Homemade Dog Treats

photo 5 (5)I like to think that I’m a pretty experienced baker but have never tried making treats for my dogs. I found a couple of good, healthy, and potentially grain free recipes to try out.  So for this trial round I’m going to try a peanut butter sweet potato treat that makes roughly 2 dozen cookies.

Peanut butter sweet POTATO

With this recipe takes about 30-40 minutes to cook and about a 10 min prep time.  The ingredients you are going to need are:

photo 1 (5)3 sweet potatoes (you can use canned if you don’t want to bake some potatoes)

2 eggs

1 2/3 cups of whole wheat flour, brown rice flour, or gluten free flour

1/2-2/3 cups of peanut butterphoto 2 (6)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Then while your oven is preheating take your sweet potatoes and with a fork poke a bunch of holes in them. I microwaved mine for about 1 1/2 mins (basically you want to microwave them till they are soft). While the potatoes are in the microwave, grab a small- medium mixing bowl throw in your flour, eggs, and peanut butter.

Once the potatoes are done, I decided to cut mine in half and scooped out the insides just to make it easier on myself. Then mix in into the bowl with all your other ingredients. Now its time to combine! I just used my hand but if you don’t want to get dirty then you can use a stand mixer, hand mixer, spoon, whisk, etc. photo 3 (4)

Put the dough on to a heavily floured surface and roll it out to about 1/2 inch thickness. Then using any cookie cutter shape, cut out the dough and place onto a cookie sheet. Bake for 30-35 minute and out on a cooling rack. The cookies will come out soft but they do harden as they cool. Please note these cookies will not be your traditional hard cookies, they come out softer.

My boys loved these treats! Plus they were super easy to make. Definitely a great recipe to try if it’s your first time trying your hand at making dog cookies.
photo 4 (5)

What’s Up With Wade? Guest Post by Devan of Fit ‘n’ Furry: Week 2 With Wade

Here I am in my second week of puppy ownership.

Wade has been getting better about his social skills. I’ve been physically presenting dogs to him, booty-first, in an attempt to teach him how he should properly greet another dog. So far, so good. He definitely prefers big dogs, and tries to play with little dogs, (unfortunately, the little dogs are usually older and don’t want to play anymore).

IMG_1969We’re working on some trick training, along with his basic obedience. He knows sit VERY well, he’s got a down, shake, high-five, drop it, and “hup!” over a broom handle. Detailed post to follow.

Wade’s new favorite things are his toys. We cracked and bought him some stuffed animal toys… He LOVES them!

Using the toys as rewards is perfect as well. That’s how he learned “hup!”

Mostly, I just wanted to post this adorable picture of him…

Chewing, Bite Inhibition, and Play-Biting

We have a guest blog post from one of our trainers, Devan Amundsen, who is writing about life with his new puppy! Check out ‘The Pup Blog!’

Well Wade is out cold! He naps so much, it’s almost easy to forget he’s in my life now!

But, when he isn’t napping, he’s biting.

He chews on absolutely everything.

So how do you manage it?

Obviously, it’s an extremely normal puppy behavior. Their teeth are growing, their gums hurt, and chewing is a fantastic way to pass the time!

Great. Just don’t chew on my shoes… Or the carpet… Spit out that rock! DON’T EAT THAT!!

Photo 2013-05-30 12.22.35 PMSo far, I’ve coated all power chords he can get to with some bitter “yuck” spray. It tastes incredibly bitter, and Wade hates it. You can even just use white vinegar diluted with water.

This stuff works great. Every time I catch him chewing on something that I can’t move out of his reach, I just spray some of this on there.

Corners of rugs, edges of furniture, power cords, baseboards, everything and anything my pup can chew on that I don’t want him to has a small amount of this on there.

So far, it’s working really well. He learned immediately that power cords taste disgusting, and why would he want to chew on something disgusting?t

But it’s mean and non-sensical to just walk around and tell him what he can’t chew on.

That’s where this little group of indispensable items comes in handy.

Photo 2013-05-30 12.22.27 PMI’ve been using these constantly with Wade.

Every time I catch him chewing on something, I take it away from him, say “no,” (Calmly and neutrally,) and hand him one of these things to occupy his time.

He immediately forgets all about what he was doing, and happily gnaws away at something good for him!

The rope is great for his teeth, massaging his gums and providing something soft, but firm to chew on.

The bully sticks are STINKY! They smell awful! But he loves them. C’est la vie. My only warning with these is not to leave him unattended for too long with one. Wade did chew on one for basically a whole day, and it turned into a soggy mess that he ended up half-swallowing. Thankfully, I was there to take it from him.

That’s another thing. Take things from your puppy. A lot. Take it, praise him, maybe give him a treat, and then give it back. That way, your puppy knows, “Whenever someone takes something from me, it’s okay! I get a treat and I get it back eventually anyway!”  Possessive issues solved.

I almost forgot about my favorite toy of all… The Kong. Wade absolutely loves his Kong. I have two, and I have one stuffed at all times. I stuff it almost entirely with food, but layer it with Kong stuffing so it stays interesting and challenging all the way through. Wade LOVES IT! He gets all of his meals through a Kong or hand-fed to him.

I almost forgot… Play-biting.

Photo 2013-05-30 01.55.59 PM

This picture was probably counter-productive, because it took 2 straight minutes of him biting my hands before I could get an acceptable picture… But he looks VICIOUS!

Wade is being such a little butt-head about biting! He likes to nip at fingers, clothes, and even faces when he’s playing! AHHH!!

This is normal puppy behavior as well, and as much as I’d like to teach him never to bite anyone ever, it’s too early for that.

Why?

Let’s say you taught your puppy to never bite anyone ever. Extremely reasonable, and your puppy should be doing that soon.

But not yet.

First, we need to teach him bite inhibition. Teach him that his mouth is a tool he can use sometimes, especially when playing with other dogs, but that he needs to be GENTLE! We’re teaching a “soft-mouth.” That way, one day when a small child scares the heck outta your dog by running up and jumping on him, the dog won’t turn around and bite with all of the immense power possible.

Basically, bite inhibition keeps a dog from doing actual damage if there was ever a need to use his/her mouth.

Teaching bite inhibition:

  1. Play with your pup. Be rough.
  2. When the pup uses any bite force whatsoever, yelp and pull your hand away.
  3. If your pup bites you three times in a row, stop the play session immediately, but calmly. Call him/her a bully, and walk away.
  4. Your puppy is going to be like, “What!? I was playing with thaaaaat!”
  5. When you come back into the room, make your pup sit calmly before initiating another play session.

It’s that easy.

Once your pup has a nice soft mouth, (about the time he gets his grown-up teeth,) We can teach him that with these new grown-up teeth, he is not allowed to bite. Ever.

Teaching Not to Bite:

  1. Any time your pup puts teeth on you, yelp, and walk away.

That’s it. End of story. Biting is restricted exclusively to toys… And maybe other dogs…

A fantastic way to reinforce bite lessons is to just let your puppy play with other puppies! There’s options everywhere, just search around. What you’re looking for is for your puppy to get some experience playing with other puppies. Other puppies instinctively know what’s appropriate, and what isn’t.

Your puppy should be playing with other puppies as SOON AS POSSIBLE!

So there you have it. Your quick guide to chewing, bite inhibition, and play biting.

Fit’n’Furry Investigates: What Pet is Right for My Child?

“Pleeeeeeeeeeaaaaassssse?! He’s so cute! I promise I’ll look after him! I’ll do everything for him. He’ll be mine! You won’t have to do a thing! Please can we get him, Pleeeeeeeeeeaaaaassssse?!”  A familiar sound at shelters, pet stores and adoption events, a child’s plea for a pet is cute (unless it’s a shrill cry) but as a parent you may be wondering – when is the right age for your young one to take care of an animal. What pet is right for him? Is he an appropriate age? Is he responsible enough? How much of the work am I going to end up with? Each child and family is different, but here are some guidelines to keep in mind before taking your little bi-ped to adopt a new quadruped family member. 200155493-001

The ASPCA recommends different animals for different ages for first time little pet owners. Between the ages of three and five, your child is learning about contact and empathy. ASPCA experts recommend a guinea pig for a pet. “Guinea pigs like to be held, seldom bite and will whistle when excited or happy, to the delight of most kids. Your child can also help with responsibilities by filling the water bottle and food dish.” Of course, mom or dad will need to supervise playtime and make sure that the cage is washed properly.

goldfishinbowlFor five to ten year olds, small pets such as gerbils, rats, hamsters and fish are recommended for learning proper care and pet hygiene. This keeps the parent’s involvement (aka: work) to a minimum.  Children at this age tend to have a short attention span. Keep watch that your child is giving clean water and is feeding the appropriate amount of food. They can help with chores such as cleaning the cage, washing the toys and measuring the food. These steps are vital before adopting larger pets that require more dedication. During this time of learning, your child is gaining confidence and a sense of responsibility which will bring them to the next step, if wanted.

Tweens are generally known to teens_walking_dog_in_parkhave the greatest interest in owning a dog or cat. They are mature enough to clean the litter box, and keep them watered and fed properly. For walking, they should not do so independently until they are typically over the age of 15. This is because kids under this age may not know how or be physically able to handle dangerous situations that may arise,  such as unleashed dogs. Kids of this age group can also attend training classes for Pooch; a wonderful learning opportunity! This is an age of reliance but parents should still keep tabs on how the pet is doing in terms of hygiene and diet.

Once your child reaches teenage-dom, they tend to become very busy with extracurricular activities, friends, school, and more. The ASPCA mentions birds or fish for first-time-teen pet owners. Your rapidly growing and maturing “little ones” will soon find themselves going to college and leaving their nest. So, remember that any pet is a FOREVER pet and the parent may end up with Fido or Fluffy for a very long amount of time.

It is up to the parent to create and keep guidelines for their child. Sure, they may make the promises to feed, water, clean, play and care with those cute little faces at the shelter. However, the situation may turn into the parent taking all the responsibility once the child finds out that it’s not all fun and games to own a pet. A great way to build trust that your child will take care of their pet is for them to use their allowance money to purchase treats, beds and toys. GlobalAnimal.org says that immediate positive reinforcement is a perfect and productive way to praise your child for a job well done; more confidence boosting and a feeling of responsibility. An outline to read with your child can be found here. No matter what and when your child decides to take on a new pet, it is the family’s duty to make sure that the pet is well looked after; it’s just a matter of how much time and effort everyone is willing to dedicate.

New Year’s Resolutions for Fido

At the beginning of every year, we make a pact with ourselves to make the next year better than the last. We pick a resolution and vow to stick to it in order to make a positive change in our life – but, what about your furry companions? Believe it or not, your pup probably has a very similar list of things that they would like to change about their lives (even if they don’t know it!), so when making your New Year’s Resolution for 2012, be sure to include one for your dog as well. By helping your pet improve their life, you may also be completing your goal as well!

Resolution #1: Learn a new skill

Dogs crave mental stimulation, and what better way to give their brain some exercise than to teach them some new commands? Is your pup pulling on leash? Jumping all over your guests? Peeing in the house? Then you will be getting a two-for-one special when you teach your dog a fun “trick” (because that is what all dog training commands basically are!) that will not only give him a way to release some mental energy, but also improve your relationship. A good mannered dog means less stress not only for you, but for Fido as well.

Resolution #2: Spend more time with friends & family

Dogs are social animals that crave companionship not only with people, but with their fellow dogs as well. Making sure that Fido has regular play dates with his doggie pals will not only tire him out, but also give him to opportunity to be a “real” dog. Keeping dogs socialized, especially from a young age, lessens the likelihood of dog-to-dog issues. Also, studies have shown that having a dog lengthens your life, so grab Fido’s favorite toy and have a ball!

Resolution #3: Get healthy

Like humans, dogs need a balanced diet and regular exercise to stay in the best shape possible and live a happy life. Take a look at the ingredients in your dog’s food and make sure that the first thing on the list is an actual protein (“byproducts” don’t count!), and cut out all but the occasional table scrap. Daily walks, runs, or fetch sessions will keep your pup in tip-top shape, give them more energy, and let them live longer lives. Keeping a healthy pet requires a little more time on your part, but your wallet will thank you when you don’t have to make quarterly visits to the vet!

Resolution #4: Help others

It is always rewarding to give back to those that are less fortunate than ourselves, and dogs feel the same way! Don’t keep those big brown eyes and sweet personality all to yourself – sign Fido up to visit your local hospital, special needs school, or assisted living facility to brighten someone’s day. Having a doggie companion while undergoing or recovering from a procedure  can serve as a distraction and make pain more bearable, or help a shy child feel confident enough to read out-loud. To your dog, giving is just as fun as receiving!

Resolution #5: Lose weight

Obesity is a growing and serious problem among dogs, just as it is with people. Overweight dogs have shorter lives, less energy, and are more prone to arthritis. Losing weight is the number one resolution among humans, so take Fido with you on your morning walk or jog and you’ll be fulfilling not one, but two goals! Getting back into shape is always easier with a partner to keep you company and occasionally drag you out of bed on those cold mornings! Getting fit with your dog will not only help your figure, but strengthen your relationship with Fido as well.

Whichever New Year’s resolution (or resolutions!) you choose, we wish you the best success! Even if your resolution isn’t on this list, we hope that your positive change in Fido’s life lasts beyond the upcoming twelve months and transforms into a healthy and happy habit. Make 2012 the year that you and Fido work not only on yourselves, but also on your bond with each other as well. Happy New Year!

How to Take Care of Your New Puppy: Part 1

He’s cute, he’s cuddly, and he’s driving you crazy! Your new puppy Fido piddles all over the house,  chews up your favorite pair of shoes, and his sharp puppy teeth scratch you whenever you play with him. Bringing home a new pup requires a major adjustment, but with the correct information and preparation you can make this adjustment period much smoother not only for you, but for your new addition as well.

The Basics – What to Buy

Make sure to purchase these must-have items in preparation for bringing your pup home.

  1. Crate – One sized to fit Fido when he’s full grown (he should have enough room to stand up and turn around in it). If you buy a smaller crate for his smaller puppy size you’ll end up having to purchase multiples to accommodate him as he grows. Also, a crate that has a divider would be preferable for potty training.
  2. Identification tags – This will be one of the most important things you purchase for you puppy; ensure that he is always able to find his way home in the event that he becomes lost. Micro-chipping Fido is also recommended in the event that his tags should be lost along with him.
  3. Collar, harness, and a leash.
  4. Bowls – One set for food and water inside the house, as well as a water bowl for outside.
  5. Dog bed
  6. Dog food – Talk with your veterinarian about Fido’s dietary needs in order to choose the most nutritionally balanced food for your pup.
  7. Pooper scooper and/or poop bags – Self explanatory.
  8. Toys – The more durable the better, dogs of all ages love to de-stuff plush toys.
  9. Grooming tools – Nail clippers and a brush are the necessities, but if you plan on grooming Fido yourself you will also need a shampoo and conditioner.
  10. A completely enclosed yard – If you have one.

You will most likely find that you will need additional supplies as you get to know your puppy and their habits, but this basic list of supplies will hold you over till you get to know each other better.

Potty Training

To ensure that your home stays relatively stain and odor free, potty training should be undertaken from the moment you bring Fido home; this is where your crate will come into play.

Puppies will not be able to control their eliminations until they are about 4 months old so you will need to be vigilant as well as patient when it comes to potty training Fido. There are two important steps to take when undertaking this task: establishing a routine and supervision.

Establishing a Routine

The number one rule of puppy potty training is simple: take Fido out as often as possible to eliminate. Generally puppies should be taken out every 1.5 to 2 hours to a designated spot of your choosing. He should also be taken out upon awakening, after eating or drinking, and after playing. While Fido is doing his business, introduce a phrase that he can learn to associate with eliminating, such as “go potty” or “do your business”.

Puppies will need to eat three meals a day and keeping them fed at consistent times each day will also keep their eliminations on a predictable schedule, making house training much easier on both of you. Also, Fido should not have continued access to water starting about 2 to 2 1/2 hours before his bedtime; this will lessen the chances that he will need to potty during the night. Put him into his crate at his bedtime and shut the door; getting Fido used to being locked in his crate might take some time getting used to but dogs are naturally den animals and his crate will eventually become a safe and comfortable place in his mind. Also, because dogs don’t like to eliminate where they sleep this will also lessen the chances that he will have an accident. In the event that your pup does need to do their business during the night, calmly escort him to the designated area, give the command, and calmly escort him back to his bed. Don’t allow him to get excited or try to play otherwise he wont go back to sleep.

Supervision

Your new puppy will need to be supervised not only for safety reasons, but so that you decrease the chances that he will go potty in your home. Either keep your puppy confined to one room or area with the use of baby gates, or tied to you with a 6 foot leash. The more area you give Fido access to, the more likely it is that he will explore outside of your sight range and have an accident. There are certain signs to look for to indicate to you that Fido needs to be taken outside: barking, scratching at the door, circling, squatting, or sniffing around excessively. When you notice these behaviors immediately take your pup outside.

When Fido does have an accident inside the house (and he will!), interrupt him in the act with a startling noise and immediately take him outside, give him your chosen command, praise him, and bring him back inside. If you happen to find a puddle but were unable to catch your pup in the act it is too late to give a correction. Scolding your puppy after the undesired action has already taken place will have no effect and could actually do more harm than good. Simply clean up the area thoroughly to ensure that Fido wont eliminate in that spot again.

Remember, your new puppy is a baby, therefore he will need consistent and constant attention to ensure that he will mature into a well-rounded part of your family. The first few months will require a lot of work on both your parts, but the end result will be well worth it!

Stay tuned for Part 2 of “How to take care of your new puppy” with information on chewing and play biting management as well as the importance of training and early socialization!

Are Dog Parks Right for your Pooch?

There are many things to consider when making the decision to adopt a dog or puppy; what supplies you will need,  choosing a veterinarian, selecting a good food, and how you will socialize them. Many new and veteran dog owners immediately think  of dog parks as the perfect way to exercise and socialize their dog-but are dog parks the right choice for your pooch?

There are both advantages and disadvantages to going to a dog park, and deciding whether your pet is suited for this kind of dog-to-dog interaction should be evaluated thoroughly to ensure that this will benefit his socialization skills rather than hinder them.

Would my dog enjoy going to the dog park?

When considering taking your dog to a dog park, owners should first evaluate their dog on a few different levels, such as age,  play style, health, and their overall temperament.

Age: Puppies under 4 months of age should never go to a dog park as their immune systems are more susceptible to illness. Dogs that have reached maturity (generally around 2 years) and elderly dogs are more selective with their friends and may not be as outgoing or welcoming as they were when they were puppies. When introducing your mature dog to new friends, you should always proceed slowly and not assume that because your pooch has other doggie friends that he would appreciate being thrown into a new situation with a large number of “strangers”.

Play style: Different breeds of dogs have very different styles of playing, and you should evaluate the other dogs in the park at the time you arrive to see if your baby would fit in. For example, if the majority of the park patrons are large breed dogs that like to body slam each other (i.e., Labradors), then it may not be the best time to bring in your Australian Shepard who has a more reserved play style.

Health: Dogs who have had any communicable health issues in the past 30 days should not go to dog parks. It is always a good idea to visit your veterinarian beforehand to ensure that your dog is healthy enough to go to dog parks. Official dog parks should always have posted signs requiring that all dogs that enter the play area must be vaccinated; make sure that your pooch is up-to-date on his Rabies, Distemper/Parvo, and Bordetella shots (for more information on Canine Cough, see our post here). Dog park regulations also usually stipulate that all dogs over a certain age (usually 6 months) must be spayed or neutered to use the park, however, just because these rules are posted does not mean that all pet owners will adhere to them, keep this in mind when deciding if your pet should attend play time at the park. If you notice intact males or a dog whose health is questionable, do not use the park at that time.

Temperament: Dogs who have not been socialized should be integrated into the dog park slowly, and not at a time when there are a lot of dogs; one fight or bad experience can traumatize your dog. Remember, what we as the owner might think of as a minor event can often color your dog’s future reactions to similar situations. If you have a small breed dog, find a dog park that provides two or more separated areas, one for larger dogs and one for smaller dogs. Often times larger breeds will over power the weaker dogs thus teaching the smaller dog to be afraid of larger dogs if the owner does not step in to correct the behavior. Also, there is the risk that a smaller dog will get stepped on and injured if not properly supervised. If your dog has issues with aggression, either towards other canines or towards humans, do not take them to a dog park. Similarly, do not take your nervous/anxious dog to the dog park either, this will not help them overcome their issues, just exacerbate them. Beginning socialization in both of these instances should only be attempted with the help of a professional trainer.

Choosing the right Dog Park

So you’ve decided you want to take Fido to the dog park, which one do you choose? Picking the right dog park is as important as deciding if your dog would do well in one and the correct set up will help your dog integrate into the pack better. Always choose an area that is specifically zoned as a dog park, NOT your local field or other open space as there may be regulations against having dogs off-leash in these areas and not be fully enclosed.

Look for parks that have at least two gated entrances and that are preferably shielded from the view of the dogs that are already inside. Dog patrons will tend to gather around the entrances and can cause anxiety and a higher state of arousal in the incoming dog, creating a higher risk for an incident to break out. Do not force your dog to enter the park if they seem nervous or anxious; the other dogs will be able to pick up on their energy and try to control the situation by going after the dog whose energy is ‘off’.

Parks with a large space to run are best so that dogs who do not wish to interact with the others are not forced to due to proximity. Ponds, lakes, trees, and hillocks are good features to look for not just for the dog’s enjoyment, but also to prevent them from racing full speed towards other dogs and potentially colliding with each other. Other structures or obstacles are a plus for frightened dogs that wish to hide or keep to themselves.

Dog Park Basic Do’s and Don’ts

Do:

  • Clean up after your dog.
  • Supervise your dog at all times and interrupt interactions if they are inappropriate or too rough. Remember, you are responsible for your own dog’s actions, there are not dog park workers there to take care of your dog for you.
  • Exit the park if your dog is being bullied/your dog is bullying others.
  • Bring one person per dog.
  • Adhere to and respect all posted signs and regulations.
  • Move around the park; don’t separate yourself too far from your dog.

Don’t:

  • Bring toys or treats, these can cause guarding and aggression between the dogs.
  • Allow dogs to bully others.
  • Talk on your phone or form a group with the owners and ignore your dog.
  • Bring children, they can easily be knocked over and you do not know how other dogs will react to them.
  • Take advice from dog park patrons unless they are trained dog professionals.

Dog Park Alternatives

If your pet is not suited to dog parks or you are uncomfortable having them around dogs whose temperament you are unsure of but you are intent on having them socialized, then Doggie Daycare would be better fit for both you and your dog. While doggie daycare is not free, the peace of mind owners receive from knowing that their pet is being supervised by trained professionals and is playing with dogs who have been pre-approved and temperament tested in order to be in a group setting makes up for the financial cost. Another advantage to doggie daycare is knowing that the facility has requirements for health, vaccinations, and spaying or neutering that all the dogs must adhere to in order to be allowed in the door. However, just like choosing a dog park, you must do your due diligence and choose the pet care facility that adheres to the highest standards of cleanliness, care, and safety.