So, if you know me even a little bit you're no stranger to the fact that I'm bit of a dog nerd. Or, as some would say, pet Nazi.
I've decided to go through a brief run down on my beliefs of standard dog ownership. Now, I do realize that a lot of my beliefs go above and beyond the average pet owner. And I'm not one to get down on someone who doesn't meet my standards. At the end of the day, as long as the dog is eating food that has some sort of meat listed (chicken instead of just "meat meal"), a home, basic training, love, and isn't being abused, that's pretty good ownership. But I think we can all strive to do more for our furry friends, and this goes for dogs, cats, ferrets, rats, hamsters, etc. This post was inspired by a myriad of things. Initially I was going to do another rant about my pet food demo job, then I read Patricia McConnell's new blog post
about dominance, and it stirred up a different sort of rant :)Picking Out Your Furry Friend
I am a firm, and by firm I mean adamant believer in adopting and rescuing over buying. (Why breed and buy while shelter dogs die?) I think you can find your perfect pet, whether its a puppy or adult, by visiting your local shelter. That being said, for people that are set on a specific breed and temperament I'm not against going to a breeder. However there's a difference between a GOOD BREEDER
and a BACKYARD BREEDER
A GOOD BREEDER will have certain qualifications. One of them being they'll be involved in the dog world in some shape or form. Whether its showing their dogs, competing in a dog sport, or having their dogs working (service dogs, herding dogs, etc). They'll also only have a limited amount of litters each year, and will health test their puppies. A lot of purebreeds have pre-disposed to certain genetic issues. A GOOD BREEDER is trying to better the breed, make them healthier and heartier animals. A BACKYARD BREEDER is in it just for the money and is probably your average joe with a golden who wants to make an extra buck.
For that matter, GOOD BREEDERS, really do not make much profit from their litters. Its expensive to vet all the little ones, take care of the mother properly, and health test these guys. They more than likely aren't going to turn much of a profit from them.
You should ask if you can see your puppy's parents, and other litter mates. Its a HUGE RED FLAG if they will not let you see the mother. If you do see the mother and don't like what you see, look elsewhere. TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS with this!!!
A GOOD BREEDER will also be willing to take your puppy back in the event you're no longer to care for them. Again, GOOD BREEDERS are in it for the breed not for the money, and will like to see their puppies well taken care of.
As for rescuing and adopting, trust what your adoption counselor or shelter worker is telling you, and don't rush into an adoption. Its important to find the right dog for you. At the end of the day, you may be surprised with which dog ends up being the right one for your family.
And as always, research research research. Don't adopt or get a border collie if you're just going to lock them up in the apartment and not do anything with them. Some breeds are better lap dogs, others are big couch potatoes, others are stubborn as hell and will test your limits, while others still are intelligent to the point of causing trouble when they're bored. I say this as a Australian Cattledog mix owner, who has kept me on my toes since bringing him home.
While we're on the subject of breeds, goldendoodles, puggles, and all those "designer dogs" are cute and all. But really? They're mutts. They're no more special than my Cattledog Rat Terrier Mix (or Rattledog if you will). There are TONS of mixed breeds in the shelter system, and adopting a dog will cost you MAYBE $200. And you get an up to date on their vaccinations dog, who's already neutered and spayed, who will give back 10 x what you paid in thanks for saving them. Is it really worth it to spend $1200 for a pugxbeagle mix, PLUS the extra couple hundred dollars in vaccinations?
One last thing on the breeding/adoption thing. PET STORE PUPPIES ARE A BIG NO NO. Pet store puppies do nothing more than promote impulse buys and puppy mills. Even if the pet store puppies DON'T come from a puppy mill its probably from a backyard breeder. Read my rant about Puppy Mills
from a few years ago to learn more.Raising Your Pup
Whether you're bringing home a puppy or adult dog, basic obedience should be a must. ESPECIALLY for puppies where socialization is going to be key to raise a balanced dog. Puppy kindergarten classes are great in exposing them to other dogs, and starting to learn the basics. And I can't stress how important it is to take even your adult dogs to a basic training class or two to learn some tips on controlling your dog and getting them to listen to you.
Also, look for positive based classes. Cesar Millan seems all glamorous, but at the end of the day his techniques are severely out-dated and not recommended for the everyday dog owner. Alpha rolling a dog is DANGEROUS, not to mention counter-productive. If you watch wolf or even dog behavior, a dog OFFERS their stomach, the "dominant" dog does NOT FORCE THE DOG INTO A ROLL!!! An animal only ever forces another onto their back, belly exposed when they're going to cause them bodily harm. Do you REALLY want your dog fearful of you? That's all this is going to accomplish. If you read up on anxious and fearful dog behaviors, then watch Cesar's show with the SOUND OFF you will see what he's calling a calm/submissive dog, is actually scared out of their minds.
Positive reinforcement helps build a confident dog, who WANTS to offer you behaviors. I love teaching Zepplin new tricks and watching him figure out what new behavior I want him to do for me. This causes him to offer up behaviors on his OWN. If I'm making his dinner, he automatically sits and waits for me to put it down. If I'm in the kitchen doing the dishes or making my dinner, he lays down off to the side. I taught him the sitting before food behavior through NILIF(Nothing In Life Is Free), but him laying out of the way in the kitchen was something he did all on his own.
If you have fun working with your dog look for more advanced training! If you have a high energy dog (herding/working breed, terrier) look into Rally Obedience or Agility. I finally was able to find an agility class that looked good and signed myself and Zepplin up for it, and am SO excited to get started and working through new behaviors with him in a class setting. Nutrition
I now work as a pet food demonstrator for Blue Buffalo
, as most of you know, and have always thought dog nutrition was important. Blue was the first food I started Zepplin at, and eventually moved to Innova EVO
, which is a grain free dog food. I still feed Zepplin, and Macgyver for that matter, grain free, as I like the results I'm getting. I'd love to feed raw at some point, but right now do not have the time, nor do I feel confident in being able to prepare their meals to that extent every day.
Now, I'm not here to say which dog food I think is better than others. There are a lot of dog food brands that I think work well. Wellness, Blue Buffalo, Solid Gold, Innova EVO, Orijen, are all brands of food that I think are good for dogs and cats alike. Iams, Pedigree, Kibbles 'n Bits, Beneful, Goodlife Recipe, are NOT. Here's a good way to start. I'm going to put give a list of ingredients for you.Dog Food #1
Turkey, Chicken, Turkey Meal, Chicken Meal, Potatoes, Herring Meal, Chicken Fat, Natural Flavors, Egg, Apples, Tomatoes, Potassium Chloride, Carrots, Vitamins, Cottage Cheese, Minerals, Alfalfa Sprouts, Dried Chicory Root, Ascorbic Acid, Direct-Fed MicrobialsDog Food #2
Chicken, Corn Meal, Ground Whole Grain Sorghum, Chicken By-Product Meal, Dried Beet Pulp, Chicken Flavor, Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed Tocopherols, a source of Vitamin E), Potassium Chloride, Dried Egg Product, Brewers Dried Yeast, Salt, Calcium Carbonate, Caramel, Flax Meal, Choline Chloride, Fructooligosaccharides, Minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Potassium Iodide, Cobalt Carbonate), Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Ascorbic Acid, Vitamin A Acetate, Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Thiamine Mononitrate (source of vitamin B1), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Niacin, Riboflavin Supplement (source of vitamin B2), Inositol, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (source of vitamin B6), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid), L-Lysine Monohydrochloride, DL-Methionine, Rosemary Extract.Dog Food #3
Deboned Whitefish, Whole Ground Brown Rice, Whole Ground Barley, Menhaden Fish Meal (natural source of DHA-Docosahexaenoic Acid), Oatmeal, Canola Oil (naturally preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Tomato Pomace (natural source of Lycopene), Whole Sweet Potatoes, Natural Fish Flavors, Whole Potatoes, Peas, Whole Carrots, Blueberries, Cranberries, Flaxseed(natural source of Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids), Barley Grass, Dried Parsley, Garlic, Alfalfa Meal, Dried Kelp, Yucca Schidigera Extract, L-Carnitine, L-Lysine, Glucosamine Hydrochloride, Turmeric, Sunflower Oil (natural source of Omega 6 Fatty Acids), Chicken Fat (naturally preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Fish Oil (natural source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids), Dried Chicory Root, Oil of Rosemary, Beta Carotene, Vitamin A Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Niacin (Vitamin B3), d-Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Biotin (Vitamin B7), Folic Acid (Vitamin B9), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Calcium Ascorbate (source of Vitamin C), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Zinc Amino Acid Chelate, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Choline Chloride, Sodium Selenite, Calcium Iodate, Salt, Caramel, Calcium Carbonate, Potassium Chloride, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bacillus subtilis, Enterococcus faeciumDog Food #4
corn, soybean meal, beef and bone meal, ground wheat flour, animal fat (bha used as preservative), corn syrup, wheat middlings, water sufficient for processing, animal digest (source of chicken flavor), propylene glycol, salt, hydrochloric acid, potassium chloride, caramel color, sorbic acid (used as a preservative), sodium carbonate, minerals (ferrous sulfate, zinc oxide, manganous oxide, copper sulfate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite), choline chloride, vitamins (vitamin E supplement, vitamin A supplement, niacin supplement, D-calcium pantothenate, riboflavin supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, thiamine mononitrate, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid, biotin, vitamin B12 supplement), calcium sulfate, titanium dioxide, yellow 5, yellow 6, red 40, BHA (used as a preservative), dl methionine.
Which out of those four would you eat? I always ask customers, read the ingredients and tell me what is something you wouldn't
eat? Out of all those I would probably would eat the first one which is the Innova Evo. 2nd choice would be Dog Food #3 which is Blue Buffalo's Salmon and Sweet Potato Basics formula, then probably Dog Food #2 which is Iams MiniChunks, then Dog Food #4 which is Kibbles 'n Bits.
The Kibbles 'n Bits its easy to see why. They hardly list the type of meat that's in there, and at that its MEAL not even REAL beef and not even the first ingredient. Ingredients are listed by weight, so the first ingredient is what makes up most of the food. Corn is the first ingredient in that dog food. Now a lot of people call corn filler, but this is technically false. Filler implies that it has no nutritional value. Corn technically does, however it has very LITTLE nutritional value. Dogs do not get much nutrients from corn, don't absorb that much. Therefore they end up eating more of the food, and pooping more. The more meat, fruits, vegetables, etc that are in a food, the better the dog will be able to absorb the nutrients, the less they'll eat, and the less they'll poop.
So, yes, you'll be spending more per bag, but you'll have to go out LESS FREQUENTLY to buy the food!
By-product is another thing you want to avoid in dog food. All that is, is the extra bits of the animals, fur, bones, feathers, etc. While wolves do eat this out in the wild, it doesn't really add that much nutritional value to the dog, and plus, in a lot of dog foods its so high up in the ingredient list! Kibbles 'n Bits its the 3rd ingredient, and Iams its the 4th ingredient. Why so much??? Because its cheap and will help add that meaty flavor.
So a run down, you want meat as the first ingredient (and a defined meat, not must "meat". Chicken or turkey or SOMETHING), no by products, no corn or wheat (a lot of dogs develop allergies to these ingredients). Stick with these few rules and you'll be headed in the right direction for dog nutrition. (Same goes for cat nutrition too!!)
For more information on dog nutrition a GREAT website is The Dog Food Project
Well, I think that's enough of a rant for an evening. Nutrition is easy for me to go off now since its part of my job on the weekends, but training is something I'm interested in pursuing as a career, and animal welfare has always been a passion of mine. Remember, your dog, cat, ferret, rat, etc are family. Research before you get a pet, make sure you understand all that's involved. And always always ask questions if you're unsure of something :) Day 01 → Your favorite songDay 02 → Your favorite movieDay 03 → Your favorite television programDay 04 → Your favorite bookDay 05 → Your favorite quoteDay 06 → Whatever tickles your fancyDay 07 → A photo that makes you happyDay 08 → A photo that makes you angry/sadDay 09 → A photo you tookDay 10 → A photo of you taken over ten years agoDay 11 → A photo of you taken recentlyDay 12 → Whatever tickles your fancyDay 13 → A fictional bookDay 14 → A non-fictional bookDay 15 → A fanficDay 16 → A song that makes you cry (or nearly)Day 17 → An art piece (painting, drawing, sculpture, etc.)Day 18 → Whatever tickles your fancy
Day 19 → A talent of yours
Day 20 → A hobby of yours
Day 21 → A recipe
Day 22 → A website
Day 23 → A YouTube video
Day 24 → Whatever tickles your fancy
Day 25 → Your day, in great detail
Day 26 → Your week, in great detail
Day 27 → This month, in great detail
Day 28 → This year, in great detail
Day 29 → Hopes, dreams and plans for the next 365 days
Day 30 → Whatever tickles your fancy