Rewarding your Dog – Without Food

The most common reward for a good dog has traditionally been food – a treat of some kind that is gobbled down and gone in an instant. While food rewards do have their place, non-food rewards are very important too and can make the difference between a healthy dog and one that can become overweight if he is a very good boy.

What is a Reward?

Anything your dog enjoys or likes can be a reward. From toys to belly rubs, visits to the dog park to cuddles with you in front of the TV – rewards come in many forms. As long as it’s enjoyable to your dog, it will be perceived as a reward.

It’s really important to give rewards at the correct time to positively reinforce the behaviour that earned it. Your dog needs to learn to associate the reward with certain behaviours – so the reward needs to be immediate.

Non-Food Reward Ideas:

  • Verbal praise
  • Positive body language from human
  • Attention
  • Belly rubs, head pats, ear scratches, doggie massage, hugs, snuggles – if your dog enjoys these
  • New toys – fetch toys, puzzle toys, squeaky toys, pretend kill toys
  • Games with you – fetch, hide-and-seek, tug-of-war
  • Treat treasure hunt
  • Trip to the dog park
  • Visit to doggie day care
  • Playing under the sprinkler in summer
  • “Walkies” in their favourite place
  • Dog grooming session
  • A bi, long-lasting bone to chew and bury for later

Benefits of Non-Food Rewards

Giving non-food rewards helps prevent over-feeding your dog. Over-feeding leads to weight gain and an array of other health issues. Non-food rewards will also be powerful training reinforcement for your dog and will help teach him self control and what your expectations are. Additionally, when each reward is different, dogs will expect the unexpected – they won’t know what type of reward is coming next. This is a great boredom-buster!

Food rewards are very powerful positive reinforcers – so don’t eliminate them completely. The trick is to balance food treats and rewards with non-edible rewards.

Whether your dog has behaved beautifully when attending for dog grooming, played nicely at dog day care, or just learned a new trick, rewards are the way to show your appreciation and reinforce the good behaviour. Just keep in mind that there are so many ways to reward your furry best friend that doesn’t involve food!

The World’s Oldest Dogs


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We all know that our beloved dogs don’t live nearly long enough. The average life expectancy for a dog varies from eight to fourteen years, depending on breed, size, diet, and general living conditions. Smaller mixed breed dogs tend to live considerably longer than larger pure-bred dogs.

But what about those dogs that surprise everyone and live to remarkably old ages? Just like there are some rare humans that are still here well into their hundreds, so too have there been incredible dogs that attain almost unbelievable ages…

  • In April 2016, an Australian kelpie named Maggie died at almost age thirty. Believed to be the world’s oldest dog, Maggie had lived on a dairy farm in Woolsthorpe, Victoria, since she was eight weeks old. Until she was eighteen, she worked as a farm dog, rounding up cows, and chasing the motorbike. She passed in her sleep – which is what every pet owner hopes for but very few of us get.


  • According to the Guinness World Records, the oldest dog in the world prior to Maggie was Bluey. AN Australian Cattle Dog, Bluey was also a resident in Victoria and worked with cattle and sheep on a farm after he was adopted as a pup in 1910. He was euthanized in 19939 at age twenty nine years and five months.


  • Butch was a Beagle that lived in the United States. He was born in 1975 and passed twenty-eight years later in 2003.


  • Pusuke was a Japanese Shiba Inu living in Japan and who passed suddenly at age twenty-six and a half. Until the day before he died, he was healthy, active and fit.


  • Taffy was a Welsh Collie that lived for almost twenty-eight years in the UK.


  • Surprisingly for a larger breed, Border Collie Bramble lived in the UK from his birth in 1975 until passing in 2003 at twenty-seven years old.

There are numerous cases of dogs that have been authenticated by Guinness World Records as living well into their twenties, which is remarkable as it is so rare. These dogs include large and small breeds, pure-bred dogs and mutts, and to be the “world’s oldest living dog”, they simply need to be the oldest dog alive right now. For this reason, ages of these dogs range between nineteen years and thirty years.

There was actually a study performed to assess the longevity of the Australian Cattle Dog, as these dogs seem to have remarkable longevity over any other breed. One hundred of the dogs were studies, demonstrating an average lifespan of thirteen and a half years. While there are some impressive specimens, and these dogs tend to be healthier and live longer than other breeds of the same size and weight, extremely old dogs are the exceptions, not the rule.

Keep your dog healthier and happier for longer with regular dog walking, proper grooming, healthy diet, and lots of love and affection. Every minute they are with us is precious!

What Should I Look for in a Boarding Kennel?

Going on holidays or away for work when you have a dog can be challenging, especially if you don’t have family or friends nearby who are willing to care for your pet in your absence. Alternatively, you may be renovating or trying to sell your home – and Rover needs to be somewhere else while this is happening. Many people choose to send their dog to a boarding kennel at times like this.
While there are some great boarding kennels out there, all are not created equal. How do you choose the right one for your dog?

• Vet Recommendation: most vets will have boarding kennels they can recommend, and may even carry brochures for kennels, catteries, and house sitting services. Some kennels may even work in “partnership” with your vet and even offer a pick up and drop off service there.

• Word of Mouth: ask others in your area where they board their dogs. A great personal recommendation speaks volumes.

• Go and see the kennel you are considering for yourself. Some are very basic, others are luxury personified. Paying a little extra can make a huge difference to the level of care your dog receives and his satisfaction while there. Also consider your dog when you choose the type of kennel he goes to.

• Note that busy holiday periods book up very quickly and at some times you may need to book months in advance. This includes Christmas, Easter, school holidays, and public holidays.

• Does your dog have special needs? Your vet can best recommend the right pet boarding option in this case.

What to look for in a kennel:

• Staff are friendly, happy, and interact well with the dogs
• The kennel is clean and well maintained
• The kennel has strict guidelines relating to vaccinations, worming, and flea treatments
• Dogs are happy, relaxed, playing and sleeping
• Dogs have areas where they can play and socialise as well as both inside and outside where they can rest and relax
• Beds are off the ground
• Pens are escape-proof
• Pens are large enough for your dog to run
• Staff are willing to administer special diets and medication if required

Avoid any kennel that:
• Has dogs barking and pacing
• Smells bad
• Is dirty and pens are obviously difficult to clean
• Doesn’t wish to give comprehensive tours
• Doesn’t require proof of vaccination’
• Feels “off”
Of course, boarding your dog in a kennel isn’t your only option when you go on holidays or away for work. Pet sitting and pet minding services are available in your own home from people like us at Urban Paws! With pet sitting, we come to your home every day you are away, feed and provide water for your pet, clean up after them, give them some love and affection, and if your pet is a dog, we take them for a walk. They get to remain in their home environment, so they will be calm and happy and low in stress (as long as they can cope being alone most of the day), and your home will look more lived in with an active daily presence there. It’s a great vacation solution.

Safe Car Travel with your Dog

(IMAGE: Orvis)

We all know how important it is to travel safely in a car, and to wear a seat belt.

But what about when you take your dog along for the ride? Do you make sure he is as safe as possible too?

In most instances, dogs enjoy car travel and going on all kinds of “adventures” with their human family members. It’s not simply a matter of putting your dog in the car and driving away, however. Dogs need to be kept safe, family members need to be kept safe, and so does the general public.

What to Bring with You:

  • Make sure your dog is always wearing his collar and ID tag. He should also be micro-chipped (with information attached to the chip being up to date). You will also need to bring your dog’s lead.


  • Food/water bowls, water, and some food or snacks, depending on how long you’ll be away from home.


  • Old washcloths for wiping muddy feet.


  • Waste disposal baggies – for essential cleanups.


Safe Travel:

We all recognise the image of a joyful dog travelling along with his head hanging out an open window. It’s not a safe way to travel, though – for the dog or anyone else. Dogs should never be allowed or able to roam free within a moving car – unrestrained dogs can cause accidents, and can certainly be killed in an accident.

Ideal safety is afforded by using a dog crate that is big enough for the dog to stand up and turn around. Yet he shouldn’t be able to move too much. It also needs to be of sound and strong structure, securely fastened in place, and be very well ventilated.

Alternatively, a barrier that can securely attach to the interior framework of your car and is strong enough to restrain your dog in an accident is an option.

Or you may opt for a size and weight appropriate harness that fastens to a seat belt to secure your dog on a seat.

If you have a ute or similar and the dog is on the back, it’s really important to use a crate. An unrestrained dog can jump off, or will certainly be killed in an accident. Chaining a dog on the back may stop him from running away, but it won’t protect him in a collision or worse.

  • Never put a dog on the back of a ute in the hot sun – he and his feet will burn.
  • Never leave a dog in a car in the sun, even with an open window.

Take Travel Breaks:

Make frequent stops on your trip for water, potty, and general wellbeing. Dogs will love to stretch their legs and have a break. Note that some dogs suffer from motion sickness and anxiety – if this is the case, then see your vet for a remedy.

Just like dog walking is part of being a loving and responsible dog owner, so too is travelling in the car safely with your dog.


Your Dog’s Nose


Many people wonder why their dog’s nose is wet and cold. Is there a reason for this? What if the dog’s nose is dry – is it a problem?

Why your Dog’s Nose is Wet

Dogs have wet noses for an array of reasons. These are:

  • Canine noses secrete mucous – which sounds revolting but serves a very important purpose. The thin layer of mucous on a dog’s nose helps them absorb scent chemicals when they are trying to follow a scent. It means they can smell better.


  • Some breeds genetically have wetter, colder noses.


  • Dogs lick their noses a lot – noses and long snouts get very dirty, so licking them keeps them clean. They also lick off the scent chemicals their noses absorb. These are transmitted to olfactory glands in the roof of the mouth for further processing.


  • Doggie noses forage in wet grass, dirt, mud, etc; this makes them wet.


  • Dogs do in fact sweat – but only from their paw pads and their noses. If a dog is hot, his nose will be wetter due to sweating.

Does a Dry Nose Mean My Dog is Sick?

Not necessarily. For some dogs, a drier nose is perfectly normal. Temperature and moisture levels in a dog’s nose also fluctuate, and a dog can be unwell even if his nose is beautifully cold, wet, and slimy.

A perfectly healthy dog can have a dry, warm nose if he has been lying in the sun, spending time in a room with poor circulation, not drinking enough water, or hanging out near a heater. Noses also become drier when a dog is sleeping.

So how can your dog’s nose signify if he is sick? If there is abnormal discharge coming from the nostrils. Normal mucous is clear. Thick, crusty, or discoloured mucous can be a sign something isn’t quite right.

A dog with allergies will often have a dry nose. Note too that plastic food and water bowls can cause an allergic reaction and a drier nose. Choose instead to use stainless steel or ceramic bowls. Also choose hard rubber toys n preference to plastic.

Note that dogs with paler or pink noses are more susceptible to getting sunburned. A dry and red nose that is flaking can be a sign of sunburn. Pets need to be protected from the sun – ask your vet for a canine sunblock.

A nose that is dry and cracked or has scabs may signify a skin disorder.

If you have any concerns at all, see your vet.

Looking after your furry best friend involves an array of things – love, attention, the right foods, shelter, dog walking, dog grooming, and even doggie day care for some dogs. It also means being familiar with what’s normal and what’s not – so you know when a trip to the vet is required.

Paw Care for Dogs


A dog’s paws are regularly forgotten by owners when it comes to his overall health; however his paws are his foundation. Not only does Fido walk on his paws; they are also essential for protection. Paw pads provide crucial insulation against heat and cold, protect tissues deep within the paw, and are shock absorbers that protect bones and joints in the feet.

All paws need care. Paws that go for runs or long walks get even more wear and tear than a dog who simply plays and goes for walks. If your dog’s paws are rough, look sore, or he is limping or favouring a foot, you need to take action immediately.


Tips for Paw Care

  • Build up the length of your walks – paws need time to toughen up. Puppies in particular have very sensitive new pads.


  • Take your dog for a professional dog grooming. Not only will he come out looking and feeling fabulous from head to toe; the groomer will pay attention to the paws and clip nails safely.


  • Never walk your dog on extremely hot or extremely cold ground – pavement or sand – as canine feet burn just like ours do. Blistered paws are incredibly painful. If the ground is too hot (or cold) for your bare hands or feet, it’s too hot for your dog.


  • Avoid walking your dog on grass with thorns, bindies, etc. Be aware of conditions as you walk and avoid sharp rocks, pebbles, broken glass, anthills, etc.


  • Clean between your dog’s pads. Pebbles, tiny bits of broken glass, snags and other debris can become stuck and need to be gently removed.


  • If your dog’s pads become dry and cracked, they can be very sore and even bleed and become infected. See your vet for suitable moisturiser – don’t use human products.


  • If your dog has a wound on his paw, like a graze, blister or cut, apply First Aid. This includes using a gentle antibacterial wash or warm sea salt water solution. If the wound is wide, deep, or large, see your vet for proper treatment.


  • Many (but not all!) dogs will love to receive a paw massage. It will not only relax him, it will also promote a better level of circulation. Rub the pads, between the pads, and between his toes.


  • Keep your home and yard free of harmful debris. This includes cleaning up all broken glass with a vacuum cleaner, as well as removing very sharp pebbles and thorny weeds.


If you notice anything unusual about your dog’s paws at all, take him to the vet.

Top Active Dog Breeds for Adventures




Dogs are a favourite companion animal for people from all walks for life, and active humans really love to take their dogs with them for outdoor adventures.

There are some specific dog breeds that are highly active and better suited for joining their humans on these adventures than others.

These highly active dogs include:

  • Australian Cattle Dog – smart, extremely energetic, strong, and able to be on the move all day. This dog forms tight bonds with human family members and is a great pet for an active family.


  • Tibetan Terrier – small but incredibly active, these dogs were bred and raised in monasteries two millennia ago. They were kept as charms for good luck and are great herders and retrievers. They love to climb, run, and are very agile. They also love snow.


  • Jack Russell Terrier – like the Energiser Bunny, this dog is small but extremely energetic. He will love long distance running and extended play.


  • Bernese Mountain Dog – bred for drafting and droving, they are strong, easy to train, and love hiking. Best suited to cooler climates.


  • Portuguese Water Dog – bred for herding fish, swimming as couriers, and retrieving broken nets. These dogs love water play.


  • Pembroke Welsh Corgi – small herder who loves exercise, and is surprisingly fast on such short legs!


  • Shetland Sheepdog – playful and very intelligent, this dog has a strong herding instinct and loves a chase. They need to be kept leashed near roads as their instinct for herding can lead them astray – a great dog for fenced areas on farms.


  • German Shorthaired Pointer – this dog is incredibly intelligent. It likes hunting, retrieving, trailing, and pointing.


  • Vizsla – this breed is highly trainable and is a perfect companion for city runners. It is adept at endurance, speed, jumping, and obstacle navigation.


  • Dalmatian – bred to clear the way ahead of fire-fighting carriages, these dogs are fast and love a long distance jog.


  • Doberman – a very good guardian and a very affectionate family member, this dog is obedient, low maintenance, and fearless.


  • Rhodesian Ridgeback – these dogs were originally bred in Africa for lion hunting. They are great with people and very athletic, and they tolerate exercising in hot weather better than many other breeds.


  • Weimaraner – a fantastic jogging companion, it also likes hunting and tolerates hotter climates reasonably well. It needs open running space at home as well as plenty of dog walking and other exercise.


  • Australian Shepherd – herding dog that is very protective of its humans and likes exploring different terrain types.


  • Siberian Husky – an independent breed suited to cold climates, the Husky will be a great companion on long hikes and trail runs. It needs to be leashed, however, as it will run and keep running.


  • Labrador Retriever – friendly, and with a strong urge to explore, this is a great hunting dog.


  • Border Collie – very intelligent and agile, this dog loves working, walking, and running with its human family members.

These dogs, and mixes of these breeds, will be active and enthusiastic companions for running, hiking, and all manner of outdoor fun. If you’re an active person, this could be the dog for you! And if you’re a couch potato, take note: these breeds need a significant amount of dog-walking. Make sure you’re onboard with this before adding an active dog to your family!

Dog Walking – do Breed or Size Make a Difference?


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It should go without saying that all dogs need exercise – meaning that they need to be taken for walks. But how often should they be walked? How far? Do smaller dogs require shorter walks than larger dogs? And does breed make any difference? More

Desexing your Pet


One of the biggest responsibilities of being a pet owner is desexing your pet. Whether you have a dog, a cat, or a pet such as a rabbit, guinea pig, or ferret, desexing is one of the most important things you will do, both for your pet and for the wider domestic animal community. More