Tips for the First 30 Days of Dog Adoption   


The first few days in your home are special and critical for a pet. Your new dog will be confused about where he is and what to expect from you. Setting up some clear structure with your family for your dog will be paramount in making as smooth a transition as possible.


Before You Bring Your Dog Home:


  • Determine where your dog will be spending most of his time. Because he will be under a lot of stress with the change of environment (from shelter or foster home to your house), he may forget any housebreaking (if any) he’s learned. Often a kitchen will work best for easy clean-up.
  • If you plan on crate training your dog, be sure to have a crate set-up and ready to go for when you bring your new dog home. Find out more about crate training your dog.
  • Dog-proof the area where your pooch will spend most of his time during the first few months. This may mean taping loose electrical cords to baseboards; storing household chemicals on high shelves; removing plants, rugs, and breakables; setting up the crate, and installing baby gates.
  • Training your dog will start the first moment you have him. Take time to create a vocabulary list everyone will use when giving your dog directions. This will help prevent confusion and help your dog learn his commands more quickly. Not sure which commands to use? Check out How to Talk to Your Dog.
  • Bring an ID tag with your phone number on it with you when you pick up your dog so that he has an extra measure of safety for the ride home and the first few uneasy days. If he is microchipped, be sure to register your contact information with the chip’s company.


First Day:

  • We know moving is stressful — and your new dog feels the same way! Give him time to acclimate to your home and family before introducing him to strangers. Make sure children know how to approach the dog without overwhelming him. Go here for more on introducing dogs and children.
  • When you pick up your dog, remember to ask what and when he was fed. Replicate that schedule for at least the first few days to avoid gastric distress. If you wish to switch to a different brand, do so over a period of about a week by adding one part new food to three parts of the old for several days; then switch to half new food, half old, and then one part old to three parts new. For more information about your dog’s diet, check out our section on Dog Nutrition.
  • On the way home, your dog should be safely secured, preferably in a crate. Some dogs find car trips stressful, so having him in a safe place will make the trip home easier on him and you.
  • Once home, take him to his toileting area immediately and spend a good amount of time with him so he will get used to the area and relieve himself. Even if your dog does relieve himself during this time, be prepared for accidents. Coming into a new home with new people, new smells and new sounds can throw even the most housebroken dog off-track, so be ready just in case. Need more housetraining tips? Check out our Dog Housetraining section.
  • If you plan on crate training your dog, leave the crate open so that he can go in whenever he feels like it in case he gets overwhelmed. Also, be sure to check out the do’s and don’ts of crate training your dog.
  • From there, start your schedule of feeding, toileting and play/exercise. From Day One, your dog will need family time and brief periods of solitary confinement. Don’t give in and comfort him if he whines when left alone. Instead, give him attention for good behavior, such as chewing on a toy or resting quietly (Source:Preparing Your Home For A New Dog).
  • For the first few days, remain calm and quiet around your dog, limiting too much excitement (such as the dog park or neighborhood children). Not only will this allow your dog to settle in easier, it will give you more one-on-one time to get to know him and his likes/dislikes.
  • If he came from another home, objects like leashes, hands, rolled up newspapers and magazines, feet, chairs and sticks are just some of the pieces of “training equipment” that may have been used on this dog. Words like “come here” and “lie down” may bring forth a reaction other than the one you expect.Or maybe he led a sheltered life and was never socialized to children or sidewalk activity. This dog may be the product of a never-ending series of scrambled communications and unreal expectations that will require patience on your part.

Following Weeks:

  • People often say they don’t see their dog’s true personality until several weeks after adoption. Your dog may be a bit uneasy at first as he gets to know you. Be patient and understanding while also keeping to the schedule you intend to maintain for feeding, walks, etc. This schedule will show your dog what is expected of him as well as what he can expect from you.
  • After discussing it with your veterinarian to ensure your dog has all the necessary vaccines, you may wish to take your dog to group training classes or the dog park. Pay close attention to your dog’s body language to be sure he’s having a good time — and is not fearful or a dog park bully. If you’re unsure of what signs to watch for, check out this video on safety at the dog park.
  • To have a long and happy life together with your dog, stick to the original schedule you created, ensuring your dog always has the food, potty time and attention he needs. You’ll be bonded in no time! For more information on creating a feeding schedule for your dog visit How Often Should You Feed Your Dog?
  • If you encounter behavior issues you are unfamiliar with, ask your veterinarian for a trainer recommendation. Select a trainer who uses positive-reinforcement techniques to help you and your dog overcome these behavior obstacles. Visit Dog Training for more information on reward-based training.

Congratulations! If you follow these tips, you’ll be on your way to having a well-adjusted canine family member.




10 Tips for New Cat Owners

Important Things You Should Know Before Bringing a Cat Home



Cats make great companions. Not only do they look good, they also keep mice away and have built-in motors. That's pretty cool.


But there's more to owning a cat than having a cute, soft, purring companion. Before you get one, there are a few things you should think about, and a few things that are just plain good to know.


PetMD shares 10 tips for cat owners:


1. Cats are indeed independent by nature, but they're not quite able to take care of themselves. Before you adopt, make sure that your lifestyle can make room for a feline. How busy you are and the amount of time you spend at home will dictate the kind of cat you should get -- very busy people may find it difficult to find the time for a cat that needs a lot of grooming and attention, especially the highly intelligent and active cats. But, there are cats that are ideal for the working lifestyle. Do your research.


2. What if your circumstances change after the adoption? Or if you work long hours and still want a friendly face to greet you at the door at the end of the day? Adopting a buddy for the cat to play with can be an excellent solution.


3. Do you have any allergies? If you do suffer from severe allergic reactions, consider testing yourself for feline allergies before bringing a cat home. Then again, some people with allergies might adapt to their own pet, but still be allergic to other cats. A safe bet is to choose a cat with low allergens. Consult your vet, books, or animal shelter employees for suggestions.


4. Before you bring your cat home, take it for a checkup and immunizations. Also, schedule it in to be neutered as soon as age permits. This can mean the difference between a healthy and happy cat, and a miserable cat trying to claw its way through the windows or spraying your furniture.


5. Get a good litter box and quality litter. Covered boxes can allow you and your cat more privacy, and clumping litter is easier to maintain. Keep the box clean, for the comfort of your cat and your nose. Also, make sure you buy well-balanced, age-appropriate food for your cat. Ask your vet, the representatives at your local pet store, or take a look at "Smart Shopping for Cat Food" for some advice.


6. Cats love to play. Toy mice, string, feathers, and even empty boxes make for great amusement. Playthings needn't be expensive (they can even be homemade), just make sure there's enough to keep your cat happy, active, and mentally occupied.


7. If you don't want your sofa shredded, or your new Louis Vuitton bag ruined, invest in a scratching post.


8. Catnip, and those little freeze-dried chicken nuggets are excellent tools for cat bribery and training.


9. Get pet insurance. We hope you won't need it, but like they always say, "It's better to be safe than sorry."


10. If it's a kitten you're bringing home, make sure you start a grooming routine early. Bathing, brushing, and trimming claws will be an event to look forward to, rather than something to dread.


And there you have it. These are just a few of the things to keep in mind when you get yourself a new companion. Another important consideration: Cats often live for around 20 years, so you and your furry feline friend will be together for a long time.




The Most Dangerous Pet Chew Ever:  Rawhide

How can one of the most popular chew sticks on the planet be so dangerous for your pets, you ask? I mean, most dogs chew on rawhide for hours on end, and not only does it keep them busy, but they seem to last forever.

Well if you understood what it took to make this toxic “raw” leather stick, you would quickly understand what the problem is. 

Aside from the horror stories circulating all over social media these days, of pets needing emergency surgery after consuming rawhide, the majority of pet parents today, especially the newbies, believe that this chew is some sort of dried up meat stick. Let me debunk that myth right away!

A rawhide stick is not the by-product of the beef industry nor is it made of dehydrated meat. Rather, rawhide is the by-product of the “Leather Industry”, so theoretically it is a leather chew. Sounds awesome, right?

“Producing rawhide begins with the splitting of an animal hide, usually from cattle. The top grain is generally tanned and made into leather products, while the inner portion, in its “raw” state, goes to the dogs.” 

So, how does this leather, which is conveniently rolled up into pretty shapes, actually get made into those rawhide chews? 

Follow along my friends and I will enlighten you on how this hide travels through a leathery process where it transforms from hide to a not-so beautiful, colorful, chew stick. Here is a paraphrased tutorial that was explained by the whole dog journal several years back:

STEP 1: Normally, cattle hides are shipped from slaughterhouses to tanneries for processing. These hides are then treated with a chemical bath to help “preserve” the product during transport to help prevent spoilage. 

(No one wants to purchase a black, spoiled rawhide stick!)

Once at the tannery: the hides are soaked and treated with either an ash-lye solution or a highly toxic recipe of sodium sulphide liming. This process will help strip the hair and fat that maybe attached to the hides themselves. 

(No, no one wants to see a hairy hide…)

Next on this glorious journey, these hides are then treated with chemicals that help “puff” the hide, making it easier to split into layers. 

The outer layer of the hide is used for goods like car seats, clothing, shoes, purses, etc. But, it’s the inner layer that is needed to make the rawhide. (Oh and other things like gelatin, cosmetics, and glue as well!)

STEP 2: Now that we have the inner layer of the hide, it’s time to go to the post-tannery stage! Hides are washed and whitened using a solution of hydrogen peroxide and/or bleach; this will also help remove the smell of the rotten or putrid leather. Bonus! 
(Research also shows that other chemicals maybe used here to help the whitening process if the bleach isn’t strong enough.)

STEP 3: Now it’s time to make these whitened sheets of this “leathery by-product” look delicious! So, here is where the artistic painting process comes in.

“Basted, smoked, and decoratively tinted products might be any color (or odor) underneath the coating of (often artificial) dyes and flavors. They can even be painted with a coating of titanium oxide to make them appear white and pretty on the pet store shelves.” -

“…the Material Safety Data Sheet reveals a toxic confection containing the carcinogen FD&C Red 40, along with preservatives like sodium benzoate. But tracking the effects of chemical exposure is nearly impossible when it’s a matter of slow, low-dose poisoning.”–

Ok, now that these hides have been painted, it’s time for the final process.

STEP 4: Getting it to last forever!

Because the FDA does not consider these chews to be food, really it’s a free for all when it comes to the manufacturers of these leather strips, and the products they may want to add to these chews, to get them to last forever. Any sort of glue can be added here to get these bad boys to never come apart. 

When tested: Lead, arsenic, mercury, chromium salts, formaldehyde, and other toxic chemicals have been detected in raw hides. So it’s safe to say that any sort of glues can be used as well! 

Finally, it’s time to package and attach all the glorious marketing labels to the product.

Check out the fine print warning that’s attached with some of these rawhides: 
“Choking or blockages. If your dog swallows large pieces of rawhide, the rawhide can get stuck in the esophagus or other parts of the digestive tract. Sometimes, abdominal surgery is needed to remove them from the stomach or intestines. If it isn’t resolved, a blockage can lead to death.“

(Oh, how lovely…)

And there it is! It’s now ready to be shipped to store shelves where it can be purchased for our loving animal companions. 

How do proactive veterinarians feel about these chews?

Here is world-renowned veterinarian Doctor Karen Becker's take on the matter:

“The name ‘rawhide’ is technically incorrect. A more accurate name would be processed-hide, because the skin isn’t raw at all. But the term “rawhide” has stuck.

Rawhide chews start out hard, but as your dog works the chew it becomes softer, and eventually he can unknot the knots on each end and the chew takes on the consistency of a slimy piece of taffy or bubble gum. And by that time your dog cannot stop working it -- it becomes almost addictive.

At this point, there’s no longer any dental benefit to the chew because it has turned soft and gooey, and, in fact, it has become a choking and intestinal obstruction hazard.“

P.S. Ready for the jaw dropper?

An investigation by Humane Society International stated in their report, “In a particularly grisly twist, the skins of brutally slaughtered dogs in Thailand are mixed with other bits of skin to produce rawhide chew toys for pet dogs. Manufacturers told investigators that these chew toys are regularly exported to and sold in U.S. stores.” –

Rodney Habib - Pet Nutrition Blogger

"An educated, informed and well-researched community of pet owners can only put more pressure on the pet food industry to be better! When pet owners know better, they will only do better!"

Gadgets for Playing With Your Pet Remotely


For absentee dog and cat owners, connected pet gadgets promise to foster long-distance relation

ships with four-legged friends


IT’S NO SECRET that Americans are pet-crazy. Between food, doggy day care, cat tuxedos and everything else, we spent an estimated $60 billion on our animals last year, according to the American Pet Products Association. Our pets are like our children—which may explain why leaving them in the house while we’re at work can feel like abandonment. They have nothing to do all day but eat, sleep, mope, chew all our shoes, bark at the coffee maker get the idea.

Entrepreneurs are not indifferent to our plight. With a new clutch of gadgets, they’re ready to relieve our guilt, amuse and exercise our pets, and maybe even usher in a rich new age of man-animal communication.

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Petcube Camera 

The Petcube Camera ($149 through Feb. 14, $199 thereafter, promises to let you use your smartphone to remotely “watch, talk to, and play with your pet” by swiping a laser dot around on the floor for your furry friend to chase. To get the Petcube up and running, you place the 4-inch box in a spot overlooking a likely play space and hook it up to the house Wi-Fi. Using the Petcube app, you create a Petcube account and set up a social-media profile for your cat, then—wait, what? Yes, your pet will need a proprietary Petcube profile...and frankly, if you want to share her embarrassing videos and allow others to play with her remotely (because there’s nothing at all weird about that), it’s about time she joins the social-media revolution. (The Petcube wasn’t a hit with my 14-year-old cat, Maggie, who is far too world-weary to get excited about chasing an uncatchable laser-bug.)

Kittyo (, a successfully funded Kickstarter project that moved into production late last year, hopes to put even more control at your smartphone-stroking fingertips. With a few surreptitious taps and swipes under the table during your boring quarterly forecast meeting, you can remotely attract your tabby toward the camera-equipped device by generating sounds (bells, birds, squeaks, your own voice). Once she’s in range, you can play a little laser-tag with her while you take and share photos and videos. Then you can reward your exhausted cat for the whole unseemly ordeal by remotely dispensing yummy cat-food pebbles from the device.



I visited New York-based Kittyo founder and inventor Lee Miller to see the Jenga-stack-size device in action. It turns out nothing perks up a cat’s ears like the sound of a bird inside your house. Mr. Miller’s rescue cat, Nico, thus summoned, pounced obediently if discreetly after the laser as I conversed with his man-panion.

The first Kittyos are rolling off the factory floor now (it’s available for preorder for $249), according to Mr. Miller, and the company is working on unspecified “product enhancements.” (I suggested finding a way to let your pet text you ideas for dinner, but he deemed that logistically daunting.)

Cats are low-maintenance by nature and presumably an easy audience. What about dogs? Their heritage is all about running in packs and working, so they should be even more lonely and bored when stuck inside all day without you. And dogs seem to genuinely miss us while we’re away whereas cats are all, like, “talk to paw.”

It stands to reason that dog distractors would need to provide more in the way of physical and mental stimulation...and so they do. One of the earliest interactive toys was iFetch($115,, the tennis-ball launcher that lets a dog exercise himself by dropping balls in the top (this takes some training) and scrambling after them when they unexpectedly come popping out—again!—from the side.


But we’ve come a long way since then. Over a thousand pet lovers banded together to fund the Kickstarter campaign of CleverPet(, a toy-meets-game that stimulates your dog’s mind as well as her body while you monitor her performance remotely. CleverPet presents progressively more difficult Whac-A-Mole-style games: When your pooch solves them by correctly slapping her paws on touchpads as they light up, it dispenses doggy treats. The challenges start out easy (at first, stepping on any pad yields a treat), then get progressively harder. You can track Dogbert Einstein’s game-solving progress, caloric intake and more on your smartphone. CleverPet is expected to ship to Kickstarter backers soon; curious canine owners can sign up to be notified when it becomes publicly available for $299, in April.

Another soon-to-be-released doggy-brain-training Kickstarter project called PupPod(puppod.comadds video to the experience, and requires your pet to commute back and forth between a stand-alone treat dispenser and a wobbly self-righting toy. When dogs interact with the toy at the right time over here, a treat comes out of the dispenser over there. As with CleverPet, the games start simple but get harder (you can even program your own), and the setup includes a separate video camera so you can watch your quick-witted pooch excitedly bustling back and forth between PupPod’s parts. Final pricing for the whole setup hasn’t been set but is expected to be under $500; currently, a $99 deposit will reserve a PupPod for you and your little buddy when the product is released.

As we progress from remotely amusing our pets to remotely exercising, training and feeding them, maybe the next generation of devices can train our pets to do useful things while we’re away, like sorting out the tangle of cords behind the TV. This evolving global pet connectivity could one day allow lonely dogs to play checkers with one another, or empower cats to organize some sort of revolution.

Just to be on the safe side, I’m going to start monitoring my cat Maggie’s social-media profile pretty closely. I suggest you do the same for your pet’s.




5 Summer Grooming Tips From An Expert


As your dog starts to shed his winter coat and the weather warms up, it’s time to start thinking about all the fun things summer brings: playing in the water, late evening walks in the warm air, and even a “pupsicle” or two.

It also means it’s time to make sure your dog is groomed properly for the season. Andis Grooming Educator Tammy Siert provided us with the following tips to make sure your dog is ready for some (safe) fun in the sun.

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#1 – Brush, brush, brush!

Maintaining your dog’s coat is an essential part of keeping your dog’s skin healthy. The key to keeping your dog free from skin problems that are caused or aggravated by knots and tangles is to brush, de-shed, rake, and comb your dog regularly. It is especially important to make sure you are brushing your dog on a regular basis if he is being bathed frequently or loves to swim.

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#2 – Keep your dog’s nails short

During the summer months your dog will be outside more so making sure their nails are short is important so they don’t crack or break. Use nail trimmers to cut off the tip of the nail at a 45-degree angle, and then use the Andis EasyClip 2-Speed Nail Grinder to smooth the tips of the nails. Keeping your pet’s nails short also allows them to walk properly on their pads. You can also use a paw balm to help protect their pads from the hot pavement.


Image source: ANDIS

#3 – Remove excess undercoat

By removing all the dead undercoat from your pet with a brush, rake, or comb, you are allowing him to stay cool in the hot summer months. The Andis Slicker Brush is a great tool for this. In doing so, the air will circulate to your pet’s skin instead of holding in moisture.

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#4 – Hydration is key

Dogs, like humans, are made up of 80% water. Therefore, it is crucial to keep your pet hydrated during the scorching summer months. Replenish their water bowl frequently and if you have a pet that is fussy, try to make drinking fun for them. Find out what your dog likes, whether it be running through a sprinkler or drinking from a water bottle.

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#5 – Don’t shave double-coated breeds

Some dog breeds, such as Retrievers and Pomeranians, have a double coat (a soft undercoat and a rougher topcoat), which greatly increases shedding as summer approaches. You might be tempted to shave your dog, but this beautiful double coat allows your dog to regulate his body temperature, so don’t shave it! Instead, give your dog a haircut using a longer comb attachment with the clipper or thin your dog’s coat using a de-shedding tool like the Andis Deshedder.