Posts tagged with ‘Animals’

Vaccines Soon

Sam and Helo will be due for their vaccinations in February. I’ll also need to renew their registration with the city and the dog park.

Bowie's Separation Anxiety →


A question for dog parents.

Bowie is really adorable and I love him a lot, but he has to be on top of me at all times. Not in a cuddly affectionate way, but in an anxiety-ridden way. When I leave in the morning he howls and howls. If he’s running around in the backyard and I step out in the front for a minute, he howls until I come back. He’s like velcro, which is cute, but obviously a sign of some serious separation anxiety. He was a stray, so he might have some abandonment issues.

Any magic tricks to coping with his anxiety?

You should definitely consult with a behaviorist. There could be separation anxiety, and there could also be possessiveness over you. Both of which are serious behavior issues that need to be worked on as soon as possible to prevent worse behavior in the future. Separation anxiety alone is just extremely stressful for the dog. Dogs should be comfortable with you leaving them for a little while, otherwise they’ll be upset the entire time you’re gone.

If you’re literally letting the dog be on top of you all the time, you should really start putting him down on the floor and making him get comfortable with being on his own. Holding him or letting him sit on you can cause possessiveness, which is often the cute little dog that wants to bite people when they get too close to the owner (commonly seen in toy breeds who are too sheltered and have adapted Napoleon, or “big dog” syndrome). These dogs can cause you stress, as well as the people around you. Good luck!

(Source: saltstory)

Vets on Behavior Proclaim, Never Use Shock Collar →






Veterinarians take a stand against punitive dog training collars and methods.

They also warn against choke chains and prong collars; and they discuss when and how to start training your puppy. This is a great, extremely basic introduction to scientific dog training.

I use a martingale for my puppy because huskies are known to back out of collars. It’s safer on their neck and a whole lot better than regular collars.

I didn’t see any mention of martingales in this article; they were only talking about shock, prong, and choke collars. When martingales are used correctly,* they can prevent escape without being especially harmful to the dog. Personally, I prefer front-clip harnesses whenever possible for escape-artist dogs, because they prevent the dogs from being injured when they pull.**

The point of the article was to focus on the dangers of using pain as a training tool, and how it can be very damaging to our dogs. If you don’t allow the martingale to cause discomfort to your puppy, I don’t see much problem with it, even if it’s not really an ideal tool.

*Under correct usage, the martingale should only tighten to as tight, or slightly tighter than, a regular flat collar. They should never cause choking or more discomfort than a flat collar. Martingales are not really necessary for most breeds, but they can be useful for broad-necked dogs like sighthounds.

**I’m assuming that if your dog is slipping his collar, it’s because he’s pulling. In that case, martingales are no safer than flat collars, and they can cause tracheal and nerve damage.

I’m pretty sure they mean their dog is backing out of it’s collar, not that it’s pulling so hard it’s escaping.

Any training tool can be dangerous and used to inflict pain or injury. If that’s the case, then the tool is obviously being used incorrectly. Whether it’s an e-collar, a prong collar, or a martingale… I wouldn’t use an e-collar with my dogs, but I know people who work their dogs. A working dog is a lot different than an average dog and their owner learning new tricks. It’s really a matter of perspective.

I used to be against prong collars, choke chains (I’m still against choke chains, honestly, they are the dumbest tool ever invented), and e-collars but in the last several years I have come to learn more about these training tools and I find that it’s the people who use them wrong. I use a prong collar on my smaller dog and people think I’m cruel because of it. For my large dog I use a Gentle Leader head collar. Those tools are what work best with those particular dogs. It varies.

The average person doesn’t need these tools. Unfortunately, they are usually the ones getting these tools and using them to inflict harm on their pets because they are frustrated with the training process. It’s a shame because I have a feeling that these tools will one day be illegal in some areas because of the idiots using them when they have no right to. 

That article is likely referring to dogs who have been abused by these tools due to the ignorance of their owners. The article doesn’t highlight the proper use of these tools, which is not intended to inflict pain on the animals. Even the e-collar is used to get the dog’s the attention (especially when working at long distances ie. herding, hunting, etc.), not to hurt the dog. You don’t zap him with a huge electrical charge. Half the time you only need to use the tones or vibrations that come before the shock, according to some of the trainers I’ve met who use these tools for their working dogs.

Again, WORKING DOGS are different than the average household pet. Look at herding, for example. I just went with my friend who actively volunteers in German Shepherd rescue to watch her and a few of our friends from the dog park go herding. She herds sheep and goats with her German Shepherd.

Her GSD sometimes requires an e-collar if she is too focused on the sheep and not paying attention to her handler. Herding is a game of “bringing in the dinner,” and if the dog isn’t working with the handler then they aren’t going to be able to bring in dinner. So it’s vital to get that dog to watch you AND the sheep, which can be very challenging for both the handler and the dog. 

Some dogs just get so excited and focused on those sheep, or whatever livestock they’re herding, that they don’t want to listen to their owners. A small shock is used to get the dog’s attention, not to hurt the dog for not listening. Of course, it’s not exactly comfortable, I agree. But people need to stop and think about it for a moment. People get these collars and without the proper knowledge, they use them for dogs for barking and other behavior problems, and that’s not what they should be used for. 99% of the time, the dog just needs to be exercised and taught the correct behavior.

But no. People use these tools as a quick fix to inflict harm and instill fear in their dogs. I would never go to a trainer who expects me to use such a tool on my dogs. And half the time I wouldn’t trust a trainer who insists on using a prong collar on the first day of training. Prong collars should be used at the appropriate time, for the appropriate situation. Not for the average dog going through training, which is why these tools are becoming such a problem to the dog community. Improper use is just too common…

I expect a good trainer to have knowledge of every training tool available, and to know when and how to use them. They should always start off with tools like the no-pull front clip harness or the head collar. If they want their clients to use martingales, they need to show their clients how to use the martingale properly. I see too many people use martingales incorrectly, causing their dogs to choke and strain themselves because they aren’t being taught how to walk the right way on a leash.

If every dog owner would just train their dogs, the world would be a better place. All of these behavior problems we hear about could have been avoided if people would be proactive with their animals. You can’t blame the tools anymore than you can blame the dogs. It’s always the handlers fault, in my opinion.

Anyway… What I’m trying to say is that 99% of these terrible stories we hear about dog abuse and even death by use of these tools is due to owner ignorance. If the owner is that stupid and knows nothing about the tool, they damn sure shouldn’t even possess such tools.

A local woman here killed her small breed dog after trying to use a shock collar to prevent it from barking. Are you kidding me? I want to strangle these idiots. I can understand using an e-collar on a working dog in the field (herding, hunting, etc.) but I would never put one on a toy breed or a dog who’s life purpose is to be your household best friend. Average dogs shouldn’t need to ever wear an e-collar, and even working dogs shouldn’t need them often.

And unfortunately, I don’t trust most veterinarians unless they have proof of education where dog behavior is involved. A lot of veterinarians and vet techs don’t even have extensive training experience with dogs (and I can’t stress enough that pets are different than working animals). Unless they have proof of education, the only advice they should be giving to pet owners is health advice. All they see are these idiots bringing in dogs who have been mentally or physically scarred by the improper use of these training tools (which seems to be increasing). Veterinarians need to strongly encourage pet owners to seek positive reinforcement training courses. Training is for the lifetime of the dog. It’s not supposed to end after a 6 week course.

(Source: reikiforreallife, via sp00kytr1angl3)

Watching the dogs herding was so much fun!

The trainer, Terri, is amazing. She has a great personality and seems to really be able to read the dogs and their people. I’m eager to give it a shot with Sammy. She said she would be available the week before Christmas, so I’m going to try to get out there and see how Sammy does.

I’m also going to fill out the application to register Helo for a basic obedience class at the Merrimac Dog Training facility. Hopefully I like the trainer. I’m so particular about trainers - there’s a reason why I like to train my own dogs!

I’m excited to get Helo into rally, though. Our friend Heidi and her Collie Sally are getting ready to start rally this session. Helo won’t be starting for a few sessions. They require the dogs to take at least one obedience course before they can participate in rally and agility courses so that’s why I have to put Helo in a class. I could probably have him test out of the class, but it would be fun for us to show off to the class and he could use some more practice around other dogs.

A Weekend with the Dogs

Sam and Helo got to the go to the beach on Friday, and to the dog park on Sunday. We met an adorable Golden Retriever puppy, and a 17 year old Cocker Spanial/Daschund mix who had such a puppy-like personality. The dogs got to see their pals Piper the German Shepherd, Tucker the Golden Retriever, Jack and Buddy the Labradors, Tailgate the Border Collie, Bailey the German Shepherd, and Sally the Collie. Sunny, a Lab/Shepherd mix, came to the park for the first time.

When the man and daughter first entered the park, we were all looking to see if we recognized their dog. Since we didn’t, we watched to make sure all the dogs did okay greeting the new dog. Sometimes it can be a little awkward for new people to go the dog park where other people have already formed a sort of friendship. We’re always happy to see new people at the park, and for the most part I think we come off as a pretty friendly bunch to newcomers. Eventually Jack and Buddy’s owner got up and went to greet the man and his daughter. He had to get Buddy’s attention because their dog Sunny clearly needed some space. 

We learned that Sunny was a rescue and wasn’t very socialized with other dogs. She seemed to display some dominant behavior at first, but eventually she settled down and started playing with Tucker the Golden Retriever. Sunny plays a little rough and is very vocal when she plays, so at first it sounds kind of intimidating. Most of the regulars at the dog park are familiar with dog behavior and didn’t step in while Sunny laid on top of little Tucker. There was no harm being done, and Tucker kept going back for more. He was having fun. 

I talked with Sunny’s owners (the man and his daughter). I could tell they weren’t comfortable when they first came into the park. I’m not sure if they were worried about Sunny’s behavior or worried about how other people would feel about Sunny’s behavior. I told him that it seemed like the biggest thing with Sunny is her growl. She’s vocal when she plays, and that scares people sometimes. I didn’t understand how it felt to be that person until Helo came around. He can get pretty vocal sometimes, and people are often frightened by his growling and showing of the teeth during play. People think he’s fighting, but what they don’t know is that Helo is the biggest wimp in the park.

I think Sunny would stick up for herself if it came to that, but for the most part she did pretty good for her first time at the park. I hope to see her again. I think the more she gets out there, the better she’ll do with the dogs. If she was aggressive, she would have bit several dogs today. She had more than one opportunity, but she chose not to. That tells me she was just uncertain about her surroundings when she first came into the park. Who wouldn’t be worried about a bunch of strange dogs running up to you from out of nowhere?

Sometime dogs just need a little bit of time and space to get comfortable.

Food for Gatsby →


For all the corgi parents out there: what kind of food do you feed your corgi babies?

Gatsby has been on Wellness Complete Health Super5Mix Just for Puppy (geez, such a long name) ever since we got him. Before we brought him home, the breeder said he was fed Diamond puppy food once he was weaned. He was also fed Nutro’s Ultra puppy food (the one in the orange bag) for a short time. This was before we settled on Wellness.

Since he’s turning 1 soon, we want to start transitioning him from puppy food to adult dog food (which makes me a teensy bit sad. our baby is now an “adult”!) and right now we have no idea what to feed him. I’ve been researching for a while now about premium/high quality dog food that contain no fillers and all that good stuff. I came close to deciding on Orijen but as I continued to do more research, I found that there seems to be concern with some people about its high protein levels and how this “may cause kidney problems.” Some people have suggested Acana as an alternative to Orijen - same high quality, natural ingredients but with less protein. We are also considering sticking with the Wellness line (particularly Wellness Core).

Anyway, I suppose we can just consult with our vet regarding food, but I am just curious to see what other corgi parents feed their fur babies.

Any suggestions/thoughts/insight is greatly appreciated!

I definitely recommend talking to Juno’s mom! She is studying animal nutrition! I don’t have a Corgi, unfortunately, but I’d still like to voice my opinion on the subject as I find it very interesting.

If Gatsby is doing well on his current diet, you can stick with Wellness, but move on to the adult formula. Nutro is also a good food, but I personally dislike Diamond products. I think Diamond is a low quality product. A lot of people buy it because it’s cheap. The Diamond company also makes Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover’s Soul and Taste of the Wild, which are admittedly good foods, despite all of the recalls they have had. I know most pet food companies have had voluntary recalls. I just don’t trust Diamond products. I know there are better foods available, and I want to feed the better foods to my dogs.

If your budget for dog food is tight, Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover’s Soup, Taste of the Wild, and Nutro are good options.

One food that I speak very highly of is Nature’s Variety. The Prairie version has grain, but it contains high quality ingredients. The Instinct version is what I feed my dogs. It’s grain-free and coated with raw. Nature’s Variety has a complete and nutritionally balanced raw diet on the market as well, which also contains high quality ingredients. Overall, I don’t think you can go wrong by feeding any of the Nature’s Variety products. The quality is excellent, in my opinion. A lot of the better dog foods are overpriced, but I’m willing to pay for the quality. I think $40-50 is reasonable for a 28lb+ bag of grain-free kibble.

Grain-free is always going to be more expensive than diets that contain grain.

Orijen, as you mentioned, is a great food. It’s one of the best grain-free diets on the market, and yes it’s packed with protein. But as long as you don’t overfeed Gatsby, I wouldn’t worry about damaging his kidneys. Any grain-free diet is going to have more protein than a diet that has grain in it. I’d definitely transition Gatsby very slowly onto such a high protein, grain-free diet, though. Some dogs just can’t handle such a rich diet.

In all honesty, diets like Orijen are meant to be similar to feeding a raw diet. Some people, and reputable breeders, feed a raw diet to their dogs beginning at puppyhood and haven’t had any problems. In fact, these people believe it’s the healthiest kind of diet for a dog. There are different kinds of raw diets though. Prey model is an all meat, bone, and organs diet meant to simulate the prey in a wild dog’s diet, while BARF consists of about 60-80% of raw meaty bones (with about 50% meat), 20-40% of fruits and vegetables, eggs, dairy foods, etc. I prefer BARF, personally.

Other than Nature’s Variety, other comparable diets are Innova and California Natural. They are both manufactured by Natura, and both have a grain-free formula and a formula with grain. If I didn’t feed Nature’s Variety, I would probably feed Innova PRIME or the grain-free California Natural. One of my dogs has a sensitive stomach and wouldn’t do well on Orijen because of it’s richness.

Then of course, the Wellness (SuperMix and Core) and Nutro (Natural Choice and Ultra) are great foods, also. Blue Buffalo is another high quality diet, but I don’t care for their “LifeSource Bits.” If they removed the LifeSource Bits, I’d probably be a bigger fan of their formulas.

I’m very particular about dog foods, and avoid anything with corn, wheat, soy, by-products, and animal digest as a general rule. Juno’s mom has a lot more in-depth information about dog food so you might want to talk to her about it. Good luck!

Haha, that’s too funny! Surprisingly, Sam and Helo don’t mind if I put clothes on them. I used to put hoodies on Sammy because I thought that was the coolest thing ever… Then for Halloween we dressed up for a doggy costume contest, and we even walked in the Christmas parade with the “Lighted Dog Brigade.” Other than that, it’s just my personal preference not to dress them up. They’re dogs, they don’t need clothes! And believe me when I say I mean that in the most respectful way. Dogs are amazing. I’d hate to make Sam or Helo feel foolish by dressing them up!

Haha, that’s too funny! Surprisingly, Sam and Helo don’t mind if I put clothes on them. I used to put hoodies on Sammy because I thought that was the coolest thing ever… Then for Halloween we dressed up for a doggy costume contest, and we even walked in the Christmas parade with the “Lighted Dog Brigade.” Other than that, it’s just my personal preference not to dress them up. They’re dogs, they don’t need clothes! And believe me when I say I mean that in the most respectful way. Dogs are amazing. I’d hate to make Sam or Helo feel foolish by dressing them up!

List of Dog Blogs on Tumblr

So I’ve moved my list of dog blogs on Tumblr from a post to a page. Check it out! If you know of any dog blogs that aren’t on the list, please let me know! I’m happy to add any dog blogs I come across. The only rule is that they must be separate from personal blogs - they should contain a majority of posts or pictures of the blogger’s own dog(s).

It’s very time consuming to keep up on the list, so if you find any broken links please let me know so that I can try to fix them. Whenever a blogger changes the URL of their dog blog, I need to know about it in order to keep that blog on the list. Otherwise the links will redirect people to the original URL which is no longer in use. Feel free to share the list on your own blog. It’s fun to find other dog blogs to follow! I’ve organized the list by breed so that people can meet other bloggers with the same kind of dog(s).

pandorasemptyhorizons asked: In regard to the digging article ... if anyone still has issues with their dogs digging, particularly at nighttime, it could be due to the weather. When it's cold, sitting in a nice big hole in the garden acts as insulation and keeps the doggy warm. In hotter weather, the earth is cool to sleep in. This isn't behavioral digging and the best way to stop this is to give your furry friend a coat in winter and in summer find them somewhere cool to sleep like a tiled laundry etc. :)

Very good thing to point out! My dogs enjoy digging for that very reason. At the dog park, when Sammy has worked up a sweat chasing other dogs, she often digs a small hole to cool down in. I don’t put clothes on my dogs, though. Maybe if I had dainty small breeds I would, but I personally don’t think it’s necessary to put a jacket on a medium or large breed dog (unless of course it is hairless or has very thin fur). I just don’t think it’s necessary for my dogs. When they’re outside in the Winter, they’re running around and staying warm. A dog’s body is different from a human’s. We can’t stand barefooted in the snow because our feet would become frostbitten. Dogs don’t seem to have to worry about that. I believe it has something to do with their circulatory system. Sam loves running around and jumping in the snow! When she feels too cold she lets me know it’s time to go inside and relax by the fire!

How to Prevent Digging →


SimpleCircuitry requested a tutorial on how to keep their puppy from digging. This is really more tips and tricks than a step-by-step lesson, and it’s much like teaching your dog not to bark in the yard or counter surf when you’re not around.

There are several reasons dogs may dig, and it’s important to consider why your dog may be digging in any given instance. Many dogs dig out of boredom. If you leave your dog alone in the yard for any length of time, there’s a good chance she’ll start digging for the fun of it. Some dogs also dig to escape boring yards or if they’re distressed by something in the area. Digging can also be a sign of chronic stress or anxiety and may not be related to triggers in or around the yard. Some dogs dig to pursue prey, and others just have a very strong drive to dig regardless of how much stimulation and exercise they receive elsewhere. If your dog is not showing any other signs of stress, she’s probably digging out of boredom.

In this article, I’m just going to discuss controlling boredom digging. The first step is to ensure your dog is getting enough structured exercise and training time to keep her stimulated throughout the day. This step alone should eliminate the vast majority of digging behaviour, but many dogs will still dig at least a little even with lots of exercise.

Until your dog knows not to dig, you’ll have to supervise her in the yard at all times. If you have a fenced yard, it’s best to still keep her on a lead, so you can interrupt her digging easily. While you’re walking your dog, you’ll probably begin to notice she has favourite digging spots. Every time she approaches one of these spots but before she can begin digging, mark the behaviour and give her a reward.* If your dog ignores your mark and begins to dig, call her and apply gentle pressure to the leash to guide her away from the hole. Now that you know very definitively where your dog likes to dig, you can walk her past that area on a short leash, and mark and reward her for not digging at that spot. Ideally, you’d want to mark a pre-digging behaviour like sniffing. This will teach your dog that sniffing interesting spots is more rewarding than digging, and she’ll learn to sniff instead of dig when you’re not around to supervise her.

After your dog can sniff her favourite spots without digging while you’re standing next to her, you’ll need to work on generalizing this behaviour. To do this, use a long line to give your dog space to explore on her own. If she approaches a digging spot, mark and reward her behaviour before she can dig. If she begins to dig, just call her and apply pressure to her long line to guide her away, just like you were doing with her hand leash. Gradually build distance between yourself and your puppy as she explores her favourite digging spots. The idea of this is to teach your puppy that sniffing is more rewarding than digging even if you’re not there to immediately reward her. After your puppy is an expert at sniffing on her long line, you can try her off leash. Once she’s an expert off leash, you can try letting her out as you stand just inside the doorway, and then standing entirely out of her view.

I’ve seen people use a “leave it” command to prevent digging. I’m not really a fan of that method, because it doesn’t teach an alternative behaviour. If you’re not there to remind your puppy to “leave it”, she’s likely to start digging again.

Because digging is a self-rewarding activity, some dogs may take a very long time to train to not dig. It took Maulkin about two weeks to learn not to ever dig at the park, but he was never given the chance to self-reward. The more experience your dog has digging, the longer she may take to train. Just remember to be consistent in your method to prevent self-rewarding, and your dog should learn there are better things to do than dig.

*Treats work well, but I’ve found a quick game of fetch to be the most rewarding for boredom diggers.

Great advice, as usual!