Loving Your Furry Family Members

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By Sarah Folmar, Brand Communications Specialist

Starting a family is, well, let’s say an interesting process. Your priorities change. Your values begin to become more concrete. Everything you used to do as a routine becomes old news, as a new family member takes the top spot, always. Finding enough time to manage it all can be tricky, especially if you already had pets in the household. Many people asked me what I planned to do with the dogs once the baby entered this world. What did they mean? Getting rid of my canine companions never crossed my mind, as they are part of the family, but I did wonder what to do to make sure they knew they were still important.

When you bring a child into your household, your pets are probably going to get a little jealous. So a great way to give them some attention, especially if you are a bit pressed for time, is to give them some toys. PetSafe toys are a fantastic present to show your furry family members how much you care, especially if you’re looking for a fun little gift for Valentine’s Day!

Here are my recommendations for best interactive toys for your dogs:

The Busy Buddy Squirrel Dude is a great toy for strong chewers!

The Busy Buddy Squirrel Dude is a great toy for strong chewers!

3. Busy Buddy® Squirrel Dude™

I had to get a picture that made this toy look like a very dramatic rodent staring at our fans. In all seriousness, this toy is a fantastic choice if your dogs begin to get bored and are looking for something to chew on. My dogs love to chew on this, especially when I fill it with some peanut butter or our Busy Buddy® Buddy-Berries™. The bottom of this toy will allow treats to fall out as your dog flings it across the room, like mine so often do. With any toy, it is always recommended to have supervised play time to ensure your dogs are not chewing too hard where they could break anything off of the toy. To keep your dogs really entertained, trade out that tennis ball for this purple play toy. It’s fun to watch it bounce all over the place with a good throw, but don’t throw it too hard or the treats could scatter, taking all of the fun out of it for your dogs!

2. Busy Buddy® Magic Mushroom™

The Magic Mushroom is a toy that spins, rolls, and dispenses treats during playtime!

The Magic Mushroom is a toy that spins, rolls, and dispenses treats during playtime!

It may sound ridiculous to some, but there are dogs out there that can get a bit depressed without proper attention. Dogs that have been the center of your family for years may get a little jealous or timid when you bring home a new family member, and sometimes they develop an issue with eating. For dogs that either overeat, or dogs that need to be enticed a little, this toy is a great solve. You can adjust the windows inside of the mushroom to open as much as needed, and dispense as much kibble as you feel is necessary. If you want your over-eater to work a bit for the kibble, close the window a little more to make it a bit more difficult, which will slow down that busy mouth a bit. If you want it to be easy and fun, just open the window more to make sure the kibble falls out easily. You can also fill this with small treats that can fall out as your dog plays with this durable toy. Its hard plastic material is great for food dispensing fun, but make sure not to throw this across your house during playtime!

And my number one recommendation for fun and interactive toys for your dogs… Drum roll please….

BOLT is an interactive laser toy that provides hours of fun for you and your cat or dog.

BOLT is an interactive laser toy that provides hours of fun for you and your cat or dog.

1. FroliCat™ BOLT™

This toy is even great for cats! Simply place 4 AA batteries into the base, press a button, and allow for hours of fun for your pets. This will shut off the light after 15 minutes, but you can press the button as often as you’d like. The automatic mode allows the laser to move in many different directions, which will allow a good amount of space for your pets to chase it. I would recommend a good open space in your home to place this, that way your pet does not get bored in a small room while chasing this around. Before you buy this (or any) toy, make sure you know your pets. One dog of mine will chase this like it is his one job in the world, while the other thinks she is above anything this fun. I think a lot of people expect a toy to just immediately be the greatest thing their pets have ever seen, but every dog is different, just as every human is different.

From all of us at PetSafe, we hope that you all have a wonderful Valentine’s Day with your loved ones. If you feel like treating your pets to some fun and interactive toys, check out the many different options we have to offer!

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Indoor Training Tips for Winter

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By Michelle Mullins, CPDT-KA, KPA-CTP

Brrrrr! It’s winter here in Virginia, and the coldest one we have had in quite some time. If you’re like us, you are in a deep freeze that keeps everyone stuck indoors watching movies, playing board games and growing ever more bored with indoor activities I’ll bet you could use a change of pace! Training your pet can be just the thing you need. Training strengthens your relationship and is fun for everyone.

I always think the winter months are the best time to train your dog or cat. Whether basic manners or cute tricks, learning any behaviors is mentally and physically stimulating, which is just what you both need to ward off the winter blues.

Tips and Ideas for Indoor Trainingpic 1

Plenty of time – You tend to spend more time at home and indoors when it’s cold. Use the time to polish up your dog’s “Come” and develop a solid “Stay.” I always say, “Train, don’t complain.” If your pet has a behavior you really don’t like, now is a great opportunity to teach him something else. For example, have a pup that loves to jump up on people? Train him to sit when people approach instead.

Boredom buster! – Training is fun and keeps both you and Fido from getting bored. Everyone needs something to do, so why not teach a fun new trick? Could your kitty learn to lift a paw or “Shake?” Would Fido fetch your sweetheart a Valentine’s card? My boy was working on, “Touchdown” for the big game!

pic 2Not enough space? – Being stuck indoors to avoid Jack Frost can make for tight quarters but you don’t need much space for training. So many behaviors can be taught in one spot, like lay down, spin, shake and “Bow.”

Get Moving – I love to work on loose leash walking, off lead heeling, come when called and fetch. With fewer distractions you can strengthen these behaviors before you move them back outdoors in the spring.

There are so many great things you can teach indoors. Here are a couple of my favorites to train and practice indoors.

 Tip – For all of these training sessions start with some very small, tasty treats or use a small handful of your pet’s kibble. By using part of their dinner and training before they eat you limit calories and have an attentive animal.

Heeling – Walking beside you, off lead

Try a game called Find the Sweet Spot. The sweet spot or “heel” is the space right next to you with the dog close to your side. The left side is common but use whichever you prefer, just always be consistent.

  • Walk around the room at a normal pace and let the dog do the same. When he decides to come close and gets near the “Heel” position say “Yes” and give him a treat.
  • Don’t stop walking. Each time the dog finds the spot say “Yes” and treat him. Soon he will choose to walk near you because that is best place to be!
  • Practice for a few minutes and then take a break.  Several short sessions each day will keep him excited about training.
  • After you have practiced this a few days and he is immediately starting to walk at your side, you can add a cue like “Heel” or “Side.” To add the cue say the cue you choose as he approaches your side and reward him as before. If he is staying beside you turn and walk the other direction or sit down and then stand back up so you have the chance to cue him again.

 Touch a Target

Teaching your pet to touch a target is a very valuable behavior. Once he will touch the target you can use this to position the pet for grooming, move him to another spot, come to you and much more. The goal is to teach your pet to touch your hand with his nose.

  • Grab a handful of small treats or kibble. Don’t hold these in your hand, use a pocket or treat pouch.
  • Present your hand a few inches from your pet’s nose.
  • When he touches your hand with his nose say “Yes” and give a treat.
  • Repeat this several times. Removing your hand each time so you can then represent it.
  • Once he is consistently touching your hand begin presenting the hand target slightly farther away, a few inches right or left or above and below his nose. You will quickly see how targeting can be used to get other behaviors.

Click with your pet

Now is a great time to learn clicker training with your pet.  Clicker training is a fun, effective way to train anything.

Check out these resources to get you started:

Get started with the basics of clicker training: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=F36KmqPzxvc

How do you plan to stay warm and chase away the winter with your training? I’d love to hear from you!

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Dogs Gone Social: My Experience with Social Pet

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By Sarah Folmar, Brand Communications Specialist

We’ve all wondered what our pets are up to while we are away. Sometimes we see evidence that they’ve been up to no good by pieces of our kitchen trash scattered around the floor. Maybe we wonder if our training has kept them from getting on the furniture. Are they sleeping all day? Running around and getting exercise? Having secret dance parties with the neighborhood pets?

Tyson was unsure about his new camera at first.

Tyson was unsure about his new camera at first.

There are days that I head to work before the sun comes up, and get home well after the sun has set. While we are able to bring dogs to the office, mine usually prefer to stay at home. It’s really difficult to leave in the mornings with them staring at me, almost as if they are wondering when I will be back to play. When I had the chance to test our latest and greatest system, The Social Pet System by PetSafe®, I knew it was going to be a little bit easier to leave for work each day.

After a pretty easy setup process, my Social Pet camera was ready to go!  I really thought I’d see what I expected to see. Sheeba, my disobedient princess, acting like a fool while my obedient hound mutt, Tyson, quietly watched from afar. False.

When you set up your camera via the Social Pet page, you are able to move and tilt the

The camera worked out well on our entertainment stand!

The camera worked out well on our entertainment stand!

camera around the room from your computer or mobile device. You can take pictures with the camera that will post to your Facebook page. You have control of what friends on your Facebook account can look at your camera (even what hours they have access), who can tilt and pan, and best of all, who can give your pets a treat. Yes, you can now give a treat when you are not home with The Social Pet System by PetSafe.

I thought looking at the camera while away from home would be fun for the first few minutes or so, but I was completely fascinated by what my dogs were doing. I’ve learned that they sleep. A lot. When they aren’t sleeping, my “obedient” dog instigates a lot of interesting behavior. The dogs know they shouldn’t be on the couch. Tyson clearly doesn’t care about this, and enjoys propping himself up on our ottoman so that he can proceed with barking at the neighborhood cat. Sheeba will follow his lead, and she apparently likes to sit up near the window to join in on the barking. The great part about this is that I can see what kind of behaviors they are acquiring, and I can give a treat as a reward for better behavior.

So many of us want to see what our pets are up to for a variety of reasons. Maybe we miss them while we are away from home. Maybe we have trained them so diligently that we want to see if what we’ve worked hard toward has paid off. Maybe we just enjoy seeing what they do when we aren’t there. The great news is that with The Social Pet System by PetSafe, we are now able to be there for our pets even if we aren’t physically there.

Tyson started to get excited as the camera moved around the room!

Tyson started to get excited as the camera moved around the room!

My absolute favorite part of this system (other than watching my dogs, of course) is being able to allow my family and friends to give a treat, take pictures and play around with the camera. We live far away from most of our family members, and this is a great way for them to connect with us, through our awesome dogs. We’ll talk about the goofy things Sheeba did during the day, or how cute it was when Tyson was rolling on the floor. This device allows you to connect with your pets, and allows others to be able to enjoy your pets as much as you do.

The Social Pet System by PetSafe will be launching soon, and we will actually be GIVING AWAY a system in our upcoming Facebook contest. Make sure to LIKE and check out our Facebook page for details in the next week, and for announcements about this great product and others by PetSafe!

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GroundDog Day!

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By Robin Rhea, Senior Brand Manager

At PetSafe, Groundhog Day carries more meaning than a winter forecast from a woodchuck.  Our beloved CEO, Randy Boyd, once made a speech referencing the Bill Murray comedy “Groundhog Day.” If you aren’t familiar with the film, it’s worth spending an overcast afternoon indulging yourself. Ultimately, Bill Murray’s character lives the same day over and over again and eventually creates a perfect day. This film inspired Randy to consider a Groundhog Day as being your ideal day that you live over and over just the way you want it.

Randy’s Groundhog Day, to paraphrase, would be getting to come to work with a group of innovative people inspired to work hard to achieve a challenging mission in a fun environment.  That’s exactly what Randy, our leaders and our associates are creating over and over every day at PetSafe.

Our mornings begin with an entourage of Engineers, Marketers,  Customer Care Specialists, and their dogs, pouring into our open office environment to take on the day.  Our values hang on the walls of every meeting room (all of which are named for dogs and cats) as handy reminders for how we approach the work we do each other.  We are always looking for how we can better listen to and understand our customers and each other so that we can deliver experiences that will be meaningful and lasting.

Our own pets are spoiled rotten. Our cubicles and homes are littered with Busy Buddy toys and indigo chews.  Pet fountains can be found on every floor throughout the building, and pet beds in every meeting room. The presence of our own pet’s wagging tail, and the many pets we get to know through customer calls, online reviews and social media are all part of what inspires us to keep getting to the heart of the human and animal bond, and enhancing it in every way we can. We smile each time a pet becomes part of a family for life, and each time we achieve an important milestone that makes an even more positive impact in the pet community. We mark our progress; the stuff that worked and the stuff that didn’t, and we take the lessons from both.

A view from inside PetSafe

A view from inside PetSafe

At the end of the day, droves of people and pets from our community are playing in the PetSafe dog park across the street from our office, and in the many PetSafe parks popping up across the U.S. Our associates visit our on-site fitness center as a part of their commitment to being built to last.  We head-off to volunteer in our community, animal shelters and faith-based organizations. As the southern sun sinks slowly behind the Radio Systems Corporation building and the rolling hills of East Tennessee, as shadow is cast and the forecast for PetSafe is clear….

We load up our laptops and our dogs to go home, be with our families, rest and do it all over again.

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PetSafe Bowls 2014

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By Sarah Folmar, Brand Communications Specialist

This dog is ready for some football with the Busy Buddy® Football by PetSafe!

This dog is ready for some football with the Busy Buddy® Football by PetSafe!

There’s kind of a major sporting event coming up. You know, the one where you’re either watching for the commercials, the actual game, the half-time show or a combination of all three? You get your hot wings, strange cheese dips and enough carbohydrates to make you feel like you are made of flour. While you prepare for your snacks and beverages, you could also find out about great ways to hydrate your pets!

The Lotus fountain is great for pets under 25 pounds!

The Lotus fountain is great for pets under 25 pounds!

Drinkwell® Lotus Fountain – If you want to check out a super deal for 2014, this great fountain is ON SALE for $39.99! It can hold up to 50 ounces of freshly-filtered drinking water, and it is very convenient to clean due to its ceramic material. The Lotus is best used for pets under 25 pounds, and it’s great if you have a multiple cat household. Cats are often drawn to running water, and the streaming water that comes out of this can be enticing for them! I’m sure your big game day parties don’t have an awesome fountain. Or maybe you have one and I am now very jealous. Anyway, make sure to check out our website for this super deal, and let us know what you think of your great new fountain!

The Spill-Less Smart Bowl® can help with your sloppy eaters/drinkers!

The Spill-Less Smart Bowl® can help with your sloppy eaters/drinkers!

Spill-Less Smart Bowl® – Spilled drinks are never fun when you host your sporting event parties. It’s also not fun to have your dog sloppily slosh water all around your kitchen floor when he needs a drink. If you have an uncoordinated dog like mine (his water drinking habits resembled a splash pad at a children’s attraction), the Spill-Less Smart Bowl® is a great solve. You have the option of a 32-ounce capacity, or a 60-ounce bowl for your larger pets. This is also a great option for pets that travel with you often. You can set a bowl in a kennel during a car ride, and you won’t have a wet mess to clean when you arrive at your destination. Take it camping, or carry it with a water bottle if you are going on a long day hike. It’s lightweight, too, and very easy to clean. Choose from purple, turquoise or blue, fill with water or food and let your dog start to look like a well-behaved debutant during drinks and meals.

 

Choose from three different sizes to fit the needs of your pet!

Choose from three different sizes to fit the needs of your pet!

Healthy Pet Water Station – If you get tired of refilling your pet’s water dish multiple times a day, and don’t really like a bowl of stale water sitting out, the Healthy Pet Water Station is a great solve. You have the option of a 0.5 gallon water capacity, 1 gallon or 2.5 gallon for your pet. One unique feature to this station is that you have the option to filter your pet’s water. This isn’t a soda pop bottle station with a plastic bowl that can get dirty easily. The removable stainless steel dish is great to pop in the dishwasher if needed, and the optional filter in this system is very easy to replace. Our website even has a sizing chart for how often you would need to refill each size of water station depending on the weight of your pet. While at parties you may walk around filling cups with different beverages, this station allows for much less hassle when it comes to making sure your pet has plenty to drink!

I hope that our readers all have a great time watching the big game, and that you all look into our different PetSafe bowls for 2014.

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What Research Told Us: Social Pet System by PetSafe!

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By Jessica Medlin, PetSafe Marketing Research Specialist

Toward the “tail” end of 2013 we teamed up with some existing PetSafe Idea Partners, and even some new ones, to complete IHUTs (In-Home Usage Tests) for one of our new products – the super cool Social Pet System.

One of our tester's fur-iends staring at his treat dispenser as his Mom snaps a pic…subtly hinting to her to press the “give treat” button!

One of our tester’s fur-iends staring at his treat dispenser as his Mom snaps a pic…subtly hinting to her to press the “give treat” button!

Social Pet is the only pet camera that allows you connect your camera to Facebook so you and friends can watch your pets through a live video stream, take pictures of your pets and then post those pictures directly to Facebook with the click of a button! Social Pet includes a treat dispenser that syncs with the camera so you and your friends can give your pets treats through Facebook. You can also set a feeding schedule through the Facebook application so that your pet can only be treated during times you select.

“Simply love it! Having another user control the camera is awesome. Also having the ability to treat my dog when I’m not in the room is the best thing about it.” –Judith D.

Through the Social Pet Facebook application, you can set certain permissions for your friends and family that you have invited to view your camera. Only the users you select will be able to:

  • Turn the camera on/off
  • Pan/tilt the camera
  • Take a picture with your camera
  • Post a picture from your camera to Facebook
  • Give your pets treats
Keeble says “Hello, is anybody in this thing?!” The Social Pet mobile app is simple and easy to use for watching your pets on-the-go!

Keeble says “Hello, is anybody in this thing?!” The Social Pet mobile app is simple and easy to use for watching your pets on-the-go!

Not only can you access your live video stream on a computer through Facebook, but you can also download the mobile app to your smartphone to view and treat your pets while you’re on-the-go!

 

“I think Social Pet is a lot of fun! Usually when I logged on from my cell phone, I was showing other people the app and telling them how it was a live stream. I loved that I could give treats from far away! Everyone I showed it to seemed to enjoy it as well.” –Joshua C.

 

If you’re like some of our pet-loving testers, Social Pet may be more for you and less for your pet! Some people just have a really difficult time leaving their pets every morning to go to work, so being away from your pets all day every day can just make your day “ruff.” And if you forget to turn the lights on before you leave the house, don’t worry…Social Pet has night vision so you can keep an eye on your pets without needing the lights!

It’s interesting to see what goes on during the day with them, even if it is just watching them sleep. I think I have separation anxiety worse than my pets do. It’s nice to be able to “hang out” with them during the day while I’m at work.” –Brittany G.

 Lilly knows that even at night she must be camera ready because Social Pet has night vision!

Lilly knows that even at night she must be camera ready because Social Pet has night vision!

If you have a loved one that travels often for work or that may be in the military and stationed away from home, like the daughter of one of our testers, Social Pet can be such a blessing. Not only can it bring others so much warmth and joy by watching their pet live on camera, but being able to treat them from thousands of miles away and watching the happiness on that pets face is simply priceless.

“I LOVED the camera and treat dispenser and it was priceless while we were on vacation.” –Connie C.

Social Pet even helped some of our testers realize their pets behaved differently than they thought when home alone. You could have an eye-opening experience…maybe you saw that the “good” dog is actually the one that digs through the trash, or that the reason your pets are insomniacs is because it turns out they’re just an extension of the couch and sleep all day. Maybe the reason your house smells like urine is because your pets pee on the living room rugs and aren’t totally potty trained like you thought. Or, maybe it’s an eye-opening experience that can change your pet’s life because you see through your camera that your pet has anxiety when you leave. Social Pet is more than just a pet camera…it can strengthen your relationship with your pets.

“It has given me some insight as to how they behave when I am not around. I learned my little doggy needs something for separation anxiety.” – Secrena E.

Social Pet is so much more than just a pet camera. It is your connection with your pet when you’re not able to be with them. At PetSafe, we call that love! Get connected with your pets…with Social Pet!

We’re always looking for more passionate pet owners and their furry family members to test our new products. To learn about how you can become a PetSafe Idea Partner to test products or be involved in PetSafe Research and Development studies, visit PetSafe Labs to get started. Product testers not only get to find out about our latest and greatest products, but you may even get to keep the test product (for free!). You could also receive $$ rewards or other PetSafe products for testing. We look forward to working with you!

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Two Roads Diverged in a Wood and I – I Took the One My Dog Dragged Me Down

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By Robin Rhea, Senior Brand Manager

Robin with Finn and Buckley.

Robin with Finn and Buckley.

Perseverance is to be admired, right? Not if your dog is pulling, lunging or endlessly straining while on a leash. Bulldogs were admired and bred for their fearlessness initially, and the evidence of their tenacious spirit can be seen as the broad-chested bullies drag their owners wherever they like.  Bulldogs rank as the 5th most popular dog breed in the US by the AKC[1] , which means there is good company for those of us attempting to wrangle our bulldogs in to walking nicely on a leash.   Consider tossing the traditional collar and go for something to help you literally harness your courageous creature, whether you’re stopping by woods on a snowy evening, or just taking a turn in your cul-de-sac.

A no-pull harness that offers a front attach, such as an Easy Walk Harness, will help you direct your bully more easily. Along with having more control, a front attachment harness changes the placement of the pressure which your dog pulls against in a collar or back attachment harness.  While you are shopping for a no-pull solution for your dog, consider the following:

Measure: With bully breeds, getting the right size of harness is critical. Your dog’s chest and body measurements will be much more effective than weight or even breed recommendations as your sizing guide in harnesses. Note the girth measurement, which is the deepest part of the chest, all the way around the dog just behind the front legs.  Look for harnesses with girth measurements, or carry measuring tape with you while shopping.

Get the right fit of your Easy Walk Harness!

Get the right fit of your Easy Walk Harness!

Front Attachment Harness: If looking for a no –pull harness like our front attach Easy Walk Harness, you will also want to measure the length needed for the chest strap as shown in the diagram below. Measure across the front of the dog from just behind and above the front leg joint to the same point on the other side. Because this harness is made to accommodate so many dogs, this extra measurement can help determine which of the eight sizes will give your dog the best fit.

Once you have the right size, fitting the harness to your dog effectively is key. The Easy Walk Harness features 3 adjustment points to get just the right fit everywhere.

Step 1: Fit the Shoulder strap

  • Open the quick-snap buckle on the belly strap, and place the shoulder strap over the dog’s head with the chest strap resting on the dog’s chest.
  • Adjust the shoulder strap so that the connector rings sits above and behind the dog’s shoulder.

Step 2: Fit the Belly strap

  • Connect the belly strap quick-snap buckle.  Tighten the belly strap to a comfortable, snug fit.

Once the shoulder and belly straps have been connected and adjusted they should….

  1. Resemble a vertical line – as much as possible, and should not be in the dog’s sensitive armpit area.
  2. Have a snug fit – so “snug” that only a finger width can get between the nylon strap and the dog’s fur. A snug fit is important because the girth straps (shoulder and belly straps combined) create the “foundation” that keeps the harness in place, preventing the straps from moving against the dog’s fur.

Step 3:  Fit the Chest strap

  • AFTER you have the girth straps properly secured, you can begin to fit the chest strap.  Gently press your fingers on the lower front of the dog’s chest to locate the breastbone.
  • Adjust each portion of the chest strap equally to keep the D-ring centered.
  • When adjusted correctly, the chest strap will be horizontal, resting over the dog’s breastbone. The strap should not hang down, gap or choke the dog.  If this is happening, you may require a different size.
  • Attach the leash to the D-ring on the chest strap and go for a walk!

Additional harness fitting and use tips (Easy Walk or Sure Fit Harnesses)

  • You may need to remove the harness during fitting to make adjustments.
  • Check the fit again after the dog has walked in the harness for a few minutes. Readjust if needed.
  • Choose a leash with a light, but sturdy clasp. Using a leash with a heavy clasp may cause  the chest strap to sag.
  • It is also not recommended to use a flex lead, as the constant tension will cause the chest strap to loosen on its own, as well as it will encourage the dog to pull.
  • A proper fit and use will avoid having any chaffing or rubbing for dogs with sensitive skin.

If you have a stubborn bully baby in your house, you already know that you could do worse than be a lover of bulldogs. By taking the steps to measure and fit your determined dog in a harness properly, you will go a long way in making your walk with your dog an easy one.

1 http://www.akc.org/reg/dogreg_stats.cfm

 

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Ask a Vet: Why is the fur on my dog’s face or body stained brown?

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By Dr. Patrick Mahaney, VMD

Have you ever seen a white dog who looks like he’s crying all the time, or a white dog with a dark, stained beard? These pooches often seem to have a pink to brown beard. This can happen to any part of your dog’s body that he likes to lick or chew, such as the fur on your dog’s feet or the fur around the eyes. While it’s harmless for the most part, there are some medical conditions that could cause excessive staining in your dog’s fur.

 

"It’s quite common for light-haired canines to have color changes in the fur around the muzzle or face."

“It’s quite common for light-haired canines to have color changes in the fur around the muzzle or face.”

Why Are These Areas a Different Color?

Saliva and tears contain substances called porphyrins, which stain light fur pink, red or brown.

Porphyrins are organic, aromatic compounds that make up many important structures in the body. The term porphyrin comes from the Greek word πορφύρα (porphura), which translates as ‘purple.’ Although I have never seen a pet with a purple beard, feet or tear tracts, the staining often starts out as a dark pink-purple hue that gradually becomes brown as time goes on and more porphyrins are applied.

Is It Normal for These Areas to Undergo Color Change from Porphyrin Staining?

Yes and no, as there are certain locations that will be invariably stained by the presence of porphyrins. It’s quite natural for the beard to undergo color change, as saliva originates in the mouth and some of it is bound to end up on the lip and mouth.

A normally functioning eye produces tears to lubricate the eyeball so that the eyelids don’t stick to it. A small amount of staining from natural tear production can be expected, but a prominent tear-tract from the inner or outer edge of the eyelids is abnormal.

The skin and fur on the feet, knees and other body parts are also not locations where tears or saliva would naturally appear. Have you noticed your dog constantly licking the same spot? There may be a primary health problem causing staining in these areas.

What Underlying Health Problems Contribute to Porphyrin Staining?

Yes, there are a variety of health problems, some mild and others severe, that can contribute to excessive accumulation of porphyrins on bodily surfaces.

Mouth Stains:

  • Periodontal disease- Pets with periodontal disease have higher levels of bacteria in their mouths. As a result, more saliva is produced in attempt to rid the bacteria from being absorbed through the gums into the bloodstream. Periodontal infections such as tooth abscesses can also create the sensation of nausea and cause drooling.
  • Conformational abnormalities- If your pet can’t properly close his mouth or if he has unnecessary skin folds in his lips, saliva can exit the mouth and accumulate on the hair around your dog’s mouth.
  • Difficulty chewing food- Problems chewing food can cause saliva to be unevenly distributed in the mouth and trickle down the sides of the mouth. Chewing difficulties are commonly associated with periodontal disease, fractured teeth, and oral tumors.

Eye Stains:

  • Inflammation- Environmental irritation from seasonal or non-seasonal allergies can cause inflammation of the various eye structures and lead to excessive tear production.
  • Conformational abnormalities- Abnormally placed eyelashes (ectopic cilia and distichaisis), rolling in of the eyelids (entropion), tear duct obstructions, and other conditions can cause soft or rigid hairs lining the eyelids to touch the eyeball and create inflammation and extra eye discharge.
  • Infection- Bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses all have the ability to infect the eye and lead to the production of excess tears as the body tries to flush them out.
  • Cancer- Cancer that affects the eye can cause abnormal positioning of the eyeball within the socket, enlargement of the globe (buphthalmia), or other changes that can affect the normal tear drainage from the eye.
  • Trauma- Injuries from an object or abrasion from a pet’s paw can damage the surface of the eye (corneal ulcer) and lead to increased tear production.

Skin/Coat Stains:

  • Inflammation- Seasonal and non-seasonal environmental and food allergies can cause a pet to lick or chew on the feet, knees, or other body parts. Inflammation can also be caused by items embedded in the skin, painful joints, flea bites, etc.
  • Infection- Bacterial, fungal, or even parasitic infection of the skin can motivate our pets to strive to resolve the issue themselves by licking or chewing.

What Should You Do If You Note Brown Staining to Your Dog’s Beard, Eyes or Other Body Parts?

It’s best that dogs showing excessively stained body parts have an examination by a veterinarian to look for potential underlying health problems. As there are so many potential causes of porphyrin staining, each option and the pet’s whole-body health must be carefully considered when determining the appropriate diagnostic testing and treatment.

Pending the veterinarian’s evaluation and ability to manage the issue, an affected pet may need to be evaluated by a veterinary specialist, such as an ophthalmologist, dermatologist, dentist or internal medicine specialist.

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The World According to Cooper: A Happy and Healthy New Year!

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By Stacie Greene, PetSafe Supply Chain Specialist

You can start a healthy new year! How about starting with freshly-filtered water from this Avalon fountain?

You can start a healthy new year! How about starting with freshly-filtered water from this Avalon fountain?

Happy New Year everyone!  This is going to be the best year ever.  I am so excited.  Me and my mom are going to work on getting healthy in 2014.  If it would ever stop raining and snowing, we are going to start walking every day after work. I love to go to the park and walk.  Did you know we had a dog park at my mom’s work? There are so many new smells and things to investigate!

We have been kind of lazy for the past few months, and I think I may have put on a little weight.  I can’t help myself, I love cookies!!  And people love giving me cookies because I am sooo cute.  What can I say, it ain’t easy staying fit when you are cute and love cookies.

Me and mom have set some goals for how many times a week we are going to walk and how far we are going to walk.  We are not going to focus on how much weight we need to lose, we are more concerned with walking and having fun doing it.  We both think that we will start to see results if we just get moving!

Oh and mom has asked the people that we work with to cut way back on my cookies every day.  I DID NOT agree to that!

Here’s hoping everyone has a happy and healthy 2014!

Talk to you soon.

-Cooper

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Healthy Winter Walking

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By Michelle Mullins, CPDT-KA, KPA-CTP

If you're hoping to get your pet in better shape, the Gentle Leader Headcollar is a great place to start!

If you’re hoping to get your pet in better shape, the Gentle Leader Headcollar is a great place to start!

So yet again I have made a health related New Year’s resolution. Considering 80% of resolutions are history by January 31st, I decided to try a different approach this year. My resolution involves the health of my dog. I’d do anything for my dogs, and one of my furry friends is looking a bit chunky monkey. I’ve made excuses for him.  He’s old, has arthritis and the cold bothers him, but those really are excuses. He is still a fun loving boy, and it’s my job to take the best care of him, so my resolution is to get him healthy.  Despite the cold, we are going to put on our coats and his Gentle Leader® and hit the walking trails! He used to be the worst kind of pulling machine on walks until we found the Gentle Leader Headcollar. I’ve used it ever since, even though with it I trained him to walk politely, and was then able to fade it out and just use a regular collar or harness. I went back to the Gentle Leader for a couple of reasons. My dog is somewhat fearful of new people and dogs, and the Gentle Leader seems to have a calming effect on him. I’ve seen and heard of this effect on other dogs as well, and while every dog doesn’t react this way, it is great when it does help. The other reason is due to the gentle control it provides, when needed, like when he sees a SQUIRREL! We both enjoy walks more with the Gentle Leader, and I’m more willing to take him.

I’ve worked with many dogs, and for pulling machines, the Gentle Leader is a fantastic solution.

The most important thing for your pup is to love putting on the Gentle Leader and going for a walk. Taking time to acclimate your pup to wearing the Gentle Leader is the best advice I can give you. I mean, your dog has probably been pulling you down the street for quite some time, so will a few extra days really make a difference?

We appreciate making choices rather than being forced into something. I’m all about giving dogs choices as well. So get out your Gentle Leader and some very small yummy treats, like bits of romano cheese, hotdog or peanut butter on a spoon. Hold the nose loop open and invite your dog to place his snout through the loop. When your dog puts his nose even partially in the loop, say “yes,” and give him a treat. No pressure, just let him choose. If he doesn’t move toward the headcollar, just remove the Gentle Leader for a few seconds and try again. You may simply try getting the dog to just touch the Gentle Leader at first. Remember, you are not in a hurry.

Practice this once or twice a day just before dinner so your dog is hungry. To avoid adding extra calories to their daily intake, replace a portion of their regular meal with the treats you use for this training. Once he is happily putting his nose into the loop you can begin fastening the neck strap and letting him eat his dinner with the Gentle Leader on. Take it off at the end of the meal. This will help your dog associate the Gentle Leader with something they like – dinner! Repeat this until your dog acts happy and excited to put on the Gentle Leader for dinner, and then repeat it two more days.

In days you will be ready to begin transitioning to wearing the Gentle Leader during walks.

Ensure proper fit of the headcollar before using it on a walk.

Ensure proper fit of the headcollar before using it on a walk.

Let’s review the proper fit.

  • The neck strap should be high and snug on your dog, just behind the ears. It should be snug enough so it does not rotate. This will keep it from rubbing or chafing.
  • The nose loop should fit loose enough so the strap can slide down to the fleshy part of the dog’s nose but it won’t come off over the snout. The dog should be able to open its mouth normally.

Now that the fit is correct the next very important part of this equation is how you handle the leash.

Whenever you are walking your dog, think about the name of this product – Gentle Leader. You want to gently direct your dog to walk near you and reward him with a loose leash and a tasty treat when he does. Be very conscious about keeping a loose leash as much as possible. This will help the training equipment be part of the communication between you and the dog instead of an annoying, new thing on their face.

You can check out our Gentle Leader video showing all the steps here.

Of course each person and dog will have a different experience. I have three dogs, and each of them reacted differently to the Gentle Leader and with getting acclimated to wearing it.  If you ever need to talk with someone here at Petsafe give us a call, we are here to help.

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