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rec.pets.dogs: Supplies for Your Dog FAQ

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Archive-name: dogs-faq/dog-supplies
Last-modified: 06 Jan 1998

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This article is Copyright 1997 by the Author(s) listed below. 
It may be freely distributed on the Internet in its entirety without
alteration provided that this copyright notice is not removed.  
It may NOT reside at another website (use links, please) other
than the URL listed above without the permission of the Author(s).  
This article may not be sold for profit nor incorporated in other 
documents without he Author(s)'s permission and is provided "as is" 
without express or implied warranty.

                             Supplies for Your Dog

   Cindy Tittle Moore,
   Copyright 1995-96.
Table of Contents

     * Collars
     * Leashes
     * Food dishes
     * Car restraints
     * Chew Toys
     * Dog Houses
     * What Kind of Pet ID Should I Use?

   A wide variety of collars exist. Leather collars are nice, strong and
   sturdy, but they do pick up smells and if they get wet, may become
   brittle or start to rot. Nylon stays much cleaner, but may fade,
   especially with the brighter colors. Sometimes nylon rips unexpectedly
   when encountering something sharp.
   A partial listing:
     * Flat buckle collars. These may come in either nylon, leather, or
       sometimes cloth-covered nylon. These are the buckle type, with
       holes along part of the collar for some adjustment.
     * Flat quick-release collars. Like above, but with a quick release
       snap rather than the buckle. Nylon only. These are very convenient
       for easy removal of the collar. Some kinds are adjustable as well,
       to a greater degree than the above-mentioned collars, without the
       extra collar hanging at the end in smaller sizes. This is very
       useful with a growing puppy. Some of these quick release snaps
       will break more easily than you might expect.
     * Rolled leather collars. These usually have a buckle. These avoid
       the chafing or hair breakage that flat collars sometimes do to
     * Braided nylon collars. These very thin collars are often used in
       the show ring. Most people do not use these collars. They are not
       very sturdy. Many of them tighten in the same way a choke collar
       does. Unless you are showing your dog, don't bother with them.
     * Halter-style collars. These are marketed under a wide variety of
       names and are really a training tool, although they may be used in
       place of a collar. There are several variations, but the principle
       is that the collar goes around the nose and is anchored on the
       neck. The leash is snapped on under the chin. The leash action is
       thus on the nose, much like a halter on a horse. The dog cannot
       pull when the restraint is on the nose. These should NOT be
       confused with a muzzle -- the dog is not prevented from opening
       its mouth. Halter-style collars are especially useful in helping
       train a dog away from constantly pulling on the leash. Owners with
       back problems will use these as "insurance." You do not leave
       these collars on unattended dogs.
     * Choke chains. Sometimes called training collars or slip collars. A
       wide variety, from large links to small links, usually metal. In
       longer haired breeds, may pull hair out around neck. Generally
       used for "corrections," hence the sliding action. Be sure to have
       the collar on properly, check pictures for correct placement. The
       longer and heavier the chain is, the less effective the correction
       is (the collar should loosen the instant you release pressure). Do
       not leave this type of collar on an unattended dog, as it might
       catch on something and choke the dog. Don't use them on a puppy.
       Don't put your dog's tags on them, that will interfere with their
       action. For a good fit, buy one that barely fits over the dogs
       ears when you put it on and is the smallest/lightest possible in
       that length. A very heavy chain will not give a good correction. A
       "curb-link" type of chain is very good and minimizes catching of
     * Pinch or prong collars. These are a corrective tool. They are not
       intended to be a "normal" collar, but are to be used while
       training. They have a prong arrangement on the inside of the
       collar that tightens around the neck in a correction. A properly
       fitting collar rides high on the neck just under the ears. It
       *cannot* be slid over the head, you have to take one link out and
       fasten it closed around the dog's neck. Never leave on
       unsupervised. These collars should never be used on a puppy.
     * Harnesses. If your dog is small or delicate, using a harness
       instead of a collar when walking will avoid neck injuries. Be sure
       the harness fits comfortably and will not chafe the arm pits. You
       will probably want to use the harness for walking and still have a
       normal collar for the tags. If you have a big dog that likes to
       pull, getting a harness will only improve pulling power.
       There are some harnesses that are "no pull" harnesses. They work
       on the principle that the dog feels like it will fall on its face
       when it pulls. They don't work on every dog, but work quite well
       when they do. Tip: test them in the pet store before you buy them
       to be sure it works for you.
     * If you like to ride bicycles, consider getting a Springer and
       training your dog to run alongside of you. A Springer will keep
       the dog from pulling you over while it's learning to follow you
       and is breakaway in case of emergency. Available in mail order
       catalogs. There are several manufacturers of these type of
       products, all fairly similar and similarly priced.
     * Electronic collars are strictly for training and should never,
       ever be used without the help and advice from a professional.
       Improperly used, these collars can destroy a dog's self
       confidence, desire to work and general good will. In general,
       electronic collars are not recommended for most dog owners.

   Again, there are many kinds of leashes, in different lengths. You will
   probably want a short leash for walking in crowds, a longer leash for
   just walking along, and an extra long leash (that could just be rope)
   for some training exercises.
   You can find a variety of snaps on leashes. The most common is a hook
   with a knob that pulls down to open the hook (snap hooks). Another
   kind is a hook where the lower part pushes in (spring hooks). The
   latter are better as they don't accidentally release. Look for hooks
   with swivels to avoid twisting. There are a few hooks that actually
   screw closed. They are hard to find but can be useful for some people.
     * Flat nylon leashes. The most common. They come in a variety of
       colors and lengths.
     * Braided rope leashes. These look like the rope used in rock
       climbing, with the same colorful patterns. These are sometimes
       easier on the hand and are quite sturdy.
     * Leather leashes. These range from the plain to the intricately
       braided. Take care to keep them out of the water to prevent
       brittleness. Inspect them for wear. Shorter ones, two to four
       feet, are ideal for training.
     * Metal link leashes. Especially if your dog likes to chew on
       leashes. Sometimes combined with leather, especially for the
       handle. Not a good leash to use with a choke-chain collar.
     * Flexi-leads. Developed in Germany, these are spring-loaded,
       retractable leashes that have a minimum length of 2.5 feet and
       varying maximum lengths. They come in a variety of sizes. The
       handle is bulky because it contains the retracting assembly, but
       there is a comfortable hand grip. Be careful -- it is easy to get
       wrapped up in the flexi-lead and rope-burn yourself or at least
       get all tangled. These leashes are ideal for letting the dog
       explore around you while you walk along. They are not very good to
       use when training your dog because of the amount of give in the
       rope even when the length is locked in.
Food dishes

   In general you want to get ceramic or metal food dishes. Plastic food
   dishes acquire microscopic scratches in which bacteria flourishes. You
   should wash the food dishes frequently, just as you do your own.
   Always supply fresh water with each meal.
   If your dog has long hound ears, you should get the cone-shaped high
   dishes that help keep the ears out of the food and water. Otherwise,
   any dish will do fine for your dog. There are lots of cute dog dishes
   out there.
   Some of the larger breeds should have their food dishes elevated to
   reduce strain on the neck and back. Most mail-order companies carry
   metal frames for dishes. You can also try wooden boxes. Another
   possibility is to obtain traffic cones and cut the tips off -- food
   dishes then fit snugly on top.
Car restraints

   You should have some way of restraining your dog in the car. This is
   for your own safety as well as your dog's. An unrestrained dog that
   climbs everywhere may get into the driver's lap and cause havoc. An
   unrestrained dog that likes to chew may destroy the interior of the
   car. Even an unrestrained dog that lays quietly may be severely
   injured if you get into an accident.
   There are several types of restraints:
     * Harnesses. There are a variety of different restraints that use
       the harness and the seat belt to restrain the dog.
     * Screens. You can purchase metal screens that fence off an area of
       the car for your dog. These are usually used in trucks, sporting
       vehicles, vans, and station wagons.
     * Crates. You can get a crate to fit your dog and keep it in your
       car. This is not feasible for everyone, especially the larger your
       dog is and the smaller your vehicle is, but is probably the safest
       method of restraint.
     * Pickup leashes. There are various ways to restrain a dog in the
       back of a pick up truck. These are generally not advisable, but
       some people do use them. But if your dog must ride in the back of
       a pickup, do use some type of leash. Crates, fastened down, are
       even better.
     * Leashes. You can even use a leash: clip it on your dog, and either
       tie the other end to an arm-rest on the door, or close the door on
       a loop of it in such a way that the dog's mobility is quite
       restricted. Not the best long term solution, but it can help in a
Chew Toys

   Nylabones are best for keeping teeth clean. Followed by either
   Gumabones or Nylafloss. Virtually any chew toy has potential problems,
   always keep an eye out for them.
          Nylabones are most highly recommended. They cost about 3 times
          as much as a rawhide but last for a very long time. Some dogs
          don't like them and may need some encouragement; most will
          happily use them. Some dogs chow down on them so
          enthusiastically that they get "slab" fractures on their teeth.
          Nylabones should be replaced when the ends show signs of wear.
          Gumabones are similar to nylabones, but a bit softer and
          without as much tooth cleaning ability. The manufacturer says
          that Gumabones are more likable and serve as toys, but the
          Nylabone is necessary to satisfy frustration chewing and
          chewing due to a need to chew. Some dogs have trouble with
          flatulence when they ingest the small pieces of gumabone that
          they chew off. Replace when the toy shows signs of crumbling.
          Note that there are many kinds of toys out there made of soft
          rubber -- Gumabones is a particular brand name of a common sort
          of dog toy.
          A similar toy is the "tuffy" or "kong" (several manufacturers &
          copycats) -- usually a red cone-shaped toy made of rubber that
          is sturdier than the Gumabone variety. It comes in a giant
          black size, various smaller red sizes, and one that is white
          and blue with a throw strap that floats. These are guaranteed
          against destruction. This toy has a hollow center and hiding
          treats in it can provide your dog with much enjoyment.
   Nylafloss (also rope bone, booda bone)
          Nylafloss is also well accepted and is the best tooth cleaner
          of all. To many dogs, though, it is only interesting when you
          wave it in the dog's face. (Nylafloss looks like very a thick,
          knotted rope.) Watch out for dogs that like to chew them
          through and swallow pieces of string.
          Rawhide is not recommended by most people because the dogs tend
          to swallow large pieces, which swell and sometimes block the
          intestines. Also, if the shank gets slimy but the knot is still
          hard, the dog can swallow the shank and choke on the knot. You
          can prevent this by buying rawhide in other shapes, such as
          chips, or buying shredded and compressed rawhide treats
          (although these do not last as long). Lastly, and much more
          commonly, they cost a fortune if you have a mid-to-large dog or
          a dog with powerful jaws. If you do use them, look for
          US-or-locally manufactured ones; imported ones sometimes have
          chemical residues.
          There are specially treated bones that resist splintering, and
          you can hide treats in the hollow center, giving your dog hours
          of enjoyment trying to get them out. Untreated organic bones
          may splinter and cause tooth wear or even gum and mouth
          injuries. Eating the pieces often results in constipation. The
          best bones are the large ones that resist splintering. Replace
          after cracks or splinters appear. Small bones, especially
          chicken bones should NEVER be given to a dog. They will crunch
          down and swallow the bones, which may lodge in the throat and
          choke the dog, puncture the esophagus or stomach lining, or
          block the intestines. If your dog is not immediately killed, it
          will require expensive surgery to get the bone out of its body.
   Cow hooves
          Cow hooves are better than rawhide because they break down into
          smaller pieces and are much cheaper and more durable. However,
          like organic bones, they can cause gum and mouth injuries if
          they chip. They smell somewhat and may cause tooth wear. Smoked
          hooves are available that don't smell as much. Pick out the
          largest, most solid hooves; replace when they are worn down to
          a small piece. Stop using them if your dog splinters large
          chunks off them. Slab fractures are also possible with cow
          Another item is CHOOZ, by the makers of Nylabones. This item
          looks like a nylabone but is crunchy like a hard dog biscuit.
          It can also be tossed into your oven or microwave to change its
          texture (makes it lighter and more like a hard bread). CHOOZ
          has been involved in at least one case of gastric blockage; you
          may not want to use it.
   Pig's ears
          Pig's ears look like good chew toys, but the truth is that dogs
          can eat them in about 15 minutes or so. Dogs love them, but
          they are not a chew toy and should be used as an occasional
          treat instead. Given too often, they will cause loose stools.
Dog Houses

   In general, your dog should sleep with you in your room at night.
   However, you may still want to provide it with shelter, etc. if you
   leave it outside while you are gone, for example.
  Dog houses
   A variety are available, and you can make your own. In general, look
   for an elevated floor and sturdy construction. The dog house should be
   placed where it will be cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Be
   sure it is not placed so as to assist escape over the fence. Many
   dogs, particularly larger ones, appreciate a flat roof (make sure it
   has a slight slope for drainage) that they can lie on when the weather
   is hot. Do not be surprised if your dog does not use the dog house. If
   you place bedding in the dog house, be sure to clean it frequently,
   otherwise pests such as fleas will take up residence.
   You may want to construct a kennel or a dog run for your dog. Use
   concrete or pea gravel for the floor to improve drainage. Make sure
   the run includes a roofed over area for shelter from the elements.
   Clean out the pen daily to prevent worms and disease. Secure the water
   supply so that the dog can't tip it over (try a galvanized bucket with
   a double-ended hook to fasten it to the wall. If you use chain link
   fencing, be sure to put runners through it if you will keep a bitch in
   season in it to prevent mismating. The height should be sufficient to
   prevent jumping or climbing; some breeds are better at this than
   others. A reference to consult is:
   Migliorini, Mario. _Kennel Building and Management_. New York, N.Y. :
   Howell Book House, 1987.
     Contains a bibliography. Useful tips on how to construct a dog run.
     It's oriented toward commercial kennels, but contains lots of
     useful tips for the dog owner.
   Even if you keep your dog inside, you will want to restrain it from
   certain areas of the house. A common way to do this is to use a
   child-barrier. Pet stores and mail-order companies stock barriers
   sturdy enough for bigger dogs. Examples of restraint might include:
   keeping puppies in the kitchen or in areas where there is linoleum,
   keeping young dogs in a specific room when going through the teething
   stage, keeping your dog downstairs or in the basement, etc.
   A common barrier used in dog shows is the x-pen. This is a
   eight-sectioned, foldable heavy guage wire fence. The ends are clipped
   together to form an approximate 4'X4' square area; or several x-pens
   may be clipped together for a larger area. Do not leave a dog alone in
   an x-pen; another person should always supervise a dog in an x-pen.
   The exception is that this can be suitable to restrain a small puppy
   with, especially if the x-pen is propped so that it cannot fall over.
   A crate is another restraint, this has already been described above.
   You should give your dog its own bed. Try folded up towels for young
   puppies. There are a variety of beds for the fully grown dog -- try
   any of them. Be careful with cedar-filled beds. There are reports that
   cedar reacts with urine to produce poisonous fumes. You should not let
   your dog sleep on the bed with you, instead insist that it sleep on
   the floor next to the bed.
What Kind of Pet ID Should I Use?

   There are several steps you can take to increase the chances of your
   dog being returned to you if lost, or to decrease the chances of your
   dog being stolen.
  Pet tags
   By far the most important piece of information on your pet's tag is
   your telephone number, including the area code. Everything else is
   just optional. Some people do not like to put their dog's name on the
   collar, as that can make it easier for a thief to coax your dog along
   with its name. The choice is up to you. Attach the tag to your dog's
   collar securely. Do not use the "S" hooks -- many tags are lost that
   way. Use the keyring type of attachment, or better yet, have the tag
   riveted onto the collar.
   Of course, one problem with tags is that they are easily removed
   simply by removing the collar.
   There are a few services with which you can register a pet tag and you
   get an ID number and an 800 number for the person who finds your dog
   to call. Depending on the service, they will guarantee pickup of your
   pet, necessary veterinary attention and hold the dog until they can
   contact you.
   Get your dog tattooed. Tattoos cannot be removed or lost. This will
   help identify your dog and get it returned to you (most animal
   shelters will not destroy a tattooed dog). It helps deter theft and
   ensures that your pet will not wind up in a laboratory somewhere. Your
   vet can give you pointers to someone who can tattoo your pet. RC
   Steele sells a do-it-yourself kit, worth considering if you have
   multiple dogs.
   Tattooing is an excellent way to protect your pets. In fact, there are
   animal science laboratories and vet clinics around the country that
   sponsor low-cost tattoo clinics and tattoo "fairs."
   Get the tattoo put on the inside of your dog's thigh. This is much
   harder to remove than one placed in your pet's ear. As long as the dog
   is over 5 weeks of age, it can be tattooed. The younger the better --
   puppies are more easily controlled than adult dogs are.
   You must get the tattoo number registered, or it isn't very useful in
   locating you. If you use a national registry, use a number that will
   not change. (Social security numbers are good.) There is a one-time
   fee for registering the number, and you can then register other pets
   with the same number.
   Anesthesia is not *required* to do a tattoo, though it can help. You
   might consider having your bitch spayed and tattooed at the same time,
   for example.
   You should note that tattooing (or micro-chipping) is a prerequisite
   for registering a pure-bred dog in some countries, such as Canada.
   Unfortunately, tattoos can fade over time. Also, especially in
   double-coated or long-haired breeds, it may be hard to find the tattoo
   when the hair grows back. You can keep the area shaven, of course, but
   your dog might be lost long enough for the hair to grow back.
  Microchip ID
   An alternative increasingly popular throughout North America is the
   injected microchip. The microchip contains a numbering system that is
   readable with a scanner. There are three manufacturers and four
   microchips that have been produced. AVID is marketed by AVID and
   IdentIchip. Trovan is a German company and their technology is
   marketed by Infopet. Destron is marketed under a variety of names in
   the US and by Anitech in Canada. The AVID scanner can read all chips
   but the Trovan chip. Destron readers can scan all manufacturers chips.
   Each company has their own database you can register with. Each
   microchip has a code that is assigned to you (or your kennel) and your
   pets, Some of the information that is kept on file are extra emergency
   numbers to have contacted should your pet be impounded or taken to an
   animal hospital due to injury or illness. Your vet's name and number
   are also included along with any important medical info about your
   animal. This is important for animals that have life threatening
   medical conditions that need constant treatment. Keep this information
   up to date!
   Not all shelters check for the chip, but increasing numbers are doing
   so in the US. There are no documented cases of medical problems
   related to the insertion of the chip just under the skin. Since
   tattoos can fade over time, this is an alternative to consider. It
   takes about 2 minutes to insert the chip and fill out the form. After
   that, all you have to do is pay yearly dues.
   You generally want to be sure that the person doing it has medical
   training for sterility and health reasons. The chip must be placed
   between the shoulder blades and not migrate (effectively
   disappearing). Note that rare occurrence of chip migration does not
   hurt the dog, but it can make it difficult to read the chip. It's
   suggested that you have the chip read periodically to make sure it's
   still in place.
   The chip itself is about the size and shape of a grain of rice, The
   needle is hollow and on the end of a syringe that contains the chip,
   about 3mm wide. Once in, the chip is inserted with the plunger from
   the syringe and it is done in about 20 seconds.
  Who can I contact?
   An article in the August 1993 issue of Dog Fancy goes into this
   further. It's called "Beyond Dog Tags" and is on page 27. This article
   lists all the microchip companies, tag registries, and tattoo
   registries and discusses each of these methods of protecting your dog.
   Briefly, these are: Microchips:
     * AVID in California (714) 371-7505, nationwide (800) 336-AVID
     * Destron in Colorado (303) 444-5306 (Uses Destron chip)
     * IdentIchip in Scottsdale, AZ (800) 926-1313 (Uses AVID chip)
       (Provides programs for breeders, shelters, and vets.)
     * InfoPet in Pennsylvania (612) 890-2080 (Uses Trovan chip) also
       (800) 463-6738
     * Home Again, microchip registry in conjuction with the AKC (For
       both purebred and mixed breed dogs). Contact
   Tag Registries:
     * 911-Pets Lost Pet Service Chicago (312) 890-4911
     * Petfinders New York (800) 666-LOST or (800) 666-5678
     * Pet Find Inc. Oregon (800) AID-A-PET
   Tattoo Registries:
   (generally also register microchips, etc)
     * National Dog Registry New York (800) 637-3647 / (800) NDR-DOGS
     * Tattoo-A-Pet New York (718) 646-8200 / (800) TAT-TOOS
     * U.S. Found Maryland (410) 557-7332
   Animal thefts do happen, this is a fear of pet owners everywhere.
   First of all, if your dog is missing or stolen, you have a
   responsibility to report it to the police. They may not always be able
   to do anything about it, but if they get several reports, then they
   can justify putting some time on it. Don't make the mistake of
   thinking that you are bothering the police!
   Call the shelters and the local vets and tell them of your loss, they
   can be on the lookout for your dog. Most vets will take a description
   of your dog and contact others in the area to keep an eye out for it.
   Put up flyers in the immediate area. If your dog has been tattooed or
   micro-chipped, it may show up shortly.
   Some more information: _Stolen for Profit_, authored by Judith
   Reitmen, discusses animal dealers licensed to supply "random source
   animals" to research labs. The number to report a missing or
   suspected-stolen animal is 800-StolenPet - this is a automated
   recording. Their reach-a-live-human number is (415) 453-9984. They can
   tell you if there have been other reported missing or stolen dogs in
   your area (if, of course, other people reported to them). Bear in mind
   that some of these are unnecessarily alarmist type of organizations,
   but they can still be useful in helping locate a lost pet.
    Supplies for Your Dog FAQ
    Cindy Tittle Moore,
                                 Hosted by
                                  K9 WEB 

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