Breed of the Week: Chihuahua

chihuahua

We’ve discussed lots of giant dog breeds in our ‘breeds of the week’, but this week we will be looking at a tiny little dog, the Chihuahua! Popularized in the 90’s as a mascot for a fast food chain, this tiny dog has a very big personality!

 

This breed was developed in Mexico in the mid 1800’s. They were named after the ‘Chihuahua’ state in Mexico. They are thought to originate from an ancient small breed in Mexico call the ‘Techichi’. It was common to find ancient remains of Chihuahua-looking dogs in old Mexican ruins. The Toltec people of Mexico created the Techichi and believed that their faithful companions would follow them to the afterlife and so this ancient civilization would have their Techichi buried with them when they would pass away.

 

The Chihuahua started to become popular in America in the mid 1900’s as this was the time when more people were settling down in cities and less people were working on farmland. The Chihuahua wasn’t very popular earlier than this, due to their very small size, they aren’t a working dog breed. Dogs were generally owned to work alongside farmers, guarding livestock, pulling carts, etc. When more of the population started residing in cities, they were now becoming more interested in owning a dog for companionship, but keeping in mind they need to be small as they’d be living in smaller places.

 

The Chihuahua can come in almost any colour or hair type you can think of! You can get a Chihuahua that’s blonde, black, white, short haired, long haired, you name it! Only if your Chihuahua is long haired will it require hair clipping. Every Chihuahua will need brushing about once every two weeks. They do not shed as much as many other types of dog breeds, but they still do shed! They will require basic grooming like bathing, nail clipping, etc. Generally speaking, the short haired Chihuahua is one of the more low maintenance dog breeds in terms of grooming needs.

Chihuahuas can be very sensitive dogs and will quickly respond to how their owner is feeling and acting. If the owner is calm and confident, the Chihuahua will often be a sweet and gentle dog. Unfortunately, if the dog is spoiled or coddled too much, this can create the dog to feel anxious or fearful and will often result in barking or nipping. For instance, the Chihuahua is the breed you often see being carried around in a purse and being reassured or coddled when barking or acting fearful around strangers. Dogs need their owner’s guidance and corrections to learn what behaviour is not okay and what behaviour is. For this reason, it is very important to socialize your Chihuahua and not accidentally reward or coddle them if they are barking or trying to nip at strangers.

 

Chihuahuas can be wonderful companions that are faithful to their owners, and when properly socialized, sweet and well-mannered little dogs. With their small size, they are perfect pets for small living spaces such as apartments. If you are interested in a popular pint sized pup, look no farther than the wonderful Chihuahua!

Brain Games for your Dog

smart-dog

We all love hanging out with our four legged companions; Whether it be going for a nice long walk or strengthening your bond during playtime! While fetch and tug of war can be some fun games we often play with our dogs, but did you know you could be playing some great games that get your dog thinking? We’ve listed a couple of games to play with your dog that will help keep them mentally stimulated and satisfied!

 

Hide and Seek

For this game you will need two people. One person instructs the dog to sit and stay, while the other person goes to hide. Once that person is fully hidden, you can then instruct the dog to go find that person. To make this game easier for the dog to understand at first, it is best to use people that they are bonding with as they will quickly recognise their scent and track them down. To make the game even easier if your dog doesn’t quite get it initially, the person hidden can make a few quiet noises to alert the dog that there is someone to find. This game uses your dogs scent tracking and they get an incredible sense of satisfaction and confidence once they find that person! Make sure to make a big deal when your dog finds the hidden person and give them tons of praise!

 

The Shell Game

 

A well-known game amongst humans, the shell game consists of a ball or some other item hidden under one of three (or more) shells. One person moves around the shells and then the other person has to guess which shell the item is under. It is best to start off very easy for your dog to understand the game. Start off by having your dog sit and stay. Then place a treat under one cup or shell. Instruct your dog to come and he will naturally want to go to the cup he just saw you put a treat under. Slowly, you can increase the amount of cups used. You want your dog to gain confidence in these games, so make sure to not make it too difficult too fast. If 5 cups is too hard for him and he often doesn’t get the correct answer, then reduce it back down to 4 or 3 cups. This game has your dog using his problem solving skills, and just like with most brain games, he will get a big confidence boost when he chooses the correct shell.

 

If you are looking to not only strengthen your bond with your dog, but also help him strengthen his brain power, then you and your dog will definitely benefit by incorporating these fun brain games into your regular routine!

Breed of the Week: St. Bernard

saintbernard

If you’ve seen the famous movie ‘Beethoven’, then you’re already familiar with our breed of the week, the St. Bernard! This big cuddly goofball is a well-known family dog that really is a gentle giant! Read on to find out why everyone’s heart melts when they meet a St. Bernard!

 

The St. Bernard breed was developed in the 17th century Switzerland as companions to monks. They were bred from various mastiff-type dogs. These dogs would accompany the monks on search patrols as they were excellent at detecting avalanches about to happen. With their keen sense of smell, they were also used to track anyone who had been buried in snow by the avalanches. When the weather was too bad for the monks to do their searches, they would send out groups of St. Bernards to go alone and search out for anyone who had been lost or buried in the snow. When the dog would find someone, one St. Bernard would lie on the body to keep it warm, while another Bernard would go back to the monastery to alert the monks. The very recognizable barrel under the neck of a St. Bernard, would contain some sort of alcohol so that the person being rescued could drink it to help stay warm while waiting to be rescued.

 

Now that we use helicopters and various forms of technology for search and rescues, the St. Bernard is generally just used as companion dog. As with most giant breeds, the St. Bernard does require daily exercise but not as much as a highly active dog such as a Border collie or Weimaraner.  But due to their extra-large size, they do take up a lot of space so they may not be best for small living areas such as an apartment. They get along great with kids as well as cats and other dogs. As with any breed they should be well socialized at an early age. St. Bernards should also learn all of their basic obedience at an early age as to not become to rambunctious when full grown and to prevent jumping on people (as they could easily knock an adult over!).

 

The St. Bernard doesn’t require any hair trimming, but they do shed a lot! They will need to be brushed at least once a day. And if you don’t like drool, then you will not enjoy living with a St. Bernard. They will drool on anything and everything! You won’t ever have to worry about buying them booties or a jacket for the cold weather, they were bred to work in the snow! So they often really enjoy going for even longer walks during the cold weather.

 

Living with a St. Bernard is like living with a giant cuddly teddy bear, they are excellent cuddlers (their original job was to basically cuddle people buried in snow and keep them warm!). They get along great with everyone and really enjoy being around their owners. Hopefully you like the snow because St. Bernards will want to play in the cold weather all day! And as long as you’re okay with drool, the St. Bernard could be the perfect breed for you.

Doggy Dental Care

Pembroke Welsh Corgi puppy with a toothbrush

We all know to keep up with our dog’s basic grooming; nail trimming, brushing & hair trimming. One very important piece of their basic grooming that is often forgotten is their dental hygiene. Dogs don’t know to brush their teeth every day, so it is up to us as their owners to ensure that their teeth and mouth stay healthy and clean. Here are some tips to keeping your dog’s dental hygiene the best it can be!

 

Crunchy Treats

Giving your dog crunchy food and treats is a great way to help work off any plaque build-up on their teeth. Having to chew on things like raw carrots or big pieces of kibble will help to work off some of the built up plaque on your dog’s teeth. This method will definitely help reduce plaque, but crunchy treats should be used in combination with other teeth cleaning methods as crunchy food will often not reach all of the built up plaque around the gum line.

 

Teeth Scaling

Dogs that have a lot of built up plaque on their teeth will often require vets to do a procedure called teeth scaling. This involves the vet putting the dog under anesthesia and then using dental tools to scrape off all the plaque on your dogs teeth. The vet will also generally do a full x-ray of your dog’s mouth after teeth scaling to ensure your dog’s mouth is in good health. This procedure is the most effective to keeping your dog’s mouth clean but it is also the most expensive as well as requires your dog to be under anesthesia. If your dog is young and his teeth are in good health, you likely won’t require this procedure until he gets older. Be careful of any groomers claiming to provide teeth scaling. It is a procedure that should only be done by your vet as they use the proper anesthesia to prevent your dog moving during the scaling, as well as they are trained to provide full cleanings without harming the many blood vessels in your dogs mouth.

Teeth Brushing

A very effective method of teeth cleaning that you can do for your dog every day is physically brushing his teeth, just like you brush yours every day! Ask your vet on the best dog safe toothpaste to use (as they are not all made equal!), and you can pick up little dog toothbrushes. Some dog toothbrushes are built to fit right on your finger to make it easier for you to thoroughly clean your dog’s teeth. It is important to start brushing your dog’s teeth early on so that they become comfortable with it, as it will be a weird and new sensation to your dog at first.

 

We all know how important is it to take care of our oral health, it is just as important for your dog to have good oral health & hygiene too! The best way to ensure your dog’s teeth are clean and plaque free, is to be brushing their teeth with dog safe toothpaste every day. Combined with vet teeth scaling as determined by your vet, as well as some crunchy treats, your dog will have the brightest smile around!

Breed of the Week: Chow Chow

chow-chow-dog

Here comes the Chow Chow! A bouncy, fluffy, energetic teddy bear that loves his family! This dog is an independent thinker and some say this breed acts more like a cat than a dog!

 

Chow chows are believed to be one of the oldest dog breeds in the world. Originating from Mongolia, they were kept by Chinese emperors to guard all of their valuable possessions. Some emperors kept as many as 2000 Chows! The breed started becoming very popular outside of China after Queen Victoria gained interest in them, and then in 1895 a breed club was finally formed for the Chow Chow. Now in the modern world, many celebrities have fallen in love with the breed too! Sigmund Freud’s daughter became a Chow breeder and Martha Stewart would often bring her own Chows onto her television show.

 

As you can probably guess by looking at these big fluffy teddy bears, the Chow would be considered high maintenance for grooming. They require daily brushing, sometimes twice a day if your particular Chow is a heavy seasonal shedder. Basic grooming like nail clipping, teeth cleaning and bathing will also be required. Some owners choose to shave down their Chows, but most groomers will recommend against this due to the Chow’s ‘double coat’. When dogs with double coats are shaved, it often leaves the hair to grow back much coarser than it was before, as well as diminish it’s naturally ability as insulation in colder weather. So we highly recommend that you don’t shave your Chow Chow’s coat, but instead simply keep up with brushing and your Chow will be feeling comfortable as well as keeping stylish!

 

Chow Chows are very family oriented. The family unit they grow up with they will often bond to for life and be very loyal companions. Chows are often independent and serious type dogs and do not like to be ‘messed with’; for this reason they should be carefully monitored around young or rowdy children. Chows need to be heavily socialized when puppies to ensure they are not too standoffish or weary of strangers, as well as to become comfortable around children and other animals. Most Chows have a natural tendency to be very friendly with cats, probably because they act so similar in mannerisms! Although they are almost always calm and almost lazy inside the home, they do still require a fair amount of exercise to keep them happy and healthy.

 

Chows are a wonderful choice for individuals or families looking for a laid back dog that will always be happy to see their owners. Loved by many celebrities, this dog gets along great with cats and can get along well with kids when socialized early. The Chow Chow will love to go for a long run with their owner and then relax for the rest of the day at home. So make sure to consider the Chow Chow when looking to add a new dog to your home!

Ways to Help Your Dog Relax

Most dog owners at one point or another have seen their dog in an anxious or stressed state. It can be unfortunate to watch your dog feeling stressed, especially when you don’t know what to do. So to help you and your pup feel more at ease during those anxious times, we’ve put together some helpful tips to ease your dog into a more relaxed state of mind.

 

‘Monkey See, Monkey Do’: What we mean by this is when your dog sees you acting calm and speaking in a low, soothing voice, he will also be in a calm state of mind with you. Dogs read our body language very well and respond to it immediately. If you are talking in a way that gets your dog excited, then you can only expect him to be excited! The more you practise being calm in your own life, you will quickly see your dog becoming calm right along with you.

 

Go For a Run!: Have you ever noticed going for walk quickly improves your mood? The same goes for your dog! Making sure your dog is properly mentally and physically stimulated helps to ensure they are not redirecting any excess energy into being anxious. A tired dog is much more likely to be calm and relaxed as opposed to a dog who hasn’t had a walk all day!

 

Thundershirt: Using a special design of ‘pressure points’ (but not painful), the thundershirt helps anxious dogs by fitting snugly and applying pressure to make the dog feel more secure. Similar to how a baby feels when being swaddled, the thundershirt fits tight on the dog’s torso and makes most dogs feel safe during anxiety-inducing instances such as thunderstorms, loud noises, vet visits, fireworks, etc. Although the thundershirt may not work for every dog, many dog owners have found a lot of relief with this product.

 

Whether you decide to use anxiety-reducing products or simply talking in a less excited tone to you dog, the best way to help your dog stay in a calm state of mind is patience and consistency. Especially if your dog is prone to being anxious, sometimes the best method is to ask a trainer or behaviourist on what long term exercises you can do to help your dog. Just as we don’t want to be constantly stressed, our dogs shouldn’t have to be stressed either. Making sure to watch our own behaviours and staying in a calm state of mind around our dogs will help them to relax.

Breed of the Week: Golden Retriever

golden-retriever

Possibly the most well-known dog breed anywhere, our breed of the week is the ever classic Golden Retriever! This breed has been popular in TV & film, and commonly thought as the most family oriented breed. If you are considering adding a Golden Retriever to your life and family, read on to learn more about why we love them so much!

 

Goldens originated in Britain in the 1800’s. To develop the Golden that we know and love today, breeders crossed various existing breeds such as the Newfoundlander, Irish setter, and various water spaniels. The breed was used to retrieve water fowl for hunters. When the hunters would shoot the fowl, the Golden Retriever had to quickly swim out into the water and bring the water fowl to his owner. The task required the dog to be accustomed to the loud noise of the gun, as well as energy and focus to swim out into the water all day.

 

The loving and happy Golden Retriever is a wonderful family pet. They get along great with kids of all sizes, cats, dogs, you name it! As with every dog breed, even Golden Retrievers need to be socialized early to reinforce their love for everyone! Goldens have a lot of energy and will need daily walks as well as regular hikes or some other form of energy-draining activity. They are very intelligent dogs and will often learn all of their obedience very quickly. To help keep them from boredom, try playing some games that mentally stimulate them or teach them a new trick such as bringing you your car keys! They do very well learning tricks involving ‘retrieving’ considering their history.

 

Golden retrievers do require daily brushing, sometimes twice a day as their hair can easily tangle after a few hours of playtime! Depending on your particular golden, many owners will bring their Golden Retriever once every few months to have their ‘feathers’ trimmed. ‘Feathers’ being that wispy looking hair off of their legs and tail. You may find you need to bathe your Golden every month or so as they have a tendency to get dirty when playing. They gravitate towards playing in the dirt or muddy water. We would recommend investing in a sensitive shampoo that is advertised as safe to use for frequent dog bathing, as you don’t want to dry out your dog’s skin by bathing too often.

 

If you’re looking for an all-round great companion that greets everyone with a wagging tail, you are sure to love the Golden Retriever! They do great with most living situations; even in small apartments, as long as they receive enough exercise. They are gentle dogs with lots of energy that have a way of quickly becoming your best friend for life!

Fast and Healthy Dog Treats

dog-chef

We know you put a lot of thought and care into what your dog eats. Whether it’s a reward during a training session or just a midday snack, you want to be sure your dog’s treats are yummy and nutritious. We’ve put together a couple of dog treat options/recipes that you can be sure your dog will beg for more!

 

Raw Carrots

After washing, peeling and chopping into bite size pieces, raw carrots are an inexpensive and nutritious treat for your dog. Most dogs absolutely love the taste of carrots which explains why they are commonly used in dog foods. They are packed full of vitamins that keep your dog feeling his best as well as low in calorie so they are a great idea for training treats! Not only are they super nutritious, their crunchy texture as helps in cleaning your dog’s teeth!

 

Frozen Apple Treats

Especially good on warmer days, your dog will absolutely love frozen apple treats!

2 Cups Apples (peeled, cored, pureed)

1 Cup Plain Non-fat Yogurt

1 Cup Water

Mix all ingredients together and pour into an ice cube tray. Let freeze for 6-8 hours.

These treats will not only help to keep your dog hydrated, apples are also a great source of fiber, vitamin A and vitamin C. The yogurt in this treat is a natural source of calcium for your pooch, and contains probiotics to help keep your dog’s digestive tract healthy!

 

With these easy to prepare treats you will always be ready when your pup is in need of a snack! Have these ready to go during your training session or going out for a walk. These healthy additions to your dogs diet will help them meet their required daily nutrients and keep them living happy and healthy lives!

Breed of the Week: Schipperke

schipperke

Have you heard about our latest breed of the week? The Schipperke! This little black fox-looking dog is not super well known but wins over your heart at first play! They are active little dogs with a constant smile on their face. Read on to learn more about the Schipperke!

 

The Schipperke was originally bred in Belgium as a very effective watchdog. Their ancestors are a larger breed with similar looks, known as the ‘Leauvennar’.

 

With their natural instinct to watch and protect, you can be sure you are safe with the Schipperke watching your family and home. They are definitely a small dog with a huge personality and confidence, with these characteristics they definitely need to be heavily socialized with people to ensure they don’t become standoffish or aggressive towards new people.

 

These little guys never run out of energy! To keep them happy and healthy you will need to spend a lot of time together exercising as well as keeping them mentally stimulated (they are a very intelligent breed). They would do very well in agility competitions. You could also teach them games to get out some energy at the same time as giving them mental stimulation. A great game to play with your Schipperke would be ‘search & rescue’. This game consists of having your dog facing away from where you will be hiding a toy. Once you’ve hidden the toy, tell them ‘find it’, and once they have found it and brought it back to you, give them praise or a treat! This helps to drain some energy, keep them mentally stimulated, build their confidence (the pride they get when they’ve found the toy), and strengthening your bond!

 

The Schipperke typically has an all-black coat, but can also come in brown (chocolate), cream, black and tan and red. Although the other colours (aside from black) can be quite rare to find. This dog really does look like a little black fox with their furry bodies and tiny little legs. As well as their fox-like pointy nose and ears. When they open the mouths they almost look like they are smiling at you!  They will require trips to the vet for a hair trim about once a month, along with all their other basic grooming needs (brushing, nail trimming, etc.).

 

The Schipperke can do well in a household with respectful children (not too rowdy, so possibly not great with very young kids). Just as with any breed, they should always be socialized early. Whether living with a single person or a family, this dog just wants to live an active and busy lifestyle. Schipperke owners quickly bond with their wonderful and sweet companions and always feel protected with them around!