Friday, April 29, 2011

And the winner is ...

The winner of The Dog Blog contest for a Petmate Swivel Bin and Rake is KAREN BURGSTEDE of Wisconsin!
Congratulations, Karen!
We'll be mailing out your brand new Petmate Swivel Bin and Rake as soon as possible!


Petmate Swivel Bin and Rake: Contest drawing today at 3 p.m.

Hello dog lovers!
OK, so I've been slacking on new posts. In fairness, I wanted to keep the Petmate contest post as the newest post on the blog through today's drawing. After all, it's a pretty cool item to win and I wanted as many people as possible to see the post and enter!
Next week, I'll resume regular posting.
Today's drawing will be livestreamed on my blog at 3 p.m. A coworker will film the drawing live with the iPhone so you can watch it right here as it happens.
Check back at 3 p.m. to find out who the lucky winner is — see you then!


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Win a Petmate Clean Response Swivel Bin and Rake and make pet waste pick-up cleaner and easier

Petmate Clean Response Swivel Rake & Bin
For years now, I've used a grain scoop for horses combined with a plastic garden shovel to pick up my yard of dog-doo.
It was not a good method.
First, my method required a lot of bending — not only was that rough on my back, but it was stinky too. No one wants to get that close to aromatic, festering dog doo, right? I can't believe I did it for all those years.
Second, it was messy. I never wanted to store the tools inside the garage because of the mess and stink, so I stored them discreetly near a bush in my front yard.
There, they attracted every type of dung beetle and spider imaginable. One time, I even had a snake curled up in the scoop (enter my habit of kicking the scoop before bending down to pick it up).
Why didn't I invest in one of those scissor-like pooper scoopers sold at every big box around? I did. Twice. Maybe it's something about the size of my dog (and subsequently, the size of his doo) but I kept breaking those darn contraptions. I broke the first pooper scooper my second time using it; I broke my second pooper scooper the first time using it. I then muttered some choice words and promised I'd never spend another dime on the darn things.
Going on the advice of a friend, I bought the grain scoop and have been miserable ever since.
But not anymore.
Earlier this month, I walked up to the sight of a big box sitting on my desk chair. The whole newsroom got a good laugh over how excited I became when I opened it up and discovered I'd been sent a pooper scooper.
As excited as I was at the mere fact this rake-and-basket partnership meant no more bending and no more getting my face awfully close to rotting poop, it got even better once I arrived home and started putting it together.
"Look here, hun," I said to my husband. "The instructions say to use a grocery bag and you just clip it right into these hooks."
"You know what that means, right? That means this basket will never get gross like the grain scoop did," I continued.
I used it later that weekend and was quite pleased with the whole experience.

Watch a video demonstration

Here's what I like about the Petmate Clean Response Swivel Bin and Rake
1) No bending
2) Large basket fits a lot of waste
3) Being able to use it with grocery bags is pretty cool. I have a lot of them, and it makes the clean-up about as clean a process as it's going to get.
4) The rake clips on to the basket for easy storage
5) Because the items stay clean, I can store them in my garage.

I have one request — this one can go out to Petmate and ALL grocery stores — please make some biodegradable bags that have the same style and shape as the plastic ones. I always feel bad about putting dog poop, a totally organic substance, into plastic bags. The convenience and cleanliness of the grocery bag (and the many uses I find for them) keeps me using them, but I'd certainly feel a whole lot better about it if they composted more easily.

Win one free!
I've done my job telling you about this useful product. Now, it's time for you to send me an email with your name and address for a chance to win one yourself! This is a contest run through my blog, so you won't be contending with millions of people. Petmate is sending me one brand new Swivel Bin & Rake to auction off to a Dog Blog reader. I'll accept entries through Thursday, April 28. Your email will be printed, stuck in a hat and I'll have one of my coworkers do the honors of picking out a name at random. Send an email with your name and shipping address to 

Purchase information
I found the product sold online through Petsmart for $23.99.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Dog used to stay in the yard, but now he runs away. Is it spring fever?

A friend of mine emailed me for some advice about her dog Eddie, a 3-year-old, non-neutered Jack Russell (Parson's Terrier) and Rat Terrier mix. She said he used to stay in the yard with them, but lately has been prone to running off.

"Is it spring fever?" she asked.

No. It is definitely not spring fever.

The first question to ask yourself if you're encountering such a problem is, have I done any active training, using a positive reward method, to teach my dog that he's supposed to stay in my yard?

A dog does not inherently know that his territory has boundaries. That's the first thing that needs to be taught. Secondly, he needs to be proofed against any and all distractions that he may encounter while in the yard.

What do I mean, proofed against distractions? Well, how about rabbits, deer, birds, other dogs, cats, people walking by the road, etc. If he saw a rabbit in the backyard and it took off running into who-knows-where, what would he do? Dog law says he'd probably chase it. That much is inherent. And so, you have to train against it. Usually, you do this with a recall command. And remember, whatever you're asking your dog to do has to be more attractive to him than whatever it is you don't want him doing. So ask yourself, does coming to you for a dry dog treat compare in the least to chasing wildly and freely after a bunny rabbit? Probably not. Chasing a bunny is probably a 10 on most dogs' scale of awesome things to do; getting a dry dog treat from you in exchange for coming when called is probably like a 4.

This means you need to activate the prey drive in order to train against the prey drive. I followed instructions in Culture Clash (book by Jean Donaldson) and used a brand-spankin' new toy — a stuffed animal rabbit, just to be cute! — to train the recall. I put Sensi in a sit-stay, starting at about 5-feet away from me, and when I called him to come, I spread my legs out (and brace for impact!) and tossed the toy through my legs and behind me, creating a tunnel for Sensi to run through in order to chase after his toy. Now, you're activating the prey drive while teaching the recall command. I gradually moved him and practiced at different distances. Then, I'd surprise him while he was just moseying around in the backyard. Then, we practiced the same exercise in the front yard, the side yard, etc.

But there's a problem with this training, and that is the fact that it relies on your presence to call the dog. If you want to be able to just let your dog outside and feel confident he'll stay within the confines of your yard, it's not going to help. You can instill the strongest recall in the world, but if you're not there to give the command, the dog is going to do as he pleases.

Personally, I'm not sure it's possible to proof against every distraction that could possibly show up while in the yard. You can't control the world outside your house, right? So how can you be sure you've proofed against every possible situation?

Because of this, I do not condone the theory that you can just let your dog out to do his thing, totally unrestrained, and trust him to follow human rules that he really doesn't know and hasn't been taught. If he spots a person walking a dog in front of your house, how is he supposed to know that it's rude to walk over to them and introduce himself? How does he know that he's not supposed to follow that scent of rotting flesh from a dead raccoon deep in the forest? He doesn't. He just doesn't.

Fortunately, there's a myriad of solutions out there to help you keep your dog in the yard — fences, zip-lines, chains, invisible fences, etc.

But, why is that Eddie is doing this now, as a 3-year-old, when he has no history of doing this before? It's hard to say why, but this is something I often try to express to dog owners: why matters very little. Why is not necessarily going to let you know how to fix the problem. What you think may be "why" may have nothing to do with the behavior problem at issue anyhow, and we can't really check with our dogs to find out whether we're right or wrong. So go ahead and muse about the "whys" but understand they're not critical. The critical element is finding a way to fix the behavior problem. Why the behavior problem exists may or may not be something you ever figure out, so it's best to put that question in the rearview mirror and drive on forward for the sake of solving the issue at stake.

Either way, the fact that Eddie is not neutered is going to contribute SIGNIFICANTLY to whether he can learn to stick around. Non-neutered male dogs are the most likely to roam and the most likely to cause trouble while they're out and about. You cannot turn off the sex drive on a non-neutered male (unless you neuter him, of course!) and being as such, he has an inherent, instinctual need to find a mate. And dogs will travel miles to find one.

In addition to this, you have take breed into consideration. He is part Jack Russell and all terrier and what does that mean, folks? He has energy that will never wane, a fierce independent streak and a strong prey drive. This is a breed that needs not just daily exercise, but VIGOROUS daily exercise. He also needs some good mental draining exercises too to satisfy the independent hunter in him — hide and seek in a sand box (bury toys, make him find) is an ideal exercise for these breeds, which originally were used to dig varmint out of the ground. Treat dispensing balls, hide-and-seek with treats inside the house, agility and similar activities are also excellent outlets for these dogs.

I've known at least one person in my life who has adopted a Jack Russell, only to find they can't handle the breed and wind up giving it back to the shelter. Don't let the size and cuteness fool you — these guys have some serious energy. As always, the first step in improving your dog's behavior is to make sure its needs are met. With a Jack Russell, that can be a challenge.

Of course, nothing is impossible. Check out this story about a North Oakland woman who trains her Jack Russells for agility: Stray brings home luck

And, here's some previous posts about why it's so darn important to keep your dogs in your yard:
Another good reason to keep your dog in your yard
Don't let your dog go
Does anyone use a leash?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Know of a good place to walk dogs in Oakland County?

Cranes at Addison: By Allison Jagow
I was gratified after writing the post Does anyone use a leash and hearing from so many people who face the same challenge I do — finding a place to walk your dog where other peoples' dogs are actually kept on leash.
Well folks, walking season has finally arrived and this year, I'm determined to create a list of safe places to walk your dog.
By safe, I mean where leash rules are in place and are actually enforced.
I'm happy to report that so far as I can tell, Addison Oaks County Park is one of these places.
Trillium in bloom at Addison: By Allison Jagow
On Friday and again on Sunday, I walked Sensi on the 2.5-mile paved Buhl Lake Trail. Though paved, the path has its hills and valleys to leave you feeling like you have indeed done a little working out.
I was nervous about whether I'd encounter dogs off leashes because the trail goes pretty far out of the main park area. People will often let their dogs "go free" once they feel they've gotten far enough away from the watchful eyes of park employees, but that did not appear to be the case at Addison Oaks.
On Friday, my friend Allison, Sensi and I had the park all to ourselves. It was truly awesome. We saw three park staffers, but that was it. There wasn't another car in the park when we arrived nor when we left.
On Sunday — with the weather absolutely gorgeous — I knew there would be lots of people at the park and I was right.
We encountered a total of four dogs while on our walk. A couple walking two pit bulls had both their dogs on leashes, a third small dog was also on leash for a walk and a fourth dog, a Huskie, was on leash, running beside his owner's bicycle.
I really have to hold myself back from coming off as weird at times and yesterday was one of them. I wanted to holler out to every person I saw walking a dog, "Thank you for having your dog on leash!"
But I didn't. I am, however, so grateful.
Park rules do stipulate that dogs must be kept on 6-foot-leashes at all times. I assume these rules apply to all county parks — dog parks not included.
The thing is, lots of places have leash rules. Whether people follow them is a whole different story.
I think it comes down to enforcement. If a park's staff regularly patrols the park, people are less likely to feel they can get away with "letting their dogs run."
Kudos to Addison Oaks for having the rule and enforcing it. I'm looking forward to lots of walks there this year.
On the other hand, the Bald Mountain hiking trails are losing ground with me. As Brent and I sat around with a couple friends, I asked them, "So, do you usually see dogs loose out there?"
Though the four of us have only been on the trails a handful of times, we were able to come up with more than a dozen run-ins with dogs off leashes.

Now, there's only one thing left to do — gather information on good, leash-friendly walking trails throughout the county. Tell me about those trails where dogs are almost always found off-leash, tell me about the good trails and safety path routes where dogs are almost always on-leash, or just suggest a trail for me and the dog to go try out.
We'll test it out for you and report back.

In the meantime, grab that 6-foot-leash of yours and head out to Addison Oaks for a great dog walk. Maybe I'll see you on the trail!

Addison Trails

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Confession: Sometimes I feel like barking at dogs

Does that make me crazy? Probably not. Does it make me immature? Sure, I'll admit that.
I got Sensi to bark during a photo shoot
At least now I know to never exercise this desire around a police dog, thanks to an article I read this morning about a Ohio man getting charged with a misdemeanor for doing so.
Read the full story, Cops: Ohio man charged after barking at police dog
My favorite part of the article is where the man says "the dog started it."
My second favorite part of the article? The misdemeanor this guy was charged was for "teasing a police dog."
But seriously, have you ever felt like barking at a dog?
The article reminded of a recent trip some coworkers and I made down to Dearborn to visit a friend of ours. We walked from her apartment to a restaurant downtown. On the way back, we passed by a home with a dog barking furiously at us from the front porch.
I leaned over to my dog-loving friend and said, "Is it bad that I want to bark at that dog?"
She laughed. "I don't know, but it's funny," she said.
I didn't bark at that dog. I wanted to, though. My motivation? I was irritated. It's kind of like being around a crying baby and wanting to scream "Wahhh Wahhh Wahhh" back at it.
Is it awful? Sure.
Does it accomplish anything? Nope.
Is it a sign of my incredibly impatient attitude? Definitely.
Is it among the most immature desires my responsible adult self has? I think so.
The practical, intelligent, dog trainer side of me knows that barking at a barking dog only makes the barking dog bark more.
The immature, impatient, irritable side of me says, "Ahhh, whatever. Bark away."
I have not yet barked at anyone's dog. If the day ever comes, I hope someone's around to hear it and get a good laugh.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Looking for a Great Dane? Think adoption

The Ohio Great Dane Rescue group made an appearance at Saturday's fund-raiser at Orion Healthy Pet.
Great Danes are one of those breeds that always stop you in your tracks when you see them.
I remember driving down a neighborhood street once when I saw what I thought was a cow in someone's front yard headed toward me. I slowed down and the behemoth animal approached my car.
Shirley, 1-year-old deaf female, is available for adoption
I realized it was a Dane as it got closer, but sat in awe as the dog stretched it's head up and sniffed the roof of my car. How many dogs can do that?
A lover of big dogs, a Great Dane has always been on my wish-list. When the day finally arrives, I think I'll hook up with rescue group I met Saturday.
The group does service Michigan — Great Dane rescues are apparently few and far in between — as well as other nearby states. One of their Danes was recently adopted to a woman from Troy, and one of their foster dogs available for adoption is also here in Michigan, fostered by a local man.
In talking with a member of the group, I came to realize something — Great Danes rescues have a tough time finding foster homes and adopting out their dogs.
It's common knowledge that small dogs have an easier time getting adopted, so think about the obstacles facing one of the largest breeds out there.
People just don't think they have what it takes to care for such a large animal. That means Danes don't just face obstacles getting adopted, but rescue groups face obstacles finding folks willing to foster and help out.
So, if you're like me and you love big dogs, perhaps do a Dane a favor and become a foster. Better yet, adopt one!

Ohio Great Dane Rescue visits Orion Healthy Pet

Monday, April 4, 2011

Large breed owners sound off about Saginaw's proposed BSL

A Great Dane meets a little dog at Saturday's fundraiser
The fundraiser at Orion Healthy Pet on Saturday turned into quite the celebration of big dogs (meaning I was in big dog heaven!).

I took the opportunity to speak with the owners of these large breeds about the breed specific legislation (BSL) currently proposed for the City of Saginaw.

The BSL would apply to the owners of Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes, Great Danes, St. Bernards, Doberman Pinschers, Chow Chows, pit bulls and Presa Canarios.

If passed, anyone owning one of the breeds would have to pay a $50 registration, place a warning sign on their property and muzzle the dogs while in public places, according to information posted by the AKC.

Here's what the owners of a Malamute & St. Bernard have to say about it, as well as a representative from the Ohio Great Dane Rescue.

Meanwhile, I called the City of Saginaw this morning to get an update on the ordinance. I was told there will be a committee meeting preceding tonight's council meeting to discuss the ordinance. It will be open to the public.

All sorts of information about this ban — from contact information to media reports, CDC links, etc. — can be found on a previous post, All about money? Saginaw BSL not an outright ban

Look for more posts from the fundraiser later this week, including a video feature on an adoptable Great Dane located right here in Michigan!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Join me tomorrow for fundraiser at Orion Healthy Pet

Mike Hogan (Great Dane Rescue) & Mary Beth Darby, store owner
My pet food store, Orion Healthy Pet, is hosting a fundraising event from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. tomorrow (Saturday, April 2). The fundraiser benefits the Oakland County K-9 Unit and Great Dane Rescues.

On tap:
• Food from Big Dog BBQ
• Demonstrations by the K-9 unit
• Vendor booths
• Homemade pet food demonstrations
• Pet Psychic
• Professional pet portraits (photos) for a donation
• Raffle & prizes

Honestly, I'm most excited to see a bunch of Great Danes. I love big dogs and they just don't come much bigger than that!

I spoke with store owner Mary Beth Darby and here's the lowdown:
One of the Great Dane rescue guys is bringing a pull-behind smoker BBQ and will be whipping up pork sandwiches for a donation. A bake sale will also be taking place. In addition to the Great Dane rescue, another rescue group, Canine Companions, will be on hand with some adoptable dogs.
Local artist Kimberly Santini will have paintings available for purchase and photographer Mark Kelly will take photos of peoples' dogs for a donation.
The raffle drawing will likely be around 3 p.m. Tickets cost $1 a piece or $5 for seven. You can win gift baskets that will feature a $5 off coupon.
Also, the store's major brands of dog food will be offered at a reduced price (which is awesome, because I'm out of dog food!). Usually, the store offers 10 percent off on dog foods on Saturdays, but that deal won't be taking place tomorrow in lieu of all the other deals available.

Even though there will be a lot going on, I'm pretty confident about where I'll be spending the most time — fawning over the big dogs!

Orion Healthy Pet is at 1472 S. Lapeer Road. Call 248-690-7796.

Related articles:
• New Oakland County pet stores offer good health food, treats, toys and non-allergenic, grain free kibble diets: Healthy Pet in Lake Orion and The Pet Beastro in Madison Heights
• Lake Orion artist finds success in unexpected career