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Top Ten Tips to Keep Your Pet Safe & Calm this Fourth of July

 

 

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Forget About Stress & Anxiety

POSITIONING THEMSELVES FOR REINFORCEMENT First off, sorry. The title was designed to get your attention. We cannot forget about stress and anxiety but rather than focus on those conditions we assume a dog is experiencing, let’s get down to the business of behavior. It has been important that people have been encouraged to […]

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Scientists unexpectedly witness wolf puppies play fetch

When it comes to playing a game of fetch, many dogs are naturals. But now, researchers report that the remarkable ability to interpret human social communicative cues that enables a dog to go for a ball and then bring it back also exists in wolves.

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Whole Dog Journal’s Approved Dry Dog Food List

The food you give your dog plays a critical role in his well-being, both on a daily basis and long-term. He needs a diet with the right nutrients to keep him active, happy, and healthy. And make no mistake: Not all dog foods are created equal. Since 1998, Whole Dog Journal has been proving that much in an annual review and ratings of dry dog foods.

Dog food brands like Fromm, Orijen, Diamond’s Taste of the Wild, and Merrick have been regulars on the Whole Dog Journal Approved list in recent years, as have Bench & Field and Wellpet’s Wellness, among many others.

Year by Year: Subscribers to Whole Dog Journal can access our annual dry dog food reviews online. Here are links to the past five years of approved dog foods:

Whole Dog Journal rates dry dog food and creates an annual “Approved” list (for publication every February) based on the following criteria.

Need a quick break-down? Check out WDJ’s 10 Dry Dog Food Shopping Tips to help you get the idea!

Must-Have Ingredients in Dry Dog Food

Make sure your dog’s dry food has the following elements, the hallmarks of a quality product:

☐ Superior sources of protein: Look for dry dog foods that contain a lot of animal proteins—either whole, fresh meats or single-source meat meal. For example, you want to see “chicken meal” or “beef meal” on the label, not “poultry meal” or “meat meal.” A dog food label listing simply “meat” is an example of a low-quality protein source of dubious origin.

☐ Whole-meat source as one of the first two ingredients: Better yet: two meat sources among the top three ingredients (say, chicken and chicken meal). Meat, the most natural source of protein for dogs, contains the amino acids most important to canine health. A good mix of meat proteins helps round out a dog food’s amino acid profile.

☐ Whole, unprocessed grains, vegetables, and other foods. An unprocessed food for your dog has the best chance of surviving the food-making process with its nutrients—vitamins, enzymes, and antioxidants—intact.

Avoid Dry Dog Food with These Ingredients

pet food nutrition facts

When scanning dry dog food labels, keep your eyes peeled for the following undesirables. High-quality dry dog foods have these ingredients in minimal percentages:

✗ Meat by-products. Research has revealed that higher-value ingredients in dry dog foods tend to be processed and stored more carefully (kept clean and cold) than lower-cost ingredients—including “by-products.” And it’s just about impossible to ascertain the quality of by-products. We prefer to see these second-rate ingredients in a supporting role to whole meats or meat meals—say, below the top five ingredients.

✗ “Generic” fat source. “Animal fat”—an ingredient you may notice in some dry dog foods—can be just about anything, from an unwholesome mystery mix of various fats to recycled grease from restaurants. A preferable ingredient would be “beef fat” or “chicken fat.” The more generic the term, the more suspect the ingredient is. (We shudder to think of what’s in “animal digest”—another item we’ve seen on ingredient lists.)

✗ Artificial preservatives, including BHA, BHT, or ethoxyquin. Natural preservatives such as tocopherols (compounds often with vitamin E), vitamin C, and rosemary extract can be used instead. Note that natural preservatives do not preserve dog foods as long as artificial preservatives do, so owners should always check the “best by…” date on the label.

✗ Artificial colors. Trust us: Your dog doesn’t care about the color of his food. And he certainly doesn’t need daily exposure to unnecessary chemicals that provide color. Also avoid dog food with propylene glycol, a chemical added to some “chewy” foods to keep them moist.

✗ Artificial flavors. Your dog’s food should be flavored well enough with healthy meats and fats to be enticing to him.

✗ Sweeteners. Dogs, like us, have a taste for sweets. Corn syrup, sucrose, ammoniated glycyrrhizin, and other sweeteners are sometimes added to lower-quality foods to increase their appeal. But dietary sugar can cause or worsen health problems—including diabetes—in dogs.

THE COST OF GOOD DOG FOOD: Is Expensive Dry Dog Food Really Better?

When you understand what traits make a good dry dog food, go compare the products in the price range that works for you. The ingredient quality of cheap pet food is generally lower, but the range of food brands and recipes used is so large, Whole Dog Journal is confident you’ll be able to find a suitable kibble for your dog.

Calculate the price per pound of any food you are considering. (Don’t be afraid to pull out your calculator app in the pet store!) Write the numbers down so you can compare prices at different retail outlets; if you are accustomed to buying your dog’s food in a grocery store, you might be surprised to find that you can find foods of a much higher quality at a comparable price in other stores.

cheap dry dog food

For example, Beneful is a brand that’s sold in many grocery and big-box stores. It costs more than many of the foods in the grocery store, so you may be patting yourself on the back for buying a better food for your dog. A 12.5-pound bag of its Grain-Free Chicken variety sells for $14.19, or $1.13 per pound. But look at the ingredients (we’ll list just the first 10):

– chicken
– pea starch
– cassava root flour
– chicken by-product meal
– soybean germ meal
– soybean meal
– canola meal
– beef tallow
– dried beet pulp
– poultry and pork digest

This food contains a minimum of 24% protein and 13% fat.

Now, let’s look at the first 10 ingredients of one of the foods on Whole Dog Journal‘s  lists. We’ll compare it to a product from a company whose average prices are the lowest on our list: Eagle Pack. The Chicken Meal and Pork Meal formula sells for $39.99 for a 30-pound bag ($1.33 per pound).

– chicken meal
– pork meal
– ground brown rice
– dehulled barley
– oatmeal
– rice
– peas
– chicken fat
– brewers dried yeast
– flaxseed

This food contains a minimum of 27% protein and 14% fat.

Yes, there is a 20-cent per pound difference in the prices of these foods; the Beneful is less expensive. But the difference in quality is huge.

It’s nice that Beneful uses chicken meat as its first ingredient, but its next animal protein (chicken by-product meal) is fourth on this list. Because meat contains so much moisture, the chicken doesn’t contribute as much protein to the diet as a meat meal. Beneful props up the protein content in this food with low-quality protein sources: chicken by-product meal, soybean germ meal, and soybean meal.

By the way, we’d call the appearance of those last two ingredients “ingredient splitting.” If you added the weight of the soybean germ meal and the soybean meal, we’d hazard a guess that they would outweigh the chicken by-product meal, meaning they play a far larger role in the food than the chicken by-product meal.

Animal proteins contain more of the amino acids that dogs require than plant proteins, but plant proteins are less expensive – hence their appearance in lower-priced dog foods.

In contrast, Eagle Pack uses two high-quality meat meals as the first and second ingredients; this is where the food is getting most of its protein.

expensive dry dog food

As a fat source, the Beneful food uses beef tallow – widely considered to be a lower-quality fat than the chicken fat used in the Eagle Pack food.

The grains used in the Eagle Pack food are either whole or lightly processed (ground or dehulled). In contrast, the carbohydrate sources in the Beneful product are highly processed (pea starch, cassava root flour, canola meal). Overall, there is a world of difference between the two foods.

Average Dog Food Price Per Pound

The 2018 Dry Dog Food Review lists a number of companies that make good- to great-quality dry dog foods in  order of the average price of their products. We collected prices for kibble from online retailers and from the companies themselves, asking for their suggested retail prices for the largest-sized bags of their foods (the larger the bag, the lower the price per pound). We calculated the price per pound of each variety of food (by dividing the price by the number of pounds of food in the bag). Then we calculated the average price per pound of food for each company, using the figures from each food in each line.

Does a high-end dog food really make a difference to your dog’s lifelong health? As any long-time reader knows, the pet food industry seeks to maximize its profits, not the health of the animals who depend on it. Most humans can’t access grass-fed organic meat for themselves, let alone their dogs, so find brands of kibble with decent ingredient lists which you are comfortable paying for.

But do know that in the case of dog food, you do get what you pay for.

dog in a pet store

YOUR DOG’S UNIQUE DIET AND NUTRITION NEEDS

Whole Dog Journal‘s Approved list is based on assessments of dry dog food ingredients along with the “Guaranteed Analysis” anyone can find on food labels. Dog owners are encouraged to develop an understanding of which ingredients are beneficial and which aren’t—and to routinely look at labels before buying.

A scan of a dry dog food’s ingredients can tell you a lot about the maker’s intentions and philosophy. If a dog food company admits to using artificial preservatives, say, or lots of grain “fragments” or animal “by-products,” you’re probably not dealing with a top-of-the-line product.

Conversely, if a list of dog food ingredients leads off with a quality protein source followed by whole, healthy foods, you know you’ve found a worthy product.

Keep in mind that there’s no “right” food that works for every one of the 77.8 million dogs in America. They’re all individuals with unique physiological and metabolic make-ups. Consider:

A dog who is prone to urinary tract infections would be better off with a food lower in pH (and thus less acidic).

If your dog is lean and active, you might look for a higher-fat, higher-protein brand.

If your dog is older and less active, you might want food with a higher percentage of lean protein.

These are just some possible factors you might be dealing with when looking for a dog food. Here are some real-world examples of equally valid dog food buying decisions.

Caloric Considerations

Another thing you have to consider is the caloric content of the food you choose. If the food you select for your dog is energy-dense, and your dog is a couch potato, you may have to cut her daily ration considerably to prevent her from getting fat. Some dogs respond to forced dieting with begging, counter-surfing, and garbage-raiding. If your dog is one of these, you may have to seek out a high-fiber, low-calorie food – one that may not necessarily contain the highest-quality protein or fat sources on the market – to keep your dog feeling contentedly full without getting fat.

Dogs exhibit a wide range of energy requirements. You may have to seek out a higher- or lower-calorie food based on the following attributes that can affect your dog’s energy needs:

• Activity level. The more a dog exercises the more energy he needs to consume to maintain his condition; it’s that simple.

• Growth. Growing puppies have higher energy requirements than adult dogs. A food with a higher protein level, but a moderate (not high) fat level is ideal. Obese puppies are far more prone to degenerative joint disease – especially in large and giant breeds – than puppies with a normal or slim physique.

• Age. The age at which a dog becomes a senior citizen varies from breed to breed, with larger dogs considered geriatric at earlier ages. Older dogs typically require fewer calories to maintain their body weight and condition, partly because they tend to be less active than younger dogs.

• Environmental conditions. Dogs who live or spend much of their time outside in severe cold temperatures need from 10 percent to as much as 90 percent more energy than dogs who enjoy a temperate climate. The thickness and quality of the dog’s coat, the amount of body fat he has, and the quality of his shelter have direct effects on the dog’s energy needs.

• Illness. Sick dogs have increased energy needs; it takes energy to mount an immune response or repair tissues. However, dogs who do not feel well also tend to be inactive, which lowers their energy needs.

• Reproduction. A pregnant female’s energy requirement does not increase significantly until the final third of her pregnancy, when it may increase by a factor of three.

• Lactation. A nursing female may require as much as eight times as much energy as a female of the same age and condition who is not nursing.

• Neutering. It is generally accepted that neutered (and spayed) dogs have reduced energy needs. However, there are actually no studies that conclusively prove that neutered dogs require fewer calories simply as a result of lower hormone levels. It has been suggested that these dogs gain weight due to increased appetites and/or decreased activity levels.

• Other individual factors. Other factors that can affect a dog’s energy requirement include its temperament (nervous or placid?) and skin, fat, and coat quality (how well he is insulated against weather conditions).

Dog Food for Managing Canine Illnesses & Health Problems

If your dog has any sort of disease or an inherited propensity for disease, ask your veterinarian about the benefits of nutritional therapy to help treat or prevent the disease. Don’t settle for the suggestion of a commercial “prescription” diet; most of them are formulated with lower-quality ingredients. Instead, ask what specifically in the diet has been manipulated so as to be beneficial for your dog. Then, see if you can find a product that offers the same benefits and better-quality ingredients. The best example is a “kidney” diet for dogs with kidney failure. The goal is to feed these patients a diet with a moderate level of very high-quality protein and low amounts of phosphorus (see “When to Say No to Low-Protein“). An intelligently formulated home-prepared dog food diet can do a far better job of accomplishing these goals than the commercial dog food diets on the market.

You should also do some research on your own to determine what dietary changes might help your dog. A good starting place is Donald R. Strombeck’s Home-Prepared Dog & Cat Diets: The Healthful Alternative (available by order in bookstores). Dr. Strombeck details strategies for changing the dog’s diet to treat and/or prevent gastrointestinal, skin, skeletal and joint, renal, urinary, endocrine, heart, pancreatic, and hepatic disease.

Other diseases that can be improved with dietary management include:

• Allergy or intolerance. There are a number of breeds that are particularly susceptible to food allergies, including Cocker Spaniels, Dalmatians, English Springer Spaniels, Labrador Retrievers, Lhasa Apsos, Miniature Schnauzers, and more. Again, it’s important to keep a record of what foods you feed your dog, what they contain, and how your dog looks and feels. If your records indicate that one or more ingredients trigger bad reactions in your dog, seek out foods that do not contain those ingredients in any amount. (See “Walking the Allergy Maze,” “Diet Makes the Difference“.)

• Cancer. High-fat, low-carbohydrate (or carb-free) diets are ideal for cancer patients. Cancer cells use carbs for energy, and don’t easily utilize fat, so you can effectively “starve” the cancer cells while providing extra energy to your dog with a diet rich in a high-quality fat sources. (See “Feed the Dog, Starve the Cancer,”)

• Inherited metabolism disorders. Some breeds are prone to diseases with a strong dietary influence. For example, the West Highland White Terrier and the Cocker Spaniel have an inherited tendency to suffer from copper buildup in the liver; these dogs should eat a diet that is formulated with low levels of copper. Malamutes and Siberian Huskies can inherit a zinc metabolism disorder, and require a high-zinc diet (or zinc supplements).

Ask your veterinarian (and reliable breeders) about your dog’s breed-related nutritional requirements. And contact the manufacturer of your dog’s food for the expanded version of the food’s nutrient levels. Pet food makers are not required to print the levels of every nutrient on their labels, but should make this information available to you upon request.

So take your dog’s age, condition, and health history into account. Consider product availability, too; a large percentage of the brands on WDJ‘s Approved list are available at independent stores, and some cases are regionally sold products.

And, of course, price can come into play. The right dog food isn’t necessarily cheap, but that old axiom, “You get what you pay for,” applies here, too.

BEST PRACTICES FOR CHOOSING DRY DOG FOOD

Nutrition experts don’t agree on everything, but one thing they generally concede to be true is that all animals enjoy the best health when given a balanced and varying diet of fresh, species-appropriate foods.

They also generally agree that highly processed foods are not as healthy as lightly processed foods; some of nature’s value is always lost to oxidation, heat, pressure, and chemical interactions. Foods made with highly processed (and sometimes, as a result, aged) ingredients are at a big disadvantage compared to those that are made with fresh, whole ingredients.

The healthiest dog foods contain high-quality proteins and whole, unprocessed grains and vegetables. Always ensure that the dry dog food you buy include high-quality proteins, such as either whole, fresh meats or single-source meat meal (“chicken meal” or “beef meal.”) Avoid dog foods that use vague wording on the ingredients list, such as “poultry meal” or “meat meal.” Any label that simply says “meat” should be disqualified as a low-quality source of protein.

Finally, remember that it’s a good idea to switch dog foods regularly. Choose several brands that contain the right ingredients and give your dog some variety over time. It’ll help correct the excesses, insufficiencies, or imbalances that result from the same dog food day in and day out.

Year by Year: Subscribers to Whole Dog Journal can access our annual dry dog food reviews online. Here are links to the past five lists of approved dog foods:

The post Whole Dog Journal’s Approved Dry Dog Food List appeared first on Whole Dog Journal.

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Three Secrets to Safe & Effective Exercise for Your Dog

It’s no secret that exercising your dog can lead to a happier and healthier pup – not to mention a quieter house and a happier you. The complication is that exercising your dog takes time and sometimes we struggle to find time to exercise ourselves. However, without safe and effective exercise, your dog can gain weight, risk costly injury, and tear apart the house in response to pent up energy. Consider how you exercise your dog now: perhaps you play tug with your Chihuahua in the living room, jog or play fetch with your active retriever, or ask your senior mixed breed to sit in the kitchen — all of these activities can exercise your dog both physically and mentally. Let’s further explore how you can make the most of your time with your dog while safely and effectively gaining the benefits of exercise.

Here are three secrets to safely and effectively exercising your dog through activities and games that you probably already play.

1. Discuss with your veterinarian

Before beginning any exercise (even training class!), it’s important to get a full health check with your local veterinarian. Let your vet know which activities you are thinking about pursuing, and ask which activities would be most appropriate for your dog’s age, musculoskeletal structure, and preferences. Remember, just like with children, jumping from high places or playing on hard surfaces can be detrimental to joints. Be sure to ask how long the activities should last, how intense they should be, and about any necessary equipment or weather precautions. Just because your dog wants to fetch constantly, doesn’t necessarily mean that this high impact, sustained exercise is healthy. Describe the activity and environment to your vet in detail, and be sure to get clearance before enjoying with your pup.

2. Explore variation

After speaking with your veterinarian about appropriate activities for your dog, plan to vary the types of activities each day. If your veterinarian approved some shorter distance jogs for your pup, perhaps the next day you could spread his food in the backyard as a scavenger hunt. Varying high intensity with low intensity workouts is just as stimulating for your pup, and the variation will keep him engaged. You can also vary exercises within the activity itself. For example, if you frequently throw a ball or disc for your dog until she lies down and pants, consider asking for tricks between different types of throws. By varying distances and body movements you can help your dog regulate her arousal and stay safe.

3. Remember warms up & cool down

Before beginning any activity, it’s important to set up your dog for success. Dogs have the same basic musculoskeletal components as people, and therefore they can sustain similar injuries from rigorous use or clumsy accidents. However, dogs are more athletic compared to humans (even your couch potato probably has a higher VO2max than you!), and they can exert a lot of energy at playtime. It’s important to warm up and cool down your dog’s muscles before use. Consider the type of exercise and what body parts are involved, and plan for a warm up. For example, if you’re about to open the back door for your dog to dash out with his powerful hind legs, take a couple walking laps around the living room first. Ask for a few repetitions of sit and put a treat in front of his nose to lure him in a few circles before opening the door. Much like a short jog, squats, and plyometrics before a sprint, these exercises can help protect your dog’s soft tissue before dashing off. The easiest part is that the same exercises can be performed in reverse for a quick cool down.

Using these three secrets, you can safely and effectively exercise your dog in the same amount of time and help you and your pup enjoy the benefits. Through warms ups/cool downs and varying your dog’s activities you can tire your pup out in no time at all. Talking to your veterinarian about the type, duration, and intensity of activity can also tailor the exercise to your dog and avoid costly injury. 

Many caretakers believe that their dog needs to sprint in order to get tired, when in reality sniffing, training, or a combination can be just as taxing. Check out the table below for more ideas! Challenge yourself this week to change one thing about your dog’s exercise routine, and see if you enjoy a calmer, healthier dog!

 

Activity

Variation

Warm up/cool down

Hide a treat/toy in the house

High/low places, obstacles, multiple rooms

Walk laps, sits, crawls

Sniffy walk

Hide treats, change route

Walk laps, sits

Tug

Side to side, stop/go, 2 tugs

Jog laps, play bow, weight shift

Fetch

Short/long distances, walking breaks, sit/down/spin/beg/back

Jog laps, downs, circles

Jog

Walk/run, canicross, sniff breaks

Sniff, walk laps, sits

 

 

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What Is Socially Conscious Sheltering?

In the February issue, which will be in mailboxes and online
soon, we have an article about a new model for communities looking to improve
the practices and policies adopted by their local animal shelters and rescue
groups. The new model has been called “Socially Conscious Sheltering” (SCS) and
we are fans of its basic concepts. The article was written by WDJ’s Training
Editor Pat Miller, who has more than 40 years of experience working in and
closely with animal shelters.

The article not only explains what SCS is, but also offers a
brief history of animal sheltering in this country, from the height of the “bad
old days” – around 1970, when tens of millions of unwanted animals were killed
in shelters annually – to the advent of the “no-kill shelter” and its rise in
popularity, and past that to where we are now.

Is a “no kill” policy better?

There is no doubt that no-kill policies have inspired
innovative programs and increased community support, resulting in many animals’
lives saved. But many people feel that the no-kill model needs updating – that
it has inadvertently created problems that need to be addressed.

For example, you may or may not be aware that “no kill” policies are blamed by many animal training and behavior experts for a relative increase (relative to the actual animal population) in the rate of injuries and even fatalities caused by dangerous dogs. Critics say that far too many dogs with the propensity for violence are being “rescued” and adopted to unprepared and unsuspecting people, who unwittingly put the dogs in situations where they are almost bound to hurt someone. Note that it’s not just no-kill shelters and rescues that are under pressure to increase their “live release” rates; the bar has been raised for all shelters and rescues – which is a good thing, but can also lead to irresponsible adoptions.

No-kill policies have led to an astounding number of “rescue
hoarding” cases, wherein a person or group of people, usually starting out with
good intentions, loses control of their situation and ends up housing far more
animals than they can care for. We are seeing reports of these cases nearly daily in the news – and in almost every
case, the animals who end up needing “rescue” again are in far worse situations
than they were in when initially “rescued” by the overwhelmed person or group
of people: starved, sick, warehoused in crowded conditions, living in filth.
Without city, county, or state oversight, and often without the oversight of a
proper nonprofit Board of Directors, some of these operate until there is a
literal stench that alerts a neighbor and drives an investigation. (Go ahead,
run the words “dog rescue hoarder” through your favorite search engine. It’s
insane how many cases there are.)

We all want to save lives. But what about dogs with behavioral issues that make them unsafe for placement in most homes, who have spent YEARS in shelter or rescue kennels, waiting for that very rare “experienced owner, adults only, no cats, no other dogs or any other animals, fully fenced” home? What to do with these dogs is an ethical and financial challenge.

There are also persistent accusations that some animal rescue
or shelter groups engage in all sorts of unethical practices in order to protect
and promote their “no kill” status. According to the official Asilomar Accords
definition of “no kill,” only shelters or rescue groups that kill less then 10%
of the animals they take in – excluding
the animals who are brought to the shelter by owners who request that the
animal is euthanized – may call themselves a “no-kill.”

As just one example of how organizations may engage in
morally questionable activities in pursuit or maintenance of their “no-kill”
status, one animal-welfare blog has accused the Animal Care Centers of New York
of
pressuring people who have come to the shelter to relinquish their pets to
“request” euthanasia
so that those animals may be euthanized without adding
to the total of animals that might be euthanized for space or health or
behavior problems.

There have also been persistent allegations that when
shelters limit the number of animals that they will take in, often in service
of preventing the “need” to euthanize “for space,” that the “dumping” of
animals in those communities increases. 

What’s the difference between “no kill” and “socially conscious” sheltering?

Socially Conscious Sheltering principles were developed by a
group of animal shelter CEOs in Colorado, and refined through sharing and
discussion among a select group of animal shelter and animal welfare experts.
The founders hope that the principles are widely adopted for a post- “no-kill”
society, where all healthy (and
treatable) and adoptable animals who do not pose a danger to others are
maintained in suitable environments until adopted, and where dangerous dogs are
not foisted into unsuspecting
communities.

It’s sad, but the reality is that there are dogs who cannot live safely with other animals or people. It’s hard for me to understand, but there are also plenty of people who will fight for the lives of dogs who have mauled, or even killed, innocent humans or other animals. In this story, a rescue group placed a Saint Bernard in a family, and about five weeks later, the dog mauled a five-year-old boy in the family. There was a 12-year-old and a 7-year-old boy home at the time of the incident, but no adult. The dog was seized by local animal control authorities, who indicated that the dog would likely be euthanized, as per their SCS principles that state, “Because public safety is a top priority, we work diligently to ensure dangerous animals are kept from harming other animals and people.” But the rescue group that “saved” and later placed the dog has filed a lawsuit and is seeking donations in support of regaining custody of the dog. The group’s Facebook page has hundreds of comments in support of this effort.

The family in this case was pretty clearly ignorant of
proper supervision and handling of this dog. It also looks like a pretty
negligent adoption, frankly! But the fact remains that the dog mauled a child.
Should the dog be returned to the rescue group who placed him the first time?
Or should he be euthanized? It’s a case that divides dog lovers as ferociously
as any red state/blue state debate.

The SCS model says, let’s put our resources where they will benefit the most healthy and treatable (behaviorally and biologically) animals. Also, let’s make public all of every shelter’s statistics regarding intake and outcomes, so that anyone can judge how well or poorly the shelter is faring in its mission, without an arbitrary target number that qualifies it as worthy of support or shame.

For much more detailed information about Socially Conscious Sheltering, see the February issue of WDJ.

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Three Secrets to Safe & Effective Exercise for Your Dog

It’s no secret that exercising your dog can lead to a happier and healthier pup – not to mention a quieter house and a happier you. The complication is that exercising your dog takes time and sometimes we struggle to find time to exercise ourselves. However, without safe and effective exercise, your dog can gain weight, risk costly injury, and tear apart the house in response to pent up energy. Consider how you exercise your dog now: perhaps you play tug with your Chihuahua in the living room, jog or play fetch with your active retriever, or ask your senior mixed breed to sit in the kitchen — all of these activities can exercise your dog both physically and mentally. Let’s further explore how you can make the most of your time with your dog while safely and effectively gaining the benefits of exercise.

Here are three secrets to safely and effectively exercising your dog through activities and games that you probably already play.

1. Discuss with your veterinarian

Before beginning any exercise (even training class!), it’s important to get a full health check with your local veterinarian. Let your vet know which activities you are thinking about pursuing, and ask which activities would be most appropriate for your dog’s age, musculoskeletal structure, and preferences. Remember, just like with children, jumping from high places or playing on hard surfaces can be detrimental to joints. Be sure to ask how long the activities should last, how intense they should be, and about any necessary equipment or weather precautions. Just because your dog wants to fetch constantly, doesn’t necessarily mean that this high impact, sustained exercise is healthy. Describe the activity and environment to your vet in detail, and be sure to get clearance before enjoying with your pup.

2. Explore variation

After speaking with your veterinarian about appropriate activities for your dog, plan to vary the types of activities each day. If your veterinarian approved some shorter distance jogs for your pup, perhaps the next day you could spread his food in the backyard as a scavenger hunt. Varying high intensity with low intensity workouts is just as stimulating for your pup, and the variation will keep him engaged. You can also vary exercises within the activity itself. For example, if you frequently throw a ball or disc for your dog until she lies down and pants, consider asking for tricks between different types of throws. By varying distances and body movements you can help your dog regulate her arousal and stay safe.

3. Remember warms up & cool down

Before beginning any activity, it’s important to set up your dog for success. Dogs have the same basic musculoskeletal components as people, and therefore they can sustain similar injuries from rigorous use or clumsy accidents. However, dogs are more athletic compared to humans (even your couch potato probably has a higher VO2max than you!), and they can exert a lot of energy at playtime. It’s important to warm up and cool down your dog’s muscles before use. Consider the type of exercise and what body parts are involved, and plan for a warm up. For example, if you’re about to open the back door for your dog to dash out with his powerful hind legs, take a couple walking laps around the living room first. Ask for a few repetitions of sit and put a treat in front of his nose to lure him in a few circles before opening the door. Much like a short jog, squats, and plyometrics before a sprint, these exercises can help protect your dog’s soft tissue before dashing off. The easiest part is that the same exercises can be performed in reverse for a quick cool down.

Using these three secrets, you can safely and effectively exercise your dog in the same amount of time and help you and your pup enjoy the benefits. Through warms ups/cool downs and varying your dog’s activities you can tire your pup out in no time at all. Talking to your veterinarian about the type, duration, and intensity of activity can also tailor the exercise to your dog and avoid costly injury. 

Many caretakers believe that their dog needs to sprint in order to get tired, when in reality sniffing, training, or a combination can be just as taxing. Check out the table below for more ideas! Challenge yourself this week to change one thing about your dog’s exercise routine, and see if you enjoy a calmer, healthier dog!

 

Activity

Variation

Warm up/cool down

Hide a treat/toy in the house

High/low places, obstacles, multiple rooms

Walk laps, sits, crawls

Sniffy walk

Hide treats, change route

Walk laps, sits

Tug

Side to side, stop/go, 2 tugs

Jog laps, play bow, weight shift

Fetch

Short/long distances, walking breaks, sit/down/spin/beg/back

Jog laps, downs, circles

Jog

Walk/run, canicross, sniff breaks

Sniff, walk laps, sits

 

 

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Three Secrets to Safe & Effective Exercise for Your Dog

It’s no secret that exercising your dog can lead to a happier and healthier pup – not to mention a quieter house and a happier you. The complication is that exercising your dog takes time and sometimes we struggle to find time to exercise ourselves. However, without safe and effective exercise, your dog can gain weight, risk costly injury, and tear apart the house in response to pent up energy. Consider how you exercise your dog now: perhaps you play tug with your Chihuahua in the living room, jog or play fetch with your active retriever, or ask your senior mixed breed to sit in the kitchen — all of these activities can exercise your dog both physically and mentally. Let’s further explore how you can make the most of your time with your dog while safely and effectively gaining the benefits of exercise.

Here are three secrets to safely and effectively exercising your dog through activities and games that you probably already play.

1. Discuss with your veterinarian

Before beginning any exercise (even training class!), it’s important to get a full health check with your local veterinarian. Let your vet know which activities you are thinking about pursuing, and ask which activities would be most appropriate for your dog’s age, musculoskeletal structure, and preferences. Remember, just like with children, jumping from high places or playing on hard surfaces can be detrimental to joints. Be sure to ask how long the activities should last, how intense they should be, and about any necessary equipment or weather precautions. Just because your dog wants to fetch constantly, doesn’t necessarily mean that this high impact, sustained exercise is healthy. Describe the activity and environment to your vet in detail, and be sure to get clearance before enjoying with your pup.

2. Explore variation

After speaking with your veterinarian about appropriate activities for your dog, plan to vary the types of activities each day. If your veterinarian approved some shorter distance jogs for your pup, perhaps the next day you could spread his food in the backyard as a scavenger hunt. Varying high intensity with low intensity workouts is just as stimulating for your pup, and the variation will keep him engaged. You can also vary exercises within the activity itself. For example, if you frequently throw a ball or disc for your dog until she lies down and pants, consider asking for tricks between different types of throws. By varying distances and body movements you can help your dog regulate her arousal and stay safe.

3. Remember warms up & cool down

Before beginning any activity, it’s important to set up your dog for success. Dogs have the same basic musculoskeletal components as people, and therefore they can sustain similar injuries from rigorous use or clumsy accidents. However, dogs are more athletic compared to humans (even your couch potato probably has a higher VO2max than you!), and they can exert a lot of energy at playtime. It’s important to warm up and cool down your dog’s muscles before use. Consider the type of exercise and what body parts are involved, and plan for a warm up. For example, if you’re about to open the back door for your dog to dash out with his powerful hind legs, take a couple walking laps around the living room first. Ask for a few repetitions of sit and put a treat in front of his nose to lure him in a few circles before opening the door. Much like a short jog, squats, and plyometrics before a sprint, these exercises can help protect your dog’s soft tissue before dashing off. The easiest part is that the same exercises can be performed in reverse for a quick cool down.

Using these three secrets, you can safely and effectively exercise your dog in the same amount of time and help you and your pup enjoy the benefits. Through warms ups/cool downs and varying your dog’s activities you can tire your pup out in no time at all. Talking to your veterinarian about the type, duration, and intensity of activity can also tailor the exercise to your dog and avoid costly injury. 

Many caretakers believe that their dog needs to sprint in order to get tired, when in reality sniffing, training, or a combination can be just as taxing. Check out the table below for more ideas! Challenge yourself this week to change one thing about your dog’s exercise routine, and see if you enjoy a calmer, healthier dog!

 

Activity

Variation

Warm up/cool down

Hide a treat/toy in the house

High/low places, obstacles, multiple rooms

Walk laps, sits, crawls

Sniffy walk

Hide treats, change route

Walk laps, sits

Tug

Side to side, stop/go, 2 tugs

Jog laps, play bow, weight shift

Fetch

Short/long distances, walking breaks, sit/down/spin/beg/back

Jog laps, downs, circles

Jog

Walk/run, canicross, sniff breaks

Sniff, walk laps, sits

 

 

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Three Secrets to Safe & Effective Exercise for Your Dog

It’s no secret that exercising your dog can lead to a happier and healthier pup – not to mention a quieter house and a happier you. The complication is that exercising your dog takes time and sometimes we struggle to find time to exercise ourselves. However, without safe and effective exercise, your dog can gain weight, risk costly injury, and tear apart the house in response to pent up energy. Consider how you exercise your dog now: perhaps you play tug with your Chihuahua in the living room, jog or play fetch with your active retriever, or ask your senior mixed breed to sit in the kitchen — all of these activities can exercise your dog both physically and mentally. Let’s further explore how you can make the most of your time with your dog while safely and effectively gaining the benefits of exercise.

Here are three secrets to safely and effectively exercising your dog through activities and games that you probably already play.

1. Discuss with your veterinarian

Before beginning any exercise (even training class!), it’s important to get a full health check with your local veterinarian. Let your vet know which activities you are thinking about pursuing, and ask which activities would be most appropriate for your dog’s age, musculoskeletal structure, and preferences. Remember, just like with children, jumping from high places or playing on hard surfaces can be detrimental to joints. Be sure to ask how long the activities should last, how intense they should be, and about any necessary equipment or weather precautions. Just because your dog wants to fetch constantly, doesn’t necessarily mean that this high impact, sustained exercise is healthy. Describe the activity and environment to your vet in detail, and be sure to get clearance before enjoying with your pup.

2. Explore variation

After speaking with your veterinarian about appropriate activities for your dog, plan to vary the types of activities each day. If your veterinarian approved some shorter distance jogs for your pup, perhaps the next day you could spread his food in the backyard as a scavenger hunt. Varying high intensity with low intensity workouts is just as stimulating for your pup, and the variation will keep him engaged. You can also vary exercises within the activity itself. For example, if you frequently throw a ball or disc for your dog until she lies down and pants, consider asking for tricks between different types of throws. By varying distances and body movements you can help your dog regulate her arousal and stay safe.

3. Remember warms up & cool down

Before beginning any activity, it’s important to set up your dog for success. Dogs have the same basic musculoskeletal components as people, and therefore they can sustain similar injuries from rigorous use or clumsy accidents. However, dogs are more athletic compared to humans (even your couch potato probably has a higher VO2max than you!), and they can exert a lot of energy at playtime. It’s important to warm up and cool down your dog’s muscles before use. Consider the type of exercise and what body parts are involved, and plan for a warm up. For example, if you’re about to open the back door for your dog to dash out with his powerful hind legs, take a couple walking laps around the living room first. Ask for a few repetitions of sit and put a treat in front of his nose to lure him in a few circles before opening the door. Much like a short jog, squats, and plyometrics before a sprint, these exercises can help protect your dog’s soft tissue before dashing off. The easiest part is that the same exercises can be performed in reverse for a quick cool down.

Using these three secrets, you can safely and effectively exercise your dog in the same amount of time and help you and your pup enjoy the benefits. Through warms ups/cool downs and varying your dog’s activities you can tire your pup out in no time at all. Talking to your veterinarian about the type, duration, and intensity of activity can also tailor the exercise to your dog and avoid costly injury. 

Many caretakers believe that their dog needs to sprint in order to get tired, when in reality sniffing, training, or a combination can be just as taxing. Check out the table below for more ideas! Challenge yourself this week to change one thing about your dog’s exercise routine, and see if you enjoy a calmer, healthier dog!

 

Activity

Variation

Warm up/cool down

Hide a treat/toy in the house

High/low places, obstacles, multiple rooms

Walk laps, sits, crawls

Sniffy walk

Hide treats, change route

Walk laps, sits

Tug

Side to side, stop/go, 2 tugs

Jog laps, play bow, weight shift

Fetch

Short/long distances, walking breaks, sit/down/spin/beg/back

Jog laps, downs, circles

Jog

Walk/run, canicross, sniff breaks

Sniff, walk laps, sits

 

 

Continue reading

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Three Secrets to Safe & Effective Exercise for Your Dog

It’s no secret that exercising your dog can lead to a happier and healthier pup – not to mention a quieter house and a happier you. The complication is that exercising your dog takes time and sometimes we struggle to find time to exercise ourselves. However, without safe and effective exercise, your dog can gain weight, risk costly injury, and tear apart the house in response to pent up energy. Consider how you exercise your dog now: perhaps you play tug with your Chihuahua in the living room, jog or play fetch with your active retriever, or ask your senior mixed breed to sit in the kitchen — all of these activities can exercise your dog both physically and mentally. Let’s further explore how you can make the most of your time with your dog while safely and effectively gaining the benefits of exercise.

Here are three secrets to safely and effectively exercising your dog through activities and games that you probably already play.

1. Discuss with your veterinarian

Before beginning any exercise (even training class!), it’s important to get a full health check with your local veterinarian. Let your vet know which activities you are thinking about pursuing, and ask which activities would be most appropriate for your dog’s age, musculoskeletal structure, and preferences. Remember, just like with children, jumping from high places or playing on hard surfaces can be detrimental to joints. Be sure to ask how long the activities should last, how intense they should be, and about any necessary equipment or weather precautions. Just because your dog wants to fetch constantly, doesn’t necessarily mean that this high impact, sustained exercise is healthy. Describe the activity and environment to your vet in detail, and be sure to get clearance before enjoying with your pup.

2. Explore variation

After speaking with your veterinarian about appropriate activities for your dog, plan to vary the types of activities each day. If your veterinarian approved some shorter distance jogs for your pup, perhaps the next day you could spread his food in the backyard as a scavenger hunt. Varying high intensity with low intensity workouts is just as stimulating for your pup, and the variation will keep him engaged. You can also vary exercises within the activity itself. For example, if you frequently throw a ball or disc for your dog until she lies down and pants, consider asking for tricks between different types of throws. By varying distances and body movements you can help your dog regulate her arousal and stay safe.

3. Remember warms up & cool down

Before beginning any activity, it’s important to set up your dog for success. Dogs have the same basic musculoskeletal components as people, and therefore they can sustain similar injuries from rigorous use or clumsy accidents. However, dogs are more athletic compared to humans (even your couch potato probably has a higher VO2max than you!), and they can exert a lot of energy at playtime. It’s important to warm up and cool down your dog’s muscles before use. Consider the type of exercise and what body parts are involved, and plan for a warm up. For example, if you’re about to open the back door for your dog to dash out with his powerful hind legs, take a couple walking laps around the living room first. Ask for a few repetitions of sit and put a treat in front of his nose to lure him in a few circles before opening the door. Much like a short jog, squats, and plyometrics before a sprint, these exercises can help protect your dog’s soft tissue before dashing off. The easiest part is that the same exercises can be performed in reverse for a quick cool down.

Using these three secrets, you can safely and effectively exercise your dog in the same amount of time and help you and your pup enjoy the benefits. Through warms ups/cool downs and varying your dog’s activities you can tire your pup out in no time at all. Talking to your veterinarian about the type, duration, and intensity of activity can also tailor the exercise to your dog and avoid costly injury. 

Many caretakers believe that their dog needs to sprint in order to get tired, when in reality sniffing, training, or a combination can be just as taxing. Check out the table below for more ideas! Challenge yourself this week to change one thing about your dog’s exercise routine, and see if you enjoy a calmer, healthier dog!

 

Activity

Variation

Warm up/cool down

Hide a treat/toy in the house

High/low places, obstacles, multiple rooms

Walk laps, sits, crawls

Sniffy walk

Hide treats, change route

Walk laps, sits

Tug

Side to side, stop/go, 2 tugs

Jog laps, play bow, weight shift

Fetch

Short/long distances, walking breaks, sit/down/spin/beg/back

Jog laps, downs, circles

Jog

Walk/run, canicross, sniff breaks

Sniff, walk laps, sits

 

 

Continue reading

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