Landmines, Brown Grass from Dog Urine: Lawn Turf, Sod, or Reseed the Yard?

grass for dogs
Photo: FabricandoVida, CC BY 2.0
My yard was a mess at the start of the year. After the snow melted, I had mound upon mound of dog droppings, which were buried from the multiple snowstorms this year. Once I started cleaning the yard, it felt like an archaeological dig.

I got to the bottom of it, but tore up the yard in the process. I had mud spots everywhere. My grass had brown spots from dog urine. I needed a solution.

I searched on Amazon, and read reviews about grass for dogs. I tried two products. The first was regular old grass seed. I re-seeded the entire lawn. A couple weeks later, I bought a patch kit. I put the grass patch kit on the brown spots and mud holes.

I left town for a while, and when I came back, the lawn looked good. Green grass has sprouted where the brown grass used to be. Also, the entire yard looked full after re-seeding it. A job well-done.

The Economics of a Dog

Puppies are cute. But they require upkeep, including time and money. You have to spend time with your dog to keep it happy and healthy. The financial commitment to a puppy might be more than you can chew. We’ll look at both in this article.

It’s important to budget your money before you get a pet. This way you’ll have an allowance each month for your new animal. If you are desperately in need of money, you may want to take note of how much a canine costs to see if you can afford the financial commitment without assistance.

Size and age will be a determining factor in costs, which could range between free to thousands depending on your animal’s health and what kind of spender you are.

As mentioned, the initial investment of a dog varies. You might be able to find a free dog from a friend or spend a few hundred to a thousand on a purebred. That’s up to you.

If you are looking for a purebred, find one that’s reputable. Those backyard breeders or puppy mills are not the place to look.

If you are OK with a mutt, a Fido, an I-don’t-know-what-kind-of-mixed-dog-this-is, go to your local animal shelter. There’s plenty of dogs that want to be adopted. The fees are reasonable.

Places like craigslist are not your best bet. You don’t know any history of where the dog is coming from and might get a surprise, such as unexpected vet costs.

Initial investment: $500

Once you find a good animal, you should take it to the vet to get checked out. You may need to purchase vaccines or additional medical treatment depending on your animal. Expect to pay about $300 to get deworming, blood tests, microchip, and to get your pet spayed or neutered.

1st year vet costs: $300

You will also need a collar, leash, crate, toys, treats, and bedding. This will cost about $200 dollars. Don’t forget you’ll need a license, too, which is about $20 bucks.

Creature comfort costs: $220

Food is another cost at about $650 per year. If you choose to get pet insurance, there’s another $250 dollars.

Dog food: $650
Pet insurance: $250

For a medium sized dog, you should expect to pay close to $2000 during its first year.

The annual costs will be lower because you won’t have the purchase price of the pet — just food, toys, license, insurance, and medical fees if needed.

This will be about $1300 per year.

If you are in need of money right now, an animal might not be a good investment for you.

You might come down to a point where you have to sacrifice your well-being or your animal’s just to be able to afford your minimum monthly living requirements. A pup is a big financial decision.

Also, remember that when you go on vacation, you’ll need a pet sitter or spend money on a kennel. On average, that will cost about $40 per day.

Now the economics of a puppy are one thing and it’s apparent that a dog is expensive but that should not stop you from getting one if you want one.

They add value to your household. My dog is always wagging his tail and waiting for me when I come home. He keeps me exercising in the dead of winter.

Granted, I don’t like going out there for a walk when it’s 20 degrees and snowy but the exercise is beneficial.

Josh Johnson contributes financial articles at Bought on Credit

Why Do Puppies Do the Things They Do?

I wish I could answer that question but I did do some research into puppies and thought I’d share what I found out regarding their temperaments, psychology, and just general training ideas.

Dogs are a pack animal and are social creatures. They are not like kids despite how we talk to them sometimes.

They have their own pecking order in a group and that’s a lot like humans.

We have a pecking order with our families and it’s a common social organization trait we all share.

Children are lower on the pecking order than parents, for instance. And a dog should fall lower in the pecking order than humans, but that can be tough if the puppy does not understand where he/she should be.

Because puppies are social animals, they want to do what’s right, but they may not always know the difference between what’s right or wrong.

We need to correct them with praise and reinforcement, though. There’s a few tones of voice that can achieve this.

  • Baby talk
  • Commands
  • Growling tone of voice

Baby talk is that cutesy talk that can be used to praise the dog. The tone is non-threatening.

Command are direct and are words like sit and stay.

The growling tone of voice is a deeper sounding and will cause the dog to pay attention.

You can use these vocal inflections to your advantage. Here’s a few ways.

Example: chewing and biting on hands

If you let a puppy chew on your hands, they’ll do that for the rest of their life.

Instead, why not redirect them to a toy. Here’s an idea when they are chewing on a hand: Use that growling voice, saying “don’t chew.”
Then give them a toy, using the baby talk voice, giving them praise.

They will be able to associate the growling voice with what’s bad and the baby talk voice with what’s good. In time, they will learn what’s right and wrong.

The same is true about inanimate objects like a chair or shoe. Pick up a toy, stand near the puppy and use that growling voice, saying no bite or no chew. Then give your puppy the toy and praise her in that baby talk voice.

You can use your voice to your advantage if your puppy jumps up on you when he/she greets you.

Granted, jumping up on you is how your dog greets you. But you can train them to not do so.

I read one way to illustrate it’s not acceptable is to step into the puppy when they jump up. It makes them think that you are still the dominate one and their behavior is not correct.

Also, you probably should not say “down” when they jump on you because that is a command similar to “sit down” or “lay down.” A better word would be off so the dog is not confused.

Back to school

Obedience training can be a great way to socialize puppies with other dogs and people. It can help reduce fear of dogs and people and some inanimate objects.

Your dog will also work on agility, going up ramps and though hoops and tunnels.

But from what I read, one of the best things about obedience training is that your dog will listen to you. When that happens, it means the dog puts you at the top of the pecking order and you dominate it. You’ll be able to train it easier, then.

Obedience training can lay the foundation for your puppy’s social skills.

And then there’s the dreaded housebreaking

During housebreaking, you should use the crate to your advantage. The crate is a dog’s den. And a dog has a den instinct and will dog will avoid soiling in the den because it’s a small area. Same holds true with a small crate.

Rather than let the puppy have free roaming throughout your house all the time, put the puppy in the crate when you’re doing things like taking a shower, cooking dinner, cleaning, whatever

If you give the puppy full reign of your house at first, they will soil in it because they don’t see your house as their den yet.

It takes time for them to learn that the house is their den and that they should not soil in there.

One way is to use leashing in the house at first.

You could tether the dog to the room that you are in at first and the dog will have a short range.

While the dog is tethered, you will be able to see if she starts the dance or paw indicating she’s needs to go outside. This can help you get the puppy outside in time.

Rather than give treats after the dog goes potty, consider using verbal praise. If you do treat, make sure the treat is given immediately after the puppy relived itself. If you wait until giving the treat until the puppy is in the house, it is too late.

Don’t punish your puppy if it soils in the house. If you catch them in the act, growl at them, pick them up and take them to front door and say good doggie lets go potty.

What Should I Look Out for When Getting A Puppy?

Most parents get their kids a puppy and may not know what to look for when picking one out.

Let’s look at a few tips to get you started when you are selecting the right puppy from there litter.

Tip No. 1: What canine is right for your family?

You need to ask yourself what type of dog is right for you and your family.

The best way to determine this is to consider different factors, including your lifestyle, the size and coat of the animal, how trainable the puppy is, barking, temperament, and the exercise needs of the pooch.

Your lifestyle determines a lot about the type of dog you should get.

Do you have time to train the puppy, socialize it with other dogs, and do you have the financial means to support it? These are all good questions you should ask yourself when getting a puppy.

A large dog will generally have more needs than a smaller dog. A bigger animal will need space and may feel cramped in an apartment.

They are more expensive due to more food being eaten, more supplies being needed, and may require more veterinary care than a smaller dog.

A smaller dog will be more vulnerable, though. He/she will be sensitive when it’s cold out and you will need to be mindful of this.

They can be a little cheaper because of less food being needed and may not require as much veterinary care.

Size is important, but so is the coat on a dog. There are higher costs associated with hairy coat types because of the grooming needed on them.

Be aware that a hairy coat will shed and will need brushing regularly, so you will need to understand the maintenance required of the animal before getting one.

Barking

Dogs that don’t bark may be perfect for your household; however, that’s not usually the case with pooches.

Most will make some noise and that is a factor you should consider when getting a pup. This can be a factor that’s associated with the breed of the dog, so you may want to do some research first.

It’s common that terriers and scent hounds bark a lot to broadcast their progress in chasing prey.

Shelties and collies were trained to bark to tell the sheep to get back to the barn and keep them in line.

And some dogs will bark if they’re bored so assess your own time and ability to take care of an animal.

Training

So you’ve found an intelligent puppy and think it may be easier to train? They may not be the case.

Smarter breeds — terriers, hounds, and northern dogs — tend to be tough to train because of their independence and intelligence. They want to do their own thing.

Dogs that were breed to be herders — such as golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers, border, German Shepard, collies — tend to be more trainable puppies.

Also, you may find that an older dog from a rescue may be easier to train because the previous owner has already done the work.

Breed and temperament

Breed and temperament are categories that we can lump puppies into, but they are not the be-all and end-all to a dog’s personality.

I’ve seen pit bulls that were trained by owners to be mean; I’ve seen pit bulls trained by owners to be loyal, compassionate, and friendly.

How you train the animal is important, but equally important is the puppies individuality.

Some breeds — despite their temperament — just go against it and are nothing like “their suppose to be.”

That said, you should understand the breed you are getting so you are not surprise about the requirements for that puppy.

For instance, if you want a dog that lounges around and looks cute all day, you probably don’t want a puppy that is notorious for being energetic.

About me

I’m John and I have a short-haired dachshund, who’s name is JC. I never once thought of giving my Doxie the traditional names like Weiner or Oscar.

Well, maybe I thought naming him Oscare Wilde would suit his tempermant. He’s such a trouble maker, which is why I consider calling him Machiavelli.

But, after all, my doxie reminded me of Julius Caesar — you know, the Roman general — so he received the name JC.

I started this blog to write about dogs because I wanted to provide what I know. I’m learning, so this will be a work in progress kind of blog, so bear with me.

Anyhow, any questions shoot me a note and I’ll be glad to answer.