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Dog Owners – What’s Worth Splurging On and What’s Not?

cute dog in purse

Having a dog in the household is almost like caring for a small child—one that has unique needs, likes, and dislikes. It can be tempting to shower your four-legged friend with everything they want (or, everything you think they want) and more—but not all toys, treats, services and clothing are worth it.

Most new dog owners will probably recognize themselves in this scene: wandering through the aisles of a local pet store, grabbing up bones, special grooming instruments, a plush doggy bed bigger than their own, and a dog-sized tutu fit for a queen. It’s not until they reach the register that they realize they’ve forgotten the bare essentials, prompting a reevaluation of some of the more frivolous items in the cart.

Whether it’s your first time adopting a dog (hopefully through getyourpet.com!) , or you’re just stuck on what to spend your money on, we’ve got you covered. Here’s what’s worth splurging on, and what’s not:

Worth it

Training classes. If you’re a first time dog owner, or you’ve just adopted a new puppy, it may be a good idea to invest in some formal training. Having a professional teach your pup basic commands can be an extremely valuable investment, and one that will last a lifetime.  Spending early on training could mean the difference between having a well-mannered dog or having one who requires re-training to break stubborn habits.

Dental care. Proper dental care is something many dog owners don’t initially consider when budgeting or preparing for their new pet, but it should be. Dental care and preventative maintenance may not be as glamorous as a doggy dress, but it can save you big time in the long run. If left untreated, dental issues can worsen, causing painful, costly, and even life-threatening problems down the road. The bottom line: if you’re going to splurge, and you want your pooch to live a long and happy life, then put your money where their mouth is.

Quality food. Though some argue that “food is food,” no matter the ingredients, we disagree. Choosing the right brand and type of food for your dog is extremely important, as not all kibble is created equal. It’s best to splurge on a brand of dog food that contains quality ingredients, provides adequate nutrition, and that is best suited for the age, health, and activity levels of your dog. You may find that these are not always the cheapest option on the shelf, but your pup will thank you for it for years to come. Ask your veterinarian for recommendations on what diet is best for your pet.

Not worth it

Couture doggy wardrobe. We’ve all seen those adorable little pups in their fancy dresses and matching hair bows. The reality is that these elaborate outfits are often uncomfortable, a bother to get on and off, and expensive. Your pooch might look red carpet-worthy in her bright pink tutu and matching slippers, but it’s best to save your money in this department.

Over-the-top toys. It’s easy to be seduced by all of the squeaking, talking, sparkly, jumbo, light-up play things at the pet store, but we promise your pooch will be just as happy with the classic tennis ball, stick, or Frisbee. Dogs aren’t picky when it comes to toys; they just want to play! If money is a concern, it’s best to forgo all the bells and whistles, and stick with the basics. After all, quality time together is far more valuable than a quality ball—even if it does have your dog’s name embroidered in gold.

It’s worth noting that these guidelines are simply that—guidelines. Every dog owner has their own budget and financial situation, and these are not a measure of your love or devotion to your pet. Be honest about what you can afford, but if you want to splurge and spoil your dog, then we give you two paws up.

A Friendly Debate: To Crate or Not to Crate?

dog in crate

“Is it okay to crate my dog?”

“How long can I leave my dog in the crate?”

“Is a crate a temporary tool or should it be a permanent fixture in the home throughout the dog’s life?”

These are questions most dog owners find themselves asking from the moment they bring home their little (or big) bundle of joy.

Some people believe it’s cruel to keep a dog confined to a crate for hours at a time. They can’t imagine being cooped up in a cage just big enough to turn around in—never mind spending the day or night there. What they may not realize is that dogs actually have a natural nesting instinct, and that having a quiet, cozy den to retreat to can actually be comforting to them. So, it would be a mistake to see the use of a crate as inherently unpleasant for the dog.

Still, there are two schools of thought about crates. One maintains that crates should strictly be used for a limited period of weeks or months until the dog is housetrained and can be trusted not to create a mess or damage the home. The other says that crates can function as a permanent retreat within the home for the life of the dog.

In the end, it is your choice. If you get past the stage where the crate has served the house training purpose, but you feel more comfortable keeping your dog crated during the few hours you are away from them, that is a legitimate position to take. If, on the other hand, you feel comfortable giving your dog free reign of the home when no one is home and that works out, that’s fine, too.

Regardless of what we’ve said up until now, there are certain rules to crating that responsible owners should always follow:

  • Crates should NEVER be used as a form of punishment.
  • Don’t let the crate deprive your dog of exercise and enrichment. If you are away from home for an excessively long period during the day, consider hiring a dog walker or placing your pup in doggy daycare. These are both great crate alternatives that will give your dog a way to expend some energy while you are away.
  • Whether you’re house-training a young puppy, or just welcoming a new dog into your home, it’s important to have patience during the process.

For more information about proper crate introduction or crate training techniques, check out these helpful resources:

http://www.thrivingcanine.com/to_crate_or_not_to_crate

https://clickertraining.com/to-crate-or-not-to-crate

 

“What’s Up With That?” 10 Common Dog Behaviors Explained

yawning dog

Have you ever seen a dog yawn around a stranger? Lick his lips at the vet’s office? What about that weird fire hydrant obsession? All of these are common dog behavior that many of us may think odd, but each has a simple explanation.

Here are the top 10 strange things you may have seen your dog do and what they mean:

  1. Yawning: If you’ve ever been around a dog and caught them yawning, that’s not a sign that they didn’t get enough sleep the night before. Yawning in dogs has nothing to do with being tired—it’s actually a sign of stress. Dogs may yawn when they’re in a stressful situation, uneasy around someone new, or are placed in a tense or unfamiliar environment.
  2. Circling or chasing their tail: You may have laughed at one of the many YouTube videos where dog owners catch their dog circling over and over in a comical and entertaining fashion, but it’s not all fun and games. Circling behaviors should not be encouraged—if left untreated, this behavior can develop into a compulsive disorder.
  3. Curved body, sniffing tails: Dogs have many ways of interacting with humans, but they also use universal body language for communicating with other dogs. Circling with another pooch, curving their body inward, and wiggling while sniffing tails is a sign of a mutual friendly greeting. They may also initiate a playful greeting by bowing.
  4. Scooting on the floor: If you catch your dog dragging their bottom across the floor, this may be a sign of an underlying medical condition. Allergies, worms, full or impacted anal glands, or some other source of discomfort could be causing your dog to seek relief in this way. Check with your veterinarian to get to the root of the problem.
  5. Digging: Dogs dig for many reasons—if they’re outside, they could be digging to escape, to track another animal, or to hide something of value. Sometimes, though, dogs will bring this behavior indoors, digging on carpet, rugs, or sheets. Digging habits can be annoying or destructive, but they aren’t inherently “bad.” Keep this behavior in check by discouraging constant digging and giving your pup an alternative activity or toy on which they can release their energy.
  6. Head pressing: If you ever catch a dog pressing their head against a wall or other hard object, don’t ignore it. Head pressing can be a sign of a serious medical condition, and requires immediate attention. Make an appointment with your veterinarian to determine if your dog is experiencing head pains or brain trauma that could be causing this strange behavior.
  7. Eating feces: Yes; it sounds gross, but eating feces is a totally normal behavior for some dogs! Dogs are natural scavengers, and feces are a source of protein. Dogs who do this may also just be curious, or may be mimicking behaviors they learned as a pup from their mother. The only cause for concern is if your pup isn’t receiving adequate nutrition—malnutrition or nutritional deficiencies may cause some dogs to eat their waste. Ensure they’re eating a well-balanced diet to rule out this possibility.
  8. Bowing: When a dog bows to you in a loose, playful manner, it’s time to play! He or she is begging for your attention, and is waiting for you to crouch back or grab a tennis ball.
  9. Licking: No, your dog isn’t licking his lips because they’re chapped—dogs will perform lip licking as an appeasement gesture. When a dog licks their lips and averts their eyes, it is usually a sign of being uncomfortable and stressed about their current environment. They are trying to soothe themselves and whoever else is in the immediate area, and to assure others that they are not a threat.
  10. Fire hydrant obsession: We always see cartoon dogs near fire hydrants doing their business, but this “obsession” is actually something of a myth—fire hydrants aren’t especially appealing to dogs, they just happen to be at the perfect height for your dog to lift his leg! If he sniffs before lifting, however, then it’s likely that another dog has been there before.

Layla, Now Lady, is a “Blessing” to her Adopter

Like many people who need to rehome their pitbull type dog,Jonathan feared people wouldn’t see past Layla’s breed. He knew how kind and sweet she is, but her looks can intimidating. Leaving her at a shelter was not an option, because he feared the worst would happen. He turned to getyourpet.com for help.

Within 24 hours of posting Layla’s profile, he had a message from Pat.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Layla, now called Lady, has been her new home for over a month. And Pat, Lady’s happy new mom, has kept it touch with us.

She says: I just can’t say enough great things about your organization. It’s a perfect concept to get a beloved pet from one loving home to another, without the heart ache of the dreaded middle man (a shelter). The way you transfer messages from the potential adopter to the current owner is great. I like that you monitor them, to insure both parties safety. The owners of Layla, Jonathan (and his family) are some of the truly nicest and kind folks I’ve met in my 64 years!!! They went above and beyond to help ease my concerns and traveled quite a distance to meet near my home with Layla (now Lady). It is a blessing to have given Lady a very kind and loving home…truly a divine intervention!!! Angela, thank you for the integral part you have played in making Joe (my other dog), Lady and myself as happy as we could possibly be, seriously!!!” 

Top Five Reasons Your Cat Isn’t Using the Litter Box

cat feet litter box

If your cat has suddenly stopped using the litter box, and they don’t show some sign of an obvious health issue, look for the explanation in one of the following reasons:

#1 Unclean Litter Box

The first thing to rule out is that your cat’s litter box may not be clean enough. It’s no secret that cats love to be clean — in fact, adult cats can spend up to 50% of their waking hours grooming themselves! So, if the litter box hasn’t been cleaned thoroughly or frequently enough, your kitty might decide they would rather not use it. If the litter box is cleaned regularly, then think about changing the type of litter you use. Some cats prefer clumping litter; others prefer softer, finer litter, maple-based litter, or even newspaper clippings. If you recently adopted your pet, be sure to check with your cat’s previous guardian about litter preferences.

#2 Improper placement

Litter box placement is a commonly overlooked but crucial factor when it comes to encouraging proper “bathroom” habits. Many people assume that their feline friend wants privacy when they use the litter box. So, they tuck the litter box away behind cabinets, in closets, or in other out-of-the-way places. Though it’s counter-intuitive for us, , cats see these hard-to-reach places as a threat to their safety. Instead, place the litter box in a more open area, where your cat won’t feel on edge about a possible ambush.

#3 Multiple pets in the home

Litter box issues often occur when multiple cats share the same space. A good rule of thumb is that in households with two cats or more, there should be one more box than there are cats. This prevents any confrontations or territorial behavior that might result in accidents.

#4 Stress

Stress can be caused by a change in routine, a recent move, tension or fear around other pets in the home, boredom or loneliness, or physical stressors due to medical issues. Any of these types of stress can discourage your cat from using their litter box. Try to identify and address any recent changes that may have caused your cat to feel uneasy or stressed.

#5 Medical issues

If all other possibilities have been exhausted, your cat’s litter box problem may be due to an underlying medical issue. Urinary tract infections, feline interstitial cystitis (inflamed bladder), and kidney stones can all trigger a change in litter box habits. If you’ve eliminated the simpler explanations, check with your veterinarian to see if your kitty needs professional medical attention.

Your cat doesn’t change their litter box habits to annoy you: they are trying to tell you something is wrong. Look for the more obvious solutions first, things that make them feel safe, clean and happy. Usually, that will do the trick, but if not, don’t hesitate to seek the advice of a professional.

Choosing The Right Pet to Fit Your Lifestyle

man with cat, dogs

Nothing is more exciting than searching for the perfect pet. Getting to know and fall in love with a new, lovable companion and welcoming him or her into your life can be an extremely rewarding experience — one that will go smoother if you put some forethought into it. Adopting a pet is a lifetime commitment that requires us to seriously consider our needs, lifestyle, and resources.

When looking to adopt a pet, one of the first things we notice is their appearance. We might take into account their size, coat, and any obvious physical characteristics, but there are many other factors beneath the surface that can determine whether the pet will be a good match for us.

How do I know which pet is right for me?

When it comes to choosing the right pet for your lifestyle, it’s important to consider factors such as energy level, dietary needs, required training, common medical issues, and proper environment. These can all have an impact on your pet’s health and happiness, as well as your ability to properly care for them.

Energy level

A cat or dog’s energy level can be a critical determinant of whether or not your lifestyles will be compatible. Higher energy dogs are usually best suited for someone who lives an active lifestyle, or is able to take frequent walks. Lower energy dogs, however, typically do well under the care of a person who enjoys a lot of downtime, or a working professional who spends daytime hours away from home. Most dogs require 30 minutes to two hours of exercise per day, though this depends on the breed, age, and overall health of the dog. While cats can spend as much as 14 hours a day sleeping, engaging them in moderate exercise for at least 30 minutes per day is usually recommended.

Temperament

Like people, all animals have unique personalities and temperaments that are displayed in their habits or behavior. While some dogs are more outgoing, social, and crave attention, others can be more laid back, calm, or even shy. It’s important that the pet feels comfortable in their new home, so consider what your needs are and what type of environment the pet will be living in. For example, dogs or cats that are more low maintenance, patient, friendly, and gentle will usually make good family pets. On the other hand, more active, sensitive or protective dogs usually do best living with one individual who understands and accepts their needs.

Special Needs: Dietary or Training Requirements

Also, consider special dietary requirements based on age, size, and breed, as well as any formal training requirements. While many common breeds of dogs and cats require minimal or basic training, some may require more advanced or specialized training. This is particularly true with hunting dogs, service dogs, or high-maintenance breeds that have an intrinsic desire to work.

Common Medical Issues

While there is no guarantee, certain breeds of dogs and cats tend to share a propensity for developing particular medical issues. When looking to adopt a pet, it will be important to research the types of medical problems, if any, that are common among the breed of dog you’re considering. You’ll also want to consider things like lifespan, cost of any related surgeries, ongoing care or preventative maintenance, or other unforeseen events that could arise as a result of medical troubles. Don’t just assume you can deal with a medical issue if and when it arrives—be prepared and proactive.

Be Honest

Ask yourself honestly how much time, money and energy you are ready to devote to your pet.

Being a responsible pet owner goes beyond love. It sometimes involves sacrifices or changes in lifestyle, and it is a lifetime commitment. Of course, sometimes there are factors beyond our control that may necessitate finding our pet a new home. In that case, organizations like Get Your Pet can help to find the perfect new home for your pet.

With Only Days Left, Jasmine Finds a Loving Home

Linda, Jasmine’s guardian, reached out to Get Your Pet for help with only days left to find Jasmine a home. Linda had to be unexpectedly hospitalized and her son took Jasmine, but could only keep her temporarily. With the support of the Get Your Pet community, Jasmine found a loving home in just 3 days. Here is what Linda had to say to us: “What a wonderful experience.  I found a great home for Jasmine so she didn’t have to go to the shelter.  I have told everyone about this site. Thank you so much!”

Why Adoptions Are FREE Now Through August 31st

Tell a friend – We are waiving adoption fees now through August 31st!

The issue of fee-waived, or free, adoptions is one that triggers a lot of passion, for and against. Here’s what I think.

Before I worked at an animal shelter, I would have said no one should ever get a pet for free. I thought, “If they aren’t willing to pay for a pet, they won’t take good care of it, right?” Wrong. Turns out, the facts don’t support this.

Take me, for example. I have five dogs all of which I got for free.

They have never gone hungry, or had a medical need that went untreated or lacked grooming. Even when money was tight, I put their needs above my own. I know I’m not alone in this. In fact, I would confidently say that almost everyone I know would do anything necessary to make sure their pet was taken care of, regardless of what they paid to adopt/buy the pet.

There’s good research to back this up. Studies conducted by the ASPCA and Maddie’s Fund, two leaders in the animal welfare industry, show that successful adoptions aren’t correlated with the payment of a fee. They found that most pets lived predominantly indoors, slept in the family bed, and had been to a veterinarian – and a resounding 94% of all respondents declared a strong or very strong attachment to the pet.

But what about people getting a pet for bad purposes?

This one can be tricky. There are certainly bad actors out there. You need to screen adopters, quiz them carefully to be sure they have good intentions. Setting a fee can help weed out undesirables as a first filter. But at Get Your Pet, we believe the ultimate weapon against these people is the Guardian. No one is more motivated to see that a pet goes into a good home than their Guardian, the person who loves them enough to keep them out of the shelter.

No system is perfect; neither ours nor the shelters’ has a 100% track record of picking a perfect home. But we give the Guardians on our site tips and suggested questions to ask and things to look for in an adopter to help them make a good choice. We trust them to put the time and effort into making a good choice for the pet they love. Plus, throughout the process, we monitor messages between Guardians and Adopters to check for red flags.

You may then want to ask me – why does Get Your Pet charge a fee at all?

The answer, quite simply, is we are not a charity supported by donations. We didn’t want our future to depend on charity dollars we took away from charitable businesses like shelters (which also charge, by the way, and usually much more than we do.)

Instead, we decided to create a business that we call capitalism with a conscience, where we offer a service that charges as little as possible, but gives great value and benefits to the people we serve, our Community of Adopters and Guardians. An interactive, national website like ours costs a lot of money to create, maintain, manage and grow. So, we charge what we need to survive and help more pets stay out of shelters by going from one good home to another.

That being said, we don’t have to charge a fee every day to keep the site up and running, and that is why starting today, August 19th, through the end of August, we are able to waive our fees and participate in the massive nationwide effort to “Clear the Shelters”. Even though we don’t have a physical “shelter” to visit, an adoption on getyourpet.com ensures the pet never even has to know what a shelter is… and what could be better than that?

Mixed Breed vs. Purebred Dogs: The Myths About Mutts

Fluffy Mixed Breed Dog

You might know, or have seen recently on social media, that July ended with National Mutt Day. Putting aside the dozens of “Happy #NationalMuttDay!” tweets that flooded our timelines, the occasion gives rise to a more serious conversation about breeding.

For breeders, it’s a challenging conversation to have. Their thought is that purebred dogs come from a long line of pure, traceable ancestry and boast polished, documented pedigrees. Mixed breeds do not, and many breeders believe that they are inferior.

This line of reasoning fails to take into account the many drawbacks of breeding and the detriment breeding can bring to a dog’s health and overall well-being. Not to mention how breeding contributes to the alarming overpopulation of dogs—a problem that shelters, rescues, and organizations like Get Your Pet are desperately trying to solve.

We’re not  suggesting that breeders don’t genuinely love their dogs, excepting the horrible puppy millers of our country. We’re simply taking issue with the idea that a purebred dog is automatically superior to the equally lovable mutts we tend to find in shelters. Some people hear the hype and think that buying a purebred dog will somehow guarantee them a superior companion.

We don’t buy it.

There’s nothing “wrong” with having a preference for a certain breed of dog. Who can explain why we find one thing more attractive than another? But don’t reinforce your preference with any of the common myths about purebred vs. mixed breed dogs.

  • Purebred dogs don’t necessarily conform to the breed characteristics you might expect of them. We talked about this in a a previous blog, but it’s worth repeating. You might be in for some serious disappointment when a purebred dog behaves like the individual he or she is.
  • Purebred dogs aren’t necessarily likely to be healthier. Medical ailments and genetically inherited diseases are quite common in certain breeds. Whereas mutts are often hardier.

If you’ve got your heart set on having a purebred dog in your life, you have options. Get Your Pet routinely sees purebred dogs listed for adoption, and there are many reputable breed-specific rescues out there. You can even check out your local shelter because, according to the ASPCA, roughly 25% of dogs in shelters are purebred.

The fact is that even with purebred dogs, we can’t always know the history or genetic lineage of a pet. What we can do is shape its future. Overlooking the stereotypes and stripping away the bias about breeds can bring our community of pet lovers closer to giving all dogs a good home—mutt or not.

Find the Bernese Mountain Dog in this Picture

Bernese is in the eye of the beholder

Recently a Guardian published a Bernese Mountain Dog on getyourpet.com and the response from potential adopters was off the charts. Hey, I get it. This Bernese was adorable. And it’s a truism in the adoption world that a cute little Bichon or a handsome Great Dane or any one of a number of purebred pets is going to generate a ton of interest, while the pitbull-type dogs languish unappreciated. But I’m here to tell you: this fellow in the picture doesn’t know he isn’t a Bernese. He is just as full of love, just as deserving of protection and affection as any purebred showdog could possibly be. Maybe we just need to squint just a little to see it.

Sometimes a Bernese is not a Bernese

We’ve all heard people say,  “My Chihuahua thinks he’s a bulldog” or “My mastiff thinks he’s a lap dog.”  The fact is, animals have personalities and sometimes their self-image doesn’t exactly correspond to their looks. The whole premise of Get Your Pet is that the best way to find the pet that will be a good fit in your household is to have meaningful communication with the person who has cared for and lived with them. And then, to meet them in a neutral, non-stressful place and see how they act.

Looks aren’t everything

So, what am I saying here? That you shouldn’t search for a pet that looks like the one you always imagined you’d have? Well, not exactly. I’m saying that choosing a pet is a lot like choosing a human life partner. Looks count, it’s undeniable, but they aren’t everything. In the end, other qualities are more important. Things like loyalty. Being a good companion. Love.

Keep an open heart

Maybe you found our site because you saw a post about a specific breed of dog. If that’s your heart’s desire, no problem. You can create a search to be notified when the type of pet you are looking for is published on getyourpet.com. But, keep in mind, we created getyourpet.com to help all pets at risk of surrender go from one good home to another, regardless of age, size or breed. So help us — help them — out. Spread the word by talking about our site and sharing our posts. And check back often – new pets are listed every day. You never know, you just might be surprised at the one that steals your heart.