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News and Information about Dogs, Cats, and Pet Products

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It can happen – and it can happen so fast that we, as pet parents, don’t even have time to react. The damage can be extensive, the injuries pretty horrific … and all because of a portable plastic device that’s supposedly designed to help “make our lives easier.”

I’m talking about a retractable leash.

If you and your pup hang out at a lot of pet-friendly establishments and events – like our Two Bostons Weekly Walks, for example – you may have noticed that “standard, non-retractable leashes” are often a requirement. Why is this the case? I used to wonder that myself, until my good old pup Sparky had a retractable mishap firsthand. Let’s look at just a few reasons retractables can be risky business.

 

Retractable Leashes

Retractable leashes can lead to some unexpected and nasty injuries — but a well-designed standard leash, like the one shown on the right, is designed to let your pet explore safely and securely.

  • Cord breakage. Many retractable leashes aren’t strong enough to handle the dog they’re attached to. Pups who have a tendency to bolt or take off running after wildlife, innocent joggers, imaginary muggers, or the mailman can often snap the thin line or tape on a retractable leash before you even comprehend what just happened. Worse, the plastic hand-held retractor may come out of your hand and go banging down the pavement after your dog, causing a panicked rush into speeding traffic or a busy bicycle path.
  • Unwanted meet-and-greets. Retractable leashes allow your canine to approach other dogs uninvited. At best, this might lead to an irritated owner. But worse, it could cause the spread of disease, disruption of a healing injury, even a sudden and aggressive dog fight.
  • Projectile injuries. If your dog’s collar were to suddenly break and come off, the leash cord/tape would retract with such rapid force that it could strike you (or someone else) in the face, teeth, or eyes.
  • Leash burns, lacerations, and worse. If your pooch should suddenly race past you, thin-string retractable leashes can zip across your exposed skin (or your child’s) in half a second. Plus, it’s often a human reflex to grab the leash hard when a dog bolts. Owners who have instinctively grabbed the cord/tape as it’s rapidly unspooling from the handle have suffered some pretty extreme, and sometimes irreversible, injuries.
  • Entanglement or strangulation. The retractable string or tape can get twisted around our own hands, another person’s ankle, your dog’s neck and legs, a wagging tail, even a pet’s neck. If your dog senses he’s hog-tied and thrashes around, it can cause the cord to pull even tighter. This could lead to a life-threatening situation in a matter of seconds.

Do you and your pup love to socialize and explore the great outdoors? That’s awesome! Ask anyone on our Two Bostons Team to show you some sturdy, dependable standard leash options. Better yet, tell us about your favorite standard leash brands below. Products like Ruffwear’s Flat Out dog leash and Artvark’s GoGo dog leash are designed to let your dog roam and explore – but safely and securely, keeping you in full control.

 

 

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Nail trimming is a dreaded task for many dog parents, but it doesn’t have to be.  It is very important to keep dogs’ nails short, as long nails can cause skeletal damage and an irregular gait. I am going to teach you how to make nail trimming at home a positive experience for you and your pup. Before you perform this task, you should have knowledge of the anatomy of a dog’s nail.

Dogs’ nails are composed of layers. Inside the hard outer layer is a layer of nerves and blood vessels called the quick. The quick starts at the nail bed and ends at the point where the dog’s nail starts to curve. If the quick is cut, the dog bleeds and feels pain. On a light-colored nail, the quick is very easy to see — it’s the pink part at the base of the nail. If your dog has dark or black nails, it would be beneficial to visit a dog with light nails so you can get a visual of how the quick looks. The nail should always be trimmed down no closer than 2 mm away from the quick.

NailTrimming_Technique2

Before trimming your dog’s nails, take extra care to identify the quick —
for both comfort and safety, you ALWAYS want to avoid cutting
this part of the nail !

If you don’t already have a tool at home for nail trimming, you will have to pick a style that best suits you and your dog. Some people use clippers, while others prefer grinders.  Neither is better than the other. You should use the tool that you are most comfortable with.

Clippers come in two types: guillotine or scissor. The guillotine style clipper has a hole that the dog’s nail goes through, and a blade that moves up to cut the nail when you squeeze the handle. The scissor style works just like a pair of scissors. You should hold both styles in your hand to find out what feels most comfortable. Two Bostons carries both of these styles, made by GoGo. Grinders are another option but they can be noisy, so it may be best to start using this tool with a puppy or a dog that is not sensitive to noise. Whichever tool you use, always be sure to have plenty of yummy treats on hand to make the experience as positive as possible.  I like to use a very tasty all-meat treat such as Stella and Chewys Carnivore Crunch. You will also need a jar of styptic powder (made to stop bleeding) and cotton balls – just in case you accidentally cut the quick.

NailTrimming_Tools

To trim pup nails painlessly and professionally, it’s important to have all the right tools
readily at hand.

 

As soon as you bring home a new puppy or dog, you should get him used to having his paws touched. Hold his paw in your hand and touch his nails for a couple of seconds; then release and reward with a treat. Practice this daily while it is still new to the dog.   With new puppies, I put the clipping tool on the floor with treats on and near it, and have the puppy take the treats right off of the tool. You can also use this technique with a newly adopted dog.

I also like to teach a dog to touch the tool with his nose. As soon as he touches, I reward with a treat. This type of positive training teaches the dog that the tool is good. These exercises are especially important when using a grinder due to the noise. One additional “positive association” exercise you can do if you are using a grinder is to turn the grinder on for a couple of seconds, then give your dog a treat. These exercises should be performed several times before you ever touch the tool to the dog’s nails.

In Part 2 of this blog post, I’ll do exactly that: discuss the proper technique for giving your pup a pain-free, professional nail trimming. So check back later this week!