Tag Archives: Seattle

Popular Myths About Dogs: DEBUNKED!

Dogs are fascinating creatures. They are loyal, adventurous, curious, able to work dozens of different jobs and be our most loving companion. But there are many things we don’t know and understand about our four legged friends, and as it often happens, misunderstanding breeds misinformation. The dog world is filled with misconceptions and myths about dogs, from behavior to getting rid of worms.

Here is a list of some common dog misconceptions, a little insight into what’s actually going on:

Myth #1: Dogs only see in Black and White:

Some Russian scientists took this popular myth and turned it on it’s head. Research has proven that dogs actually see in shades of blues and yellows, but can’t see shades of red. Who knew?! Check out this link to read more.

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I love that blue shirt you’re wearing!

Myth #2: If you put garlic on your dog’s food, will it help get rid of his worms?

You’ve clearly never read my post about human foods dogs should avoid. Forget you ever heard this one. Garlic can actually be very harmful to a dog’s health, so just stick to putting garlic in your spaghetti sauces.

Myth #3: You can calculate a dog’s age by multiplying it’s human years by seven:

Research has actually shown this method to be outdated. By the time your dog reaches one year, they’ve already become a talking-back teenager, and the way they age varies from as they get older. Check this chart for exact conversions.

Myth #4: A cracked window is enough on a hot day:

Not even going there. Just read this

Myth #5: You can’t teach an old dog new tricks:

I can attest that this couldn’t be further from the truth. Sure, older dogs may suffer from hearing or vision loss, but that doesn’t mean they lose their ability to learn. This myth seems more like a human insult than a dog one.

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I may be old, but I can still learn!

One of the first lessons I teach parents about puppies is how to reduce biting. Simply give them a treat, and if their teeth touch your fingers too aggressively, pull the treat back and make a loud pitched noise. The dog will know to slow down in order to finally get the treat. I have used this trick on much older (8, 9, even 13 year old) dogs and it works great! They’ve learned a simple, new trick, and I get to keep all my fingers!

Still don’t believe me? Check out this video of MythBusters putting it to the test.

Myth #6: A dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s mouth:

Back story: Dog saliva was once believed to be antiseptic, and some people still believe it has healing properties. No one knows how that belief came to be, but it is still a common myth today. Trust me, a dog’s mouth is not “cleaner” than a person’s mouth. Dog saliva is capable of fighting off some bacteria, but carries it’s own army of bacteria and infectious organisms. The types of bacteria carried by humans and dogs is different, mostly because of the differences in diet. There is a reason for the term, “dog breath.”

Myth #7: Sex, litters and fixing your dog:

While compiling this post, I was surprised to see that lots of people wait before getting their dog neutered or spayed because they believe letting their dog have sex is a good thing, or that they need to have one litter  of puppies “for the experience.”

But that’s simply not true. Sex results in puppies without homes or a good support system. Female dogs will not miss “the experience” of having a litter. There remains some controversy as to how early you should have a dog fixed, not fixing your dog leads to further animal population and control issues.

Myth #8: A fenced yard should be entertaining enough:

How would you liked being locked up in one space for long periods of time? The world is full of smells, sounds, animals to socialize with and trees to pee on. It’s important that a dog is exposed to all these things, not only for their socialization, but so they have the mental and physical stimulation to keep them from becoming destructive.

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Sometimes adventure lies outside the backyard!

Myth #9: My dog should tolerate anything my children do:

This is a good way for your child to get a nasty bite wound. Children are terrible with boundaries, and they need to be taught to respect their doggie companions. Allowing a child to sit, tug on or tease a dog is disrespectful. Dogs are living animals that should be cared for, not tormented.

Myth #10: My dog understands me when I talk to him:

Even I fall into the trap of thinking I can “talk” to my dog. While dogs can understand about 500 words and a very talented Border Collie named Chaser can understand thousands, when we talk to our dogs they focus in on a few words, our tone of voice, facial expressions, and our body language.

Myth #11: Dogs wag their tail when they are happy:

A dog trainer I worked with actually debunked this for me. Dogs wag their tail for many reasons, but typically it’s because they are either happy or nervous. The important thing here is that you learn to read a dog’s body language. A stiff, rigid appearance is a good sign that your dog is nervous, even if their tail is wagging. Being able to read a dogs signals will go a long way to building strong relationships with them.

Who knew the dog world was filled with so many myths?

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Socialization Project: Off-Leash Dog Park

Seattle has an amazing system of off-leash dog parks. From Dr. Jose Rizal Park and its amazing view of downtown, to Magnuson Park and its access to Lake Washington, there are ample opportunities for dog owners to get their dogs out to romp with other dogs and get out lots of energy.

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Seattle skyline from Dr. Jose Rizal Park

Admittedly, I was not a fan of dog parks when we got Pickle. I had heard bad stories of dogs getting sick, other dog walkers having out of control packs of dogs, or owners who didn’t know how to behave. I had heard so much bad, that I was turned off before I even took my first trip. Luckily, the feeling went away after a couple trips. Pickle loves being around other dogs, and she was well enough socialized that I didn’t have to worry about her getting into a fight, and she does well enough that if she escapes my line of sight for a minute I don’t have to panic.

After my hesitation diminished, I started to work with new dogs at the off-leash area. Typically I’ll do this with dogs that I know have been to the park before, and owners generally grant permission first as a way to reassure me that their dogs will behave. Since I started, it’s become a great way to socialize puppies to being around other dogs, their owners and to changing environments. In the same day, I can go from a gravel covered park under the interstate, to a wooded park with little traffic, to a very dog-filled park with lake access. All with enclosed, fully fenced spaces with lots of room to run and play. It’s difficult to mimic that without off-leash access.

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Making waves at Warren G. Magnuson Park!

Being confined to an urban setting, dog parks are great! But, there are still reasons to be cautious. First, dog parks are heavily populated with strange dogs, which poses the risk for your dog picking up illnesses. Your dog should be fully vaccinated before you bring them to any off-leash area. Otherwise, you could face a heavy vet bill to pay for antibiotics to fix a stomach virus. Never let your dog eat other dogs feces, and be aware of what your dog is getting into in heavy grass (I’ve pulled Pickle and several of my dogs from leftover food, even dead rodents).

Secondly, know your dog. If you have a puppy or young dog that loves to mount or charge at other dogs, maybe a dog park isn’t the best place for them. You will be around lots of strange dogs, and not all of them will be amiable. remember, even the most tolerant dogs don’t like other dogs taking them for a ride. I have taken great strides to make Pickle good at reading signals from other dogs, and it has kept her from getting lots of scars. If your dog isn’t as aware, you need to take them somewhere else.

Lastly, and most importantly, pay attention to body language. Especially with young dogs, it is easy to be overwhelmed when you are surrounded by dozens of older, pushy dogs. If your dog is running away, cowering, tucking their tail, pay attention and don’t force them to be uncomfortable. You can do lots of damage by forcing a dog into a scary situation. Take this time to step back to a quieter part of the park, praise your dog and slowly reintroduce them. I’ve run into lots of intimidating dogs and situations that are overwhelming to me, I could only imagine what goes through the mind of the puppies I care for!

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Dog parks can be great ways to get your dog out of the house and let them run and play. When safely done, off-leash areas expose your dog to lots of good socialization opportunities. But as the human, you are responsible for keeping your dog comfortable and out of harms way. Be smart, be aware, and everyone will have a good time.

If you want to know more about the network of Seattle dog parks, visit the Seattle Park’s page. If you’d like to help out and volunteer in a dog park near you, visit the Seattle COLA page.

Dog Park Etiquette

A few trips to the dog park does not make me an expert. But I’m sure if you’ve been to the dog park, you’ve encountered dog owners who cause all sorts of problems. Even in my limited experiences to off leash dog parks, I’ve come across a variety of people who could use a little work on their dog park etiquette.

The Newspaper Reader

I actually saw a man reading his newspaper while walking around the dog park. First, do you actually trust that you won’t step in dog poop (see below). Second, where is your dog? Is he the one that is running around barking in the faces of all the other dogs? Because that’s getting annoying. Keep your eyes out on the dogs and keep track of yours. I don’t want to be breaking up any fights because you needed to read today’s headlines.

This also applies to the ‘I’m on an important business call’ guy. Why are you at the dog park?

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The Poop Neglector

I’ve navigated my way around the park twice now, and I’ve come across a pile or two of poop. Don’t tell me that you forgot your poo bags, because I see some hanging on the fence for public use. You probably didn’t see it because you had your face buried in your Facebook account. I’d like it if it didn’t end up on my shoe, I’d like it even better if my dog wasn’t tempted to eat your dog’s excrement.

The Guy Whose Dog is Wearing a Muzzle

Your dog looks like Hannibal Lecter, and it doesn’t bother you that they can’t drink water or defend themselves in case of a fight that apparently they cause a lot of. Nope, it’s okay because your dog’s jaws are bound behind a strong barrier of plastic. Never mind that they don’t belong in the park because they cause too many issues and they don’t like other dogs (stop with all the “it only happens sometimes” BS). This is the best way for them to get out as much energy as possible without you having to walk them. Good luck with that.

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The 8-Week Old Puppy Daddy

Two things. First, dog parks are not a good way to socialize your puppy. Puppies are not going to learn the tricks and good habits they need in life while getting pushed around by older, bigger adult dogs. Second, dog parks are a great way for your puppy to contract Bordetella and Parvo. A puppies immune system is really freaking compromised, and they will pick up diseases fast. Kennel cough is rough, parvo is potentially deadly. Be smart if you are going to get a puppy and please don’t take them to a dog park before being fully vaccinated.

The Overprotective Type

Your dog is a gorgeous, pure bred animal. You spent thousands of dollars to bring it home and now you are taking the time to show off your prized possession to the rest of us in the dog park. You’re also making an extra effort to keep any dog from getting within 20 feet of your pooch. Seriously, are you just here to gloat? I hope you didn’t come through the front door thinking that every dog here was going to care that your greyhound scratches easy, or that your french bulldogs ears were off limits. No your own boundaries before trying to pass them on to others.

 

You are bound to run into all kinds of people at the dog parks. It’s a public space that everyone should have the right to use, but maybe some people need to second guess that decision. All I ask is that you pay attention to your dog, and understand that not every dog (and not every owner) belongs in a dog park. Be smart folks!

Entertaining your Puppy on the Cheap

Puppies are expensive. Often times there are adoption fees, vaccinations, vet bills, food, snacks, bedding, training, and so much more, and those are just the essentials! It’s easy to suffer from a little sticker shock when you start adding up the dollars necessary for raising a puppy (but they are so worth it!).

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When it comes to entertaining your dog with toys and games, it’s easy for that dollar amount to skyrocket. A quick search on PetCO.com revealed toys as expensive as $41.24 (that’s after a 25% discount!), and toys on average sit between $10-15. So stockpiling your dogs toy bin can be quite difficult.

Luckily, there are alternatives! With Pickle, we’ve made some great discoveries about ways to keep her entertained and ways to stimulate her body and her mind. Here are a couple tips and hints about entertaining your puppy on the cheap:

Where to Shop:

Skip the big name stores and go to second-hand stores. Store’s like Marshal’s and Ross are great places to pick up the same puppy toys as Pet Co, but at half the cost (not to mention dishes, leashes, etc)! The fun part is a store like Ross does not track their inventory from store to store, so shopping in their stores is like a scavenger hunt for new goods! Fun for your inner shopper, and a huge payoff to your pup (and your wallet!).

For a little more adventure, we’ve gone toy shopping in Goodwill and thrift stores all across Seattle. Goodwill has a great pet section, sure, but the pay off is finding a fun stuffed animal from the kid’s toy aisle. Kira came back with a stuffed horse and a mopey Eeyore that drove Pickle nuts! I think the smells from these toys cannot be replicated, so it puts her on sensory overload when we play with them. For an added bit of fun, we bought a giant stuffed bear (for $6) that Pickle wrestles with and uses as a dog bed. We ran it through the dryer on high to kill any possible bugs, just in case.

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Make sure if you are purchasing none dog approved toys from thrift stores that you remove any hard plastic eyes or attachments so your pup doesn’t choke. Also make sure they don’t eat any of the stuffing from inside as it could cause blockage issues. There’s a little extra work needed, but worth it!

In your Home:

Believe it or not, your home is already a great resource for dog toys (if your pup chews on everything, maybe it’s not a surprise). The crunching and texture of a plastic soda bottle mimics the same crunchy texture inside loads of existing dog toys. Before Pickle’s jaws were strong enough to cause problems, we would give her glass bottles that she could nose around the floor (she tried and tried to get the sugary drink from inside the bottle). Any old or torn shirts can be balled and knotted up to create toy ropes. It’s recycling for your dog!

Pro tip: At the bottom of any treat bag is a pile of crumbs. Don’t through them away! I mixed mine with some water and pumpkin puree, and then froze it in an ice-cube tray. Now, whenever Pickle is bothering me in the kitchen, I can toss her a cube and it’ll keep her busy for a couple minutes. Long enough for me to finish cooking dinner.

Mind Games:

We’ve covered toys, what about games? A dogs easily exhausted if they are mentally stimulated, and simple scavenging games can exhaust your pup while buying you a couple minutes to breathe. Our game is quite simple, and quite effective. The set up is simple. Lay some of your pups favorite treats on the ground, then cover it with a blanket. Lay some more treats, add some toys, fold over the blanket, and repeat (as many times as you can). Your dog will have to dig through all the blankets and queue into their scavenging instincts, exerting both physical and mental energy.

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Your dogs are precious members of the family, and as owners we want to give them everything to ensure they have a happy life. Unfortunately the bill can get out of control before we have time to realize. Luckily, there are simple ways to give your dog lots of joy and entertainment, all it takes is a little creativity in your day. So get out there and spoil your pups!

Have any insider tips on puppy entertainment? Share them on Facebook, Twitter and show off on Instagram!

Dog Friendly Seattle: Chuck’s Hop Shop Central District

Pickle has broadened my horizons when it comes to visiting places in Seattle. From time to time I’d like to highlight some of my favorite dog friendly places. I’m not being compensated for this post, just sharing my opinions on what I consider some pretty cool places in the city.

This week’s edition of “Dog Friendly Seattle” brings us to Chuck’s Hop Shop. Chuck’s has two locations, one in Seattle’s Central District and one in Ballard. Since the Central District location is two blocks from our house (so convenient, right!?) I can really only speak for this location, but rest assured that both are great!

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Who: Chuck’s Hop Shop: Central District

What: A combination craft beer shop and bar. Chuck’s has hundreds of selections of beer, cider and wine in their many coolers, as well as 50 rotating ciders and beers on tap. A great place to come hang out with your friends, watch a sporting event on their many TVs (they had an old Muhammad Ali fight on last week!) and play a board game. Chuck’s is rather spacious, offering both indoor and outdoor seating, and is both dog and kid friendly. Come down to buy a six pack to go, a pint to stay, or fill up that growler for home.

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Where: 2001 E Union St, Seattle

When: Mon-Thu: 11 AM to 12 AM, Fri-Sat: 11 AM to 1 AM, Sun: 11 AM to 12 AM

Why: If the hundreds of beer selections weren’t reason enough, how about the rotating food trucks they have in their parking lots each night? Or, how about the fact they are dog friendly (great!) and family friendly? How about the fact they have a freezer with Full Tilt ice cream (so many vegan options)? How about the spacious indoor/outdoor seating? Great location? Cool staff? Okay, if you don’t get it by now, I can’t help you!

How: With friends, with your dog, your family, or even just to peak your head in to get out of the cold, Chuck’s has lots to offer to every beer enthusiast. You can order one of there 50 drinks they have on tap, or buy a bottle from the refrigerators to go or drink on site (for a small cork fee). The bar tenders are always super friendly and helpful in helping me pick through all the choices and making a decision. Don’t forget to fill your growlers!

Chuck’s is just one of the many dog friendly places to visit in Seattle. What are your favorites? Share them in the comments section, on our Facebook page or on Twitter.

Bordetella: What it is, and what do I do?

Last week, my girlfriend brought our puppy to her regular puppy play class. She anxiously nosed at the gate, anticipating the fun she was about to have with all of her puppy pals. But then, seemingly out of no where, our puppy Pickle let out a hoarse cough. Immediately, the instructor picked her up and told us we needed to leave. There was no way that a puppy with a cough was going to be allowed to interact with the other pups.

Later that night, as my girlfriend recounted the story to me, I immediately thought the worst. Kennel cough is a common (and potentially serious) illness that effects puppies. However, it is also highly contagious and though the initial illness is not fatal, the symptoms that arise from the puppy being ill could pose health issues.

My background as a boarding kennel assistant had me nervous that we were facing a real serious problem. Not helping matters was the fact that only 48 hours before I had learned that Pickle was treated for kennel cough when she first arrived from Georgia. That night we were on the phone and setting up vet appointments, and the next afternoon, Pickle was getting her physical exam and I was nervously answering health questions (typical first time doctor visit as a parent).

Fast forward 45 minutes, and the vet gave me some reassurance that he didn’t think Pickle had kennel cough. She had some mucus build up in her lungs, but she hadn’t coughed in nearly 12 hours at this point, and that was a good sign. As a precaution he prescribed antibiotics and advised us to isolate Pickle from other dogs (considering we would’ve done that anyway, it was no big shock).

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A week later, Pickle has had no sign of a cough and has responded well to the antibiotics (which even cleared up some pesky eye boogers). But the whole experience made me realize how little I (and potentially you as a reader) actually know about kennel cough. So, here’s the skinny:

What is Kennel Cough?*

Kennel cough is the more general term to describe Bordetella, or canine tracheobronchitis. Kennel cough is a highly contagious respiratory illness that leads to inflammation of the trachea and bronchi. Kennel cough usually affects a high percentage of dogs at least one in their lifetime.

Symptoms usually show as heavy, hoarse coughing, dry hacking, and retching. Serious cases could result in a loss of appetite and loss of energy. Puppies, elderly and pregnant dogs are usually at a higher risk due to their compromised immune systems. In severe cases, symptoms progress and can include pneumonia, fever, and even death.

Kennel cough was a term coined to describe the illness due to the frequency of transmission is boarding and shelter facilities. Close proximity of dogs and dirty conditions of unkept shelters or kennels can lead to the fast spread of the illness. But Bordetella can live in water and can be transmitted through shared water dishes, or even simply through physical contact between an infected dog and another dog. Due to its high level of contagiousness, infected dogs are isolated until they can recover.

Kennel cough is diagnosed by a vet, and is conducted based on the symptoms of your dog. Blood tests and urinalysis are run and conclusions are made by the vet.

What do I do if my dog gets Bordetella?

Treatment depends on the severity of the symptoms. If your dog is not showing signs of lethargy, fever or loss of appetite, the illness may be allowed to run its course, much like a human cold. However, if the symptoms prove to be severe, antibiotics and anti-inflammatories will be prescribed. Stay in contact with your vet and be aware of symptoms in case they don’t subside.

Prevention is also possible. The easiest thing is to avoid places where there are high concentrations of dogs. Honestly, though, that’s like teaching abstinence to high schoolers pumped up on hormones. It’s not realistic.

Even if you have never boarded your dog in a kennel, dogs can get kennel cough from shared water sources (think water bowls outside your favorite Starbucks). Interactions with strange dogs on the sidewalk also poses a threat, so avoidance is not realistic.

The best course of action is to seek out a vaccination from your vet. Although not 100% guaranteed, vaccinations would protect your dog from all the real world issues they will inevitably face.

In the end, kennel cough is a potentially serious, yet easily treatable illness in dogs. Though very common and highly contagious, only dogs experiencing severe symptoms (lethargy, fever, etc) face any real threat. Luckily for Pickle the illness has subsided, and luckily for us, kennel cough isn’t contagious to humans. So, despite being sick, there was no interruption in our snuggle time!

* Pet MD, Kennel Cough in Dogs,  http://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/respiratory/c_dg_canine_tracheobronchitis

Why I Love Being a Dog Walker

I consider myself a lucky man. Everyday, get to earn my living doing the things that I love, how many people can say that?

In the evenings, I am a math tutor, enriching the lives of young students and helping them to unravel the intricacies of numbers and equations. I get to be a mentor and an educator, not only helping kids to navigate the windy roads of the classroom, but also the roller coaster they call life.

But during the day, I get to do something else that I truly love: walk dogs. Now that may cause some to question my background and my goals (not to mention my sanity). So let me lay it out for you: I am a college grad, where I double majored in mathematics and business economics. My father always pushed me to be a teacher, yet I graduated more trained to work as a bank teller, able to work money and do all kinds of calculations. My path was leading me to a career behind a desk. Yet, something about that wasn’t very appealing. Why would I want to sit at a desk, cooped up and isolated from the wonderful things that this city has to offer?

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Well, I didn’t want to. Then I walked into a job as a kennel assistant, handling 30+ dogs everyday and interacting with their owners, building relationships with the two-legged and four-legged friends. I built a love for obedience training and the commonalities that existed between working with dogs and kids. Especially the light bulb that hits them when a lesson finally hits home. Every time it happened, it was a new reason to pursue a job I loved.

So now, instead of showing up and facing coworkers shut up in windowless offices and choking on a necktie, I am welcomed into every home by a loving four-legged friend who only wants to attack me with kisses and love. How would you feel if you were welcomed into your job everyday by someone who expressed unconditional happiness and appreciation to see you? I wish all my math students felt that way.

How could that not rub off on me? It’s impossible to spend my day upset and to let anything stress me out. Do the dogs push my buttons sometimes? Sure. But a wag of their tail or a glance from their pouty eyes melts my heart, and any anger slips away, forgotten.

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Furthermore, Seattle is an amazing place to explore, with all its nooks and crannies and mazes of parks and side streets. Dog walking has given me an opportunity to discover the nuances of neighborhoods that would have otherwise gone unexplored. Everyday, I find a new little library, a piece of street art, or even poem benches.

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With every new neighborhood comes a new population of people to meet and have conversations with. Dog owners tend to be really social, and lots of people love to stop and chat about their dogs (and mine). Not only do I have the privilege to see the attractions in each neighborhood, but I get to meet the people who live and raise families there. Dog walking is like one big networking opportunity!

I know, your gut reaction is to say there is no way that a person can make a living doing this. But trust me, Seattle is a city booming with dog owners, and is a place in great need of decent dog walkers and sitters who can give their dogs dependable care. And I would be lying if I said it was easy (I still tutor for a reason). Besides, getting paid to be a pooper-scooper and running the potential of getting caught in the cold and wet weather makes me question my job choice.

But if I have to risk the one day every week that I may get caught in the rain, it is worth it to spend hours in the wonderful parks Seattle has to offer, meeting her residents and learning about her neighborhoods. The result was Paw Prints Seattle, my ticket to running my own business (thus justifying all those accounting and management classes I took in college) and going to work everyday with a smile on my face.

What’s not to love?