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Tonight, the toughest and most beautiful dogs will duke it out (or really, model it out) for the Best in Show title at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. However, it's not just about looks. Many people don't know this, but the Westminster Kennel Club hosts multiple events over a few days before the big event. One of those events? The Masters Obedience Championship.
This event, in its third year, is just what it sounds like - a competition for the ultimate "good dog" title. The dog-handler teams are judged in their ability to complete classic commands like sit, stay, heel, and fetch. Of course, that's only the start. Dogs must also listen to more complicated commands as well as complete jumping courses, fetch dumbbells, and more. The unique aspect of Westminster's obedience competition? A six-minute freestyle session where dog and handler must combine skill and creativity with skits, dances, and costumes.
This unique obedience competition took place on Monday afternoon with 23 good-boy and good-girl contenders. There were a variety of competitors, big and small. Ultimately after lots of sitting, staying, fetching, and freestyling, Heart the black lab took home the ultimate "good girl" title. Her owner, Linda Brennan, was proud but not shocked. After all, Heart has been sitting and staying for Brennan since she was a pup - and also took home both previous Masters Obedience Championship titles.
Obedience isn't just for these pup competitors. Establishing known commands with your dog not only helps improve their behavior, but also helps foster a dog-owner bond.
So, what do you say? Is your furry best friend the next Master Obedience champ?
We've heard it mentioned before, perhaps by our mothers or friends: that dogs can sense fear, so we shouldn't be anxious around them. But is it true? New studies suggest that it is.
A study published in Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health analyzed the link between dog bites and anxiousness. And unsurprisingly, there seemed to be a correlation.
Almost 700 people were interviewed for the study. All the participants were asked if they had ever been bitten by a dog. After answering this, they took a 10-item personality test that analyzed their emotionally stability and how neurotic they were.
After looking at these results, the result suggested that those who were more emotionally stable and less neurotic had a lower chance of getting bitten by a dog. On the emotional stability scale, the likelihood of getting bit went up by a whopping 23% for each point increase on the scale.
So, what does this suggest? As the authors of the article say, "Dog bite prevention schemes may also need to target particular behaviors around dogs by different victim personality types."
What was unique about this study is that it didn't consider the breed, age, or gender of the pups themselves - instead, it focused on the behavior of the humans involved. As it turns out, our behavior and mood can greatly affect the mood of dogs. Since pups are so sensitive to how we're feeling, it can be easy to make them nervous with our nervousness. This can then be what leads to unexpected aggression or biting.
If you're typically nervous around dogs, try warming up to them! While you should always be cautious while meeting a new dog, you should try to subdue your anxiousness. Let the pup come to you, but be friendly and welcoming when they do.
For more tips on how to prevent dog bites, check out what the American Veterinary Association has to say.
If you love dogs, you also probably love reading about them. If you're looking for a new magazine to add to your morning reading list, there are plenty out there for dog-lovers. Here are some top magazines covering all of your favorite doggy-subjects.
Dogster is all about dogs and dog ownership. Obviously there are cute pictures of pups, but it's also packed with solid advice on all aspects of dog ownership.
Bark has a little bit of everything - from dog ownership advice to information on dog studies. It also covers doggy health issues and gives advice on how to foster a good relationship with your furry best friend.
Animal Wellness Magazine isn't just for dogs - but for all pets. It's packed with info on how to keep your animals happy and healthy. It covers a pet's diet, recreation, preventative healthcare, and more.
This magazine is more catered towards dog-lovers who also hunt. For those who have furry best friends who help them out in the woods, Gun Dog covers training techniques for hunting dogs, talks about different breeds, and discusses hunting gear and accessories.
If you love Labrador Retrievers, this magazine is perfect for you. Just Labs celebrates the adorable breed with tons of photos, articles, and tips on how to be an amazing lab owner.
Add these magazines to the list and snuggle up with your pup for reading hour.
There are lots of species out there in the vast animal kingdom, and most of those species look pretty much the same. Whether it's lions, horses, or cats, there isn't much variation in many of the species out there. Except, of course, for our furry canine friends. Why (and how) do most dogs look so different from one another?
While there are lots of different cat breeds within the domestic cat species, most of them look alike. Similar size, face, tail, and ears. But dogs are a different story. While a Russian Blue cat might not look too different from a Maine coon, a Chihuahua certainly looks very different from a Great Dane.
It's not just about the 190 different dog breeds classified by the American Kennel Club, but also about how far dogs go back. Dogs were domesticated by humans over 19,000 years ago. Their relationship with their humans back then wasn't quite the same as it is now, but it shows just how far back the human and dog bond goes.
Because of this bond and humans' attachment to dogs, the practice of breeding dogs grew increasingly popular. Humans realized just how much of a useful companion a dog could be, so dogs began to be bred for specific purposes. This is when we started getting dogs for herding, dogs for hunting, dogs for sporting, and more.
Dogs began to be bred for specific purposes that relied on their appearance, agility, size, form, and more. This caused dogs to start looking very different from one another. Nowadays, we mostly refer to this process as "selective breeding". Cats, on the other hands, were simply admired for their looks and companionship. Since cats weren't being used for versatile jobs, they were never bred to look too different from one another.
Part of the reason we love pups so much is because they can all look so different! But no matter how big or small, long-haired or short-haired, dogs always manage to carry that amazing "man's best friend" attitude.
While spring will hopefully be here soon, the dreaded flu season is already with us. The flu is particularly bad this year, doctors have warned, and has already infected plenty of humans out there. But did you know that your dog can get the flu, too? Here are some warnings and prevention tips so that your pup can stay happy and healthy.
Influenza A, or H3N2, which is the flu that is currently hitting many Americans, is the same type of flu that is hitting the dog population. Of course, Canine H3N2 is a different strain from the human H3N2 - mostly because it's a doggy-virus. But the way the flu spreads in the doggy-world is quite similar to the way it spreads in the human world.
Just as it does for humans, Canine H3N2 can be spread though close contact, like coughing or sneezing near other dogs. For canines, barking at each other can also spread germs. Your pup is at highest risk to catch the flu if they are frequently in areas shared with other dogs, like kennels, boarding centers, and dog parks.
Currently, Canine H3N2 is most active in southern Ohio, northeastern Tennessee, San Jose, and San Francisco, as determined by officials at Cornell's College of Veterinary Medicine. However, even if you aren't in these areas, there's still a chance that your dog might become infected.
So, how can you stop it? While there's no real way to simply prevent your dog from getting the flu, you can minimize their chances by being cautious about their socialization. While you want your dog to be able to hang out with their friends at the park, just be cautious. Consider setting up play dates with doggy friends who you know don't have the flu. If you typically board your pup during the day, you could consider hiring a dog-walker during the peak of flu season.
Even if you minimize your pup's outside contact with other dogs, there is still a chance they could catch the flu. Because of that, you'll want to keep an eye out for symptoms. Some indications that your dog might have the flu are:
If you think your pup might have the flu, it's best to take them to their vet to get them tested. If your dog is diagnosed, your vet might prescribe them so medication or might just order lots of fluid and rest.
Try to stay healthy this flu season! Make sure that you and your furry best friend are getting plenty of rest and water.
You love your dog and your dog loves you. Something they might love just as much as you? Their bed. Because of all the love a pup can give their bed (love = fur, dirt, slobber, etc.), it can get quite grimy. Here are some tips on how wash your pup's favorite snuggle spot.
A good way to manage fur, dust, and more is to vacuum the bed regularly. A good rule of thumb is to vacuum your dog's bed every time you vacuum your house. This avoids the same buildup that happens in your carpet from happening in your pup's bed. This should be relatively easy to do whether your dog has a thin bed or a big, poofy one.
Get Those Stains Out
There are many dog-safe natural cleaning products that you can use on your dog's bed for immediate stain removal. For stains that come from them, there are multiple home remedies that include vinegar, warm water, and baking soda. You can also use branded cleaning sprays as long as they are specifically non-toxic and animal-friendly.
Wash, Wash, Wash
And of course, wash those dog beds! Different types of beds need to be washed differently, and while some can be throw in the washing machine and dryer, not all can.
For beds that have no removable cover and just come in one piece, you'll want to throw it in the washer if it can fit. Once it's there, use detergent and put it on a delicate cycle so that it doesn't mess with inner stuffing. Partially dry it in the dryer on low heat, and then hang it up to let it finish drying.
Beds that have removable covers are pretty self-explanatory. Remove the outer covering and throw it in the washing machine. For the foam underneath (or whatever the interior is), washing by hand in a large sink or bathtub is the best way to avoid any deterioration.
Now go get those dog beds clean so that your pup can sleep feeling happy and fresh!
Nearly 75 years after Chips the German Shepherd-Husky mix made heroic efforts to save the lives of many humans, he is finally being honored.
Years after his death, Chips has been awarded the Dickin Medal for all of his work during Operation Husky. John Wren, who knew Chips when he was just a baby, accepted the award for Chips. The award was presented at the infamous Churchill War Rooms in London.
So, what did Chips do to earn all of this honor? Starting life out an an ordinary family pooch, Chips was donated (or rather, borrowed) to the Army by his owners, the Wrens. In 1943, Chips landed with his platoon in Sicily during World War II. Just the landing was eventful, as the entire platoon was met with fire.
Immediately, Chips ran at the enemies who were firing. Relatively soon, the firing stopped as the three Italian soldiers surrendered with Chips giving them plenty of warning if they didn't. He even had one of them by the throat! Chips suffered minor injuries but continued on with his fully first day of duty by sniffing out and warning his platoon about 10 enemy combatants - all who surrendered at the request of Chips.
Chips continued his heroic duty for a full three-and-a-half years. He came home without harm and got to live with his family happily and comfortably for the rest of his life.
Initially, Chips's heroic service earned him both a Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, and a Purple Heart. Unfortunately, those were later determined to be for humans only, so they were taken back.
Now though, Chips can rest in happy peace knowing that he saved many lives - and now has the medal to prove it.
No matter how much you love your dog, it can be easy to slip and make a bad dog owner decision once and a while. But acknowledging your mistakes means becoming an even better pet owner - strengthening that human and furry best friend bond. Here are some common "ruh-roh"s that you should not make as a dog owner.
This might be one of the most common "bad" owner mistakes. Obviously, you love you pup, and that means that you want them to be happy. Food makes them happy, so you give them food. Unfortunately, it's not that easy. Continuously giving your dog table scraps or giving them however much dog food they desire can cause excessive weight gain, which can lead to tons of health problems. To stop this from happening, focus on portioning their food correctly and giving them healthy snacks.
Lack of Exercise
We're all busy. That can make it hard to get our dogs out for exercise. But one of the biggest commitments you make as a dog owner is the commitment to walk your dog. Even if your dog is small or lazy, they still need some amount of exercise. If you find yourself wanting to just snuggle up with your pup on the couch, motivate yourself by making yourself a cup of coffee, putting on your favorite music, and taking your pup for a walk! The average goal is 20 - 30 minutes of exercise daily, depending on the size and breed of your dog.
Lack of Training
Everybody benefits from a well-trained dog, including the owners, friends, and the dog itself! One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a pet owner is inconsistent dog training. Sure, you dog might know what "sit" means, but there's a lot more to training than just basic commands. Instilling good habits in them (like when to stay off the couch, when to calm down) will make them a happier dog and you a happier owner. If you missed out on puppy-training time or you have let the training slip, no worries. While it's a little more difficult to train adult dogs, it just takes a little time and commitment to get them where they need to be.
Too Much Alone Time
While we do all have jobs and busy lives, it's important not to forget about our pets. Leaving a pup alone for an entire eight-hour work day can cause issues like separation anxiety and can even lead your dog to destructive behaviors. Plus, they'll be lonely! If you do have a busy day, consider taking them to doggie daycare or hiring a dog walker to come spend some time with them midday. If you work close, consider coming home for lunch instead of spending your lunchtime at work.
No matter what, make sure everything you do for your dog is out of love. Avoid these mistakes and don't ever hesitate to ask for advice or help.
It's a new year and that means... new resolutions! If you need some inspiration on your New Year's resolutions, here are some dog-themed suggestions.
If your New Year's resolution is to get fit - you can include your pup in on this. Vow to take jogs or longer walks together in the upcoming year. It will make them happy and you happy all at the same time.
Volunteer for Shelters
If you want to help more animals and not just your dog, volunteering is the way to go. Nearly every animal shelter in the country needs volunteers at one time or another. These volunteer duties vary, but can anything from helping with office work to walking adorable pups.
Spend Time Together
No gift is more valuable than your time. This year, vow to spend more time with your furry best friend. Going out to drive-thru to get food? Take your pup along for the ride. Any time spend with you is happy time for your dog.
Try Out New Dog Parks
You're not the only one who needs to socialize sometimes - your dog does, too. Help your dog make new friends by taking them to dog parks more often or trying out new parks.
You might think you know everything there is to know about your dog or dogs in general, but you could always learn more! Make it one of your goals in the upcoming year to learn more about some aspect of dog ownership.
These resolutions are just a start. Make your own and start the new year off on a high note!