Gunning Daily News

Top Tips for Training Your Dog

December 11, 2012 5:12 pm

(Family Features) Sit. Stay. Heel. These simple commands can make a huge difference in the life of a pet parent. Whether you’re introducing a new dog or puppy to the family, or you have a dog with some behavior issues, training can help ensure a well-adjusted pet and a happier family.

According to the American Kennel Club, dog training can:

  • Help your dog become a welcome member of the family and the neighborhood.
  • Correct behaviors such as jumping on people, digging, chewing and barking.
  • Provide mental and physical activities for your dog.
  • Deepen the bond between you and your dog.
  • Ensure your dog’s happiness and safety.

Training You Can Do at Home

Beyond teaching the basics of sitting and staying, training can include correcting behaviors. One common dog behavior that often needs correcting is jumping on people. “Dogs are sociable animals and often sniff muzzles when they greet each other,” says Debbie McKnight, training expert for PetSmart. “A dog that jumps on someone to greet them is often trying to make contact with the person’s face. It’s important to teach them an acceptable alternative for these social situations.”

Teaching your dog to sit first and then allow interaction can be a good solution. Here are helpful tips on how to make your pet a great greeter:

  • Have everyone that interacts with your dog ask him to sit as he approaches them.
  • If he sits, they can bend down to greet him.
  • If he jumps up, they stand up immediately, fold their arms and stare at the ceiling, repeating the signal to sit.
  • As soon as he sits, reward him by continuing with the greeting.
It’s important to reward your pet so they are constantly being reminded of how to behave.

Take Your Dog to School

Professional training classes are beneficial for many dogs and are available for several different levels, from basic classes that can help them socialize properly, to more advanced classes that can keep them safe and correct behaviors. Goals for each level of training are different and are set by the pet owner based on what they learn in class.

For example:

Beginner dog goals may include:

  • Not jumping on people
  • Loose leash walk around the block

Intermediate dog goals may include:

  • Three minute down-stay
  • Heeling down the block

Advanced dog goals may include:

  • Heeling through a crowd
  • “Go to your bed” when the doorbell rings
  • Coming when called at the dog park

Professional training is a complement to what you do at home, and practice is important at all levels. As a dog progresses through training, pet parents should make the behaviors they ask for harder during everyday practice. So rather than a basic sit before his meal, for example, try a sit-stay command for 15 seconds from 10 feet away.

Source: www.petsmart.com/training.

Word of the Day

December 11, 2012 5:12 pm

Consideration. Something of value, usually money, given to induce another to enter into a contract.

Q: What Can I Do about Unseen Problems Like Toxic Gases?

December 11, 2012 5:12 pm

A: Problems with your chimney, mechanical devices on your heating appliance, and pressure within the home can all cause combustion spillage, the unwanted flow of combustion gases into your home. Present in these gases are toxic elements such as carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides.

The best way to prevent spillage is to hire a professional – preferably one who specializes in building inspection, indoor air quality, ducting, chimneys and heating equipment – to do a yearly maintenance check of all your combustion appliances. These appliances include a gas-fired furnace, boiler, or water heater, an oil-fired furnace, boiler, or water heater, and a fireplace.

The service professional can check for heat exchanger leakage, evidence of start up spillage, and condensation in the chimney. Maintenance normally includes a tune-up, or in the case of a chimney, clearing it of debris and fixing cracks on the inside wall.

A Bill Worth Watching - and Maybe Supporting

December 10, 2012 5:36 pm

So much of what goes on In Washington gives me a headache. But, in my opinion, there is one legislative item that could be of great benefit to consumers and homeowners. This bill, introduced into the Senate and in committee now, seeks to extend tax deductions for building upgrades, make it easier for taxpayers to get deductions, and give more money back.

The bipartisan legislation is called the Commercial Building Modernization Act (S.3591) and it would reform the existing Energy Efficient Commercial Building Tax Deduction, which is widely known by its federal tax code section: 179D.

According to the Alliance to Save Energy, Section 179D is a federal tax deduction for the costs of installing energy-efficient systems in commercial and multi-family buildings, and it was introduced as a part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Section 179D is set to expire at the end of 2013, but the Commercial Building Modernization Act aims to extend it to Dec. 31, 2016.

The 179D offers up to $1.80 per square foot in deductions for a 50 percent reduction in total annual energy and power costs, and partial tax deductions are also available for improvements to a building envelope, HVAC or lighting systems.

The Commercial Building Modernization Act offers deductions from $1.00 per square foot for a 20 percent source energy savings, up to $4.00 per square foot for an improvement of 50 percent or more in energy savings.

To lower some of the costs for upgrades upfront, building owners would be able to receive up to 60 percent of the deduction based on expected energy savings. And to ensure the energy savings are achieved, the remaining 40 percent of the deductions would be disbursed after the applicant proves the upgrades actually save the claimed amount of energy.

The bipartisan legislation would also simplify the process of applying for the deduction.

An added bonus to achieving greater national energy security, the legislation also would help strengthen the American economy by generating an estimated 77,000 new jobs in construction, manufacturing, and service, according to a 2011 analysis by Real Estate Roundtable, Natural Resources Defense Council, U.S. Green Building Council, and others.

Four Factors for Choosing the Best Heating/Cooling System

December 10, 2012 5:36 pm

Whether it’s time to replace your old air conditioning system or install one for the first time, it’s a project that will result in year-round comfort for your family. Installing a new system is not cheap. It will likely cost several thousand dollars. But because the efficiency of most new systems has increased so much over the years, the system you choose will likely save you money in heating and cooling costs over the long run.

“Getting what you need at the outset,” says California system installer Ron Hassebroc, “will ensure that you don’t need to purchase upgrades later on.”

Hassebroc offers four factors to consider when choosing a new central air conditioning unit:

The BTU measure –
The British Thermal Unit (BTU) measure affects the system’s ability to cool. The higher the BTU rating, the more powerful and quick the performance. The BTU measure you need is based on the size of your home, it’s insulation and other factors – so while a low BTU rating may not efficiently cool your home, choosing the highest BTU may be a waste of money and energy. Rely on the expertise of the salesman or installer to determine the BTU measure you need.

The Seasonal-Energy Efficiency Rating – Known as the SEER rating, this measure helps ensure the system will work at peak efficiency, providing the best use of BTUs for the lowest price. DO look for the highest SEER rating possible – and choose an Energy Star unit, since their SEER ratings are typically 14 percent higher than competing models.

Minimum Efficiency Reporting Values (MERV) – a higher MERV rating means your unit’s filter works better, trapping more dust and other airborne particles. Ratings are on a 1 to 12 scale. While 12 is ideal, offering the best air purification on the market, anything above 9 is still very clean.

Installation costs –
These can vary depending upon the existing ductwork in your home and the size of the unit you have selected. Get estimates before you purchase a new unit. When factoring installation costs, you may find that a seemingly more expensive model will actually cost less overall if installation is included in the price.

Consumers Cutting Back on Holiday Splurges

December 10, 2012 5:36 pm

The November poll hosted on the National Foundation for
Credit Counseling (NFCC) website queried consumers regarding holiday
spending. The results revealed that 50 percent of consumers intend to
spend less on holiday purchases this year than last, indicating they are
in a worse financial position, while thirty-seven percent plan to spend
nothing at all, as they fear further financial distress.

While this total of 87 percent is a shocking number, when asked the same
question in 2011, 91 percent of respondents indicated their intention was
to cut back or spend zero on holiday gifts, demonstrating a positive
year-over-year trend.

“This statistic speaks loudly, and underscores that consumers are not
willing to repeat the mistakes of Christmases past by spending
irresponsibly this year,” said Gail Cunningham, spokesperson for the NFCC.

A seemingly contradictory statistic was revealed in the NFCC’s October
poll where 70 percent of those participating felt that their best
financial days were in front of them. Taken together, the two polls
suggest that Americans are both optimistic and realistic, a combination
that could lead to a brighter financial future.

“It takes optimism to endure the difficult economic times of the past few
years,” continued Cunningham. “However, it takes a dose of realism to not
become an emotional spender during the holidays. It appears as though
consumers have learned a tough lesson, and will emerge better equipped to
face future financial challenges.”

Looking at the other poll answer options, 11 percent intend to spend as
they did in 2011, stating that their financial situation is now stable,
while 3 percent will spend more, feeling as though they are in a better
financial position this year.

Holiday spending can financially make or break retailers. The same is
true for consumers. Don’t let it be your personal fiscal cliff.

The actual November poll question and responses are as follows:

This holiday season I will…

  • Spend as I did last year because my financial life is stable = 11 percent
  • Cut back on spending, since I am worse off financially this year =
  • 50 percent
  • Spend more than last year because I am in a better financial
  • position = 3 percent
  • Not spend at all, because I anticipate further financial distress
  • = 37 percent

For more information, visit www.DebtAdvice.org.

Word of the Day

December 10, 2012 5:36 pm

Common elements. Parts of a condominium, cooperative, or private home association shared by all residents, so that each unit owner holds an undivided interest in, for example, the hallways, parking facilities, or swimming pool.

Q: Are Special Tax Breaks Available for Historic Rehabilitation?

December 10, 2012 5:36 pm

A: Certified historic structures now enjoy a 20 percent investment tax credit for qualified rehabilitation expenses, if they are income-producing properties. A historic structure is one listed in the National Register of Historic Places or so designated by an appropriate state or local historic district that is certified by the government. The tax code does not allow deductions for the demolition or significant alteration of a historic structure.

For more information, contact the National Trust for Historic Preservation at (202) 588-6000, or visit its website at www.nationaltrust.org.

Many states offer tax incentives, reductions and abatement programs for owners of residential historic homes. These programs are described on the National Trust’s website.

Your Guide to Choosing the Right Smartphone to Give

December 7, 2012 5:02 pm

(Family Features) If you've noticed more smartphones and tablets on your holiday wish lists, you're not alone. A recent survey by Kelton Research found that 69 percent of people would like to receive something wireless as a holiday gift.

The report also found it's not always easy to shop for these kinds of gifts. In fact, 43 percent of people surveyed said they find shopping for technology items more confusing than assembling a child's toy with multiple parts.

To minimize the confusion around shopping for a wireless device, Ami Silverman, senior vice president of sales operations, T-Mobile USA, has a few tips for selecting the right smartphone and getting the most value for everyone on your holiday shopping list.

Smart Tips for Choosing a Smartphone

There are many options to choose from, and at first glance they might all seem the same. The key to picking the right one is to start by matching the phone's featured functions to what you know about the user. For example, here are some typical mobile users and the features which would be ideal for their devices:
Heavy texter/social networker - Consider phones with a physical QWERTY keyboard to enable quick connections with inner circles.
Gamer - Look for devices that have preloaded or easy access to premium games as well as large, high-definition screens, powerful processors (preferably a quad-core processor) and long lasting batteries.
Entertainment junkie - Keep an eye out for fast 4G smartphones with touch screens featuring large high-definition display for watching videos and enjoying online entertainment.
Worker bee - Seek phones that offer business-ready capabilities and the ability to accurately and quickly view and edit documents and share files fast.
Style maven - Choose touch screen phones that are thin, look sleek, and can be customized with a range of accessories, including stylish protective cases.
Photographer - Prioritize phones with high-resolution cameras and high storage capacity.

While these tips can point you in the right direction, it's best to talk to experts in the store. Explain the type of person you are buying for and how they'll be using the device. Knowledgeable sales associates have tools and resources so they can help you find exactly what you need

Reviews can also be helpful in finding the right phone. Check out independent reviews at www.consumerreports.org or www.cnet.com, and get user reviews at www.consumersearch.com.

Source: T-Mobile

Word of the Day

December 7, 2012 5:02 pm

Commission. Payment, or brokerage fees, given by the seller of a property to a real estate agent for services rendered. Usually paid at the closing.