New 2016 Dog Calendars Are Available

2016 Dog Calendars

The new 2016 dog calendars are available at our partner now.  To browse through what they have for both dog calendars and other nice dog related items, just click on the big graphic below.

Have fun browsing!

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Keep Your Dogs Safe During Holiday Season

safe holiday season dogs safety

Keep Dogs Safe During Holiday Season

As we approach the holiday season, I first want to thank all our readers for spending time with us this past year.  It’s been another great year with our dogs and their friends.

Here are some quick pointers to help keep your dogs safe during holiday season.

  1. Keep chocolate items out of reach (advise guests too)
  2. Limit treats to prevent weight gain during holidays (advise guests not to give treats to our dogs too)
  3. Make sure holiday season lighting wires are secured
  4. Keep poinsettas and other plants (Christmas trees) toxic to dogs out of reach
  5. Know where the emergency vet clinic is in your area
  6. Don’t leave small items like small Christmas toys that can be swallowed which kids might leave lying around
  7. Protect your dog’s paws from road salt – see our article/video on dog boots
  8. Resist temptation to give puppies as Christmas gifts unless the potential recipient and person with primary pet responsibility gets the required education and training.  We don’t want anymore dogs abandoned to the pet shelters because new owners underestimated what it takes to train a dog.

These of course are all things we should do all year round but during the holiday season, certain things might come out (like Christmas lights, trees and poinsettas) which may draw curiosity from our dogs since they don’t see them during other times.  And we might be so focused on entertaining guests during the holiday season that we overlook extra safety precautions we should take with our pets.

The last thing we need during the holiday season or at any time of the year for that matter, is to take a sudden trip to the emergency vet clinic.  So let’s keep our dogs safe so we can all enjoy the times together with them during the holiday season.

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Best Moments Of Small Dogs Group 2014-2015 Video Shows Dog Friends

small dogs meetup group video toronto mississauga brampton dog friends

Dog Friends On New Video

I put together a new video which was really fun to do.  It’s a compilation of the best moments on photos from our Mississauga GTA Small Dogs Outings Meetup group from its beginning in fall of 2014 to present day near the end of 2015.  I added some captions to reflect the nature of many of the photos.

As I watch the entire video showing photo after photo, I can certainly see that the various shots really show the essence of what our small dogs group is really all about.  The group was formed to help my Lhasa Apso dogs Chester and Roxie make some new dog friends.

As you can see from the video below, the group is about helping our pets make friends and you can see the various dog friendships that have been formed throughout the year.  It’s interesting that the puppies find each other and the older, more mature dog members also do the same with each other with good friendships being made especially over time.

Like human friendships, dog friendships seem to develop stronger over time.  This is why we always stress that new dogs to our group attend our outings on a regular basis.  The more times our dogs see each other, the more they will get use to each other and enjoy each other’s company.

You can sense that the dogs in our photos are happy during these outings we run.  The photos were taken on various types of outings including visits to leash free dog parks as well as nature trail walks of different durations.  Some trails were local while some were out of town in conservation areas.

Emmy, a white Shih Tzu member of our group, was our first besides Chester and Roxie to attend an outing with us in 2014.  You can see in the photos that the friendship bond between Emmy and my Lhasa Apsos are quite strong now.  My dogs are only a year younger than her but they have similar styles of dog socializing, ie., they prefer to casually chill out.

The member dogs who are just past puppyhood to a few years old tend to like to run around more and this group includes Spartan, Nitro and Anan.  The even younger ones still puppies like to wrestle.  This would be the case with our puppy members Bentley, Harlow and Lisa.  So each member dog can usually find another with similar socializing styles.

It’s actually quite interesting how the older dogs like my Lhasa Apsos Chester and Roxie would teach the younger ones some manners by snapping at them if they get in their faces or try to jump on them.  Since the older dogs are past the wrestling stage, they teach the puppies what is acceptable and what is not when it comes to socializing across age groups.

Wide Range In Age With Small Dogs Group

For the longest time, Emmy was the oldest member of our small dogs group (11 years old as of this post).  But a 14 year old American Eskimo has since joined our group.  The youngest are some puppies who are just several months old.  Our member dogs come from mostly from Mississauga, Brampton, Oakville and Milton but we do have a few like Zoe and Broker who come to our longer weekend outings all the way from Toronto.

Anyway, here is the video.  I would definitely encourage all dog owners to try and get involved with a similar dog group in their area since dogs who are socialized and have dog friends are just happier.  Enjoy the video!

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How Long Does It Take To Housetrain A Dog?

How Long To Housetrain A Dog?

One of the most common questions I get from new puppy owners is how long does it take to housetrain a dog? To answer this question, I shot a quick video which is presented below. The most important thing to realize is that puppies are infants. Babies do not know anything so don’t expect them to know what to do just because a dog litter box or pee pad is put in front of them.

New dog owners must actively train and teach their pets what to do and that is why we produced our indoor potty training with a dog litter box program which teaches people step by step on what to do.

Patience and ACTIVE training on the part of the dog owner will ensure that the puppy makes good progress towards being fully housetrained whether just outdoor or both outdoor and indoor using a dog litter box like my Lhasa Apso dogs Chester and Roxie.

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How To Trim Dog Nails An Easy Way

How To Trim Dog Nails

I’m always amazed by how many dog owners avoid trimming their dog’s nails and rather pay a groomer or vet instead to do that task for them.  In fact, many dog owners I’ve talked to, even within our own small dogs outings Meetup group, even fear clipping dog nails.

Although I have caused a bit of bleeding when trimming dog nails beforein the past, I’ve since learned how to do it safely without hurting my Lhasa Apso dogs Chester and Roxie with no more bleeding incidents.  Initially this job was a challenge especially with my boy Chester since most of his dog nails are black and therefore the quick where the blood vessel is within each nail cannot be seen.  But now it’s a breeze without any problems and takes just minutes to do.

Video On Clipping Dog Nails

So I thought it was time to shoot a new video on how to trim dog nails which takes just minutes at home.  In this video, I show a cross sectional diagram of a dog nail and where clipping should be done.  Then I show the viewers the position I like to use these days to trim dog nails with both my Lhasa Apsos and I in very comfortable positions during this grooming task.

You will actually see me clipping dog nails with Chester and how he fully cooperates since he now knows that I won’t hurt him (plus he knows that he earns a treat each time for any grooming task we do!).  His sister Roxie (shown in the introduction and ending of the video) also cooperates in the same way although we don’t show any nail trimming with her on this video.

Here is the short video

As mentioned in the video, it’s a good idea to trim dog nails on a frequent basis to allow the quick to recede.  It’s also good to walk your dog on hard surfaces on a regular basis since surfaces like concrete will help grind down the dog nails too.

One thing I did not mention in the video is to check whether your dog has dew claws.  These are single extra dog nails that might protrude from the back of the paw.  Some dogs have them while some do not.  Many breeders have dew claws removed while the puppies are young and this was the case for Chester and Roxie since these additional dog nails seem to serve no function.  My previous Lhasa Apsos Pepper and Max did have them so I had to remember to trim their dew claws as well.

Of course in order to have your dog cooperate with you for clipping nails and any other grooming task, it’s important that there is at least a basic level of obedience developed.  This is where our free basic dog obedience training video will be helpful.  To access it, just use the box below to request it.


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Small Dogs Social Group To Run Through Winter

backyard coldest winter ontario dogs

Small Dogs Social Group

Last winter, my small dogs social Meetup group took the 3-4 months of the cold season off as a hiatus.  But now that we’ve grown  with my Lhasa Apso dogs Chester & Roxie making a lot of doggie friends this year, a few of our members have been discussing about the possibility of continuing with get-together events throughout this coming winter.

Seeing how happy our small dogs are whenever they are together at our outings, I think it would be a shame if they could not see each other for 3-4 months.  It’s just too long a period without seeing their friends.

There’s no doubt that once our small dogs become friends, they do remember each other right away even after an absence.  For example, when we ran our first outing this past spring after the long winter, Chester & Roxie welcomed their friend Emmy back at the dog park right away even though they haven’t seen each other for about 4 months.  This is a big deal especially for Chester since he has not been known to be too friendly to some dogs he has never met before but he was clearly happy seeing Emmy again.

So for this upcoming winter, we are going to try and run some outings at some of our favourite dog parks as well as trail locations since not all of our dog members are comfortable at dog parks because of bigger dogs there.  The only precaution we’ll have to take is scout out locations a few days before each event to check for access and road/trail salt conditions.   We want to minimize the exposure of road salt to our dogs since their paws get irritated with salt.

Winter Dog Walks

Since winter dog walks will be in cold temperatures, these outings will likely be shorter in duration and less frequent as we will not run any of our midweek walks during the winter due to lack of light and even colder temperatures at night.  But our small dogs group members feel that even if our dogs were to get together for say 20 to 30 minutes once per week or every other week, it’s better than having them to wait 3-4 months without seeing each other.

Our winter dog walks will therefore be during weekend daytime hours.  Chester and Roxie do not do a lot of winter dog walks during the week because of colder temperatures and road salt.  They actually do not have to go out at all since we also exercise indoors together running stairs and they are both fully potty trained to use an indoor dog litterbox.

We also go out in our backyard area a lot during the winter since it’s enclosed plus the big benefit is that there is no road salt in the back to irritate their paws.  Chester and Roxie use to play with their neighbourhood doggie friends out in the back all year round, even during the winter.  Here is our video showing this winter fun.

In fact, we are going to try and run a few small dogs social play sessions here in our backyard area for our dog group members this winter. One of our new neighbour doggie friends lives right next door so it will be really easy for him.

For our other members, they will just have to carry their small dogs from the visitors parking area to our home since the laneways here are heavily salted during the winter. But I think it would be worthwhile as a dog get together. It worked really well with our neighbourhood dog friends so Chester and Roxie’s other doggie friends from the small dogs social group should like it as well.

Although some of our dog members will not be coming out much during the winter, I’m sure that there will be a core group of regular dogs coming since their owners realize that we should do everything possible to give our pets the opportunities to see each other even during the colder months of the year.  Dog socialization is important for the well being of our pets.

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Are Dog Owners More Motivated & Committed?

dog owners motivation commitment

Dog Owners More Motivated And Committed?

I run a few different Meetup groups and during the spring and fall seasons, we run hikes/walks each week both during the week as well as on weekends.  We usually go on nice nature trails both in the local Mississauga area as well as further up north and west where some really nice conservation areas are.

We get nice turnouts at both weekday and weekend outings especially since the fall season weather is favourable for hikes right now as it’s not too hot nor cold and the ground conditions are dry for the most part.  We cancel days when it’s too wet out there.

Our main general social Meetup group, GTA Free Spirits and our Mississauga GTA Small Dogs Outings group partner up for these outings as we have members from both groups usually coming out. For the weekend hikes, it use to be just for members of GTA Free Spirits but we decided to recently open these outings up to our small dogs group.

For our hike at Heart Lake, we had 22 people of which 7-8 came from out dog group.  So one third of the attendance were dog owners who brought their small dogs out with them.

For our Etobicoke Creek hike, we had 8-9 dog owners out of the 16 people who came out.  So in this case, about half of the group were dog owners.

Now here’s some more interesting numbers.  GTA Free Spirits is the much larger Meetup group with over 1,100 members while the Small Dogs Outings group has only about 150 members.  The small dogs group is able to generate one third to one half of the attendance for these two weekend outings with a membership of only 150. GTA Free Spirits has seven times the members as our dog  group and therefore should be able to generate seven times the numbers in terms of attendance.

Our midweek walks are even more revealing.   On average, we get about 6-8 dog parents coming out for each weekday walk with only 2-3 from GTA Free Spirits.  So even with a significantly smaller membership at our dog group compared to our general social group, the dog owners out number the non-dog owners by a wide margin each midweek.

Added Motivation And Commitment With Dog Owners

Does this all suggest that dog owners, the responsible ones, are more motivated and committed to coming out?

The numbers would suggest that this is true.  Perhaps as a responsible dog owner, we have more motivation and commitment to come out since our dogs are involved.  We want to keep them physically healthy so bringing them out to these walks are great.  But we also recognize that these outings also benefit our dogs’ well being too when they get to socialize with their doggie friends on a regular basis.

So for the dog owners, the health and social benefits are not just for us, the people, but also for our pets as well.  This gives us the added motivation and commitment to come out in my opinion.  For myself, this is definitely true as I am totally committed to keeping my two Lhasa Apso dogs Chester and Roxie as healthy as possible both physically and mentally.  I would feel too guilty if I did not do everything possible to keep them healthy.

The non-dog owners at GTA Free Spirits maybe does not have this added motivation and commitment like the dog owners do and the attendance numbers at both the weekday and weekend hiking events, especially with the weekday ones, reflect this.

So maybe it’s time more members of GTA Free Spirits become dog owners!



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Stocking Up On Dog Litter Box Supplies

dog litter box indoor potty training purina second nature

Dog Litter Box Supplies

I recently went away on vacation to big island Hawaii using Buffalo, New York as my starting point for my flights.  I simply drove down from Mississauga, Ontario to take advantage of the cheaper flights.  When I returned back to Buffalo, it was during business hours which made it perfect timing to stock up on dog litter box supplies for my two Lhasa Apso dogs Chester and Roxie.

From the Buffalo airport, I went on route 90, connected to 290 up towards Niagara Falls.  At the Niagara Falls Blvd exit in Tonawanda district of Buffalo, there is a large retail section west of the highway.  In this area are the two pet supplies retailers I usually visit, Petco and Petsmart.  They are 3 minutes drive from each other.

So once again, I went to Petco first to buy up all of their existing stock of the Petco brand of dog litter.  Then I went over to Petsmart and did the same thing with their stock of Purina Second Nature dog litter.  I loaded about eight large bags of dog litter in my car.

Since I was away from Canada for ten days, my declaration limit was $800 which was way higher than what I needed for a duty free purchase.  I was quite happy with the eight large bags as this dog litter box supply will last us through the winter for sure.  If I was not able to get so many bags from these two pet stores, I was prepared to go to another Petco further north off Military Trail in Niagara Falls since I had to pass by there to the border anyway.  But I did get enough already.

So this means that I won’t have to return to Niagara Falls, New York during the winter and can wait until spring 2016 to come back to restock my dog litter supply. The photo above is my stock of dog litter in my garage with the orange bags being Purina Second Nature while the white bags are the Petco brand.  We usually like to mix these with a brand called Fresh News that is a non-clumping cat litter that we buy from our local Global Pet Foods store.

Stock Indicates Higher Interest In Indoor Dog Potty Training

I noticed that not only was there a nice supply of dog litter on the shelves of both Petco and Petsmart, there was also a significant increase in dog litter boxes as well as the type fitted with artificial grass turf.  We have one of those too since it was given to us as a promotion by the company since they know I’m a dog blogger but we haven’t used it yet.  All of this stock at the stores indicate that there is higher interest in indoor potty training for dogs.

I’m not surprised with the cold winters on both sides of the border. Dogs who are dual trained to go potty both indoors and outdoors enable a much greater flexibility for their owners as well as the dogs’ bladders.  If the weather is too darn cold out there like it was last winter for many days, dogs simply have to use their indoor dog litter boxes instead of freezing outside just to go pee.

But this summer also had some hot heat wave days where it was just too hot to go outside during the daytime.  There were some days Chester and Roxie did not go outside until about 8 pm at night when temperatures were cooler.  So during the daytime, they simply used their indoor dog litter box whenever they needed to.

For more details on this type of potty training, see Potty Training Dogs With Litter Box.

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Even Some Dog Owners Procrastinate

small dogs meetup group dog friends procrastinate

Dog Owners Procrastinate

As of today when I write this, my Small Dogs Outings Meetup group has 152 members.  Assuming that each member has at least one dog, this means that potentially we have at least 152 small dogs in our Meetup group membership.  At the same time, I know as the sole group and event organizer for all of our outings at this group, there’s no way that we havehad anywhere close to 152 different small dogs out with us.

I was able to pull out some stats that the Meetup website provides and learned that about 50 of our members are active meaning that they have attended at least one single event with us.  Regular members who come out are even fewer.

My estimate is that we have about a dozen or so regular small dogs who come out with us and that is okay with us.  My initial objective with our Small Dogs Outings group was to get some regular doggie friends for my two Lhasa Apso dogs Chester and Roxie since having a social life is important as well as healthy for dogs.

With a dozen or so regular doggie friends, that’s quite adequate for Chester and Roxie.  Of course, we’ll always welcome more as our other group members come out more.

But having only one third of our Meetup group membership does say something.  To me, this means that even dog owners can procrastinate.

Small Dogs Meetup Group

I assume that the main objective for anyone joining our Small Dogs Outings Meetup group was the same as my own objective, ie., getting some small dogs as new friends for their own dogs.  The more each dog comes out with us, the more he or she will become familiar to the other regular dogs in our group.  Just like with humans, that’s how doggie friendships are developed.

The two thirds of our group membership have yet to attend a single event with us and are really missing out in terms of allowing their small dogs to make new friends.

But I’m not going to push them because as I said, we are quite happy and grateful for the dozen or so small dogs in Chester and Roxie’s new pack.  We can see that all the regular dogs have become more comfortable with each other each time we go out and they are happy to see each other.

Chester even allows someof them to chill out right beside him which he has never done before.  This clearly means that he has accepted his doggie friends.

So to the two thirds of themembers of our Meetup group as well as other dog owners out there who have yet to come out to any event designed to help get dogs socialized, you might want to think about what your dog is missing out on whenever you see groups of other dogs playing.  Remember the reason why you joined Small Dogs Outings Meetup group in the first place.

mississauga small dogs meetup groups

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If My Dogs Can Do This So Can Your Dog

small dogs agility training lhasa apso

Small Dogs Agility Training

My Lhasa Apso small dogs Chester and Roxie learned how to do some agility relatively late when they were nine years old.  We started out with hurdles and then the ramp.  Here is the agility ramp blog post and video from last year when they were just learning how to do the ramp.  Notice that they were still being led on leashes.

Now, both Chester and Roxie can do the hurdles as well as the ramp without the need for leashes.  In fact, they are so good at them that they have been very successful as assistant coaches to help teach their doggie friends from our Small Dogs Outings Meetup Group how to do these agility apparatus.

Their dog ‘students’ have been puppies, adult dogs and even one senior one who is eleven years old and has never been on agility apparatus before.  This older little dog discovered that she really enjoys especially the hurdles with Chester and Roxie.  Roxie is shown in the above photo leading a 3 year old Shih Tzu over the ramp.

Here is our latest video showing Chester and Roxie go through a morning workout with the agility apparatus at one of our local leash free dog parks.  As you can see, it is both physically and mentally stimulating for them.  In other words, agility training is a very healthy activity for dogs!

Remember, my two Lhasa Apso dogs did not start doing any of these agility training until they were nine years old.  And most Lhasa Apsos are not known for doing agility either.

So if my two dogs can do this, so can your dog.

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