Should I Cut My Dog’s Whiskers?

Your dog groomer recently suggested that you allow her to trim your dog’s whiskers, or perhaps you were wondering if your dog would be better off without the odd things attached to his face.  It would give your dog a “clean-shaven” look, you reason, and surely make life so much easier for him.  Or would it?

Actually, whiskers help dogs more than most people realize.  Though they are “just” hairs, they have sensitive nerves at the base which inform the dog about his surroundings and even oncoming threats.  Thanks to whiskers, a dog can know when someone – or something – is approaching, and he can also get the details: size and rate are a couple of examples.  Also, when faced with unfamiliar surroundings or the dark, his whiskers will inform him of objects in the way, keeping him from bumping into anything and getting hurt. When your dog’s face is low to the ground, his whiskers will alert him of any tasty bits of food or dirt around him.  A dog’s whiskers help him “feel” the world almost as much as your hands help you.

With these things in mind, I would highly suggest that you leave your dog’s whiskers alone.  While cutting them won’t physically hurt your dog, it could hurt his “feeling” ability.

*If you read this and still want to have your dog’s whiskers trimmed (please change your mind!), make sure that you don’t pluck them out.  Having them trimmed by a pro with scissors won’t physically hurt your dog, but, if you pluck them, your dog will have terrible pain because of the extremely sensitive nerves at the base of the hair.

Balto, a Dog Hero

Balto with Kaasen

Nome’s youth was starting to catch Diphtheria in January, 1925, and the serum that would cure it was in Anchorage.  That was 500 miles away, so they prepared to have the only available plane make the long journey, but it wouldn’t start.  The serum would have to be fetched by a dogsled relay before the epidemic spread and infected all of the children.  Twenty mushers volunteered, and the relay began.  The next to last team of the relay was Gunner Kaasen.  The dog who led his sled was Balto, a three-year-old dog without much experience.  Balto, however, proved his skill despite being an amateur.  Even when Kaasen could barely see his hand when held up to his face, Balto went on.  Crazy winds swept the sled and dogs off of the ground, but Balto went on, staying on course.  Finally, they came to where the last team was.  Now the dogs could rest, and Kaasen could warm his frigid hands.  However, the other musher was asleep, and Kaasen decided to keep going.  The serum just had to get to Nome in time.  Their team arrived at Nome on February 2nd, which ended the “Great Race of Mercy” in five days.  Kaasen was a hero, and everyone wanted to thank him.  He reminded them, however, that Balto was also a lifesaver, as he had faithfully stayed on course despite far below zero temperatures and strong winds. Balto died at the age of fourteen in 1933.  There is a statue in Central Park in New York City of the famous dog, and a plaque nearby reads: “Dedicated to the indomitable spirit of the sled dogs that relayed antitoxin six hundred miles over rough ice, across treacherous waters, through Arctic blizzards from Nenana to the relief of the stricken Nome in the winter of 1925. Endurance ~ Fidelity ~ Intelligence.”

The Lassie Dog Training System

Robert Weatherwax helped his dad, Rudd, train the Rough Collie Pal for the role of Lassie.  In this video, Robert shares training tips and techniques and shows how to teach your dog several tricks.  My human found this video a helpful training reference for basic tricks as well as a few unique ones.  Also, it gives you an overall idea of how to teach your dog gently but firmly.  Go ahead and watch it and learn how to train your dog with methods used by Hollywood dog trainers!

Read more about famous doggy stars here.

Some Doggy Pictures

Rosie and I have been really enjoying the warmer weather!  Kitty likes it too, but she mostly sleeps because she’s a lazy cat.

Here I am on squirrel patrol.  I had to leave my home for a couple of hours Thursday, so the squirrels have gotten bolder because of the absence of a tough little Poodle.  I had to go to the vet Thursday and get shots (ouch!) and medicine for an ear infection.

Rosie is definitely not good at patrolling for squirrels.  She doesn’t even look for them!  One time, though, my human and Rosie were out walking and there, about two yards away, was a rabbit.  He stared with those deep eyes and Rosie watched and watched.  Then, with a leap, he was gone, and Rosie felt a sort of hunting instinct and tried to pursue.  Thankfully, however, she was leashed.

Above is Rosie “swimming,” as my humans call it.  She rolls around on the ground, growling at her tail or a toy, and pretends to swim on the floor.  Pretty silly, right?

Babies and Dogs

Oftentimes, you’ll see a video on the internet of a dog being extremely gentle with a little baby.  Other times, however, you’ll read news stories about a baby getting bit by a dog.  Should you be concerned when your baby and dog are together?

Supervision is Vital

No matter how sweet and gentle your dog is, never leave him (or her) unsupervised with a baby!  Even a typically good-natured dog could lash out if he feels threatened, and babies are famous for pulling ears and tails, both of which could easily irritate a dog.  With these things in mind, highly supervise interactions between your baby and dog.

Teach Your Baby How to Treat Your Dog

Again, babies are famous for pulling ears and tails.  Also, they pet dogs roughly, treat them as ponies, and even try to taste them!  While none of these things is Baby’s fault, he (or she) must be shown how to properly treat dogs.  When you sit down to pet your dog while Baby is watching, do extremely soft strokes and be very gentle.  If Baby is old enough to understand, explain what you’re doing, and, hopefully, your baby will follow your example.  Also, make sure that you never roughhouse with your dog when Baby is present.  No tug of war, no rolling around on the floor with your dog, no friendly slaps on your dog’s back.  Baby is watching, and Baby will mimic you.

Take Safety Precautions

Even with gentle dogs, take safety precautions by keeping your dog out of Baby’s room either by closing the door or putting up a baby gate.  Also, if your dog is highly food driven, put your dog in his cage or outside when Baby eats so your pet doesn’t attempt to steal food or beg.

Get Your Dog Motivated to Fetch!

I’m going to assume that your dog knows the rules of fetch (if not, read this article): wait for you to throw a toy, retrieve, and preferably drop the object on the ground or in your hand.  Your dog’s enthusiasm is waning, however, with every toy you throw, and pretty soon he totally refuses to obey.  Your dog is clearly bored with this game; to him, there seems to be little to no point in it.  You, on the other hand, find this activity a great way to exercise your dog and spend time together.  What can you do to rekindle the original enthusiasm (or even create some despite it never being there) for your dog?

Show Your Excitement

What is your attitude towards playing fetch?  Do you simply toss a toy, give a few dry commands, and play with your phone while your dog runs after it?  No wonder this is a boring activity for your dog!  Since you have no enthusiasm, your dog doesn’t either.  Dogs love to share excitement, so, if you act excited, your pet will find it highly contagious!  Throw the toy with vigor, give commands in a happy, peppy tone, and be overly excited when your dog brings it back.

Retrain

Sometimes, what appears to be disinterest in dogs could actually be confusion.  Perhaps your dog didn’t fully grasp the concept of fetch when you trained him, which means you need to go back to the basics and retrain.  Check out the Fetch page to learn how.

Change the Setting

Playing the same game in the same area could get rather boring for your dog, so try to change up the setting.  You can use a long leash for unfenced places and see if any fenced-in dog parks are in your area.  Also, if you have space, you could play fetch inside.

Buy New Toys

As with the setting, playing with the same old toy can get dull.  With this in mind, buy a few new toys and play with a different one each day to keep your dog interested.

Use More Praise

Dogs are quick to lose interest without praise, so perhaps you need to give more.  A pat on the head and “good dog” are nice, but we also like excited, happy talk.  Also, remember that, no matter what you say, your dog won’t think that you’re weird, so go ahead and say silly stuff like, “You’re mommy’s (or daddy’s) pupsie, wupsie, aren’t you?  You’re such a cute wootie pupsie pie with sugar on top!”

4 Spring Activities to Do With Your Dog

Water Fun

While water outdoors may be too chilly for you yet, dog’s aren’t so sensitive.  Fill a kiddie pool with water, toss in some treats, and watch your dog have a blast.  Other water activities are letting your dog swim in a pool, lake, or ocean, turning on the water sprinklers, or holding a water hose and encouraging your dog to chase after the jetting water.  Always supervise your dog in possibly dangerous water activities and discourage drinking it by putting out a bowl of clean water.

Do a Sport

Does your dog like to run?  Is he a digger?  Or, would he prefer to sniff around and find stuff?  There’s a sport to fit almost any dog, some of which are agility, lure coursing, herding, obedience, earth dog, and tracking.  Not only does training strengthen the bond between you and your pet, it also boosts your dog’s confidence and helps reduce behavior issues resulting from boredom.

Take a Hike

When the weekend rolls around, make it a point to take your dog on a hike.  It’s a fun adventure and is good exercise for you both.

Walk Your Dog Daily

If you don’t already, give your dog a walk every day now that the weather is warmer.  As you probably know, dogs are happier and healthier when exercised regularly.  Behavior problems such as digging, barking, or being destructive result from boredom and excess energy, so a walk could very well save the leg of your table from being chewed to bits.

Happy Easter!

 

Please remember that chocolate is poison to dogs and that candy upsets our tummies.  Also, pick up any candy wrappers on the floor as your dog could get choked or injured (foil wrappers act as a knife when swallowed).

Have a blessed Easter!

Can Dogs See Electronic Screens?

You’re watching TV, and an action-packed scene comes on.  Suddenly, your dog springs into action, barking and pawing at the screen, his tail madly wagging.  Wait!  Your dog can’t see the TV, right?  Actually, to some degree he can!

As discussed in What is a Dog’s Vision Like?, dogs can see only a few colors and have blurry vision but can detect movement excellently.  So, while they might not notice a slow scene in the movie, our sharp eyes will quickly pick up movement, which makes action scenes especially amusing for dogs.  Also, dogs can differentiate people from dogs, dogs from cats, etc.  Can dogs recognize drama, joy, and peril in a movie, though?  We’re very quick to pick up what tones in a voice are happy, sad, or irritated, so we could very well recognize what emotion is going on during a movie.  Also, the “mood” of the music accompanying the scene could also tune your dog in to the emotions going on.

Can dogs see screens on computers?  Usually, dogs don’t show interest because the objects on the screen are slow or not moving.  Dogs get excited when we see action, so these typically fail to get out attention.

Pop some popcorn, dim the lights, and watch some Lassie with your dog that has a lot of action!

Should I Let My Dog Sleep in Bed With Me?

When asked what they think about their dog sleeping in bed with them, some people will immediately answer, “No way!  Do you know how much dogs stink?  And what about fleas?!”  Others, however, will say, “It’s very comforting and makes me feel like I’m being guarded extra close.”  There are some interesting pros and cons when it comes to letting your dog share your bed, and here are a few:

Pros:

  • Having your dog in your room provides you with extra security.  If there’s a strange noise outside, your dog will alert you.  This can be especially comforting when you’re alone.
  • Sometimes, sleeping with your dog in your bed will help a shy dog bond with and get to know you better.
  • If your dog is the nervous type, being with you, the pack leader, could help calm him.
  • If you’re nervous or restless in bed, having a soft, cuddly dog with you could soothe and help you sleep better.

Cons:

  • Some dogs just always carry that distinct doggy odor.  So, if you don’t like your sheets to smell like dog, I don’t suggest you let your dog in your bed.
  • If you have allergies to dogs, having a dog in bed with you will only further irritate them.
  • Hopefully, your dog’s fleas and ticks are being controlled by preventive medicine.  Even with preventive, however, a tick may latch onto your dog, be taken into your bed, and transmitted to you.  Checking often for those pesky blood suckers on your dog can help, but they often choose very hidden places to latch on.
  • Some breeds, such as the Bulldog, drool, which can get quite nasty in bed.
  • Puppies and seniors don’t have good bladder control, which could lead to accidents in bed.
  • Though dogs can be soothing to have in bed, they can also be very loud.  Snoring, whimpering, snorting, and kicking are a few of the problems you may face.
  • If you let your dog on your bed, he might hoard over half of it, pushing you off.
  • Dominate dogs shouldn’t be let in bed with you.  Growling, aggressively hoarding the bed, and letting themselves on the bed anytime they want could ensue.

Some people love their dog in their bed, others can’t stand it.  Think about the pros and cons, determine your dog’s behavior, and decide what would be best for you and your dog.