What is flyball?

If you have an energetic dog that loves balls, Flyball might be an ideal sport. It’s a team sport, and a form of controlled chaos that involves a lot of running and jumping. The dog needs to be able to focus around distractions and in good enough shape to run and jump.

Flyball is played in teams with four dogs in each team. One end of the course holds a starting line, and the other a specialized box where the dog will release and catch a tennis ball that is to be carried back to the starting line. In between are four jumps.

Each dog in the team must complete the course. That is, run over the jumps, trigger the box to release a ball, catch the ball, and return with it, going over all four jumps. The next dog in line can’t cross the line before the dog currently on the course returns. If a dog would run on the side of a jump, or return without the ball, he or she must run the course again.

The height of the jumps are based on the team’s shortest dog, so everyone wants to have a small dog on the team.

Flyball is one of the most athletic dog sports. At a flyball tournament, a team might run between 18 and 24 heats in a day. Add in reruns for starting too early, missing a jump, or some other error, and a dog can easily run 40 times during a weekend.

To start training, your dog needs to get used to noisy and busy places. At a competition there will be dogs running around, barking, people running back and forth, balls, and other distractions. Train to stay calm around distractions, and train recall with distractions.

You can also train jumping, chasing you, tugging, and building the dog’s general strength through swimming and jogging.

Search for a club and classes in your area. This is a great sport with a lot of fun, and an opportunity for both humans and dogs to make friends.

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

The big eating holiday is finally here, and odds are tempting smells are pulling both humans and pets towards the kitchen. Yesterday we shared some tips of Thanksgiving foods that are okay for dogs and cats to eat, and some they shouldn’t have.

If you really want to share the holiday spirit and make your furry friends something special, we have a couple of ideas.

Pumpkin Smoothie for dogs

This is really easy to make, and most dogs love it. Mix equal parts plain nonfat yogurt and canned pumpkin puree. (Make sure it’s not pie filling – the cans look quiet similar.) Serve as  a liquid, or freeze for handy, cool treats.

Turkey Meatballs for dogs

  • 6 ounces ground turkey
  • 0.5 cup finely chopped carrots
  • 0.5 cup quinoa or oatmeal
  • A pinch of kelp powder

Place the carrots and turkey in a food processor and blend until smooth. Add quinoa/oatmeal and the kelp powder and blend some more. Roll into meatballs (it’s easier if you wet your hands with cold water) and bake in 400 F on a non-stick cookie sheet. They need around 15 minutes in the oven.

Happy Thanksgiving for dogs and cats

Pet feeding tips for Thanksgiving

contestThis is a great season for family get-togethers, and everyone enjoys the Thanksgiving dinner table. Make sure the holiday flows smoothly and safely for the pets too with our handy tips.

Dogs and cats can nibble on some boneless and well cooked turkey. They shouldn’t have raw turkey, undercooked turkey, skin, or bones. It is also okay to share some unsalted and unbuttered vegetables.

Dogs and cats cannot eat onions, garlic, leeks, or scallions. They also shouldn’t have grapes or raisins.

A taste of mashed potatoes is fine. Just consider that mashed potatoes can contain other ingredients than just potatoes. If your pet is lactose intolerant, cheese, butter, and milk in mashed potatoes can cause problems.

A taste of macaroni and cheese is also fine, if your pet can handle dairy.

Cranberry sauce is fine for pets, but there can be a lot of sugar in it, so limit the amount.

Some other things to watch out for are xylitol, sage (common in stuffing), and raw bread dough. The bread dough seems harmless, but it will continue to expand when eaten, and this can be very dangerous

Lost New Mexico cat found in Maine

Spice is a cat from New Mexico who bolted from her home when her human opened the door for trick-or-treaters on Halloween. The kitty didn’t return home, and she was nowhere to be found. That is, until she showed in in Maine a few days later – 2,500 miles away.

Spice was found in a duffle bag with food and kitty litter, and when she was turned in to an animal refuge they tracked her owner down through the microchip.

Spice is currently being treated for a mild respiratory infection, and a Maine businessman has promised to pay the cat’s transportation cost back to New Mexico. Hopes are, she’ll be home for the holidays.

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Dog sneaks onto ambulance

Image from peoplepets.com

When JR Nicholson needed a ride to the emergency room, his best friend Buddy would not accept being left behind. If Nicholson was going, so was Buddy.

This wouldn’t be so strange if Buddy was human, but he is a 40 lbs Beagle mix, adopted by Nicholson just four months prior to the incident.

The dog leaped onto the small side step of the ambulance and hitched a ride, unbeknownst to the crew.

The ambulance went around 20 miles before another driver stopped them, telling them there was a dog on the side of the vehicle.

Luckily Nicholson didn’t have to stay long at the hospital, and he could return home with his four-footed friend the same day.

Fruits and berries for dogs?

Dogs are natural scavengers and tend to eat what comes in their way. That doesn’t mean that all dogs like everything, or that everything they eat is good for them, but fruits and berries are nature’s treats, and most dogs love them. 

Not all fruits and berries are good for dogs. Here is a list with the most common ones, and whether your can let your furry friend share. Remember that everything should be given with moderation – you don’t want to give your pet a whole bowl of berries, because his or her digestive system won’t be used to it.

  • Apples
    Dogs shouldn’t eat the seeds, because they can be toxic to dogs, but the fruit is fine. Most dogs won’t care for the skin of the apple, but will happily gobble down a nice slice.
  • Bananas
    Some dogs don’t like the consistency of banana, and others love it. If your dog likes peeled banana it’s a great snack.
  • Blueberries
    Blueberries are fine, and rich in antioxidants. Many dog foods and treats contain blueberries.
  • Coconut
    Dogs can eat both coconut meat and milk.
  • Grapes
    No. Dogs should not eat grapes or raisins. Not all dogs react adversely to them, but those who do can die from kidney failure. Don’t take the risk.
  • Mango
    Mango has a large pit that the dog shouldn’t have. Dogs can have a piece of mango flesh without the peel and pit.
  • Oranges
    Peeled and de-seeded citrus fruits are fine for dogs. Just make sure to remove the seeds.
  • Peaches
    Peaches are tricky, because the pit contains cyanide, and this is deadly to everyone, not just dogs. If you absolutely want to give your dog peach, make sure to only give the outer layers of the fruit, because cyanide can seep out from the pit into the meat close to the center. It’s not enough to harm a human, but it can be enough to harm a dog.
  • Pears
    Dogs can eat pears, as long as you remove the seeds and cores.
  • Pineapple
    Pineapple meat is fine for dogs. They shouldn’t have the prickly husk, of course, but the meat is fine.
  • Plums
    Avoid giving your dog plums, for the same reason they shouldn’t have peaches. The pit is dangerous, and there isn’t enough meat on a plum to find a layer where you can be absolutely sure it’s safe.
  • Raspberries
    Raspberries are fine, and many dogs love them. Some dogs have been known to eat raspberries directly off the bushes!
  • Strawberries
    Sure, but you should remove the leaves and any stem. You want the dog to eat the berry, not the greenery.
  • Watermelon
    Yes, dogs can eat watermelon, but you should remove the seeds.

Dog with vegetables

Do you brush your dog’s teeth?

Cats and dogs are just as susceptible to teeth problems as humans, and problems with teeth can lead to other health issues.  Luckily, you can prevent toothaches and tartar.

Some of the most common warning signs for tooth and gum problems include:

  • Bad breath
  • Sensitive mouth
  • Loss of appetite
  • Deposits on the teeth
  • Inflamed, bleeding, or withdrawn gums
  • Loose teeth
  • Missing teeth
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Problems chewing

You can teach your dog or cat to let your brush its teeth at any age, but it will be easier the earlier you start. Always give plenty of praise and rewards.

Start by wrapping some gauze around your finger and rub your pet’s teeth with this. This will help your pet get used to the brushing process.

Show  your pet a dog or cat toothbrush and let them get used to the brush. There are specially designed toothbrushes and toothpaste – don’t use human toothpaste.

Focus on the gumline, and make a routine of brushing at least a few times per week. Every day is the best.

Agility for beginners

AgilityAnyone who has seen an agility competition can feel awe at the talented dogs scaling ladders, running through tunnels, and balancing on teeter boards. Agility is a great sport that strengthens the bond between dog and human, and it poses a healthy challenge for the dog.

If you want to try with your dog, you can do so at home. You can make your own obstacle course, and once you have that, it just takes some patience and training.

A basic agility course has weave poles, a dog walk, standard jumps, a pause table, a tunnel, and a tire jump. All these things are for sale, but you can also make them yourself with materials from a hardware store or a flea market.

You can make your own weave poles through sticking PVC pipe into the ground. Make sure there’s enough space between the poles for your dog to navigate around them. Bamboo poles also work very well.

The dog walk is basically a long bench where the challenge for the dog is staying on the bench instead of jumping down. You can use a picnic bench, or make a dog walk by placing a piece of plywood across cinderblocks.

For pause table you can use an old coffee table. Just make sure that it’s stable and not too high off the ground.

When it comes to jumps, make sure they’re low enough for your dog to be able to get over. You can increase the height as your dog gets in shape and figures out what to do. Many build jumps out of PVC pipes, but you can also balance a broom stick on two flower pots.

For a tire jump you can use a hula hoop tied sideways between two chairs. Just make sure the construction is stable enough not to fall when the dog jumps through.

Most department stores and children’s stores have collapsible tunnels. One of these won’t last as long as a specially made agility tunnel, but it’s a good start that will last long enough for you to figure out if this is the right thing for you and your dog. You can also make your own tunnel with a row of low tables and blankets.

Before starting on the course, make sure your dog knows basic commands such as sit, come, stay, and lie down. Once you have that down, help your dog through the course. Take your time and start slow.

The Bengal – a big cat in small format

Bengal catMany people are attracted to big cats, and their beauty, strength, and independence holds an irresistible allure. Lions, tigers, cheetahs, and bobcats don’t make good pets, but that hasn’t stopped people from trying, and the Bengal was developed to create a cat with the wild look in a safe and domestic package. The first Bengals were bred in the 1960s, and come from small Asian Leopard Cats and domestic shorthairs. 

The typical Bengal is extremely intelligent, active, and curious, and these cats want a lot of interaction and attention. Translated to dog people, a Bengal cat is like a Border Collie in cat shape – if not properly stimulated the Bengal will get bored, and they’re quite able to open drawers and cabinets to see what’s inside, or dismantle things to see how they work.

Bengals love to climb – the higher the better – and they love playing with water. Don’t be surprised if your Bengal wants to join you in the shower. Unlike many other cat breeds, Bengals like to learn tricks and games, and enjoy puzzle games.

Each cat is an individual, but the average Bengal gets along fine with dogs. They are affectionate, energetic, and overall healthy.

Like cats and dogs?

catanddogMany believe that dogs and cats are natural enemies. That’s not true – whether a cat and a dog will get along or not depends on the individuals, but also on the socialization they’ve received earlier in life. Many cats and dogs are great friends.

Whether your cat and dog will get along or not usually depends on the dog. Many dogs will chase small animals that run, and this is particularly a problem amongst herding breeds and those with strong prey instinct. Of course, the cat won’t appreciate being chased, and the more kitty runs, the more the dog will give chase.

  • Make sure the cat can get away and hide if it wants to. It’s great to give kitty access to an elevated resting place the dog can’t reach.
  • Keep your dog restrained during introductions. He or she shouldn’t be able to chase, even if the cat runs.
  • Baby gates are a great way to gradually introduce dogs and cats.
  • Let them take their time.

Don’t force physical closeness. If you pick up the cat and hold it in the dog’s face to introduce them, odds are the cat will scratch the dog, and the dog won’t like the cat. Let introductions be slow and supervised, and watch for any potential problems.

It can take weeks for a cat and dog to get used to each other, and to learn to communicate.  If they don’t seem to tolerate each other even after a few weeks, consider seeking help from a professional trainer.

Make your dog’s bed the best spot in the world

Sleeping puppySome dogs are always on the go. Physical and mental exercise are the best ways to keep a dog occupied and stimulated, but it is possible to train a more relaxed behavior even when you’re not directly playing or training.

It is a good idea to give your dog a spot of their own. This can be a doggy bed, the crate, or other suitable place. Odds are your dog will appreciate a snuggly place with a comfortable bed, but this might not be enough to make it the best spot in the world.

Leave a treat in this special spot at random times through the day. Your dog will discover them eventually, and this makes the bed one of the most interesting places in the house.

It is also a great idea to stop by with a treat every now and then when the dog rests on the bed. If your dog loves to be petted, make a point out of noticing when she’s on her bed, and give some extra attention. Unless she’s really sleeping, of course.

It might take a little time before your dog figures it out, but keep sending the message that resting on the bed makes good things happen. It is much easier to handle a dog who begs for attention and goodies through resting than one who jumps and barks.

Dog training tips, part 2

In yesterday’s post, we mentioned five dog training tips. Here are five more that will hopefully make training and everyday life easier.

1. Have realistic expectations

Changing a behavior takes time, especially if it’s a deeply rooted habit that has been going on for a long time. Re-training an adult dog takes longer than teaching a puppy the first time. It is never too late to change a behavior, but some things will take longer than others.

For example, if you’ve allowed your dog to jump up to greet people for five years,  but decide that the behavior isn’t okay anymore, it will take a while to learn a new way of greeting.

2. Some behaviors are harder to change

Barking, digging, and jumping are “normal” behavior for a dog, and these things will take longer to change even with diligent training than re-learning a trained behavior. Be patient and consistent.

Barking, digging, and jumping are often considered problem behaviors. In order to teach a dog not to bark, it can be useful to teach him or her to bark on command first. If your dog loves to dig, it can help to give an allowed digging spot, like a doggy sandbox. If your dog jumps on people, try teaching a good “sit” and give the command “sit” before he actually jumps.

3. Watch what you reinforce

The philosophy, “do as I say, not as I do” will not work on a dog. If you accidentally encourage an unwanted behavior, it will take a long time to “un-train” it.

For example, your dog jumps on the door to make you open it. If you give in, the dog will know that jumping on the door makes it come open. Instead, make your dog sit before you open. It might not work at once, but dogs are smart and good at making connections.

Another example is if your dog brings you a tennis ball and barks to make you throw it. If you throw the ball, the dog learns that barking makes you play. The next time he comes with the ball and barks you say no, but he keeps barking. If you throw the ball now, your clever pooch will know that persistence pays off. Ignore the barking and tell your dog to sit before you throw it.

It is much easier to handle a dog who thinks sitting brings good things than one who knows that barking or jumping brings good things.

4. Rewards are good

Many dog owners feel that using treats to train their dog is the same as bribing the dog. You don’t have to use treats for training, but there’s no harm in it if it helps you keep your dog’s attention. Other good rewards are a toy, praise, and play. As long as the behavior you want produces the reward you’re good.

5. Give new dogs and puppies limited freedom

Limiting freedom to the house can sound harsh, but when you bring home a new puppy or a dog from a shelter, both your life and the dog’s will be easier if you start with a small area and gradually open up your home. Let your new furry friend get used to the new place, the family, and your rules.

Dog training tips, part 1

PlexiDor_150x150As a dog owner, training is both fun, necessary, and a responsibility. Dogs generally want to please their humans, but they aren’t born with general knowledge of how to behave, so we have to teach them. 

Whether you want to teach your dog basic obedience, to do tricks, or to use a dog door, the training process will be easier if you know the basics. We’ve collected some training tips, and here are one through five. Come back tomorrow for five more!

1. Learn to listen to your dog

This might sound like a strange tip – the article is supposed to be about dog training and not human training – but learning to listen and understand the dog sets the foundation for everything else. Paying attention to dogs helps us learn their body language, and you will soon know exactly what your dog wants or feels.

2. Be generous with affection

We’re usually pretty quick to say no, or scold the dog when something goes wrong, and less prone to give praise when things are right. Give your dog lots of affection and attention when he or she does the right thing. It’s okay to be over the top – it makes your dog feel that sitting, staying, coming, whatever it might be was a really good thing that’s worth the effort of doing again.

3. Figure out what your dog likes

When you’re training your dog it helps to have a reward they really like. This is often a treat, but can also be a toy, or your affection. When it comes to treats, most dogs prefer soft, chewy, and smelly treats over hard and crunchy treats. If you find something your dog really loves, training will be a breeze.

4. Be clear about what you want

Humans generalize well, but dogs don’t. This often leads to a clash when we say “no” and think it’s perfectly clear that no means “stop jumping,” or “get off the sofa.” A dog can draw the conclusion that no means “jump higher” or “lie down instead of sitting.” You will get better results if you tell the dog what you want him to do instead. For example, if the dog is jumping, making him sit will work better than just saying no.

5. Be consistent

Your dog is learning how to handle the world, and being consistent helps. Some dogs are quite able to learn that “release” and “drop” mean the same thing, but it will be much easier for your dog to learn if everyone in the family uses the same command. Agree on family rules. Is the dog allowed in all rooms? Is the dog allowed on the furniture?

 

Dogs can be veterans too

It is Veterans’ Day, and many in the USA take a moment out of everyday life to think about and thank military veterans. This year, six military dogs will be honored on a float in the Veterans’ Day parade.

Many dogs work in the military. They perform dangerous tasks, and are often not even transported back home after duty overseas – their handlers return home, but the dogs are left abroad.

The dogs and their handlers have often worked side by side for years, and many veteran advocates lobby for all four-legged defenders to be returned to the USA. The American Humane Association helps retired military dogs to be reunited with their human veterans.

The AHA writes, “With an estimated 2,500 military working dogs and contract working dogs working side by side with soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, the need has never been greater to bring each dog home. The dogs have noses that are 100,000 times more sensitive than humans’, giving them an unparalleled ability to sniff out and detect weapons caches and Improvised Explosive Devices. It is estimated that each military working dog saves the lives of between 150-200 service members.”

Read more about the initiative here.

 

Lost dog returns home – after seven years

Almost eight years ago, Mike Nuane had a Shih Tzu puppy named Jordan. The little dog disappeared and was presumed stolen from the back yard in Denver. During the years since then life moved on, but Jordan was never forgotten.

Not long ago the Nuane family got a phone call from the Fulton County Animal Shelter in Atlanta, saying, “We’ve got a dog here that’s yours.”

All their dogs were accounted for, but the Atlanta stray’s microchip insisted he belonged to Mike Nuane. It was Jordan, turned in as a stray, many years later and several states away from his home!

Jordan was in pretty bad shape, but has gotten loving care from the shelter, and Nuane flew to Atlanta with leash, collar, food, and food bowls to pick up his lost friend.

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PlexiDor Pet Doors featured in Window and Door Magazine

PlexiDor pet doors in Window and Door MagazineThe October/November issue of Window and Door Magazine features the PlexiDor Pet door, and mentions that these dog doors and cat doors are shatter resistant with a material specially formulated to resist damage from sunlight, extreme temperatures, and high impact.

The high impact point is particularly important for households with large and giant dogs. There is a lot of energy in a running dog in a hurry to reach the outside, and giant breeds often break other types of doors.

The article also mentions that each panel is lined with industrial grade weather seal for maximum energy efficiency, and that the PlexiDor dog doors and cat doors are created with security in mind.

To read the full feature, click on the image to the right or follow this link.

PlexiDor Pet Doors featured in Business Observer

PlexiDor Pet Doors have been featured in the Florida Business Observer, in an article focusing on business growth and how Joseph Ambrose – company owner – pulled the pet door company out of the recession into a stage of growth. 

The article mentions, “The today at PlexiDor is wrapped around more than 50 lines and varieties of saloon-style, shatter resistant, two-way pet doors that go on the bottom of people doors. Prices range from $163 to $1,249 a door. The products are chew-proof and  made with hardened acrylic panels. The goal is to make something secure, sturdy and energy efficient.”

To read the entire article, click on the image below, or follow this link.

 

PlexiDor Pet Doors featured in the Florida Business Observer

There’s still time to enter our fun contest!

contestThere’s still time to enter our fun contest, but it is only open for a few more weeks, so this is a good time to do it.

Here are some frequently asked questions we’ve been getting:

What can I win?

First prize is 1,000 pounds of dog food, with delivery. Runners up get Dunkin Donuts gift cards.

I don’t have a PlexiDor, can I still enter?

Absolutely. Submit your best photo of your pet using any pet door. If you don’t have a pet door at all, it’s okay to be creative.

My dogs eat raw food. Can I donate the prize?

This is a lot of dog food, and many dog owners stick to a certain brand or type of food. If you win first prize and want to donate the food to a rescue or shelter, just let us know and we will arrange it.

How do I enter?

Entering is easy. Just visit /contest-2014/ and fill out the form.

Can I see previous entries?

Yes. Visit /contest-2014-submissions/ to see previous entries.

 

Teach your pet to use the PlexiDor

PlexiDor largeMost pets take to the PlexiDor pet door, because they can see the outside through the panel, and it is easy for them to open the dog door or cat. Teaching a cat or dog to use the Plexidor pet door usually takes somewhere between a few seconds and a week.

If your cat or dog doesn’t immediately go through the pet door, try propping the panels open and calling for the pet. Put something they really want on the other side, like some stinky treat. The smellier the better, and small pieces of cheese or meat usually does the trick.

Be patient, and praise progress.

When it comes to the electronic PlexiDor pet door, the trick is to get the pet close enough for the panel to open. Place the treat on the bottom lip of the pet door. When your pet approaches to get the treat, the collar key will open the door. Most pets catch on quickly.

Pets are different, just like we are. Some will get it and love their dog door or cat door at first sight, others need a little longer. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you need help!

Make your own dog cookies

This is a baking time a year for many, and holidays line up. It’s tempting to give the pets some of our treats, but human foods and cookies aren’t all that good for them. Better to make them something of their own.

To make this recipe, you need:
2 cups wheat germ
3 jars of chicken baby food (check so it doesn’t have onion)
1 tbsp water

To make the cookies, you need to strain the baby food and mix it with wheat germ and water. Make balls of the dough, flatten the balls with a fork, and bake in 350 F in 20-25 minutes.

Super easy, and dogs love them!