Monday, July 28, 2014

Pros and Cons of Letting Your Dog Shop Online

As an eco-friendly dog owner, I always encourage people to shop local and buy handmade items from local merchants. However, I live in a rural area and unfortunately don't have access to eco-friendly dog items close by and I refuse to buy the Made In China stuff Walmart sells....so that leads me to online buying. Amazon is my go-to site for everything and since we have one computer in our house, I always worry about my kids "accidentally" ordering things with the push of a wrong button. More recently, it is the dog I have to be on alert for. Many times while shopping from my couch, a random dog paw or head seems to land on my keyboard. Although my dog (or kids) have not yet landed me into debt with accidental online orders (mostly because I have one-click ordering turned off), I decided it was a good time to explore the pros and cons of buying products for your dog online. For those of you that are in the same situation that I am in, and are not lucky enough to have a local place to shop WITH your dog, I hope this post is helpful (and a little humorous). 

Cons to Online Shopping With Your Pet:
  • When he sees all the neat collars that are out there, he may want a different one for every day of the week.
  • Suddenly that new toy he got yesterday will be destroyed in an instant so that he NEEDS a new one.
  • Shipping costs.....need I really say more?
  • No other dog butts to sniff while shopping.
  • Not burning any calories shopping from the couch.
  • Can be difficult to figure out correct sizes for collars and clothing.
Pros to Online Shopping With Your Pet:
  • A LOT of eco-friendly and earth conscious companies and products to choose from.
  • No stopping in every aisle to sniff things (or making attempts to mark territory).
  • Free AND fast shipping on many sites, (especially Amazon, if you are an Amazon Prime member).
  • If you see a product another dog owner has, you can order it right away online with your smartphone.
  • Less likely to buy other things you don't need....like those fancy dog treats sitting at the register.
  • You get to see product reviews from real dog owners.
  • MOST sites offer hassle-free return options.
  • Get exactly what you want; correct size, color, and design.
  • Who doesn't love getting mail and seeing the mailman?
  • Get handmade, unique and personalized items from mom and pop companies that have an online presence. (Etsy.com is a great place to start).
If you have been shopping online with your dog, what sites do you like? Leave comments below to help out other Pupcyled readers!
 
Also, as a part of the Amazon affiliates program, Pupcycled is pleased to now offer the ability to find our favorite products on Amazon directly through the Pucycled site (see right side of page). The Featured Fridays link at the top of the page will also help you find more websites for earth-friendly products. My opinions about Amazon and other websites (and the products they offer) are my own and come from years of shopping online and using the products myself. None of the suggestions are posted by paid promotions through vendors/companies. If there are more great earth-friendly products out there for dog owners, Pupcycled would love to know through your comments OR email us at pupcycledblog@gmail.com.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

5 Ways to Exercise with Your Dog

Walks are great but, sometimes people need new ways to get active with their dog.  Could you be ready to think outside the walk? Do you want to exercise with your dog to wear him out so he is calmer in the house? Or are you looking for something to burn more calories for yourself? Check out these five eco-friendly exercise ideas and try one this week! They will definitely help you and your dog be more active and healthier.


  1. Backyard Obstacle Course. Get into your garage, basement and shed and find some items to create an obstacle course for you and your dog. From benches and cinder blocks to jump over, to hula hoops and pool noodles to climb through, or even cones to zig zag around, you and your dog can build muscle and boost your brain all at once. If your dog doesn't seem to want to do the course, don't give up or get discouraged;  I have found it has worked best for me to keep doing the course and eventually the dogs run around and join in. The arch in the video is made by putting two camping spikes into the ground and putting the pool noodle onto both spikes. If you have more obstacle course ideas, please leave comments below!!!!  video
  2. Go on a Hike. For your first hike with you dog, be sure to go on a very clear and well-marked trail. Maintained State Parks are a great place to start. (Some parks even have areas your dog can go swimming). It is important to apply an all natural flea and tick repellent before the hike; (spraying dog with lemon juice and putting on some rose geranium oil works well). You should also have water for you and your dog. For water storage, consider using an eco-friendly travel bowl like the h2FidO system. Although it does not hold a lot of water, it is easy to carry and recyclable when it wears out. Another travel bowl option is the canvas collapsible bowl from Olive Green Dog. It is made with eco-friendly materials, can be composted if it ever wears out, and made in the USA. Finally, always keep your dog on a leash and clean up after them. (Check out the Featured Fridays link to find Earth friendly leashes and dog waste options). 
  3. Visit a Doggie Water Park. This is something I HAVE to try with one of my dogs soon since there is one about two hours away from me called Lucky Paws Resort in Pittsburgh, PA. It offers the perfect mix of land and water play, and more and more parks like it are popping up all over the United States and Canada, so search the internet for one near you. Or, if you are feeling really adventurous, create a water park in your own backyard. Consider a baby pool filled with water, or connect a 2-lier soda bottle to your hose and poke some holes in the bottle for a homemade sprinkler. Limit water play to a few minutes so that you don't waste too much water. 
  4. Play Tug of War. If you have an old pair of jeans, you can upcyle them into a sturdy tug of war rop toy for you and your dog to exercise with. Tug of war helps build muscle for both you and your dog and can help you both work up quite a sweat. Click here for directions to make the homemade rope toy from jeans.
  5. Doga/Yoga with your Dog. Some people think this is only for little dogs, but large dogs can do it, too. For more information on getting into a yoga routine with your dog check out Pupcycled's Doga post. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

DIY Dog Treat Container Ideas

For over a decade I had a ceramic dog treat container that I loved, and every time I took the lid off the dogs would come running to the kitchen for a treat. They knew that sound so well! Much to my disappointment, it recently broke. On the bright side, I now have the chance to upcycle something into a dog treat container. I also thought this would be a good time to make a few extra upcylced dog treat canisters for friends that have dogs. I figure if I start now, I can have them all done by Christmas and fill them with homemade dog treats. By putting chalkboard paint in the top and on front, I can put a dog's name, a message, or the type of treat, or even the recipe for the homemade treat, all on the canister. You could glue ribbon to the canister lid for extra decoration as well.


Here are the supplies you will need for an upcycled DIY dog treat container:
  • Old tin canister (Christmas popcorn tins can always be found at the thrift store)
  • Spray paint (try to get the most eco-friendly kind you can find)
  • Chalkboard paint 
  • Decorative ribbon (optional)
  • Chalk
Directions:
  1. Spray paint the outside of the tin and the lid. (It is best to not paint where the lid and canister meet because it can make it difficult to open and close).
  2. Let the tin dry for several hours before painting on the chalkboard paint. 
  3. If doing a bone or paw print, draw the shape on the tin with a permanent marker to make painting easier.
  4. You will need to put 2-3 thin layers of chalkboard paint on the tin and be sure to have at least 30-60 minutes between application of layers. 
  5. Let the chalkboard paint dry for 24-48 hours before writing on it.
  6. Decorative ribbon can be glued on to the edge of the lid if desired.

Check out Pucycled's homemade dog treat recipes to make awesome treats to put in your upcycled canister!


If you are looking for more upcycled DIY dog treat container ideas, check out these:
Finally, don't forget to pin this project to Pinterest and follow Pupcycled's Pinterest board for more great DIY dog craft ideas!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Five Fun Activities to Try With Your Dog

Photo from Jordene Gates
One key aspect to keeping your dog healthy, both physically and mentally, is to provide adequate daily exercise and physical activity. Although dogs love routine, it is important to try new things once and awhile to keep them mentally sharp. Taking a walk in a new place or getting new toys are great,  but if you are looking for some completely NEW fun activities to try with your dog, here are five exciting adventures to explore.

  1. Visit a Nursing Home-If you have an older dog that is very calm and loves people, consider visiting a nursing home. Many nursing homes will allow pet visitors so call ahead to your local home and see about scheduling a visit. You can also look into visiting mentally ill children and adults as well. Patients with severe depression and anxiety sometimes find petting a dog soothing and relaxing. Again, this activity is best for older and very calm dogs. I have taken my 6 year old Lab/Collie mix as well as my 2 year old Lab/Collie mix to do these types of activities, although both listen to commands very well, my younger dog gets times where he starts to want to run around or at least move around the room and doesn't like to sit completely still for over 30 minutes. (NOTE: Taking your dog for a walk before doing the visit will also help them be calmer while visiting).
  2. Participate in a Pet Parade- Many parades allow pet participants, and some of the best ones are Halloween and St. Patty's Day Parades where you can dress your dog up. Whether you buy a costume or make one, you and your pet are sure to enjoy this fun activity!
  3. Go Camping With Your Dog-The first time you try this it may be best to do just one night and then the next time try two or three, until you can build up to a week. Try to camp at a location that has easy access to clean water and plenty of shade. While camping, take your dog with you on hikes, share some grilled chicken from your evening campfire, and even go for a swim in a lake. Just be sure to have identification on your dog just in case he gets loose!
  4. Attend a Doga Session Together-Learn how to exercise and relax with your dog through Doga or Doggie Yoga. Although yoga with your pets can be done at home, it really is fun to try this in a class setting so your dog can meet new people and dogs. Check out the Yoga With Your Pets post for information on starting this at home and progressing to a class. 
  5. Have a Birthday Party for Your Dog- Although other dog owners may be taken by surprise when they receive an invitation to a dog birthday party, this fun activity to try with your dog is getting more and more popular with pet owners. Be sure to have dog treats, water bowls, and plenty of toys all around for the dogs. Serve people food that is also safe for dogs, just in case the dogs get into the people area. You can also bake a dog birthday cake....there are lots of dog birthday cake recipes online; but skip the candle blowing!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Seven People Foods that are Safe and Healthy for Your Dog

There are a few things that dog owners are divided on; things like dogs sleeping in beds, allowing them on the furniture, and my favorite....giving dogs people food. I have to be honest and confess, I do all of the above. Our dogs are part of our family, and they likely think they are human at times, (considering I have found them sitting on my deck chairs). Although some foods can be deadly for canines, there are many people foods that are safe and healthy for dogs. So, if you are considering letting your dog have people food, or have been unsure about foods that are safe for your dogs, here is the Pupcycled list of seven great foods to share with your dog.


  1. Apple Chunks- Diced or sliced, apples are a nice crunchy treat for your dog. Try different varieties and see what he likes best.
  2. Bananas- Next time you eat a banana, give the two ends to your dog, or mix it with a little peanut butter and plain yogurt and put into ice cube trays in the freezer for a frozen treat during the dog days of summer! (Full recipe HERE).
  3. Peanut Butter-This can be added to bananas and apples, served plain, or mixed into homemade dog treats. (See the recipe section of this blog for more ideas).
  4. Popcorn- My dogs can hear a popcorn bag a mile away and this is absolutely their favorite people food snack! Try to stick with air popped or the healthiest microwave version you can find. Excessive butter and salt is just as dangerous for dogs as it is for humans. 
  5. Carrots-I usually feed my dogs baby carrots, but larger dogs may enjoy chewing on a full size carrot as well. You can also shred carrots and put over dog food or into homemade dog treats.
  6. Chicken-Make sure if you give your dogs chicken, it is thoroughly cooked and does not have any marinade or sauce on it. I also serve my chicken to the dogs in bite size pieces.
  7. Dinner on the deck anyone?
  8. Pretzels- The mini unsalted pretzels are perfect people food treats to take on the go. When I run out of homemade treats, pretzels are my back up training treat as well.
The next time you are enjoying one of these all-natural healthy human foods, feel free to give your dog a bite as well. All of these treats also work well added to dog food at meal time, or used in place of store-bought dog treats!

Friday, May 2, 2014

How to Deal with Dog Fur in Your Washer and Dryer


http://www.morguefile.com/archive/display/834019
If you have a dog that sheds on everything, chances are you have a washer and dryer that gets loaded with dog hair. In order to keep your washer and dryer functioning well, here are some ways to deal with dog fur in your washer and dryer.





  • Clean your washer at least every other week. If you have a front loading washer, there is a drain at the bottom which you can open and clean out the filter. When I clean mine, I get a lot of dog hair and have to dig it out of the round filter. It is a little gross but helps keep my washer running properly. It is also important to clean the inside of your washer and any seals and rings where dog hair may get stuck. If you keep the lid open frequently, you can clean your washer with a damp rag and white vinegar, (not the chemical cleaners they sell in the stores). If you close your lid a lot you may need to use some bleach when cleaning inside, due to mild and mildew possibly building up inside of the washer.
  • Your dryer's lint trap should be cleaned after every load and the lint (filled with dog fur), can be put in compost pile. Every month you should also clean the outside vent and make sure the dryer hose is in good condition. 
  • You can reduce the amount of dog hair that gets stuck in your washer and dryer by brushing your dog every day and shaking blankets outside prior to putting them in washer.
  • In the spring you can hand laundry outside to reduce the amount of  times you use your dryer and reduce the amount of dog hair that gets trapped inside of it.
If you are collecting a lot of dog hair and fur from around your home and out of your washer and dryer, check out these 5 ways to dispose of dog hair!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Earth Friendly Non-toxic Cleaning Products for Homes with Pets


www.pupcycled.blogspot.com

My journey to a more eco-friendly lifestyle started by eliminating commercial, chemical-filled cleaners and making my own cleaners. Not only were homemade cleaners cheaper and better for the environment, they were also safer to use around my children and pets. However, over the last few years, I went back to work full-time, and my kids are busier than ever, so finding time to make all my own cleaners is sometimes difficult. Not to mention, I live in a rural area which requires me to order many of my ingredients through Amazon.com. All these things have led me to look into eco-friendly, non-toxic cleaning products that I can buy and have on hand for when life gets a little too busy. 
When looking for eco-friendly products, I have noticed a lot of misleading information on labels. For example, some products claim to be Earth friendly, but are made plant derived materials, which means harsh man made chemicals may be mixed in with the plant base. Then there are the plastic bottles and labels that are used, some of those are harmful to the environment, if not disposed of properly. Finally, there are the ones that have natural ingredients, but are not specific as to what those natural ingredients are, and contain 99% other ingredients. 
Fortunately, more and more smaller eco-friendly companies are emerging and finally giving us products we can fully rely on. If you are looking for already made eco-friendly non-toxic cleaning solutions to use around your pets, start looking local. Try your local farm markets or indoor flea market/craft fairs. Many times you will get products with clear labels, refillable or reusable bottles, and a real person to talk to about the product they are making. If you do not have places like this near you, the next best thing might be Etsy.  
I recently tried Karmalades cleaning products that are sold through Etsy. One thing I liked about this company is that they are located in Washington, D.C. and I know the products did not have to travel far to get to me. The product I tried was the all purpose lemon lavender spray. It came in a reusable and recyclable glass bottle with a clear label of all the ingredients used. I loved the small bottle because I could leave it in my bathroom for quick, daily, touch up cleaning of the sink, faucet and mirror. The smell was nice but not overwhelming and I knew my pets would be safe if they licked an area I cleaned. The Karmalade company is definitely a good place to start if you want pre-made eco-friendly non-toxic cleaning products. Even if you want to make some of your own cleaners, the all-purpose sprays they sell are great to keep for when you run out of time or materials to make your own products. 

If you know of other great eco-friendly non-toxic cleaners, please leave a comment below for other readers!!!

If you do have the time to make your some of your own cleaners, check out my ebook, Cleaning for a Cause. The book is filled with cleaning recipes and many of the recipes are also available on my Hubpages page.  (Proceeds from the book are donated to Alex's Lemonade Stand and other cancer prevention organizations).