Tuesday, May 24, 2011


The type of leash and collar an owner uses when walking and training their dog can highly impact the trainability, cooperation, and comfort of your special tail-wagger. However, with so many new collar/leash designs and combinations on the market these days, it can be extremely overwhelming to decide on the best option for your canine. Let’s walk through the basics by highlighting the pros and cons of each alternative so you can decide the best fit for your pet.

Basic Leashes
A leash has a simple concept: to keep your canine companion attached to you. Basic leashes are ideal for dogs that do not pull and heel well at their owner’s command. The main components to consider when buying this option are color, line length, and material. Color is clearly your own preference. Typically, a medium length leash is best as it leaves enough room for your dog to comfortably wander in the direction he or she chooses while keeping your dog close enough to properly control him or her. Longer leashes may be ideal for recall work and training exercises, but are unsafe for walks. Soft, flexible leather leashes are a good material choice as they do not hurt the hand when your dog pulls. Cotton leashes can easily be torn if your dog likes to chew the lead and nylon leashes can be uncomfortable for your hand if your dog is a puller.

A martingale collar is similar to a basic collar except it stays loose when it needs to be and tightens up on the two slides when your dog strains or tries to pull out of the collar. Therefore it is an ideal choice for dogs with narrow heads like greyhounds because it is impossible to slip off the neck or head. The extra loop, or the two slides can be made of fabric or chain material. Because it stays loose most of the time, it can be a more comfortable collar selection for your canine and is highly recommended by dog training professionals.

Flexi® or Retractable Leashes
According to Pat Miller, writing for the Woof Report, “invented in Germany, the flexi leash consists of a plastic handle in which a spring-loaded cord is stored.” This is convenient because it allows you to be flexible about the amount of space you allow your dog to roam. However, flexi leashes have been known to snap and break and the plastic handle can be difficult to hold and is easily dropped. If your dog is a puller, these leashes are not recommended as they give you very little control over your dog.

Gentle Leaders®  and Haltis®
Photo Courtesy of lavocado@sbcglobal.net
Both Gentle Leaders® and Haltis®  are a type of head halter that fits around the dog’s muzzle and behind the ears. As a result, this leash and collar combination gives the handler more control over the dog as the dog must look back at the handler when the leash is pulled. Some dogs’ necks are so strong that snapping or correcting with a basic collar or martingale, yields little, to no results. Head halters can be more effective in correcting a strong-willed dog. On the other hand, if these head halters, specifically the Gentle Leader®, are not fastened correctly, they run the risk of slipping off your dog’s nose.

No Pull Easy Walk Harness™
For canines that strain on the leash to the point of coughing and potentially causing harm to their neck or trachea, the easy walk harness is an excellent solution. Fitted around the shoulders and chest, no pressure is forced on the neck. The leash fastens to a ring by the chest rather than by the back, the typical fashion for most harnesses. This provides greater control as the dog must turn to face the owner when the leash is pulled back.

Prong Collars
For extremely strong dogs that are difficult to manage, prong collars may be a necessary investment. These collars are sometimes incorrectly referred to as “pinch collars” but if they are put on correctly, no pinching occurs because the ends of the prongs are blunted. The prong collar should be placed higher up on the dog’s neck. Links may need to be added or removed to find the proper size. It is imperative that you learn the proper way to affix a prong collar so seek a dog training professional’s help if you are unsure.

The leash you chose depends on the demeanor, size, health condition, and comfort of both you and your fuzzy friend. Morris K9 Campus has a fine selection of martingale collars, Gentle Leaders®, Haltis®, and no-pull Easy Walk Harnesses™ to choose from. Ask our staff members at Morris K9 Campus if you have any questions selecting the best leash and collar combination for your pet.

What is your favorite leash and collar?

Source: Pat Miller The Woof Report

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

It's Bite Prevention Week! Know the Signs!

As we mentioned in our previous blog post, this week from May 15-21 is Bite Prevention Week. This initiative was created by the non-profit organization Doggone Safe whose mission is dog bite prevention through education. Their goal is to not only protect children from dog bites that could have been prevented by knowing dog body language, but to also save dogs from being uselessly euthanized or sent to a shelter. Since we cannot strike up an easy conversational rapport with the canine member of our family, we must rely on more subtle signs of communication that consist of dog body language. Learning to read what your dog and other dogs are feeling is the key to safety. In honor of Bite Prevention Week, we are elaborating on canine body language.

Watch Out!
-Tail between the legs
-Ears back
-Whites of the eyes showing
-Teeth bared
-Head down
-Excessive yawning or licking
-Tense furrowed brow
Situations to Avoid
-Do not approach a dog that is eating or chewing a bone
-Adhere to the old adage, let sleeping dogs lie. Never interrupt a slumbering dog.
-Do not force a dog into a submissive position.
-Do not approach a dog that is tethered

Be My Pal!
-Tail wagging
-Relaxed expression
-Tongue out, mouth open

Doggonesafe has made an informative video illustrating these important canine cues.

Dogs may not be able to tap you on the shoulder and say, “Hey, I’m scared!” or “Hey, I’m annoyed right now!” but their body exhibits these signs in numerous ways. Subtle though it is, we would all benefit from tuning our radar to these important canine signals.

Friday, May 13, 2011

That Bites!

When it comes to dogs and children, the last thing you want is an altercation between two of the cutest members of the family. How can you keep the peace? Next week is Bite-Prevention Week and child-dog expert Colleen Pelar has excellent tips to ensure all members of the family share a safe, loving, and harmonious relationship. As a dog trainer and mother of three kids and a dog, she knows what she’s talking about!

Canine Body Language
Dogs will often alert us to how they are truly feeling, but since not all of us are dog training professionals, it can be difficult to discern what’s really going on in that fuzzy head. Luckily, Pelar has us covered. She points out that most dogs, when nervous, will display indications of this emotion by attempting to calm themselves down, what she calls, “an attempt at self-soothing akin to thumb-sucking.” According to Pelar, these are the most important signs to look for:

Lip licking—When a dog is a little anxious, he will often quickly stick out his tongue and lick his lips. It’s usually just a fast, little flick. Watch your dog; this is one of the most common signals I see.
Yawning—This is often mistaken for contentment.  The dog is surrounded by kids, and he lets out a big yawn. Isn’t that sweet?  Nope, it’s a sign that he’s in a little over his head and would appreciate your help.
Shaking off—We’ve all seen dogs shake off when they are wet, but this happens at other times too. I liken it to a reset button on a video game. Time to shake off and start over. It will happen right after something makes the dog uncomfortable, usually as he’s walking away.
Freezing—Watch out! Freezing is one step beyond a calming signal; it’s often a last-ditch attempt to tell you to back off. Dogs typically freeze right before they snap or bite. That may sound obvious, but one of the scariest things I ever saw was when an owner told me, “Lucy loves to have kids hug her. Look how still she is.” It was a heart-stopping moment for me. Lucy, thank goodness, did not bite, but she was definitely not enjoying the experience. 

Alone Time
Just as every person needs alone time, every dog needs a bit of privacy as well. You and your kids should respect that. So when Fido is slumbering away in the dog bed or crate dreaming of digging up bones in the yard, your children should realize pup is now off-limits.

As Pelar poignantly remarks, “It’s important not to blame kids for being kids or dogs for being dogs.  Let’s be realistic; it’s impossible to control someone else’s behavior 100 percent, be it dog or child. We parents can, however, teach dogs and kids to enjoy each other’s company more by building an understanding of each other’s behavior.”

Credit: Colleen Pelar, CPDT, CDBC, author of Living with Kids and Dogs . . . Without Losing Your Mind, is America’s Kids and Canines Coach. Colleen has more than 15 years’ experience as the go-to person for parents trying to navigate kid-and-dog issues. Because a knowledgeable adult can improve every interaction between a child and a dog, Colleen is committed to educating parents, children, and dog owners on kid-and-dog relationships. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Lazy Hazy Days of Summer

Summertime and the livin’ is easy. While you may be ready to fire up the barbeque, fill up the pool, and bring out the popsicles, some extra safety precautions should be taken into consideration regarding your dog in the warmer months. Enjoy the sudden change in temperatures and the rise in sunny days but keep Fido safe and cool. Read on for some quick and easy tips to get the most out of this summer with your dog.

Beat the Heat
Avoid possible heat stroke by keeping your dog cool during the hottest parts of the day. Move your walks from the middle of the day to early morning or early evening when the sun is at its lowest point in the sky. Both you and your pooch will be happier for it. Before taking your dog for a walk, try this tip from Andrea Arden, pet expert. Soak a bandanna in water and freeze it then wrap it around your dog’s neck before taking him or her on a walk.

It is also important to remember that you should never, ever leave your dog alone in the car. Even cracking a window is not sufficient. In the summer, even cars that are parked in the shade can quickly rise in temperature, creating a hot box that no one would like to sit in.

Paw Protection
You know what it feels like when you run barefoot across hot pavement or sand? It hurts, right? If it’s uncomfortable for you, chances are it will bother your dog’s paws too. Be conscious of your canine’s paw-pads and walk at the coolest times of day or invest in a pair of dog booties to protect their little feet.

Lifeguard on Duty
A great way to ensure your furry friend stays cool is to fill a baby wading pool with water in your backyard. This way, when Fido marches out into the heat of your backyard, a cool-off is only a few feet away. All of these aquatic activities are part of what makes summer truly wonderful, but remember to always keep an eye on your pal no matter how good a swimmer he or she is and no matter how deep the water is. If you have an in-ground pool that your dog loves to jump in, consider putting a lifejacket on your dog when frolicking outside or purchase a pet ramp to make it easy for them to get out.

Photo Courtesy of BigBirdz
Don’t let your dog get parched this summer. Provide fun, refreshing treats like ice cubes, keep cool fresh water on hand at all times, and try this trick from Dogster.com: freeze canned dog food in a Kong to introduce more moisture into their diet.

Don't forget, Morris K9 Campus is an excellent place for dogs in the summer! With baby pools, air conditioning, fun, and lots of fresh water for your pup, what more could you want?

Here comes the sun! Armed with these tips, you and your dog are ready to face anything the summer brings your way.

Sources: Dogster.com