The laziest of dogs

The laziest of dogs

This is Pyrrha’s typical posture on any given day — sprawled out on the living room floor. (She looks kind of fat from this vantage point, but I promise you she isn’t… I’m like a pageant mom about her portrayal in photographs.)

We had more delightful house guests this weekend, my dear friend Angela (whom you may recall from a play date with Bo and Zoe) and her boyfriend, Marshall. Pyrrha took to them both very readily. They are both gentle, quiet souls and those are always Pyr’s particular favorites. She kept trying to incite them to wrestle with her, though, by taking their limbs into her mouth. This is probably a habit we should work on with more diligence, because most people aren’t exactly fond of a German shepherd suddenly taking their fingers into her mouth and giving them a playful nibble.

In other Pyr news: Last month, we switched her over to a grain-free kibble, and maybe I’m just deluding myself, but I think we’ve already been seeing the benefits. Her coat is much glossier, her poops are smaller, and her enthusiasm is only enhanced for meal time (that thin line of drool while she sits and waits for the bowl). After I lauded the benefits of grain-free kibble for weeks, Guion finally agreed and thought it was worth the extra $10 a bag for the health advantages. So far, a very good choice.

Also, Pyrrha issued a protective bark for the first time! I’m kind of celebrating it a bit. To me, the fact that she feels protective of our house and yard tells me that she is feeling more confident and secure. This is reinforced by the fact that she has never barked protectively before. She’s barked in fear, to ward off a dog behind the adjacent fences, but this was a bark directed toward a far-off person in the street, which said, “Hey, I see you! This is my place!” It’s still a very uncommon occurrence — as she still doesn’t bark when she sits in our front window and watches people and cars pass — but I see it as a sign of her increasing confidence.

Hope you and your pooches are well and enjoying a pleasant start to your weeks.

Eating out of toys

One of the best recommendations I’ve received from our trainer is this: Feed your dog all its meals out of interactive toys.

Her reasoning is as follows: Dogs, in their most natural state, spent a lot of physical and mental energy finding, stalking, killing, and consuming their meals. Today, dogs eat out of bowls in the kitchen and barely use any brain power or calories during dinner. We waste a huge opportunity for physical and mental stimulation when we just plunk down a bowl of kibble and let them scarf it down. Instead, she recommends, feed your dog all its meals from interactive toys that make them “work” for their food and solve problems in the process.

For a few weeks now, we’ve been trying this recommendation and feeding Pyrrha from a variety of toys. Verdict: Very pleased, and why didn’t we try this sooner?

The presentation of the feast
The presentation of the feast.
Eating out of a ball
Making it roll.
If I make it roll this way...
Only use those bowls for water now.
Getting a little help from Guion
Getting a little help from Guion.
With the Kong
With the giant Kong.

Now, Pyrrha eats her meals in about 5-20 minutes (depending on the toy difficulty), instead of in a mere 60 seconds, as when she was eating out of a bowl. She’s learned how to solve problems on her own and adapt to the changing rotation of toys. She’s very engaged in mealtime now. Even though our floors are now slobbery and coated in food remains, I think this new feeding ritual is totally worth it.

Do you ever feed your dogs out of interactive toys? And why, after having read 60 books, have I never read this recommendation in a book before? It’s such a great idea and such an easy incorporation into one’s daily routine! I’m a big fan.

Pup links!

The quiet watchdog. Source: Carlos Albala.

Dog-related links from around the Web this past week:

7 Reasons to Hire a Dog Trainer in a DIY World. Such a great explanation as to why a dog trainer is a great investment. We’ve only had two classes with our trainer, and I feel like we’re already reaping the benefits! An excellent post from Pamela. (Something Wagging This Way Comes)

Tugging Games. What happens when multiple dogs want to play tug with the same toy? Adorableness ensues! (Paws on the Run)

Modern dog beds and accessories from Waggo. I like the mod patterns on this dog gear: So colorful without being garish. I always have to stop myself from buying Pyrrha a million collars and leashes, though. Does anyone else have this problem?? (Dog Milk)

Cheat Sheet for Identifying Additives and Preservatives in Dog Food. Can’t pronounce the ingredient? Then it’s probably one of these mysterious additives and preservatives added to your dog’s kibble. Really helpful to know what these murky chemicals are actually supposed to do. (The Hydrant)

A Small Rant. This is why “big dog” people don’t often like “small dogs.” Time to train your toy breeds, world! As a side note: I was really heartened–and surprised!–to see a shih-tzu puppy in Pyrrha’s training class. It’s a shame that it’s so rare to see small breed owners taking obedience seriously. (The Elka Almanac)

Anja Zaharanski 365 Dogs Project. Artist Anja Zaharanski has set out to draw dogs every day for a whole year. The results are stunning! I can’t believe she does this every day; they are all beautiful. (Dog Milk)

Also, thanks so much for the Versatile Blogger Award, Tinkerwolf! Pyrrha and I are flattered. We love reading about Ted and following the progress of your raw-fed dogs photo project!

Pup links!

A lady and her English cocker spaniel. Source: LIFE magazine archives.

Dog-related links from around the Web:

If the Characters in Downton Abbey Were Portrayed by Canine Actors… A friend shared this on my Facebook wall, and I just had to share it here, too. If you watch the period soap opera Downton Abbey, you will appreciate these comparisons. I think they’re pretty spot-on. Matthew is totally a golden retriever and Mary makes a lot of sense as a poodle. And, poor Edith! The Bedlington terrier! (Dogster)

How to Properly Care for Your Dog’s Teeth. Canine dental hygiene is usually pretty terrible, and, from my experience, it’s an easy thing to forget to take care of–and not exactly fun when you do. This is a thorough article, however, that reminds us all of why it’s very important to care for our dog’s pearly whites. (The Whole Dog Journal)

Investigating Halitosis. Related to doggy dental care, here’s a veterinarian’s list of possible causes of your dog’s terrible breath. (The Bark blog)

Where’s the Beef? Subtitle: “Why your dog should never eat another Milk Bone or Beggin Strip, and you should avoid the Slim Jims.” You won’t ever want to buy those products again after you read this article by Amy Renz. (Goodness Gracious Treats)

Identifying Merle. I grew up with a beautiful tricolor merle Australian shepherd and I’ve always had a fondness for merle coats, especially when they come from conscientious breeders. But I learned a ton from this post and learned that I’ve been incorrectly identifying some dogs as “merle” that really aren’t. Fascinating stuff. (Musings of a Biologist and a Dog Lover)

House Rules and Time-Outs. Aleksandra shares her wisdom about how they use “time-outs” to teach their newly adopted pitt, The Dude, some house manners. Great, gentle, and effective advice. (Love and a Six-Foot Leash)

Binq Design. If I was in the market for a tiny dog, and had a lot of cash to spare, I think I’d definitely consider these functional and attractive side tables + dog beds. They look like they’d be a nice place for a toy breed to hide out during family commotion. (Dog Milk)

Bambino vs. Fido: On Loving Dogs Less. Shauna, a pregnant blogger, reflects on how her relationship with her dogs will change–and stay the same–when she welcomes her baby into the world. I found this post very reassuring. As someone who hasn’t had kids yet but plans to one day, I confess I’m frankly terrified of the idea of emotionally displacing my future dogs. But, as she points out in this post, you don’t displace your dogs in your heart; you just make room. (Fido & Wino)

BFFs. Greyhounds snuggling on the couch. So cute. (Hiking Hounds)

Religious Dog Bumper Stickers. OK, pretend bumper stickers, but these still made me giggle. My favorite: “I’m Catholic but my corgi is affiliated with the Church of England.” (Dogs of the Interwebs)

Dog Refuses to Go Into Pool to Get Tennis Ball He Desperately Needs. In need of a laugh on this fine Tuesday? Look no further than this very, very determined golden retriever and his quest for one slightly out-of-reach tennis ball. (Best Week Ever)

Review: Raw and Natural Nutrition for Dogs

Raw and Natural Nutrition for Dogs.

I bought Raw and Natural Nutrition for Dogs with some Christmas money and really enjoyed reading it. I found it to be a helpful and non-scary introduction to a raw and natural canine diet, which is something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately.

Dr. Lew Olson is a rottweiler breeder with a Ph.D. in natural nutrition. She writes that she’s experienced firsthand the immense benefits of a raw and natural diet with her own dogs, and the book is sprinkled with testimonies from her clients and other people who have seen their dog’s health and energy drastically improve.

Her initial overview of canine nutritional needs and the American pet food industry was incredibly interesting and insightful. While I have read a bit about the horrors of your average kibble, I had no idea how vast and political the pet food industry’s influence is. Unlike Celeste Yarnall, Olson supports her arguments with cited evidence and research and doesn’t come across sounding like a conspiracy theorist: Instead, she’s just a woman who wants her dogs to be healthy. And your average kibble is decidedly not healthy.

The following chapters provide step-by-step advice on how to switch from kibble to a raw or natural diet. The later chapters also provide specific recipes for dogs with various health issues, including cancer, joint trouble, bladder problems, and skin allergies, just to name a few.

My only critique of the book is that it can occasionally read like a sales pitch for Berte’s products, which she includes in every recipe. A little research reveals that Olson is a part of B Naturals, the company that sells these products. I would have had more respect and trust in Olson if she had disclosed this connection forthright.

That to say, however, this is an excellent introduction to raw and natural diets. Olson makes you believe that it is indeed possible to feasibly and economically feed your dogs well.

Pup links!

A patient mix tolerates the aspiring dentist. Source: LIFE Magazine.

Dog-related links from around the Web this past week:

Veterinary Myth-busting Part 2: Feeding Dry Food Prevents Dental Disease. There you have it. I’ve read that kibble doesn’t prevent dental disease in several places, but it was nice to hear it from a blogger’s perspective, too. (Borderblog)

Doca Pet High Tea Feeder. If we do get a big dog (like a GSD), I’m in the market for an elevated feeder. This one is so sleek–and expensive! Sigh. (Dog Milk)

Worth Waiting For: See Scout Sleep Collars and Leashes. This new line of collars and leashes is really beautiful and functional at the same time. I love the simple, bold, geometric designs. (Under the Blanket)

Everyone’s a Critic: Ai WeiWei’s “Sunflower Seeds.” Fern and Theodore are totally bored by Ai WeiWei’s installation. I love it. [Side note: You may recognize Theodore from the cover of Love Has No Age Limit!] (City Dog/Country Dog)

Robert Clark. Photographer Robert Clark’s glamorous studio shots of show-worthy pooches. (Afghan hounds are always the most fun to photograph.) (Pawsh Magazine)

Pomeranian Puppy Refuses to Eat His Broccoli. Oh, the adorable-ness. It’s killing me. Pom pups barely look real. (Best Week Ever)

I was also tagged by Volunteer 4 Paws (formerly Inu Baka). I’m kind of new to the realm of blog tagging, so bear with me; here are my answers. Since I don’t have my long-awaited dog yet, these answers are about me.

  1. Describe yourself in seven words: Opinionated, detailed, organized, cautious, motivated, content, eager.
  2. What keeps you up at night? What if my future dog is evil? What if he/she cannot be trained? What if I fail my future dog? What if my future dog doesn’t love me? And so forth.
  3. Who would you like to be? A fraction of the fullness of the glory of God.
  4. What are you wearing right now? Skinny black jeans, black high-heeled oxfords, terra cotta blazer from the Gap, cashmere blend sweater from Banana Republic.
  5. What scares you? Losing my family.
  6. The best and worst of blogging? The best of dog blogging, specifically, is the wonderfully warm and helpful community I’ve found here. I started from ground zero in my dog knowledge and everyone has been so encouraging to me along the way. Keep that advice coming! I lap it up. The worst of blogging is the nagging feeling that it’s just an exercise in perpetual vanity. I actually feel less that way about this blog, since Doggerel is an educational venture; my personal blog is another matter…
  7. What was the last website you visited? Miss Moss, one of my favorite non-dog blogs.
  8. What is the one thing you would change about yourself? Just one? Well, that I would worry and fear less.
  9. Slankets, yes or no? Yes, if they come with night cheese.
  10. Tell us something about the person who tagged you. Thanks for the tag! I’ve enjoyed reading your blog since I started my journey in canine education and look forward to continuing to glean from your wisdom in dog caring, raising, and loving. Your giving heart and insightful nature is inspiring to me!

Pup links!

A young Elizabeth Taylor holds court with three dogs. Source: LIFE Magazine.

I was very flattered this past week to receive a mention in the “You Are an Inspiration Awards” from Pamela at Something Wagging. I’ve been so encouraged by Pamela’s blog since I started my dog research, and I look forward to continuing to follow hers and Honey’s adventures.

That said, here are some great dog-related links from around the Web this week:

Therapy Dogs: Born or Made? Patricia McConnell reflects on the qualities a great therapy dog should possess and discusses the age-old question of nature vs. nurture. Basically, if you have a calm, perhaps older golden retriever, your dog should be doing therapy. Bo and Dally would be IDEAL candidates, maybe when they’re older. Goldens were just made for this stuff. (The Other End of the Leash)

My Favorite Dog Training Books. Crystal lists some of her favorite training manuals. I need to read some of these myself! (Reactive Champion)

An Uphill Battle: Tartar in a Kibble-Fed Dog. Stephanie, the Biologist, discusses the problems of tartar buildup in her kibble-fed dog and debunks the popular myth that kibble cleans dogs’ teeth. (Musings of a Biologist and Dog Lover)

Hallmarks of Quality Dog Food. A list of ingredients to look for (and avoid) when shopping for kibble. (Whole Dog Journal)

Thoughts on Punishment. Reflecting on moving beyond basic punishment paradigms in training. (Save the Pit Bull, Save the World)

Your 2012 Fitness Plan for You and Your Dog. A practical and motivational guide to getting you and your dog in shape for the new year. A dog is such a great motivator for me to get outside and move! (Pretty Fluffy)

Comparing Bergan and Kurgo Dog Harnesses. The most widely traveled dogs give their reviews of two car harnesses. I’ve thought about getting something like this for our future dog. How does your dog travel in the car? (Take Paws)

One Big Dog on a Little, Kitty Bed. I love it when dogs (and cats!) mix up their beds. It’s always funny. (That Mutt)

Indigo: The Hockey-Loving Dog. This focused border collie reminds me of Emma, my childhood Aussie, who was fixated whenever we played hockey on the cul-de-sac. We kind of drove her crazy. It’s torture for a herding dog to watch such a game and not be allowed to get out there and HERD! (Shirley Bittner)

The Dog. My dear friend Rachel writes about her dog Cider‘s displays of devotion when she comes home. So sweet! (Mixed with Gold)