New Trend: L.A Pet Foundation’s Lead A New Paws-a-tive Perspective To The Pet Store Concept

A new trend in Los Angeles is helping to change the face of pet stores. Many animal foundations are redefining the “pet store” concept to include “only” rescued shelter pups. The concept has been emerging over the past few years, but now picking up steam.

During  the past 20 years the pet industry has tripled and so has the volume of breeders good and bad. The internet and local pet stores are inundated with breeding facilities who follow a trend of popular pups, designer or not. The internet competition of where to get your Lassie-like idea of your next BFF is an underground web of confusion in this furry internet secret society. 

In other words, the rescues and shelters can’t stop the puppy mill or internet breeders. They can only educate us to be responsible and provide help for the pups in the pound. Only we can change with awareness, education and knowledge to ask the right questions. USDA (United States department of Agriculture) are legal commercial kennel facilities that produce mass puppies often sold to pet stores. That’s not to say all breeders are bad, it’s truly buyer beware and education on how, where, and who to get a puppy from, that’s lacking to the general public.

The puppy mill breeders appear behind internet sources and pet stores providing cute puppy faces and sometimes make deals with pet stores. The breeding conditions aren’t known (behind a website or from a store) and a seemingly heathy puppy within a year can have chronic ailments due to bad breeding or not having the  proper training (due to lack of puppy parent education) hence, they’re turned into the shelter. By the way, not all rescue pups are in ill health. I personally have a rescue pup that will turn 17 years old in August. She’s in perfect health for her age! 

The rescues keep plucking the best out of the pounds urging people to spay and neuter and adopt, but the cycle continues. All topics are important issue’s that contribute to the approximate 10 Million animals a year that get euthanized across the U.S shelters, costing tax payers roughly 2 Billion dollars to execute. 

Congratulations to the many animal foundations who are making their way into main stream retailers! This provides the space and appeal to “rescue” a puppy while shopping in a local shopping mall. Spot! (West Hollywood) , Love and Leashes (West Los Angeles) and Adopt and Shop (Mission Vejo, CA)  to name a few. Many people want to rescue yet the local animal shelter can be a sad depressing place or not local. The great thing about these types of stores is that they provide more than just puppies. Often a more mature pet is your ideal lifestyle pick. Viola, love at-first-sight! A store front environment changes the appeal and makes recycling a paws-a-tive gift! 

 Found Animals Foundation who  is a privately funded operating foundation in Los Angeles that focuses on a few powerful levers for changing the outcome for millions of animals euthanized each year in the US. Working with local communities and animal care professionals, we deliver innovative community-based adoption, spay/neuter, and pet ID programs while offering a wealth of trusted educational resources. Bravo! 

Thinking Puppy? The Truth Behind Professional Breeders

Paws For A Minute® - Puppy Series: What goes into the cost of a well-bred pup?

Ready for a new puppy? Many people break down their search by picking their breed first. Lab, German Shepherd Dog or Poodle, whatever your fancy all can be found on the internet. Remember though, not all pure bred dogs are well-bred!

All pure breeds can be found in the shelter and/or breed rescues. Often healthy fabulous dogs can be found in every city. Sometimes it may take a bit of research, calls or asking veterinary staff but rescuing a desired pure breed dog is possible. If you choose to find a professional breeder on on-line beware, not all breeders are reputable.

The show breeders often do not advertise and the professional breeders can be mixed in with other puppy mill type breeders. The best thing to do is have knowledge about your chosen breed, call and ask questions and ask then to email OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) certificates or ratings of the parents of the litter, etc. 

While researching this entire  I found that backyard breeders often do not do health testing on their breeding dogs, which translates to potential un-known heredity issues within the litter. Many breeders can have registered dogs and even pedigree’s but they are breeding potential heath issues such as hip dysplasia.

Every breed has a club which votes in members. These people show in confirmation agility and or obedience and have strict guidelines to their breeding protocols. Usually show dog people who have mastered their breed, gained championships and decided to breed. They are in the business of selective breeding and often keep what they want out of the litter and sell the rest. If you fall into this category of wanting a show puppy, then it’s really important to know what you’re buying and why?

Professional breeders distinguish themselves from other “backyard” breeders in that they show their dogs to champions in the confirmation rings. This is a very time consuming hobby and many championships take years. Often health tests on their breeding dogs are done before any litter is produced. Oddly enough, health testing is not a requirement to showing or breeding a show dog, but most do.  The mission for breeders (in general) is to better their “chosen” breed, so most will. The great thing is that health testing usually comes with certificates and paperwork which you (as the buyer) can ask to see. Professional breeders usually do not breed often and are extremely selective on who gets their puppies. 

So what goes into the cost of these pricey pups? I found a very interesting article written by professional breeder Bill Burns, who breaks down his costs involved in breeding a pedigree’d dog. I called him and asked if I could re-publish his article to help prospective puppy buyers understand what goes into a cost of a high-priced pup. Here’s what Bill had to say..

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How Much Is That Doggie In The Window?

written by Bill Burns /The Kennel At Burns Gardens -Golden Retrievers and Havanese

Searching the web for a pedigree’d pup that’s produced by a professional breeder is a different experience and takes a bit of knowledge to understand all the lingo. To find the good ones and really understand what you are actually buying, other than just a cute puppy.  Not unlike other important life oriented decisions like buying a home, having a child, or even buying a car, a dog comes with a 14 year or more commitment and possibly heath issues.

Many people ask me where the best place to get a puppy from is and my answer varies depending on their lifestyle. The shelter is always filled with wonderful dogs. Each breed usually has a rescue that’s easily found on the web. However, some people want to get a purebred pup from a professional breeder, and that’s okay too, if you know why you want to pay thousands of dollars for a dog and why, what to look out for… hence my desire to write this article!

In the first article, I took a three year time frame that started during the year 2006 and ended in 2009.  For this study, for convenience, I used calendar years.  I also wanted to have some overlap between the studies so that any remarkable changes (like the cost of dog food) would be tempered.  So I used the three year calendar period from 2009 to 2012.  The number of Havanese puppies produced here during that first three year period was 38.  In the most recent three year period the number of puppies produced was 28.     

During each of these periods we paid for vet fees, medicines, wormers, vaccines, progesterone testing,  flea prevention, health testing (Baer Hearing, Bile acid, Cerf for eyes, OFA Patella, OFA Cardiac, OFA Thyroid, OFA Hips, LCP and Elbows), stud fee, semen storage, AKC and CKC registrations and pedigrees, DNA kits, Microchips, vaccines and progesterone testing.  We paid a total of $45,326.64 for those kinds of things during the earlier time period.  During this past three years, we paid a total of $34,924.92.   The breakdown during this most recent period was $24,113.97 for Veterinarian fees; $5,363.01 for medicines, $3,057.44 for health testing, $2,390.50 for AKC and CKC registrations, fees and supplies like Microchips.

Divided equally among the 38 puppies produced in the earlier period the average cost for those things was $1,192.81 per puppy.  For the latest period, the average cost for Veterinarian fees and related items was $1,247.32 per puppy.

Paws For A Minute® Mutt-rimony

Sure, you can try to teach me the first year, but I got you trained for the the next 16…

Is Your Dog Friendly With Strangers?

I thought I’d right about this topic in honor of the up coming holiday of Halloween. The scary surprise of a “Boo” in the form of a sudden snap may come from your dog being unpredictable, if you’re not prepared or take precautions. By the way, during Halloween I think the best tip is to exercise your dog in advance  and gate your dog in a bedroom or a safe area with music, way before the tricker treaters start ringing. It’s not worth anyone getting scared or hurt.

Costumes or not,  people wanting to say hello to a shy dog can make some dog owners nervous. Often people who are unsure look to their dog to indicate friendliness. Don’t. Many people leave too much up to the dog. They think, oh, he likes that person, phew! Many owners who’s dog may indicate territorial behavior like barking excessively or growling at a guest can over time become really insecure and hold their breath but never make attempts to resolve the growing issue. Crossing your fingers that a bite won’t happen, isn’t the answer. This blog is really about prevention and dog owner awareness.

Dogs wag their tails right? Well sometimes an (at home) friendly dog can feel insecure when a new person approaches. Especially if that dog has not been socialized in puppyhood to sounds, people, streets or trained.  The problem can slowly begin to escalate. Some dogs can learn to be plain bossy about who comes into THEIR home. Often these bossy barks can go uncorrected or redirected by the owner and the problem escalates even more over the years. When in truth, your dog is always looking to you to redirect and show him how to say hello. People can give off subtle misunderstandings to  by tightening up the leash or not correcting their dog who’s apprehensive about the person approaching. In general, if you’re unsure of your dogs behavior this insecurity from you can create a tension and body language that can lead to actually creating a fearful dog. This subtle reaction of insecurity (about how your dog will react) is a projection that can often mirror the same potential fear back at your dog. Making the unpredictability worse.

The “unsure” dog owner end’s up freezing up and hoping that their dog (albeit loving to them) doesn’t snap at the person approaching. Body language can sometimes become a self fulfilling prophecy in dog training.

Tensing up sends a signal (down the to the other end of the leash) that there’s apprehension on your part which certainly doesn’t help an already nervous dog to feel self assured. In dog training, body language and voice inflection matter a lot! Sending the right signals to your dog will help socialize him to greet new people with joy.

If you own a small toy breed dog who’s shy with new people don’t introduce your dog when holding it. Put your pup on the ground. Having your dog on a leash helps create eye contact from your dog to you and not the person approaching, then redirect your dog to sit. The same goes for larger dogs.

Here are some helpful tips. The following advice is only intended for pups  learning to greet strangers and guests that have no prior behavioral issues or aggression.

1. Have a treat in your pocket to give to the person wanting to greet your dog. As your dog to sit and hand the person the treat.

2. If you feel your dog is NOT going to do well with the person approaching then simply say to the person approaching that  you and your dog are in training and pass on the interaction all together.

3. It’s best to have your dog on a leash and ask your dog to sit, always use a happy voice. Talk to the person approaching. Often apprehension creates silents and your dog senses something strange.

4. Crouch down next to your dog holding his collar and the leash. Most dogs without severe issue’s feel more relaxed with you crouching next to them, even scratching their chest. Your dog should be on your left with your left hand on their collar and right hand rubbing your dogs chest. This helps indicate assurance. Also your right there in control if something where to happen. Most dogs just want to smell the person’s hand and the treat helps socialize the interaction into a positive thing. Talking to the person approaching in a happy voice helps everyone relax too. If you just stand next to your dog and don’t speak holding the leash tightly it sends an odd signal that may created a sudden reaction.

5. Teach your dog  basic commands on a leash. Training creates a great foundation for you and your dog as to how you communicate and about what. It also replaces the nervous babble that sometimes happens because you can replace it with praise of doing a command. Many times people start repeating good boy nervously trying to indicate to their dog to be good (when they’re actually not sure what’s going to happen) as a the strange person is running at them to  hello to their dog. Guiding your dog to sit, giving the person a treat to hand to the dog first, then guiding your dog to sit gives you steps to assure your dog you have it all under control and a person saying hello is a good thing!

6. Varying your dogs routine, upping the amount of regular walks, leash training and again the more exercise the better! All will  help get you and your pup on the road to being well socialized and create trust.

If your dog has ever displayed severe aggression or fear towards any person or has bitten anyone, you must seek an in-home professional trainer immediately. Do not attempt to resolve such issues on your own.  Ask your local vet for referrals. 

Dog Nipping, Biting And Gnawing On Your Last Nerve

My boyfriend and I just got a Siberian Husky puppy named Frye. He’s almost 9 months old and we’ve had him for 2 months prior. Up until now, he has been well-behaved, but recently he has started biting when he gets excited. At first, the bites were far a part and soft, but lately they’ve become more frequent and have started to hurt. We have tried various ways to discourage this behavior, such as giving him more toys to focus his attention on or giving him chew toys whenever he starts to bite, to channel the behavior. So far, nothing seems to work. It’s getting to the point where we’re afraid that he might hurt others. Frye is very well socialized when it comes to other dogs, but we live in a residential area where there are a lot of children. Our main concern is that when others try to play with him, he might get over excited and bite them. We love our dog and we want to improve for his sake. What can we do to nip this behavior completely?

Danni and George.

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Hi Danni and George,

Thanks for the great question! Okay, I totally understand. Many people with teenage pup’s often feel the urge to pass out body gear with helmets to all guests wanting to say hello to their now BIG puppy. The behavior you’re describing is obnoxious for sure and yet solvable! Redirecting such behavior means creating a little structure within your daily routine, reassessing chew toys, re-organizing how your dog gets exercise, and where,when and how you play with him.

The solution to this issue lies more with you understanding how to redirect this behavior, where to apply structure and when to initiate play and how to still make things fun.

Here are some my Paws For A Minute® Dog Training Tips

1. Apply structured exercise times and separate them from walks.

Lots of people walk their dogs and play with them without intent. They can often mix up concepts of play while walking for exercise that in turn accelerate hyper behaviors. Where, how and when you play with your dog create reactions and sets triggers.

Example: Try isolating extreme exercise prior to socialization with people and guests. In other words,  play turbo fetch first, then go on a walk.  Teaching your dog to play fetch is an awesome way to keep hyper activity targeted on the movement of a ball. The key to keeping a dogs interest is only use on special ball that comes out ONLY for fetch. Build slowly to the amount of throws daily.

2. Do a re-check of his chew toys.

Example: 90% of the time puppy parents have zillions of toys for their dogs but have a distinction between play toys and actually chew bones. If a toy is lying on the ground or in the yard, overtime it becomes boring. Dogs of a certain age need to chew, not just play. Mouthy behaviors can come from frustration and ill-timed activities. Play is often induced by movement and voice inflection and a chew toy may be tossed, but the activity of your dog actually chewing on it gets lost. Many people end up playing with their dogs with chew toys and boredom of the toy sets in quickly. The act of chewing on something needs to be isolated for your puppy by creating a “chew your chew bone” time! Perhaps in a baby gated area, while you are home. This creates an activity for a young teenage dog. Chewing a bully stick, for example, will also help tire him out and give him something to focus on that’s not a toy.

3. Redirect a positive obedience command to greet new people. 

Example: Redirection can mean introducing your dog to new people while on a leash, only as an exercise for a few weeks. The leash helps you guide your dog into a sit and then a stay while being introduced to new people. If he breaks the stay command to jump up the leash can act as a boundary and allow you to say No then quickly reinforce a sit and the positive in what you want out of his behavior. Or practice with people approaching him to do so with a treat. Have them direct your dog to sit and then give him the cookie!

Change will happen overtime. Try all three tips for a few weeks and keep us posted!

Does Your Dog Really Know What He’s Done Wrong?

Paws For A Minute® … and think about this…

Some people give lengthy verbal dissertations trying to explain to their dog their extreme displeasure they feel after they’ve discovered their best shoes chewed. Other’s righteously feel their dog totally gets what he’s done wrong. Absolutely, 100 %.. slinking out of the room with their ears back and tail tucked. For sure they know! Right?

 Some people try to punish their dog by using spray bottles, crating or putting your dog outside in the yard to “think about” what he’s done. This may give the person time to cool off after being mad, but really? Does it get the right point across?

Well, the truth is that dogs do respond to voice inflection and body language. So yeah, they get that your mad, but not at what? Dogs associate to things with sense of smell, patterns and triggers. It’s best to explain to them what they’ve done wrong with a sensible process that has a beginning, middle and end to it. Whether your pup has chewed something or gone to the bathroom in the house, get the leash, put it on and guide them over to what they’ve done wrong. Isolating the item or area by guiding your dog to it helps them associate the scent and your voice inflection to the word NO.

Reprimanding your dog this way you’re actually associating the smell of their saliva on the chewed item or urine on the carpet and that identifies to your dog what you’re saying NO for and to what?  After saying no, take your dog “outside” ( in the case of a bathroom mistake) or (in the case of chewing the wrong thing) give them the right chew bone. Then say “okay” in a happy voice indicating that the reprimand is over! Over time he’ll learn the pattern of where to go to the bathroom and what to chew. The days of needing to catch your dog in the act of doing something wrong are over.

Shopping For The Perfect Puppy Can Be Love At First Sight. Or Are You Being Scammed?

Looking for LOVE and how we find our best friend has been revolutionized over the last decade. The method of how we find “our dog” has morphed with technology. Finding a specific breed or that perfect “disney-like pup” has orbited into cyber space along with dating. Even in the unconditional love world of wet noses and wags, the internet has served as a double edge sword for many prospective dog owners. Unsuspecting and uneducated would-be dog parents can stumble upon puppy brokers guised within large internet companies that marked their territory by catering to fast demands of love-at-first site, no pun intended.

If you want a Jack Russell with one cute black eye, you can find it, buy it and have it shipped to you. The fast food-style of finding love in our new pup culture has it’s heartbreak. Sometimes years into the relationship of mutt-rimony issue’s can be revealed with health, temperament or impulse buys that become a mismatch of lifestyle. How do I know? As a long time dog trainer and pet expert, I have seen first-hand the issues and help resolve them empathetically.

The good new is that with people like Betsy Saul the co-founder of Petfinder.com the web can also change the face of animal welfare. Over 5 million people visit that site each month. The website is designed to find your designer dog (in a way) just like the other sites. The only difference is that you can really taylor it to you needs and rescue a puppy or older dog of your choice. Choose any color, size, age and even in your own state and viola you can find your match. They facilitate over 2 million adoptions a year. Since the website (and others) have been created, the number of adoptable pets being euthanized has dropped form over 16 million to an estimated 4 million. Congratulations and thank you!

Now that’s love!

Event: SlobberFest Set For May 26th In Toronto Canada

Paws For A Minute® / Travel: Slobberfest 2012 Toronto, Ontario Cananda

Crowning of the King and Queen of Slobber, a maze of vendors, sun and fun! This Saturday May 26th kicks off the annual event that brings out crazy amounts of wet kisses and tail wags. Canine contests are held near the Beach boardwalk just east of downtown Toronto. The Leuty Lifeguard Station over looks the shoreline, which makes this event worth sniffing out. 

For more info contact: Evonne@centre55.com