Friday, February 28, 2014

Dog Food Choices

Ready to chow down!
You might be overwhelmed with all of the dog food choices on the market today.  Grain free, high protein, weight control, senior...just to name a few.  Where to start?  Here are 5 tips for important things to look for and/or avoid.

1. A specifically named meat should be the first on the ingredient list.  This means that named meat is the main ingredient in your food.  Look for something like "lamb", "chicken" or "beef".  Also avoid any food with animal by-products.  Animal by-products are unwanted and unused animal parts.  These are not healthy for your dog to eat.

2. Grain vs grain free is up for debate.  I choose to feed grain free because my dogs have skin allergies and I like to think removing the grain helps.  If you want to feed food with grain you should find ones with certain grains such as barley, millet, brown rice or rolled oats.  These are best for dogs.  Other grains can be less healthy and simply being used as filler in the food.  Corn is a common filler and should be avoided.

3. Avoid any artificial coloring.  Your dog doesn't care what color his food is.  Those pretty colors are for you, and can do harm to your dog.  Plain old brown kibble is normal and far healthier.

4. Choose food without artificial sweetners added.

5. Look into the preservatives.  Try to find foods without the chemicals BHA, BHT and ethoxyquin used as preservatives.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Using Coconut Oil With Your Dog

As I'm sure we are all looking for more and more ways to naturally promote wellness in our dogs, I'm here to tell you to look no further than organic coconut oil.  If you haven't heard how beneficial it is for humans, than you probably have no idea it is great for dogs too.  Assuming your dog doesn't have an allergy to coconut oil (and always talk to your vet), this can be a wonderful additive to your pup's diet as well as used topically.

Brushing Teeth
When eaten, coconut oil is beneficial to your dog in many ways: by aiding in digestion, detoxifying, helping to ease arthritis discomfort, promoting healthy thyroid function, helping to reduce cancer risks, helping to stabilize weight and increasing energy.   When starting out feeding your dog coconut oil, it's best to begin slow so you don't give your dog any unnecessary stomach upset.  It's safe to work up to about 1 teaspoon per 10 pounds of your dog's weight, but I wouldn't start with more than 1/4 a teaspoon per 10 pounds in the beginning.  Perhaps also consider spreading out the dosage throughout the day into multiple feedings. Most dogs enjoy the taste of coconut oil, so getting them to take it shouldn't be an issue.  Since they like the taste, it is also great to use for brushing their teeth.  You'll be cleaning their teeth and freshening their breath all at once!  

Paw Cream
Topically, this oil will leave your dog smelling great!  It can be very soothing when used on dry skin, dry paws/elbows, bug bites, small cuts and even in their ears.  A small amount rubbed or dropped into the ears can help prevent those nasty ear infections many dogs are prone to.

Treats Ears

There doesn't seem to be any downsides to bringing organic coconut oil into your dog's life (and yours).  What's the saying?  "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure"...  Yeah that!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Please Help! What Are You Missing?

I'm taking a poll.  Please help!

Question:  What type of dog store/service/products are you currently lacking and would like to see offered where you live?

Please leave answers in the comments, email (, or through the contact form on the right side bar at the bottom.


Monday, February 24, 2014

Collar Tips

After recently having a conversation with a friend about dog collars and which ones are appropriate for dogs and training, I came away a bit disheartened to hear form her that a professional in the dog world recommended both a prong and/or a shock collar for her to help get "control" of her squirrely 7 month old golden retriever. I suppose I shouldn't have been as surprised as I was.  After all, 10 years ago the dog trainer that we took Piper to, also recommended a prong collar for him.  I was horrified at the time.  They looked so scary, but I am sad to say that through the convincing of this trainer,  I became a temporary fan of prong collars.  No more!  Prong collars do work, but at what price?  Looking back, I feel terrible.  Piper already had issues with dominance aggression and there I was trying to train him with a prong collar!  Lucky for us, Piper took to his training well, his aggression was curbed and no physical (and hopefully no emotional) damage was done.

Have a listen to what Victoria Stilwell thinks.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Educate Yourself on Dog Biting

There are far too many reports of dog bite incidents and it always seems to end in sole responsibility and blame being placed on the dog.  The truth is there are many reasons a dog might bite, and both owners and non-owners should be responsible and learn about what to look for.  Dogs often tell us how they are feeling through their body language.  That information, combined with some background knowledge about common reasons dogs bite, could save a lot of pain for both the people being bit and the dog owners facing the sometimes unneeded, harsh consequences.

Reasons dogs bite:

Dominance- This is any display of aggressive behavior, generally triggered by things like unwanted touching, picking the dog up or possibly taking something from the dog.  Dominance aggressive dogs tend to act out toward their own family, as if to take control.

Territorial or Resource Guarding- This is aggressive behavior displayed when a stranger approaches the house or the owner, or someone attempts to take something the dog is in possession of.  It's important to never let a child approach an eating dog, allow a child to take a toy away from a dog playing or enter into a dog's crate or bed space.  These are common spaces dog's tend to protect and can result in bites.

Pain Induced Bites- This is aggressive behavior displayed due to touching or attempting to touch a a dog in discomfort or pain.  Dog first aid classes teach important techniques (ie muzzling) for avoiding dog bites if you ever have to handle a sick or injured dog, but contacting your local animal control officer is recommended if you're unsure. 

Redirected Bites- This is aggression toward a person who approaches a dog already in an aggressive state. 

Fearful-  This is a dog who will show aggression toward someone who approaches while the dog is in a fearful state.  Dogs can become fearful for many reasons such as being left by owners, thunderstorms, and strange noises.  Children often make noises that startle dogs and in turn become bite victims.

Predatory- This is aggression toward small children or animals that tend to move around quickly or "dart" around. To some dogs it's their natural instinct to "get" these types of prey, except your children aren't prey!

Punishment Induced Aggression- This is aggression shown toward people (generally owners) that verbally or physically attack their dog. 

How both dog owners and others can protect themselves:

Good dog training is the first step in making sure your dog does not become labeled a biter.  Positive reward based training does a lot to keep aggression at bay.  It teaches a dog to not be fearful and allows a dog to gain confidence in various situations.  The dog becomes less reactive in return.  Dominance/punishment training can actually promote biting in some dogs.  They can learn to become fearful of the punishments possibly coming their way and reactive to situations rather than calm, comfortable and happy.  Dominance training also sets up a pack mentality, with the owner(s) being pack leader.  If a dog in a pack is uncomfortable, or unsure of things, they sometimes try to take over their leaders.  That is the natural pack way.   

Know and Act Accordingly for Your Breed Traits
Before anyone tells me off, let me start by saying I do not fully subscribe to the thinking that there are "bully breeds" and that they are all lost causes, but I do believe in the facts that some dogs are bred for different reasons (protection, herding, predators) and that in itself results in different temperaments and behaviors in different breeds.  That being said, all I think it means is that if someone decides to own a breed that has a nature for protecting or herding, for example, they need to do the proper positive/reward based training, provide lots of exercise and provide the proper environment so biting never becomes an issue.  I think the problems occur with these breeds, or any dog, when owners lack knowledge, skills and desire to work with their specific dog, and get lax in thinking that their once sweet puppy could never be capable of biting.  It happens.  Always be in tune to your dog.

Teach Children Dog Safety
Children (as well as adults) should be taught first and foremost to ALWAYS ask permission before approaching or petting someone's dog.  Children must also learn to stay calm and quiet when given permission to meet a dog.  The proper way to meet a new dog (with permission from the owner) is to have the child hold out his hand for the dog to sniff.  Once the dog seems accepting, it is appropriate to pet the dogs head gently.  The child should in no way bend down and put their face to the dog's face or wrap their arms around the bodies of newly met dogs, but unfortunately I see the latter behavior far too often.  It's also a good idea to go a step further and educate yourself a bit on dog body signals.  This will help you to start to understand what state of mind a dog might be in. One last note: Children should NEVER approach loose, stray dogs.  They should be taught to stand still and remain quiet if a loose dog approaches.  Running away and screaming will only increase the likelihood of a bite. 

Piper had dominance aggression.  Good training solved the problem.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Thank YOU!

This is my 197th post.  It amazes me that I am approaching 200 and just how fast that time has gone.  When I first started this blog back in mid 2012, I was very excited to share all of my dog adventures with Piper and Murray and my tales were overflowing from my head.  As I look back to the beginning I see I even posted several times a day (where did the time come from?)!  Then over the following months, posts from me dropped back.  I had less time to devote to this blog (I'm a full time school teacher) and didn't seem to have the inspiration to write quite as much.  I started posting once or twice a week.  I knew all along I had a purpose for this blog, probably several purposes!  I needed time to sort that out I guess.  The blogging community is certainly one I love being a part of.  Dog people are like none other.  They are truly the most kind, caring and helpful people around, if I do say so myself.  My blog has also been a creative outlet to share and learn about my favorite topic.  This blog has pushed me to look closely at dog issues and topics, discover new things through the sharing that's fostered and laugh (and sometimes cry) all along the way.  This year when the calendar turned to 2014, my idea of the direction I wanted my blog to go became more clear.  I wanted to start posting daily once again.  That took some planning ahead on my part, but mostly I've been successful so far.  I also wanted a mix of post topics, but with the central theme of love and care for dogs.  I have been working to find this balance the past couple months.  All of this being said, this post is to thank all of you:  The blogs I try to visit regularly and wish I could find time to visit more.  My silent readers who never make themselves known.  My readers from Murray's personal Facebook profile.  My readers from my personal Facebook profile.  My new blog Facebook page followers.  My friends and family.  This blog is the fun, cared for, stress relieving, relationship fostering, educating vehicle that I had hoped it would be.  Thank you!  Now let's move into the 200's :)



Thursday, February 20, 2014

Seizure Alert Dogs

Dogs...amazing dogs serving in more and more ways!  Did you know people with seizure disorders can now seek out support from our furry friends?  Some dogs are becoming "seizure alert dogs", yet another kind of service dog.  These amazing dogs are trained to do such things as get medicine, notify others for help and stay and support the person suffering the seizure.  It's not certain what exactly the dog picks up on that allows them to know a seizure is coming, but whatever it is that they sense can be great help in getting the patient to a safe place or position, getting medical attention in a more timely manner and overall just being a more calming presence.  It is thought that it could be a certain tone of voice change, a behavior change or possibly an odor a patient gives off that alerts the dog of an oncoming seizure, or possibly a mix of all three.  There are also many breeds that are capable of this skill and therefor can be trained to assist.  Of course this makes sense, as our dogs alert us all the time to things going on around us.  I know mine alert me if anyone so much as dares to walk by our house!  Haha  So why wouldn't they be capable of alerting us to more serious issues?  Dogs "talk" to us all the time.  Our job is to tune in and listen.

On alert

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Dog Parents: What If Your Dog Eats Chocolate?

Your dog eating chocolate can cause some serious health concerns.
Chocolate can cause serious health problems for your dog.  Depending on the type of chocolate and the size of the dog who ate it, the results can be fatal.  This is due to an ingredient called theobromine.  Theobromine causes problems in a dog's central nervous system as well as their heart.  While no chocolate is completely safe, white chocolate is the least dangerous, milk chocolate follows white, then dark chocolate, with baker's chocolate being the most toxic.  It is important to call your vet if your dog ingests chocolate.  You will need to describe to him the type and amount of chocolate that was eaten.  HERE is a great chart to check your dog's size against the type and amount of chocolate that could pose a danger.  If your vet feels your dog is in danger based on the type and amount of chocolate eaten (for your dog's size) and it's been eaten within 2 hours or less, your vet is likely to have you (or possibly he will) induce vomiting before it has time to pass through your dog's stomach.  If more than two hours have passed, your vet might need to admit your dog for further treatment such as the use of charcoal to lessen absorption and/or iv fluids to help clear toxins from the blood. If your vet feels it's safe to wait and watch, it's possible you might have to be on the look out for complications and seek out your veterinarian if certain symptoms become present.  An upset stomach can be quite common from eating chocolate, but make your vet aware of any unusual symptoms your dog might be displaying because much more sever symptoms, such as seizures, can also occur from chocolate toxicity.  You will need to watch for these potential symptoms for up to 3 days as theobromine can remain in your dog's system for that long.

It's good practice to keep all chocolate out of reach from your dog.  Even if they have had some chocolate and had no adverse reactions (lucky), once they've had a taste, they are more likely to try to grab it again.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Goldendoodle FAQ

Is Murray hypoallergenic?
It is never a 100% guarantee that a goldendoodle will be hypoallergenic.  Murray is an F1 goldendoodle which means he is half golden retriever and half poodleTo increase the chances of having a hypoallergenic cross, F1b goldendoodles would be the best bet.  That is a goldendoodle bred with a poodle, allowing more of a poodle mix.

How is Murray's disposition?
Murray has an ideal disposition.  He's very relaxed, obedient and just lives to be by my side.  I can completely trust him in any and all situations.

Are all goldendoodles as big as Murray?
Nope!  Murray is a standard dood and was expected to be around 70 lbs. He's a tad overweight. There are also medium (30-45 lbs) and miniature (15-30 lbs) doodles as well.

What color goldendoodles are there?
Golden (ranging from blonde to reddish), black, and chocolate.

What is grooming like?
Murray has a wavy coat.  Some doodles can be curly or straight too.  I find that minimal brushing is needed, as he does not shed, but that's not true of all goldendoodles.  We focus mostly on regular clippings and baths to keep his coat tangle free and clean.  In warm months we do this monthly and in colder months maybe every other month is all that's needed.

Where did you get Murray?
We got Murray from a reputable, ethical breeder in Canada.  We felt good about her history in breeding and how she handled both her puppies and her adult dogs.

Are you talking about me?

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Thank You Ricochet!

Yet another feel good story of a dog coming to the rescue in a time of need.  Ricochet is a surfing certified therapy dog who recently gave a young boy with cancer the chance to live out a dream to go surfing, but when I looked into this incredible dog, I found quite a story!  If this clip doesn't prove what gifts dogs are to the world, I don't know what will.  Here is the story of Ricochet.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

3 Great Dog Apps!

P5 Dog Training App from Purina Pro Plan- FREE- iOS and Android
This is a really great app for helping you to train your pup! It includes video demonstrations, tracking capabilities and useful advice all while on the go.  Whether you're a beginner or looking to add to your training skills, this app has a little something for everyone. 

Map My Dog Walk- FREE- iOS and Android
Map My Dog Walk is not a necessity but it's lots of fun!  It's useful for tracking calories and distance while walking with your furry friend.  VERY user friendly too!

And my favorite.....

Pet First Aid by American Red Cross- $0.99- iOS
This is a potential life saver!!  This app gives you up to date veterinary advice in any kind of pet emergency situation.  It includes videos as well as written step by step directions in various medical situations you might find yourself in.  It also can find you the closest vet hospitals to where you're located, store your pet's information and lots of other super helpful (more general) tips any dog owner could use.  To me, this app at this price is a bargain!  It truly covers everything!  I know I for one feel much more at ease knowing I have access to this possibly crucial information at anytime, and anywhere. 

I'm glad "she" got that last app too!  Woof!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Dog-Nappers Exist! 10 Tips to Keep Your Dog Safe

Dogs are stolen for various reasons and in various ways.  Sadly, most are not found and returned safely home, so it's very important to protect yourself and your dog before anything can happen.  Research has shown dogs are taken for purposes such as breeding or dog fighting as well as other terrible reasons.  Here are some tips to prevent a dog-napping from happening to you!

1. Don't leave your dogs unattended in your parked car.
2. Always keep a close eye on things when your dog is off leash at a park or a beach.  Distractions are everywhere and it only takes a few quick seconds for someone to be off with your dog while your attention is elsewhere.
3. Be cautious about how often and how long your dog is left home alone.  If your dog spends a lot of time home alone, perhaps speak with your neighbors about your schedule and ask them to help by keeping an eye out for anything suspicious while you're gone.
4. Keep your dog's outside space fenced, locked, lit and alarmed.  I was thrilled to see the new fence we installed this fall has both a lock from the inside and the out, with an actual key!  I personally do not have my fence alarmed, but my dogs aren't unsupervised outside.  I do have a fairly bright light as well, which allows me to see clearly in my yard at night.
5. Don't leave your dog unattended in your yard.
6. Don't leave your dog tied up outside of a store or restaraunt while you shop or dine inside.
7. Spay and neuter your dogs.  This creates less desire to wander on their part and less desirability to steal your dog on the thief's part.  Some dognappers steal for breeding purposes.
8. Do your research on any dog groomers, boarders, walkers etc.
9. Be extra cautious when unknown people such as delivery people, contractors or people going door to door are around your house.
10. Microchip and id tag your dog. 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

How to Brush Your Dog's Teeth

Keeping your dog's teeth clean can aid in overall health and longevity.  Here are some tips to help you get started.

1. Purchase a dog specific toothbrush AND dog specific toothpaste.  It's important not to use a human toothbrush as dog toothbrushes are the appropriate size and shape for dogs, in order to do the best possible cleaning.  Fingertip brushes are also available if you prefer to reach your fingers in their mouth.  Some people feel this style gives them more control and accuracy.  I personally prefer an actual brush. I like the reach it gives me.  Human toothpaste is not safe to use on dogs.  There are many choices of dog toothpaste that's both safe and formulated to do the best job on dog teeth.  I use peanut butter flavored paste!

My tools
2. When your dog is relaxed, possibly after some tiring play or a long walk, start by getting them accustomed to you touching their mouth just with your bare hands.  It's important to stay calm and relaxed yourself too.  Slowly work on lifting their lips, touching their gums and teeth and holding their face gently. When they are comfortable with your touch, let them taste a small amount of their toothpaste.  This is a time for them to realize this is treat-like and something pleasant.  End by showing your dog the toothbrush.  Let him sniff it and check it out so it's not as threatening when you're actually brushing.
Adjusting to touch
Taking a taste

3.  Once your dog seems comfortable with all of step two, start to flip up one side of his lip and gently begin brushing both his teeth and gums.  Start with brushing only a few teeth during your first try.  Each time increase the number of teeth you're brushing until you work up to your dog's whole mouth.  The inside of the teeth (against the tongue) need little to no brushing as the tongue helps to keep them clean.

4. Now reward reward reward!  Let your dog know he did a good job so he is more eager to allow this again.  It's a good practice to brush your dog's teeth daily or every other day at least.  Just like our teeth, we want to clean off the plaque before it can mineralize.

Your pup will soon be begging for teeth cleaning time with you!

Good Luck!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Top 5 Gifts for Dog Lovers- February 2014

As a crazy dog lover myself, I like to think I have a pretty good idea for some nifty gifts for any dog lovers in your life.  Here are my top 5 for February 2014.  Click directly on any of the images to purchase.

1. Dog Themed Wine Charms
I'm a wine lover too!  These adorable charms will help keep glasses in the hands of the right person when you have friends over, or just decorate your own glass when you're sipping alone! 

2. Hide a Squirrel for Dogs
Need something for that busy dog who needs a little extra brain exercise?  This Hide a Squirrel will do the trick!

3. Pukka's Promise by Ted Kerasote
This is the book I just couldn't wait to read.  Isn't it every dog lovers dream to keep their pups happy and healthy for as long as possible?  Well, Ted Kerasote explores that very topic.  A great, thought provoking read.  Love LOVE!
Kindle Edition $9.99
Hardcover $38.22

Paperback $11.75
4. Willow Tree Angel of Friendship
Just what a dog lover would be looking for to honor their unique and strong bond with their pooch.  Perfect for times of loss as a gift of sympathy as well


5. Dog Gone Smart Dirty Dog Doormat
Who wants to step in wet snow blobs or drops of rain throughout the house?  Most doormats aren't very absorbent, but this one is!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Boots & Barkley Extra Large Pet Bed

We recently purchased Boots & Barkley's extra large pet bed at Target.  I had gift certificates burning a hole in my pocket and I was drawn in by their adorable selection of bed covers.  This was by no means a bed I had intentions to be a main dog bed in our house.  I knew by first glance it was not super supportive or durable.  What I did have in mind was for it to be that cushion type bed that can be easily moved around because it's so lightweight.  It's been perfect for longer trips in the car in the back of our Jeep, on our camper floor and as an extra cushion on our living room hardwood floor.  I plan to add some stuffing to the inside as it wears down, but my golden loves to be able to ball it up into a pile and lay on top of the heap.  Lately he has been loving this bed for just that reason.  I currently have two cute bed covers.  I have washed one, after it became utterly filthy from our camping trip, and it washed up perfectly!  I am really anxious to buy more!
Piper's bed

Easily washable covers
My senior golden loves it
Adorable covers available

Isn't sold with a cover included
Stuffing eventually breaks down

My two covers.  Cute right?!

Overall I would recommend this pet bed with additional covers.  If you have a need for some lightweight and easy to travel with pet bedding, this will do the job!

Monday, February 3, 2014

A Dog's Comfort

Confession:  I'm in therapy every single day. 

When your life gets overwhelming, your dog often helps carry your load.  They are there, as a quiet friend, to give you support and companionship.  It seems like such a simple job your dog is doing that we probably take it for granted, but your he is actually doing so very much.  Studies have shown all the remarkable ways dogs are positive forces in our lives. It's because of these findings, we have "therapy dogs" today who are properly certified and regularly visit or work in schools, libraries, hospitals, nursing homes, rehabs and they are even sent to locations were tragedies strike to help people grieving to deal with their loss.  Therapy dogs (and in my opinion ALL dogs) have been found to help provide the following:

*Lower blood pressure
*Increased "feel good" hormones such as oxytocin
*Lessened anxiety
*Increased feelings of security
*Increased focus and clarity
*Unconditional love, affection and nurturing
*Elevated moods
*Lessened boredom
*Needed exercise
*Strengthened social skills
*Reduced lonliness
*A sense of purpose

My therapists

So the next time you need that soothing presence to help calm your nerves or lend you an ear for listening, look no further than your dog.  They're ready and willing!

**There are many therapy dog certification organizations out there.  If interested, it's important to look into which one would best suit you and your dog based on requirements and location.  HERE is a place to get started. 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

My Remarkable Murray #RecipeForMoments

Murray is our youngest furkid. He joined us in 2007 as an 8 week old pup and immediately bonded to my husband and I as well as his 3 year old golden retriever brother, but it wasn't long before the bond between he and I was like none other.  I have had dogs in my life since the day I was born, but none like Murray.  Each day he has truly motivated me to become a better person.  He inspires me to research and question what is best in dog health and through my bond with him I am moved to look for ways to help other dogs in need as well.  I am striving to be a voice, through this blog, for others trying to take the best care of their dogs.

Being Murray's Mom
It's a strange and wonderful feeling being adored by a dog like I am by Murray.  I had never been the center of an animal's world before.  I always had dogs who loved me, but they loved me like they loved the rest of the family.  With Murray, it's different.  He looks to me for everything.  He's nervous if I'm mad, he's upset when I'm sad and he's happy when I'm happy.  It certainly makes me think twice before overreacting, knowing my mood will directly affect him.  This is yet another way Murray has changed me through our bond.  He helps me to stay calm, happy and upbeat (as much as possible), and for that I love him to pieces.  After all, it's impossible not to love a dog who loves me so very much.

My Dog Shaped Shadow
I think it's safe to say Murray loves me. While I have no doubt he loves his older brother and my husband very much as well, he has a very strong connection with me.  He always must know where I am and most often needs to be right under my feet.  As I type this post from the back of our living room right now, Murray climbed off his comfy spot snuggled on the couch (where we were sitting together just before) to lay under my desk chair.  When I do the dreaded dishes each night after dinner, Murray is my loyal watch dog making sure everything is spic and span.  When I exercise upstairs in our spare, cluttered bedroom, Murray is there, toy in mouth, resting on the dog bed we placed in there for him, being my spotter.  If I go outside, he waits by the door. If I'm in the shower he's outside the bathroom door. When I'm getting ready for work in the morning, he is by my side feeling sad that I will soon be leaving.  He even sleeps in late with me on the weekends.  He is absolutely a true companion in every sense of the word.  It's these "all day, everyday" moments that are most special and I'm thankful for each of them.

She Deserves Better