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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.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor April 17, 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.

We all know your pets seem to understand what it means when a suitcase comes out of the closet. Dogs especially, want to be part of the family and I won’t plan vacations unless my dog can come along.

If your pup isn’t joining the family vacation, you’ll most likely take him for a boarding stay. Here are a few things you can do to ensure your dog’s ready for his next boarding stay.

Boarding Facilities

Before your dog’s stay, visit the facility and ask for a tour. Ask how many staff members will be on-site during your pup’s stay. You want to make sure there are at least 2-3 supervisors in the facility caring for the dogs. Is it a daycare environment during the day? If not, how often do they go out for exercise and for how long?

Another important detail is inquiring into what cleaning supplies, such as disinfectant, they use. Are they pet safe? We use Simple Green disinfectant, an all-natural, animal friendly cleaning product.

Observe how well the boarding facility is organized. Does it look like personal items such as beds, blankets and leashes are clearly marked and feeding instructions obvious? Are employees engaging and affectionate with other dogs? Ask the facility if they provide any social media check ins. Bark + Boarding posts photos and videos twice a day on Facebook so that clients can check in and see their dog while they’re away.

If your dog suffers from crate anxiety, see if they offer an alternative to crating. At Bark + Boarding, we’ve built smaller rooms called “zones” for dogs with crate anxiety.

Trial Run

We recommend doing a trial run before a lengthy stay, especially if your pup is new to the environment. Book a one-night stay and ask the staff to take notes on your dog’s behavior, getting the report when picking up. Because we’re also a daycare facility and your dog will be in daycare during their stay, you should bring her in for a few days of playtime before boarding. This helps your dog to associate the facility with fun and minimizes any feelings of abandonment when they stay the night.

Arrival Day

Bring your dog on the first day of boarding as early as possible. You want to give your pup plenty of time to play before they’re crated or put in the zone for the night. By allowing for extra playtime, your pup will be tuckered out and ready for a good night’s sleep. Arriving close to bedtime can stress your dog out and they won’t get a chance to blow off some of that steam. We feel so strongly about this that we ask clients to drop off your dog before 4 p.m.

What to Bring

You should bring your dog’s usual food. Other boarding facilities may provide food, but we think it’s important to keep your dog on his normal diet with the same feeding schedule as if they’re home. Some dogs find boarding stressful and if not eating their normal diet, it can result in an upset stomach.

Bring along an item from home, such as a small bed, blanket or towel and ask the staff to put it in the crate at night. Smelling a familiar scent from home can be a soothing reminder for your pup. If your dog needs medication, make sure the staff understands the dosage instructions and provide pill pockets or peanut butter if this is how medication is administered at home.

The best way to determine if your dog is happy with your choice of boarding facility is to pay attention to their reaction when you pull up to the front door of the business. If they’re excited, you’ve found a winner. Travel safe!

by ARLnow.com Sponsor April 3, 2017 at 2:15 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.

I first met Saphy, Vega and Boudreau on an in-home registration. It was hard not to fall in love. Saphy, the oldest of the three dogs, is blind and follows you with her nose. Vega is light brown and small. She wears a constant look of concern on her face. Boudreau is the largest dog with dark patches on his white fur and the attention hog of this Pit-bull crew. They’re three of the most wonderful dogs I’ve known and the first I’ve cared for whose meals are based on the trendy raw diet, specifically, Primal Pet Food.

The first thing I noticed about these dogs is how healthy they are. Each is the perfect weight for their frame. All of them have the shiniest fur I’ve ever seen. They’re strong and athletic. Although she can’t see, Saphy jumps around like a puppy at playtime. Their feces are small and compact with no odor. Did their raw diet have anything to do with it?

Raw Diet Theory

The theory behind the raw diet is to feed your cat or dog food closest to what they would be eating if they were still in the wild. All proteins, usually muscle meat often still on the bone and organ meats such as kidneys and livers are 100 percent human grade, meaning the product is legally suitable and approved as nourishment for humans, as well as antibiotic and steroid free. All fruits and veggies, for example, kale, carrots, squash, broccoli and apples are certified organic with no preservatives added.

Benefits for dogs and cats include better intestinal health, healthier teeth and gums, shinier coats, weight loss, smaller amounts of feces with less offensive odors, urinary tract health and increased energy. Using a ready-made product saves you time in preparing meals from scratch and they are complete diets containing all the essential vitamins and minerals your pet needs. The feeding amount is usually smaller per meal meaning less food is needed.

The Decision

Thinking of my pets, I wondered if a raw diet could help one of my cats that’s overweight as well as my beefy dog? Would it improve the overall health of all three of my cats and dog?

When I was told one of the new products our retail store would be carrying was Primal Pet Food, I decided to make the change. Before trying a raw diet with your pet it’s important to first discuss this dietary change with your vet. My own vet was very supportive of my decision, especially for my dog. Your vet can guide you on how to ensure your pet will receive a balanced diet and remain healthy through the transition.

Transitioning to a Raw Diet

It’s important to start your pets off slowly when moving to the raw diet. Read the transition instructions the company provides on the back of the packaging. Each pet’s needs will vary depending on size and how much he or she normally eats. Gradually increase the amount of raw food until your pet is eating a full diet of raw products. Take as much time as your pet needs. The Primal Pet Food website has a great feeding calculator to determine the amount your pet should be fed. If your pet has a sensitive stomach, you may want to give him a digestive enzyme. Speak with your vet about recommended dosage.

Future Results

I begin the transition this week and will keep a journal to report any changes in my pets from their raw food diet. I will share my results over the next few weeks.

If you already use Primal Pet Food products or would like more information, we sell them at competitive prices in our retail store and Bark + Boarding (formerly Dog Paws n Cat Claws) staff will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

 

Sara Schabach
In-Home Pet Sitting Manager and Company Writer

by ARLnow.com Sponsor March 20, 2017 at 2:15 pm 0

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

Our new full-time professional groomer, Lux, has a gift when it comes to working with dogs. When her longtime clients arrive for their appointments, the dogs are clearly happy to see her. As soon as they come in, they pull towards her, jump up to say hello or roll over for their customary tummy rub.

Many dogs don’t find a grooming experience pleasurable and may display severe anxiety upon entering a salon. But when it comes to Lux, every day I witness dogs looking forward to the time they share with her.

“You have to keep calm in order to keep them calm. Pay attention to signs of discomfort or stress and give them a break. Talk to them. Reward them. Give them extra love,” Lux explains.

If you’re the owner of a dog who suffers from grooming anxiety, there are several things you can do to help them become more comfortable with grooming services.

Puppy Grooming

When bringing home a new puppy, Lux suggests, “Take them for a groom before they’re three months old.” The younger the dog, the less chance of them developing a fear of the process as they mature.

Adult Dog Grooming

If you’ve rescued an adult dog you may need to do some introductory training, starting at home. Vetstreet.com’s resident trainer Mikkel Becker advises getting your dog familiar with being touched in sensitive areas before their first grooming appointment, specifically the muzzle, eyes, ears, paws, tail, rear, and groin.

Brush your dog frequently so they’re familiar with how it feels. Go slow at first. Your goal is to make the experience pleasurable for them. Being touched by you — someone they trust — will make them feel more comfortable when handled by a groomer.

Stressful Car Rides

I had a friend whose dog was only taken in the car to go to the vet or a grooming appointment. By only taking him to places where he was poked and prodded, her dog understandably associated the car with bad experiences. Make sure you take your dog for car rides to do fun things, too! This way they won’t automatically associate a car ride with a grooming appointment.

Introduce Them to the Salon

Before their first groom, Lux recommends introducing your dog to the grooming salon. Ask employees to spoil her with attention and give her several treats. When she comes back for the appointment, your dog will associate the salon with treats – something to look forward to!

Another suggestion is to make sure your pup gets 20-30 minutes of exercise right before their appointment. This will tire them out and make it easier for the groomer to finish in a timely manner.

Muzzles and Sedation

You can choose to muzzle your dog, but we recommend purchasing one with holes in the front so the dog can be rewarded with treats. Ask your groomer if they’re willing to give treats for good behavior. Lux is more than willing to oblige to this request from clients.

A dog with a severe case of anxiety may need to be sedated but we urge you to attempt other options before heading to the pharmacy. Try using a homeopathic stress stopper or an Adaptil collar, which contains a calming pheromone. If approved by your vet, try Benadryl and be sure to ask for dosage instructions. Melatonin is also worth trying with your vet’s approval.

Most dogs require regular grooming every 4-6 weeks. Taking the time and effort to get him ready to enjoy the grooming experience will pay off in less stress for you and your dog and make the groomer’s job easier in the end.

Lux is in the office weekly, from Wednesday through Sunday. She grooms cats, too! Call us to book an appointment.

Sara Schabach
In-Home Pet Care Manager

by ARLnow.com Sponsor March 6, 2017 at 1:45 pm 0

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

A few years ago, one of my friends had a rare vacation in which she was unable to take her black Lab, Moonpie, along for the fun. She asked if I could take care of her for the week instead of boarding her. This was before I had a dog of my own and I thought it could be great training for me in becoming a dog owner, something I’d always wanted to experience.

One day, I decided to take her hiking on my favorite trail. When we got to our first manhole cover, instead of walking over it, she detoured around it. I thought it kind of funny so every time we approached another manhole cover, I would observe her behavior. Each time she went out of her way to avoid walking over them.

That night, I spoke with Moonpie’s owner Sonia, and asked about her dog’s little quirk.  She told me, “I know! At some point in time she must have walked over one and maybe it was too hot, or loose or something? Whatever it was, it scared her to death and she thinks manhole covers are the devil now.”

Last year, I was invited to a doggy dip and observed the different ways dogs reacted to a swim in the pool. Some jumped in head first, while others avoided getting too close to the edge. A few clung to their owners in fear. “If a puppy isn’t socialized during the first three months it can increase the risk of behavior problems later in life such as fear, avoidance and aggression,” says veterinarian Dr. Karen Becker.

At Dog Paws n Cat Claws, we recommend introducing a dog to as many different environments as possible. We work with our clients on having a well-rounded dog and to minimize the development of potential fear factors. While socializing your pup with other dogs is important, we think it’s just as important to take socialization a step further.

Introduce Different Environments

When you bring home a puppy or a rescued dog, expose them to as many different environments as possible. Show them how it feels to walk on grass, sand, gravel, pavement, dirt and mud. Lead them into water so they can experience that sensation. Take them outside when it’s raining or snowing to familiarize them with different weather conditions. Because puppies are more malleable, taking them out in different weather conditions can diminish the likelihood of developing a fear of such conditions as they mature.

Taking your dog to unfamiliar buildings is also important. Introduce them to pet friendly buildings and unusual spaces like pet stores, flea markets and outdoor shopping centers, both crowded and sparse.

Put them in your car and visit family and friends who won’t mind having you and your dog over for a visit. Your presence will help ensure your dog’s confidence.

Environmental socialization may be challenging if you bring home an adult dog that already has certain fears or dislikes instilled in him. However, if you expose your dog to these different environments, you will gain valuable insights and can begin to put a counter-conditioning plan into action if needed.

Every dog may react differently to new environments but widening your dog’s environmental socialization will improve your dog’s confidence and make YOU feel more confident the next time you are out together on a new adventure.

Sara Schabach
In-Home Pet Care Manager

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