Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Give A Dog A Bed - Dog Bed Facts

Why does my dog need his own "doggie bed"?

The average adult dog will sleep 14 - 16 hours a day. If you slept that much, wouldn't you want to do it in comfort? Having a washable dog bed of his own gives your dog his own space where he can feel secure. A dog bed can also save your furniture and help you get a good night sleep by allowing you to have your bed back! Many older or arthritic dogs need a cushiony, firm, supportive bed to relieve pressure on their aching joints. All in all, having his own dog bed will improve the quality of life for your dog. (Of course, he may still enjoy an occasional nap with his person on their bed or couch....)

What size and type of bed do I need for my dog?

To decide what type, shape or size of bed to get for your dog, you first need to pay attention and figure out how he prefers to sleep. Does he like to curl up in a ball? Does he prefer to stretch out in both directions? Does he spend about half of his snooze time stretched out and the other half curled up?

A dog that enjoys napping all curled up would probably prefer a round or oval shaped bed that has lots of cushion. There are several types of beds that are perfect for these "snugglers"! A bolster bed is a bed that has cushion around at least three sides of the bed, providing a more contained environment for your dog. He may feel more secure in this type of bed. There are also snuggle or cuddle beds which resemble a bean bag. These beds allow your dog to "nest" and feel surrounded in cuddly comfort. Some beds even have a tent-like cover on them that allows the dog to burrow inside and be completely covered!

If your dog curls up to sleep, measure him in that position at the longest point, then add 7 inches to each measurement. When shopping, make sure that the dimensions of the bed come close to this number.

If your dog prefers to sleep all stretched out, you may want to think about getting him a rectangular, mattress type bed or pad. These type of large dog beds come in many varieties as well, ranging from a thin foam pad a couple inches thick to a deluxe people-like mattress up to 7 inches thick!

If your dog stretches out to sleep, measure him in the stretched-out position and add 12 inches to that number to ensure the bed is big enough to be comfortable for him.

If your dog likes to sleep both ways, an oval or rectangular pad or mattress type bed may do the trick and allow him to sleep comfortably either way. In this case, measure him as you would a dog who prefers to sleep stretched out!

Other things to consider when choosing the type of dog bed are issues such as the age and health of your dog. If you have an older or arthritic dog, you want to make sure that the bed you choose is easy for him to use or possible heated dog beds. Older and arthritic pets may have trouble getting on and off of a fluffy, snuggly type bed. The firm, supportive mattress-type bed would be more appropriate in these cases. There are many specialty beds available for orthopedic support. These beds are made of a firmer mattress, baffles stuffed with poly-fil for support, or even memory foam. The idea is to not only give your companion a comfortable place to sleep, but also an easy bed to get on or off of.

Can I get a dog bed to match my décor?

You can find a dog bed to match just about any décor. There are many fabrics, styles and colors to choose from. You can even get a dog bed that looks like a little human bed! If your dog prefers to sleep in a crate, there are many types of crate beds and pads that are designed to fit the most common crate sizes. Most places offer personalization for your dog's bed as well. There's almost no limit to the choices available.

What other factors do I need to consider?

Most people want a dog bed that is durable, yet easy to clean and care for. If ease of cleaning is especially important, opt for a dog bed that has a removable washable cover. This will allow you to keep your best friend's bed clean and smelling fresh. Some beds also have an inner lining that can be removed and washed.

If your dog is a chewer, you will want to make sure that the bed can withstand the most aggressive chewer. There are cot-like beds made out of aluminum or pvc pipe that are extremely durable. These beds have a nylon or canvas cot pad that is also durable.

If you are looking for a bed to use outdoors, make sure that the manufacturer has labeled the bed for outdoor use. There are fabrics and fillers that are more appropriate and durable for outdoor use.

Be careful of dog beds that have vinyl covers. Vinyl contains chemicals that are toxic chemicals that are not good for you or your dog! If it has a strong "vinyl" smell, it contains a large amount of phthalates, which are chemicals used to soften the vinyl. In Europe the use of some of these phthalates has been banned in children's toys. While easy to clean, using vinyl in your dog's bed may not be worth the possible health risk.

Where should I put my dog's bed?

If your dog could answer this question, he would most likely say, "In your bedroom, so I can smell you when I'm not with you." Your dog adores you and wants to be near you. If you decide to provide your pal with more than one bed, you could put another in the family area or outside on the back porch where he likes to lay in the sun.

Your dog will benefit from having a comfortable place to call his own. No doubt, you will find him happily snoozing away on his cherished bed. Even if you prefer to share your bed with your dog, he will enjoy having a comfortable dog bed of his own. After all, don't we all prefer to get away for some relaxation and solitude from time to time?

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Friday, May 23, 2008

Click And Treat Is For The Dogs

Becoming the first major improvement in dog training since choke chains and spiked collars, click and treat has quickly revolutionized itself in becoming a big hit on the training circuit. Currently, there are over 10,000 trainers who are using this method regularly.

Used in the beginning to train marine mammals, click and treat breaks down the process into two separate steps, information and motivation. While other trainers still emphasize on these two steps, they try to teach them all at once, which can confuse the animal and prolong results.

Most trainers will verbally praise a dog for good behavior, while at the same time motivating the dog to repeat his actions. This can be a good method, however it takes longer for the dog to understand which behaviors and actions caused the praise from the trainer. With the click and treat method, the processes are easily taught. In normal training, a person would say “good boy” when a welcomed action occurs and proceed with giving a treat. The clicker becomes a substitute for verbal praise and can actually catch the “good boy” behavior quicker than saying it, letting the dog know exactly which behavior he is being rewarded for.

First things first, in order to try click and treat, the trainer must invest in a clicker, which can be found at most pet supply stores. The training itself is quick and rather easy for the dog and his trainer.

Another way to look at click and treat training is viewing it as a secondary reinforcement, while food, water, physical affection and play (things the dog wants) become primary reinforcement. When you take a dog for a walk, the leash works as a secondary reinforcement. It is obvious to the dog that the leash is not taking him for a walk; the owner is, however, it triggers a reaction in the dog, telling him that the leash will let him know where he will go and where he will not. And if he reacts to the leash with good behavior, his reward will be a nice leisurely walk. Click and treat works the same way. When a dog hears the clicker, he will know that he performed a good behavior and as long as he keeps hearing a click, there are rewards coming to him. So, the clicker works as a secondary reinforcement, teaching him boundaries and appropriate behavior.

A couple advantages of the click and treat method include, 1) faster response than verbal praise. The clicker can identify the exact behavior at the time it happens, 2) it takes the place of treats. While motivating the dog to hear clicks, it will also teach him to work without the expectations of having treats given to him each time he does something good, and 3) if the trainer is working at a distance from the dog, the clicker will still work, without having to be right next him.

A good method to use when getting started with click and treat is to stand in front of the animal. Click the clicker and give a treat. Continue doing this for 20-30 minutes, or until the dog becomes startled by the sound of the click. This will familiarize him to the clicking sound, while teaching him that every time he hears it, he has done something good. After he gets the hang of it, begin by adding commands, such as “sit” and “stay.”

Click and treat has proven to be a simple, yet consistent training method with quick results. So for the trainers out there who are looking for a new and innovative way to motivate and praise their animals, get out there, buy a clicker and…!

By: Kirsten Hawkins
Kirsten Hawkins is a dog lover and animal expert from Nashville, TN. Visit for more information on dog health, the care of dogs, and dog travel.