Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The importance of calm assertiveness

A guest post from

When you welcome a dog into your home, you're not simply gaining a pet, but a new state of mind.

This fact quickly became clear to me when my husband and I got two lab mix puppies. The oldest, Shammy, is about 5 months old, while Dozer is 10 weeks. In hindsight it probably wasn't the best idea to get puppies so close in age simply because of the time requirement, but since I'm a housewife, I have the time to make it work.

When you bring a dog in, you go from an individual, or a house full of individuals, to a pack. To understand how a pack works, think about a time when you were around someone who was feeling a certain way -- whether sad, angry or even happy -- and how it started to affect your mood. Multiply that by the number of animals and people in your household and you get an idea of how a pack works. When you bring a dog into your house, you are bringing an animal who is literally hardwired to be your lifelong companion. Dogs are empathetic to their humans in a way no other animal, including other people, can be. Because of this, owning a dog means you have to be more in touch with your feelings, and through that, the feelings of your household.

My pack consists of myself, my husband, two cats and our two aforementioned puppies. We act as one symbiotic entity. If one of us is sad, angry or frustrated, it carries through to the rest of the household. If I wake up in a bad mood, the dogs are unmanageable and hyper, the cats are racing around the house and even my husband is grousing. But I find that if I can find that center, the calm assertiveness that is the foundation of a good working relationship with animals, then it's like night and day. By taking a few moments in the morning to breathe, to relax, to envision the day that I want to happen, I find that it helps stop a majority of the craziness. Add in exercise, training and a set routine and the battle for a peaceful, animal-loving household is already won.

As dog owners, we cannot allow ourselves the luxury of giving in to our anger and frustration. Will we feel these things at times? Yes. But much like a conscientious parent, we have to have the wherewithal to rein it in quick before it disrupts the pack.

So what is calm assertiveness? Simple. Think of someone in your past, whether it's a relative, teacher or other influential person in your life. Was this person someone you obeyed out of fear, obligation or respect? If the answer is respect, then that's the assertiveness. Next, picture how you felt around them. What kind of "aura" surrounded them? Hectic and worried or peaceful and tranquil? It's pretty obvious where the calm is there.

For some people, simply imagining how that person would react in a given situation is enough, but for me it isn't. Instead, I try to think of times before where I myself felt calm assertiveness. I think of writing, editing and publishing, which are all areas in which I feel very confident. I call forth that same strength in hectic times to ground myself.

Calm assertiveness is a must for dog training, but it is also useful in life in general. The next time you find yourself getting annoyed at a situation, find that center and try facing it with calm assertiveness. You will be amazed at how much easier even the toughest obstacles can become.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Reducing Pet Allergens in the Home

Guest post by Abby Snyder ~

Pet dander is a common culprit for many allergy symptoms, but for those of us with allergies; it's certainly not always the cause. I blamed my constant stuffiness on my dog's dander for years - only to realize it was actually my apartment that was setting off my sneezes. Looking back I realize the allergens were everywhere - floating in the air, stuck the carpet, or hiding behind every bookshelf - and I wasn't doing a thing about it

After moving to a new place and following some simple cleaning tips, both my dog and I are enjoying cleaner, allergen-free air. Some good recommendations include taking as many of the following steps as possible to eliminate allergens to your home:

Establish a weekly cleaning routine. This includes a complete clean of floors, doors, sheets, furniture, windowsills and window frames. If it can collect dust or potentially grow mold, it should be cleaned. Changing or cleaning your heating and cooling filters is also recommended to improve your indoor air quality.

Watch your temperature and humidity. Keeping the temperature of your home at 70 F (21 C) and a relative humidity of no higher than 50% will prevent dust mites and mold from growing. Dehumidifiers and air purification systems can also help ensure clean, dry circulating air.
Eliminate mold. Keeping warm air out and dehumidifiers and air conditioners on helps keep your air fresh and also prevents mold from growing. To rid your home of mold, any non-washable materials, such as carpeting, need to be disposed of. Washable materials can be washed with a 5% chlorine bleach solution.
Exterminate pests. Not only are pests kind of creepy and unwelcome in our homes, they can also leave behind an allergy triggering residue. These residues can be removed by thoroughly vacuuming your carpets and washing hard surfaces. Infestation problems can be controlled with inexpensive traps, home bug sprays, or calling an exterminator for severe cases.

Don't smoke inside. Polluted air doesn't necessarily cause allergies, but it does irritate the nose and lungs. This can increase the likely-hood of suffering from allergy symptoms.

These may seem like a lot of work if you've never done them before, but I can assure you that the relief my dog has experienced from my beginning this regimen has been stunning. Remember, our pets usually depend on us to figure out what's ailing them, and I'm happiest when I know my dog is happy and not suffering. Oh, and my own relief from allergies is the extra bonus!

Abby Snyder has loved dogs ever since received her first pooch kiss as a baby. She writes for on how homeowners can save money on their heating and cooling bills. provides comprehensive, unbiased data and consumer product information on air conditioners, boilers, furnaces and heat pumps.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

#1 Surgically Removed Item From Dogs & Cats

Dogs and cats commonly eat things that they shouldn't. The problem is that many items can't be digested or passed through the intestine causing a "Foreign Body Obstruction".

An indigestible object can become lodged in the stomach or intestines and may require surgery to remove it. Untreated, ingestion of these types of items can be fatal.

According to Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI), they compiled a list of most common items surgically removed from pets.

Do you know what is #1?

It is the sock!

Here is the list:

Top 10 Surgically Removed Items

1. Socks

2. Underwear

3. Panty Hose

4. Rocks

5. Balls

6. Chew Toys

7. Corn Cobs

8. Bones

9. Hair Ties/Ribbons

10. Sticks

Monday, July 4, 2011

Caring for a Betta Fish

One of the most common misconceptions of betta fish is that they must be in a bowl all by themselves. Mostly because of the stories that they are fighting fish and because these fish are seen in stores in those little plastic cups.

While Bettas don't get along with their own kind, they can make a good community aquarium fish and get along with other community type fish. I've have one with tetras and an angel fish without any problems. Because they are used to being in confinement and are very shy by nature, I found that it likes to hide in the caves and plants I had set up in my aquarium. Having plants, artificial or real, is important for housing a Betta in a community aquarium.

It's been very popular lately to have a betta in a bowl with a plant in it. While the plant may look good and make a nice display on a desk or end table, bettas are other words, they don't feed off of the plant. They need to be fed food formulated specifically for them like any other tropical fish.

As with any fish, it is better to house it in an aquarium with a filter. However, if you do decide to house it in one of those bowls, it must be cleaned out frequently, as it needs fresh, clean, de-chlorinated water. Otherwise, the water will contain ammonia caused by fish waste and uneaten food. The ammonia is toxic to fish.

Bettas have a special respiratory organ that allows them to breath air directly from the surface. In fact they inherently must do so. Bettas must have access to the water surface to breath air directly from the atmosphere.

In their natural habitat, Bettas often come from warm, tropical climates. Bettas thrive on heat, and will become increasingly listless when the water temperature falls below 75 degrees F.