Thursday, November 25, 2010

What is normal dog behaviour?

So your dog is nipping at your hands, barking at the kids, digging in the backyard, chasing everything that moves and jumping up on guests. Congratulations, you have a puppy!  These are all examples of 100% normal puppy behaviour; it is our job to teach them that it is not acceptable in the human world.

For the first 8-10 weeks your puppy lives every minute with his/her littler mates.  Throughout this time they learn from their mom and each other what is acceptable behaviour.  This play is significantly rougher than what we would call acceptable.  Once the pup is brought into our home, although the surroundings are completely different, their understanding of “play” stays the same.   We are after all, to them just giant sized litter mates.  We often unknowingly encourage these undesirable behaviours by playing games like tug-of-war (if you let them initiate the game and win), or chasing your pup and/or letting your puppy chase you (or your kids) around and nip at your pant legs.  Rough games like wrestling and allowing them to nip at you only encourages these unpleasant behaviours.  These games can also blur the lines of who is leader in the new family pack.

Fetch and hide-n-seek are better games to play that most pups find just as much fun.  To play a good game of hide-n-seek requires two people.  While one is playing with the pup or giving them a treat the other person should sneak away.  Once the person hiding is out of the pup’s sight call him/her and encourage them along using whistles and silly noises to find where they are hiding.  This is a great game to encourage your dog to always be aware of where you are.    Tug is okay to play if you make sure you start and end the game.  Use one tug toy only that is kept out of reach when you are not playing.  This way you aren't allowing them to boss you into playing whenever they want with whatever they want.  Be sure to have some treats with you so you can encourage your dog to 'drop it' and when you are done playing say 'all done' and put the toy away until next time. 

Be sure that you are very consistent in teaching your puppy what is acceptable and what is not.  If your pup is corrected for jumping when company comes over, but rewarded when you get home by being picked up from a jump they will never learn.  Consistency is the key,  ddesired behaviours should be rewarded and undesirable ones ignored or redirected.  Keep these tips in mind and don't hesitate to call in some extra help if your pups a little much to handle at times.

                                                            Play time!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Give 'em Something to Chew On!

Dogs need to chew.  Chew toys should be safe, appealing, and virtually indestructible.  Here are some of my favourite things to keep your pup busy and out of trouble!

Toys such as the Kong (rubber hollow chew toy) or Goodie Ship (rubber chew toy with holes) can be filled with a mixture of wet and dry dog food or other healthy treats.  Try freezing these to make them last twice as long.  The Nylabone (solid nylon toy) can be soaked in broth to make it home attractive if your pup’s not too fond of it on its own.  One of my favourite toys on the market to keep your dog busy and out of trouble is called the Tricky Treat Ball. This is a treat dispensing ball that can be filled with kibble and /or treats (Charlee Bear treats work well) to keep your pup occupied.  Some pups need a little help figuring out just how to get the treats out but will be playing on their own in no time.  Dogs need jobs so making them work for their food keeps their minds engaged.
Bones are great if you know which ones are safe.  Natural uncooked butcher’s bones (smoked is ok but cooked are more likely to splinter) can be messy but are considered safe for most chewers.  Marrow bones are the strongest; most dogs can’t get through the actual bone just all the good stuff in it.  These can then be reused to stuff with food and/or treats and freeze much like you would do with a Kong.  Some other options are Bully Sticks (most pet stores will know what you are referring to by that name) and natural pressed rawhide sticks.  Try to stay away from bleached rawhide as well as the type with knots on the ends. 

It's always best to monitor your pup when chewing on any type of bones just in case he/she decides to bite off more then they can chew!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Yummy Carob Treats!

1 cup peanut butter
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup milk
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 cup carob chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Beat eggs with peanut butter, then add milk and combine well.

In separate bowl, combine flour and baking powder.

Combine the dry mixture with the peanut butter mixture. Mix well.

Stir in carob chips.

Drop by rounded teaspoons onto lightly greased cookie sheet, leaving about 1" in between cookies.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until biscuits look just barely "dry" in the middle and are baked through.
The biscuits will naturally harden as they cool.

Let cool before removing from cookie sheet

Dogs & Chocolate...Scary Stuff!

Now that Halloween has past, some of us have a lot of candy hanging around the house.  This is a better time than ever to remind pet owners of the danger of chocolate to your pets.

The Facts...
Chocolate contains a caffeine related substance called theobromine which can sicken or kill animals.  Dogs are most often affected by this due to their sweet tooth and a nose that leads them right to it.  In many cases chocolate is more likely to give a dog nothing more than a sick stomach but if ingested in high enough levels it can be fatal.  The type of chocolate, the size of the animal, and the amount of chocolate ingested are all factors in how dangerous it can be.  Unsweetened baker's chocolate contains 8 - 10 times more theobromine than milk chocolate and white chocolate has very little therefore is least toxic. 

Overall it's safest to keep chocolate clear from anywhere your pooch may find it.  Carob is a perfectly safe alternative and most dogs love it too.  If you are making some homemade treats and want to make them extra special add some carob chips to the batch, your dog will love you for it!

                                               Our Friend Atticus