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Exercise is essential

Having a play date with other dogs can stimulate a dog's mind as well as provide physical exercise.

Exercise is very beneficial on a multitude of levels. We’ve all heard it countless times. What many people overlook though is that the same applies to your dog.

43 million dogs in the US are estimated to be overweight or obese. The problem can lie in an owner’s conscience neglect to exercise his or her dog, but it can also be that the owner simply doesn’t realize how overweight their pet is getting.

A 12-pound Yorkie is equivalent to a human female of average height weighing 218 pounds and a 90-pound female Labrador Retriever is equivalent to a 5’9” human male weighing 217 pounds. Dogs can seem very small or light to us, but in reality be quite overweight within their own species or even breed.

Regardless of breed, all dogs need a daily exercise regimen. Without one, dogs can become obese as well as develop poor muscle tone, heart problems, bone disorders, emotional problems and behavioral quirks. Usually, anywhere from two 15-minute to two 30-minute walks a day should be sufficient. But this can vary based on age and size. You should monitor your individual dog to regulate how much or what kind of exercise he or she needs.

For example, many breeds or types of dogs don’t do well with heat. Younger or older dogs, dogs with short muzzles and black dogs will need more indoor exercise when the outdoor heat is too much for them.

Very extreme hot or cold weather will prevent all breeds and types of dogs from getting normal outdoor exercise. In times like these it’s good to throw toys and play fetch, run up and down the stairs or around the house, or even teach your pet new tricks which can also induce some needed mental exercise.

A well-known saying I once heard goes “a tired dog is a happy dog.” If your canine gets the exercise he or she really needs it will prevent many physical and mental health issues as well as keep him or her quiet, calm and happy.

Every year 70,000 dogs and cats are born.

Every year 4 to 6 million animals are euthanized because they cannot find a home. This means that of all the animals that enter animal shelters in the U.S. only half of them ever find a home. The other half is euthanized.

This can easily be prevented. Spay or neuter your pet or, if you’re feeling extra ambitious, sponsor an animal at a shelter to help pay for their sterilization.

In states where spaying/neutering laws have been put in place it is estimated that the number of animals euthanized in the state is reduced by 65 percent.

As well as having benefits inside shelters across the U.S., spaying and neutering also offers benefits within the home. Dogs that have been spayed or neutering generally live one to three years longer than an unsterilized canine.

Temperament is also improved in spayed or neutered animals. Males tend to be less aggressive, less distracted. Females will have less mood swings as well. Both will be less tempted to roam.

Those that are against spaying and neutering pets argue that the cost is too high. In reality, there are many facilities that offer low cost spaying and neutering and many shelters have the procedure done before they adopt the animals they have out. The cost is also much less than the costs of having and taking care of a litter of puppies. As well as the costs that will crop up if your pet develops uterine cancer or something of the like.

Many are wary too of the risks of anesthesia in the medical procedure as well as a pet’s likeliness to gain more weight and exercise less. Weight and exercise is one problem that can be easily monitored and maintained by a pet’s owner. But in the end, the pros of having animals spayed and neutered far outweigh the cons.

The pictures shown above were taken at the Animal Care Society in Louisville, Kentucky. The Animal Care Society is one of many no-kill animal shelters across the nation. The No Kill movement is a growing idea that animals in shelters should not be euthanized simply because they are difficult to find a home for or because there isn’t enough room to house them.

Many argue that no-kill animal shelters are ineffective because they turn away the very animals they claim to be helping due to lack of room or amenities. In reality, this lack of room or amenities is mainly due to the fact that no-kill animal shelters are almost always also non-profit shelters.

In order to be a successful no-kill shelter, some necessities include an adoption program, an inexpensive and effective option for spaying/neutering, willing foster home participants, a rehabilitation program and of course plenty of volunteers. In addition to these, the costs of the basic necessities for the animals, such as shelter and food, no-kill shelters ineffectiveness, when it occurs, is mainly based on lack of funds.

To clarify, the No Kill movement does not support denying euthanasia in all cases. In severe cases of suffering such as uncontrollable depression or rage, the animals will be given a painless release. The movement works toward changing shelters that have been known to euthanize healthy, adoptable pets simply to make more room or because they were taking too long to be adopted.

No-kill shelters aren’t perfect, but they have the right idea and they just need a little help (some volunteers or a few donations) to be a lot more effective.

Pit Bull’s tagged as bullies

Photo Credit: Maggie Smith

Around the U.S., it has been demonstrated that some people are prejudiced against certain breeds of dogs. One type that is singled out most often is Pit Bulls. The “Pit Bull type” encompasses 42 breeds of dogs.

These breeds are the ones targeted in Breed-Specific Legislation, which are laws directed at certain breeds of dogs that have been deemed dangerous, regardless of the temperament or behavior of individual dogs.

Alexandria, Butler, Dayton, Falmouth and Fort Thomas are a few Kentucky cities that have legislative ordinances banning Pit Bulls. Breed-Specific Legislation can also include requirements for the dogs to be muzzled while in public places and requirements for them to be neutered.

Like every political argument, there is two sides to this story.

From 2005 to 2010, Pit Bulls fatally attacked 104 Americans. The Pit Bull type dogs have been singled out in particular mainly because of the common characteristic of a distinctively strong jaw, which obviously can do more biting damage.

Although the reasoning pro-Breed-Specific Legislation makes plenty of sense, the contra-Breed-Specific Legislation is much more overwhelming.

One of the reasons this legislation is ineffective is the fact that the dog temperaments are usually due to the way they are bred and raised by their owners and not due to their breed, according to Pit Bull Rescue Central. Also, the Pit Bull type dog breeds are difficult to identify and many well-behaved canines are banned or punished based on their breed.

Basically, those for Breed-Specific Legislation are simply trying to prevent canine attacks on humans and those against it are trying to protect the innocent dogs that are being punished because of it. Breed-Specific Legislation overall is ineffective. Some more effective and possibly less invasive action should definitely be considered.

Dogs, dogs and more dogs

This blog is all about dogs, obviously. You might ask yourself, why do I want to read a blog about dogs? Well…

As of April of this year, pet ownership in the United States has hit an all-time high. 72.9 million American households have pets. According to the American Pet Products Association, 60 percent of dog owners in the U.S. have one dog, 28 percent have two and 12 percent have three or more.

Dogs are generally a dominant branch on the family tree too. According to the American Humane Association, nine in ten pet owners consider their furry friends a member of the family. 63 percent give their dogs presents for Christmas.

Dogs are a prominent part of many people’s lives in the U.S. and regardless, who doesn’t love dogs?

Now, if you’re looking for a new dog and aren’t sure what breed to get, I can help you out there.

According to the American Kennel Club, as of last year the top 5 most registered breeds in America were Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, Yorkshire Terriers, Beagles and Golden Retrievers.

Of course, you can’t limit yourself to just these breeds. Everyone is different and you must think of a few main things when looking for a new companion. Your personality, lifestyle and expectations can have a lot to do with it.

Each breed is a different size and energy level. Some are good with children and other pets, while some aren’t. And all breeds require different levels of grooming. There are many other factors you need to consider in choosing a breed as well.

To help in this process I’d like to draw your attention to the Animal Planet Dog Breed Selector. This simple quiz will give you plenty of dog breed options that will fit you. This site also contains plenty of other helpful information that will help soon-to-be dog owners learn more about the family member you will be adopting.