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We always hear about how to prepare your family for a photoshoot. But, rarely do we hear how we can prepare our dog. 

All of us here at Petkey understand how much you love your dog. And, we want to share a few tips with you about how to make the most out of your dog’s glamour hour.

Most of us take photographs of our dogs with our smartphones. But professional photographs can provide an excellent way to grab shots in high-quality you may not have captured yourself. And, a professional photoshoot allows you to get in the picture, too!

Let’s Find a Good Photographer

We want to spend our money wisely. Photoshoots aren’t cheap. Make sure you choose the right photographer to get the job done.

The first place you can search is your veterinarian’s office. Sometimes, veterinarians can point you in the right direction when it comes to a professional pet photographer.

You can search the web for ‘pet photographer in Buffalo, New York’ for example and see what comes up.

Or, here’s where Instagram can come in handy. Type in the hashtag #petphotographer, #dogphotographer, or similar. You’ll likely come up with hundreds of amazing photos.

Pay close attention to the style of each photographer. This will help you narrow down your options. Which photos do you like best? Which poses? Which photographer captures not only the beauty of a dog but the personality as well?

Where Should the Photoshoot Take Place?

This is the next question. Location.

Where should we go to have the photos taken?

Your photographer may have suggestions, but she will probably recommend an area that offers plenty of sunlight in a certain time of the day.

After this point, it comes down to where your dog is completely comfortable and can be himself.

Be Flexible: Go with the Flow

When it comes to a dog’s photoshoot, flexibility and patience is critical.

If the weather isn’t cooperating, don’t panic. Plan a different day.

If your dog isn’t cooperating, don’t panic here either. Photos taken in your backyard could be the best photos you could capture.

The best photos are going to be taken when your dog is completely herself.

Don’t Forget the Treats

Even if the weather is a little on the ‘cooler’ side, don’t forget to bring plenty of water and treats for your pup.

The treats could serve as an excellent (and enticing) reward for your dog during her photoshoot.

Finally, Allow Her to Be Herself

Allowing your dog to be herself is critical and emphasized in several areas in this article. It’s tempting for us to try to make a photoshoot as perfect as possible.

But, that’s not really what we want.

We want our dogs (and ourselves) to look as casual and real as possible. And, let’s face it. We’ll end up quite disappointed if we walk into a photoshoot expecting our dog to be still the entire time.

Your dog might not want to stare directly into the camera or stand exactly where she’s placed. That’s okay. Understand that is to be expected. And, any professional pet photographer already knows this.

Let the photographer take the worry off your hands. All you need to do is stay happy and be calm. If you’re frustrated, your dog will sense that frustration and it could turn the photoshoot into being a loving act into an upsetting one.

All in All: The Take-Away

Let your dog be a dog. If you take nothing else from this article, simply take that statement. If you allow your dog to act exactly as she does when she’s not being photographed, you’ll be surprised at how fantastic the photographs turn out.

If you have any professional photographs or end up taking some with the advice of this article, we would love to see them. Feel free to share them on our Facebook page for the world to see!

My Puppy Needs to Sleep... And So Do I!

Yay! You adopted a dog. And, not just any dog. A PUPPY! Adorable. Fluffy. Perfect.

You, your family, and your puppy are so excited it’s hard to contain the happiness you’re feeling. Adding a pup to your family isn’t something to take lightly. And, oh. The life you will have sharing experiences with your dog will be priceless.

But, you’re exhausted. Your puppy isn’t sleeping through the night. She’s staying up barking, whining, and crying. She doesn’t want to be without you. And honestly, she probably has no idea what she wants either.

Can’t blame her, right? Dogs are social animals and they enjoy the company of others. On top of all the other changes she’s gone through, she has been taken from her mother, too.

There are a few tips to help your pup sleep through the night, so you can once again get that sleep you need so badly.

Play During the Day

If you play with your puppy during the day, she’s much more likely to sleep through the night. They’re tired out. A tired dog is a happy dog. And when they’re worn out, they want to sleep as badly as you do.

Even if your pup is too young to go for walks (due to not having all her vaccinations yet), it’s still important to make sure she gets enough mental and physical stimulation. You shouldn’t give up on exercise all together simply because she’s a little pup.

If you have a fenced-in yard, that makes it so much easier for you. If you don’t have a fenced-in area for your dog, this may be something worth looking into.

Play with toys.

Play fetch.

Chase one another around.

Make the most out of her training.

Walk her around the yard on the leash.

Grab some puzzle toys for mental stimulation.

All of these can help tremendously. You’ll be surprised at her change in behavior once you implement one or all the above activities.

Potty Breaks are Crucial

Puppies can’t ‘hold it in’ for long periods of time. Their little bladders don’t have enough control to prevent an accident if they aren’t taken out regularly (not their fault).

Your pup could wake you shortly after you fall asleep because they have a dire need to go outside and do their business.

To prevent this from happening too soon, be sure to take her out right before bedtime. By taking this simple step, you have just bought yourself more sleep time.

Get Comfy and Cozy

When bedtime arrives, you should truly make it feel like bedtime.

This might sound like a ‘given’ but you would be surprised at how much we do around the house once we realize it is time for bed.

If you have kids, you’re probably getting everything ready for school the next day. This also may be the time you sip your cup of tea. Or, have some quiet time to yourself to calm down from your busy day.

If you are around the house finishing things up for the day at bedtime, be sure not to bother your puppy while doing so.

To help your dog relax and fall asleep, dim the lights, put on some relaxing music, and give your puppy a nest that smells like you. They may not be directly next to you but will feel closer with your scent near their body.

DAP, or Dog Appeasing Pheromone, can also help tremendously with this process. DAP releases the hormone your dog once ‘smelled’ by their nursing mother.

Try Not to Switch it Up

Before you pick up your new puppy, look around your home for the best place to allow her to sleep.

Prepare your puppy’s bed in advance. Pick a spot for her bed that’s going to be comforting for her. If you’re not sure where that could be, just think of where you would want to go to relax in your home. It’s probably the same for her.

Or, maybe you want her to sleep with you.

It’s important to note here, if you let your puppy sleep with you in the beginning, the chances of her wanting to do this every night are extremely high.

There’s nothing wrong with your puppy sleeping with you but make sure it’s a choice you’re comfortable with. This will be hard to change later if it’s not what you want.

Crate Training Could Help

If you don’t want to sleep with your puppy, crate training or confinement are two options to consider.

Crate training can be the best choice for your puppy if they’re struggling to hold their bladder. If you don’t want to put your pup in a crate, simply choosing a confinement area may work.

If you’re using a confinement space rather than a crate, place a puppy pad right next to your pup’s bed just in case she feels the need to go potty while you’re sleeping.

If you decide on crate training, your puppy will need a middle-of-the-night potty break. Puppies can’t hold their bladder for more than a few hours. It’s not their fault, their bodies are just not made to hold it yet (P.S.- This is repeated multiple times on purpose. It’s common for humans to punish dogs for having accidents- especially puppies- don’t do this as it can hurt the bond you share with your dog for the rest of her life and it doesn’t help their bladder become larger either).

As a general guideline, if you don’t have a toy breed, a pup can hold their bladder for approximately as many hours as they are months old. For example, if you have a four-month-old puppy, she should be able to hold her bladder for up to four hours.

Don’t panic if your puppy doesn’t make it this long. And, don’t think they’re having accidents to spite you. They’re still learning.

Ignore the Whining

Yes, this is near impossible. Not only are we frustrated with the continuous whining and/or barking, but we usually feel terrible for leaving them in their crate as they’re crying.

But, guess what happens if you acknowledge this? Your puppy will learn to get what he wants by crying for it. If they make this connection, you’ll never sleep through the night.

Every time your pup wants something, if you tend to her every time she cries, she will be asking you for things all the time.

Get Some Beauty Sleep

Overall, there are ways to get more rest. But, you aren’t going to get that ‘full rest’ for a few months as your pup continues to grow. If you have someone helping you take care of your puppy, you can take turns letting her outside to go potty. Then, you’re not thoroughly exhausted every day.

My Puppy Needs Her Vaccinations But I’m Worried...

Yay! You have a new puppy! She’s adorable. You’re thrilled to have her in your family and her health is your first priority. This means taking her to the veterinarian for a check-up and probably some vaccinations (unless she’s up-to-date).

Before we go on to discuss vaccinations for puppies, we need to include a disclaimer here. This article is not designed to be a substitute for professional veterinary help. The purpose of this article is simply to help you understand vaccinations. And, make you more comfortable in making your decision of whether to vaccinate.

When you’re considering vaccinations for your freshly adopted, furry family member, you may be nervous or scared of reactions to vaccines. That’s perfectly understandable.

There are risks and benefits as with everything else. In this article, we’ll discuss adverse reactions/allergic reactions to vaccinations, what to do if you notice a reaction, and the pros and cons of vaccinating.

What Is an Adverse or Allergic Reaction?

The USDA, who licenses veterinary vaccines, describes an adverse reaction as any event that’s undesirable or unintended. Adverse reactions are those reactions which cause a negative effect to your dog’s health. This also includes failure of a vaccination where your dog’s body doesn’t reaction to the vaccine thus leaving her unprotected.

No Side Effects, Mild Side Effects, and Severe Side Effects

First, we’ll discuss the risks to the vaccinations.

Vaccines are generally considered to be safe, so you should just expect your puppy to be her normal happy self.

But, just as a precaution, we want to educate you on all possibilities.

‘No side effects’ is what is most commonly seen. Just like when you have received your vaccines as a child, you probably didn’t notice any changes in your health.

To the same extent, your dog’s behavior and health should not change following her vaccinations. If your dog is feeling a bit under the weather (sore and sleepy), that’s generally nothing to worry about as this effect only lasts a short period of time.

Mild Side Effects from Vaccinations

This is less common than ‘no side effects,’ but if your dog is experiencing mild side effects, you may notice a decrease in his physical activity and a little swelling where the vaccine was injected.

Keep in mind your dog’s body is fighting an invasion in an effort to create antibodies. Basically, the vaccination is injecting soldiers into our dog’s body. Our soldiers fight the soldiers the vaccine brought in. So, swelling is generally considered normal.

For example, the ‘soldier’ in the rabies vaccine is actually the rabies virus… the killed rabies virus.

After the vaccination, your dog’s immune system wakes up to make antibodies to the killed rabies virus (the foreign soldiers) so that if it ever sees it again, your dog has protective immunity. In essence, there will be no war because the war was already won by your dog’s own soldiers.

If your dog is experiencing soreness, swelling, or fatigue from the vaccines, you should see this disappear after a day or two.

When You Should Worry and Call Your Vet

There can be serious reactions to vaccinations, but these are highly uncommon. Still worth discussing though just in case, right? Better to be safe than sorry.

If you notice any of the symptoms below, you should call your veterinarian immediately. If your veterinarian isn’t open, contact an emergency veterinarian near you.

·       Continuous vomiting (if your dog can’t hold anything down)

·       Continuous diarrhea

·       Inability to stand or lack of consciousness (falling over, fainting)

·       Any swelling on your dog’s muzzle, face, or eyes. The swelling may look like puffy eyes squinted eyes, and/or a ‘swollen’ appearance to your dog’s head

·       Any type of rash or hives

·       Difficulty breathing

All the above reactions could be due to an allergic reaction to the vaccines and can occur anywhere from minutes to hours following the visit to your vet.

The signs of a severe reaction are easily noticeable. The moment you notice any of these reactions, don’t panic as your dog can feel your emotions, but contact your veterinarian immediately.

If your puppy is one who has experienced a reaction and you’d hoped to have her vaccinated, the veterinarian usually has other options available.

If your puppy does experience a reaction, stay positive. Your veterinarian will have other options for you in the future to keep your puppy protected. These can include individualized booster vaccines tailored to your dog’s lifestyle, providing anti-inflammatories and/or observation for the next round of vaccines, and more.

The Good of Vaccinations

The good is obvious. Your dog is less likely (or has close to zero chance) of contracting the virus she is vaccinated against. Rabies, Parvo, Distemper, etc.

This may seem as if it’s not really a big deal after discussing all the risks. But, just think about if your dog were to contract one of the conditions vaccinations protect them against.

If your dog were to contract rabies from let’s say, a raccoon, he would experience paralysis of the throat, jaw muscles, foaming at the mouth, lack of coordination, paralysis of his hind legs, seizures, and the list goes on. That would be terrible. And, that’s only one condition out of the list.

When it comes to vaccinating your puppy, the benefits generally outweigh the risks. After your pup is vaccinated, he will be protected from a list of preventable dangerous diseases, thanks to you.

But, before you make any decisions for your dog, make sure you’re educated. Learn as much as possible about your dog’s health and how vaccinations could impact it. Discuss vaccinations with your veterinarian. Every dog is different.

Can Essential Oils Help My Dog?

There’s so much talk about essential oils these days. We’re trying to live healthier, longer lives along with our pets. We’re learning as much as we can about all of these natural ‘things.’

There are so many essential oils companies showing up, too. DoTerra, Melaleuca, Young Living. If there’s so much growth here, then there has to be something good going on here.

Onto the big question, though.

Do they really work? And, what can they be used for? We’ll discuss this and more in today’s article.

Calming Oils: Oils to Reduce Anxiety and/or Irritability

Roman Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis): This oil helps to provide a calming ‘mood’ for dogs who are feeling anxious or nervous. Roman chamomile can be inhaled, ingested, or applied topically to your dog.

Hops (Humulus lupulus): Hops can help calm a dog who is anxious, nervous, or irritable. This oil can be inhaled, ingested, or applied topically on your dog.

Valerian root (Valeriana officinalis): Valerian root is a relaxant and mild sedative. It offers calming and soothing support for your dog when she is experiencing anxiety, panic or some sort of tension.

Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans): Nutmeg can help a dog who is anxious or hyperactive with scattered energy. This oil can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically on your dog.

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia): This oil has many uses, but most commonly, lavender can be used to soothe and comfort a dog who is experiencing distress and/or anxiety. This oil can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically on your dog. (P.S.- This oil can also be used for allergies, burns, ulcers, and insomnia).

Oils for Fearful Dogs: Dogs Who are Feeling Stressed Out

Frankincense (Boswellia carterii): On its own, or with the support of other essential oils that help reduce a dog’s fearful emotions, Frankincense can help reduce extreme stress. This oil is used in severe cases of fear to help a dog ‘come back to the ground.’ This oil can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically on your dog.

Violet Leaf (Viola odorata): If a dog is shocked or hesitant toward a situation, violet leaf can be used to reduce feelings of nervousness by providing a feeling of comfort and safety. This oil can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically on your dog.

Linden Blossom (Tilia cordata). Linden blossom can assist in providing a sense of safety and trust. This oil is commonly recommened for dogs who have a history of abuse. This oil can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically on your dog.

Sandalwood (Santalum austrocaledonicum): Sandalwood provides support on a physical and emotional level. Dogs who have emotional imbalances, worry, or uncertainly of situations are among those who can benefit from this oil. It can be very effective on its own, or in combination with other essential oils. And, can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically on your dog.

Oils for Aggression: Let’s Provide Some Comfort

Vanilla (Vanilla planifolia): Vanilla has comforting and nurturing qualities for dogs who experience nervous tension, irritability, and/or anger. Dogs who have been known to bite are among those who this oil is recommended to. This oil can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically.

Clary sage (Salvia sclarea): This oil is generally recommended for female dogs but can also be used for male dogs who are experiencing feelings of anger, frustration, and/or mood swings. This oil has been found to have soothing effects. This oil can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically.

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium): Yarrow has not only shown the ability to heal physical imbalances, but emotional imbalances as well. This could be a dog who has experienced trauma, neglect, and/or abuse… or a dog who is over-sensitive. This oil can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically.

Rose Otto (Rosa damascena). Rose Otto is recommended for dogs who have a history of neglect, abuse, or suffering of some kind. This oil is also recommended for dogs who are displaying any sort of aggression. It’s important to note that alternative veterinarians have a disclaimer with this oil… a dog may continue to display aggressive behavior in the beginning of the use of Rose Otto but you may see positive results once your dog has been exposed. This oil can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically on your dog.

Vetiver (Chrysopogon zizanioides): Vetiver provides comfort and reassurance for an anxious dog showing aggression. This oil can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically.

Oils for Sadness: Relieving the Depression

Neroli (Citrus aurantium): There are many dogs who do not particularly care for this oil. But, if your dog will accept this oil, it can be used to support a dog who is experiencing depression, grief, or loneliness. This oil can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically on your dog (only if your dog selects its use).

Peppermint (Mentha piperita): Peppermint has been known to have a calming effect on dogs (and humans!). And, can be inhaled, ingested or applied topically on your dog.

Don’t Stop Here… There’s More to Learn

This article just brushes the surface of essential oils.

It’s not meant to be a ‘you’re ready to do this’ type of article. You must do your own research before using any essential oil on your dog.

Print this out for reference- and ask a holistic or alternative veterinarian if your individual dog would benefit. Remember, every dog is different. And, depending on the health of your dog, some may be acceptable whereas other aren’t recommended.

And, not all oils should be treated equal… make sure the oil you are purchasing is of high-quality.

There are hundreds of ‘fake oils’ out there. You want your first impression to be as good as it can be. If you try out a ‘bad’ essential oil first, you won’t know if it’s really helpful for your dog (or for you).

You should never place an essential oil on your dog’s skin (or let them inhale/ ingest) without first fully understanding the oil you’re using.

Bottom line… be sure to do further research before implementing essential oils into your dog’s routine.

What is Holistic Pet Care?

August 30, 2018 is National Holistic Pet Day. Since many dog lovers are new to this, we would like to share some information about what holistic health truly means.

To put it simply, holistic health is an approach to wellness that incorporates a dog’s body, mind, and spirit. Holistic health is about living a preventative lifestyle.

Rather than waiting for a condition to happen, the goal with holistic medicine is to prevent that condition from occurring via various wellness techniques.

The number of dog lovers who wish to learn about holistic health is increasing significantly each year.

Once you have made the decision to learn about holistic health, you can then learn how to strengthen your dog’s food, body, mind, and spirit.

Let’s Eat Healthy

As you may have already guessed, nutrition plays a key role in your dog’s health and wellness (and ours, too!). By feeding your dog a diet that’s natural and organic, you provide your dog with a potentially much-needed immune boost thereby reducing the risk of developing health conditions.

Our dog’s body (nor ours) is designed to handle the dyes, preservatives, or chemicals that are put in all kinds of food each day. Most dog food (and human food) is overly processed and truly not good for a mammal’s body.

Feeding a high-quality dog food can also help your dog fight allergies (one of the main causes of allergies in dogs has to do with their commercial diet). Not only does high-quality dog food help fight allergies but also reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes, intestinal problems, and other food-related health conditions.

If you’re having trouble determining what is best to feed your dog, you can search for an alternative veterinarian or holistic veterinarian who has extensive knowledge in this field.

And, the water. Don’t forget about the water. You know that water that comes from your city source? You know, the one you probably drink daily and provide to your dog? That water often contains fluoride, chlorine, and other chemicals to keep it ‘clean.’

Don’t panic if you have been drinking this and allowing your pet to drink it. Most people don’t know those chemicals can be found in city water.

You can keep your dog (and yourself) safe by using filtered water, never re-use plastic bottles to fill their water bowl (the plastic bottles really aren’t good either) and be certain to use stainless steel dog bowls rather than plastic doggy bowls.

Work the Body

When you think of keeping your body healthy, what’s the first step that usually comes to mind other than diet? YES, exercise. Diet and exercise go hand-in-hand.

Not only does exercise reduce excess weight, but it lowers cholesterol levels, reduces anxiety, reduces the risk of heart disease, reduces the risk of diabetes, and can even help reduce the risk of developing various types of cancer!

Don’t let exercise get boring, either. Usually, we start off strong and slowly go back to our normal sedentary lifestyle. Of course, walking is the most common form of exercise. But, games like fetch also provide your dog with some healthy fun.

Fleas and Ticks are Terrible

Fleas and ticks are horrible… especially in the summer. So, what do we do? We grab that flea medicine to place on our dog’s skin. That absorbs and kills the fleas. Right?

If you want to take a holistic approach to your dog’s health, those aren’t really labeled as acceptable. Dog lovers practicing a holistic approach use natural grooming products. And, natural flea and tick preventatives. Usually, this consists of a mix of essential oils.

The Mind and Spirit at Peace

We have discussed nutrition and taking care of the body physically. Now, let’s move on to the mental side of the spectrum.

Mental stimulation is a crucial puzzle piece in your dog’s wellness puzzle. A healthy, well-balanced brain is critical. Don’t forget to stimulate those brain cells.

If you take a walk through your local pet store, you will see there are several toys designed to do just that. Take a look at the puzzles your local store offers… or take a look on Amazon. This might take some ‘testing.’ Each dog has a different preference as to what they call ‘fun.’

If you grab one puzzle, and your dog isn’t a fan, don’t give up just yet. That puzzle may not be for her. Try another.

Most dogs also need social interaction with other dogs. Find a compatible dog and go on a doggy playdate. Or, if none of your friends have a dog, take a trip to your local dog park. Let your dog play… a tired dog is a happy dog.

Don’t Overwhelm Yourself

We know that’s a lot of information to take in at one time. We just discussed literally every aspect of your dog’s well-being. If you don’t think you can handle all of this at once, take it step by step. Start by ensuring your dog’s mental health is met and move on to their nutrition… for example. And, if you need help, don’t forget your veterinarian is there to help you.

Bark, Bark, Bark... What?

Most dog lovers will tell you, “I can hear differences in my dog’s bark. My dog has a different bark for individual situations.”

At first, we might look at them like they can’t possibly tell. But, they’re right.

Your dog does have different bark styles to let you know what they are talking about. This is one of the ways they communicate with you.

Each bark serves a different purpose.

Isn’t that interesting?


Territorial barking is that bark that says ‘this is my territory,’ and ‘stay away.’ Their territory does not only mean the area they’re in… it could also be a person (like you), another dog, or even their entire walking space.

Does your dog take the same walk each day? Maybe you go from one street to the next, then around the block, each and every day. This could easily become their ‘territory’ if they feel necessary.


An attention-bark is just what it sounds like. The attention bark is the sound your dog makes when she is trying to get your attention (or someone else’s).

This bark says ‘look at me, pet me, love me.’ Or, it could just mean ‘play with me!’


The alarm bark says… “HEY, HEY, HEY!”

“Uh-oh!”… “Family, look!”

When you hear this, your dog is likely barking at a certain sight or sound.


When your dog enters a frustrating situation, you’ll likely hear a ‘frustration bark.’

This bark isn’t always a response to something frustrating to him. This could just be in response to an upsetting situation.

If you don’t want your dog to enter a certain room and you put a gate up, this could lead to a frustration bark. Your dog is wanting to get into that room, but there’s an obstacle in his way he can’t get through.

Another example could be when you’re in an argument with your significant other. This isn’t directly affecting your dog. But, dogs are able to sense our emotions and this could lead to frustration.


Yay! The greeting bark! Yay! My family is home!

The greeting bark is emitted when a dog is excited to see you! When he is greeting barking, his tail is likely wagging and he’s displaying playful body language.

He’s missed you tremendously while you’ve been gone… even if it’s only been a few minutes.


Finally, excessive separation anxiety barking generally happens when the dog’s guardian is away from the home. Or, just separated from you in general.

This is the type of barking your neighbor would probably complain about when you leave the house. Why? Because the separation anxiety bark is continuous. Your dog is essentially screaming ‘come back, come back, come back, come back’ repeatedly. And, sometimes won’t stop until you return.

The separation anxiety bark also lets you know your dog misses you… as frustrating as this may be sometimes.


Every ‘bark’ your dog makes means something. It’s important to pay close attention to the way your dog barks. You’ll learn how your individual dog communicates his feelings. And, this will help you build a greater bond with your dog.

You’ll understand her wants and needs.

Understanding why she is barking will also help you should she ever need behavior modification. And, help you understand if there is something wrong whether that be she’s hurt, there’s an intruder in the home, or otherwise.

Is a Dog Training Class Really Worth it?

If you’ve adopted a puppy or an adult dog recently, you might be wondering if you should invest time and money into dog training? Is dog training truly necessary or should you just train at home instead?

Whether you’re struggling with reinforcing training with your resident dog, or interested in your newly adopted dog being trained, general training (and training all together) has a huge number of benefits to both you and your dog.

Dog training services don’t only train your dog, either. There’s so much to learn when you enroll your dog in an obedience class.


The first point, and the most important point, is training ensures your dog’s safety and well-being.

If your dog is obedient, respects you, and listens to you, she is much less likely to run away and is more likely to come when called. She will escape dangerous situations simply because you asked her not to.

Socialization is also key in the process. A trained and properly socialized dog is often significantly less aggressive toward other dogs and people (and even cats!).

Not only does this ensure your dog’s safety, but the safety of other people and pets as well.

If you have a puppy, start early. If obedience classes are an experience you’re interested in, start as quickly as possible.


Sometimes families enroll their dog in obedience classes simply because they don’t have the time to fully train their dog. Dogs in training require an extensive amount of time spent. And, let’s face it, it’s ridiculously difficult to juggle work, family, and everything else going on in our hectic lives. Heck, we might not even have time to shower ourselves some days we’re so busy.

If you do have time, it is recommended you train your dog yourself, though. You’ll see why in the following section.


Most families don’t adopt a dog simply to say they have a dog in their household. We want to build a strong bond with our dogs and continue to keep that bond as strong as possible.

Research has shown trained dogs have a better bond with their family.

Now, that’s a bold statement right there.

Positive training encourages communication between your dog and yourself therefore opening the lines for clear communication among one another.

A dog who is trained understands respect, rules, and other priorities in your home. This allows you, and your family, to experience the most amazing love.


Once you lay down a basic framework of obedience rules and commands for your dog to follow, you may decide you want to teach him or her a special skill.


Maybe not.

It’s completely up to you.

As your dog moves further throughout formal basic training, he or she will be able to learn more advanced commands that involve protecting you, retrieving important objects you need when you are unable to, or even alerting you to danger.

Your dog is a part of your family, and you know her best, so be sure to do what’s best for her and yourself. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us here at PetKey!

Wait, Don’t Pee There!

Let’s look at this scenario… and you can let us know if this has ever happened. You have been away from home for several hours. You left your dog at home because she couldn’t accompany you while you were at work. You walk in the door. She’s so excited… acting as if she hasn’t seen you in years. All of a sudden… there’s a little yellow puddle of a pee on the floor.

You’re overwhelmed, frustrated, and upset. You didn’t want to come home to clean up pee.

Don’t worry. If this has happened to you, please know that it’s a common occurrence.

This article will address what excitement urination is and how to manage it. Even if your dog isn’t going through this phenomenon, this article is still worth the read. You never know when you’ll get that new pup (or doggy) who will experience this.

Excitement Urination: What is it?

Excitement urination generally occurs when greeting your dog. You may also notice some pee puddles during playtime when your dog is getting all wound up.

It’s important to note, your dog will not be showing any submissive body language if he’s peeing due to excitement. He won’t be giving you the whale eye. He won’t look scared. He won’t have a hunched back or his tail tucked between his legs.

He’ll just appear to be happy.

He will probably be jumping around, tail wagging, with those excited eyes staring at you ready to go!

Does Age Matter?

Excitement urination most commonly occurs in young dogs and puppies who don’t quite have control of their little bladders.

Don’t worry, most dogs get rid of this behavior with time (after one year of age).

In some cases, this behavior continues because it’s being reinforced. You may not know you’re encouraging the behavior.

If you pet and talk to your dog in an excited manner while she’s excitement peeing, you’ll be letting her know all is well and the likelihood of the behavior continuing is high.

What Are the Recommendations?

Before you do anything, you must visit your veterinarian. Yes, this could be a behavior issue, but it’s important to rule out any medical problems before working on the behavior side.

The medical side always comes first. Get the clearance and go from there.

In the meantime, greeting and playing outdoors is recommended until you have resolved the problem. Then you won’t be picking up pee puddles (or not cleaning up as much).

Be sure to take walks frequently. Take long walks. Take short walks. Mix up the ‘path’ of your walk.

Make sure your dog can empty her bladder as often as possible.

When your dog goes pee on walks, be sure to praise her and don’t forget the treats. If you feel you’re giving too many treats, you can grab a handful of her daily kibble to give her for being a good girl.

Keep your greetings normal. Don’t talk in a baby voice or act overly excited when you get home. We know it’s hard not to. After all, we have missed our pup. But, it’s important. We want our dog to get back on track for our dog’s behavioral well-being (and our own sanity so we aren’t cleaning up pee all the time).

Once your dog calms from your return, you can show him some love and give some cuddles.

The final point, and the most important point, is not to punish your dog. This is extremely important. If you don’t take anything else from this article, we hope you take this point with you. Punishing your dog severely damages the bond you share. Punishment may work, but it’s not worth breaking the trust you share. And, it could damage your relationship with your dog for the rest of her life.

The Bottom Line on Excitement

If you’re feeling overwhelmed with the situation, don’t feel bad for walking away for a few moments to take a breath. Calm down. Then return to the situation and think about what’s best.

Of course, if you’re feeling extremely frustrated, you may want to book a consult with a canine behaviorist.

Be patient. And remember, if your dog is under one year old, this is a behavior that could simply be due to her bladder not being ‘ready’ to hold much urine.

Let’s Talk in Cat Language

Everyone is always talking about a dog’s body language. But, what about cats? Cats have a language of their own, too. They’re clearly more independent than most dogs so they’re harder to understand. Paying attention to their small cues will help you understand your kitty more, though!

The Cat’s Tail: Wagging and More

Your cat’s tail alone can give you some insight on how she’s feeling.

If your cat’s tail is up, this generally indicates she’s feeling happy. She’s ready to be approached. Go ahead and walk up to her to show some love.

If your cat’s tail is down, you probably don’t want to approach. The tail down generally means your cat fears a certain something or is feeling threatened.

Like dogs, cats also wag their tails… but it’s not a good thing. If your cat is wagging his tail quickly back and forth, there’s a good possibility he’s extremely irritated.

If the tail wag is slow, your kitty is trying to figure out how she should feel about the situation she’s in. Her ‘mood’ can go any direction at this point.

Finally, if she’s rigid with her tail straight up (often known as the Halloween cat pose), she’s not in a fantastic mood. She could be on the verge of completely losing it and you don’t want her to ‘lose it’ on you. The Halloween pose is your cat’s way of making herself look bigger than she is to defend herself.

Paying Attention to the Ears

Your cat’s ears can tell you what’s going on in her mind, too (to an extent). If your cat’s ears are slightly forward, he’s feeling happy and could be waiting for your loving hand to run through her silky fur.

When your cat’s ears are ‘standing at attention’ straight up, she’s alert and paying close attention to her surroundings.

When his ears are turned back, this kitty isn’t in the mood to have anything to do with anyone. He’s feeling irritated, frustrated, and/or plain out angry.

This leads us to the next ear position… sideways ears (or back, still). Ears that are sideways or back can also mean your kitty is feeling anxious or nervous about something.

Finally, if her ears are flat against her head, she’s feeling scared and/or defensive. This ‘ear stance’ is also an indication of aggression in some cases.

Eyes Tell All

You look into your cat’s beautiful gazing eyes nearly every day. But, did you realize there is a TON of information that can be gained from the eyes of your kitty?

Take a look at her pupils.

If her pupils are dilated, your cat could be ready to play, scared, or surprised. If your cat’s pupils are constricted, this could be a sign of aggression.

Now, you’re probably asking how you know what your kitty is thinking based on her eyes. It’s important to remember that you need to look at body language as a whole.

Have you ever had your cat stare at you? We don’t mean look over quickly and look away again. We’re talking a full out stare contest. If you have noticed this behavior, you have been in a ‘challenge’ with your cat.

Sllllooowwww blinking. Your kitty is slow blinking… not staring you down. In this case, your cat feels safe in your company. This is one way of letting you know she trusts you and you’re her ‘safe place.’

If your cat’s eyes are half closed… well. What do you think that means? What does it mean when we (as humans) have our eyes half closed? Yes! Those droopy eyes show your cat is relaxed, trusting, and probably ready to take her nap.

Take a Step Back

Now that we’ve reviewed a cat’s body language, the next time you see your kitty, take a step outside of the box and observe her behavior. By paying close attention to your cat’s body language, you’ll develop a better relationship. You’ll start understanding her language and be able to better communicate with her.

Don’t panic if this seems extremely difficult at first. Understanding body language in dogs and cats takes quite a bit of practice in many cases. Most pet parents don’t immediately understand how to read their kitty especially.

Take the time. Be patient. You can even keep a journal!

Know the Stats: Lost Pet Prevention Month


You may already know… July is Lost Pet Prevention Month. Yes, we have discussed the importance of microchips several times here, here, and here.

But, we think it’s important for you to know the statistics.

When we take risks into consideration, as humans, we weigh out if the risk is ‘worth it.’ You may not believe the risk is worth the money and/or worth your time.

How do you come to that decision? And, how much of a risk are you willing to take when it comes to your dog and cat? 

Most families look at their dog (or their cat) as a valued part of their family. What would happen if your furry family member were to get lost? How would you react? 

What if your dog or cat becomes part of the lost pet statistic? 

We want you to know the stats so you’re able to prepare for your dog or cat to get lost. Sometimes it’s not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when.’ 

You’ll be surprised how many dogs and cats are lost each year. 

Let’s learn!

Know the Stats

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, you likely know as the ASPCA, conducts research about lost pets.

What do you think they found as they surveyed 1,000 households with pets? They asked if they had lost a pet in the past five years.

Of the 1,000 households, 15% had lost a dog in the past five years… only 85 percent of those dogs were found.

Only 74% of cats who were lost had been found.

When you first read these statistics, you might be thinking “well, 85% of the dogs were found and 74% of the cats were found.” You might think that’s not really a risk. But, what if your cat or your dog happened to be one of the pets not found?

We don’t know about you, but that’s certainly not a risk we’re willing to take.

What if She Makes it to the Shelter?

The next question that might pop up in your head is ‘if she lands at the humane society, then I’ll definitely find her.’ That’s not necessarily true, either. And, you can’t count on her landing there.

The American Humane Association has estimated approximately 10 million dogs and cats are lost or stolen in the United States every single year. That’s a lot!

One in three pets get lost in their lifetime.

Yes, we know we emphasize microchips here at PetKey. But, there’s a reason for that. A study that was published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Association conducted a research study involving 53 animal shelters. The number of dogs and cats who were returned home due to their microchip is overwhelming.

Only 22 percent of dogs who enter a humane society return to their families. But, the return-to-owner rate for microchipped dogs was over 52 percent. That’s a 238% increase! Yes, we’ll take it. That gives us a better chance at being reunited with our dog or cat should he ever get lost.

And, the number could be even higher than 52 percent. Only 58% of the pets with microchips had been registered in the database with their information.

Other than Microchip & ID

Your dog has the microchip and ID tags on her collar. What else can you do? If your dog gets lost, these two things alone significantly increase the likelihood of her being returned to you. But, is there a way to go a step farther?

The answer to this question… yes. There is a way you can take another step forward. That’s with a GPS tracking system. These are fairly common with hunters and rescue dogs since they often wander on their own.

The GPS tracker allows your dog to be off-leash (or kitty) … and you’ll know exactly where she is at all times. These devices won’t help your dog be returned to you so that’s where the microchip and ID tag comes in handy.

Stay Calm

It’s easy to get upset and frustrated when our dog or cat is missing. Getting upset doesn’t help anything. What it does do is ‘fog your brain.’ You need to think clearly when your pet is lost so you’re able to find him. Staying positive and doing everything you can is the way to go.

And, before she gets lost, make sure you’re prepared. Better safe than sorry.

Your Cat’s Litterbox Problems: Let’s Solve Them

Elimination problems in cats are not uncommon. And, some cats may stop using their litterbox altogether. Others may use their litterbox for urination but not defecation and vise versa. And, some might only use their litterboxes some of the time.

Problems using the litterbox might develop as a result of conflict among other cats in the household. Your cat might not like the cat litter you picked. She might not appreciate your choice of litterbox. Or… it could be some type of medical condition.

Once a cat starts avoiding the litterbox, it could become a constant problem. Your cat could develop a preference for a new area… and there’s no telling where that location of choice is until it’s too late. The location could be your expensive fluffy rug in the den… or in the corner of your bedroom. If you notice your cat isn’t using the litterbox, keep an eye out.

The best approach to dealing with your cat’s litterbox problems involve making his litterbox as ‘happy’ as possible.

The moment you notice your cat isn’t going in the litterbox, that’s when action should be taken. Immediate. Don’t wait long… or else the problem could become much larger.

Litter-Box Management Problems

If your cat isn’t comfortable with her litter box or can’t easily access it, he probably won’t use it. The following common litter-box problems might cause her to eliminate outside of her box:

·        You haven’t cleaned your cat’s litter box often or thoroughly enough. There are some ‘extra’ yuckies left in there. She doesn’t like that.

·        You haven’t provided enough litter boxes for your household. Be sure to have a litter box for each of your cats, as well as one extra. Then, there won’t be competition for litterbox space.

·        Your cat’s litter box is too small for her. She should be able to fit in the litterbox comfortably and be able to go potty without getting herself ‘yucky.’

·        Your cat’s litter box has a hood or liner that she doesn’t care for.

·        The litter in your cat’s box is too deep. Cats usually prefer one to two inches of litter.

·        Some cats develop preferences for eliminating on certain surfaces or textures like carpet, potting soil or bedding. Find out what that preference is. And, try to mimic it to the best of your ability with the litterbox.

He Doesn’t Like His Litter

Cats have sensitive senses of smell and touch to help them figure out their environment. These senses can affect her litter preferences. Cats who have grown accustomed to a certain litter might decide they like that litter only… and they won’t use any other kind.

It’s in the Wrong Spot

Like people and dogs, cats develop preferences for where they like to use the bathroom. And, they won’t use the bathroom where you want them to if they don’t like the location.

Inability to Use the Litter Box

The problem could be as simple as your cat can’t get to the litterbox. Older cats or cats with physical limitations may have a difficult time using certain types of litter boxes.

Ouch… it Hurts

If your cat has some type of medical condition, she may be experiencing painful elimination. Or, if your cat had a medical condition that caused her pain when she eliminated, she may have learned to associate the pain with using her litter box.

Even if your cat’s health has returned to normal, that association may still cause her to avoid her litter box.

I’m So Stressed…

Stress can cause litter-box problems.

Cats can be stressed by things that their owners may not think of as a big deal. Have you moved recently? Have you swapped bedrooms with someone else in the household? Have you moved their litterbox to a new location?

Basic Tips for Making Cats Feel Better About Using Their Litter Boxes

·        The majority of cats like clean litter boxes, so scoop and change your cat’s litter at least one to two times a day. Rinse the litter box out completely with baking soda or unscented soap once a week at minimum.

·        Most cats like a shallow bed of litter. Provide one to two inches of litter rather than three to four inches or more (and yes, there are many cat lovers who think their cat should have a pile of litter).

·        Most cats prefer clumping, unscented litter. If there’s a fragrance to the litter, your cat may avoid the litterbox.

·        Your cat may prefer the type of litter she used as a kitten. Try to remember what type of litter she used back then.

·        Cats like their litter boxes located in a quiet but not “cornered” location. They like to have the ability to watch for dangerous situations.

Check with a Professional

If your cat associates her litter box with something negative, you can work to help her develop new and pleasant associations. It’s important to note that cats can’t be forced to enjoy something, and if you try to force her it will likely only make the problem worse.

Generally, it’s usually not a good idea to try to train your cat to use her litter box by offering her treats like you would a dog, because many cats do not like attention while they’re eliminating. However, a professional animal behavior consultant, such as a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB) or a board-certified veterinary behaviorist (Dip ACVB) may be able to help you design a successful retraining or counterconditioning program. Check out the article, Finding Professional Behavior Help, for information about finding an applied animal behavior professional.

Most importantly, do not scold your cat for her litterbox problems. This could severely worsen her behavior and she will no longer trust you. She is also likely to be afraid of you if you begin to scold her. We want to keep the bond we have built with our cat while determining the best way to solve the issue.

Tips for Bringing Your New Kitty Home

You have found the perfect cat. She’s everything you were looking for and more. Now what? Is there any preparation that should be done before you bring your new kitty home?


There are some guidelines you can follow to help the transition go a little bit smoother.

Before Bringing Your Kitty Home: Setting Up ‘The Space’

Cats are territorial animals. Bringing a cat into a new environment can be extremely stressful. There’s so much that’s new and different from their previous ‘home.’ And, your cat is going to be unsure of what to do with all that room to roam.

Before bringing your cat home, find a space that can be dedicated just to him for a few days (or weeks if necessary). Most kitty lovers usually utilize the bathroom or laundry room for this phase.

Once you have found the perfect space for your new kitty, add all your cat’s special goodies to the room. Add the litterbox. Add food and water. Add toys. And, if you’re really wanting to furnish the area completely, grab your cat a scratching post.

Now, you have your space all figured out. But, your cat might want an even smaller space to escape to within that room. A cat carrier is generally the best choice here. So, if your cat is feeling overwhelmed or scared at any point, he can run into his ‘safe haven.’

Before Bringing Your Kitty Home: Kitty-Proofing

Now that you have set up the space where your kitty will call home for a few days, start exploring the rest of your home with a cat’s eye view. What could your kitty get stuck in? Is there any way she could escape? Are there any items that should be moved so your cat doesn’t damage them?

Cover up any holes leading to ‘unknown’ areas.

Think of everywhere your cat could potentially hide. Then, you won’t panic immediately if you don’t see her for a few hours.

The First Day of Kitty Being Home

The first day can be extremely easy for your cat or ridiculously overwhelming. You don’t know until he arrives and is able to explore.

Once you arrive home, immediately take her to the space you have made for her. Open the cat carrier. Let her come out at her own pace. Don’t force her to do anything she doesn’t want to do.

If there are other people in your home, the visits should be kept to a minimum. One or two people in the room at a time is overwhelming enough. But, you do want her to acclimate to everyone in the household. Observe how she feels around you versus others. If she’s comfortable, she is able to move a bit faster in the process.

Once she comes out of the carrier, take a seat on the floor and let him come to you. Again, don’t force her. She will come on her own time.

If she doesn’t approach you during this phase, don’t panic. Leave her alone and return later.

Some cats may only come out at night, too. If your kitty doesn’t want to see your during the day… you could try in the evening when life is quieter.

It’s also important to keep in mind- your newly adopted kitty may not each much at first. Or, maybe not at all. When she is ready to eat, be sure to provide her with the same food she ate at her previous home or shelter to avoid stomach upset.

The First Week After Arrival

Within one week of adoption, you should take your cat for a routine visit with the veterinarian. Just to make sure all is well. If you have a copy of immunization records from the shelter, bring those to the vet so he or she can have them on file.

You may also find out what types of toys your cat prefers during the first week (don’t panic if it takes two weeks).

And, if you can, grab a cat perch to place up next to the window. This could be your cat’s favorite place in the home and she would still be out and about to be social.

The Bottom Line

Most of all, it’s important to understand that each cat is her own unique ‘person.’ Some cats are shy. Some cats are outgoing. No cat is the same. Some cats take only a few hours to acclimate to a new home. Some cats take weeks. You never know. But, one thing is for sure. If you are patient and you put time into your new kitty, you won’t regret doing so.

Is Your Cat a ‘Scratcher?’

If you have a cat, you know they love to scratch. They scratch when they stretch. They scratch when you’re petting that special spot behind their ear. And, they scratch to mark their territory.

On top of all these reasons, they would need to scratch regardless to continue sharpening their claws and keep them healthy.

All this scratching they’re doing can really put some damage on our home.

Can Scratching be Prevented?

Scratching can’t be prevented, but it can be limited to certain surfaces. The best tactic here is to have scratching posts through your home.

Offering scratching posts with different qualities can also be helpful in this circumstance. Some cats love cardboard. Other cats love scratching wood. And, the next cat may prefer to scratch carpet. Some cats enjoy vertical scratching posts… others enjoy horizontal. It’s all about preference. And, sometimes your cat might want to mix it up.

The scratching post must be sturdy. Keep that in mind. If your cat starts scratching the post and it falls over, they’re probably not going back to that one.

What if My Cat Doesn’t Show Interest?

If your cat doesn’t show any interest in the scratching post (don’t worry, this is a common problem), you can encourage her by hanging toys from the post. Or, you can search for posts that contain catnip to spark her curiosity.

Prevent Scratching the No-No’s

If your cat has a favorite place in the house to scratch that’s a definite no-no, your best bet would be to put plastic over those items using double-sided sticky tape. Then, place a scratching post next to that object.

If it comes down to potentially re-homing your cat, you might want to consider the plastic caps for your cat’s claws. Then, there won’t be any damage to any items he or she scratches. The caps attach to your cat’s claws and last approximately 4-6 weeks.

What About Declawing?

There are many cat lovers who will automatically jump to declawing their cat. But, there’s a problem here. Declawing your cat won’t improve any type of behavioral issue—like aggression. The only difference is your cat won’t be able to damage your furniture anymore.

But, is it worth it to put your cat through such an extensive procedure?

The declawing procedure doesn’t only involve removing the claws. The procedure involves an amputation of the entire last digital bone on each of the front toes. When recovering from this procedure, our cats are in extreme pain. There’s also risk that comes along with the anesthesia, risk of infection, risk of excessive bleeding, and extended pain.

The Bottom Line on Scratching

There are many alternatives to consider if your cat is a big scratcher. Don’t immediately jump to re-homing or declawing. Give your cat a chance to learn the behavior is not appropriate first. And, show your kitty what is appropriate.

If you need help, don’t be afraid to call in a behaviorist. That’s what they’re there for. Using this link, you can find a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB or ACAAB) or a board-certified veterinary behaviorist (Dip ACVB).

20 Facts You Didn’t Know About Your Dog or Cat

Let’s shake it up a bit from our normal blog posts and take some time to learn a few neat facts about the dogs and cats in our life.

If you have any neat facts (not on the list), you would like to share, drop us a comment!

1.     Newfoundland dogs have a water-resistant coat and webbed feet. Their job was once to help haul nets for fisherman and rescue people from drowning.

2.     There were three dogs who survived the sinking of the Titanic- two Pomeranians and a Pekingese.

3.     Puppies have 28 teeth. Adult dogs have 42.

4.     Dalmatians aren’t born with spots. They develop their spots as they get older.

5.     A dog’s normal temperature is between 101 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit.

6.     Dogs can only sweat from the pads o their feet. That’s why they use panting as form of ‘heat release.’

7.     A dog’s nose is wet due to a thin layer of mucous covering their nose to assist in absorbing scent.

8.     A dog’s sense of smell is up to 100,000 times better than ours.

9.     Most people know the Chow Chow by their blue-tinged tongues, but they’re actually born with pink tongues. Their tongue doesn’t change color until around 8 weeks old.

10.  Dogs kick after going potty because they use the scent glands on their feet to mark their territory.

11.  When comparing the genome of the house cat to the tiger, there is a 95.6% match. They’re more like their ancestors than we thought.

12.  A cat named ‘Lucky Nicky’ was born in 2004. Nicky was the first cat to be commercially cloned. The owner of the cat shelled out $50,000 to replicate his favorite cat, and has stated the personality of the two cats is extremely similar.

13.  You truly can train a house cat to use the toilet.

14.  Cats have an extra organ that allows them to taste scent!

15.  Female cats are generally ‘right-pawed’ whereas males are ‘left-pawed.’

16.  Cats can become pregnant as young as 4 months old! Unless you want kittens, you should get your cat spayed as soon as your veterinarian recommends.

17.  Have you ever watch the Aristocats? And, the kittens are drinking that yummy warm milk…? Contrary to popular belief, many cats are lactose intolerant, and shouldn’t have any milk other than milk from their mother at birth.

18.  Spaying or neutering your cat may extend his or her life according to a study by Banfield Pet Hospital. Male cats were found to live an average of 62 percent longer than cats who weren’t neutered. Spayed female cats were found to live an average of 39 percent longer than cats who weren’t spayed.

19.  Cats have scent glands in their face and body. When a cat is rubbing their body or face against you, they may be marking you as their territory.

20.  Cats have over 100 vocalizations they use to communicate.

There are hundreds upon hundreds of facts we could share with you… but we want to hear from you! What’s the most interesting fact you can find about your furry companion?

What You Didn’t Know About Dog Training Treats

When your dog is a puppy, or even if you have an adult dog who needs trained, the training process often involves rewards. And, the reward we provide is what? Treats and lots of praise.

You reward desired behaviors and ignore the ‘bad’ behaviors. A tasty treat along with some praise goes a long way. But, how do you choose which treat to provide your pup with? Is every treat created equal?

Healthy and Nutritious Dog Treats

Since you will be rewarding your dog-in-training often, you must be sure to provide healthy, low-calorie treats. We don’t want our puppy to become overweight or develop health issues from the training process. The treats should be bite-size, and easy-to-chew.

The ideal treat for training is about the size of a penny… and no larger.

The other factor to keep in mind; how much does my puppy (or dog) like the treat? Choosing a treat your pup absolutely loves provides a greater incentive.

You Don’t Need Store-Bought Treats

You don’t need to go to the store and spend a fortune on treats when you’re training. You’re welcome to make treats at home.

Homemade treats allow you to control what goes into your pet’s diet. You’re also able to limit their fat intake, and the number of calories they’re consuming by feeding treats you have made yourself.

Surprisingly, many dogs enjoy what we already have in our refrigerator. Most of the foods we consume ourselves can be cut up into small, bite-size pieces and placed in a Ziploc bag. You’ll have to experiment to find out which ones your dog likes (and doesn’t). But, if he falls in love with a food you have at home, why not?

Small pieces of raw fruits and veggies are commonly enjoyed by dogs. Apples, carrots, broccoli, and green beans are just a few dogs find delicious.

Oh, and the berries. We can’t forget the berries. Let your pup try a few.

In the fall, when pumpkins are plentiful, they’re a great treat to feed your dog. Even if it’s not fall, give it a try. Pumpkins are full of antioxidants, Vitamin C, and Vitamin E. Pumpkins also help with digestion (and they’re good for your pup even if he doesn’t have digestive issues).

Don’t give your dog grapes or raisins, these are toxic to dogs (click here for a large list of toxic foods).

Small pieces of cheese are another great idea, but you can’t provide too much cheese to your pup without giving her an upset tummy.

And just, so you’re aware, peanut butter is a common favorite. That’s no secret. Peanut butter is packed with protein, Vitamin E, Vitamin B, Niacin, AND heart-healthy fats. But, you need to make sure you grab raw, unsalted peanut butter.

The peanut butter we eat now contains an ingredient called Xylitol. Xylitol is common in sugar-free foods, and it’s extremely toxic to dogs. Even if our dog only has a small amount, they could experience low blood sugar, seizures, liver failure, or death. Scary!

What Else Should I Search For (Or Not?!)

If you don’t decide to make the treats at home, steer clear of inexpensive, filler-based treats. Search for treats without artificial flavors, artificial colors, or by-products. The fillers in these treats lead to obesity and dental issues, among other severe health conditions.

Coconut flour is low in carbohydrates (and low in fat!). Incorporating treats containing coconut flour is a good recommendation.

Dogs also often prefer meat-based treats. Now, what treat immediately comes to mind? Usually, it’s jerky. Jerky can be an excellent treat, but you must ensure the jerky is high-quality. The jerky that’s ‘made-in-China’ isn’t the best choice.

Search for jerky that’s hormone-free with no antibiotics. The Real Meat Company is worth looking into if you’re set on jerky.

How Often Can I Reward my Dog?

The smaller, and healthier, a treat is… the more you can reward your dog. Since rewards are a critical part of the training process, we’re looking for treats we can give often. Right? Healthy, natural products are the way to go.

The Bottom Line on Doggy Treats

When you’re looking for a treat, don’t fall for the ‘shiny box’ trick. There are so many treats that look good to the eye, that aren’t good for our dogs. We must look at the ingredients to make sure the treat is healthy for our dog. No, it’s not a fair world we live in where our dogs (and us!) can be deceived by treats that look good, that aren’t good for us. But, our dogs depend on us to make sure they’re healthy.

34 Ways to Celebrate Pet Appreciation Week with Your Dog

It’s Pet Appreciation Week! This week, pencil in a little extra time to spend with your cat or dog. To help you figure out what you can do with this time, we have compiled a list of goodies.

Choose one, two, three, or maybe even all the activities! Your dog will be thrilled to be spending time with you.

Goodie #1: New Sights, Smells, and Places

After a while, we become accustomed to a routine. We take the same route on each walk. We go to the same places and see the same people. This week let’s stir it up a bit.

Dogs love to see, and smell, new places. Take a different route on your walk a few times this week. Take a longer walk. Or, take your dog hiking for the first time (if your dog feels up to it).

If your dog is a senior or has health problems, you can take him swimming instead. Swimming is easier on the joints.

Goodie #2: Make a Date

If your dog adores other dogs, a play date is an easy way to reduce his stress and increase his happiness. Play dates also provide an excellent way to release energy.

How could it get any better? Your dog gets to be social, exercise, and feel better mentally! Who knows, maybe you’ll make this part of your routine after Pet Appreciation Week!

If your dog hasn’t had a play date before, don’t become discouraged if it doesn’t go as planned. Just like we have preferences in our friends, they have preferences with theirs.

Goodie #3: Homemade Doggy Treats

Homemade dog treats are a tasty way to let your dog know how much you love him. Take a look at the recipes below and pick your favorite.

Cesar Millan’s Recipe List

Puppy Leaks Recipe List (All made with 5 ingredients or less)

Easy Baby Food Doggy Treats

If you conduct a search, you’ll certainly find more doggy treat recipes. But, the ones included here will give you a head start.

Goodie #4: Paint a Portrait

You can honor your dog, and have a forever memory, by having a portrait painted of your dog. Find your favorite photo and send it in to an artist. If you look around, they aren’t usually overly expensive.

Etsy is an excellent place to find an artist if you don’t already have one in mind.

Goodie #5: Teach a New Trick

Training your dog might not sound like something she would enjoy. But, the truth is, dogs love having a purpose. They love showing off their skills. And, they love making you happy.

Training your dog to do a new trick is a great way to spend some time this week.

If you’re feeling energetic, you can also build an agility course and train your dog to run through it. Agility courses can be unbelievably fun for you and your dog.

Goodie #6: Lets Go Boating

If your dog is one who enjoys boating, why not go for a boat ride? After all, it is June. It’s muggy. It’s hot. Going for a boat ride, and maybe even going swimming, is a great way to spend your time together.

Don’t forget about the doggy life jacket! Even dogs who swim well will struggle to stay above water if they were to fall overboard.

There’s So Much More

There are so many activities you can do with your dog. Many don’t need any explanation at all. Here are some more ideas:

7.      Visit the beach with your dog

8.      Go on a mini-vacation

9.      Go for a run or a jog… instead of a walk

10.   Play frisbee

11.   Go camping

12.   Take a road trip

13.   Visit the pool

14.   Give your dog a little extra grooming time

15.   Take a nap together

16.   Bring your dog fishing with you

17.   Bring your dog to work (if permitted)

18.   Have a photo shoot

19.   Make your dog his favorite food

20.   Play hide-and-seek

21.   Visit the dog park

22.   Relax on the couch

23.   Visit an indoor dog park

24.   Schedule a grooming session

25.   Play in the sprinklers and cool down

26.   Bring your dog ‘out to dinner’

27.   Make homemade ice pops

28.   Put some finger paint on your dog’s paw and make an everlasting painting

29.   Get your dog a Kong toy

30.   Play tug-of-war

31.   Play fetch

32.   Teach your dog how to find her toys

33.   Get your dog some puzzle toys

34.   Learn how to give doggie massages

The Bottom Line: It All Boils Down to Time

What all these activities boil down to is… time. Your dog doesn’t truly care if the time is spent hiking or lounging on the couch. Spend some extra time with your dog this week. Love on your dog a little more than your normal (if that’s possible!).

Introducing a New Dog to Your Home Successfully

The first few days in your home are a special and anxious time for your new dog… and for you. You have just brought home a new addition to your family. And, for your dog, there are so many new sights, smells, and sounds. Some dogs adjust quickly to a new home. Other dogs are generally confused about where they are and may not connect your home with his home.

Don’t panic. Your home is a completely different environment than what she is accustomed to. Even if she came from another home rather than a shelter, there is still so much that’s different. Your dog depends on you to make the transition as smooth as possible. Here at PetKey, we have a few suggestions for you to help your new dog’s introduction to her new home.

Before Your Bring Your New Addition Home

Before you bring your new dog home, think about where you think she will be spending the majority of her time. For most dogs, it’s usually the kitchen (easy to clean up messes in there). Once you have determined where your new dog will spend most of his time, dog-proof that area and place the crate somewhere comfortable in that room (if you’re crate training).

If you do plan to crate-train your dog, the crate should be set up before bringing your new dog home. And, be sure to do a bit of research on how to properly crate train before you bring her home, too.

Don’t forget to place a mattress in the crate to support her body. When you look for mattresses, don’t be alarmed at the number of mattresses on the market for dogs. Each mattress is designed specifically for a certain breed of dog, dogs of a certain age, or dogs with certain medical conditions. You can usually determine which mattress will work best for your dog by reading the description.

If you plan to crate-train your dog, the crate should be set up before you bring your dog home. Don’t forget to place a mattress of some kind in the crate with them. The type of mattress you should have varies based on the breed of dog you are bringing home, and the age of the dog. Be certain to do proper research on this before bringing your new dog home.

Onto the next topic… dog-proofing. Dog-proofing your home is critical in keeping your dog safe. Tape off any loose or low-hanging wires. Place any household cleaner out of reach of your dog in your highest cabinets. Do the same with your medications. If you have plants on the floor, there are many which are dangerous to your dog. Dig in and find out what types of plants are okay, and which aren’t.

Finally, have their collar and leash ready to go. On the collar, there should be ID tags already attached.

If your dog doesn’t already have a microchip, you should consider getting one. The microchip isn’t a GPS device, but if your dog were to ever get lost, the microchip would be scanned and an identification code unique to your dog containing all your details would be available. Then, the pet professional who scanned your chip could use the details you have provided to reconnect your dog with your family.

Your New Dog’s First Day Home

The first day home could be overwhelming for your dog in either direction (or both directions). Your new dog might get to your home bouncing with happiness without a care in the world. Or, you may have a dog who takes a little bit of time to get comfortable with her new environment. Either way, give your dog a sufficient amount of time to acclimate to your home before you allow any ‘strangers’ to come over. We know it’s hard not to show off the newest member of your family. But, your friends will see her soon enough. Let’s give her some time to understand where she is now.

Even if you think your dog is doing wonderful with the transition- one new event could spark stress in the first week. Then, your happy-go-lucky dog could go from thrilled to miserable. And, we don’t want that. If you have children, show your children the appropriate way to approach a dog.

When you pick up your new dog, be certain to ask what she ate that day (brand, exact name on package, hard/soft food). If you feed your new dog a completely different food when you get home, there’s a high possibility for upset stomach and diarrhea. We don’t want that. A dog who isn’t feeling well isn’t likely to transition well.

If you’re interested in feeding a different brand/type of food, you should do so over a one-week period (at minimum). Start by adding in the new food to their old food slowly- just a small handful at a time. Watch for any signs of stomach upset or loose stools. If you do notice any symptoms, lessen the amount of new food and extend the transition time. The transition to a new food could take several weeks. Or, your dog’s tummy may not get along with the new food at all and you’ll have to find something different to try.

When you get home, immediately show your dog where the approved potty area is and softly say “potty-potty.” Be patient during this time. Even if your dog was fully potty-trained where he was staying before, there could be accidents. Think about what would happen if your entire world changed in an instant. What we knew would go out the window for a little while, too.

A routine should be put in place the moment you get home with your new dog. Structure is extremely helpful to a dog adjusting to a new home, and your resident dogs as well if they don’t already have a designated routine. Feeding, potty-time, and play/exercise, should have an approximate time each day. If the time changes by a half hour occasionally, that’s okay.

If your resident dogs don’t already have a routine, take note of changes in their behavior. You should notice a difference. You might notice a stronger bond between the two of you, your dog being more comfortable, and/or your dog becoming more healthy (normal weight, normal sleeping pattern, etc.).

For the first few days of your dog being home, try to be as calm and quiet as possible. Limiting excitement during this time is essential. And, it will give you time to get to know your dog better. Take this time to build a foundation for the bond you will share.

Training should also begin the moment you walk in the door. We won’t discuss this in too much depth… this topic could be an entire article on its own. But, after the first week, increase the amount of physical and mental stimulation your dog is receiving.

Training also helps a dog settle in further and strengthens the bond you are building. You can even work on things she already knows like sit, stay, and come. Any type of positive training is helpful.

Introducing Your New Dog to Another Dog

If you have a resident dog, introduce your new dog to your resident dog outside in a neutral area. Make sure there aren’t any toys, food, or treats in the area the introduction is happening in.

If you have more than one resident dog, introduce one at a time. Don’t rush the introduction. Each dog should be on a leash, and each leash should be loose to allow the dogs to get to know one another.

Some dogs get along with every dog they meet. Others may take a while to become familiar with a new addition their family.  

After the outside introduction, you can bring your new dog inside and do the in-home introduction (if all goes well outside). If you bring your new dog inside immediately without the outside introduction, this could spark a handful of issues that make it more difficult to help your dog adjust.

Keep each interaction between your new dog and your resident dog(s) short and as pleasant as possible. If you see any sign of tension, immediately separate the dogs and try again a couple hours later.

Don’t leave all the dogs alone together until you know it’s safe to do so. Watching your dogs’ body language can help you understand when it’s safe.

Be sure to spend an equal amount of time with your resident dog(s), too. We know getting a new dog is exciting, and you want to spend time building your bond, but your resident dogs need you too.

The Bottom Line on Introduction

The most important take-a-way here involves patience. Be patient with your new dog’s behaviors, training levels, and the bond you are establishing. Do not punish your dog in any way. This will damage the trust you share with your dog and affect the bond you share forever.

Some dogs adjust quickly and form a bond immediately. Others take more time. Commit as much time as possible to getting to know your new dog while spending time with your resident dogs. Watch your new dog’s body language to understand what she is communicating to you and others.

5 Tips to Prepare Your Pet for a Natural Disaster

It might seem like it’s a bit early in the season to start talking about natural disasters. But, we’re at the peak of tornado season. And, the National Weather Service is calling for widespread tornadoes this season. Regardless of what time of year it is though, there is always the potential for some type of natural disaster, and ensuring we are prepared is critical.

During times of natural disaster, most dogs are accidentally left and lost. When we see a tornado coming, we’re frantic and rushing to get our spouse and kids into the storm shelter as fast as possible. Once we get our kids and spouse to the basement, that’s when people usually realize “oh no! Sadie isn’t down here!” We may call her, but it could be too late. Or, she may have run off in the chaos.

In this article, you’ll learn how to be fully prepared in case this situation happens to you. We’ll hope it doesn’t… but we would rather be safe than sorry.

Tip #1: Ensure Your Dog Has ID

Making sure your dog’s identification tags are on his or her collar is the first step in being prepared. Your dog’s identification tag should have your name, phone number, and address engraved into it. If your dog gets separated from you, the identification tags are the first place to look.

Tip #2: Get the Microchip

Here at PetKey, we emphasize the importance of microchipping your dog. We talk about many scenarios, most are simply dogs who have become lost from escaping, but we do have natural disasters we have to think about as well.

You may not think microchipping is really “that important.” But, if your dog were to get lost in a natural disaster situation, what would happen? We would hope their identification tags stayed on during this time. If they didn’t, there’s no way anyone could find the owner. The person who found the dog would need to take the dog to the shelter or post ‘lost’ signs throughout the town.

A microchip contains a unique identifier connecting your dog to you. When that lost dog enters the humane society, or gets checked by a veterinarian, the dog is scanned. In emergency situations especially, the scanners are out and ready to connect lost pets to their families. If the dog does have the microchip, all of the details you have included in your file are available to the professional (the dog’s name, the dog’s age, any medical conditions, your name, address, and phone number).

If your dog has any medical problems, this is another area the microchip helps. If your dog has… let’s say… a condition that requires continuous medication. The veterinarian or emergency team will know that information as soon as the microchip is scanned, and the identification number is found. So, your dog won’t be without her medication and she can safely be returned to you.

Way #3: Make the ‘Uh-Oh’ Bag

Creating a ‘to-go’ bag for your dog is another helpful step in preparing for a natural disaster. Creating the bag before a natural disaster occurs (both for your family and your dog) is great. Even more helpful is having a bag for your home, and for your car, just in-case.

The ‘uh-oh’ bag should contain a minimum of 5 days’ worth of food and water. The bag should also contain photographs of your dog… and cats if you have kitties as well. In addition to a list of their medical issues (if any), you should have a paper outlining any behavioral issues your dog has. And, don’t forget to pack a few extra collars and leashes (and kitty litter if your have a cat).

Way #4: Crates and Records, Don’t Forget

If you need to evacuate your home in the case of a natural emergency, don’t forget your dog’s crate. If you have to go to an evacuation shelter, most of them do accept pets, but they require dogs and cats be in crates. Some hotels may also require you to have your dog in the crate. And, on top of the reasons, you might want the crate to help your dog stay calm in the chaos.

Most evacuation shelters and hotels also want copies of your dog’s veterinary records. They want to make sure your dog is up-to-date on vaccinations, and if your dog has any medical conditions they should be aware of.

Way #5: Finding Dog-Friendly Hotels

If you have time, or maybe on your way out of town, you can check into dog-friendly hotels. When there’s a hurricane coming, you sometimes have several days of warning to allow you to evacuate the area and get as far away as possible.

Unfortunately, fewer and fewer hotels are allowing dogs to stay. If your travel with your dog, you probably already know how hard it is to find a hotel that allows dogs. That’s why Bring Fido is so helpful. Bring Fido allows you to search for pet-friendly everything! You can search what hotels, restaurants, etc. you’re able to bring your dog to.

Another way to make sure your dog(s) can stay with you… is to search for dog-friendly hotels. When there’s a hurricane coming, you often have several days of warning which allows you to evacuate and get as far away from the hurricane as possible.

If you’re like most people, your dog is a part of your family and you wouldn’t imagine going anywhere without her. Bring Fido helps you in the chaos by allowing you to bring your dog where ever you go.

Time to Get Prepared

Now that you’ve read this article, go ahead and make your ‘to-go’ bag. Don’t forget to make one for your car, too. Just in case you can’t grab the one from the house on your way out… or in case you forget about the bag all together. In times of natural disaster, the stress is high, and we don’t think as we normally would. That’s why it’s so important for you to pack it now, while it’s still fresh in your mind and you’re able to use this article as a guide.

PetKey and Heartland Canines for Veterans: Making a Difference


PetKey is proud to honor veterans on Armed Forces Day (and every day, of course). But, as part of the Armed Forces Day tribute, we’re going to share how dogs can help veterans. If you’re a veteran, we have an organization that’s perfect for you at the end of this article. If you’re not a veteran, there are ways you can help with the cause, too!

Click the link below to help Veterans & Protect Your Pet

PetKey is proud to support the mission and values of Heartland Canines for Veterans. If you’re interested in registering your pet with PetKey, click this link now and 50% of the Registration Fees will go to this world-changing organization.

We all know dogs can improve the mood of pretty much anyone. When we walk into the house after an exhausting work day, or even from grocery shopping, our dog is beyond thrilled to see us. They brighten up our day. Those slobbery kisses and big loving eyes are sure to cheer us up even on our worst days.

But, new research has found something incredible. Researchers have found that dogs can tremendously improve the lives of our veterans.

Many of our veterans are returning home suffering from conditions caused by their past environments. Just imagine what they have heard. What they have seen. What they have been exposed to.

Dogs can offer some comfort not only in the transition to civilian life… but for the rest of their lives.

Releasing Oxytocin: Love is in the Air

There’s no immediate solution to instantly recover from the effects of PTSD. But, dogs can help in the process of recovery.

Oxytocin, the love hormone, is released in both humans and dogs when we’re together. Oxytocin helps us with trust, love, and bonding. The oxytocin that is released can help our veterans with symptoms associated with PTSD.

Dog owners are happier, and healthier, than those who don’t have dogs in their life. And, the extensive training dogs go through to be service dogs, or emotional assistance dogs, can increase the emotional and neurological benefits dogs have to offer.

Let’s Dive Deeper

What other ways can dogs help our veterans?

Way #1: Rebuilding Broken Trust

Veterans may return with broken trust. Their faith has been tested, they’re exhausted, and they don’t know who to turn to. A dog can help with this. Dogs are loyal, and they are always there for you regardless of the situation. Your dog, and you, depend on one another.

Way #2: Keeping Active

Dogs help people keep an active lifestyle. Dogs get you out of the house, make you walk more, and keep us on our toes. Veterans suffering from depression often want to remain inside- but this could make conditions worse. Dogs need a significant amount of exercise (dependent on breed) and gives us a perfect reason to get out of the house. Just getting out of the house and going for a walk can significantly help our mood.

Way #3: A Sense of Protection

Dogs have a wonderful way of helping you feel safe. Veterans often suffer from nightmares, flashbacks, and anxiety. These symptoms may leave the veteran feeling a bit vulnerable. Since dogs are always by our side, we know they will let us know if there’s someone around that’s not supposed to be.

Dogs who have been trained to support veterans can interrupt nightmares. Once the dog sees their companion is experiencing a nightmare, they will pull on a clip that’s attached to a blanket. The dog will then rest until they see the veteran is beginning to calm. If the veteran fell asleep without a blanket, the dog knows to provide a gentle nudge to the shoulder or place their paws on the bed near the veteran.

Find the Perfect Dog for You: Heartland Canines for Vets

An organization we’d like to highlight for Armed Forces Day is Heartland Canines for Veterans. Heartland Canines for Veterans is dedicated to matching every veteran with the perfect dog. Every person is different, and every dog is different, so matching the two ensures both the veteran and the dog will thrive.

Heartland Canines for Veterans is a non-profit organization. If you’re interested in helping Heartland Canines for Veterans, there are several ways you can help. You can make a donation, partner with Heartland, and/or volunteer your time. Visit their website to learn more.

What We’re Offering at PetKey

PetKey is proud to support the mission and values of Heartland Canines for Veterans. If you’re interested in registering your pet with PetKey, click this link now and 50% of the Registration Fees will go to this world-changing organization.