Any veterinarian will tell you the two things that will cure almost every problem a dog has are “exercise and diet.” If you feed your dog the proper diet and get them the right amount of exercise from the day you get them, you’ll eliminate most of their health issues for their entire life. Depending on the breed you have, your dog may experience genetic issues. However, even those symptoms can be reduced with diet, and exercise. I have another post on exercise, but let’s talk about diet today, beginning with the raw dog food diet.
I know some vegetarian owners may not like the thought of handling or feeding their dog raw meat. The good news is there are commercially available raw foods available so you don’t have to. Whatever your diet is, if you love your dog you’ll at least change to a commercial product with meat in it. Dogs’ digestive systems are not ‘designed’ to eat corn and wheat, the two primary products in commercial kibbles and canned pet foods. Dogs are, by nature, carnivores and scavengers. They have a short digestive tract that’s not equipped to process an exclusive vegetable and grain diet. Properly prepared a small amount of vegetables and fruit can be beneficial. The key words are “small” and “properly prepared.”
Dogs are however, extremely good at eating garbage, raw meat, dead animals and other food because of the strong stomach acids they have. Those acids are what protect them from getting sick from the bacteria on raw food like chicken, or garbage. They also help them process nutrients from the meat they do eat. One of the best diets for your dog, whatever their breed, is the “raw dog food diet.”
The raw dog food diet is also known as the “ancestral diet,” or the “BARF (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food) diet. Raw food diets are touted by many trainers and vets as a ‘miracle’ diet for dogs, especially for those with a lot of ailments. Is it a miracle diet? It’s not a miracle diet, but it works because it’s the most ‘normal’ and healthy diet for our four-legged friends. Imagine if you were living on fast food, carbs, and sugar and switched to a Mediterranean or other healthy diet. The diet might seem like a miracle, but it’s just a matter of feeding the body what it is designed to properly process and use.
If you start your pet’s life with the raw dog food diet the only thing you notice is they don’t get sick very often. If your dog is currently on a standard diet of commercial grade dog food, the change once they start eating healthy will be very obvious. In addition to having more energy, stamina, and being happier, they will also have:
You control what goes into your body. Don’t you want to do the same with your dog’s diet?
Of course you do! As I tell my clients, one of the best side effects of a happier, healthier dog is that they are easier to train as well. They’re calmer, more content, focused, and able to pay attention. It’s tough for us as humans to learn if we aren’t feeling 100 percent. It’s not much different for our pets. Whether it’s an injury, illness, or a disease, not feeling good will distract your dog from learning or enjoying their training too. It just makes sense. A healthy dog is a happy dog, and a happy dog is easier to train.
Here are some resources to get you started!
On Netflix, watch Pet
Fooled, a documentary on Raw Food Diets and your dog.
Raw Feeding Made Simple, Julia Ann Lee
Raw Feeding Primer, Dana Scott
Make Raw Feeding Simple, Julia Henriques
Most owners can easily tell a bark that means their dog is sounding a warning, or yelping in pain. But what about the other barks, the ones that could mean anything from, “I’m bored, hungry, or tired,” to “Take me for a walk.” Do you know what your dog’s barks mean? Like humans, dogs have a different tone of voice, or bark, for conveying what they're thinking or feeling. Unlike humans, all dogs communicate with the same language. Like us, dogs communicate (bark) when they are experiencing different moods. They bark when they’re frightened, lonely, surprised, irritated, or happy, confused, or excited. If you pay attention to your dog you can quickly learn their language as well as they learn ours - at least enough to communicate general information!
Dr. Stanley Coren, PhD., DSc, FRSC, an animal expert, says the language of dogs is universal and is the same from breed to breed. For instance, if you learn to understand your pug’s barks, you’ll understand your neighbor’s German Shepherd’s barks as well. The bark itself will sound different of course, but Coren says the communication is the same and is always based on three elements of the bark: the pitch of the bark, the frequency or repetitiveness of the bark, and the duration of the bark.
One thing we all know, our dogs barks do mean something even if we can’t quite understand exactly what. They’re not just making noise. They are communicating, or trying to, just as we do with them. Their language is far easier to understand once you learn to listen. Unlike humans, who have a complex and varied communication pattern, experts like Dr. Coren believe all dogs speak pretty much the same language and that any barking is an alarm sound of some sort. An alarm isn’t necessarily a danger alarm. It can be anything from, “Quick, rally the pack, danger is approaching!” to a more low key alert like, “Oh! You’re home! Yay! Good to see you. Let’s go to the dog park!”
So let’s look more closely at what pitch, duration, and frequency mean.
Duration of the bark. Duration is how long something lasts. If your dog senses an intruder in the house chances are his barking is going to be of a longer duration than if he sees a squirrel run across your porch - unless the squirrel decides to taunt your dog and keeps running back and forth. If your dog is making a long, low pitched bark accompanied by a threatening growl, chances are he’s ready to do battle with whatever the threat is. However, if he’s not quite sure if he wants to take on the intruder, or is fearful, and his growls will come in shorter bursts, or only briefly. If the barking is of a shorter duration, your dog is probably seriously reconsidering his ability to deal with the threat in front of him. The longer the barking, the more likely your dog considers the threat serious.
Frequency of the bark. One of the most famous dogs of all time was Lassie - a collie on a television show by the same name. Every week Lassie would save or help Timmy, her 10-year old human owner, and her animal friends. The show’s theme and its characters changed over time, but the classic moments in each show involved Lassie barking and barking and Timmy or someone else saying, “What is it Lassie? What are you trying to say?” And Lassie would just keep barking until her human friends figured out what she was trying to tell them.
Lassie’s family paid attention to repeated barking and so should we. Repeated barking indicates a degree of excitement and urgency from your dog. The faster or more frequent the barking, the more urgent the issue. If your dog barks occasionally, there’s probably nothing urgent happening. Multiple barking bursts over a long period of time is more likely to be something urgent.
Pitch of the bark. Finally, notice the pitch of your dog’s bark. Is it high, low, whiny? Larger dogs playing with smaller dogs may make a high, whimpering bark. This is a signal they’re trying to communicate they’re friendly, safe, weaker, and submissive to the smaller animal. Higher pitched barks generally mean playtime. The lower the pitch (like a human’s lower voice pitch) the more intimidating and serious they’re trying to be. Notice the difference in pitch in an excited dog barking because you just told them you’re all going to the dog park, and one who senses a threat in a person or animal.
It sounds complex, but it’s not. Once you start paying attention to your dog’s body language, barking patterns, pitch, and frequency, you’ll figure out what they’re trying to tell you. Even people without dogs intuitively know what an animal is trying to communicate. If you’d like to put your skills to the test, try seeing how you do with this test on NOVA. Just click on “Launch Interactive” to see how many barks you recognize and understand. https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/nature/meaning-dog-barks.html
Dr. Stanley Coren’s books: The Intelligence of Dogs, How to Speak Dog, Why We Love the Dogs We Dog, The Pawprints of History, Why Does My Dog Act That Way, How Dogs Think and The Modern Dog.
Bark at the Park
Is your dog ready to attend their first public, dog friendly party? Call them “Bark at the Park,” events, or “dog friendly festivals,” but these invents not only welcome you and your dog, they encourage their presence at the event!
The annual Colorado Rockies Bark at the Park is August 13, 2019. They encourage all owners and their dogs to come out and enjoy the ball game and being outdoors and around other dogs. If the most socializing your dog gets is with family, or at your local dog park, this is a great opportunity for them to have an even greater time - but ONLY if they’re ready for it. Are they?
A dog who hasn’t been properly socialized will be miserable, angry, and dangerous to themselves and others if taken to a large public event where they will be around other dogs and strangers. If your dog hasn’t been socialized, a major public event may not be the best place to start. Even puppies and younger dogs can become overwhelmed, tired, and grouchy - just like kids and adults - when they hit their socializing limits. Know the signs your dog makes when they’re telling you they’ve had enough, and then go home so the experience stays positive for them.
Colorado Rockies Bark at the Park
While the Colorado Rockies organizers don’t have many rules, other than you must own the dog, and its rabies shots must be up to date, they do encourage dogs to be socialized - comfortable around other people and dogs.
What is Socialization?
Socializing your dog simply means training it to be comfortable, confident and secure around other dogs, people, and animals. Ideally this training begins when they’re a puppy and continues throughout their lives. But it’s not impossible to socialize a rescue, or older dog. Like all effective training it requires attention, consistency, and patience.
The good news is, dogs are naturally social animals. With opposable thumbs and typing skills they’d be a natural for Facebook or Twitter. In the wild dogs grow up and run in packs. Socialization is not only natural to them, but necessary for their survival. They learn the body language, sounds, and boundaries of the pack early and obey them, or they get chased out of the pack and die. So, your dog wants to learn the rules, wants to know how to get along with you and others. It’s hard-wired in them.
How Can I Tell if My Dog is Socialized?
It’s fairly easy to tell if a dog is well socialized or not. Signs a dog is not well socialized:
The bad news is, the more of these signs you see, the more likely your dog is not well socialized. The good news is, with time, patience, and training, you can socialize almost any dog. For difficult dogs a professional trainer may be necessary. That’s why it’s important to access an animal for socialization before it’s adopted, and to socialize your pet from the first day you get it - no matter the age.
How to Socialize Your Dog
Puppies and young dogs are easier to socialize simply because they are primed and ready to learn the ways of their “pack.” The first step is to understand that socializing must be a positive experience for them. Don’t push them beyond their comfort zone. You don’t like being shoved into fearful situations, and neither do they. Take your time and be patient. Let them explore and discover other family members at their own pace. Reward them with a treat or praise for behavior you want to see repeated.
If they hide or run away, don’t chase them down and drag them back. Do something to entice them back - either using food, treats, toys, or something that gets their attention. Reward them when they return - with praise, play, going outside, or treats.
Don’t punish unwanted behaviors. Ignore them. This is true for all ages of dogs. Two other popular ways to help socialize your dog:
It’s impossible to go into all the pros, cons, and tips and tricks on dog socialization in one article. So, I’ve created a FREE ebook you can download and review that is just on “Socializing Your Dog.”
It also contains tips for owners on how to make your dog’s trip to a public, dog-friendly event a positive one. Even for well-socialized dogs it may be overwhelming to meet numerous new dogs and strangers in an unfamiliar environment - like a ball park, city park, 5K or 10K run, or a parade. Owners tend to be excited and happy to be there with their dogs. So they often don’t recognize when their dogs have had enough. This can exhaust their dogs, and may lead some dogs to become even more fearful or aggressive.
There are things many owners don’t realize can affect their dog during these events - including:
Just like with humans, there’s nothing more fun for a well-socialized dog than a day with new friends and dogs. Not only does a positive event reenforce their socialization, it’s a great time to practice other training they may have, or recognize the need for more training!
Who doesn’t want a dog who’s so trained it will open the fridge and bring you a cold drink, or flush the toilet, or high five your friends when they come in the house? But there are other commands they’ll need to learn before they learn the ones that will make them viral video stars.
Dogs are very trainable, and most love to learn new commands - especially when there are treats involved. “Sit, Stay, Stop, Fetch" and "High five!" are some of the most popular commands owners start teaching their dogs, but what are the top commands every dog should know? I like to start out the dogs I train with the commands that will keep them safe. Then we move onto other commands they’ll need to know to move onto advanced training. Different trainers teach different things, but these are the commands I like to see a dog learn first.
Stop. A “stop” command finsures your dog stands still on command whether on or off their leash. You may not be able to reach them physically to have them avoid an oncoming car or other danger. By calling “stop,” you can keep them from wandering into areas that aren’t safe for them, or stop them from whatever behavior they’re indulging in that may harm them.
Recall or “Come” Command. Your dog should not only know its name, they should immediately come to you when you call them. This is a must know command before you ever venture into a dog park with your pet. They need to know that no matter how urgent or compelling a pending dog fight, or play is, that they need to stop and return to you when they hear their name.
Down. Believe it or not, this can be a difficult command for many dogs, but it’s well worth your patience to teach it. It helps your dog calm down, relax, and prepares it for many other commands that come from this position.
Sit. This is one of the easiest commands you can teach your dog. It’s a precursor to so many other commands, like “heel.” The point of getting your dog to sit, then heel, is to teach your dog not to get in front of you (a dominance and aggression behavior). It’s designed to get their attention, to keep them close to you and focused on you.
Heel. Teaching your dog to heel prepares them for learning to walk on a leash next to you instead of in front of you. This establishes you as the pack leader and the dominant one in the household.
Stay. Stay is a great command because like sit, stop, and recall, this command ensures your dog stays put and doesn’t wander away during training. It teaches your dog self-control and discipline, and to pay attention to you as it waits for the release command - critical during advanced training techniques.
Leave it. Let’s face it - there are times when that dead animal or strange piece of garbage your dog has suddenly discovered needs to be dropped. The “leave it” command tells them to drop whatever it is they’re carrying, eating, or curious about (dirty diapers, drug needles, food, dead things, etc.) and move along. Unless you like prying strange, dangerous, filthy, or disgusting things away from your dog, “leave it” is a great command to have at your disposal.
Keep your training sessions short - about 5 to 10 minutes. Puppies, and even older dogs, lose interest if you train much longer than that. You can train several times during the day, but keep your sessions short and focused on only one command at a time.
Aggression is the most common and most serious behavior problem in dogs. Not only is it the reason why most owners seek professional help, it’s why thousands of dogs are surrendered to animal shelters every year. Aggression is more than just biting or threatening to bite. It can include destructive behavior, unhealthy dominance or territorialism in the family. This territorial behavior can include “resource guarding,” such as growling or snapping at anyone who gets near a toy, food bowl, or bedding. Aggression can also show up in fearful or timid dogs who suddenly bite, lunge, or attack out of fear.
There are many reasons for why dogs develop aggressive behaviors, and most causes can be identified by a professional trainer, and the behavior fixed. The important thing is to identify aggression in your dog and seek professional help with it before someone, including you and your dog, gets hurt.
Types of Aggression in Dogs
There are many types of aggression in dogs, including leash aggression, pain aggression, social aggression, and breed aggression.
Leash Aggression. Dogs who are happy-go-lucky, life of the party dogs until put on a leash, have leash aggression. It’s one of the easiest aggressions to fix. What happens is that once on leash your dog suddenly becomes a snarling, snapping, lunging animal. They may not be able to bite anyone because they’re on a leash, but their straining, barking, growling and aggressive behavior can be unnerving and embarrassing. Most leash aggression is a reaction to being restrained. Their aggression is usually directed at other dogs, especially those not on a leash, but they can lunge at anyone or anything.
Chain Aggression. Dogs kept on chains or long leashes tend to be more aggressive than dogs left to roam in a fenced in yard. Who wouldn’t be angrier if tethered to a chain?
Pain Aggression. Normally peaceful dogs can become aggressive if they’re injured or in pain. They can’t tell us they’re hurting. By nature animals hide their pain so other species can’t see they’re weaker and more vulnerable. By the time you spot signs of pain in your dog they’ve probably been hurting for a while. If your dog is starting to show signs of aggression, take them to your vet for a check up first to rule out pain.
Social Aggression. Dogs can be aggressive towards other dogs, but not people; or vice versa. In social-dog aggression your dog may display these signs when around another dog or animal:
10 signs your dog needs professional help with their aggression.
The average dog owner is simply not equipped or trained to deal with aggression in their pet. You probably already know, or suspect, your dog has anger and aggression issues. But you may be thinking they’re just excitable. Just to reassure you, here are the top 10 signs of aggression you should look for in your pet. The more signs you see, the more likely you should seek professional help for your dog before they become a liability for you and themselves. Signs your dog may have aggression issues or is developing one. Some of these behaviors are “cute” in a puppy, but become serious as the dog gets older and the behavior doesn’t go away:
Any one of these behaviors may not be a big deal, but still notice and watch for additional behaviors. If your dog becomes increasingly aggressive, rule out any pain or disease causes with a visit to your vet. Dogs in pain, like people in pain, can become grouchy, anxious, and aggressive until their pain is resolved. Injuries, disease, or other health issues can make even the most peaceful pup a snarling biter.
If you want to head off aggressive tendencies in your dog:
The raw dog food diet or the ancestral diet has many benefits. Touted by many as the ‘miracle’ diet for dogs, especially for those with a lot of ailments, the raw dog food diet works because it is the most ‘normal’ diet for our four-legged friends.
Why? Dogs evolved eating the raw dog food diet. They are not ‘designed’ to eat corn and wheat which comprises about half of what is in commercial kibbles and canned pet foods. Feeding your dog raw means you will be in complete control of everything, just like the control you have about the food you eat or serve to your family.
Ancillary K9 works with veterinarians, groomers, dog walkers, boarding facilities, and other animal care professionals to address complex challenges for our dog training clients. Each of these businesses have been hand-selected out of the hundreds of animal care providers in the greater Denver area. We have taken the time to personally speak with and visit each of these businesses to ensure they are a good fit for our clients.
BUILD A BOND: During the first few weeks, your primary focus should be on getting to know your dog and bonding with him. It is important that you build a positive relationship with your dog before progressing to training and instruction. Try to create a relaxed and fun environment for your dog and try to keep the number of people he comes into contact with to a minimum. If you are starting a training program with a dog you have had for many years, start the relationship afresh, as if you have just met each other for the first time.
People frequently ask me what type of dog trainer I am. I regularly get asked questions such as, “What style of dog training do you follow?” “Are you a positive trainer?” “What methods do you use?” The truth is that I do not follow a very specific style of dog training. I don’t 100% prescribe to any single approach, be it force free training, compulsion-based training, old-school training, etc.
I try and maintain a very open mind when it comes to the dog training methods I employ. For me, anything goes. It really depends on the situation and the dog I am working with. I never rule any method out unless I have directly experienced it for myself and found it to be lacking. People who insist on attributing some type of label to my training approach would probably describe me as a balanced trainer; however, none of the approaches I employ involve balancing equal amounts of anything.
I’ll point something basic out right off the bat. You’ve probably heard it hundreds of times before, but your dog is not human. Too many dog owners make the mistake of thinking that their dog sees the world in the same way they do: He doesn’t.
Dogs learn differently than humans. Specifically, they are very context focused. What I mean by this is that if you teach your dog to sit on your command in the kitchen, he won’t necessarily follow the same command when you’re in the park. You haven’t taught him to. Your dog learned to respond to your instruction in the kitchen, not anywhere else. So, until you start to show your dog that you expect him to sit on command in additional settings, he simply won’t understand what’s expected of him.