The Case for Adoption

 

Adopting a dog from a shelter is an environmentally friendly and compassionate thing to do.  While there are lives at risk of euthanasia, it seems wrong to support the breeding of dogs.

The Canis lupus familiaris (the scientific name for “dog”) was domesticated from the wolf between 10 and 100,000 years ago.  Humans intentionally bred the wolves to be useful to them.  They picked them for their hunting, scenting, herding, retrieving, guarding, protecting livestock, etc. 

As this breeding program progressed, the genetic make-ups of the dogs involved in the breeding became less and less diverse.  It was not left to nature to decide which dogs bred and which puppies lived.  By the 1900’s, the gene pool of all purebred dogs was too small and health problems starting popping up.  Like tumors, cancer, allergies, skin conditions, mental health issues, and joint and bone issues.  For example, the King Charles Cavalier Spaniel and the Brussels Griffon has been bred to look the way it does; with a small skull cavity.  Which created a degenerative disease called Syringomyelia, which causes seizures and death because of lack of protection for the cerebellum.  It’s estimated that up to 95% of this breed of dog have this disease, and sadly it is often ignored by dog breeders and dog competition regulators. 

Breeders have no legal obligation to make sure they are breeding dogs that are free from medical or mental conditions.  A lot of breeders sell medically compromised puppies for up to $2000. 

The second case for adoption is simply overpopulation.  The World Health Organization has lately reported that there are over 200 million stray dogs worldwide.   Most street dogs are descended from domesticated dogs, and  their instincts are not wild, yet they are often forced to live in the wild.  

In the United States, Humane Societies are funded in part by our taxes so animals will be collected off the street and either adopted back out or euthanized.  But even here in the US, where such public services exist, 1.2 million dogs are euthanized each year.

Dogs are very sentient beings. They have been studied to have the same sentient capabilities as a human toddler!

There are so many reasons for humans to live up to the responsibility of caring for the animals that they created.  Domestic dogs are not designed to live wild on the streets.  They have emotional needs that only humans can meet.  Not to mention the poor quality of life that many purebred dogs must suffer, simply so they can look aesthetically pleasing to humans.

Please consider the ethical and compassionate act of adopting a shelter dog.   

 

Do You Know What Your Dog Is Eating?

It turns out that a large majority of dog owners can’t actually name all the ingredients in their dog’s food. The package may say “all natural” and “premium”, but oftentimes those are simply marketing gimmicks. With several recalls in recent years, it’s important to take a closer look at the label to keep your pups safe. Reviews.com recently reviewed over 2000 formulas of dog food to uncover the truth about which are safest and healthiest:

However, many ingredients can’t simply be divided into “good” or “bad.” Some are downright controversial. Beet pulp, for instance, is a common binding agent found in many dog foods, but many conscientious consumers avoid it over concerns of digestive health issues. There is no scientific research as of yet to back this up, but the experts we talked to unanimously agreed: It’s best to avoid it.

Not only do ingredients matter, but also having the right combinations and ratios of ingredients matters. There’s an oft-quoted statistic that claims good dog foods contain 30 percent protein and 18 percent fat, with enough side nutritional content — omega-3s, vitamins, and fiber — to round out your dog’s diet. The experts we talked to disagree. To them, it’s really what’s best for your individual dog. “Protein is very important for your dog, but there are instances, such as old age or liver issues, where your dog should be on a lower-protein diet,” says Dog Files creator Kenn Bell. “Make sure you have a conversation with your veterinarian.”

See their top choices: http://www.reviews.com/dog-food/

After three lessons, Frankie knew “go to bed”

Schnauzer dog training Austin txBrooke adopted Frankie from a shelter and called me about a month later.  She wanted Frankie to be less timid and more focused.  As well as learn basic commands, including recall.  Frankie is a 2 year old Schnauzer mix, with high energy and a timid disposition.  She was skittish and unable to calm herself, but did already know sit.  She just didn’t have any duration, and would pop right back up in a second.  We worked on impulse control, recall, clicker tricks, and heel.

After three lessons, Frankie knew “go to bed” and how to stay there, how to come back to her mom when called (maybe a little slowly, but recall is hard work!), how to weave under legs, touch, follow her mom on leash, and lie down.

Austin is a wonderful place to be a dog parent.

Best Bars and Parks to Take Your Dog in Austin

Austin is a wonderful place to have a dog. It is by far the best city in the country to have a dog and live the “dog parent” lifestyle. This is because of all the restaurants and bars that allow dogs, and the prolific amount of apartments to rent that allow not only dogs, but dogs of any breed and size.

So here are some great places to go drinking, hiking, and hanging out with your dog:

Yard Bar

www.yardbar.com

The primary bar/restaurant for taking your dog in Austin is Yard Bar on Burnet between Allandale and Crestview. It’s literally a dog park with tables, beer, and food.
There’s always a $5 cover, but you can also pay $150 for a year membership.
The dog park is 21 years + and you must show proof of vaccination and spay/neuter to enter. And cannot have more than 2 dogs. There are human monitors (Bark Rangers) in the park to make sure play doesn’t get out of hand and problem dogs are removed. Don’t forget to tip them! There’s agility equipment, a small dog only section, and an outdoor walk-up bar. So it’s a really great place to get some safe and quality socializing time in for you and your dog!

Moontower Saloon

www.moontowersaloon.com

Moontower Saloon is in the south off Slaughter and Manchaca and is a sprawling, open space, with volleyball courts, food trucks, cornhole games, pool tables, live music, and lots of outdoor seating. It’s very kid friendly as well. Lots of parking available. Dogs are supposed to be kept on leash. Doggie bags provided.

 

Bangers Sausage House and Beer Garden

www.bangersaustin.com

Bangers is on Rainey St in downtown Austin. It’s known for it’s $10 “Manmosa” which is a giant mimosa served in a beer stein and 100 beers on tap. Serving sausages of course, and other sides like jalapeno mac and cheese, and chilil cheese fries. You’ll have to keep your dog on leash in the huge beer garden, but they’ll get plenty of fun sniffing all the other dogs and people. This place can get crowded, so it’s best to only bring your dog during peak hours if your dog is very social.

 

 


Off Leash Areas

Red Bud Isle Dog Park

This is the go-to place for off leash fun with your dog. It’s a beautiful lakefront park in West Lake Hills off Westlake Drive. There are 13 acres for your dog to romp in, including places for her to get into the water. with great hiking trails, canoeing and boating docks. Parking can be hard, so go early or practice patience while waiting for a spot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emma Long

Emma Long Metropolitan Park, is off Hwy 360 in Bee Cave. It’s got picnic tables, trails, BBQ pits, and places to swim in the Colorado river. And you can have your dog off leash on the Turkey Creek Trail. It’s a great place for families, and you’ll see a lot of local Austinites with their kids, strollers, dogs, bikes, etc. Perfect place to socialize and soak up the beautiful nature Austin has to offer.

 

 

 

Auditorium Shores Leash Free Dog Zone

Auditorium Shores is very central. Right on the river in downtown Austin, Townlake. It is leash free, but also not fully fenced in, so only take your dog if he has a good recall. Take your Chuck-It and throw the ball for your dog with beautiful Austin as your backdrop. There are watering holes for you and your dog, and poop bag dispensers, benches to sit. You can also easily walk on the trail across the river then back. Parking is actually not that bad, except for weekend afternoons of course.

 

Onion Creek

Onion Creek is not too well-known as a great place for off-leash fun. It’s been called Austin’s best kept dog park secret. It’s in Southwest Austin, off William Cannon and East of I-35. It’s a more secluded and wilder park that doesn’t have set trails or trail markers. But there are less people and a few horses, so be ready for horse poop. There’s access to the creek, and a playground for kids. I’ve read it can be hard to find, so really check out the route before you set off.

 

 

 

Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park

This park is in North Austin, in the corner of I-35 and W Palmer. This popular off leash park has a lot of hiking and biking trails and a swimming pool and lots of creek access. If you have a bike chaser, this probably isn’t the best choice of park. There’s lots of parking, and even park rangers and volunteers to answer questions and point out the wildlife. It’s a large park, without too much signage, so be prepared to possibly get lost!

Get The Walk Right First – 13 Quick Tips

Walking with your dog is the first thing you should get sorted out.  It will help to bond you together and earn her trust, respect, devotion, and calm state of mind.
Learn to Walk Your Dog

Dogs love to walk – but they love it more when there are some rules and guidelines.

  1. Your dog should be calm when you put the walking gear on them.
  2. Ask your dog to sit and wait as you approach the door, and exit the house with your dog in a calm state.
  3. Bring treats on the walk.
  4.  Treat your dog for heeling well.  Walk backwards and call her back to you when she is not.
  5. Hold the leash with two hands, like in the photo here  –>
  6. Don’t let your dog sniff every blade of grass. A sniff every five minutes is ok.
  7. Use your voice to reward your dog.
  8. Avoid other dogs.
  9. Do not use a flexi-leash.
  10. Do not use your phone.
  11.  Use a 4 – 5 foot leather or acrylic leash
  12. Let your dog sniff a bit more right before the end of the walk.
  13. Reward your dog with a meal or chew/treat toy after the walk.

 

 

Small Things Count Big Time

 I’ve seen a couplefrustrated1 posts lately about how your dog is not perfect, so don’t get stressed out about the mistakes they    make.   I agree!  If we got stressed about mistakes the people around us made, we’d be a steaming mess!  So take that  zen to your dog too.  They are honestly trying to be all that you want them to be.  They thrive with your positive  attention and praise. But, they are also dogs.  And dogs love to do things we don’t always… condone.  Chewing,  barking, pulling, digging, whining, scratching, jumping, breaking out of their crate, etc.

 It’s normal.  There is no dog  on Earth that does not make these mistakes.  And trying to create a dog that doesn’t is  not humane.  We all need to have space to be fallible creatures without punishment.  That’s important.

It’s also important to guide that creature to want to try as much as possible to be well behaved, sensible, responsible, logical, and compassionate.

The other part that’s important is to keep trying.  Even the small things you work with on your dog are making a difference.  Even if you only get in ONE sit or just FIVE seconds of a stay a day, you are helping.  You are giving structure and rules.  If you don’t see amazing results, don’t be discouraged, you are still making progress.  Just keep practicing, however small, each day.  And know that you have put in effort that day, which is more than a lot of people!

frustrated

All dogs make little dog-like mistakes, and all your small, even tiny, efforts at training and structure, are beneficial!

Top Five Essential Items for Parenting a Dog, And More

I wanted to do a review on the top five items, that I described in detail previously.  Because, those are just the essential items!  There are a few more I can throw on the list to keep your wallet aired out and your house dog-stocked.  🙂

Top Five:

1. Treat Dispenser Get your dog active, investigative, entertained, and off your case for 10 minutes!

2. Leather Leash – A nice sturdy connection between you two will help keep the walk safe and communicative.

3. Treat Pouch – Always be ready to reinforce good behavior, and having treats will help get your dogs attention in any sticky moments.

4. Pet Gate – Keep your dog feeling secure and safe (and your house chew and pee-pee free) in an enclosed area.

5. Clicker – An essential part of development is mental.  This stimulates your dog, helps cure boredom, and creates a solid bond between you.

Other items you should pretty much have by now or will get soon!

  • A comfortable bed – Dogs need a space of their own.  And you can teach your dog a “place” command (“go to bed”) for times when you need your dog to be away from something, like the dinner table, cooking in the kitchen, when glass falls and breaks on the floor, etc.  It is an essential command of dog training – as it teaches impulse control (what dog doesn’t need that! – says the cat!) and provides another sense of safety and security.  raisedbedSometimes it helps to have a bed that is slightly raised up on legs (like a cot) to help your dog identify the “place.”  You can find basic to super fancy ones.  Your dog will start taking himself to his place when you sit down for a meal, without you even asking.
  • Chewies – Nice, long-lasting chewies, to give to your dog when you leave the house for a longer time, or need some down time in the evenings.  Bully sticks, the dried and compressed “pizzle”  of a boy cow (so yes, that is indeed what you think it is – I know, it’s gross for a while ;)) are really good for this.  They come in small to large, and braided or straight.  bullystickFind the right size to keep your dog chewing for about 20 minutes.  Bully sticks can get fattening, so don’t use them every day.  And remember, there is always a chance of a dog swallowing a chewie before it is small enough, so do pay attention to how your dog chews and be aware of this.  Kongs stuffed with wet food or peanut butter and then frozen are another option.
  • Biodegradable poop bags – Surprising one, huh!  But I must do my part to lessen the environmental footprint dogs leave. The manufacturing of their food and toys, and the use of all types of factory farmed animals, leaves a deep print.  Biodegradable bags are affordable and available.  You can order them online for a big discount.biobag
  • Bowls – Stainless steel bowls are going to be the longest lasting and easiest to wash.  You can get nice ones that have rubber on the bottom so your dog won’t slide it around the kitchen and leave it somewhere you will of course trip over it.  If you have a tall dog, they may benefit from a feeder, which holds the bowls higher up so the dog doesn’t have to bend down too far with her neck.200269673-001
  •    Tug toy and other toys – Dogs enjoy playing tug.  And enjoy playing. They were  bred to remain  baby-like and never develop into that stoic, pensive, kind of freaky  wolf.  So always have toys  around to play with your dog every day.  Put your full  attention on your game together and  enjoy being with your dog!

 

# 5 Essential Dog Item – Clicker

Is your dog crazy?  Does she chew your couch or bark at anything that happens to walk by the front window?  Then, you need a clicker.

A clicker can be a very important part of being a dog parent.  Most dogs need exercise every day in order to stay balanced, happy, and relaxed.  There are, of course, a few super lazy dogs out there, that are very happy to lie on the couch all day.  But, most of them need to have physical and mental exercise to engage in, to use up their energy.  This is where a clicker comes in very useful.

dogclicker

 

After you have walked your dog up and down those glorious San Francisco hills, or let her romp around Fort Funston or Dolores Park for at least half an hour, you can practice mental exercises with the clicker.  If you need to, you can substitute physical exercise for clicker training once in a while.  They release the same relaxing hormones to the brain.

Once you and your dog are familiar with the basic Click-Treat of a clicker, the sky is your limit as far as teaching him tricks.  I will outline it below for you:

1. Click the clicker once.

2. Toss a pea-sized treat to your dog.  Soft treats, cheese, and hot dog work the best. (The dog needs to be able to eat the treat within 3 seconds of the clicker clicking).

3. Repeat for 2 minutes.  Wait 2 minutes. Repeat for 2 minutes… etc.

After a few sessions of this, your dog will learn that once that weird click noise happens, a treat will fall out of the sky!  It does vary on how long a dog will catch on to this, so don’t give up. Just keep clicking and treating!  You’ll know she has caught on, because she will watch you intently and when she hears the click she will look for the treat.

NOW.  You and your dog are ready to start learning tricks!  The first one you should teach him is to “touch” a target.   The first target will be your hand:

touchtargetYou will hold out your hand flat, about 2 inches away from your dogs nose and say “touch!”

When your dog comes close to touching it, you will CLICK and toss a treat!

If your dog doesn’t try to touch your hand, then click for even looking at your hand.  Take steps forward and backwards and around, to try to stimulate your dog to go investigate your hand.  You can rub a treat on your hand, so the smell of it will be there.

Once your dog touches your hand 9 out of 10 times in a row, then start moving your hand to different heights and locations.  Mix it up!  Get that brain working! Remember, it may take a few days and sessions before you get to this point. That’s fine! The objective here is to work the brain, not really to actually get your dog to learn something in record time.

You can now randomly throw in a “touch” request in before meals, before going for a walk, before saying hi to a friend of his/hers.  Practice, learn, repeat, and have fun! What you are accomplishing here, is not only a relaxed dog, but a strengthening of the bond between you both – and that bond is what is going to have the most impact on how your dog listens to you and behaves.

Let me know what your questions are about clicker training in the comments below.  Have you tried it?  Where are you at? What is the next step for you?

Here’s a good video for more clicker training ideas:

#4 Essential Dog Item – Doggie Gate

#4 Essential Dog Item: Doggie Gate

doggie gate 2        doggie gate

Closing and sectioning off your house while you have a dog living in it, is strongly advised for several reasons. Dogs shouldn’t have the run of the house.  They shouldn’t be allowed to go wherever they want all the time, especially while you are out of the house.

Being sectioned off and contained often gives dogs a sense of safety and helps them to relax.  Kind of like in a den or burrow.  This is why the crate works well for calming dogs.  It also reminds them that they aren’t the King or Queen of the land, YOU are. 😉  You get to decide where they will wile away their hours, not them.  You get to give them permission and keep them where you want them.  Isn’t that great! It’s all about you! In addition, we are setting the dog up for success, by not giving them access to the front window to bark at all moving things, or go upstairs and randomly decide your new shoes are now hers for the enjoying.  Dogs do random things.  Keeping them contained in the kitchen, or area where they are not near front windows, and can have an accident on the floor if they need to, and cannot get into too much chewing or otherwise destructive trouble, is the way to set up your home for life.

Above, you can see a picture of a gate for wide areas, and a gate with a kitty door.  No matter your doorway or space, there is a gate for you!

Larger pet stores will have gates, such as Petsmart, Petco, Pet Food Express in the Mission on Market street.  Smaller stores will have them as well, so do go ahead and check them out first if they are more convenient.  However, if you can’t find something you need or like, check out baby gates at baby stores.  And online.

No matter how angelic or old or small your pup is, you should have a pet gate to section them off while you are out of the house, or having guests over that don’t like dogs, etc.  If you have a crate, leave it in this area for your pet to use if they feel insecure ever.