Having a dog is the best thing that you could have especially when it comes to love and companionship. A dog makes the best cuddle buddy, not to mention how much their loyalty is guaranteed. Your dog is likely to invade every aspect of your life and that includes the space in your house. If you are looking for some order in your house so that, your dog doesn’t drive you crazy by taking over the whole house. It is a good idea to either find a room just for your dog, or a space in one your rooms that is designated just for Fido. How about setting aside a playroom for your dog? That way you will be able to have a little more control with his movements and order in your home. It doesn’t need to be a whole room, in fact, finding the best dog crate for small dogswill work just as great. The following are tips on designing a wag-worthy room for your dog.
1. Find the ideal spot
Finding the perfect place for a dog’s room dependents on the use you intend it for… Is it for play or are you looking for a haven for your pup when you are not around? Also, you have probably observed the spots he is fond of around the house. Use your dog’s behavioral patterns to pick a spot just for him. If he loves to look through the window, a cozy spot with a view would be perfect. Maybe he likes to be in the center of the room where all the action is or perhaps cuddling up in a quiet corner is more his speed. Use that observation to find somewhere suitable to design a space for him.
2. Find a place you can easily monitor your dog
You can never be too sure that the spot you pick offers maximum security. Will, your dog get access to unauthorized areas? Are there breakable things? You need to be sure that even while you are away, your dog will not cause harm to itself or lead to any destruction. Get rid of anything that poses a risk to your furry friend. A soft but sturdy dog bed will ease your pup’s pressure points by not sleeping on a hard surface. A quality dog bed or mat will help him feel safe, secure and comfy.
3. Fix a comfy sleeping spot for your pup!
It does not matter how much you have accessorized his room. Your dog will always be looking for a good spot to nap. You might want to get him a comfortable sleeping spot in the designated space. Most dogs, including your dog, usually prefer an enclosed sleeping space like a crate or an indoor dog house. Also, depending on his preferences, some may prefer a little music and or background sounds to feel comfortable, especially when alone. Remember that dogs require a lot of sleep, especially if they have been active during a long walk or playing with other dogs.
4. Get him some toys
You cannot afford not to have a great collection of toys for your dog. Dogs enjoy playing. You will not be available all the time, and they will need something to keep them busy and ward off boredom. It is also a great way of enhancing your dog’s mental and physical health. While selecting toys for your dog, ensure that they do not pose a threat to the dog and are suited for your dog’s age. Avoid toys that they can easily swallow. A chew toy would be ideal as it will keep him busy all day in your absence. You might also want to try an activity toy: dogs tend to get really fascinated by them and can keep them occupied for hours!
5. Feeding bowl and mat
Once your dog gets used to his room or space, he will be comfortable doing most of his activities from there. That could also include eating. Your dog’s room is a perfect place to keep his, feeding bowl, water, and a mat. Remember to stay stylish and creative, there are so many stylish options to choose from these days. It is advisable to have a glass or stainless steel feeding bowl as they are less likely to attract bacteria if kept clean. A matt will be useful in controlling the tidiness of the room and save your floor from stains.
Regardless of whether your dog has its own room or you have created a space in one of your own rooms, you need to take care of it and make it as homely as possible. It will go a long way in helping your dog feel content, and you can easily be able to train him to enjoy his own special little spot that he can call his own.
One January day a surprise package from Amazon was delivered to my door. Inside were several gifts for my cats and my dog, Angel. There was no name disclosed as the “sender,” but I wish I knew who it was. I want to thank them because the stuffed duck toy inside instantly became Angel’s favorite friend.
This yellow, fuzzy, flat duck with a squeaker inside is about the size of Angel’s shepherd/husky head. She carried it upstairs to my bedroom and placed it on my bed where she sleeps beside me. It has been there ever since, with an occasional accidental tumble to the floor and my duty to retrieve it back to Angel’s side.
Angel uses it as a pillow. She sleeps holding it between her front paws. I have found it tucked between the footboard and mattress. I have seen it sticking out from under her body as she snores. One day it was between her back legs. This duck is definitely her pal for life.
Adopted last year at the age of 11, Angel had no name and no history on record. She was a stray with a variety of health issues and facing euthanasia at a kill shelter. Angels intervened and she was transported by a rescue worker to a shelter 200 miles away. That’s where I met her and fell in love.
For two months she showed no interest in toys. Then one day she relaxed a bit more and picked up a stuffed toy given to her by a young boy who volunteered at the shelter. She showed me that she is skilled at quickly severing the limbs, ears, and tails off of stuffies with her back teeth. She can pluck the stuffing and squeakers out in seconds. (See my story about this stufficide )
This yellow duck, however, is sacred to her and goes unscathed.
Someone who follows my posts about Angel on social media sent us this duck, a gift so perfect it was like divine intervention.
Angel finds comfort in this fluffy critter and sometimes gently chews on it at night, squeaking it before I fall asleep.
“We have favorite things, why shouldn’t our pets?” said Steve Dale, certified animal behavior consultant (CABC) and national radio host. “What makes it a favorite toy likely depends somewhat on the individual pet, but we really don’t know exactly. The texture of the toy will attract a pet to it, and conceivably the smell may also matter. Sometimes, it’s like Linus’ security blanket, presumably giving the pet a feeling of comfort. Sometimes we reinforce the behavior because it’s so cute, and we say that to the pet. Like so many behaviors, we knowingly or unknowingly may contribute just by telling the pet how cute he is, or how wonderful she is.”
I have experienced this toy/pet bond with several other pets over the years.
My cat, Desdemona had a love for little plastic, felt covered mice. Three mice she loved to fetch and retrieve with me for many years. Those mice I eventually placed on a shelf beside her ashes.
My cat, Forest loves a real mink tail toy and for several years he would carry it around the house, losing it in places for me to find and retrieve it.
My Brittany spaniel, Speckles bonded with a large stuffed moose that my mom gave me one Christmas. That moose was as big as Speckles when he was a puppy. He carried it everywhere and slept on it, using it as a pillow. He ripped its ears, tail, antlers, and lips off and I mended and washed that ratty thing countless times. Speckles would watch me toss his moose into the washing machine and wait for it to come out of the drier. Speckles died at the age of 12. The moose I could not part with.
My cat, Jack loved Speckles and he mourned when Speckles passed away. The moose became security for Jack during his sadness and I often found him sleeping near it. My last dog, Trucker, was adopted at age 5 and he also found comfort in that moose. When Trucker died, I had the moose cremated with him.
A friend told me that his Pomeranian, Cody carried around a small stuffed lion toy for 15 years, sucking on its ear. When Cody died, my friend wanted to bury the lion with the dog but he could not find the toy.
It wasn’t until two years later when he brought home a new puppy, a border collie named Toby, that Toby explored his backyard and found the lion under bushes. The dirty, moss-covered lion shocked him as it stuck out of Toby’s mouth. The lion is now sealed in a plastic bag as a memory.
I remember years ago reading a story about a photographer who specialized in capturing images of old, tattered dog toys like these in special locations in order to memorialize pets that had passed away. The images were simple, yet moving. Torn, dirty, frayed toys were placed in a wooded area, or on a park bench or a special chair that the dog used to rest. It spoke volumes to the years that toy was loved.
It’s like an old teddy bear or a comfort blanket that a child used to carry, but now is tucked away in a cedar chest with other mementos.
I have taken many photos of Angel sleeping with her duck on my bed. Sometimes I capture short videos of her squeaking it softly in her mouth. I post them on social media, often with the caption of, “A girl and her duck.” These images alone tell a story and I will continue to share them for others to enjoy.
Angel, a mysterious old dog with no name, ended up at a kill shelter and was routed 200 miles away to cross paths with me, bringing each other comfort. This fuzzy yellow duck mysteriously showed up in a box on our doorstep, crossing paths with Angel and became her comfort. I protect Angel just as I protect this duckie that is so important to her.
I know that my Angel, based on her breed, is in the last years of her life. When she passes away, I plan to have this duck cremated with her so they are together, forever.
Tracy Ahrens is a veteran journalist, author, artist and mom to three rescued cats and one dog. See her web site at www.tracyahrens.weebly.com and add her children’s book, “Sammy Sparrow’s First Flight,” to your collection. All proceeds help 10 humane organizations.
Did you know that dogs have emotions and feelings just like people, and feel happy when they get the love and attention that they deserve? Any dog lover will tell you that happier pets are healthier pets, and we all want a healthy wagging dog.
But how does one go about keeping their pet happy and healthy?
My dog, now 11 years old is truly a happy go lucky beagle. It marvels me each day as I see her jump off my bed every morning ready for breakfast. It starts with a long stretch and a moan, then a little tap dance and finishes off with a wag of a tail ready for breakfast.
Considering I can’t even think in the morning, watching this ritual each day always puts a smile on my face, regardless of the day. It gives me a such as good feeling to know I have a dog that is happy.
Secrets to a Happier Pet
A socialized dog will grow up to be friendly and happy with other animals and people. Which is your first step to a happier pet. It’s important that you take your dog out regularly and expose it to different situations. This way you and your dog can basically go anywhere. A dog can be taught to be social any time, but it’s best to start early.
I started taking Maggie everywhere with me when I first got her at 10 weeks. I would take her to friends houses, dog parks and even to my local. She got to experience different situations and meet lots of other dogs and people.
2. Don’t Spoil the Dog
Dogs want you to be the leader because they have an innate need for social structure and security. Dog’s want you to lead, but if you don’t take that role, then they are going to put their paw forward and take charge. And if you let that happen, well you’re going to get a dog who’s a little out of control.
Dogs are just like kids, and the earlier you set the rules and teach them discipline, the less their chances of becoming a spoilt dog. A happier pet is a dog who understands the rules.
A spoiled dog can cause havoc, such as being aggressive, begging at the table, or running off. Which in turn leaves you frustrated and at times maybe even angry. All this stress confuses a dog and leaves them irritable and confused.
Don’t let the dog train you and thus become a spoiled dog. With Maggie I always kept these rules in place:
I always let Maggie know I am the trainer and not the trainee.
I always make sure that Maggie says please in order to get that new toy or treat.
I control the number of treats and toys until she showed me polite behavior.
I never rewarded Maggie when she showed undesirable behaviors.
In turn, when I do give Maggie a treat, she feels happy and loves her reward.
3. Nurture & Praise
Just like children, dogs need to be nurtured too. I always show Maggie just how much I cherish her. I do this by watching her body language and I communicate back in a loving way. I find this the most rewarding part of my relationship with my dog. It is also important for her welfare and is key to prevent and resolve all manners of problem behaviors. When I respond to Maggie appropriately, this allows her space and keeps her free from stress. Or in simple terms, Maggie knows I understand her, respect her as a dog and of course that I love her too.
Dogs also thrive on praise and compliments, just like you. I always make sure to let Maggie know each and every time she’s doing something that makes me smile. It keeps her motivated and happy.
4. Healthy Eats
To keep your dog healthy it’s important that proper nutrition is available for your pooch. Diet affects everything about your dog. A healthy diet will keep your dog’s skin and coat, weight, energy level and gastrointestinal function in tip-top shape. Make sure you choose a high-quality dog food or learn about homemade diets.
I always make sure Maggie gets the best food possible, and I have been home cooking for her since she was a pup.
A healthy diet is a very important step to a happier pet!
A bored dog is an unhappy dog, simple as that. Rember all dogs were bred for a purpose, and even mixed breeds are still subjected to their genetics. Dogs that lack mental and physical stimulation are often badly behaved.
Considering Maggie is a beagle, I knew that she needed long walks and that she was bred for sniffing out rabbits. To keep her stimulated I made sure we took walks in different locations, and to stimulate her mind I played many games with her that would make her think. Our favorite game was “sniff out the treat”.
All dogs need some degree of grooming. It can be as simple as a good scrub in the tub, nail trims and brushing.
Maggie is a short haired beagle who sheds all year round. I always make sure that she gets a good de-shed bath and brush out and that her dew claws are always nicely trimmed. I also find that when I brush her it’s a great time to check to see if anything is different on her body. It also amazes me how energized she gets from her bath and brush out.
Dogs are great. Those loving little eyes, soft ears, and floppy feet make dogs basically irresistible to love. However, everything has its downside, and dog ownership is no different. When you’re deciding whether or not you’re ready to own a dog, you should weigh the pros and cons and decide if you’re ready. A pup may seem like the perfect, loving addition to your family, but dog ownership has its difficult parts as well.
This is the fun part. Dogs are great, and they offer so many positives to the lives they touch. In fact, the pros are so great that they often greatly outweigh the cons.
Companionship: Dogs are more than wagging tails and wet kisses, they are also amazing companions. They offer friendship, helps us from feeling lonely, and can be a sidekick for any adventure. Dogs are full of love and devotion, and there’s nothing that compares to the love you’ll have with a dog.
Protection: Dogs help people feel safe. Even if you have a small pup as your companion, they are still able to alert you if there is something off. Granted, you may have to train this behavior into your dog as not all of them come with this perk. Still, not being alone can feel safer, and dogs can provide their owners with that sense of security.
Everything has its downsides. Having a dog is so rewarding, but it’s not all walks to the park and playing catch. Dogs are a lot of work, require a lot of your attention, and can cause their owners some heartache.
Training Difficulties: Some dogs can enter your home fully trained and ready to be your loving companion. However, that’s not always the case. You may run into potty training problems, obsessive chewing, barking, digging, or escaping. If you get a dog, you have to be ready to train them — not to mention dealing with the destruction until they are trained.
Lifestyle Changes: Getting a pup means that your life might have to change a bit. Long vacations now need to include bringing your dog, boarding them, or getting a puppy sitter. If you’ve spent all day away from them, you might not be able to make quick plans after work anymore so your pup isn’t home alone for too long. Be sure you’re ready for the lifestyle changes that may need to happen.
Are You Ready For Your New Pup?
You have the pros, you have the cons, and now it’s time to decide if you’re ready.
Providing a Forever Home: It’s important to ask yourself if you’re ready because if you adopt a dog, you need to commit to forever with them. Even if they pee, chew, are hard to train, have health issues, or require a lot of time, you have to commit to working with them. Even if you move or you have a baby, you have to commit to forever for your dog. If you can’t, you’re not ready.
A New Addition to the Family: It’s not just about you; it’s about the whole family. Be sure your whole family is ready for dog ownership before committing to a new fuzzy family member.
Dog Ownership Alternatives: Not being ready for a pup is totally fine. In fact, it’s a lot more responsible to realize that than to realize it after adopting. If you’re not ready, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a pup in your life at all. Ask friends or family members with a dog if you can take them for a weekend, or even just for a few hours to play. Volunteer at your local shelter, foster, or make money by pet sitting in your neighborhood.
Dogs aren’t all cuddles, there are plenty of difficulties that you should consider as well. If you’re ready for the hard parts, you might want to consider plunging into the amazing world of dog ownership. If you’re not, that’s totally OK too. There are plenty of ways to get some puppy love in your life without owning a dog or until you’re ready.
One afternoon I found myself singing to my cat, Forest as I popped open a can of pate to feed him.
I believe that I was singing a rendition of “Surrey with the Fringe on Top” and strategically inserting Forest’s name, such as “When they see Forie comin’ in a surrey.”
As I sang while Forest ate, I stepped into the bathroom (just off the kitchen) and continued my tune. I figured that Forest quit eating and carried on his way.
My cell phone in hand, I exited the bathroom to see him still on the sink watching for me to return. He had been listening to me sing the whole time. I snapped his picture, kissed him and continued my serenade.
I often sing to or around my three cats (Forest, Joan and Jack) and my dog, Trucker Josiah. People have snuck up on me before with a visit to my home, catching me singing to my pets while cleaning the house.
My cats purr when I sing to them. They rub on me, knead their paws, and their whiskers fan forward saying, “I love you.”
Inserting their names into my tunes makes them know I am speaking to them. Even if other words are gibberish to them, they know their names. I also insert their nicknames and they respond.
I would never belt out a loud, scary song. My selections include musical tunes, lullabies, Christmas carols, hymns or a blend of different melodies as the mood strikes me. For each ballad I only sing a few lines or a chorus.
Some classic tunes I’ve altered for serenades include:
Little Bunny Foo Foo – “Little Bunny Foo Foo, Hopping through the Forest, Scooping up the field mice and boppin’ ‘em on the head.”
The Hills are Alive – “The hills are alive with the sound of Jackie!”
Chim Chim Cher-ee – “Chim chim cher-oo! I love you little Forie I love you I do!”
I feel Pretty – “And I pity, any dog that isn’t Truckie today.”
You are My Sunshine – “Please don’t take my Josie away.”
Getting to Know You – “Getting to know Joan, getting to hope Joan likes me too”
My Funny Valentine – “You’re my sunny funny Forie Valentine, my Forest-ita Valentine”
Then we have originals, such as:
Hairy Nipples – “Forie’s got some hairy nipples, he’s a hairy nippled boy!”
Crunch-itas – “Crunch-itas – little crunchy crunchies.”
I also must note a special “Happy Birthday Dance” jingle that is performed yearly to commemorate each of their births.
Sometimes I’ll pause during a melody and invite them to join me, but my “Sing it to me Forie!” is usually met with a blank stare and silence.
I’ve conducted singing experiments before, while lying across my bed or on the living room floor. Sure enough, if I sing and they are in the room, they gather next to me for petting and kisses.
In my observation, my cats react to singing like I am their mother purring, comforting them as she did when they were babies.
My dog responds by associating my gentle touch, hugs and kisses with my voice. Trucker relaxes, lies down, closes his eyes and starts to sleep. As his hearing has faded with age, I often sing to him while lightly pressing my lips to his head so he can feel the vibration of my voice.
I have tested this singing reaction with other people’s pets that I have babysat, and with my mom’s cats when I visit her. If they have never heard singing in person, the reaction can bring a little hesitation – but once they associate touch with voice they seem to relax.
As aforementioned, cleaning the house usually makes me break out in song. Songs gather a furry audience.
I recall one day when I was on my knees cleaning the kitchen floor. I was singing random tunes and inserting Forest’s name. I looked up to see him lying in the kitchen entryway, sleeping.
Another time while I was cleaning the floor and singing, Forest appeared across the room on a chair. Who knows how long he was resting there, purring, watching me like a talent scout.
A quick online search revealed that I’m not alone in my desire to sing to my pets.
According to the American Animal Hospital Association‘s Ninth Annual Pet Owner Survey, 65 percent of pet owners sing and/or dance before their pets. Some, they say, “have created little jingles they sing to their pets at suppertime.”
Google “singing calms pets” and you’ll find that singing is recommended by veterinarians and pet behaviorists. Animals are soothed by specific tones and pitches. Special CDs of songs exist just for cats and dogs.
My playlist of “originals” continues to grow. Perhaps I should start recording these tunes and playing them for my pets when I am not home. Maybe I have a hit single for a recording industry niche?
One thing is certain, at my house I’m a celebrity singer. There is always an attentive furry audience and that’s what matters most.
Tracy Ahrens is a veteran journalist, author, artist and mom to three rescued cats and one dog. See her web site at www.tracyahrens.weebly.com and add her children’s book, “Sammy Sparrow’s First Flight,” to your collection. All proceeds help 9 humane organizations.