We Want To Hear From You, Our Readers!

21 Jul

call-for-submissions

One of our favorite things about the community we’ve built here with Good Dogs & Co. is how many stories we get to hear about our readers’ pets. We think pet stories bring us together in shared experience, in ways other tales (ha!) may not. And we want to hear more from you!

We’re looking for readers to share their experiences with their pets. You can submit your own story by heading to our submissions page, and filling out one of the forms. Here’s a brief reminder of the stories we currently feature weekly!

Adoption Stories

These are essays from owners about their pets. If you have a story to tell about your dog, how they came into your family or otherwise, we want to hear it. Whether you rescued your pup from a shelter or otherwise unfortunate situation, or conducted a multiple-breeder search for the right pup, all stories are welcome. Submit these stories here.

Breeder Spotlights

Being a breeder takes hard work and years of dedication to refining a line. We have nothing but respect for people who have dedicated yourselves so wholeheartedly into really preserving the great qualities of the breeds we love. Share your story with us—we think it’s fascinating work!

Rescue Spotlights

It takes tons of hard work and dedication to rescue animals, and we’re honored to help rescues by giving them our community platform for a day to showcase their current efforts. All you have to do is brag a little bit about the great work you do so well!

Don’t see an option that fits what you want to write about? Please contact us! We love hearing about pet owners’ unique experiences and challenges, and occasionally feature interviews from owners and pet industry professionals. If there is a good fit, we will also occasionally accept pitches for DIYs, recipes, and other articles. Any ideas are welcome!

How To Evaluate A Rescue Dog Before Adoption

16 Jul

evaluating-a-rescue-dog

A common tip given when adopting or bringing a new dog into your family is to make sure the dog you choose fits your lifestyle. In some cases, choosing a dog that fits your day to day life just means choosing a dog of a certain size or build. A small dog for an apartment, an athletic dog to run with, etc. However, what about when you’re trying to choose a dog with a particular temperament?

This was something Bryan and I stumbled into when we adopted Topher. We knew we wanted a dog of a specific type—a Boxer or bully type breed—but other than that, we didn’t really know what else to look for to gauge what kind of personality our dog would have. And when you’re in a shelter environment, sometimes it can be hard to tell just what a dog’s true temperament will be once they’ve settled into a less stressful situation.

This is the situation many people who adopt adult dogs from shelters find themselves in. Adopting an adult dog has many advantages, but its primary disadvantage is that an adult dog will come with baggage. Finding a new home is traumatic, and so their personality may not shine through immediately. So in a shelter environment, how do you decide if the dog you’re looking at is the right one for you? Here are a few ways to briefly evaluate a dog you’re considering bringing into your home.

1. Watch the dog from a distance. Do they appear aloof to those passing by, or friendly?

2. Approach the dog in a neutral way—don’t speak or smile, and try to approach from the side. See if the dog approaches you and the reaction they give.

3. Approach the dog with a big smile and a happy greeting, and see what reaction this kind of greeting elicits.

4. Watch a shelter worker or volunteer walk the dog on a leash, and see how much attention the dog pays to their current handler. This will give you a little bit of an idea of how they walk on a lead.

5. Find an area where you can sit quietly with the dog, preferably off a leash. See how often the dog comes back to visit you. A dog who is slightly more independent when off leash is not necessarily a bad thing, it all depends on your expectations for the level of attention seeking behavior and affection in your dog.

6. If you feel safe, run your hands all over the dog. If the dog seems okay with that, see if he will let you check his ears, his mouth, or handle his paws. Stop if the dog seems uncomfortable or moves to get away at any point. This is just to see how receptive the dog is to being handled.

7. Try handing the dog a small treat. Do they grab at it, or take it gently? If the dog grabs at the treat forcefully, ask them to be gentle and hold the next treat almost enclosed in your hand—refuse to give it to them until they are using their mouth more gently to take it. A dog who cannot understand the notion of gentle may be more difficult to manage later, especially around children or cats.

8. Make sure the dog is introduced to everyone in your family before adoption, especially if you have children. When bringing an adult dog into a family with children, the dog should greet them happily and with enthusiasm. An adult dog who is good with children is usually one who’s grown up with them, and that bond may be harder to teach to an adult dog who hasn’t had much interaction with kids.

9. If you have another dog or cat, try and see how the dog interacts with dogs and cats, or make sure to ask those at the shelter if they’ve evaluated their temperament towards other animals.

These evaluations will give you more of an idea of a shelter dog’s temperament, though no test is fool-proof; adopting an adult dog is as much work as, and sometimes more than, adopting a puppy. You need to be committed to working with your dog to help them grow into their new role in your home.

When you adopt an adult dog, there’s usually a honeymoon period—anywhere from a few days to a month where your dog is still adjusting to their surroundings, and their typical behavior may be somewhat inhibited. You should use this period to help your dog understand what is expected of them. Over time, you’ll begin to see their true personality begin to shine, as they grow into the role of companion and friend.

Is Your Dog Bored?

15 Jul

is-your-dog-bored

Working from home has given me a view into the daily life of dogs…and it’s not exactly thrilling. Mostly, Topher just sleeps all the time. He sleeps in the bedroom for an hour, then takes a lap around the house to check in with the cats. After that, you’ll usually find him sleeping on the couch, maybe watching the squirrels in between naps by propping his head up on the back pillows so he can see out our front window.

Part of me wonders if Topher is just bored during the day. Boredom can actually be a big source of stress for dogs—they crave having something to do, both physically and mentally. If you’ve ever returned home and find your house has been torn apart, or perhaps a fluffy dog bed spontaneously combusted, then its pretty likely that your dog is bored. (They may also suffer from separation anxiety, but that’s an article for another time.)

So, what’s the cure for doggy boredom? How do you keep them entertained so they won’t start investigating the interiors of your couch cushions? Here are a few things you can try to keep your pup more entertained while you’re away.

Give Them Enough Exercise

A daily walk is a great way to tire your dog out before you leave for work—there’s really no substitute. However, if it’s not something you can build into your morning, you may want to look for other ways your dog can get exercise during the day. It might be hiring a dog walker, or just asking a family member if they wouldn’t mind stopping in for a short play session. A tired dog is much less likely to eat your shoes.

Ditch The Food Bowl

Canines in the wild spend up to eighty percent of their time searching and hunting for food. While your dog is most certainly not a wolf, putting all of their food in their bowl on a daily basis wastes an opportunity for further stimulation. Use a portion of your dog’s daily kibble to beat boredom.

Mix some of your dog’s kibble in with a filler—peanut butter, cottage cheese, or perhaps just a bit of coconut oil to make things stick together—the night before, then pour into a hollow treat toy such as a Kong. Freeze overnight, and give the treat to them just before leaving for work. This gives them something to work for while you leave, which can also help with dogs who have more mild separation anxiety.

Puzzle toys are also a great way to banish boredom—just make sure the toy is strong enough to hold up while you’re out of the house!

Rotate Their Toys

It can be worrisome to come home to find your dog has demolished his latest stuffed or squeaky toy. Eating fluff and squeakers can sometimes do serious harm to your dog’s digestion, so be careful not to leave your dog alone with these items.

This also creates a novelty effect. When stuffed toys are reserved and brought out only when you’re supervising, that toy becomes exciting again. Rotating what toys are available to your dog on a daily basis will also refresh his interest in older toys. The absence of a particular toy for a few days will make your dog want it even more, the next time it comes around.

Try Out Daycare

Doggy daycare is a great idea for any dog who’s younger and needs to burn more energy than you might have time for during the day. It’s also an effective way to manage separation anxiety. Your dog plays while you work, and at the end of the day you both go home tired. When looking into doggy daycare facilities and options, always do a test run on a day where you can spend some time at the facility, and make sure your dog is integrating well in the environment.

Put Them To Work

A hardworking dog is usually a happy dog. There are many breeds that even tend towards destruction if they’re not getting enough mental stimulation—they need a job! For dogs, work is a form of play—a mental exercise where they get copious praise and treat rewards for a job done well. This can be as simple as regular training sessions and teaching them new commands, or as rigorous as enrolling in agility or flyball training, or working towards becoming a therapy dog.

Once you start making sure your dog has enough to occupy themselves, you’ll see how much more content they become. Much of our dog’s happiness relies on how we care for them, so make sure you’re giving them everything they need!

How do you deal with doggy boredom?