The Perfect Pet Portrait? It CAN Be Done

You LOVE your dog, right? Of course you do, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading my blog right now! We do so much for our canine companions while they are with us from feeding them a correct diet to spending hundreds a year on toys.  We also like to feed into our own emotional attachment with them through taking them on vacations, taking photos of them and placing these photos in special pet-themed frames. One thing that is missing, though is the ability to immortalize your dog through an individual, 100% original and unique pet portrait by a talented NYC artist. That is about to change…

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The above photo is a high quality original oil painting on canvas by one of the talented NYC artists through www.commission.nyc  This website helps to connect pet lovers with artists so that you can have the one piece of doggy love that you just don’t have – your dog’s very own custom portrait.

How do you get one of these, you say?  First go here and check out the site. You will find the mission statement under the “How It Works” tab at the top.  Not only do they claim to bring high quality pet portraits to pet owners, but each one is commissioned by a professional New York City artist. That is something you are not going to find on Etsy.com!

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Art takes time and cannot be rushed. These professional artists know this, and once commissioned begin with simple sketches. Finding the right portrait to bring through more than just your dog’s look but his personality, love and affection is a priority.  Traditional painting methods, when done right, will show a much higher quality than any digital painting. More love and sweat goes into it (not literally!) and when the finished product is ready you will want to reach into the canvas to pat your dog on the head.

Why go with this website? Why not commission your own artist on your own terms?  Much like any other website that brings together sellers and buyers commission.nyc will guide the entire process and make it so much easier on YOU!  Of course you will need to send in photos of your dog for the artist to view and get inspiration from.  The people behind the website, which are all artists, will help communication get through between you and your commissioned artist for your dog’s portrait.  It’s convenience and quality all rolled into one beautiful mission!

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More than just convenience, they will also help to match the right artist for the right pet owner. All artists have their own style, and some styles can really make certain dogs pop out of the canvas!  It takes all the guesswork out of picking out the right artist for every job.

Once the deed is done and your dog’s portrait is in your hands, the work of commission.nyc does not end. They don’t drop the portrait into your care and ignore any further concerns or comments you may have. Great customer service makes sure you are fully and completely happy with your end product and the entire experience!

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Now you can get $75 OFF your pet’s portrait when you use promo code NatDogs2015 for a LIMITED TIME ONLY!

What You Need To Know About Your Dog & Arthritis

by Kimberly LeMaster

Your dog is your best furry friend, right? If he is, then caring for him when arthritis and other joint conditions, including hip dysplasia may require extra attention to certain areas. Supplements, exercises and vet care all play a great role in helping your dog’s stiff joints become a little more comfortable, but there are other things you can do in your own home that will make a big difference in your dog and his special care.

Changes in Home Care

Before you decide to help your dog up off the floor every time his joints lock up and his hind end slides out from under him, you can help him to help himself! If your dog is struggling on your hardwood floors you can help him with special doggy socks with soft rubber grippers on the bottom. Socks are made from a variety of manufacturers and can be found both online and in your local pet store. Even some department stores carry doggy socks! The socks are snug but comfortable and let your dog with joint problems or even hind end weakness to get himself up off the floor after his daytime snooze.dog_animal_cute

It can take your dog some time to get used to his new socks on his paws, but once he does there will be no slowing him down! Another comfort that will help a dog with arthritis and especially large dogs with painful joints is a special bed just for their condition! Dog beds are available that come with foams and even gels within its structure that provides support, comfort and even pain relief for sore and stiff joints.

If you enjoy sitting on the floor at your canine’s level, then the two of you may enjoy a few little exercises to help your dog’s joints stay more fluid in movement and can bring pain relief. With your dog in the down position and on his side, gently but firmly hold his paw on his back leg and slowly push it towards his stomach and allow the leg to relax back into normal position. You can do this a few times on each leg up to twice a day. You can do the same with your dog’s forelegs, but instead of lifting towards his stomach, you will lift towards his chin. Don’t force his legs to go if you feel resistance or if your dog seems to be in pain.

Supplements for Joints

Your dog doesn’t have to have joint pain to enjoy the benefits of supplements. It’s not uncommon to hear of a pet owner who competes with their dogs beginning joint supplements as early as 8 months of age! This is because the supplements used are safe, effective and all natural!

Fish oil is a popular choice to help a dog’s joints to stay healthy or as a therapy for dogs with joint diseases like arthritis. High in omega-3 fatty acids, salmon oil is a popular choice and is sourced from wild Alaskan salmon. It has been reported to have anti-inflammatory effects and can reduce pain in the joints of dogs, from arthritic seniors to hard working cow dogs or agility competitors.

dogs_dog_animalA veterinarian’s choice supplement for a dog in need of joint repair, even for dysplastic canines is glucosamine with chondroitin and MSM. Many manufactured joint supplements on the market come with all three combined in a flavored tablet for your dog to enjoy. These three, when combined, will help to rebuild lost cartilage in the joints and protect them from further damage. You can’t go wrong with this combination!

Get Creative!

Your dog is relying solely on you to provide comfort, pain relief and health care so that he can remain happy and healthy. Not all dogs will tolerate socks, and some dogs refuse to sleep in any other bed than your own! That’s okay! It just means you need to put on your thinking cap and get creative on other ways you can help your dog, such as putting down rugs on your slippery floor or doggy steps leading to your bed. Don’t give up, your pooch is depending on you!

All Ground Meat & A Paw Full of Coconut!

Every week a new batch of doggy dinners are made up for the 3 furkids. This batch is made up of using only ground meats and some high quality supplements that I can’t wait to talk about.

First, you need 2 pounds of ground meat. This go around I have grass fed angus beef and natural turkey!

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Secondly, you need some super-supplements!

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This particular supplement by TaylorHappy has quickly turned into my go-to for glucosamine and MSM. It includes some other helpful and even required nutrients for dogs. If you have’t seen it already, check out my review on this product!

Next, all complete doggy meals require some form of organ meat. However, seeing as organ meat can be pretty time consuming chopping up, especially liver, I sometimes like to supplement fresh, raw liver with this handy-dandy super supplement called Super Gravy! Don’t let the title of this item fool you – it’s not animal fat and flour. Actually, it’s main contents are made up from concentrated beef and bison liver. To make it even better, the ingredients also include organic beef heart, chia seed, beef kidney and organic veggies like carrot and pumpkin.

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Super Gravy is super healthy, but the dogs think it’s a super treat! They happily like the powder right off my hand!

Of course the final ingredient has to be coconut! Not just any coconut, but organic coconut flour all measured out in my brand new Paw Print measuring cup from the Animal Rescue Site! This measuring cup came with a set, actually and is quite useful when making dog food! Easy to clean and they cups collapse!

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Mix all together, add a little water to help the food stay moist and then the fun part – digging your hands in a forming balls! The way we feed our pooches is by making a handful of the mixture into a ball, then putting that ball into a container or freezer bag. Once we’ve made them all – and this mixture made about 12 balls – they go straight into the freezer! Easy to make, easy to clean up and the dogs absolutely love it.

 

Crate Training Puppies; The Easiest Way to Teach Your Puppy to Love His Crate!

Have you ever tried to go to sleep with your puppy’s crate next to your bed, but find yourself restless because of his consistent whines? How many of you give up and end up letting your puppy in bed with you for the night? You really can teach your puppy how to love his crate and enjoy being in it on his own to sleep in, settle in while you are away, or to travel in with easy and fun training games!

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Most people like to think of crate training as the same thing as house breaking their new puppy. That simply is not the case! Crate training is just another tool in the toolbox of potty training, and is only one part of the entire training process. Crate training is helping your puppy feel comfortable, relaxed and confident in his own environment, and does not necessarily always need an actual crate!

The idea behind crate training is more open than just using a metal cage that you bought at the local pet store. You can use a puppy play pen or even a small room that you puppy can be confined in. You may wish to use a crate at night for you puppy to sleep soundly without the possibility of a potty accident and a larger pen or small room during the day when you cannot keep your eye on him at all times. Use versatility in crate training to fit your life style ad your puppy’s needs to make it a real success!

Set Your Puppy Up For Success!

Before you begin, make sure that the crate you are using has enough room for a bed or blanket and your puppy is able to turn around, stand, and lie down comfortably. Next, you should know, understand and accept that you should never, ever force a puppy into his crate! If you pick him up, shove him into his crate, shut the door and walk away all you did was teach him to fear the crate! This is the exact opposite of what you want, as the crate should never be used as any type of punishment for any reason, even if you did not realize that you were punishing you dog.

Condition your puppy to love his crate and make him want to go in when you ask him to through positive reinforcement. The training game is simple, and starts with just a handful of super yummy treats. Show your puppy that you have treats, and lay one just on the inside of the crate door. When he reaches in to get it, either click your clicker or say a quick “Yes!” to mark the correct behavior of IMG_3923his head going in. Picking up and eating the treat is his reward. Continue doing this, and as he gets more comfortable, start tossing the treat further into the crate until he has to step all the way in to get it, and turn around to come back out. For every second that he stays in the crate after eating the treat, give him another click or “Yep!” and hand him a treat.

Add in a vocal command when you toss in the treat, such as “Go to bed!” and continue with this training game. Make each game last no more than 5 minutes and you can do it a few times a day! At this rate, most puppies become crate trained within about 3 to 5 days. Move at his pace and stay within his comfort zone for sure success!

With practice you will be able to tell your puppy to go into his crate, mark the behavior once he is in and then give him the treat! Then you can start working on closing the door. Give your voice command, and mark the behavior of him going in, but don’t give him the treat just yet! Close the door without latching it and hand him the treat through the bars. This reinforces the door being closed and shows him that being inside the crate is what gets him the reward, not coming out of it!

The Crate In Use

There is a time to use the crate and a time when other measures should be taken. For example, if you intend to leave your puppy home alone all day, don’t confinehim to such a small space with no ability to eliminate. Instead, use the same conditioning technique as crate training to help him become comfortable in a large puppy play pen or room with a dish of water, a few toys and a comfy bed. Don’t forget to ask a friend, family member or neighbor to stop in to take your puppy potty every few hours! Proper use of the crate, such as keeping your puppy quiet, relaxed and sleeping throughout the night or to confine him for your half an hour errand run with the addition of continued positive reinforcement will help your puppy love his crate!

TaylorHappy Glucosamine for Dogs: A Worthy Supplement

As author of The Natural Dog Diet, you all know how strongly I feel about supplements.  Supplement allow us the ability to provide nutrients that the basic diet lacks.  This important because even with a raw, homemade diet your dog still may need a little boost in certain areas, especially if his age or breed needs that extra help.

Glucosamine, MSM and Chondroitin can all give some extra help to growing puppies to help protect their joints, dogs of any age battling hip dysplasia or seniors with arthritis.  It especially is helpful for working dogs or dogs who compete in physically taxing competitions like Agility, Flyball and other dog sports.  When I was given the opportunity to try out a supplement that has all of this, and more, on my three dogs I was pretty darn excited!

My dogs fit the bill, too! I have one 4 year old terrier mix who, let’s face it, does not have the best conformation. For those that don’t know, poor conformation can actually cause skeletal and muscular problems for animals in their future.  My husband’s pet, a senior husky mix has slowly been getting stiffer in her knees and hips and really need an extra boost of mobility to help her out. Lastly, there is my working service dog, a Toy Australian Shepherd. He has no problems that we know of, but getting him started on a supplement like the TaylorHappy Glucosamine for Dogs is a good way to prevent problems for him as he works for me.

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If you decide to get this item and use it properly in your dog’s food, you won’t be disappointed.  It is a great buy for all the nutrients that are found in this formula. It even includes manganese, which is incredibly important in a dog’s diet. You will also find the amino acid Boron, not too common to come across in a quality canine supplement!

Be forewarned, you must SHAKE IT! It needs to be shaken up very well before you can use it, otherwise you may find some chunky bits.  The smell and taste doesn’t seem to be too interesting for dogs all on it’s own, so it would be best mixed in with your dog’s raw diet or kibble. I find it mixes easily with canned salmon at room temperature, but not so well with recently thawed ground chicken.

See it in action in the video!

Spring Dog Coat Blow Out; ShedNinja Review & Video

If you are family to a dog, then you know Spring is on the way just by all the extra dog hair littering your floor, clothes and furniture.  I struggle every year to brush out as much of that loose, dead fur as much as possible, but somehow there is always more! It’s like a never ending cycle and seems like I’m still dealing with the fur blow out until late summer.  If you struggle like me, then you will be interested in what I have to say next!

I was lucky enough to get the chance to try out and review the ShedNinja.  This is a very unique style of grooming tool because it has a double bladed undercoat rake plus a shed blade.  The undercoat rake is a must have for any double coated dog owner (like Siberian Husky, Australian Shepherd, Golden Retriever and others.)  It sifts through the top coat and literally rakes out the loose and dead, shed fur of the undercoat.  If you have a dog with an undercoat, you need a rake! The ShedNinja doubles up on the rake blade, making it even more effective.

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I was sent 2 sizes, a large and a small because of the 3 dogs I have. Two have double coats and the third is a wire hair terrier mix. Because of her hair style, a double bladed rake won’t work for her, but the shed blade does.  I used a FURminator knock off on my dogs before using the ShedNinja for the video review just to really put it to the test.  It still pulled out more loose fur! If that loose fur was left on my dogs, it could have turned into a nasty mat, causing all sorts of problems.

The ShedNinja handle is larger than any others I have used, and has rubber gripping down the side. With my medical conditions, this made it easier to hold. I was not dropping it like I do others with smooth plastic handles. I could hold it through and entire body brushing of a dog. To add to this product’s ingenious design, the blade head actually moves. It pivots, not too easily but not too stiffly either which, in my opinion, makes brushing a dog safer. Metal blades can be a danger to a dog’s skin if you brush too hard or catch a mat or tangle.  Luckily, this one can move with the curves of your dog’s body, which can actually help to prevent cuts and scrapes.

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In other words, I would recommend the ShedNinja to the first time dog owner and especially to professional groomers. Even those of you with years and years of grooming experience like myself will find the convenience of 2 types of brushes on a single item.

Don’t forget your poop bags!

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R.I.P Boredom

The post below is an article I have previously written for a customer. You can find my gig HERE

After-Obedience Blues; Keep Your Dog Engaged After Basic Obedience Training!

By Kimberly LeMaster

The majority of owned dogs who are showing signs of behavioral problems are typically over the age of two years and have had some sort of basic obedience training. The owner will say, “I taught him IMG_8012how to sit, stay, come when called and lie down but he still won’t listen!” This is a simple case of a lack of reinforcement for the dog and boredom. He doesn’t listen because there just is no reason for him to want to! Once he has gone through obedience training and knows his commands, you must continue to keep your dog engaged in the commands he has learned as well as challenge him through learning new skills, proofing behaviors he already knows, and keeping it all fun at the same time!

Keep Him Engaged

Keeping your dog engaged in his learned behaviors as well as new ones you are shooting for is all about the reinforcement, how fun it is and the steps you take to continuously use the skill sets your dog has learned in basic obedience. Obedience is far more than just learning a few commands, but your dog is learning how to learn. He uses obedience to learn your body language and what your communication actually means; it’s like a translator! Just because your dog has already gone through, does not mean you should quit talking!

You can keep your dog engaged in the basic obedience commands he has already learned through incorporating it into your daily life. If your dog has learned the stay command, you can use it during meal times. With the bowl in hand, ask your dog to sit and stay. Begin to lower his dish and if he moves, lift the bowl back up and again ask him to sit and stay. He will eventually get the idea that until he stays put, he won’t get to eat! Dogs usually learn this within a couple of meals, and will sit in front of a full dish of food until you give him the okay to eat it! This keeps him interested and working with his sit, stay and even wait commands!CAM01281

You can do this with other commands, as well and incorporate them into solving other behavioral problems you may be experiencing. You can use the sit command to work on leash manners, for example. If your dog is a puller and loves to ignore you while on a walk, you can walk the opposite direction in which he tries to pull while encouraging him to follow you. When he catches up to you, ask him to sit. Don’t walk anywhere until he does! When he sits, give him a “Yes!” and walk on. The walking is his reward as this is what he wants to do! Give him the thing he wants when he offers a wanted behavior!

Always Challenge Him, But Go Slow!

Using known commands to teach new ones is one way to set your dog up for success, but you can also involve him in training new things. Make goals of what you would like your dog to learn, and consider it a ladder. Each step of the ladder should be one training game that can help lead you to your final result. For instance, if you want to teach your dog to pick up and put away his toys, you will need to teach individual behaviors before turning it into a chain of behaviors to reach your final result. Start with teaching him to pick up and hold a toy in his mouth. Then, build that onto putting the toy on a certain spot or object, like a piece of paper. Then you can ask him to put it in his toy box.

If you try to start at the top and expect big things quickly, you will not only confuse your dog but you also will quickly make him lose interest in the task. This will translate into him disobeying more and more as he becomes frustrated and uninterested in what you have to say. Go slow, at his pace, and build onto it to keep him engaged in learning!

A Command Is A Command

It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to train your dog to ride a skate board or just walk loosely on a leash, the concept is all the same. Keep him engaged, and never give up! Basic obedience is not the edogskatend of a dog’s learning life. Any dog as any age has the ability to learn and alter their behavior with the right reinforcement and training schedule.