Dog sleeping arrangements: Which is best for you?

Study's results are surprising

 How do you and your dog sleep at night? Researchers have debated whether you should let your dog sleep with you or not, but a recent study took an objective look on the subject, and came up with some interesting observations.

The study gave dog owners a sleep tracker, then divided them into three categories:

Dog sleeps outside the bedroom.
Dog sleeps in the bedroom, but not in the bed.
Dog sleeps on the bed.

Surprisingly, they found that the best quality of sleep belonged to group 2: people who let their dogs sleep in the bedroom, but not actually on the bed beside them. The researchers theorized that having your dog in the bedroom with you provides you with peace of mind and a sense of security.

The worst sleep, on the other hand, happened among owners who let the dogs sleep in bed with them.  

Your dog is better behaved than my kid, you say?

Well, I should certainly hope so!

After all, your dog is an animal, a pet, whose mentality likely won’t cross the level of a two-year-old human. So his limits, his willpower, his intelligence, his desires likely will never exceed that mentality, either. Controlling the behavior of such a creature—who will never need to be defiant to create a life for himself, since he has you to do that forever—should be quite an easy task, indeed.

In fact, if your bumper sticker didn’t say that—if it said that my kid was better behaved than your pooch—I’d call you a moron. Really? You can’t ensure the behavior of one loyal companion, an animal known to be easily controlled and taught—so easily, in fact, that it makes one of the best and most popular pets on earth? What is wrong with you, sir (or madam)?

Of course, this is not what you mean when you smugly point to the little sticker while your poor pooch pants from the back window of your car, waiting for the chance to go take a dump so he can finally get a treat. What YOU mean is that you think my kid should be as well behaved as a dog.

You think that my kid, who will have to think critically and find her own ways of living, of making ends meet, of settling disputes in ways other than A. barking or B. sniffing someone’s ass, should be as obedient as your pup. My child, who oozes intelligence and will get bored if told to “sit” for longer than a few moments, who YOUR future—whether through scientific innovation or simple social security taxes—depends upon, should not be testing limits, exploring the world, defining herself, and learning because her questions, loudness, energy, or personality BOTHER you, and you would much rather she sit, stay, and be a good kid.

You know what? Every dog is a good dog, and every kid is a good kid. It’s dingbats like you that I’m not sure about. And I bet if we polled your parents, we’ll find that you were oh so much fun—and oh so much less controlled than your pooch—when you were a tot as well. And you should thank your parents for that opportunity and stop comparing my kid to your dog. I don’t do that to you or your mother or your girlfriend, do I? Why the hell do you think it’s okay to do it with my child—or anyone else’s?

Alternate uses for dog products

You didn’t think they were just for Rover, did you?

While browsing through the pet section at Target last night, my daughter and I ran across all kinds of dog products. From beds to Halloween costumes, gourmet cookies to squeaky rubber chickens, there was something for every kind of pooch you could ever think of. It made me remember what we’ve used dog items for in the past and how versatile they are.

The thing is, dog stuff can be super cheap—especially if you get it at the everything’s a dollar store—so it can come in super handy. Here are just a few cheap things you can do with dog products.

Other animal products. Why buy an expensive food dish for your bunny or bed for your cat from a specialty store when you can get them at the dollar store for half as much (or even less than that)? I know someone who gives the neighborhood raccoons and stray animals cheap dog food, too, though I wouldn’t recommend trying to get a raccoon in your house by giving it food!

Sensory toys. When my daughter was a premature toddler, she had lots of sensory issues. She didn’t like to touch anything wet or sandy or dirty, and she bounced quite a lot. Squeaky, squishy dog toys were what one of her therapists recommended, and they were a miracle! She took to different textures much more quickly when she was able to play with them “like a puppy,” and then she even encouraged her friends at her early childhood center to play with them as well. Let me tell you, the therapy toys they make for the same purpose are almost the same—and they are three or four times as expensive, if not more so. Go with the doggy toys; they work!

Adult therapy. If you need to squeeze something to help get your blood flowing, why buy a stress ball when you can get a doggy toy? They also make a satisfying squeak, which comes in handy if you’re trying to tune someone out!

General toys. Today my daughter still enjoys playing with some dog toys. We bought her an owl meant for dogs for her valentine gift—it’s what she wanted!—and now she’s hoping to get a cute bat designed for dogs that we saw last night as a gift. She also likes the Halloween costumes designed for dogs and wants to put them on her toys. They are more expensive, though, so we’ll see…!

Prepare your pup for warm weather

Create a safe outdoor environment for your dog

Warm weather is blanketing the country, and chances are, your furry friend is enjoying the spring weather. Spring and summer are a great time for your pup to enjoy the fresh air and get some much-needed exercise. However, it can also be a dangerous time thanks to high temperatures and other dangers. Before the temperatures really heat up, take steps to protect your dog outdoors this year. Here are some tips:

  • Landscape. Make sure you don't have any plants in your backyard that can be harmful for your dogs. Check out the ASPCA's list of toxic and nontoxic plants.
  • Heartworm. Protect your dog from Heartworm disease by giving him a monthly dose of medication. Talk to your veterinarian about the best heartworm prevention for your dog.
  • Flea prevention. If your dog has a history of fleas, consider putting it on a flea medicine during the warmer months. Flea season picks up in May, so now is the time to start thinking about flea treatments for your pup.
  • Heat protection. If your dog spends a lot of time outside, take extra precautions when it's hot out. Always have a water bowl accessible. Make sure there's a shady spot in your yard where your dog can avoid direct sunlight. Avoid walks during the heat of the day. Remember, dogs can suffer from heatstroke, which can come on quickly.

Spring and summer allow you to enjoy time with your pet outdoors, but you need to do so safely. Keep your pet cool, healthy and safe this year.

Is Air Travel Safe for Pets?

Some Breeds More at Risk Than Others

Last week, we discussed United Airlines’ decision to ban certain dog breeds (often labeled as aggressive) from its planes. While doing some research on that topic, I came across another interesting pet policy on United’s website. The airline also dictates when and what types of short-nosed breeds can fly on their planes. This policy hasn’t generated as much of an uproar, however, because this policy focuses on keeping dogs safe in the sky.

Owners of Boston terriers, bulldogs, and pugs can fly with their pets if they meet certain requirements outlined by United. Puppies between eight weeks and six months and under 20 pounds can fly year-round. Adult breeds that exceed the 20-pound weight limit cannot fly during the summer months (May to September) and can fly during the September to May if temperatures are less than 85 degrees.

This policy highlights the risks of flying with short-nosed breeds. These breeds are more likely to die in flight due to their short snouts and respiratory problems that can come with it. Pugs, for example, will be more responsive to air quality and temperature changes on planes than longer-snouted Golden Retrievers.

The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends getting your short-nosed dog used to the kennel in which it will fly before you travel. Don’t fly with a dog with underlying medical issues or weight problems. Finally, minimize layovers and avoid flying when the temperatures are warm.

Airline policies can help guide your decision to fly with your pet, but always talk to your veterinarian about the safety of air travel before planning your getaway.

United Airlines Bans Nine Breeds From Flying

But Is the Rule Fair?

United Airlines’ recent merger with Continental has caused the airline to update its pet policy. Now, it has banned nine breeds, including the Pit Bull and American Staffordshire Terrier, from flying on its fleet. Dog owners are speaking out against the airlines’ discriminatory policy, with many claiming that identifying an entire breed as aggressive and not fit for flying is simply unfair.

Dog owners are right. A well-trained dog of any breed is capable of boarding a plane successfully, just as an untrained dog of any breed could lash out, be aggressive, or wreak havoc on a flight. A general ban might seem heartless and discriminatory, but can airlines really accept pets on a case-by-case basis?

Absolutely. Dog owners can’t just show up at the gate with a dog. They have to make arrangements to fly with their pet ahead of time, providing paperwork from their vet when the pup boards the plane. I understand United not wanting aggressive or potentially dangerous dogs on their planes. I wouldn’t want one at the neighborhood dog park or in my house, either. So, shouldn’t the focus be keeping all dogs of a certain breed off of the plane—it should be keeping aggressive dogs off of planes.

United should update its pet policy to require veterinarian approval for flying. Such approval is important anyway to ensure the pet is healthy enough to fly. The vet should also sign off of the pet’s demeanor. If a pet has a history of aggressive behavior, then it can be kept off of the flight. Pet owners who are confident that their dog’s health and demeanor are appropriate for air travel should have no issue with such requirements.

What do you think? Should airlines ban some breeds from flying the friendly skies?

NBC’s Newest Star is a Three-Legged Pooch

Champion Has Won Over “Parks & Rec” Fans

If you watch NBC’s “Parks & Recreation,” you’ve noticed a new cast member this season—Champion, the three-legged dog. Champion’s garnered a lot of laughs this season, from having an unfortunate accident during Leslie Knope’s (Amy Poehler’s) first campaign rally to responding quite well to training by Chris Traeger (Rob Lowe). Now, NBC has shared some information with Champion’s loyal fans to let us know more about this lovable pooch.

Real name Lucy, this three-legged Pit Bull was rescued in Los Angeles in 2004. She had already lost her front right leg when she was rescued, so the cause is unknown. However, Lucy is very agile, as “Parks & Rec” viewers know, which leads her trainers to believe that she lost the leg at a young age. She seems to maneuver just fine on three legs, even running in last week’s episode. A team of trainers works with Lucy on the set to ensure she’s well-behaved and responds on cue.

“Parks & Rec” isn’t Lucy’s first gig, either. She has starred in a Crown Royal commercial, played an extra in the movie “Hotel for Dogs,” and was in on a seriously funny prank in “Jackass 2.” This seasoned actor is an unforgettable one for dog lovers.

Have you caught Champion, the newest cast member of “Parks & Recreation” yet? It airs Thursdays at 8:30 Eastern on NBC.

Who’s your favorite dog actor? Did you love Eddie on Frasier, or have you jumped on the Uggie bandwagon? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Uggie at the Oscars

"The Artist" Dominates the Academy Awards

Uggie has been the talk of Hollywood—and the Dapper Dog Blog—lately, with awards season in full swing and Uggie’s film “The Artist” taking home statue after statue. Awards season ended successfully for Uggie and his “Artist” costars last night, as the movie took home the Oscar for Best Film. Uggie, of course, was in attendance to celebrate his film’s Oscar victory.

If you stayed up late enough h to catch the last award of the night, you caught a glimpse of Uggie, the Jack Russell terrier, onstage. He certainly looked the part for the occasion. According to US Magazine, Uggie wore a custom-made Chopard bowtie featuring 18-karat gold and satin. He accented this bowtie with a bone-shaped charm with his name engraved on it.

Dog lovers have enjoyed watching Uggie’s rise to fame this awards season. Unfortunately, his success is bittersweet, as 10-year-old Uggie is retiring from films due to a neurological condition that began when he was shooting “The Artist.” Uggie surely ended his film career in style, though, costarring in an Academy-Award-winning film. To celebrate the success of “The Artist,” Uggie even hit up the Oscar after-parties, staying up late to hobnob with Hollywood’ biggest stars. That’s no surprise, of course, since Uggie is now one of them.

Uggie received rave reviews from his costars about his work ethic and acting skills. Not every dog is cut out for such work, but Uggie certainly was. His talent will be missed in future films, but here’s hoping Uggie enjoys his retirement and basking in the glow of last night’s Oscar win.

ABC Goes to the Dogs

Network's Daytime Programming Focuses on Furry Friends

Last Friday, ABC ditched its regularly scheduled daytime programming for a "Doggie Day in Daytime." The network's

three daytime shows -- "The View," "The Chew," and "The Revolution" all focused on dog topics, making Friday a memorable afternoon for dog lovers. Let's take a look at all of the canine-friendly fun that took place on the network last week.
  • "The View" kicked off Doggie Day in Daytime with all sorts of furry fun. The show hosted its Fourth Annual Mutt Show, giving those non-purebred pups a chance in the national spotlight. Perhaps the most famous dog in the country right now, Uggie (who we discussed here a few weeks ago), made an appearance. The show concluded with a parade of adoptable pets. Here's hoping that national exposure landed those adorable dogs in forever homes.
  • On "The Chew," the hosts' dogs visited the set and tested out some dog toys. If you missed the fun with the hosts' precious pets, the full episode is available online.
  • "The Revolution" continued the network's support of adoptable dogs, showcasing even more pups from the North Shore Animal League. If you're looking to bring a dog into your home, you can check out the adoptable dogs here.

It was refreshing to see such support for dogs -- especially dogs in need -- on a national stage last week. Here's hoping even more networks offer dog-focused programming to find homes for all of those pups in shelters.

On another note, remember to watch the Academy Awards this Sunday, as our buddy Uggie is sure to make a red-carpet appearance. We'll have more on Uggie next week.

Westminster Dog Show Results

Malachy the Pekingese wins Best in Show

The Oscars of the dog world, the Westminster Dog Show, wrapped up yesterday, with hundreds of breeds strutting their stuff through Madison Square Garden to win the coveted Best in Show award. Let’s take a look at the results and all of the big news from the 2012 show.

Best in Show

Four-year-old Pekingese Malachy grabbed the top award at this year’s Westminster Dog Show. After his big win, Malachy and his owner were guests on the Today Show, where the owner announced that Malachy will be retiring.

Best of Group

Malachy had some tough competition for the Best in Show title. A Wirehaired Dachshund represented the Hound group, while a Dalmatian won the Non-Sporting group. A German Shepherd earned top honors in the Herding group, and an Irish Setter represented the Sporting group. A Doberman Pinscher won the Working group, while the Terrier group selected a Kerry Blue Terrier. Malachy, the eventual winner, of course, came from the Toy group. See all of the Group winners here.

Best of Breed

The Best of Breed competition might not attract as much viewer interest as the more elite Best of Group and Best in Show competitions, but landing a Best of Breed is a major honor for dogs and their owners. Check out the full list of Best of Breed winners here.

Did you miss the Westminster Dog Show? You can catch all of the video highlights on the organization’s website. Check out the Breed Judging section if you want to see your favorite breeds compete. I’m biased, but I sure enjoyed watching the pug judging competition. There can never be too many squished faces and curly tails!