My New RV Pet Safety Monitor
Blogs, Products & Places I Love For Dogs, Safety & Emergency Prepping

My New RV Pet Safety Monitor Part 2: Setup and Testing

Earlier this month I wrote about my new Nimble Wireless RV Pet Safety Monitor that I was excited to try in our new camper…and then we sold the camper! I’m kinda sad because we spent so long looking for the camper, and it was so perfect for us, but we got an offer we couldn’t refuse and decided we weren’t using it enough to justify the expense of storing it and paying for insurance, and it still wasn’t exactly what we wanted as it did not really fit all five adults and two dogs. So, we are back to browsing for the right camper for next season. However, I have still had fun testing out the Nimble Wireless RV Pet Safety Monitor in various other places.

The Nimble Wireless RV Pet Safety Monitor transmits data using the Verizon Wireless network, so if you have mobile service, this device should work. If you are boondocking way out in the middle of nowhere, you might get service or you might not, but if you are that far out in the middle of the wilderness, there probably isn’t anywhere that you won’t be taking your dog since chances are you will be doing all outdoor sports and not going to tourist attractions that do not allow pets, which is, of course, the whole reason you would need to monitor the temperature of your RV from a distance.

Because your device is tied to a wireless network you will need to sign up for either a monthly service plan or an annual service plan depending on your needs. If you are a full-time RVer, you would probably want the annual plan. With the monthly plan, you can start or stop your service whenever you want.

Once your plan is purchased and your device is charged, you want to give your device a day or so to connect to the network and get all synched up. That’s as technical as I will get because my expertise is living your best life with your dogs, not techy-stuff.

The last step is to download the RV Pet Safety app, log in with your account, and go to the Settings tab to add any phone numbers and email addresses where you want to receive alerts and to choose your minimum and maximum temperature settings. You can also choose if you want to receive battery percentage alerts to tell you how much battery power you have. The nice thing is that you can easily go into the app and turn these on and off and also change the frequency of alerts.

I set my device to alert me when the temperature went under 40 degrees or over 70, then I moved the device around the house and took it on car rides with me during which I left it in the hot car while I went about my day. Sure enough, as the temperature in my car reached the maximum, the alerts began and continued until the device was back in an environment under that temperature.

I found the device to be pretty accurate give or take a degree or so, and that could be my own thermostat at home that is off since this device has been in use monitoring the restaurant industry for many years. It even detected a change when I moved it to the windowsill in our bedroom where the sun was coming through the curtains and warming up the particular spot where I had placed the device.

I like this device for the purpose of RV monitoring and think it will give considerable peace of mind. I could see this as being useful to professional dog show handlers, police departments that do not have other solutions in place for their K9 officers, search and rescue handlers, boarding kennel or doggie daycare operators or really anyone who participates in dog sports like hunting, conformation, rally obedience or barn hunt with more than one dog. This device can technically be used in the car, but I am a strong proponent that dogs never be left alone in any car regardless of the weather because of the rate at which cars heat up and the potential for the theft of the dog or car or both.

If you want more information on the Nimble Wireless RV Pet Safety Device, check out their website https://rvpetsafety.com.

Love Laugh Woof RV Pet Safety Monitor
This post is sponsored by Nimble Wireless.

 

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Blogs, Creating a Happy, Healthy Life, Products & Places I Love For Dogs, Safety & Emergency Prepping

The Nimble Wireless RV Pet Safety Monitor in the Home

In my most recent blog, I wrote about my weekend adventures running a farmer's market booth for a pet treat company and all of the dogs I got to meet and treat with samples. What I failed to mention was that on the second day, I developed heat exhaustion, and it was terrifying.

I had gone to work the booth with four bottles of water and two bottles of Powerade. I'm not a big sports drink person because, by the time I burn calories working up a sweat, the last thing I want to do is drink more calories and undo what I just did.  We have them in the fridge for my daughter's marching band practices and my husband's runs, though, so I figured it would be smart to grab a few.

I ended up purchasing three more bottles of water at the event, and despite trying to hide in the shade and take a break in the air-conditioned truck before packing up the booth, I ended up overheating, with a horrible headache, vomiting, cold chills, dizziness and more. It was perhaps one of the scariest moments of my life, but fortunately, I was able to get into the refuge of the air-conditioned vehicle, drive home, and get my body back to normal.

Yesterday I was out at a different local dog event and once again it was around 90 degrees outside before factoring in the sun and the fact that the event was on a blacktop paved parking lot. I was only a spectator and still, it was unbearable, and I was really quite upset about the number of owners who had their dogs out with them. Shocked, in fact, as there was no way that I would have brought Jackson and Tinkerbell out of a perfectly good air conditioned home and subjected them to that. If it is too hot for me, it is without a doubt too hot for them.

I have thought about my experience with overheating and fact that as a human, I had ways of helping myself,  a stark contrast to the dogs who are harmed by excessive heat every summer in situations that they cannot control. I know how terrified I was, and I understood what was happening and could get help on my own, could use my cell phone to call for help if I had needed it. These dogs who are left in cars or trailers in the summer weather do not, and the warm temperatures impact them even faster than they do us.

One of the reasons I love the Nimble Wireless RV Pet Safety Monitor is that it is not just for RVs. The fact that it has a battery and is portable means that you can take it literally anywhere your dog is and get periodic and continual updates on the temperature in that area. Or you can just leave it at home.

I cannot tell you how many times I have obsessed over what the temperature was at home when I was away from home. I have called in sick at my old job when our air conditioning malfunctioned on a 100-degree day and I refused to leave my dogs home to possibly bake in a hot house. I have agonized over whether or not the power was out during stormy weather when I worked twenty-five miles away from home. Almost twenty years ago, when my late Babe and I lived in an apartment in an old Victorian home, I obsessed over whether or not she would be safe or not while I was at work, or if the window unit upon which we relied would blow the circuit breaker yet again.

Even this last spring before we had serviced the AC for the upcoming summer and we were going through a hot day here and there, I stressed anytime I left the dogs home alone, worrying that the temperature might become too warm while I was out networking or running errands, since we do not leave windows open when nobody is home. Now, dogs are smart when it comes to the heat and when they are able to, they will look for ways to cool themselves down through the methods that they instinctively know as dogs, but we are the ones in control of their environment and sometimes the things we use to keep them safe like a crate or kennel make them unable to find a breezy area or a cool surface on which to lay.

I wish I had had the RV Pet Safety monitor to give me peace of mind during all of these events! In my opinion, the cost is low compared to the peace of mind that it buys you. Plus, it monitors all temperatures, not just heat, so come winter you can also have peace of mind that your home is not too cold when you are away at work or play.

This post is sponsored by the Nimble Wireless Pet Safety Monitor

Blogs, Creating a Happy, Healthy Life, Planning for a New Dog

Dog Trainers Make Me Happy!

When I picked up little eight-week-old Jackson to bring him home, one of the things to which I agreed was that I would take him to obedience school. I happily agreed, partially because even though I had lived with dogs my entire life I had not had a puppy in fifteen years, and partially because my breeder was in the process of becoming the person in the dog community who I respected and trusted above all others. However, in the back of my mind, I thought, "Well, it will be a nice refresher but I'm sure I know everything I need to know to train this puppy!"

Oh, how wrong I was about that!

You see, my hubby and I could have trained Jackson to sit, lay down, stay, come when called, and walk nicely on a leash without help. I think we could have pulled it off on our own and we would have raised a nice dog. I mean, we haven't had a class on raising the human kids and they're all turning out ok.

The thing is, though, why try to wrangle dog training on your own when there are these extraordinary people roaming the world, looking like normal ordinary people, who are really magical wizards or fairy dog-mothers with a vast understanding of your dog's brain and body, who can teach you how to give your dog the best possible life ever? 

I seem to write about the importance of working with a professional trainer each and every time I sit down to write a blog, and there is a reason for that. I firmly believe that dog trainers can help owners solve a massive amount of the issues that lead to owner surrenders. Not to mention, not only is the dog owner happier when their dog is nicely trained and knows the rules of the house, but the dog is happier when she knows what is expected of her and how to approach each situation!

You see, the whole reason we love dogs so much is the same thing that makes some people throw up their hands and think that life with that particular dog is impossible: they cannot speak English, and their brains work differently than ours. It is the proverbial blessing and a curse.

Honestly, aside from the fact that they are furry, adorable, walk on four legs and don't have thumbs, what really sets them apart from humans is that they live in the moment, they are not afraid to show complete and utter joy when happy, they never "get in their heads" or lie, cheat, steal. And while that is all part of what makes us love them, it makes it so that a lot of humans have a hard time teaching them things. But dog trainers know how the canine brain works, and their superpower is acting as a translator between humans and dogs to help everyone get on the same page!

What I love the most about watching dog trainers in action, at least the ones who use a positive reinforcement, reward-based approach, is that they are so calm and easy going and make training your dog seem so easy, and how it really can be that easy if you just follow their instructions! In fact, the inspiration behind this post is that last weekend I was "booth-neighbors" at a local dog rescue fundraising event with a trainer from the same facility where I trained both Jackson and Tinkerbell. As we ran our booths in the vendor area, I spent much of the day chatting with the trainer and basically eavesdropping on her conversations with the dog owners who were attending the event, and I realized just how happy I am to watch a trainer in action.

One family was having some sort of issue with their 3 small dogs when someone comes to the front door. I missed the first part of the conversation but I watched as the trainer so easily explained a solution in which they could train the dogs to all run to their kennels and get rewarded with treats every time the doorbell rang, so that it would break the cycle of the dogs doing whatever unwanted behavior they did at the front door. I listened as she explained how to do this, how to practice it by ringing the front door and going through the whole series of events a few times a day, and that pretty soon the dogs would just associate the doorbell ringing with running to their crates and getting food, so that they would begin to view the ringing doorbell with happiness and joy. She was so fun to watch, so relaxed, so confident in this answer and I watched as the owners had a visual "ah-ha" moment just like I have had before when working with a trainer, thinking, "Oh my gosh, that is so simple yet so genius!"

As the crowds thinned and we waited for the official booth tear down time, I laughed as I told her some of the things that my super smart Jackson had taught himself based on some of my puppy rearing practices. For example, when Jax was a puppy and he would get into stuff that was off-limits, I would tell him a firm "no" and then redirect his attention with a toy or antler, and shower him with praise and affection.

Jackson to this day remembers that sequence of behaviors, and will intentionally jump on the sofa, grab a contraband item, look at me to make sure I see him, and then start to destroy the item until I jump up, tell him "no" and watch as he wags his big thick otter tail with a mischievous doggie grin on his face, and grabs a toy for me to play with him. He has been doing this for seven years, and only touches contraband items when I am present and in the room. I can leave him in the room as I go about other activities, and he never touches a thing. It is 100% for my benefit and to get me to play.

Jax grabbing the contraband Love Laugh Woof
Jax grabbing the contraband

I have also noticed that every time the dogs play a round of Zoomies and Bitey Face, that after they are done, Jax runs to the back door and stands there to go outside. Every. Single. Time. For the longest time I thought he really had to go outside to go potty, but then I realized (when he just stood on the deck and looked at me) that he was still going through the sequence of events that we used to do when he was a puppy and we were house-training him, when the rule was that every time he got done playing, it was time for a potty break.

The funny thing is that we trained Tinkerbell exactly the same way, teaching her which items were hers and which were not, and using the same house-training method, and she learned the lessons but not this exact sequence of events. This is why we call him "Sheldon Cooper smart" because he is such a stickler for routine and absolutely the most intelligent dog I have ever met in my life. I tell him all the time that he needs to be more dog-like, but he just snorts and walks away...like a dog.

Love Laugh Woof Blog
"Come on, Momma, come and get me!"

But back to my fabulous fangirl day watching a dog trainer at work, as I relayed the stories of Jackson's odd habits, I told her that I was trying to break the first behavior by simply ignoring him with the hope that if I did not reward him with playing, that he would stop snatching up my magazines and the remote control for the TV, but it was not working. She calmly and quickly offered up the suggestion to insert another behavior in between those 2 things, so to correct him, then have him go through some commands like sit, down, etc, and it would break the association between stealing stuff and getting momma's attention. Um...GENIUS!

I have watched other trainers in action with someone's dog who they have never met, and I just love how calm they are, how their mannerisms are so simple and yet the dogs hang onto their every word and movement and immediately seem to trust them as their leader. Just like human educators, I think these are some of the professionals who need to be paid about 20 times whatever their current salary is, because they are in possession of knowledge that can literally save the lives of dogs who were taught the wrong things early on in life or whose owners are at their wits end and about to surrender them to a shelter.

The next time you are around a dog trainer, hang back and just watch them in action, and you will see what I mean. And make sure you tell them thank you for what they do for dogs because they truly have magical powers.

 

 

 

Love, Laugh, Woof is sponsored by the Nimble Wirless RV Pet Safety Monitor

Love Laugh Woof RV Pet Safety Monitor
Love, Laugh, Woof Review of the Nimble Wireless RV Pet Safety Monitor
Products & Places I Love For Dogs, Safety & Emergency Prepping

Love, Laugh, Woof Review of the Nimble Wireless RV Pet Safety Monitor

 

Love Laugh Woof RV Pet Safety Monitor
This post is sponsored by Nimble Wireless.
Blogs, Creating a Happy, Healthy Life, Products & Places I Love For Dogs, Safety & Emergency Prepping

My New RV Pet Safety Monitor

Last year my husband and I spent most of the spring and summer shopping for a travel trailer style RV, which I blogged about in the post, Our Search for a Labrador Friendly Camping Trailer. A few weeks later we purchased a super cool model called the TrailManor that folds down like a big pop-up but opens to be the size of a travel trailer, complete with a tiny bathroom and air conditioning, my two girly-girl requirements in a camper. Trailmanor camper

Of course, now that we have the camper, the "we could camp at Disney" discussion is on again. My husband would really love to stay at Fort Wilderness Campground, but no matter how much I love the outdoors, with the "rope-drop-to-kiss-goodnight" way that we do the Disney parks, after twelve or more hours of walking in theme park temperatures, I want ice cold air conditioning, a gorgeous shower, and a big clean bed every night. I'm fine with being dirty and grungy if our whole goal is to just hike with the dogs and relax in the woods, but "Diehard Disney Days with the Smiths" require hot showers, soap, and muscle restoring rest!

Because he knows exactly how to convince me to go along with his plans, my husband tossed this idea out into our shared universe: If we take the camper down to Disney, we can take the dogs with us. 

Wait, what?

I can go to my beloved Florida, go to Disney, visit my Dad, AND have my dogs with us, avoiding the separation anxiety that I go through each trip? 

Sign. Me. Up.

Of course, that excitement was immediately followed by my famous "what if" scenarios. You know, the kind that makes me excellent at thinking of endless dog safety topics for this blog but also drives more level-headed and less imaginative people (aka my husband and a few of our kids) crazy!

"What if the RV air conditioner malfunctions?

What if we blow a fuse? Is that even a thing? 

What if someone unplugs us from the power source?

What if the RV park loses power? 

I cannot go and have fun in a theme park while I am worried about my babies overheating in a hot camper!"

I have read several stories about losing power in the RV groups that I have joined on Facebook since we purchased our TrailManor, including one where the neighbors unplugged the RV and plugged theirs in instead, and they had their dogs inside! Thankfully their dogs were ok, but it made me double down on my mandate that if we were to take the dogs anywhere in the RV and we leave them for any amount of time, we will not do so without a temperature monitor.

Now, in all honesty, the way we do our intense all day park days, if Jackson and Tinkerbell were with us, I would probably take them over to the boarding kennel near the parks instead of leaving them alone in an unfamiliar place in their travel crates for more than a few hours at a time. I would never leave them in crates for that long, I would rather they be home with their pet sitter. The last few trips, though, we've started visiting Disney more like "normal" people, going to the parks in the morning until the noon heat and crowds develop, going back to the room and pool for the afternoon, and then back to the parks at night. But still, I would be a nervous wreck not knowing what was happening back at our RV no matter how short a time we were away. 

Ready to check out the camperSo, Florida RVing with the dogs has not happened yet, but we've taken them out locally and they've had a blast sniffing new areas, getting to be around actual trees (Jax marked literally every single one on every walk), and have staked out their sleeping spots inside with us, with Jackson on the sofa and Tinkerbell up in the bed with us humans. Each time I've thought about the RV Pet Safety Monitor that I had tested last year in a product review, and wished that we had one just in case the Disney issue came up again or we are camping locally and want to go swim in the campground pool or do something where the dogs were not allowed.

A few weeks ago, though, my phone rang, and my same friend who had originally let me try out the RV Pet Safety Monitor was on the phone and offered to send me her unit because she remembered that my husband and I were actively shopping for a camper. I eagerly accepted her offer, and I now have my very own monitor charging next to me as I type!

The RV Pet Safety Monitor is a really cool invention, and I like the fact that the company has experience in other types of cooling systems, so the technology is not new. Nimble Wireless, the company who sells the RV Pet Safety Monitor, also engineers and sells products that monitor refrigerated semi trucks, restaurants and cold rooms in the food industry. They decided to expand their technology to pets because just like so many of us, they saw the countless heartbreaking stories of dogs who have perished from being left in hot vehicles, and wanted to use their expertise to help save lives. 

I'm excited to have my own unit, so once it is ready I will give you an update on the setup of the device and my account. I plan on testing it out in a variety of situations without my dogs, so I can show how it monitor's the environment from everywhere using the cellular network. In the meantime, here are some photos of the unboxing of the device, I personally adore the little hang tag that they provide that you could put on the handle of your RV if you were camping somewhere.

Nimble Wireless RV Pet Safety Monitor

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Photo by Aaron Barnaby on Unsplash
Creating a Happy, Healthy Life, Planning for a New Dog

“But I Don’t Need a Show Dog” an article by Terri Lewin Gilbert

This article by Terri Lewin Gilbert provides an excellent explanation of why professional breeders who participate in conformation events are recommended for puppy buyers who are looking for purebred dogs as pets.

But I Don't Need a Show Dog by Terri Lewin Gilbert

Homemade Sweet Potato Treats
Blogs, Creating a Happy, Healthy Life, Food & Nutrition

Homemade Sweet Potato Dog Treats

We go through a lot of dog treats in our house. A lot. I may be well educated on how to create a happy, healthy lifestyle for your dog, but I've never said I wasn't a pushover. I mean, it's not like my dogs aren't well behaved and trained, so it's ok if they get a treat every single time they go inside or outside, or before bed, or into their kennels, or if they go and stare adorably at the treat container...

Fortunately, all of the brands and varieties that I purchase have great ingredients that supplement their regular food, so I feel good feeding them to Jackson and Tinkerbell. With my strict criteria for treats, though, it can be extremely expensive to purchase organic, grain free options, and you can easily spend over $100 a month on just treats. Enter...the food dehydrator!

It wasn't too big of an ah-ha moment when I stood and looked at the bags of sweet potato chips, carrot chips, and green bean chips in the healthy pet product store selling for $8 and up and realized, "hey, I could make those in that food dehydrator that's  collecting dust in our cabinet!"

So far we have just done sweet potatoes and carrots, but I will be adding other options like green beans, spinach, and kale soon. And yes, my dogs adore all of those and many other fruits and vegetables, which I've blogged about before: Jackson and Tinkerbell's Top 7 Produce Picks.

Here is the super easy process for making your own dehydrated treats!

I prefer to peel the potatoes and use a kitchen mandolin to slice them because it is easier to get a uniform thickness. You can slice either direction to create smaller round slices or longer slices. If you do not have a mandolin, slice with a knife and try to keep your slices the same thickness. Our mandolin is ancient and scary; please get one with more safety features than this! 

Jax and Tink like to hover as soon as I start peeling...

If using a kitchen mandolin, make sure you use the accompanying safety holder so you do not remove any human parts. 

All sliced and ready to be dehydrated! 

Place slices in a food dehydrator, placing larger pieces toward the bottom. If you do not have a food dehydrator you can use your oven at around 140 degrees or your lowest setting. 

During the dehydration process, I suggest checking on them and moving the trays around depending how each layer is cooking. 

Viola! A few hours ready your treats are ready to give to your dog! I store in food storage containers right by the door to our yard.

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Identifying and Choosing a Responsible Breeder
Blogs, Creating a Happy, Healthy Life, Planning for a New Dog

Identifying and Choosing a Responsible Breeder

If you have decided that a purebred puppy is the right dog for you, there is still a considerable amount of research to be done to ensure that you find a responsible breeder who is breeding dogs for the right reasons and with a professional level of knowledge. Buying a purebred puppy from a breeder is more than a sales transaction, it is the start of a relationship with someone who can and should be a resource for you for all of the dog's life. This article contains sixteen important qualities to look for when finding the perfect breeder for your purebred puppy. 

1. Requires an Extensive Application Process: 

Good breeders will require an extensive application to be submitted by potential puppy buyers to ensure that their puppies are going to forever homes where they will receive the appropriate care, socialization, training, affection, and exercise. Responsible breeders care about each and every puppy that they bring into the world and work hard to ensure that they will be treated with the same love, care, respect and attention that they would have provided themselves.

Our application for Jax was multiple pages long, including questions about our philosophy on dog training, books we had read, our experience with dogs, what had happened to other dogs in our life, and a variety of other questions. Click on the following link to see an excellent example of the type of application that you should expect to be required: http://www.libertyrunkennel.com/Swissy_application.pdf

2. Offers a Lifetime Return Policy: 

This means that the breeder will take the dog back at any point in its life and dictates that the owner is not allowed to surrender the dog to a shelter or rescue under any circumstances at any point in the dog's life. Some breeders (including ours) will also ask to be the backup contact on the dog’s microchip for life and ask to be included in the owner's will if something happens to the owner(s) while the dog is alive. When a breeder offers a lifetime return policy, not only does it mean that you will have someone to take your dog if something happens to you, but it also is a sign that the breeder has a lifelong commitment to all of the puppies that he or she produces. This is another indicator that the breeder is breeding for love of the breed and a love of dogs and not simply for financial gain.

3. Only Offers AKC Limited Registration: 

Many show/hobby/professional breeders will only sell dogs with a Limited Registration, meaning that the dog itself is fully registered with the American Kennel Club but any puppies that he or she produces cannot be registered. This protects the bloodline and also means that puppy buyers cannot sell registered puppies from their dog. This is done to deter would-be backyard breeders by taking away some of the monetary value that they could receive for puppies, which is the motivation of unscrupulous puppy farm operators and many backyard breeders.

4. Has a Demand Before Creating the Supply: 

Responsible breeders wait for a demand for their puppies before they create a supply. Many only breed a litter when they want to keep a puppy for themselves, and the chances are high that you will be on a waitlist in order to purchase a puppy from them.

Jax was already in utero when we found out about him and we honestly got lucky. Our breeder was referred to us by one of my husband's co-workers after our Dutch passed away. There was one spot left for a puppy buyer when our application was approved; otherwise, we would have been on a waiting list for the next litter which was planned for the following winter. Jax was born in March, meaning our wait would have been nearly a year.

If you look at the Past Litters page of the German Shorthaired Pointer who won Best in Show at Westminster in 2016, you will see that they average around one litter per year since 2002.  You will also see that most of the females were only bred a few times, which I address further on in this article. This is indicative of a very responsible dog breeder who is committed to not contributing to the pet overpopulation problem as well as one who is not breeding for financial gain. 

5. Includes a Mandatory Spay/Neuter Clause

Many breeders require their puppy buyers to spay/neuter their dogs within a certain time period. This also helps reduce unwanted litters, both intentional and accidental. This is a dual purpose in helping decrease the pet population and potentially reducing the risk of certain cancers for both male and female dogs.

Another common practice is for show/hobby/professional breeders to only allow co-owned dogs to be kept intact and able to reproduce. A co-owned dog typically lives with the puppy buyer full time and is their dog for day-to-day life but is only bred when the original breeder permits a breeding to occur. Tinkerbell's mother is co-owned by her family and our breeder. She has had two litters and spent that time at the breeder's home delivering and tending to her puppies for the first eight or so weeks of their lives, but other than that is a beloved family pet and hunting champion happily living the life every Labrador Retriever deserves.

6. Promotes Rescue and Shelter Adoptions

Of course, purebred puppies from a breeder are not going to be the right option for everyone, and there are plenty of incredible purebred or mixed breed puppies and grown dogs waiting for their forever home in shelters and rescue organizations everywhere.

Responsible breeders are usually extremely supportive of dog adoption and rescue and will send potential puppy buyers to these resources if they do not have litters on the way or when they think that a buyer might do better with a grown dog or a different type of dog. Responsible breeders are dog lovers and dog advocates and are just as upset by the rampant dog overpopulation problem and heartbreaking euthanasia of healthy, innocent dogs as other dog lovers.

7. Is an AKC Breeder of Merit

The American Kennel Club Breeder of Merit program identifies breeders who have a history of five or more years of involvement in AKC events, have earned AKC titles in Conformation, Performance or Companion events on at least four dogs from AKC litters that they have bred or co-bred, perform the recommended health tests and obtain certifications that their dogs have passed these tests, and are members of an AKC club. All of this is done to distinguish responsible breeders from puppy factory operators and backyard breeders. 

From the AKC site: AKC Breeder of Merit Participants demonstrate a commitment to the AKC Community, dedication to their breed(s), and actively promote the sport of purebred dogs. The AKC is proud to recognize AKC Breeders who are dedicated to breeding beautiful purebred dogs whose appearance, temperament, and ability are true to their breed. These breeders are the heart of AKC.

Breeders will usually proudly display this designation on their website, or you can search the AKC website: https://www.apps.akc.org//apps/breederofmerit/breederofmerit_list.cfm.

8. Performs Health Tests for Common Breed-Specific Health Issues

Every dog breed in the American Kennel  Club has a parent club that maintains the breed standard, or the guidelines for correct appearance, temperament and movement of all dogs registered as that breed. These guidelines are more than just ensuring that the dog looks a certain way for aesthetically pleasing reasons; because all dog breeds are bred for specific functions, these guidelines ensure that the dogs are able to perform these functions. For example, the big thick otter tail of the Labrador Retriever is not just because it is visually appealing, it acts as a rudder when the dog is swimming so that the dog can maneuver in the water more easily.

Unfortunately, many breeds also have common health problems and responsible breeders work hard to keep those problems from afflicting their dogs and puppies. Using our example of the German Shorthaired Pointer breed again, if you were looking for a GSP puppy, you would look for a breeder testing parents for hips, elbows, heart and eyes. Of course, this does not guarantee that one of these issues will not be passed onto a puppy by a dog who has received good test results, but it helps decrease the likelihood as well as identify breeders who are considering these issues when choosing which sire and dam to use for a planned litter.

Here is a link to the AKC list of suggested tests: http://www.akc.org/dog-breeders/bred-with-heart/health-testing-requirements. If you look at champion German Shorthaired Pointer CJ, you will see test results listed right at the top of his sire information page: http://www.mystkennels.com/MYSTOurDogs/CJ/VJKMYSTDogsCJ.htm.

9. Does Not Overbreed Their Female Dogs

Dams should have active, happy lives as beloved pets, show dogs, or performing the activities for which they were bred. Puppy mill females live a tragic existence in cages their entire lives and give birth to litter after litter after litter. A responsible breeder will sometimes only breed the same female a few times, and when she is not pregnant or tending to her puppies in a whelping pen, she is living a full and happy life. You can sometimes research how often a female is being used for breeding by searching Past Litters and Planned Litters pages on a breeder's website.

Jackson's mother is my breeder's "heart" dog, meaning she is one of the most special dogs that my breeder has ever raised with an extra special dog/human emotional connection. Just like Tinkerbell's mother, she has had a few litters in her life, lives on a large piece of land that I like to call Labrador Retriever Utopia with a pond in which to swim and plenty of acres to explore. Now spayed, she is happily sleeping on the breeder's bed, playing with the other dogs, and generally living a happy, healthy life.

10. The Dogs are an Active Part of the Breeder's Life

Seeing language that is overly sales oriented is a red flag that the breeder is seeking to make a substantial profit by breeding a lot of puppies instead of breeding in order to bring new dogs into their program to keep for themselves. Look for breeder websites that focus less on sales and how much you should want one of their puppies and more on how the dogs are an active part of the breeder's life.

When my husband received a suggestion to check out our breeder, the most notable thing about her website was the detail about each dog listed on her site. She included vivid detail about their successes, their personalities, how they were as puppies and how they are as grown dogs so that it seemed as if we knew them. Each dog has their own page on her website, filled with photos of them competing or just playing with the breeder. Her Brags page was an extension of those individual pages, with more stories of what each dog had done with her over the years, whether they were competing in hunt tests, conformation, or agility. I could see that each dog was a beloved family member and not just "breeding stock" with the purpose of producing puppies.

11. Readily Displays the Sire's and Dam's Pedigrees

Look for breeders who willingly offer the pedigree of all of their breeding stock. Not only should the pedigree be something of which the breeder is proud to display, but it also offers you the ability to research and Google the dogs whose DNA has contributed to your future puppy. Responsible breeders often know each other from dog shows and from using each other's stud dogs with their own females to prevent inbreeding. Here is a great example of a Labrador Retriever breeder that displays several generations of their dogs' pedigrees: http://www.dickendall.com/heath.html.

12. Does Not Breed for Odd Colors or Markings

Coat color is part of a breed's standard, and responsible breeders typically breed for standard coats. Breeders who encourage new colors or unique coat markings raise a red flag that they are breeding specifically for color rather than other qualities like temperament, intelligence, and adherence to the breed standard. This can have a negative impact on the puppies in the form of health problems, diminished intellectual ability and a different temperament than puppy buyers might expect.

A good example of this is the Labrador Retriever. Labrador Retrievers come in three colors: yellow, black and chocolate. Yellows can range from so light that they appear white and so dark that they appear almost red. However, they are all still yellow. Some breeders will focus on breeding specific hues of yellow and advertise "white" or "fox red" Labrador Retrievers. Additionally, there is a controversial "silver" color that is the subject of much debate, with advocates claiming that it is a version of chocolate and opponents claiming that this color comes from breeding Labrador Retrievers with Weimaraners.

13. Does Not Sell Puppies Through Online Puppy Brokers or Pet Stores 

Top dog breeders do not sell through online puppy brokers or pet stores. As mentioned above, it is common for a breeder to have a waitlist for their puppies because of the infrequency of their litters. They do not need to advertise to sell puppies, and they will not be willing to give up control over who purchases their puppies.

14. Will Not Ship Puppies

Look for breeders who will not ship puppies to their future homes. You can purchase puppies from breeders who do not live near you, but you will need to travel to pick up the puppy in person. This is dual purpose so that not only does the breeder get to meet you in person and see how you interact with the other dogs on the property and your new puppy, but to also ensure that the puppy is transported home safely and never in the cargo area of an airplane.

If you fly to pick up your new dog, make sure that the puppy will be small enough to comfortably fit in a travel crate that can go under your seat in the main cabin. Otherwise make arrangements to drive to pick up the puppy, as relegating puppies to the cargo area is unacceptable and cruel. 

15. Discusses Socialization and Training on Their Website

Look for breeders who stress the importance of socialization and training on their website. Responsible breeders will introduce puppies to new experiences in a positive way before they are ready to go home to you. Some will also start to train the puppies on very basic commands. Jackson and Tinkerbell, along with their littermates, were both trained to sit and wait for their food before they came to us at eight weeks old. We also received extensive documentation on various puppy rearing topics to help us navigate puppyhood and prepare them to fulfill their potential as incredible dogs.

16. Is Someone You Like

I mentioned in the first paragraph that buying a puppy from a purebred dog breeder is far more than just a sales transaction. Your breeder should be a resource to whom you can turn for questions and guidance at any point in the dog's life. I am friends on social media with our breeder and I truly feel like she is part of my family. I love reading stories about Jackson's mother, I cry when some of the older dogs at the breeder's house pass on to the rainbow bridge, I fall in love when she breeds a new litter and shares photos of the puppies that she keeps for herself. I worry about her and all of the dogs when I see storm warnings in the summer in her area.

As the human dog mom to two of her puppies, I feel a connection to her. By facilitating the breeding of my two dogs, she has changed and improved my life forever. It is an honor that she felt that I was worthy to raise these magnificent dogs that she helped bring into the world.  It is important to choose someone who you like and who you feel comfortable reaching out to with your own questions as you raise your own puppy into an adult dog and for all the days of your dog's life.

I have provided a PDF file with a checklist that you can use when you are researching particular breeders.  You may also find the attached Excel template useful if you are researching and comparing multiple breeders.

Identifying and Choosing a Responsible Breeder: Checklist.pdf

Breeder Comparision Workbook.xltx

Organic Lawn Care Options: DIY or Hiring a Service
Blogs, Creating a Happy, Healthy Life, Dogs & Lawn Care

Organic Lawn Care Options: DIY or Hiring a Service

Growing up where I did, we never cared about having a perfect lawn. In fact, most of our property was heavily wooded and forest-like, which was the whole reason my parents purchased it in the first place. Once a week Dad would mow while I used the hand trimmers around the rock gardens, and that was about it for lawn care.

In fact, my first experience with lawn obsessed home owners was when I moved in with my husband into our subdivision eleven years ago and a woman from our HOA had the nerve to come into our yard and measure our grass with a ruler and then report us for it being too long.

Over a decade later, I now know that suburbanites take their green grass seriously. In past years we have had the streets crawling with lawn care service salesmen, going door to door to try to shame us into hiring them because our neighbors did.

Personally, I don’t care if we have dandelions or clover in the grass or if the yard is one giant weed. As they say on the television show, Once Upon a Time, “Magic always comes with a price, dearie,” and I am not willing to gamble on what that price might be later on. I am not willing to gamble with my dogs’ lives on which studies are correct, those done by the lawn care chemical companies or those done by comparative oncology programs at respected universities.

dogs and lawn careSo how can we all live happily together in suburbia? How can lawn aficionados and dog lovers be at peace with each other instead of glaring at each other from across their 4 foot fences, without the grass being noticeably greener on the chemically treated side?

Fortunately there is an abundance of organic lawn care advice on the internet, and some lawn care companies are stepping up to offer organic lawn care services to people who have a passion for a green lawn and a healthy environment for their children and dogs.

DIY Organic Lawn Care

Organic lawn care focuses on the overall condition of your soil and your grass instead of applying a magical chemical formula (2,4-D or glyphosate) that somehow knows to kill the weeds and leave the grass. According to the various blogs and articles that I have found on this topic, organic lawn care requires more attention, planning and work,  but I personally think it is a fair trade-off when you can watch your dogs rolling around on the grass or having a green leafy snack without worrying about what they are ingesting.

Essentially the way it works is that by promoting healthy soil, watering appropriately, cutting the grass higher than most homeowners do, and letting the trimmings act as mulch, you create a lawn that is so healthy and robust that it naturally chokes out the weeds instead of perpetuating an unhealthy environment in which weeds flourish. It sounds very logical when you think about it, kind of like figuring out why a certain part of your body hurts and fixing it instead of popping Advil every four hours!

Here are some great links I found that are a good starting point if you are going to pursue your own organic lawn care regimen:

6 Steps To Create A Vibrant And Lush Organic Lawn

The Organic Way to Mow Your Lawn

Tips for a Lush Organic Lawn

Organic Lawn Care for the Cheap and Lazy 

Hiring a Service

Good old Google is a great way to find organic lawn care providers in your area. In researching this topic for blogs over the years, I have learned that in addition to companies who offer only organic solutions, some of the more “traditional” big name companies are now offering organic services, too. This makes me very happy because I am not anti-lawn care company, I just want them to offer services with products that are guaranteed to be safe for everyone.

It is important to ask a lot of questions before choosing a service and make sure you know exactly what is being applied to your grass. Here are some questions to ask when interviewing lawn care companies:

  • Do you use the chemicals 2,4-Dglyphosate in your fertilizers?
  • Do you use the chemicals 2,4-Dglyphosate or any other type of broadleaf herbicides for weeds?
  • What do you use as fertilizer? Is it 100% natural?
  • Can you guarantee that your technician will not apply a broadleaf herbicide or fertilizer that contains 2,4-D or glyphosate to my yard without my approval or upon my request?
  • How do you treat insects and other pests?

Personally, I would go with a company who specializes in treating my soil and grass as a whole living ecosystem and who has a passion specifically for organic practices. If nobody like that is in your area, some of the bigger names in the industry are starting to offer more dog and child friendly options, just make sure that you are an educated consumer and know what products to avoid and questions to ask.

 

 

 

 

7 shareable links about lawn care herbicides
Blogs, Creating a Happy, Healthy Life, Dogs & Lawn Care

7 Sharable Links About Lawn Care Herbicides and Dogs

In my most recent post, The White Flags of Springtime, I wrote about lawn care chemicals, dogs,  the studies that several universities have done linking lawn care chemicals like 2,4-D to dogs, and some measures that I take on a daily basis to try to minimize Jackson and Tinkerbell’s exposure to these chemicals. I also promised a blog with links that you could share via social media or to start conversations with neighbors who you know use these chemicals.

Let’s face it, we all want to yell, “Stop, are you crazy, don’t you know what you are doing!?!?” when you see the lawn care companies out en masse, or stop and glare angrily every time you see someone outside spraying grass that is far too close to home for you.  However, it is not going to go over well with your neighbors to boldly accuse them of poisoning the earth and its creatures, even if those creatures are us, our kids, and our animals. So what can we do instead?

Social media is a powerful tool, and Facebook is a perfect platform for you to share articles on things about which you are passionate. You can help raise awareness by sharing posts like this:

  1. There are more and more studies pointing to the dangers of lawn care chemicals. I say why chance it when we don’t need to use this stuff! https://www.nrdc.org/stories/24-d-most-dangerous-pesticide-youve-never-heard 
  2. I just read an interesting article on lawn care products. You might find it really interesting, too. https://www.rd.com/home/gardening/lawn-fertilizer-dangers/
  3. Check this out, there is some concerning information about lawn care products and kids at this link: https://www.ewg.org/research/24D/risks-to-children-from-24D#.WtjNIdPwZsM.
  4. Hey animal lover friends, this might interest you. There is some alarming information on how lawn care products may be harming animals, from pets to butterflies and bees! https://www.ewg.org/research/24D/pets-wildlife-24D#.WtjjzdPwZsM
  5. So basically this says that lawn care chemicals might not cause cancer in dogs, but do we really want to use something that was tested by being fed to beagles for a year???? https://www.24d.org/PDF/Scientific_Backgrounders/The%20Myth%20of%20Cancer%20in%20Dogs.pdf
  6. Honestly, if there’s even a chance that this stuff causes cancer in dogs or in anyone, I don’t want it on my grass! https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/issues/15_4/features/Canine-Malignant-Lymphoma-and-Lawn-Pesticides_20494-1.html
  7. I just read a concerning post from a professional beekeeper whose bee colonies were sprayed with 2,4-D, one of the chemicals in lawn care products. Check it out! http://saulcreekapiary.com/honeybees-2-4-d/

Is this a little passive aggressive? Maybe, but it’s a good start to increasing the level of awareness that these products may not be as safe as the people who make them want us to believe. Just because it has been used for over six decades does not mean that it is safe for our day-to-day lives or that we need it right in our actual back yards. We have banned other substances created after WWII because they were unsafe, like DDT and aldicarb. If you change just one homeowners lawn care practices, it is definitely worth learning about this topic and sharing your knowledge on the topic.

 

 

 

 

 

Beware the Little White Flags of Springtime (1)
Blogs, Creating a Happy, Healthy Life, Dogs & Lawn Care

The White Flags of Springtime: Being a Dog Owner in a World of Chemically Treated Lawns

The white flags are back, a sign of spring here in suburbia. I saw them yesterday as I walked with Jackson and Tinkerbell through our neighborhood, and I felt the annual flood of stress, frustration and disappointment that I feel every spring when so many homeowners in our neighborhood hire traditional lawn care companies to spray their yards with chemicals in pursuit of the perfect expanse of green grass. You know the chemicals that I mean, the ones that the industry says are so safe that they fed it to beagles as part of their testing and did not see any negative results, but that still require little white warning flags to let the world know that the products have been applied so that we do not walk or frolic in that grass for 48 hours.

This is not the first time I’ve written about this topic, and it won’t be the last. In the past I have written several blogs on the topic of dogs, lawn care products, and studies that link increased rates of cancer in dogs on chemically treated grass. You can read more about this topic at: Lawn Care Chemicals Linked to Cancer in Dogs and No Dogs on the Grass: Studies on Canine Cancer and Lawn Care Products. 

I have to admit, I dream of a world in which all homeowners realize the benefits of using an organic lawn care company that relies on all natural lawn care techniques instead of broadleaf weedkillers. A world in which we can watch our kids and dogs rolling around on the grass and not have to worry about whether or not the study done by veterinary team at Purdue University or the task force created to promote the use of 2,4-D had the accurate study. A world in which we can reduce the amount of plant waste that we send to landfills because we are using compost and grass clippings to achieve the American dream of a lush, green lawn.

I will also admit that after losing two dogs in row to cancer, the fear of any unseen toxins that my dogs are walking through sometimes makes me want to avoid walks in our neighborhood entirely. Just the other day I did not see the white flags in a neighbor’s yard until long after Jackson and Tinkerbell had thoroughly sniffed a large portion of his treated grass. But I cannot keep them in a protective bubble, simply because it is not fair to them to deny them the simple canine joy of going out and exploring the world with me.

Until we live in a world that embraces natural lawn care, here are the things that I do for my own dogs in an effort to minimize the effects of these chemicals in our lives.

Avoid Treated Lawns

Depending where you live, this can be extremely hard. Like I mentioned above, just the other day we the dogs and I walked through a yard in which some of the flags were missing at one end of the property, so I did not see them until we had walked the full length of the yard.

Try to avoid treated lawns and know that Purdue University determined in 2013 that lawn care products drift substantially from the area in which they are actually applied. As you see lawn care flags, make notes so that you can adjust your walking route and avoid those lawns on your daily walks. Shorten your dog’s leash when walking through affected yards and stick to the sidewalk or cross the street if possible.

You can also contact your local park department to inquire about what products are used in your municipal parks and if they have a routine schedule for when they apply pesticides. Look for natural areas that are not treated for weeds and take your dog on fun adventures to those locations, using an all natural tick preventative since the more natural the terrain, the more likely you are to encounter pests like ticks.

Post Walk Paw Wash & Wipe

1. Wash all paws in a foot soak using water with apple cider vinegar (1/2 cup vinegar per gallon of water) or an organic pet shampoo. Swoosh the paw through the water and use your fingers to massage the paws for a few second while in the soak. Rinse thoroughly in a second container of plain water and then dry well, including between the toe pads and webbing for breeds with webbed feet.

2. Wipe the entire dog from nose to tail with a damp cloth, including their legs, belly, nose and jowls. You can also use the same ratio of apple cider vinegar to water to soak the cloth or spray on them with a spray bottle, avoiding the eyes.

3. Wash my own feet (if wearing sandals or flip flops), ankles and calves to keep from spreading toxins on the floor, furniture and bedding that the dogs lay upon. This is also a good idea for owners whose dogs like to lick human toes or feet.

Dietary Supplements

Note: this is not intended as veterinary advice. Always consult with your veterinarian before adding any food or supplement to your dog’s diet. 

MicroFlora Plus or other probiotic for dogs: many experts believe that digestive health has a positive impact on an animal’s immune system. Although the food that I feed has a prebiotic and probiotic in it, I also add MicroFlora Plus to my dog’s bowls.

Wholistic Pet Organics diatomaceous earth: Scientific research has indicated that diatomaceous earth has a detoxifying property to it, so I add food grade diatomaceous earth from Wholistic Pet. Just make sure you purchase food grade diatomaceous earth, not the variety that is sold for outdoor use. You can read about more uses for diatomaceous earth for humans and dogs here: https://www.tipsbulletin.com/diatomaceous-earth/

Watch for our next blog in which we talk about positive links to share with friends and family to encourage all natural lawn care practices. 

This blog contains affiliate links for products that I use or recommend. I will receive a small commission for any sales resulting from clicks on my affiliate links. I do not receive customer information and the retail price of your item is not affected. Affiliate links help bloggers earn revenue from their posts in exchange for product recommendations. I only refer products that I truly love and use or strongly recommend after research and careful consideration.

Springsteen Lyrics, Dog Training, and What They Have in Common
Blogs, Creating a Happy, Healthy Life

Springsteen Lyrics, Dog Training, and What They Have in Common

Springsteen Lyrics, Dog Training, and What They Have in Common

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

Springsteen Lyrics, Dog Training, and What They Have in CommonThe other day I was driving in my car, and I turned on the radio. Of course it was set to its usual position on Sirius XM’s EStreet Radio, which is where it remains whether I’m running down the backstreets, if I’m going to drive all night, and especially when the highway’s jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive

In fact, I’ve been listening almost exclusively to Springsteen ever since my parents bought me my first Springsteen record in 1986. And before you think it was Born in the USA that set this obsession in motion, it was actually the Live 1975-1985 boxed set that swept me up into this thirty plus year love of all things Bruce. I am an old soul and a creature of habit musically, happily jamming out to concerts that were recorded when I was just a young Jerseygirl, playing on the swing set in Sparta, New Jersey with our dog Snoop by my side.Basically I have been living with a Labrador Retriever by my side and a Bruce Springsteen song on the radio for the majority of my life.

The other day I was cruising home after a meeting, music cranked up as loud as it could go (the dogs were waiting at home for me) and singing my heart out to one song after another, with all of their complicated lyrics flowing from my brain and voice without a single mistake. This is of course a regular occurrence that happens literally every time I go somewhere, but in the middle of singing I started laughing as I realized I had cruised right past the healthy pet food store and I desperately needed to replenish our supply of dog treats.

“How on earth can I remember every single word to a massive catalog of songs with super complicated lyrics yet I cannot remember to stop at the store for one single thing that’s been on my to-do list for a week,” I mused to myself.

Then it occurred to me. The same reason I knew the words to nearly every single Springsteen song is the same reason my dogs know that when I put certain shoes on my feet it means that I am taking them outside versus going somewhere without them. The same reason I know all of the special nuances I am listening to the live version of a song is the same reason the dogs know where to turn to head for home when we go for a walk.

That reason is repetition, repetition, repetition.

Nearly every training article you will read about dogs mentions the importance of repetition anytime you want to teach your dog something. It is through this exact method that I can sing you the complicated lyrics of a song like Jungleland but I cannot repeat the directions my husband just told me on how to get from location A to location B or remember to pick up some Fruitables for the dogs. I have sung that song hundreds of times in the last thirty or more years, correcting myself when I made a mistake; I have only heard the driving directions from my hubby once. As for the dog treats, I suppose that is an outlier from these examples  because dog treats are on my shopping list all the time.

Repetition is what has those lyrics stuck in my head when the directions were gone the moment my husband spoke them. Repetition is the reason why my dogs know that the act of me checking to make sure the back door is locked does not necessarily mean that I want them to do anything, but the act of me checking to make sure the back door is locked paired with grabbing a dog treat from the counter means that they are going into their crates.

Now this is the important part: your dog is watching your actions and learning from repetition whether you want him to or not. This means that you might be teaching your dog to do things that you do not want her to do, entirely by accident. The best example of this in our own home is Jackson’s “bad” habit of stealing things from our living room side tables when he wants to play with me. It goes all the way back to puppyhood when he was in the puppy version of the terrible twos.

If you’ve ever raised a Labrador Retriever puppy, you know the age that I mean. It’s that time when your puppy has become comfortable in his or her new home and is getting into everything with their razor-sharp puppy teeth and a seemingly endless amount of energy. It’s that portion of puppy rearing when in one short minute they might do things like bite down on your Achilles tendon with the force of a velociraptor, chew on the leg of your favorite table, attack your throw pillows, grab onto your shirt sleeve with all their might, and then stare you in the face as they pee on the floor just five minutes after their last potty break outside.

Jackson was particularly crazy and brazen at this age, and I spent hours each day redirecting his attention, telling him “no” when he tried to destroy our worldly possessions, thrusting a toy or antler into his mouth telling him “yessssss, good boy” whenever he had a dog friendly item in his mouth, and then engaging him in a play session for as long as his attention span would allow it until he went on to locate the next contraband item to test with his mouth.

Eventually Jackson figured out through repetition and a lot of trial and error that he was not in fact allowed to destroy our home and that he had his own toys and chewy things always available whenever he wanted to play or chew. Now, if you’ve read my blogs before, you know that I refer to Jackson as being “Sheldon Cooper smart” and that if he was a human he would probably have a PhD, studying string theory or dark matter somewhere. But, he is a dog, and instead of figuring out the universe, he has used his magnificent brain to figure out that any time he wants to play with me or get my attention, all he has to do is be naughty. And if you guessed that he learned through repetition, you are correct!

In retrospect, I probably should have removed myself from the play session when he needed to be corrected during those formative puppy rearing days, more like what a mother dog would do, but redirecting his attention from the contraband item and engaging him in play with an appropriate toy worked so well that I never questioned what I was doing. Plus, I’ve never had a dog so freakishly smart as this one. We used the same method with Tinkerbell and she has not developed this knowledge of how to get my attention. She just walks up to me and drops a toy in my lap if she wants to play.

Jackson, though, at six years old, still jumps onto the sofa, grabs the nearest thing he can, and starts to destroy it as he watches me with a side eye to see if I am going to come and stop him. He’s snatched up pens, books, magazines, catalogs, bottles of hand lotion, several remote controls, and even a picture frame. Of course I’ve tried to outsmart him by removing all objects from the side tables, but when I did that he grabbed a table lamp and tried to steal it. He also only does this when he wants me to play with him. He has never once done this when my husband is with him or to get the attention of any of our teens. Only me.

Of course I take full credit for accidentally teaching this to him and I am working hard to un-teach this behavior. Whenever he jumps up onto the sofa to grab something from the side tables, I tell him a firm no and force myself to not engage in fun playtime with him as a result of his demands. It is not easy, though, as he throws himself onto the ground with his legs in the air and his big otter tail wagging, waiting for me to rub his tummy as if he’s saying, “Ok, momma, I stole the stuff, now it’s your turn to come play with me!”

Now I wait fifteen or twenty minutes after he’s given up and then invite him back over for a tummy rub and some Jackson/Momma time. It breaks my heart to ignore him, but he seems to be catching on bit by bit that I do not react favorably anymore. He is learning that all he needs to do to get my attention is to roll upside down for a tummy rub or offer me a toy without being destructo-dog.

I know that many dog owners struggle with bad habits that their dogs have picked up, but they do not realize that they have accidentally helped their dog learn the behavior. In the same way you know all of the lyrics to your favorite songs, your dog is learning from you and the actions that you are doing, whether you want them to learn that behavior or not. Just like with Jackson, some of those behaviors are favorable and some of them probably drive you nuts.

Fortunately you can change these behaviors with additional training so that they will stop doing the things that you accidentally taught them. As for myself and my love of Springsteen music, I am not as easy to retrain, much to the dismay of the non-Springsteen loving humans of my house who would probably give me all of the treats and cookies they could find if I would just stop the behavior that I learned so many years ago as I listened to my first Springsteen album with a Labrador Retriever by my side.

I have included a free printable worksheet for you to think through and identify some of those behaviors. If you are not sure about how to remedy an issue and if it is more serious than an annoying habit, always partner with a professional dog trainer. My favorite resource for finding a trainer is to start with the Association of Professional Dog Trainers website: APDT Trainer Search. Click here to download your worksheet: Worksheet for Springsteen Lyrics, Dog Training and What they Have in Common

 

 

 

CONSULT YOUR VETERINARIAN, NOT YOUR FACEBOOK FRIENDS
Blogs, Creating a Happy, Healthy Life

Consult Your Veterinarian, Not Your Facebook Friends

Consult Your Veterinarian, Not Your Facebook Friends

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

CONSULT YOUR VETERINARIAN,  NOT YOUR FACEBOOK FRIENDSJackson has not been feeling well this week and I have been a worried dog parent. After two trips to the vet and several medications later, he seems to be getting back to his normal self. I was elated to see happy tail wagging and some interest in playtime with Tinkerbell, particularly after a rough day yesterday.

It all started with some very loose stools, but I was not too alarmed because he was on a different food than our normal Canine Caviar because I had been tardy in placing our online order. When he vomited a few times over a five-day period, I grew more concerned but decided to wait and see if it would pass on his own. He had been eating grass and I wondered if that too was a result of being on a different food. But when Jackson turned up his nose at breakfast on Monday, I called the vet immediately. He is a dog who loves to eat, and he has only turned down food once in his entire life. After a thorough exam, blood work, and my vet’s analysis of his fecal sample under her microscope, we had a diagnosis: colitis.

On Tuesday I could see significant improvement and was excited that the vomiting stopped, his voracious appetite was back, his poop slightly more firm, and he was acting more like his normal self. On Wednesday, though, he was listless and only wanted to curl up on the sofa in the smallest ball that a 75 pound Labrador Retriever can morph into. I noticed as I petted him and checked on him that he would not fully open one of his eyes. You could see it in his face and body language that he felt awful. Once again, we headed to the vet and this time he was diagnosed with uveitis, an inflammation of the eye.

Jackson’s swollen eye

Today is Thursday and his eye is already open again after just two doses of prescription steroidal eye drops. His spunk and energy is returning and he engaged Tinkerbell in some playtime this afternoon. Of course as his energy returns, my own stress level recedes. I am relieved and thankful that we went to the vet for both issues and that we have medicine that worked so quickly to help him feel better.

As a dog owner it can often be confusing about when to run to the vet and when to wait to see if an issue will resolve itself. Some dog owners are afraid of being the type of human to run their dogs to the doctor for every sneeze or loose stool, but the fact that our dogs cannot speak to us with words makes it tricky to try to figure out how they feel. For other dog owners it is the cost involved, particularly if an issue turns out to be something that could just pass naturally on its own.

As their caretakers, we have to rely on our knowledge of how they usually act to determine if they are not feeling good. For many dogs, taking a moment to decide if they want to eat or not when given their food is quite normal behavior. My late Babe was a grazer, even as a Labrador, and did not always eat at first. For Jackson, it was a huge red flag that it was time to consult my veterinarian to see what was wrong.

One day later, already much better!

Personally, I will always “err” on the side of caution with my dogs and go to the vet. I don’t consider it an error at all, in fact I would rather go on a false alarm than not know what is happening. I will try to fix some things on my own, like treating loose stools with a probiotic or a serving of Perfect Form by The Honest Kitchen for a few days before taking them into the veterinary clinic. If I see or smell the start of an ear infection, I will treat it with Panalog for a day or two that I have on hand from past ear issues. I have some holistic essential oil mixtures for things like hot spots or minor skin irritations. Anything more than those situations, though, and I want an expert opinion.

As a dog lover and dog blogger, I am in quite a few dog related groups on various social media platforms, and I always cringe when I see photographs of various issues and the question of, “What do you think this is?” It is interesting and sometimes alarming to see the types of questions that people will ask their peers in Facebook groups expecting an educated answer.

Around 80% of the replies to these medical advice inquiries consist of other owners telling stories of how their own dog had a rash or lump or whatever is being asked about and how they dealt with it. The other 20% of the replies are fellow dog owners whose comment is the same as what I am thinking in my own head, “Stop asking on here and just take your dog to the vet!”

Don’t get me wrong, I have made some amazing friends on Facebook and many of those have vast knowledge of dogs, dog behavior, and dog health. But none of them are veterinarians except for my actual veterinarian, and I try my hardest not to abuse our friendship by asking her medical questions outside of the office.

As someone who has lived the last four decades with dogs, I have seen and dealt with a lot of medical issues. I have tended to my dogs’ medical needs for everything from a bloody tail worn raw by wagging across a cement floor in the boarding kennel to providing physical therapy three times a day for four months to our Basset Hound following spinal surgery. I have applied every type of ointment, eye drop, ear drop, slurry, or pill you can imagine. Through all of that, I am not a veterinarian and I never will be.

Neither I nor the hundreds of thousands of fellow dog owners on Facebook can correctly diagnose a growth, rash, pulled muscle, virus, or other illness through a photograph of a dog who is miles away. In fact, by asking, all you are doing is freaking yourself out and wasting valuable time when you could be setting up an appointment with the one person in your life who can tell you what’s wrong. Trust me, I know about the freaking yourself out part!

I used to be the type of person to immediately Google any symptom that the dogs or I were having. My husband was only half-joking when he used to tell me that he was going to figure out how to block sites like WebMD because I would find a whole array of things that “could” be the issue and I would worry myself into a frenzy before ever getting to the human doctor or veterinarian. Over time he has rubbed off on me and I have mostly figured out to stay calm and not panic until all of the information is available and we have seen an actual medical professional who has done an exam, any necessary tests, and given a diagnosis and possible treatments.

Sharing a photo to social media for all of the armchair veterinarians to analyze can have the same result: driving you crazy and causing major stress until you can see the actual vet. Since dogs can sense our stress levels and will react to them, by stressing yourself out worrying, you could be causing your dog to be tense at a time when you want them to be as relaxed as possible in order to promote healing. As a reformed Google-er and worrier, I can tell you that you will be happy that you did and the money you spent getting an actual answer (instead of amateur speculation) is well worth the mental peace that goes hand in paw as you get her or him back to feeling their happy, healthy self.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Puppies & Winter House Training Tips
Blogs, Creating a Happy, Healthy Life, Surviving Puppyhood

Christmas Puppies & Winter House Training Tips

Christmas Puppies & Winter House Training Tips

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

Christmas Puppies & Winter House Training TipsAs I stood outside with Jackson and Tinkerbell today in the 2 degree weather, waiting for them to do their bathroom business, I thought about the puppies who found new homes over the holidays and the owners who are hopefully going through the extremely important house training process right now as I type this post. It’s hard enough to make sure everyone is warm and safe in this weather with adult dogs who are neither puppies nor senior dogs, who have the ability to hold their bowels and bladders for fairly long periods of time. I do not envy those new puppy owners who will be inside and outside, inside and outside, inside and outside, over and over as they teach their puppy that they need to “hurry up, go potty” outside.

Jackson is great about finding a spot quickly when it gets this cold outside. He runs out, picks a spot, does his thing, and then runs back to the house. There is no sniffing around for rabbit droppings, no lazy rambling around to look for a few blades of grass to eat. Out and back before the bitter cold starts to hurt his feet and he tries to walk without touching the ground.

Tinkerbell, in true Tinkerbell fashion, still tries to dilly-dally and take her time, roaming the yard, sniffing every square inch of the snow. This usually results in me hurrying her along as soon she starts to pick up her feet with a pained expression on her face. Unlike her big brother, she has not figured out that she has a limited amount of time before her feet start to hurt and that she’d better hurry up.

Christmas Puppies & Winter House Training Tips When house training a new puppy, the first few days I like to limit their outdoor time anyway, to teach them first and foremost that outside is for potty time. After they start to catch on to the fact that outdoors is the appropriate place to alleviate their bowels and bladders, you can start to play more with them outside, but for at least the first few days, the outside is strictly for learning where to go to the bathroom. Temperatures in single digits or below zero at least means that you are not missing out on a beautiful day for walking or playing with your dog outside.

In addition to the steps that I provide for house training in my post, “Puppy House Training: Best Practices & Tips”, here are some winter weather considerations for puppy owners who are working on house training in a cold environment, whether it is a frozen tundra or a winter wonderland. 

  1. Shovel or brush off an area of the grass so that your puppy can still smell and see it and associate the grass with going potty. Make it sizeable enough that your puppy can choose which spot she prefers.
  2. Keep a pair of shoes or boots by the door at all times. Choose a style that slips on easily and quickly without a lot of work.
  3. Use a leash, even if you have a fenced yard, to ensure that your puppy does not wander off and get distracted.
  4. Keep a coat with gloves in the pockets by the back door.
  5. As soon as your puppy pees or poops, praise him with substantial praise and then promptly take him inside.
  6. Pay close attention to your puppy’s body language; walking gingerly or trying to pick some or all of his or her paws up off the ground is a sign that the cold is hurting their feet.
  7. Avoid using ice melting products where your puppy is walking; traditional products can damage paw pads in grown dogs, so you definitely do not want corrosive agents near a puppy’s gentle little feet. If your puppy does walk through ice melting products, rinse them in warm water once you are inside.

Dogs are most susceptible to frostbite on their paws, ears, and tails. If you have a puppy with short hair or a sparse coat, you can purchase a coat and booties for planned walks, although you may not have a chance to put all of these things on your puppy if you catch her in the act of peeing or pooping in your house. The secret to successful house training is to be extremely observant of your puppy and catch her sniffing for a spot to go potty and moving her outside before she actually does the act.

Christmas Puppies & Winter House Training Tips Christmas Puppies & Winter House Training Tips Christmas Puppies & Winter House Training Tips If you are concerned that it might be too cold for your specific breed of puppy to go outside during extremely cold weather, check with your breeder, rescue organization or veterinarian. Of course a Newfoundland puppy will do better in winter weather than a Chihuahua puppy, but extreme winter temperatures can be dangerous for all puppies and dogs.

If it is too cold for your puppy to safely go outside, you can use puppy potty pads for house training. With Labrador Retrievers who were all born in the spring, I have never used these, so I do not have personal experience with how to utilize them. You can find instructions on the American Kennel Club website at this link: http://www.akc.org/content/dog-training/articles/the-ins-and-outs-of-potty-pad-training. I prefer to teach the dogs to go outside from the very start to give them just one thing to master, rather than learning one thing and then learning a second part of it, but not at the sake of subjecting them to subzero temperatures.

Read more about raising puppies in my book, Love, Laugh, Woof: A Guide to Being Your Dog’s Forever Human, available at Amazon.com in print or Kindle.


This blog contains affiliate links for products that I use or recommend. I will receive a small commission for any sales resulting from clicks on my affiliate links. I do not receive customer information and the retail price of your item is not affected. Affiliate links help bloggers earn revenue from their posts in exchange for product recommendations. I only refer products that I truly love and use or strongly recommend after research and careful consideration.
The Problem with "Rescuing" Pet Store Puppies: Saving a Life or Creating Open to Buy?
Blogs, Creating a Happy, Healthy Life, Planning for a New Dog

The Problem with “Rescuing” Pet Store Puppies: Saving a Life or Creating Open to Buy?

The Problem with “Rescuing” Pet Store Puppies: Saving a Life or Creating Open to Buy?

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

The Problem with "Rescuing" Pet Store Puppies: Saving a Life or Creating Open to Buy? Sometimes it seems unbelievable that I am still writing anti-puppy mill content in my mid-forties, since I first learned about the horrific practice of commercially breeding dogs in puppy “mills” all the way back in high school in the 1980s. With the speed at which information is relayed today through the internet and social media, and the number of people we can reach through a single post, it seems like certainly we dog advocates would have successfully gotten the word out about the hell that is commercial dog breeding.

Yet at this very moment, as I am typing this, someone who is doing some Christmas shopping at your local mall has stopped in the pet store and is falling in love with a puppy in a baby crib, making a purchase, and creating an economic demand for a new puppy to be born at a commercial puppy mill.

Before I was a dog blogger, I was employed at the home office of a large retailer. As a result, I understand very well how retail inventory works. And so, when a fellow dog lover with a big heart tells me that they just purchased a puppy from a pet store because their heart was breaking at the thought of that puppy not finding a home, I know that what that purchase did was to open up what is known as “open to buy” in the world of retail.

So why am I talking about retail practices in a dog blog?

Here’s the deal: retail stores have sales goals. In order to meet those sales goals, they need to have sufficient inventory to sell to their customers. There is a lot of analysis that is done to figure out how much inventory they need, and how much money they need to budget to purchase that inventory. That budget is called their Open to Buy. The easiest way to define Open to Buy is this: “Open-To-Buy (OTB) is merchandise budgeted for purchase by a retail store during a certain time period that has not yet been ordered.” 

When a store sells something that’s in their inventory, they need to replace that inventory with more products that they can sell to keep meeting their sales goals. For example, if you buy 8 cans of soup from the grocery store, they need to bring in 8 more cans of soup so that they can keep selling soup to the next customer that comes into the store.

Understand where I am going with this?

Pet store puppies are viewed as inventory for resale, and puppy mills are the manufacturer creating that inventory. To you and me, to refer to puppies as being manufactured  sounds awful, and it is awful

Buying a puppy from a pet store is not like buying a can of soup from the grocery store. The grocery store simply orders more cans of soup from their supplier and puts into motion a whole series of events that creates jobs for a variety of people, from the people growing the vegetables to the person driving the delivery truck. Buying a puppy from a pet store is a purchase that kicks off a series of events that perpetuates the miserable life of puppy mill breeding dogs, and that is why we are still pleading and begging with people to stop buying puppies from retail stores. 

You and I  know that a puppy is a living, breathing, sentient, intelligent animal that deserves to be born into a loving environment, not mass-produced by unfeeling humans from dog parents who are tortured, miserable, riddled with genetic defects that they pass on en masse to their offspring, and who never lead a regular life as a healthy or even remotely happy dog.

For the puppy mill operator point of view, they are simply creating a supply of puppies to be sold on a purchase order to a pet store or puppy broker. As long as there is a demand for their puppies, they will keep producing puppies.

Having the conversation with someone who has purchased a puppy from a pet store or other source supplied by puppy mills is not an easy task. They feel attacked, as if they did something wrong or that they are being told that their puppy is not as worthy of love or is as valuable as a rescue puppy or one from a very responsible professional/hobby breeder. I know, because I have offended more than one friend in this way.

While many puppy mill puppies have substantial medical issues, whether infectious diseases or genetic defects, they are still worthy of love, they still could grow into great dogs with patience and training, and they will still be beloved family members. The reason I beg these owners not to get any additional puppies from a pet store is not that their dog is “bad” in any way, shape or form, and not that the dog owner is a bad person, but simply because their purchase will perpetuate the cycle of misery by creating an economic demand for more puppies from the puppy mill operator. 

To dog owners who have their dogs for the right reasons, to rescue and adoption advocates, and to responsible breeders, dogs are a miracle with paws and a wet nose. They are our lifeline, our therapists, our exercise buddies, our best friends, our constant companions, our heart dogs.

To puppy mill operators and the more unscrupulous backyard breeders, they are simply a product to be sold for income, and the easiest way for the average citizen to help stop them and their cycle of misery for the breeding dogs is to minimize or eliminate the demand for their puppies by not shopping at pet stores and from puppy brokers who sell mass-produced puppy mill puppies.

 

 

This blog contains affiliate links for products that I use or recommend. I will receive a small commission for any sales resulting from clicks on my affiliate links. I do not receive customer information and the retail price of your item is not affected. Affiliate links help bloggers earn revenue from their posts in exchange for product recommendations. I only refer products that I truly love and use or strongly recommend after research and careful consideration.

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The Right Way to Add a Dog to Your Home at Christmas
Blogs, Creating a Happy, Healthy Life, Planning for a New Dog

The Right Way to Add a Dog to Your Home at Christmas

The Right Way to Add a Dog to Your Home at Christmas

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

The Right Way to Add a Dog to Your Home at ChristmasIn our last blog, The Christmas Puppy Problem, we talked about the problem with Christmas puppies that are purchased on a whim by humans who have not considered the lifetime commitment and the work involved. We discussed how the adorable puppy in a baby crib in that mall pet store can end up being euthanized at a shelter or living a dismal and lonely life because a family or individual has realized too late that they were not prepared for that puppy to grow into an adult dog that depends them for its very survival and happiness. And finally, we talked about the Christmas puppy in our society and how the concept is promoted through photos, films, and even catalogs from merchants. As I continue to focus on this important topic all throughout the month of December, today we are going to present the flip side to that scenario and explore how to bring home a puppy or adult dog the right way during the holidays.

Taking Advantage of School and Office Closures

As much as people seem to be super busy at Christmas time, some people find themselves with extra time off of work, which puts them at an advantage in terms of puppy rearing. In my book, Love, Laugh, Woof: A Guide to Being Your Dog’s Forever Owner, I write, “I strongly recommend taking vacation time from work the first week of your dog or puppy’s arrival home, like a canine maternity leave.”

When Jackson was a puppy I was able to take some time off the first few days he was home and then either work from home or take additional days off whenever my husband had to also work, to ensure that someone was always home with him the first two weeks. By the time we had to have a dog sitter start coming to let him out, he was essentially house trained and able to hold his bladder a bit longer than when he first arrived. Once Tinkerbell joined the family, I was already working from home, so I was able to be with her all the time. She was house trained even faster than Jackson, and her puppyhood was much easier as a result.

For the simple purpose of house training alone, being with your dog 24 hours a day, seven days a week the first week or so should shorten your puppy’s learning curve dramatically. In addition to helping speed up the house training process, you will appreciate being able to nap during the day when the puppy sleeps. After all, they are infants and they usually wake up several times a night to go outside which of course means that you are also awake and heading outside. Finally, the first few days of a puppy’s life in their new home should be as calm and positive as possible with essentially just the immediate family. They are figuring things out, getting comfortable with you and with their surroundings, and there is a considerable amount of bonding happening. It is good for you to be with them instead of having them left alone in the house just days after leaving their mother, their litter mates and everything they ever knew in their young life.

If you have been planning on getting a puppy or a rescued dog, you know what you are getting into and the lifelong commitment, you are not traveling or hosting any huge gatherings for the holidays, and you work for an office or school that closes for all or most of the time between Christmas and New Year’s Day, then over the Christmas holiday might be a great time to get a dog, particularly from a rescue organization or shelter.

Most responsible breeders will not plan a litter of puppies around the holidays so are set on a certain breed you may not be able to find an available dog from a top breeder at Christmas time, but the sad fact is that rescues and shelters take in pregnant females on a regular basis and those puppies are desperately in need of homes. A purebred puppy is not necessarily the right choice for everyone, so unless you are set on a particular breed, you can find amazing mixed breed puppies at shelters and rescues who are ready to grow up and be your best friend. 

Rescuing an Adult Dog

Puppy rearing is not for everyone, and adult dogs will bond with you just as much as puppies. My late Babe became my dog when she was two, and she was my best friend and constant companion. She and I had the same exact type of love and emotional bond as I do with Jax and Tink, who both came home to me at eight weeks old. Our late Basset Hound, Maggie, had been abused before my husband rescued her, and she was the most affectionate and snuggly of any of our dogs.

In fact, I have a theory based on my own personal observation and experience that some rescued dogs are often more affectionate and attached to their owners because they know what it is like to not have a safe and loving home, to be scared and alone, and they are so happy to finally feel love that they want to be near you all the time. Some people will say that dogs do not think about the past, and although it is true that for training purposes they live in the moment, I believe that they still remember their old lives.

It was not just Maggie who showed this behavior, but also my fosters Kodiak and Destiny. Kodiak had been found as a stray and while I was fostering him he would not leave my side. At night we would watch TV as a family and I essentially had a giant Labrador/Great Dane mix as a living, breathing blanket as he napped completely on top of me, his back paws down by my feet, his front paws and head on my chest. Destiny had been tied to a tree in the woods and left to die before a good Samaritan found her and saved her. Even while she was learning to trust me, she was virtually attached to me, and within weeks was snuggling with me as if she’d known me her entire life.

With Christmas as a time of love and giving, what better gift to give than to give a dog a safe haven and forever home to live out the rest of its years. There are so many amazing adult dogs that are waiting at shelters to be your best friend, particularly if you do not care about finding a specific breed. If you simply want a best friend, you can spare yourself the part-time job of puppy rearing (because it is indeed a part-time if not full-time job) and find an amazing best friend in an adult dog. And if you do want a specific breed, there are breed specific rescues in every part of the country with dogs who need homes. Giving one of them a home will open up a spot in that foster’s house for a shelter dog to make it further through the adoption process. And just like with puppies, to have extra time off of work while your new dog is adapting to his or her new home will only help the bonding process and help your dog become more secure in his or her surroundings.

Involving the Kids

No matter the age, it is never too young to start teaching children about the fact that dogs are living breathing creatures that rely on us for their survival. Instead of surprising the child with a puppy under the Christmas tree and reinforcing the belief that the puppy is a toy like a doll or basketball or some other inanimate object, consider wrapping the supplies that you will need for the puppy or dog and unwrapping them as a family.

After the gifts are unwrapped, you can explain that you have thought about it for a long time and that it’s the right time to bring a dog into the family and that you bought the puppy’s gifts in advance so that he or she has everything they need when it comes home. You can tell them that after Christmas is over, you are going to all pick out the puppy or go get a puppy that you have pre-selected, and that everyone in the family is going to need to work together to make sure that the puppy grows into a nice, well-behaved adult dog.

By fulfilling your child’s wish for a dog this way, you avoid the mindset that the puppy is a toy. If you have experienced Christmas with kids, you know that often they receive so many new toys and gifts that they are overwhelmed by the bounty, and some things get pushed to the side and never played with. The last thing you want to do is to include a puppy in that category. By introducing the puppy as a family member after the excitement of the holidays is over, you start your child’s view of animals off to a healthier start that will carry through their adult lives and in turn help them be responsible pet owners when they are grown.

It is extremely important to add that if your child wants a dog, but the adults do not really want a dog, you should not get a dog. Period. I also cover this in my book, and it may sound harsh, but it needs to be harsh because a dog’s life is at stake, and at the end of the day it is going to be the parents who are responsible for the dog for its entire life.

Kids can learn to be responsible dog owners by watching their parents and by helping their parents under close supervision. I have spent probably as much time teaching our kids how to act around the dogs as I have spent teaching the dogs how to act around the kids. As a result, now that they are teens, I can trust them to check the gates when they take the dogs outside and to stay out there with them and ensure that they are not getting into mischief.

I do not believe in putting kids in charge of a dog no matter how responsible they are. Between school, activities, friends, and all of the things on their minds, it is too easy to forget a feeding or to give medicine or how long it has been since the dog went outside. They will learn to be responsible pet owners by watching you and by you explaining what you are doing and why you are doing something, but it is too early in their lives to be in charge of an animal’s life.

Watch for the next blog, in which we address winter weather considerations when caring for puppies.

Travel With Your Dog!

The Christmas Puppy Problem
Blogs, Creating a Happy, Healthy Life, Planning for a New Dog

The Christmas Puppy Problem

The Christmas Puppy Problem

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

The Christmas Puppy ProblemI was browsing through Facebook several days ago when I came across a video from our local Fox affiliate, Fox 32. The first sentence of the story was, “If a dog or puppy is on your holiday shopping list – be careful.”

“Are you kidding me?” I said out loud in horror.

“Let’s just go ahead and promote the notion of puppies as Christmas gifts to all of the Chicagoland area!!!!” I fumed some more. 

I promptly sent a message to their Facebook page that read, “As a dog blogger who is on a mission to help prevent owner surrenders of dogs, the lead into your article about the puppy FB scam is disheartening. Puppies are never gifts, those of us who promote responsible pet ownership work hard to get this message through to the people who buy puppies as gifts with as much thought as they give a sweater or handbag. Please don’t undo our work as you report the news!”

To date I have not received a response or have any evidence that they’ve read my message.

The rest of their story was warning potential puppy buyers not to fall for scams involving puppies for sale, which is definitely important. Of course, they did not go into detail on how to successfully find a reputable breeder or look at rescue or shelter pups or grown dogs, but the advice to not purchase puppies from random strangers in a Facebook group is certainly something that many people need to know.

Let me explain why I was, and still am, so upset by that one short sentence that was broadcast to their entire viewing area: puppies are living breathing creatures that require a lot of time, patience, training and work. They do not belong on a “shopping list” like a cashmere sweater, a toolbox and an X-box game.

Unfortunately every year these living breathing, feeling creatures do indeed make it onto a Christmas list.  Puppies are then purchased through pet stores or backyard/amateur breeders as gifts either on a whim or to fulfill heartfelt requests to Santa from children who want a puppy.

In other scenarios they are an impulse buy as holiday shoppers wander through the mall pet stores and are wooed by the siren like pull of the adorable, fluffy puppies in baby cribs that downplay the fact that puppies are a different species with different needs than a human and that there is a learning curve for novice dog owners who are tackling puppyhood for the first time. The shoppers fall in love at first sight with these puppies with designer “breed” names like Cavachon and Huskimo, and take them home without thinking about the fact that they have just committed to anywhere from ten to fifteen years of caring for an animal that will need them for every aspect of their survival.

Many of these puppies are then abandoned at shelters just days, weeks, or months later after the adults realize that a puppy was not on their list of responsibilities that they were ready to handle. Other puppies end up living the majority of life in crates or in the back yards of owners who feel too much guilt for what they’ve done to abandon or re-home the dog but have no idea how to handle a dog that quickly went from adorable fluff ball to a wild, untrained, and seemingly unmanageable dog. That life is almost as tragic as landing in a shelter; it is in fact no life at all for a dog to suffer like that, alone and unloved.

As a culture, we love Christmas and we love puppies, and so it is understandable that when you put them both together, the idea of a Christmas puppy seems genius. I mean, seriously, what is cuter than a puppy with a bow around its neck under the Christmas tree? And when you are the person presenting this gift, either to your children, to your significant other, or to a parent, in that moment you are the hero of gift giving. You are like a rock star only better! You are not handing over a new gaming system or some piece of jewelry that every other person has bought, you are literally bestowing new life and the promise of unconditional love on the recipient…whether they want the accompanying responsibility of that new life or not.

Movies, TV shows, catalogs, all show endless photos of happy Christmas puppies. These images are all over our culture. Google “Christmas puppies” and you will receive pages upon pages of results. Do the same search with “movies about Christmas puppies” and you will receive another robust list of results. It is no wonder children ask Santa for a puppy or parents finally concede to their child’s pleas to get them a dog over the Christmas holiday. Our culture is full of the idea of puppies at Christmas time, under trees, in boxes, in Christmas stockings, complete with bright red bows to make the gift complete.

Just today I received a catalog from my beloved retailer L.L. Bean with a fluffy Golden Retriever puppy on the front, snoozing away under the Christmas tree with the other holiday presents with a red bow around its neck. The puppy looks perfectly angelic in the photo, but as a lifelong Labrador owner, I can tell you that it takes one hell of a lot of work to achieve a sleepy puppy for a photo shoot, and the moment that puppy wakes up, a human will be telling him “NO” and removing his little razor-sharp puppy teeth from the lights on the tree, the bow wrapped around the box, and even the box itself.

I can forgive L.L.Bean for this, because their products at least promote the outdoor, active lifestyle that is suited for a Labrador or a Golden Retriever, so their customers are slightly more likely to own the boots, hats, gloves, and parkas that will be needed to house train the puppy in the middle of December and into January. But that is one photo among thousands of other images and sources that glamorize the puppy as a holiday gift.

Personally, I obviously love dogs and I definitely love Christmas, and I love them together, in real life and in photos. I adore puppies, and I loved raising my own puppies into big sturdy dogs, even the moments that had me close to tears because Jax was a hard sell on the “no bite” concept or when his energy level was at a 14 on a scale of 1 to 10 and my own was a 3 from lack of sleep. I love looking at them now and thinking about how tiny they were, how I could pick them up and they would fall asleep on my chest, and how I taught them day in and day out all of the things that they would need to know as dogs in our household.

I equally love to look at them and think about all of the things that they have taught me in return, about dog ownership and about life. I love how I raised them from puppies to adults and how close we are as two separate species who went from being total strangers to sharing a special bond. So when I talk about the work that lies ahead for puppy owners, it is with the firm belief that the work is worth it, but I would be doing a disservice to other puppy owners to minimize the work that it takes to go from puppyhood to adulthood, because trust me. There is a lot of work ahead.

Before I had my own dogs, I helped my parents with their dogs. My freshman year of college, my parents acquired our Labrador Retriever Jake the weekend of Thanksgiving, so we have tons of adorable puppy pictures of him around the Christmas tree. Jake’s puppyhood is also how I know that the adorable puppy under the tree will also be the same puppy who is trying to eat the lights, steal the ornaments, and chew on all of the gifts immediately after peeing on the carpet and trying to drink the tree water. I don’t make these things up when I am blogging, I’ve lived life with many puppies and know that that’s what puppies do. One minute they are adorable balls of fluff with liverwurst-meets-Starbucks scented puppy breath; the next they are like a tiny little ball of destruction wreaking havoc in your home. 

Are all Christmas puppies abandoned at shelters or destined to living life in a crate or a back yard in an unprepared owner’s home? No, of course not. I have personal friends who have brought home puppies at Christmas and who would never dream of abandoning them; those dogs are as beloved and well cared for as my own dogs.

As someone once told me when they were attending a training class where I used to work, “We don’t know what we don’t know.” That applies 100% to new puppy owners who have big hearts and great expectations but simply have no idea what they are getting into with an eight week old puppy and the work that lies ahead for at least the next few months to go from adorable Christmas puppy to well-behaved, socialized dog.

As a result, during the month of December, the Love, Laugh, Woof blog will focus on the idea of puppies and Christmas, to help reach people who are contemplating getting a puppy as a holiday addition to their families. From winter specific considerations, to how to do a holiday puppy or grown dog the right way, conversations to have with the kids, and other important topics, we will focus entirely on spreading the word that dogs are a lifelong commitment, not something to be bought on a whim.

 

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Jax and Tink Prove How Quickly Your Dog Can Get into Trouble 
Blogs, Creating a Happy, Healthy Life, Life with Jackson & Tinkerbell, Safety & Emergency Prepping

Jax and Tink Prove How Quickly Your Dog Can Get into Trouble 

Jax and Tink Prove How Quickly Your Dog Can Get into Trouble

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

Jax and Tink Prove How Quickly Your Dog Can Get into Trouble If you’ve followed my blog or read my book, you know that I have a very firm rule about never allowing Jackson and Tinkerbell to go outside without a human present at all times. This rule is in place for a variety of reasons, including making certain that the gates are shut and latched, that nobody (like a utility worker or neighborhood child) comes into the yard while we are out there, and to make sure that the dogs stay out of the type of mischief that a curious dog can easily create.

Jax and Tink Prove How Quickly Your Dog Can Get into Trouble 
Chilling in the yard

As the dogs have grown from puppies to adults, the fear of them getting into something that they shouldn’t be eating or touching has diminished somewhat, but they are still dogs, and dogs explore the world with their noses and mouths. Most days, though, I stand outside with them while the most exciting thing that they do is sniff their world and search for treasures of rabbit poop or the certain type of grass on which they love to graze like adorable, small black cows. At four and six years old they get into fewer and fewer situations that would require my intervention, but the “humans outside with dogs at all times” rule will stand for the their entire lives, no exceptions.

Last week I had grand plans of filming a product demo for the KeepSafe Breakaway Safety Collar as promised in the blog in which I reviewed this amazing collar. The first part of the video went great, I sat on my deck steps and recorded an introduction to the product, and both dogs came over to give me kisses and “say hello” to the audience, without being told to do so. They were well-behaved as I showed the features of the collar using Jackson as my model, how you hook it to the metal loops if you want to take your dog for a walk and how that acts as an “override” for the breakaway function, since you don’t want a collar that breaks apart if your dog pulls on a walk, you only want that breakaway functionality when your dog is wearing it off leash.

After I watched the video, there were some changes in lighting I wanted to make and a few edits to my comments, so I set about the task of doing a few more versions, as well as recording demonstrations without the dogs so that I could show the collar around the slats of our fence and deck. Jax and Tink were happy to come and duplicate the “giving kisses” part of the intro and be my model to show how to hook the leash to the collar and override the breakaway function, but when it was time for me to record without them, I swear they knew that they did not have my attention like normal and set about being intentionally naughty.

I had expected them to do their normal thing and sniff around the yard, calm and mellow like normal adult dogs. Instead they chose to “exceed” my expectations by getting into every single thing that they could in our yard. Many experts will say that dogs don’t think this way, but it was like they were working together and doing “bad” things on purpose.

Over the summer our decorative bird house had gone crashing onto our deck during a storm, breaking it apart. It seemed as though it could be put back together, though, and since it was a gift that my husband had brought back to me from a motorcycle trip the first year we knew each other, I did not want to just throw it out. I had carefully placed all of the pieces on top of a deck box on our deck for him to try to fix when he got a chance, and the dogs had not noticed it or touched it since it happened in June.

Also over the summer, my husband had purchased a hammock for himself and set it up it on the deck. Because it is so windy in our back yard, instead of leaving it set up, he took one side down so that both ends of the hammock hung from the same side of the metal stand and the hammock stayed folded in half until we wanted to use it. This has also been in the same spot on the deck since June and except for Jax trying to pee on it once, both dogs have also left this item alone.

Jax and Tink Prove How Quickly Your Dog Can Get into Trouble 
Jax proving that a human should always be watching

As I filmed a few versions of the demonstration of the collar’s breakaway feature, I saw Tinkerbell race across the yard out of my peripheral vision. I know my dogs very well, and I could tell immediately that she had her “I’ve got something and I’m not going to give it to you” posture as she ran across the yard, her athletic body tucked down low and fast so that she could take corners with ease and play “keep away from Momma” with her contraband item.

“WHOA!” I called out to her, “Stop!!”

She stopped and went down into a play stance, a huge piece of cardboard hanging from her mouth.

“Drop it!” I told her and approached her slowly. She took off at top speed and raced around me, stopping behind me and dropping into her play stance again.

Tinkerbell, I’m not playing,” I said in my deepest, most stern dog training voice, “DROP IT.”

That did the trick and she let me take the cardboard, her tail wagging furiously as if saying, “But Momma, that was FUN!”

I walked up onto the deck to put the cardboard on our table, gave Jax (who was just standing on the deck waiting to go inside) a scratch under the chin and told him that he was a good dog, and went back over to our fence to try to get another video recorded. Less than a minute passed and I glanced over to make sure that Tinkerbell had not grabbed anything else, and I saw Jackson tangled completely in the ropes that attach the hammock to the stand.

“Jackson, what are you doing, crazy dog?” I called, and ran over to free him. “Buddy, what the heck are you doing?” I asked him. He had his head tangled up in the ropes, one was double wrapped around his leg, and as I walked up he tried to free himself and became even more entangled. “Whoa!” I told him, feeling thankful twice in literally a few minutes that we had taught that command to both dogs.

As I freed him, I turned around to see Tinkerbell snatch a long black strip of wood from the bird house, leap off the deck, and run top speed across the yard as far as she could.

“Tinkerbell, STOP!” I called again, “What the hell is wrong with you dogs??” I asked to the air, both frustrated and laughing at the same time. This time she gave up her treasure without any fuss, standing there while I came over and took it from her.

“Ok, I think we’re going to stop making this video for the day,” I told her as she trotted along happily next to me. As I reached the deck I saw Jackson trying to make his way behind our gas grill to get to the fat trap that was full of rainwater and disgusting grease from a summer of grilling. “Jackson, OFF!” I told him just in time and body blocked him before he could take a lick of watery grease. I had blocked the access to this doggie delicacy with deck chairs because he had tried this on many other occasions.

We headed inside the house and I sat on the floor with them and played like we normally do every day at 4 pm and I laughed to myself about their behavior. “What on earth were you guys doing, Momma has to work to buy you food and cookies!” I told them as they brought me bones to hold and engaged me in our favorite game of 3-way-tug-o-war.

My video attempt was most definitely the epitome of the “laugh” of Love, Laugh, Woof. Sure they were going out of their way to be “bad” but I could not help but laugh at their timing and how it really seemed intentional to get my attention back to them. Since I was losing daylight, instead of filming my own video, I found an excellent video featuring the creator of the collar and shared that instead.

I thought about how Jax and Tink had done an excellent job of proving my point that you should always go outside with your dogs and pay attention to what they are doing no matter how old they are, because they can find themselves in a dangerous position within a matter of seconds. Jax’s escapades with the ropes of the hammock could have become a deadly choking hazard within minutes, and Tink could have easily swallowed shards of wood or perhaps nails or staples had she snatched up a piece with those in it if I had not been there to make her give it up.

I will also be checking to see how dog proofed our yard is and not assume that because I am outside with them all the time or that they are grown adult dogs that certain items will not become hazardous on any given day.

While this was intended to be a somewhat humorous story of how they were naughty on purpose to get my attention and that I will be recruiting a helper for videos going forward, it is dual purpose as it points out the very serious matter that it only takes a few seconds for your dog to end up in danger in your own yard or inside your home with everyday objects, with or without a collar on. The KeepSafe Breakaway Collar definitely helps alleviate some of the risks involving choking by a collar, but I also strongly recommend always supervising your dog in the yard whether on their own or when playing with the other dog(s) in your home.

 

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Collar Safety Awareness Week: The KeepSafe Break-Away Collar
Blogs, Creating a Happy, Healthy Life, Products & Places I Love For Dogs, Safety & Emergency Prepping

Collar Safety Awareness Week: The KeepSafe Break-Away Collar

Collar Safety Awareness Week: The KeepSafe Break-Away Collar

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

 

Collar Safety Awareness Week: The KeepSafe Break-Away Collar Earlier this year, I shared with you the importance of ensuring that the information on your dog’s identification tags is up to date in case he or she is lost. Later in the summer I also shared some important information on pet collar safety, common dog collar and dog tag hazards, and my own approach to when my dogs should wear their collars and when they should not wear them, in the post Dog Collar Safety: When to Let Your Dog Go Naked. 

A few weeks ago I was thrilled when PetSafe contacted me and told me about their upcoming Collar Safety Awareness Week and asked if they could send me one of the KeepSafe Break-Away Collars for me to test. PetSafe is known for products including wireless and in-ground fences, automatic self-cleaning litter boxes for cats (something else I would happily test), digital feeders, electronic pet doors, and a variety of other products for cats and dogs. Of course I replied that I was happy to test out a collar, given my obsession with pet safety and my recent post about collar safety in particular. I was thrilled when not one but two collars arrived last week. 

Tinkerbell looks stunning in the pawprint KeepSafe Break-Away collar!
Tinkerbell looks stunning in the pawprint KeepSafe Break-Away colla

According to the PetSafe website, over 19 million dogs wear collars every day, and more than 26,000 collar related injuries happen each year. There are 71 incidents a day and over 50% of pet professionals have experienced a collar related incident. In my own blogs I have shared the personal stories of Jackson and Tinkerbell, both of whom have gotten their tags stuck in the wires of the dishwasher while sneaking a lick off the plates, and the story of when Tinkerbell’s tags became caught in the heating/cooling vent one night as she enjoyed her habit of snoozing on top of the air conditioning vent. 

Last summer we had a scary incident in the middle of the night when Tinkerbell woke me up by standing and whimpering next to my side of the bed. She had a habit of sleeping on top of the air conditioning vent and her tag had gone down through the slats while she was laying down and twisted. As a result, the entire metal vent cover came off of the vent when she stood up and was dangling awkwardly from her collar, the corner of the metal poking her in the neck slightly.

Since I was sound asleep it took me a minute to figure out what was attached to her and I quickly released her collar. Free from the metal grate, she jumped up into our bed and squirmed into my lap, her tail wagging furiously in fear and relief. After that I began to remove both dogs’ collars at night, although I have not seen her sleeping on top of the vent since.

In my post Dog Collar Safety: When to Let Your Pet Go Naked, I mention a variety of collar hazards including playtime between two or more dogs, crates/kennels, the dishwasher, and heating/cooling vents. In addition to those, the PetSafe also lists the slats of your deck, fences, and shrubs and bushes as potential choking hazards. Both the tags on the collar and the collar itself pose a risk that can turn deadly quickly, particularly as the dog begins to panic and try to pull or run away even more. 

Dog owner Tenney Mudge invented the KeepSafe Break-Away Safety Collar after the tragic death of her beloved Samoyed/Australian Shepherd named Chinook, who she lost to a collar strangulation accident. In order to prevent similar tragedies, Tenney developed and patented the special safety buckle on the KeepSafe Break-Away Safety Collar that releases when pressure is applied. The safety buckle is designed so that it will release, the collar will fall off, and the dog will be free of the hazard. 

Photo source: https://store.petsafe.net/keepsafe-collar

I could not wait to try this out on Jackson and Tinkerbell. The collar is excellent quality, made of a strong but silky polyester fabric. I received the limited edition Bones/Paws pattern which has brightly colored bones on a black background on one side and paw prints on the other, so that when you size the collar to fit your dog, you can see both prints. I love the way the aqua, coral and yellow print pops against their black fur but will also look adorable on any color fur. It also comes in a nylon fabric in black, orange, red, blue and purple. 

There is a regular heavy plastic buckle for regular use as well as the special breakaway buckle. There is also a small plastic tag holder to which you can attach your dog’s tags. 

Photo source: http://www.breakawaycollar.com/pics/collarclosed2.jpg

So how do you keep this collar on if you have a dog who pulls on the leash? That is where the genius of the two metal rings comes in!

The emergency release buckle is located behind the rings, so to attach a leash you just need to hook the leash to both rings, taking the pressure off the buckle and making it so that it will not release if your dog pulls on the leash.

It is important to note that you should never leave a leash or tie-out attached to your dog when you are not present and awake regardless of which collar you use. 

Photo source: http://www.breakawaycollar.com/pics/leash2.jpg

I definitely love this collar, the ingenious design, the nice quality materials, and I am extremely happy that PetSafe reached out to me to test it. I will also share my review of it via video so that you can see it with a leash attached and show you the safety release by pulling on it. Of course I will not put Jackson or Tinkerbell in harm’s way for a demo, so I will also try to recreate the situations in which they became entangled to the extent possible without their involvement. 

Even with this great safety feature, I will still continue to recommend that you remove all collars when putting your dog into their crate or kennel or if your dogs are about to start a game of what we call Zoomies or Bitey Face. However, this collar offers a  potentially lifesaving release in case someone forgets to remove a collar before the dogs go into their crates or if they become entangled while their humans are asleep, in the shower, or simply elsewhere in the house. 

 

You can shop for the KeepSafe Breakaway Safety Collar from Petsafe at my affiliate link below.

KeepSafe® Collars

Designed to prevent dogs from getting entangled by their collars; the KeepSafe® Break-A… [More]

Price: $9.99
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How Much To Feed Your Dog
Blogs, Creating a Happy, Healthy Life, Food & Nutrition

How Much To Feed Your Dog

How Much To Feed Your Dog

by Lynn Stacy-Smith

How Much To Feed Your DogThe other day I came across a conversation in a Labrador Retriever focused Facebook group in which a dog owner was asking fellow dog owners how much they fed their dogs. Their puppy was still growing and they were not sure if he was gaining too much weight too quickly and if they were feeding him an appropriate amount of food or if they should pull back his food intake.

IMG_3199I watched the conversation continue as different owners chimed in with the number of cups that they fed to their own Labrador Retrievers as puppies and as adults. Some owners said that they fed three cups split into two meals, others fed four cups of food, others gave two cups. What I found interesting was that nobody mentioned the number of calories that they fed their dogs or took into consideration the brand and formula of pet food that they were each feeding, meaning that their answers were not even remotely close to being helpful for the particular dog owner. It was like comparing apples to cucumbers for the dog owner who had asked the question. Of course this made me wonder how many other dog owners struggle with this question.

Jackson and Tinkerbell both consume roughly 1797 kcals per day, split into three eight once cup servings. Most adult dogs do not get three meals a day but mine are creatures of habit and we just kept on that schedule after puppyhood. In fact, they know the phrase “puppy lunch” quite well and know that it happens at 11:30 on the dot. This amount is perfect for them in the winter months. Tink weighs in around 65 pounds which is perfect for her and Jackson is around 78. They both have a nicely tucked up waist and a lean layer of fat over their rib cages which is ideal for their breed, neither too skinny nor too fat.

Think of kcals as you would think of the number of calories in a serving of human food. A serving of dog food is measured as an 8 ounce measuring cup, so instead of 140 calories for your container of human yogurt, you will see “Kcals per cup” on your dog food bag or manufacturer website. If you want a very detailed explanation of how Kcals are actually calculated you can find it at the Association of American Feed Control Officials, otherwise known as the AAFCO. Since pet food manufacturers have to provide the information, as well as the guaranteed analysis of other nutritional  information, you can just go with the information that is provided instead of figuring it out on your own. It is an interesting read, though, if you have the time.

Brands of food vary dramatically in how many kcals per cup are in their food. I am a committed customer of holistic, organic dog food Canine Caviar, which has around 599 kcals per cup in most of its formulas with the exception of their Special Needs formula, which is just one of the many things that I love about their food. A low quality food like Purina Beneful Originals in beef flavor has 333 kcals per cup, so you would have to feed your dog nearly twice as much of that food in order to match the kcals per day that I feed in Canine Caviar. Zignature Whitefish formula, which is my backup brand for Jackson and Tinkerbell has 424 kcals/cup so I have to increase their portions each day to meet the same caloric count if I feed them that food.

Here are some other brands of food and their kcals/cup:

Wellness Complete Health Adult Deboned Chicken & Chicken Meal Recipe: 386

Fromm Four Star Nutritionals Whitefish & Potato: 360

Hill’s Science Diet Advanced Fitness: 363

Royal Canin Labrador Retriever Adult: 276

Nutro High Endurance Adult Dog Food: 365

Each brand should have feeding guidelines on the bag for a variety of activity levels. It is important to be honest with yourself on how active your dog truly is and also monitor your dog’s weight carefully throughout her life to ensure that she is growing at an appropriate pace during her puppy years and is neither underweight nor overweight as an adult. It is likely that you will need to adjust the number of kcals that you feed your dog as he/she goes through different phases of life and sometimes at different times throughout the year. For example a hunting dog will burn more calories during duck or pheasant season than when just hanging with the family in front of the fireplace. IMG_3200

With both Jackson and Tinkerbell we hit a point where their puppy metabolism slowed and I had to reduce their calories accordingly as they gained more than the desired “layer of fat” between their rib cage and skin. This happened with each of them as they left puppyhood and became adult dogs. I have also learned that they are far more active in the fall, winter and spring than they are during summer, so I reduce their kcals slightly during the summer months when the Chicagoland heat and humidity soars and they take up their residency on top of the air conditioning vents. Usually cutting down to a half a cup at puppy lunch and leaving their breakfast and dinner the same works just fine. I signed a “No Fat Labs” promise when I picked both of my puppies up and I make sure that I abide by it for their overall health.

If you are raising a puppy that you purchased from a professional breeder, go with the guidelines on your bag of food but also make sure that you check with your breeder to find out how much to feed and how quickly your puppy should grow.  Exemplary breeders should be more than happy to answer these questions and provide information on nutrition and other topics throughout your dog’s entire life.

The rate of growth is particularly important for large breed puppies who could have joint issues from too many calories and growing too quickly or becoming too heavy while their joints are growing. You can also ask your veterinarian during your first puppy visit, which should occur within days after bringing that puppy home, and then consult about your puppy’s weight and progress at each of your subsequent puppy vaccination appointments.

IMG_3198Another very interesting resource is a Google Hangout that I was fortunate to participate in with Jeff Baker, the founder and President of Canine Caviar, when I was a content writer for them. He shares what I consider to be extremely interesting information on how the amount of food that you feed to small breed puppies can impact their colon and cause incontinence or colon issues. He also talks about how you can gauge whether or not your puppy is growing too quickly by whether or not their paws turn out to the side or face front.

A great resource on how many calories to feed your dog can be found on the Dog Food Advisor website using their Dog Food Calculator. Also check out their page about How To Determine Your Dog’s Ideal Weight. 

Thank you for reading and following me. Love, Laugh, Woof, and give your dog a tummy rub from me.