5 Things Purebred Dog Owners Are Tired of Hearing

22 Feb

dog plus bone_01

I always get a certain sense of anxiety whenever I find myself inspired to write a piece specific to purebred dogs. Truth be told, there can be a lot of negativity. Whereas owning a rescue tends to be seen as a noble, even heroic endeavour (and it is!), owning a purebred dog can sometimes be seen as an act of vanity.

Actually, it’s the negativity that made me want to write this even more. We’ve had the pleasure of meeting dog owners of both sides of the spectrum and everywhere in between, which means there’s a good chunk of the Good Dogs & Co. community that are proud purebred dog owners who have done everything right (breed research, breeder research, etc.) and still get bombarded with questions.

Below are five things purebred dog owners are tired of hearing—but we’re also more than happy to answer these questions when they come from a place of genuine curiosity, and not with a negative inflection. All of that to say: if you’re thinking of getting a specific breed of dog, go on and ask anyone and everyone who already owns that breed every question you can think of. Being informed is a big deal.

Doesn’t that breed have health problems?

Yes, because my dog is of a well-established breed, there has been enough data collected to determine which health problems are common. That’s why I spent time searching for a good, reputable breeder who is aware of such problems, and thus has tried to better the breed through meticulous and thoughtful breeding pairs.

How much did you pay for him/her?

As much as a dog from a reputable breeder costs.

No, really! I mean, have I scoffed at the price I’ve heard for certain purebred dogs? Sure. But the people I know (and also from personal experience with Archer) who have done the research, vetted a few breeders, and decided on one they really feel comfortable with… the price you pay is what you—personally—are willing to pay for that dog. It’s your choice, not mine or anyone else’s. Whatever makes sense to you is what is reasonable.

Have you bred him/her yet?

No, and I don’t ever intend to. I purchased a family pet, not a dog prostitute.*

Why didn’t you crop his ears/dock his tail?

Because I—like many other people in developed countries, aside from Canada and the United States—believe cosmetic alterations like cropping a dog’s ears or docking their tail is cruel and unnecessary.

If you aren’t adopting a rescue, you’re part of the problem!

Thank you for your negativity.

There are two things that bother me about the rescue vs. purebred dog debate. The first is a blindness to the need for purebred dogs—that is, dogs bred for a specific purpose. Take our newest Good Dogs & Co. office pup (who belongs to my friend), Sirius. After much research, my friends knew they wanted a dog who could hunt, but also one with high energy to be a running buddy. A Vizsla made sense for their lifestyle. Could they have found a high-energy dog in a shelter? Probably. But the hunting quality is a little more tricky.

In that sense, comparing purebred dogs to rescues is a lot like comparing apples to oranges.

The second thing that bothers me in this debate is the just the pure negativity. Don’t yuck my yum. I adore my purebred dog, and you adore your rescue—and that’s a wonderful thing.

* This seems to be a question heard by all dog owners with fit, good looking dogs. Lucy gets the same question when walking Topher, and we kinda-sorta-maybe know what breed he is, probably? I see red flags the minute a stranger asks me if I’ve already bred my dog, or want to breed her. The answer is no, and go away please.

Introducing TruDog: A New System for Complete Health

17 Feb

trudog-raw

Around this time last year, my husband and I had to really crack down about our own nutrition. It required a fair amount of work to shift our eating and cooking habits, but the results have made those changes more than worthwhile. All these changes got me thinking about our pets’ eating habits as well: not just what we were feeding them, but how and when as well.

I’ve always been pretty picky about what we feed our animals, but that came more from the knowledge that we wanted to stick to a certain level of quality and avoid common health pitfalls—obesity being the main one—for our dog and cats. But did my general desire for quality translate into a diet that meets all of Topher’s needs?

Even though I’ve been doing research on this question for a few months now, I’m still working on my final opinion. But today I’m very pleased to introduce TruDog, a company formed by one family that set out to answer a very similar question: we’ve been taking care of ourselves, nutritionally, but what about our dogs? They depend on us for their diet, so how well are we really feeding them?

Freeze Dried Real Ingredients

TruDog’s food products are made by freeze drying real ingredients: beef, beef tripe, beef lung, ground beef bone, beef liver, etc. Freeze drying is a delicate process that preserves the structure and nutritional integrity of fresh whole food. Only water is removed, preserving the characteristics and natural nutrition of fresh real food. This process creates a freeze-dried, “raw” product that needs no refrigeration. Simply store it in a cool, dry place and, before feeding, just add water. Precise feeding instructions are included with every pack that are effortlessly easy to follow.

We knew this product would be a hit when we had to hide it away to keep our dogs and our cats from finding and ripping the bag apart. In fact, Ivana’s cat Ace chewed on the bag itself before she could even open it!

No Fillers, Ever.

TruDog’s food products are wheat, gluten, corn, and soy free, and that’s just the beginning of the list of things they don’t include in their products. This makes them an ideal choice for dogs who have digestive issues or allergies. We know how important a good diet can be for keeping a more sensitive dog healthy and symptom-free, and love seeing companies working on making the pet food industry a little safer for these dogs.

A System for Complete Health

TruDog’s food products are designed to be fed on their own or as a mix-in with other products. All their product lines are meant to be utilized in conjunction with each other, providing optimal health and peace of mind for owners. Each product manufactured is carefully scrutinized to ensure it’s not overlapping other products—in the end providing a complete system that works.

While switching large dogs like Topher and Archer completely over to a TruDog diet would be pretty pricey, the supplements and the variety of products allow us to make sure our big dogs are getting everything they need out of their daily meals.

Made in the U.S.A.

All TruDog’s food products are made in Wisconsin using U.S. sourced ingredients. Their beef and bison are free range and grass fed, antibiotic, and hormone free. The TruDog family is committed to a lifestyle that provides the opportunity to live a life full of abundant health and happiness, inspired in no small part by their beloved Great Dane, Truman. After discovering Truman had a tumor in one of his legs, the family fought valiantly for his livelihood. After an agonizing six month battle, including surgery to remove his leg, they lost him to cancer.

This tragic loss provided the inspiration behind TruDog, to offer a healthy alternative dog food for dogs everywhere. If you ask us, they’re doing a wonderful job.

Puppy 101: Recall

15 Feb

sirius_run

Puppies are clean slates of fluff. They don’t know what it is to be a good dog—ahem, an obedient dog—but they’re eager to learn and ugh, do they have to be so cute? One of the most important (perhaps the most important) commands you will teach your puppy will be recall, and it’s important to maintain a positive training regimen for your recall command throughout your dog’s life.

Archer’s new best friend, Sirius, just started puppy school a few weeks ago. Due to scheduling with the classes, and his vaccination schedule, this was the earliest he could enroll—at nearly six months old. In this time, his training has been done at home with focus given to various different commands—specifically, recall.

Being a vizsla (a Hungarian hunting dog), it was important that Sirius learned good behaviour on offleash trail walks, and Archer has made for a great teacher in this respect. As a hunting dog, we’re already seeing that he is prone to chase small game and get over-fixated on scent trails—because of this, it was crucial that he be familiar and responsive to recall.

So how do you teach a puppy good recall, and ensure they are always responsive to your cues? Well, puppy school is absolutely great for a focused training environment, but good recall should start early, with continuous training and reinforcement throughout the dog’s life.

Start Small

When first starting good recall, start your training in a quiet, distraction-less room. You want the bulk of your puppy’s attention on you. Starting brand new commands with puppies can be difficult, so it’s important to associate the exercise with nothing but positive experiences. In a quiet room, there are very few chances for your puppy to “fail” or become so distracted he doesn’t notice you. Be patient and be positive.

  1. Wait until your puppy is coming toward you on his own.
  2. When he is close (within a few feet), say the word “come” (or whatever you wish your recall word to be).
  3. Praise your puppy when he reaches you.

Regardless of how long it took for your puppy to come to you, the reward should always be the same. High praise and lots of affection. You can also up the ante with a treat, toy, getting excited, or even running away from your puppy (their instinct will be to chase after you) to help reinforce that coming back to you is a good, positive experience for them.

Reinforcing Your Recall Cue

A great way to reinforce your recall cue (the word “come,” for example) is to play a sort of game with your dog and another person. We did this in puppy school, which was always a little interesting. Some dogs became distracted by the other puppies in the class, while other dogs knew exactly what to do and charged to their owners with a full head of steam. Don’t be discouraged if your pup becomes distracted, just remember to always praise them when they eventually (even if it takes a really, really long time!) come to you.

This training exercise requires two people. Both people should be someone your puppy is familiar with and trusts.

  1. One person sits with the puppy at one end of a room (or yard, depending on how difficult/distracting you want to make this!) and the other stands or kneels a fair distance across from them.
  2. The person with the puppy holds them by the collar to prevent them from moving.
  3. The other person begins to get excited (can use toys, slap their legs to make sounds, etc.) and draws the puppy’s attention to them, without saying their name or recall cue.
  4. When the person holding the puppy is satisfied they are focused on the other person, it’s time to finally say their recall cue. For us, it would be “Archer, come.”
  5. The person with the puppy will release the puppy. With all the excitement, the puppy should run right to the other person.

This is how you reinforce your recall cue. Try 20 feet and grow the distance as your puppy gets better and better with the command. Remember: more distance means a greater risk of distraction! Start small, then gradually increase your distance. If your puppy falters and becomes distracted, close the distance and start over again.

Vocal Cue + Hand Signal

We always encourage building hand signals into your vocal commands. Dogs are visual creatures, they react to our body language more than we realize. It’s good to incorporate hand gestures in combination with vocal commands. Once your dog is familiar with their verbal recall command, you can start including a hand signal along with the verbal command in your training.

As with the verbal recall command, begin their training in a quiet, distraction-less environment and keep a short distance between you and your dog. Gradually increase the distance between you and your dog to increase the difficulty and possibility for distraction.

When you start your training, remember to use their name + recall command + hand gesture. Make sure your hand signal cannot be confused with another hand signal you’ve already used with your dog for another command.

Give Them Foolproof Opportunities

When outside and offleash (whether it’s in the yard, an offleash trail, etc.) and there are limited distractions, give a recall command when your puppy is relatively close. These are situations where he is most likely to succeed, so it helps reinforce the command in a one-on-one environment, even if though there is some wiggle room to fail.

Be patient. If he take a little time to sniff a tree before returning to you, that’s okay! If your puppy does ten things before returning to you, or takes a few minutes, just remember that one key aspect: he came back. Praise him for coming back to you, always.

You Are Not More Interesting Than Other Dogs

One recurring theme with puppy training, is that it’s easy to get discouraged. Puppies are just bubbling with excitement, and are terribly curious—which can make training difficult. Instead, remember to have patience and to embrace the distractions as they come. Use them to enhance your puppy’s learning experience.

Don’t set your puppy up for failure by attempting a recall command when he is clearly distracted/overwhelmed by another situation. Typically, this means playing with other dogs (or people!). Odds are, your puppy will not respond to your recall command. Does that mean your training is slipping? No! It just means that you’ve put your puppy in an almost-impossible situation where he just can’t succeed (other dogs are way cooler than you are, and you know it).

Wait for a lull in the action, then attempt a recall command when you know you can get your puppy’s attention.

This makes for a tricky but rewarding exercise for your puppy. It can be a difficult exercise to master, and in this situation, treats are a great reward.

Things to Avoid

I don’t mean to sound like a hippie with my peace, love, and happiness mentality, but it really is vital when dealing with recall. It needs to be a positive experience for your puppy, and patience is key.

  • DO NOT chase your puppy. Your dog will think it’s a game, and the inclination is to run further away from you.
  • DO NOT reprimand your puppy or be negative in any way. You want to reinforce the idea that coming back to you is always (always!) a good, positive experience. Is it annoying when your dog ignores you? Sure. But to reprimand him for being tardy in returning is sending the wrong message to your dog. Simply put: if he returns to you, no matter how long it took, he’s a good dog.