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by ARLnow.com Sponsor November 13, 2017 at 12:45 pm 0

The following bi-weekly column is written and sponsored by Bark + Boarding, which provides a heart-centered and safe environment for your pets. Conveniently located at 5818-C Seminary Road in Bailey’s Crossroads, Bark & Boarding offers doggy daycare, boarding, grooming, walking and training services, plus in-home pet care.

Rae Patterson, Writer and Animal Enthusiast

Does your dog just stare at you while you eagerly shake a toy in front of her? Does your cat reject every feathered mouse you bring home? Your pet probably isn’t lazy. Animals are hunters and workers by instinct. You may just need to try something new.

It’s possible that your pet has grown “lazy” by habit. If left home and inside alone all day, a dog may very well lapse into napping even more than their needed 14 hours per day. “Animal behaviorists agree that dogs need environmental stimulation, just as humans do.” You might try to break your dog out her habits by offering day-time stimulation through a dog park or a doggy daycare program.

Bark & Boarding offers a top-of-the-line doggy daycare where your dog can socialize with a pack while you are away. It’s a great way to give them an outlet for their natural “energy and drive,” and you will likely see positive changes in your dog’s personality and mood.

Cats, likewise, are often viewed as “lazy” because they can sleep and snooze as much as 20 hours per day. However, both house cats and wild cats sleep in order to conserve energy for the hunt. That means when your cat does wake up, he’s ready to go. Cats need to be mentally and physically challenged, just like dogs. If your cat isn’t accustomed to playtime with you, it’s not likely he’s going to leap up when you throw a mouse at him. Try engaging your cat with interactive toys like a cat dancer or a crinkling feather wand.

Each animal is unique. Just like humans, each dog and cat will likely prefer different toys. You might be surprised at the variety in the types of toys available for your pet. The best place to start is by trying something new.

Bark + Boarding offers a wide range of toys that will engage your dog in different types of play. From Kong and Nylabone chews to occupy your dog’s downtime to rope toys for tug-of-war and Griggles squeaker toys for romping chase and fetch, there’s something for every dog’s taste. Bark + Boarding has toys for your cat too, including toys that will help you play interactively with your feline friend.

Another option for reluctant players is a puzzle feeding bowl. This clever invention is available for both dogs and cats and engages their minds in a daily challenge whether for dinner or for treats. (more…)

by ARLnow.com Sponsor October 30, 2017 at 2:30 pm 0

The following bi-weekly column is written and sponsored by Bark + Boarding, which provides a heart-centered and safe environment for your pets. Conveniently located at 5818-C Seminary Road in Bailey’s Crossroads, Bark & Boarding offers doggy daycare, boarding, grooming, walking and training services, plus in-home pet care.

Rae Patterson, Writer and Animal Enthusiast

The team at Bark & Boarding is committed to the well-being of your pet and of pets everywhere. That’s why we want to share some reasons we believe it is important to spay or neuter your animals.

To begin with, let’s answer the question, “Why is it such a big deal anyway?” The main problem humans try to combat by spaying and neutering is overpopulation. And the extent of that problem is quite extraordinary.

  • It is estimated that there are nearly 70 million stray dogs and cats living in the U.S.
  • Stray (abandoned or feral) animals suffer from unpredictable living conditions, lack of shelter, lack of sufficient food and water and high risk for illness, all due to overpopulation.
  • Stray animal overpopulation poses a threat to human welfare: It’s unsanitary, disrupts the natural environment and draws predatory animals like coyotes into populated areas.
  • There are an estimated 30-40 million stray (abandoned or feral) cats living in the U.S.
  • Approximately 5 million shelter animals are euthanized each year in the U.S.
  • At least 80% of those euthanized were healthy and could have been re-homed.
  • The estimated amount spent by U.S. humane organizations and animal control organizations combined reaches nearly $3 billion

A lack of commitment to spay and neuter pets is a leading cause in the overpopulation of unwanted animals. Even if your pet is an indoor animal, that doesn’t mean your pet won’t ever slip out. Dogs love to squeeze past your legs or dig under the fence to go for a run, and cats are experts at escape, especially when in heat.

It only takes once for your pet to produce an entire litter of babies. Consider this: A single cat has an average of 3-5 kittens. Don’t think she’s one and done. A cat will breed 2-3 per year if possible. Each of her kittens will be capable of reproducing another 3-5 kittens within 6 months.

Even if your cat only has one litter of 5 kittens, and each of her babies only has (or helps produce) one litter of 5 kittens, that’s 25 new cats that need homes within less than a year, just from your cat’s one-time excursion.

We know you’ll also be wondering spaying or neutering harms your pet. No, the surgery is safe. In fact, spay and neuter procedures provide health benefits for your animals. Females are protected from the common ailments of uterine infections and breast tumors; males are prevented from getting testicular cancer and some prostate problems.

Spaying and neutering can also help keep you and your pet both sane. Females won’t go into heat, a yowling and spraying frenzy that is unlikely to be a happy time for either of you. Males will be less driven to escape, less likely to engage in territorial spraying, and maybe a little less aggressive. (more…)

by ARLnow.com Sponsor October 16, 2017 at 3:00 pm 0

The following bi-weekly column is written and sponsored by Bark + Boarding, which provides a heart-centered and safe environment for your pets. Conveniently located at 5818-C Seminary Road in Bailey’s Crossroads, Bark & Boarding offers doggy daycare, boarding, grooming, walking and training services, plus in-home pet care.

Rae Patterson, Writer and Animal Enthusiast

Here at Bark & Boarding, we love Halloween fun, and we like to include our furry family members in the festivities. Here are some ideas for celebrating with your pets, all while keeping them safe.

Take your dog to the pumpkin patch.

What better way to get out with your dog and enjoy the crisp fall air? Even during the busy start of the holiday season, your dog still needs the exercise and stimulation of the summer days. Fido can help you select the perfect pumpkins to carve and decorate. He will probably also be a popular guest; kids and animal lovers will surely make your dog feel extra special during this Halloween outing.

Keep the pumpkins and candy out of reach & choose pet-friendly Halloween treats instead.

Dogs and cats may really like the smell of your freshly-carved jack-o-lantern and its bright orange insides. While pumpkin has numerous health benefits for cats and dogs, we don’t recommend feeding your pets the raw pumpkin you got from the pumpkin patch.

These pumpkins may have bugs, and the raw stringy texture of the flesh may be difficult to swallow and digest. Also, the raw seeds may upset your pet’s stomach. If you think your pet may try to eat your Jack-O-Lantern, be sure to place it out of reach, especially because Jack-O-Lanterns will grow mold and bacteria quickly. However, you can offer your pet cooked fresh pumpkin or canned pumpkin for a fun seasonal treat. Just be sure to limit the amount you feed them to a few table spoons.

Candy is very dangerous for animals. Chocolate, raisins and artificial sweeteners in particular are toxic to pets. Be certain your trick-or-treater candy is safely away from your furry friends, whether in the pantry or by the door. If you suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 immediately. Don’t worry, your pets don’t have to be left out of the trick-or-treating fun. Here are a few recipes for simple, homemade Halloween dog and cat treats:

Remember to choose only pet-safe costumes for your animals.

Dressing up your pets as furry spooks or fabulous superheroes can be full of fun and laughter. Just be careful to check your pet’s costume for pieces that may be easily chewed off of or that your pet may get tangled in. If the costume distresses your pet or impairs their movement, we recommend just doing a quick photo-op and then allowing your pet the freedom to enjoy the excitement of Halloween night. The ASPCA recommends a festive bandana or collar. (more…)

by ARLnow.com Sponsor October 2, 2017 at 2:00 pm 0

The following bi-weekly column is written and sponsored by Bark + Boarding, which provides a heart-centered and safe environment for your pets. Conveniently located at 5818-C Seminary Road in Bailey’s Crossroads, Bark & Boarding offers doggy daycare, boarding, grooming, walking and training services, plus in-home pet care.

Rae Patterson, Writer and Animal Enthusiast

Adopting a shelter dog might seem a little spooky to someone who is accustomed to a specific breed and the expected traits that come with it. But rescuing a mutt might be more of a treat than you expect. October is National “Adopt a Shelter Dog Month,” so it’s the perfect time to consider these 4 reasons a rescue dog might be your perfect fit.

Adult Dogs: The dogs at your local Humane Society may not have a birth certificate or a documented personality profile, but they aren’t a total mystery. One of the benefits of adopting from a shelter is that the dogs are usually adults. This removes some of the unknowns; such as the dog’s personality after spay/neuter procedures and the dog’s full-grown size.

Miranda adopted her boxer mix as a puppy and his estimated size was 40 lbs… 90lbs later and that estimate went right out the window. Adopting an adult dog is a great way to make sure you abide by your apartment or condos size restrictions.

A puppy is a lot of fun but also a lot of work. The constant supervision that puppies need means that a puppy might not be the right choice for everyone. Adopting an adult dog from a shelter allows you to bypass the puppy teething stage and often the potty-training process as well.

More Economical: Purebred puppies and even specialty mixed-breed puppies can be extremely expensive. The highly popular Goldendoodle tends to start at $950 per puppy. Adoption fees at a shelter are likely to be only $100-$300, and these fees almost always include spay/neuter, the dog’s most recent vaccines, flea medication and often microchipping.

This is an excellent price, considering all the supplies and care that have already been invested in these rescue dogs, and considering the usual cost for spay or neuter surgery to individuals is around $200-$500. Many shelters also have events promoting adoption, during which adoption fees can be as low as $25. This October shelters and rescues all over the U.S. will be offering reduced adoption fees for “Adopt a Shelter Dog Month.”

Health Benefits: Although health will ultimately depend on the individual dog, mutts do have the advantage of being less prone to genetic disease. Mutts tend to be hardier, often enjoying a lower risk of joint, spine, heart and organ problems than many purebreds.

In a 2013 study of the medical records from a veterinary clinic that examined over 27,000 dogs, scientists found that 10 common genetic disorders appeared significantly more in purebred dogs. This is not to say that you should never get a purebred dog. Many breeders employ vets and geneticists to aid in reducing the likelihood of such disorders.

The probability of health benefits of mutts is simply one factor to consider when choosing a new dog, and perhaps a factor that will encourage those uncertain dog shoppers to try something new.

Grateful Companions: Perhaps the best reason to consider adopting a shelter dog is the simple reward of helping an animal in need. Shelters across the U.S. are full to the brim every year. The ASPCA estimates that around 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized each year primarily due to a lack of space and resources.

Aside from the risk of euthanasia, even the best and most loving shelter cannot take the place of a permanent home. Shelter dogs often come from a rough background, whether scrounging as a stray or suffering from abuse or neglect. Those dogs know when they find a good home and a good human, and they will be grateful animals their entire lives.

(more…)

by ARLnow.com Sponsor September 18, 2017 at 2:30 pm 0

The following bi-weekly column is written and sponsored by Bark + Boarding, which provides a heart-centered and safe environment for your pets. Conveniently located at 5818-C Seminary Road in Bailey’s Crossroads, Bark & Boarding offers doggy daycare, boarding, grooming, walking and training services, plus in-home pet care.

By Rae Patterson, Writer and Animal Enthusiast

Everyone knows that animals smell like animals and dogs smell like dogs. But does it seem like your dog has a special talent for smelling bad? There are ways to combat and reduce problem smells. Bark + Boarding is here to help you figure out the origin of the odor and what to do about it.

Dogs don’t drip sweat like people do, but their skin does perspire a small amount and it produces oil to keep the skin and coat healthy. This, combined with a dog’s anal glands that carry a personalized scent that tells other dogs about him or her, are responsible for the common doggy smell. And daily dog smell can build up, just like human smell does.

It’s important to bathe and groom your dog regularly; not only for the sake of your nose, but also for the health of your dog’s skin and coat. If your dog swims, lives outdoors, joins you for runs, or has a thick coat, these are all reasons to take your dog to a professional groomer often.

Grooming can make a big difference in how your dog smells by doing more than the average at-home bath to remove dandruff, dirt, and organisms matted in the fur. Bark + Boarding offers full grooming services or individual services for both dogs and cats. See the article How to Deal with Your Dog’s Summer Shedding to learn more about the benefits of grooming.

If your dog is particularly smelly, there may be another cause, besides your dog just being “dirty.” The source of the smell could be internal. Your dog may have dental or stomach issues causing bad breath or gas. Oral health is directly related to the overall health of your dog. Bad teeth can cause a myriad of other health issues, not to mention truly bad breath. For this reason, dogs need regular dental cleaning, the same as humans.

If tooth-brushing is traumatic for your dog or if you prefer to spread out the cost of dental care, you can try daily dental chews like Greenies or Whimzees, and try water additives that work like drinkable mouthwash. Take a look at your dog’s teeth to see if tartar buildup, a cracked tooth or rotting is the cause of your dog’s stench. If the dog’s teeth are in bad shape already, you’ll want to take him to the vet.

If your dog’s gas can clear a room, you can start by trying a different food that has a different protein source or is grain free. You could also try topping your dog’s food with probiotics to see if that helps. If the problem persists, you should see your vet to ensure there aren’t more serious gut issues going on.

One of the most common but least expected causes of overpowering doggy odor is an infection in your dog’s anal glands. It is possible for these glands to become irritated, and your dog may excessively lick or nip at this area if it is bothering him. If you suspect your dog’s unwanted scent is caused anal gland problems, it is always time for a vet visit!

One last possible cause of stink is your dog’s ears. Ear buildup, bacterial infections, or mites can create a strong smell. When checking your dog’s ears, look for excessive wax, moving spots in the ear canal, or any red or painful spots. Particularly if your dog has floppy ears or if your dog swims often, be sure to check your dog’s ears regularly.

Similarly, if your dog suffers from a food allergy he/she can develop a nasty yeast infection in the ears that stinks! If your pup is consistently getting ear infections you might want to speak with your vet about a possible food allergy. There are many ear wipes and fungus treatments available at your local pet store. If the problem is severe, schedule an appointment with your vet.

If you need any supplies or advice while de-scenting your dog, drop by Bark + Boarding where we have the experts and the tools you need!

by ARLnow.com Sponsor September 5, 2017 at 2:45 pm 0

The following bi-weekly column is written and sponsored by Bark + Boarding, which provides a heart-centered and safe environment for your pets. Conveniently located at 5818-C Seminary Road in Bailey’s Crossroads, Bark & Boarding offers doggy daycare, boarding, grooming, walking and training services, plus in-home pet care.

By Rae Patterson, Writer and Animal Enthusiast

Do you ever wonder what your dog is thinking? Why does she chase her tail? Why on earth would he want to sniff another dog’s behind? Our dogs make us laugh, smile and sometimes scratch our heads. Here are some fun facts about man’s best friend.

Why does my dog…

Bury Bones

Maybe you’ve caught your dog digging in the backyard, burying favorite toys, or hiding treats in the couch. We know that our dogs came from wild ancestors like wolves and foxes. These animals might hunt large prey that they can’t eat all at once or have remaining bones to chew from their last meal.

Wild dogs bury those items to hide them from other dogs and scavengers, while they are busy with other activities. Burying valuable items is a survival instinct that our dogs maintain from their ancestry. When your dog hides a beloved toy, it doesn’t mean she’s finished with it. She’s just saving it for later!

Howl

Occasional howling, whether at you or along with a siren, is another ancestral instinct. Wolves howl as a form of communication, especially to find one another if members of their pack become separated or to warn another dog to stay away.

Your dog may howl briefly when he loses sight of you in an unfamiliar place, to be sure you can find him again. Your dog’s howl might be alerting you to distress (be sure to check for injury or threat!), or to show you an exciting discovery. Howling at a passing truck or dog is probably your dog’s way of telling the intruder it’s in his territory.

Dogs also howl as a bonding experience, joining in on the fun when other dogs are howling.  In fact, at any given time of day, you may hear our resident bandleader Barry leading the Bark+Board pups in a lovely howling chorus!

Chase Her Tail

A puppy running around in a circle in pursuit of its own tail can be very entertaining. Your puppy thinks so too. She probably doesn’t know yet that her tail is a part of her body, and she sees it as a toy or prey. Adult dogs may chase their tails because they’re bored or seeking your attention.

If you have a dog that spins often, try throwing a tennis ball or taking your dog on a walk during times of high energy. If your adult dog suddenly starts biting at his tail, he may be experiencing pain in that area, such as fleas or parasites. This unusual behavior calls for a vet visit.

Lick Me

Your dog’s “kisses” really are a sign of affection. Mother dogs stimulate and comfort their newborn puppies by licking them. As the puppies grow, they lick their moms in return. It is bonding and comforting.

Your dog may lick you a few extra times to taste your salty skin. Among groups of dogs, the members of the pack often lick the leaders as a sign of submission. Your dog may also try to lick you when she’s in trouble.

Sniff Other Dogs’ Behinds

Dogs’ noses are estimated to have 215 million more scent receptors in their noses than humans do. Dogs sniff each other’s’ anal glands as more than just a greeting. It’s a full introduction. They learn the sex of the dog, what the dog is eating, and even some clues about a dog’s emotional state or readiness for mating.

Sniffing one another’s behinds can also disarm potential aggression between two dogs meeting for the first time.  At Bark + Boarding we make sure to give each dog the opportunity to meet other dogs in a non-aggressive manner so they’re all friends in the end!

Now you know a little more about your furry companion and his odd and amazing natural habits.

Mention this article for a FREE evaluation and click here to sign up for one today!

If you have a question about your pet’s behavior, feel free to email [email protected]. If you and your pet are featured in an article, you will receive $10 off any of our services!  For more information check out www.BarkandBoarding.com.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor August 21, 2017 at 2:30 pm 0

The following bi-weekly column is written and sponsored by Bark + Boarding, which provides a heart-centered and safe environment for your pets. Conveniently located at 5818-C Seminary Road in Bailey’s Crossroads, Bark & Boarding offers doggy daycare, boarding, grooming, walking and training services, plus in-home pet care.

By Rae Patterson, Writer and Animal Enthusiast

August is “Back-to-School” month, and it may be time for your dog to do some learning as well. We all know dogs are clever animals, but did you know that according to Dr. Stanley Coren, an expert in canine intelligence, the average dog can understand about 165 words, possibly more with training?

Dogs are amazing creatures, and any dog can learn at least 20 basic commands that will help you and your dog communicate on a daily basis. Whether you have a puppy or an adult dog, training is always an option.

With puppies, it’s important to start training early. Usually at around 7-8 weeks old, puppies can begin to learn simple commands like “sit” and “down.” Formal training typically begins around 6 months, but according to VCA Hospital, you don’t want to wait until your puppy is 6 months old to start basic training at home: “The dog is learning from every experience and delaying training means missed opportunities for the dog to learn how you would like him to behave. During the juvenile stage, the dog is beginning to solidify adult behavioral patterns and progresses through fear periods.”

It’s worth it to work with your puppy while they’re in this developmental stage. Just 15 minutes a day, broken into short sessions, will make a huge difference. You can get help from a professional trainer, consult the internet or your local pet store for tips on a training plan. Puppyhood is also the best time to teach your dog how to behave well during walks. It’s a fairly easy task to teach your puppy, but a very difficult behavior to change for an older dog who has learned that it is acceptable to drag you around!

If your new dog is already an adult, don’t worry, it’s not too late for them to learn. Adult dogs can concentrate better than puppies and are just as eager to please. Often behavioral adjustments are as simple as getting settled into the new environment, learning the new routine, and understanding the expectations of the new family.

According to a 2016 study by the Messerli Research Institute at the University of Vienna in their “Clever Dog Lab,” older dogs may take a little longer to learn new things than puppies do, but even senior dogs are able to learn the same amount and level of material. Patience and dedication will yield the same results with your adult dog!

Many of your problems likely stem from your dog’s simple lack of knowledge. Your dog may hear No more often than clear commands. Starting fresh with a new training plan and with a goal of helping your dog learn the desired behaviors is the best way to go.

FidoSavy.com says that “good potty habits, obeying basic obedience commands, and having nice manners are the most important things to work on at first,” and they have some great tips for getting started. If you’d like some in-person help with an older dog, don’t be afraid to join an obedience class. Even if there is a primary problem behavior at home, an obedience class will help re-establish fundamental communication with your dog and will be a fresh bonding experience.

Bark + Boarding would love to work with you on socializing your dog of any age. The best way for us to give you the best recommendation would be to schedule an evaluation for your pup.  During our evaluation process, your dog spends the whole day with us so we get the opportunity to get to know them best and point you in the right direction.

From basic socialization at the park, routine visits in a controlled social environment to a group training class or even one-to-one with a professional trainer.  We can help get you and your dog on track with a realistic plan.  Mention this article for a FREE evaluation and click here to sign up for one today!

If you have a question about your pet’s behavior, feel free to email [email protected]. If you and your pet are featured in an article, you will receive $10 off any of our services!  For more information check out www.BarkandBoarding.com.

*Free evaluations through September 30, 2017.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor August 7, 2017 at 3:00 pm 0

The following bi-weekly column is written and sponsored by Bark & Boarding, which provides a heart-centered and safe environment for your pets. Conveniently located at 5818-C Seminary Road in Bailey’s Crossroads, Bark & Boarding offers doggy daycare, boarding, grooming, walking and training services, plus in-home pet care.

By Rae Patterson, Writer and Animal Enthusiast

Pets require work, they make messes, and they sometimes smell. But they’re worth it. Anyone who has bonded with an animal will tell you that their home wouldn’t be complete without one.

Animals have something to teach everyone, but living with and caring for a pet has especially incredible benefits for kids. Here are a few things I learned that your children could also gain from having pets:

Responsibility: This first one might be obvious, because caring for an animal is a daily responsibility. However, not only is the care of an animal’s life a high-stakes duty, it’s also a highly rewarding one. And the rewards are often easier for a child to see than those of other household chores.

A 10-year-old probably doesn’t care much about the rewards of cleaning the house; but the fun of watching a colorful fish tank or playing tug-of-war with a dog are things a child can see as worthwhile. Likewise, animals often respond in the moment to the things your child does to care for them. A guinea pig squeaks and popcorns in delight when you place hay into his cage. A cat purrs and rubs against you as you combs her. These rewards teach kids the natural benefits of being responsible.

Patience: All animals require patience, and we all could probably use more practice with that! Pets offer practice in patience that yields rewards. For example, setting up a new fish tank requires you to wait three days after doing the work, to allow the tank to cycle, before adding the fish. A parakeet will be skittish for a few days, while you gently coax the bird until it finally sits on your finger.

When I was 10, my family got our first dog and I accompanied my mom to the obedience classes with our Border Collie mix, Molly. I was impatient and frustrated at first, because Molly was young and easily distracted. But I still remember the proud day my sister and I finally taught Molly to jump through a Hula Hoop. Working with my dog was its own reward.

The times of waiting can be used to build anticipation and to praise your kids for the work they are doing. Your kids will be even more satisfied with the results when they finally receive the fruits of their patience.

Non-Verbal Communication: “This communication is passed by means of visual, auditory, tactile, and kinesthetic cues usually between members of the same species.” Animals communicate entirely through these non-language cues, and an observant human can learn to recognize many of them.

A child can be happy to know that his cat’s upright tail means she is welcoming and glad to see him. Your child can also learn the importance of paying attention to non-verbal cues by identifying the visual signs of fear or frustration that cats and dogs exhibit before lashing out.

There’s something very special about looking into your pet’s eyes and sharing a moment of understanding. The majority of human communication is non-verbal as well, so spending time with animals is excellent practice in an important life skill. Bonding with an animal has also been known to help children with autism, because verbal language is not required for communication with animals.

Respect: Animals need respect of their life, feelings, and space, the same as humans. While a human might remain quiet when hurt or crowded, animals usually won’t put up with it. As a young child antagonizing my mom’s cat I might receive a hiss or a swat that I quickly learned to avoid. A rabbit that is grabbed too roughly might kick and scratch to get away.

These self-preservation behaviors would not severely harm your child; they just send a clear message. With parental guidance, children can learn to handle and interact with animals with respect. Relating to animals with fairness and compassion is good practice in relating to other people. 

A Point of Connection: Children who love animals and have pets of their own have an immediate social connection when meeting new people. Pets are a great casual conversation-starter, a subject that your child might be more comfortable discussing with new kids or caretakers. And if your kid finds another animal-lover, it could be the start of a friendship.

I was the new kid in eighth grade, sitting next to a reluctant companion on a field trip bus ride. Thankfully, my mom had versed me in introducing myself by talking about my interests. “Do you have pets?” I asked. “I love animals! I have two cats and a dog and some hermit crabs.” Suddenly, I wasn’t so alien anymore. The girl next to me told me about her dog, Freckles, and she is, 10 years later, still my best friend.

Pets give us gifts of love and lessons every day, and they can be instrumental in helping your child grow as a person! If you decide to enrich your child’s life through a pet, know that you will always have a support system through the staff at Bark & Boarding. Whether you are a current client or a new pet owner, we are here to provide guidance and advice.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor July 24, 2017 at 2:45 pm 0

The following bi-weekly column is written and sponsored by Bark & Boarding, which provides a heart-centered and safe environment for your pets. Conveniently located at 5818-C Seminary Road in Bailey’s Crossroads, Bark & Boarding offers doggy daycare, boarding, grooming, walking and training services, plus in-home pet care.

By Rae Patterson, Writer and Animal Enthusiast

As pet owners, we want our pets to be more than just “fine,” we want them to be healthy and happy. One of the most common questions that concerns dog owners is: “Does my dog get tired of eating the same thing every day?”

At Bark + Boarding we pride ourselves on offering some of the healthiest varieties of pet food available for your pup. While most dogs probably won’t “get tired of” their food, introducing variety into your dog’s diet could benefit your dog’s health if done correctly.

When considering a dog’s dietary needs, a good place to start is looking at what wild dogs eat. Their instincts teach them which foods to seek out to stay healthy.

According to “What do Wolves Eat?” an informative website designed to reduce fear of wolves, wolves prefer to hunt large hoofed animals, such as deer, bison, moose, elk, cattle and caribou. But they also supplement their diets with “smaller prey like rabbits, beavers, rodents and waterfowl.”

It might surprise you to learn that wolves also hunt for fruits and vegetables. They commonly eat “blueberries, ash berries, apples, and pears,” and they are known for sniffing out and raiding farmers’ vegetables.

From this we learn that our dogs need the vitamins and minerals from fruits and vegetables, just like humans do. Dog foods that include fruits and veggies are usually called “holistic diet” foods. However, the “holistic” label is not legally defined the way the term “GMO” is, so your best bet is to read the ingredient list.

Dog foods that include fruits and veggies as primary ingredients do so in an effort to reduce the amount of synthetic vitamins and minerals required in a processed food. From the wolves’ diet, we also learn that wild dogs have a variety of proteins in their diet. It can certainly benefit your dog’s overall health to include various proteins in their food.

There are some guidelines you will want to consider if you plan to add variety to your dog’s diet.

First, it is a good idea to stick with either a grain or grain-free diet. A dog’s stomach works differently to digest different products. Vacillating between the two could cause your dog to develop a previously non-existent grain allergy or sensitivity.

Second, consider remaining in the same brand of food on a regular basis. For example, feed Merrick chicken and then Merrick buffalo. These have two different protein sources but the rest of their ingredients are similar in type and proportion.

Switching between brands would mean changing more of the normal ingredients. Jumping right into a new food with a completely new ingredient list can upset your dog’s stomach, causing vomiting and diarrhea.

Third, it may be best to switch the food by bag or by month, rather than day to day. For example, finish the bag of Merrick chicken food before giving Merrick buffalo, instead of alternating the days. This should reduce the stress on your dog’s digestive system and ensure that the food stays fresh.

There are other options for adding variety to your dog’s diet. For example, you may want to supplement your dry food with a wet food of a different protein. You could also add freeze-dried or homemade meats and veggies to your dog’s bowl.

For dogs with especially sensitive digestive systems, you may consider choosing a single food that has two primary proteins, such as Acana Singles Formula food. Regardless, your dog’s taste buds and health will appreciate your efforts to feed your dog well!

Want to give one of these options a try?  Stop by Bark + Boarding anytime in July or August for 50 percent off any Stella + Chewy’s Meal Mixers or 20 percent off a bag of Acana Singles Formula!

by ARLnow.com Sponsor July 10, 2017 at 2:30 pm 0

The following bi-weekly column is written and sponsored by Bark & Boarding, which provides a heart-centered and safe environment for your pets. Conveniently located at 5818-C Seminary Road in Bailey’s Crossroads, Bark & Boarding offers doggy daycare, boarding, grooming, walking and training services, plus in-home pet care.

By Rae Patterson, Writer and Animal Enthusiast

Summertime is here, it’s puppy season, and many people are beginning the search for a new dog to join their family. There are so many breeds and it can be overwhelming getting started.

Making a list of desired qualities in a dog is a great first step to finding the right match. This process involves thinking about yourself and your lifestyle, as much as about the potential dog. Here are some fundamental questions to ask about yourself and the dog you are considering.

How much exercise will this dog require, and how much am I able to offer?

What kind of space do you have? If you don’t have a large yard, do you have time to take your dog to the park regularly? Do you have any regular outdoor activities for which your dog could join you?

This is one of the most important factors to think about, because an active breed can misbehave if he doesn’t get the necessary exercise. For example, if a herding dog does not have the space to run, it is likely that dog will chew your furniture out of frustration.

What age dog will be the best fit for me?

It is tempting to go straight for the tumbling, cuddly puppies. But when people say puppies are a lot of work, they aren’t joking. Having a puppy is like having a human baby. They require constant supervision when they are not crated, and they cannot be in a crate all day.

All puppies will chew just about anything they can get their mouths around, since they are teething. To redirect them from chewing your clothes and furniture, you’ll need to provide your puppy with a steady stream of teething chew toys with a variety of textures.

Potty training takes time and cannot truly begin for most puppies until they are about 12 weeks old, because before that age, they do not have enough control of their bowl movements to learn to hold it. That means if you adopt an 8-week-old puppy, you’ll need to stock up on training pads and carpet cleaners and be ready to take your puppy out for a potty break every 1 to 2 hours throughout the day.

That said, if you are prepared and able, raising a puppy is joyful and rewarding. If you already have an adult dog who can be territorial or uncertain about other dogs, a puppy might be the best choice, since adult animals are often more accepting of new babies than of a new adult.

However, if you have a dog advanced in years, you’ll need to tire out your new puppy with lots of playtime, so that the little one doesn’t make your older dog crazy.

Some people want to rescue a senior dog who is in need of a home. This might be a good match for you, if you are often home and not extremely active. Do note that senior dogs will need high levels of glucosamine and chondroitin in their diets and will likely need extra supplements to keep their joints healthy. Older dogs are also likely to need more frequent vet visits, low-fat diets and ramps to get into the car.

How much will this dog eat, and how much am I willing to spend?

A healthy, active Labrador Retriever weighs an average of 67 pounds and will eat around 3.5 cups of quality, high protein food each day. This means a 25-pound bag of quality dog food would last your lab a little under a month.

Feeding your dog a food with lots of fillers will actually require your dog to eat more in order to feel full, and this often leads to obesity. The cost of dog food should not deter you from getting a dog you can afford, but it is important to be prepared for the expense, so your budget doesn’t suffer.

What kind of disposition am I looking for?

Do you need a high-energy, gentle family dog who won’t be stressed out by all your kids? What about your other pets? If you have a dominant dog at home already, talk to your shelters, rescues, or breeders about finding a dog with an easy-going personality. If you have two rabbits, you might not want a dog with a high prey drive, like a Greyhound.

For those who have several specific needs in their dog’s personality, it might be a good idea to try a fostering program where you can bring the dog home for a trial period, or to ask one of the dog’s handlers to meet you and your current dog at a local park.

Regardless of personality, it is always crucial to introduce a new pet to your current pets gradually and with full supervision. If you have a current dog you want to work on socializing before introducing a new pet, Bark & Boarding’s daycare program is a great place to start. We can also give you tips on choosing the right pup.

How much health and coat maintenance does this dog require?

All dogs need their puppy shots and yearly physicals, but certain breeds have common problems for which you may need to be prepared. For example, certain breeds have a tendency to have food allergies.

White dogs need their skin and coat monitored closely because they are prone to sunburn and skin sensitivities. Dachshunds and Corgis benefit from ramps and stairs, since they are prone to back problems. These are things to be aware of as you’re searching.

Dogs’ coats vary greatly as well. Wire-coated dogs like Airedales need regular grooming, so their coats don’t become matted. All dogs with fur shed. But be ready for those Huskies and Corgis. Dogs bred for cold climates have a fluffy undercoat that adds significantly to your brushing and sweeping duties. Make sure you’re willing to do that little extra work for your dream dog before diving in.

Asking yourself these questions will give you a great starting point for your search. Good luck finding the perfect pooch for your home!

by ARLnow.com Sponsor June 26, 2017 at 2:30 pm 0

The following bi-weekly column is written and sponsored by Bark & Boarding, which provides a heart-centered and safe environment for your pets. Conveniently located at 5818-C Seminary Road in Bailey’s Crossroads, Bark & Boarding offers doggy daycare, boarding, grooming, walking and training services, plus in-home pet care.

By Rae Patterson, Writer and Animal Enthusiast

Does cuddle time with your dog cause an avalanche of fur to tumble down his back? Your dog shedding in the summer is unavoidable, but it can be managed! Here are our top four tips to help you manage shedding season:

Correct Grooming: Grooming is about a lot more than a stylish cut. A summer groom for your pet could include a bath, which helps wash out loose hairs; a coat condition, which hydrates the fur to reduce unnecessary shedding; a brush out, which aids in removing fur about to shed; and a trim or shave for certain breeds.

You should always consult a professional groomer before asking for a summer haircut, since there are many types of coats that all have their own unique factors. For example, cutting a Husky’s undercoat for the summer could actually interfere with her natural cooling system. A professional grooming is the best first step for putting summer shedding in check.

The experienced grooming team at Bark & Boarding know exactly what your pet’s grooming needs are and have custom services for dogs of all breeds.

Quality Brushes and Combs: Regular brushing or combing will remove dead hair, dirt, and dandruff, in addition to collecting loose fur on the brush, instead of in the corners of your home. Using the correct type of brush is extremely important to avoid damaging your pet’s skin or coat, but also to ensure your brushing is effective.

A quality brush or comb, designed for your pet’s coat, is a worthwhile investment. You may be surprised by how much more lose hair you can remove from your pet with the right tool. One of the best de-shedding tools on the market is the FURminator. It comes in different widths and blade lengths to suit the needs of different breeds of dogs, cats and even horses.

Clean-Up Products: Since some shedding is bound to occur, it’s worth considering some of the products that are designed to collect fur.

For example, Bissell has a series of vacuums made for homes with pets, and these include attachment tools like the Pet Hair Eraser, which make fur removal from furniture and blankets much easier. (Hint: You can find these vacuums at Walmart and on Amazon as well!)

When it comes to hardwood or tile floors, “electrostatic or microfiber dry mops” are the best for attracting tricky hair, since both the vacuum and the broom tend to blow the fur around more than to collect it.

Quality Food: Our last tip is to consider what food you are feeding your pet. It is important that your dog’s diet includes Essential Fatty Acids, which maintain a healthy, lubricated skin and coat. If your pet’s skin is dry, it will produce more dander and shed more fur.

Take a look at the ingredients on your food bags and do a quick search on your food brand to find out more about the quality of the fatty acids in your pet’s food. Omega Fatty Acids can also be added to your pet’s diet through daily supplements that taste like treats, or by adding a topical powder or oil to your pet’s dry food dish. A healthy coat will make you and your pet much happier!

Have questions on summer shedding or want to book an amazing grooming session? Send us an email at [email protected] to ease the shedding stress!

by ARLnow.com Sponsor June 12, 2017 at 2:30 pm 0

The following bi-weekly column is written and sponsored by Bark & Boarding, which provides a heart-centered and safe environment for your pets. Conveniently located at 5818-C Seminary Road in Bailey’s Crossroads, Bark & Boarding offers doggy daycare, boarding, grooming, walking and training services, plus in-home pet care.

By Rae Patterson, Writer and Animal Enthusiast

Dogs bark for all kinds of reasons. Barking is one type of communication dogs have between one another and with humans. But everyone can agree that excessive barking will drive you mad.

A study by Ohio State University suggests nearly one third of people surrendering their pets do so because of behavioral issues. Excessive barking is a common behavior problem listed amongst dog owners, but it is not impossible to overcome.

Dogs, puppies especially, learn good (or bad) behaviors by watching the dogs around them. At Bark + Boarding, we understand that excessive barking is one of those make-or-break issues for a lot of dog owners and we help to greatly reduce this problem by providing a consistent and healthy environment for your dog to practice good behavior.

Practice makes perfect! Bringing your dog to daycare starting at an early age not only trains your dog more efficiently on how to behave, but is the best way to ensure that your puppy gets a Green Dog pass during our daycare evaluation service.

Even if your dog already has a longstanding barking problem, don’t fret! There is still hope for your precious pup. Here are the top reasons why doggy daycare might be the solution for your rowdy Rover:

  1. Good Examples: Even older dogs can learn better behavior more quickly by observing other dogs receiving praise and rewards.
  2. Positive Energy Release: At doggy daycare, your dog will be entertained and exercised all day, making for a happily spent dog when you bring him home.
  3. Making Friends: Another common reason for excessive barking is that your dog feels threatened by the presence of other animals and people. Socialization at a daycare center is a great way to overcome aggression issues.
  4. Hanging Out With the Pack: Some dogs suffer from separation anxiety, whether due to past abuse or simply feeling lonely during the day. Even a couple of days a week at daycare could help relieve your dog’s depression or distress.
  5. Consistency: Any type of dog training or re-training relies on all the humans they interact with having consistent behavioral expectations and following through with rebukes. At a daycare your dog will be supervised by knowledgeable staff who have the skills to work with your dog.

Keep in mind, it’s not just barking to keep an eye on. Sometimes your pet may growl, hide, or nip as a way of finding his comfort zone. At Bark + Boarding we pay attention not only to barking but also to general body language (i.e. a tail between the legs).

While other daycares may instantly reject a dog for seemingly aggressive behaviors, we know the difference between threatening behaviors and nervous behavior and give your dog time calm down and get used to the environment.

That way, your pup first gets acclimated and comfortable with our staff and environment and knows it’s a safe place. Then we can conduct our evaluation at their pace to introduce them to their new four-legged friends!

If you have a question about your pet’s behavior, feel free to email [email protected] If you, your pet and behavior are featured in an article, you will receive $10 off any of our services!

by ARLnow.com Sponsor May 30, 2017 at 5:55 pm 0

The following bi-weekly column is written and sponsored by Bark & Boarding, which provides a heart-centered and safe environment for your pets. Conveniently located at 5818-C Seminary Road in Bailey’s Crossroads, Bark & Boarding offers doggy daycare, boarding, grooming, walking and training services, plus in-home pet care.

By Rae Patterson, Writer and Animal Enthusiast

Dog training can be time-consuming and frustrating on your own, but it can also be as simple as letting your pet play. At Bark & Boarding, we take pet playtime seriously. Why? Just imagine: You’re finally home after a long day. You open the door to see your cozy living room destroyed. All because your dog just needed playtime.

In a 2014 study, researchers at Bristol University proved that dogs need to play for the sake of both their physical and mental health. Pet playtime and good behavior are directly related.  Our pets retain natural instincts that drive them to chew, chase, catch, and shake. These are all behaviors that a wild dog would need to survive, and our cuddly pets are still Nature’s animals.

Most people expect notoriously active breeds like Boxers or Rat Terriers to need extensive exercise. However, “non-athletic” breeds need it too. Veterinarians agree that all dogs need at least 30 minutes of exercise daily.

According to dog behavior psychologist, Lizi Angel, just as exercise also benefits mental health in humans, “daily physical activity directly and beneficially affects [a] dog’s brain chemistry,” making your dog less stressed and generally happier.

There are many options that are enjoyable for both you and your dog: taking your dog on brisk walks, hikes, swims, or trips to the dog park are essential for any dog to get regular exercise.

Careful though, as Angel points out, “A dog’s main form of exercise shouldn’t be aimed at tiring the dog out so that it has no energy left to ‘misbehave’; it should primarily be about changing the dog’s mood for the better.”

Play, in general, is mainly about your dog’s mind. The Bristol University study revealed that dogs also need interactive and mentally stimulating games. In fact, they attribute up to 22 common behavioral issues, including anxiety, aggression, pulling on the leash, whining and not coming when called, to dogs who don’t get enough play time.

Games such as fetch, tug-of-war, and practicing tricks are beneficial for stimulating and bonding with your dog. When you’re away from home, try providing your dog with tasty or interactive chew toys both a non-destructive and instinct-satisfying way for your dog to occupy the time.

Bark & Boarding’s dog daycare program creates opportunities for exercise and mentally stimulating play time with humans, toys and other dogs throughout the day so that your dog remains your best friend in the end! Learn more at Barkandboarding.com

by ARLnow.com Sponsor May 15, 2017 at 3:00 pm 0

The following bi-weekly column is written and sponsored by Bark & Boarding, which provides a heart-centered and safe environment for your pets. Conveniently located at 5818-C Seminary Road in Bailey’s Crossroads, Bark & Boarding offers doggy daycare, boarding, grooming, walking and training services, plus in-home pet care.

When I first moved here six years ago from Brooklyn, N.Y., somewhere along the way my cats picked up fleas. With no money in my pocket, I had to deal with the issue myself instead of taking them to a professional. If you’ve never experienced giving three cats a flea dip, I don’t recommend trying. I was sure a neighbor would call the police to report a horrible crime was taking place from the sound of my cats’ yowling!

Cats by nature are clean animals. If you’re a cat owner, you know the two activities cats spend most of the day doing are sleeping and grooming.

So if cats are constantly grooming their fur, why do most of them dislike water?

Cats and Water

Although no one knows for certain, there are theories on why they freak out over a bath. When a cat’s fur gets wet, it feels heavier, making them very uncomfortable. Cats are naturally skittish and don’t care for surprises or change. When a cat is uncomfortable they’re not happy and won’t hesitate to let you know with a swift scratch or a piercing bite. Another reason is with wet fur, a cat experiences a loss of body heat, especially for those cats living in colder climates.

Another possibility is due to a cat’s sense of smell being up to 100,000 times stronger than ours. Perhaps they can smell the other nutrients or chemicals in our tap water and rebel against having that scent imbedded in their coats.

My personal favorite theory is that cats evolved from felines living in dry warm areas of the world, such as Egypt, and therefore saw very little water. As they evolved, water was something they never got used to.

Not all cats have a fear of water. Chimi, my first cat, often crawled into the shower with me to let the water run down on him. If a toilet seat were left up, I would find him sitting inside like it was his own personal bathtub. When I would run any tap in sinks he would crawl under the tap and submerge his head. He was an extraordinary feline, however, there are breeds of cats, such as the Turkish Van, often called the “swimming cat,” that love being in water.

If You Must…

Most cats don’t require baths on a regular basis, but if you must, here are a few tips for fellow cat owners:

  • Don’t add anything to the water like scented bubble bath or oils. Make sure the      water is warm and run the sink or bath before getting them in the tub. The sound of running water can add to their fear. Don’t rinse them under a running tap. Instead use a cup to rinse them after shampooing.
  • Stroke and talk to them in a soothing calm voice during the process.
  • Place a towel on the bottom of the sink or tub for them to stand on so they won’t feel as if they could slip.
  • Use a shampoo made specifically made for cats. Make sure it is unscented.

Consult a Professional

If you find your cat has fleas or needs a bath for other reasons, the best advice is take them to a professional. Our groomer, Lux, is amazing at grooming cats and has taught me how to handle them for any future baths, brush outs or nail trims to avoid potential emergency room visits. I sure could have used her advice six years ago.

By Sara Schabach-In-Home Pet Sitting Manager and Company Writer

If you have a question about your pet’s behavior, feel free to email [email protected]. If you, your pet, and behavior are featured in an article, you will receive $10 off any of our services.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor May 1, 2017 at 1:30 pm 0

The following bi-weekly column is written and sponsored by Bark & Boarding, which provides a heart-centered and safe environment for your pets. Conveniently located at 5818-C Seminary Road in Bailey’s Crossroads, Bark & Boarding offers doggy daycare, boarding, grooming, walking and training services, plus in-home pet care.

At Bark + Boarding, we’ve established a daycare evaluation process that works effectively. It’s a color-coded grading system to evaluate dogs on their first day of daycare. Green dogs are easy passes, while yellow dogs are those attendants need to watch more closely. Red is a dog that is currently not a good fit for our daycare environment.

What kinds of behaviors are we looking for and what does this grading system focus on?

Questions Before the Evaluation

Before we take your dog to the daycare area to begin the evaluation, we ask each client a series of questions. What are your reasons for daycare? Does your dog have off-leash social history? How old are they? Does your dog have resource guarding issues when sharing toys or food? Although we don’t allow food or toys in daycare, it tells us your dog could possibly become aggressive in other situations.

Does your dog have a strong prey drive? Most dogs see a squirrel or bunny and want to take chase. We want to make sure your dog knows the difference between a small dog and other small animals.

When they are upset, do they whine, bark or growl? It tells us if they listen when they’re being corrected on behaviors such as humping,  rough-housing, resource guarding or barking. If your dog listens to daycare attendants when being corrected on a certain behavior or moves on to another dog if the dog they first approach for play doesn’t wish to join in the fun, these are signs of a submissive dog. The more submissive the dog, the higher the score.

Green Dog

Green dogs are characterized as being easygoing, friendly, balanced, playful, and responsive to social cues with humans and other dogs. Generally speaking, the younger the dog, the more “green” they will be.  If you adopt a puppy and plan on using daycare, the sooner you bring them in, the more likely they will be successful in daycare. Puppies learn behavior from watching other dogs and daycare is the perfect puppy preschool.

Yellow Dog

Yellow dogs will exhibit behaviors like rough playing, humping, snapping, occasionally challenging authority, excessive barking, and/or door guarding. These are the dogs our attendants watch closely. Frequently, a yellow dog can become a green dog just by going to daycare on a regular basis.

Like puppies, they learn from observing the dogs who listen, are friendly, don’t get corrected as often and in return, gain more rewards with affection and attention from daycare staff. We encourage yellow dog owners to work on certain behaviors at home as well as making the commitment of frequent visits to daycare and dog parks.

Red Dog

This is a dog that isn’t right for a daycare environment at the time of evaluation. They growl, snap, bite and lunge at other dogs or humans. Raised haunches are another sign of aggression.

The first thing you should know, there is nothing wrong with your dog. Not all dogs are good daycare candidates. We give clients advice on how to change negative behavior, including suggestions on training classes. As an alternative to daycare, we offer in-home visits or recurring mid-day visits.

Our staff takes pride in working with dogs that need extra time or training. And won’t give up on dogs we believe can improve.

“If I have the slightest inkling that a dog can be molded into daycare material, I will take the time to work with them one-on-one as well as in the pack,” says Bark + Boarding daycare manager John Kasinger. “No dog is a hopeless case. They just need extra attention.”

In fact, we love dogs that need extra help. The work we do with dogs and their owners always seems to pay off and these dogs often become staff favorites. Daycare would not be the same without them.

By Sara Schabach, In-Home Pet Sitting Manager and Company Writer

If you have a question about your pet’s behavior, feel free to email [email protected]. If you, your pet, and behavior are featured in an article, you will receive $10 off any of our services.

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