There are a lot of dog beds out there. If you’ve got a few hours to spare looking through thousands of results, do a “dog bed” search on Amazon. As a writer for Daily Kibble, I’ve written about a lot of beds. As a Dog Mom, I’ve purchased many. But a Craigslist posting for a toddler bed sparked an idea: what if the perfect bed for our dogs wasn’t a dog bed at all? My dogs will interject here, saying, “Exactly, Mummy. Our perfect bed is your bed, with you and Daddy.” While that may be true sometimes, they still do need their own bed.
As usual, it was hubby with the good idea: “Why don’t we get this Ikea toddler bed for the dogs?” We measured our bed (the Hemnes queen size), compared it to the measurements of the toddler bed, and it was a perfect match to fit against the foot of our bed. Hmmm….this could work out. When I thought about it, there were lots of good reasons to give this a try:
1. By placing the dogs’ bed at the foot of our bed, they could feel closer to us without actually having to climb up into our bed.
2. The raised design of the bed keeps them off the cold floor in the winter, and gives better air circulation in the summer.
3. The height was just enough for all three of our dogs, one of whom is a tri-pod, to manage easily.
4. The mattress is lots more supportive than the usual dog bed, especially important for our tri-pod.
5. Sheets and waterproof mattress protectors are easily available, washable, and less expensive than dog bed cover replacements.
So we bought that Kritter bed on Craigslist. Next I ordered two sets of LEN fitted sheets, a NATTLIG waterproof mattress protector, and the VYSSA mattress. I took a trip to our local Tuesday Morning store and found two perfect bolster-type pillows to put on each end. And then, voila! The dogs loved their new bed. The big boys sometimes sleep curled up together on it, or take turns (we still have one bed on the floor). The little one? She still insists on sleeping with us. But now we have a supportive, warm, comfy bed that, judging by how much time they spend in it, the dogs love. Thanks, IKEA!
Let’s assume you didn’t know that most dogs prefer not to have their paws touched and need to be gently acclimated to paw handling from puppyhood. Or your dog entered your life as an adult who had never had his paws touched and freaks out if you even mention touching his paws.
Either way, you’ve got a dilemma: how to trim his claws and care for his paws when he prefers that you do neither.
Enter my solution: “Clip a Claw, Get a Cookie!” It’s a fun way to condition your pup to having his paws handled using positive reinforcement. And it helps if you sing it: by creating a happy song associated with the process, it first off puts you in a jolly, upbeat mood which you know your dog can sense. Next, it teaches your dog that this is a good time when he can expect his nails to be clipped and he’ll receive something delicious to eat after each clip.
The process is a slow and gentle build of skills. It starts at the place just before your dog is exhibiting anxiety, and rewards him for the skills he builds in handling each new task. You are decreasing his fear and giving him confidence to accept a new experience that he might have been afraid of in the past. The key to this is taking tiny steps, over a gradual time frame. Here’s how to do it.
First, assemble your tools: a sharp and comfy nail clipper and a bag of treats. Not just ordinary treats. These treats should be what trainers call “high value,” meaning they are something your dog absolutely loves and doesn’t receive on a regular basis. We love Cloud Star’s Tricky Trainers in Crunchy Cheddar, for example. You can use cheese, hot dogs, beef jerkey…you get the idea. Make sure they are cut into tiny pieces so that treating him after every step in the process doesn’t cause him to gain two collar sizes overnight.
Next, determine where your dog’s fear begins, and start just before that point. Is he fine until he sees the clippers headed for his nails? Start with just holding the clippers in your hand. Does he freak out the minute you head towards the closet where the clippers are stored? Place him in a calm “down” and begin there. Is he okay when you touch his legs but then gets nervous and leaves when you reach his ankles? Start at his knees.
Start with singing your version of the “Clip a Claw, Get a Cookie!” jingle and get the clippers from the closet. Toss pooch a treat! Sit down on the floor (dog level) and place the clippers down. Toss a treat! Is pup seeming nervous about the clippers? Then your session for the day is done here. Get up with the clippers, return them to their storage spot, and toss a treat.
Eventually, the clippers will come to mean that treats will follow. When pup seems fine with the presence of the clippers, then it’s time to continue. Gently massage one leg starting at the point where he’s okay with it. With each tiny step of progress you make, toss a treat. Is it not working? You might be going too quickly. Break the process down into micro-steps and take it slow—perhaps your dog will need two months or more to get used to having his paws touched, and another two months or more to get used to a clipping. Perhaps he’ll need even more time. The point is to go at a snail’s pace and make the whole experience a rewarding one (literally!). Once you are able to clip a claw, immediately praise and treat him. What a good boy!
Once you’re able to clip his claws, be sure to only clip a tiny bit of claw per session. If your dog has light colored nails, it will be a little easier to see the quick (the blood supply down the center of the nail) and avoid cutting deep enough to reach this sensitive area. If your dog has dark nails, you won’t be able to see the quick at all. Regardless, be sure you take a long time to gradually shorten your dog’s nails by clipping only a tiny bit per nail trim session (no more frequently than once a month). Because not only will clipping the quick be painful and bloody, it will confirm to your dog that he was right in believing that no one should ever touch his paws!
And if all else fails, be sure to let your veterinarian do the job. Overgrown nails can be a painful hazard for your pup.
About four months ago, the family and I moved to Bend, Oregon. I’d be lying if I said that the city’s title of “Dog Town, USA” didn’t play a significant role in our decision to move here. Along with lots of outdoor activities, the city boasts a crazy number of indie craft breweries: beer is big here. Our little Whiskey, the social butterfly that he is, was thrilled to discover the joys of lounging with his parents at any of the local brew pubs in town. And in most cases, you can find those same tasty brews in bottle form at the local grocery stores.
So what better accessory for the hipster, pub-frequenting dog to have than a Cycle Dog collar with the unique Pup Top® D-ring? Unlike the typical D-ring, where one attaches ID tags and a leash, the PupTop D-ring is instead designed as a bottle opener, so it’s not only strong and secure, but it can be used to snap open the top on a bottle of beer or other capped beverage. Gotta love that. The collar itself is pretty wonderful, too. It’s made of recycled bike tubes for an odor-free, easy-to-clean, waterproof base (plus, edges won’t fray). A patterned ribbon is attached on top of the rubber base—for color and style. You’ll no doubt find a style you’ll love—they have a seriously impressive collection of fun, unique ribbons that we haven’t seen before. You can select from their seat-belt design clasp or the traditional plastic buckle. Cheers!
These two stories have been all over the news, and just in case you haven’t seen them yet, Dog Parents, take note.
1. No More Woof: a still-in-development brain wave analysis device for dogs. The folks at The Nordic Society for Invention and Discovery are working on a very cool concept. Using EEG and computer processing technology, they are developing a headset of sorts that reads your dog’s brain waves and is then able to translate that neural activity into English language speech. It’s very rudimentary but certainly a noble task. You can read all about the No More Woof, support the research with a very early-in-the-process IndieGoGo pledge, or just ponder the possibilities. Of course, Dog Parents know that body language is the communication method of choice for most non-human mammals but this certainly is fascinating.
2. Thanks to a BoingBoing post, word has spread about the research findings published in Frontiers in Zoology regarding canine potty habits and the earth’s magnetic field. According to this extensive two-year study, dogs will align their bodies along the North-South axis. However, if there were unstable magnetic field conditions, their potty position was random. Aside from the value of research into magnetoreception in general, I couldn’t help but wonder how this might relate, in a provable and concrete way, to dogs’ sensitivities to earthquake conditions prior to the event. Hmmm…
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