Nordic Breed Information and Help
Spoil Your Dog
Treats and Ideas for the Dogs
Here you will find some ideas to make your dogs life more comfortable, healthier, and happier.
Everybody knows what a dog house is for, but do you have one, and if so, does your dog even use it? Do not expect your dog to use its house if you just slap it into the middle of your back yard. There are some basic rules to setting up the house. First of all, if you are in a hot climate and unless its thoroughly insulated and has an attic, then the dog house needs to be in the shade. The dog house does not provide a cool place to lay if it is in the sun, it can become too hot for the dog to use. If this happens, then the dog is likely to not use it at night either because of the bad experiences it has with it in the day. Second thing for a dog house is it should be strategically located, and strategically situated. As far as location, the dog house should be placed in a area where the dog is already accustomed to laying down, or an area that the dog prefers. Usually up against the house, garage, shed, anything bigger than the dog house, or by a few trees is a good spot. As far as t\he strategic situation, it's a good idea to point the door of the dog house towards the direction where it can keep an eye on what makes it the happiest. Usually this is the direction of the house where the dog can watch for you and maybe even watch you when you are busy working. This should make the dog content enough to settle down. So, if you have your dog house in the shade or sun depending on your climate, near some type of construction, and pointing towards the action, then the dog should love to lay in its dog house during select times of the day. It is also a good idea to point the opening half cocked into the wind if possible to allow fresh air flow, but treat the above rules as a priority first. If you are in a cold climate then its a good idea to place the dog house in the sun.
What in the world is dog furniture? Have you ever wondered why a dog likes to dig into a spot before it lays? There are a few reasons. One reason is to dig down to cool dirt if it is hot, another is to provide some sort of wind shelter it is cold, and the third should be obvious, the dog is making dog furniture. Can you imagine having to lay down on concrete all the time? Your elbows, knees, ribs, chin, hips, shoulders, and pelvis would all become bruised and sore on the very first day. Eventually arthritis kicks in very prematurely. Can you imagine laying down on flat dirt, or even flat grass? Well, its ok if you were on a picnic, but eventually your bones will start aching and you will get back pains. So what do we humans do to solve this problem? We bring blankets or chairs to comfort ourselves. Can you guess what the dogs do to solve this problem? They use their own resources. A dog digs to make its own furniture. If you let a dog dig continually, you will notice it is making a hole that is conformed to its body shape, and contours its hips and back, and also provides a headrest at the ledge, also provides shelter if the dog wants to curl up. When we are cold, we cover up with blankets, since dogs don't have the ability to pull blankets up over them, at least the last time I checked, they curl up into a hole. So the next time you see your dog digging a hole to lay in, encourage it, and know well that it is best for its health, well being, and happiness.
Nordic breed dogs need cool shelter in warm weather. Heat can be serious a danger to your dogs health. If you find yourself in a hot climate there are many things you can do to keep your dogs happy and cool.
Dog Pools. One necessity to keep the dogs cool are the small plastic wading pools that are sold for kids. This is the easiest and first that can be done in preperation for the heat. These pools are about 3/4ft to 1 1/2 feet deep, and are about 4-5 ft in diameter. Somes you need to start off shallow, and it takes some time before they start to use it reglarly, just keep the water changed or atleast partially changed every 3-7 days. Dogs love these, and soon become attached to them. They also provide another good source of entertainment. They will stand or play in the water to keep cool, have a good supply of drinking water, and it will also serve as emergency water in severe heat if and when the pails, troths, or buckets run dry. Swimming pools provide the BEST, most reliable, and MOST effective means for your dog to cool off in hot weather. More Pool and Pond ideas and discussions can be found on this page here . See a pic of dog cooling off in pool here .
It might be worth mentioning here that dogs don't sweat, instead they cool off from their extremities and from panting. Basically, their tongue, ears, and feet shed heat.The technical term for the way their feet cool them off in Summer, or keep the blood warm while the feet hover near freezing in the Winter is called "countercurrent" blood flow. Along their legs, the main vein and artery run are side by side. In the winter, the blood comes down warm, cool off as it circulates thru the ice cold feet and is reheated by the artery along the countercurrent conductors as it is fed back to the body in the vein. This physiological adaptation to the cold allows the feet to remain 10's of degrees colder(or freezing) than the core temperature without reducing it. Although it would seem counter-productive, this same mechanism also cools the body down when overheated. When they stand in water, the blood is cooled in the feet before it re-enters the body. Water for them to stand in during spring/summer months is imperative to your dogs physical/mental health/happiness.
Trees. Trees are the second thing you can do to cool off the yard. If you plant a couple trees in a strategic area you can provide a good amount of shade. If you have available space on the north side of the house for a dog yard, this is always the best spot if you live north of the equator. (South side if your south of the equator) The reason for this is because the house blocks the sun shining from morning to evening on this side. Of course, In the shade of the house the air is cooler. This is a good spot to plant some trees. This will considerably cool off the area even more and the dogs will naturally hang out there. Especially if you add one more element. That element would be WATER. You can put a big water pail there, or even better a small plastic kiddie pool. This is the basic setup to keep your dog cool throughout out the summer heat. EMERGENCY WATER IS ESSENTIAL.
More on Trees. Cottonwoods are excellent trees for dogs because they provide quick shade as they are fast growers if you feed them alot of water. They are VERY draught tolerant once established and quick to show signs of water. Its easy to water them only when necessary if your in water conservation mode. Cottonwoods live for hundreds of years and some subspecies such as the Fremont Cottonwood can reach 160ft, others can be planted quite closely to the house. A good use for the skinnier/taller cottonwoods is they can be planted in a row, or two, every 10 feet along the perimeter of the yard to cool off the hot winds as they blow into the area.The dried branches make good treats for the dogs if offered to them and have kind of a sweet wood taste. The broad leaves provide cool mulch for the bedding area, and the trees shine beautiful silvers and greens and make a peaceful fluttering sounds as the flicker in the slightest breeze. Be careful if you have a septic tank, keep a piece of dry landbetween, or keep the cottonwoods away from, the septic or leech line. They are also CHEAP to buy, only a couple dollars. They grow very good in many climates.
Even More on Trees. If and when you have an established tree, one good idea is to establish a permanently wet dirt area under the tree. Run a drip line to the tree and set it to run daily around 11am or noon-day. During the hottest part of the day the area will be in a perfect wet/moist condition for them to dig into and make some " Dog Furniture ", and have a nice cool nap. The more they dig, the faster you can let the drip system run each day as the dogs holes will hold more water and and will aid in getting more water down to the roots of the tree. Once in a while you can take a hoe and fix up the perimeter when the water starts to spill over during watering. Eventually, with a little work, and once the dog establishes its favorite areas to lay in, you will have a perfect low maintenance setup that you can leave alone and you will have an automatic tree waterer, and a perfect wet area for the dog to hang out.
Tarps. Tarps and Bunjy cords will suffice if you don't have any trees planted yet, or if you need some extra shade. If you live in a harsh climate, then you need to get EXTRA heavy duty tarps. Put the tarps just low enough to walk under so that they have a shady area that doesn't travel too much during the day. Use some bunjy cords somewhere along the tie downs to reduce tarp and eyelet rippage if it gets real windy
Water Misters. Water Mister systems are an excellent addition to a dog yard. They should be placed low about 3 feet off the ground if your in a really windy area, and 4-5 feet for very mild winds. If you get a kit you can buy lengths of plumbing and add the mister valves only where you need them. This way you can wrap the whole yard with plumbing if you needed but place the valves conservatively. In an area where you need the mist you can put them from 3-5 ft apart depending on how windy it is or how hot it is. For windy areas keep them closer, for hot areas keep them closer. The misters can cool off the air temperatures as much as 25 deg F or 12.5 Deg C.
The Full Setup: On the shadiest side of the house, where there is a good digging area, remove everything from the area, put a dog house and a kiddie swimming pool, set up some water misters, and plant some trees across the whole perimeter, as well as huge shade trees spread about the entire yard, especially on the parts where the sun hits the ground. Feed them and play with them in this area to encourage them to use it.