Category Archives: Dogs

Strange times for dogs, too

Whether you’re in a mandatory “stay home” area, or practicing “social distancing,” we’re certainly living in strange times. 

We have absolutely no medical expertise, and we avoid talking politics, so our major topic of conversation (as usual!) is dogs.

So very many dogs out for walks!

Our shop is just north of Chicago in an extremely urban suburb, developed in the 1950s. The lots are small and there are many multi-unit buildings in our town. That said – even when we’re out walking our dogs, we rarely see anybody else doing the same.

Now, with most local businesses shuttered for the duration – people and their dogs are everywhere! It’s wonderful!

Lots of Bostons

The weirdest thing is, for us, that we keep seeing different Boston Terriers. We had no idea there were others in the area, both at home and at work. It could be that our eyes are just focusing on things we’re interested in, but since we’re pretty much interested in all dogs, we don’t think so.

And Shih Tzus! And a couple of Poodles! And two Airedales, not with the same people. Of course many Goldens, a couple of Min Pins, Pit Bulls, Boxers, German Shepherds, and the list goes on and on!

We have a feeling that a lot of these dogs have never had as much attention and exercise with their owners in their lives. These poor dogs are going to be so happy when their 16-hour naps are back on the schedule!

Of course the up-side to this is that the dogs are going to be in better shape than they’ve ever been in their lives. They may be sore for the first couple of days, but they’re going to love it!

Great outlet

We dog people are all so very lucky to have our best friends with us, even in these strange times. Technology allows us to stay in touch with the people who matter most to us, but having the warmth of our dogs next to us is vital, too. 

Dogs, like this pug, give comfort in strange times

If your life has changed drastically in the last couple of weeks (and whose hasn”t?), chances are you’re feeling somewhat stressed, anxious, and perhaps even afraid. Keep in mind that our dogs not only are capable of these same emotions, but are also well-attuned to us, and could be absorbing your stress, too.

If you’re fond of music, keep some favorite tunes playing. It really does have a positive effect for both people and dogs.

Dogs adore routine! 

Try to keep your new schedule as regular as possible.

Dogs absolutely know when it’s time to eat, walk, and play. They also know when it’s time for someone to come home, or leave. They have powerful internal clocks that can even predict when it’s the weekend, or a regular day off. That’s one of the reasons they may seem unsettled now. A “staycation” can be just as upsetting to their routine as mandatory stay-at-homes, like we have now.

Take comfort in your dog

All the health studies conducted about human interaction with dogs prove that our dogs are good for our well-being. Take advantage of your best friend’s presence. While you’re binge-watching a favorite television show, trying to keep yourself calm, invite your best friend to share the couch. And the popcorn. Dogs love popcorn.

Vandalism caused by the virus

The Covid 19 virus is responsible for all kinds of changes in our lives. 

Among the most notable for us this week – because the neighborhood around our shop is a ghost town, thieves helped themselves to Hope’s car’s catalytic converter. In the village parking lot, in broad daylight, with a power tool. And nobody saw. Nobody heard. The first clue was when Hope closed the shop on Tuesday evening, got in her car, and heard the roar of a vehicle without a working emissions system.

Picture of a vandalized car, caused by the virus
There used to be a catalytic converter on the end of that cut pipe.

We know it’s just a thing. It’s already in the shop for repairs. We’re using it as an example of how much life has changed for all of us in the last week. These are frightening times, for us, too. Nobody seems to be shopping, either in person or online, except for “quarantine” supplies. We actually started a Google spreadsheet, open to everyone, to list their small businesses. We’re hoping that those still fortunate enough to have a steady paycheck will support us, and other tiny companies, that are struggling right now.  

We’re trying to stay upbeat and cheerful, and, honestly, if it weren’t for our dogs, I’m not sure we’d be successful. 

Dogs are our sanity

Aside from staying in evenings, instead of going to training classes, our normal routine is pretty much the same. But we know many people’s lives have been even more drastically disrupted and your dogs may be acting unsettled and jumpy.

We’ve shared studies verifying that dogs are emotional creatures – just like us. Not only that, they’re also highly attuned to the emotions of the people they love. If you’re worried about the virus, chances are your dog is picking up on your tension and may be acting out simply because he doesn’t know what else to do.

If you’re now working from home, or staying close to home as a precaution, your dog’s going to be delighted. At first. After a couple of days, the dogs will figure out it’s not the weekend, and their schedules have undergone a major change. 

Since dogs love routine, switching gears isn’t the easiest thing for them. They may find it impossible to settle, or find a comfortable place for themselves. If you have more than one dog, best buddies may start getting on each other’s nerves. The best thing to do is establish a new routine for the dogs, including some activities that will exercise their brains as well as their bodies. 

And we understand that in some areas, the option of going for a nice, long walk is restricted. And not everyone has access to a fenced yard for fetch. So what can you do?

Schedule “together” time

We’ve mentioned how, before we go to work, we have little game sessions with our dogs every day. It doesn’t take long, about five minutes each, but they love it (so do we!). It has other benefits as well – we start every day with a smile. Playing with our dogs does that.  

It also gives them a structure for their day. They know they’re going to play hard for a little bit – each one individually. They each get “mom’s” undivided attention. And they know when their turn is over, they get their favorite treats and they’re done. It’s time to go take a nap. That routine is well-established and welcome.

If you’re not sure what to do for your play sessions, we’re inviting you to check out our training method – the 2-Minute-Trainer. Membership, with full access to the beginning guide, all videos, photos, and tips, is free for the first two weeks. 

The benefits are countless for both of you. You grow your relationship, communication, and bond with your dog. And your dog, just by playing games with you, becomes an even better companion, with excellent manners and a vocabulary of words and behaviors that will delight both of you. 

Don’t accept dog farts as normal

Hope’s dog Torque is a French Bulldog. One of the most popular breeds in the world now. And one notorious for dog farts. 

Any funny or cute meme about French Bulldogs will mention their gas issues. The French Bulldog groups Hope belongs to always have people talking about room-clearing flatulence from their dogs. The jokes go on and on.

Not normal

Here’s the thing – it’s not okay and no dog has to suffer from constant flatulence. Torque is Hope’s third Frenchie and none of them have been gas passers. The most common offender in the house is actually Booker, Fran’s Boston Terrier. And we know why – he’s the boy with the most sensitive stomach in the house.

Think about it – when you have gas or bloating, how do you feel? Pretty rotten, right? It’s painful and uncomfortable and you wish it would go away. You probably realize what’s causing it and you can take something to help with the symptoms and alleviate the problem. But your dog can’t tell you. He may not even know it’s not the way he’s supposed to feel, because he always feels that way.

Bears repeating

If your dog is a fart factory, she may not know what feeling good feels like. Isn’t that sad?

Cartoon of a pug dog farting

If you’re looking at things with a slightly different perspective now, the next question is what do you do about it? How can you change things so your dog will feel good? And you won’t need high-speed fans to fumigate your space!

Causes of flatulence

According to the experts, there are a few causes of flatulence. Almost all of them are caused by food; either how it’s absorbed, or components that fail to break down.

You already know some of them – foods that are known to cause gas: broccoli, beans, brussels sprouts, etc. should be avoided. 

Others, like peas, soybeans, milk, and high-fat foods, are not easily digested by dogs and may ferment in their guts, producing gas and discomfort.

And some dogs, like some people, just are sensitive to certain foods. Our grandfather loved cucumbers (so do our dogs), but you didn’t want to be anywhere near him if he ate any!

Changing your dog’s food may go a long way to relieving everyone’s discomfort. It’s not an easy or fast process. Take a week or more to gradually change from one kibble to another to avoid further gastrointestinal upset. 

Behavior changes

The other side of the coin is how your dog eats. If your dog is a gulper, she’s taking in a lot of air along with her food. And what goes in, must come out. 

Slowing down your dog’s eating may be as simple as putting a ball or rock in the bowl so huge mouthfuls aren’t possible. There are also all kinds of slow-feeding bowls out there. When you’re shopping, be aware that plastic bowls can be a cause of canine acne, and stick to ceramic or stainless steel bowls for everyday use.

Some people swear by “snuffle mats” – usually fleecy mats with lots of fringes that allow you to scatter the food and the dog has to find it. This will work to slow them down, but we wonder if it reduces the amount of air going in their systems. We haven’t tried them, so it’s up to you if this is a good answer. 

Our favorite means of slowing down our dogs is to hand-feed them. Not all the time, and not every meal, but we use their food as training treats and have fun with our dogs.

Other factors

Short-faced dogs seem to be more prone to gas attacks, and again, it’s taking in a lot of air that seems to be the issue. So if you also have a Frenchie, Boston, Pug, or other brachycephalic breed, slowing down your dog’s eating is a top priority for dealing with dog farts.

Flatulence also seems more common in obese, or sedentary dogs, according to the experts. The answer there is obvious – get moving with your dog! Measure out your dog’s meal, transfer it to a plastic bag or pouch, and get out for a nice long picnic walk with your dog. Your nose will thank you for it!

Soothing their guts

One food additive we found particularly beneficial for Booker was Flax Seed Gel, which you can make at home. Pour ⅓ cup of boiled water over 1 tablespoon of flax seeds. Stir for one minute, let sit for five minutes. Stir again, strain into a covered container. Give about a teaspoon in each meal. Keeps, covered, for about a week in the fridge.  Actually, flax is so good for dogs that we think everybody should add it to their dogs’ food. Can’t hurt, may help!

Sleepless nights and dog therapy

Depiction of sleepless: a silhouette of a human head with a whirl of purple and white seeming to drain into the brain.

It’s one of those sleepless nights. It’s 4:25 a.m. I fell asleep on the couch around 9 p.m., woke up about midnight. Let the dog out, went to bed. And I’ve been awake ever since.

I understand it’s part of adulting – there are some days when the overwhelming muchness of life is just too much and our brains just can’t stop whirling. There isn’t really anything in particular – it’s just the weight of everything crashing in.

Safety in dogs

What does any of this have to do with dogs?  For people like us, dogs are our living, breathing, cuddling sanctuaries – by definition “place of refuge or safety.”

No matter what’s going on in your life, you’re not alone as long as you have a dog. That’s priceless. 

The other day we spoke to a friend who was absolutely despondent. The stress of work, news, and a car accident built up to an almost-crisis point. Granted, she’s a person who leads with her heart, but we think she was more than a little serious when she said that, if it weren’t for her dogs, she’d consider suicide. 

Dogs are that important. 

As I (Hope) write this, I’m sitting in bed, listening to the (very early) morning news, with my dog’s back warming the length of my leg. Even asleep, he’s a constant source of comfort and connection.

Every single day our dogs give us lots of reasons to keep going. We get up because they need to be walked, fed, and taken care of. Exercise is crucial for our dogs, as well as for us, so we get dressed every day and get out of the house. And every day our dogs give us reasons to smile – because they’re hooligans and make us laugh. Most days the dogs are a reason to go somewhere and do something.

We’ve mentioned many times that one of the reasons we play dog sports with our dog (obedience, rally, agility) is because it lets us connect with other dog people. And we all know that people who love dogs are the best people in the world. 

Getting rid of the noise

The other reason – we get to forget all the outside pressures in our lives. For that hour or two, all we have to think about is having fun with our dogs.

That little “recess” may not change much, but it does elevate our mood and let us keep our troubles in perspective. 

We’re not happy about being up pre-dawn. But we’ll sit here and reduce our stress level by petting our dog, breathing deep, and sharing our thoughts with you.