Holiday Edition: Making 4th of July Fun and Safe for our Furry Friends!

With 4th of July weekend right around the corner lots of people will be taking part in fun get-togethers, eating delicious food, and watching marvelous fireworks displays. While all of those get-togethers, good food and fireworks displays are fun for us humans, our canine friends may need a little extra consideration on this particular weekend to keep them safe and happy! This post will cover 4th of July specific safety tips to ensure that everyone (human and canine alike) has a fun, relaxed weekend!


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During this holiday (along with others) it is important to try and keep pets on their normal diet and avoid giving them too many extra treats. It’s hard—we know, but if you think about it, changes in diet can lead to dogs having indigestion and diarrhea. Remember that there are certain foods that may be consumed on the 4th of July such as chocolate, other candies, avocados, onions and grapes that can all be potentially toxic if ingested by dogs. It is also important to keep alcoholic beverages out of reach from your dog. Alcohol is a poison for dogs and ingestion can cause severe intoxication leading to potentially hazardous side effects.

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Fireworks displays are always fun to watch, but it is important to keep fireworks a safe distance from your dog. Lit fireworks can cause severe burns, and unlit fireworks pose a threat if accidentally ingested.

If you plan to attend a firework show somewhere; it may be best to keep your pets at home during the show. Fireworks are loud and shows tend to be crowded, neither of which are very fun for even the most socialized of dogs! Some dogs may become panicked by the loud sound fireworks make, which might cause them to try and escape to find safety. Instead, try to keep your dog in a quiet area of your home that is comfortable for them. It may help to leave some music or the TV on to help cover up some noise made by any nearby fireworks displays, and make your dog feel more at ease.

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Just as you don’t like getting sunburnt or bitten up by pesky mosquitoes, your canine friend would rather avoid that as well. To help them stay un-bit and un-burnt you should use insect repellent and sunscreen on your dogs during summer months, but avoid using any that isn’t specified for use on animals. Both of these products contain ingredients that may be harmful to domestic animals.


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Speaking of those pesky mosquitos—they sure can be a nuisance during the summer and citronella provides great control for them. BUT, just as with fireworks, keep citronella insect control a safe distance from your dogs. Citronella oils, candles and other repellents are irritating if inhaled by dogs, and occasionally can cause respiratory pneumonia.

We hope these tips help you and your dog have a fun, safe and relaxing 4th of July weekend! As always, if you have any questions about this material, feel free to ask any member of The Dog Den staff!


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Summer Lovin’ – Tips and Tricks for Safe Summer fun with your Pooch

Summer has finally arrived in Wisconsin! Time for warmer weather, summer get -togethers, and lots of other fun warm weather activities! There’s no denying summer is great, but it is also a time of year when our canine pals need a little extra help to make sure they stay safe, healthy and happy! This post will cover general pointers on warm weather safety and also explore some tips dealing specifically with camping and boating trips with your dog!


First off, let’s cover some basic warm weather safety tips. It’s always good to remember that dogs can suffer from the same heat-related difficulties as us humans, including overheating, dehydration, and even sunburn!

Most importantly, remember to never leave your dog in a vehicle alone. Even with the windows open, a parked car will get hot very quickly on a warm day. Overheating can happen within minutes and quickly cause death.

Try to avoid having your dog stand on hot asphalt. A hot walking surface can quickly lead to burns on sensitive paw pads! (For more information on this topic and how to tell if asphalt is too hot for your dog check out Pooch & Claw’s blog post on the subject

Older dogs, overweight dogs, and brachycephalic (snub nosed dogs such as pugs), will have a harder time dealing with hot summer days. These dogs should be allowed to cool themselves frequently. Always allow these dogs (and any dogs) access to cool, fresh water, shaded areas, and even small pools if possible!


Apply sunscreen regularly to dogs that have light colored or thin fur. Make sure to get high exposure areas such as the nose and ears. Look for a sunscreen formulated specially for dogs, as human sunscreen can contain chemicals that are harmful to domestic animals.

During summer months it is always good to check your dog regularly for burns, cuts, chips in their nails, hot spots, fleas and ticks, and signs of ear infections. All of these can increase with more outside fun during the summer!

Make sure your dog is groomed to properly deal with the hot weather. Regular brushing to remove excess hair will help them manage heat. Shaving heavier coated dogs (that are appropriate for shaving-check with your groomer first!) to about 1 inch will help prevent them from overheating (shaving their coat too short will not allow them protection from the sun)

Now that we’ve got the basics covered, let’s talk about tips for taking your dog on a boating or camping trip with you! As much fun as it is to take a vacation with your dog, there are certain preparations that will make the trip easier for you, and safer for your canine pal!

First, let’s talk specifically about boating. Most dogs love the water, but boating can be a different story. Before you take your dog on an extended boat trip you’ll want to give him some time to get used to the boat. Not every dog will enjoy his first experience on the boat; dogs often become nervous on unstable surfaces and can get seasick just like people! Let your dog get used to the boat before taking it in the water. Allow your dog to go on the boat and help him get used to sitting still. After your dog gets used to this, try it with the boat in shallow water with smaller waves.


Once your dog seems comfortable here, take the boat for a short trip. Allow him to get used to moving at different speeds in different areas.

Consider investing in a canine lifejacket. Yes, most dogs are great swimmers, but some are not. Some dogs may struggle, especially in larger bodies of water and when sharing the water with boats and water skiers, and dealing with waves. Even the greatest swimmer can benefit from a lifejacket, as it will help prevent exhaustion and hypothermia.

Always have fresh drinking water on hand so your dog isn’t required to drink out of the lake (which can be full of microorganisms and toxins).

Also remember to allow your dog time for bathroom breaks while on the boat. Pull up to the dock or shore for a couple of minutes to allow your dog to relieve himself.

Now we’ll talk more specifically about camping and other general outdoor activities.

Before going on a camping trip, make sure your dog is up to date on all of her required vaccines. It may also be a good idea to ask your vet if he/she recommends any other vaccines for the area (such as for Lyme disease). Also be sure to apply flea and tick preventative before taking a trip. It is a good idea to apply dog-friendly mosquito repellent as well.

Always keep your dog on a leash or tie out line at all times. Just in case your dog were to get away from you, make sure he is wearing ID tags and a collar at all times. It may be beneficial to make a temporary ID tag that displays the name of the park, campsite or motel you’re staying at. You may also consider having your dog microchipped (available at most pet hospitals). Microchips are a good backup for other tags, just in case a collar were to slip off!

Finally, if you plan to take your dog on any sort of hiking trip, make sure you physically prepare her with a series of shorter walks at home. And, as always, be sure to have plenty of fresh drinking water available.


In case of emergency, it is a good idea to write down the number of a vet in the area that you will be staying. Preparing a small first-aid kit for your dog when going on a camping trip is also a good idea. Here’s a list of some items to include:





Vet wrap

Hydrogen peroxide


Rubber gloves



Milk of magnesia (for upset stomach due to ingestion of poisonous items)



Adhesive first aid tape

Cotton balls

Benadryl (for bug bites

There you have it, a list of tips and tricks to help you and your dog have a safe, fun summer! If you have questions or think I may have missed something important-feel free to leave a comment! If you would like further information on any of this material, ask any member of The Dog Den staff, we’d be happy to help!

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So you Want to Train your Dog?

Thinking about taking group training classes but unsure of which one would be the right fit? Sure, everyone says it’s a good idea to train your dog, but how do you know where to start? How beneficial is formal training anyway? Which training method is best, and how do you go about choosing one? This post explores the top benefits of group-training classes, and great reasons to train your dogs in general!

Training classes provide an excellent way for you (read: the owner) to gain confidence when working with your dog. The right classes allow you to refine your training skills while learning about the emotions and thought processes of your dog, and gain an understanding the way your dog communicates! Ultimately, training classes are great tools for creating healthy bonds between owners and their pups!

Training classes are also great for the dogs! What, you thought it was all about you? Classes will provide structured education for your dog and great mental stimulation and exercise. It takes a lot of energy to learn new things! You’ll find your dog good and tired after just a 45-minute training session. A well-trained dog is a happy dog, as most dogs thrive with structure and guidelines. Certain classes (such as agility) also provide physical exercise for your dogs – a necessity for all canines! Along with teaching basic obedience and other commands, classes are a great way for dogs to get some socialization outside of the house. As a bonus, they meet lots of new friends-both human and canine-during class.

Okay, convinced that training is a fun and wonderful thing for your pup? Now, how do you go about choosing a class? The most important thing when choosing a group class is to pick one that fits both you and your dog best! Here is a sampling of some classes offered at The Dog Den.

 Basic Obedience

All Star 1-4: These classes are specifically geared towards our younger dogs and puppies. All Star classes will teach the foundations of basic obedience for your puppy, while also focusing a lot on the importance of puppy socialization.

All Star 1: Primarily focuses on puppy socialization, bite inhibition and body handling. The      class will also cover the basic foundations of obedience.

 All Star 2: This class will focus on continuation of basic obedience foundation learned in All Star 1, with additional obedience cues, and assistance in entering the “teenager phase”

All Star 3: This class will work on enhancing listening skills for basic obedience commands and solidifying verbal control over your dog

All Star 4: Will mainly focus on working at a distance and gaining control over your dog in a high level of distraction

Dream Team 1-3: The main focus of these classes will be to help owners work with their dogs on obedience training and have a goal to be able to work off leash in higher level classes. This would be a great place to start if you have a dog that’s no longer a puppy, but want him to get sharpen his obedience skills!

Dream Team 1: The main focus will be establishing reliable attention and

response to obedience cues

Dream Team 2: The main focus of this class will be gaining solid verbal

control under higher levels of distractions.

Dream Team 3: This class will have a main goal of working off leash while in the presence of higher distractions.

 Specialized Classes

Scrappers: The primary focus of this class is dogs that are reactive and may have issues with aggression. The class goal will be management of dogs in situations that may be challenging and cause a reactive response. The class will use control unleashed techniques, and also emergency commands.

 Shy Dog Class: This class is designed for dogs that are nervous around new people or in new situations. The class will work on building confidence in dogs, help owners better understand how to react to their dog’s behavior, and show owners how to use positive reinforcement to teach dogs to be calm in certain situations.

Total Control Unleashed (TCU): This class is focused on dogs that are easily distracted or uncomfortable in stimulating or stressful environments. The class will teach owners and dogs how to focus and relax in these types of situations, and work off-leash reliably.

There are many other options for classes offered at The Dog Den. If you’re interested in seeing what is offered, check out the “training” tab on The Dog Den website!

There you have it, the top benefits of training your dog and a sampling of classes to help get you started choosing the right option. Remember, the most important thing is choosing the one that fits you and your dog the best! I think I covered all my bases, but may have missed something. Can you think of anything else you’d like to know about dog training? Or any other reasons you might want to train your dog?


An Ode to Kelly

Many of you know that we are celebrating our 10 year anniversary here at The Dog Den. Back in December, we highlighted several of our furry friends that have been with us since the very beginning. 10 YEARS! Recently, we lost one of our very own Dog Den Family 10 year Dogs, Kelly Schorrak. The following is a special note about his life.

People talk about legend dogs; their best dog. These dogs do amazing things-most obedient, amazing tricks. They have jobs – service dogs, models, search and rescue. They save lives. They do things most dogs will never even come close to.

Kelly was not one of these dogs. Kelly, for most intents and purposes, was a jerk. He barked at the mailman. He could hear the UPS truck from a mile away and wouldn’t stop barking until it was gone. He hated cats, earning the nickname, Cat Killer (although he was never successful in that, thankfully, but it wasn’t because of lack of trying). He was tolerant of other dogs, taking 4 years to finally accept Kutter as part of the family and never fully accepting Kagney, no matter how hard she tried. He wouldn’t rush to come back in the house if the sniffing was good, not matter how big of a hurry we were in. He was known to steal licks out of drinks that were left unattended. He would take treats roughly from your hand. If he were bored with you, he would walk away and go to bed.

Now don’t get me wrong, Kelly was the LOVE OF MY LIFE! But that wasn’t due to anything amazing that he did. It was about a connection that we had. He understood me, I understood him. He chose me to his person the day I met him. I had expectations for him. He knew them and he understood when he really needed to follow them. We didn’t work on “training” as much and we just worked together. I would show him something, he would repeat it and then he knew it. He understood the following words perfectly: walk, ride, bedtime (or naptime), scoot over, dinner, hungry, off, wait, bathtime. If a freshly washed bed was being made, Kelly was waiting to be the first on the it. If I put on lip balm, Kelly had to lick it off. He gave the best kisses (if you like that sort of thing). I have had several people tell me, “To know Kelly was to love him” He just had a way of stealing your heart without you even having any knowledge that it was happening.

For those of you that don’t know, Kelly had epilepsy. He starting experiencing seizures at about a year of age and because of this, his previous home gave him up. So when we found each other, I made it my goal to help him in every way I could. Over the years, we tried all the things possible to help: various medications, Chinese medicines, acupuncture, chiropractic care, diet, etc. After figuring out what helping Kelly the best, we centered our lives around him and what he needed. Five am wake up calls for potty breaks, breakfast and the morning medication. Noon lunch. Five pm dinner with more medication. No harsh chemicals. Essential oils. If Kelly had a seizure, we got him to a comfy place (preferably our bed) and I would sit with him until he was better. If I couldn’t sit with him, his recovery took twice as long. He needed mom and I needed him. Those moments weren’t stressful to either of us. We just sat together and worked through it. All very routine. And for 10 years this was our life.

Then one day Kelly didn’t want to eat. Now for those of you that live with labs, you know this isn’t normal. Kelly knew his 5a – 12n – 5p schedule better than the clock! The next day he was fine. Then it happened again. And again. So we went to the vet. And at that moment, on February 12, 2015 at shortly after noon, my life shattered. Cancer. Prognosis not good. There is nothing further that we can do. Organs bleeding, fluids leaking out. Could go at anytime….

Wait, WHAT?! How? Why? F— Cancer. In my life, cancer has touched everyone I know. I have lost amazing people, some way too early, because there was nothing “further we can do”.

At that moment, when I sat down with Kelly, he told me he was ready. It was his time. And at that moment, my heart broke into a million pieces. How would I go on without my true love? What would I do without that love in my life? But I couldn’t be selfish. Kelly was never selfish with me. I couldn’t be selfish with him. He didn’t deserve to struggle anymore. His hundreds of seizures in his life were struggle enough. We took him home and invited over all of our friends. We had a Kelly party so everyone had a chance to come and say their goodbyes. We laughed and cried. That night, I slept right next to him, paw on me, all night. The next morning, we went for a ride, Kelly’s favorite thing to do. We got ice cream and a sausage McMuffin. We cried. We came home and snuggled until it was time. Our wonderful vet came to the house. We sat on the bed with Kelly in my lap trusting me to guide him on this journey. We said our goodbyes. Kutter sat at the edge of bed and as soon as Kelly took his last breath, Kutter ran out of the room and started searching for his big brother. And he has been searching for him ever since.

What is life like without Kelly? It’s quiet. I didn’t realize how much life Kelly brought to my days. It’s lonely. Wonderful and amazing dogs surround me, including 2 of my own, all day long but none of them are Kelly. I miss coming home and having Kelly mash his head into me as we shared a moment. I still can hear him banging his tail on EVERYTHING when he was excited. Each and every day is heartbreaking. Each and every day takes me further away from life with Kelly. Kutter is sad and is trying to figure out what life is without his role model. Kagney is worried about her family, trying to make sense of the loss everyone feels. Kelly and his needs consumed my life. Kelly’s life was consumed by loving his family and me. His people were his world.

Kelly,please know that my life will never be the same! I have you to thank. You gave me so many gifts, including leading me to my life’s passion of a career with dogs. I don’t know what I am going to do without you. I don’t have anyoneto chase me to bed when I say it’s bedtime. I won’t have anyone knocking me down the stairs because it’s 5am, 12n or 5pm and it’s feeding time.I will no longer be able to smell your Smelly head or rub your velvet ears. I won’t hear your barking as I pull into the garage only to have you walk away from me when I open the door to the house. No one will try to lick my lotion off or eat my chap stick. My life is terribly empty without you and my heart is broken. But my heart is also full because of the life we had together. You gave me so much unconditional love and taught me patience and understanding. And every day I take that love with me and know that cancer can no longer hurt you. We all love and miss you every day and are working to find a life that makes sense without you. I feel your strength helping me to find that life and again thank you for the most wonderful years.

To honor Kelly and many others that have gone before, taken from their loved ones too early, we are going to walk in the Puppy Up Walk on May 3rd to raise money for cancer research. Friends and family: the research funded studies the cancer in both people and pets. Having lost several family and friends to cancer and now my Kelly, most way to young in life, I believe strongly to in this cause. I urge you to come and walk with us, team The Dog Den . If you can’t walk, I hope you can spare even $5 to the cause to help with this research.(you can join our team or donate here)Hopefully, together we can help fight cancer in both pets and people.

If you wish to physically show your support for Laura and her family, Kelly, and The Dog Den please consider purchasing one of these t-shirts in Kelly’s best color “Kelly Green”.

The cost starts around $20 however the more people that buy, the lower the cost. On May 3rd, you won’t miss The Dog Den team all standing proud in our “Kelly Green” shirts.

We miss you Smelly Whistles <3


10 Sure Fire Ways to Know You’ve found the Right Doggy Daycare

How does someone pick a doggy daycare anyway? And once they have picked one, how do they make sure it is the right one for their dog, er family pet, er child with fur? The fact of the matter is that dog daycares have been around the US for over 20 years with the goal of providing families that didn’t want to leave their pup at home alone all day with an outlet. Doggy Daycare can be a great outlet for the anxious dogs or the ones that simply get bored and need to burn off some energy. With all of these options, how is one ever to choose the right one?

Now I hear what you are saying, “This is all great information but what about those pointers she promised”? By following these 10 steps, you can ensure you have found the right daycare (read: The Dog Den) for both you and your dog.  Here they come ((are you ready?!)):

  1. The best doggy daycare will know your pup by name when you walk in the door and greet them with as much enthusiasm as your dog’s wagging tail. 

  2. They will know your pups so well that they are able to notice when something is wrong. Something as simple as a dog sitter or as complex as adding a new ((furless)) family member can provoke different behaviors in your furry friend.

  3. The staff should be skilled in dog language and behavior, as well as dog training. The goal of the facility (read: The Dog Den) should be to send your dog home with better manners than they came with.

  4. The best doggy daycares will separate dogs into groups either by size, age, or play styles (or best yet a combination of all three!). This will show that they have a great understanding of pack management and breed tendencies.

  5. You should be able to ((and request)) to visit the daycare during their open hours without making an appointment. Be mindful however of the busiest times of the day for most daycares (between 7:00 and 9:00 am and 4:00 and 7:00 pm) as they may not be able to dedicate the desired time to your tour during those hours.

  6. You should also be able to watch the dogs playing and how the staff interacts with them. The dogs should look one of several ways: “EXHAUSTED”, “SUPER PLAYFUL HAVING A GREAT TIME” or “CONTENT, RELAXED, AND OVERALL HAPPY”.

  7. After a great day at doggy daycare, your pup should come home dog-tired. No joke the “sleep-all-night-I-missed-dinner-?” kind of tired.

  8. Just like any human starting new exercise, you should expect that your pup will have sore muscles and paw-pads (but they will make enough new friends to get over that). A great daycare will make you aware of these things, and help you and your pup adjust to all of the fun.

  9. You have found the right daycare if they help you set a schedule for your pup. Just like humans, dogs form friendships and look forward to seeing the same friends each time they come.

  10. A great doggy daycare will help you ((while helping you set that schedule)) settle on a good number of days per week that will work the best for your family. Too much daycare with a dog-tired dog can sometimes cause them to be cranky–and no one wants a cranky friend (at daycare) or a cranky kid (at home).

10.5 (BONUS!) A great dog daycare will make sure your dog and the daycare are a good fit. Not all dogs like daycare and daycare isn’t meant to make a nonsocial dog a social butterfly – its to allow your dog to play with other dogs and people ((if they want to)) while you’re busy bringing home the kibble!



Well, there you have it, all of the steps to picking out the ideal doggy daycare for your pup. Keeping these things in mind will help you pick the best doggy daycare (read: The Dog Den) for your pet.

Since I am human (not canine), I may have missed some tips –Do you think I missed anything? What kinds of things would you like to see offered at the PERFECT dog-care facility?