How to Clone Your Dog

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How to Clone Your DogThere’s no dog quite like your dog, right? That’s how I feel too. Haley is a very special dog. She’s one of a kind and I would definitely call her my heart dog. It’s hard to imagine not having her in our lives, but as her face gets a little more gray each day and she grows into her senior status, we’ve had a few hypothetical conversations about cloning her. If we wanted to go through with it, it’s not complicated on our end. Here’s how to clone your dog.

How to Clone Your Dog

Step 1 – Collect a tissue sample from your dog. This can be performed by your vet while your dog is alive or up to five days after death, as long as your dog has been properly prepared and refrigerated.
Step 2 – Send the tissue sample to Sooam Biotech Research Foundation or ViaGen along with your payment of $100,000 ($50,000 if using ViaGen).
Step 3 – Collect your cloned puppy when it’s ready to come home.

The cost of cloning pretty much takes the decision out of our hands. That’s a lot of money! But the truth is, I’m not sure I would go through with it, even if it cost much less. But before I get into that, here’s a brief explanation of what happens during the cloning process.

The Cloning Process

A cell from your dog’s tissue sample is altered by removing the nucleus which contains your dog’s DNA or genetic information. Meanwhile, an egg is harvested from a donor female at the cloning facility. Next, the nucleus from the donor female’s cell is removed from the egg and replaced with your dog’s nucleus. The egg is then given an electrical shock to stimulate cell division. After a few days, an embryo has developed and the egg is implanted into a surrogate female dog where it’s carried to full term and delivered.

Now that you know how to clone your dog, the difficult question is: Would you clone your dog? Here are a few things you might not know about cloning your pet.

3 Facts You Might Not Know About Cloning

  • A cloned dog is not going to be exactly like the original.
    Although the two dogs will be genetic copies (like human twins), they may not look exactly alike. Also, the environment in which the new puppy will be raised will be different, creating a dog with its own distinct personality. Since you may not receive your puppy for a few months after it’s born, some personality traits will already be developed.
  • There are no health guarantees with cloned dogs.
    It’s still too early to tell if cloned pets have an increased risk of health issues or early death and you shouldn’t expect a cloned pet to be healthier than the original. It’s likely that any genetic health issues the original pet had may also be present in the clone. However, being aware of genetic health risks may give you the opportunity for prevention or early treatment, possibly resulting in a healthier pup.
  • If you’re undecided about cloning, you can still preserve your dog’s tissue and decide later.
    ViaGen offers a tissue banking service for pet owners that might want to clone their pet in the future. They recommend you collect the tissue sample while your dog is still alive to ensure the best quality cells.
Cloned Dogs

CUTE CLONES by Steve Jurvetson / CC BY 2.0

My Thoughts on Cloning Haley

The cost of cloning Haley makes it prohibitive, but what if it cost $10,000 or just $1,000? Would I be tempted to clone her? I love her boxer/lab mix and cloning her would save me the hassle of trying to track down a puppy of the same breed mix and color. But what about all the unwanted dogs in need of good homes? Does it make sense to pay money (a LOT of money) for a puppy just because it looks like Haley?

In a certain way, cloning her would ensure a part of her would live on. But would I feel disappointed if the clone didn’t live up to my expectations of the relationship I have with Haley? On the other hand, it might give me the chance to do better the second time around. Maybe I could avoid some of the mistakes I made with Haley and try to prevent the health issues she’s had.

There’s one thing I’m sure of, I couldn’t clone Haley while she’s still alive. I can’t imagine giving a new puppy all the love and attention it needs while my senior girl looks on. She’s a little jealous as it is and it would break my heart to think I was neglecting her while training her replacement.

City DogI can understand why cloning might make sense for working dogs with exceptional genetics, but there’s only one Haley. She’s an original that can’t be duplicated or replaced like a piece of furniture. I would rather have the beautiful memories of her and our relationship than to replace her with a copy that I might always compare her to. Yes, she is my heart dog and I wish she could live forever, but that doesn’t mean I can’t have meaningful relationships with many different dogs. They are all unique and special. That’s why we love them so much!

What are your thoughts on cloning? Share them in the comment section below!


How to Clone Your Dog

3 Quick & Easy Frozen Dog Treats

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3 Quick & Easy Frozen Dog TreatsWe’re heading into the hottest time of the year here in Ohio and there’s no better way to beat the heat than with a frosty, summertime treat! Here are three tasty recipes for quick and easy frozen dog treats that’ll keep your pup cool all summer long.

1. Watermelon Blueberry Cubes (for Fruit Lovers)

Watermelon Blueberry Dog Treats

Watermelon Blueberry Cubes

Ingredients
1/4 seedless watermelon
1 small package fresh or frozen blueberries
1 can coconut milk
1 tbsp honey (optional)

Directions
Watermelon Blueberry Dog Treats1. Puree chunks of watermelon in a blender or food processor.
2. Blend in coconut milk and honey.
3. Fill an ice cube tray with the mixture.
4. Drop a few blueberries into each cube and freeze.

Tip: Try adding banana or strawberry slices for more variety.


2. Peanut Butter & Banana Pupsicles (for Peanut Butter Lovers)

Peanut Butter and Banana Dog Treats

Peanut Butter & Banana Pupsicles

Ingredients
1 cup plain or vanilla low-fat Greek yogurt*
2 tbsp peanut butter*
1 banana
Edible bones or bully sticks.
*Make sure the yogurt and peanut butter don’t contain xylitol.

Directions
Peanut Butter and Banana Dog Treats1. Blend yogurt, peanut butter and banana in a food processor or blender until smooth.
2. Spoon mixture into paper cups.
3. Add an edible bone or bully stick and freeze.
3. Peel away paper cup and serve.

Tip: For a special surprise, substitute a rubber or Nylabone-type chew toy in place of the edible stick!


3. Chicken & Sweet Potato Pupsicles (for Meat Lovers)

These are three layer pupsicles with sweet potato on the top and bottom and yummy chicken chunks and broth in the middle.

Chicken & Sweet Potato Pupsicles

Ingredients
1 small can drained sweet potatoes (about 15 oz)
1 small can white meat chicken (about 4 oz)
6 oz low-sodium chicken broth (without onion or garlic)
Carrot sticks

Directions
Chicken and Sweet Potato Dog Treats1. Puree the sweet potatoes in a food processor or blender.
2. Fill paper cups 1/3 full with sweet potato, then insert a carrot stick in each cup and freeze. I used a small piece of foil to help keep the carrots in place.
3. Add a layer of chicken, then cover with chicken broth until cup is 2/3 full and freeze.
4. Add the final layer of sweet potato and freeze.

Tip: To easily fill small cups, put the pureed mixture into a ziplock bag, cut off one corner from the bottom of the bag, then squeeze the mixture into the cups.


The Results!

3 Quick & Easy Frozen Dog TreatsAll three recipes were a hit with Haley, but the clear winner was the peanut butter and banana treat. She loved the flavor and the fact that her favorite edible bone was buried inside all that yumminess put it over the top!

Bonus! A Frozen Treat for Raw Meat Eaters

If you feed your dog a raw diet, Rodney Habib from Dogs Naturally Magazine has you covered with this healthy, frozen treat.

Frosty treats are the perfect way to keep your dog refreshed when the summertime temperatures soar. Plus, they keep your pup occupied for a while so you can put your feet up, relax, and soak up some sunshine yourself. The fun thing about making your own treats is, you can get creative and experiment with different ingredients. Next on my list is pumpkin with apple slices. Just be sure not to include any foods that can be harmful to your dog, especially anything containing xylitol which is showing up in more and more foods these days. Here’s a fun quiz from DogVacay to test your knowledge of dog-safe foods. Also, it’s a good idea to let the treats defrost a little before serving so they’re easier to eat.

If your panting pup is ready for a cool down, whip up some of your own frozen dog treats and tell us your dog’s favorite taste combinations.

3 Quick & Easy Frozen Dog Treats

Dogs and Fireworks – 14 Strategies to Keep Your Dog Calm

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Dogs and Fireworks - 14 Strategies to Keep Your Dog CalmIf the sound of fireworks or thunderstorms sends your dog scrambling to leap into your lap or cower under a bed, your pup’s not alone. With their keen sense of hearing, loud noises can be overwhelming for most dogs, leaving them pacing the floor, panting or trembling with fear. Some dogs may even urinate on the floor or become destructive while trying to escape from a crate or a room. Dogs and fireworks aren’t a good combination.

As a matter of fact, July 5th is one of the busiest days of the year for many animal shelters as they work to reunite lost pets that have run away after hearing the loud booms from fireworks. With Independence Day less than a week away, here are some tips to help your dog cope with the noise and stay calm.

14 Calming Strategies For Dogs and Fireworks

1. Check Your Attitude
Dogs are masters of picking up on our feelings and body language and they often analyze our reaction to loud noises. Stay calm and relaxed, even if your dog gets nervous. I try to go about my business as usual, pretending I don’t even hear the sounds, and it seems to send a message to Haley that there’s no reason to be overly concerned about the noises outside. If your dog gets scared, it’s okay to pet and reassure them, but try not to fuss over them or act anxious yourself.
2. Exercise
Dog Walking in ParkMake sure your dog gets plenty of exercise earlier in the day. A tired dog has less energy to react physically to noise-related anxiety and you may notice a considerable improvement in their reaction to the fireworks.
3. Create a Secure Environment
Take your dog outside for a bathroom break before the fireworks begin. It’s a good idea to keep your dog leashed, since some dogs have been known to break through fences after hearing loud, unexpected noises. You never know when a neighbor might set off a pack of firecrackers too. Make sure your dog’s wearing their collar with ID, even if they’ve been microchipped. For very nervous dogs, keep them in a crate or small room with the blinds closed and lights turned on. It’s crazy to think that some dogs have jumped through windows to escape the noise, so find the safest place in your home where your dog feels most comfortable.
4. Sound Masking
Before the fireworks begin and while your dog is relaxed, turn on the TV or play music to help drown out the noise. If you turn up the volume, do it gradually. It’s a good idea to do this at other times as well, so your dog doesn’t associate the louder volume with fireworks or storms. You can also purchase a music CD created specifically to help dogs relax from the Through a Dog’s Ear website.
5. Distractions
Food-stuffed Kongs, treat dispensing toys or meaty bones can be a positive distraction that also help your dog associate good things with loud noises. When Haley was a puppy, I always started a play session when storms were brewing to help her associate something fun with the sound of thunder. You can work on training new commands or playing a game of Find It. Any positive distraction your dog likes can be helpful.
6. ThunderShirt
Lots of dogs have been helped by the ThunderShirt. It’s a vest that puts gentle pressure on your dog to create a sense of calm, much like swaddling a baby. Here’s a DIY version you can use in a pinch.

7. Natural Supplements
Tryptophan and melatonin both have calming effects on dogs, as well as flower-based products such as Rescue Remedy. Check with your vet or a holistic vet for recommendations and the correct dosage for your dog.
8. Pheromones
Several products on the market use synthetic versions of dog appeasing pheromones (DAPs) which simulate the pheromone produced by female dogs used to comfort their puppies. These products can help adult dogs relax and they come in several forms: sprays, collars and plug-in diffusers. Adaptil is a popular brand that make all three types.
9. Massage
Dog MassageIf petting or belly rubs help your dog relax, give them a calming massage when the fireworks begin. You can take your skills to a whole new level by learning TTouch, Reiki or Doga (yoga with dogs).
10. Board Your Dog
Some people prefer to board their pets over the Fourth of July to remove them entirely from an environment with fireworks. This might be a good option if you’re going to be away from home or for dogs with extreme noise anxiety.
11. Make Alternative Plans
Do something different this year and take your dog on a hike somewhere away from all the firework celebrations. We’ve done this a few times and really enjoyed doing something new on the holiday.
12. Medications
For dogs with severe noise anxiety, drugs may sometimes be the best option. Never give human-grade sedatives or medications before consulting with your vet. It’s also worth consulting with a holistic vet who may be able to offer alternative or natural remedies with fewer side effects. “Ace” or Acepromazine is sometimes prescribed as a sedative for dogs, but as Dr. Marty Becker’s article describes, it may make your dog’s noise phobia even worse. Zoetis has just come out with a new medication called Sileo which is a non-sedative, calming gel placed between a dog’s cheek and gum. But since it’s new, I haven’t read a lot of feedback yet about its safety or effectiveness.
Long-term Solutions
13. Desensitization
This is the process of slowly exposing your dog to louder noises over time. You can record the sound of fireworks or buy a pre-recorded CD like one of these from Victoria Stilwell’s Canine Noise Phobia Series. Start playing the sound at a very low volume and slowly increase the volume over time. If an increase causes a fearful reaction in your dog, go back a level and work a little slower. As your dog progresses through the various levels, reward him with a few treats when he’s calm.
14. Counter-Conditioning
Best when combined with desensitizing, counter-conditioning trains your dog to do something else or have a different reaction when they would normally have a fearful response to sound. A common way to retrain the response is by giving food or treats when the noise occurs. Simply carry some small treats in your pocket during this time of year to instantly reward your pup when they hear loud noises. You can also use toys or playtime like I mentioned earlier; I’m so glad I taught Haley to associate storms and the sound of thunder with playing tug-of-war or fetch.

The Fourth of July or any holiday with fireworks or noisemakers doesn’t have to be stressful for you and your pup. While planning your BBQ cookout, don’t forget to plan ahead for the best way to keep your dog calm and relaxed.

What are your tips for dogs and fireworks? Share them with us in a comment below! Tips for Dogs and Fireworks

Alpha Dogs and Pack Mentality – Revisited

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Alpha Dogs and Pack MentalityWe’ve all heard the advice that as dog owners, we should be the alpha dog or pack leader in our house or else our dogs will assume the role, take over, and pretty much make our lives miserable. That’s the basic theory behind traditional dog training methods, made even more popular by a certain TV-show dog rehabilitator. The training style commonly uses dominance and force-type methods based on the notions of alpha dogs and pack mentality. Those concepts evolved from studies done more than half a century ago while observing wolves in captivity.

In contrast, positive reinforcement (+R or force-free) training takes a different approach based on using rewards to train and shape dog behavior, often controlling the resources a dog wants or needs and encouraging appropriate behavior out of the dog’s own self interest. In the world of positive reinforcement training, the terms alpha and pack leader are usually considered taboo, as they’re often associated with using force, threats or intimidation and sometimes create anxious or fearful reactions from dogs. But in this era of political correctness, have we gone too far in totally dismissing the notions of alpha dogs and pack mentality?

“In this era of political correctness, have we gone too far in totally dismissing the notions of alpha dogs and pack mentality?”

My Thoughts on Alpha Dogs and Pack Mentality

I’m a big believer in positive reinforcement training but I also know how effective a well-timed correction can be, as I talked about in the post Using Corrections With Positive Reinforcement Training. I believe domesticated dogs are still pack animals and even though we’re not part of a traditional canine pack with them, we are part of their social pack. As in any pack, there’s usually a leader that sets the rules for acceptable behavior and if the leader governs with fairness, rather than fear, there will be mutual respect and harmony within the group. In both animal and human social circles, I’ve noticed there’s usually a status ranking or pecking order between members of the social group. Here are a few examples.

Example #1 – The Human Starting a New Job
Entering a new work environment is stressful because you’re often unsure about how you’ll fit in with your peers. Once you’ve met and sized up your co-workers, you feel more comfortable about your place within the business and social hierarchy. It can also be stressful to the group when a new co-worker joins the team as the team’s hierarchy could be restructured.
Example #2 – The Horse Moved to a Different Pasture
When my parents had their horse farm, it was interesting to watch the adjustment period when a horse was moved into a different pasture with an established group of horses. The pecking order would often get reshuffled as the newcomer tried to figure out where they fit into the existing hierarchy of the herd. After some kicking, chasing and displays of dominance and submissiveness by several of the horses, a new pecking order would be established and harmony was restored.
Example #3 – The Dog Entering a Dog Park
When taking a new dog into a dog park with a group of regulars that play together, you can expect the regulars will be anxious to check out the newcomer and along with lots of butt sniffing, there might be some growling, snapping and posturing as members of the now larger pack figure out how the newcomer fits in.
Dogs Swimming

Am I the Alpha in Our Pack?

Yes, I do think of myself as alpha over Haley. It’s a popular notion these days for dog owners to think of themselves as equals with their dogs. Even the term dog owner is offensive to some people, but I’ll save that topic for another discussion. I don’t see myself as an equal to Haley because somebody has to create and enforce the rules, provide the food and shelter, drive to the vet’s office for medical care, etc. It’s my responsibility to assume the alpha role although I’m not sure Haley views me the same as she would view an alpha dog in a canine pack. What’s more important is the fact that we have a hierarchical structure based on mutual respect, and it works very well for us. Here are my roles and responsibilities as an alpha.

  • Protector – The most important role is to protect Haley and keep her safe from harm. She should feel relaxed and confident knowing that I’m in control so she doesn’t have to assume the role of protector.
  • Provider – Beyond providing the basics of food, water and shelter, I make sure Haley is healthy, fit and stays both mentally and physically active and challenged. She gets plenty of affection and playtime too!
  • Teacher – There have to be rules and training for acceptable behavior and what works best for Haley is positive reinforcement techniques using clear communication and direction. But it’s not just all about rules. There are plenty of fun and exciting tricks, skills and activities you can teach your pup too!
  • Leader – Dogs need leadership and guidance based on love, trust and respect. A consistent and fair leader with positive energy can keep even a pushy dog from becoming a nuisance without resorting to using force, threats or intimidation.

Dominant DogIt’s a shame that the terms alpha and pack leader have become so closely tied to old-school, discipline and dominance-based training methods because the principles are still relevant and important. Some people may dislike the terms, but that doesn’t change the fact that someone has to lead, set the rules and keep the peace. In fact, the lack of leadership and structure is one reason some out-of-control dogs are surrendered to shelters by frustrated owners at their wits end. It’s also worth noting that every dog is different and some need more structure and guidance than others, but it should always be given via positive and humane methods built on trust and respect.

If your goal is to have a dog that listens and respects you, forget the notion of submissive alpha roles or making sure your dog never goes through a door before you. Focus instead on using positive methods of training your pup and you’ll become a truly benevolent and respected alpha in your pack.

What are your thoughts on alpha dogs and pack mentality? Alpha Dogs and Pack Mentality

What’s Your Pet’s Pet Peeves?

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What's Your Pet's Pet Peeves?I have a few pet peeves when it comes to people and these three are at the top of my list.

My Pet Peeves

  • The grocery shopper that blocks the aisle with their cart, then gives you an annoyed look when you politely say “Excuse me”.
  • The driver that forces you to slam on your brakes because they pull out in front of you when there’s nobody in sight behind you. Usually they end up driving well below the speed limit too.
  • The person that crunches loudly when eating food or chews with their mouth open.

Here’s what’s strange. I know it’s not their fault, but noisy eaters bother me the most. Ironically, I don’t mind watching or listening to Haley crunch food or chew with her mouth open. As a matter of fact, I find it amusing.

Why am I so tolerant of Haley’s crunching when sometimes I have to leave the room when a human is eating the same way? The truth is, there are very few things that bother me about dogs compared to humans. Yes, it’s not always pleasant when a panting dog gets in your face to greet you with their steamy dog breath or when you reach down to pet your pup only to realize they’ve just rolled in some nasty smelling substance, but I generally find dogs to be much less annoying than people.

I wonder if dogs feel the same way. I’m sure they have their people pet peeves, but are they more tolerant of humans than other dogs? Haley prefers the company of people over dogs, but I can always tell when she’s irritated with me. She’ll walk away from me but turn her head enough to give me “the look” or she’ll slowly lie down while letting out a grumble of displeasure when she doesn’t get her way. If I had to guess, these would be Haley’s top three people pet peeves.

My Pet’s Pet Peeves

  • Haley’s not a fan of having food balanced on her nose then trying to catch it in the air. I think she feels it’s quite demeaning.
  • Loud sneezes from the humans will sometimes send her out of the room.
  • Hearing the phrase, “In a little bit” means maybe later to Haley and I usually get a little doggy back talk in return.

Whether it’s loud crunching or loud sneezes, I guess we all have things that irritate us sometimes. Are you more tolerant of pets than people when it comes to peeves? Go ahead, vent your most annoying pet peeves in the comment section and let us know your pet’s pet peeves too!