Thursday, December 27, 2007

Picking up Poop

One of the less glamorous parts of owning a pet is cleaning up after them. For many pet owners (the ones who don't have acres of land) it is a necessity to periodically pick up poop in the yard. Many cities also have laws about cleaning up after pets on a walk, at a dog park, or generally anywhere that is not your own house.

Although a simple plastic bag will suffice for most cleaning duties there are a lot of products on the market to help with this dirty task. We have a handy bag holder that attaches to the puppy's leash. I do not normally go for items who's alternative is free and easily available, but avoiding the embarrassing (and illegal) "my dog just pooped on your lawn but I forgot to bring a bag on this walk" scenario is worth $15.

At many dog parks this bag holder is unnecessary. That is because the bags are provided in dispensers by trash cans, to encourage responsible ownership. I recently found a link to a free sample of these Petpick-ups. The best part about the site is the cool animation up top of a man walking his dog, although I watched for about 5 minutes hoping the animation would show his dog relieving himself, alas I was let down. The link I found though a new blog I've picked up: All About Labradors.

Anyways, this post was prompted by Finn relieving himself on the patio again. We have a small yard with plenty of space for him to go on the grass, which he has been doing without a problem for almost 6 months now. Then, last week, he started going just wherever. He is making no attempt to go on the lawn anymore and our once safe for stocking feet patio is now a mine zone of Finn's excretment. I am not sure what to do. We never really trained Finn to go on the lawn, he just did and now I'm worried that he may be deciding that's not what he wants to do any longer and there is no training I can start up again to reinforce that I want him to go on the lawn. Hopefully we can figure something out before I stink up any more of my socks or shoes.

If you have any input on getting a dog to go #2 in a specific spot, I would love to hear it.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Dog Blog Links: 6th Edition

It's been a good week, what with Christmas and all. We took Finn with us to the beach on Christmas Eve for a "Christmas Photo", it was his first time seeing both sand and waves. We were able to snap some nice shots which I'll post later in the week, but I also got this one, memoralizing his first sandy paw prints and his ability to lay down on command and look at the camera when asked (A trick that is under appreciated in dog literature.

Also with the Holidays came a flood of themed posts. These are all the ones that I starred in my RSS reader.

The Chocolate Dog Blog: A Pet Christmas photo contest winner. No pictures of Finn were submitted after what he did when we put his hat on.

Polka Dot Pup: A great photo of a lab with a jingle bell collar. Bear has one of these too, it gets old very quickly.

Mama Doggy Love: A great dog santa outfit (I told you a lot of these posts were all Christmas themed).

Huskee Boy: With antlers and presents any dog is happy.

Bark Blog: A review of how owners view there pets (hint: they are mostly on the nice list, despite where they might pee)

Dachsies Rule: A wish of Merry Christmas from some dachshunds in Texas.

Amber's Personal Diary: Amber shows off what a real Christmas feast looks like.

The Days of Johann: A cute holiday pet video featuring a host of adorable puppies.

Boing Boing: (Okay it's not a pet blog but still) A "K-9" Gingerbread house (a la Doctor Who)

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Do you get a dog a Chrismas gift?

One of the things to determine as a first time pet owner is how to integrate the pooch into routines and traditions. Around the Holidays the decision seems to be more; "How much will the dog be involved?" rather than; "Will the dog be involved?" One site I found notes that it's best to include the pets in the planning process so you can avoid Holiday decorations that a dog or cat will destroy. As for presents, according to a few articles anywhere from 55% to 2/3 of pet owners buy holdiay gifts for their pets.

Beyond the fact that over 90% of people consider their pets a part of the family (which should be reasons enough to get a gift...assuming you are of the majority that exchanges gifts).The Pet Effect Blog has an amusing list of reasons why a pet should make your Holiday shopping list. Number three is:

#3. He reminds you that there is still good in the world.
It’s easy to forget. People cut you off in traffic. Some creepy guy stares at you non-stop in the subway. Your boss is a jerk. Your cab driver overcharges you. It’s enough to want you to shut the world out and hide on your couch all day. But when you get there, you’re greeted by someone who thinks the world of you, and who only wants to make you happy (oh, and maybe a nibble of whatever it is you’re eating).
For making me smile an extra 10-15 times daily Finn was placed on my shopping list without a thought. Not only does this mean our tree will look a little more festive (more stockings get hung, and more presents to put under the tree) but it also means that I KNOW I got someone a gift they will love. It's easy to buy for a dog that thinks a dirty sock is the cat's meow, and thinks the cat's meow is.... well... pretty cool too.

To help with the gift giving though Petco has put on a great holiday season sale. We went yesterday and picked up a few things for the bear.

Mostly we just wanted to fill his stocking, but I guess we decided his stocking wasn't big enough, hence stocking number 2. No big deal though as everything was only a couple dollars.

To help pick out a good gift for a dog take a look at this article, about gifts under $10, or check out the top dog gifts at Squidoo.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

List to Santa

It's been a while since I've posted. In that time Finn spent a week at Cage Free K9's, and got to see his first rainy day (Los Angeles doesn't get a lot of them). To celebrate he did what feels right during ugly weather... he slept.

Other than that we have been preparing for the holdiays. Finn got his own stocking this year, as a gift from a family member, and is eagerly awaiting his chance to tear open a gift. I Came across a touching letter to Santa from Johann The Dog and thought I would make one for Finn. He is still a puppy so his compassion is not that of a more mature dog, but his list is as follows .

1.) A massive quantity of leftover Filet Mignon

2.) Something to chase other than a cat or a cricket; the former is getting boring the latter is losing it's tastiness

3.) That that maybe this toy, is that a toy!?!

4.) 16 hours a day to sleep (Isn't this on everyone's list?)

5.) More rocks in the yard to dig up and chew on

6.) A trip to the beach

7.) Not to be dressed up anymore

The list isn't the only way the dog is getting in the Christmas spirit. Here is Finn getting dressed up for the Holidays. He got a lot of cool clothes this year, the bee costume, his shalom pup, some gear from our alma mater, duck themed pajamas, and this great hat and shirt. The shirt, by the way, says "Dear Santa, The Cat Did It." This isn't exactly true, coming from a guy who has torn apart a roll of paper towels, pooped in the garage, given me a bloddy nose by jumping into bed while I was sleeping, and stolen my seat on the couch 1000 times. It's alright though, cause he's so darn cute. Overall he is still on the nice list, and we'll make sure he gets something more than just a lump of coal (although he would probably love a lump of coal).

Like I said, not being dressed up is on his list. Here is the picture of him showing his displeasure with his hat. The more appropriate place is in the mouth, and as such that hat is now his new favorite toy. It's too bad too he's not a costume fan, cause I think he would make an great Rudolph.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Dog Phsychology: Does Reading a book help.

We've tried to do everything we could to be prepared for the responsibilities of dog ownership. I've done more research on vaccinations, socialization , training techniques and general dog psychology then I did for most of my college courses. It seems that some of this work has started to pay off, or we are just very lucky, Finn is very well behaved.

The "research" of course consists of a number of mediums. I devored everything given to us by the breeder, which got us through the first week. Then I plowed through a number of online articles about raising a dog, health issues, and quick tips. After that I moved onto the massive packet of instructions provided by our dog trainer. Once I got through all of that I reorganized my RSS reader with about 45 dog blogs (and counting... let me know if you have one I should add).

Now I've taken to reading dog related books for all of my pleasure reading. There are a few guidebooks for dogs in Los Angeles, a pretty solid book of tricks (it helped teach Finn fetch and roll-over) and most recently I finished my first novel length reading; The Other End of The Leash, by Patricia B McConnell. TOEOTL (because I like acronymns) contained a broad scope of information with a chapter on translating primate to canine to how to deal with the loss of a pet. Although there were no earth shattering secrets, like a certain frequency of wistle that causes a dog to immediatly drop what it has in it's mouth and come sit by its master, the underlying message of the book helped me to better understand what Finn really thinks about me. I always knew dogs were preceptive but I didn't even think about all the extra "cues" I am giving him when I say commands; the angle of my head, what I'm wearing, or the fact that even saying a command may be confusing ,because dogs are such visual creatures.

Overall mcConnell does a great job of showing that she really is knowledagble about pets. The Ph.D is for her studies in applied animal behavior. Her own dogs are sheep dogs and help her take care of a flock as well as protect her farm. In my eyes a person who can train a dog to care for and protect a bunch of animals instead of trying to play with them (ie Finn) must know what they are doing. I have a stack of other books I will be getting to at some point, but if you are looking for one that will help you better relate to your own pet you may want to check out TOEOTL.

Hopefully I'll be able to suggest a bunch of other books next week. We are going on a cruise tomorrow. Finn is going back to Cage Free K9's, where he'll be get as dirty as he did during LosAngeles huge rainstorm the other day, but at least he'll meet some friends.

If anyone knows some good material (blogs, novels, magazines) let me know in the comments.