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Deck the Halls with AKC Toys, Games and Treats! 

© 2007 The American Kennel Club, Inc. 

The holiday season is right around the corner and AKC licensed merchandise includes products which are sure to please both canines and their human companions! There's an AKC item for everyone on your holiday list; some suggestions include:

AKC Green Planet Collection
—The AKC's "Green Planet" line of eco-friendly products features everything from sturdy canvas dog jackets to stuffed toys which are durable, safe and made with recycled materials.

Rubik's Cubes—Each AKC Rubik's Cube features five breed images from the Sporting, Terrier, Non-Sporting and Herding Groups—sure to keep the little dog-loving Einsteins busy.

Puppy Starter Kit (with Bed)—Everything you need for your newest addition to the family, the AKC's Puppy Starter Kit comes complete with a plush toy, training pads, a leash, bed, training treats and the AKC's New Puppy Handbook, all in one package.

AKC Classic Dog Toys—There's a soft, squeaky toy for every size canine in this plush collection which includes woodland animals and migratory birds. Dogs will have hours of fun playing with the many life-like creatures. 

AKC Steiff Breed Collection Stuffed Animals
—A collector's item for the humans on your list, these stuffed animals represent several of the 157 AKC recognized breeds, including three new breed additions—the French Bulldog, the Standard Schnauzer and from the "Best In Show" series, the Colored Bull Terrier.
Best In Show Board Game—Don't just dream it, play it! The newly revised AKC Best In Show Board Game puts both kids and adults in the competition ring! Choose your breed, register your dog and have fun competing for Best In Show. 

To see pictures of a few of the above mentioned products, please click here or contact the American Kennel Club. Visit the AKC website at to find more holiday gifts for all your beloved canine and human companions. And for holiday safety tips for your dog, visit:

Taking Care of Your Toys: To the pint-sized, the world holds many oversized hazards

From the pages of the APRIL 2007 AKC GAZETTE
By Amy Fernandez

Toys rank among the most popular breeds today, but caring for them entails special considerations, from providing a safe home environment to avoiding all kinds of dangers on the street and in the show ring.

Even a normal household can pose a world of dangers for tiny dogs. Dog proofing for toys requires a different perspective. Some obvious danger spots like hallways, stairwells, decks, and balconies can be overlooked. Toy puppies can easily slip into the tightest spots.

The owner of a 7-week-old Chihuahua left her dog alone for a short time in the kitchen. When she returned, the puppy was gone. After an hour of frantic searching, she heard faint scratching and discovered the puppy, unharmed, but wedged into a two-inch-wide space between the wall and the refrigerator!

Crates, pens, and barriers are essential, but safety must be the primary consideration when selecting such equipment for toys. Bars and slats must be closely spaced to prevent any possibility of the dog squeezing through or getting a foot or jaw stuck.

Vicki Fierheller, of Toronto, a certified vet tech, professional groomer, and longtime Maltese breeder, says that introducing a toy puppy to a large dog can be a problem, even when aggression is not an issue. "It is too easy for a large dog to inadvertently hurt a toy puppy," she says.

Many owners assume that a structured environment avoids the possibility of accidental injury. But any situation that brings large and small dogs into contact can invite problems. This includes day-care centers, grooming shops, veterinary clinics, and dog training classes. It's easy to overlook potential hazards when you are focused on working with your own dog. Sort of like defensive driving, you need to train yourself to constantly watch what the other dogs around you are doing.

"Owners need to be aware of posturing and body language that can lead to a bad interaction. Many little dogs feel empowered by their owners, encouraged to present in a challenging way. Assertive posturing that would be obvious in a large dog may be overlooked in a toy," says Fierheller. "On the other hand, I've seen owners panic when faced with a possible threat from a large dog, sometimes making a situation worse."

Child's Play

Small children are another concern. Many breeders will not place toy breeds in homes with children under 12. Leah Getty, of Alberta, Canada, grew up with toy dogs, and now has toy Xolos, Papillons, Chinese Cresteds, Chihuahuas, and two daughters, aged 7 and 10. She admits that it's been a great experience for her children, but also incredibly stressful for her.

"Honestly, I would not recommend toy breeds for young children. It requires constant, exhausting supervision," says Getty.

Her older daughter received a Chihuahua when she was just 51/2. "I realized it was a mistake immediately and considered placing the puppy with my mother until Victoria was older. By then, she was so attached to the puppy it would have broken her heart to take him away."

The alternative was rigorous supervision and strictly enforced rules. "The dogs and children learned mutual respect, but it's unrealistic to expect kids to take on that level of responsibility. Crates are essential. The dogs need a place to go for safety and protection. I prefer designs with complicated latches that the kids cannot figure out. They are only allowed to walk the dogs with adult supervision and never at off-lead dog parks. I don't encourage the kids to pick the dogs up at all; it's only allowed when they are sitting on the floor. They are never permitted to let their friends pick up the dogs."

Children are not the only ones guilty of carelessness, however. Kathy Helming, of Bristol, Connecticut, has bred and shown Miniature Pinschers for 35 years.

"My dogs normally live to 18. I want them to live long, happy lives," she says. "When someone comes to see my puppies I really drill them on safety precautions. For one thing, it's dangerous to carry a Min Pin puppy with its legs against your body. They can brace themselves against you and spring right into midair," she says. "I wish I could send new owners home with a big bag of common sense instead of a bag of food."

She admits being frustrated that many new owners fail to heed breeders' safety advice. "I have a big problem with owners allowing puppies to stand on their laps without holding them. Min Pins think they are Superman, they jump out not down! [Owners] let them walk on tables, chair backs, and stand on the backs of car seats when they are driving. A quick stop and that puppy will go right into the dashboard," she says. "An 8-week-old puppy can climb up a flight of stairs but has a good chance of falling down. Falls can lead to a broken leg or jaw, or injuries that can't be repaired. I always recommend pet insurance, at least for the first year when accidents are more likely. Repairing a blown kneecap or broken leg costs a minimum of $1,500."

"I guess you could call it a 'toy dog risk,' " says Patrice Bayer, claims manager and registered veterinary technician for Pet Partners, Inc., exclusive health-care provider for the AKC Healthcare Plan. "People like to carry around their little babies, but that can come with a price. They can jump out of your arms and fracture their delicate legs."

She says the number-one reason cited, in her experience, for leg fractures in toys is that the tiny dog was being carried and jumped out of the owner's arms.

Veterinarians say that treating toy dogs presents its own set of challenges. There are several potential complications involved with the treatment of injuries in toy dogs, says orthopedic specialist David Edinger, DVM, from stabilizing delicate bones to choosing the safest drugs in the right amounts for pain control.

Watch the Walk

Helming's biggest pet peeve is the flex lead. They make it difficult to control or supervise small dogs on busy streets or in crowded parks. "I recently got a call from a prospective puppy buyer. She had just lost her 4-year-old Min Pin. The woman's mother-in-law had been walking the dog on a flex lead. It lunged into traffic and she didn't know how to retract the lead."

Less obvious dangers may also confront toys during a walk. "You really need to be aware of chemicals, pesticides, or fertilizers on grass. Amounts that would not affect larger dogs can cause serious liver damage in small ones."

Designer dog carriers and pet strollers have become immensely popular to safely transport toys. In some respects, it's safer for them up off the ground but "I've seen owners wheeling puppies around sitting on top of dog strollers," says Helming. "Do they realize what can happen if it jumps or falls off?" Many toys can climb completely out of openings in dog carriers leaving them dangling in midair. When transporting toys in snap-top carriers make sure they are securely harnessed (not leashed) and clipped. Even enclosed carriers should always be held close to your body. Backpacks and shoulder bags can be jostled in crowds or slammed in subway doors.

Some toy dog accidents are unpreventable, impossible to predict. But many more are the result of carelessness or inexperience. Along with remorse, 20/20 hindsight is an inevitable part of the aftermath, with owners lamenting that they should have seen it coming. But with planning, forethought, and a little common sense, owners of toy dogs can learn to size up a dangerous situation before it becomes a source of colossal regret. 

© 2007 The American Kennel Club, Inc.

with Lisa Peterson
June 2008

Dear Lisa: I am having my new Golden Retriever puppy shipped from Minnesota to Philadelphia at the end of the month. Do you recommend a certain airline to book travel with? Most of the airlines allow pet travel but I want to ensure that my puppy is safe. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated. Thanks! – Flying the Friendly Skies

Dear Flying: Before your new puppy boards that plane, make sure you work with the breeder to ensure that the puppy meets the requirements for air travel as checked baggage (traveling alone in the cargo area) versus in-cabin travel (with a passenger) since the requirements may differ. This may include needing a health certificate from a veterinarian no more than 10 days prior to travel listing vaccinations and that the puppy is at least 8 weeks old.

All commercial airlines that ship pets have their own rules and guidelines. I suggest consulting this page, which links to a variety of major carriers’ websites listing their policies. I would also recommend that you book your reservation early as there are limits to the number of animals that can be placed on a single flight and they are filled on a first-come, first served basis.

Hot Dog!
Another consideration, now that the temperatures are rising, includes travel restrictions placed by the airlines during the warmer months. For example, American Airlines policy states, “pets cannot be accepted when the current or forecasted temperature is above 85 degrees Fahrenheit at any location on the itinerary. Snub-nosed dogs and cats will not be accepted when the current or forecasted temperature is above 75 degrees Fahrenheit at any location on the itinerary.”

Since it will be warm suggest the breeder take a small plastic water dish that fits on the crate door, fill it with water and place it in the freezer the night before travel. That way you can attach a large piece of ice in the airline-approved travel crate for the puppy to lick should he get thirsty. Putting a water bowl inside during the flight will only spill. I would also make sure the crate is lined with newspapers or paper towels to absorb any messes he may make while airborne. And lastly, make sure you arrive at the airport early so that you will be there to accept your newest member of the family with open arms.

Dear Lisa:Why do dogs howl?I had never heard my two-year-old Miniature Poodle do so until one night when he was in the car with me and the window was down. The sirens of several emergency vehicles were sounding, and he let out a long howl. He has never done it since even though we have heard sirens many times.– Howling Hound

Dear Howling: If you think about the origins of the domestic dog, a single wolf approximately 15,000 years ago, it makes sense that dogs do howl, as do wolves and coyotes. One theory is that the dog that howls for long periods of time is either bored or lonely. Another suggests they are searching for another canine or providing a location to a far away pack member. The howl is considered to be a long distance doggie telephone call since the long drawn-out sound can travel for distances of several miles thus alerting other dogs to their location or needs.

Most often today dogs howl when they hear other sounds that they perceive is a canine calling card such as a siren at a nearby firehouse. Perhaps the more recent sirens just didn’t have the right pitch to kick in that ancient instinct to howl in your Poodle like the time in the car. I first observed one of my Norwegian Elkhounds howling because of the siren too. Howling is just another way dogs communicate with each other, just like dogs have different types of barking to communicate multiples needs. There is the “I’m happy to see you” bark, the “stranger in the yard” alert bark, the “I have to go outside to relive myself” bark, and so on.

Barking and Baying
Besides the howl and the bark, let’s not forget the “bay.” As a hound owner and neighbor to several Beagles I’m quite familiar with the bay, which can be described as a sounding alarm that quarry is near or in sight. I love to read the dictionary and I came across these three definitions in Merriam-Webster’s which really sums up the differences between canine communication nicely:

  • Howl: to utter or emit a loud sustained doleful sound or outcry characteristic of dogs and wolves
  • Bark:of a dog: to emit or utter its characteristic short loud explosive cry
  • Bay:of a dog: to bark (as at a thief or at the game that is pursued) especially with deep prolonged tones

So whether your dog is howling for friends, barking for fun or baying during the hunt, it’s not so important to ask why they are doing it, but rather to listen what your dog is trying to tell you. Woo-Woo!

Lisa Peterson, a long-time owner/breeder/handler of Norwegian Elkhounds, is the AKC Director of Club Communications. If you have a question, send it to Lisa at and she may select it for a future column. Due to the high volume of questions we cannot offer individual responses.

© 2008 The American Kennel Club, Inc.