Posts Tagged With: Treats

D is for Diet

DOne of the hottest topics of debate among dog owners is what type of food is best. The truth is, there is no one brand that is best for all dogs. And with so many different dog foods out there, and so much conflicting information, the pet store can be an overwhelming place, especially for new pet owners.

So how do you decide what’s best for your dog? First, ask your vet. This is particularly important if your dog has any health conditions that require a special diet. However, be aware that many veterinary clinics, even otherwise good ones, have incentive to promote some brands of dog food over others. Our first vet would push Science Diet to all their patients, giving free sample bags at your first appointment with any new pet. So I’d be wary of a vet that only recommends one brand. We’ve since switched clinics, and have received much better advice on food.

Basically, rather than worrying about the specific brand, look for foods that are high-protein, and that are low-grain or grain-free. Many dog foods are filled with corn, wheat, or rice. Wheat and corn are especially known to cause skin allergies in many dogs. Rice is more tolerable, but with the recent studies showing high naturally-occurring arsenic in rice, we’ve decided it’s better for us to avoid grains altogether. Many grain-free foods use sweet potato instead, which is a great alternative, with high nutrient content. And try to avoid anything that is brightly colored, as these generally contain dyes which are at best unnecessary, and at worst could cause an adverse reaction.

You want something with a meat protein as the first ingredient. If your dogs are sensitive to chicken or beef, salmon can be a good alternative. Ginny has had skin sensitivities, but they cleared up when we switched to a salmon and sweet potato food. Our dogs love chicken, but we don’t love the stink that ensues after they’ve eaten chicken-based food or treats. Some brands have food that contains wild game such as venison or rabbit. The important thing is to find a food your dog loves to eat that also has a good nutritional balance. With so many choices out there, you should be able to find a quality food that still fits your budget.

Hi, Mom. I like treats. You got any treats?

Hi, Mom. I like treats. You got any treats?

Whatever you choose, it’s important to keep your dog on a consistent feeding schedule and to carefully portion their food. Limit the amount of treats you give them–a difficult task if you have particularly persistent little beggars like ours! And while it may be tempting to slip table scraps to your well-behaved dog, that can lead to unwanted pounds and may lead to some unwanted behaviors over time. If you are vigilant, you can keep your dog at a healthy weight while still keeping meal time enjoyable.

Do your dogs have a favorite treat? Do you have little beggars at home like we do? Share your stories in the comments!

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 6 Comments

B is for Bonding with Your New Pet

BAdopting a new pet is exciting. You can’t wait to take your newest family member home. But what happens if things don’t go quite that smoothly once you get home?

It’s normal for a dog to have an adjustment period when arriving in a new home. Even dogs who are already housebroken may have accidents in the house. Your dog may act scared of its new surroundings, or overly excited at meeting new people. This transition period may be longer if you have existing pets at home. (I’ll have another post later in the month on introductions.)

One of the best ways to help your dog bond with you is to spend plenty of active one-on-one time with them. The most basic way to create a bond is to take your dog on walks. Go far enough so the dog gets tired, and try to keep them moving rather than stopping every three feet to mark or sniff. This helps build discipline, while still letting your dog get to know the neighborhood. Tessa was fairly unsure when we brought her home, but she really started coming out of her shell when we would take her for walks. She would constantly look up at us with the most adoring look you ever saw.

Charlie loves his fox!

Charlie loves his fox!

Play time at home is crucial, too. Find a toy that they really like and they will get excited to play with you. Charlie had one of the toy foxes without stuffing, Tessa and Tonks love any sort of ball, and Ginny adores soccer balls (especially these stuffed ones from IKEA). Remember: a tired dog is less likely to get into trouble around the house!

Of course, most dogs will bond well with anyone who feeds them. Reward them with healthy treats for good behavior. We like the little training treats that are just a few calories each. Make a game of it. Engage their minds as well as their playful nature. If your dog has had a few too many treats prior to entering your home, you can always just use bits of their dry food to entice them.

Showing your new best friend lots of affection and patience will go a long way toward making them part of the family. Do you have stories of dogs who took a bit of TLC? Share them in the comments! I look forward to hearing about your fur babies!

Categories: Play | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

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