Wagging Tails, Healthy Hearts: Why Dogs are Good For You

Sadie

“Scratch a dog and you’ll find a permanent job,” said Franklin P. Jones, but there’s more to dog ownership than just enjoyment. When the first dog joined a human family around a fire, a bond was formed, and it has only grown stronger since. Science is only beginning to unearth the benefits of the human/canine relationship, but the proof is undeniable. Dogs have a positive impact on every major facet of our lives: our physical health, emotional health and even our attentiveness and productivity.

Worth Skipping a Beat For

You can’t walk 10 steps in this country without hearing something related to heart health. Heart problems account for one out of every four deaths in the U.S. Despite research and medical advancements, the stats aren’t getting better. We need all the heart help we can get— enter the dog. The American Heart Association (AHA) recently released a statement that highlights the numerous health benefits of dog ownership. There are approximately 78 million dogs owned in the U.S., and 39 percent of households own dogs, according to the ASPCA. Dog owners are 54 percent more likely to get their recommended levels of exercise, and they are also shown to have lower blood pressure, stress levels and obesity, according to the CDC. It isn’t just a coincidence though, as Glenn Levine, a Cardiologist with Baylor College of Medicine points out. In one study, people with high blood pressure and borderline high BP who adopted dogs saw a noticeable decrease in blood pressure, while those who delayed adoption saw no difference. This doesn’t mean that owning a dog gives you a license to guzzle MSG, it’s merely another excellent reason to give Rover another pat on the back.

Smile and ​Wag

Emotional and physical health are closely tied, and nothing brings out the best in both like a dog’s love. According to USA Today, some doctors have even suggested dogs can be a suitable substitution for antidepressants (in some select cases). When humans pet a dog, it releases the hormone oxytocin, commonly referred to as the “cuddle hormone.” Oxytocin sends messaged of happiness to our brain and lowers cortisol, which is responsible for stress and anxiety. Oxytocin not only makes us happier, it helps people heal faster, which is why therapy dogs can be so beneficial.

Dogs also help make us more social. In “The Health Benefits of Dog Walking for Pets and People,” the authors point out that dogs make a great social lubricant. Nothing ignites conversation better than a happy dog bounding toward you.

Four Paws for Working Hard

Have you ever visited a site like buzzfeed.com or petsafe.net just to browse for cute dog pictures and info (even if you don’t have a dog)? Now you don’t have to hide it, and you should encourage your boss to do the same thing. A study conducted by the University of Hiroshima revealed that looking at images of baby animals can positively impact productivity, focus and empathy. In the study, groups of people were asked to preform various tasks, then one group was shown images of puppies and other baby animals and asked again. The group that was shown the animal images improved their performance by 44 percent, and their efficiency increased by 16 percent. The “puppy pic” group also showed increased empathy and deliberateness toward the tasks given to them.

Although anyone who has ever owned a dog doesn’t need scientific proof of how wonderful they are, it’s nice to know it’s out there.

By Jacob Carter: Jacob is an animal lover, vegan and writer from Cleveland, Ohio.
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Unlikely Duo- The Spaniel and the Siamese

When you think of opposites, cats and dogs come immediately to mind. They may not be buttercup01perfect friends, but the two animals can coexist in a single home. Buttercup the Cocker Spaniel and Lynx the Siamese cat have forged a relationship that may not come easily to them, but is always interesting.

When Buttercup joined Julie and Roy’s home eight years ago as a puppy, she lived with an older cat who wasn’t interested in making another furry friend, so the two did not forge a friendship, or even interact that much. Since Buttercup was already used to living with a feline, having a kitten join the family was not an issue for her.

Lynx, as a young Siamese cat, has a lot of energy, and actually searches for Buttercup to interact, normally by biting Buttercup on the ear, and then chasing after her. They both buttercup02like to eat turkey jerky, and Lynx will steal Buttercup’s if not eaten it fast enough. Lynx also likes to drink from Buttercup’s water bowl, even though she has her own cat-sized bowl.

Although it seems like Lynx lives to torment Buttercup, the two do have a solid relationship. They sleep in different areas of the house (Buttercup and Lynx are separated at night so that Buttercup can sleep without being disturbed), but they always come to see each other first thing to say “good morning.” They also can be seen on occasion sitting, and even napping together. Even though they may not be the best of the friends, the two animals have certainly formed a special bond.

By Madalena, a recent graduate from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. By day, she works on the corporate side of the beauty industry in NYC, working as a New Product Development (NPD) Coordinator for a prestige skincare company. Madalena’s passion outside of work is fitness- she recently became licensed as a Zumba(R) instructor, and aims to compete in both a triathlon and half-marathon this year. Madalena loves animals and enjoys meeting dogs and their owners.
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Understand Your Furry Companion With Doggie Documentaries

According to a 2011 study published by the Humane Society, approximately 39 percent of U.S. households include at least one canine family member. Not surprising, considering dogs provide companionship and unconditional love like no other animal — even human beings. 

More attention is being been paid to studying dogs, their history and their psychology. If you’re one of the millions whose life has been touched by a four-legged furry canine friend, spend some time with one or all of these documentaries and gain some insight into understanding your pooch.

The Secret Life of Dogs

It might seem to you that your dog is better at understanding your moods and emotions than your spouse and, according to “The Secret Life of Dogs,” you’re probably right. This documentary details a number of research studies focusing on dogs, but one specific report spotlights their unique ability to recognize and comprehend the emotions of humans.

Spoiler alert: Turns out dogs analyze human faces the same way humans do. 

The Dogs of New York

There’s not a lot of data on what caused a decline in the dog pup-ulation in New York in the 1970s and 80s, but dog lovers of the world, take heart. “The Dogs of New York” reveals that the number of dogs who have taken up residence in the Big Apple is currently at an all-time high — 1.25 million.

Some speculate that, since the number has surged over the past five years, 9/11 was the event that gave impetus to New Yorkers rediscovering their need to have someone to come home to, a furry someone who could be the source of unconditional love. It’s heartening to see how pampered these NYC pooches are. Some go as far as providing their dogs with Macys.com luxury bedding fit for royalty, while others take their pups for nonfat kosher ice cream. Some big city dogs are livin’ large.

Dogs Decoded

If by understanding your dog, your aim is to learn the difference between his woof and his bark, “Dogs Decoded” is a must-see documentary. In the wild, wolves only bark as a warning, so researchers have come to the conclusion that having evolved from wolves, dog communication techniques have matured as they interacted more and more with humans. This documentary offers scientific research to back up what you’ve known all along: that your dog really does talk to you and there’s a rhyme and reason to his groans, mumbles and yips.

These are just a few of the many doggie documentaries that have recently been produced. The existence of such a wide selection of different topics is testament in itself of the significant role that dogs have in human lives. You already know how important your canine companion is to you. It’s satisfying validation to know that you’re both in good company.

By Vicky Kelly: Vicky is a part-time tech assistant for an animal hospital and a freelance writer for several blogs about pet care.
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Dapper Dozen – The Great Gatsby Fashion

Gatsby Inspired Dog CollarsCelebrating the Art Deco Style of the Roaring 20’s. Inspired by the film and book by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

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Next – Most Popular Dog Collars >

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A Four-Legged Fiesta

Bellmore Barks

Here in New York, we have plenty of things to celebrate. Spring is (finally) here, the Knicks and both of our hockey teams are in the playoffs, and the Mets aren’t losing terribly… yet. But all of our celebrations don’t pertain to sports, or even humans, for that matter. Since dogs are a part of our families, why not celebrate them, too?

Bellmore Barks

The town of Bellmore on Long Island (and my hometown) celebrated our four-legged friends this past weekend with an event exclusive to dogs. Hosted by the Bellmore Chamber of Commerce, Bellmore Barks encompassed a day of activities for pets and their families. The event included a doggy fashion show, games, and a chance for pups to socialize with each other in their Sunday best. Dogs walked the red carpet in a dog fashion show in bowties, dresses, and even a sombrero and maracas in honor of Cinco de Mayo. Dogs also had an opportunity to play musical “chairs” with the other pooches, using mats instead of chairs so that all could play. All of the participants were rewarded with chew toys and Frisbees for their efforts.

Does your town have any events for pets? What kind of events do you like?

By Madalena, a recent graduate from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. By day, she works on the corporate side of the beauty industry in NYC, working for one of the largest beauty trade shows in North America. Madalena’s passion outside of work is fitness- she recently became licensed as a Zumba(R) instructor, and aims to compete in both a triathlon and half-marathon this year. Madalena loves animals and enjoys meeting dogs and their owners.
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Downtown Dogs – Best Dog Runs in NYC

Dog runs were once an afterthought in the minds of city planners, but now are essential to every park in the city. A “dog dog run 03run” is a designated section of a public park where pooches can play unleashed with their other four-legged friends. Between tiny apartments, and laws that require all dogs to be leashed, dog runs are becoming more important for an urban dog’s well-being. Areas like these give dogs a chance to stretch their legs and play with others without the constraints of a lead or a small living space.

So, what makes a dog run stand out from the rest in a city where every park has at least one, if not more? Most pet owners choose an area because of its proximity to their apartment or workplace. A good dog run should have two gates (in order to let dogs in and out of the area without others escaping), water for the dogs, garbage cans for waste, as well as plenty of room for the dogs to run around. Favorite dog runs also include sitting areas for pet owners, plenty of shade, and bags for owners to curb their pups.

dog run 02The most important part of any dog run, however, is the pet owners who bring their dogs there. This was an overwhelming response that I received from any person I spoke to. All said that a dog run is only as good as its most negligent owner. That is, while a dog can relax in the run, it is owner’s duty to make sure that the dog behaves and plays well with the others. Also, please clean up after your pooch!

So, where should you bring your dog to play in downtown Manhattan? Locals prefer Tompkins Square Park, and Washington Square Park’s runs for both big and small dogs. Have you

By Madalena, a recent graduate from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. By day, she works on the corporate side of the beauty industry in NYC, working for one of the largest beauty trade shows in North America. Madalena’s passion outside of work is fitness- she recently became licensed as a Zumba(R) instructor, and aims to compete in both a triathlon and half-marathon this year. Madalena loves animals and enjoys meeting dogs and their owners.
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Dog Spotlight – Zach Attack!

Have you ever thought that your dog deserves his or her own sitcom? Dogs can sometimes be hysterical and adorable at the same time, and they usually aren’t even aware that they’re doing it. Joyce’s seven year old black lab, Zach, has quirks that merit him a reality show during primetime. Although mellow and loyal by nature, Zach’s antics make him a comedian unknowingly.

Like a man and his armchair on Sundays during football season, Zach has “his” chair, and will sit and stare at anyone who dares to sit in “his” zach newspot- a gray recliner. When he’s not occupying this chair, Zach likes to spend his time in other’s laps. This wouldn’t be a problem, except that he weighs 75 pounds! Whether he’s on someone’s lap or the chair, Zach likes watching television with his family. Joyce isn’t sure if he completely understands the story lines, but he looks intrigued enough for her to feel bad about changing the channel.

While his comprehension of cable TV is debatable, Zach does understand basic English commands, and also instills some of his own. While he can communicate his basic needs to Joyce by walking ovenew zach picr to his food when he is hungry, or to the door when he needs to go outside, this big black dog is very picky about what he eats. Zach refuses to eat from a bowl that has been used before, and likes his water chilled with several ice cubes. If it’s not up to his exacting standards, Zach will whine and walk away from the bowls, or sit and stare at his family, as his does with his chair. Although Zach probably takes his food very seriously, to an outsider, this arrangement he has with his family is hilarious.

Of course, no star is complete without his sidekick. While Zach likes to sleep late (on his Tempur-Pedic dog bed, no less), his little brother, Max, enjoys waking him up with his sparring skills. Luckily for Max, Zach is very patient with him, which makes him the star of his home.

What funny things does your dog do? Share with us in the comments!

By Madalena, a recent graduate from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. By day, she works on the corporate side of the beauty industry in NYC, working for one of the largest beauty trade shows in North America. Madalena’s passion outside of work is fitness- she recently became licensed as a Zumba(R) instructor, and aims to compete in both a triathlon and half-marathon this year. Madalena loves animals and enjoys meeting dogs and their owners.
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Traveling With Your Dog – Checklist

1/ Traveling by air with your dog

Dog Traveling by Airplane

Plane travel with your pooch requires planning ahead. Begin investigating air travel six to eight weeks before your trip to meet all regulations in time.

  • Breed-specific/temperament regulations: Snub-nosed dogs such as pugs, English bulldogs and French bulldogs are prohibited from most commercial flights after many of these dogs died during air transit. Neurotic, elderly and other dogs may not be good candidates for air travel. You’ll need to evaluate whether your dog is up for the long, crated journey in cargo.
  • Convenience: Small dogs, up to 20 pounds, can often fly in the cabin with you, so long as they are in a portable dog kennel.
  • Safety: To ensure your dog has a comfortable trip, follow these tips regarding crate preparation.
  • First aid: Before you travel, you’ll need to obtain a health certificate. This certifies that your dog has no medical conditions that would compromise his safety during travel.
  • Regulations: Ask the airline directly to find out the most up-to-date regulations.
  • Gear: You’ll need a crate or portable kennel for your pet. Crates also require an absorbent cloth to line the create and a clip-on water and food bowl.
  • Read more: The FAA offers comprehensive information on flying with your pet in the passenger cabin or cargo hold. Since every airline can set their own pet policy, your best resource will be the airline you’re planning to fly.

2/ Traveling by car with your dog

Dog Traveling by Car

Car travel is probably the most frequent mode of travel with your pooch. After all, what errand isn’t made better when your best friend is riding shotgun? Use this checklist to make sure that you have everything your dog needs for a comfortable ride.

  • Safety: When traveling in car, two main safety considerations are keeping your dog restrained and keeping the car temperate. Your dog may enjoy curling up in the seat next to you, but this isn’t the safest position for him. Just as you would not want your toddler to ride unrestrained, you would not want your dog left loose in the car. If your pet wears a harness on walks, consider using a harness style restraint. Other options including crating your dog or using a pet barrier to create a physical barrier that keeps your dog in the hatchback or backseat areas.
  • Convenience: On long car trips, you’ll need to plan bathroom breaks for your pup. Get off to a good start by minimizing your pup’s water intake pre-travel, then watching his body language and listening for signs that he has to pee.
  • First aid: If your dog is prone to motion sickness, avoid feeding her before a long car trip. Don’t feed her during car travel, either since this may cause vomiting. Instead, offer her a small, protein-rich snack during a break.
  • Regulations: Depending on where you live, pet restraint during car travel may be a law.
  • Gear: Aside from a harness or barrier, you’ll also want a portable food and water dish, a dog leash and an optional chew toy or treat to keep your dog occupies during travel.
  • Read more: Learn more about pet safety harness laws here and general car travel tips here .

3/ Traveling by ship with your dog

Dog Traveling by Yatch

Some ferries and yachts allow pet passengers, which makes ship travel an option even if you don’t have your own.

  • Breed-specific/temperament regulations: Some large dogs may be too big. If your pet won’t have room to roam confortably, consider leaving him at home. Likewise, dogs that dislike crowds won’t enjoy the trip. Evaluate your dog’s temperament then decide if this is right for him.
  • Safety: Just as it took you time to gain your sea legs, your canine companion may slip on board. Keep his leash on at all times for safety’s sake.
  • Gear: A canine life jacket is a must when doing any type of boat travel. You’ll also want portable food and water dishes.
  • Regulations/ laws: Most long-distance cruise lines allow only service animals on board. One of the main reasons for this lies behind country-specific ports of call regulations. Even if you brought your dog, he may not be able to leave the ship without proper documentation.
  • First aid: As with car travel, dogs that get motion sickness should not e fed prior to a boat trip. While on board, do not offer your dog food; feed a small snack when you return to land.
  • Read more: Discovery offers a handy guide for preparing your dog to travel on a personal boat. Some of their tips apply to commercial watercraft as well.

4/ Camping / Hiking with your dog

Camping With Your Dog

Active dogs get a chance to burn off steam when camping or hiking. To ensure the trip is pleasant for all, keep these tips in mind:

  • Breed / temperament specific issues: Not all breeds enjoy the great outdoors. If your dog is a watchdog, hiking may not be very pleasant as he’ll be apt to bark at every little noise.
  • Safety: Dogs do get lost while hiking. Keep his collar on at all times and consider getting him microchipped should something go wrong.
  • Convenience: Car camping allows you to introduce our dog to the great outdoors gently. Start with a small day hike or overnight trip, then work up to the longer trips you want to take.
  • Gear: Consider a dog coat if your pet has short hair. Take along a portable pet carrier or pet bed and doggie dishes.
  • Regulations/ laws: Not all parks allow pets. Before you set out, ensure that your preferred hiking or camping destination is pet-friendly.
  • First aid: To keep your dog safe, ensure he is up-to-date on all vaccines before you hike.
  • Read more: PetMD offers more tips on preparing for hikes with your dog and Petfinder offers a dog camping guide.
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Dapper Dozen Most Popular Dog Tags & Charms – April 2013

Here are the most popular dog ID Tags and Dog Charms on Dog Collar Boutique by views for April, 2013.

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Next – The Great Gatsby Fashion >

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Earth Day 2013 Challenge – Winners

Earth Day 2013 Contest

Here are the winning pet-friendly ideas! Based on FaceBook member votes

First prize: $150 gift certificate to Dog Collar Boutique.

Alaina F., “Take old jerzee tees and upcycle them into braided chew toys.”

2nd prize: $50 gift certificate!

Andrea D., “Dogs, you know those $12 bottle toys you can buy at the store? Dogs don’t care if the toy is shaped like a squirrel or skunk. They just like chasing it when you throw it, and the sound it makes when they crunch the bottles. So take an empty water bottle, and a pair of socks you’d otherwise throw out… sew up any holes, put the water bottle in the sock and tie up the end, and let them play.”

(later edit:) “…I forgot to mention to always take the cap off. (I just assumed that was a given, but maybe not since the toys in stores always have the caps on) When I use to buy the bottle toys I always had to cut them open, remove the cap and sew it back up. That’s what I hated about paying so much for those toys. The dogs loved them, but they would be so expensive and they’d get chewed up so quick. Plus I’d have to open it initially to take the cap off. That is when I started making my own of socks I would have otherwise tossed out.”

3rd prize: $50 gift certificate!

Maria F., “For pets such as dogs and horses, fly spray is a must. However, I worry about the harmful chemicals in the name-brand fly sprays. I have read that creating a mixture of 1 cup of water, 2 cups of vinegar, 1 cup of Avon Skin So Soft and a tablespoon of eucalyptus or citronella oil will surely keep the flys away. Or Avon Skin So Soft with 5 parts water will repell insects and give animals a healthy shine! This would end up costing less than most fly sprays and is more eco-friendly! Now I can fly spray my dogs and horses without worrying about the harmful chemicals I’m allowing them to come into contact with and I’m not spreading these chemicals into the air! Give this recipe a try!!”

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