Houston – 2nd Annual Rockets Dog Walk – Saturday April 5

The Dog Walk

Houstonians – looking for something to do this weekend?  Why don’t you head on down to Hermann Park with your pooch!

The Rockets are sponsoring a Dog Walk though the park to raise money for the Hermann Park Conservatory.  Funds raised will be used to set up a dog park…so it’s a great cause!  Just $30 will buy you admission to the walk (around the scenic McGovern Lake and the Jones Reflection Pool), a t-shirt for the humans, and bandana for the dogs, and a FREE TICKET to a Rockets game! So you are getting all this stuff – PLUS taking your pup to do something fun – PLUS the satisfaction that you helped make Houston a little more dog-friendly by helping raise money for a beautiful new dog park!

Details are on the picture below…or you can check out the official Dog Walk Brochure …or you can visit the official Rockets website here.

 

DogWalk_Landing0401

 

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“It’s a Miracle” – The K9 Bridle

As you know – I am a dog walker.

My confession – my own dog is not a good walker.

For the first two years of her life, Buffy resided with us on the second floor of an apartment complex.  Somewhere in there, she began to see getting leashed up as the precursor to being forced outside to face a series of scary unknowns (other dogs, other people, passing cars).  To her, Leash = Bad.  I know she could enjoy walks…but I don’t even really know how to take the first step.K9 Bridle

As most of you know…I’m kinda a Twitter addict.  I LOVE it, and often spend time looking at the websites/blogs/FB Pages of my new followers.  That’s how I found K9 Bridle.  I have had some success walking “pullers” with Gentle Leaders…but it seems to irritate some of them a bit (and some of them ALOT.) I want to find the perfect tool for Buffy, and with claims like “Stops pulling- Guaranteed” and “Totally effortless control“…it seems like it was worth a shot.

Buffy waiting patiently while I read the instructions

Buffy waiting patiently while I read the instructions

At first glance, the instructions on the packaging seemed complicated…but once I had the K9 Bridle opened and a pup waiting to be leashed up, it was surprisingly easy to get it on.  Buffy looked slightly confused as to what was happening (or what was going to happen), but didn’t seem to mind and soon we were hitting the streets.

I figured that the first time I took Buffy out with it on – not only would she be her usual crazy self (pulling, running, attempting to slip her harness/collar) she would also obsessively paw at the bridle.  While she did dip her head and scratch at the bridle twice…it didn’t seem to bother her much at all.

To say the K9 Bridle is a miracle product would be an understatement.  The effect was instantaneous.  (I would like to state right here: every dog – just as every human – is different.  These are my opinions and relate to my crazy pup…BUT I do walk dogs for a living!)  She was completely and totally relaxed.  She wasn’t pulling.  She wasn’t worked up.  She wasn’t obsessing about trying to get away from every little thing.  She was just walking.  She was just sniffing in the grass.  She was just enjoying herself.

My husband (aka the photographer for this blog post) could not believe his eyes.  “It’s a miracle!” he exclaimed over and over.  He wanted to take turn walking her.  He simply did not believe it.  The K9 Bridle literally got our whole family excited about walking again. 

After our walk, I did a little more reading about the K9 Bridle and discovered exactly why it is so awesome.  I should have noticed it before – but it’s because it allows you to control your dog from the back of the neck NOT the side of the muzzle or under the chin.  (For those of you who do not have experience – this is  what a Gentle Leader does.  Don’t get me wrong – they can help with some pullers as it whips the dog back around on itself – but they are not good for simple control.)

So…if you couldn’t tell from above – I HIGHLY recommend the K9 Bridle and will continue to recommend it to all of my clients and faithful blog readers.  Feel free to post questions (or email them to me blog@wagsandwhiskershouston.com) if you would like more details about my experience with what is now known in my household as “the miracle”.

k9b Close Up 2

Modeling the K9 Bridle

Check out the K9 Bridle website here their Facebook page here and their Twitter feed here.

 

The Devil’s Own Creation (Or How I Feel About Retractable Leashes)

I would like to state for the record – this post is full of my own personal opinion.  I am not a dog trainer or a veterinarian –  I am simply a woman who spends most of her time in the company of many different dogs.

Retractable leashes….how many of you use them?  If I had to guess…I would say it’s almost an even split between those of us who use a good old-fashioned leash to those of you who go for the retractable variety.

In doing a bit of research for this post (ok…I should say “in looking for articles to reinforce my own viewpoint”), I was surprised to find that even Consumer Reports had taken the time to weigh in on this issue.  While their reporting told of a retractable leash severing a dog owner’s finger (seriously….read about it here), I was actually looking for something far less dramatic to discuss with you guys.  The Dog Whisperer himself, Cesar Millan states “You should never use such a lead [retractable] for just walking your dog” on his website.   (In fact…check out that link for lots of good dog walking and retractable leash tips.)

Retractable Leash

Picture from a great post on the Dogster site

I honestly do not see the allure of retractable leashes.  When I lived in an apartment, I did use one for Buffy.  She was having trouble walking on a leash…and I tried EVERYTHING.  The retractable leash did work: she walked better with it on and it did come in handy when I couldn’t keep up with her running up and down the stairs.  (We lived on the second floor.)  We did not really use it on long walks, though.   Scarily enough, we stopped using it only after it SNAPPED.  (Thankfully, Buffy is well behaved and did not run off.)

Using clients retractable leashes is – most of the time – just plain annoying.  (Try walking 5 dogs on all on retractable leashes and you will know the definition of annoying.)  The dogs seem to use it as an excuse to run out of control and not listen to me. I have received numerous injuries from the darn things…and while most of them were minor, I did receive a bad burn on the back of both of my legs due to a crazy dog running around me and then taking off.  (And when I say burn….I mean BURN.  It was very severe.  And I am not a wimp!)

So, I have my own experiences, Cesar Millan, and about a hundred other articles backing me up in my statement “Retractable leashes are the devil’s own creation.” 

But, we all know that there are two sides to every coin.  Or, as my mom would say “That’s why they make chocolate and vanilla!”

There are 2 instances I can see (and have seen from my own dog walking) where retractable leashes are not as horrible as I have lead you to believe:

Leashes

I got the retractable leash SKILLZ!

***Long walks in wide open spaces.  Not all of us live in tight, cramped cities with traffic whizzing by and 15 other people out walking their dogs at the same time on the same narrow strip of sidewalk.  Maybe you are taking your dog for a hike. Maybe you live in the middle of nowhere and it is nice to let your dog explore without having total freedom.  That kind of activity gets this dog walkers retractable leash approval.

***With calm, relaxed dogs.  Now, I don’t just mean you have a good, well behaved dog.  I mean, you have a good, well behaved, won’t-chase-after-a-squirrel, not-gonna-get-excited-by-a-loud-noise, chilled out, could-probably-be-walked-without-a-leash dog.  They exist.  If you have one…well, stop reading this right now and go over and give her a big kiss because you are LUCKY…but yes, if you have one of these dogs, retractable leash it UP.

So…maybe retractable leashes aren’t REALLY the devil’s creation.  Maybe they do have their own place and time.  I guess what this (self-proclaimed!) dog expert is wondering is, how did they become such a staple in our dog society?  Why do dog lovers feel the need to buy and use them?  These questions, dear readers, are ones that only you can answer.

Looking forward to reading your comments!

Diabetes & Your Pet – Drop the Pounds, Fight the Disease

So, you know the basics about diabetes in your pets and how serious it is here in this country.  You also know that obesity plays a HUGE ugly role in the disease.  What is the best way to fight obesity??  EXERCISE!

Now, as a dog walker, I am obviously going to tell you the best, easiest, cheapest, fun-est way to exercise your dog is by simply taking him or her for a walk.  Not only are you going to see the pounds drop off your pooch, you are going to see the bond between the two of your strengthen.  (Oh, and it’s healthy for you too!)  But maybe you don’t like to do things the easy way!  Maybe you have money burning a hole in your pocket, and dog exercise equipment is what you really love to spend your hard-earned cash on.  No worries!  We’ve got some great suggestions for you:

Go Pet Treadwheelswww.gopetusa.com

Living in New York City, the only pets I had time (or money!) for were two mice.  Those two gals LOVED their wheel and had different, intricate games they would play together using it.  (It was really something to watch…and video of them on their wheel was used as a backdrop for a modern dance piece performed on Broadway…making their NYC performance career more successful than my own!)  Go Pet has taken this mouse-running-on-a-wheel-for-exercise concept and made it dog sized.  While this seems like a clever idea, I just can’t imagine dogs really using this.  (There is even video of a cat running in one of these things on their website! )  The site advertises this as a great way for dogs to exercise when their parents are away (would a pup or cat really do that??) or when the weather is bad, but $475-$1125 seems a lot to pay so that you can sit on your booty while your pet works up a sweat.  On the other hand, I bet it is adorably entertaining to see your dog running on a big hamster wheel!

Canine Fitness Camp – Morris Animal Innwww.morrisanimalinn.com

Reading about Morris Animal Inn’s Weight Loss and Fitness Camp made me wonder if I could go too!  For about $50/day, Fido enjoy swimming, nature hikes, healthy fruit smoothies….along with “pampering massages“, “Doga“, and “Pawlates“.  (Ok, seriously…I REALLY want to go!)  I think this is a GREAT idea.  I know how hard it can be to start a diet/exercise plan – and this seems like the perfect way to kickstart your pooch’s regime.  This camp is sure to get your dog excited about getting out and being active…and the excitement is sure to carry over once you take your pup back home.

Chase It Pet Productswww.chaseit.com

This is another familiar pet toy, super sized!  Cats love these string toys, but for some reason the dog sized version of this just seems ridiculous.  I just can’t see myself lugging this fishing-pole-like contraption to the park…when an old-fashioned ball seems like it would get my pup going just as well.  They retail for about $25 – which isn’t a crazy amount to spend on something for my pet – but seems a bit over priced for something that looks like a fifth grader made it for Invention Convention.  (Does anyone know what I’m talking about?)

So get your dog running on that wheel, send them to boot camp, or get them jumping for joy over a toy!  Go to the park, around the block, or just out in the backyard.  Exercising with a buddy is always more fun – and it will be good for you AND man’s best friend to get some daily cardio in.  By taking such a simple step, you will make a giant leap in preventing diabetes in your pup.

For more information on obesity in pets and how to prevent it – visit The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention’s website.  It’s a great resource!

PAW-LIDAY GIVEAWAY – Ruff Wear Performance Dog Gear

If there is one thing I’ve learned from working with dogs, it’s that all leashes and collars are not created equal.  I’ve seen collar clasps snap, chains come loose, leashes chewed through.  I’ve heard more than my fair share of “We thought he was going to get that cat when he escaped!” or “How did she destroy ANOTHER leash?!”  So they plunk more money into another poorly made pet store product…and worse, they continue to stress.

Enter Ruff Wear to save the day!  From the moment I held one of their leashes in my hand, I could feel the difference.  (And not to brag, but I’ve held my fair share of leashes….one might even say I’m somewhat of an expert.)  Ruff Wear products are made  “For Dogs on the Go”, and they aren’t kidding!  Sure, they have extra durable, long-lasting leashes, beds, toys, collars, and bowls…but they also have cool things like dog life jackets, boots, packs, and harnesses.  If these products can stand up to hiking, swimming, camping, and mountain climbing, think of how long they are going to last you and your pup on those daily walks around the neighborhood.

Square Ball - $17.95

I found countless amazing products on this site.  One of my favorites was the SquareBall rubber dog toy.  The square shape is ingenious (and unique)  and sure to keep your dog guessing where the next bounce will take it.  It’s also durable and made for high energy dogs.  It’s also ADORABLE! (Yes, that is an important factor when I buy toys for Buffy.)

Otis - on one of his many adventures!

As most of you regular readers already understand, I need to know a company’s background before I give it my 100% support (by recommending it to you or putting it up on this blog.)  I want to make sure the people who are making the products and running the business are just as passionate (a.k.a. crazy) about dogs as I am.  Patrick Kruse, Ruff Wear’s Owner and Founder, definitely passes the test.  His Australian Cattle Dog, Otis, was the inspiration for many of Ruff Wear’s products and helped test gear items out in the field.  I have to admit, reading about Otis made me a bit jealous of his life….this dog went everywhere and did so many cool things (much more exciting than my own life!) Patrick’s focus is making products that will help you share adventures and experiences with your pooch….that’s a mission statement I can get behind!

PAW-LIDAY GIVEAWAY!

Flat Out Leash - $29.95 Or FREE if you win our PAW-LIDAY GIVEAWAY

The folks over at Ruff Wear were kind enough to send us one of their SUPER awesome Flat Out Dog Leashes to give out to a lucky blog reader.  I’ve tried this leash, and it is amazing.  It’s like three leashes in one: (1) Use it like a normal leash (2) This one is my favorite – clip it around you like a belt and you can walk HANDS FREE!  (3) Clip it around something fixed if you need to leave your pup for a minute or two.  GENIUS!

So you want a FREE Flat Out Leash???  Here are the super easy ways to enter our contest:

(1) Comment on this post. (Do you already have a Ruff Wear product?  Have you heard of them?  TELL US!)

(2) Tweet about us!  (Tweet about this blog or a link to this post…make sure to #PAWLIDAY or tweet @WandWHouston)

(3) “Like” us on Facebook

We will be accepting entries December 10- December 20, 2011.  Entries will be assigned a number in the order they are received and a  number will be chosen at random (by my trusty computer.) We will announce the winner on the blog and reach out to the winner however they submitted their entry.  Enter as many times as you like.

Good luck!  Happy PAW-LIDAYS!

These Paws Were Made for Walkin’ (the first of many posts about walks)

“Max is just a little dog, so he doesn’t need to go on walks.” 

“We have a big backyard, so Isabelle gets plenty of exercise running around by herself.”

“Lulu doesn’t have any behavior or aggression problems.  She is perfectly happy lounging around the house.”

“I take Rocky out to potty several times a day.  That is the same as a walk.”

NO! NO! NO!!  I hear this all the time.  There are so many reasons why all the above statements are completely wrong.  Your dog needs to be walked every single day.  People assume when I say that, I am promoting my own business.  This is not the case – your dog NEEDS to be walked.

Dogs, before we domesticated them, were pack animals.  All day, every day, they walked.  They walked to find shelter.  They walked to find food.  They walked…that is what they did.  When working and living with dogs, you must remember….they are animals.  Though we think of them as members of our family (which they are!) biologically speaking, they are still animals.  Evolution has not erased their need to move around and travel.  Now, think of little Fifi staring out the window.  Her body is telling her to walk, to explore, to see the world!  The two minutes you let her out back to do her business is not fulfilling her most basic need. 

I would venture to say 95% (no scientific studies, folks, this is just my best guess) of behavior problems in dogs are caused by boredom.  What would you do if you couldn’t leave your house?  Maybe not chew the leg of the table, but some human equivalent to it.  (eating an insane amount of iced animal cookies?  Maybe that’s just me….)  Jumping on guests when they come in?  Hell, ya!  Your pup hasn’t had that much excitement in days.  Whining in the middle of the night?  Of course!  Fido isn’t tired…he’s ready to roll.  A nice long walk would have fixed these problems. 

I think lots of people get dogs expecting the pups to adapt to their lives.  You have to go to work, go to the gym, cook dinner, pay bills… and maybe have a social life once in a while.  You just don’t have time to walk.  Well, people, walking is as important as remembering to feed your pooch.  You’re dog – quite simply – cannot adapt.  The need to walk  is literally in their.  You just have to find the time.  Maybe every day is unrealistic.  (I tell myself I’m going to go to the gym everyday….and let me tell you, that is unrealistic!)  Maybe the recommended hour per walk is just not doable.  (Ahh, the things I could do with one extra hour in my day!)  But you have to make an effort.  You assumed a responsibility when you brought little Max, Isabelle, Lulu, or Rocky home.  You have to keep them happy and healthy….and walking will keep you happy (sleepy puppy = happy human) and healthy (we all could use a little exercise) as well.

And if you just can’t find the time….you could always hire a dog walker! 😉