s life. Many times, a service dogs saves their human’s life multiple times a day. Can you imagine having that job?
Dogs currently work in fields of service such as:
  • Guide dogs for the blind
  • Hearing dogs, or signal dogs, for those with impaired hearing
  • Mobility assistance dogs for the physically disabled with mobility issues
  • Medical alert dogs for those with medical disabilities such as Type 1 diabetes or austism
  • Psychiatric service dogs for those with a psychiatric disability such as PTSD

Dogs also work as facility dogs and therapy dogs to assist those in need.

Facility dogs are trained by an assistance dog program and put through rigorous testing to become certified. They work in:

  • Courtrooms- and assist crime victims, witnesses, and others during prosecution and other legal proceedings
  • Classrooms- and usually work in special education areas
  • Healthcare facilities- assist with symptom management, recovery, physical therapy, and mobility

Therapy dogs
 are trained by their owners and must pass a test and register with each facility they attend. They provide assistance through providing comfort, affection, and bringing smiles to faces of those in need at:

  • Hospitals
  • Nursing homes
  • Disaster areas
  • Schools

It’s important to note that facility dogs and therapy dogs are NOT classified as assistance/service dogs and their handlers do NOT share in the same public access rights that are covered by the ADA law for disabled handlers of service dogs.

These dogs are amazing, astonishing, and so many other things. This short little article doesn’t do them justice. But I hope you’re able to see the way a service dog is able to give a person with a disability their self-confidence back, and in-turn, his or her life back. For a disabled person, a service dog is empowering, life saving, and life-changing.



pit mix in black crate

Teach Your Dog to Wait Before Exiting the Crate in 5 Minutes

Having a dog that understands they can’t barge out the crate door every time it’s opened is precious. It can potentially save their life by giving you the opportunity to put a leash on them and potentially keep them out of the street.

It’s such an easy and quick thing to teach your dog, and there’s an opportunity for training literally every time you get your dog out of the crate.

Here’s the low down:

  1. Open the crate door.
  2. If your dog begins to walk out shut the door before he reaches it. *Try not to slam their little face with the door!
  3. Wait quietly until he sits down then open the door again.
  4. Repeat until the dog waits patiently then release him with your exit cue. I use the word, “out.”
  5. Reward lavishly!

Once you begin teaching your dog to exit patiently from the crate, you can also use the same technique with the front door!

vet looks in dogs ear

Deaf Dog Awareness Week 2014

The last full week of September is Deaf Dog Awareness Week. This year the dates are September 21st-27th. I thought that this would be a good time to write about the benefits of owning a deaf dog, and some things to be aware of if you think your dog may be having hearing issues.

First of all, deaf dogs make great pets! Don’t be fooled by all of the hype…they are not necessarily more aggressive than any other dog. They may startle more easily because they don’t hear you coming. There are techniques you can use to prevent startle biting, which I will address later in this blog. A great website I found while doing research for this article is: www.deafdogsrock.com. This is a website that has a lot of information posted by a family that owns multiple deaf dogs, and plans to only own deaf dogs from now on, because they are such wonderful companions.

Benefits of Loving a Deaf Dog:

  • pay more attention to their people/stay by your side
  • can follow visual commands from great distances without yelling
  • stronger bond/partnership with their person
  • sleep really well and don’t bark at every little noise

Causes, Warning Signs and Prevention

There can be many possible causes of deafness in your dog. Your dog may be hearing well until something causes him to become deaf. Your dog could get an ear infection, have an ear injury, have loud noise exposure, or take certain medications that may cause him to go deaf. There could even be temporary deafness caused by wax build-up in the ear, or by other foreign bodies making their way inside the ear canal. Your dog may also simply grow deaf with old age, as people do.

Many times a dog can be born with a genetic defect that can cause her to be born deaf or become deaf very early in life. The most common cause is pigment related. Everyone has heard about white dogs with blue eyes being prone to deafness. The real story is that if a dog has unpigmented skin (which is pink and produces white hair) in the inner ear, then the nerve endings can atrophy and die off in the first few weeks of life. You would not be able to see the color of the hair in your dog’s inner ear by looking inside with a light, but that same dog will probably have unpigmented skin on its body in other places.

Some warning signs to keep a look out for, to help you determine if your dog may be starting to have hearing problems are:

  • change in obedience or personality
  • prolonged barking
  • painful, smelly ears, or discharge from the ears (signs of an infection)
  • not responding to commands, phrases or noises as normal (doorbells, sound of the leash)
  • sleeping through feedings

A puppy who is born deaf, or becomes deaf soon after birth may play too hard with his litter mates because he cannot hear their pain yelps which would normally cause a puppy to stop biting and try something different.

Not all causes of deafness can be prevented, of course, but there are some things you can do:

  • be aware of your dog shaking his head or scratching at his ears, as this can be a sign of infection
  • clean your dog’s ears if he is prone to wax build-up
  • avoid exposure to repeated loud noises
  • research the side effects of medications that you give your dog, and only use medications if all other options have been exhausted

Tips for Caring for Your Deaf Dog

Caring for a deaf dog is not scary or as intimidating as people think! There may be a period of adjustment if a dog goes deaf later in life, because I’m sure this has to be as strange and scary for a dog as it is for humans! Also, a deaf dog with unpigmented skin may need sunscreen, especially on his nose. Choose a gentle brand for babies or people with sensitive skin, without dyes or scents.

Deaf dogs are not more aggressive than hearing dogs, especially if given proper training. They just need to learn a different way to communicate with and understand their human. Some things that can be very helpful when working with a deaf dog are:

  • train with hand signals instead of verbal commands
  • use of vibration to get your dog’s attention (stomping near them to wake them up instead of touching them, which may startle them)
  • opening a yummy, smelly bag of treats can also wake your dog easily
  • fenced in yard or leashed walking is a must, since your deaf dog won’t be able to hear traffic
  • attach a bell to his collar, so you can find him when he does not hear you calling his name
  • add a tag to her collar that says your dog is deaf, so if your dog is lost the person who finds her knows this information

Having a hearing buddy for your deaf dog can be a really big help with training and teaching proper behavior! A deaf dog can look to a hearing dog for social cues. A hearing dog can also be a great companion for your deaf dog when you have to leave the house, as deaf dogs can be more prone to separation anxiety. Another way to help with separation anxiety is to let your dog know when you are leaving the house-don’t leave while she is sleeping or she may be confused when she wakes up and you aren’t home. You can also train your hearing dog to wake your deaf dog for you!

Deaf dogs may sometimes get a bad reputation, but all they need is time, training, attention and love just like any other dog. They can be wonderful, loving companions and just want to run, play and nap with their person nearby. They are also more difficult to adopt out due to people’s prejudices, or may be euthanized by a breeder or vet who does not understand deafness. Consider adopting a deaf dog, and make sure you find a veterinarian that supports your decision and understands that being deaf is only a small obstacle that is easily overcome in your dog’s life!

Sources: Deaf Dog Education Action Fund www.deafdogs.orgwww.deafdogsrock.comwww.spca.org

older yellow lab looking happy getting cuddles on the floor

The Power of Prayer…and Goat’s Milk

November 18th, 2014

Halie Snider knew exactly what she wanted for her 14th birthday. She wanted a puppy…a yellow lab mix, rescue puppy to be exact. The dog she would adopt would soon become the love of the entire family. A loyal companion, Zayda, a Labrador/Golden Retriever mix, loved to spend time doing anything with any of the Sniders. Life was good. Move forward six years to April 2014 and tragedy strikes the Snider family. Their beloved Zayda was in danger and not expected to live much longer.

Dogs Have A Way of Finding The People That Need Them…

Excited about finding a furry best friend, Halie scanned the Birmingham-Jefferson Animal Shelter’s available dogs online. That’s where she spotted six month old Zayda.

“She found Zayda’s picture and fell in love,” said Halie’s mother, Vanessa. “The next Saturday, which was her birthday, we went to the shelter and found Zayda. There were so many cute dogs, and we encouraged her to look around. We even got several others out of their enclosures and took them out to play with them. But she would not be swayed! We ended up adopting Zayda!”

Zayda quickly became a steadfast member of the family and everyone’s favorite playmate. Games of fetch and tug were a mainstay around the house, and car rides were a MUST. The Snider girls had to spell out the words to keep Zayda from getting too excited about an R-I-D-E, but they took her regularly. She even befriended the neighbors and began a routine of running next door to visit them to snag an extra treat every now and then.

Keep Calm and Hug Your Dog

Things were great until April of this year when Vanessa had shoulder surgery and was home for the next four weeks for recovery and rehab.

“I began to notice that Zayda didn’t want to go out with our other dog, Zoe. She just wanted to lie on the ottoman next to my chair,” said Vanessa. “I thought she didn’t want to leave me. Although she is my daughter’s dog, she and I are very close and very attached to one another.”

Then, one night, she began vomiting. Zayda couldn’t keep anything down, and the Sniders decided to take her to the vet. The doctor feared she had pancreatitis and kept her overnight. The next day Zayda was doing much better and was allowed to go home with a few food and water instructions to help her further recover from the illness.  She did well that Saturday but soon started vomiting again Sunday evening.

“She refused food, and threw up even the little water she was drinking. She just lay in one spot and didn’t want to move,” explains Vanessa. “First thing on Monday, I called the vet and took her back.”

The veterinarian kept Zayda for further testing and called back that afternoon with results of an x-ray showing a mass in her abdomen. Not being able to tell much about where exactly it was, he wanted to keep her for another night and perform exploratory surgery the next day.

The Snider family had been anxiously awaiting the call, and when it came, the news was grim.

“He said he had bad news…there was a large tumor attached to her pancreas and it had metastasized to her liver,” Vanessa explained. “He said there was really nothing that he could do. He suggested that we take her home and ‘love on her as long as we could stand it.’ He thought she might live a week at the most.”

The Sniders didn’t want to lose their beloved Zayda, but they also didn’t want her to have to endure anymore pain. After talking with her husband and children, Vanessa decided to wait a day before making the decision. Kate, the oldest Snider daughter, was celebrating her 22nd birthday and Vanessa didn’t want her to remember it as the painful day they lost Zayda. Vanessa’s husband, Jimmy, called to tell the doctor the decision, and the doctor explained that Zayda was standing up and wagging her tail. She wasn’t in too much pain at the time. The Sniders knew if Zayda wasn’t in pain they had to bring her home. The decision wouldn’t be made until Zayda let them know the time was right. The vet sent her home with pain meds, and left the shunt in her leg to easily inject the medication to put her to sleep when the need arose.

“Because she really couldn’t eat or hold down much food, I wanted to try to find something I could give her that would give her the nutrition she needed, and ANYTHING that might help her condition,” said Vanessa. “I looked online for ‘holistic pet stores’ and Hollywood Feed is the only one that popped up. Although not far from my house, I didn’t know anything about it.”

All You Need Is Love…and Goat’s Milk

Vanessa drove to Hollywood Feed in Mountain Brook, Alabama, not knowing what she would find, if anything, to help her sweet Zayda.

Vanessa explained to the staff that she had a “sick dog – very sick – who couldn’t really eat.” She was hoping to find something to give Zayda that provided the vitamins and minerals that she needed. The Hollywood Feed employee immediately recommended goat’s milk and led Vanessa to the store’s freezer.

“She told me it was raw and had all the nutrients my dog would need, even if she couldn’t eat,” explained Vanessa. “She told me how much to give Zayda, and told me about grain-free food, and I left with several cans of food and two quarts of goat’s milk.”

Vanessa immediately started to mix the goat’s milk and food for Zayda (and even mixed some goat’s milk with Zoe’s food).

“I began to see immediate gradual improvement. At the end of the first week, the vet’s office called to check on Zayda (because I truly believe they thought we would have already brought her back). I told the vet’s assistant that she was doing better, eating and keeping her food down, and seemed to have more energy. She sounded a little skeptical, but told me to keep in touch.”

The same happened multiple times. The vet’s assistant would call to check on Zayda and Vanessa would explain that it seemed that every day and every week Zayda got a little better. “I also told her about the goat’s milk at that point. I could hear the skepticism and maybe a little doubt (like maybe I had gone crazy), but she said ‘well, just keep doing what you’re doing I guess.’

“The same pattern continued for the next several months, with Zayda improving and either the vet’s office calling me, or me calling them to check in. At one point, the vet’s assistant told me, like she had to defend their diagnosis, ‘I was in surgery with him with Zayda, and I saw it – I saw the tumor!’ I told her I didn’t doubt them, and also couldn’t explain Zayda’s improvement. I told them, and pretty much everyone, that the only things I could attribute her recovery to were goat’s milk…and prayer!”

You’ll Never Walk Alone Because I’ll Always Be With You

Jimmy took Zayda back to the vet just two weeks ago for the first time in six months. It was time for her annual visit and rabies shots. After a physical exam, the veterinarian thought he could still feel something in her abdomen but was completely amazed at how well Zayda was doing. Jimmy answered lots of questions the doctor had and told him all about the goat’s milk. The vet excitedly said “it’s working so don’t change a thing!” and recommended they “keep doing EXACTLY what you’ve been doing!”

The family and doctor don’t know for sure if the cancer is still there or not. There’s no way of knowing without doing another surgery, and that’s something neither wants to do. “The disease could progress again at any point, but everyone is AMAZED she lived beyond a few days, much less almost seven months now. And she hasn’t just stayed alive, she is happy and appears healthy, she has a great appetite, and runs and plays with Zoe and the family.

“She’s just a joy to have around, and we are so thankful to have been given more time with her, and that she’s been happy and felt good,” Vanessa said. “She is such a sweet dog and loves each of us and I can’t imagine our family without her. But even if the illness returned today and she passed, we are still SOOOO thankful that the folks at Hollywood Feed cared enough to ask me what I needed and took the time to talk with me and show me the goat’s milk, and the other grain-free food. They have been so caring…always asking about Zayda when I go in every couple of weeks for milk.”

“The Journey of Life is Sweeter When Traveled with a Dog.” -Bridget Willoughby

As for now, things are back to normal for the Snider family. The only difference? Goat’s milk is now a staple in the Snider canine diet! Fetch, tug, visits to the neighbors, and car rides are again part of everyday life.

We can all learn a lesson from Zayda. When the going gets tough, hang your head out the car window, feel the breeze rushing through your hair, then lean back in the car and give your favorite human a big, slobbery, kiss to let them know how much you love them. Never take one minute for granted, and never stop putting one paw in front of the other and moving forward. With the help of God, family, and friends you can make it through anything.

A Note From Hollywood Feed About Our Beliefs on Health and Nutrition

At Hollywood Feed, we live for days like this – days when we get to hear remarkable stories about how nutrition has made a life-changing difference in a beloved pet’s life. We’re delighted to provide paramount nutrition for dogs and cats and offer a veterinarian-trained staff to help guide consumers to what’s right for their specific pet. When customers return to us with stories like Zayda’s the feeling is indescribable. The only way I can think to express it is the feeling a puppy experiences when they FINALLY catch their tail; relief that we helped make life better for an animal, excitement that we now have more successful information to provide to the next customer, and joy – pure joy – that one more cherished pet gets to spend more time with his treasured human family.

We work hard to stay up-to-date on the latest health and nutrition needs of dogs and cats (and lots of other animals, too). We discuss our own research and reading amongst ourselves at the office and the stores, speak with veterinarians about different issues, and listen to customers when they tell us what has worked and what hasn’t all in order to provide our clientele with the best advice possible. We, in no way, want to undermine a veterinarian’s recommendations, and we don’t suggest that you ever stop giving medication or prescription food without talking with your pet’s doctor first. We also know that many times holistic nutrition choices aren’t enough. Sometimes God is calling your pet home and nothing can change His plan. This breaks our hearts and pushes us to learn more and more about providing nutrition that paves the way for a long and healthy life for our pets. Many times, desperation sends pet owners our way and a change in nutrition makes a huge difference in the pet’s life. Other times, we aren’t so lucky. We are, in no way, trying to make anyone believe that goat’s milk is the answer to all problems, but it’s definitely worth a try! But obviously, nothing can replace excellent care and, of course, prayer!

long haired chihuahua scratches face on white background

I Have an Itch that Needs Scratching

Wondering Why Your Puppy Might be Itchy?

Unfortunately the list of possible reasons for a puppy to have itchy skin is practically endless. However, the following reasons are some of the more common causes that we see:

One. Puppies do quite a lot of growing at that age and their skin stretches to accommodate that growth. To some degree, this or general puppy acne could be the reason. Feeding a diet high in omega-3 fats (like fish or duck) might help to condition the skin. There are also many other health benefits associated with diets high in omega-3 fats. It reduces inflammation, helps to maintain hips and joints, and the DHA in it helps puppies learn and may prevent senility in older dogs.

Two. Your pup could be suffering from a food allergy or environmental allergy, or both. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to determine what particular allergen might be causing the issue as even allergy tests are fairly inaccurate. If you can eliminate some of the more common ones, you might see a drastic reduction in itching. In terms of food allergies, the most common are beef, dairy, chicken, wheat, soy, and corn. Try switching to a diet that doesn’t contain any of these items. And you could try bathing in a pet shampoo to rid the skin of environmental allergens like grass, pollen, dust, dust mites, etc. One of my favorites is Vet’s Best’s oatmeal and tea tree oil shampoo.

Three. Another, and probably most common, cause of itching in dogs and cats is flea bite dermatitis. Even though you might not see any fleas on your pup’s skin, all it takes is one flea bite to trigger a reaction for which the animal may suffer for weeks. I am all too familiar with flea bite sensitivity myself as I have a rescue that suffers yearly. I’ve found that it helps tremendously to use a topical flea preventative that actively repels and kills fleas just through contact. I use Advantix II (which is safe for pups seven weeks and older) and Advantage Multi with heartworm preventative. Oral flea medications (as well as several of the topical types) will only kill fleas once they have already bitten your pet and ingested the chemical circulating in their blood stream…which doesn’t really do a pet with flea bite sensitivity any good at all.

Remember that using antihistamines and steroids can have both short and long term side-effects and will only cover up your pet’s problem. While they may help a pet with severely itchy skin get some temporary relief, they will never resolve the problem completely or permanently. They may even exacerbate the issue by suppressing your pet’s immune system.

No one can say with 100% certainty that doing any of these would solve your puppy’s itchy skin issue, but any one might help and is worth checking into. They certainly couldn’t hurt. If possible, bring your pup into one of our stores so that we could get a look at him or her. We enjoy meeting our clients and watching them grow, and a face-to-face might help us determine what exactly is going on with your pet. Bring in any food or treats you might be feeding as well. We’ll gladly check them for anything that might stand out as a potential problem. Sometimes we end up suggesting that you take your pet to a veterinarian, but sometimes we can help.

happy dog sits outside with leaves falling around him

What Is Your Dog Thankful For?

Thanksgiving is right around the corner. On this day, we humans will be enjoying spending time with the family and friends we love. During the holiday season, we consider ourselves blessed to have our family and friends, good health, plenty to eat and a roof over our heads. What do you suppose makes our pets thankful? If your pet could talk, he would tell you he is thankful for:

  1. YOU! You let him into your home and heart. Whether you found him or he found you, he was trying so hard to get your attention, and it worked! He is eternally grateful!
  2. Car rides to anywhere but the vet. But, he really does appreciate the fact that you care enough about his health to get regular check-ups and vaccinations. He’s grateful, too, that you care enough to get him fixed so that he is not contributing to the overpopulation crisis in the county.
  3. Going on walks, playing tug-of-war, chasing a ball, or any activity when he’s doing it with you.
  4. You caring enough to protect him. You protect him from other dogs, scary people and traffic by keeping him inside or within a fence at all times. He also appreciates that you protect him from that loud, scary machine mom pushes around the carpet by keeping it in the closet most of the time.
  5. You taking the time to learn about proper nutrition and for giving him healthy dog food that doesn’t taste like cardboard. He’s grateful, too, that you sometimes allow him to “prewash” the dishes going in the dishwasher
  6. The supply of entertaining toys you bought for him, as well as the simple pleasures found in the dirty clothes basket.
  7. Your taking time to bathe, brush, and comb him, and taking him to the groomer if he needs a haircut. Matted and unkempt fur can cause painful and itchy skin issues.
  8. A warm, dry, cozy dog bed to curl up in every night. And, although he may feel a little foolish wearing it, he appreciates the thought that went into his little sweater, too.
  9. Cuddling with you! He feels so much love from your kind touch when you are petting him.
  10. Your patience and positive reinforcement when teaching him new things. He really wants to learn and please you, and loves how you forgive him for mistakes.

It should warm our hearts to know that we are the most important things in the lives of our pets. So, this Thanksgiving, when we are giving thanks for all that we have, let’s put our pets right at the top of the list. What a blessing to be surrounded with such unconditional love every day.

Happy Thanksgiving

yellow lab sits outside with pumpkins

Thanksgiving Treat Dos and Don’ts for Dogs

It’s that time of year again. The humans begin to decorate with all kinds of sparkly, enticing balls on prickly trees, family and friends visit and bring canine cousins to stay, and the chef of the house starts cooking things that make your dogs tail curl they smell so good. Your canine family members may not completely understand the holiday season, but trust me, they know something special is going on!

Thanksgiving and Christmas are most definitely two very special holidays. Your pets are part of your family and you don’t want to leave them out of the celebration, and your shouldn’t, but there are a few things to remember that will help make this holiday season a joyful and vet visit free time of year.


Turkey: The main dish
Turkey will be on the top of most grocery lists. It’s the typical meat chosen for thanksgiving feasts. This lean meat makes a great thanksgiving treat for your pup. Just make sure it’s fully cooked and remove the skin, then put a few pieces on top of your dog’s food! They’ll love the snack and feel like a part of the celebration.

Dressing: The sidekick to the main dish
Dressing makes our turkey taste just that much better. We can’t imagine having thanksgiving dinner without it. But dressing isn’t a part of a dog’s natural diet and shouldn’t be a part of his thanksgiving celebration. Many cooks use sage as a seasoning in dressing and the herb can leave your dog’s stomach quite disgruntled. Just say no to giving your dog dressing.

Sweet Potatoes: The perfect side dish
Sweet potatoes are that perfect blend of healthy and scrumptiously good! We love them, and dog’s do too! As a matter if fact, they’re great for digestion and an overall healthy human food for your dog. Just remember, if you’ve got sweet potato casserole instead of plain sweet potatoes you should probably refrain from sharing. Your dog doesn’t need all the extra goodness that comes in the casserole!

Pumpkin Pie: The dessert
Pumpkin is another human food that makes a great snack for dogs. Pumpkin has lots if great benefits for canines including digestive health and urinary health. Remember portions are the main thing here. Your dog doesn’t need an entire pumpkin pie, but a lick or two, or three, won’t hurt him!


A few things to make sure an avoid giving your dog include onions, garlic, and nuts. All of these foods can make your dog very sick. With so many great options for a thanksgiving snack, why would you want to risk making them sick by giving them one of those items?

And last, remember how you feel after eating all day. You’re stuffed and possibly regretting the last plate of food. Don’t give your dog so many snacks that he spends the rest of his day feeling that way. No one wants to feel bloated and sick! No, not even your dog (although he’ll probably eat anything you keep putting down)!!!

dalmation wears happy new year tiara

Your Pets Have Goals, Too!

Let’s not forget about our pets as we set goals for the year! Maybe Spot has gained a few pounds with age and needs to lose some weight. Maybe Rover needs to get more exercise to keep him younger, longer. Here are a few resolutions for us to consider for our pets!

Let’s Lose Some Weight

I know I gained a few pounds over the holidays and I’m working to correct that right now! For our pets, though, any chance of losing some weight rests on our human shoulders. Pets WILL NOT lose weight without our help.

First, we need to recognize that our dog or cat is overweight. If we are in denial about this, then we will have no incentive to help him change. Our pets should have a waistline!

Next we need to stop free-feeding. We don’t want our pet to have access to as much food as he wants all day long. Many dogs or cats will simply eat until the food is gone, not until they are full. Free feeding with multiple dogs in the house is an even bigger risk if we have one pet who is overweight, and another who is not. Our food-motivated pet will eat whatever food our other pet leaves.

Start feeding two meals a day. If we already do this, great! If our pet is still overweight, then we need to reduce the amount of food we are feeding at each meal. And cut out all the treats-they have lots of calories as well!

It is easy for us to make these decisions for our pets, so let’s do the right thing so that our dogs and cats can live longer, healthier lives. Read more at: How to Win the War Against Pet Obesity

Let’s Get More Exercise

Getting regular exercise is also high on the list of resolutions people set for the new year. Let’s remember how good regular exercise is for ourselves and for our pets!

Your dog wants to get out of the house with you daily. Whether you take him for an easy walk, or for a more difficult run, or even if you go to an off-leash park where he wants to run and play while we stroll nearby. Any form of exercise is good exercise for our dogs.

Cats need exercise, too! It can be as simple as getting your cat interested in playing with a string, or you can look into some cat furniture on which he will enjoy climbing. Just find any way to get your cat moving some each day.

Getting exercise will not only help with our pet’s weight loss, but it will also help with older pets’ mobility and health. Just like getting regular exercise can help humans live a longer, healthier life, it can do the same for our pets.

Read more about why walking our dog is important here: Skipping Your Dog’s Daily Walk? Here Are 4 Reasons You Shouldn’t

Let’s Stimulate Our Minds

There’s losing weight and getting more exercise for keeping our bodies healthy, but what resolution can we make to keep our pets mentally sharp as well? Humans can do crossword puzzles, play games, or do creative writing, but what do our pets have to keep them young mentally?

There are things like maze bowls and slow feeders that cause your dog or cat to work for his food, to even get a bite out of the bowl! My dogs and cats use these at every meal, and they’ve become very good at them. We can also stuff a Kong with treats or peanut butter and give them to our dogs so they can work on getting the food out as well as occupy their time.

Read more about interactive feeders here: Does Your Doggy Have the Winter Blues?

We should never stop teaching our dogs new commands and tricks, either! Learning something new is great mental stimulation for humans and for pets, and like I’ve said before: we can definitely teach an old dog new tricks.

Besides learning something new, we should do something new to keep our minds young. Our dogs will learn from simply going on new outings or trips, meeting new humans, and meeting new dogs. Learning how to navigate new social situations will help dogs, cats and humans stay younger, longer. And can help all of us become well socialized!

Read more about helping older dogs here: How Can I Help My Aging Pet?

So, when we get some exercise, let’s bring our dog along. When we want to get out of the house and do something, let’s take our dog to the park. When we decide to skip dessert, let’s skip our dog’s nightly treat as well. Let’s give the health and wellness of our dogs and cats as much attention as we should be giving our own health. When you think about it, the same principals really do apply to all of us. Let’s have a healthy and happy 2020!

sad chocolate lab puppy missed the training pad and peed on the floor

Oopsy! There’s a Poopsy! What to do if your pup has an accident in the crate or house.

It’s important to know how to handle an accident in the house. Never scold your dog. This can teach him to pick a more secluded area, away from you, in the house to eliminate. It can also encourage a dog to eat his feces to hide the fact that he had an accident. It’s your fault if they have had an accident because you didn’t take them out frequently enough, or you weren’t supervising them. You can go ahead and punish yourself by rubbing your nose in the accident, instead of your puppy’s.

If you see your puppy in the middle of eliminating in the house:

  1. Interrupt them with by saying “oops!” and carry them outside immediately. Place him down in the appropriate potty spot and wait for him to finish.
  2. As he is eliminating calmly say your cue word and “good boy.” When he’s finished, give him tons of praise!
  3. Be sure to clean up the mess thoroughly. Use an enzymatic cleaner to eliminate any traces of animal waste.
  4. Now, supervise your puppy better, and give him the opportunity to potty in the appropriate spot by taking him out more frequently.
  5. It’s important to watch your puppy and if you suspect they potty more frequently than they should, take them to the vet. There are several common issues that could be present and are easily fixed with medication, including a urinary tract infection.

Check out our Crate Training Guide here.

four puppies in a kennel

Crate Training Guide: A Guide to Getting Your Dog Acquainted to a New Crate

Yes. Your puppy is adorable. And yes, it’s fun to have him running about the house and sleeping in the bed at night, but unless you enjoy cleaning up after your bundle of fur when he poops and tee tees in the floor, you’ll need to house train him.

black and brown small breed puppy next to pee pad

House training is probably the most important behavior to teach a new puppy. It’s your job to cultivate the pup’s natural instincts and help teach him where he can potty and what’s totally off limits. When puppies first begin to walk they naturally leave their “den” to eliminate. You, as the new owner, must provide an appropriate potty area, and timely trips outside, so the puppy can continue with their natural desire to leave their living area to potty. Many dogs, that never learn proper potty protocol, end up in shelters or turned out on the streets and homeless. There’s no reason for this to happen. It’s an easily trained behavior and with a little effort and consistency on your part, your puppy will be house trained in no time.

Prevention is Key

In order to prevent your puppy from ever having an accident you need to supervise your puppy whenever they aren’t in their crate. Keep them in either an enclosed area of your home or in a playpen where you can supervise their play. You can also have them on leash, with you, while you are walking about the house, or sitting and reading a book. Just make sure they cannot walk away and potty somewhere in the house.

golden puppy peeing outside

A young puppy should be taken outside and given the chance to eliminate every two hours. It’s also necessary to give them the chance to potty outside after a play session and after they’ve had water. Typically a puppy can hold it for as many hours as his age in months. For example, an eight week old puppy needs to go out every two hours. Just like us they can hold it for longer at night, because they are inactive, but they should still go out to potty about every four hours. By four months old, a puppy can hold it for four hours, and can usually sleep through the night.

Home Sweet Home

Puppies learn to love their crates fairly quickly. It’s natural for them to need a place of their own. In the wild, their den is a safe and comfortable retreat where they can get adequate rest without worry of becoming someone else’s meal. Young puppies need frequent naps, so several two hour nap sessions, in the crate, spread out throughout the day are appropriate. Your pup should also sleep in the crate at night. Not only does the crate provide a cozy place for them to rest, but it also keeps them out of trouble when you are sleeping. A young pup is curious and has a need to chew. The vet bills can become enormous if your pup chewed and swallowed something during the night that becomes lodged in their gastrointestinal tract.

Follow These Steps to Teach Your New Pup to Love Their Crate:

  1. When you introduce your puppy to their new crate, don’t shove them inside! Instead, sit on the floor next to the crate, with the puppy standing beside you, and feed him some kibble. Next, place kibble on the floor of the crate and see if he will walk inside to get it. If he does, reward him by telling him “good boy!” and giving him a few more pieces of kibble. If he doesn’t readily walk in, you can pick him up and gently place him in the crate and drop a few more pieces of kibble. Speak very enthusiastically to the pup. Keep this fun and exciting! Don’t close the crate door, but allow your pup to enter and exit as they please, always rewarding them for entering the crate. Once your pup has gone inside the crate once, only give them kibble when they are inside. Do this for 5 minutes and then take your puppy out for a potty break and a short walk.
  2. After your walk, repeat step one.
  3. After your second walk, you can rest assured that your puppy is pooped. This time, sit beside the kennel and place kibble inside. When the puppy goes inside, reward him with some type of toy, and close the door. Kong toys, stuffed with peanut butter, make great crate rewards because it gives the puppy something to do until they fall asleep. When in the crate, don’t give them toys such as stuffed animals that can easily be ripped apart and ingested.

fluffy dog in white kennel with buffalo plaid accessories snoozepad in nice home

Remember to keep the crate door open when your dog is not confined, allowing him access to his home. Praise him when he goes inside voluntarily.

Important Things to Remember about Crate Training:

  1. Don’t isolate your puppy in another room by themselves. Remember, this is the first time they have been away from their mother and littermates. Keep them in a quiet area of the house that you will be in a good bit. Most pups will whine the first time they’re crated, and maybe even for several days. It’s important that they learn it’s ok to be separated from their family, and confinement is ok. If they don’t learn this now, they could develop anxiety disorders in the future.
  2. NEVER let your puppy out when he whines. Dogs continue to use behaviors that get them desired results. Don’t underestimate your pup and think he isn’t yet smart enough to figure out what gets him out of the crate! Just a few mishaps on your part and you can create quite a noisy dog that won’t give up and stop the whining because he knows you will eventually give in. Only open the crate door to let them out when they are quiet. This is teaching them that quiet and calm behavior opens the door.
  3. It’s important that you not put a puppy in the crate when they will need to potty. Make sure they eliminate before you put them in their crate, and then be sure to give them the opportunity to go out every two hours. If you notice your puppy waking up in the crate go get them and take them out immediately before they have the chance to start whining or have an accident.
  4. Set an alarm at night so you can wake up and take your puppy out before he wakes up and either starts whining or has an accident.
  5. It’s also very important that you be observant of your puppy and start reading his behavior. If you hear a whine that you think isn’t a typical “let me loose!” whine, go get him and give him the opportunity to eliminate. You want to prevent an accident at all costs. After the potty break, place him back in his crate. Don’t give him time to play. This was just a potty break.
  6. Reward your puppy every time you put them in their crate by giving them a treat, a toy, or some kibble. This makes a positive association with the crate and it becomes a great place for them to go.
  7. To put the behavior of going in their crate on cue, start by saying the cue every time you put them in the crate. When you place the kibble on the floor and the dog starts to walk in, say “Kennel! Good kennel! Good boy!” You can use any cue you choose.
  8. When you take your puppy out first thing in the morning, pick him up and go straight outside to your chosen potty spot. Once they’re a few weeks older and can hold it longer, you can start letting them walk from their crates outside so they learn the route to the appropriate potty spot. Make sure you still run to the door once you let the puppy out. They just woke up and have to go! Get them outside!

Adult Dogs

Whether your dog is a seasoned professional when it comes to house training, or new to the business, she’ll enjoy a new crate as her own space. If she’s never had a crate before you’ll want to follow along with the puppy training procedures in this guide to properly introduce her to her new room. If you’re welcoming a new adult dog into your home and don’t know if they have been previously house trained, follow the steps in this guide to get them started on the path to success!

Lola often chooses to hang out in her crate with the door open. A comfy crate mat and an assortment of toys makes it an enjoyable space of her own.

A Quick Overview of Important Things to Remember:

  • Never scold or punish your dog while inside his crate.
  • Never force your dog into his crate.
  • Keep the crate door open when your dog is not confined, allowing him access to his home. Praise him when he goes inside voluntarily.
  • At times, put your dog in his crate to rest while you’re in the room with him.
  • Provide toys inside the crate so your dog doesn’t get bored.
  • Never allow children or guests to taunt or tease your dog while inside his crate.
  • Never clean your dog’s crate while he is watching you.
  • Never lock your dog in his crate with his collar on or leash attached.
  • Never overuse your dog’s crate. He needs exercise and to be a part of the family.

For tips on how to handle an accident in the house or crate, visit the Oopsy! There’s a Poopsy! blog post.