5 Tips for a Happy Summer With Your Dog

Biz & Nellie

DogWatch Dogs Biz & Nellie

The DogWatch dogs LOVE summer. Biz the Lab likes to go swimming at lunchtime. Lucy the Pug mix loves to go to Maine to visit family. Nellie the Aussie loves to roll around in the freshly cut grass. And Gizmo the Papillon puppy? He loves EVERYTHING about summer, especially his Friday trips to DogWatch to see his new friends!

In honor of our summer-loving pups, the DogWatch team has pulled together our top 5 tips to help make your summer a perfect one for you and your dog. Have fun, stay safe, and enjoy the sunshine!

Beat the Heat

Two dogs pantingAs much as they love the sun, too much heat can be harmful for our pets. Our Summer Health Tips blog post lists the steps you can take to keep your pet safe on those hot days. Key tips include making sure your pet stays hydrated, avoiding walks on hot asphalt to protect the paws and never leaving your pet inside of a hot car. And when you slather on the sunscreen, don’t forgot to put some on the dog, too! Your dog’s nose and ear areas are susceptible to sun damage, and light colored and short haired dogs require more sun protection than darker or longer haired dogs. With a little preparation and moderation, you and your best bud can fully enjoy those long summer days safely.

Go on an Adventure!

Lucy in the carThe DogWatch dogs love their summertime travels to the beach, the city and hiking trails. Traveling with your pup this summer? Check out our Dog Travels series, featuring tips on flying with Fido, road-tripping with your pup and finding pet-friendly accommodations. Still looking for the perfect destination? Check out our list of dog-friendly cities, including Seattle, Chicago, Austin and more! Prefer the nature trail to the city sidewalk? Don’t miss our post on enjoying National Parks with you dog.

Watch Out for Fleas and Ticks, and Skunks, too!

dog itchingFleas and ticks can be an unavoidable part of the summer months for many dogs and their owners. Flea infestations are quick to begin and hard to get rid of, while ticks can lead to serious illnesses that can affect you and your dog. The DogWatch team has a lot of experience dealing with these pesky bugs, and we’ve shared it in several blog posts. For tips to help you get rid of fleas on your pet and avoid flea infestations in the future, check out this post from last fall. If ticks are the problem, check out this blog post, which includes videos, myth-busting facts and tick prevention tips. As for skunks, they are a problem all year ’round, but if your dog spends more time outdoors in the summer, then he is more likely to meet up with one. If your dog is unlucky enough to get sprayed by a skunk, follow these steps ASAP to rid your dog and your house of the acrid smell. This skunk post is our most popular for a reason – check out the comments for evidence that our recipe really works. Here’s hoping you don’t have to use it!

Fireworks and Fido Don’t Mix

Nellie, afraid of fireworksFourth of July fireworks are a beloved tradition, combining awe-inspiring visuals with pulse-pounding sound to create dramatic, can’t miss effects. Yet while we “ooh” and “aah”, our pets are often more frightened than enlightened. In fact, more than 20% of dogs have severe adverse reactions to fireworks. The number of missing dogs often spikes around the holiday, as anxious dogs run from their homes in panic after hearing the booms and bangs of fireworks. Because of these dangers, experts recommend keeping dogs away from these events, and making sure they have a secure, stress-free place to retreat to once the celebrations begin. For more information on how to keep your pets safe and happy during fireworks season, check out our blog post “Fido and Fireworks.”

Dive In!

Yellow Lab in the waterYou have been waiting for months, and it’s finally time to dive in to the pool! Why not let your dog join in on the fun? Some dogs, like DogWatch office dog Biz the Lab, take to the water naturally, and need little training to get the hang of it. Even so, every dog owner can benefit from reviewing our Pool and Beach Safety Tips for Dogs. The first and most important lesson? When introducing a puppy or adult dog to the water for the first time, take it slow – and do NOT throw him into the water right away! Instead, slowly ease your dog into the water in a controlled environment (pools are great for this), and give him lots of praise and encouragement. Pairing your water-phobic dog with water-loving dog friend can also help encourage him to love the water. This tactic worked wonders for our office dog Lucy, who was afraid of the water until she watched her friend Biz swim. Now Lucy loves to swim, and has become a true water dog!

We wish you all a safe, happy and wonderful summer!

Posted in Dog Healthcare, Dog Safety, Dog Travel, Summer

2015 Summer Reading List for Dog Lovers

Looking for a new beach book? How about a gift for Father’s Day? Or just looking for a good story to jump into on a hot summer day? Then check out this year’s DogWatch Summer Reading List, featuring a selection of novels, non-fiction and humor titles all centering on our favorite subject – DOGS! Pick one up and let us know what you think in the comments or on Facebook. Happy reading!

For History Buffs

No Better Friend Book Cover No Better Friend: One Man, One Dog, and Their Extraordinary Story of Courage and Survival in WWII by Robert Weintraub

The story of Judy the Pointer, the only official canine Prisoner of War (POW) of World War II, is little know, but thanks to journalist Robert Weintraub’s new book, that’s about to change. Published in May 2015, No Better Friend chronicles Judy’s journey, which began with her service as a mascot on a British ship. When the ship she was on was torpedoed, Judy survived and helped her fellow soldiers find debris to keep afloat. Even more remarkable, she survived three years living in a Japanese POW camp, saved by her quick wits and the fellow POWs who spirits she lifted. One POW in particular, RAF flight technician Frank Williams, forged a lifelong bond with Judy, and their tale of survival, strength and love is unforgettable. NPR book critic Maureen Corrigan gave the book a rave review, saying: “Weintraub gives the most inspiring true life account I’ve ever read of a human-animal bond.” We’ll be picking up a copy for Father’s Day…and a second one for ourselves.

Top Dog Book CoverTop Dog: The Story of Marine Hero Lucca by Maria Goodavage

Another story of a canine hero, Top Dog is Maria Goodavage’s follow up to her best-selling 2012 book Solider Dogs. The Top Dog in question in Lucca, a German Shepherd/Belgian Malinois mix who served on over 400 missions in her eight years of service with the United States Marine Corps in Iraq and Afghanistan. Lucca was trained as a Specialized Search Dog, walking off leash in front of her handlers searching for explosives. Goodavage takes you into Lucca’s world, detailing her tense missions and the bond she forms with her courageous and devoted handlers, Gunnery Sergeant Chris Willingham and Marine Corporal Juan Rodriguez. Heartwarming and suspenseful, tough and beautiful, Top Dog is a must-read. (And after you’re done, check out this video to see Lucca with Sgt. Willingham and Cpl. Rodriguez.)

Beach Reads

Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts Book CoverLost Dogs and Lonely Hearts by Lucy Dillon

What happens when a newly single, workaholic Londoner inherits her aunt’s kennel in suburbs? You’ll have to pick up a copy of Lucy Dillon’s 2009 novel to find out. The main character, Rachel Fielding, is not a dog person, but after working with the kennel’s many four-legged charmers – as well as the eccentric but welcoming community that surrounds them – her heart begins to soften. Like any rescue dog parent will tell you, you think you’re rescuing the dog, but really, they’re rescuing you. A British magazine described Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts as “a contemporary Bridget Jones, but with canines instead of chardonnay.” Sounds like a perfect beach read to us!

The Dog Master Book CoverThe Dog Master: A Novel of the First Dog by W. Bruce Cameron

W. Bruce Cameron made the 2012 DogWatch Summer Reading List with his dogs-eye-view novel A Dog’s Purpose. Now he’s back with a new canine-centric novel, The Dog Master, due out on August 4, 2015. Cameron’s bold new tale travels from a present-day college campus – where an ambitious professor seeks to uncover the origins of the first domesticated dogs – all the way back to 30,000 years ago. Here, Cameron’s novel imagines the life of a young, outcast hunter and the newborn female wolf that becomes his only family. How did this prehistoric man and fierce wolf build this bond, and how did they survive in this difficult world? We can’t wait to find out. (Click here to read a sneak peek.) 

True Stories

Off The Leash Book CoverOff the Leash: A Year at the Dog Park by Matthew Gilbert

Matthew Gilbert’s day job is TV critic for The Boston Globe, but it’s his experience visiting his local dog park that inspired his first book. Gilbert wasn’t much of a dog person – or really, a people person – but falling in love with a dog lover meant regular visits to Amory Park in Brookline, MA with the couple’s sociable yellow Lab, Toby. There, the author was thrust into the world of pampered pooches, wild puppies, gregarious neighbors and a community he never knew he craved. (Editor’s Note: one of our office dogs often visits Amory Park with her mom. She’s not in the book…and but maybe she’ll make it into a sequel?)

Dogtripping Book CoverDogtripping: 5 Rescues, 11 Volunteers, and 3 RVs on Our Canine Cross-Country Adventure by David Rosenfelt

Moving from Southern California to Maine is always hectic, but add over two dozen rescue dogs to the mix, and you’ve got a real adventure! Mystery writer David Rosenfelt and wife Debbie Myers are passionate animal lovers, and have helped rescue over 4,000 dogs through the years. At the time of their cross-country move, their family included 25 dogs, who all had to make the move east. Rosenfelt’s memoir is a hilarious account of this ordeal, and a moving portrait of his journey from everyday dog owner to committed animal rescuer. Bring this one with you on your summer road trip – it’s a fast, funny read that will help you pass the time with a smile.

Famous Internet Pets

Tuna Melts My Heart Book CoverTuna Melts My Heart: The Underdog with the Overbite by Courtney Dasher

If you’re on Instagram, you may be one of the 1.3 million people who follow the daily adventures of Tuna (@tunameltsmyheart), the Chiweenie (Chihuahua-Dachshund mix) with the charming overbite who loves bowties and napping. Tuna’s story began in 2010, when Courtney Dasher rescued the four month old puppy at a farmer’s market in Los Angeles. Instagram was still a new app when she created an account for her new puppy. Tuna’s photo was shared to all users on Instagram’s own account, and his unique looks immediately captivated fans. “Tuna is the epitome of the underdog,” says Dasher. “His loyal followers embrace his physical differences, have fallen in love with his charm and connect to his message; that true beauty comes in all forms and radiates from within.” Tuna’s book is filled with his sweet, funny and touching photos you’ll want to share with all the dog lovers in your life.

Texts From Mittens Book CoverText from Mittens: A Cat Who Has an Unlimited Data Plan…and Isn’t Afraid to Use It by Angie Bailey

Ok, so this one is not exactly a dog book, but it’s so entertaining we had to include it. “Text from Mittens” is a popular feature on Catster that answers the question: “what would it be like if my cat could text me?” Turns out, it would be frustrating, awkward and hilarious, as imagined by writer and cat mom Angie Bailey. (Check out one of the exchanges below.) Bailey compiled the best of her “Text from Mittens” screenshots into this book, which is quickly becoming one of our favorite “silly pet books” (and there are a lot out there, so that’s high praise). Now if only the dog could text…

Texts From Mittens Screenshot

Excerpt from Texts From Mittens – for more, visit www.textsfrommittens.com


Want more Summer Reading Lists? Check out our archive. And if you have a dog (or cat) themed book suggestion we didn’t include, share it in the comments!

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Posted in Dog Stories, Summer, Summer Reading List

Firefighters Make Great DogWatch Dealers!

Dalmatian dog outdoors“A lot of firefighters have something that they do away from the fire station,” says Eugene Harwell, a retired firefighter from Huntsville, Alabama and founder of DogWatch Hidden Fence of Northern Alabama. In a 2013 survey, 16% of firefighters had a second job, making it the occupation with the second highest percent of multiple jobholders. The DogWatch Dealer team includes a number of firefighters who have become DogWatch Hidden Fence Dealers, and we spoke to two of them to get their perspective on building their second career.

“DogWatch is a perfect fit for me as a firefighter,” says Eugene Harwell. Eugene first became a DogWatch Dealer back in 1997, after researching several options in the pet containment industry. His love of dogs drew him to the business, and it was DogWatch’s commitment to customer service that separated it from the pack. “I like that in my work with DogWatch, I can also provide a valuable service to my community by helping keep dogs safe.”

Harwell family at the 2015 DogWatch Dealer Meeting

Eugene Harwell (at left), with his wife Shannon, daughter Amber, grandson Holder and son-in-law Jordan at the 2015 DogWatch Dealer Meeting

Eugene also proved to be a great fit for DogWatch. He won DogWatch’s “Rookie of the Year” award in his first year of business, “Dealer of the Year” award in 2011, and numerous Sales Achievement awards through the years.

DogWatch of Northern Alabama is also a family business. Eugene’s wife Shannon works in the office and manages “lunch and learn” sessions with local veterinarians and pet businesses. Their daughter Amber grew up with the business and worked in the office during college. Her husband Jordan has now joined the business, handling operations and sales management.

After 25 years of service with the Huntsville Fire Department, Eugene retired in 2012. “I was able to build the business while I worked, and now that I’m retired, I have something I enjoy to ‘retire to’.”

Pete Harvey with his dogs Nora and Sophie

Pete Harvey with his dogs Nora and Sophie

Pete Harvey of DogWatch of Southeast Wisconsin is another firefighter turned DogWatch Dealer. He began working for a former DogWatch Dealer in his area as a second job, and found that he loved working with dogs. Pete and his wife Sarah have owned and operated the business since 2001. Pete serves as an active firefighter in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin.

Like DogWatch of Northern Alabama, DogWatch of Southeast Wisconsin is also a family business. Pete and Sarah run the business together, and their 13 year-old son Nick helps out on installs, repairs and training.

The Harvey family are also dog lovers. They share their home with Sophie, a Newfoundland-St. Bernard mix and Nora, a Leonburger puppy. With these two very big dogs, they truly understand the need for a DogWatch Hidden Fence to give their dogs the space to roam and play outdoors!

DogWatch has Dealership opportunities available in many markets that would make a great second career opportunity for an active or retired firefighter. Boise, Idaho; Evansville, Indiana; Reno-Tahoe, Nevada and Little Rock, Arkansas are a just few of the places where we’re looking for Dealers. A complete list of available markets can be viewed at our website.

For more information on becoming a DogWatch Dealer, contact Dennis Manitsas at 800-793-3436 ext. 618 or dennis.manitsas@dogwatch.com.

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Posted in DogWatch Dealer Chat

7 New Breeds to Compete in 2016 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show

Recently, the Westminster Kennel Club announced the seven new dog breeds that will compete in next year’s Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, one of the most famous dog shows in the world. These seven new particpiants include four herding dogs, one working dog, one sporting dog and one hound. Many of these breeds are new to us, too, so we’ve gathered some fun facts about each of the new faces of Westminster. Enjoy, and good luck to all the dogs next February in New York City!

Lagotto Romagnolo

Lagotto Romagnolo puppyAs the name might suggest, the Lagotto Romagnolo hails from Italy, specifically the Romagnolo region in the North. The name means “lake dog from Romagna.” Lagotto Romagnolo will compete in the Sporting Group, as they were originally bred to be water retrievers. Lagottos are actually the foundation breed of all water dogs! More recently they have found their calling as truffle dogs, using their keen noses to find these expensive culinary delicacies. A rare breed here in the states, there are only about 500 Lagottos in the US. Lagottos can make great family pets and love children, but beware, they also love to dig. On the plus side, maybe they’ll find you a truffle of your own!


Bergamasco ShepherdThe Bergamasco is a herding dog that also traces its origins to Northern Italy. It is a large dog (typically 60-80 lbs) that is known for its long coat that forms distinctive mats. The Bergamasco’s coat is actually made up of three types of hair: a fine, dense undercoat; long, rough hairs called its “goat hair”; and a woolly top coat. It may look intimidating, but the coat actually requires little maintenance, thanks to the undercoat’s natural oils. True to its origins, the Bergamasco can still be found herding cattle in the Alps, in Italy and across the border in Switzerland. In the US, the breed has performed well in agility and herding competitions. The Bergamasco is certain to stand out next year in the dog show stage as well next year.

Cirneco dell’Etna

Cirneco dell'EtnaThe third and last Italian dog in the class of 2016, Cirneco dell’Etna is a small hound that calls the southern Italian island of Sicily home. To all the non-Italian speakers, “Cirneco” is pronounced “cheer-nec-ko.” The Cirneco is a hardy hunter who is well suited to roaming the rocky terrain of Sicily, including its namesake Mount Etna. Cirnecos typically weigh between 18-26 lbs, and resemble a small Pharoah Hound. The breed has a short, light brown coat that is easy to groom. If you happen to live a colder climate, though, a doggie sweater may come in handy for this breed.


BoerboelThe Boerboel is easily the largest of the seven new breeds; it can weigh over 200 lbs! This working dog comes to the WKC stage from South Africa, where it traditionally serves as a guard dog for the farm and home. Boerboel roughly translates to “farmer’s bull dog” and is pronounced “burbull.” The breed can be a great family pet, but due to large size and protective nature, they require training from an early age and are best fit for owners with previous experience with large dogs. The first Boerboels at Westminster will no doubt make a big entrance (both literally and figuratively) in Madison Square Garden next February.

Berger Picard

Berger PicardThe Berger Picard, a small herding dog from Northern France, was almost extinct after World War I and World War II. Luckily, they survived but still remain a rare breed. The Berger Picard has a lovably scruffy appearance and “unique” personality. Like many dogs, they are happiest when they have a job to do, be it herding farm animals or playing fetch in the backyard. Although rare in the US, you may recognize the Berger Picard from its starring role in the 2005 film Because of Winn-Dixie. The dog in the movie is meant to be a mixed breed, however the demands of filming required multiple canine actors. The wiry gray coat and prominent ears of the Berger Picard made them a good fit for the mutt-in-disguise!

Spanish Water Dog

Spanish WaterdogsIn 2016, the Spanish Water Dog will join his cousins the Portuguese Water Dog, the Irish Water Spaniel and the Barbet to compete at Westminster. Classified as a herding dog, the Spanish Water Dog has been used as an all-around farm dog in his native country for over 100 years. They are also, unsurprisingly, great swimmers! Those familiar with the breed refer to them as “velcro dogs” meaning that they are almost always found right by your side. The Spanish Water Dog’s curly, non-shedding coat is similar to the Portuguese Water Dog’s coat, and can make the breed a good fit for dog lovers who suffer from allergies.

Miniature American Shepherd

Miniature American Shepherd with FrisbeeThe last of the new class is a herding dog from our own shores − the Miniature American Shepherd. Developed in the US, this breed was originally known as the Miniature Australian Shepherd, but will now be known on the dog show circuit as the Miniature American Shepherd. (Read one breeder’s take on the name switch here.) The Miniature American Shepherd, first developed in the 1960s, is also the newest of these seven breeds. This miniature breed typically stays between 20-40 pounds, but despite their small size, they are athletes that thrive with lots of exercise and activities like hiking, running and agility. Like the Aussie, the Miniature American Shepherd is energetic, intelligent and good-natured, with a signature smile. That smile might come in handy at judging time!

To learn more about these and other dog breeds, visit the Westminster Kennel Club’s website or the American Kennel Club’s website.


Image Credits

Lagotto image: “First portrait” by Teemu Mäntynen is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Bergamasco image: “Bergamasco in the Italian Alps at work” by Luigi Guidobono Cavalchini is licensed under CC BY 3.0.

Cirneco dell’Etna image: “Mia, Cirneco dell’Etna” by Giorgio Minguzzi is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Boerboel image: “My Buddy Texas” by Storm Signal is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Berger Picard image: by Mr407SW (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Spainsh Water Dog image: “7.11.2003 Spanish waterdog” by Perrodeaguas is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Miniature American Shepherd: “Miniature American Shepherd with Frisbee” by Mullinspw (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

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Posted in Dog Breeds/Traits