Thursday, February 26, 2009
Monday, February 23, 2009
Ugh, dog owners, this is the worst day ever. Especially when you've bought a 30 lb bag of dog food that cost lots of money.
Rusty unfortunately has an incredibly horrible food allergy to chicken products/byproducts/etc...
Food allergies and food intolerances (oops, shall I say food that is too rich for their doggie system) is fairly common. You just have to find the right food.
After doing some googling, posting on doggie message boards and searching high and low for the correct food, I've gotten a few suggestions.
I'm going to start off with the research -
Signs & symptoms with recommendation of home cooked diet for 12 weeks
Signs & symptoms with recommendation of venison, fish, duck OR home cooked diet (and then an exclusion diet if the above proteins are still making it worse)
More exclusion diet (but totally biased)
Duck and potato based diet recommendation
And then there's hypoallergenic dog food. But that's well, what we need, right?
As I sat on the floor in the living room, I realized I had been awake for a long time, trying to research dog food. I hate researching dog food. It's for a dog. They should be able to eat anything but the poop soup in the backyard tells a different story.
After researching and trying to wrap my mind around the innerworkings of dog bowels, there are several options, all of which depend on what your dog is allergic to. So far allergy = deboned chicken, chicken meal, ground chicken, chicken by-products.
You should do an elimination diet and switch to something completely different. Check.
You can home cook food. Ok, but how expensive is that?
You can go purely raw food diet and do no kibble at all with Nature's Variety. Um, Ok. I could be up for that if we didn't have painted wood floors.
Or you could just do what Bimmer Man wants and buy Lamb & Rice formula dog food because that's what his family has done in the past. Ok, but he didn't buy dog food.
And then, BAM! I double checked a golden retriever message board and someone else had the same problem!
They just recommended adding pumpkin to firm up stools. Um, this was a doggie allergy, thank you very much. I need a different dog food.
I got a recommendation for Solid Gold and also for California Natural. After comparing the ingredients I bought a 5 lb bag of California Natural Lamb Meal & Rice.
We had to switch instantly, so the best way to do it is mix with homecooked rice OR cottage cheese to prevent diarrhea.
No loose poops since Friday. No nasty itchies yet.
But then again, I feel like I've been discussing poop for awhile now. So don't be surprised if poop comes up again.
Friday, February 20, 2009
Bloat is built up gas that can cause the stomach to distort and twist. This is an immediate medical emergency that needs surgery to correct the stomach and relieve the bloat. It can be fatal - kind of how in the MOVIE Marley & Me, Marley dies. The book is a whole other story...
Signs of bloat include:
- Attempting to vomit, occuring every 5 - 30 minutes
- Doesn't act like the usual self
- Significant anxiety and restlessness
- Lack of usual gurgling stomach sounds
- Bloated abdomen that feels tight
Those are only a few signs and symptoms of bloat.
- Golden Retriever health issues (generally more prone to cancer)
- Irish Setter health issues (more issues of hypothyroidism, bloat & cancer)
So all in all, even if you have a lovely mutt like Rusty (oops, sorry Rusty, I mean hybrid), health problems are still possible. These are just some of the few issues that we have to keep an eye out for, nevermind the usual signs of hip dysplasia or allergies.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Here's what on the training menu this week:
What you'll need: tasty treats, lots of patience
Step 1. Have some tasty treats readily available - the goal of the sit is to work it up to 5 minutes. Yes, really, 5 minutes. We're going to work in 10 second intervals, then 30 seconds, then 45 seconds, etc... Build the time up gradually.
Step 2. Put Rusty in a sit but do NOT treat or praise - that's not what we're working on because he already knows how to sit.
Step 3. Show the hand signal (hand straight out, palm facing the dog) and say, "Rusty, stay!"
Step 4. Treat. Treat. Treat. But only if he stays in place. If he inches forward even one inch, start from the beginning. See if you can get him to stay for 10 seconds.
Step 5. Release and praise.
Step 6. Keep practicing! Do it in different locations around your house, your yard, at the park, on walks, etc...
And the STAY command brings us to the AUTOMATIC SIT command, which isn't really a command, it's more of body language.
So the automatic sit is this: every time you stop, the dog sits. And yes, it can be done.
The AUTOMATIC SIT
What you'll need: leash, very tasty treats, the dog and go for a walk
Step 1. Have tasty treats available, but don't have too many. The dog will only be rewarded randomly and when he sits automatically!
Step 2. Have fun. Go on a walk.
Step 3. Start off your walk with Rusty sitting, say "Let's go!" and walk about 15 feet.
Step 4. Stop and put the dog in a sit. Don't treat - he already knows how to sit.
Step 5. Start walking again with the "Let's go!" command.
Step 6. Stop after 10 - 15 feet. Don't say anything to Rusty, instead wait until he sits on his own (you can use the watch me command, but you have treats so you may have to hold one in your hand).
Step 7. When he sits on his own, treat, praise and jump for joy!
Step 8. Practice over and over and over. Do it at intersections, in front of houses, at the park, in front of buildings, in the pet store, anywhere and everywhere.
Step 9. After he now knows the automatic sit, you can slowly fade the lure (oops, I mean treat) by treating randomly and giving out jackpot treats. Then he'll know that he's going to get a treat, but not know when so he HAS to do what you ask of him.
Woo hoo! Got it??? Maybe...
But now we move on to the GREETING. This follows the automatic sit because, every time you stop Rusty should be sitting, right? So when you go to meet another animal, dog, person, you generally stop right? So then that means that Rusty should be sitting. Treats will do well here, because for greetings, you want treats every time until they're paying attention to you fully.
So The GREETING
What you'll need: the dog, another dog/cat/animal/person, LOTS of tasty treats, leash
Step 1. Find something to greet.
Step 2. Put your dog in a sit.
Step 3. Repeat as many times as it takes to either do it automatically or after you can ask the dog only once to sit.
And yes, this goes for children that would like to pet him too - always, always put your dog in a sit or drop position.
Eh, Rusty is ok. Now we can go running with him and he'll be at a run and drop in a sit to a dead stop. We've got the automatic sit down but we still have to work on greeting. Sounds easy, right? Not if your dog isn't tired or generally easily distracted.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Generally you can find them at a pet store for cheap, but lately I've been preferring order doggie treats and pet supplies online. (Mostly because I've been finding great deals AND free shipping)
Best Bully's has great deals AND you can order in bulk. So if you want to save money - go for broke and go in on a box with a friend.
You can also order individual bully sticks, and I tend to go with the larger 12 inch THICK bully sticks instead of the regular ones.
Have fun with bully sticks!
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Friday, February 13, 2009
Instead, I have these super cute animal print cards and decided that I'd try and figure SOMETHING out, like possibly creating doggie photo cards and then donating the proceeds to charity. But there's a twist - not everyone wants MY dog on THEIR cards...
So I'm doing a giveaway.
Normally my cards retail for $3 each OR 6 for $15.
For the giveaway -
You'll get a set of 10 cards
Here's the catch: If you have a favorite picture of your animal, it goes in the card. Send me the photo by e-mail, I'll make it even prettier, put the cards together and mail them to you.
Voila! Your own personalized greeting cards, for free!
To enter, just leave a comment with your favorite animal blog along with a way to contact yourself.
Winner will be announced (and decided by random.org) on Tuesday, February 17th.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
And then we got Rusty from the White River Animal Shelter in Bedford (which I'm positive is a kill shelter, but I can't be too positive because I think it depends on the amount of animals they get).
Ever since, I've been a little gung ho on getting animals from shelters! There's way too many of them out there to go to a breeder (but by all means, if you want a purebred retriever for hunting, go for it, I'm not stopping you because you have a purpose for the dog that enhances its natural talents & instincts but if you want a designer dog, well, then you have a mutt just like me) and shelters are always over flowing.
So if you're in Minnesota and looking to adopt, please check out Matt & Maia's rescue. Apply to foster, donate crates, toys, time, energy or whatever you have. These dogs need the love and attention of a fabulous family.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Remember, dogs were once wild. They ate raw meat, which is the best possible diet for your dog, but trust me, feeding anywhere from 2 - 3% of Rusty's body weight per day is NOT going to be cost friendly to my wallet. That's um, well, a few pounds of meat. So he can get an occasional chicken thigh, but that's about it. If you're interested in a raw food diet, I'll post more on that topic later as Rusty gets older and I begin to give him more raw meat. For now, here's a few websites that have a ton more information on raw diets - RawFed.com and Jane Anderson's Raw Learning Site.
Let's start with the basics. Look at the ingredient list. Are the first three products not by products of meat? If so, then you have a winner, if not, don't buy it. Back to the basics of dogs - what did they originally eat? Meat, keep the food as close to their natural diet as possible. I know it's crazy, putting this much time and effort into your dog, but trust me, they'll live longer and have much healthier lives. The better you feed them, exercise and train them, the longer they'll live and the happier you'll be.
What do we feed?
Old Mother Hubbard is the maker of Wellness products. At first I was little leery of purchasing more expensive food. We've always purchased Purina ONE... so why switch?
You'll notice Oatmeal is listed as the third ingredient and why would I purchase this if there isn't more meat? Well, because there's no meat by-products and oatmeal is a good grain if you're unable to feed grain free food which comes to my next point -
Grain free is just that - there's absolutely no grains in the dog food meaning more meat for your animal. Because it's all meat, there's more protein. Dogs under the age of 2, especially large breed dogs should not have a grain free diet. What happens is protein makes them bulk up so much that their bone structure can't keep up with the growth coming from protein. In effect, they'll have bone, joint and cartilage problems later in life. Not so good, eh?
So as you can tell, deciding what to feed your dog can be a conundrum. I suggest trying a variety of better dog foods and seeing which your dog prefers.
TIP: Gas and loose stools mean it's too rich, while you can tell the stench of anal glands and then they probably need to poo... so make sure you pick something that's not too rich to start off with!
ANOTHER TIP: Try dogfoodanalysis.com to compare foods!
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
This is considered a low value reward (cut up cheese, hot dogs and tennis balls are Rusty's high value rewards), so he gets this for doing basics, like sitting, drop and walking. The command leave it will get a higher value reward - like a toss of a tennis ball!
Free samples of dog food make great low value treats, but try not to get 'Ol Yeller because that has no nutritional value at all. Each of the different pieces of Nutrish looks different and it must taste different too - but since I haven't tried her dog food yet (human grade treats I usually try, but shhhh... don't tell anyone!), I can't tell you what it tastes like!
Friday, February 6, 2009
Leave it is hard and well, so is being a rescued dog.
This week's new commands are leave it randomly AND come.
The dog needs to know how to come. And we need to majorly practice. He's not very good at coming when called when there's distractions. That's going to take some work so here's how to teach come.
High value treats
20 - 30 foot lead
Step 1: Get a 20 - 30 foot long lead and snap it on to their collar.
Step 2: Find an open spot to train. We prefer the park with distractions.
Step 3: Have high value treats for all those involved whether it be cheese or hot dogs.
Step 4: Standing a ways from each other, but close enough to reach you on the lead, begin with the dog starting at one person.
Step 5: Have the other person say, "Rusty, come!" in an excited manner.
Step 6: Only say it once. No need to say it more.
Step 7: As soon as the dog starts heading to you, jump up and down, act excited, wave your hands in the air, say, "Good dog!!!" over and over until he gets to you.
Step 8: Make sure you put your hands on the dog. Come is not a game, there will be no darting away, no chasing, etc... When your hands are on the dog, reward with the value treat.
Step 9: Go back and forth for awhile and practice. Move around the park to different areas, do it in your backyard, family room, etc... And PRACTICE!!! Come is for safety.
Leave It Randomly
Shoes (wear them please)
Random items you don't want your dog to get
Step 1: Drop quite a few treats on the ground (See? Way different but totally new and exciting!) along with books, etc... Whatever you don't want your dog to get into.
Step 2: Walk along the path of dropped treats and stuff - randomly say "Leave it" if he notices a treat. If he starts to go for it, step on it with your foot. Remember, only say leave it ONCE. As soon as he stops looking at the treat/item, reward with treat FROM YOUR HAND.
Step 3: Walk along the path again, only this time, randomly say, "Take it" for treats or toys that you'd like him to have.
NOTE: Take it is the beginning of something beautiful. Drop your keys? "Take it!" Drop a sweater? "Take it!" Want Rusty to get something for you? "Take it!" This is a fabulous command that will come in handy more times than you think!
Step 4: Practice, practice and practice. Do this in different places with all different treats. Generalize as much as possible so that Rusty will do this in any place, just like any other command.
Good luck and have fun!