Remember your dog’s feet!

February 1, 2011

Well folks, we have yet another large snowstorm on its way.  Snow can be lots of fun for arctic breeds, but not-so-fun for the little ones or those with short fur. Just remember to keep them warm, and don’t keep them out too long because the fur between their footpads can freeze!  Also watch out for road salt because it can be irritating to their skin.  The best thing to do is take your dog for a short walk and wipe off their feet with a damp towel when you come back inside.  Your dog will thank you!


Why it’s Awesome to Adopt an Adult!

September 15, 2009

Here at BHS, most of the dogs that pass through our doors are juveniles and adults, 6 months and older. Don’t get us wrong, we adore puppies, but we think there are some great benefits to adopting an adult, too!


Melody, 3-5 years old (and recently adopted!), gets silly during playtime!

With an adult, you know more about….everything!
Personality, behavior, likes, dislikes, energy level, training needs, even how much they shed!

Looking for a high-energy pal to run with?  Maybe you’d prefer a couch potato who’s willing to be the Roeper to your Ebert?  Dogs’ personalities have blossomed and formed by the time they become adults.  Whether you want a jogging partner or a cuddle buddy, you don’t have to guess what an adult dog will grow up to be like, you’ll know!

Adults already know the basics of good dog behavior.

Most adults know what’s okay to chew in the house (toys, bones) and what’s not (shoes, furniture, Aunt Ethyl’s purse)!  They’re often already house-trained, too.

Whether young or old, dogs retain their playfulness throughout their lifetime!

No need to worry that you’ll miss out on puppy playfulness.  Play is an important part of adult life not only for dogs, but also wolves, cats, chimpanzees, parrots, and many other animals.   They seem to know that “You don’t stop playing because you get old, you get old because you stop playing.”

Click here to see the shelter’s many adoptable adults!

Quick Training Tip #4

August 1, 2009

Hula, up for adoption, runs in our play yard.

Proper exercise is vital to a dog’s physical and mental health.  Dogs can learn better and even behave better when they’ve been getting routine work-outs.  (Ever notice your dog getting a little rowdy if he doesn’t get his usual walks for even a day or two?)

What’s surprising to most people is that walking a mile a day is not sufficient exercise for most dogs.  Dogs need to run, to jump, to play,  really get some aerobics in!

4 Fun Ways to Really Exercise Your Dog!

1.  Get your dog jog on!
Jogging is great aerobic exercise for both people and dogs, and all that’s needed is a good pair of shoes!  If jogging isn’t something you and your dog already do, be sure to slowly work up your stamina over several weeks, don’t push it too much!  (Jogging is also great motivation for you and your dog to work on “heel”.)

2.  Take a long-line walk on the wild side!
Berkshire County is a great place to find hiking and walking trails of all kinds!  Woods, fields, streams, mountains, you name it, we got it.  Hitch your pup up on a long training lead and get out there to explore.  The long lead will give them room to safely romp and run, even if you are walking.  Training leads come in lengths as long as 50 feet, but we think the 20 or 30 foot ones are more practical and easier to use.

3.  Find some pup pals!
Got a dog who just loves other dogs and plays well with others?  Does your friend?  How about your neighbor?  Consider getting together for regular play-dates.  These can keep your canine friend well-exercised and well-socialized!

4.  Go Fetch!
Got a dog that loves to fetch?  Do you always play in the same part of your yard, with the same ol’ slobbery tennis ball?  Mix it up!  You can play fetch on land, in the water, or in the snow!  Trade in that ball for a plush toy, a squeaky, a Kong, or you could even splurge on a retrieving dummy!

The proper amount of exercise for a dog depends on their age, size, body condition, and health.  Always pay attention to your dog’s body, and when in doubt, don’t over-do it!  Also, summertime can get awfully hot here in the Berkshires!  Help your pup keep cool and safe from the heat by exercising early in the morning or later in the evening.

If you feel like you can’t provide your dog with enough exercise by yourself, you’re not alone!  Consider hiring a dog walker or enlisting your friends or relatives as your dog’s personal trainers!

Woahhh! The Opposition Reflex and Training Equipment

May 20, 2009

And now for the results and answer to our PupQuiz! (If you didn’t take it, check out the previous post.)  Let’s see what people thought…

Q: Why do some dogs pull so hard on leash that they cough and choke?
 6%  It doesn’t bother them.                                
 0%  It’s a reflex.                                                            
 71%  Drive to investigate environment is very strong.                      
 24%  They’re so excited, they just can’t hide it.                   

The answer?  It’s a reflex!

That’s right, dogs have an “opposition reflex” that causes them to push against pressure.  Traditional buckle collars and harnesses can actually encourage a dog to pull forward because they press against the throat and chest.  (And with collars, all that pressure is right on the trachea, which can be injured as a result, eek!)

So how do you help a dog who’s pulling like crazy (or even jumping, too) to walk nicely on a leash?

Here at the shelter, we use two special pieces of training equipment, the Easy-Walk Body Harness and the Gentle Leader Headcollar.  They are designed to not put pressure on the front of the dog’s body (so they don’t forge forward) and teach them to back away from pressure.


The Easy-Walk Body Harness is a front-clip harness.  The D-ring (the metal loop the leash attaches to) is located at the front of the harness, on the chest.  So, when a dog pulls, the pressure from the leash is distributed across the body, and the dog is turned towards its handler.  The chest strap sits low on the breastbone, so it doesn’t put pressure on the trachea.  We use the body harnesses for dogs who need a small to moderate amount of help with walking nicely.  In the photo to the right, adoptable Bella is modeling the harness.

For dogs who are very strong and/or who have a tendency to jump, we will often outfit them with a Gentle Leader Headcollar.  It is much easier to lead a large, strong animal by the head rather than the neck (Just ask horse people!).  The headcollar directs pressure to the back of the dog’s neck, so when they pull and feel that pressure, they back up.  When they back up, the leash relaxes and the pressure is gone.  The headcollar is not a muzzle at all, and the dog is free to open its mouth normally.  Dogs can eat, drink, and play ball with the leader on! RosieLeader 


Rosie, recently adopted, models the GL Headcollar in these photos!

Can my dog catch my cold?

February 20, 2009

Like many other Berkshirites, the Dog Blog blogger has been feeling a little under the weather lately, so she thought it would be a neat idea to post about Zoonoses! (Pronounced “zoo-no-sees”)

What in the world is a zoonosis, you ask?  It sounds like something out of a Dr. Seuss book!

A zoonosis is a disease or health condition that can be transferred between animals and people.

That’s right, there are a few bugs you can give to and get from your pets.  (Don’t worry, it happens very rarely!  You’re MUCH more likely to get another human sick or get sick from another human.)  But, it’s always good to be in the know!

Actually, you and your dog can’t share the majority of sicknesses you come down with! Here’s just a few examples of…

Things Your Dog Can’t Catch From You

Why no, I haven't seen your hot pack.

Why no, I haven't seen your hot pack. (Staffer's BHS alum, Boston.)

  • Common cold
  • Influenza
  • Stomach flu
  • Mononucleosis
  • Poorly thrown tennis balls

So, why can’t your dog catch your cold? Well, a lot of viruses, bacteria, parasites, and other fun organisms can only survive in the bodies of certain species.  Something about that species’ body (animal or human) is unique and provides them with what they need to live.  So, the cold virus can (unfortunately) live and thrive happily in your body, but it doesn’t stand a chance in your pet’s.

Lesson learned?  If you’re sick in bed with the flu, your dog can safely snuggle up with you while you recover! 🙂

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