Dogs have been our companions since before the beginning of recorded history. They have kept us company, alerted us to danger, helped us retrieve prey, herded our livestock and guided the blind. In return for all they do for us, it is only right that we take care of them. Just like people, they need companionship, exercise, guidance, hygiene, proper diet, water and a comfortable ambient temperature. You are responsible for these provisions. That is, if you own a dog. If you don't, then why are you wasting your time reading this?
Men seem to be more fond of dogs than women are, and I am no exception. In fact, I have always gotten along with dogs much better than I have with women. I've had very few intimate relationships (one, to be exact) because women cannot provide the stressless, agreeable companionship that a dog provides. Think about it. If a man comes home at 3:00 AM from a night of drinking, his dog is ecstatic to see him. A dog doesn't get angry at its owner for looking at another dog. A dog never needs to examine the relationship. It never asks, "What are you thinking?" It doesn't let its life be guided by magazine articles. And when it becomes old and nasty, you can legally have it put to sleep.
Perhaps men get along with dogs so well because the two are so similar. After all, they both pass gas shamelessly, are fascinated with women's crotches, like to hump, and have dog breath. But there are differences. For example, a woman can toss a ball to either a man or a dog, but the dog won't make fun of the way she throws. Certainly there are a lot of women who like dogs - and with good reason (e.g. a dog will never dump his female owner for a younger, prettier one) - but some have been known to do stupid things to their canine companions. Remember the woman who put her dog in a microwave oven to dry him off and he exploded? Is that stupid or what? Every man knows that you should never, ever dry your dog off in a microwave unless you poke him with a fork first.
Dogs make the most rewarding pets. A lot of people prefer cats, and I can't figure out why. How much help could a cat ever be? I mean, have you ever heard of a seeing eye cat? Or a hunting cat? Will a cat warn you of an intruder or fetch your slippers? A cat spends over ninety percent of its waking moments sitting motionless, staring into space, doing nothing at all, like Al Gore but without any party affiliation. A cat rubs up against you and you think it loves you, but a minute later it will have the same close encounter with a table leg. When a cat rubs against you, it is merely marking its territory with its scent. And don't forget all those wonderful times when you're lying in bed and your cat jumps up on you and puts its butt in your face, with body language that says, "Here, smell this."
|10.||I will not lick myself in plain view of eight guests.|
|9.||I will not lift my leg on the recliner.|
|8.||I will not dig to China.|
|7.||I will not try to smell my human's visitors' private parts.|
|6.||I will not hump the minister's leg.|
|5.||If I absolutely must eat all the Christmas baking my Mommy stayed up all night to do, I won't run up to her and burp contentedly in her face.|
|4.||I will not wipe my butt on the carpet.|
|3.||I will stop treating the diaper pail like a cookie jar.|
|2.||I will not start a urine war in the house.|
|1.||I will not lick my human's face after eating animal poop.|
A trained and disciplined dog makes a happy dog. And a happy owner. Your dog should obey you. It is very frustrating when you tell him to do something, and he does something else or nothing at all (if you're married you know what I'm talking about). It takes less work than you'd think to teach your dog some basic commands. When an owner can't control his dog, it isn't because the animal is stupid or stubborn - it's because the owner is too lazy to spend the time and effort to train it. I hate laziness. In fact, for the past eleven years I've been planning to write a book about it.
The key to training is consistency. Your dog should be made to obey every time you give a command, not just sometimes. Make sure you have the dog's attention and give the command one time. Speak in a clear, commanding tone of voice, for example, "Bandit, sit." Always use this same tone of voice when issuing a command. Remember, you are telling - not asking - the animal to do something. The only time you should use an asking tone of voice is when you are actually asking something, e.g. "Do you want to get off my foot please?"
Repeating a command, e.g. "Sit. Sit, Bandit. Sit! I said sit!", is no good - it will frustrate you and fail to teach the dog. He will not know what you mean and will tune you out just like I tune out my wife. Oops, she's gonna read this. I'll have to remember to edit that out later.
Use simple, one-word commands, as though you're talking to someone at the Motor Vehicle Administration. And always use the same word to mean the same thing. A dog's intelligence will never go beyond that of a 2-year-old child or a McDonalds cashier, so don't expect your pet to understand complete sentences.
Hand signals can be very helpful. You can teach your dog to stand when you lift your hand, or stay when you face your palm toward him. You can also use audio cues, e.g. you can make him come when you snap your fingers (I wish I could do this with women).
Use positive rather than negative reinforcement. Praise your dog when he obeys, and do not hit or yell at him when he does not. When he fails to obey a command, help him understand what is expected of him whenever he hears that command. For example, if you tell him to sit, give him a few seconds, and if he doesn't sit, hold his chin up with one hand and push down on his rump with the other. Then praise him to let him know that he has done good and that you are not punishing him. Praise him a lot if he does it right on his own, and praise him a little if you have to help. Remember that your dog is eager to please. If he disobeys it is not because he's being defiant, but because he doesn't understand. If you issue a command he will try to figure out what you want, and if he fails, punishing him will only confuse him. Probably the biggest training blunder is when a dog gets loose, and the angry owner calls him back. He obliges, and when the owner gets hold of him, she hits him. He obeyed and he's being punished! This causes him to think, "All right, that's the last time I come when you call me. Bitch."
Discipline goes hand in hand with training. When your dog does something that you don't want him to do, say "No!" in a firm tone of voice. The word you use isn't as important as the way you say it; the volume and tone of voice will convey the message that you are displeased. If he doesn't stop what he's doing when you command him to stop, forcibly (but not painfully) make him stop. For example, if he jumps on the couch, you say "No!" and he doesn't get down, gently push him until he removes himself from the couch. By making him do this partly by himself, you are teaching him that he is not allowed on the couch; whereas removing him yourself might make it seem like a game to him, and this could actually encourage him to jump on the couch in the future. Another method to discourage unwanted behavior is to make a loud sound (e.g. rattle a can with pebbles in it) while, or immediately after, the dog does something you forbid - this will make him associate the action with unpleasantness and thereby discourage it, much the same way the IRS makes us associate paying taxes with unpleasantness and thereby discourages it. Obviously this means that you have to be present to catch him in the act, and this can be difficult. However, there are some tricks you can use. For example, you can leave mousetraps on the couch, or sprinkle red pepper on top of the trash in your trash cans. These will serve their own brand of discipline when you're not around. My wife has a foolproof method of disciplining me when she's not around. You see, I occasionally cook dinner for my family, and in order to keep me from inadvertently poisoning everyone, my wife will leave little reminder notes in the kitchen. For example, next to the garbage disposal she'll put a note that says, “Not a food processor.”
A lot of folks spoil their dogs, feeding them human food or allowing them to sleep on furniture or letting them invade people's personal space. Then they wonder why their pets are so unmanageable. Some owners even tolerate nasty animals that bite guests or family members. This is inexcusable. An animal that poses a threat to humans, whether it's a dog or Timothy McVeigh, has no place in society and should be put to sleep. Don't get me wrong. I love dogs. But only good dogs. I'd have no problem dropkicking a vicious little canine bastard through an open window.
The key to discipline is, as it is with training, consistency. For example, if you don't want your dog on the couch, always remove him whenever he jumps up on it; don't sometimes let him stay and other times remove him. I think we need to teach this concept to my employer, the Federal Government. I mean, they pay me, which is a reward, but then the IRS takes a third of it back, which is a punishment. This is why I only do two thirds of my work. For example, I'll leave out every third word of my memos. Here's one I wrote not too long ago:
_ just want __ say that ___ are a _______ asshole. It ____ a lot __ balls to __ what you ___. That was __ idea that ___ submitted to _____ management. Congratulations __ screwing me ___ gaining a _______ promotion for ____ sorry self. ____ you, you _______ jerk. Hey, ___ don't you ____ a flying ____ through the ____ of a _______ doughnut, you _______ ass kisser?
_________, Ben Dover
P.S. ____ your big ___ wife too.
One very frustrating problem is having holes dug in your yard. Most dogs grow out of it as they mature, but some seem to have an instinctual desire to dig. I've heard of all sorts of remedies, such as providing a special digging area, or forcing the dog's face into the hole, or providing enough exercise and play time, and you know what? None of them work. At least for my dogs. At our previous house my wife and I caught them in the act and scolded them and forced their faces into the hole. We created a special digging area with a dirt/sand mixture and biscuits and toys buried there. We took them with us when we went inline skating. The kids played with them. We trimmed their nails. And they'd still dig. We'd fill the holes, and they'd dig in those very same spots. We'd refill the holes and put their poop on top to discourage them from digging there, and they'd dig somewhere else. Finally we penned in one corner of the yard, part of which was the digging area we had made, and we kept the dogs in there when they were outside unsupervised. This made them dig in their pen. But not in the digging area. Fuckin' dogs.
If your dog is barking outside the back door, and your wife is yelling outside the front door, who do you let in first? The dog - at least he'll shut up after you let him in.
There are forms of communication other than training and discipline. For example, you ask your dog if he wants a cookie or to go for a walk, or you say "Good boy." He will quickly learn what these phrases mean by simple association: if you always take your dog for a walk right after you ask him if he wants to go for a walk, then after just a few occurrences he will know what a walk is. Not only that, just getting the leash and connecting it to his collar will be all he needs to figure out what's going on. Unless he's a total moron.
Tone of voice is very important. "Good boy" should be said in a pleasing tone. In fact, it doesn't matter what words you use to express approval - the tone of voice will do it for you. You could say, "You sure are the stupidest idiot I've ever met in my life", and he will be pleased as long as you say it in a nice tone of voice. NOTE: This won't work on your spouse. I've tried it. (On my spouse, not yours.)
How you handle your dog conveys a lot to him. Lovingly petting him, rubbing his chest or behind his ears, etc do more than just physically gratify him; they let him know that you approve of him at that moment, just as hitting him lets him know that you are displeased with him. Pet your dog frequently, more on the body than the head. Dogs like to be touched. Well, not the way Senator Bob Packwood likes to be touched, but you get the idea.
Your dog communicates with you as well. Unfortunately his communication skills are very limited. Learn his body language so you can determine his needs. For example, if he needs to pee, he might sit very rigidly and stare at you, or stand by the door, or piddle on the carpet.
When someone knocks on the door, your dog may bark. You might find it annoying, but you have to remember that he is merely acting on instinct: alerting his family (you) that an unfamiliar creature is approaching. The only way he can communicate this is by barking; he can't say, "Hey, there's someone at the door." Any good watch dog will bark at an intruder, so this behavior should not necessarily be discouraged. My dogs are great watch dogs - one time my house got robbed and they watched.
It's a good thing dogs can't speak English. Imagine if your dog were able to tell people that you and your spouse routinely chase each other around the house naked and have sex in every room with various types of vegetables, including canned. Every time your friends came over they'd look at you kind of funny. That is, if they ever visited again.
Last night my wife said she wanted to do it doggie style. So I humped her leg and peed on the floor. Then she rubbed my face in it.
Your dog should be groomed regularly. This simply means brushing his coat. It serves a number of purposes, all of them good:
Dogs with very short coats can be groomed with a soft-bristled brush or a comb. Combs come in many degrees of coarseness. They are useful where brushes aren't appropriate, and the finest combs are very good for finding and removing fleas.
A shedder is a metal loop with coarse teeth like a saw. It is supposedly good for removing fur from dogs that shed a lot, but my experience with this kind of tool has shown it not to be as effective as a slicker. I wish they'd invent a tool that would grab all of a dog's loose fur. My larger dog, Bandit, sheds so much fur that I swear I could use it to knit another dog.
Shedding dogs don't shed the same amount year-round. There are usually one or two "shedding seasons" per year when, for a few weeks, a dog sheds more than usual. This is due to weather changes. You might want to brush your dog more during these times in order to minimize shedding inside the house. One trick is to bathe him first: brushes pick up loose fur better from a wet coat than from a dry one. Normally you should brush with (in the direction of) the coat. However, during shedding season, it might be helpful to brush first against the coat, then with it. I found out that men also have a "shedding season" during which they lose more hair from their heads. It's called middle age.
Well, this has been a boring chapter. Let's see if I can spice it up. One of the most interesting things about dogs is what they can get away with. There was a woman who I dated several years ago for about three months. I wined and dined her, listened to countless pointless stories and stupid jokes, met her parents and took her to expensive shows, and all I got was an occasional kiss. But the day she met my dog, within ten seconds he had his snout embedded in her crotch and she was petting his ass while repeating, "Good boy." Can someone please explain this to me? Here's another thing: a dog can sit in the middle of a room full of people and lick himself, and everyone will carry on as though nothing's happening. You try that and see what happens.
Two dogs are in a veterinarian's waiting room.
|Dog #1:||"What are you here for?"|
|Dog #2:||"Well, the kids always tease me and pull me around by the tail. This morning I got mad and bit one of them on the hand. My owner is having me put to sleep. What're you in for?"|
|Dog #1:||"Last night my owner was leaning over the tub as she was climbing in. I mounted and screwed her, and as a result I scratched up her back pretty badly."|
|Dog #2:||"Wow! So I guess she's having you put to sleep."|
|Dog #1:||"No, she's having my nails trimmed."|
Unless your dog runs on pavement quite a bit, his nails may grow very long. Even if he runs a lot, his dew claws ("thumb" nails on the front paws of most dogs) will grow long because they do not come in contact with the ground. Very long nails pose a danger to people during playtime. Additionally, the nails can eventually curl under, causing discomfort and impeding the dog's gait. So unless you want a canine version of Freddie Krueger, periodic clipping and filing is recommended.
Use special dog nail clippers, not human nail clippers. The most important thing to know is that each nail contains a quick - a channel with a nerve and blood supply, much like a tooth has. Blindly cutting a nail at an arbitrary location will surely cut the quick, cause your dog pain, and make him fear the nail clipper. Often you can see the quick if your dog has light-colored, translucent nails. If so you are in luck because you can see where to cut so you just miss the quick. However, opaque nails require successive cuts, each one shaving off just a bit of nail. Eventually your dog will probably start to pull his paw away, which means that you are most likely nearing the quick and should stop. Cut perpendicular to the nail until you’ve gone as far as you can, and then cut off the pointy corners that result on the underside. You should file after cutting, as the newly-created edges might be sharper and cut you more readily than uncut nails. By the way, I find it ironic that I’ll spend an hour trimming and filing my dogs’ nails, but I bite my own nails. I’m glad I’m not a proctologist.
The clipper blade should be sharp; when it dulls, either sharpen it or buy a new one. A dull blade will crush rather than cut nails, and the dog will not like that. If you’d rather not deal with nail trimming at all, you can have a veterinarian anesthetize the animal and cut his nails very short (he’ll be unconscious so he won’t feel the pain), but this is expensive and unnecessary, kind of like the National Endowment for the Arts.
Accidents do happen, and occasionally you might inadvertently cut a quick. You will know when this happens because the nail will bleed and the dog will probably yelp and/or pull his paw away. For this reason it is good to have some styptic on hand. Simply press some styptic into the bleeding end and hold for ten seconds.
Even if you don't cut any of your dog's quicks, he might not enjoy having his nails clipped. It is important to make the experience as pleasant as possible. Pet him, praise him, and maybe even give him a biscuit just before clipping. Or maybe give him a small piece of a biscuit after clipping each nail. When you're all done, reward him with a nice chew toy or cat.
I put my dogs at ease while I clip their nails by pretending I'm a manicurist. I have mock conversations with them like this:
|Dog:||"Uh huh. And try not to cut me this time."|
|Me:||"Okay. So ... uh ... nice weather we're having."|
|Dog:||"Yeah, and I oughta know - you left me out there all day."|
|Me:||"Sorry, but I had to work today, and it was such nice weather."|
|Dog:||"You should see the size of the hole I dug. OW! Hey!!"|
Five friends are drinking beer and getting philosophical.
|Bill:||"What's the fastest thing in the universe?"|
|Dave:||"A thought: it comes and goes in an instant."|
|John:||"A blink: you don't even think about a blink."|
|Mike:||"Electricity: it travels at the speed of light."|
|Paul:||"I say it's diarrhea: the other day I had Mexican food and that night as I lay in bed I felt some major gut rumblings, and before I could think, blink or turn a light on..."|
All right, so the title of this chapter is a bit unsavory. But when you consider that I could have named it something even worse, like "Your Dog's Ass" or "Roseanne Arnold", the title I chose doesn't seem so bad.
Your dog has a sac located just below the anus that contains a fluid that normally gets secreted when he defecates. Commonly, this sac becomes filled and does not empty itself properly, and this can cause discomfort for the dog as well as leakage inside your house. In this situation it is necessary to squeeze and empty the anal gland. WARNING: FOR GOD'S SAKE, DO THIS PROCEDURE OUTDOORS! Anal gland fluid is very foul, and if you forcibly release it indoors, it could land on your carpet or sofa and make your house smell like New Jersey.
The procedure is easy: have the dog stand. Lift up his tail. Hold your thumb and forefinger about half an inch apart and place them about a half inch to an inch (depends on the size of the dog) below the anal opening. Press in and squeeze with moderate pressure (harder for large dogs, softer for small dogs). It might take several attempts for you to find the right spot. If the gland needs to be emptied and you find the right spot, the anal gland fluid will drip or squirt out the anus, possibly several feet. For this reason you should not be directly behind the dog when you do this. When you are finished, use a wet paper towel to wipe any fluid from your dog's hind quarters. You might want to use soap, as the fluid smells absolutely horrible. How horrible? Let me put it this way: I would rather be Oprah's sex toy than smell this stuff. Well, maybe not.
Your dog's anal gland will most likely be fine throughout puppyhood, but once he reaches adulthood you should check it every few months because the need for manual emptying often appears as the animal ages. Once this happens, the gland should be emptied every month or two because the condition tends not to go away. It's like nose hair.
This is probably the most disgusting procedure you will ever have to do to your dog. You can have your veterinarian do it if you can't handle it, but keep in mind that it should be done at least every other month, not just during your dog's annual visit.
The distasteful nature of this procedure has made me wonder how gay men can have the kind of sex they do. Yecch! Not only does it seem hideous, but isn't it painful? I mean, if I take a big dump I'm hurting for two days.
Instead of neutering my dogs, I just dress them up to look like me. Now they never get laid.
Your female dog should be spayed if you are not going to breed her. Spaying avoids both unwanted pregnancy and the problems of going into heat. When a female goes into heat, male dogs are attracted to her, but for the first few days she doesn't allow them to mate (like some girls I went to high school with). A few days later she seeks male company, and will even burrow under fences or jump through windows in order to mate with them (like some other girls I went to high school with). It is unhealthful for a female to go into heat and not mate. Furthermore, a female in heat behaves differently, and usually not in a good way. Look at Courtney Love.
Spaying should be done before a dog's first heat, preferably by six months of age. It typically costs less than $100 and is a safe, routine procedure. She will need only a few days of rest at home afterwards. In this sense dogs are more hardy than people. The average person who undergoes any surgical procedure - even a lanced boil - will spend the following week acting as though he's made of glass and recounting the ordeal to his friends, as though he deserves some sort of medal for being so heroic.
Unless you plan to breed him, your male dog should be neutered. It avoids unwanted impregnation of unaltered females as well as the aggressive behavior typical of unaltered males. Additionally, neutered males have less of an inclination to roam and are more happy in a domestic environment. A good example is husbands: they are prohibited from copulating with other females, which is basically a specific form of neutering, and they tend to stay home more than their single counterparts.
Your male should be neutered at around five or six months of age. It is even less expensive than spaying, and the incision takes less time to heal. The most similar human operation is a vasectomy. A few years ago I got a vasectomy. Well, I had a gift certificate. Actually the operation wasn't successful the first time. Some things you have to do yourself.
Some "macho" owners refuse to neuter their male dog because they think that it somehow emasculates the animal. First of all, it is their own masculinity that they're concerned about, not their dog's: men who are insecure about their masculinity feel the need to use an animal's genitals as an extension of their own. Second, neutering a dog is very different from neutering a person: the dog has no idea what has happened and does not miss his testicles. Sure, he'll have nothing to lick in order to embarrass you in mixed company, but when neutered at the proper age he will never know what a sexual urge is so he won't feel as though anything is missing.
The cost of spaying or neutering is at least partially offset by the fact that many counties charge a lower annual license fee for altered animals. For example, in my county (Anne Arundel County, Maryland), the annual license fee for an unaltered male is $10, and for an altered male it's only $4. Over a 12-year lifespan that's a $72 savings, which is more than I paid for neutering. On a related note, just think of all the court costs and aggravation Bill Clinton could have saved if he had had himself neutered.
I believe that the world would be a lot better if we all got ourselves neutered and spayed. Men would be much more honest with women because there'd be no sexual desire to make them lie, and women would be more at ease with men because they would not be afraid of becoming pregnant. Imagine a man and a woman in such a world meeting at a bar:
|Woman:||"Do you want to come back to my place?"|
|Man:||"Not really. So what do you do for a living?"|
|Woman:||"I'm a very lonely, horny physician."|
|Man:||"That's nice. Do you like to drink beer and watch sports?"|
|Woman:||"No. I like sex."|
|Man:||"Oops! Look at the time!"|
At Doggie Day Care Center, a dog takes several biscuits and builds a little house with them. A new employee witnesses this and says, "Wow! Look!" The boss says, "Oh, that's Bruno. His owner is an architect." Another dog comes along and rearranges the biscuits into a skeleton. The boss says, "That's Fifi. Her owner is a doctor." Another dog comes along, eats the biscuits and screws the other two dogs in the ass. The employee asks, "Who owns that dog?" The boss replies, "A divorce lawyer."
Where is the best place to get a dog? Well, first let's look at where you shouldn't get one.
A puppy mill is an establishment where unscrupulous people merely breed dogs for the purpose of making money, without regard for the animals' health. The horror stories reported in the press are, sadly, true:
Who hasn't looked at puppies in pet store cages and yearned to take one home? Our hearts go out to those poor creatures looking so lonely and pathetic. Either we or someone we know has at one time or another rescued one of these needy animals from a pet store and felt justified in doing a good deed. The problem is, after you liberate a dog and make it your pet, another one takes its place in that cage. The solving of one problem merely creates another. And the pet stores make a living off of well-meaning people's pity: they deliberately put caged animals on display in order to use your emotions to make a sale. Basically the money you pay for a pet store dog is ransom.
Buying from a pet store not only perpetuates the very sad spectacle we try to solve - it can also help fund puppy mills. Many pet stores have no idea under what conditions the puppies they get were born and kept. Even stores that put up signs saying "Our puppies do not come from puppy mills" might be wrong, because to this date there is no clear legal definition of what a puppy mill is. If you ask an employee if the puppy you're considering buying came from a puppy mill, he/she won't know for sure, but you can bet that he/she will say "No" in order to make the sale. It's like asking a McDonalds employee if there are any non-meat substances in the burgers.
Some people buy dogs directly from breeders. Unfortunately some breeders run their own puppy mills, so you have no guarantee that a dog you buy from a breeder has been handled correctly.
Okay, let's look at some places you should look for a dog. Your local Animal Control (the "pound") will have many stray dogs that are there simply because their owners were negligent. Sure, it's possible that some of their owners purchased them from stores or breeders that got them from puppy mills, but at least you aren't financially supporting that awful trade if you get your dog at the pound. In all likelihood, however, someone who paid a lot of money for their purebred dog is going to be very careful about not letting it get away, so the vast majority of impounded dogs will not have originated from puppy mills.
Most pounds destroy (i.e. kill by lethal injection) dogs after a certain period of time (usually a week or two) without a claimer, but this can depend on available space: a relatively empty pound might keep dogs for several weeks. Either way, you can visit your local pound about every other week and see new dogs each time because new ones are always being brought in. It's like doggie prison, except we don't spend $25,000 a year to keep each dog housed and fed and then release them so they can collect welfare and commit more crime.
Impounded dogs are very inexpensive - usually well under $100, and sometimes free provided that you immunize/neuter/spay within a few weeks. So here's your chance, cheapskate - get that discount dog or bargain bitch today!
It is both wonderful and sad to meet these animals and see what kind of rapport you have with them. If none are quite to your liking, go home and come back another day. It is heart wrenching to leave them there in those cages because you know that many of them will be dead within a few weeks, but remember that you can't save them all, and euthanasia is better than life in a cage. It's also better than marriage, but that's another matter.
SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals) shelters are also good places for finding a family pet. They typically keep dogs for as long as possible (until they run out of space) and then put the oldest or longest-kept animals to sleep when they have to make room for new ones. I wonder if we could control human overpopulation this way. That is, whenever a baby is born, an old person has to get the axe. If we were to make this public policy, I would father as many children as possible. Then I could say things like, "There's Timmy, my youngest. Thanks to him we're rid of Trent Lott."
Stray dogs can make excellent pets. A stray is merely a loose dog that hasn't been picked up by the local Animal Control yet. If you find a stray, you should make an effort to locate the owner before claiming it for yourself. Put up fliers in the neighborhood. Better yet, bring the dog to the pound because that is the first place a concerned owner will look. You have not doomed the dog to death because you can go back right before its "execution date" and take it home if no one has claimed it.
If you know someone whose dog has just had a litter, and he/she wants to give the puppies good homes, this is a great opportunity to raise a puppy the way you deem fit and to be sure that it did not come from a puppy mill. Just don't take a puppy away from its mother too soon. When in doubt, seek a veterinarian's advice on how long puppies should spend with their mother before being separated. You should never take a mammal away from its mother too soon, even a fairly able-bodied animal such as a bear cub, not only because it needs its mother's milk, but also because the mother bear would rip both your arms off.
I would never buy a dog from a pet store or breeder, because there are so many strays and impounded animals that need homes. My first dog was a stray mutt that a family had found. They couldn't keep him so they gave him to me for free. Well, I thought he was free. As a first time pet owner I didn't realize the operations, immunizations and medications he needed. First there was the rabies vaccine, which is a good thing in my opinion. But there were other things I had to get him immunized against - horrible diseases with unpronounceable names like "distemper biteyourhandoff". Then there was the heartworm medication: six monthly tablets with a street value exceeding that of an equivalent amount of heroin. And the pièce de résistance was the neutering, which the veterinarian called "castration". I called it "Bobbitting". The total vet bill could have financed a small wedding.
I love big dogs. They're cuddly and strong and fun to run and wrestle with. I hate little dogs. They're mean, nasty, neurotic little freaks. They sit and shiver and bark at anything that moves. The only good thing about these little bastards is you don't have to walk them - you just hold them out the window and squeeze.
How do you select a dog? How do you know which one to get? Dogs, like people, have individual personalities. Just as you get along with some people better than you do with others, so you will get along with some dogs better than you will with others. When you meet a dog for the first time there will be a certain rapport, a chemistry. If you don't get good vibrations, then this dog is not for you. Do not make it your pet simply because it's convenient. A lot of people marry someone merely because it's convenient, and we all know how that generally turns out.
It is best if you can try a dog out for a few days. You might hit it off at first, but you might discover after getting it home that there are problems you'd rather not deal with. Some problems are puppy-specific (e.g. peeing in the house, chewing, lack of discipline), and there's no need to get rid of a dog for problems that it will eventually grow out of or that you can eliminate by training. However, some dogs bark a lot, or constantly dig holes in the yard, or don't get along with children or other dogs. Any one of these problems might be serious enough for you to take it back to where you got it, and you would be right in doing so - a dog should bring you joy, not aggravation. It's bad enough that we have to deal with annoying coworkers or family members every day; let's not add an annoying pet to the equation.
Common sense dictates that a Siberian husky should not be raised in the tropics, and the North Pole is not a good place for a Chihuahua. Try to match the type of dog with the climate. Not everyone does this. In fact, some folks don't even match themselves with the climate. For example, a lot of old people move to Florida. These are people who despise the heat so much that as soon as the mercury hits 80 degrees, they spend the rest of the day indoors. Yet once they retire, they move to a state that routinely has triple-digit temperatures and even higher humidity, not to mention bugs the size of Beanie Babies. Then they spend the rest of their lives complaining about the heat, shopping at 6 AM and passing their remaining time wallowing in air-conditioning.
Some dogs need more mental stimulation or physical exercise than others. For example, border collies, which are just about the most intelligent breed of dog, need to run and play and learn, because they were bred for herding animals. If you keep this type of dog cooped up all day while you're at work, he will be extremely bored. He might chew things or tear up the house, and if you crate him he will be very unhappy. If you want to keep an intelligent, energetic dog, then it would be best to provide ample companionship and exercise. If you're too busy or lazy to spend time and effort with a dog, then you should probably get a "low-maintenance" pet that would happily lie around the house all day, such as a bulldog or pug or government employee.
A lot of people would rather have a purebred dog than a mixed breed. The idea that a purebred is somehow “better” is pure fallacy, propagated partly by the snob appeal of entering dogs in beauty contests (e.g. American Kennel Club shows), and partly by the money to be made by breeders. The fact of the matter is that if you're looking for a pet that will bring you years of joy, a mixed breed (“mutt”) is usually a much better choice. Many undesirable features are caused by recessive genes, which means that some purebreds are far more likely to have them than mutts are. One such defect is hip dysplasia, in which one or both legs do not fit properly into the hip sockets. This can cause painful lameness in the hindquarters. Other conditions, such as “cherry eye” and unpleasant disposition, are also more frequent in purebreds. Some traits don't show up until adulthood. This is why you shouldn't blindly adopt a puppy merely because it's cute. I was cute once, and look what I turned into.
Each breed has its own frequency of occurrence of various characteristics. Some are more prone to hip dysplasia, others are more prone to breathing problems, and others tend toward nasty dispositions. This is not to say that all dogs of a certain breed will exhibit a particular trait - we're talking percentages here. We need only look at history to see evidence that a narrow gene pool can propagate problems in succeeding generations. Monarchies, where thrones are passed to sons who inbreed with relatives in order to preserve the purity of "royal blood", sometimes end up with crazy or mentally impaired people in charge. It's like Democracy, except without letting the masses choose which retard leads them.
Purebreds are also more expensive than mixed breeds. Breeders typically take in several hundred or even a few thousand dollars for a purebred puppy. Unfortunately some breeders are unscrupulous and forge the papers in order to fool you into believing that you're getting a purebred. How can you be sure that you're getting what you pay for? An even larger issue is where supposed purebreds come from. Many of them come from puppy mills, and your purchase could be supporting that kind of operation.
Whenever a movie like Benji or 101 Dalmatians gets released, it sparks an increase in purchases of dogs of that breed. Unfortunately the breed of dog that people fall in love with as the result of a movie might not be suitable for them. For example, dalmatians tend not to be as good-natured as many other breeds; the child who asks his parents for a dalmatian after seeing the movie would actually have been better off with a Labrador. A lot of Chihuahuas have been sold as a result of the Taco Bell advertising campaign; this breed tends to be fearful and nasty - the Linda Tripp of dogs.
Pit bull terriers, rottweilers and Doberman pinschers get a lot of bad press because of attacks on people. The fact is that any dog can be trained to be vicious, or can be unfriendly toward people if it does not get pleasant experiences with people at a young age. Pit bulls, rottweilers and Dobermans are, genetically, no more nasty than the average dog, but they happen to have stronger-than-average jaws, and for this reason many people use them as guard or attack dogs, so of course these breeds will be involved in a higher percentage of attacks than other breeds will.
Dogs are pack animals. They need a family unit. Many dogs are left alone for long periods, often tied up. This is very unnatural, and the loneliness and boredom can cause them to incessantly bark, do destructive things, and possibly even go mad. Tying a dog up can be especially bad because of the frustrating feeling of helplessness. Dogs are predators, and predators can't deal with being restrained the way prey animals (e.g. cows) can. When a dog becomes unmanageable due to neglect, there is no one to blame but the owner. Anyone who either cannot or will not spend time with his or her pet should have no right to own one.
Your dog is your friend. He does not judge you. He doesn't criticize you for being a lazy couch potato or for not listening to him. He won't stop being your friend merely because you made fun of someone in his lineage. You could take him along on a string of serial killings, and he would still think the world of you. Hence a dog would find even OJ Simpson lovable.
A dog doesn't need a big family. A single person can be enough for him, but this person must spend some time with him. And this doesn't have to be inconvenient for the person, either. Sure, some of the time should involve your undivided attention as you train, discipline and play with him; but most of the time can be just sitting together in the same room. A dog is very content to lie at his master's feet for hours at a time. It might be all the same to you where he is while you're busy reading or watching TV, but it makes a big difference to him - he'd much rather be with you than alone.
While you should love and care for your dog, you shouldn't overdo it. Some people completely pamper their dogs. For example, they dress them up in funny little sweaters or feed them at the dinner table, often because they're using their dogs as substitutes for children. Some drivers even put dog-related bumper stickers on their cars. For example:
I thought of a better one:
Here's one for the Greenpeace folks:
Dogs need to socialize, not just for their own well-being, but also for the well-being of others. It is especially important that dogs socialize with people in their first few months of life - there is a certain period when the brain is developing the ability to socialize, and exposure to people is critical at this time. A dog that does not get a chance to socialize early in life might become an unsociable menace. Look at Marge Schott.
Unfortunately not everyone gives their dog a loving home. Some people leave their canines tied to a rope or chain, enduring bitter cold and sweltering heat, barking at anything and everything because they're so lonely and miserable. Many of these neglectful owners are what you'd expect: truck-driving, Coors-swilling, cigarette-smoking rednecks. However, some fairly well-educated folks - who you'd think would know better - are just as neglectful. Most irresponsible dog owners don't mean to hurt their pets. Rather, they're either too poor to fence their yards; too busy to spend time training, grooming and playing with their animals; or too ignorant to realize how unhappy their pets are when they're left alone for long periods. My question to these people is: If you can't provide a positive environment and you hardly ever interact with your dog, then why have one at all? Some folks claim to use their animal as a watchdog, but often this is bullshit because every time it barks they yell, "SHUT UP!!" Other folks just want the occasional companionship, which they get when they spend a few minutes with their pet who is lonely and grateful to spend any time with anyone, but the rest of the time they neglect the poor thing. Most of us have at one time or another seen a dog who is kept in fairly bad living conditions, and the sad thing is that for every one you see, there are thousands more. The only reason I don't steal their dogs and find good homes for them is that it's illegal and I could get arrested. The interesting thing is that when an insensitive owner lets his dog in after it has been outside alone all day, possibly in extreme heat or bitter cold, the dog jumps on him and violently wags its tail. You'd think that one dog, somewhere, sometime, would have enough sense to think, "Hey, wait a minute, you're the asshole who left me out there in the first place."
|Garbage Can Goodies|
|Cookie Toss Chunkies|
|Kitty Box Crunchies|
|Other Dogs' Poopies|
Unless your dog has severe mouth or tooth problems, dry food is always preferable to wet. First of all, dogs tend to overeat when given wet food; if given dry food they eat only what they need. Second, dry food must be chewed, and this exercises the jaws and teeth. Third, dogs who eat wet food develop gum disease more quickly than dogs who eat dry food. Fourth, canned dog food is often higher in water and fat, and lower in protein than dry food. Dry food is also better for you: it's more convenient because there are no cans to open (and no half-empty cans to keep in the fridge), and it doesn't smell nearly as bad as canned food.
When selecting a dog food, always read the fine print. Dog foods are packaged and advertised much like human food: companies run upbeat ads with jingles and slogans, and put healthy-looking dogs on the package. They starve a dog for three days beforehand, feed him the dog food, and say, "Look how much he loves it." They fail to mention that a dog will eat his own shit if he's hungry enough. Forget this hype. Read the ingredients, which are listed in descending order of proportion. This means that whatever is listed first, there is more of that than any other ingredient. You want the first ingredient to be an animal product (e.g. lamb meal, chicken meal), not a vegetable product (e.g. corn meal, rice). Human food labels also list all ingredients. This is a good thing. In the old days, when you bought, say, a box of Twinkies, the label wouldn't tell you much, e.g. "Ingredients: Twinkies."
Do not change dog foods abruptly - this can cause upset stomach and/or diarrhea. If you plan to change foods, gradually mix the new food in with the old, increasing the proportion a little every day.
There is no reason to feed your dog people food. That sad face begging for food might tug your heartstrings, but it is just a tactic used by dogs and Sally Struthers. The bottom line is that people food is not as good for your pet as dog food is, and he doesn't feel nearly as sad as his face looks. If for some reason you feel that you must feed him table scraps, the best choices are meat, vegetables, gravy, onions, liver, fish (filleted), cheese and scrambled eggs. My dogs don't beg for food at our house. The last time I threw them a piece of something I had cooked, they begged for Pepto Bismol.
You can leave a big bowl of dry food out for your dog to nibble on as he desires; or you can give him a bowl of food once or twice a day, removing it when he's done. There are different schools of thought on this matter, and it really depends on your dog's constitution. Leaving food out all day is certainly easier for you because you don't have to be there at a certain time to feed your dog.
Puppies should be allowed to breast-feed for at least three weeks before you gradually introduce puppy food. Just as you wouldn't pull your baby away from the nipple too soon or abruptly, don't do this to your puppy. Of course, allowing breast feeding to go on too long can also be damaging. Rumor has it that Bill Clinton breast fed for 23 years.
The importance of giving your dog ample water cannot be overstated, especially during warm and hot weather. If you are feeling warm, chances are your dog is a bit too warm. A dog must have an unlimited supply of water in order to prevent heat prostration. Some dogs might overeat if you give them unlimited food, but they do not "overdrink". Therefore always leave plenty of water for your beloved pet. The water should be changed every day so that it's fresh, clean and cool. If you keep your dog's water outdoors, it might have to be changed more often: during very hot weather it warms up, and during very cold weather it freezes.
Speaking of drinking water, I hate it when I'm drinking at a water fountain and some moron says, "Save some for the fish." I always stop drinking and let them have a turn, and after they've had a few gulps I say, "You know, fish fuck in that water."
Sources report that over 75% of adult dogs have irreversible gum disease. Of course, this condition also afflicts more than 90% of West Virginians, but nobody seems too concerned. Very few owners take proper care of their dogs' teeth. This is understandable, though. I mean, there are people who don't brush their own teeth, so we can't expect them to take care of their pets' oral hygiene. Dogs get plaque and tartar just like we do. Although their teeth don't get cavities like ours do because their enamel is packed very tightly, the teeth can fall out when bacteria eats the tissue that holds them in their sockets. Even worse, dogs can get oral infections that travel in the bloodstream and damage internal organs, perhaps fatally. Consequently they need proper tooth and gum care.
Regular brushing is the single most effective thing you can do to save your dog from gum disease and tooth loss. Brushing at the gum line washes bacteria away and thereby stops their destructive action. You can use a human toothbrush, but it should be soft-bristled (hard-bristled brushes can irritate gums and make them bleed). You can also use special "finger" brushes available at your local pet supply store; they're basically rubber thimbles with ribs on them. Never use human toothpaste on your dog. He will swallow some in the brushing process and it can upset his stomach. Also, the strong minty taste can be unpleasant. Your local pet supply store has dog toothpaste that is gentle on stomachs and comes in flavors that dogs like, such as beef, chicken and roadkill.
Wet the brush to soften the bristles. Put a pea-sized dab of toothpaste on the brush. Hook your finger under one side of your dog's lip and lift, exposing the teeth. Gently brush right at the gum line in circular motions, making sure to do all teeth on that side, paying special attention to the back teeth as these tend to accumulate plaque most quickly. Put another dab of toothpaste on the brush and clean the other side of his mouth. Also do the front teeth. It is difficult to do the inside surfaces of the teeth, but fortunately this is usually not necessary because the tongue and saliva keep these surfaces relatively clean; it is the outside surfaces that need your attention. Which reminds me, how is it that every character on television has perfect teeth? Even homeless people and medieval peasants have full sets of pearly whites.
Brushing every day is ideal (just as it is with people), but if you are too busy, once a week is certainly better than never. It takes only about two minutes, and most dogs enjoy it. However, your dog may resist brushing at first, and if he does you will have to get him used to your playing with his mouth. Start by rubbing his cheeks, occasionally sticking your fingers between his lips and teeth. When he accepts that, start sticking the brush in there, with some toothpaste so he enjoys the taste. Make it a game. Eventually he will allow and even look forward to having his teeth brushed.
Your dog's gums may bleed a bit the first few times you brush. This is okay. The gums will get used to it after several brushings and will no longer bleed.
The notion of brushing your dog's teeth may seem silly at first, but then again, the idea of brushing human teeth wasn't exactly embraced at first either. Imagine a bunch of Pilgrims at Thanksgiving dinner. They've just finished eating with what few teeth they have remaining and now they're sitting around talking, gums bleeding, emitting breath so bad that flies won't go near them. Suddenly one of them pulls out a small stick and starts rubbing his teeth with it.
|Jebediah:||"What are ye doing, Amos?"|
|Amos:||"Yea, I am brushing my teeth."|
|Amos:||"I am brushing my teeth, for otherwise bacteria shall afflict me with pyorrhea and make it obvious that I am from England."|
|Jebediah:||"Lo, and just what are bacteria?"|
|Amos:||"Very tiny organisms that you can't see but that live all over our flesh."|
Despite diligent brushing, your dog will probably get tartar buildup. This should be scraped off, the way the dentist scrapes ours off twice a year. You can pay your veterinarian to do this, but he will usually anesthetize the animal and charge you a nontrivial amount. Save this hassle and expense by performing dental prophylaxis yourself. All you need is a dental scraper, a steady hand, and a six-pack. (Just kidding about the six-pack; a bottle of tequila works much better.)
Have the dog lie on his side. Pull his lip up and expose the teeth. It is very important to focus, keep your hand steady, and keep the dog's head still so you don't slip and cut his gums. Gently scrape the tartar (some areas might require more pressure), periodically stopping what you're doing and releasing his lip so he can lick his lips and/or swallow. Don't go near the gum line until you've cleared away most of the visible tartar. When you scrape at the gum line be extra careful: you're holding a very sharp implement near some very delicate tissue. Scrape the tartar right at the gum line, and go under the gums just a millimeter - you might find more tartar hiding there.
Scraping your dog's teeth is easier than you'd think. I was able to do a pretty good job the very first time I did it. I don't know why people think it takes so much training and skill to be a dental hygienist. Prophylaxis is just a mechanical activity, like stripping paint or cleaning a stove top. And yet several hygienists - each supposedly certified in their field - have managed to slip and cut my gums more frequently than I - a complete amateur - have ever cut my dogs' gums. I make their job as easy as possible, too: I brush and floss every day, as well as right before my dental visits. Nevertheless they injure me, and they will never admit their errors. Not a single one of them has ever said, "Oops, sorry." They always try to cover each mistake by making it appear as though it's my fault. For instance, right after a hygienist slices through my gum tissue with a force that would cut diamond, she'll say, "You know, your gums wouldn't bleed so much if you flossed regularly."
Do not floss your dog's teeth. First of all he will not enjoy it. Second, some of his teeth are too close together to get floss between them, and other teeth are far enough apart that the brush can get in there.
If your dog has periodontal disease, you should have your veterinarian treat it before you start performing any dental hygiene because brushing or scraping infected areas could exacerbate the problem.
No matter what the commercials tell you, dry food and biscuits will not keep your dog's teeth perfectly clean. They're certainly better for his teeth than canned food is, but they do not have any magical cleaning properties. Telling you that, for example, Milk Bone dog biscuits will keep your dog's teeth clean is the equivalent of telling you that you can keep your own teeth clean with Triscuits.
I used to kiss my dog on the mouth. Then one day I caught him licking his butt, and that was the end of that.
No, this chapter isn't about lawyers. There are all sorts of pests, both visible and microscopic, that can and will hurt your dog. Virtually all of them can be repelled or killed thanks to modern medical science. You should take precautions against as many as possible.
Heartworms can be transmitted by infected mosquitoes. They grow to be quite long and congregate in the heart, impeding its function and thereby killing the dog. There are prescription medications (available only from your veterinarian) in the form of monthly tablets or chewable treats that kill heartworm larvae. They are effective only if administered every month; if you skip doses you are gambling. Heartworms are so prevalent and deadly that they are probably the very first thing you should protect your pet against. I've seen pictures of hearts taken out of dogs that died from heartworms: the atria and ventricles were clogged with worms, like the floor of the New York Stock Exchange minus the ties.
There are many kinds of intestinal parasites (e.g. roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, tapeworms) that dogs pick up by eating infected matter (perhaps a dead animal, or animal feces*). Stomach acid does not kill them, and they live in the intestines, causing loss of appetite, weight loss, intestinal bleeding and other problems. There are monthly medications (available only from your veterinarian) that can prevent them, and I highly recommend their use due to the proliferation and the hardiness of these organisms.
* That's right - some dogs eat other animals' poop. You'd think that dogs, with such a great sense of smell and taste, would stay away from the stuff. (By the way, dogs are not Nature's leaders in flavor sensitivity; catfish are. Catfish have more than 27,000 taste buds. That makes them rank #1 among all animals for the number of taste buds. And they eat shit.)
Incidentally, most puppies are born with intestinal worms, even if worms aren't apparent in the mother. Often worms are encysted somewhere in the mother's body, and then during pregnancy they enter her bloodstream, which transfers them to the unborn pups' bloodstreams.
Fleas are very small, dark-colored insects that hop from host to host. The Encyclopedia Britannica defines a flea as "a degenerate, laterally depressed insect". So fleas are tiny versions of Newt Gingrich.
Fleas lay eggs and eat their host's skin. Their saliva can cause allergic reactions, and the bites themselves can be annoying or painful, causing the dog to bite and scratch himself. Sometimes the problem persists for so long that the dog's biting and scratching cause bald spots and red, raw, scabby patches of skin that make even Mikhail Gorbachev's head look attractive.
There are lots of flea sprays and powders available in pet supply stores. Unfortunately, none of them work. Many owners spray their pets with these poisons, run flea combs diligently through their fur, bathe them with flea shampoos, and still the problem does not go away. Why? Well, the sprays and shampoos might kill the adult fleas, but the eggs remain unaffected. Since combing and bathing do not remove all the eggs, they remain on the skin, hatch later, reproduce, and the infestation returns.
Once again modern medicine comes to the rescue. There are prescription medications that you apply, in drops, directly to the dog's skin. The chemical (which is harmless to the dog) spreads throughout the dog's epidermal system via the sebaceous glands and kills every single flea. Any eggs that exist at the time of application might hatch later, but those fleas will also die because the chemical is still in the animal's skin. These medications are truly wonderful. They are also available only from your veterinarian. There are products in pet supply stores that you apply just like the prescription ones, but they don't work because they don't contain the right chemicals. The companies mimic the application method of the prescription medications in order to make you think you're getting the same thing. Just dishonest people engaged in public disservice.
Fleas can live and reproduce in carpeting. If you're walking around barefoot and feel tiny bugs plinking against your legs, your carpeting might be infested with fleas. If so, sprinkle Borax on the carpet, work it in (by walking on it), and vacuum it up a few days later. If the bugs jumping up and hitting your legs are something other than fleas (e.g. roaches), it's time to move.
Ticks come in several sizes. Some are easy to see (e.g. the common dog tick), but others are quite small (e.g. the deer tick). They wait on plant matter for an animal to come by, and land on the animal when it brushes against the plant. Since the animal's head and neck usually contact the plant first, these are the most common areas that ticks are found. Once on its host, the tick burrows down through the fur, clamps its jaws on the skin, and hangs on for several days, sucking in blood and engorging itself. Eventually when it has consumed enough it falls off (this is the principle difference between a tick and a lawyer).
While a tick is in contact with an animal it can transmit diseases because the skin has been broken. These diseases can be very serious. They include Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and ehrlichiosis, to name a few. Prevention is easier and cheaper than cure. There are prescription medications (available only from your veterinarian) that you administer monthly that will cause any tick that bites your dog to die and fall off before it can transmit diseases. This type of preventive medicine is recommended if you let your dog go in or near woods.
If you find a tick on your dog, pull it out by its head with tweezers using steady pressure. If it just won't let go, suffocate it with alcohol or mineral oil first. Do not squeeze the tick's body - that could cause you to inject infected fluid into your dog. If the tick's head is embedded, cut out the small piece of skin surrounding the head with a small pair of scissors or razorblade so that the tick is removed intact. Immediately flush it down the toilet. Do not squish the tick because that could cause eggs to be released, and do not throw it in your yard or wastebasket because it might make its way back to your dog and/or lay eggs. Wash the site where the tick was with soap and water, then apply antibiotic ointment. Finally, wash your hands, tweezers, and cutting tool.
If your dog does contract a tick-borne disease, it can be very costly to bring him back to health. Many people simply have their dog put to sleep rather than incur this expense. When anyone asks what happened, they say something like, "We had to put Fluffy to sleep." What they really mean is, "Fluffy wasn't worth 300 bucks."
I got an attack dog. One night someone broke into the house. I yelled, "Attack!" and my dog had one.
All dogs, especially young dogs, like to play and chew. They should be given play toys for fun and exercise, and chew toys for exercising their jaws and teeth and satisfying their urge to chew. Toys come in many shapes, sizes and materials. When selecting a toy, it should be large enough so that your dog won't choke on it and it should be made of a material that will not hurt him.
Tennis balls are good all-around toys. They bounce and are fun for your dog to chase and catch. However, if he chews one and tears it up, you should take the pieces away before he swallows them. If he swallows a piece it could choke him, or it could irritate his intestines as it passes through because it's as indigestible as my wife's cooking.
Stuffed animals look cute and are all right for dogs who just like to carry them around and shake them, but if your dog likes to rip them apart, they will cause quite a mess in your house. An old towel might make a better toy. Roll it up, hold one end in each hand, and let your dog tug it. He might even shake his head from side to side - this is an instinctual action that dogs use when they catch a small prey animal in order to snap its neck.
There are many kinds of chew toys. Rawhides are very popular. There is some debate as to whether they're irritating to dogs' constitutions - it probably depends on the individual dog. Also keep in mind that rawhide is bovine skin and is somewhat fatty, so it might not be suitable for overweight dogs. For the most part, rawhides are quite suitable chew toys. Unfortunately they are only partially digestible. My dogs have been known to pass some white, twisted stools after eating rawhides. No, wait, that was after eating printed copies of this Web page.
Some chew toys are made of synthetic materials that tend to stay in one piece. This preserves the life of the toy, but many dogs don't like these materials and would prefer a rawhide. Can you blame them? I mean, would you rather eat beef jerky or a piece of plastic?
Dogs love dried, smoked pig ears. As with rawhides, pig ears are fatty and may upset some dogs' stomachs but are usually suitable if given only occasionally.
Dogs also love bones. Never, ever give your dog chicken or pork bones - they can splinter and stick in his tongue, gums and throat. Beef bones are okay but are too hard for some dogs to really enjoy. Furthermore, small pieces can break off, and dogs can then cut their gums on the sharp edges. My dog Bandit has done this many times. You'd think he'd learn after one painful episode. Then again, maybe not. I mean, this is the same creature who, at my previous house, used to insist on lying next to the front door even though he frequently got hit with it when people came in. What a cretin.
Hate you. Hate Kansas. Taking the dog.
On cold days fur insulates with a blanket of warm air. Different dogs can withstand different extremes of cold. Do not assume that your dog's fur completely insulates him. No matter how many coats you put on, you will get cold if you stand outside in very cold weather long enough. So will your dog. Do not leave your dog in very cold weather for too long.
Imagine wearing a fur coat in the middle of July - this is basically what dogs put up with in the summer. Heat can't be lost through the skin very well on hot days because the fur keeps body heat next to the skin. Your dog's fur does keep the sun off his skin, so it offers some protection from direct solar heat and sunburn, but it doesn't help much in the shade. He does not have sweat glands, and if he did they wouldn't be of much use because his fur would keep sweat from evaporating. He gets rid of heat by panting: he exhales warm, moist air and breathes in (hopefully) cooler air; plus the saliva evaporating from his tongue helps to cool him. On hot, humid days the heat exchange is minimized because he breathes in hot air and his saliva doesn't evaporate quickly enough. It is for all of these reasons that most dogs (especially ones with thick coats) are sensitive to hot weather. Dogs should be kept indoors on very hot days, and when they are outside, it is imperative that they have access to shade and plenty of cold water. If your dog digs in the hot weather and lies down in the newly-uncovered soil, he's just trying to stay cool and should be brought indoors. If you neglectfully leave him outside all day in July, then you deserve to have him dig up your chrysanthemums.
Do not make your dog run on hot days; he has enough trouble bearing the heat while he's at rest. And never leave your dog in a hot car - rolling the windows down a few inches only helps so much.
I always bring my dogs indoors when it's very hot outside. I am not always rewarded for my efforts, though. On such days I generally go barefoot, and when the dogs come in, the larger one, Bandit, steps on my foot every time. I think he's developed a little sidestep to ensure that he never misses. You'd think that he'd be thankful for being spared from the oppressive heat.
The smaller dog, Smokey, doesn't seem to understand the concept of solar heat. If he's outside on a hot, bright sunny day, then rather than take shelter under the sunroom or a tree, he'll lie in the sun and pant. It is a wonder that he was ever born, because if his ancestors were this stupid, there's no way they could have survived long enough to reproduce.
Dogs miss you when you go away.
Dogs want to go out.
Dogs don't waste half the day in front of the TV.
Dogs clean themselves.
Dogs have a longer tongue, wink wink, nudge nudge.
Regular grooming will keep your dog's coat pretty clean. Every so often he might need a bath, though. Most dogs don't enjoy baths because they don't like getting soaked, but it does them no harm as long as they aren't left outside in cold weather while they're wet. Also, puppies should not be bathed - wait until your dog is at least four months old before giving him his first bath.
An unwilling-to-be-bathed dog will try to jump out of the tub and probably get you wet. For this reason you might as well resign yourself to the fact that "you will get wet on this ride", and get in the tub with him. A removable shower head helps because it allows you to direct water right where you need it. Use dog shampoo or, if you use human shampoo, make it baby shampoo (adult shampoos are acidic and can strip away your dog's natural oil). If you're using your bathtub and you have a dog that sheds, you should put some sort of screen over the drain to catch the fur so that it doesn't cause a clog. A drop of mineral oil in each eye just before the bath will help protect them from getting stung by shampoo, and a cotton ball in each ear will help keep water out. (I'm referring to the dog's eyes and ears, not yours.)
Put your dog in the tub and if there's a shower door or curtain, close it. Wet your dog completely. Use lukewarm water. Try not to squirt water in his eyes or ears. Pet him and say "Good boy" (or “Good girl” as the case may be) for reassurance. Lather him up with shampoo. Reassure him while you do this. Finally, rinse him off thoroughly with lukewarm water - don't leave shampoo residue behind. When you're through bathing him he will probably shake off, spraying you and the walls. He might shake off several times. You can either let him do that in the tub, or bring him outside quickly to do it out there. After that you should dry him with a towel (and make sure you dry inside his ears). If it's cold out, do not leave him outside for long as his wet coat will not keep him very warm.
On a hot day it is okay to bathe your dog outside with the garden hose. The cold water won't be so disagreeable when he's already hot, and all the splashing can be done outside. You don't even need a tub - just wet and rinse him with the hose and let the water and shampoo run onto the lawn. You won't have to dry him off afterwards either (except maybe inside his ears).
For some reason, a lot of dogs hate being clean. After a bath, both of my dogs will roll around on the ground in an attempt to undo all of my hard work. Even worse, Bandit has been known to roll in horse poop. HORSE POOP!
Unfamous last words: "Nice doggie."
Dogs can get bacterial/fungal ear infections. Floppy-eared dogs are especially susceptible because their ears can't dry out as well as straight-eared dogs' ears can, so microbes can more easily flourish. You should periodically check your dog's ears for signs of redness, discharge or foul odor, and seek veterinary care if any of these signs are apparent. I've seen dogs with horrible, oozing ear infections that caused them obvious pain. Dogs with advanced infections cannot shake themselves off like healthy dogs can without great pain, so they tend to twist their heads slowly from side to side in a pitiful effort to shake. Eventually the hearing apparatus can suffer irreparable damage, and the ears can swell permanently shut, rendering the dog deaf. Ear infections require immediate veterinary care. Usually the vet will clean the ears out as much as possible, and prescribe drops to be applied every day for a few weeks. It is important to be diligent in treatment; if you're too busy or you forget to apply the medication every day, the infection can rage on.
Monthly ear cleaning will minimize the chance of infection. Use a cotton ball (not a swab) soaked with mineral oil, rubbing alcohol, or some approved ear-cleaning solution. Wipe all dirt from the insides of the ears, but do not force the cotton ball into the ear canal. Clean as far as you can see, but only as far as you can see.
Dogs can give each other infections when they lick each others' ears. This behavior should be discouraged. My dogs do this, and I used to think it was disgusting. Then I remembered that they also lick their ... well, you know.
What is it that a dog does on three legs, a man does standing up, and a woman does sitting down? Shake hands.
Every puppy needs to be housebroken. This is one of the most difficult periods of dog ownership because you have to be there to supervise him and clean up occasional messes. In this respect it's actually easier to raise a baby than a puppy. Of course, you can just leave a puppy in the yard to pee and poop. You can't do this to a child. Not legally anyway.
The basic idea is to help your puppy distinguish between indoors and outdoors. When you catch him doing his "business" indoors, immediately carry him outdoors and allow him to finish out there. Do not scold or punish him. Eventually he will get the idea that his "business" is to be done outside. Another helpful method is to take your puppy for walks and praise him every time he does his business outdoors. Whatever method(s) you use, keep in mind that puppies go "Number 1" and "Number 2" more often than adult dogs, so you will have to be with your puppy quite a bit during the housebreaking process.
What I want to know is, when a dog is outside, why can't he just pee and poop wherever he is? Whether my dogs are in the yard or on leash in the neighborhood, they sniff every single spot and "go" only in certain places. Apparently not every location is pee-worthy. They act as though the place they choose to eliminate their bodily wastes will decide the outcome of the next presidential election.
Female dogs at least pee all at one time; male dogs have a testosterone-induced territorial thing in which they have to conserve their urine for all the places where other animals have peed. My two dogs pee a total of approximately 836 times a day, and as a result each squirt contains about seven drops of urine. This miniscule amount of territory-marking liquid is probably what makes it necessary for dogs to have their keen sense of smell; without it they could never read their pee-mail.
When it comes to peeing, my dog Smokey is philosophical. One time he looked at a hydrant and thought, "To pee or not to pee."
A man shoots a turkey for Thanksgiving. He doesn't pick the buckshot out before serving it to his family. A while after they've eaten dinner, his youngest son comes downstairs and says, "Daddy, I just pissed a BB!" The man says, "Don't worry about it." A few minutes later the next son comes down and says, "Daddy, I just pissed a BB!" The man says, "Don't worry about it." A little while later the oldest son comes down and says, "Dad, I..." The man interrupts, "You pissed a BB, right?" The son answers, "No, I was jerking off and I shot the dog."
Dogs can suffer cuts, bruises and broken bones just like humans can. We can perform simple first aid on their minor traumas, but major injuries should be treated by professionals.
Soap, water, hydrogen peroxide and antibacterial ointment are fine for minor scrapes and cuts. The main difference between dogs and people in this area is that dogs have fur which harbors dirt and bacteria. Wounds should be washed well, and sometimes the fur around a cut should be shaved. Stitches are never needed if a wound is half an inch long or less, and in fact stitches can cause problems because closing up a wound doesn't allow it to drain.
Long gashes, or cuts that don't stop bleeding for hours, should be treated by a professional. Usually stitches are needed in this type of case. I remember one time Bandit got a deep gash in his paw. I wrapped it, but five hours later it was still bleeding. Finally, in the wee hours of the morning, I took him to an emergency clinic. More than two hours and two hundred dollars later he was all stitched up, out of anesthesia and walking around with a hefty bandage and an Elizabethan collar (to keep him from chewing the bandage). We got home at about 4:00 AM. This is just one of the many things I've done for him, and he pays me back by stealing food from the kitchen and occasionally peeing on my leg. Stupid dog.
Broken bones should definitely be professionally treated. If you're lucky a splint or cast can be applied and the bone will heal. However, often crushes or severe breaks are irreparable, and amputation or euthanasia is indicated. I lost a beloved dog this way when I was 11. He got hit by a car in the prime of life and suffered a severing bone break in his leg, and my parents had him put to sleep. I cried for weeks.
Dogs can also get viral and bacterial illnesses just like we do. Symptoms include lethargy, walking with tail down, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, ropey drool, bad breath (even for a dog), and a "doggy" body odor. If it's bacterial, your veterinarian will prescribe antibiotics that will cure your dog fairly quickly. While he's sick, let him rest. Do not force him to run, and don't expose him to very hot or very cold weather except for brief bathroom breaks.
Occasional vomiting should not be confused with illness. Some dogs sporadically toss their cookies for no apparent reason. Both of my dogs, especially the larger one, sometimes lose their lunch, often after eating sticks or grass (whether grazing is a cause or an effect of feeling sick is a mystery). Infrequent horking doesn't seem to indicate any serious health problem, so you needn't worry every time your dog does the Technicolor yawn. When I was a kid we had a pug named Penny, and whenever anyone would come to the door, she'd run in circles, blow chunks, and eat it, and she outlived all of our other dogs. Owning a dog like her has a positive side: it makes you feel better about yourself. ("Well, I might occasionally wake up in a puddle of my own vomit, but at least I don't eat it.")
You can take your dog's temperature by lubricating a thermometer and inserting it into his anus only an inch or two (depending on the size of the dog). Normal temperature ranges from 100.5 to 102 degrees Fahrenheit. Be sure to hold the thermometer and keep the dog steady so the thermometer does not break off. If he sits down with a thermometer in him, it will be a real pain in the ass for both of you.
Dogs can get "car sick" when travelling in an automobile. You can administer Dramamine (25-50 mg, depending on the size of the dog) as a preventative. Allow an hour for it to take effect before travelling. One word of advice: do not feed your dog right before a long car trip. I learned this the hard way while Bandit and I were on our way home from visiting my mom in Boston. I was approaching the Bergen toll plaza in New Jersey when I smelled dog food. "That's funny," I thought, "I don't remember leaving food back there for him." I hadn't. But he left some for me.
I finally got my dog to stop begging at the dinner table - I let him taste my wife's cooking.
There are several substances that kill many dogs each year. One of the worst offenders is anti-freeze. Just a few ounces can kill a dog. Many environmentally-unsympathetic people change their car's anti-freeze themselves and let the old coolant run onto the ground. Unleashed animals drink it because it tastes sweet. Another harmful substance is chocolate. While relatively harmless to most people, a chemical in chocolate (theobromine) can cause a dog's heart to race. Every year there is an increase in chocolate poisoning cases around Valentine's Day and Easter because dogs find chocolate lying around the house. It takes a considerable amount of chocolate to be fatal (about two pounds for a large dog), but deaths do occur and many more illnesses happen that could have been avoided. It's a good thing for chocoholic Rosie O'Donnell that she isn't a dog. Well, actually she is.
If you discover that your dog has eaten something toxic, immediate action is required. The several minutes it takes you to drive him to the veterinarian could mean the difference between life and death, so you might have to take matters into your own hands. What you should do depends on what your dog has swallowed. Some substances indicate inducement of vomiting, but there are some items for which vomiting could cause more harm than good. Below is a list of substances and what you should feed/do to your dog if he ingests them. Some remedies include "slow the absorption" or "induce vomiting" - these are explained after the list. Remember not to induce vomiting unless stated.
|Substance||What to feed/do|
|Acid||Milk of magnesia (1-2 teaspoons per 5 pounds body weight), or baking soda and water.|
|Alkali||Diluted vinegar (1 part vinegar to 4 parts water) or lemon juice.|
|Anti-freeze||Induce vomiting, then feed Kaopectate (1 teaspoon per 5 pounds body weight).|
|Fertilizer||Mineral oil (1 teaspoon per 5 pounds body weight).|
|Food poisoning||Induce vomiting, then slow the absorption.|
|Furniture polish||Milk or water.|
|Glue||Milk or water.|
|Human medication||Induce vomiting, then slow the absorption.|
|Insecticide||Induce vomiting, then slow the absorption.|
|Laundry detergent||Milk or water.|
|Motor oil||Rush to veterinarian.|
|Paint thinner||Milk or water.|
|Plaster||Milk or water.|
|Poison||Induce vomiting, then feed Kaopectate (1 teaspoon per 5 pounds body weight).|
|Shampoo||Induce vomiting, then slow the absorption.|
|Sharp object||Rush to veterinarian.|
|Shoe polish||Induce vomiting, then slow the absorption.|
|Toilet or drain cleaner||Diluted vinegar (1 part vinegar to 4 parts water) or lemon juice.|
|Tranquilizers||Slow the absorption.|
|Weed killer||Induce vomiting, then slow the absorption.|
You can slow the absorption of toxins by feeding your dog activated charcoal. Use 2 tablespoons of the powder per one cup of water and feed him half a cup per 30 pounds of body weight. Alternatively, there are dog biscuits that contain activated charcoal; feed him as many as he'll eat. Alternatives to activated charcoal are milk, egg whites and vegetable oil. Follow treatment with milk of magnesia (1-2 teaspoons per 5 pounds body weight). In addition to slowing absorption, milk of magnesia speeds elimination because it's a laxative.
If you need to induce vomiting, feed your dog any of the following:
If more than two hours has passed since ingestion of a toxic substance, or there are signs of involvement of the central nervous system, it is too late to induce vomiting no matter what he has swallowed. Wrap him in a blanket and rush him to the veterinarian. It might be too late to save him at this point, but there is really nothing else you can do.
You might wonder how anything could possibly sicken a dog. After all, we're talking about an animal that uses its tongue as toilet paper. "How could shampoo make Rover sick," you might query, "when he had no problem the night he got into the garbage can and ate rotting lasagna?" Bacteria usually isn't a problem for dogs because, having evolved as hunters and scavengers, their digestive juices take care of most microorganisms. However, certain chemicals are unaffected by stomach acid and are thereby able to enter the bloodstream.
Your dog should have his own medicine cabinet in case of emergency. Keep the following on hand at all times:
If it seems that your dog has swallowed something but you don't know what it is, look inside his mouth: sores, burns or swelling indicate ingestion of an acid or corrosive. Pale/grayish gums indicate that he's in shock.
When in doubt, you can call the Animal Poison Control Center at 1-900-680-0000. It will cost $20 for 5 minutes. That might sound expensive, but isn't your pet worth it? Anyway, it's no more expensive than those phone sex lines. Speaking of which, I once tried phone sex many years ago when I had one of those old-fashioned dial phones. I got my dick stuck in the 9.
What do you get when you cross Lassie with a pit bull terrier?
A dog that tears your leg off and then goes for help.
Dogs show submissiveness in a few ways. The cutest way is to lie on their back and expose their belly. In a pack, the dominant dog will accept this as a gesture of subordination. However, a not-so-cute method, used by my dog Smokey, is to urinate. That's right - sometimes when my wife calls him to her, he'll pee on the floor. I guess it's understandable, though: I show subordination to my wife by giving her money, but Smokey doesn't have a penny to his name (due to some bad investments he made that I'd rather not go into right now), so all he can offer is his urine. Can you imagine what the corporate world would be like if people showed their submissiveness this way?
|Employee:||"Good morning, sir."|
|Boss:||"Uh, you seem to have wetted yourself."|
|Employee:||"Yes sir. I did that because you're my boss."|
|Boss:||"Not anymore. You're fired."|
Dogs, being creatures of habit, like to have their own place to sleep every night. They are also very scent-oriented, and a place that smells familiar is reassuring. They prefer a soft rather than a hard surface (don't we all?) to sleep on. It doesn't have to be a large area - it just has to have enough room for the dog to turn around and lie down on. The area should be out of the way of foot traffic but still in a room that everyone gathers in, because dogs are pack animals and consider human beings their pack. Therefore the corner of the family den would be a good sleeping area. However, if your dog needs to be crated because he messes or chews things in the house when he's alone, it might not be feasible to put the crate in a heavily-used room.
There are plenty of "dog beds" available at moderate prices. They come in many shapes and sizes. When debating between two different sizes, always choose the larger one. The round beds with sides that just fit your dog when he curls up will be too small when he tries to stretch out. It is difficult to find a bed that a dog considers too big. For instance, your dog would love to sleep in your bed. Many owners find themselves sharing their mattress with their canine companion(s). I guess we know who's boss in those families.
Never surprise anyone with a dog as a gift. Unless the person has stated that he/she wants a dog, you are burdening him/her with a responsibility that he/she might not want. Even if this person does want a dog, he/she might not want the one you picked. If you'd like to give someone a dog as a gift, it would be better to let the person pick one on their own; then you pay the bill.
You should definitely take your dog for routine yearly veterinary visits. There are so many problems that your dog can get and that you cannot detect that it would be very irresponsible for you not to give your dog routine checkups. Only your veterinarian can detect, prevent and cure rabies, heartworms, distemper, hookworms, whipworms, coccydia, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, allergies, and numerous other afflictions via blood and stool samples, vaccinations and prescription medications. You should also ask friends to recommend a good vet, and pass judgment on any vet you go to. If you don't like the first vet you visit, then switch to another. Vets, like doctors, are not all the same. Some have good "bedside manners" and others are rather cold. Some are willing to explain and discuss issues with you, while others have an attitude that they're God and that any non-medical-professional like you must be an idiot. There is a broad range of skill and experience among practitioners of every profession, and the medical field is no exception. The fact that someone is a vet or a doctor doesn't automatically mean that he or she is very intelligent or competent. Remember that in every medical class, fifty percent of the students graduate in the bottom half. Most people like to delude themselves that their doctor or vet was one of the top few in his or her class, but that stroke of luck is the exception rather than the rule. Many doctors and vets were actually among the bottom few, and they're out there practicing medicine. Doesn't that give you a feeling of confidence in the medical field?
All dogs should be immunized against diseases such as rabies and distemper. In fact, it is the law in most (if not all) states. Vaccines are given every 1-3 years. Dogs pick up these diseases from eating, getting bitten by, or being boarded with infected animals.
Tail docking, ear cropping and other cosmetic changes do little more than feed human vanity. Certain breeds are "supposed" to look a certain way, but only because breeders and people in the dog show industry say so. And you know what? The public goes along with this nonsense, just as it follows clothing fashion. Perhaps a guard dog's tail should be removed so that an intruder can't grab it, but is there any reason to cut off a Doberman's tail if he's just a family pet?
Dogs are not people. They are dogs. Therefore they will act like dogs. Do not expect them to behave "normally". By learning to accept their dog-like behavior, you will be able to appreciate who they are and maybe even get a good chuckle from their antics. My dogs certainly exhibit some interesting behavior. If I walk anywhere at more than 3 miles per hour, they feel compelled to run after me. If they could talk, they would probably have the following conversation.
|Bandit:||"Hey! He's going somewhere! Maybe to the basement! Or the bathroom! I'm gonna run like a moron and find out!"|
|Smokey:||"I'm coming too! Don't let him out of your sight!"|
|Bandit:||"Of course I won't! What do you think I am, a cat?"|
When I let them out of the basement in the morning, they slip and slide their way across the kitchen floor to the back door. You'd think that after 1893 consecutive days of this they'd realize that their nails afford them no grip and that maybe slowing down will reduce the number of bumps and near-misses. But, alas, this basic concept always seems to elude them, apparently because they possess the mental capacity of ketchup.
As long as you don't expect too much intelligence from your dog, you won't be disappointed. I can tell you that my dogs aren't exactly the sharpest knives in the drawer. When Smokey is out in the back yard, he'll stare at the door for six, maybe seven hours at a time, thinking that this will make it open. When my wife or I finally open it, he thinks, "Hey! It worked again!!"
Dogs age just like we do, only more quickly. They become stiff and less active, lose strength, and don't jump on us as much when we come home. However, don't take your dog's lethargy to mean that he needs less companionship - he needs just as much as he always did. He might not be able to run as fast or play as rough, but he still needs to be with you.
At some point your dog's age-related health problems might force you to decide between having him put to sleep and allowing him to go on living with arthritis, blindness or some other condition. The decision won't be too tough if you put yourself in his position. Would you want to go on living if standing up caused you horrible pain, or you didn't have the energy to do the activities that make life worth living? Interestingly, while putting animals to sleep is a common and accepted practice, doing the same to useless people is frowned upon. Apparently a large segment of our population considers quantity of life to be more important than quality. In my opinion, there are a lot of people that the rest of us would be better off without: thieves, murderers, rapists, and the severely retarded. But enough about Congress.
Contrary to popular belief, multiplying a dog's age by seven does not give an accurate estimate of his age in "people years". Your dog matures more quickly than he ages, and different dogs age at different rates. For example, an eight-month-old dog might be 13 in people years, and a one-year-old could be 16 in people years. After that, the formula might be five times his age, plus 8. For example, a nine-year-old dog might be roughly (5 X 9) + 8 = 53 in people years. On a related note, there's a little-known scale that scientists use to measure how old people feel in "marriage years". The way it works is you add how old you were when you got married to twice the number of years you've been wed. For example, if you're a 32-year-old who got married 12 years earlier at age 20, then you probably feel 20 + (2 X 12) = 44 years old.
Your dog should always wear a collar that has tags which display his name and address, dog license number, and rabies vaccine number. This way, if he ever gets lost and someone finds him, they can contact you and they know that his rabies vaccine is up to date. And if he gets picked up by Animal Control, they won't slap on an extra fine for absence of a license tag when you bail him out of doggie jail. Whenever I see a dog with all those tags jingling around his neck, I get a warm feeling knowing that he has a responsible, caring owner. A friend of mine has a bulldog who wears not only a studded leather collar with address, license and rabies tags, but also a steel choke collar which clangs against the tags. He reminds me of Mr. T, only much better-looking.
The Purina Pet Institute ranked 50 U.S. cities in terms of pet friendliness. The winner: Denver, Colorado. It has a 200-1 pet-to-veterinarian ratio (the lowest of all cities), the lowest flea population, and the best air quality. Other top cities are Minneapolis-St. Paul; Columbus; Philadelphia; Seattle; and Portland, Oregon. The worst city for pets: Miami. This is no surprise, as it's oppressively hot and humid, plus it's inhabited by drug dealers and Jeb Bush.
Did you ever wonder why some dogs circle a few times before they lie down? It's an innate behavior that goes back to when dogs lived in the wild and they needed to flatten grasses and small plants in order to make a reasonably comfortable spot to lie on. But why do they still do it? I mean, is there any need for a dog to flatten the living room carpet? This behavior is the result of many thousands or perhaps millions of years of natural selection, and since dogs have been domesticated for only a few thousand years, it has not had time to be bred out. Circling is basically a vestigial activity that was once useful but has become outdated and useless, kind of like marriage.
Like people, dogs can become bored, listless and overweight if they don't get enough exercise. Cooping your dog up inside all day and then merely taking him for a walk when you get home doesn't provide sufficient physical activity; he needs to run and play. He would love a big yard where you and he could chase each other or you could throw a ball for him to run after at full speed. Some dogs get so bored and frustrated from lack of play that they develop obsessive-compulsive disorders which cause them to incessantly bark or excessively chase their tail or mutilate themselves. Occasionally a vet will actually prescribe Prozac for this condition, when what the dog really needs is a more attentive owner.
Dogs are often convenient scapegoats for women's intestinal gas. Many women never admit to "fluffing", and if a dog is nearby, a woman often has no qualms about giving it credit for her flatulence. Well, if women can do this, then so can men. One time on summer break from college I went to pick up my girlfriend at her parents' house. She was upstairs and I was sitting in the living room with her mother and Duke, the family dog. I felt the rumbling of impending intestinal release, so I called the dog over to me just as I let a stinker go. I was embarrassed by the smell, but I was relieved to hear the woman yell, "Duke!" I sat there petting the dog, keeping him next to me in case I had another episode. Sure enough, about a minute later I passed some more gas, even worse than before. The woman screamed, "Duke! Get away from him before he shits on you!"
Ben was raised with dogs all throughout his formative years, which explains why he walks around naked and drinks out of toilets. He likes dogs for the same reason he likes kids: they're at his intelligence and maturity level. If you visit him at his home, be careful not to stand in one place too long or he might pee on your leg.