Dog Blog

The Dog Blog is a community of ordinary dog lovers who have come together to discuss our extraordinary dogs. Each Monday, a new topic is introduced. If you've got an opinion, share it. If not, look for the current "anything goes" topic and introduce a discussion of your own. On Fridays, weigh in about your training questions and successes.
Your host: Mike Lewis is a little-dog nerd and the proud owner of Eddie and Jillian, a pair of Yorkies who think they're huskies, and Lucy, a sweet Chessie. R.I.P., Rusty. Contact mlewis@adn.com

Parks and Rec Committee approves fenced dog park - 1/10/2013 3:33 pm

AACCC Adoption of the week: Meet Scout - 1/9/2013 12:12 pm

Kitty and K9 Connection: Meet Nano - 1/4/2013 7:04 pm

What are your New Year's resolutions for your dogs? - 1/2/2013 4:29 pm

AACCC Adoption of the Week: Meet Rudy - 1/2/2013 4:14 pm

Take extra precaution with dogs on New Year's - 12/31/2012 11:58 am

Friday training talk -- what's up with your pack? - 12/28/2012 11:09 am

AACCC Adoption of the Week: Meet Chris K - 12/27/2012 12:27 pm

What's your dog's favorite chew toy?

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This week's question is about dog toys. What's your dog's favorite? Is it safe? Is it durable? Is it edible? Is it expensive? Does your dog get tired of one and want another? Is it good for your dog?

The safety question could be a topic of its own. Rawhide bones used to be the bone of choice for many, but they've been criticized by some who say dogs swallow them too quickly and they can get stuck in their esophagus or intestine. Greenies, marketed everywhere from pet stories to vet offices, have come under the same criticism. The company responded by changing its recipe to make it more digestible, but some people aren't convinced.

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Where can you walk dogs indoors?

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A visitor to the blog had a good question recently that I promised to pass on. Are there any good indoor areas to exercise our dogs? The person was mainly interested in finding a place for winter walks, but the suggestions might come in handy for rainy days like this.

Anybody have any ideas?

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Why don't more of us license our dogs?

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This week's question is about dog licenses, specifically: Why don't more people license their dogs as required by the law? And what can the city do to get more people to do so?

Fewer than 25 percent of dogs are licensed for 2007, according to the Anchorage Animal Care & Control Center. There are an estimated 65,000 dogs in the municipality, yet less than 14,000 licenses are current, says Maria Martin, public relations coordinator for the center.

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Should the NFL suspend Michael Vick?

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This week's topic is NFL quarterback Michael Vick, who has been charged with participating in a gruesome dogfighting operation in Virginia, see story here. His arraignment on the federal charges is set for Thursday, July 26, and a trial date is expected to be set. Conviction carries a term of up to six years.

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Should dogs be banned from city ball fields?

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See the discussion on Kyle Hopkins' blog
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Assembly Chairman Dan Coffey, a Little League coach, wants to ban dogs from all fenced city baseball diamonds, and he's introduced legislation to do just that.

Check out the story at adn.com/alaska and comment here about what you think of the idea.

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What are your pet peeves?

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What is it about the way others treat animals that you wish you could change? If you could sit them down and give them the benefit of your knowledge of dogs and responsible dog ownership, what would you tell them? One of our bloggers touched on the idea last week when she related a story about a pet owner who allowed a 9-month-old female in heat to roam freely. It got pregnant, received no veterinary care and died giving birth.

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Obedience training: Yes or no?

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This week's question is on obedience training. Is it essential? For those of you who believe it is, what commands are the most important? Would you recommend formal obedience training, or can dog owners teach the most important skills themselves? For the dog-training experts out there, please share a step-by-step on how to teach the skill or skills you consider most important. For those struggling to teach a dog a skill, explain what you've tried and maybe someone else can help you out. Lastly, for those of you who don't believe it is important, why not?

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Best method of housetraining

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The first weeks and months of a dog's life in your home are critical to establishing a bond of trust. Yet one of the first lessons we teach our dogs, housetraining, is often poorly understood by new dog owners. There are horror stories all over the Internet about people who try for years with little or no success.

This week's question is housetraining. What technique did you use? How long did it take before your dog was 95 percent successful? Would you recommend your method to another dog owner? Do you have a bad experience to relate? Is it more difficult to housetrain a dog in an Alaska winter than in an Alaska summer.

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Where are the best places for dogs to swim in Anchorage?

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A visitor to the dog blog is looking for some help. She
e-mailed this request. Can anyone help her out?

"My rescued black lab mutt loves to swim. I am a city girl and apartment-dweller with limited mobility. Can we discuss where are good places in Anchorage for dogs to play in the water or swim? Every time I bring him to Spenard Lake (easy to drive right up to) my dog suffers terribly for two weeks with itching, scratching himself raw, hair falling out.

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Rainy day walks: Fun or miserable?

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This week's topic for discussion is wet weather, specifically: How do your dogs react to the rain, and do you do anything before or after walks to make the experience more pleasant for your pooch and yourself? Do your dogs enjoy walks in the rain? Do you bother cleaning them up and drying them off, or do you just let nature work its magic? Do they have a covered space outside to dry off, or do you let them in the house? Do you use raincoats? Rubber booties? Reply to this post and help a fellow dog owner out.

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Do fireworks scare your dogs?

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The Fourth of July is coming up, and, like it or not, that means fireworks. This week's question is how do your dogs tolerate fireworks and other strange noises? Do they hide behind the bed? Do they bark? Do they try to run away? Or are you one of the lucky ones whose dogs ignore strange noises?

More importantly, have you successfully conditioned your dogs to tolerate noise? What did you do?

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Disabled dogs need love too

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This week's topic for discussion is courtesy of loyal dog blogger Snowgoose, aka Deb Frost: Do you have a "special needs" dog, and what do you do to make its world safe and rewarding? By special needs, we mean dogs that are blind, deaf, missing a leg, geriatric or suffer some other disability.

Snowgoose has turned into my dog-owning hero, so I'm anxious to hear her advice. First, she has a pack of them. She first introduced us to Pocket, a mini-doxie/chihuahua cross who hates the snow. Snowgoose and family solved that problem by building Pocket her own straw-lined, covered shelter in the yard to provide comfort for winter potty breaks.

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Does your dog walk on a loose leash, or is walking a struggle?

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There are some dogs that walk on a leash as if they were born with one around their neck. There are others that balk, yet learn soon enough. And then there are those that you see dragging their owners around the park or pulling so hard that they go hoarse.

Teaching your dog to walk comfortably on a leash is canine obedience at its most basic, but some owners and dogs struggle. Many give up, which dooms the pooch to a life without regular walks and robs the owner of a very pleasant side of dog ownership.

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Weekend went to the dogs with contests in Anchorage

There were a couple cool events for Anchorage dogs over the weekend. PetZoo held its annual fundraiser for area rescue groups, the Alaska K9 Cutie Pageant, and a pack of pooches showed up to compete for prizes in a variety of categories. Check out the pictures and find a list of winners, alaskak9cutie.com/
.

On Sunday, it was Anchorage Animal Care and Control's turn. Organizers threw a dog party at the Park Strip called Dog Day Afternoon to spread the word about scooping the poop. Dozens of dogs showed up to compete for prizes or just hang out. Here are a few pictures of the fun.

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Dogs of summer: What do they do while you're out playing?

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It's no secret that Alaskans try to pack a year's worth of outdoor activities into our short summer season. If we're not fishing over Memorial Day Weekend, we're camping in Seward on the Fourth of July or driving to Denali for a three-day weekend. This week's question is what do you do with your dogs? Do you take them with you? Leave them at home? Drop them off at the kennel? Farm them out to a friend? If you do take them, what special accommodations do you make for them while you're in the car, on the river or in a tent?

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Best breeds for Alaska?

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Alaskan huskies are leaders of the pack when it comes to canine athletes here. Their ability to withstand extreme temperatures while running at a high clip all day makes them pretty much second to none.

But what about our pets? What other breeds are especially well suited for our conditions, preferably summer and winter? Which ones can handle the winter temperatures in Anchorage? How about Fairbanks? Which ones don't have a problem with snow clinging to their fur? Which ones are equally adept duck hunting?

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Is it abuse to spank a dog?

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Healy musher Ramy Brooks was banned from the Iditarod for two years Friday after an investigation determined that he beat his dogs during this year's race.

Brooks has admitted to "spanking" his dogs with a piece of trail-marking-lathe. Golovin residents say the beatings went beyond spankings.

Whether you believe Brooks or not, he has said that spankings are not abuse. What do you think? Is it ever OK to punish a dog with a spanking as Brooks describes? Should the Iditarod allow it?

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Here's how to use the Dog Blog

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It's been three months since the start of the Dog Blog, and this seems like as good a time as any to thank those who have been showing up and commenting. Last week's feedback on the precautions for wilderness hikes topic was some of our best yet. You shared your experiences, you commented on others' experiences, and you created a permanent record of tips for Alaskans to learn from in the future.

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Precautions for wilderness hikes

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Ganik on the first hike of the seasonGanik on the first hike of the season
Alaska dogs are no strangers to vigorous exercise. We see them at the top of Flattop and other peaks; we see them jogging with some very fit runners; we even see them running alongside 4-wheelers in the backcountry.

The question this week is what precautions do you take before heading out into the wilderness with your dogs? Do you pack extra water? Do you carry a first-aid kit designed for your dog? Do you place limits on how much exercise your dog gets? This week, help fellow Alaska dog owners by sharing your experiences about successful adventures as well as those that caused you to rethink your precautions.

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Dog sports in Alaska

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When it comes to athletic dogs, Alaska has traditionally held its own. We have sled dogs, we have weight-pullers and we have hunting dogs. But if you look around town at some of our city parks on summer weekends, you'll discover there are some new athletes in town. We have agility dogs. We have flyball dogs.

If you've never seen one of these competitions, you owe it to yourself to get out and watch. Bring the kids, because the skills these dogs exhibit negotiating courses for time are remarkable. And unlike some of Alaska's traditional sports, it doesn't take a husky or a retriever to compete. Everything from corgis to danes run these courses and excel.

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