Jogging with Your Cat??

World's Ugliest Mutt Dies at 15

June 24, 2011: A judge evaluates Yoda during the 2011 "World's Ugliest Dog" Contest in Petaluma, Calif. The 14-year-old Chinese Crested and Chihuahua mix took top honors winning $1000 and a plethora of pet perks at the Sonoma-Marin Fair. The 1.8-pound female Chinese crested-Chihuahua mix owned by Terry Schumacher of Hanford, died in her sleep Saturday, March 10, 2012. She was 15. (AP)

Beauty is certainly in the eye of the beholder, but Yoda was certainly known for lack thereof.

When a beloved pet dies, good manners usually dictate saying something nice about the departed companion.

And for Yoda, it was a compliment to say she sure was ugly.

Westminster Dog Show Welcomes Xolo, the Latest Dog Rock Star

Yoda won the 2011 “World's Ugliest Dog” contest at the Sonoma Marin Fair for her short tufts of hair, protruding tongue, and long, seemingly hairless legs.

The Chinese crested and Chihuahua mix died in her sleep Saturday. She was 15.

The 1.8-pound pooch had lived a rough life before Terry Schumacher found her abandoned behind an apartment building and mistook her for a rat.

The dog went on to bag $1,000 and a trophy 15 times her size when she won the contest held in Petaluma, Calif., last June. Yoda and Schumacher became famous, appearing on national television.

Contest producer Vicki DeArmon said Yoda will keep the title until a new ugliest dog is crowned in June.

Schumacher, of Hanford, Calif., told the Hanford Sentinel that she will miss "her funny little ways."

But Schumacher said she was "comforted knowing she will be joining my Mom and Dad, who loved her so much. Her memories will live on forever."

Another dog that made headlines recently was the The xoloitzcuintli or Xolo for it’s rare and bizarre looking features.

The Xolo was the star at the Westminster Dog Show (think Martha Stewart’s Chow Chow.)

The xoloitzcuintli, one of six new breeds welcomed at the 136th Westminster Kennel Club dog show, managed to steal the spotlight at a dog show all about frills. Mostly because of its name.

"They are exotic," said Jose Barrera a jewelry designer to the stars who is showing off another gem at the dog show: his tiny, trembling xolo called Alma Dulce.

Akron Men Steal Couple's Dog, Demand Ransom

AKRON, OH (WOIO) - Two Akron men slapped with charges after stealing a couple's dog and demanding ransom.

Around 7PM Friday night, a resident in the 300 block of Upland Avenue reported his dog, a Dalmatian/Pit bull mix, missing. The resident stated the dog was missing from his back yard between Tuesday night and Friday night. The victim's wife put up fliers throughout the neighborhood.

On Friday night between 5PM-9PM, the victim started receiving harassing phone calls about the missing dog. The caller demanded $500 for the dog to be returned to the victim. The owners offered $40 for the dog to be returned. After the suspect refused the $40, he called the police.

A team of officers, including undercover officers, followed up on the phone calls and made arrangements to meet the suspect(s) at Emerling Park with the money. As officers were waiting in a vehicle at Emerling Park, three men approached the vehicle. Officers jumped out and arrested one man right away, then after a brief foot chase, the other two men were apprehended.

The missing dog was located in the 1400 block of Andrus Street and returned to the owners.

Officers charged two men, 18-year-old Pierre L. Cabell and 56-year-old Gilbert D. Dickson. Cabell was charged with Receiving Stolen Property, Theft and Telephone harassment. Dickson was charged with Receiving Stolen Property, Obstructing Official Business and Disorderly Conduct. They were booked into the Summit County Jail.

Cats Aren't the Best Jogging Companions
Written by Lindsey Tugman -

LAFAYETTE, CO (CNN/KUSA) -- A teenager in Colorado is in trouble with the law after taking his cat for jog. Yep, you heard right. This teenager walks and runs with his cat. While that may be a little unusual, it's what he did when the kitty couldn't keep up that's landed him in hot water.

They say a dog is a man's best friend, but Seth Franco's willing to make an exception. He says, "Her name is Stella! With an exclamation point. I'm more of a dog person but this cat is so cool that I just took her in and take care of her. I love her."

Franco found Stella in a sad situation. He says, "She was tied up to a tree behind Boulder high school with a note that said I need a new home."

Six months later, the two are almost inseparable. He says, "I just care a lot about her. I guess more than the average person does."

Franco wanted Stella to enjoy the beautiful weather. He says, "So I thought, hmm, maybe before work I can go run the lake and the cat can come with me."

So Wednesday afternoon they went "jogging" in a loop around the lake. He says, "She ran about 45-percent of the way and then it was so hot she started panting real bad."

This is where he tethered Stella so he could keep going. He says, "Put her by a rock, under a shady tree."

Franco didn't know that kind of tethering is against Lafayette city ordinance. Someone called the police and said Stella was being attacked by birds. Franco says, "There were no birds going at her. There were crows crowing at her."

Some passing joggers scared the crows away as Franco finished up his run. He says, "And they were yelling at me. Telling me I abuse my animal. I did not intentionally abuse my animal. If anything I just take care of it."

He got a summons to appear in court on a charge of "animal cruelty." He says, "And they kind of just told me it was common sense to not tie an animal up."

Franco hopes others learn from his mistake. He says, "Don't abandon or hurt or abuse your animals. Or leave them tied up. While you go jogging. Cause you'll get in trouble."

Franco is due in court in May.

Sorry, Toto – Kansas Won’t Get
a State Dog This Year
By Beccy Tanner - The Wichita Eagle

Better luck next time, Toto.

A proposal to name the cairn terrier – the breed that played Toto in “The Wizard of Oz” – the official state dog has fizzled.

The House Standing Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources declined to hear House Bill 251, effectively killing the bill for the current session. State Rep. Ed Trimmer, D-Winfield, who introduced the bill, said he plans on re-introducing it again next year.

“That’s what we will probably do,” Trimmer said Monday.

“We had great responses from kids. And, I think this will give me a chance to go into the classrooms and visit with them, let them know this is part of the learning process and sometimes when you ask the first time, and the answer is no, you have to learn how to ask again. If it is something you want, you have to be persistent.”

He said he hopes more school children and their classes will become involved in the project. After all, it was Kansas school children who helped name the state reptile (the ornate box turtle), the state bird (the Western meadowlark), the state insect (the honeybee) and the state amphibian (the barred tiger salamander).

When the state dog proposal was first announced in late January, stories appeared in numerous newspapers including the New York Times, major blogs such as the Huffington Post, television networks and NPR.

PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, also weighed in, saying it opposed to the action, fearing it would add to Kansas’ puppy mill problems.

Brenda Moore, obedience chairwoman with the South Central Kansas Kennel Club, originally contacted Trimmer about the proposal. She said she plans to conduct a statewide campaign this summer to help raise awareness for a state dog.

“I intend to pick this up,” Moore said.

“I don’t think PETA made a dent in what we are doing. I just think it had more to do that this is an election year.”

She said she wants to create a petition drive and collect signatures from Kansans to present to state politicians; she also wants to raise awareness for existing state laws that have created stiffer penalties for puppy mill operations.

“Over the last six years, we have cleaned up a lot of the nasty people,” Moore said. “Most of the breeders are on the up and up.

“We want people to know that dog breeders are responsible people and that if we do get a state dog, we will not capitalize on it. I don’t think Kansas should be labeled a puppy mill state anymore.

“There are a lot of dog lovers out there who would like to see Kansas have a state dog.”

Critter Corner: Teddy Bear Hamsters
By Soraya Gutierrez -

Teddy bear hamsters are naturally solitary creatures and are likely to fight cagemates if they have them. Credit: Carolyn McKeone/Courtesy of Pet Paradise, London, Ontario, Canada

The teddy bear hamster, a long-haired version of the classic Syrian hamster, can be an appealing pet for small-mammal enthusiasts who are looking for a low-maintenance furry friend. It’s up to retailers, however, to help customers realize that keeping this critter content involves more than a cage, food and exercise wheel.

Informing customers about the care requirements—such as a nutritious diet, adequate housing and exercise toys—offers a good starting point when it comes to making a potential match between a new owner and pet. In addition, it’s helpful to provide tips about grooming, normal behavior and keeping teddy bears in good health.

Originally found in Syria and southeastern Europe, teddy bear hamsters became sought-after pets for their similarity in appearance to toy teddy bears. Their plush coats come in different shades of golden brown.

Retailers can be prepared to answer questions from customers about the teddy bear hamster’s average size and life expectancy, as well as about sexing. These animals—also known as Angora hamsters—grow to 4 to 5 inches long, or about the size of a mouse (without the long tail).

Teddy bear hamsters are known as low-key pets because of their size and temperament. On average, they live to be about 2 to 3 years old when properly cared for.

To show a customer the difference between males and females of this hamster type, retailers can check the underside and determine the space between two visible openings found on both sexes. The openings represent the genitals and the anus, and males have a wider distance between the two. Males also have longer fur, especially around their faces, necks and backsides.

It’s necessary for retailers to differentiate correctly between males and females because of certain behavioral problems that may arise. These naturally solitary creatures prefer to dwell in their own spaces, and if they have cage mates, fights are likely to occur.

Fighting between teddy bear hamsters can result in death. Owners can prevent these altercations by keeping the adults in separate habitats, regardless of sex.

The appeal of teddy bear hamsters as pets also lies in the fact that they make for relatively economical animal companions. A new owner can expect to be entertained simply by watching these critters in their habitats as they do what they do best: play.

Part of keeping teddy bears healthy includes providing plenty of stimulating exercise toys. For example, retailers can suggest products that encourage physical activity.

Exercise wheels are staple items in many hamster habitats; however, retailers can also carry the following toys: clear hamster balls, chew toys, tunnels and playgrounds. All promote hamster health and keep them on the move.

These animals may be small; still, it’s important for retailers to display them in the largest habitats possible. This way, customers can see how much space they need to keep teddy bears as house pets.

A small cage does not provide adequate room for these hamsters to comfortably play and exercise, since these pets love to run, chew, store food in their mouths and crawl through tunnels.

These unique behavioral traits are not only to be expected, but they are also signs that a teddy bear hamster is healthy. The chewing, for example, keeps the incisor teeth from overgrowing. Retailers can suggest giving chew sticks to keep these teeth in check. This chewing option also helps prevent the animals from gnawing their cages.

Another distinct behavior—the collecting of food inside large cheek pouches—enables teddy bear hamsters to store food for later. They also tend to carry food in their cheeks and hide it around their homes.

Appropriate hamster habitats can be made out of glass, plastic or metal. It’s important to ensure enclosures prevent teddy bear hamsters from escaping and getting lost.

For ways to keep teddy bear hamsters happy in their dwellings, retailers can sell quality hamster food in prepackaged varieties, as well as advise customers to give their pets fresh vegetables, fruit, grains and clean water on a daily basis.

In addition, new buyers might want to know about bedding materials. According to Audrey Pavia in the article “Hamster Bedding and Litter” on, the best bedding is nontoxic, clean and absorbent, and it gives off little dust.

Retailers can stock their shelves with a variety of premade bedding package selections for customers to choose from.

Teddy bear hamsters’ coats get easily dirty or matted. Therefore, while bathing these pets is not necessary, owners can groom them with a clean toothbrush if needed.

Teddy bear hamsters need to be handled with care. It’s best to leave these nocturnal animals alone during the day.

These hamsters may bite people who wake or otherwise disturb them. Educating potential owners as well as pet store staff about this risk can prevent an attack.

These animals are otherwise friendly and easy to scoop up with the hands, as long as it’s late in the afternoon or evening. Letting teddy bear hamsters roam outside their habitats in secure rooms can prevent boredom and excessive weight gain. This is when hamster balls may come into play.

Teddy bear hamsters make good companions for first-time pet owners, whether they are children or adults. With daily interaction and supervision, these pets provide plenty of enjoyment.

Cats May Purr to Your Heart's Content

We know that pets are beneficial to our health - they can lower a person's blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and provide opportunities for exercise and socialization.

In some cases, the source of the benefits is obvious. You walk a dog for two miles, you'll be in better shape. But some of the reported benefits are baffling.

A 10-year study at the University of Minnesota Stroke Center found that cat owners were 40 percent less likely to have heart attacks than non-cat owners.

Could a cat's purr be the reason?

"Cats will purr when they're content, but also they'll purr when they're about to be euthanized. It's thought they purr to communicate with their kittens," says author and animal behavior consultant Steve Dale. "It's thought to be a calming mechanism.

"If that's the case ... maybe they calm themselves or other cats, but maybe there's a fallout and there's another mammal species, us, that's impacted."
In another study, conducted at Kean University in New Jersey, subjects watched a "Lassie" movie. Their levels of cortisol - a chemical associated with stress - were checked before and after the film, and showed a decline after the movie.

This animal connection, Dale explained, "alters our neurochemistry. Not just the physiology, the blood pressure change, which is significant, but also the neurochemistry. The scientists are discovering there really is a difference here."

Bow Wow Wow:
ASI Unleashes 2012's Top Pet Gifts

Dog hoodie, collapsible water bowl and dog biscuit mix hit annual list

Tails are wagging as the Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI) today released its annual list of the hottest gifts for man's best friend.

"With 62% of U.S. households now caring for a pet, catering to the growing pet market is a smart choice for pet stores, vets, kennels, pet insurance companies, dog groomers and municipal dog parks looking to advertise or reward clients," said Timothy M. Andrews, ASI president and CEO. "It's clear this market reaches far beyond pooper scoopers and water bowls."
Premium treats, natural food and fashion-forward accessories helped push U.S. pet industry sales to $58 billion in 2011, with sales expected to reach $74 billion in 2015, according to research firm Packaged Facts. Sales of logoed promotional products hit $18.5 billion in 2011.

2012 Top Pet Gifts:

--Dog hoodie, from American Apparel. Zip-up fleece includes a pouch pocket for treats and a notch to attach leash to collar. Great advertising for dog walkers.

--Zippered water bowl, collapsible water bowl and waste bags, from Handy Products Line. Portable bowls include a clip for hanging from a leash, backpack or belt loop and funky trash bag container keeps bags handy.

--Dog biscuit mix, from Ingredients Corp. of America. Owners can bake cookies – and their own dog biscuits. Rewarding gift from groomers and pet stores.

--Leash, collar and ball toy, from Promopet. Kennel clubs and boarding kennels can advertise via heavy-duty leash, collar and logoed tennis ball.

--Wrapped biscuits, from A La Carte. USA-made individually wrapped treat includes all-natural ingredients, perfect as booth giveaway during pet-related trade show.

--Pet first-aid kit, from Ready 4 Kits. Includes essentials like tweezers for plucking ticks and thorns, antiseptic wipes, rubber gloves. Great thanks from vets and pet insurance companies.

--Paw balm and training treats, from Solar Advertising. Balm soothes and heals, making it a handy client gift or for municipal dog parks. Treats come in recycled, biodegradable tube.

Miranda Kerr Takes Her Dog Frankie
For a Walk in NYC

Considering how handsome her husband and son are, it’s only natural that Miranda Kerr would have an equally adorable little dog.

The supermodel was spotted taking her little Yorkie, Frankie, out for a walk in New York City on Monday. Naturally, she looked better than ever in a printed coat, jeans and effortless straight hair. We like!

Why Cats, Other Carnivores
Don't Taste Sweets
By Emily Sohn -

Lions like the taste of flesh, but sweets? Not so much.

With no need for carbohydrates, many carnivorous animals have lost the ability to detect sweet flavors.

Lions and Asian otters don't care for sweets but raccoons and spectacled bears will eat almost anything. Now a new study helps explain why.

Independently and fairly recently, genetic mutations have made various carnivores unable to taste sweet foods.

Probably because these species were already subsisting off of meat-only diets that lacked sweet flavors when the mutations first occurred, they did just fine after losing their sweet receptors -- giving rise to entire species of animals that lack appreciation for cookies or fruit.

For omnivorous creatures that chew their food, on the other hand, the ability to taste carbohydrates remains a matter survival, and their sweet receptors remain intact.

Besides offering a window into the unique sensory worlds of other animals, the research adds to our understanding of the complexity of taste perception. By better understanding how the system works, this and research like it could lead to a variety of applications, including the development of better artificial sweeteners or sweet enhancers.

For decades, scientists have known that cats show no preference for sweets. Then in 2005, researchers at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia published research showing that domestic cats have a mutation rendering their taste receptors unable to bind to sweet molecules. The same was true of their wild cousins, including lions, tigers and jaguars.

"When we first published the data on cats, it got a tremendous amount of publicity and a lot of people saying, 'My cat likes sweets and you're wrong,'" said biologist Gary Beauchamp, director of the Monell Center. "But invariably they liked ice cream or cake, and sweetness was confounded with fat and other things."

"In retrospect it seems obvious," he added. "But it was to my surprise when we found out that this [loss of sweet taste] has happened repeatedly and independently in many species."

To investigate whether other animals might share the finicky cat's lack of appreciation for desserts, Beauchamp and colleagues analyzed taste receptor genes of a dozen species of carnivores. All of the animals have taste perception systems that are similar to the human system, with specific known genes that code for receptors for each of the five tastes: sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami.

Using computer algorithms, the researchers could then scan each gene in each species to see if it contained any sequences that would make it unable to produce the proteins needed to sense each taste quality.

Of the 12 animals studied, seven had mutations that made them unable to taste sweets, the researchers report today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. All seven of those eat meat and only meat, and some inhale their food without even chewing. The list included bottlenose dolphins, sea lions, spotted hyenas and fossas (a cat-like carnivore).

Dolphins and sea lions also appear unable to taste the savory flavor umami, and dolphins might also be missing the ability to detect bitter flavors.

On the other hand, sweet-sensing genes were still functional in aardwolfs (a member of the hyena family), Canadian otters, red wolves, spectacled bears, and raccoons. The last three are meat-eaters who also eat fruits and other foods.

In a follow-up experiment that used behavior to back up the genetics, Asian otters showed no particular preference for water laced with sugar or artificial sweeteners, while spectacled bears almost unanimously chose the sweetened liquid.

When the researchers looked more closely at the genes, they saw that, for the most part, different mutations independently disabled sweet receptors in different species -- suggesting that taste receptor mutations have popped relatively recently in the scheme of evolution.

And an animal's diet, it appears, determines whether a mutation will disappear or stick around.

Understanding from a genetic perspective what animals can and cannot taste could help zookeepers and other handlers design desirable diets for creatures in captivity, said Thomas Finger, a neurobiologist who studies taste and smell at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Aurora.

On a deeper level, the study offers insights into how life on Earth is constantly evolving.

"Nature's always tossing the dice and mutating genes all over the place," Finger said. "This says that losing a taste gene in an environment where nutrition doesn't depend on it doesn't matter. That loss will persist, because there's no reason for it to be eliminated."

TV Star Lets Her Doggies Rub
Their Bare Butts on Restaurant Table

O'Day and her pooches at Toast

Hooray, Los Angeles County now allows restaurants to decide if they want to let dogs on their patios! Boo, one TV star recently let her puppies rubs their butts on a restaurant table and the health inspector had to come in.

The "doggy-style" incident happened last week at Toast, and involved "Celebrity Apprentice" star Aubrey O'Day and her doggies.

O'Day "let her puppies wag their naked asses all over her table at Toast for several minutes ... before finally putting the poochies on the ground," reports TMZ.

Having dogs on the table is in direct violation of the newly modified code that lets restaurants welcome pets on their patios--pets are not permitted on chairs, seats, benches, or tables.

Toast was not cited, but a rep tells TMZ the popular restaurant intends to be "extremely vigilant" about dog heinies on their dining surfaces.

Pets: Silenced Songbird Could Have Mites
By Jeff Kahler -

Romeo is a 2-year-old songbird whose cage hangs from a stand in an atrium in Margret's house. The echo provided by the atrium's glass walls sends his song throughout the house.

A singing canary is a wonderful gift, and I can imagine the sadness Margret felt when Romeo stopped singing. Actually, according to Margret, Romeo began to sing less frequently about two weeks ago and is to the point now where he does not sing at all. He still appears to be eating, but it is obvious to Margret that he does not have his former zest for life.

Canaries, like many types of birds, are flock animals. They live in large social groups for mostly survival reasons. A flock can forage for food with greater success than an individual bird, and a flock provides protection. When presented with a flock of birds, a predator can become confused and find difficulty in singling out any one victim. A flock can also act together in defense against a predator. As good as the flock strategy can be for survival, however, it can also be ruthless to an individual bird that might become debilitated for any reason.

When a member of a flock becomes ill or injured, it will stand out from the rest. It becomes an easier target for a predator and, indeed, attracts unwanted attention to the flock. These individuals will be forced out of the flock for these very reasons. It is this flock mentality that causes individual birds to hide their disease symptoms.

You might now ask what this has to do with Romeo. My point is that Romeo has likely been sick for a while and has instinctively hidden his symptoms to avoid being excluded from the flock. He no longer can hide his symptoms and Margret has become aware Romeo is having a problem.

There are many possible disease processes that could be causing Romeo's decreased auditory performance and generalized decrease in activity. We do not have time to cover them all, but I will share one distinct possibility based on my experience working with both breeding colonies of canaries, as well as individual companion canaries.

The key focus is that Romeo has stopped singing. This once-prolific crooner has become silent and that is likely a symptom of a respiratory problem. There are many causes for respiratory problems in canaries, including bacterial and viral infections. The most common cause I have seen is air sac mites.

Air sac mites are tiny little bugs from the arachnid group, the same group that contains ticks, spiders and various mange mites we see in dogs, cats and other mammals. These little pests get into the canary's air sacs, part of their considerably complex respiratory system, through the trachea, and multiply to the point where they become obstructive to airflow. This obviously compromises the bird's ability to breath and, as Romeo has demonstrated, results in no singing and decreased activity.

Diagnosing air sac mites in canaries can be fairly straightforward. Romeo can be examined by his avian veterinarian and with the use of a powerful pinpoint light source it is often possible to see the mites crawling inside the bird's trachea. The beauty of this disease, if that is not too much of an oxymoron, is that it is very treatable. An injection or application of a topically absorbed parasiticide will kill the little invaders and, if my diagnosis is correct, Romeo will be back on concert tour in no time.

Along with treatment, Romeo's cage environment needs to be thoroughly cleaned. He should have one or maybe two more treatments of the paraciticide to account for any new mites that may have hatched from eggs in Romeo's environment, each of these treatments should be accompanied by cage cleaning.

Hopefully, Romeo has a simple case of air sac mites and he can soon return to serenading Margret and filling her house with his beautiful gift.

Jeff Kahler is a veterinarian in Modesto. Questions can be submitted to Your Pet in care of LifeStyles, The Modesto Bee, P.O. Box 5256, Modesto 95352.

6 Ways to Make Your Pet Famous on Facebook
by Julie Seguss -

Your pet could be famous on Facebook. Here are tips on how to build your pet a Facebook profile!

You’ve probably heard of Boo, “The World’s Cutest Dog.” Maybe you’ve even oohed and ahhed during one of his national TV appearances, read his book or snuggled with his plush toy clone. Boo’s rise to fame all started with a simple just-for-fun Facebook page that went viral, and now the puff ball Pomeranian has more than 3 million likes!

Yes, Boo is pretty stinkin’ cute, but isn’t your pet equally adorable? We discovered the social media secrets behind the success of Boo and a few other top dogs of Facebook. Follow our tips to make your dog famous - or at least get him few fans.

Getting Started
Creating a Facebook fan page for your pet is easy. Go to your account settings and then click on the link for “Create a Page” at the bottom of the screen. Select “Artist, Band or Public Figure.” Then choose a category - most pet pages are listed as entertainers, public figures or comedians. You’ll also want to pick a name for your pet. You could use your pet’s real name, but you might want to get more creative. For example, Kristin Moon created a page for her four black and white French bulldogs cleverly called The Moon Pieds.

Next, add a profile picture for your pet. This is your chance to show off a cute close-up of your furball’s face, so choose wisely. You can also fill out the info page with location, birthday, awards and a description of your pet. Now it’s time for your first wall post.

Be Authentic
When you post on your pet’s page, remember that you’re writing from your furball’s perspective, not yours. Give him his own voice and personality.

“People love that Boo’s posts seem genuinely from him, with a clear voice and simple text,” says April Whitney, the Chronicle Book’s publicist for Boo: The Life of the World’s Cutest Dog.

Making Your Pet Famous on Facebook: Focus on Cuteness and Captions

Not surprisingly, most fans of pet pages respond best to wall posts that include photos and videos of your pet.

“Boo fans want cute pictures with brief captions,” says Whitney. “Those posts get vastly more Likes and Shares than product announcements, charity posts or links to outside entities.”

And while quick cell phone snaps are okay, when you use a better camera your photos will be clearer, more adorable and more powerful. As for captions – if you’re funny, go for it. Everyone likes to laugh.

Post for a Cause
Many of the most popular pups on Facebook also post for a cause. Depending on your goals, you may want to go this route.

Take Stacey Mae, a Great Swiss Mountain Dog for example. Her fan page started out slowly, but once the therapy dog started a special Teddy Bear Project, her number of likes grew dramatically. She now has over 15,000 fans and the program, which helps channel stuffed animal and blanket donations to the elderly in nursing homes and kids in hospitals, is a big success.

“Stacey's page is about being a therapy dog," says owner Maria Mandel. "People really like hearing stories about Stacey helping others and bringing joy."

If you don’t want to start your own charity project, you can promote others. Moon says fans are very sympathetic and offer up a lot of supportive comments whenever The Moon Pieds ask for healing vibes for a sick pet friend or good thoughts for one who has passed. You could also link to local dog rescue organizations or pets that need to be rescued form high-kill shelters.

Add Something Unique
The Moon Pieds, who have more than 1,000 fans, started a special daily feature called Skipper’s Sit of the Day. Moon says Skipper likes to sit in unusual positions and she frequently captures them candidly and posts one each day. Now she also features friend-submitted photos on “Skipper’s Guest Star Sit of the Day,” which got an overwhelming response. There is currently about an 8-week wait from when photos are submitted until they are featured.

Build Your Fan Base
While you can’t control whether or not your page goes viral in a big way like Boo’s did, there are a few things you can do to start building up your following. First, ask your Facebook friends to “like” it. If you participate in any other pet communities, ask friends there to follow you on Facebook. Moon also suggests reaching out to other pet pages that have large numbers of fans and tell them that you’re looking for friends, enter Facebook photo contests that will link back to your page, comment on other dogs’ pages, post on dog related pages such as magazines or favorite brands, or post videos on YouTube with a link back to your page. Good luck!

The 10 Biggest Dog Obedience Training Tips

Bringing a dog into your home is a big commitment. Committing yourself to a training plan for your new friend will ensure that your relationship with “Rover” is a rewarding one.

When making a training plan for your pet there are some fundamental rules to consider:

1. Decide outright what kind of behavior you expect from your dog across the board and make a plan that reinforces those behaviors. Setting out to train a dog without considering what you want them to learn before hand can lead to confusing and frustrating consequences for you both.

2. Be consistent! If possible, one person should be primarily responsible for the dog’s training in the beginning. Once the dog has learned the basics from one person, you can start incorporating others into the dog’s world. If, however, training must be a family affair from the beginning, make sure that every person who deals with the dog is using the same commands and gestures and has consistent expectations.

3. Use a dog crate. Dog crates are an important piece of training because they provide the dog with a place to go to have “down time” and keep him safe when no one is around to supervise his activities. While it may take some time for the dog to get used to the crate, in the end, he will learn to appreciate it as his own space and, over time, will go to the crate himself when he wants to rest. Dogs by nature like the feeling of a “den”, and the crate provides this for them. The dog should sleep in the crate and go into the crate whenever there is no one available to supervise him.

4. Play with your dog before you start a training session. Basically, what you are trying to do with this play session is get rid of any excess energy that he may have so that he is better equipped to give you his undivided attention during training.

5. Training sessions should be no more than 10 minutes long. Just like a child, your new dog has a short attention span and long training sessions can turn frustrating, which will create negative feelings associated with training. This is something you do not want. Training will be most effective when it is fun and rewarding for you and the dog, and the best way to ensure that is to make is short.

6. Work with the dog several times a day. 5-6 10-minute training sessions throughout the day will serve your goals well. You will be surprised how quickly your dog learns the basics.

7. Reward your dog with healthful treats. When the dog does something right, give him a small snack, and a lot of praise. Your new friend wants, more than anything, to make you happy…that along with treats.

8. Be Firm! When you ask the dog to perform a function, say it once and then gently force them to perform the function. For example, tell your dog to “sit” and then place him in a sitting position. Do not stand over him and ask him to sit 10 times. Once is all it should take, and if you expect that, over time he will learn.

9. Repeat yourself. When you ask the dog to perform a function and they do it, repeat the command along with praise. For example, you ask the dog to “sit”, they sit, and then you tell them “good sit…good sit”. This reinforces the command and helps your dog understand what you expect. Even if you have to place him is a sitting position, repeat the command once he is in the position.

10. Have fun. Owning a dog is a big commitment, but one that can become one of the most rewarding relationships of your life. Enjoy the time you spend training your dog. If done correctly, it will lay the foundations for a lovely friendship.

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