Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Shelter Volunteer, Is It For You?

Have you considered becoming a shelter volunteer?

Shelters and humane societies around the world depend on volunteers who come in each weekend for several hours. Their job is to find out what sort of pet a person is looking for and carries a sheet with the location of all the different breeds – and the temperament. Because volunteers work with the animals daily, they know what type of family is suited to each pet. The volunteers are vitally interested in making the right fit, because they do not want to see an animal returned.

Becoming a shelter volunteer is not for the faint-of-heart. Taking care of hundreds of dogs and cats is possibly one of the easier aspects of the job, but the hardest part is the knowledge that many animals will have to be put down after a certain amount of time, or if they pose a threat to other animals or people.

The most common feeling most new volunteers go through is the overwhelming desire to rescue them all. That is why shelters normally do not allow volunteers to adopt any animal for the first 6 months; without that rule, the temptation to fill one's home with otherwise hard-luck pets would be just too great. There is always that one special kitten or puppy.

Instead, volunteers rejoice over singular victories connecting pets with people.

Volunteers perform a plethora of services. They help feed the animals, clean the cages and, of course, help people find lifetime companions. Volunteers also help transport animals between shelters and clinics to perform veterinary services. Some volunteers help educate children in the importance of responsible pet ownership. A few volunteers will "foster" animals that need special care and cannot be housed with the general pet population.

Shelters are very flexible in the hours. Every extra hour donated is helpful, but many volunteers have a tough time staying away.

People become volunteers for different reasons.

Volunteering is a good way to encourage a lifetime of community service. Shelters accept volunteers at different ages, but usually a person must be at least 14 or 15. Teenagers can also earn community service credits by volunteering at shelters.

Finally, volunteering at a shelter is an excellent family activity. Each member learns the importance of kindness, responsibility and how even one person can make a difference.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

National Dog Day

Did you know that yesterday (August 26th) was National Dog Day?

This special holiday was created in 2004 for two special purposes: to honor dogs and to rescue dogs from homelessness and abuse.

I honored my dog by taking her and her two girlfriends (and mine) to the beach. We all had a marvelous time as it was one of Washington's perfect sunny and warm day at the coast.

Dogs are an important part of our lives. Not only do they give us unconditional love, loyalty, companionship and comfort, they also help us in so many ways. They are trusted watchdogs that keep our families safe. Police and military dogs, bomb-sniffing dogs and search-and-rescue dogs put their lives on the line every day to help save human lives. Guide dogs are devoted to serving their blind companions. Service dogs assist disabled.

Dogs give so much to us - so honoring their noble efforts is a really nice idea.

But as much as dogs help us, there are also so many dogs out there that need US to help THEM. That's why the second goal of National Dog Day is to help save dogs from homelessness and abuse.

• Rescue a dog if you can - If you're thinking about rescuing a new dog, here are some good tips:

1. Research the shelter and rescue group options in your area. Check the Internet, talk to your veterinarian and pet-loving friends, and do not be afraid to call these facilities and ask questions. Most rescue groups are quite humane and clean, but you still should do your homework to be sure they are right for you.

2. Remember to think with your head. When you are looking at those adorable doggie faces, it is easy to make a decision based purely on what your heart feels. BEFORE, you go looking for the perfect dog, seriously think about the canine characteristics that will be best for your family and home, and stick to those guidelines while at the shelter.

3. List what you are looking for in a dog. Go to the shelter with a plan. Tell the staff why you want a dog, and they will help you find the right one for you. Do you want a jogging partner, a lap dog, a hunting dog, a companion for the kids.....? Do you want a puppy or would you like to rescue an old dog? Small, large? Long-haired, short-haired?...

4. Consider your finances and lifestyle. Pets are a lifetime commitment, and they deserve the best care possible. Will your pocketbook allow you to feed a dog a quality diet, provide him with the supplies his needs to nurture his daily life, and give him adequate preventative and emergency medical care? Do you have plenty of available time to spend with a dog? Do not adopt a dog only to find that you do not have time or money for him. This is never fair to any pet.

5. Take your time when making this big decision. Do not rush into pet ownership. Take the time needed to find the right dog and get to know him. Several visits to the dog at the shelter may be best before taking him home. Also, take the time to be sure your house is ready for the new family member.

6. Visit with the dogs outside their cages. A shelter is a stressful environment. The other animals and all the noise may make a dog nervous and unsocial or over-exuberant to win your attention. Taking a dog outside or to a private visiting room will give you the opportunity to get to know the dog's true personality.

7. Interact with the dog. Do not just say, "He is cute, I will take him." If the staff will allow you, walk him, play with him, find out if he knows any commands or tricks, give him a snack... Get to know the dog, and let him get to know you.

8. Allow the dog to meet all members of the family. Bring Mom, Dad, kids, even other pets if the shelter allows it. Be sure the dog you are considering for adoption is comfortable with the whole family.

9. Talk to the staff. The staff members are handy tools for helping you learn more about the dog, his likes and dislikes, his quirks, his health, etc. The staff members spend a lot of time with these rescue dogs and have gotten to know them well.

10. Evaluate the dog's health and body condition. Check for discharge from the dog's eyes and nose. Is the dog coughing, sneezing, etc.? Note the dog's gait. Is the dog overweight or underweight? Check for fleas and ticks. Check the condition of the teeth. If you see any issues in these areas, talk to your vet and/or the shelter staff about them. Learn what you can do to resolve any health problems, and think about whether you are willing to do so.

11. Bring needed supplies on adoption day. Be prepared, and help your dog feel welcome. Bring a collar, leash, blanket for the car seat, and possibly a toy on the day of adoption. Try to make your dog's transition as stress-free and calm as possible.

12. Do not expect everything to go perfectly. There will be struggles. Remember your dog will be a little nervous in his new home, and he will not immediately know your expectations. The rules and ways of his previous home probably were not the same as they are in his current home. BE PATIENT as your dog adjusts.

13. Show him your love. Give your new dog abundant time, attention, and affection. This is especially important during his adjustment period. Help him feel wanted and comfortable.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Dogs and Motion Sickness

Did you know that motion sickness could also affect your dog?

Motion sickness is an illness associated with motion – as in a car, a boat or an airplane. Since vacations typically involve traveling, dogs prone to motion sickness do not always enjoy the trek to the final destination.

The cause of motion sickness is stimulation of the vestibular apparatus located within the inner ear. When this apparatus is stimulated, your dog feels dizzy and nausea may develop. Usually, the signs of motion sickness stop when the vehicle stops moving. Pets afflicted with motion sickness begin drooling, feel nauseated and may even develop vomiting or diarrhea. If your pet is known to experience motion sickness that is not easily treated, you may want to reconsider bringing him/her along on vacation.


There are various ways to treat and even overcome motion sickness.

Frequently, the signs of motion sickness can be overcome by conditioning the pet to travel. Slow, short and frequent trips in the vehicle, gradually increasing length of the ride, can help condition your dog.

Some dogs cannot be conditioned and medication is necessary. Commonly used medications to help reduce the nausea associated with motion sickness include diphenhydramine (Benadryl®), meclizine (Bonine®) and dimenhydrinate (Dramamine®). These medications are available without a prescription but should never be used unless specifically recommended by a veterinarian. Proper dosage and use are crucial to treating and diminishing the signs of motion sickness.

For some pets, the motion sickness and anxiety associated with travel is so severe that sedatives are necessary. Commonly used sedatives include acepromazine and phenobarbital. These are available by prescription and should be used with caution in animals traveling by airplane because of the possibility of side effects. In a cargo hold, there is little direct supervision of animals, so side effects may go unnoticed. In addition, there is little chance that a pet can receive medical help while the airplane is in the air.

Previous blogs discussed both traveling on an airplane with your dog and whether or not to sedate your dog.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Sedate or Not?

Ready for vacation with your dog........question is should you sedate your pet for the trip or not?

If you were going to be stuck in a dark, cool cargo area near a roaring airplane engine, you would want to be sedated. So it would be natural to assume your pet would prefer this as well. Unfortunately, what you and your pet prefer may not be what is safe or even necessary.

Sedatives have been used for years to calm pets and reduce nervousness, usually in association with thunderstorms or fireworks. Sedatives have also been used to reduce fear that may develop during air travel. Sedatives are commonly used to calm extremely fearful pets, those prone to severe separation anxiety and overactive pets. In these situations, sedatives reduce the potential for self-injury.


For most pets, sedatives are not highly recommended by veterinarians. Even nervous pets, once they are in a carrier in a quiet dark place, typically calm down and most even go to sleep. The primary disadvantage of sedating pets for air travel is that there is no one to check on them nor offer medical care if problems arise. As with any drug, sedatives have side effects. The most profound and potentially life threatening problem associated with sedation is the effect on blood pressure.

Most sedatives lower the blood pressure which can make your pet groggy and cold. Cargo cabins are not heated and, in cold weather, are quite cool. This cool environment, accompanied by lower blood pressure and a colder body temperature, can result in hypothermia. If left untreated, hypothermia and low blood pressure can be fatal. Another concern is that the effect of high altitude on the action of sedatives is unknown. What is known is that sedative use has been implicated as a contributing factor to many pet air travel deaths.

Even for those pets that may benefit from sedation, the owner must be thoroughly aware of all the complications, side effects and risks of using a sedative. You and your pet would probably be safer and have a much more pleasant vacation if sedatives were not included.

For airline restrictions and guidelines check previous blog.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Thinking of Flying with Your Dog?

Each airline has separate rules for flying with your dog. Some have pet embargo rules, which result in times during the year that pet travel is not allowed. Some airlines no longer accept pets and rely on special pet carrier or animal transport companies.

Make sure you check with the airline well in advance regarding their pet travel rules, as they can change without notice. The following are some of the rules of individual airlines:

Continental Airlines

As with most airlines, Continental allows small pets to travel in the cabin. For those pets traveling alone, Continental has brought in a new program called PetSafe QuickPak Cargo. Under their program, you reserve space for your pet well in advance and reconfirm those reservations 24 hours before flight time. Pets should be checked in as cargo from a special QuickPak Desk near the ticketing counter, one hour prior to flight time. The 24-hour help-desk will create an itinerary for your pet (depending on origin and destination temperatures). If your pet does not fly as reserved, you get your money back.

Continental has no specific pet embargo dates. If the temperature of the destination or arrival airport is over 85 degrees or less than 10 degrees Fahrenheit, your pet will not be allowed to fly cargo that day. For pets over 7 years of age, Continental strongly recommends a heart examination and bloodwork to make sure there is no underlying liver or kidney damage prior to flying.

If your pet is small enough to fly as carry-on, the charge is $75 each way ($150 round trip).

Delta Airlines

Delta has instituted a pet embargo from May 15 to Sept. 15. This means that no pets are allowed to fly cargo during these dates. Pets are still allowed as carry-on anytime throughout the year, but the kennel must be able to fit under the seat in front of you. If your pet is transported as carry-on or is traveling with you as cargo, the cost is $75 each way. If your pet travels by plane alone, there is a substantial cost difference. You will be able to pre-book a maximum of 7 days in advance and a minimum of 1 day of the desired flight. Upon arrival in the destination city, pets will be delivered to the Delta cargo facility within 60 minutes.

United Airlines

As with other airlines, pets are allowed as carry-on anytime during the year but there are size and number of pets limitations. If your pet travels as carry-on with you, the charge is $75 each way. Pets can also be shipped as cargo. United has no specific pet embargo dates. If the temperature of the destination or arrival airport is over 85 degrees or less than 10 degrees Fahrenheit, your pet will not be allowed to fly cargo that day.

American Airlines

American also has a pet embargo from May 15 to September 15. As with other airlines, small pets can accompany you as carry-on. If traveling with an owner, the cost is $8each way. Prices vary if your pet is traveling alone. Exceptions will be made for service animals and official bomb-and drug-sniffing dogs (with documentation).

There are temperature restrictions. According to, "Pets can not be accepted when the current or forecasted temperature is above 85 degrees Fahrenheit at any location on the itinerary (75 degrees Fahrenheit for snub-nosed dogs and snub-nosed cats). Pets can not be accepted when the ground temperature is below 45 degrees Fahrenheit at any location on the itinerary unless the pet has a veterinarian's statement of low temperature acclimation (see When temperatures fall below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, pets may not be checked even with a statement of low temperature acclimation."

US Airways

US Airways also has no specific embargo dates. Pet travel is prohibited when the outside temperature is over 85 degrees or under 10 degrees Fahrenheit. US Airways does not allow pets to travel in the cargo hold anymore because of extreme temperatures in Phoenix and Las Vegas, where they have two large hubs. The exception is shuttle routes between New York LaGuardia, Boston, and Washington National Airport. They do not allow pets to travel to Hawaii due to state agricultural rules. Pets traveling as carry-on cost $75 each way. For pets flying cargo, costs are based on weight and destination. Complete details are at US Airways (480) 693-5754.

Northwest Airlines

Northwest has no specific embargo dates and determines if pet travel is allowed by daily temperature. Pet travel is prohibited when the outside temperature is over 85 degrees or under 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Pets traveling as carry-on cost $80 each way. For pets flying cargo, costs are based on weight and destination.

Southwest Airlines

Southwest does not allow pets to fly at any time.

Next question: to sedate or not to sedate?

Pros and cons next blog....

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Entrepreneur of the Dog World

I came across a very clever entrepreneur in the world of dog products. Molly put her idea to action and created the dog duvet.

Check out her story....

Be sure to visit Molly's website and blog.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Pets Help People

Tests have shown that owning a pet can help people attain a better level of physical health. Petting your animal, be it dog, cat, rabbit or ferret, can lower your heart rate and your blood pressure and even promote healing. So can riding your horse or watching fish in an aquarium. Also, recent studies show that having pets at work lowers stress levels and makes employees more productive.

But pets can help us in other ways, too. They help us to relax and focus on things other than our problems. No matter how depressed you might be, and no matter how much you want to curl up on your bed and stay there for the day, your pet can coax you out – even if only to feed him and let him out the door. When you have a pet, you cannot drop out of the world; you have to stay involved.

Pets fulfill the natural craving we have for emotional relationships. Whenever we do something for another living thing, we feel better about ourselves. Here are some other ways pets make us feel better:

A Cure for Loneliness

Pets can help us to feel less lonely and isolated. Feeling needed also works to foster positive feelings. Ask the many elderly citizens or people living alone. Pets give a sense of purpose; they always need something – food, a walk, a stroke and a kind word, and they are usually appreciative. As an added benefit, if you leash up your dog and take a walk through the neighborhood or through a dog-friendly park, more than likely someone will talk to you. Studies have shown that people walking with a dog talk to new people far more often than if the dog was not with them.

Coming home to your pet gives you something to look forward to. Dogs may score highest in "greetings," but most pets are delighted to see their owners walk through the door and will show it in some way. If you have a pet, you are not alone.

Someone to Love

If you love your pet, that love comes back to you tenfold. And it is love of the best kind – unconditional and enduring. Animals offer this love, along with reliable companionship – often for a lot less trouble than having a relationship with a human. No matter how cranky you get, your pet always forgives you and continues to show affection.

Physical Contact

When your purring cat sits cuddled in your lap, all is right with the world. Cuddling and stroking your pet is good for you and helps you to forget about your bad day at work or your boredom. Your bird perched on your shoulder, your puppy licking your face, or stroking your horse's mane help to promote a sense of pleasure and calmness.

Someone to Talk To

It is a known fact that talking things out relieves a lot of internal pressure, but just having someone to talk to makes a difference, too. Talk about anything – your pet will listen, and, even better, he will not disagree. Share your thoughts, feelings, troubles, worries – or say something stupid – your pet will still love you. You may find that by talking things out, you may come up with your own solutions.

Sense of Security

Certain animals promote a sense of safety. Your dog will bark to warn you of impending danger, and even your cat will wake you if there is smoke in the house. But the sense of having someone with you is often enough to make you feel less anxious and more secure.

Motivation to Move

If your pet needs to be walked every day, you will be exercising – whether you want to or not. Walking with your dog also helps you to deal with the physical stress reactions you have acquired during your day. Walking gives you an opportunity to get outside and breathe fresh air. Let your pet teach you how to appreciate the outdoors.

The Human-animal Bond

The strength of the human-animal bond is not a myth. Although life with a pet is not always easy, the joy of pet ownership can be a wonderful experience. A snuggle from your cat or a slurpy kiss from your dog promotes very special feelings and creates a human/animal bond that can last for many years.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Dogs Help Heart-Disease Patients

Yes, it is true that dogs can help heart-disease patients according studies conducted in 1980 and 1995 at Brooklyn College.

Pet ownership ranked highest – above even such factors as a spouse or a supportive family – in determining the patient's prognosis for long-term survival, according to a study of how psychological factors contribute to recovery rates for heart-disease patients.

"The effect of pet ownership on survival was independent of the severity of the cardiovascular disease," said Dr. Erika Friedmann, who worked on the study. "That is, among people with equally severe disease, pet owners were less likely to die than non-owners."

Second Study Replicates First

Fifteen years after the first results were in, Friedmann and her colleagues replicated the original study, this time extending it to a larger number of subjects. Researchers studied 369 patients who had experienced myocardial infarctions and had ventricular arrhythmias (life-threatening, irregular heartbeats), and divided them into two groups: those who owned dogs and those who did not.

Friedmann found that 19 of the 282 patients who did not own dogs died within a year after having a heart attack. Of the 87 patients who owned a dog, only one died. The researchers concluded that dog owners were approximately 8.6 times more likely to be alive in one year as those who did not own dogs.

As in the first study, the association of dog ownership with survival could not be explained by differences in the severity of the illness. Nor could psychological, social status, or demographic characteristics account for the difference in recovery rates, Friedmann noted.

"One could argue that because dog owners exercise their animals, they are generally healthier than non-dog owners," she said. "However, when we compared physiological profiles of dog owners and non-dog owners, there were no significant differences, suggesting that the relationship itself with the animal was the key predictor of survival rates."

Researchers believe there is also evidence that pets can act as anti-arousal agents in some kinds of moderately stressful situations, that they help lower cholesterol levels, keep blood pressure down, and also help promote positive interactions with others.

For heart attack patients,
that may be just what the doctor ordered.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Now I know why all I wanted to do today was to
relax in my hammock and read.

Today is National Relaxation Day!

For those history buffs....

It was first celebrated by the British in 2001. They called it "National Slacker Day". Over the past several years the idea has caught in the United States. Instead, we call it "National Relaxation Day" and its purpose is to promote leisure and wellness activities.

Dogs definitely know how to relax!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Happy Dog Secrets

What is it that makes a dog a truly happy dog?


1. Happiness is getting a move on. Just like people, dogs feel great when they are in good shape. Different dogs require different amounts of exercise, but giving your dog a daily chance to run will help your dog stay happy and healthy.

2. Happiness is preventing health problems. Be sure to prevent problems before they start as your dog cannot tell you when he/she does not feel well. Take your dog to the veterinarian regularly.

3. Happiness is mental stimulation. Give your dog plenty of chances to meet new people and dogs. Take your dog out into nature to sniff. Give your dog puzzles to solve.......such as finding a toy or treat.

4. Happiness is the right foods in the right amounts. Choose a well-known dog food, and do not overfeed your dog with too many treats or snacks between meals.

5. All you need is love; most dogs love to be petted. Give you dog at least five minutes of your full attention and lots of petting daily.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Way Too Hot!

I am sure most of you know about not leaving your dog in a car in the summertime, even for only 10 minutes.

Here is a video which not only talks about the dangers, but also suggests what to do if you find a dog in a car on a hot day.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Children Learn From Dogs

Parents often bring a pet into the family to teach kids a sense of responsibility, or perhaps to provide an only child with a playmate. But children often learn something more fundamental about themselves and the world: how to empathize with others, how to understand subtle feelings and how to look at the world from a vastly different perspective.

Children learn how the world and living things are interconnected because pets stimulate curiosity and build empathy. On the emotional level, pets can teach children many things:

Communication: Children learn the subtle cues their pets give them to indicate their feelings. They can later apply this lesson to human interaction because they are more attuned to watching for body posture.

Empathy: Children often become curious about the emotions their pets feel. This curiosity will extend itself to others. Animals offer an avenue for children to explore their curiosity which can lead to hope and to greater engagement with the world around them.

Nurturing skills: If properly supervised by adults, a child learns how to take care of another living being, and take pleasure in keeping the pet healthy and happy.

Confidence: Children go through life under constant evaluation. They are rated by their behavior, grades and athletic performance. This is especially true of middle school children. Pets have no such expectations; they are delighted that the child is with them. Pets give children the sense of unconditional acceptance, no judging or rating is involved.

Resilience to change: Children who undergo traumatic experiences often cope better when they have a pet to confide in. Loneliness is very challenging to children, and having an animal companion can make them feel a part of something.

A study published in 2000 explored the relationship between pets and children. Specifically, the study, conducted by a child psychologist in New Mexico, looked at the effect dog ownership had on 10- to 12-year-old children. The researcher, Robert E. Bierer, Ph.D., was surprised at the difference in empathy and self-esteem between preadolescents who owned a dog and those who did not.

Bierer's conclusions support the growing body of evidence that shows dog ownership has "statistically significant" impact on self-esteem and sensitivity toward others. He noted that teachers, parents and other children have expectations for a child to fulfill. A pet has no such measures of success or failure; acceptance is total, which provides a sense of self worth.

Pets also teach children about the importance of taking care of themselves. When they understand the importance of taking care of their pet, taking care of themselves becomes a natural transition.

This does not necessarily mean that all children are ready for pet ownership. Parents should first make sure their child desires a pet before rushing out to get one. Together, they should decide what type of pet is best. Moreover, do not assume your child will take care of the dog. The ultimate responsibility usually falls on the parent, not the kid, to make sure the pet is healthy.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Another Idea on Dog Training

Here is another dog training idea to correct unwanted behavior:


Noise can be a powerful deterrent. Snakes and geese use hissing sounds to scare predators away. Other animals (including domestic pets) have an instinctive sensitivity to this hissing sound – when they hear it, they stop dead in their tracks.

The Corrector™ is a favorite behavioral product in Europe, and now it is available for American dog owners. It uses that natural hissing sound as a training tool that can stop problem behaviors

The Pet Corrector is an aerosol can that emits a blast of compressed air – and like a snake’s hiss, that unwelcome “hiss” of air will interrupt your dog’s undesirable behavior.

It is really easy to use. Just spray the Pet Corrector near your dog when it does an undesirable behavior. It will automatically disrupt the cycle if used repeatedly and consistently while it sends a message to your dog that his actions are not acceptable. Once your dog complies, reward him by saying “Good dog” and you might also give him a treat in the beginning.

Here it is in action....

It is inexpensive and might be something to try first in dog training for unwanted behaviors.

If this training tool is not effective, try one of these collars at Training Collar Source that are proven safe, and highly effective.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Doggie IQ

Have you ever wondered how smart your dog really is?

Do you question if your pet understands the words you are saying, or if he is simply reacting to your tone of voice?

Most dogs have the mental abilities of a two-year old child. They can understand up to 150 words and can count to 4 or 5. If you compare this to most other animals, this is considered pretty smart in the Animal Kingdom.

Just like in humans, there are different kinds of intelligence. For dogs, there are two basic kinds: Instinctive and adoptive intelligence. Instinctive intelligence comes with the breed and the type of dog, so certain dogs and dog breeds have inherent differences in natural ability.

But there is also a learning ability, and this can include environmental learning, social learning, language comprehension, and task learning. This is similar to humans - some human beings are better at math or logic questions, and others may fare better at creative solutions to problems or interpersonal relationships.

But these strengths are not better than the other - they are simply different types of intelligence. The same theory works for different dogs - so while your dog may do well at one kind of test or another, it may not be due to intelligence as much as the dog's natural ability to achieve those results as well as their own way of looking and thinking through a problem.

Here are some standard tests you can do with your dog, as well as a scoring system to keep track of intelligence. Make these tests fun for your dog - treat them like games. Do not try them all in one day! No matter how high or low they score - give them lots of love and positive attention afterwards.

Towel test:
Take a large towel or blanket and gently place it over your dog's head.
If he frees himself from the towel in less than 15 seconds, give him 3 points. If it takes 15-30 seconds, 2 points. Longer than 30 seconds earns 1 point.

Bucket test:
Place a dog treat or a favorite toy under one of three buckets placed next to each other. Let the dog know which bucket the treat is under, than turn the dog away for a few seconds. Then, let her find the treat. If she immediately goes to the correct bucket give her 3 points. If she takes two attempts, score 2 points. If your dog looks under the other two buckets first, score 1 point.

Favorite spot:
With your dog out of the room, rearrange the furniture. When he re-enters the room, if he goes directly to his favorite spot give him 3 points. If it takes him 30 seconds to investigate before he finds his spot, give him 2 points. If he decides on a new area completely, score 1 point.

Chair puzzle:
Place a treat under a table or chair low enough so your dog can only fit her paw and cannot fit her head. If your dog figures how to reach the treat within one minute, score 3 points. If she uses her paws and nose, score 2 points. If your dog gives up, score 1 point.

Go for a walk! On a day or time you normally do not walk your dog, quietly pick up your keys, and his leash while he's watching you. If he gets excited immediately, score 3 points. If you have to walk to the door before he knows it's time to go out, score 2 points. If he sits and just looks confused give him 1 point.

Barrier test:
Construct a barrier from cardboard that is 5 feet wide and taller than your dog when she's on two legs, so she cannot see over it. Attach two boxes to either side as support structures. In the center of the cardboard, cut a 3 inch-wide rectangular aperture - it should run from about 4 inches from the top to about 4 inches from the bottom. (This way, the dog can see through the barrier but cannot physically get through.) Toss a toy or treat to the other side of the barrier, or have someone stand on the other side. If your dog walks around the barrier within 30 seconds, give her 3 points. If she goes around the barrier between 30 seconds and one minute, give 2 points. If she gets her head stuck in the aperture trying to get through, give her 1 point for effort!

Scoring and results
16 points or higher - Brilliant!
13 to 16 points - Well above average
9 to twelve points - Average
5 to 8 points - Below average
1 to 4 points - Not the brightest kibble in the bag, but we still love 'em!

This testing can be fun, and can give you a general idea about your dog's intelligence, but wise pet owners maintain their own criteria. Your dog may not win the Nobel Prize, or even first place at a dog trial - he may even lose his favorite ball once in awhile - but when it comes to making us happy and feel good, most of our pets are just downright brilliant!