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Happiness is a Well Trained Puppy

If you are reading this article you might be thinking about buying a puppy; or already bought on. Congratulations on the new addition to your home! You now have a friend who is always ready to play, never too tired to go for a walk and one of the most loyal companions you will ever have. There are some things you are going to need to know about training your puppy. A puppy is only as well-behaved as his training allows.

During the first few weeks your puppy needs constant supervision to prevent accidents in the house. But it’s easier to teach good habits now than it is to correct bad behavior later in life. Your puppy needs to start understanding what is and isn’t acceptable in your home right away. You are the leader of the pack in the home and your puppy looks to you to work out what is allowed and what isn’t.

It’s important that your puppy starts to understand their boundaries. You will need to decide soon what the limits are – what furniture they may or may not climb on – what areas of the house they are allowed. Decide where your puppy will sleep and what they may or may not chew on.

Getting your puppy housetrained is not difficult and can be quick if you follow some of these tips. Make housetraining a painless and quick procedure by using the crate method.

The Crate method

The crate method is well known because it is one of the most humane ways to train a puppy. Your puppy will need to relieve himself after eating, drinking, running, playing. The frequency will depend on the size of your dog and also on the breed. Be careful – it can happen as soon as 15 minutes after any of these activities. One of the easiest ways to keep your home pee free is to keep a record of when he needs to go. Try to learn the natural schedule and take your puppy outside at the times when you know they are going to need to go. Plan your walks around this schedule. Take the puppy out when you expect they will need to urinate.

When your puppy is 10 weeks old until they are six months they will need to be walked between 5 and 10 times a day. Quite a task if you are not used to including a puppy in your daily schedule. Take turns walking the puppy. One of the most important things about housetraining you pup is that you do not return from your walks until he/she has urinated and done all his business.
If for some reason you need to go inside before he has gone you will need to take your puppy out every 15 minutes. Give lots of praise and affection when your puppy has done what you wanted. You might feel silly praising your puppy for going “wee wee” (or other!) but it is very important to the housetraining process.

Some tips for using the crate:

The crate method works and is one of the most humane ways to train your puppy. It works because dogs are naturally neat and don’t like to eliminate in their sleeping area. If your puppy sleeps in the crate they will not want to mess in it. It’s an instinctive desire to keep their sleeping area clean.

The crate should become a sanctuary for your puppy. A crate is your dogs’ den in the house; their very own ‘safe space’. Your puppy needs to associate the crate with positive feelings. Put your puppy’s favorite blanket, toys and treats inside.

Help your puppy get used to the crate by leaving the door open until the dog seems comfortable. It’s important that your puppy is comfortable in the crate – the more comfortable they are – the less likely they are to soil inside.

Never use the crate as punishment. The crate must be associated with positive feelings. If your puppy does start whining, barking or scratching don’t let them out. Establish a regular schedule. After feeding take you puppy outside until they have done their business.

Put your puppy in the crate at night – but make sure to take him outside before bedtime and first thing in the morning. Let your puppy play for a while after they have done their business. Don’t give your puppy free reign of the house until they are housetrained.

Make a chart of when your puppy needs to go. Take the puppy outside within 15 minutes of eating, or any other time you know they will need to go.

After they have done their business; play with them for a while and then put your puppy in the crate for a nap. Repeat this throughout the day. After your puppy is fully housetrained you can leave the crate open during the day.
Some do’s and don’ts when housetraining:

DO

– If you are going to be away for long periods of time put your puppy in an area of the house where you are prepared for accidents. Put newspaper in this area.

– Limit the food and water supply if you are going to be gone for long periods of time. If it’s hot make sure your puppy has enough to drink (but remember what goes in must come out!).

– Praise your puppy when they are good.

– Be consistent. You don’t want to confuse your puppy.

– Involve the whole family in the training process. Even small children can participate in the housetraining.

– Be realistic, you can’t get mad with a puppy for not being completely housetrained. Accidents happen despite your most careful schedule.

Don’ts

– Don’t ever use the crate as punishment.

– Don’t let your puppy outside of your designated area until they are housetrained.

– Don’t reprimand your puppy for accidents.

If this all sounds like a lot of work – don’t worry. Your puppy should be completely housetrained after about 6 months. Even sooner if you use the crate method. As your puppy gets older it will get easier. A well trained puppy will bring much more happiness into the home then an untrained puppy. Owner and puppy will be more happy and in tune with each other for years to come.

Important Cat Litter Box Health Considerations You Should Know About

Cats are the most popular pets in the United States. According to the latest version of the U.S. Pet Ownership & Demographics Sourcebook (2002 Edition) there were almost 70 Million pet cats in the United States. Why are cats so popular? There are as many answers to this question as there are cat owners, but the low health risks cats pose to their owners is certainly near the top of this list. Even though the potential health risks cats pose to people are small, it is important that cat owners are aware of these risks and understand how to reduce them.

The majority of all risks stemming from cat ownership are associated with the cat litter box and/or cat feces. There are two categories of risks. The first category contains health risks posed by bacteria and parasites to both cat owners and their cats. The second category contains injuries resulting from an automatic litter box or self cleaning litter box.

Primarily the health problems experienced by cat owners or their cats come from the first category and the most significant of these risks is called Toxoplasmosis. Toxoplasmosis is an infection caused by a tiny parasite called Toxoplasma gondii which can be found in raw or undercooked meat, unwashed fruits and vegetables, dirty cat litter boxes and outdoor soil where cat feces can be found. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) more than 60 million people in the United States may be infected with the Toxoplasma parasite(1). Fortunately, very few people ever experience any symptoms because a healthy person’s immune system usually keeps the parasite from causing illness. However, pregnant women and individuals who have compromised immune systems, such as individuals infected with the HIV virus, are at risk and should take precautions to avoid being infected by the parasite. For people in this group a Toxoplasma infection could cause serious health problems to the individual or to a pregnant woman’s unborn child.

Again, most of the 60 million plus American’s infected with Toxoplasmosis parasite will never experience any symptoms. Most of those who do experience symptoms will simply think they have the Flu as the most common symptoms include swollen glands, fever, headache, muscle pain, or a stiff neck. For those in the high risk group, Toxoplasmosis can cause damage to the brain, eyes and internal organs. According to the US Food and Drug Administration, children born with Toxoplasma gondii can suffer from hearing loss, mental retardation, and blindness with some children developing brain or eye problems years after birth(2). The CDC estimates that 400-4000 fetuses are infected with the Toxoplasma gondii parasite each year and as many as 80 infants die from Toxoplasmosis annually(2).

So how does an individual contract Toxoplasmosis? A Toxoplasmosis infection is caused by ingesting the Toxoplasma gondi parasite. Most cat owners are infected with the parasite by accidentally ingesting infected cat feces. This happens when a person touches their mouth after handling a cat litter box, working in a garden or sand box or touching anything that has come in contact with cat feces(3).

People in the high risk group may wonder whether or not they should give up their cat to avoid infection. According to the CDC, it is not necessary for cat lovers to give up their cats, but it is important for them to protect themselves from infections. The USFDA makes the following recommendations for avoiding infections(2):
1) If possible, have someone else change the litter box. If you have to clean it, wear disposable gloves and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water afterwards.
2) Change the litter box daily. The parasite doesn’t become infectious until one to five days after the feces are deposited in the litter box.
3) Wear gloves when gardening in a garden or handling sand from a sandbox because cats may have excreted feces in them. Be sure to wash your hands with soap and warm water afterwards.
4) Cover outdoor sandboxes to prevent cats from using them as litter boxes.
5) Feed your cat commercial dry or canned food. Never feed your cat raw meat because it can be a source of the Toxoplasmosis gondii parasite.
6) Keep indoor cats indoors. Be especially cautious if you bring outdoor cats indoors.
7) Avoid stray cats, especially kittens.
8) Don’t get a new cat while you’re pregnant.

Safer Child, Inc. makes the following additional recommendations(4):
1) Have your veterinarian test your cat for the Toxoplasmosis parasite. If you cat is infected, you may want to consider having someone else keep your cat during your pregnancy.
2) Keep sandboxes covered to prevent cats from using the sandbox as a litter box.
3) Be aware of neighborhood sandboxes as the parasite can be brought home on shoes, clothing and toys.

Similar to Toxoplasmosis, Escherichia coli (commonly called E. coli) can infect humans thru contact with feline fecal material, although the primary means of infection is thru ingestion or raw or undercooked meats. E. Coli is a bacterium commonly found in the intestinal tract of humans and animals. Almost all strains of the bacteria are harmless. However a few strains can produce powerful toxins and cause severe illness, especially in children under 5 years of age(5). Symptoms usually include diarrhea and abdominal cramps. In children under 5, 2%-7% of E. coli cases can cause kidney failure. Fortunately, E. coli is easy to prevent. Using the preventative measures, outlined above for Toxoplasmosis will greatly reduce the risks of you or your children contracting an E. coli infection.

In addition to these human risks, there are a few health risks cat litter boxes actually pose to cats that cat owners should be aware of. Just as a dirty litter box poses health risks to humans, cats are equally at risk if forced to use a dirty litter box. Since cats stay clean by licking themselves, allowing a cat’s litter box to get too dirty can cause infections when a cat cleans it’s paws after using the dirty litter box. The most common infection is a urinary tract infection, and although this type of infection is rarely fatal it can be very uncomfortable for your cat and will most likely require treatment by your veterinarian.

Finally, a lesser-known health risk to cats is actually caused by cat litter itself. What many cat owners do not realize is that some types of cat litter can be harmful or even fatal to their cat. Both clumping and non-clumping litters pose health problems to cats. Clumping cat litters are probably the most popular type of cat litter because of their convenience, hygienic qualities and the fact that clumping litters are required for use in self-cleaning litter boxes. Unfortunately, some clumping litters can be harmful to cats. Clay based clumping litters can contain the mineral sodium bentonite, which can be harmful or fatal to your cat. It is best to avoid using clay based cat litters, especially with kittens. Wheat or corn based clumping litters such as Swheat Scoop, World’s Best Cat Litter and Littermaid cat litter work very well and are non-toxic(6).

By their very nature, non-clumping litters do not absorb and isolate a cat’s urine or feces like clumping litters do. As a result, it is much harder to keep your cat’s litter box clean when using non-clumping litter. When using non-clumping litter it is important to frequently clean and disinfect the litter box itself to reduce the chance of bacterial buildups that can cause urinary or other infections in your cat.

The second category of health risks covers injuries caused by an automatic litter box or self cleaning litter box. Occurrences of this type of injury are rare, but they can happen. An automatic or self cleaning litter box does just what it’s name implies. Usually between 10-15 minutes after a cat uses the litter box, the litter box automatically cleans itself by “sweeping” or “raking” the cat waste into a sealed compartment or bag. For cat owners, injuries can occur if a small child or toddler plays with the automatic litter box during the cleaning cycle. All major brands of automatic litter boxes contain sensors to prevent the cleaning mechanism from activating when a cat or other foreign object is inside the box. However, children can still be injured if they put their hand inside the cleaning mechanism in such a manner as to avoid the sensors.

Although these types of injuries are very rare it is best to take precautions. Placing the litter box in a location where your cat can get to it but small children can’t is an easy method. This is good advice for any litter box as this is the best way to keep children from contracting one of the illnesses described earlier in this article. If you can’t keep the automatic litter box out of a child’s reach then it is best to put the litter box inside a litter box cover. There are many types of covers and all of them will help prevent a child from reaching the litter box and the cleaning mechanism. A final option is to unplug the litter box or put it into a “manual operation” mode. Both of these options will require the cat owner to start the cleaning cycle whenever necessary. Although this reduces some of the convenience of an automatic litter box it certainly removes the danger to children.

Automatic or self cleaning litter boxes are completely safe for almost all cats. However, most manufacturers recommend that the litter box be used in “manual operation” mode for cats under 5 lbs. Cats under 5 lbs many not be large enough to activate the sensors and the cleaning mechanism could cause injury. Since most adult cats weigh over 5 lbs, it is only necessary to use the “manual operation” mode until kittens grow to 5 lbs.

This article is not intended to dissuade anyone from owning a cat. 70 Million cat owners can’t be wrong; cats make great pets! So, if you already own a cat or are thinking of becoming a cat owner it simply makes good sense to be aware of the health risks associated with cat ownership. Understanding the risks can definately increase the enjoyment of cat ownership.
(1)Toxoplasmosis Fact Sheet; http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dpd/parasites/toxoplasmosis/factsht_toxoplasmosis.htm
(2) While You’re Pregnant – USFDA
http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~pregnant/whiltoxo.html

(3) Toxoplasmosis – An important Message for Cat Owners; http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dpd/parasites/toxoplasmosis/toxoplasmosis_brochure_8.2004.pdf

(4) Safer Child, Inc.;
http://www.saferchild.org/pets&.htm

(5) Escherichia coli O157:H7 Fact Sheet;
http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dbmd/diseaseinfo/escherichiacoli_g.htm

(6) Stanford Cat Network’s – Guide to Caring for Your Adopted Cat or Kitten;
http://www.stanford.edu/group/CATNET/articles/careguide.html#litter

The Best Toys for Your Dogs

Dogs is a major status symbol in American pet-keeping. Every year, over 12 billion dollars have been spent on dog food and veterinary care alone. According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association’s 2003-2004 Pet Owners’ Survey, more than half of dog owners purchase toys for their dogs.

Playing with toys is not the monopoly of little kids but also pets of different kind. Dogs have their own sets of toys to enjoy during their playing time.

Dogs benefit from these toys, health and training wise. There are dog toys that can strengthen their teeth or build their intelligence especially if they also attend a series of training classes with the experts. Like man, dogs are very sociable. Interaction with their companion or a sibling dog is very important in avoiding behavioral problems in the future.

When buying toys for your dog, you may want to match them with your dog’s needs, demands and even personality. Is your dog the type that enjoys chasing and retrieving games, or chewing, sitting and sprawling? You may want to try experimenting first to find out which toys make your dogs the happiest.

Before going on a toy hunt, take a look at this list of toys that may help you identify the right kind of toy for your dog.

* CHEW TOYS. These are perfect for the dog that likes to chew a lot. Instead of your dog chewing your furniture, why not buy these TOUGH little babies for them. These types of dog toy are usually made of nylon or latex rubber. The “King Kong Toys” are among the popular brands of chew toys. You can experiment by stuffing these toys with peanut butter or cheese spread, freeze them and give them to your dog for hours of licking and chewing fun.

Doggie “potato chips” is also a favorite. These “edible chips” can last to a minimum of an hour to a couple of days. They are available in different shapes like pig ears, snouts, cow knuckles, femurs, hooves and bully sticks. Others are bone-shaped made from a variety of vegetables such as carrots.

Another good toy for your dog’s chewing pleasure is the rawhide. These are non- consumable, mummified skin-like toy that you have to throw away when they get soggy, and give your dog a new one. Some rawhides are basted with a variety of flavorings. Be sure to get the “USA rawhide” with a little flag sticker on the label because these do not contain preservative flavorings that are harmful for your dogs.

SQUEAKY TOYS. For these toys, choose the rubber over the stuffed toys for durability and to avoid synthetic materials. These little noisemakers are good for training your dog’s hunting skills.

RETRIEVING TOYS. These are perfect for the chase-and-retrieve types of dogs. Dogs enjoy these toys because they get to play with you. Frisbees and balls made specifically for this activity, are the best to be used. Your dog will get a good workout and so is your arm.

TUG TOYS. These toys are best for dogs that like to grab hold and never let go. Available in rope-like designs.

BRAIN TEASERS. Best for dogs that is left alone a lot. “Biscuit balls” and “food cubes” are great examples. These toys require the dog to solve types of puzzle in order to get a treat.

Various toys of these forms are available in the market.

1. For Chewers of all Sizes

SQUIRREL DUDE – tough, durable and fun too; this hollow rubber chew toy takes on a new level in innovation; this helps to exercise your dog’s jaw a little more with the four little rubber prongs blocking the hole slightly that the dog has to work a little harder to get the goodies out.

2. Ball Launchers and Throwers (Retrieve Toys)

FRISBEES – is an all-time favorite dog toy especially the soft version; fold to fit in a pocket; comes in blue and orange colors, size six to nine inches, prices at eleven to sixteen dollars.

THE ROUND ORBEE – a tough ball hallowed with ½ inch thick membraney surface and it’s softish; it is flexible, durable, grippy, bouncy, and buoyant and has a peppermint scent; good for sniffing-and-getting-the- ball game; prices at five to twelve dollars depending on the size and form you choose

3. Squeaky Toys

SQUEAKERS – available in packages of ten each; dogs that love to silence squeakers are the best for this toy; excellent as attention and pocket squeaker as well; prices go lower if you buy in packages, from five to three dollars each box/package.

4. Tug Toys

LEATHER TUGS – great for tug-of-war games with your dog; made of high grade leather, 3/8 inches thick, tanned and not-treated; dogs like them a lot especially those with active lifestyle.

THE MONGO FETCH TOY – a chew and tug toy combined in one; the natural rubber bar is vanilla scented; rope running through the center gives you a grip for tug games and the soft tasseled ends are made for exciting action with your dogs; medium to large in size, from five to seven dollars each.

5. Brain Teasers

I CUBE – this is a toy that challenges and develops your dog’s intelligence and puzzle solving skills; be sure you are there for supervision; available in junior and jumbo sizes, six to eleven dollars.

DUCK EGG BABY – egg Babies are a plush toy with three squeaker eggs inside; there is an opening on the bottom of the toy so your dog can get the hidden treasures inside; this is a toy that challenges and develops your dog’s intelligence and puzzle solving skills too.

Toys are a fun way to enjoy with your dog in a sunny day at the park. But be sure to apply proper safety measures especially when playing with balls, sticks and stones. You do not want to harm them in any way. Remember, this is a dog-eat-dog world! Even as harmless as playing can cause indestructible damage to your dog.

Mihail Fortomas is a teacher of Biology in a High School of Athens Greece. For the dog owner who wants dog health care information – everything for Dog Diseases and Treats, Foods and Diet, visit:
http://1source-body-health.com/dog-health-care.html

Cat Litter Box Problems: 7 Essential Keys To Solve The Problem Quickly!

Cat Litter Box Problems

Has this ever happened to you? Your cat’s peeing outside the litter box, and you’re desperately trying to clean up after your cat, wondering if you’re actually doing anything to stop it from happening in the first place!

Well, if you’re like me, you probably want some quick solutions to the problem, or at least a list of checkpoints that you know you must, like a detective on a trail, work through, to get the litter box behavior problem under control.

By the time you finish this article, you will have learnt the 7 most important steps you must know, when it comes to this problem of the cat peeing outside the litter box.

Firstly, let’s have a look at the reasons why this happens. The reasons for peeing outside the litter box are:

1. A medical problem.

2. The cat that has never been properly house trained to use the litter box in the first place.

3. Problems with the litter tray itself.

4. An unpleasant event that occurred while the cat was at the litter box.

5. A temporary physical or emotional stress, or change in the household causing the cat to urinate in an area outside the box, which is perpetuated by the urine smell reminding the cat to return to the same area over and over again.

6. Old age causing a cat to not be easily able to get to the litter box.

Now, keep these causes in mind, when checking out the 7 action steps:

1. If there’s a change in toilet behavior with no obvious cause, it may be caused by illnesses such as urinary tract infections, blocked anal glands, worms and parasites, diabetes and tumors. These illnesses may have no other obvious signs, apart from this urination problem. So you must consider a visit to the vet. In other cases you may see symptoms such as lethargy, blood in the urine, diarrhea, or constant licking in the anal area. If you see this, then your first stop is the vet!

2. Look at the litter box itself. Ensure you’re cleaning out the waste once or twice a day, and changing the litter every 3-4 days for non-clumping litter (2-3 weeks for clumping litter). Clean the tray with hot water and mild detergent, without any strong odors such as citrus or ammonia, which will repel the cat from the box. If you have multiple cats, remember – the number of trays should equal number of cats, plus one or two. If you’ve changed brands of litter, this may have caused the problem as many cats dislike this change, especially to scented litter. Return to the older litter. If you want to change, introduce unscented litter gradually by mixing the old with the new over 2 weeks. And ensure that the location of the box is acceptable: no loud noises, has some privacy, and is not in view of other cats.

3. Consider adding in 1 more litter box to another suitable private location of the house. This is because sometimes it’s not the litter box that’s the problem, but a negative experience there. For example, if your kids played with the cat while she was on the litter box, or if the cat had pain when urinating, such as during a urine infection, after having kittens, or had a procedure done on the bladder or urethra at the vet, then the cat would associate pain with that litter box. Even if the pain is gone, the association and is still there.

4. Thoroughly clean the area that has been peed on. This is important because no matter what the cause, the fact that the urine remains on the bed, carpet, or sofa is a reminder for the cat to return to pee there. The cat’s sense of smell is more acute than ours, so ensure you clean with a solution such as Brampton’s Simple Solution. If you have remaining urine smell together with a bad association at the box, then you have 2 forces causing the problem to continue. So get rid of both!

5. Next, if possible, deny the cat access to the area that is peed on, especially if it’s an area that is repeatedly used. Many people forget to do this, and their problem is prolonged. By stopping access, the cycle of repeated urination is stopped. Will the cat pee somewhere else? Possible, though less likely if you provide a second litter box, show him where it is a few times, and also do the step 7 below.

6. If you can’t stop the cat from accessing the area, make the area less attractive for peeing instead. You can do this by either placing a scent, or, by placing a bowl of dried cat food there. If using a scent, try citrus or eucalyptus. If using dried food, which often works better, ensure that you top up the food bowl during the day. Either way, once you have success, continue for another 1-2 weeks to ensure it stays that way.

7. If you’re at home when the cat is, then you have this step up your sleeve as well: the startle technique. Only do this method if you actually catch the cat about to urinate because if you do it at any other time, that cat will not be able to associate that urinating in the area with the unpleasant startle. Startle the cat with a loud “No!” or clap of the hands. Wait 5 minutes, then bring the cat to the litter tray, and if she toilets at the tray, reward her with praise and a food treat. As long as the length and enjoyment of the reward if far greater than the startle, this will be unlikely to cause stress. Use this method carefully as some cats may experience stress with it. Make sure that the cat seems relaxed after the food treat, and that it’s actually improving the situation.

If you follow the above steps, most problems of peeing outside the litter box will be solved within days or gradually improve over 1-2 weeks.

Remember in all cases, you’ll be even more effective if you reduce stress at the same time. This means more play time and attention.

In conclusion, it does take some effort and detective work to see what has caused the litter box behavior problem in the first place. And you now know how to apply 7 essential steps to help you solve this issue, as quickly and effectively as possible.

If you’d like to learn more advanced tips on solving your cat’s litter box behavior problem, go to the website described in the resource box below.

A General History of Dogs

There is no incongruity in the idea that in the very earliest period of man’s habitation of this world he made a friend and companion of some sort of aboriginal representative of our modern dog, and that in return for its aid in protecting him from wilder animals, and in guarding his sheep and goats, he gave it a share of his food, a corner in his dwelling, and grew to trust it and care for it. Probably the animal was originally little else than an unusually gentle jackal, or an ailing wolf driven by its companions from the wild marauding pack to seek shelter in alien surroundings. One can well conceive the possibility of the partnership beginning in the circumstance of some helpless whelps being brought home by the early hunters to be tended and reared by the women and children. Dogs introduced into the home as playthings for the children would grow to regard themselves, and be regarded, as members of the family

In nearly all parts of the world traces of an indigenous dog family are found, the only exceptions being the West Indian Islands, Madagascar, the eastern islands of the Malayan Archipelago, New Zealand, and the Polynesian Islands, where there is no sign that any dog, wolf, or fox has existed as a true aboriginal animal. In the ancient Oriental lands, and generally among the early Mongolians, the dog remained savage and neglected for centuries, prowling in packs, gaunt and wolf-like, as it prowls today through the streets and under the walls of every Eastern city. No attempt was made to allure it into human companionship or to improve it into docility. It is not until we come to examine the records of the higher civilisations of Assyria and Egypt that we discover any distinct varieties of canine form.

The dog was not greatly appreciated in Palestine, and in both the Old and New Testaments it is commonly spoken of with scorn and contempt as an “unclean beast.” Even the familiar reference to the Sheepdog in the Book of Job “But now they that are younger than I have me in derision, whose fathers I would have disdained to set with the dogs of my flock” is not without a suggestion of contempt, and it is significant that the only biblical allusion to the dog as a recognised companion of man occurs in the apocryphal Book of Tobit (v. 16), “So they went forth both, and the young man’s dog with them.”

The great multitude of different breeds of the dog and the vast differences in their size, points, and general appearance are facts which make it difficult to believe that they could have had a common ancestry. One thinks of the difference between the Mastiff and the Japanese Spaniel, the Deerhound and the fashionable Pomeranian, the St. Bernard and the Miniature Black and Tan Terrier, and is perplexed in contemplating the possibility of their having descended from a common progenitor. Yet the disparity is no greater than that between the Shire horse and the Shetland pony, the Shorthorn and the Kerry cattle, or the Patagonian and the Pygmy; and all dog breeders know how easy it is to produce a variety in type and size by studied selection.

In order properly to understand this question it is necessary first to consider the identity of structure in the wolf and the dog. This identity of structure may best be studied in a comparison of the osseous system, or skeletons, of the two animals, which so closely resemble each other that their transposition would not easily be detected.

The spine of the dog consists of seven vertebrae in the neck, thirteen in the back, seven in the loins, three sacral vertebrae, and twenty to twenty-two in the tail. In both the dog and the wolf there are thirteen pairs of ribs, nine true and four false. Each has forty-two teeth. They both have five front and four hind toes, while outwardly the common wolf has so much the appearance of a large, bare-boned dog, that a popular description of the one would serve for the other.

Nor are their habits different. The wolf’s natural voice is a loud howl, but when confined with dogs he will learn to bark. Although he is carnivorous, he will also eat vegetables, and when sickly he will nibble grass. In the chase, a pack of wolves will divide into parties, one following the trail of the quarry, the other endeavouring to intercept its retreat, exercising a considerable amount of strategy, a trait which is exhibited by many of our sporting dogs and terriers when hunting in teams.

A further important point of resemblance between the Canis lupus and the Canis familiaris lies in the fact that the period of gestation in both species is sixty-three days. There are from three to nine cubs in a wolf’s litter, and these are blind for twenty-one days. They are suckled for two months, but at the end of that time they are able to eat half-digested flesh disgorged for them by their dam or even their sire.

The native dogs of all regions approximate closely in size, coloration, form, and habit to the native wolf of those regions. Of this most important circumstance there are far too many instances to allow of its being looked upon as a mere coincidence. Sir John Richardson, writing in 1829, observed that “the resemblance between the North American wolves and the domestic dog of the Indians is so great that the size and strength of the wolf seems to be the only difference.

It has been suggested that the one incontrovertible argument against the lupine relationship of the dog is the fact that all domestic dogs bark, while all wild Canidae express their feelings only by howls. But the difficulty here is not so great as it seems, since we know that jackals, wild dogs, and wolf pups reared by bitches readily acquire the habit. On the other hand, domestic dogs allowed to run wild forget how to bark, while there are some which have not yet learned so to express themselves.

The presence or absence of the habit of barking cannot, then, be regarded as an argument in deciding the question concerning the origin of the dog. This stumbling block consequently disappears, leaving us in the position of agreeing with Darwin, whose final hypothesis was that “it is highly probable that the domestic dogs of the world have descended from two good species of wolf (C. lupus and C. latrans), and from two or three other doubtful species of wolves namely, the European, Indian, and North African forms; from at least one or two South American canine species; from several races or species of jackal; and perhaps from one or more extinct species”; and that the blood of these, in some cases mingled together, flows in the veins of our domestic breeds.

Horse Shopping Is Easier If You Do This First

Top 10 Things to do BEFORE you go horse shopping

Buying a horse is a big commitment in both time and money. The emotional energy spent is a large factor as well. With so many horses for sale, how do you choose?

If you buy a horse before you lay the correct groundwork, you run the risk of coming home with one that isn’t suitable for you. At the worst, he could be dangerous and at best, you could easily spend a thousand dollars or more to get professional trainer to correct the problems.

Make a plan before you look at horses for sale and do these 10 basic steps first.

1. Take riding lessons for at least six months.

Horse riding lessons will teach you the basics of control and the foundation for correct horsemanship. In addition to learning to ride a horse, you’ll also learn how to safely groom and handle one. You’ll establish a relationship with a professional horse person in your area who knows you and who you can turn to for help if you need it.

2. Decide on the type of riding you want to do.

There are many types of horse riding styles. The most basic are Western or English. Then you can break down those two styles into many subcategories. You don’t have to make one choice exclusive of all others. Many people enjoy riding both styles and compete in both.

Decide if you want a horse to trail ride and just enjoy having him or if you want to be competitive and show.

3. Horse’s personality

The type of personality you want for your horse depends a lot on the type of riding you want to do and also your personality. Some riders want a horse with a big engine and a lot of fire. Others like a horse to be quiet and laid back.

It’s usually easier to get the laid back one to rev his engine than to get a hot horse to relax.

4. Decide on what breed of horse you most want.

Once you’ve decided on the type of riding you’re interested in and the type of personality you want your horse to have, the breed choice will become easier. Some breeds are associated with certain types of riding. For instance, a Thoroughbred or Warmblood breed are usually thought of for the Hunter/Jumper circuit or dressage. In the past, the Quarter Horse, Appaloosas and Paints were thought of for Western riding. Today, these breeds can successfully compete at all levels with the more traditional hunter type horse.

If you want a very smooth ride, look at the gaited breeds such as Missouri Foxtrotters, Tennessee Walkers or Paso Finos.

5. Decide on how big a horse you need.

If you’re looking for a horse for a child, buy a pony that your child can groom and handle now. A too big horse is intimidating for a young child to deal with.

If you’re looking for one for yourself, consider the type of riding you want to do. Western styles of riding do not require a large horse and most of the stock type horses can carry a large adult even if the horse is 15 hands or smaller.

If you want to show in hunter/jumper classes, a 16+ hand horse is necessary to be competitive. However, if your plans are to learn to jump and go to small local shows, you’ll save money by buying a smaller horse.

6. Decide on the gender of the horse.

A gelding or a mare should be your only consideration. A stallion is difficult to handle and can be downright dangerous even if you are a very experienced rider. He isn’t suitable unless you’re in the breeding business.

Geldings make great riding horses and companions. Preferably he was gelded before his second birthday so that he never learned stallion behavior.

Mares sometimes get a bad rap for being difficult every time she comes into heat. Perhaps some are, but there are many wonderful mares with very stable personalities.

7. Decide where you will keep your horse.

If you plan to board, check out several boarding stables. Your first choice is probably the barn where you’ve been taking riding lessons. Look at some others to have for back-up choices and as a general comparison.

If you plan to keep your horse on your own property, be sure to have safe fencing, a solid barn and know your time schedule will allow you to feed your horse at least twice a day – every day – rain or shine. Find out any local and state liability laws for a horse property before you bring your new horse home.

8. Figure how much you can afford for the initial price of a horse.

The original purchase price of a horse is a large upfront expense. Obviously, the more you can afford to spend on a horse, the more choices you’ll have to look at when shopping. If you have this money saved up in advance, you’ll have better leverage with a seller. If you have to buy your horse on payments, you’ll limit your bargaining power and choices because many sellers won’t want to take payments.

9. Figure out your monthly expenses.

Monthly expenses include board, lessons and supplements if you keep your horse at a boarding stable. If you keep your horse at home, you’ll be buying feed, hay and stall bedding instead of a board bill.

There are reoccurring expenses that don’t come every month but still need to be added up for a year’s cost and averaged as a monthly expense. These include farrier visits, worming, vaccinations and vet care such as floating teeth and a yearly Coggins test.

10. Tack and Supplies

Purchase the basic supplies before you get your horse so that you’ll be all set when you bring him home. Brushes, shampoo, liniment, leg wraps, buckets and a first aid kit are a good start on supplies to have ready.

An all purpose headstall and a few bits, saddle pads, a saddle, halter and a long lead rope with a stout snap are your basic tack supplies.

If you follow these 10 steps before you begin horse shopping, you’ll have a clear idea of the horse that will be the best choice for you when you do begin your search.

Caring For Your Dog’s Neck and Spine: Dog Collar Issues

On one of my visits to my chiropractor, he suggested I pick up the book The Well Adjusted Dog by Dr. Daniel Kamen. The book is written by a chiropractor who also does adjustments on animals, although he doesn’t advertise this. Apparently, chiropractors are not allowed to practice on animals in many states, which I didn’t realize, since I live in Canada and this doesn’t seem to be a problem here in my province. However, what is good to know is that veterinarians in the U.S. are allowed to do adjustments on animals… that is if you can find one that’s studied chiropractic medicine. Not an easy task.

In any case, Dr. Kamen wrote this book (among others) so that a dog owner could learn to do their own adjustments on their dogs. The book is very informative and walks you through the anatomy of a dog’s spine, teaches you how to feel for misalignments and provides a variety of techniques that you can do at home. Many of the techniques focus on how to release tense muscles, especially if you’re not comfortable with actually working on spinal column.

While reading the book, I came across a very interesting section which talks about dog collars and how they can easily cause neck problems for a dog. Most of it boils down to our (ie human’s) improper handling of leash control on certain collars. Here’s what Dr. Kamen has to say about dog collars:

“The improper use of collars is the number one cause of cervical (neck) subluxations in dogs. Of all the places to put undue stress, the cervical region, especially the upper two cervical vertebrae, is the most harmful. It is at this point that the body meets the brain.” (Dr. Daniel Kamen, The Well Adjusted Dog, p. 24)

What Types of Collars Are Available

I thought I was doing well by using a dog harness. Ha! I quickly learned that this might actually be the cause of my dog’s disc problems located where her neck meets her shoulders. I was even more surprised at what he said was the best collar to use.

Basically, you will find that there are five major types of collars in use by most dog owners: the regular flat nylon and leather collars, the choke collar, the prong collar, the leader or head collars, and the harness.

Flat Collars

The regular flat collars are what most dog owners often choose, however they can also be the most dangerous type. These collars are used for hanging your dog’s tags and for simply attaching the leash to the metal loop. This collar type should never be used for dog training… nor should they be used if you have a hard time controlling your dog while out walking.

When frustrated, owners tend to pull back on the leash to stop the dog from pulling and running, or in many cases, to get them to move along if they’ve stopped to sniff something. This yanking will cause tremendous muscle tightening in the cervical neck area, which in turn results in cervical subluxations. This is one of the largest causes of disc and other neck problems in dogs. Unfortunately, most of these disc problems don’t show up until much later in life. At this point, dog owners either put their dogs on medication for pain control and muscle relaxation or resort to surgery to try to repair the damage of degenerating discs.

Leader Head Collars

These appear to be an ideal way to train your dog. A leader collar fits over the head of your dog, much like a muzzle does. The leash attaches to a metal loop located on the collar under the dog’s chin. The idea behind it is to turn the dog’s head to “lead” them where you want to go. Sometimes humans may turn the head too sharply or too hard in frustration when trying to train their dog. This, like the regular collar, can cause upper neck problems.

Choke Collars

This is the type of collar most often used by dog trainers. The idea behind it is that if a dog pulls too much, it starts to choke and therefore will ease back and release the tension of the collar. In reality, the instinct of a dog when it feels the tightening of a chain is to pull away from it, effectively tightening the collar even more. Your dog could literally choke itself into a coma! Improperly trained dogs and more importantly, improperly trained owners, could cause extreme damage using a choke collar.

Harness

A harness is designed to fit over a dog’s shoulders and be secured around the chest area. While a much better choice over a regular collar or a choke collar, these harnesses can cause subluxations in the lower neck, shoulder, chest, and foreleg area. Again, the primary cause to this is often attributed to frustrated owners yanking back on the leash, which causes the harness to put a large amount of stress on the shoulder and chest areas.

Prong Collar

This collar looks like some medieval torture device. Made of metal, the prong collar has a circular ring of spikes on its inner surface. When training the smallest amount of resistance distributes pressure evenly around the neck area effectively restraining the dog. As Dr. Kamen states in his book: “Some trainers liken the prong collar to “power steering” where even the slightest touch will produce the desired result.” He has found that dog’s that use this particular collar have far less upper cervical subluxations than with any other collar type. So in essence, this is actually the best collar to use when training and walking your dog, believe it or not.

What Else May Cause Cervical Subluxations in Dogs?

There are many other issues that can also cause problems with cervical subluxations. The requirements of how dog’s are trained (taught to sit on the left and look up at the owner causes neck strain) is one area of concern. Mismatching dog size to dog owner size, dog obesity, improper bedding, dangerous play practices, leash length, and the way certain dogs are bred, are a few of the other causes of canine neck problems.

Of course, you would be hard pressed to monitor every move your dog makes. Perhaps he likes sleeping on the hardwood floor near the fire rather than the comfy dog mat you bought. Maybe you played a little too hard today with the Frisbee and caused your dog to jump too high, causing neck pain. The important thing is to try to correct possible activities that could cause neck subluxations in your pet so they don’t continue to do more damage. You may also want to pick up the book – The Well Adjusted Dog – and learn how you can check for possible misalignments in your dog’s neck and spine, then learn how to do some of the corrections yourself. By doing so, you’ll be giving your dog a much happier and less painful life.

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