Take Great Photos Of Your Pets Over the Holidays

The holidays are a great time to take photos of your dog, chronicling his growth over the previous year. Even if you have a point and shoot camera, taking pictures of dogs can be tricky. Unlike their owners, pets don’t know what we are asking of them – posing for the camera is generally not in their everyday repertoire (have you ever seen a dog selfie)? They get fidgety and restless.
Here are some tips to help you create some great shots from Antoine Khater at All Day I Dream About Photography:

  • Take the photos outside whenever possible. The flash can cause red eye and scare your dog. If you want to take a picture indoors by your holiday tree, light from an outside window is best. If your pet is light colored, white fur in particular will look washed out with a flash.
  • Get down on your pet’s level so he feels more comfortable and you can get a more natural shot. Sit on the floor or lie on your belly and remember to shoot from his eye level or below. See the world as he sees it. An uncluttered background with neutral colors is ideal because it isn’t too distracting.
  • Capture your pet’s character and uniqueness. Does your dog have a favorite bone? A favorite place outside? A special way he stands when he’s happy? Remember, you’re making memories, so catch him when he’s happy.
  • Want to have a professional photo taken? Is your dog a morning dog or an evening dog? Schedule a time when he’s at his best.
  • Be patient. It may take some trial and error to get a good shot. Experiment. Try different angles, approaches and composition.

 

Feeding an animal first is always a good idea if shooting portraits as it leaves them relaxed. Have fun with it. If you’re having fun, your dog will too! It may take 25 pictures to get one good one, but it will be worth it!

 

Tips for A Safe Thanksgiving With Your Dog

dog_dressed_as_turkey_01It’s important to keep the “Happy” in Thanksgiving by ensuring that you and your dog have a safe and fun-filled holiday season. Thanksgiving is the launch of a frenetic time, one in which we celebrate all we are thankful for, including our pets, our family and our friends.

Here are some tips to remember

  • Foods. Do not give your dog spicy or fatty foods including bread dough, herbs, sweets (especially those with chocolate) or caffeine. Specific foods to avoid include:
    • According to Bark Busters’ experts, when raw bread dough is eaten, an animal’s body heat causes the dough to rise in his stomach, causing severe abdominal pain and vomiting.
    • Onions and onion powder, which people often use to spice up their stuffing, will destroy your dog or cat’s red blood cells, which can lead to anemia.
    • Chocolate can actually be fatal to your dog or cat, so keep the pies and cake well out of reach.
    • Although alcohol may be on your menu, do not give any to your dog.
    • Grapes and raisins contain a toxin that can cause kidney damage to both dogs and cats.
    • Turkey bones can easily splinter, causing your dog to choke or get stuck in his gums. Give your dog bones designed for dogs! A little bit of turkey or mashed potatoes is okay, but don’t let them overindulge. You can also fill a Kong toy for your dog, keeping him busy for hours while you and your guests happily sit around the table in peace.
  • All the commotion at Thanksgiving can cause your dog to get overexcited when guests arrive. To help your dog stay calm, exercise him before your guests arrive.
  • Ah, the delights your garbage can contain! Make sure you keep the lid firmly secured, because if your dog or other critters get in, they will think they hit the jackpot! Also, aluminum foil, wax paper and other food wrappings can cause intestinal obstruction. Make sure to place these items securely in the garbage.

Fun Facts About Thanksgiving

Although most of us know that the first Thanksgiving was celebrated in Plymouth, Massachusetts, here some other tidbits to stump your guests:

  • What was served at the first Thanksgiving? Rabbit, chicken, squash, beans, leeks, dried fruit, and honey.
  • How many turkeys are sold in the U.S. for Thanksgiving? 280 million.
  • What was the largest turkey ever raised? 86 pounds.
  • How many feathers does a mature turkey have? 3,600 feathers.
  • True or false. Commercial turkeys can fly. False.
  • What part of a 15 pound turkey is white or dark meat? 70% is white meat and 30% is dark meat. (would this ratio differ in a larger or smaller turkey?)

Bark Busters wishes you and your family a safe holiday season … let the festivities begin!

Does Your Dog Have Diabetes?

With November being National Diabetes Month, it’s important to recognize the symptoms and treat your dog if he develops diabetes. Diabetes in dogs occurs when after a dog eats, he is either unable to produce insulin or utilize it normally, causing an elevation in blood glucose levels. Diabetes occurs in 1 in 500 dogs and is very treatable with proper diet, exercise and medication.

There are many similarities between human diabetes and diabetes in dogs according to PetMD.  These include:

  • There are two types of diabetes: Type I (lack of insulin production) and Type II (impaired insulin production along with an inadequate response to the hormone.) Type 1 is the most common and it is often referred to as “juvenile diabetes”.
  • Diabetes often occurs as a result of obesity.
  • Just as certain humans are more prone to diabetes based on genetic factors, so too are certain breeds, including Australian terriers, standard and miniature schnauzers, dachshunds, poodles, keeshonds and Samoyeds. Juvenile diabetes is particularly prevalent in golden retrievers and Keeshonds.
  • If managed correctly, many diabetic dogs can lead happy, healthy lives.

Symptoms of Diabetes in Dogs

  • Excessive thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Cloudy eyes
  • Chronic skin infections
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Sweet smelling or fruity breath
  • Tiredness
  • Vomiting

Diagnosis and Treatment
To accurately determine if your dog has diabetes, a veterinarian will perform a physical exam, accompanied by a urinalysis and blood test. Treatment depends on the severity of the illness. Some dogs may become seriously ill and require hospitalization to regulate their blood sugar. Many dogs require insulin injections and your vet should show you how to perform glucose tests at home. You will need to give your dog the insulin injections at the same time every day in addition to feeding him regular meals. Do not feed your dog treats that are high in glucose. Monitoring and consistency will be a key factor in your dog’s health.

In fact, here is an easy recipe provided by AllRecipes.com for diabetic dog treats:
Ingredients
½ cup whole wheat flour
2 eggs
1 ½ pounds beef liver cut into pieces

Preheat oven to 350. Line a 10×15 inch jellyroll pan with parchment paper. Place the liver into a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. If you have room, add the flour and eggs, and process until smooth. Otherwise, transfer to a bowl, and stir in the flour and eggs using a wooden spoon. Spread evenly in the prepared pan. Bake for 15 minutes in the preheated oven,  or until the center is firm. Cool, and cut into squares using a pizza cutter. The treats will have a consistency similar to a sponge. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

In less severe cases, dogs can be treated with oral medications or a high fiber diet. Although a certain form of diabetes-the type found in dogs less than a year of age-is inherited, proper nutrition and a regular exercise program can help prevent the onset of diabetes in more mature dogs.

If diabetes goes untreated, it can lead to secondary health problems, such as cataracts or severe urinary tract problems, and in extreme cases, coma and death.

To find out more about diabetes in dogs, go to the Diabetic Pet Connection.

If you have any questions pertaining to dogs, feel free to Ask The Expert at Bark Busters or talk to your local Bark Busters dog trainer.

Stopping Your Dog’s Destructive Behaviors

Have you ever come home to find the stuffing that was supposed to be in your couch on your living room floor? Or your favorite shoes chewed to shreds? Or the toilet paper strewn all over the house?

Although it is normal for many puppies to chew, when their behavior becomes destructive, it’s time to do something about it. In fact, destructive behaviors are the number one reported behavior problem in dogs. Understand that a dog is NOT doing it to make you angry.

Most often, dogs engage in destructive behaviors when they are bored, not trained properly, scared, aggressive, or anxious. Just as many dog owners chew on their nails or have a glass of wine when they are nervous, dogs will lick, chew, dig or toilet in the house when they are nervous.

Why Dogs Engage in Destructive Behaviors
The first thing you need to do is rule out any medical problems your dog may be experiencing. Here are some other reasons dogs may become destructive and tips for overcoming this behavior:

  1. Puppies especially see destructive play as a way of exploring. By nature, they are curious and will often chew or dig excessively. It is important to establish boundaries for your dog so he knows what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior.
  2. The old adage that “tired dogs are good dogs” is true. Dogs need to be exercised regularly to help them with all their pent up energy and to keep them in shape. It is important to walk with your dog or play with your dog. Dogs often wake up raring to go, so before you start your day, play fetch or take your dog for a walk.
  3. Separation anxiety. Your dog may follow you from room to room or become anxious as you are leaving. The most common time of the day that your dog is likely to be destructive is when you’re away at work or out doing things away from the house. Your dog can feel lonely, isolated, or unloved. Try leaving the TV or radio on so he has some noise to stimulate him.
  4. Attention-seeking. Without realizing it, many dog owners pay the most attention to their dogs when they are in trouble by correcting them. Dogs love attention even if it is “negative attention.” Make sure you give your dog praise and kudos and a lot of reinforcement for good behaviors.
  5. Noise phobias. Many dogs are afraid of thunderstorms, fireworks, or loud noises. Sometimes dogs will scratch at doors in an effort to get out. Create a safe place for your dog to stay during thunderstorms. A crate or kennel may be comforting. Try to distract your dog with activities like play or brushing.

Punishment is not very effective in stopping your dog’s destructive behaviors and can in fact make them worse.  If you discover an item your dog has chewed even a few minutes after the fact, it’s too late to correct him. He does not associate his action to your reaction. You know that guilty look you think you are getting? It is really just your dog reacting to your angry tone or facial expressions.

To truly eliminate destructive behaviors, call your Bark Busters dog trainer. We will teach you how to issue commands to counteract destructive behaviors!

The Horrors of Dog Dumping

photo (18)_2Having moved recently to rural Texas, I was out in our yard trying to combat the poison oak and weeds that seem to be as prolific as the fire ants. I was riding peacefully on my lawn mower when I spotted something moving in the woods. Having been warned about snakes, deer, pigs and other critters inhabiting the woods, I was instantly “on alert.”

Instead of making a slow dash to the house, I turned off the lawn mower and suddenly spotted a small, dark creature that I recognized as a puppy of some sort.  It took me a while to coax him to come to me. What I saw saddened me. This dog was so malnourished, he could barely move. His ribs were jutting out and he was frightened of any human contact. He was limping, dehydrated and starved. He had no identifying tags and was in such bad shape, I assumed he was no one’s “pet.”

However, just in case, I gingerly took him around to my neighbors, who explained he was a “dump dog.” A dump dog I said? In my naiveté, I couldn’t imagine anyone abandoning this poor creature.

I have worked for Bark Busters as a freelance marketing consultant for years. I have heard about their mission to save dogs that have been abandoned, mistreated or abused. I have written about it, but I had never seen it firsthand. To say I was horrified was an understatement! Who could dump a dog like a piece of garbage?

Yes I understand dogs can be expensive with their food, vaccinations and preventative treatments. I have two dogs, one which we rescued from a shelter. However, if you have even one dog, you have a responsibility to take care of that dog.

Did this dog suddenly become inconvenient? Did they have a baby in the family and the dog became too much of a burden? Did they move into a new place that doesn’t allow pets?

I tried to think of all the excuses a dog owner could use. However, “dumping” the dog was inexcusable.

At a minimum, if you don’t want a litter of puppies, get your female spayed. There are many low cost clinics that offer vaccinations for free. You can contact your local Humane Society for a list.  Also, if you can no longer take care of your dog for whatever reason, do the humane thing and take him to a responsible shelter or rescue group.

I carried the dog inside our house. He was famished and I resisted the urge to over-feed him because I knew he would get sick. He laid on my lap and probably would still be there if I didn’t need to work.

My initial thought was to nurse him back to health and then take him to the local shelter. After all, I truly don’t need another dog … and a puppy no less! So I resisted naming him for the first couple of days, fooling myself that I wouldn’t get attached.

However, knowing that some shelters have to euthanize dogs because of overcrowding, I just couldn’t abandon him – he had already been abandoned once. His soulful eyes tugged at my heart. After all, all he asked for was some love.

Meet Lucky, the newest member of our pack! Next time you see him he will be heavier and healthier!