Feeding Your Dog – Once or Twice a Day?

Here’s a question for you.  Has your dog developed bad oral behaviors such as chewing, pica (eating non-edible, non-nutritional things) stealing food or begging at the table?  I’ll bet there are a lot of YES’s out there.  Here’s some food for thought – pun definitely intended!

Dogs in the 6 to 18 month age range may no longer need growth nutrients as they enter this maintenance stage of life which requires only half of the growth nutrients of earlier months.  

As dogs enter this stage, owners usually experience the dog turning up it’s nose at the morning or evening meal so the owner begins to think the dog  only needs one meal a day when what it really needs is just half as much food.

If the dog is then only fed once a day, the dog is left with an empty stomach for most of its waking hours. This could cause hunger tension which in turn can cause chewing, stealing food and so on. See the connection?   Owners continue to mess up the equation by beginning to give the dog tidbits at the “missed” meal time. 

While some dogs do well with one meal a day, others do not. The difference is their metabolism rate—yup, the dreaded metabolism!  Other stressors in their environment like exercise and temperature can weigh heavily on a dog’s appetite as well.  When it’s hot a dog’s appetite can decrease.

It is still best to feed two meals a day and rememberrequire they work for their food by performing sits and downs before the bowl goes down.

Jim Burwell

Dog Behavior and Dog Food

Have you heard the old saying “you are what you eat?”  We eat what and when we want to eat.  Dogs eat what you feed them, when you feed them.  What you feed your dog could be contributing to his bad dog behavior.  

When I speak with clients about “out of control”, “rowdy” “jumping” dogs, one of the things on my check list is diet. Now, don’t get me wrong, here.  I am NOT saying “change the diet, fix the dog!”  What I am saying is simply this:  carbohydrates (wheat, flour, or corn) can increase the serotonin levels in your dog’s brain. Increased serotonin levels can cause excitability in dogs and you get a wild, rowdy dog.

While diet can be one of the contributors to excitability and bad behavior in dogs, changing your dog’s diet can be “part” of the cure.

Look for premium dog food that is high in quality protein and low in carbohydrates.  You CAN NOT find a healthy, premium dog food at the supermarket or Walmart or Sams!  I repeat, you can not find a healthy, premium dog food at the supermarket, Sams, Walmart or other such places.  Go to good Pet Resorts, private pet stores etc.

Don’t expect to see immediate changes in your dog’s behavior.  It can take from 4 days to 4 weeks to see change.  This is also assuming that your dog is getting adequate amounts of exercise AND you are working on dog training to redirect the bad behavior to good behavior.

Next post we will talk about feeding one time a day vs. twice a day.  I’ll also throw in some names of good dog foods and how to read the labels.  Stay tuned!

Jim Burwell, Jim Burwell’s Petiquette

Obama's New Democratic White House Puppy

It’s going to be very interesting to see what happens when the new puppy, who will have an entirely opposite, much needed, conservative “earn-to-learn” value system, moves into the White House under the umbrella of “spread the wealth, we’ll take care of you” philosophy.  Maybe letting nature take its course will provide an interesting lesson  to all.

Puppy OBAMA will be lining up in the chow line with his bowl waiting, for his free handout, because he won’t have to work for it.  He’ll start jumping up and demanding more free stuff, creating a huge chain reaction of entitlement – everything from stuffed toys to chewies!

And, in the true spirit of big government, he’ll have so many different people taking him out and giving him his food, he won’t know who the boss is!  

But that won’t matter, because he’s top dog with them as well!  My bet is, that if things go as he plans, he’ll quietly begin to assume that “sense of entitlement”; slipping subtly into their bed, taking over their space as their leader.  

Who knows, pretty soon that little Maverick will be running the household – or should I say “White House”.  

Did I say Maverick?  Maybe we should call him Maverick!

For those of you who can’t seem to make any sense of all of this, just go to http://www.petiquettedog.com to learn more.

Opportunity Barks!

Dog Training – Dog to Dog Greetings

What many people are absolutely unaware of is the potential, stressful, fearful or compromising position dogs are put in when they are on leash and other dogs approach, mostly at what should be happy times – greetings.

I consult with owners of dogs every day that have not had an opportunity to develop their dog’s early primary and/or secondary socialization skills.  As a result, some dogs become fearful and are not comfortable being around other dogs.  This is sometimes further complicated by being on leash.

When a dog is put in defense drive he will choose one of two options:

1.  Flight – he will distance himself from that which he is unsure of, or deems a threat.  This is usually the preferred option, especially for more submissive or softer tempered dogs.

2.  Fight – if flight is not an option for the dog, then the dog is forced into fight or bite.  Oftentimes, the more dominant dogs choose the fight option versus the flight option.

If a dog is cornered and would prefer to diffuse the stressful situation by leaving, but doesn’t feel that option is available (when he’s on leash) then he reverts to the other option – fight or bite.  If you keep your dog on a tight leash, this can illicit that same emotional stress in dogs because they feel they do not have the ability to leave.  And unfortunately, owners invariably tighten up on a leash when they feel their dog is going to pull or lunge towards another dog whether friendly intent or not.

Dogs have distance increasing signals or warnings:  a throaty growl, growl with a lip raise, an air snap or a lunge and bite.  A dog will choose to offer up any one of these distancing signals depending on how they interpret the threat.  Some threatening factors include the speed of the approaching dog, the proximity of the approaching dog to them, the size of the approaching dog, the gender of the approaching dog and whether or not the approaching dog is intact or not and more.  In addition to fear in dogs there is resource guarding.  Many dogs guard things they consider having high value like chew bones, Kong toys and yes, you the owner.  

Here’s an example:  Le’ts say that it has been your Sunday morning ritual to take your dog and sit outside a Starbucks enjoying your Latte Grande or your tall coffee (room at the top for cream of course) and reading your Sunday paper.  Your dog is lying by your side working on his Kong toy and reading the “Daily Growl”.  All of a sudden the peace of the morming is interrupted by your dog lashing out at another patron’s dog who is innocently passing by and your dog looks like the bad guy and you know he’s really not.

Here’s my advice on meeting other dogs in public:  Greetings should be pleasant, never approach another dog unless you ask the owner if it is okay to do so.  Remember to always ask “may my friendly dog meet your dog?”  Give owners an opportunity to keep their dog and themselves safe and stress free at that moment.Don’t be one of those dog owners who allows your dog to get in another dog’s face. 

If you have the dog that’s not good at greeting other dogs, be aware of that and don’t set your dog up to fail by not paying attention to the situation and the surroundings.

Dog Training – From the dog’s point of view

I have become great friends with a 2 year old misguided Maltipoo named Suki.  Suki was very insecure in her “sense of place” in her family and was claiming her territory by house soiling in areas she felt would help to brand her territory. 

When I went to the home, Suki had taken ownership of the family room in the house.  The couch and love seat were “hers”.  As I entered the family room, Suki stood on top of the couch barking at us, which is another reason the owners had called me.  She was letting us know we were entering the “forbidden zone!”.  The family redirected us to the kitchen because it made Suki “settle down.”

This had been going on for quite a while.  What I helped the owners understand is that Suki had no idea where she fit in the pecking order and she didn’t feel they were strong enough leaders to “handle” the role of alpha of her pack.  I taught the owners that Suki needed to understand boundaries in their home, much the same as parents teach children boundaries in their home.  We did this by putting a light line on the dog’s collar that is only worn when the owner’s are present

Why the heck did you do this, you ask?  Well, if the dog has a line on its collar and you keep the line attached to you, then the dog can easily be kept off the sofa until she has earned the right to get on what should  be “the owner’s sofa”, not forbidden territory and not allowed to sneak off and go pee or poop.  In a very short amount of time, Suki learned that these places were “off limits” until she earned the right to be there.    They also practiced good leadership in having Suki do sits and downs before she got treats and affection.

I always find it really remarkable that until people are really motivated to view their relationship with their dog differently and with new insight (what the dog needs to be balanced), inappropriate dog behaviors don’t change.  Once a person understands, from a dog’s perspective, what’s going on and why, (new insight) and they implement change in their relationship based on the insight, the dog problem vanishes.

And so it was with Suki, a changed and “Perfect Pooch” in just 3 weeks. 

On our last lesson I entered a quiet home, was pleasantly greeted by a delightful pup and happy owner as we all sat down in the family room for our final lesson.

As I left, I couldn’t help but notice a look on Suki’s face which seemed to say:  “Thanks for fixing my mom and dad!”


Fearful Dogs and The Human Scent

This week I had a lesson with a client who rescued a little young 5 # male dog that appears to be a terrier/chihuahua mix.  She worked hard to rescue this little guy.  He was hanging around her house and she began to put food and water out for him.  She started leaving the bowls outside the wrought iron fence at first and gradually, very gradually began to move the bowls inside the fence.  She even managed to lure him inside her house where he now resides with her dogs and her husband.

This little dog has apparently been on the streets since birth fending for himself.  He even had to face the wrath of Hurrican Ike all alone.  A tall order for such a little bitty pup. 

This dog is extremely fearful of people.  He will not allow people to touch him – even my client.  That’s when she called me for help with his fearful behavior.  Her main concern is for his health and well being.  We have been taking baby steps to work with this little dog.  I’ve been explaining how important structure is in a dog’s life, especially a fearful dog.  We’ve covered leadership role and keeping emotional energy out of the mix. 

Because it was clearly impossible to try to work with the dog “hands on” due to his fear, we consulted her vet for the best way to help calm him which would allow her to approach him and put a collar and leash on him. 

In talking this over with my current students who are learning dog training from me, one of them came up with the brilliant idea to have the little guy, once calmed by the medication, lie quietly in the owner’s arms letting him rest for several hours breathing in her scent.  We hope that when this little guy fully wakes, he will have an imprint, more of a “connectedness” to his owner that will begin to break the barrier of fear – if only a little.

It take a lot of patience, time and love to even begin to rescue the apparent feral pup who has had little to no human contact.  I applaud my wonderful caring client for trying.

I’ll keep you posted on this little guy’s progress and how our future behavior modification efforts progress.


Dog Training and Hurricane IKE

Wow, it’s been a long time since I posted.  We just got internet back today from our internet provider Comcast.  How I feel about that is a whole other story! 

Hurricane Ike really hit us hard.  We were without power for 3+ weeks and it was very hot and humid.  It was hard on us, but equally as hard on our dogs.  Leila and I both knew that it was going to be important to keep things as close to normal for our dogs as possible to reduce their stress.  Here’s what we did:

We practiced the dog training commands they knew so that all the dogs got lots of praise and heard lots of “Good Dog!”  We kept to their regular schedules as best we could.  We fed at the same time, we took walks at the same time.  In fact they got lots of walks to ease their boredom, manage their energy and also to keep us from going nuts with no electricity, no air conditioning!

The only thing we could not keep the same was our sleeping arrangements.  We were sleeping on a Aero bed in the den where we had lots more windows to get what little bit of outside air we could.  Usually our dogs all sleep in their respective dog beds in our bedroom.  The first night they were all very disconcerted and out of sorts.  They paced, they whined, they nudged, they panted.  We kept our emotional energy out of it and just ignored them or simply told them to lay down on their beds that were now in the den. 

What was interesting is that because the Aero bed was on the floor, on their level, the dominant dogs did a double take and your could hear them asking themselves “hmm, they’re down here with us, did they give up being alpha?”  A couple of times our lab Sammy tried to stake his territory right in the middle of the bed, but soon gave us as we kept making him go back to his bed.

The moral of the story is quite simple, dogs do well with consistency, even in the worst of times AND, they are very quick to pick up when you put yourself in a position of less authority – on the floor.

We sure are happy to have power and internet back.  The dogs are all back on their respective dogs beds and all is right in our dog training world.

Dog Training Tip – Socialize Your Dog—It’s Important!

In the last 2 weeks I have had two clients call me with dog behavior issues in their relatively young puppies.  After speaking with both of them, the common denominator in both of their dog’s behavior, was lack of socialization of these puppies at an early age and no dog training.

What was even more interesting was the reason they had not taken their dogs outside of their home or backyard to meet the world- FLEAS!  

Now I realize fleas are a bother and nobody wants their dogs to have fleas.  However, in the scheme of things, keeping your new puppy from meeting the world, seeing new sights, smelling new smells, meeting children, other people and other dogs has much more potential for creating problems than a flea does.  A flea comb used on your dog after a walk works wonders!

Remember, the window of socialization for a puppy starts closing between 4 months and 4.5 months of age.  So what does this mean exactly?  It simply means that after that time, puppies tend to become more fearful of places, smells, sights and people they have not become accustomed to which can then lead to dog behavior that you do not want – such as anxiety, fearfulness, snapping, barking.

Remember – You must always be aware, that until your puppy is fully vaccinated, there are certain places you don’t want to take them to such as dog parks or  the large retail dog stores which are frequented by all types of dogs – many unvaccinated.  Back when we found Sammy, our black lab, (under a truck at 7 weeks of age) one of the first things we did after his initial vet visit was to begin to socialize him, keeping in mind where he was with all of his vaccinations.   We took him over to our local grocery store and stood outside the door where people exit.  As people came out, including kids, we simply said, “Hi, we’re working on getting our puppy used to lots of people and lots of noises, would you mind petting Sammy?”  Now who could resist an absolutely adorable 8 week old lab puppy??  So Sammy got lots of pets from women, kids, men etc. and he was a happy puppy!  Also be sure to have people come to your home to visit when your puppy is little so the puppy understands that it is ok for strangers to come into the house.

When you socialize your puppy early and begin dog obedience training at about 5 months of age, it really sets your dog up to be  more well balanced and a better behaved dog.  Here’s a link to one of my articles on getting a new puppy or dog.  Enjoy.  http://www.petiquettedog.com/news/choosingFamilyDog.php

Jim Burwell  www.petiquettedog.com

Who’s To Blame Owner, Victim or Dogs?

I just read in a Google Alert on dog training, that in the case of Marjorie Knoller, her murder verdict has been reinstated.  I’m sure most of you remember this case in San Francisco back in 2001.

Ms. Knoller and her husband Robert Noel owned 2 Presa Canario guard dogs in San Francisco and lived in an apartment building.  One of their neighbors, Diane Whipple was innocently coming out of the door of her apartment at the same time Ms. Knoller was returning from walking her dogs on the roof.  The 2 dogs attacked Ms. Whipple and mauled her to death.

There was a lot of debate and upheaval in San Francisco over that case because Knoller and Noel were blaming Whipple for not going back into her apartment stating that’s what made the dogs attack.

Here’s the thing.  It is my true belief that when you have a dog, you, the owner are solely responsible for the actions of the dog.  Yes true, certain breeds have a propensity for being guard dogs and somewhat more assertive than others.  But it all comes down to owner responsiblity. 

Red flag #1 – My belief is that Knoller and Noel were aware that the dogs they bought had been specifically bred to be aggressive.  The breeder was a racist convict who was starting a line of Presa Canario guard dogs he was going to call Dog-O-War.  Red flag # 2  Ms. Knoller did not take the time to properly obedience train her dogs and exercise those two large guard dogs.   Red flag # 3  The last mistake is that she was bringing both dogs down a hallway of an apartment (close quarters) and sadly Ms. Whipple probably startled the dogs when she opened her door.

When you own a dog it is your responsibility to make sure the dog receives proper dog obedience training starting as a puppy, it is your responsiblity to see the dog gets regular structured exercise to release its energy in a positive way,  it is your responsibility to know the temperament and behavior of your dog around people and places and things. 

A dog is a dog is a dog.  I would never tell anyone that any dog is not capable of biting.  The upsetting thing is  when a dog is set up to fail because of lack of responsibility on the owner’s part and someone gets hurt or killed because of their unwillingness or laziness to train their dog.  Here’s the link to the story

Please, be responsible pet owners.  www.petiquettedog.com

Dog Training and Cats?

I received a call last month from a client with a new dog that was terrorizing her cats.  It was at the point where the dog was going to have to go if he couldn’t learn to live with the cats.  She asked me if dog training could fix her dog’s behavior? 

It reminded me of when my wife and I got married and she brought 2 greyhounds and a cat named Petie into the marriage.  First time my dog Boo laid eyes on Petie, all he saw was the blue plate special!  He lunged through the air, mouth wide open and stomach growling.  How embarrasing was that?  Here I am, the dog trainer and my dog’s behavior is deplorable 🙂

My wife looked at me and sweetly said, “Fix It!”  So I did, and here’s how.  Each day, as many times as possible, the behavior modification process was put into place.  We would take Petie, an awesome Persin/Tabby mix who knows no fear, and place him in a wire dog crate in the den.  I had Boo on a leash and I had a clicker and some food treats to use during the dog training session.  Boo and I were about 5 feet from the crate.  Each time Boo exhibited inappropriate dog behavior by pulling or lunging toward the crate he was firmly told NO, leah tug, required to sit.  As he sat and exhibited good dog behavior, which at that early stage was simply not lunging at Petie, I clicked and treated. 

We kept doing this dog behavior modification training each day.  Each day Boo and I got a little closer to the crate and each time Boo was required to give me a sit, down, appropriate dog behavior.  Also, during this time I made him maintain that good dog behavior longer and longer before he was treated. 

It took about 2 weeks, but Boo learned that his inappropriate dog behavior got a stern NO, while his good dog behavior, sitting quietly and not bothering the cat, got him a GOOD BOY! and a treat.  Now as many of you know, I am adamant about weaning off food treats (see my blog post on To Treat or Not to Treat, that is the Question).  By the end of the two weeks, a simple Good Boy was the reward for Boo.

Now in all fairness, part of the equation of this dog behavior modification exercise, is the fact that Petie is not the type of cat who darts through the house and is skittish.  Nope, in fact, when Petie comes in the house, he uses the dog door, strolls through the den while all the dogs are on their beds and just like in Stuart LIttle, simply says “Tell It to the Butt!”  Petie rules, Petie IS ALPHA!

Today, on any given morning, you can find Petie curled up next to Boo on Boo’s dog bed.  It took work, persistence in working on the dog behavior modification and good obedience training, but all is well in the Burwell animal kingdom.