Dog Blog

A new trend in professional dog training is choice training. As its name suggests, choice training empowers dogs to make their own choices during the training process. Canine students are given the freedom to control everything from whether to participate in a training exercise, to when the session should end. Many canine behaviorists favor extending this to other life activities, such as allowing the dog to choose whether to get his nails clipped or which path to take on a walk.

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Why Give Dogs Choices

Advocates of choice training say that when dogs have greater control over their environment, it reduces stress and bad behavior, leads to a better relationship with their parent/trainer, and actually speeds up the training process. "Life today is strictly regimented for many of our canine companions," notes author/dog trainer Pat Miller (CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA). "Dogs are told what to do from the moment they are allowed to get up in the morning until they are put to bed at night. They have virtually no control over what happens in their world . . . this strict regimentation is a significant contributor to the stress and arousal levels of today's family dog."

"Forcing a dog to comply gets you nowhere and actually stops the learning process," agrees trainer Fanna Easter (CPDT-KA, KPA CTP) in her blog for the Animal Behavior College (ABC), a leading national education/certification institute for professional dog trainers. On the other hand, Easter adds, giving dogs the ability to make their own choices "teaches them to trust their pet owners completely."

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Users of Bumble got a surprise when they logged onto the popular dating/networking app recently. Along with people seeking human contacts, they saw profiles of adorable puppies and dogs looking for safe, loving homes!

These "available" furry companions were being featured on Bumble as part of the ASPCA's (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) national #FindYourFido campaign, which ran during October, Adopt A Shelter Dog Month. Shelters in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Atlanta and Austin participated in the Bumble promotion, which was focused on finding homes for adoptable dogs by gaining exposure for them through social media.

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Swipe Right...Or Left

Bumble isn't the only dating app that's been used to connect homeless dogs with their human soulmates. There are now a number of Tinder-style sites devoted solely to pairing two- and four-legged partners, like Bark Buddy, which invites users to "Find Fluffy Singles Near You" from its pool of 125,000 posted pups.

Like human dating sites, pet matchmaking apps have gotten popular because they make it easy to view a large number of candidates in a short time, all from the palm of your hand. As with dating apps, you simply swipe right if interested, and left to pass.

Most of these apps allow you to narrow your search for a furry friend by location, breed, age and gender. You can even break it down to a specific color and texture of coat, or whether the dog is good with children or cats on apps like Petfinder, the granddoggy of online pet pairing, which features some 315,000 adoptable pets from nearly 14,000 animal shelters and rescue groups.

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Positive reinforcement is the best way to train a dog. But all those food rewards can add up and cause pups to gain excess weight during training. How can you keep your dog from packing on the pounds while still giving her the repetitive rewarding that successful training demands? Read on.

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The 10% Rule

Canine nutritionists recommend that dogs get no more than 10% of their daily caloric intake from treats, with the other 90% coming from a well-balanced nutritional food. A look at a 30-pound dog's daily caloric requirements shows how easy it is to go over this 10% limit when repetitive rewarding is used in training.

A popular formula for calculating a dog's total daily caloric Resting Energy Requirement (RER) is: the dog's weight in kilograms x 30 + 70. This would give our 30-pound (13.6-kilogram) dog a total daily requirement of 478 calories, with about 48 calories (10%) allowed to come from treats. (Keep in mind this is the basic "resting" requirement. The RER formula may be adjusted based on factors like age, activity level and reproductive status, so always consult a veterinarian to find out how many calories any specific dog needs daily.)

Unfortunately, our 30-pound pup can easily be given well over her entire 48-calorie treat allotment in just one training session. Too often, high-fat foods such as cheese are used as training reinforcers. A one-inch cube of cheese may contain 60-110 calories, depending on the type. Even if this cube were to be cut into 8 very tiny pieces (not so easy to do), our example dog could be given only 6 treats a day at most --and a mere 3.5 treats if the highest-fat cheese were used-- without going over the 48-calorie limit. That's not going to go very far in teaching training commands!

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With the crisper air and bustle of activity, fall is an energizing time for humans. But autumn's arrival often has a less desirable effect on dogs. Pets may find themselves spending more time alone in an empty house as kids go back to school and family members resume social events, clubs and other activities that have paused for the summer. Some animal behaviorists say summer-to-fall is the most stressful seasonal transition for pets. Here's how you can help your dog get through this difficult period.

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Make Leaving Fun

Train your dog to associate your leaving with a good experience. Each time he's left alone give him a special puzzle toy stuffed with tasty treats (we recommend Full Life Trainer's Choice Bacon Recipe Treats.). Extracting the treats from the toy will keep him mentally occupied and reward him with delicious goodies for his efforts. Remove the puzzle toy when you return, so he'll regard it as an extra-special indulgence he gets only when you go away.

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The hearty aroma and flavor of bacon - your dog loves it as much as you do. That's why we came out with a Bacon Recipe variety of our Full Life Trainer's Choice Treats, featuring the taste of sizzling bacon fresh off the grill. But these bacon-flavored morsels are more than just delicious treats. They were also designed with professional-trainer-recommended features that make them a highly effective training tool. Treat or training reward? How you use Full Life Trainer's Choice Bacon Recipe Treats is strictly up to you!

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Real Meat #1 Ingredient

Whether you need a reward for training purposes or just want to give your furry friend a special goodie, there's no better choice than Full Life Trainer's Choice Bacon Recipe Treats. Their #1 ingredient is real meat (pork liver), the taste dogs love best. Their irresistible bacon flavor will immediately capture dogs' attention during training and motivate them to perform, shortening the learning curve.

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What could be more invigorating than riding a bike through the crisp autumn air with your "best friend" trotting by your side. Bicycling with your dog can be a fun and enriching experience for both of you. Your pup gets a high-energy workout that goes beyond daily walks, with no strenuous exercise required on your part. Being out in nature together and sharing a new activity will strengthen the bond between you. Good news -- teaching your dog to run alongside a bicycle may be easier than you think.

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Visit The Vet

First, get clearance from your veterinarian that your dog can physically handle the sport. Biking may be too strenuous for older dogs and those with health conditions such as heart disease or arthritis. Young puppies whose musculoskeletal development isn't complete shouldn't run beside a bike, because the impact can injure growing bones and joints. Your vet will tell you whether the sport is appropriate for your pup.

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**This guest post was written by Eric of dogspelledforward.com and Dog Spelled Forward Facebook Page facebook.com/DogSpelledForward

Dogs and humans have different ideas of what “well groomed” means. Humans tend to like a neat coat, well-trimmed nails, clean teeth, and a pleasant or at least non-offensive odor.

Dogs, well, just don’t really seem to care. Just as long at they are not too itchy, it’s all good. And as for odor, is there really such as thing as a “bad” odor when you’re a dog?

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I learn so much on the way to work – just by reading the signs on cars and trucks! Today I was sitting at a stop light looking at a truck nearby. On the back end there was a picture of a golden retriever’s face in a circle that said “University Certified Canine Team.” I quickly wrote that down so I could remember it long enough to look it up and find out what that was. I know there are lots of trainers that train scent dogs for different reasons, mostly for tracking humans. In know there are clubs that get together to train dogs to track different animals and different scents, it’s called “nosework.” Now I know that there are scent dogs (beagles in particular) that are trained to smell – bed bugs! The National Entomology Scent Detection Canine Association does the training. There are lots of pest control companies across the nation that use dogs trained to sniff out bed bugs. So …. if the occasion ever comes up in our homes we now know who to call. Dogs help us live a FULL LIFE too! There are many other ways that dogs contribute to our own health and we’ll talk more about how they do that in the future.

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If you reach this blog through our website you probably noticed the blog features a logo at the top. We’ll be incorporating it into our packaging over the course of this coming year. A couple years of exploration and testing have gone into the decision to go forward and use this illustration on our products because we feel it conveys an image of a dog full of energy and health.

The jumping dog (over the name Full Life for Pets) represents the energy, enthusiasm, activity and the health of our pets during their life. There are some subtleties incorporated in the logo too. For instance, the “lighter” area in the middle of the curved band. Light represents energy. The flow of light comes from nature, in the form of the sun. In some of the new packaging, there will also be the illusion of the sun behind the dog, again to represent the energy and life of our pets. The light unifies the image and focuses us on the name. The dark edges of the band reflect the night to day to night flow of light, and passing of time.

We often associate our dogs with nature. They’re the ones that get us outside walking or engaging in games of fetch – or swimming or hiking with them. They introduce us to other pet lovers that we might not meet if we weren’t with our dogs. They delight us when we see them play in the snow or chase squirrels through fall leaves. They keep us company when we’re walking, running, biking, exploring.

To paraphrase author Louis Sabin, no matter how many or how few possessions we have, having a dog makes us rich. By giving our pets a full and healthy life they in turn, enrich our lives and we benefit by having a Full Life also! “Treat your dog to a Full Life,” by treating them with our healthy Full Life for Pets treats.

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Now that that it’s warming up in most of the country (sorry about that Minnesota and Wisconsin, I’m sure it won’t be much longer before it quits snowing! J ) tick season is coming! We’ll get lots of fleas too but we all know to use our preferred flea preventions. Dealing with Ticks are another story! Getting a tick off your dog isn’t easy. Although there are all kinds of tick removal tools that work effectively, no matter how many we have at our house we never have them in our pocket when we need them! I have a note that a teacher posted some time ago that offers a simple, effective way to basically smother a tick and make them let go. Take a ball of cotton and soak it with liquid soap. Then hold it on the tick until it lets go. It will only take a couple minutes. I think I’ve read that Vaseline smothers them effectively too. Ticks dig their mouth pinchers into the warmth of the body of dogs and people and suck our blood until they’re full and fall off. It may take a couple hours for that to happen and in the mean time they can be infecting us and our pets with diseases like Lyme disease. The sooner you can get a tick off, the better. So, I’m off to grab the liquid soap and find a cotton ball – I’m sure a towel will work too!