New Year, New Habits

New Year, New Habits

#1 Walk your dog every day
#2 Brush his teeth
#3 Get regular Vet checkups

#4 Don’t over-vaccinate
#5 Learn more about dog food
#6 Live like your dog – in the moment

#1 Walk your dog every day

#2 Brush his teeth

#3 Get regular Vet checkups

#4 Don’t over-vaccinate

#5 Learn more about dog food

#6 Live like your dog – in the moment

#1 Walk your dog every day

Many of us underestimate just how important exercise is for their dogs.

Even small dogs need exercise for both physical and mental health. Daily exercise will keep your Morkie fit – mind, body and soul.

Without enough physical activity, dogs have excess energy that gets burned off through:

  • destructive behaviour like chewing, digging and barking too much.
  • behavioural problems like separation anxiety, hyperactivity, excitability, excessive night-time activity, play biting and rough play.
  • attention-getting behaviour like whining, excessive barking and scratching.

Dogs who don’t get enough exercise are more likely to bark at neighbours, dig holes in the garden and generally get into trouble. Is your Morkie acting up? Before you blame her, ask yourself if she’s had her regular daily walks recently. It’s amazing to see the correlation between exercise and good behaviour.

Many people choose a toy dog because they can’t or don’t want to walk a dog, but even the smallest of dogs benefits from daily exercise via a leashed walk.

More exercise = better health and better behaviour

READ MORE: in my blog post, The Single Best Thing You Can Do For Your Morkie.

 

Tips for Walking Safely

When walking your Morkie, be on the lookout for:

  • unleashed dogs
  • hot pavement
  • walking area treated with snow removal salt
  • garbage (he might eat it)
  • dog poop and all its germs
  • long grass and tall weeds = tick territory
  • yucky water like that muddy puddle – this isn’t where your Morkie should quench his thirst

#2 Brush his teeth

Your #1 goal is to keep the clear film called plaque from building up on your dog’s teeth and turning into hard, yellow tartar.

You can’t get tartar off with a toothbrush. So then your Morkie needs to have dental cleaning at the Veterinarians. That means he has to be put under anesthetic, with all its associated risks, AND it’s a lot of money.

If you just ignore it, you are literally—

  • shortening your Morkie’s life, because the ugly bacteria of dental disease eventually can make its way into the blood stream, where it causes permanent damage to vital organs like the heart and kidneys.
  • sentencing your Morkie to pain and suffering from bad teeth. Pain he can’t even tell you about.

Plaque and tartar build up leads to a myriad of other health problems in dogs, including heart disease.

And just a reminder – people toothpaste can make your Morkie really sick or even kill him. So pick one of the flavoured brands formulated specially for dogs. You can select natural or artificial flavours and Vet-recommended brands.

Read more about dog dental care.

#3 Get regular Vet checkups

morkie at the Vet 

There’s more to owning a pet than providing love, exercise and proper nutrition.

Regular check ups with a Veterinarian are essential to making sure your dog is as healthy as possible.

According to the ASPCA, dogs should have an annual checkup or “wellness visit” with their Vet. This is even more important as they age, so talk to your Vet about whether such visits should become more frequent than annually.

The Vet will listen to your dog’s heart and lungs, take his temperature and examine your pet’s skin, ears, eyes, mouth, teeth and feel around internal organs. The doctor may also order routine screening tests for early detection of problems.

Don’t wait until it’s obvious your dog needs medical attention. Regular visits help in prevention.

Tip: What to Take on Your Vet Visit

  • Your dog’s collar and license tag.
  • A leash and harness or small carrier cage if appropriate.
  • A muzzle if your Morkie barks excessively or bites.
  • A favourite toy or a few treats, especially if your dog is anxious.
  • Health care information if you’re switching Vets or were seen by a different Vet since your last visit.
  • Put medications, including vitamins and supplements, in a zip-lock bag to show the doctor.
  • Recent stool sample to test for intestinal parasites.
  • Written list of questions or concerns to ask.
  • Insurance card (if you have pet insurance).

#4 Don’t over-vaccinate

There’s been a backlash against dog vaccinations – and for good reason!

Pet immunization is far riskier than you might think Many people believe we are giving our pets vaccinations TOO SOON – to puppies that are too young.

We are giving TOO MANY TYPES of vaccinations. More is not better!

We’re giving them TOO OFTEN. Research shows most vaccinations protect for at least 7 years, if not the dog’s lifetime.

So why are we revaccinating and giving booster shots EVERY YEAR?

 

Learn more about Vaccinations: which ones, how often and why

 Click here to read more about this downloadable e-book

by small dog expert Deb Gray

vaccinations

#5 Learn about dog food

Like cigarette makers in the 1950s and 60s, pet food manufacturers:

  • lie to us about what’s in their products
  • use terrible ingredients
  • spend tons of money on advertising
  • ignore existing regulations without any penalty
  • “regulate” themselves know full well that what they make is killing our pets

What’s their motive?

Money.

The pet food industry is one of the most profitable in the world. And it’s growing by leaps and bounds every year.

It is a multi-billion dollar industry, much bigger than baby food. In 2015, we spent $60.28 billion on our pets in the U.S.

Pet food alone represents $23 BILLION in sales per year, compared to baby food, at $1.25 billion.

Commerical pet food manufacturers make big bucks by turning industrial waste and slaughterhouse leftovers into expensive, well advertised brands.

This is just one example of the ingredients in premium dog food!

rotten meat photo dog food ingredients

Even the brands we know and trust, are mostly made with slaughterhouse waste, spoiled grocery meat (foam tray and all) and yes – even euthanized pets.

Read more here and get the downloadable list of good and terrible dog foods for your Morkie.

Get the free downloadable list - good dog food and really, really BAD dog food

#6 Live like your dog – in the moment

Dogs can be a good role model for us. They live in the moment. No grudges, non hurt feelings, no self-pity. They don’t worry or hold on to the past. And if they’re raised reasonably well, they are free from anxiety, aggression and depression.

Great lesson for all of us as we start our new year.

When the dog looks at you, the dog is not thinking what kind of a person you are. The dog is not judging you.

– Eckhart Tolle

Happy New Year!

headline image: Designed by Freepik

10 Resolutions for you and your Morkie

10 Resolutions for you and your Morkie

new-year-resolutionsDoes your Morkie make New Year’s resolutions? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make them for both of you:)

So what do you resolve for 2016?

Here’s my list.

1. More walks 

You’ll both be healthier with more frequent walks. Dogs thrive on routine, so a standard time every day works well.

Dog expert Cesar Millan says that walking your dog is one of the best ways to bond with him, and to teach him that you are the master or alpha dog of the pack.  It’s also the best way to control unwanted behavior.  

A tired dog is a good dog.

I’ve found this consistently; my dogs are calm, quiet and more fun when they’ve had good walks.

How many walks and how long?  You’ll both benefit from two 20 minute walks a day, morning and evening, or one 40 minute walk once a day.

2. Get your Morkie’s nails cut every 6 weeks without fail


cut nailsUnless your dogs are walking on concrete they’ll need their nails cut every 6 weeks or so. Their high protein diet keeps their nails growing quite fast. 

As soon as you can hear your dog’s nails on the floor, it’s time for a trim.

If nails aren’t cut often enough, both the quick and the nail gets too long and cannot be cut back to the right length all at once, since the quick will bleed profusely. 

Since I hate cutting dogs’ nails I tend to avoid it. I admitted long ago it’s less stress for me to take the dogs out to a local groomer and get it done (PetSmart is great, no appointment needed and quite reasonable).

3. Learn more about vaccines so I can make a considered opinion

How come people don’t need an annual ‘booster’ shot against disease, but dogs and cats do? When you think about vaccines, remember that:

  • a vaccine is usually a diluted form of the disease it’s “fighting”
  • all dogs – no matter their size – get the same amount of vaccine. Imagine what that means for small dogs!
  • annual vaccinations are a major assault on the immune system  
  • the more vaccines that are combined into one shot, the higher the chances of a severe, adverse reaction

Vaccinations, driven by big pharma profits, can cause more problems than they’re meant to cure. Some are not necessary and others are given too often, according to critics of the system.  It’s worthwhile to read up more on the two points of view about vaccinations and come to your own decision. 

4. Secure my dog while we’re in the car

It’s not a pretty picture. 

Carolyn GuthrieGÇÄ - This is Sophie my Morkie.If a window breaks or a door flies open in a car accident, your terrified dog will escape and run into traffic, only to be run over or be the cause another accident.   

Even in a minor collision, an unrestrained dog can be thrown into the dashboard or the windshield. Like any other projectile, the dog will fly forward at a  tremendous speed.  (In an auto accident a 60 pound dog in a car traveling 30 mph will hit an object ten inches in front of him at 1,200 pounds per square inch.)

And a small dog held on your lap in the front seat will almost certainly be killed by the air bag deployment. Sorry to be graphic but it’s something to think about. 

So what’s the best way to restrain your dog while you’re driving? 

The safest place for dogs is in the back seat – properly restrained:

  • keep the dog in a crate, that itself is safely attached to the seat belt system
  • a proper-fitting harness that holds the dog in via a strap attached to the seat belt mechanism
  • one of the new booster seats for small dogs, with built-in seat belt or  harness restraint
  • Barriers for the back of SUVs – hold the dog away from the passenger area but don’t do much to protect the dog, who could still get out the back door in the case of an accident

Your Morkie will likely object quite a bit at first, but in this case, safety comes first.  

(And the dog’s head out the window, although a romantic image is dangerous too – think of flying stones, insects and cigarettes thrown from the vehicle ahead of you to name just a few hazards)

5. Explore holistic veterinarian care

Cute dog looking away sitting isolated on white background

Holistic or alternative health care is becoming popular for ourselves and our animals. Basically there are two kinds of veterinary services:  

  • allopathic – (“regular” vets) based on drugs, medications and chemicals and 
  • holistic – which focuses on the whole dog and emphasizing building a strong immune system that resists disease.  

Holistic is wellness from within. That wellness is built with medicinal herbs, nutritional supplements, common sense supportive care and more.  Holistic vets will use drugs, medications and chemicals but only when no other route will work.

Since holistic veterinarians are also “regular” vets, the holistic route can mean more choice in your animal’s care. 

6. Attend a local fun-meet dog show

You can find local fun-meets for your Morkie through several sources —

  • rescue associations, humane society and animal shelters – who often stage these as fundraisers
  • watch for notices on bulletin boards at your veterinarian’s, local pet food stores and groomer’s
  • check your local newspaper

These fun meets are a good way to socialize your dog more.  And you get to talk to other dog lovers like you.

7. Teach my Morkie a good trick

Mental stimulation is important for your dog. What better way to get his mind working than by learning a fun new trick. 

You can search online for “easy dog tricks” (don’t forget Youtube), pick up a training book or buy an online course on dog tricks. 

8.  Fewer treats

puppy tink pink bed licking chopsJust like us humans, dogs are suffering from a major outbreak in obesity. An overweight dog has the same problems we do: extra pressure on joints, bones and ligaments. More serious illnesses such as potential heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.  And a seriously heavy Morkie will likely live a shortened life.

Did you know that the popular treat, “Bonz” for small and medium dogs is 70 calories each!  Milk Bone biscuits for small breeds are 40 calories each.  

As a general rule of thumb, a very small dog (5 lbs.) requires about 400 calories a day, so these treats can really add up. 

9.  Bone up on discipline training

A whack on the head with a rolled up newspaper is so over.  Dog training today is based on positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement. Positive means something is added to the dog’s routine to change his behavior. Negative, something is taken away from the dog’s environment to change his behavior. 

An example of positive reinforcement: your dog does something you tell him, like “sit.”  He immediately gets praise and/or a treat from you.  The reward needs to be immediate and you need to be consistent until the behavior is really embedded.

An example of negative reinforcement: your dog is barking furiously.  You say “no” in a firm voice, but the barking continues. Remove the dog from your presence; I do this by putting my dog in the garage for a “time out.”  Since my presence and attention is what the dog was striving for with all the racket, this works very well in curtailing the bad behavior.  Negative reinforcement is never hitting the dog, coercing or shaming him. Those old school tactics simply turn your dog against you and break his spirit. Not to mention they’re inhumane and callous.

10.  Relax…. Stop and smell the roses… and the trees.. and the bushes… 


maltese relaxing on an afghanThe thing I love most about dogs is how they live in the minute. No matter what a dog is doing, he’s giving it 100%, and it’s right here, right now, in the moment. 

Dogs also tend to live with unbounded enthusiasm and joy… qualities we could all use more of too.

Happy New Year!

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