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by ARLnow.com Sponsor February 19, 2018 at 1:45 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 Lisa Stolaruk, Writer and Animal Enthusiast

Daisy, my childhood companion and protector, was a sweet and loving Maltese/Wire-Haired Terrier blend who was the absolute light of my young life.

She was my “velcro dog” whose sole purpose of existence was to ensure that I was always safe and happy. Yet, life with Daisy was not without its challenges, particularly when friends prepared to leave the house. At the first sign of departure, which was usually marked by rising from their seated position, Daisy would begin barking aggressively, charging toward them and retreating and guarding the front door.

She never barked when people came into the house, but her aggressive behavior when they tried to leave was not only frightening but baffling.

Why and how did Daisy develop this odd behavior? No one will ever know for sure, but it’s safe to assume that the lack of proper socialization as a young pup somehow provided the foundation for the problem.

Three weeks to three months of age is the optimal time for a pup to bond to other animals and individuals, to learn that objects, people and environments are safe, and to recognize the meaning of body cues and signals from others. Puppies who are not adequately socialized during this period may become fearful of unfamiliar people, dogs, sounds, objects and/or environments.

Why Socialize your Puppy?

Your pup’s entire environment is new, strange and unusual, so consider everything he encounters as an opportunity to make a positive association.

Try to come up with as many different types of people, places and noises as you can and slowly expose your puppy to them. If possible, have him walk on carpet, hardwood, tile and linoleum floors. Have him meet an older person, a child or teenager, a person wearing sunglasses, a man with a beard or wearing a hat, a person using crutches. Expose him to vacuums and brooms, cars, buses and trucks.

Be creative and make each experience positive. Always reward your pup with plenty of praise and treats when he reacts to new situations in a calm and curious manner. (more…)

by ARLnow.com Sponsor February 5, 2018 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.

By Lisa Stolaruk, Writer and Animal Enthusiast

Enhancing for your cat’s mental well-being is just as critical as providing for its physical welfare. Ensuring your cat’s mental and emotional needs are met helps to promote a more fulfilling life, fewer behavioral issues and encourages the two of you to forge a stronger bond.

Safe Play is Fun Play

Whatever types of enrichment you choose for your cat, make sure your cat plays safely. It’s well known that cats love strings. Yarn, ribbon, tinsel, thread, twine, shoelaces, rubber bands, hair ties and cords are all prime targets for a cat’s stalking, pouncing and thrashing instincts. Unfortunately, these are all very dangerous items for your cat to play with.

If you’ve ever had a cat lick you, you’re aware of how rough the feline tongue feels. The reason for this is that a cat’s tongue is covered with backwards-facing barbs. These barbs are useful when cats groom themselves, because they make pulling out loose fur much easier. In the wild, the barbs would also help pull meat from bones.

Due to the direction they face, the barbs on a cat’s tongue do not allow a cat to spit anything out once it is caught on the tongue. Items such as yarn or string are easily snagged on the barbs, and quickly swallowed. The result? A possible intestinal blockage requiring emergency surgery.

Self-Play Toys

Self-play toys are those that your cat can play with on their own. Toys that encourage chasing and pouncing are typically the most enjoyable for cats. Some simple and inexpensive options are cardboard boxes, large paper bags (with the handles removed for safety) and crumpled-up pieces of paper.

Other commercial items to consider are Savvy Tabby Wild Time Catnip Mouse toys and Kong Incline Scratchers which are both sold at Bark + Boarding. Remember to observe your cat after you give it a new toy to make sure your cat is playing in a safe manner.

Interactive Toys

Interactive toys help strengthen the bond between you and your cat by letting you share fun and positive experiences. Both you and your cat can have a great time playing with wand-type toys with strings, feathers or fabric strips attached. A variety of wand toys are sold at Bark + Boarding including Neko Flies Wands and Savvy Tabby Tickle Teaser Wands. (more…)

by ARLnow.com Sponsor January 22, 2018 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.

Click here to check out our short (approx 60 second) video about this article!

By Lisa Stolaruk, Writer and Animal Enthusiast

I remember vividly the first time I dropped my dog off for daycare at Bark + Boarding in Baileys Crossroads, VA. While aware that every dog undergoes a thorough and comprehensive evaluation process whereby trained daycare staff gauge their reaction to other dogs of various sizes, breeds and temperaments, I was admittedly a nervous “dog mom.”

Imagine my delight as I spied her romping and playing enthusiastically with a Vizsla easily twice her size and a small Bichon Frise trying to join in the action! It was also comforting to see two daycare attendants weaving in and out of the playgroups, ever watchful and ready to intervene the moment a dog gets a bit rowdy or overly excited.

The owners, managers and staff of daycare facilities such as Bark + Boarding understand the importance of integrating dogs of all shapes and sizes and have implemented safeguards to ensure that all dogs under their care experience an enjoyable and secure environment. Legislation introduced by Virginia Delegate David Yancey (R-Newport News) would undermine these efforts if signed into law.

House Bill 79 requires that an employee be present when one dog has physical contact with another dog and imposes weight restrictions and limits on the number of dogs in playgroups. For example, the proposed bill stipulates that there can be no more than five dogs in a group of dogs that weigh between 15 and 29 pounds, and no more than two dogs in a group of dogs that weigh more than 75 pounds. In all, the bill would require a minimum of five separate playgroups, with each group being supervised by a staff member.

“There is no evidence that combining dogs of different sizes is unsafe or puts the dogs at risk. In fact, we found the opposite to be true,” says Ryan Fochler, owner of Bark + Boarding. When Fochler first added dog daycare to his business, he segregated the dogs into three distinct playgroups based on size. “Altercations were quite common, particularly among the small dog group.” Fochler sensed there was a better way and began slowly integrating the groups. It worked.

“Dogs that are of similar temperament and personality is what’s important, not size. Creating an environment that minimizes risks and making sure the dogs feel secure, unthreatened and comfortable in that environment” is the key to success, according to Fochler.

If passed, the legislation would have a profound impact on daycare companies in Virginia and potentially animal rescues as well. The cost of renovating existing facilities and hiring and training additional daycare staff to supervise multiple playgroups would be prohibitive to small business owners, clients and rescues. “We’d be forced to close our doors,” says Fochler. “The real losers would be the dogs who would no longer benefit from the social, emotional and physical benefits that supervised group play and interaction provide.”

Pet service companies, rescues and interested citizens are encouraged to contact Bark + Boarding at 703.931.5057 or [email protected] for additional information and guidance on opposing the legislation.

Mention this article for a FREE evaluation and click here to sign up for one today! If you have a question about your pet, feel free to come in, or email [email protected].

by ARLnow.com Sponsor January 8, 2018 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.

Click here to check out our short (approx 60 second) video about this article!

By Colleen Corrigan, Writer and Animal Enthusiast 

Not only did Santa Claus come to town, but he also brought all the cold weather with him! While we focus on keeping our families safe and warm, don’t forget about the safety and welfare of your precious pet.

Here are some easy ways to keep your pet safe, happy and cozy in the cold:

  • Keep their paws free of road salt and ice:  Salt and ice on roads can irritate your dog’s feet and cause tummy troubles if ingested.  Clean their paws of caustic salt and ice when returning from a walk to avoid abrasions and discourage licking.  Bark + Boarding sells Kin + Kind Nose & Paw moisturizer, made with premium jojoba oil and shea butter, to keep paw pads soft and protect them against the cold weather elements.
  • Don’t forget the exercise:  Dogs need exercise year round, even in frigid temperatures. To maintain the physical and mental well-being of your four-legged friend, find some time for a quick run or game of fetch. If the weather is too cold, doggy daycare is the perfect answer! Bark + Boarding provides year-round doggy daycare so your pup can romp and play to his heart’s content in a temperature-controlled and supervised environment.
  • Don’t slack on grooming: Dogs whose coats get easily matted have a harder time drying out after being in the snow and cold rain. It’s a good idea to stick to your regular grooming schedule during the winter months for the comfort of your pooch.
  • Be mindful of time spent outdoors: Short-haired pets that have less natural insulation and short-legged pets who are closer to the ground will become colder more quickly. Additionally, elderly dogs and dogs with compromised immune systems may have a harder time regulating their body temperatures. Taking shorter, more frequent walks is a great solution for both humans and canines in sub-freezing temps.
  • Consider canine clothing:  For dogs that are not fortunate enough to have thick warm fur in the winter, or seem uncomfortable when the temperature drops, consider a dog sweater or coat for added warmth. It’s a great idea to have more than one garment handy so your pup never has to wear damp or wet clothing which can actually make him colder.
  • Hide the antifreeze:  Antifreeze is toxic and poisonous to animals. Pets are drawn to its sweet flavor and even small amounts can be lethal. Check under your vehicles for leaks and store antifreeze containers in a safe place.

We want our pets to be happy, safe and comfortable year round, and winter is no exception! For more tips and resources contact Bark + Boarding.

Mention this article for a FREE evaluation and click here to sign up for one today! If you have a question about your pet, feel free to come in, or email [email protected].

by ARLnow.com Sponsor December 24, 2017 at 9:00 am 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.

Click here to check out our short (approx 60 second) video about this article!

By Colleen Corrigan, Writer and Animal Enthusiast 

The holidays bring happiness, family, friends and cheer and we want our pets to be able to enjoy them just as much as we do. Pet stress can be at an all-time high during the holidays for a lot of reasons including strangers in the home, a variety of new food smells, other pets, small children, etc. Here are some ways you can make sure your pet has just as much fun as you during this time.

  1. Provide a safe place. Start ahead of time with your dog, planning and “training” them to be in a safe space such as a quiet bedroom, warm basement or a familiar kennel. This gives your pet a safe retreat during the holiday commotion. If your home will be particularly full of loud, boisterous holiday company, boarding at a familiar facility can be a safe and comfortable option. At Bark + Boarding our pet boarding service ensures your dog gets the food, exercise and camaraderie needed to keep them happy and healthy.
  2. Dont push: Many dogs are not terribly social with people outside of their immediate family, especially when they are in the dog’s territory. Don’t force your dog to interact with new people or other animals. Allow your dog to go to the new people on his own at his own pace. Also never let young children your dog doesn’t know grab and hug her.
  3. Move or block access to presents: If your dog loves ripping into things, don’t tempt him with several presents under a tree. Instead hide the presents until the big day or put a fence around the base of the tree restricting access to the presents.
  4. Keep decorations out of reach: Blinking lights, shiny objects, garland, etc. can be mistaken by your dog for toys. She may end up chewing on them, clawing at them or swallowing them altogether. Make sure that decorations are out of reach for your pets to keep them safe.
  5. Train for restraint: Expecting your pet to have a great deal of restraint when it comes to all the holiday food, toys and people is not reasonable. Without prior training, yelling “leave it” at your dog has no meaning to him. Start as early as possible training him not to steal the food, jump on the guest or chew the shoe.

Keeping your pets happy, safe and healthy during the holidays is important and definitely doable. If you start early enough, plan, ask the right people for help if needed, you can ensure that this time of year is not stressful for them. Want more tips, boarding or a pet evaluation? Reach out to us at [email protected] with any questions. Happy holidays!

Mention this article for a FREE evaluation and click here to sign up for one today! If you have a question about your pet, feel free to come in, or email [email protected].

by ARLnow.com Sponsor December 11, 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.

Click here to check out our short (approx 60 second) video about this article!

Colleen Corrigan, Writer and Animal Enthusiast

As much as we love being with our pets, when it comes to traveling during the holidays it’s worth considering what is best for your dog or cat. Our pets are creatures of habit and taking them out of their routines and familiar environments can be quite stressful, sometimes resulting in behavioral or medical problems.

At Bark + Boarding we are committed to providing owners and pets with a safe and supportive environment.  Here are some things we’d like to share about leaving your pet in competent hands while you head out for the holidays without your furry family member.

No Place Like Home

Cats definitely prefer to stay home. Change is hard on our felines and the stress of introducing them to new people in an unfamiliar place can cause problems such as urinating, clawing and relentless meowing.

At Bark + Boarding we make sure your cat is cared for by one of our trained pet care professionals who will visit your cat in your home and provide  just the right amount of attention and affection.

Lots of affection and attention

Dogs are very social creatures, but each is uniquely their own and some just need that special one on one connection whether it’s due to age, anxiety, medical issues or their particular breed.

Whatever the reason you prefer to keep your dog at home, in-home pet care professionals are trained to provide the best care possible for your dog where they have the comfort of their own bedding, toys, sights and smells. He or she should make sure your dog gets plenty of attention with play and gentle petting and of course, fresh air with a walk included during every visit.

Tell a pet-sitter about your pet

What is their favorite toy?  Where should they never be touched? Where are his hiding places? Share these details with your pet-sitter  and they will take it from there. Your pet will thank you for helping them communicate their wants and needs.

Stay, Play, Eat and Sleep Overnight

 Dogs who crave a lot of interaction will certainly benefit from running, playing and socializing to their heart’s content. You will be more relaxed, knowing your dog’s stay at a boarding facility like Bark + Boarding is full of constant care and attention in a safe, secure, clean environment with plenty of humans supervising his feedings, sleep and schedule.

Make sure it’s the right place for your dog

Some dogs are not suited for socializing with other dogs, therefore many reputable boarding facilities will require an evaluation of their temperament before they can stay. The ultimate goal is for all dogs to be able to play together safely and freely.

Some facilities, like Bark + Boarding, offer outdoor play time as well. Supervised play and exercise allows for all that energy to burn off making it less stressful for your dog to adjust to his new surroundings and sleep deeply after a full day of activities.

Bring your dog’s personal belongings for a smooth transition

Your dog adjusts better to being away from home with his personal belongings tucked in where he sleeps overnight. When you drop him off to board, bring a familiar blanket or toy to help him settle in.

It’s also important to bring enough of your dog’s food for the entire duration of his stay, and consider leaving some extra just in case your travel plans change. Eating his regular food will help prevent any digestive distress while you’re away.

Whether you’ll be away for one day or several, consider the options that are best for your furry friend. We hope the holidays are more happy than hectic and all of us at Bark + Boarding are here to offer peace of mind while you are away.

Mention this article for a FREE evaluation and click here to sign up for one today! If you have a question about your pet, feel free to come in, or email [email protected].

by ARLnow.com Sponsor November 27, 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.

Click here to check out our short (approx 60 second) video about this article

Colleen Corrigan, Writer and Animal Enthusiast

From barking, to whimpering and whining and drooling, a dog’s begging tactics can be disruptive, confusing and even frustrating; yet begging can be very effective for the dog in getting what she wants. If they stare at our food long enough with those big, brown eyes looking oh so forlorn, or pant and pace back and forth throughout our dinnertime, or paw at us incessantly, they may just get a bite of that juicy steak.

Our cats and dogs learn to beg from us. Giving this form of attention when we are eating however, conditions them to expect it and become demanding.  We cave, they get some food, and just like that — the begging behavior continues.

The good news is since we taught our furry companions to beg, then we can certainly teach them not to.  Here are some methods we at Bark + Board recommend that can change your little beggar into a respectful companion who knows her table manners, so you can enjoy your meal in peace.

Don’t feed your dog from the table in the first place. When you bring a new dog into your home, start the relationship with the ground rule that the dog has her own food and will not be fed human food. It might be hard getting everyone in the house to agree. Sure, lots of kids–and grown ups–have slipped their unwanted vegetables to the family pooch. But if you don’t want a dog that begs, then everyone in your home must agree about this.

Besides, a lot of what we eat is not good for dogs. Telling your children and family that it could make your dog very sick or cause weight gain and health problems may help them to enforce the no feed rule with you.

Use the crate. As you work to break the begging habit and insure that other members of the household don’t feed your dog during mealtimes, you can try putting her in her crate away from where you are eating. This might be tough to do at first, but give yourself a break, acknowledge yourself for how well she is fed and cared for and that for the next 20 minutes or so while you eat, she will be just fine in her crate. Bark + Boarding carries a variety of crate sizes ranging from XS to XXL. Mention this column to get 15% off your new crate. (more…)

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.

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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.

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