Archive for March, 2011

Making Homemade Dog Food

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

In the age of nationwide health initiatives, and startling numbers of obese adults, children, and pets, it’s not a bad idea to start making your own homemade dog food to keep your pooch healthy and happy! Don’t worry – it’s quite easy, and doesn’t take long at all!There are a number of benefits to controlling exactly what your dog eats.

  • No Preservatives – since it is homemade, you do not have to worry about your pet consuming preservatives!
  • All-Natural or Organic – this one is up to you entirely. If you want to splurge for the high-end stuff, at least you’ll know what is going into your dog’s body.
  • More Affordable – Preparing your own dog food is much healthier and cheaper than the commercial alternatives.

Your first step is to decide what combination of items you want to mix for your dog. Common recipes include a combination of the following: ground turkey, ground beef, carrots, rice, brown rice, brewer’s yeast, bison, venison, fish, rabbit, chicken, broccoli, celery. For the most part, your dog’s diet should be at least 1/3 protein from meat.Here is a simple recipe. Feel free to adjust the ingredients based on your dog’s preferences!

  • Sauté half a pound of ground meat with minimal added seasonings. Onions and garlic can be toxic and should be avoided.
  • Cook the vegetables – carrots, celery, broccoli – just enough to soften them. (Microwave, sauté, steam, however.)
  • Puree the vegetables in a food processor or blender.
  • Mix all of the ingredients thoroughly.
  • Serve!

You can portion out the dog food, and freeze some of it to make it last longer. If you don’t have the chance to sauté something delicious, you can always offer them a slab of fresh, raw meat as a meal.For those of you that are still unsure about homemade dog food, consider the BARF diet. BARF stands for Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods, and the trend is gaining steam among purists and pet lovers. Since a dog is an omnivore, the diet suggests that both animal and plant raw food items should be the only items to make up your dog’s diet. The idea is that your dog should only eat what it biologically evolved to eat, so only raw food found in the wild. (This is similar to the PALEO diet for humans.)If you want to stick with the BARF diet, here are alternative homemade dog food options:Bones! Dogs love bones, and real ones with flavor are the best. Not only does it help increase their metabolism and burn off a little steam, chewing on bones keeps their teeth sharp and healthy.Innards! The muscle tissue, fat, organ meat and other innards are perfectly acceptable and delicious for dogs to consume. Many true BARF believers claim that these items are even essential to a healthy doggy’s diet. You can often get the fresh leftovers from butcher shops.Raw! You guessed it; BARF believes that fresh, raw meat is one of the best options for a dog’s diet. Raw vegetables are also great, but make sure you feed them vegetables they would have access to in the wild – such as broccoli and carrots.Warnings:

  • You should always ask your vet before switching to homemade dog food.
  • Be aware of the foods commonly toxic to dogs (chocolate, raisins, onions, grapes, pits, various leaves and stems).
  • Try not to introduce anything exotic into the dog food. Dogs can have allergies, even with certain types of meat, just like humans, so be careful with any odd additions to your recipe.
  • There is a lot of controversy around whether or not dogs should eat grains. Many sources cite that it leads to long-term and sometimes fatal health issues. If you must use grains – rice, oats, etc. – in your dog’s diet, use them very sparingly.

While you’re at it – make sure you pay attention to your pet’s preferences, reactions, and stool for the first week or so. Having an indoor dog potty can help you monitor your dog’s diet. This way you will know if the new food is causing any abnormalities. Many people like to mix commercial dog food with their new homemade recipes as a way to slowly and safely change their dog’s diet. Happy cooking!

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Housebreaking a Puppy: Unique Housebreaking Tips

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

The decision to adopt a puppy is wonderful and rewarding, but the initial commitment is a big one, especially housebreaking a puppy. Training a puppy, and especially housetraining a puppy, takes a lot of time and effort, but if you put in the extra time during the first few weeks, the training period will be a lot shorter and both you and your puppy will be happier.

Before you decide to bring home a puppy, you should have a plan for the puppy’s initial training period, which could be just a few weeks if you are committed. Puppies are babies, and like human babies they need a lot of one-on-one attention, food, naps, and human contact. Putting in the initial, necessary time with your puppy will reward you in many ways for the rest of the dog’s life.

You should consider taking some time off work to stay at home with your new puppy. A puppy can come a long way in only a week’s time, especially in the housebreaking department. It’s not a bad idea to use 3-4 days of your yearly vacation time to stay at home and work with your new puppy.

The most important thing to remember is that dogs respond better to rewards than to punishments. The idea is to praise the puppy and give him other rewards such as treats or toys when he exhibits the types of behavior you want to see. When the puppy does something you don’t want him to do, stop the behavior immediately and change it to the correct behavior, without raising your voice or getting angry. If you diligently and consistently practice rewarding for good behavior, the training period can be quite short, and you will be amazed at how quickly you can housebreak your puppy.

Developing an Eating, Drinking, and Potty Schedule:

Like babies, puppies respond well to schedules and learn them quickly. Dogs like consistency, and just as they learn when it’s time to eat each day without reading the clock, they will also learn when it’s time to use the bathroom.

You should feed your new puppy three to four times a day, and then take him outside shortly after each feeding to use the bathroom or use an indoor dog potty when you’re not home.  Eating will automatically trigger the need to go potty, so the puppy will most likely go when you take him out, offering you the opportunity to reward him for his good behavior. He will quickly learn to associate going to the bathroom outside with your praise.

Make sure you take your puppy to the same place to go potty each time, since they will learn this association as well. This may be in your yard, at the park, or somewhere near your house. If you don’t have a yard or an appropriate spot, you can buy a indoor dog litter box for easy clean up when you’re not home!

You may choose to limit your puppy’s water intake to times just before you take him out to use the bathroom, or you may give him unlimited access to the water bowl. Either way, you need to give him the opportunity to pee when you know he needs to, shortly after he drinks the water, avoiding accidents indoors and creating the opportunity to offer a reward for good behavior.

Don’t Throw that Poop Away Just Yet!

Accidents in the house will happen, but they are an important part of the training process. If the puppy never goes in the house at all, or only goes on an indoor dog potty, he might not learn the difference between the right place (outside), or on his dog toilet, and the wrong place (inside), or anywhere other than his potty, so think of accidents as an opportunity for your puppy to learn.

You need to keep a close eye on your puppy at all times when he is free-ranging in the house, so you can catch him in the act. Try to stop him while he is going inside, tell him “No,” and take him immediately outside to the place where he is allowed to go. If you live in an apartment building, you may simply be taking him over his indoor dog potty, instead of outside, but the idea is to immediately correct the behavior.

When the puppy leaves a mess behind, consider it an opportunity to create a positive experience next time. Put the poop or some pee-soaked paper towels directly in or on the spot where you do want the puppy to use the bathroom, or on his indoor potty. You don’t have to leave it there for hours stinking up the house, just long enough for the puppy to sniff it and for some of the scent to be left behind. Dogs have an excellent sense of smell, and he will begin to associate the smell of his pee and poop with the place he is supposed to go to the bathroom.

Indoor Dog Potties Can Be Used Outside Too:

Indoor dog potties, sometimes called doggie litter boxes, are an excellent investment and greatly speed up the housebreaking process by giving the puppy an appropriate place to go indoors. This is an especially good option for times when you have to leave the puppy home alone, which you will need to do anyway as part of the training process.

You can also use the indoor dog potty to teach your puppy to go outside. First, use the dog potty inside while you establish it as the appropriate place to go to the bathroom. After a few days of successful use, you can move the dog potty to the place you would like the puppy to go to the bathroom outside. When you take him out to go, show him his dog potty and he’ll likely use it. Once you put the dog potty back inside, he will still associate the spot it was in outside as the place he’s supposed to use the bathroom.



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