Saturday, July 31, 2010

All Things Dog Blog Wishes Tanner a Happy 4th Birthday

(c) Carrie Boyko

Tanner and Toni
Celebrate His 4th Birthday

Celebrations always mean good food, right? Tanner and I made ground beef medallions and Chicken Pupsicles today, for a celebratory afternoon snack. Be sure to watch the blog for upcoming recipes and photos of our birthday yummies.

What else did we do to revel in my boy's big day? Did you really have to ask? You get three guesses:
  • Dog park playtime with Tanner's regular buddies
  • Swimming at home
  • Not to be forgotten, a great fetch game with Tanner's  'Boomer' toy
If you're wishing you could have joined the party, feel free to send food, and Tanner will love you forever. Any kind will do. Tanner is not picky.

We love you! 

Friday, July 30, 2010

Fido Fun: More Exercise Options for Your Dog

by Carrie Boyko

(c) Christy Moser, all rights reserved
Kota is a Rescue, 
Turned Disc Dog

Does your dog love to run, jump, and catch things that fly? Maybe he's got a 'disc dog' trying to get out. My friend Chris Engel, a national disc dog competitor, has written a series of guest posts for All Things Dog Blog, to help get you started:

Frisbee Dog 101: Part I in a Series of V
Frisbee Dog 101: Dog Selection for Frisbee Dog Enthusiasts
Frisbee Dog 101: Getting Your Dog Ready to be a Disc Dog
Frisbee Dog 101: Frisbee Training Begins
Frisbee Dog 101: Frisbee Choices for Your Dog

(c) Carrie Boyko
Tanner Enjoys Catching
his Ring the Most
Okay, so you're not a Frisbee thrower. I can empathize. Tanner says my tosses are not up to speed either, but we try. Another way we make sure that Tanner gets plenty of exercise is by giving him a backpack to carry.
(c) Alan Boyko
Tanner Walks Like a Gentleman
With his Backpack on

Carrying a backpack is not just about weight, although I do put a few pounds of beans, rice or water bottles inside. What's really cool about this exercise mode is that Tanner has to concentrate harder on his 'job.' The backpack will swing and sway if he doesn't walk smoothly, or if he swings his hips by walking too fast. The result of walking with a backpack is a dog that walks smoothly and straight ahead beside me, just the way I like.
(c) Carrie Boyko
Tanner Loves Swimming
Almost as Much as Playing Fetch

On a hot summer day (or even a cold day, as far as Tanner is concerned), there is nothing better than a good swim. You're missing the boat if you dog doesn't know how to swim. Every dog can learn to swim, and should, even just for safety's sake. Here's some tips to make it go smoothly. Even a kiddie pool is an enjoyable, cooling game for a pup outdoors in the heat.

Afterwards, Tanner is a tired and relaxed boy that is ready for a nap. Swimming provides him with lots of problem-solving activities. I make games up as we go, like how to get a toy off the steps below him, or retrieving a toy from the ledge while he's in the water. He also tries hard to use his front and back legs to hoist himself up the side of the pool.

Swimming is definitely in second place to his all-time favorite activity--playing Fetch! Nothing can compare to this activity, and I suppose that is because he is a Retriever. That's what he was bred for, and he is true to his heritage.
(c) Carrie Boyko
Great Fetching Form

If you'd like some help teaching your dog to play Fetch, here's a post with some training instructions: Teaching Your Dog to Fetch.

Keeping your dog busy with a variety of activities will help to assure he doesn't eat your couch or your neighbor's purse, or even your shoes. A tired dog is a napping dog. Now, go get your pup busy doing something that will use his mind and his body to wear him out. You'll be glad you did.

Before you sign off, you might enjoy Xena's point of view. Coming from a senior dog who can't always run, jump and swim all day, she makes a good point in her post at 5 Minutes for Fido.

Finally, be sure to join me Monday night after 6 p.m. when our new ASK THE VET column, with Dr. Pat, debuts; don't miss it! 

© Carrie Boyko, all rights reserved

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Kiddie Pool Fun for Your Toy-Breed Dogs

by Carrie Boyko

(c) reader's photo copyright on file
Juliet Loves her Kiddie Pool
If you're like many of my readers, you have multiple, toy-breed dogs, or neighbors with pups that like to drop in for some fun. A great way to keep the whole gang happy and busy on a hot summer day is with a kiddie pool. They're perfect for little dogs, so there's no worries about drowning, and even big dogs can enjoy splashing and dunking their floating toys.

Here's a game we played at a dog party once, that you may enjoy trying when you're hosting a group of pups for some water fun:

  • Fill up your kiddie pool early in the day so the water can warm up to an inviting temperature for little dogs that chill easily.
  • Collect all your floating toys, balls and such and put them all in the pool.
  • Just about the time your gang gets bored (where are all the toys?!!!) you can take them outside and introduce them to the new game.
  • Using a treat pouch or pocket, stow some kibble or treats to encourage their 'fetching' game. Each time a pup pulls a toy from the pool, treat him and tell him what a good boy he is is for fetching the toy.
  • Pretty soon they'll all get the idea and start jumping in to pull the toys out of the pool, and then race to you for their treat. You'll have to be fast, tossing the toys back in, but it's fun to watch their little minds working. This game gets them moving quickly and using their problem solving skills to get toys out and treats as quickly as possible.
  • If you're lucky enough to have a friend to man the camera, this could make for a great photo shoot. Snag your neighbor dog's 'mom' and ask her for a little help. She's sure to enjoy the party as much as the dogs do.
© reader copyright on file
Time to Get Out and Dry Off...
A few tips for clean up time:
  • Before you start, be sure to have a stack of old towels for drying off soggy doggies.
  • Don't just dump the water. Use it purposefully. Bucketfuls are great for watering house plants or your vegetable garden. The last bucketful can be used to wash the car. You get the idea.
  • Tip the pool up on its side to drain, and also keep it from collecting all sorts of dirt, leaves and bugs. Next time, it will be ready to go.
  • Finally, use an old-fashioned milk carton case to toss the toys into for drying, and place them out of the way of any possible rain. They can come back inside tomorrow for another game--perhaps the Muffin Tin Game? It's one of my Oliver's new favorites.
Before I sign off, here's one final idea. If you're not well-stocked on floating toys, try ice cubes. Most little dogs love to retrieve and eat ice cubes, and this game will have its own reward--no treats required. It's not the same frenzied fun, but it works the same way. Happy tails!

Looking for more water fun? Here's some related reading:

Teaching Your Dog to Fetch
Safe and Happy July 4th Celebrations for Your Dogs

Finally, Tanner has a few comments over at 5 Minutes for Fido. As usual, my boy is looking out for his little buddy Oliver. They're rather like the the Captain and Gilligan!
Help protect our precious dog parks
© Carrie Boyko, all rights reserved

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Monday, July 26, 2010

ASK THE DOG TRAINER: My Dog and I are Nervous at the Dog Park

by Judith Joseph, DOI

(c) C.F. reader copyright on file
Bucky Loves to Play Frisbee
Dear Judy:

I have enjoyed reading about dog parks a All Things Dog Blog and it sounded like loads of fun, so off Gilly and I went to our closest park. It was very big and very crowded. We walked in, quite nervous and not sure what to expect. Would Gilly have fun? What would I do among all these strangers? I was nervous and probably Gilly was too. Her tail was between her legs and she stuck close to my legs for most of the time.

When she did finally venture out to play a bit, another dog was picking on her. He got too rough so I finally separated Gilly from him and we left. Can you give me some tips for helping Gilly feel better about this next time. Me to. I guess I need a how to manual. Thank you, Carol
Dear Carol:

Is Your Dog Ready for the Dog Park?  Are you?   Some dogs take to dog parks right away, making new play-pals and happily interacting with everyone they meet, but this isn’t true of all dogs.   Going to a dog park, unsnapping your dog’s leash and letting her run isn’t always the best idea.  She may be overwhelmed by the unfamiliar dogs and run neurotically throughout the park; getting her back can be quite a challenge.  She may try to jump into your arms, or hide between your legs snarling and snapping at any dog that comes close.  Her actions could trigger a fight with even the friendliest of dogs, putting her at risk of being attacked.   Picking her up and trying to scare away the other dogs won’t help; in most cases, it makes matters worse.

A step-by-step introduction to the dog park is in order.  First, visit the park on days it is least crowded.  Leave her on leash and walk the park’s perimeter staying outside of the enclosure.   You can learn a great deal about how dogs interact by watching them play from a safe distance.  Watch their owners too.  Are they paying little or no attention to their dog or involved in their play?  Take note your dog’s behavior.  Is she curious and quietly observant or anxious and barking excessively?  On your second visit, keep her on leash and walk the inside perimeter of the enclosure.  If other dogs approach for a friendly sniff, don’t pick her up or chase them away.  Remain calm and allow them to sniff.  They usually wander off within a few short seconds.  If she allows them to smell her and appears at ease, praise her and offer a treat.  Lengthen her leash and give her opportunities to meet other dogs.

If she snarls or shows any signs of aggression, correct her with “Eh-Eh, NO,” snap her leash and slowly continue walking the outer edge of the park.  Repeat as needed.  On your next visit, place her on an 8 to 10 foot lead, and walk around the park area allowing her to sniff where other dogs have been.  Stop and talk to friendly owners and allow them to pet her.  She will either relax and engage in play, or continue the aggressive/fearful behaviors. 
Remember, not all dogs are dog park candidates.  If she exhibits signs of fear or aggression, or is uncomfortable around loud noises, strange people, other dogs, or children, she may not be a dog-park dog.   Many dogs aren’t, and it’s not the end of the world.  Find other safe places for her to run freely and play Frisbee with you.  If she regularly exhibits aggressive behavior in or out of the park, contact a professional dog trainer for assistance.
Good luck,


Judith Joseph, DOI

For more information on Judith Joseph and her training, you may find her at TCDOA Dog Training. A personal appointment will likely provide more specific information on your dog's issues and your questions.

Related Reading:

Thanks to reader, Chris F. for contributing our cover dog photo of Bucky. What a talented 'disc dog'! I'm betting Bucky would love to play Frisbee at the dog park with my gang. Check out Xena's comments over at 5 Minutes for Fido

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Dog Booster Seats:
Oliver Loves his Chariot

by Carrie Boyko
(c) Carrie Boyko
Oliver Travels in High Style
Up Front with Mom
I never thought I'd be one of them. You know, the people with the toy-sized dogs that dress up their little darlings and put them in car seats. Never say never.

As you can see in this photo, Oliver has a new chariot. He really thinks he's hot stuff now--got his CGC and a new booster seat all in one week. The booster seat was a gift from an advertiser, Nature by Dawn, who runs Pet Auto Safety, and blogs about car safety for our canine companions.

With 3 dogs in the back of my Prius, it can sometimes get sketchy when I have to slam on the brakes. I wish they would all lay down, so they don't go flying, even if they are in crates. Oliver now has an alternate ride; his beautiful, color-coordinated booster seat looks awesome in my new Prius. I'm almost as thrilled as Oliver.

On our first day, Oliver looked on curiously while I installed the car seat and adjusted the straps. I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly it was ready to go; just 3 snaps, a couple of adjustments and we're done.

When I picked Oliver up to put him in for the first time, he squirmed a bit, but perked right up when he felt solid ground under his feet. A quick clip to his harness and we were off for a ride around the neighborhood.

Complete quiet....shocking! He was so thrilled to be able to see out the front window without standing up on his back feet, that he just took it all in silently. 

Day two through ten, still enjoying the view from his fabulous front seat, yet he has not given up the determined attitude of "I don't want to miss a thing". He has yet to sleep on a drive, even when on the road a fair while after a long walk. Will Oliver ever give it up and take a nap? Maybe he doesn't know he can lay down in his new car seat.

I'm smarter than the average dog. I gave him a few treats in the bottom of the seat today. He lay down, enjoyed his snack, quickly finding and devouring each. As soon as he was done, he popped up to continue watching the view. Oh well; I tried. Maybe tomorrow I'll be sneakier and use a chewy strip that will last a little longer. Think that will work?

Speaking of chewies, there is a zip up pocket on the front of the seat, perfect for concealing treats that we don't want the pups to nab until we're ready. On the sides of the seat are mesh panels, perfect for allowing air circulation, and complete with mesh pockets to keep other essentials in. This is a great spot to keep the leash, his mini-fan (we love our battery operated fans) and even a water bottle with a fold-out bowl, if we're planning to be gone for a while.

The best news is that Oliver seems content to enjoy the view and ride up front with mom, safely clasped into his cushy new chariot with a padded seat. Thanks Dawn; Oliver's a happy traveler. What could be better?

Tanner has another view of this whole matter. You can get his commentary over at 5 Minutes for Fido, where he's spouting about being jealous. Poor 70-lb. Tanner. He just won't fit in a car seat!

Want a booster seat for your pup? 
Just click the photo above and you'll be redirected to Pet Auto Safety. Pick out the style and color you like and off you'll go.

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Friday, July 23, 2010

Dog Training by Bark Busters: A Whole Different Concept

by Carrie Boyko

It is time for Tanner and I to return for a CGC review. Having taken the AKC's 'Canine Good Citizen' test at age 11 months, he failed the social portions as a result of his social butterfly personality. I imagine Tanner was thinking, "Aren't these people and dogs here for me to kiss?"

 What a fascinating and unexpected first impression I received when my Bark Busters instructor, Mike Shamp, explained the basic, underlying concepts used in their dog training. I find that learning new ways of doing things broadens my ability to customize how I handle my dogs. Each new experience brings something different to the mix, allowing me to better manage individual dogs, and the pack as a whole.

While I love the leadership focus of Cesar Millan, it has always been evident to me that this approach will not work for everyone. Most of us would need serious training in the skill of 'machismo', me included.

On the opposite end of that same spectrum lies the traditional treat-based, command-driven training that most U.S. trainers use. Most dogs are motivated by the treats, and we owners often find the verbal commands suit our own natural communication methods, but there are other ways. I was surprised to find that Bark Busters' approach does not put treats front and center, yet all the pups, even the young ones, got the message through body language. Simple, yet effective techniques were successful in teaching 'stand' and 'let's go' that I had not seen taught before.

Cesar Bark Busters. Somewhere in the middle of Cesar's dominant leadership method and the most commonly used treats and commands method, there is Bark Busters, founded in Australia in 1989The company now trains in 10 countries, adding the U.S. to its list some 10 years ago. The U.S. Master Franchise was founded here in 2000.

The training concept used by Bark Busters reveals a different mindset. While leadership is the focus, it is balanced with an equal concentration on mimicing the communication of our canine companions. Learning their body language and ways of communicating, allows us to communicate and lead, using our dogs' own language. Herein lies the basic idea behind the Bark Busters method. I think Cesar would approve.

One interesting example that I learned during this class was that of a barking pup problem. Mike explained the cure for the dog's barking so simply. It was merely a matter of relieving the dog of the responsibility for whatever it was he was barking about. 

For instance, if your dog barks when a stranger is in the yard, he merely needs to know that you are in control of the stranger, and he will no longer feel the need to alert you or the stranger. A simple, novel concept that can change the communication between you and your dog--leadership based communication that does not require treats to be taught. Somehow I felt my inner Oprah Winfrey coming out, if only just a bit.

All in all, my experience with the Bark Busters approach was positive. I particularly enjoyed the passion and commitment of Mike Shamp, my instructor, who shared with me some of the many projects he has been involved in over the years. Stay tuned here for more on his latest work with Central Florida hospitals. Curious? Hope to see you soon.

Mike and Judy Shamp can be reached at Bark Busters North via email:

Be sure to drop in at 5 Minutes for Fido, where Oliver has some comments about Bark Busters and his CGC experience. His perspective is, as expected, candidly canine.
Help protect our precious dog parks
© Carrie Boyko, all rights reserved

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AKC Announces the 2010 ACE Award Nominees

by Carrie Boyko
© photo courtesy of Heart Dog Studios
Ricochet Nominated for AKC's ACE Award
The American Kennel Club has published their nomination list for Awards for Canine Excellence at this link. The name and an image of each dog are included, as well as their nomination category.
©   Julie G. Photography Denver and courtesy K9 Cares
Caitee is a Second-Time Nominee
 for this Top Award

These awards, in several service categories, will be given at a special ceremony in California in late August. All Things Dog Blog is proud of all of these dogs, but none more than two of our featured friends: Caitee (Law Enforcement Therapy with her owner, Carolyn) and Ricochet (Exemplary Companion with her owner, Judy). You can read their stories at the links. So many deserving dogs. Too bad you can't all win. Good luck!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Meet Dr. Pat: Our New Staff Veterinarian

by Carrie Boyko

Dr. Pat Bradley, our new "ASK THE VET" Columnist, is here to meet you today. She and I are thrilled to share her 25+ years of veterinary experience with you. I would like to give you a taste of her journey where it started, at LSU. After graduating from LSU as a conventional veterinarian, Dr. Pat practiced in Arkansas for 10 years, gaining valuable insight and experience into the issues of dog owners and their furry friends.

With this experience came a growing understanding of the challenges of conventional veterinary medicine, as well as the natural methods that were available, yet less well-known. Dr. Bradley's interests peaked in this area and she began studying, feverishly learning and absorbing the techniques of holistic veterinary medicine, homeopathy, and even mental health counseling, a field in which she earned an additional masters' degree.

You may ask, "Why mental health counseling?", and this is a very good question. Dr Bradley's practice has often found her assisting owners with "end of life" concerns for their pets. With her mental health training, she began studying and devising  numerous strategies for helping owners get through this decision-making process, feeling comfortable with their decisions.

This experience led Dr. Bradley to write her book, More Than a Pet, which details the many options available for owners. Her book is particularly useful for those owners that linger over such decisions, second guessing themselves and never feeling quite comfortable with any route.

Dr. Pat's practice now has turned to telephone consultations, generally focusing on how best to naturally treat a pet's health issues. By answering your general dog health questions, Dr. Pat hopes to open a door to better understanding of the possibilities with alternative medicine. Realizing that there will always be a need for conventional veterinary medicine, Dr. Pat's extensive experience in both areas of medicine will give you more options to choose from. 

Dr. Pat helps pet guardians from around the world to sort through treatment options so they can make a decision in line with their values. Readers can contact her directly for  holistic veterinary services. She lives in Arkansas, with her husband and pets Smudge, Lady and Otis. 

We look forward to hearing your questions. Send your letters to, placing "Ask the Vet" in the subject line. We'll be sure to dig you up an answer as quick as possible. Happy tails!
Help protect our precious dog parks
© Carrie Boyko, all rights reserved

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Dogs Don't Leave Home Without It: Necessities for Summer Day Outings

by Carrie Boyko

(c) Brent Boyko
Tanner is Ready to go to the Beach
We do lots of fun things outdoors. Since we love to do things outdoors, we're going to be bringing you a series of "Dogs Don't Leave Home Without It" tips. For day outings in the summer, like when you go to the park, on a country drive, hike in the woods, a picnic or beach visit, don't leave home without:
  • Lots of cool water and a bowl for the pups. We have these cool water bottles that have a fold-out bowl, perfect for thirsty dogs. You can also get the collapsible ones and the pop up kind. Whatever works for you and your dog.
  • I give the dogs ice cubes in the car, so they don't get everything all wet when they spill the bowl. Tanner, being a Retriever, likes putting his paw in the bowl.
  • Pop up nylon crates with mesh windows are great for a safe and bug-free nap time, or if we visit a friend's house and have to leave the pups behind while I run an errand without them. It's good to have the crates to make my friends feel that their houses are safe, even though my pups don't chew on furniture. More on that later!
  • Our battery operated fans hook onto the crates and have their own stand, so we can all stay cool in the shade, when we stop for a rest. I carry 3 in the car, along with extra rechargeable batteries.
  • Spare necessities that we always carry in the car for emergencies are: leashes to replace lost or broken ones, a 1st aid kitneem oil spray to repel mosquitoes, peppermint oil spray to repel ticks, and cedar oil spray to repel fleas. Can you tell we don't like bugs or boo-boos?
  • I don't tell the dogs I have these, but I keep a stash of chew strips that are good for their teeth, hidden in the glove compartment for long car rides.
  • My AAA card and a cell phone are a necessity for getting help, just in case we have car trouble or can't hike the rest of the way. I also keep my health insurance card handy--just in case. I suppose a credit card would be a good idea, in case of an emergency.
  • Finally, although they all have microchips, they also wear a collar with name tags and phone numbers. 
I'd love to hear from  you if you have more additions for my list. Tanner has added a few things to the list over at 5 Minutes for Fido. He's quite miffed with me over a few of my apparent omissions; hope you get a good laugh when you read his column.

Soon, I'll bring you some additional 'Don't Leave Home Without It' lists: errands, out of state trips, winter outings, and more. All you folks from up north should send me your ideas for the winter outings list. I'll need major help with that one. Ideas?
Help protect our precious dog parks
© Carrie Boyko, all rights reserved

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

ASK THE VET: Help My Dog Stop Licking

by Jacki Bert, DVM
© Alan Boyko
Hot Spots are a Common Skin 
Problem for Many Dogs

Hello Dr. Jacki:

I have been told by a couple of vets that my dog may have something akin to OCD in humans. He cannot stop creating hotspots, and there seems to be no reason for them. We did allergy tests and tried many topical skin treatments. I spent a lot of money to get no help, but I do understand the doctor did his best.

The first time this diagnosis came from a doctor out of state. He suggested more exercise and that possibly Perkins is anxious. I guess exercise helps anxiety just like it does for humans. So I started him on a more vigorous walking regimen, even though he was 12 at that time. He is doing well physically even now, except that he is slower. I suppose I will be too when I am that age.

Anyway, the exercise didn't help. It is now two years later and my dog is still wearing a lampshade. He is pleasant, perky, friendly and easy going. No signs of anxiety except from fireworks. That really sets him off. Since Perkins shows no signs of leaving us yet, I'd like to try another suggestion. My poor vet is at a loss for words; I can't blame him. Can you offer any ideas?


Dear Agnes….sounds like an ordeal!!  If a full bloodwork panel was not run, then that would be the first place that I would start.  Also, were radiographs taken of the area where the ‘hot spot’ occurs?  Sometimes dogs and cats lick to ease a pain that is lying below the surface… arthritis. 

A true hot spot is an allergy of sorts and dogs can be allergic to the outside pollens, the food that they are on, and definitely to fleas.  If you have exhausted these considerations, I would suggest finding a veterinary dermatologist in your area and setting up an appointment.  Hot spots are treatable. 

If instead, it is a lick granuloma, then that can be different.  Still could be related to allergies or even to underlying arthritis but once the licking behavior starts, it doesn’t seem to stop.  Hence the obsessive compulsive diagnosis.  There are meds for this, but really it doesn’t hurt the animal, so it is best to occupy him as much as possible. Maybe even put a bitter tasting substance (bitter apple) on the bandage around the granuloma and keep your fingers crossed.  I hope it works!! 

Dr. Jacki, DVM
ASK THE VET on All Things Dog Blog
For more information on Dr. Jacki and her practice, you may find her at  4 Paws House Calls. A personal appointment will likely provide more specific information on your dog and your specific questions.
Dr. Jacki's opinion or advice does not replace an actual exam with a veterinarian. 

Be sure to stop in at Critter Minute to read Carrie's latest guest post: Managing Your Multiple Dog Household. 

Also, Xena has some thoughts on Dr. Jacki's idea from this post, over at my dogs' blog,
 5 Minutes for Fido. Hope you can stop in for a visit.

Finally, I want to thank Dr. Jacki for nearly a year of fine medical advice for our readers.  You can return and view her posts at any time. The link will always be available in the header or sidebar, with her archives there for your reading. 

Dr. Jacki's busy practice and growing family needs more attention now, so we bid her fond farewell. 

Watch for an introduction to your new ASK A VET Columnist, coming soon.
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