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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Effective Pet Handling Through Understanding Series - PART 2 of 6


To understand a dog's behavior, you must first understand that a dog is a pack animal. This Pack Mentality means that in a dog's mind you are either a leader or a follower – depending on your actions. In a dog's world, this is the natural order of life – each dog has his place in the pack.

Pack Mentality focuses on behaving as the leader commands. Dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) are wolves (Canis lupus) of many colors, shapes, and sizes. Wolves live by a very strict code of behavior, which is based on pack hierarchy. The Leader in any dog or wolf pack is considered the Alpha. The Alpha protects the pack, shelters the pack, feeds the pack, and determines how the pack reacts and behaves.

Monday, May 18, 2009

What's Going into your Doggie's Dish?

The AAFCO sets the standards for pet food nutrition and safety, and the testing done by the AAFCO is used to determine whether or not specific ingredients are acceptable as pet foods. But the AAFCO will rate both low and high quality ingredients as being nutritionally adequate, because there is a demand for pet food in all price ranges. So you need to learn how to read past the AAFCO approval statement on your dog food labels if you want to know what Buster is really consuming.

Reading Dog Food Labels

The labels tell us many important facts and figures that may otherwise dissuade or persuade us from purchasing the food. In short, it is important to read the labels. To actually read that label, and not to just give it a cursory glance, we will have to first know a little something about what can be found there and what it means.

The first thing most of us notice on any label is the product name. The product name may also contain primary ingredient names such as "Beef Dog Chow", or what kind of dog the food is intended for, such as "Puppies, Adult, Lactating", etc.

If, in the product name, an ingredient is listed, say for example that "Beef Dog Chow", that beef must be at least 95% of the total weight if there is no water required for processing, and at least 70% when water is included. So, for dry kibble, 95% of that weight needs to contain beef.

When the title contains "dinner, formula, nuggets," and other similar words, the ingredient named must be at least 25% of the weight. So in a product named Lamb Dinner, 25% of the total weight for the product must be lamb.

But, if only ¼ of that entire product needs to consist of lamb, the lamb may not (and probably is not!) the main ingredient. Ingredients must be listed in a descending order of weight. So, even though the bag says Lamb Dinner, the lamb may be fourth in order.
* Lamb Dinner Ingredients: Corn, meat and bone meal, wheat, lamb.
In that Lamb Dinner, the main ingredients are really the corn and meat and bone meal. Not desirable for a healthy meal.
On the other hand if the ingredients listed were
* Premium Lamb Dinner Ingredients: Lamb, ground rice, ground yellow corn…
This presents a more desirable meal and one that your dog can actually consume and digest properly.

When it comes to the words "flavored" or "flavor" such as Lamb Flavored Nuggets, no exact percentage of the named ingredient, the lamb, needs to be present, but enough of that ingredient needs to present as to be detectable. Often times, the main ingredients will not be present in the title. In such a case, these foods often include items such as: ground yellow corn, meat byproducts, tallow, and other items that are not particularly digestible for your pet. The actual named ingredient will probably be down the list and make up only a very small part of the product.

Besides naming an ingredient with the product name, other phrases and adjectives are used.
Premium Dog Food, or X Premium and other like titles are making a justified boast, as these products complied with the nutritional standards for a complete and balanced dog food. This is definitely something to take into consideration when shopping.

Natural Dog Food means that there are no artificial colors, preservatives or flavors.
If a product has given the calorie content on the bag, "Premium Beef Dinner: now with lower calorie content," this is done so voluntarily as a service to the consumer. Because the calorie content of pet foods does not have to be displayed in their labels, however, here's a formula to help you make sure Buster is not eating too much:

Multiply the carbohydrate by 4.2kcal (kilocalories) per gram, the protein by 5.65, and then the fat by 9.4 kcal per gram. If you need to convert the kilocalories to kilojoules (another unit of measurement for energy) simply multiply the total by 4.184. Of course, rounding to the nearest ten might be helpful, as long as you keep in mind that it’s an approximation erring on the low side.

Where's the Fat?
A good way to find the higher quality dog foods by reading the ingredient list is to search for that first source of fat. Everything that is listed before that fat source, and including it, is the main part of the food. Everything else is generally used for flavor, preservatives, vitamins, and minerals.

For example:
* Food A:Ground yellow corn, meat meal, chicken fat, ground wheat, chicken byproduct meal, dried beet pulp …
* Food B:
Turkey, chicken, chicken meal, ground brown rice, ground white rice, chicken fat, apples, carrots, sunflower oil…

The importance of finding the source of fat and where it is listed is so you can find ingredients that may or may not be harmful to your pet, such as beet pulp or corn gluten meal.
Learning to read the labels on dog food is the single most important thing you can do if you intend to feed your pet a commercial diet. Buster may be the smartest dog who ever wore a collar, but he can’t read, and he needs to rely on you to keep him healthy.

If what's in that can or bag doesn't sound like something you'd want to eat, it's probably not something your dog would eat if there were an alternative. So take the time to learn the language of labels!

Sharda Baker has published several dog ebook and audios, including the internet best selling "Complete Guide to Your Dog's Nutrition"

Visit the link below now for Sharda's Special Free Dog Food Report.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Effective Pet Handling - Part 1

Effective Pet Handling Through Understanding Series - PART 1 of 6


A dog's natural instinct plays a vital role in pet handling. It is often difficult to differentiate between instinct and intelligence. Instinct is an urge from within. Instinct makes a dog act in certain ways and has no connection with intelligence.

A common misperception is that the expectations we have for dogs are far above their ability. Some people believe dogs understand complex thought patterns and are able to comprehend our moral and ethical codes. They assume a dog's level of understanding is the same as our own. There is a scientific name for this, Anthropomorphism. Anthropomorphism means: “to assign emotion or thought patterns to animals or objects, which are incapable of achieving such dimensions.”

This is not the case. Dogs work on drive levels and instinct. It is important while handling a dog to keep in mind that they do not have the capacity to comprehend the complex thought processes that bring us to understand human emotions, language and behavior.

Most instincts provide pleasure to the dog, and because it associates the action with pleasure, learning to use the natural instinct for handling purposes will produce a positive result.

The first is an instinct that is reinforced when the dog is a puppy. Female dogs carry their young by gently picking them up by the back of the neck. The puppy instinctually stops playing and/or wiggling when it is in this position. Using this knowledge and simulating the same pressure that a mother exerts in controlling her puppies will assist in handling the dog. It is important to remember this fact; the natural response of a mother or leader dog is to release the restraint or grasp as soon as the dog submits. Therefore, restrain when needed.

The second instinct is how a subordinate dog will be ‘muzzled' by another dog. This puts that dog into a submissive state. You can illicit that same state by simulating the same behavior on that dog.

Employing these tactics will not only produce the desired response, but will also be consistent with the natural canine communication.

Learn about the Leading Behavior Modification Equipement at Groomers Helper®.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Ultimate Guide to Dog Health

Every dog owner knows that he or she has to annually budget for vet bills. And that can get really expensive lately. Especially in the economic times we live in, it is essencial that we do whatever we can to keep those costs to a minimum.

Here's how to quickly and easily benefit from 35 proven ways to keep your dog healthy. This eBook is 44 pages with 35 proven tips on every topic regarding dogs' health. It also includes 4 bonuses, and has a 30 days money back guarantee.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Tips for Training a Labrador Puppy

The Labrador is one of the most intelligent and trainable breeds around. They are eager learners and people pleasers. No wonder they are mostly used to be trained as guide dogs for the blind. Once trained they are very reliable in responding to the commands they were taught. Every blind person who owns a Labrador for a guide dog depends for his or her life on that dog.

Like in any breed one gets exceptions and not all Labradors qualify to be trained as guide dogs. I believe anybody who saw the movie "Marley and Me" would agree to that. One thing to remember when training a Labrador is that they have quite an appetite. This can be used to your advantage. This makes them perfect candidates for clicker training, and from my experience, I know that they respond very well to clicker training. So I definately recommend that you as Labrador owner get informed about clicker training and use that.

The most important tip for training a Labrador puppy is to start early. In fact you should start the very moment that puppy sets foot in your house. Lay the ground rules and stick to it. Do NOT look at that puppy as a cute little bundle of love (yes he is, I know!). Look at that puppy as a "soon to be 7 month old, energetic, wants to eat everything, wants to jump on everyone" puppy. Do not allow him to jump up, do not allow him to play-bite.

Secondly, be very consistent in all your training. From the very start, expect his best performance for his age. Training must always be fun and games. Do not kill his enthusiasm by punishment, but always keep it positive. You have to be strict but not harsh. There are Labradors that are more calm, docile and submissive- they should be treated very gently.

Then of cause, training sessions should be very short. It really depends on each dog's attention span, but three 10 min sessions with play included in the session is better than one 30 minute session.

These are the most important tips for training a labrador puppy.
Happy training!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Stop the Barking

Some, or maybe most dogs will at an early age start to bark at their owners for attention. Most owners, through a lack of knowledge or out of frustration and impatience, would then respond by either calling the dog to them and trying to calm it, or by yelling at the dog to stop barking. This is exactly what the dog wanted. It does not take long for the dog to realise that if he barks, he receives attention.

If this attention-barking is not stopped within the first couple of days, the dog may develop a habit of bark-for-attention. This unwanted behaviour can even develop to such a degree that it can be classified as a compulsive disorder. The best way to stop this from happening is to prevent it to become a habit in the first place. This should be done within the first day or two.

If this barking behaviour is a mild attention-seeking activity, just avoiding reinforcement may be enough to stop it. In other words it may be enough for the owner to just ignore the dog. The dog will realise that no attention is given and will stop his barking.

If, on the other hand, his barking has been rewarded a few times even by yelling at him, he might be more persistent. It might then be necessary to reward alternate behaviours. The owner could use a clicker and click for every period of silence, even if it is only a second or two. He can later demand a longer period of silence before clicking and add a cue to the silent behaviour.

Some dogs do not only bark for attention. Especially dogs that are left alone for hours at a time, will start barking out of boredom. With breeds like Border Collies and Australian Shepherds an increase in mental and physical exercise might be enough to stop the barking.

Other bark-stoppers that professional trainers use are:

A shaker can.
You can fill a can with pebbles or coins and when the dog starts barking, you shake the can. The noise will startle the dog and he will stop barking. At that very moment, click and treat the dog.

Spray bottle
The concept works exactly the same as the shaker can. Fill the bottle with water and when the dog barks, spray him with water. He will stop barking for a moment and then you must click and treat the dog.

To be successful at training your dog not to bark, you must be very consistent. Use positive reinforcement methods when you train the dog. The best is to stop the unwanted behaviour before it becomes a habit.

Please visit my web site for more articles: Dog Training Basics

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

How to become your dog’s Alpha dog

The domesticated dog has descended from the wolf and has over the years allowed mankind to tame it. The problem is that each and every dog, even your most beautiful miniature French Poodle, still has some wolf in him. Dogs have instincts that are so engraved into them and we do not always realise just how much these affect their behaviours. Many, if not most, dog behaviour problems could have been prevented, had we better understood how their "wolf" instincts work.

Dog behaviour training is necessary to resolve problems such as dominant aggression, separation anxiety, jumping up on visitors, fear aggression and pulling on the lead. These can all be traced back to the owner’s lack of knowledge of pack hierarchy or his ignorance towards it. What many people do not fully understand is that the only human language that a dog can understand is body language. Dogs can not understand words. They can learn by repetition and through association that the sound of a certain spoken word means that they should perform a certain action that will most probably earn them a reward.

Read the whole article