Fido Fun Fest in Irvine Oct. 18th – 1-5pm

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If you’re excited about the weather cooling down this weekend and want to get outside and do something with your dog, check out the 8th Annual Fido Fun Fest in Irvine and trick or treat with your furry friend! Click the flier below to register!

Walk and Trick or Treat for the Animals – Huntington Beach Central Park – OCT. 24th

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Bring your dogs for a SPOOKTACULAR good time and help the OCSPCA save the animals! Stop along the walk route to trick-or-treat with your furry family members and your human kids too! Trick-or- treat through the “ghost town” of vendors, and explore the haunted dog agility area presented by the Zoom Room (or is it the Doom Room?) Enjoy our Halloween festivities: Games, Trick-or-Treating, Food/Treats, Costume Contests, Bounce House and more!

The festival is free to attend! Please come down and join us for some Halloween fun! To walk the route there is a registration fee, for more details CLICK HERE!

Walk start: 9:00 AM

It’s Fall! Here Comes the Itching and Scratching Again

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This Summer has been hot, so hot in fact, it’s been the hottest Summer ever recorded. As the humidity of Summer fades away, we’ll start to see the typical dry air, and even drier Santa Ana winds blowing through, which will try and suck every bit of moisture from your dog’s skin.  If you don’t stay proactive in maintaining their skin and coat, get ready for constant itching and scratching for the next few months. Not to mention, allergies for dogs and humans also tend to spike during the change of seasons, which means keeping them comfortable and itch free can often be a challenge. Fear not, there are steps you can take to control and even eliminate the problem.

To attack skin issues, you’ll want to hit it with a double whammy, to do this, you’ll need to tackle this from both inside and out.

Internal

There are 100’s of products on the market that claim they’re the best for skin and coat issues, how do you sift through all of these to find the best ones for your dog? After working in the pet health industry for many years, I have seen a fair amount of products claiming they work, but fail miserably. After getting feedback from my customers, reading reviews, as well as testing the products on my own dogs, I know the following list of products work for most dogs out there.  You might have to experiment with a few of the products to find the right combination for your specific dog, but I have found these products work in the majority of situations. Just remember, the key to all of these products is consistency.  If you only use them every now and then, you will very rarely get the results you want.

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Missing Link

Out of all the product for skin and coat health that I’ve used and recommended to friends and family, Missing Link stands out at the clear winner for quick results and noticeably better skin and coat.  This product had the right balance of Omega-3s and 6s and has ingredients you can actually pronounce and recognize.  This product is a powder that you sprinkle on top of your dogs food daily, and if you’re consistent, you should see results after about a month of use.  It comes in a beef flavor or, for dogs with a lot of food allergies, you can get the vegetarian version as well.  Once you open Missing Link, you’ll need to store it in the fridge to make sure it stays as fresh as possible for you dog, but other than that, it’s really simple to use and most dogs have no issue with the flavor.

Salmon Oil

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Salmon Oil is kind of a miracle supplement that not only improves skin and coat, but has a crap load of other benefits as well.  Here are a few of them:

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The key with salmon oil, again, is consistency.  This product is great, and works from the inside out. It starts helping joints and internal organs first, and eventually works its way to the skin and coat.  So once you start seeing your dogs coat getting shinny, you know they are receiving the full benefit of the oil. This process can take up to 4 months so this is not a short term fix, but if you are consistently pumping this onto their food every day, you will have a much healthier and happier dog.  Warning: This is salmon oil, if you dog likes to give out kisses, make sure you do everything in your power to avoid them licking your face for about an hour after they eat.  Trust me, I speak from plenty of experience, it’s not pleasant . Also, if your dog doesn’t do well with the flavor of salmon oil, you can try pollock or the new krill oil instead, all three are great for skin and coat.

Olive Oil or Coconut Oil

If you’re looking for something to use that you might already have in your Kitchen, try either olive oil or coconut oil.  Both can help bring your dog’s coat back to its former glory without having to go to the store.

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For olive oil, make sure you purchase extra virgin, and start with 1/4 tsp. twice a day for a 30lb. dog.  You can gradually increase it to 1/2 tsp. twice a day if needed, but notice, I underlined the word gradually. If you give too large of a dose right away, expect to have some loose stool and some messy clean up for a day or two. #explosivediarrhea

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Coconut oil works very similar to olive oil.  The recommended dosage for this is 1/4 tsp. for every 10lbs. of body weight per day.  Try and find virgin and cold pressed if possible. Coconut oil also has a bunch of other benefits that go far beyond skin and coat, for an entire article on these benefits CLICK HERE. A quick warning, similar to the olive oil, this can have some nasty (and smelly) side effects, if you start out with too large of a dose, expect problems.  #coconutrevenge

External

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Shampoo

Keeping your dogs skin clear of allergens, dandruff, and other particles that can irritate and inflame the skin is the best way to keep them itch free.  There are many shampoos on the market that are meant to help keep your dog’s skin clean and allergen free.  If you dog has a mild case of itching and scratching, often a oatmeal shampoo is all you need to help clean out the pores and prevent the skin from getting irritated.

The one I’ve found that works well in most cases is from Earthbath.  It’s made of natural ingredients and contains micronized oatmeal to clean out the pores.  If you dog is itching, use this every other week to give them some relief.  With most shampoos, using them more than twice a month will start to have a counter productive effect by stripping the natural oils your dog builds up, making the skin and coat flaky, dry, and itchy.  If this shampoo doesn’t seem to be doing the trick, you might have to see your vet for a more powerful prescription based shampoo to help solve the problem if nothing else on here works.

Wipes

So I can bath my dog twice a month to help with the itching, but what can I do in between baths to keep the itching under control?

Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to help your dog out between the dreaded bath time. Most pet stores will sell dog wipes that can be used to wipe off any potential irritants before they become a problem.  You can purchase the scented version, if you want your dog to smell nice after, or for those super sensitive dogs, they have unscented versions available too.  If you can’t find them in your local pet store, you can also go with plain old baby wipes too.  Just make sure they’re chemical free so they don’t irritate your dog’s skin.

I love keeping wipes around the house, and in the car, not only for allergy reasons, but if your furry friend decides to step in a, let’s say, less than sanitary substance on your walk, you have a way to clean it off before you let them back into the car or house.  These wipes are also great to wipe your dog down with after going anywhere outdoors that might trigger some allergies.  The wipe will remove a large majority of any potential allergens your dog picks up while sticking his head in bushes and around trees to check for his arch nemesis, the squirrel.

Brushing

You may think that brushing is only good to control shedding and to keep the hair tangle free, but did you know its a great way to make sure the skin and coat stays healthy as well?  When you brush your dog, it helps to evenly spread the naturally occurring oils they produce, which helps keep the coat shinny and also keeps the skin from getting dry and flaky.  A good brushing twice a week is an easy way to help them out during the months where you’re constantly battling the drier air.

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Apple Cider Vinegar

This works great for all itching problems, and is especially effective if the itchiness your dog is experiencing is from a yeast issue.  Apple Cider Vinegar is an easy to use solution that you might already have in the kitchen somewhere.  Make sure you use the unfiltered and unpasteurized version that still has the apple juice color to it. The acidity helps neutralize the yeast, and in turn, give your dog the relief they were looking for.  Just mix up a solution of 50% water and 50% apple cider vinegar and your ready to go.  You can apply it with a spray bottle, soaking a towel in it, or just place them in a bathtub and slowly pour it over them while rubbing it in. A lot of owners see immediate relief as soon as they apply it.

I usually recommend giving them a rub down of the solution for 3 days strait to start with and then you can go to as needed after that.  Like the shampoo, you don’t want to be doing this every day for a long period of time because it will start to dry out the skin. After the initial treatment, try once every week, and try using some of the other recommendations on here in between applications. One word of caution with this, if your dog has an open sore, or has scratched to a point where the skin is red, the apple cider vinegar solution will sting because of its acidity.  You can start with a more diluted solution at first, and as the sores heal, move to forward to a 50/50 mixture.

Not only is apple cider vinegar great for exterior use, but it also has some great use for internal issues as well.  To get a more comprehensive list of all the ways apple cider vinegar can be used, CLICK HERE.

Hopefully, you will be able find a combination of products on here that will work well for your dog’s specific itching problems.  For my dog, I currently using the salmon oil, oatmeal shampoo, and brush my dog a few times week and that seems to work for her most of the time.  If I notice she is still getting itchy, I’ll add in some Missing Link for a month or two to help get her back to normal, but I don’t need to use that year around.

Do you have a itching remedy that works great, but isn’t listed on here? Please share your experience in the comment section below, I would love to hear what has worked for you.

Pugtoberfest is this Saturday Oct. 10th – 11am-4pm

The 17th annual Pugtoberfest kicks off at 11am this Saturday at TeWinkle Park in Costa Mesa.  There will be dog races, costume contests, raffles and more. All breeds of dogs are welcome to enjoy the festivities. Check out the flier below for all the details…

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Surfing Dogs? Yes Please! – September 25th-27th

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What are you and your dog doing this weekend?  Sitting at home trying to stay out of the heat? Why not head to the beach for the nice weather and to watch the 7th annual dog surfing competition, taking place at the Huntington Dog Beach?  Unleashed is hosting Surf City Surf Dog this Friday-Sunday with the main surfing event taking place Sunday Morning.  If you haven’t witnessed one of these events before, this is the weekend to do it.  The weather will be nice and there will be plenty of dogs and humans at the beach to socialize with while you watch the dogs surf.  For the schedule of events CLICK HERE, for general information check out http://surfcitysurfdog.com

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Construction Begins on a New Anaheim Hills Dog Park Next Month

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A new dog park is slated to open in Olive Hills Park in Anaheim Hills next summer, construction begins next month.  Check out this OC Register article for more details:

Construction contracts awarded for parks

The city’s second dog park is scheduled to open in Anaheim Hills by next summer, boasting an open space for canines to run and mingle.

Construction is expected to begin next month on the dog park at Olive Hills Park, featuring water stations, trees, a walking trail and separate play areas for large and small dogs. Earlier this month, the City Council awarded a $1.13 million contract to Horizons Construction Co. of Orange to complete the work.

“I do think it really is good for socializing the dogs and having the dogs’ owners go out and actually get to meet other people,” said Councilwoman Lucille Kring, who added that she has asked for dog parks to be built in Anaheim since 1999.

Kring also suggested a dog park be built at Maxwell or Twila Reid parks in west Anaheim as a way to deter homeless people from gathering – some residents living near Twila Reid Park has raised concerns at the council meeting. City officials said homeless people have largely stopped gathering at La Palma Park after Anaheim’s first dog park opened there in March.

The dog park at Olive Hills, just off East Nohl Ranch Road, was originally scheduled to open this year, but city officials said the site required additional review before construction could begin.

Separately, a new gazebo, benches, tables and play equipment will be built at a new pocket park in the 900 block of Circle Park, just north of Ball Road and Gilbert High School in west Anaheim. The City Council awarded a $383,465 contract to Micon Construction Inc. of Placentia to build the park by February.

Contact the writer: 714-704-3769 or amarroquin@ocregister.com

Dog Friendly Hiking Trails in the Aliso and Wood Canyons Park

I haven’t been here yet, but saw this article and wanted to share it.  I’ll have to make it one of my next stops!

Have a dog? Find out where the dog friendly hiking trails in the Aliso and Woods Canyon Park are located

Update: Although the trails listed are dog friendly, there are many in the area that aren’t. Please make sure you check the trail head sign before heading out on any hike with your dog to make sure you’re respecting the wildlife conservation efforts. Thanks!

Source: Dog Friendly Hiking Trails in the Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park

Dog Friendly Restaurant Review – Park Bench Cafe, Huntington Beach – Breakfast

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Can’t say that I’ve ever done a restaurant review before, but as the saying goes, there’s a first for everything.  Lucky for us, Orange County has a lot of different dog friendly places to eat, so I’m sure this will be the first of many restaurant reviews you’ll see on here.  I’m by no means a food connoisseur, in fact, the main reason I wanted to post this was not to rate the food, but to bring attention to the dog friendly eateries that are scattered throughout the county.

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I’m Thinking of Biking with my Dog, So Now What? – Bonus / Gear Sale!

Because the last few posts have been on the topic of Bikejoring, I just wanted to post this Alpine Outfitter Sale that I just received an e-mail for today.  They have some good deals on all types of Bikejoring related products, but it ends on Friday, so check it out soon!

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I’m Thinking of Biking with my Dog, So Now What? – Part 3 / Teaching Commands

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Now that we’ve covered some of the equipment you’ll need to get started, time to get on the bike and go! Not quite.  Before you hop on the bike with your dog, you will want to master some basic commands.  This way, when you are riding full speed and need your dog to avoid an obstacle, i.e. a pedestrian, you will have some confidence knowing you have verbal control over your dog.

In my experience, there are 4 basic commands you’ll want to teach your dog before you get going: Left, Right Stop, Go.  You don’t need to use these exact words as the commands, but pick something that works for you and stick with it.  I personally use Left, Right, Stop, and OK.  I have also incorporated “slow” and “leave it” which helps me have even more control over her when we need to slow down or when she sees a squirrel.  If you are really serious about bikjoring or mushing in the future, and were thinking about doing it competitively, you might want use the traditional commands that most mushers have used for 100’s of years.

The most common commands for a dog team are:
•  Hike!: Get moving (“Mush” and “All Right” are sometimes also used).
•  Kissing sound: Speed up, faster.
•  Gee!: Turn to the right.
•  Haw!: Turn to the left.
•  Easy!: Slow down.
•  Whoa: Stop.
•  On By!: Pass another team or other distraction.

Like I said above, the words that you’re using don’t matter much, as long as they’re consistent and they don’t get confused with words that you use on a daily basis, which might confuse them and make the training process take longer.

I am by no means a professional trainer, so take my advice for what it is, a novice Bikejorer that self trained his dog.  If you’re thinking of doing this professionally, I recommend getting the book below. It will go into more details than you probably care to know about the sport, and how to train your dog professionally.

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So, with that said, here’s how I trained my dog to ride on a bike either pulling or side-by-side.

  1. Start by using the commands on your daily walks with your dog.  Every time you turn a corner, use the corresponding “left” or “right” command.  After doing this for about 2 weeks consistently, Sierra, my Husky, was able to start anticipating which way to go before we turned.  When she did, I gave her a treat.  After another week or two she was consistently turning on command. During that same period, every time we approached a driveway or intersection, I would tell her to “stop” and when we crossed I would say “ok”.  These commands took about the same amount of time for her to learn.  Within a month of doing this on walks, she had the commands down, no treats needed, which gave me the confidence to start on the bike.  If you want to accelerate the process, you can do multiple quick walks a few times a day to speed up the learning process.
  2. Once you have the commands down while walking with your dog, the next step is to start getting her used to the harness and bike.  If your dog hasn’t worn a harness before, I suggest incorporating the harness into her normal walks so she is learning the commands with the harness on.  This way, when you get on the bike for the first time, she is comfortable with the harness and commands, it will make the first couple rides a lot smoother.  To get your dog used to the harness, like everything with a dog, I recommend starting slow.  It’s much easier to take a few days working your dog up to liking the harness, than to have to undo the fear they might have after forcing it on and hoping for the best. To start, first show your dog the harness, let him sniff it, and give him a treat after he does.  After a few rounds of this, make your dog put his head through the harness in order to reach the treat you are holding on the other side.  This way, your dog will be comfortable with the harness going over their head, because they now have a positive association with it.  Once your dog is comfortable with the harness over their head, gently clip the harness and let your dog wear it for a few minutes, and then take it off, and give a treat.  Gradually repeat this over the next few days and keep it on longer and longer each time.  Once they’re all good with that, you can start using it on your walks.
  3. Time to get on the bike! Just like when you were learning to drive a car for the first time, I recommend finding a very low traffic area that has places to practice your turns, stoping, and starting.  I also recommend making sure it has very low pedestrian traffic.  You don’t want to start off your first bike ride with an injured, law suit happy, bystander.  If you plan on letting your dog pull you, start by giving her the “go” command and try to match her pace as she starts.  You will really want to take your time and watch her closely.  Some dogs might just see a giant two wheel monster chasing them when they look back, so they try to run faster, and unlike chasing the elusive magic dragon, the bike will catch her if she decides to stop in a panic.  Make sure you regulate the speed the first couple outings to avoid this situation.  Even if your dog is pulling like crazy, make sure you are riding the brakes so you’re traveling at a safe speed. As you both get more comfortable with each other and the commands, you can slowly go faster and faster until you get so close to light speed that only the physics of the universe will be able to slow you down.

Tips – (learn from my mistakes)

  • Every time you get close to a pole, tree, pedestrian, or some other unmovable object which could possibly get in-between you and your dog, SLOW DOWN and pull your dog close to you.  The two times I flipped over my handle bars were both from Sierra going on one side of a tree/pole and myself going on the other.  Not a fun experience for anyone involved.  For more details on this, see my previous posts on biking.
  • Use your bike bell/horn every time you get close to a pedestrian.  Even if the person is out of the way, they can always decide to step right in front of you if they don’t hear you coming.  It also prevents them from jumping in shock when they first see your dog in their peripheral vision.
  • Take it easy the first few times you go out.  Your dog will be working a lot harder than you, make sure you always remember this.  They will need breaks and especially water much more frequently than you.
  • If it’s warm out, skip the bike.  If you wouldn’t want to put a jacket on an run a few miles in the current weather, wait until the evening when it cools down to take her out.  Especially in the middle of summer, it can often be too hot to safely bike your dog.  I never go out if it’s over 75 degrees with my Husky.
  • Look out for small critters running around the area.  Depending on your dog’s prey drive, a rabbit or squirrel running out in front of your dog could lead to something akin to Mr. Toads Wild Ride.

I’m Thinking of Biking with my Dog, So Now What? – Part 2 / Gear

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Now that we’ve covered some of the basis of biking with your dog, let’s look at what equipment you will need to keep both you and your dog safe.  Before you begin, please make sure your dog is in good physical shape. They will be running for a prolonged period of time, so any small health issues can become bigger issues very quickly.  If you’re at all unsure if your dog can handle the stress, please check with your vet before you start biking with your dog.  Also, if your dog is under the age of 1, you really don’t want to put a lot of pressure on your dog’s muscular and skeletal system, as it’s still developing.  You can start teaching them to be comfortable next to a bike, and start teaching commands, but try and avoid having them run until they are over a year old.

OK, so now you’re ready to start, you’ll need to make sure you have the right equipment to keep both of your safe. So let’s dig in to the basics.

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I’m Thinking of Biking with my Dog, So Now What? -Part 1 / Introduction

Do you have a dog that never seems to get worn out on your daily walks, no matter how long they are?  I ran into this issue with my Husky Sierra, and wanted to find a solution.  I had seen and read about biking your dog to help get their energy out, but was apprehensive at first because of the inherent dangers of traveling at high speed on a bike with a dog attached to you. But at some point I had to bite the bullet and just go for it.

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