Nutrition & Behavior
There is a direct link between behavior and nutrition. Sometimes a change in diet can make a dramatic impact on behavior. Read more>>
When selecting a diet, keep these things in mind:
- Meat should always be the first ingredient. Humans can be vegetarian, dogs cannot.
- Avoid ingredients that you can’t read or pronounce.
- Avoid by-products.
- Avoid nondescript ingredients “meat meal." We don't know what kind of meat it is. Could be mice for all we know.
- If your dog is from a reputable breeder, ask them what to feed. They will know the foods their dogs do best on.
- DogFoodAdvisor.com can be a good starting point when researching foods.
I often get asked what I feed; I feed a variety of quality dog kibble, to help prevent my dog from having a "soft stomach" as an adult (I just switched to Earthborn Holistic Unrefined). It may mean my puppy gets the runs sometimes, but puppies get diarrhea from time to time anyway. Additionally, dog food types & brands change through the years. Because of this, dogs will be forced to change foods several times in their lifetime. I am all for preventing diarrhea later on!
The Great Grain-Scare!
If it's not one thing hitting the media it's another. Please, do not let the media scare you away from grains. Get all the information and then make an educated decision that's right for your dog, no matter what that decision is (grain or not). I feed grain, but I'm also careful about the types of grains I feed as well. The issue isn't grains, it's an inadequate nutrition issue, which isn’t solely a grain-free diet problem.
Continued reading with citations:
The Heart of the Matter (highly recommended).
Socialization in the US is done very wrong, which has resulted in a lot of reactive, aggressive, and fearful dogs. Dog-to-dog socialization is wholly overdone, whereas socialization with the the environment is severely incomplete.
Only an extremely small part of socalization is dog to dog. As a matter of fact, too much dog to dog soclization (daycares, dog parks, and similar) can cause serious fallout including hyperactive behavior, bad manners, and failure to focus on their owners because they are always looking for the next dog to play with. That can result in frustration, which can then turn into reactivity (barking and lunging on leash). A large number of reactive dogs are completely great with other dogs off-leash, and over-socialization is often why. Additionally, daycares exacerbate these issues greatly and we STRONGLY recommend avoiding them completely!
When socializing your dog with the environment, be sure not to force them to confront their fears (it will make fear worse & potentially permanent) and watch their body language to insure they aren't stressed. Refer to graphic for stress signals (click it for larger image).
Additional Recommended Reading
Teaching our dogs a rock-solid recall (coming when called), including building confidence to come through things that might be scary or bizarre.
At home, use a hallway where your dog can't go around the distractions to get to you (but if they do go around, still reward them for coming!).
Place bizarre, though safe, objects for your dog to run over or through. Challange yourself to come up with as many unique things to recall your dog over as you can!
Sit Pretty aka doggie core-work
This is a cute trick and great for your dog's core! A strong core allows your dog to be more versatile in dog sports and it prevents injury.
With your dog in a sit, lure from the nose ONLY up slightly so their front paws come off the ground but not their butt.
See video for the exercise progression.
Laying a strong foundation for stays in puppyhood will pay off ten-fold later on.
- For clarity purposes, use a mat that is at least 2" tall and a good size for your dog to lay on. Using their cot/dog bed is often perfect.
- Before telling your dog to Stay, know your Release Cue. Release cues can be anything (free dog, break, release, etc). However, we strongly discourage the word "okay." We use too often in our everyday language, which could have unfavorable consequences.
- Keep it brief! Puppies are not capable of long stays. Set them up for success by keeping it only a few seconds long, no more.
- Place treats directly on the mat, NOT in your dog's mouth. "Feeding the mat" stabilizes behavior.
- Don't add distance until your dog masters at least a 30 second stay with you near.
- If dog fails, it tells us that we are progressing too fast. Increase rewards, decrease duration & distance.
Find your Toy
Wear your dog out mentally as well as physically with this fun game! This is also a great game for kids to play with their puppy!
Hide a toy in 2 or more boxes. When your dog finds it, play with the toy!
Make it harder by increasing the number of boxes.
Really wear your dog out by making it harder, but not impossible, for your dog to get in the box to get the toy.
Return to Sender Game
Speed up your recall (come when called). This game can be a good way to help puppy generalize the recall command with a significant other, if you have bene putting in most of the training.
Do not bribe your dog with a cookie. Instead, bring the treats out only after your dog is to you.
The more praise you give, the faster and more reliable your recall.
Call your dog back and forth between two people, throwing a party every time.