Thursday, January 29, 2009

Who wants a Kong?

My camera and I aren't on speaking terms tonight so bear with me. I have been forced to steal photos from websites instead.

Jack's new collar came in. I ordered it through the Loyal Biscuit and she gets them from If it Barks.

It is called Midnight Snow. I love snowflakes. Especially ones I don't have to shovel. It looks amazing on him. Well when you can see it, he is pretty fluffy after all. I got the one inch in a medium. Thanks to Lauren I also found a new extra hard edible dog treat. Great for keeping those teeth clean if you aren't into bones for your dogs or if they have allergies. They are made from dried sweet potato and come in pieces or chips. Missy the frenchie and Jenny the pug both give them 4 paws up. Jack is lazy and wasn't as into them but he can be fussy when he wants. (he ate the samples just fine I will note) Check out the Loyal Biscuit Blog for more info about them. (also at )

I have started keeping a raw food journal. I figure this way if Jenny ever gets itchy I don't have to rely on my faulty memory to recall when I've mixed up recently. The jig is up at work. At least one of the doctors now knows I feed a partially raw diet. It was a short conversation just before afternoon appointments and I think it went ok. It was bound to happen eventually. She mentioned a book I should read. I have one I can trade her for. VBG

I bought one of the blue kongs at work today. I am now up to 19 total. (7 large, 12 medium) Why so many? Well I hate to wash them. This way I can stuff them and have them in the freezer waiting and only have to wash and restuff them about once a week. If it's been a busy week for me and the dogs are home alone alot that is. So far it has worked out well with my husband having days off when I work so he is with them unless he has errands to run. I'm also trying to get more colored ones for Jenny so it is easier for the kids or DH when they have to kong them. Jacks are bigger so his are easy to dish out. Missy can't reach the bottom of hers like Jenny can so the smaller ones are stuffed differently for each dog. This means you have to pay attention who gets which of the smaller kongs.

I am a HUGE fan of using kongs for dogs. It is one of the best self rewarding toys out there. I always give a stuffed kong when my dogs are crated or left alone for any length of time. This creates the opposite of separation anxiety. When I get ready to leave, if I'm not fast enough, Jenny starts running into her crate whining waiting for me to leave so she can have her special treat. (that is the only time they get them) I ask "Who wants a kong?" when I am about to leave and they all run into their crates or to their spots and wait.

They even make a kong dispenser that holds 4 kongs and spits one out every so many hours for dogs left home alone. I'm thinking that might work best for dogs without other dogs home to compete with over resources. (or you might need two dispensers on the same timer) I also know people that stuff their dogs meals in the kongs so they have to work for their food. A great idea for dogs who eat to fast. You can put anything in a kong, kibble, cheese, chicken, canned food, yogurt, the list is endless. Or instead of stuffing them full you can just smear a bit of peanut butter around the insides. I use peanut butter frequently in mine with some added kibble or a hard to get out evo brand treat. (they make the perfect size hearts and donut shapes to fit in kongs)

I always freeze mine to keep the innards fresh and to make it more challenging to get the stuffing out. Make sure you don't use one that is to big for your dog or they can get the stuff out to easily. Part of what makes them a great toy is the challenge. Make sure it isn't small enough to be a choking hazard either.

Besides the kong there are other toys that are interactive on the market as well. From the buster cube to the canine genius, there are many options. I just find the Kong to be a nice durable product that my dogs happen to love.

What are YOUR dogs favorite toys?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I love my groomer

So today Jack went to his groomer Yankee Clipper. He loves his spa days and they all love him there too. The owner of the shop, Liz Czak, used to raise and show akitas herself so I have always felt very comfortable leaving him in their hands. I started taking him when he was just a pup so he got used to it gradually. (short visits initially) He goes for a bath and brush out regularly now and I have to admit I feel no guilt about not doing it myself. Being a longcoated akita makes for much more to groom. I did my other two akitas myself but it was never something I looked forward to. My poor back was always out of whack for days afterwards. Even when I used the humane societies raised tub. Bathing an akita is no picnic for me. It is well worth the cabbage it costs in my book. While I was there I also told her about Chloie so she could keep an eye open for a potential suitable home.

While Jack is away getting beautified my bath day routine consists of washing all the dog bedding and vacuuming the whole house, and mopping floors. No sense sending him out to get clean to come home and lay in dog fur dust bunnies. I made a busy day of it by also washing all the bowls, stuffed toys, chew toys, bones and even his collar too.

The girls had their spa day at home on Thursday night. The one best tip I have for anyone to bathe a dog at home is to invest in a shower hose long enough to use in their tub. It does wonders. Especially because rinsing out the soap is the most important part of any pet bath. If you don't, you risk having an itchy dog and the possibility of impending hot spots. (which can equal an unwelcome vet bill) The hose is so much more effective and faster than the old cup method. Baths, nail trims and even ear cleaning was all accomplished.

Even though grooming day still means work for me I love it. Jack comes home all pretty and fresh smelling and I have a clean house by the end of the day as well. I'm certainly no clean freak by anyones definition but a clean house gives a certain satisfaction. Even for the domestically challenged such as myself.

When I went in my bedroom to put away some clothes and Jack followed me and put himself to bed. I guess bath day is a long one for him too.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Dogs as pack animals, or not

The following post is a compilation of some e-mails I shared on the subject to a dog list I am on. I thought it was good info to share so here it is as well.

Pretty much everything about dogs as pack animals has been extrapolated from wolf behavior. And not all of it is correct. For instance, wolf packs in the wild consist of a breeding pair and their offspring. The breeding pair is a pair that found each other and mated because they were sexually mature. Their offspring stay with them until they reach sexual maturity, which in wolves is about 3 years of age. Then those sexually mature wolves go off in search of their own mates. So the pack is a breeding pair plus more than one litter of pups at a given time of different ages. (I am speaking of a wild wolf pack not messed with by humans or one that is captive.)

Dogs that have been studied "in the wild" (such as the original Carolina dogs) or as feral dogs have been found to form loose transitory associations IF it is to their mutual benefit. (like finding food or to mate) They do not form packs to live with long term in general. So consider that the packs of our own dogs are manufactured and this is one reason not all of them get along. Left to their own devices they would pick and choose who they made long term associations with, if any. This is also one reason why the early socialization we do with them is important. (but it also explains why it doesn't always solve all problems) Dogs are a social species in general, which is one reason we were able to domesticate them in the first place. And why we can mold them to an extent by doing early socialization with them.

Let's also not forget that our dogs aren't wolves, because they have been domesticated this changes their behavior. In our case dogs are like a permanent form of an adolescent wolf. (you can look up the tame silver fox study done in Russia for more on this domestication/behavior link)

So while good leadership is very important, I look at it more as being a good leader in a parental role. Sure I may consider my group of dogs a pack, but one of my own formation and not a natural one. They may have evolved from a pack animal, but one that had a very specific reason to be a pack that lived together for its mutual benefit like having a good food source. (wolves that hunt together eat better and live longer than wolves that live alone)

The studying wolves as a basis for dog behavior can also be flawed in other ways. For instance with the use of the "Alpha Roll". The original alpha roll concept was passed on by the Monks of New Skete. They based it on wolf behavior that was known at the time. I've already covered how dogs differ from wolves. However the rest of the story is this, the behavior they were seeing was misinterpreted. They saw one wolf "pining" another down in a dominance display or, as they thought at the time, as one was wining a fight. Now they know that it is merely a body language display. The wolf being "pinned" is actually choosing to submit. If that wolf doesn't want to submit there would be an actual fight. Behavior that is considered very expensive in a wolf pack because of the risk of a serious or fatal injury.

In dogs we see far more willingness to fight because of the fact we are creating their packs and I believe because since we protect them (they are domesticated) they lack the survival skills a wolf has. If fighting were to expensive a behavior for dogs (meaning they know the consequences could be death) they would not engage in it nearly as often.

The tv trainer that still uses this method shows what looks like success because he is not changing their behavior, he is suppressing it. He is forcing the dogs to submit IN BODY LANGUAGE ONLY. It looks like he is creating a calmer state however in many cases he is simply causing the dogs to go into a state of what is called learned helplessness. (typical whenever you use flooding) They know they can't fight back because they may be physically outmatched. Try this on a strong enough dog or one with true dominance aggression and you will be provoking a fight.

In dog language this can be read from the dogs viewpoint as an attack, because they do not understand being forced to submit. A dog can only choose to submit, not be forced into it. You are only holding down their body, not changing how they feel about an event. (or forcing them into a submissive state internally. The dog being held down may be thinking, "Just wait until I can get up again so I can fight back". A dangerous proposition) You may even be causing more stress about the event because the dog makes a negative association to the event and the forthcoming physical attack from the person.

Like I said before, once the Monks learned what the body language really was they realized their mistake and recanted it as a reputable training method. The interesting part of that is that they still use traditional compulsion training methods. Though in their defense they use it the most fairly for the dogs that I have seen. With that method timing is everything.
And for fun here is video of Jack in todays snowstorm. Boy he sure loves the snow!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Chloie is ready for her new home

I was trying to get some good pics of Chloie so I can show her off. I've had some inquiries about akitas and since she is in the K-9 Corrections program awaiting a new home I thought I would mention her first.

She apparently wanted a close up. Excuse the short whiskers. One of the handlers got a little scissor happy during grooming.

She is abit on the small side for a female akita but I think she is the perfect size. Not to big but not to small. I am told she loves to burrow in the snow.
We were working on stand/stay during the photo shoot. She has completed the program and is available for adoption through on the coast of Maine. Until she finds a home she will be staying at the prison and they will continue working with her. She knows all the basics, (including a fabulous recall) is crate trained, housebroken and knows a bunch of cute tricks too.

Seriously, how can you resist that face? Ideally I think she would do best as an only dog in a cat free home. (she failed the shelters cat test) I plan on testing her on Saturday with a submissive male dog if I can borrow one that is appropriate. (from the shelter) But at this point with her past as a breeding bitch and from some reactions I've seen I don't think she wants to share her space with another dog. Plus I think she deserves to be spoiled after being neglected to the point of not knowing how to play. She is a great dog and someone really missed the boat by dumping her at the shelter. She loves people and has even shown affection and gentleness towards kids.

So if you know anyone in the market for a great akita that has some good solid foundation training under her belt (thanks to my very dedicated handlers) please pass her info along. I would appreciate it.

P.S. She LOVES to work and I think she would make a fabulous agility prospect.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Shelter Dog Prevention Month & my bookshelf

Because I don't have enough books in my house, (ha ha ha) I ordered yet another. "Changing people. Changing dogs. Positive solutions for difficult dogs" by Dee Ganley. The funny thing is I can't remember what sparked me getting this particular book. Was it about a client and a dog or did one of mine push me to an edge one day? Hard to believe considering in the realm of behavior none of mine come close to being considered difficult. Jenny is higher maintenance but only compared to our other two. Or am I just trying to justify buying yet another dog book.

Speaking of books-

DogStarDaily has declared January as Shelter Dog Prevention Month. So to help keep dogs in their homes DSD is giving away FREE copies of "After you get your puppy" by Dr. Ian Dunbar.
This is a PDF form of his full book. This has great tips of everything you need to do with your new puppy to teach it the skills you will need to help keep that puppy from ending up in a shelter. (like socialization and teaching bite inhibition) PLEASE if you know anyone with a new puppy, have a new puppy yourself, or know someone thinking of getting a puppy, pass this info along on or take advantage yourself and check it out. Many dogs that end up in shelters are there because someone didn't do the work they needed to prevent behavior problems or they didn't know what to do to help themselves with their puppy. Having a new puppy is more than just potty training after all.
Also a heads up. I saw on a dog food label that some are labeling corn as Maize now. (Maize is just another word for corn.) Tricky tricky!!! I am thinking about ordering this book.
I have already read it and love most of the info. (tho she isn't a fan of raw diets and I am) She teaches you how to read pet labels by explaining the ingredients as well as telling you what exactly is in pet foods. I know I have mentioned this book here several times. It isn't for the weak of stomach at all but has great info if you are worried about your pets diet. I want to get the newest edition and see what she has changed or added.
And this one has caught my eye.
It is about the pet food recall and how it relates to what is going into people food as well as pet foods. Not for anyone who prefers the ignorance is bliss approach from what I can tell.

I also e-mailed Sports Illustrated and finally heard back about how I can order some of the December copies for the prison program.

And for fun a cute ad on YouTube:

I have survived the first week at the new job and am feeling much less useless. I am up to answering phones now and am getting the hang of their computer program. I have also gotten some hands on time with a couple of dogs and seen a very large snake up close and personal. (he was beautiful) My husband bought me a cute dog related scrub top to wear and a pair of Klog shoes which I can now highly recommend for anyone standing on their feet all day. (tip: check out the nursing section)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Catching up

Or A.K.A. ....... yes I am still alive.

Please excuse the short hiatus. When I get behind the blog is the first thing to go, followed closely by e-mail. (so if you haven't heard from me....) I am behind on my blog reading as well if that makes anyone feel any better.

I am loving the new job. I feel sort of useless because I am in training and can't really do much until I learn the computer system better. But the people are awesome and I get to be around animals all day long. What could be better than that? Plus I get a real lunch hour that I can jet home to get the dogs out for a quick outing on the days the husband works and can't do it. Never under estimate the value of a well timed potty break.

I have a bunch of back logged ideas to blog about but am short on time this evening. I just wanted to post so that people wouldn't get worried that I fell off the face of the earth.

Chloie is doing awesome and is available for adoption. She knows all the basics, sit, down, come, heel, etc. She is also crate trained and knows a bunch of tricks. High five, shake, roll over and wave goodbye. Plus we finally taught her to play. It took awhile but it was so worth it. It is so great to watch her play with real joy. She has come a long way from the over excited and neglected dog that arrived at the shelter.
In other VERY exciting news check out my friends website that launched this week: I am very happy for them. It looks fantastic. (Go check it out.)

Todays photos? Well don't tell anyone but I admit I actually like this haircut on poodles. I have no earthly idea why. But really, who can blame me? Isn't he cute?