The Best Dog Breeds For Families With Kids

The Best Dog Breeds For Families With Kids

Got young kids and thinking of getting a dog? Almost any dog can be trained to get along with kids, however some breeds definitely have a much better suited temperament. Below are some of the dog breeds that make the best family pets. 


Labradors are renowned for getting along well with kids. They’re social animals that love to play. At the same time, they’re one of the least aggressive larger breeds of dogs and are very gentle around kids. While lab puppies are known for being quite a handful, they are one of the easiest dogs to train. This guide at Smoky Mtn Labradors explains everything you need to know about adopting a lab puppy. 


Poodles are very similar in temperament to labradors in that they are social and love to play, making them also great family pets. They are one of the most diverse breeds in terms of size, shape and appearance – standard poodles are quite large, while toy poodles are very small, and they come in all different colors from white to brown. You can also adopt a labradoodle, which is a cross between a labrador and poodle.


Beagles are much smaller than labradors and regular poodles, but have a similarly playful and placid temperament. This makes them a very popular breed for households with kids. Like a lot of small dogs, beagles do like to bark, but they tend to do it more for attention than in an aggressive way. As with most playful breeds, make time to play with them, and they will be happy. 

Cavalier King Charles spaniels

Of all the spaniel breeds, King Charles spaniels are known for being some of the most social and friendly. This makes them great pets for families. They aren’t as energetic as breeds listed above – for those that don’t have the time for long walks and constant playtime, they can sometimes be better suited family pets. 

Border collies

Border collies are the most traditional ‘sheepdog’ breed. They are very similar in temperament to labradors in that they are very energetic and playful. Their overexcitement and ‘herding’ instinct means that they can sometimes knock over young kids. However, with older kids they are generally very friendly and display low aggression, making them ideal family dogs. This post at The Puppy Mag explains more about getting a border collie with kids.

French bulldogs

If you’re looking for a small breed of dog that gets on well with kids, a french bulldog could be a good option. Unlike a lot of other small breed, they don’t bark often and enjoy being cuddled. They may get defensive towards strangers, but are placid towards their owners. French bulldogs are not an energetic breed and are generally happy with short daily walks. 


Newfoundlands are gentle giants that are sometimes referred to as the ‘nanny dog’. They enjoy being petted and will rarely show aggression unless they are being protective of kids. They are very big dogs and can be clumsy, so you do need to monitor them around young kids as they may accidentally knock them over. Compared to many breeds, they have low energy levels and do not need long walks. 

Give Your Dog a Long and Healthy Life with These Tips

Give Your Dog a Long and Healthy Life with These Tips

Dogs can live for many years, with an average lifespan of around 10-13, and some breeds living even longer. Keeping your dog healthy and safe will help to extend their lifespan so that you can enjoy the company of your four-legged friend for longer. You can’t guarantee that your dog will live a long life, but you can definitely take good care of them to increase their chances of living into old age. And, of course, it’s not just about a long life, but also a healthy and happy one. Give your dog a long and healthy life with the following tips.

Give Your Dog the Right Amount of Exercise

Exercise is important for any dog. Some dogs need more than others, depending on their size, breed, and general energy levels. But most dogs need to be walked at least once every day and will benefit from more energetic play too. Getting the right level of physical activity is important. Your dog needs to get enough exercise but you also need to avoid trying to exercise your dog too much. You don’t want to wear them out so much that they’re exhausted. All dogs have their limits, especially older dogs, so be careful to avoid over-exercising.

Optimize Your Dog’s Diet

What your dog eats will obviously have an effect on their health and their longevity. Their food should give them all or most of the nutrients that they need. Dogs might eat a diet of wet or dry food alone, or sometimes a combination of the two. Making sure your dog gets quality food and that you feed them the right amount is a must. You can also look at healthy soft dog treats to supplement your dog’s diet. Treats can be used to motivate and reward your dog, but choosing healthy ones is best. You don’t want to add too many calories to their diet.












Stay on Schedule with Vaccinations

Getting your dog vaccinated is important for their health. It protects them against illnesses such as parvovirus, distemper, and hepatitis. Your dog may not need to have vaccinations every year. Some vaccinations can provide protection for up to three years. Taking your dog for their vaccinations also gives you a chance to have them checked by the vet. Your vet can check your dog’s general health, including their weight, dental health, their skin and coat, and more.

Keep Your Dog Safe

Another way to extend your dog’s life is to keep them safe. Dogs can be in danger of injury from cars, other dogs, and various other dangers. Firstly, always keep your dog on the leash unless in a safe area. Protect the perimeter of your home, especially in the yard, so that your dog isn’t able to escape and get out onto the road. And be cautious with your dog around other dogs, taking sensible measures to introduce them slowly and stay away from dogs that might be aggressive.

Help your dog to live a long and healthy life by taking care of their health in different ways and keeping them safe.

How To Keep Your Puppy In A Happy Mood For The Longest Time

How To Keep Your Puppy In A Happy Mood For The Longest Time

Anyone who owns a dog knows that they really are a lovely being. They’ll be loyal to you if you tried them right, and they’ll give you all of the positive feelings in the world. Not only are they wonderful company, but they’ll also want to keep you safe and ensure you’re okay when you’re feeling down. 

 A lot of people who own puppies and fully-grown dogs struggle with things for the first few months – and even the first year or so. This doesn’t need to happen – if being a pet owner was so difficult, then none of us would even bother in the first place. Perhaps they struggle to bond, they worry about getting the right treats, or they just feel as though they aren’t up to the task.

 At the end of the day, it’s all about keeping them safe and happy while teaching them a thing or two. If you can keep them happy, then everyone will be happy – here’s how to do it: 

 Provide A Wonderful Home For Them 

 First and foremost, the least you could do is ensure that their environment will be lovely. They’ll get used to pretty much any home you create for them, but it would be grand if you could make something that is convenient for both the pup and everyone else. Spacious areas and comfortable spots should be thought about. Think also about adding play areas. 

 Educate Yourself On What Is Needed 

 You’re always going to be learning new things about your pup – even when you’ve had them for years and years. Firstly, however, you’re going to want to get to grips with the basic needs they have. Their food, their behaviour, what they like and hate, and so many other things should be thought about. Fortunately, you can head online and check out the likes of Freshpet dog food reviews or you can read up on all kinds of pet parenting techniques.

 Regularly Check With Your Vet 

 Your vet will know an awful lot more about your dog than you will. They’ll need to have regular check-ups in order to ensure that they’re okay and that they aren’t going to have any problems anytime soon. If you put things off and leave them for too long, the errors you make could be hugely problematic going forward. 

 Keep Them Active 

 If your pup is constantly on the move, then they’re going to be stimulated. Just like ourselves, dogs need to be doing something in order to feel happy. If you’re working from home and have lots to do, you might feel as though you aren’t doing enough with them – there are plenty of activities you can do in this instance. Just don’t possess a lazy dog that doesn’t mean – it’s not good for them.

 Teach Them Manners And To Be Calm 

 You’ll teach them all kinds of tricks and methods of obedience over the years. Hopefully, they’ll become a lot calmer and steady pretty early on. If they’re going to be happy with their life, then they’re going to need to be disciplined so that they can stay out of trouble. Less anxiety and more tranquillity will keep a pup very happy.

How To Select The Right Treats For Your Pup

How To Select The Right Treats For Your Pup

The American Pet Products Association (APPA) estimated that pet food and treat sales in America increased by 9.7% in 2020. Treats are handy to have as a dog owner since they are an excellent way to show your puppy love and reward it for good behavior. Nevertheless, what you feed your dog is vital, so it is best to put great thought and effort into selecting the best treats for your furry friend. If you wish to learn more about choosing suitable treats for your dogs, consider the points below.

     1. Avoid treats with artificial ingredients

Dog treats are typically designed to catch pet owners’ eyes, so you will undoubtedly come across treats with bright colors and fascinating packaging when searching for snacks for your dogs. Although puppies don’t care what their treats look like, it is your duty as a pet owner to check the nutrient analysis and ingredient list before purchasing any snacks. Treats that come in unnatural colors are likely packing a lot of salt, fat, dyes, and artificial preservatives that make them less healthy diet options. Instead, opt for simple treats with fewer ingredients like those on this web page to ensure that your dog doesn’t consume anything unhealthy.

     2. Make treats yourself

Making your puppy’s treats yourself is worth considering to ensure that you know the exact ingredients your dog is consuming. Fortunately, you can keep many treats in your refrigerator for up to one week, so baking once weekly is enough to cover your pup’s snack needs. You can make DIY dog biscuits, dog donuts, and frozen treats as well. However, remember to avoid using chocolate, onion, garlic seasonings, raisins, corn, salt, macadamia nuts, and other ingredients to which dogs typically don’t react well. Therefore, it would be best to check online to see if a particular element is safe for your dog to consume when making treats to keep it in optimum health and wellness.

     3. Consider treats with specific health benefits

Your puppy can have its cake and eat it too if you feed it treats with health benefits. Fortunately, many treats have numerous health benefits besides being tasty snacks. As such, there is no shortage of options to select from, regardless of your pup’s unique needs. You can find dog treats for food allergies, anxiety, dental disease, and obesity. In addition, you can purchase treats specifically designed for dogs with joints and hip pain, and sensitive stomachs. 

     4. Watch out for calories 


Obesity is one of the biggest health problems for dogs in America, with data indicating that 55.8% of dogs are overweight or obese. Like humans, obesity in canines can contribute to many health problems like diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis. Overindulgence is perhaps the most significant cause of obesity in many dogs since many owners do not track the number and calorie content of treats they feed their pups. Consequently, feed your dog low-calorie treats only, or break down bigger treats into small pieces that can last throughout the day. Also, consider cutting back on treats if your dog is obese until it reaches a healthy weight.

How to Make a DIY Cat Tree From a Real Tree!

How to Make a DIY Cat Tree From a Real Tree!

This post shares my DIY cat tree using a real tree! Learn how to make a cat tree from a natural branch…yes, that I drug out from the woods.


How to Make a Cat Tree From a Real Tree and My Stunning DIY Cat Tree!

I have wanted to make a cat tree with real branches for a long time. It’s one of those projects that’s been bubbling up on my dream project wish list for a while. I am ecstatic with the finished tree!

diy cat tree using a real tree

One day while we were at my parents’ house, my dad and I went out into the woods behind their house and emerged with two branches. This is the cat tree before photo:

How to Strip and Finish Branches for Decor

I had a big vision for these branches! But first I had to let them dry out indoors, so while I was doing that, I started browsing some inspiration for realistic-looking cat trees.

Some of my favorites are at Pet Tree Houses. They do some really stunning work. Here are some of my favorites. Definitely check them out if you’re in the market for a cat tree but don’t have the time to put in to doing one from scratch! (Image removed)

Since I’m not a professional woodworker and many of these trees were made by professionals, I tempered my expectations and decided to take bits and pieces from each design to incorporate in to something that I could realistically make.

I sketched out a super advanced design with a pencil and paper. Sit back and enjoy my skills:

plans for the cat tree

So I actually didn’t end up being too far off from what I wanted. So with these fool-proof plans ready to go, I started gathering supplies.


Branches & support pieces:

  • A big branch and a small branch. My small one is about 3′ tall, and my big one is about 5.5′ tall
  • A paint scraper—like this one here
  • Minwax Stain in Natural and Rust-Oleum Ultimate Polyurethane in Satin
  • Small hand-held saw
  • Sisal for scratching post portions
  • Faux vines—mine are old from Jo-Ann (Note: don’t use faux plants if your cats like to eat them. My cats don’t touch them, but would eat and throw up real plants.)
  • 2″ x 48″ dowel, cut in two pieces for the scratchers (here)
  • 2.5″ wood screws

Base & platforms:

  • One piece of 3/4″ plywood cut to 2′ wide by 3′ long
  • 2 pieces of 1″ x 3″ x 8′ pine for the base’s ledge
  • Rust-Oleum Wood Stain in Kona and Minwax Polyurethane inSemi-Gloss
  • Decorative rocks—browse them on Amazon here
  • Stepping stones from Lowe’s—here
  • Pine scrap pieces in various sizes for the platforms
  • Brown faux fur fabric—reused

Miscellaneous tools & supplies:

  • Miter saw
  • Drill—I have this one
  • Assorted sandpaper—I used 100 and 150 grit
  • Hand-held staple gun
  • Liquid Nails Heavy Duty Construction Adhesive—it’s cheap and wonderful
  • Various sized nails and screws

And here are the DIY cat tree plans!

(Remember to wear a mask and eye protection while sanding and working with wood, and wear an appropriate mask while working with paints, stains, and finishes. Follow the directions and warnings from your particular brand. Do not use any tools without proper training, precautions, and supervision from a professional. Read my full terms of use here.)

Make a cat tree using real branches.

Step 1: Scrape, sand, and finish the branches.

The first step for my DIY cat tree using a real tree was…to find a real tree and prep the branches! Once our branches were sufficiently dry, we stripped the bark off and then finished and sealed them.

This is actually a lot of work, so I broke those steps out in to their own detailed post about how I stripped, stained, and sealed my branches! You can see my full post on how to finish branches for decor here.

But here’s a glimpse at the very messy and very frustrating but very rewarding process:

Scraping and finishing a real tree branch

After we stripped the bark off, we leveled the branches as best we could. Some people recommend a laser level, and while I’m sure that would have been 1000000% times easier, we leveled the tops and bottoms of the branches by eyeballing and then sawing off very small portions at a time.

Step 2: Attach the branches to the base and finish the base.

First, we pre-drilled holes in the branches. Our branches had a few cracks from drying, so we made sure to avoid those areas when drilling. We positioned and attached the branches to the main base piece, the plywood, by screwing 2.5″ screws up through the bottom of the plywood and into the branches. We also added Liquid Nails on the bottom of each branch before screwing them on.

Next, we built out and finished the base. We built a raised edge all the way around using 1″ x 3″ pine pieces cut to length. This serves two purposes: it covered the rough edge of the plywood while also creating a space for rocks to make the tree bottom heavy. I stained the entire base in Kona and finished it with two coats of semi-gloss polyurethane.

In the workshop working on the tree

Step 3: Create and install the scratching posts.

Once the base was finished and the two branches were attached, we worked on the scratching posts. We made the posts using a 2″ x 48″ wooden dowel cut in to two pieces. I stained and finished these in Kona and semi-gloss poly to match the base and glued sisal rope around them.

To get the sisal rope to stay while the glue dries, we shot in a few staples with a hand-held staple gun. (We removed to protect our cats’ claws when the glue dried.) Then we dabbed some Liquid Nails on the bottom of each post and screwed them in to the base just as we did the tree branches.

Wrapping sisal to make a scratching post

Step 4: Create the platforms.

I grabbed four scrap pieces of pine to use for the platforms. I loved being able to use these little pieces that had just been sitting around! The back scratching post platform is very small—more like a step stool for the little girl—while the front scratching post platform is a bit bigger.

The two higher platforms are about the same size—big enough for King Henry to max out. We also build out a tiny little ledge around the highest platform to coordinate with the base.

I decided to do a mix of stained (Kona) and finished (semi-gloss poly) platforms to match the base and platforms upholstered with faux-fur fabric. They had the same faux fur on their old cat condo, and they loved it, so I just reused that.

Staining and finishing wood for the platforms

Step 5: Install the platforms.

We used a combination of Liquid Nails, screws, and a nail gun to secure each platform in place. Here’s my dad looking adorable while we were attaching the platforms!

In the workshop working on the tree

Step 6: Add finishing touches!

Yay, almost done! Time for the finishing touches. I put a few cheap stepping stones and big rocks in the base to keep the tree bottom heavy. The rocks are big enough so that neither cat will understandably mistake the base for a litter pan and Henry won’t eat them (he is an asshole and eats lots of things he shouldn’t).

The stepping stones allow them to walk around the base and helped me keep costs down since they were so much cheaper than the rocks. I also picked up some faux vines to wrap around the branches. I would not have used these if our cats were into eat fake plants, though. They ignore them.

And here it is—Our DIY cat tree using a real tree in its home:

diy cat tree using a real tree
diy cat tree using a real tree
DIY cat tree plants
diy cat tree using a real tree
Closeup of the details including the scratching post
Make a cat tree using real branches.
DIY cat tree using real branches
DIY cat tree using real branches
DIY cat tree using real branches
DIY cat tree using real branches

If you loved this, definitely check out my raised cat feeder DIY, my easy DIY catnip toys, my cat house side table build plans, and this roundup of DIYs your pets will love!

You’re going to love my total cost for this project. The tree I really loved was $800 (and used fake branches!). For my tree, I spent…


Here’s the breakdown of what I paid (I did use coupons for a lot of this):

  • Satin finish for the branches ($6.00)
  • Semi-gloss polyurethane ($6.47)
  • Faux vines ($12.99)
  • Decorative rocks and stepping stones ($25.07)
  • Lumber for the base ($13.14)
  • Wooden dowel ($7.98)
  • Liquid Nails (3.47)

Everything else? It was found, foraged, already owned, or borrowed with the help of my sweet dad!

An update about our tree branch cat tree & more trees from readers!

I published an update post two years later to let you all know how the cat tree is holding up. Check out the updated cat tree post.

I have also had a few readers reach out to let me know they used this tutorial to make a tree for their kitties. They graciously allowed me to share them to help inspire you all to create your own!

building a DIY cat tree using real branches
Helpful method for stabilizing if you don’t have an extra set of hands.
building a DIY cat tree using real branches
Tree in progress.
finished DIY cat tree using real branches
Finished tree.
maine coon kitten on a DIY cat tree using real branches
This is the platform that he attached to the wall with an L-bracket. Obviously wouldn’t work if you’re putting this in front of a window but is a fantastic solution for securing the tree to a wall to prevent sway!

Alex and Julia’s Tree…

My jaw dropped when I got this email from Alex and Julia. Their tree absolutely blew me away! I love how it goes from the floor to the ceiling. It truly looks like it is growing up through the house. I am now extremely jealous that my tree doesn’t do this, lol.

Here are a few things they did that I also loved—

  • After scraping all of the bark, they filled the cracks with resin: “The only real step we did that you didn’t was to fill the cracks with epoxy resin stained with mica powder in a dark chocolate colour and sanded it back to a smooth finish afterwards. It took ages!” Genius.
  • I love the “toadstools” as well. You can see how they made those by stacking batting in one of the pictures below with Julia.
  • The branch that stretches out far to the side of the main tree—you can see that it is pretty thin and might be wondering how it is supported. If you look closely at the pictures below, you can see that they added two L brackets to the wall to help.
  • On that same perch, they very smartly made the fur topper removable by using what looks like tied cord and hooks screwed onto the bottom of the perch. Excellent idea for washing, and I’ll probably do that when I get around to replacing ours!

Thank you Alex and Julia for sharing!!

woman removing bark from a tree branch
Julia scraping the branch
tree branch for a DIY cat tree
tape on the tree branch
woman stacking pieces of batting
DIY cat tree project
cute kitty on a DIY cat tree
DIY cat tree made out of real branches
gorgeous DIY cat tree made out of real branches

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diy cat tree using a real tree
diy cat tree using a real tree

DIY Cat Tree Using a Real Branch

DIY cat tree using real branches

CAT LOVERS! I’m sharing the whole process for my DIY cat tree using a real tree. This natural-looking cat tree made from a natural branch looks beautiful!


Branches and Support Pieces

  • A big branch and a small branch. My small one is about 3′ tall, and my big one is about 5.5′ tall
  • A paint scraper
  • Minwax Stain in Natural
  • Rust-Oleum Ultimate Polyurethane in Satin
  • Sisal
  • Faux vines
  • 2″ x 48″ dowel
  • 2.5″ wood screws

Base & Platforms

  • One piece of 3/4″ plywood cut to 2′ wide by 3′ long
  • 2 pieces of 1″ x 3″ x 8′ pine for the base’s ledge
  • Rust-Oleum Wood Stain in Kona
  • Minwax Polyurethane in Semi-Gloss
  • Decorative rocks
  • Stepping stones from Lowe’s
  • Pine scrap pieces in various sizes for the platforms
  • Brown faux fur fabric

Miscellaneous Tools & Supplies

  • Miter saw
  • Drill
  • Assorted sandpaper
  • Hand-held staple gun
  • Liquid Nails Heavy Duty Construction Adhesive
  • Various sized nails and screws


    1. Scrape, sand, and finish the branches. For a detailed tutorial on how to do this read this post.
    2. Level the tops and bottoms of the branches by eyeballing and then sawing off very small portions at a time.
    3. Pre-drilled holes in the branches.
    4. Attach the branches to the main base piece, the plywood, by screwing 2.5″ screws up through the bottom of the plywood and into the branches.
    5. Add Liquid Nails on the bottom of each branch before screwing them on.
    6. Build out and finish the base.
    7. Build a raised edge all the way around using 1″ x 3″ pine pieces cut to length.
    8. Stain the entire base in Kona and finished it with two coats of semi-gloss polyurethane.
    9. Make the scratching posts using a 2″ x 48″ wooden dowel cut in to two pieces.
    10. Stain and finished the scratching posts in Kona and semi-gloss poly to match the base, then glue sisal rope around them.
    11. Dab some Liquid Nails on the bottom of each post and screw them in to the base just like you did the tree branches.
    12. Create the platforms and cover with faux fur.
    13. Use a combination of Liquid Nails, screws, and a nail gun to secure each platform in place.
    14. Put a few cheap stepping stones and big rocks in the base to keep the tree bottom heavy.
    15. And you’re done!


Note: don’t use faux plants if your cats like to eat them.

For more information on how can help you with How to Make a DIY Cat Tree From a Real Tree!, please contact us at 808-372-7734, or visit us here:

Savvy Nana

38 Oak Cove Lane Humble, Texas 77346


Savvy Nana DIY Projects

3 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Choosing A Large Dog Breed

3 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Choosing A Large Dog Breed

Is Your House Suitable For Them?

First, consider your home environment and whether it is suitable for a dog. You’re going to need a lot of space for them to roam around, even if they are not a particularly energetic breed. If you live in a small house or you have a big family and space is already an issue, a big dog might not be right for you. 

As well as the space, you need to consider all of the added extras that you may need in your home. For example, you’ll need to install an extra large dog door if you want them to be able to get outside. You might need to put stair gates in too because big dogs can cause a lot of havoc if left to roam the house on their own. 

A big garden is a bonus too because, even when you are walking them regularly, a big dog needs a lot of exercise. 

Can You Commit To Walking Them?

Speaking of exercise, your large dog will need to be walked just like any other dog. Dog owners always need to decide whether they can commit to daily walks, but it’s a bigger commitment with large dogs. They are more prone to joint issues, so it’s vital that they maintain a healthy weight. They have more energy too, which means that you need to walk them for longer than a small dog and they need time to explore and run around. No matter what the weather is like, you will have to grab your walking essentials and take them out for multiple walks every single day. Think about whether you are willing to commit to that or not before getting a large dog. 

Can You Handle Their Strength?

People often underestimate just how strong these big dogs can be. If you are not very big yourself, you might be walking a dog that weighs almost as much as you do, so if they decide they’re running off, you’re going with them. But that doesn’t mean that only big people should get big dogs, it just means that training is extra important. You don’t want your dog running off and pulling you along behind or jumping up at strangers in the street and knocking them over, so they need to be trained well from an early age. However, regardless of how well you train them, you still need to be aware of their strength and consider whether you can handle it or not. 

Before you buy a large dog breed, think about the extra responsibilities involved and ask yourself these questions to make sure that it’s the right choice.