Archives for posts with tag: Health

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We can learn so much from watching our dogs enjoy themselves outdoors

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They know no comparison, or criticism

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They move their little bodies with confidence and curiosity

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They are in touch with the earth, they let the grass tickle them and mud cake their feet.

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They smile

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They are present

DSC_1501They shine

 

 

 

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If there’s one thing I can say for sure in this life it’s that no one is perfect (IDK maybe Beyonce is?  She seems to have her shit down).  Not our dogs and certainly not us pup-parents.  Some days it’s really hard raising those fur butts- we’re tired, they’re acting out, we’re pressed for time, or sometimes we’re just being stupid and lazy.  But we all have our faults, here are a few of mine.

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For starters, I wait too long in between nail trimmings.  I know how important it is to keep your dog’s nails short and neat but hot damn are they just awful at sitting through trimmings.  It’s like I need to wake up and accept that half of the day will be spent struggling through something that is horrible to all involved.  So I put it off as long as I can.

I sometimes forget to brush their teeth…and sometimes I just don’t do it.  Again, I KNOW how important dental hygiene is but some nights, it just isn’t worth the struggle of trying to force my fingers into their mouths.

I get grumpy and impatient when they take too long to poop.  Especially in these frigid months.  DSC_0415

Every now and then, I’ll ignore their pleas to play.  Yeah, I’m the worst.  Most of the time, thinking about coming home to play with them is all that gets me through the day.  But other times,  I’m so exhausted I just want to crash on the couch and watch Netflix until my face falls off.  Lucky for me, they usually accept a good cuddle in place of play.  

I reward bad behavior.  Like when they are begging for my food and I just give them some to get them off my back.  Did I mention I’m the worst?

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What are some parenting mistakes you make with your dogs?

 

I know some dogs are lazier than others but when it comes down to it, all dogs need exercise.   Just as with us humans the benefits to their health and general well being are countless.  While our two preferred methods are running and fetch, there are of course days when it’s impossible for us to get outside.  This Winter alone we’ve seen blizzards, temps below zero, and I’ve been nursing some knee issues on and off.  Now we’re entering the rainiest season of the year and it won’t be long before temperatures climb into the triple digits.  Needless to say we have to get creative with our entertainment and exercise now and then.

First of all there is tug-of-war! I know this option isn’t for everyone, particularly dogs who get aggressively possessive.  Some people will also tell you not to let your dog “win”.  All I can say is know your dog, read the signs and quit if things get ugly.  But if your dog can handle it and enjoys it, tug can work a lot of muscles your dog rarely gets to utilize.  My dogs love it.  What’s more is a lighthearted game of tug is often encouraged in puppyhood to strengthen the bond between dog and human!

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The  FitPAWS-Peanut  While this won’t necessarily tire your dog out quite as much as cardio, it’s a great option for strength training your dog between cardio sessions as well as rehabilitating injured or aging dogs.

The Chase-It  This one might require you to move some furniture around if you have a big dog or a tiny space but it’s so worth it if your dog has any kind of prey drive.  In fact this is the first “game” that Elsa and Bardia participated in together.  It’s irresistible to my guys.  If we can get outside I swing it around so they can chase at full speed.  Inside I either bounce it around sporadically so they have to hop and dodge or I just run through the house dragging it on the ground.

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Agility.  Many agility classes have indoor options for inclement weather or easily distracted dogs.  Even if you don’t plan to compete, this is such a fun option for a hobby.  Not only will it keep your dog on point during off seasons, but they will love it and you two will be closer than ever.

There you have it! Now, I’d love to hear, how do you keep your dog happy when stuck indoors?

About six months ago we reached a point where the long leisurely walks I had been taking Bardia on stopped being enough to quell his excess of energy.  I’ve long been inspired by Aimee over at  http://runningwithsam.wordpress.com/ so I decided to start my own regimen with the gang.  It’s been a tremendous success for us so far so I wanted to talk a little bit about our experiences.DSC_4988Let me just start by saying it sucks…at first.  Especially if you have crazy dogs like mine.  I used to get so frustrated I would have to sit down on a park bench and count to ten before I could keep going.  It took us months to really get into a groove and to this day it can take almost a whole mile for them to get out their crazies and for us all to match eachothers’ pace.  But it gets really great, so don’t quit!DSC_4992Runner’s high: It’s a real and beautiful thing.  And when both you and your dog get it, the bond you already shared is going to get even stronger.  It’s also a very dangerous thing because you’re going to reach a point in your mileage where you don’t feel any pain.  Seriously.  Which means you, or your dog, could very well have an injury that you don’t notice while you trot on in ignorant bliss.  Don’t let the high fool you into going extra miles that you aren’t ready for and fall victim to TMTS (too much too soon) syndrome.  Some days it’s going to be hard to stop and you may want to head out on your “off” days but give your bodies breaks, especially when you are just starting out.  Know your limits and your dog’s.  Remember that you’re bigger than they are (usually) and what feels right for you may not feel right for them.   This is where knowing your dog is really important.  Take mental notes before and after every run.  Learn to read the signs and act accordingly.  DSC_5040Gear: The waist jogger that we use is the Buddy System (http://www.buddysys.com/).  It’s really affordable and customizable with options for large or small dogs, reflective or non reflective nylon, and the option to add a “lunge buster” which is basically just a bungee that absorbs some of the shock when your dog pulls.  Though I bought the longer leash for Elsa we ultimately went back to her regular leash.  The Buddy System small dog leash was just too long and would get all tangled in my legs if she pulled back at any point.  The regular dog leash with the lunge buster is just perfect for Bardia.  It’s adjustable too so I can keep him closer if we’re running through town and let him run a little farther ahead when we  hit the trails.

We use Ruffwear’s Approach Pack (http://www.ruffwear.com/Approach-Pack-Dog-Pack) on Bardia in cooler temperatures because the excess weight(we just put his pick-up bags in it PSA PLEASE PICK UP AFTER YOUR DOGS) tires him out a little more and also gives him a sense of duty which helps with the crazies I mentioned earlier.  It utilizes the Webmaster Harness as it’s base so I know he’s nice and comfortable and secure in it as well.  As for myself, I wear whatever is comfortable and for the most part moisture wicking.  On my feet I wear Vibram five fingers.

DSC_5100Advice: Turn your headphones down.  I know it can be rough to listen to your feet pounding but for your own safety and your dog’s, you need to be aware of your surroundings.  That means oncoming vehicles, wild animals, your own breathing etc.  I heard Elsa whimpering once and when I stopped to check her I found she had accumulated big snow balls under her belly and the cold must have been irritating her skin.  I would have never known by how fast she was running, so I was grateful she let me know somehow.

Most importantly though, lighten up.  You’re dog doesn’t care about beating your best pace, they don’t care if it’s raining or if the temperature is in the single digits.  They just want to run with you.  Enjoy it!DSC_5061

Elsa isn’t pictured because it was really muddy outside and she JUST had a bath.  Ok fine, here’s one because she’s just the cutest.      DSC_5116

Almost a year ago I reviewed a few products by the honest kitchen and raved about how my dogs thrived on their food. For most of Elsa’s life and the early part of Bardia’s I fed them Preference with boiled chicken breast. However, as Bardia got bigger, it got more tedious and more expensive buying and preparing both the chicken and vegetable mix. I ended up switching them over to a high quality, grain free kibble. Convenient and super affordable! Almost immediately, though, I began to see changes in them. They both put on weight, which is good news for Bardia who is a spindle but bad news for Elsa, especially considering how little her serving size was. I feed them twice a day so for her recommended quarter to 1/3 cup, I was giving her literally a few tablespoons per meal, poor thing. In addition to the weight gain, her coat grew dryer and less easy to manage until she ultimately developed a hot spot. I tried to remedy this with adding yogurt, sometimes eggs, and eventually fishoil to her food. No go.

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As for Bardia, while the weight gain was welcome and his coat didn’t change much, he developed excessive discharge from his eyes. Something in the recipes ( I use plural because we tried numerous “regions” and protein sources ) also did not agree with his notoriously sensitive stomach because it took a whole lot of pumpkin to get that guy to have a solid stool. While I was glad he bulked up a little bit, the rate at which he did so alarmed me. Since both of my dogs are avid runners and hikers, I prefer to keep any excess weight off in order to reduce the strain on their bones and tendons.DSC_4106DSC_3967

I reached a point where it was too difficult to remedy all of the issues that kept arising. Honestly, I don’t even feel like I can’t fault the kibble too much. It’s tremendously hard to find a food that agrees with my two dogs who are so vastly different in size, coat and sensitivities. The executive decision in our household was to return to The Honest Kitchen. Instead of going back on Preference we put the dogs on Embark, the formula for active adult dogs and puppies of all breeds and sizes. Almost instantaneously everything went back to normal. The eyes, the coats, the bowel movements (I swear THK doesn’t pay me)! I couldn’t believe the stress I had put on myself and the dogs for months trying to get another food to work, just to save some money. Well let’s be honest here, a lot of money. In fact the only drawback is that I now have about a $400 dog food bill every month. Now of course it would be less if you have a smaller dog but all together, my guys don’t weigh more than 75 lbs and we go through one ten-lb box a week. I can understand how it wouldn’t be feasible for someone with a large dog over 100lbs, but if you can make the room in your budget , I would recommend The Honest Kitchen a hundred times over- you can can’t put a price on happy, shining, energetic dogs.

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*photos from our recent visit to Minnewaska State Park and Mohonk Preserve

You all know my thoughts on spaying/neutering too young. I never got much slack for it with Elsa because she’s a girl and, well, you couldn’t tell either way. With Bardia, it’s quite apparent that he’s in tact and I can’t seem to dodge questions on the subject. The biggest of course being “when will you have the procedure done?” I usually just say “eventually” but lately I’ve been so fed up with the judgement behind the question that I spit back “never!”. It’s my business when I have it done and as long as he’s not raping your in tact female or causing any of the other mischief people seem to think is fueled by balls, you don’t get to ask. He’s not always the best behaved dog at the park(water bowl thief anyone?) but he doesn’t have a dominant nor aggressive bone in his body and the fact that he’s a little kooky is sure to have more to do with the fact that he’s a Sporting puppy, than that he has all of his original parts. I’ve even started lying about his age (9months) or just implying that he’s younger saying “Oh, he’s not old enough yet” which makes me feel a little like a jackass, but hey my dog deserves to be there too and I’d rather it not be such a stressful ordeal to let my dog run his crazies off. So do me a favor and stop talking about my dog’s balls.
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