Saturday, February 27, 2016

Treats for Dog Training

Dog Training Treats

Your dog may eat almost anything, but it's important to optimize your dog training efforts with the most effective treat for your dog. It's important for you to figure out what type of treat is most valuable to your dog. After you've determined this, these high value treats will only be used during training.

My first tip is always to try and stick with the healthiest treats. It's usually a good indication that the treat is healthy if it contains natural ingredients, and few of them at that. Next, you want to ensure the dog treat you've selected has a strong odour. While training your dog to understand new behaviours with a food reward, it's helpful to have a scent that's easy for your dog to follow with their nose.

Don't go with large dog treats. You want to keep your dog wanting more, so the smaller the treat, the better. Your dog will be more engaged based on frequency, rather than quantity. If necessary, buy larger treats and then prepare them prior to your dog training session by cutting them into smaller pieces.

Some optimal treats include small cubed pieces of meat, cheese, and store bought dog training treats such as Zuke's or Rollover. Another option may be treating with licks of a frozen treat inside of a kong, or the store bought Lickity Stick. Again, remember that the important part is to be using a treat that your dog considers high value, and this may take some trial and error.

Please don't hesitate to call, or email us for help with any of your questions, or for more information about our dog training services in Hamilton, ON

Hamilton Dog Training
762 Upper James Street Suite 162
Hamilton, ON L9C 3A2
(905) 537-2624

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Friday, February 19, 2016

4 Common Things You Should Never Feed Your Dog

Luckily you found this article before you served your dog his favourite dish of braised lamb with a sour orange marinade containing garlic.
I know what you’re thinking: just throw it out, and start again. It’s not too late to start preparing the marinade again, it will turn out just fine without the garlic, and besides, this time you’re better prepared to juice the sour oranges. The marinade will only need to sit for two to four hours in the fridge, and once you begin searing the leg of lamb – wait a minute, that has a bone. Cooked bones are the second item on the list.
So, now you’ve scrapped the braised lamb and the marinade, but at least you can serve your furry friend his favourite dessert.  Your dog loves the blend of creamy and crunchy, sweet and salty, and that delicious pretzel crust you use for your peanut butter cheesecake. Wait, is peanut butter okay? There’s no way that peanut butter of all things could be dangerous for your dog.  Shit, it’s number three on the list. Now, the poor little mutt is starving, but at least you have some rawhide in the closet. Everyone gives their dog rawhide. Let him snack on one of those while you figure out what you’re going to feed him! Just make sure that.. – yep, it’s number four on the list, rawhide is a no-no too.
Naturally, you’re now wondering if there’s anything that’s not dangerous for your dog.  Maybe you should hold off on the gourmet meal prep until after you’ve read our blog.

1. Garlic
Garlic is considered a super food for humans, and perhaps this is why it’s become an increasingly common ingredient in dog foods. While small amounts of garlic aren’t likely to affect your dog, long-term consumption can lead to haemolytic anemia, which is the premature destruction of red blood cells. Like onion, garlic is a member of the Allium family, which contains a chemical compound that is harmless to humans, but not to dogs. The symptoms of anemia may not be present until significant damage has been done, so unless the animal has ingested a large quantity in relatively little time, you likely won’t see signs of anemia early on.

2. Cooked Bones
Raw bones can be a great addition to your dog’s diet, provided they aren’t  fish or bird bones, and are large enough for the dog they’re given to. However, cooked bones of anykind can easily crack and splinter, posing a threat to your dog. This is because high heat and soaking will actually ruin the structural integrity of the bone tissue, thereby weakening it.

3. Peanut Butter
While the peanuts themselves aren’t the problem, they do, more often than not, contain a type of fungus, which produces a toxin linked to certain types of cancer. Furthermore, the hydrogenation process that peanut butter undergoes during processing alters the fat, causing the formation of trans fats, which are an unhealthy type of fat. Hydrogenated fats, such as palm oil, are often added to peanut butter to increase creaminess and because they are cheap to obtain. Many brands also add sugar to their product. One sugar, xylitol, is especially popular in low-calorie products, and is toxic to many animals, dogs being one of them. To lower the risks associated with peanut butter consumption in dogs, if you must feed it, choose raw peanut butter, with peanuts as the only ingredient. Give your dog peanut butter sparingly, and freeze it, to make it last longer in your dog’s toys. 

4. Rawhide
These cheap chew toys are a popular choice among dog owners because of their low cost and palatability. Rawhide seems harmless because, after all, it is just animal skin. The problem isn’t the skin itself, but the processing involved: rawhide is a by-product of the leather industry, as such, it’s treated with numerous chemicals (like formaldehyde) and dyes in order to render it imperishable and prepare the skin for leather working. These chemicals are unsuitable for consumption, being highly toxic. Unusable strips are made into various products, one of which is rawhide chew toys for dogs.
In some cases, enthusiastic chewers may consume the toy faster than is healthy, posing a risk of compaction in the digestive system or choking hazard. 

Like many things that aren’t healthy, occasional ingestion of any of the foods listed here isn’t the end of the world, the same way a single cigarette won’t significantly affect the average person. As the saying goes, everything in moderation!

Thoughts and comments are always appreciated. Let us know what you think in the comments and we’ll get back to you. Want to hear more on this topic? Do you have any specific questions about whether certain other foods or supplements might be a good or bad idea to feed your dog? Let us know!

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A Dog Trainer's Take on Adopting a Dog

So, you've decided to adopt a dog. There're enough dogs filling up shelters, that you just wouldn't feel right going to a breeder for your dog. Now images of you and your eternally grateful pooch running off into the sunset together are filling your head. The heart wrenching images of sad-eyed dogs you've been sent from the shelter convinces you: your future dog is waiting for you to rescue her. Fast-forward past the adopter vetting process, adoption application and fees, to you looking at the shelter parking lot in your rearview mirror, Pooch in her crate in the backseat. 

Just like people, dogs come with the proverbial baggage: the more days they've been alive, the more they accumulate. Some dogs are just happy-go-lucky, and have been lost or abandoned, while others have known various degrees of hunger, pain, isolation, loneliness and loss. While responsible shelters have qualified behaviourists on-call to evaluate newcomers, there are only so much they can foresee when a dog arrives at a shelter. Dogs that have been captured, taken off the streets or out of abusive situations, and are stressed, scared and, above all, confused. Would you be yourself in such a condition? For this reason, the dog you take home and the dog you have a couple of months down the line can seem like night and day, and not always for the better! 

Once the fog clears, your quiet, reserved dog may reveal herself to be insistent and vocal; your mellow pooch may start to show her protective nature, and since these changes don't happen overnight, you're left scratching your head the first time you're called home by your neighbour thanks to your wailing pup. 

As disheartening as this may seem, the object of this post isn't to turn you off of pet adoption. On the contrary, I highly recommend it! There are many reasons to adopt a dog, but it can potentially come with more work. 

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure: start good habits right from the beginning, even if your new dog isn't showing worrying behaviours. Regular exercise, play, meals and training are the best way to make sure your dog's needs are being met, and to stave off unwanted behaviours. Hiring a professional dog trainer is a great investment, especially for first-time dog owners, but not only! 

Please don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions regarding your dog's behaviour!

Hamilton Dog Training
762 Upper James Street Suite 162
Hamilton, ON L9C 3A2
(905) 537-2624

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