Dogs Togs

Miss Lucee is always perfectly groomed and her harness is taken off after every walk. 
She also wears a small light-weight collar that holds her ID tags.

A great percentage of pet parents of small breed dogs, and some large breed dogs as well, have traded in the traditional dog collar for a dog harness. They come in a plethora of styles, materials, colors and designs. A well fitted harness can provide comfort, ease of use, safety and probably a more pleasurable walking experience for all involved.

Your dogs ID tag and Rabies tag can be attached to the harness ring in the same manner as attaching them to a dog collar. However, when the harness shifts to the side, as they usually do when made of multiple straps, the tags may wind up hanging on the side of your dog.

Though I would give "the dog harness" a thumbs up, my recommendation is to use a light weight, narrow and soft collar for the purpose of securing your dogs tags, in addition to a harness for walking. Why? Because even though a dog harness has many redeeming qualities, it needs to be removed when not in use. Unlike a dog collar, a harness can become irritating especially where your dog's front legs and chest meet. Dogs with long hair or thick fur will become extremely matted under the harness if it is not taken off after walking, or at the end of the day, or at the very least, every few days so that you can brush or comb your dog's hair before putting the harness back on. The harnesses that allows for ease of use are the ones designed to be stepped into, much like a bra, and clip across the dog's back. Some Velcro first and then clip. The quilted material harnesses are less irritating and less likely to mat your dog's hair.

Yorkie, Shih Tzu, Maltese, Havenese and similar breeds that are small and long coated seem to all be candidates for matted hair due to harnesses that are not periodically removed.


If you have any experience with baby-proofing your home, it's not a far reach to puppy-proof it. If there are rooms where you absolutely DO NOT want your dog to enter, gates are the answer. They're available in every height and width; can be free standing, pressure mounted or wall mounted; and made of wood, metal or plastic. They range from inexpensive to high-end designer types. Once upon a time, when I was a kid, my father used two shutters placed about an inch off the floor. They swung back and forth like saloon doors and hooked in the middle to keep them closed. Actually, it wasn't a half bad idea. Just think how creative you could be with a little help from a home improvement center.

But as a dog trainer and dog lover, I must tell you that puppy-proofing starts with training. A dog, like any member of a household; and I throw that in for those of you who feel guilty restricting your dog's activities; must follow rules and adhere to boundaries from the beginning. If your dog is allowed to jump on the furniture, scratch the doors, run in and out of the house tracking dirt everywhere, that is what he will continue to do. Why? Because he can and you are the enabler. Instead, by investing time in good old-fashioned training, you'll keep your home d├ęcor investments solid.

Get your dog used to the fact that you will clean his paws when he comes in the house. I really like the new Dremel devices that file your dog's nails. It helps to keep the wood floors from being scratched, the carpeting from pulling and the couch from ripping. 

If a puppy is destructive when you leave him alone, then confine him until you return. Do I think it's cruel to confine a dog? I will say that I do not condone kenneling all day - I think that is cruel. But using short periods of confinement while you teach your dog to have freedom without destructive behavior, is acceptable. Think about the alternative. You come home to find your house in shambles and then punish the dog or worse; send him to a shelter.

In addition to the perils of puppyhood, the major causes of destructive behavior in dogs are boredom and loneliness. Think of your dog as a restless kid with too much time on his hands. Play dates with friends (and their dogs) work wonders. The dogs get the added attention they crave while learning social skills. Exercise is a great way for releasing pent up energy, which would otherwise be aimed at your favorite chair or pair of shoes. This does not mean the dog plays in the yard by himself. This means "together time" - long walks or playing ball so that Kahuna is neither bored nor lonely.
With commitment comes sacrifice, but the sacrifice doesn't have to be your furniture, just your time and love, and love will come back to you a thousandfold. 


Just as most couples prefer to “plan ahead,” for their anticipated parenthood; it is best to plan ahead before your take on the responsibility of a Puppy/Older Dog/Rescued Dog.   No matter what age, origin, breed, sex, size, color, training or history, he or she wants and needs love, companionship, protection, food, shelter, toys, grooming, training, playtime, veterinary care, and socialization.  This is a relationship that should be entered into with not only the best intentions but with the expectation of a lifetime commitment.  If you think of your perspective dog as a family member and not a disposable commodity, and take the time to find the right match, your life with your dog will be enriched.  So go get a highlighter because I’m going to tell you lowdown.

The first thing to do before you even begin your search is have a family meeting and ask the following questions. Does everyone agree that this is a good idea? Is this the right time to get a dog?  Will someone be home to care for him or will he be alone all day. Are you sure you’re not getting the dog for the wrong reason like a  present for a child? Can you afford the additional expense? Do you know how to care for, housebreak and train this dog or are you willing to seek professional help? Does anyone have allergy concerns? Do you travel often? Will this dog be a part of your household or are you planning to keep him isolated in a basement, garage or yard??? And the million dollar question is…and give this one considerable thought, WHY DO YOU WANT A DOG? Yes, I’m serious. So, if your heart is beating a little faster at the thought of finding a new best friend; let's start with, where to go and what to look for. The where will be obvious but the WHAT to look for and WHAT to ask, is WHAT you really need to know. 

BREEDERS  A breeder that is recommended by someone you know and trust is better than one listed on the internet that you know nothing about.  The breeder can be someone in a private home, or a six acre facility. Preferably the breeder you choose raises only one or two specific breeds and not a canine grab bag.  So whether you go to a pet store, large kennel facility, or find that special puppy on the internet, it came from a breeder and you need to find out whatever you can about them.

Don’t be put off by a breeder who questions you about your intentions and your home life, as well as your dog expertise.  It shows care and concern. That’s a good thing!

WHAT to ask

What breeds does this breeder specialize in? How many dogs are on premises? Where are the dogs kept? How many litters do the females have in their lifetime? How long do the puppies nurse for and how old are the puppies when they’re taken from their mother? Are the dogs let outside to exercise, play and bathroom? Are the breeding dogs as well as the puppies cared for by a vet and what is his name? Do the puppies have any interaction with humans or are they isolated? (Yes, you are going to check him out too.) How old are the puppies before they are allowed to go to their new home? If the dogs are pedigree, what is the breeder’s standing with the AKC? (Don’t ask the breeder, ask the AKC.) If you go to a large facility, find out where the puppies come from because they probably do not breed all of them.

WHAT to look for

Look around the premises. Is it clean and ventilated or DOES IT SMELL FOUL?  Is it too crowded for the amount of dogs? If it’s a private home are there cages or kennels, referred to as APARTMENTS, everywhere including the kitchen? Is there molded dog kibble in the corners of the floor? Are the food and water dishes clean? Are there drip bottles in cages which might indicate long periods of confinement? Do you see birds, or wildlife? This may mean that the breeder is a“COLLECTOR” who has too many animals to care for properly?

PET SHOPS   . Bigger is not always better. Chain store pets do not necessarily live in better conditions or come from better breeders than privately owned small stores.   Just like any other business, the conditions of the shop will depend on the proprietor or management. HOWEVER,  FOREWARNED IS FOREARMED.

It is not a good sign if you walk into a pet shop and you can’t catch your breath. I agree that is doesn’t mean you won’t find a fabulous puppy, but I do want you to keep it in mind when you look around at other questionable conditions.

WHAT to ask

Do the puppies come from a local or out of state breeder? How long has a particular puppy been at the shop? How old is the puppy? Do they have “papers” you can review? Are the dogs ever taken out of the cages for bathrooming, grooming, playing, or socializing?  Are they veterinary checked and do they have records?  WHAT IS THE VET’S NAME? Can you take a puppy into a private room or special play area and spend time together? What is the store’s policy in reference to veterinary care? What will they be responsible for prior to and after your puppy purchase? What are the store hours and who is there to care for the puppies when the store is closed? How long has the shop been in business?

WHAT to look for

How many puppies are there in the store? How many puppies in each confinement? How many employees? Are the puppies eating, drinking, playing, sleeping, urinating, and defecating in their small cages? Are there any play areas to indicate that the puppies are not always locked in cages? Do you notice anyone cleaning kennels or changing water and food as a routine?  Do the puppies have identification tags? When asking about a puppy, notice if the tag is checked and the records or “papers” pulled to match that tag. Don’t be so sure that the “papers” belong to the “puppy”!

INTERNET, NEWSPAPERS, &  DOG MAGAZINES      OK… I know…The pictures on the internet are too cute for words. I also know that these dogs deserve a loving wonderful home. Been there.  Done that. I just want you be aware and know what to expect.

WHAT to ask

If you only see an e-mail address, ask for a phone number. Get as much personal information as you can. Name, address, phone, cell phone, veterinarian name, address and phone number and use them to ask questions. If they are out of state, have them send additional photos of the puppy and premises. Ask them how the dog will be delivered to you. If by plane, call the airline and the airport where the dog is coming from and ask what their regulations are. Notice if the seller shows concern and says something like “it’s too hot for the puppy to be at the airport in the middle of the afternoon, so we need to do an early flight.”   Ask if the puppy will be given tranquilizers or motion sickness medication before the flight?  Question the age of the puppy before it leaves home.  If you’re looking for a toy breed, will the breeder tell you that the puppy must be old enough, big enough and strong enough to travel? Asking for pictures of the parents is always something that makes me roll my eyes. Someone please tell me how you know that those dogs are the parents.

WHAT to look for

How many listings for puppies does this breeder have? How many breeds does this breeder advertise?  Do they offer personal information and welcome e-mail inquiries? Can you call to talk to someone? Do you always get a recording or have to leave a message? Notice if the photos are professional from dog shows. Sometimes the photos will have a winner’s plaque next to the dog, with usable info on it.  Ads that say no photo available at this time should make you think twice about the site, even though the photo might not be of the dog you receive!  Does the advertiser or seller offer only a P.O. Box? I’m also weary of e-mail addresses that are free to the user because it doesn’t show as much permanence for a reliable business as someone with a cable service address. Requests for too much of your personal info on the internet would make me uncomfortable too.  DO A BACKGROUND CHECK VIA THE INTERNET.  It’s worth the nominal fee. Also check out any pet abuse websites. You might find more than you’re looking for.



Local being the operative word, I would check this out. If the flyer is in a vet’s office, they SHOULD know who the breeder is. If the flyer is in a pet or feed store, it might be anyone who walked in and posted it. If the breeder is local, they have to be using a local veterinarian.

Jenna’s  jenna-ralities

Take a long hard look at the dogs, adults as well as puppies. Check their hair (fur) and skin. If the dogs are not well cared for, the adults will be in worse condition than the puppies. Look for matted hair, especially behind the ears, under arms, groin, and tail and under the tail. Look closely at the skin and check for flaking, rashes, discoloration, feces and urine stains. Is the hair thin or balding in patches? Look at their paws and nails. Do they look well manicured or is the hair in between the pads, (under the paws) matted and dirty? Are the nails long and dirty as well? Are the tips of the paws discolored which can mean anything from neglect to ear problems to allergies? Look in the dog’s ears and take notice if they are dirty or have a bad odor. Are the tips of the ears hard and crusty? (This may be a sign of mange.) Check the dog’s teeth.  Look for overshot or undershot jaw. Teeth and breath should be clean and fresh. Adult dogs with missing, broken or tartar encrusted teeth are dogs that are not well cared for. Inspect belly and groin areas for discoloration, (black or red) rashes, bumps, or sores. Puppies that sleep on urine soaked blankets will have skin infections (staph) and need medical treatment.  Umbilical hernias need to be surgically corrected. Visually examine of the rectum for any donut-like protrusions referred to as prolapsed rectum, which has multiple causes and needs medical attention. One of the causes can be neglect by failure to keep the puppy/dog clean.

Pay close attention to how the puppy interacts with you and with the other puppies. Is the puppy too quiet or lethargic, or frightened and submissive to its litter-mates? Is the puppy you’re eyeing for your small children, the one that seems to be biting and jumping on all the other puppies? Your toddler will be the replacement subject. Is the puppy too thin or does it have an extremely large protruding belly?

Don’t be fooled by a HOME breeder, who shows you 2 or 3 puppies in the kitchen or living room. Is she going down to the basement or out to a garage or trailer to bring you another puppy? Does she have 100 more dogs some where in the house?

Don’t be fooled by looking at the mother and father. Unless you see a dog nursing or in the whelping box with the puppies, you really can’t be certain that the female you’re shown, is mom. If you are looking for a Maltese puppy, Maltese mom should not have long luxurious snow white hair that is perfectly groomed like a show dog. And what about that perfectly groomed male? Is he really the proud dad?

I never met a dog I didn’t like. I never saw an ugly puppy. People like me are the first to take the puppies that are the neediest. So I’m right there with all of you who can’t resist that wonderful feeling of picking up a puppy and holding it for the first time. I know your heart is open but keep your eyes open too.

* Look for Jenna’s follow up on breeds, male vs. female, and puppy vs. older or rescued dog.


When people think of little dogs, they think of cute, baby, sweet, innocent and less work. Little dogs can have big issues; so I want to talk about some of those issues and clear the air about “little dogs are so much easier”. In some ways, they definitely are easier to handle and care for, but it all depends on the pet parent, the household lifestyle and the expectations of life with a dog. Before I continue with the pros and cons thing, I want to discuss biting. If you do a search about the pressure of a dog’s bite, you will find that most claim it to be in the two hundred to three hundred psi range. There are many discrepancies and many theories of how a dog’s bite pressure per square inch is determined. However, for the purpose of this article I want to make it clear that even the bite of a small breed dog can do some serious damage; especially to a child. 

This is a photo of the metal cap from a jar of baby food. The bite mark, which has gone through the metal completely, was done by a nine pound toy poodle. Let me add, that is was done in one quick bite and not over a period of time. 
Let’s do the pros and cons thing. 
Pros: 1. You can scoop them up and carry them anywhere. 2. The amount of their urine and stool is smaller. 3. They can use wee wee pads if you prefer not to walk your dog at a particular time. 4. They eat less. 5. They’re less destructive. 6. They’re easier to walk. 7. You can travel with them on a commercial airline if they are small enough; and even some railways. 8. Bedding, clothing and other supplies are less expensive. 9. If you sleep with them they take up less room on the bed. 10. Smaller breeds tend to live longer than large breeds. 11. Bathing is easier and grooming is less expensive. 12. If they are pad trained, you don’t have to walk them in bad weather. 

Cons: 1. They need more care nutritionally especially as puppies. 2. They are more susceptible to illness and complications like hypoglycemia and dehydration. 3. Little dogs tend to bark more than large breeds. 4. Toy breed dogs usually do not like to go out in rain or bad weather and do not like to walk on wet grass. 5. Small dogs are easily injured. 6. Sometimes, the smaller the dog the more difficult to train! Now you’re thinking…why did she say that? I was hoping you would. Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE little dogs, and have my own as you know. But as a trainer, I get more calls from people with small breeds than large ones. Most of the homes I visit for training, have toy breed dogs that are not housebroken. I actually get calls about Toy Poodles, Chihuahuas and Yorkies that rule the roost and their human families are afraid of them because they snap and bite and terrorize members of the household. When I come to their home for the first time they actually have the dog locked in a kennel because they are afraid it will bite me. This is not a joke, and getting bitten is certainly not funny. So if you have a situation like that, here’s some advice. Because these toy breeds are definitely so adorable and almost puppy-like forever, people tend to carry them around or pick them up when they are doing something inappropriate or annoying, instead of trying to correct them or teach them. You know the expressions,” you can’t be a little bit pregnant”? You are or you aren’t, it is or it isn’t…that’s the point. In the dog’s mind he can or he can’t! If he does something wrong and he is picked up, you just validated his doing it. You gave him affection for chewing your Jimmy Choo shoes. You told him that barking and biting your leg was the way for him to get attention. So he will, without a shadow of a doubt, keeping doing it. Second thing to remember; the higher the dog’s head is, the more he is in control. Nine out of ten times when I go to a house with a small dog that is terrorizing everyone, his first instinct is to jump up on the highest part of a couch or chair so that he is now bigger than life.
First thing is put a leash on him inside the house and keep him on the ground. As soon as you get him off the couch his attitude will change. If you are down on the floor with him in a puppy play position, he will take charge. So what do you do? Stand up and say “NO”. Use a strong voice if he does something wrong. As soon as he stops, tell him “GOOD BOY” and pet him. He’ll get the idea. Little dogs also tend to get less exercise. And “YES” I believe that a bored dog will get into more trouble. Get out there and take that little guy for a walk, play ball with him, and stop letting him make his own decisions. He’s a teenager with nothing but time on his hands, looking for something to do. Well it’s time to TAKE AWAY THE CAR KEYS! It’s a hard concept for most people to understand but dogs prefer structure and having a place in the family unit. Dogs are very smart and big or little, if they can get away with doing something, they will keep doing it…just like us!

Is Your Dog A "TICK MAGNET"?

If you haven't already started gathering your arsenal of tick and flea repellents and heart worm preventatives, now is the time. The most important thing to know is that not all tick and flea products prevent the ticks from landing on and attacking your dog. Some repel ticks and fleas and some kill the ticks and fleas within 18-24 hours of coming into contact with your dog.
Here is a sample of available products and what their claim to fame is:


K9 Advantix: applied monthly directly to the skin; waterproof.
Repels and Kills Ticks, Fleas and Mosquitoes; Repels biting Flies; Kills Chewing Lice.
No Prescription Required

Applied monthly directly to the skin.
Kills Ticks, Fleas and Chewing Lice after biting.
DOES NOT REPEL any of the above.
No Prescription Required

Oral chew lasting up to 12 weeks.
When fleas and ticks feed on your dog, they ingest Bravecto and die. 
DOES NOT REPEL any of the above.
Prescription Required

What do I think about Tick and Flea Collars? I do not use them nor recommend them due to irritation and infection where the collar comes in contact with your dog's neck. Nor do I recommend them to families with children for the obvious reason that you do not want your child to make contact with the collar. As with all products, check with your veterinarian before usage. I strongly recommend using products recommended exclusively by your vet and not chemicals sold over the counter by random companies that have not established themselves in the marketplace as time tested.

Check for ticks as often as possible, especially after an exposure to wooded areas. You can actually teach your dog that "Tick Check" is part of the ritual of taking a walk. Run your finger through your dog's coat and feel for anything that just doesn't belong there. Another good way to get a visual of your dog's skin is to use a hair blower set on cool or low and blow the coat into parts exposing the skin. If you find a tick imbedded in your dog's skin, proper removal is very important. If you're not sure, let a vet or vet tech assist you. Research the Internet or get printed info to identify the tick and the diseases it may carry. If you notice lethargic behavior or difficulty walking, jumping, limping or suspect Lyme's or other tick-associated diseases, consult your veterinarian immediately as early detection is really important. Enveloping the tick in some scotch tape or a zip-lock bag and having it analyzed may be helpful, if you decide to bring your dog to the veterinarian after removing the tick yourself.

Heartworm is another threat to your dog but is contracted from mosquitoes. The good news is; a simple blood test can detect Heartworm disease and seasonal or year-round preventatives are available. 

Heartgard Plus
Chewable; use monthly to prevent heartworms.
Treats and controls hookworms and roundworms.
Prescription required

Once a month tablet use monthly to prevent heartworms
Helps to control hookworms.
Removes and controls roundworms and whipworms.
Prescription required.
Liquid medication applied topically to the skin monthly.
Prevents heartworm disease.
Kills fleas and American Dog Ticks.
Treats and controls ear mites.
Prescription required. 
Advantage Multi
Liquid medication applied topically to the skin monthly.
Prevents heartworm disease.
Kills fleas.
Treats and controls roundworms, hookworms and whipworms.
Prescription required.
*If you have a Collie or Herding dog, or mixed breed that is part Collie or Herding dog, please consult with your veterinarian before using any Flee, Tick  or Heartworm  medication.
Many families choose to shave their heavy-coated and long-haired dogs during the summer months. Though the look may not be desirable, and shaving a full coat dog is extreme and may be stressful to your dog,  a "puppy cut" can help you detect and ward off most of your dog's summertime assailants. Professional grooming should be done more often in the summer for many reasons but tick detection is on the top of the list.

Prevention can save your dog's life.Our dogs add a tremendous amount of joy during the summer playtime months so please give them the love and care they deserve.

DID YOU KNOW? How to save $ on your dog's meds.

Did you know that pharmaceuticals prescribed by your veterinarian do not always have to be dispensed by your veterinarian? Did you also know that many veterinarians charge a "dispensing fee" for medications given to you directly from their office? Let's talk about the dispensing fee for a moment. The dispensing fee can be either and "add on" to your bill of perhaps a minimal amount of $5.00 or the dispensing fee can take the form of a "minimum dispensing fee charge" of something in the neighborhood of $16.00 which translates into something like this. If the medication is, for example priced at $12.00, your total charge is $16.00. If the medication is priced at $16.00 or more, than your total charge is the cost of the medication.

Common tick and flea, as well as heart worm protection can be purchased through many online websites with a price range that begs for comparison shopping. Keep in mind that products like Frontline do not require a prescription. Many offer free shipping as well. Prescription drugs simply require a prescription request form from your veterinarian. In fact, the online website you choose to fill your canine prescription with, will in most cases contact your veterinarian for you and request the signed prescription form. If you request a written prescription directly from your veterinarian, you can simply mail it in. That's pretty easy.

Now lean in and listen closely, because this is important. Did you know that many prescribed canine medication may also be used for humans as well? Then, you can take a written prescription for that canine medication to your local pharmacy or supermarket pharmacy to have it filled. In addition, because your dog does not have applicable insurance coverage, you can insist on a discount card. Without naming well known and advertised, major chain store pharmacies, most have a discount they can apply for those that have no health insurance. I have paid approximately one third of the price for medications in a supermarket chain pharmacy compared to what I would have had to pay if purchased directly from a veterinary office. Why? The answer is simple. Your veterinary hospital cannot possibly buy pharmaceuticals in the quantities that the chain stores or online pharmacies can. However, once in a while your veterinary office price for a particular medication is competitive, so simply take the time to ask questions, do a little research, make a call or two and if it is important to you to save a few dollars on medications for your dog, it might be worth the effort.

One more way to possibly save on the cost of canine medications, is to find out the quantity being prescribed. Sometimes, the veterinary office will dispense or write a prescription for a large amount of tabs or capsules, for a new medication your dog has never taken before, lets say perhaps ninety. Then one week later, that particular drug is not effective, or has side effects, or tests come back and the medication needs to be changed for one reason or another. That medication may not be returnable. I will say "most" but tend to believe that no veterinary office or pharmacy will take back a medication, once it has been purchased. So, ask if you can start with a smaller amount, let's say thirty tabs or capsules, with a refillable prescription.

If your dog is on a "controlled drug" which means it is controlled by The Controlled Substances Act (CSA),  the statute prescribing federal drug use policy under which the manufacture, importation, possession, use and distribution of certain substances is regulated, and it is available for purchase from a source other than your veterinary office, all you need to do is get a prescription written on on a special  tamper-resistant prescription pad from your dog's veterinarian.

This information is intended solely for the purpose of helping to afford veterinary care, which is unquestionably something that should be available to all dogs not only when illness or injuries occur, but as part of a routine wellness program.


One of my favorite websites is THE DOG FOOD ADVISOR 
There you can find almost every dog food, wet, dry and even raw, listed with a review and nutritional information. They are also rated according to the finding, and list the editors top choices with sensible explanations as to why they were chosen. The site also includes informative dog food related articles. But this is my favorite part; "recall alert notifications" which can save your dog's life. All you have to do is go to the Dog Food Advisor website, and enter your email to receive automatic recall notifications as soon as a dog food or dog treat is recalled. The recall information is very detailed and will also explain the serious health risks associated with the recall. This information is invaluable if you feed your dog commercial brand dog food or treats.

I have made my feeling about commercial dog food pretty well known over the years. Usually it is the product content that I talk about and the misleading advertising and marketing in reference to the quality and nutritional value allowed to be sold in the USA. I do however, know that the majority of dog parents will choose to feed a commercial food over home cooking and in addition, give there dogs a variety of commercial brand treats.  So, this time I wanted to address the safety of the dog food and treats and not the nutritional value.

We all can relate to the number of recalls of pet food over the past few years. Some commercial dog food manufacturers are actually putting stricter regulations on their production and have check points in place to assure the safety of their pet foods before being shipped to stores. It's pretty easy to find out which brands can be trusted more than others, based on these regulations. Yet, as I will list below, the recalls still keep popping there toxic heads up over and over, week after week, with foods contaminated with Salmonella and Listeria. Not only is the health of your pet at risk but there are health risks involved for anyone handling the food.

These are recent:  JULY 2015 ONLY!!!

Bravo Dog Food
Tremenda Dog Chew Sticks
I and Love and You Dog Treats
Vital Essentials Dog Food
Stella and Chewy's Dog Food
Boulder Dog Food

* Just added this morning 07/25/15
Natures Variety of St. Louis - Instinct Raw Frozen Chicken Formula


Murphy loves to play with toys and it's only a rare occasion that she can be spotted without one in her mouth. The joy and excitement she exudes with each new present is shared by all of us watching her run around the house carrying it from room to room and person to person.

Three weeks ago, my husband brought home the toy that is pictured here.
He placed it on the kitchen counter, still in the bag supplied by the store he purchased it from, as he continued to carry in the rest of his packages. Eying it for a moment thinking that it looked pretty solid and well made, because of it's similarity to a very popular brand toy known for its tough construction, I pushed it toward the back of the counter waiting for my husband to give it to Murphy himself.

Her enthusiasm was boundless. She would not give the toy up even to eat her dinner. The attachment to this new toy was not a normal reaction by any means.

On the second day, she began to tear small pieces off of the toy; which I recovered before she had swallowed them. Murphy is a tiny dog! I took the toy away from her and placed it back on the counter in the original packaging and then back into the store's plastic shopping bag. My first thought was wanting to show it to my husband when he returned from work that day but now realize that there is something more and mildly disturbing to this event that needs to be shared with my readers.

Here's what is so disturbing. This one toy which I will no longer allow Murphy to play with has been immediately replaced with four other toys that are what I consider to be "safety toys" or at least as safe as I can find. In addition, Murphy was allowed to pick them out in the store so that I know she really wanted them.However, Murphy continues to jump up and down in front of the counter where I placed the yellow toy shown above. It is now going on four weeks and she still senses that it was on the counter. How? Let me tell you what is "not" the reason. It is not the way the toy looks. It is not the way the toy feels. It is not the way the toy sounds. It is not the way the toy rolls or bounces. It is not anything except "how the toy SMELLS", and possibly how it tastes; but I couldn't tell you that.

So, what is imbedded into the material of that toy to make the smell so powerful and attractive to a dog that they literally cannot let go of it? How safe could what ever that chemical is possibly be? BTW, this toy was not manufactured in the USA. 

Please monitor all toys and chewable items your dog plays with. If their behavior toward the toy seems unusual, follow your instincts and replace the toys because you're probably right.


It's the summer and what could be more fun if you have a dog than to go to the "Dog Park" in your neighborhood. So, I decided to visit a few of them in my own neighborhood and neighboring towns as well. However, unlike everyone else in the park, I was alone. No; I did not bring my dog. Why? Because I needed to know a few things first. Is it safe? Is it clean? Are there separate areas for small dogs and for large ones? Is anyone monitoring the park? Do you need a membership to show your dog is vaccinated? Does anyone but me even think of these things or am I over-protective of my canine family?

You be the judge. Here's what I found.

Safety First-
Danger did not come in the form of physical structure or environment or even containment. It showed it's ugly head by way of 44 teeth in dogs that should not have been allowed to run free in a park with other dogs and their human families.Anyone can bring any dog of any breed, size and temperament to most dog parks and take them off leash.

Dogs in dog parks urinate where ever they want.  Plain and simple. That goes for defecating too. The large majority of female dogs that visit dog parks go home with a UTI, as your veterinarian would
call it. That stands for Urinary Tract Infection. So if your female dog is urinating more often than usual, licking herself more and showing other signs of discomfort, and you had her in a dog park, it's a good idea to call your vet. If your dog had a recent wellness visit you may be able to just bring a urine sample for testing.

In addition, I found that most of the dog parks I visited had standing or stagnant water. Water was either made available in old donated bowls left by well meaning visitors or water had accumulated in puddles from rain and discarded drinking water. The later most probably had been contaminated by urine from dogs and wildlife and harbored a toxic brew of bacteria and disease.

Small & Large-
Yes, I'm happy to say most parks had contained areas for small and large breed dogs. However, depending on the layout of the park you may have to walk through the large dog play area to reach the small dog area. Carrying your small dog through the large dog play section may seem like a quick fix but consider being jumped upon by multiple large dogs now trying to get to the small frightened dog in your arms clinging to you for protection while you are trying to fend them off. Not a pretty sight.

I have not been to a members only dog park but they do exist. Some offer swimming and other activities and are strict about cleaning up after your pet. Dog breeds are not restricted in most cases from what I can see, and I do not believe that health and vaccine records are required.

Here's something interesting. People tell me they love to take their dogs to the dog park because it is nice to spend time with their dogs. However, not many people were actually "with" their dogs. They were with other people talking in groups and ignoring their dogs who were in wondering around or in groups with other dogs jumping on each other. No one was playing ball or throwing a Frisbee or supervised any activities. Is the dog park really just another social place for people to meet?

If going to the dog park is not the best idea than what can I do to socialize your dog? Everyone knows someone who has a dog. Why not start your own playgroup with friends you know and dogs that are  appropriate playmates; dogs that have been recently vet checked and have acceptable behavior and social skills. Even if no one in the group has a fenced in yard, just walking with a group of friends and their dogs is a better alternative if you feel there are too many risks in the dog park. The walking will be beneficial to you as well as your dog.


There is a new wave of new trainers who use "Positive Reinforcement". However, there is definitely a wave of confusion about what this means and how it applies to the dog being trained. Let me clear this up. If the dog is doing something good, or if the dog stops doing the unwanted or negative behavior, THEN the dog should receive "Positive Reinforcement" by way of praise, hugs, belly rubs, treats, a toy; whatever the dog will perceive as a reward for good behavior.

Here's the confusion part. If a dog is jumping, biting, and out of control, and a trainer or family member offers the dog a biscuit to distract the dog; yes, he might stop the jumping, biting and barking but it is TEMPORARY and SHORT LIVED and most importantly you are REWARDING THE DOG FOR BAD BEHAVIOR; thereby teaching / conditioning the dog that he will be rewarded for jumping, biting and barking and whatever else is on the agenda.