Dog tip – Get all corny with your dog

Dogs are absolutely wonderful – but they’re not convenient.

Don’t misunderstand – we think they’re worth every bit of the fuss.

If you leave your dog home, the amount of time you can spend away is limited.

If you take them along, it requires a bit of planning. We like to have a “go bag” – all the “stuff” we’re likely to need for an outing.

Aside from the obvious; collar: leash, poop bags, water bowl, water, treats; there are a few things we’ve found really handy to have around. A first aid kit for dogs stays in the car all the time. It has bandages, vet wrap, saline, Benadryl, tweezers, antibiotic wash, etc. It’s also a good idea to have a towel or two, and, especially if you have fuzzy dogs, some corn starch.

I (Hope) have been on vacation with Teddy and Torque for the last week. Right before I left, Torque’s paw was a bit red and swollen between his toes. It really wasn’t that big a deal, and there was no time to get to the veterinarian before we left, so I headed out.

After four days, the swelling and reddening was worse and included his other front paw. Even more distressing, it also seemed to be affecting the wrinkles under his eyes. Anyone with flat-faced dogs has dealt with “fold dermatitis” at some time. Since I’m careful about keeping my Frenchies clean, it was a bit of a surprise, but not awful.

I was at a loss. When his foot was first showing redness, I tried soaking it with Epsom salts. And it helped with the itching, but not for long, and it certainly didn’t help it go away. I knew that the opposite treatment was called for – trying to keep him dry, instead of soaking.

Apparently I had a brain freeze. I’ve known the usefulness of corn starch for dogs for years; ever since our friend Emily with her extremely-fuzzy Keeshonden explained how she kept a shaker of it in her car, along with a good brush, to take care of her Kees when things got a bit messy doing their business. It happens, and an easy solution is great to have.

Since my dogs aren’t fuzzy, that particular use is interesting, but not part of our kit. Until I went asking the pharmacist at the local drug store what he recommended for drying.

He was very nice, but explained that there’s really not a people equivalent. Talcum powder would be about the only choice. And then he mentioned corn starch! And the light bulb went on! Of course it was the perfect answer to keep Torque dry and comfortable until we can see his regular vet back home.

One stop at the grocery store, and Torque is clean, dry and happy instead of itchy, crusty, and unable to get comfortable.

Of course I will still be taking him to the vet when we get home. We need to find the cause of the problem and treat it. But as a temporary fix, simple, corn starch does the trick.

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Dog Tip – A brush a week keeps the vet bills away

I let my dogs gnaw on my fingers once a week. And you should, too!
It’s not really fun for any of us, but it’s saved our dogs teeth – and a ton of money for us.
Yes, we brush our dogs’ teeth once a week.
Fanatics say it should be every day, but we can’t commit to that.
Others say they never do it – either because their dogs won’t let them, they don’t have time,
or they just don’t bother.
Still others say they never have to, because their dogs chew on raw bones and don’t need
it. (Ours enjoy bones, too. And yes, they still need their teeth brushed.)
We started small with each of the dogs as soon as we brought them home, rubbing a damp
washcloth over their teeth a couple of times a week. Not very long, and not all of the teeth
at once. We built up slowly, over time, to get them used to the idea. And to allow time for
all those needle-sharp puppy teeth to fall out before we stuck our hands in their mouths!
Everyone should give their dogs’ teeth a brush (or a wipe) at least once in a while to get
familiar with how your dog’s mouth looks under normal circumstances.
Teddy has had a few incidents with his mouth over the years, all found because of regular
tooth-brushing. And all dealt with before the issues became major. One time Hope found a
swelling in Teddy’s gums during his brush. It turned out to be a growth that needed surgical
removal. Fortunately, it was benign.
Another time Teddy had fractured one of his teeth and a chunk of it was hanging by a
thread. Again, discovered during brushing, and removed before it could cause any major
Brushing your dog’s teeth will also help with bad breath. A normal, healthy dog’s mouth
really shouldn’t smell. If your dog does have stinky breath, it could be an indication of a
problem in his mouth, or with his digestion. Rotting teeth can poison a dog’s entire system
and lead to all kinds of problems.
And brushing your dog’s teeth should appeal to everyone’s frugal side. Before we started
we used to have each dog’s teeth professionally cleaned once a year. With the anesthesia
(always a cause of concern), surgery, professional fees, etc., the cost really added up.
None of our current dogs (Tango is oldest at 7), has ever needed professional dentistry! At
their annual exams, their vet is almost as delighted as we are when she says – “no dental
needed this year!”

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Dog Tip Tuesday – Meal planning made easy

It’s always you, isn’t it? You’re the one who has to make sure the dog(s) get fed. The rest of the family loves the dogs, may even walk the dogs, and someone else may, occasionally, pick up a poop. But the dogs know who matters most – the hand that feeds them.
And your significant other kind of hates that.

“Why does Phydeaux mind you better than me?”

“Because I feed him.”

“I could feed him.”

“Okay. Go ahead, it’s supper time.”

“I have no idea what he eats.”

Solving the problem is easier than you think.

Gather 14 containers per dog – reclosable plastic baggies for kibble feeders, reusable plastic containers for those who feed canned or raw food.

Use a permanent marker to label each container: dog’s name; day (M, T, W, TH, F, SA, SU), and breakfast or dinner.

Fill the containers with the dog’s regular meal portion. If the dog eats kibble, use a plastic shoe box to store an entire week’s worth of meals, in order. If the dog eats wet food, freeze the containers. Leave the next day’s food in the fridge and try to remember to take one container out of the freezer for each one used. If it’s forgotten, food can be thawed in the microwave on the defrost setting.

The system only takes a few minutes to organize and prepare, and everyone will know whether the dog’s eaten and exactly how much to feed.

The system also works well if you’re planning a vacation. If you’re planning to board your dog while you’re away, having a feeding system ready to go makes it simple. The staff at the boarding kennel will appreciate the effort to make their lives easy, and you’ll know your dog is getting the right food, in the right amount, each day. If your dog is travelling with you, you’ll have everything ready to pack up and hit the road.

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Dog Tip Tuesday – Turn up the noise! Desensitize your dog to any sound

The world can be a scary, noisy place. Especially if you don’t understand what’s going on.

New puppy owners tend to “Shhhh! The puppy’s sleeping!”

Don’t give in to the temptation! Keep household noises at maximum! Let the puppy get used to everyday noises. Puppies
will look at other family members (both human and canine) to decide how to react. If they see that nobody’s bothered by
the vacuum, or the leaf blower outside, or the dishwasher, or even the Dremel tool – they’ll learn to relax, too.

If you have a dog that’s already hesitant or fearful of certain noises, the next part of the equation is to associate the sound with something pleasant. One of the most common fears we hear about is the sound of Velcro. Many dog coats and harnesses use hook-and-loop (trade name Velcro) fastenings, and dogs may be afraid of the sound.

Treats or toys can really help. Have some treats on hand and anything with a Velcro fastener. Pull on the Velcro and give the dog a treat. If your pup is hesitant, give it some distance. If another person is with you, have that person step back a bit and make the Velcro sound again. Give the dog a treat. If you don’t have anyone else around, you step back and toss the tidbit to your dog as you make the sound. If your dog prefers toys to treats – toss a ball, or play tug while you’re making noise with the Velcro material.

Don’t attempt to put anything on the dog, or “make” him go near the thing that frightens him. Give the dog the distance he needs to be comfortable. Forcing a dog into proximity with something that scares him/her won’t help, it magnifies the issue.

Also resist the temptation to coddle the dog or sympathize with his fear. It’s time for your pup to “put on his big boy pants,” even if it’s just a little bit at a time.

After about five repetitions with the Velcro noise, or any other noise sensitivity that needs to be overcome, put it away and try again another time.

Push your dog’s tolerance each session, a little bit at a time. Come a bit closer. Make the sound a few extra times. Eventually you should be able to make the sound right next to the dog, or even hide that toy inside a Velcro pouch. That’s what happened with one dog I know – a complete turnaround. Instead of being afraid of Velcro, he thinks it’s the greatest sound in the world, because it means he gets his favorite toy!

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Dog Tip Tuesday – It’s better from behind!

Dogs are adaptable, amazing animals who love us and want to please us. Unfortunately, they don’t speak the same language we do, and communication is sometimes a bit dicey.

We see this often when people bring their dogs into the shop for a fitting – for harnesses, sweaters/coats, carriers, or even boots. We know we’re not going to harm the dog, the people know we’re not going to harm their dog, but all the dog knows is that a stranger with weird things hanging (usually a tape measure) is approaching and it’s scary.

We try to introduce ourselves first, talk to the dog, offer a hand from underneath, offer a treat if the owner says it’s okay. And we try never to hover over the dog from the front, or even approach from the front if possible.

Instead, we’ll approach from the side. If the dog cooperates, we’ll move on to a measurement and gather some options to try.

And when we’re trying any item on a dog, or even “dressing” our own dogs for the weather, we always do it from behind. If you and your dog are both facing the same direction, there’s no hesitation about which is left or right, no doubt about front and back.

The easiest way to put on any harness is to be behind the dog, grasp the harness the way it’s supposed to go on, then (for step-in harnesses) lift each front paw into position and clasp in the back.

Same thing for standard harnesses. Figure out the harness first, pop it over the dog’s head, clasp the tummy strap, and it’s done.

My Roc (Brussels Griffon) was unable to keep up on walks as he aged, so he came along in a Pooch Pack, a carrier that allows you to carry the dog in front. Again, from behind, I’d get the carrier ready to go, zip Roc in, then place him on my lap, his back to my front, while I fastened the shoulder straps on me.

Same idea for Pawz boots. The dog sits in my lap, his/her back to my front, while I put on each bootie.

Also coats. From behind is the way to go.

The longer it takes to “dress” your dog, the less you’ll both enjoy the process. Speed things up by going at it from the rear!

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Dog Tip Tuesday – Prevent acne with the right bowls

Unless you’ve been there/done that, even the most savvy dog owner may not know that dogs can get acne. Canine acne looks like red bumps on the dog’s chin. It indicates a little infection of the skin, and just like for people, may be painful.

Some kinds of dogs are more likely to suffer from canine acne – especially those with wrinkles or folds of skin around their mouths. All of our dogs have some – especially Teddy and Torque, the French Bulldogs.

One step in prevention is the same as for people – keep it clean. Torque is an especially messy eater, so his face always gets at least a quick rinse when he’s done. (A damp washcloth usually does the trick.) Once a week the boys get a thorough face washing as part of their regular “ablutions” – nails, teeth, ears, etc.

dog bowl selection at Golly Gear

We have a wide selection of bowls, including the recommended ceramic and stainless choices.

Another part, which is just as crucial – is to only use ceramic or stainless steel bowls for food and water for your dogs. Plastic bowls are a cause of canine acne, in addition to leaching chemicals into the food or water. Stainless steel or glazed bowls will prevent “muzzle folliculitis” or dog acne and have the added advantage of being dishwasher-safe.

Plastic bowls are fine for short-term use – there’s nothing more convenient than a collapsible bowl for a trip to the park or to tuck in a training bag for class. But for always-available water and meals, stick to stainless or ceramic and save your pup from uncomfortable and unsightly canine acne.


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Dog life hack – Stop the snowballs in your dog’s fur

One of the most uncomfortable things about winter for the fuzzy dogs we know is  “leg snowballs.”


This is the Miniature Poodle of a friend of ours here in Chicago. You can see that Aleena is wearing her Pawz boots – and they’re wonderful for keeping her little feet dry and road-salt free. But they can’t do anything about the accumulation of wet, uncomfortable snow in her beautiful fur.

We’ve been asked many times over the years about “snowsuits” or leggings for dogs. We’ve tried quite a few, from many different makes, and none has provided a simple solution for all dog owners. Dogs come in so many shapes and sizes, their leg sizes vary so wildly, that “normal” sizes just don’t apply. A Miniature Dachshund and a Miniature Poodle may be about the same size, but the lengths of their legs couldn’t be more different.

We’ve found an easy, inexpensive way to keep the snowballs away! It works for any dog, because you tailor the solution to your particular need.

Get a multi-pack of  inexpensive baby, toddler, or children’s socks (whichever would be closest to your dog’s size) from any big-box store. Cut open the toe seam and you have instant leggings for your dog! If you’re incredibly handy you can hem the opening, but if you’re not, you have more in the multi-pack when the original ones start to unravel.

If your dog’s legs are still too skinny – get a package of Velcro-like cable ties to secure the leggings in place. Don’t make it too tight – we don’t want to cut off the dog’s circulation, just keep your pup comfortable in the cold.

If you dog’s legs are larger or longer – get bigger socks!



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Life hack – never buy the wrong size again

Have you ever bought the wrong size for your dog?

It happens to everyone. If you bought it at Golly Gear, it’s not a problem – we’re happy to make exchanges, both in person and online.

But what if you just couldn’t resist getting an adorable present for Fido when you were on vacation in the south of France and saw that adorable little dog boutique? You’re pretty much out of luck.

Unless you have Fido’s vitals with you at all times!

It’s super simple to do.

Next time you’re with your dog, get a measuring tape and get out your phone – if it’s not already out.

Create a new contact in your phone with your dog’s name.

In the notes section, record his measurements. The ones you’ll need are:Where to measure your dog

Neck – all the way around where a collar would rest.
Chest (girth)- all the way around the rib cage, just behind the front legs
Back length – from the nape of the neck to the base of the tail (don’t include the tail).

Hit “Save.”


You’ll never have to worry about buying the wrong size for your dog again!

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Pretty sad around here

Fran on Friday

gg_premoveYup, it’s pretty sad-looking here. The mats are up. Most of the non-inventory items are gone. Many of the shelving units are gone, too. The filing cabinets are gone. While we’re excited about the move, we can’t help but be sad that we won’t be here any longer. We’ve had some good times, some frustrating times, some happy times and some sad times. Such is life.

We’ve had fun playing with our dogs, training with our dogs, meeting new people and their dogs here, laughing at the dogs in meetup groups’ antics. We’ve hosted some great parties here, too. For our obedience training club, for rescue groups and shelters. There have been some wonderful classes here, and we’ve gotten a lot of work done.

The new space is almost ready, which is good because we move in just a few days. The walls and ceiling have been patched, and there’s new paint. There are new light fixtures. There will be a new floor in a couple of days. It’s exciting, but intimidating at the same time.

I know we’ll have great times in the new space. We’ll meet lots of nice people and their dogs. We’ll have some great conversations about dogs and their training, I also know that any dog who comes into the shop will leave much better-outfitted and with some yummy treat samples. But it won’t be the same.

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No dogs …

Fran on Friday

060313_bkrplayI’m sad today. It’s Friday – the day that I used to bring both my dogs to work with me. I had the whole day with them here at the shop. I would work for an hour, then take a break and train or play with Booker and Tango. Work for another hour (OK, maybe 45 minutes) and play some more. All day. It was great! We’d get some really good training done. There was that nice matted surface in the ring that was perfect for running, or even just walking. I’d be able to tire Booker out with just a couple of short tug games, or he’d fetch his ball. He never thought I gave his fetch game enough time! And Tango loved the 1-on-1 time for training Rally. He still doesn’t understand “play”! Silly dog!

Now it’s gone… The landlord wanted us to get rid of the mats before we moved. So a couple of our training buddies were able to take them. Now there’s just a bare concrete floor.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m still excited about our new adventure! We’ll have fun in our new space. But I’ll miss being able to train my dogs on Friday.

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