Giving the discerning dog owner the "upper paw" on the best products, nutrition and training tips.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Separation Anxiety

For some, this topic may seem strange and for others it will hit very close to home.  It should not come as a surprise that many dogs do suffer from separation anxiety and all at varying degrees.  After all, dogs are pack animals and naturally social.  From excessive chewing to loss of bowel control, separation anxiety is a real health issue and spans a continuum of severity.

Common Signs of Separation Anxiety:

1.  Extreme and destructive chewing  (ex: eating an entire couch)
2.  Relentless barking/howling for hours at a time  (usually reported by a neighbor)
3.  Excessive salivation
4.  Digging inside the home at points of entry/exit
5.  Loss of bowels
6.  Consistent nausea
7.  Self-mutilation (i.e. biting one's legs)

If your dog is exhibiting these behaviors at an escalated level when you are absent for any length of time, then you are most likely dealing with a case of separation anxiety.

Once you have identified these behaviors, the first step is to contact your veterinarian to discuss and to get your dog in for a check-up.  It's important to ensure there are not other health issues contributing to the destructive activities.  If all is well with your pet's overall health, be sure to ask for an anti-anxiety medication to alleviate stress.

Next, work on incorporating certain training exercises into your dog's daily routine.  Practice asking your dog to "stay" while you slowly walk into the next room and out of sight.  Call your dog soon after stepping out of his/her line of sight and reward calm behavior.  Along with this exercise, begin integrating "thinking" toys and/or treats, such as goodie-filled Kongs.  By mentally engaging your dog, you will be able to help them self-soothe and redirect their attention to a calming and enjoyable activity.

In addition to practicing out-of-sight exercises, start to increase daily exercise.  Just like people, regular exercise can be a great stress reliever; improving not only emotional health, but physical health as well.

Having a second dog present can also help with the level of anxiety.  The companion may be enough stimulation and comfort to allay fears of being alone.  However, depending on level of severity, this will not work for all dogs.  If your dog is anxious about being away from people, or more specifically you, a dog companion may not do the trick. 

In these more severe cases, you will want to incorporate desensitizing procedures.  Desensitizing procedures are actions that mimic the activities involved in your routine before you leave the house and after.  For example, walking through the motions of putting on your shoes and coat, picking up your keys or cell phone.  Go through the actions of preparing to leave the house and monitor your dog's reaction.  Be sure to repeat this sequence of actions frequently, but at varying time intervals. Monitor what specific actions are "trigger actions" for your dog and reward calm behavior.  In severe cases, it is also wise to contact a trainer that specializes in treating separation anxiety.  Many owners can become overwhelmed and frustrated leading to more damaging training techniques.  If your dog is at a level of self-mutilation or loss of bodily function, then it is best to enlist the experts for help and support.  

Start with these great resouces to locate a professional in your area:

Lastly, it never hurts to incorporate certain products, such as a Thundershirt.  The Thundershirt product is truly revolutionary and works by applying gentle pressure to your dog that is believed to impact the nervous system and release endorphins.  This hormonal release promotes calming affects and has been shown to reduce stress levels by 80% for many dogs!

Check out this great product at
 We hope you have found this post helpful for both you and your dog.  It's important to build your dog's confidence and to exercise patience when dealing with separation anxiety.  Remember, you are not alone and support for owners is available!

A & A

Monday, February 18, 2013

How to Select a Dog Walker

Deciding on whether or not to enlist a dog walker can be an overwhelming thought, especially if this is your first pet. You probably have many questions ranging from...Where do I start?  Who can I trust?  Will my dog be safe? How much will it cost?  Will the dog walker be consistent with my training methods?  The list is endless.

Have no fear, we are here to help and offer our best tips to finding not just a dog walker, but a trusted friend for your dog.  

Step 1:  Ask around...

The first step in finding a dog walker is to ask around.  Talk to your friends and family to see if they use a dog walker and inquire about the pros and cons of their experience.  If you live in an apartment or condo building, ask the building manager if there are specific dog walking services they recommend.  Many residential management companies have specific companies in mind.  Online research is also a good way to locate dog walking services.  Websites, such as Yelp, Metromix, Angie's List, and other consumer review companies can provide ratings and reviews on particular dog walking companies.  

Step 2:  Interview your dog walker...

Once you have selected a dog walking service, it is essential that you meet your dog walker.  Schedule a time to have he or she come to your home, so they can be introduced to your home and pet.  This is essential!  Just like people, dogs do not "click" with everybody.  NEVER allow someone you have never met to interact with your dog on sole basis.  

If possible, ask if you can also meet the owner of the dog walking service. You want to feel completely comfortable with the caretakers of your pet.  At the initial meeting, it is necessary to go over the personality of your dog.  Your dog walker will need to be aware of unique personality traits, especially if your pooch feels anxiety or aggressive in certain situations.  Be sure to discuss any training techniques you are using with your dog.  It is important that your dog is receiving consistent feedback. Lastly, review your dog's daily routine and bathroom schedule so the dog walker can know what to expect. 

Step 3:  Assess company policies and procedures...

Make sure you are aware of the company's policies and procedures.  For example, what is their policy on playing with other dogs, greeting other individuals on their walk, or handling emergency or life-threatening situation?  How long do dog walking sessions last?  A typical dog walking session should last approximately 25 minutes.  This allows enough time for your pet to take a walk outside, hydrate and get in a little playtime.  Additionally, many dog walking services keep you updated on your dog's day, such as writing little notes about their walk or sending pictures.  

A reputable company will be insured and request emergency contact numbers.  Be sure to always have emergency numbers for yourself and your veterinarian in a visible location in your home.  

Ask about the company's cancellation policy.  Nearly all professional service companies will have a policy in place.

Finally, decide on a time each day that your dog walker will visit your pet.  It is important that they can come around the same time everyday so it is consistent for your dog's routine.

Key Items for your Dog Walking Session:  

1. Water dish
2. Leash
3. Poo Poo Baggies
4. Cleaner of choice if an accident occurs
5. Treats
6. Emergency phone numbers

We hope you have found this post helpful and will incorporate these tips when searching for a dog walker.


A & A

Monday, February 11, 2013

Nutrition: The Health Benefits of Roses

With Valentine's Day right around the corner, roses are a central theme.  Aside from being beautiful to look at and smell, roses can offer a variety of health benefits for your dog.  So let's explore the various forms of roses and their corresponding benefits.

Rose Tea:
Rose tea is one of the simplest ways to incorporate the benefits of roses into your dog's life.  Rose tea is usually made from rose buds and/or petals and is known to help with many skin-related ailments.  The tea can provide relief from dry, itchy skin to soothing bug bites, minor cuts and abrasions.  By simply brewing rose tea and spraying on the affected area, your dog can be begin to feel relief from the irritation.  

Rose petal tea specifically can also help in treating upset stomachs and diarrhea.  By adding a little rose tea over your dog's kibble, you can begin to alleviate those rumbly tummies.  A good rule of thumb is to use 1 tablespoon of tea per 20 lbs of body weight.

Rose Hips and Rose Hip Seed Oil:
Rose Hips are the fruit of the rose plant and develop on rose bushes after the petal has dropped from the flower.  They are added to a number of human foods ranging from jams, bread, and wine.  They are also great to incorporate into your dog's diet because they are full of Vitamin C, as well as, essential fatty acids and antioxidants.  A good amount to include in your dog's food is 1/2 to a full teaspoon of finely ground rose hips per 1 cup of food.  

Note:  Dried rose hips are concentrated and powerful.  Too much could upset your pup's stomach and result in diarrhea, so be sure to use exact measurements.

Rose Hip Seed Oil is equally powerful and comes from the seeds of rose hips.  The oil is potent and is used in many cosmetic and anti-wrinkle products due to its amazing healing properties for the skin.  Dogs with dermatitis and scars have been known to benefit immensely from the application of rose hip seed oil.  It is also great for improving dry and damaged coats, serving as an great conditioner.  To use in your dog's beauty regimen, just work a generous amount through your dog's wet coat after bathing and use as a leave-in conditioner.  If your dog does not require a significant leave-in treatment, dilute the oil in a spray bottle and spritz after a light amount after bath time.

Rose Essential Oil and Rose Flower Essence:
Rose essential oils and flower essences can provide therapeutic and stabilizing influences for your dog's emotional health.  Roses and their fragrances are believed by many to soothe and help dogs with anxiety and potentially fearful situations.  By applying just a dab of rose oil to your dog's collar you can begin to bring out about a calming affect.  If rose oil is not in your repertoire, then incorporate rose flower essence by massaging into your dog's paw pads or tummy.

Tip:  The fragrance of roses is also an insect turn-off.  Many ticks and fleas are strongly repelled by the rose

We hope this post has inspired you to incorporate the nutritional and healing powers of roses into your dog's routine.

Happy Valentine's Day!


A & A

Disclaimer:  Remember before introducing any new products or homeopathic remedies into your dog's routine, be sure to consult your veterinarian

Monday, February 4, 2013

Products We LOVE! Beer Bones

In honor of Super Bowl Sunday, we thought it would be a great time to highlight one of the products we LOVE!  Beer Bones!

While you enjoy a frosty brew, your pooch can also enjoy one with you…well, maybe not in a mug, but close.

We first noticed this product in one of our local dog boutiques in the Lincoln Park area of Chicago.  When it first caught our eye, we thought how genius is this?!  Beer for your dog?  But how?

Actually, spent brewing grains (a.k.a. Brewers’ grains or Draff) are commonly used as a healthy ingredient in many animal feed products.  Brewer’s grains are just one of the byproducts of the brewing process that can be re-used for nutritional and environmental purposes.  The grains are what remains after the mashing and lautering process...not to get too technical, and are essentially just grains with the sugar removed.  They can be found in not only these tasty dog treats, but breads, cookies and other human goodies.  They are a terrific source of fiber, protein and water-soluble vitamins for not only your pooch but for people as well!

This is exactly what Beer-Bones uses in creating their delectable treats.  Spent grains from the beer making process are combined with peanut butter, flour, and eggs to create these biscuits.  Not only are you getting protein and nutrients from the Brewer's grains, but also from the peanut-butter and eggs.

Mmmm!!  Yum!!

Check out the Beer-Bones website to buy online or at your local dog boutique!

As with any food recommendation, be sure to check with your veterinarian if you suspect your dog has gluten or grain-related allergies.  If so, this is not the treat for them.

We hope you love these treats as much as our pups do!


A & A

Disclaimer:  The product review and opinions expressed in this blog are 100% our own.  We are not paid or incentivized to review this product.