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Kyal
Pigs can fly if you throw them high enough
Day XVIII - Whatever Tickles Your Fancy - Dog Nerdism Ohoy!! 
5th-Apr-2010 11:09 pm
Roar!
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 Microbials

Dog 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 faecium

Dog 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 song
Day 02 → Your favorite movie
Day 03 → Your favorite television program
Day 04 → Your favorite book
Day 05 → Your favorite quote
Day 06 → Whatever tickles your fancy
Day 07 → A photo that makes you happy
Day 08 → A photo that makes you angry/sad
Day 09 → A photo you took
Day 10 → A photo of you taken over ten years ago
Day 11 → A photo of you taken recently
Day 12 → Whatever tickles your fancy
Day 13 → A fictional book
Day 14 → A non-fictional book
Day 15 → A fanfic
Day 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
Comments 
6th-Apr-2010 05:16 am (UTC)
I actually read this whole thing through, and I learned a few things that I didn't know about in the first place - so thanks!

I currently live with two dogs (they're not mine, but they're attached to me either way) and one severely needs training in learning not to jump on strangers or people who come to the house - who are new to them anyways - and the other one is a huge begger for food. Any suggestions/advice I could take into stride and make them better pets to be around?

Also, don't even get me started on those dogs - the reason why they're so attached to me is because I actually take aside the time during the day to spend time with them, play with them, walk them, even work with them to teach them manners. Their owners (well, we have a beagle - the food begger - and a mutt, which is a german shepard/great dane mix (no manners one) - are too busy to bother spending time with them, especially the mutt. He's a huge dog, and has a lot of energy and I'm beat after walking him for an hour. Bad ownership gets me, and I'm trying to train their owners to be better owners too. :)

& thanks for the dog food advice and the website - my friend's feeding his dog Kibbles n' Bits and doesn't understand why it's a bad food product, so I'll forward him bits of this write-up, if that's OK with you, and show him the website. I'm trying to find a store around here that sells EVO so I can switch my kittens to that brand.
6th-Apr-2010 12:02 pm (UTC)
Ha wow no problem! I actually went back and read that and thought No one's going to read this, its too long! so I'm glad to hear some did : )

Jumping and begging are probably two of the most tedious behaviors to train out of dogs. Especially since the jumper is a German shephard/Great Dane mix he HAS to learn not to jump. It'll take awhile, but stick to this and you should start seeing results.

One easy way is to ignore the dog when he jumps. I know that's difficult with a Great Dane/Shepard mix jumping all over you. But, cross your arms, turn your back, and don't even LOOK at him, don't SAY anything until he stops jumping. Then you can say "Good boy" and pet him and praise him. Its important that even you and his owner do this when coming home, and that your guests listen to this bit of advice. My rule in the house is "four on the floor". If my dog is jumping I ignore him. Once he sits or stands still I'll crouch down to his level and pet him. If I want him to "hug" me (put his front paws on my shoulders) I'll pat my chest and he knows he can now "jump" all over me.

Another thing you should probably work with doing is having him sit in a certain spot when people walk into the door. This is going to be the tedious part so be warned. When someone knocks on your door or rings the bell, put him in a sit/stay(stay while sitting). (Make sure you have treats in your pocket) Go up to the door to let your guest in. Whenever he gets up from his sit stay, put him back in that spot and start all over. You may even get to opening up the door and the person coming in and he breaks his stay. Have your guest go back outside, close the door, and put him back in his sit stay. Continue this until your guest can walk inside with him staying in his sit/stay then give him a release ("Go greet" can be a good one)

This is going to be tedious but is really what's going to help him learn. A good build up is to work with him one on one. Put him in a sit/stay and walk towards the door. If he stayed go back to him and treat him. Put him in a sit/stay and touch the door. If he stayed go back and treat him. Put him in a sit/stay and open the door a little. If he stayed go back and treat him until you can have the door open all the way with him staying. I'd work on this exercise first and once he consistently is staying with the door open, ask friends to come over to practice door manners.

Begging the best I can say is to ignore the guy as well. What situations is he begging for food? If you're sitting down and he's right at your feet begging while you're eating, stand up, and walk into him so he backs up for you. Find a designated area you would like him to stay while you eat. Tell him stay then go back and eat. If he comes back up to you again and begs, stand up and back him into his spot again. This is going to make meal time annoying, but unfortunately behaviors like these are difficult to extinguish. And as a forewarning it may well get worse before it gets better.

Training owners, yes, that really is more of what training is. Training the owner not the dog :)

I'd love if you'd show your friend this write up. Dog nutrition is really something we never think about, and its more through ignorance and believing the ads that leads us to make our dog food purchasing decisions. It certainly doesn't help that most vets don't even have a good nutrition background, and Science Diet funds veterinary practices which is why its carried in a vets office and the food they'll recommend.

If you're having trouble finding EVO a good alternative is Blue Buffalo's Wilderness. Its another grain free food and a bit more affordable than EVO. Also, its carried in Petsmart and Petco so its a LOT easier to find. My dog and cat are currently eating Wilderness because its easier to find, less expensive, and they have more flavors. (Duck, chicken, and salmon, yum!)
6th-Apr-2010 08:19 pm (UTC)
I'm saving the notificiation for this comment in my e-mail so I can show it to the owners of the dogs and show the food write-up to my friend as well. And thanks for the suggestion about the alternative, I'll check to see if the Petsmart up here sells that brand - you never know, it's kind of a shitty store around here especially when we've got Global Pet Foods, which has a hell lot better service than Petsmart.

THe begging situation, well, it's hard to explain but I'll say that it's pretty bad as far as it seems to be. She WILL eat off your plate, and even snatch food if you EVEN leave it laying around on a table that is her height (she's a beagle, and obviously overweight, I'm even taking her out for walks that are up an hour each day). You can't sit in the living room and enjoy your meal or snack without her jumping up to your side and just sitting there WHINING about food and all that. It's frankly really annoying and I feel terrible about having a dog who does that when I have guests over. It's pretty bad afaik, but I'm sure it CAN be controlled with a lot of work with her. She's a really good dog otherwise! Well behaved, doesn't bark, comes up to you when you call her name, and all that.

Science Diet, oh boy. That's what basically killed my other cat - it didn't have the proper nutrition that my cat needed (Boo-Boo was a really sickly cat, he was over 15 pounds his whole life but RAPIDLY went down to around 7 in his last year when we switched to Science Diet), so I'm against that food because... well, you never know. He was doing really well on Iams (I know it's not a good choice but he was healthy while he was on it) and I didn't feed him wet food since I heard that it could cause kidney failure.


All this talk about food is making me hungry.
6th-Apr-2010 06:42 am (UTC)
I've enjoyed reading the month-long assignment you've taken on sharing things about yourself. Although we share the same neighborhood and I've read your journal for a while, before now I didn't have as clear a sense of who you are, and now I do, and that's a good thing. Keep writing.
6th-Apr-2010 12:05 pm (UTC)
Stalker! :P

But thanks! I've actually enjoyed writing them up. Part of the reason I don't write is I don't always have an idea of what I want to talk about. Talking about my day to day life is so inane and boring, I'd rather talk about a topic that stirs up discussion which this "assignment" has made easy for me! Thanks for reading : )
6th-Apr-2010 10:11 am (UTC)
Nice post. If I end up with dogs/cats (always had them growing up, but living in a pet-free apartment now and for at least a little over 2 more years) I plan to try and feed raw. I used to read a girl over on OD who did and it seemed like a really good way to go. I'm a little confused what you mean with preparing it, though?
6th-Apr-2010 12:10 pm (UTC)
I would love to feed raw but I just don't have a local butcher where I'd be able to get a good deal on buying meat.

I think I was thinking more of the BARF way of raw feeding which requires a lot of preparing and making sure the right supplements are added. I haven't read into raw feeding for a little over a year at this point since I know its something I'm not going to do any time soon, so I don't really remember what was all involved.

Although I think now there's a prey-model method that raw feeders do that sounds a lot easier. Truthfully I just don't have the space to deal with the mess either. I'd want to feed them in a designated spot in the kitchen where I could easily clean up afterward. The previous tenants of my place frickin' PAINTED the kitchen floor blue. I'm finally to the point where I'm looking into getting that stupid paint off since there's nice white kitchen tile underneath! As it is now dirt and grime sticks to the paint on my floor and its NEVER CLEAN. Argh!!

Sorry for that off tangent rant : )
7th-Apr-2010 02:37 am (UTC)
Not a lot of people are aware of the specific health tests breeders can (and should) do so I just wanted to throw a few examples of them out there:

Reputable breeders will also do appropriate health tests on their lines for example such as CERF (eyes), OFA (hips), which are a must for any breed. If the breeder does no testing of this sort, then run away and as fast as you can! Small breeds are prone to luxating patellas and large breeds are prone to hip dyspasia. Both of these equal a couple thousand in surgery per knee, so it is very important that a breeder is breeding dogs with the most solid joints to minimize any of this from occurring. There are other tests that can be administered that are for breed specific genetic issues (such as Shunt in Yorkies), so research those genetic issues and find out if there any tests for it and make sure the breeder does those.

Often times reputable breeders will take in dogs of their breed that need rehoming for whatever reason. So if you want a breed that maybe isn't as common in shelter or rescue, that is another option to explore.

---
Even if one decides they really want a specific 'designer dog' for whatever reason, a lot of them have their own rescues now in the same way that there are breed specific rescues. It may be difficult to locate them on petfinder since they are not actual breeds, but they should pop up if you google '[designer breed] rescue [your state or country]'
19th-Aug-2010 06:49 am (UTC) - How to keep your pet healthy?
Anonymous
To keep your pet healthy, it is much more to play with him, let him happy, to reason with him, let him politely, so as to cute. To prepare some delicious dogs, good performance when incentives, such dogs can be very strong support, but also allow them to become very smart dog to work for good food!
Choline Chloride (http://www.jjcholine.cn/)
19th-Aug-2010 06:51 am (UTC)
Anonymous
To keep your pet healthy, it is much more to play with him, let him happy, to reason with him, let him politely, so as to cute. To prepare some delicious dogs, good performance when incentives, such dogs can be very strong support, but also allow them to become very smart dog to work for good food!
http://www.jjcholine.cn/
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