Just Pretty Collars: Is Teal the Perfect Color for Every Dog?

When it comes to complementing literally any shade of fur, nothing works as beautifully as the color teal (aqua, turqoise, blue-green—you get the idea). There’s just something magical about how the color mixes so perfectly yet remains so visible with dog fur. We combed Etsy.com for the prettiest collars in that prettiest of all colors for dogs. Check out the collection.































Saving for Canine Medical Costs

Have you tried buying medical insurance for your dog? Pet insurance has really come a long way since it was first developed. Although it’s been at least five years since I tried it out, it’s worth noting that my experiences with it were pretty much failures. Here’s an example: my newly adopted young dog was fully vaccinated and completely loved and cared for. He suddenly became quite ill with Giardia. After a trip to the vet and the proper meds, he recovered. When I submitted the claim for reimbursement, I was told that this was considered a “preventable” illness and therefore was not covered. Since this is definitely not the case—Giardia can NOT be prevented—I immediately cancelled this pet insurance.

Today, there are many pet insurers to choose from. But before you sign up, in addition to researching the details of each one, there’s one piece of advice I received from a kind veterinarian a long time ago. She said, “I recommend that you put aside money every month in your own bank account to pay for your pet’s veterinary bills.” It’s kind of a brilliant, old-fashioned approach. A savings plan just for your animals! However you decide to do so, be it a savings account, money market, etc., you’ll know that you’re building up the reserves you’ll need when necessary, and if there is any interest to be earned, you’ll be the one earning it. Smart, huh?

5 Plan-Ahead Gifts for Dog Moms on Mother’s Day

From something as simple and affordable as a custom cookie cutter to a real splurge with diamond jewelry, here are a few suggestions for unique gifts to make Mother’s Day extra special for the Dog Mom you know and love. And while giving something custom made requires a bit of planning, we bet you’ll agree it’s worth it.

Screen Shot 2015-04-26 at 1.27.45 PM1. Custom Cookie Cutter
One glance at all the unique cookie cutters at Cookie Cutter Kingdom on Etsy and you’ll be preheating the oven and dreaming of cookies, cookies, cookies. For the dog parent, they make custom cookie cutters! That means paw shapes, dog shapes, and bone shapes with a word or name in the middle. Have fun with the customization ideas: Hungry? Sniffer? Humper? So many possibilities. All made from safe, food-grade plastic.

Screen Shot 2015-04-26 at 1.31.22 PM2. PAWSitively Yours Diamond Jewelry
If you live near a Fred Meyer store, you can drool over these beautiful designs in person. If not, the PAWSitively Yours collection is all available to buy online. Their diamond paw print pendant is a classic, and every purchase from this collection triggers a donation to the Humane Society of the United States.

ChoPridebites_small3. Pridebites Custom Disc
Let’s face it—if you appreciate creativity and beautiful artwork, there’s no way you’d allow your pup to actually use this as a toy. We prefer to think of these as fiber art. These Pridebites custom discs are an absolutely unique and adorable gift that is worth the wait. After you send your pup’s image, they’ll get started producing a beautiful, fuzzy fabric likeness on a sturdy yet soft disc.

Screen Shot 2015-04-26 at 3.03.00 PM4. Dog Wisdom on Wine Glasses
We love that each of the wine glasses in this set of four offers a different bit of canine wisdom. Instead of wine glass charms, use these stemless glasses and each wine sipper will remember their glass by its unique canine wisdom. The classic paw print design ties them all together.

Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 12.46.34 AM5. Cutest Nighty-Night Illustration
Sara Pulver’s distinctive, contemporary folksy style is easy to love. And when it comes to understanding the heart of our relationship with our dogs, she really gets it. Just take a look at her sweet illustration series of tiny people sleeping at the foot of the bed, while their large dog is sleeping under the covers (with his head on the pillow) —then you can commission 3 Crows (Sara’s Etsy shop) to create your own family illustration in a similar style.

Beautiful, Natural, Handmade Candles that Help Save Animals



Who doesn’t love a deliciously-scented candle? Getting one for yourself or giving one as a gift is such a nice gesture. But what if the candle does more than just offer a calming, wonderful scent, and can actually help animal rescue organizations, too? At Dog Parent, we love companies that not only make quality products but make helping animals a big part of their mission. That’s why we are so happy to tell you about a candle company we found on Etsy.com called Rescue Candle. If you love candles, you know how important it is to burn candles made of natural, environmentally friendly ingredients. Rescue Candle creates their unique blends from soy wax and all-cotton wicks for a clean burn, and hand pours each candle into an adorable, reusable Mason jar. No petroleum products, no pesticides, no toxic ingredients—just a 100% natural, vegan product made in the USA.

RescueCandle2_WebLighting the scrumptiously-scented Mango Mutt candle diffused a natural mango scent all through our kitchen for a totally summery feel. We love the names of their candles as much as the scents they contain: Off the Leash will really take you to the beach with its tropical suntan oil scent, Morning Nudge is a dose of hazelnut coffee, and Walk in the Park delivers the fresh scent of cut grass, just to name a few. And when you purchase these candles, 15% of the proceeds are donated to animal rescue organizations. They also offer two fundraising programs that provide a fun and innovative way to help your shelter or rescue organization raise money.

Check out the assortment of candles at rescuecandle.etsy.com or rescuecandle.com, as well as their Soy Wax Melts, hand-painted Canvas Bags, Magnets, and Soaps. All natural, all cruelty-free, and all made with love.

Music Therapy to Calm and Soothe

Cho_ThroughDogEar_webAs I write this, ChoCho and I are listening to Through a Dog’s Ear, Volume 1. He’s sound asleep. On Thursday afternoons, when I volunteer at the Bend Spay+Neuter Project, there’s a CD player in the dog kennel recovery area, where the dogs rest after surgery, listening to this same music. I notice that more than half of dogs in recovery who listen to Through a Dog’s Ear are resting and relaxed.

It’s a truly happy discovery to find a natural, beautiful, musical way to bring relaxation to a nervous canine. The developers of Through a Dog’s Ear utilize scientifically proven elements (their “psychoacoustic rationale”) of music performance and composition to create a relaxing effect in the canine (and human) listener. In sum, the sound is simplified through three processes that you can read more about on their website.


The ability to provide your dog with a natural, auditory method of relaxation can really be helpful in dealing with separation anxiety, new environments, while recovering from illness or surgery, in fearful situations, or simply to combat loneliness. The company also makes a self-contained, portable device called the iCalmDog, which can play up to six hours at a time (or 12 with their Battery Boost).

Read all about how to use their CDs as part of a positive conditioning system on their website (instructions are included with each volume)

We also love that the company supports shelters and adopters by providing free one-hour CDs to both, making the shelter experience a little better for everyone.

ChoCho is now snoring, by the way.

Green Things for a Green Holiday

Take a look at our St. Patrick’s Day-inspired collection of five green goodies for happy dogs.

Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 8.57.26 AMIt may look like a plastic garden from a sci-fi movie, but this interactive grove can give pups a rewarding experience getting treats for themselves. Just add some small delicious morsels and let your dog nose his way through the Northmate Interactive Feeder. A great game to play on a rainy day.



Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 8.58.22 AMBoth green and “green,” these Green ‘N’ Pack poop bags are not only nontoxic but they also have handles, making them that much easier to close up after use. A giant roll offers great value, but does require that you keep the bags at home and tear off a few before heading out for a walk.




Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 9.14.49 AMDo you carry an extra “emergency leash” in the car? We consider it an important piece of safety equipment, if ever you and the pup run out without a leash (oops!), or if you find yourself rescuing a lost dog, or even to offer to another dog parent in need. The PetSafe Premier Nylon leash is sturdy and affordable, making it a great choice to have on hand.


Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 9.16.33 AMDog Parents know that a fresh and healthy coat comes from inside, with proper nutrition. But for those times when pooch needs a little boost of freshness, we love Cloud Star’s Buddy Splash Spritzers. And for the ultimate in a clean, natural scent, you can’t go wrong with their Green Tea and Bergamot scent.





Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 9.23.38 AMFor little to medium size dogs who need a little extra warmth in winter, check out Stinky G’s happening Hoodie Sweater. The reason we love this so much is that it’s a soft knit, has a hoodie, and has little sleeves. And dogs always look good in stripes.

5 Easy Spring Clean-Ups for a Fuzzy Home

Once that clock springs forward, you know the season of flowers and allergies is just around the corner. Whether you love it or tolerate it, it’s the perfect time to spiff up around the homestead. Here are five easy and effective ways to handle the little bit of extra cleaning that’s necessary when your family includes those covered in fur.

61Aj7aaCuML._SL1187_1. The Soggy Doggy Door Mat. Can a better doormat really make a difference in keeping the house clean? We bought one, tested it out at the door to the backyard, and after a solid year of use, have to say yes, it really does keep the dirt level down inside the house. Read more

A New Baby Pup in the House

Part Two: Pup’s First Day and Night

Pup2Imagine that someone has gifted you with a secret trip. You’ve boarded a private jet to destination unknown. Once you land, you find yourself someplace totally unfamiliar, amidst people speaking a language you don’t understand. You might be a little anxious at first, but soon you get into a groove and learn the ways of things in this brand new place. Plus, the food is really good there.

That’s very close to how your pup feels when he first arrives at your home. Part bewildered, part scared, part curious, part sleepy, and part hungry! The most helpful thing you can do for the little one is introduce him to the new digs, on leash, one place at a time.

The house tour.
Wearing his harness and leash, walk the little guy around the house, and let him sniff along the way. Have a toy already waiting in his bed, water already filling his water bowl, and a clear and easy path to the door he’ll be using to go outside for potty. When you take him outside to show him around, let him sniff, and praise him warmly for going potty. Spend a little more time sniffing around outside, then bring him back inside to his crate or penned area.

Housetraining is easy for dogs, but sometimes tricky for humans.
Dogs are perfectly willing to learn where it’s good to go potty. If they have a tough time learning, it’s means that something is wrong, medically (i.e. a bladder infection, urinary crystals, etc.—all reasons to see your vet pronto) or their human is not doing a good job of helping them to learn by missing their signals or not keeping to a regular schedule.
1. Start by using a crate or a penned in area. This helps pup learn that the house is not the place to go potty. The reason crate training works is that it teaches the pup to gradually include the entire house as his no-potty, home zone. You start with a small area and gradually increase the area size until, eventually, the “crate” is the whole house.
2. Be sure to set up your penned area or crate in the most often-used area of your home. Whether it’s the kitchen, your home office, the family room, wherever the people hang out the most.
3. It’s all about routine. Take pup out for potty on leash on a regular schedule (first thing in the morning, right after a meal, before a play session, after a play session, etc.). Be sure that your “outside for potty” routine is pleasant and relaxing for both you and pup. After he goes potty, praise him, then spend a bit more time sniffing around outside before bringing him back inside. Why? Because if pup learns that after going potty he must instantly go back inside, he may not want to go potty outside (since it means his enjoyable time sniffing outside comes to an end). And that can lead to indoor accidents, typically occurring right after he comes back inside.
4. Use the word potty. Or poopy. Or peepee. Or business Or whatever word you prefer to put a clear label on the activity. By teaching pup the word for the elimination activity, it allows him to understand what you are communicating to him, a useful communication tool when it’s really necessary. For example, if it’s frigidly cold outside, you can tell your dog to “go potty” at the beginning of your foray outside, sparing you both a possibly lengthy time in the cold. Or if you’ve just arrived at a grooming appointment, a quick trip to a grassy area beforehand for potty will make for a much more comfortable appointment for pooch. There are lots of times it will be helpful to be able to tell your dog to go potty, and have him understand you.
5. Accidents are no big deal. If you catch the little one going potty inside, you can make a quick little disapproving noise (“eek!” or “uh-oh!” work well), scoop him up and take him outside (keep old towels around for just this purpose). Never make a big deal of a potty accident. Your pooch is learning to utilize muscles that don’t fully develop until he’s four or five months old. Don’t expect perfection, and don’t ever scold a pup for going potty. You want him to learn to trust you, not fear you.  Finally, be sure to clean up any messes as soon as possible with a cleaner that will enzymatically treat the stain. At Dog Parent, we can’t imagine life before the BISSELL SpotBot Pet Deep Cleaner. For carpets, this gets the job done quickly and with minimal effort on your part. Use BISSELL’s 2X Pet Stain & Odor Formula for the best clean possible. If you’re cleaning up a mess on a hard surface, Nature’s Miracle is the tried and true enzymatic solution that cleans the mess and removes the odor. We like to transfer Nature’s Miracle into a small spray bottle for ease of use, rather than pouring out liquid from the larger bottle.

Nighty night.
If pup’s in a crate, move the crate into your bedroom at nighttime. Make sure pup sleeps in a bed next to yours (in or out of the crate). Very young pups may wake up during the night, older pups will sleep the night through. While adult dogs may be just fine sharing a bed with you, young pups should get used to sleeping in their own soft and cuddly bed, a consistent and secure place in the house.
Before investing in a top quality bed, it’s good to know your pup’s sleeping style. Some prefer to sleep with arms and legs outstretched, making a rectangular bed a great choice. For pooches who love to curl up into a ball, a round bed will most likely be their favorite.
To get the best of both worlds, we think the Orthopedic LUX Bolster Bed by K9 Ballistics suits both preferences really well. It’s a double layer of supportive foam, surrounded by a waterproof liner, then covered in your choice of cozy, breathable, thick fabrics. Plus, it has a gentle bolster design, which keeps pups feeling surrounded and protected while they snooze. The covers are machine washable, a very important feature in a bed.

Stay tuned for more articles on puppy care in future Dog Parent posts.


A New Baby Pup in the House

Part One: Before the Pup Comes Home

Pup1_effects_flatA friend just called, asking for advice about her new puppy. With so many questions and so much misinformation available from wacky television shows to outdated books, we’ve decided to assemble some of the best info we know for the new puppy parent.

PART ONE: Before Puppy Comes Home
From the moment you first consider bringing a puppy home, you have the opportunity to start planning so that you’ll be ready when the little one arrives. Arming yourself with knowledge before you need it can prevent a frantic scramble in the middle of the night when you are faced with a problem for which you don’t have a solution.

Read this.
We wish there was a way for out of date books to magically disappear. Once the information in them is disproven or corrected, they would instantly vanish. Since that’s not possible, it becomes extremely important to make sure that the books you choose to read are current, represent the best of what we currently know in the field, and will most likely produce good results. For a new puppy, our favorite book of all is Puppy Start Right: Foundation Training for the Companion Dog, by Kenneth M. Martin, DVM, and Debbie Martin, RVT, VTS(Behavior), CPDT-KA, KPA-CTP. These two behavioral experts are trained in the most modern and proven effective methods of communicating with your dog, shaping his behavior, and creating a relationship that works for both of you.

Get a harness.
Yanking on a dog’s neck, whether it’s with a regular collar or a metal torture device (i.e. pinch collar or choke chain), does not teach your dog anything other than walking with you is stressful, painful, and venturing outside can be a downright unpleasant experience. Not to mention the physical damage that you can inflict using metal collars (tracheal and esophageal damage, strained necks, foreleg paralysis, laryngeal nerve paralysis, fainting, hind leg ataxia). At DogParent, we recommend using a harness. From all our testing, we found the very best harness to use while teaching a dog to walk nicely on leash without pulling is the Freedom No-Pull Harness.  This harness sits in the most comfortable positions possible on your dog, and utilizes a leash that can be attached both on the back and under the chest at the same time. Will you need to get a new harness as pup reaches full size? Probably. Is it worth it? Totally.

Once pup is used to walking on leash and not pulling, our favorite and most comfy everyday harness is the Pinnacle Harness from Kurgo.  It’s got attachments everywhere you’ll need them, including total compatibility with all of Kurgo’s car restraint accessories.

Place pup’s bed next to yours.
We’re always baffled when people mention putting their new pup in a faraway room, like a basement or—heaven forbid—garage. Your new pup wants and needs to be with you at bed time. If you use a crate, move it into your bedroom. If you’re not using a crate, make sure pup has a bed in your bedroom. To be isolated from the family unit at critical times (bed time, eating time) can create some behavioral problems for a species that thrives on our companionship. Dogs are social animals who want and need to be with us.
If you are crate-training, make sure you have a crate you can move from room to room. During the day, if most of your time is spent in the kitchen or living room, make sure pup’s crate is in the kitchen or living room.

Next installment:
PART TWO: Pup’s First Day and Night
(coming up on Dog Parent)

The Alternative Dog Show: Our Top Seven Dog Personality Winners

While it may be fun to watch the Westminster Dog Show, at Dog Parent, we like to celebrate dogs by their personalities instead of their breeds. Peruse our list of the Top Seven Dog Personality Winners, as judged by their adorable, lovable natures, and see if you recognize your pooch in one of them. And here’s to all the unique and loving personalities just waiting to be discovered at your local shelter!

BlackDog300pxBlack Dogs

Ask any shelter, humane society, or rescue organization, and they’ll tell you that Black Dogs are the dogs most likely to be overlooked by adopters. Perhaps because it’s harder to see their beautiful features in less-than-ideal lighting. But we have a saying about Black Dogs here: Black Dogs Love Harder. It may not be scientific, but every black dog we’ve ever known has been extremely loving and attached to their human family. So let’s raise a paw to Black Dogs everywhere! Check out photographer Fred Levy’s Black Dog Project and photographer Guinnevere Shuster’s photo series for a beautiful look at Black Dogs.





LittleYapper300pxLittle Yappers

Those little dogs with big lungs can really steal your heart. Whether they are professional cuddlers or not, they deserve some extra tender handling to keep them safe and sound and warm. We’ve discovered that the best way to quiet a Little Yapper is with a whisper. Want to help out a nervous Little Yapper? Check out the Thundershirt for a naturally calming approach to anxiety problems.





PointyEars300pxPointy Ears

Taking the top prize for expressiveness, those pointy-eared dogs are quite beautiful. It can be a real health benefit to have upright, pointy ears, too—greater airflow can help keep the ears from getting yeasty or infected. And nothing beats spotting the silhouette of a set of pointy ears enjoying an outing in the car in front of you. Celebrate the wolfy nature of your Pointy Eared pooch with a heart-warming, inspirational, and seriously unforgettable read: Three Among the Wolves by Helen Thayer.






ShiftySlinker300pxShifty Slinkers

Can a dog be too smart? If you’ve got a dog who has you wondering just what he’s thinking more often than not, you may have a Shifty Slinker. These dogs are smart, and lounging around all day on the couch can be downright depressing for them. The Shifty Slinker loves to party with those who can challenge his or her advanced intellect. Repeatedly fetching a ball? Not their cup of tea. In between their busy schedule of social engagements and agility competitions, you can entertain your Shifty Slinker with this super advanced interactive toy: the Trixie Chess Game, Level 3.




ChowHound300pxChow Hounds

Here’s a category of dogs that can either inspire you to be more conscious of what you’re eating…or cause your diet to backfire. Chow Hounds love to eat. No amount of food will ever satiate these hungry pooches. It may be extra important to make sure they don’t gain weight. On the upside, Chow Hounds can be the easiest dogs to train, given their willingness to learn and work for treats. To keep your Chow Hound from becoming an obese hound, keep the treats small and delicious. We like Cloud Star’s Grain Free Soft and Chewy Buddy Biscuits in cheddar flavor.





Goofball300pxHappy Goofy 

Who radiates happiness and always seems to be in a good mood? The Happy Goofy dogs! It’s simply in their nature to bring happiness everywhere they go. They don’t mind being laughed at, either, because nothing makes them feel better inside than when their human family is happy. The best way to give your Happy Goofy dog a happy life is to join them in the fun. Perhaps, instead of Happy Goofy dogs, they should be called Angels. Immortalize your Happy Goofy angel with a custom portrait from Lili Chin, because she’s so great at capturing their inner sweetness through illustration.





The Grandma or Grandpa dog is the type of dog who loves being with family and taking care of everyone. If there’s a baby in the house, your Grandma/Grandpa dog will be the one fussing over the little one, bringing her toys, giving kisses, and fetching Mom or Dad when baby starts to cry. These dogs love family get togethers, sense your emotions, and truly put family first. For a sweet way to show your intense connection, check out the beautiful “Rescued” set (collar charm for pooch, necklace for human) from Harper and Hound.