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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Ideas to get Wolfie to Eat His Food

I just don't get it.  I spend more money on Wolfie's "holistic/good for you food" than I spend on myself.  I put the food down and he toys with it, eats a few bites, and then walks away.  I don't want to feed him junk food.  But, what do I do to get him to eat the "it's good for you" food?

Let's think about our childhood and our mom serving us green beans.  There was no way that we were going to eat them.  But when we mixed them with mashed potatoes and maybe a little butter... Yum...yum...yum.  Now, I am not advocating giving Wolfie mashed potatoes and butter with his food, but I do have some ideas on adding some healthy goodies to make his food a little more interesting.  Here is what Robin, my wife, adds to our dogs' food and they just love:

  1. LOW SODIUM CHICKEN BROTH.  Chicken is a healthy meat and the low sodium minimizes any additional salt added to their diet.  The moisture gives a pleasing smell to the dry food that our dogs love.
  2. PUMPKIN PASTE.  Pumpkin is naturally good for the dogs and is a great additive to the dry food.  It is a little hard to mix with the dry kibble, but a winning, healthy treat for our dogs.
  3. COTTAGE CHEESE.  The great thing about cottage cheese is that it is so easy to mix up with the dry food.  It has some moisture that helps alleviate the boredom of dry kibble.  It is healthy and good for the dogs and what dog doesn't love cheese?  It is a true winner that we have been using for years for all four of our dogs.
Again, these are just some simple ideas to spice up Wolfie's healthy diet.  The one thing that I want to implore you not to do is to add wet dog food to your dog's diet.  Although there are many good and healthy wet dog foods on the market, they all require you to brush your dog's teeth regularly.  Most of us just don't do that.  Our dog's teeth will then rot out early, causing health issues in their later years.

So, let's keep with options 1, 2, or 3 above.  For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Teaching Wolfie Fetch

I thought all dogs loved to play fetch.  I throw the ball or a Frisbee for Wolfie and he just looks at me like I have two heads.  I yell "Wolfie fetch!  Wolfie fetch!" and he just lays at my feet.  Do I have a stupid dog?

No, Wolfie isn't stupid.  What you have to understand is that "Fetch" is a learned behavior just like Sit, Stay, Come, etc.  You also must understand that some dogs just might not like to play "Fetch".

Let's assume that Wolfie would like to play fetch.  Just like teaching our kids to play baseball or basketball, we have to teach Wolfie how to play "Fetch".  You first have to understand that there are two pieces to "Fetch".  The first piece is for Wolfie to run and pick up an object that you throw and the second piece is for Wolfie to return it to you.  Let's first work on these two actions and see how Wolfie does.

Get the Object:
Take some object or toy that Wolfie likes.  Pick it up and wave it around in front of him.  Say things like "Where's the toy?  Get it, Get it Get it!!!  Oh boy!  Oh Boy!  Fetch! Fetch!" in a very excited, animated way while you are waving the toy.  Now throw it a few feet away from you and see if he goes after it.  If he does not, go over to the toy in a very animated manner, stoop or lean over the toy, and point to it.  Say things like "Get the toy!  Where's the toy!" in an excited manner.  

If Wolfie still doesn't run and pick it up.  You should get down on the ground, pick it up and play with it until Wolfie comes over.  Shake it and let Wolfie grab it.  As soon as he grabs it, let go and say "Good boy".

If Wolfie still needs come coaxing, replace the toy with a goodie or chew bone.  After he will run after that, replace it with a toy that you have coated with a slight "goodie smell".  (Rub a little gravy or raw meat on the toy.)  Slowly decrease the amount of the "goodie smell".

After Wolfie is going after the toy, increase the distance until Wolfie is running across the room or yard to get the toy.  Wolfie now can "get the object".  Now it is time to have him bring it to you.

Bring it Back:
Bringing the object back is essentially the come command with something in Wolfie's mouth.  For this, you need to attach a training lead to Wolfie's collar.  Throw the object and have Wolfie get it.  

Now, give Wolfie a command like "Fetch".  If he doesn't come back to you, give him a little tug on the training lead while you kneel down low.  If he still doesn't come to you, give him another little tug.  He should now come to you.

If Wolfie still doesn't return to you (some doggies are a little suborn), decrease the length you are throwing the toy.  

Repeat the process until Wolfie will return the toy to you without your needing to tug on the training lead.  Detach the training lead and repeat the process, having Wolfie get the toy and bring it back to you.

Wolfie now knows basic "Fetch".  For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Bufo Frog Threat to Your Dog

As we start to get more rain down here in South Florida, I am seeing more and more baby frogs under bushes, by the back gate, and even sitting in the middle of the street. Some of my friends say they are really bad, but aren't they just frogs?  They just hop away when you walk by and eat flys.  Right?

You couldn't be more wrong!  Bufo frogs in South Florida are incredibly dangerous to our dogs and other pets! 

This is the first time that I have ever used red, bold lettering in one of my blogs, but I am really serious on this one.  If your dog gets into a tussle with a Bufo frog, he could be dead in a matter of hours!

Like many of the other "out of control" animals and plants in South Florida, Bufo frogs were introduced with poor foresight and zero planning.  They were originally introduced in Palm Beach County in 1936 to try and control sugar cane pests and were reintroduced near the Miami Airport through 1955.  They generally range up to nine inches in width, but can grow larger and can live up to ten years.  They have very few natural enemies and are quickly replacing the native (calm, timid, perfectly safe) toads in South Florida.

Here comes the problem.  Bufo frogs secrete a toxic fluid that can kill your dog in a matter of hours.  The fluid is located in glands that are behind its head and that also coats its skin.  It can also shoot this toxin from its glands in the form of a white, thick venom.  They can attract dogs to them by making short, fast hops when they move and do not jump away when the dog comes to investigate.

If your dog has come in contact with a Bufo frog, you will first notice listlessness, foaming a brown substance from the mouth, heavy drooling, falling down, and even seizures.

So, what do you do about these horrible, little green monsters?  Walk your yard on a regular basis, looking for them.  If you find a Bufo, remove them from the area.  Always perform a "Bufo Patrol" at night before you let Wolfie out to do his business.  Watch him when he is outside.  Immediately investigate if he gets excited over something.

If you see that Wolfie has encountered a Bufo or you think that he might have encountered a Bufo:

  • Wash his mouth out immediately with a hose.  Don't by shy, really give it a good wash.  
  • Keep him as calm and quiet as possible.  
  • Watch him like a hawk for the next several hours and make sure you have the address and phone number of your 24 hour vet.  
  • Call the vet for any advice.
  • If you see any signs of vomiting, stiffness of the body, or listlessness, get him to the vet NOW!
  • If, for any reason, you aren't sure about his condition, get him to the 24 hour vet!
As you can see, I am really serious about this.  The next time you visit your regular vet, please talk to them about Bufo frogs.  I am sure that they can provide you with more detailed information about these nasty Bufos.  For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Why Wolfie Has a Hard Time Learning

I just don't know what is going on!  Everyone can teach their dogs stuff and all I want Wolfie to do is to come to me.  I say "come" and he doesn't come.  I say "come" and he doesn't come.  I yell "COME" and he walks away.  What gives?  Why can't I teach Wolfie anything?  Can't Wolfie learn?

The answer is, of course, Wolfie can learn.  Just about all dogs can learn.  The problem is that we don't understand how to teach Wolfie.  The good news is that the answer is really simple.

Just like people, some dogs are smarter than others.  Just like people, all dogs have different prior life and learning experiences before their first day of class.  Just like people, students have different levels of respect and obedience towards their teacher.

On "Day One" of teaching Wolfie anything, we first have to understand where he has the ability to learn the lesson we are about to teach.  To do this, we have to determine "where he gets it" and "where he doesn't get it".  This will determine where we begin.  This is very similar as a child going to a new school and the principle determining which grade that student should enter.  

In this example, I will use the simple command of "Come" to determine where I should start to teach Wolfie...

First, I have to pick a base point to see if Wolfie already understands the command.  I stand about six feet away from Wolfie, go down low and say "Come".  I now watch to see what Wolfie does.  He doesn't do a thing and just sits there.  I will try once more.  I get down low and say "Come" with the same response.  This tells me that this is too advanced for Wolfie and have to drop down a grade.

I now put a leash on Wolfie so that I can help to show and guide him when I ask him to come from six feet.  I go down low again and say "Come".  This time I give the leash a very slight, brief tug in my direction.  Wolfie now begins to walk towards me.  As he slows, I give the leash a very slight, brief tug again to encourage him to continue to walk to me.  He reaches me and I give him a big "Good Wolfie!".  I now know where I can start teaching him.  

I continue the process with the leash until I no longer have to guide him with the slight tug.  From this point, I can continue the learning process by increasing the distance between Wolfie and myself.

As you can see, once I find the place where Wolfie is able to learn, his ability to grasp the lesson will progress rapidly.  This will work with any lesson you want to teach Wolfie.  For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Wolfie is Jumping the Fence

Wolfie keeps jumping over the fence whenever I am not around.  I don't want to keep him inside all the time and I don't want to tear down the fence and build one that is super tall!  What can I do?

I just had to share this picture because it is so funny.  If these are your dogs, I am not sure that The Great Wall of China is going to do a whole lot of good. 

I am focusing my suggestion on the situation where the dog can jump up, grab the top of the fence, and wiggle themselves over.  In this case, your fence is almost high enough to act as a proper deterrent, but it is giving Wolfie that one "paw hold" he needs to get to the other side.  Here is my idea:

What you want to do is to remove Wolfie's ability to grasp the top of your fence.  What he has already shown is that he has the ability to jump high enough to get to the top of the fence.  What you have to do is to take away his ability to successfully hold on to the top of the fence.  Let's make it slippery!

  • Take 2 x 4 lumber and cut them into 6 inch lengths.
  • Drill 1 1/4 inch holes in them in the direct middle.
  • Attach the poles so that they overhang into the yard and the holes are just on the yard side of the fence.  I would attach them about every 3 feet.
  • Take 1 inch PVC pipe and string that through the holes.  You will need to attach the pieces of pipe with PVC glue and the appropriate F/F fittings.
When Wolfie jumps up now, he won't get to the stable top of the fence, he will get to the spinning PVC pipe that also has a little big of wiggle.  He will not have the ability to hold on and will simply slip back into the yard.

Please let me make it very clear that this is not the appropriate replacement for proper training in order to build the bond, trust, and respect that will keep Wolfie from needing the opportunity to "get to the other side".  Please think of this as a "stop gap" measure that you can use to maintain Wolfie's safety and your peace of mind as the training takes place.  For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.