Thursday, June 2, 2011

My Dog is a POOP EATER!

One of the things I love is getting questions from other dog owners. Discussion and the sharing of knowledge is the best way for us humans to better understand, and therefore become better owners of our pooches. This weeks letter is about a behavior that most of us have seen, and are probably just as confused about:

Hello. My name is Baily, and I am a poop eater!
My soon to be 9 month old Chihuahua has this bad habit of eating other dogs poo, and also cat poo.  He seems obsessed with it, and I know he loves great food too.
I've done research on it and can't quit figure out his problem.  he's not bored or neglected.  I've added plain yogurt to his and my other dogs diet, and he's on a good quality dog food.  

Any advise?

Thank you,

Bailey's mom
 OK, so, your dog is a poop eater. This behavior has a name, and it is coprophagy. As with all things, there are a number of opinions on this behavior, however from my research the general consensus seems to be that this is generally not a problem or harmful to your dog. 

Why do dogs eat poop? Well, dogs evolved from wolves that were 'not so scared' of the humans in their area. eventually they began to scavenge off human garbage and yes, this included eating of human poop. Your dog is NOT a wolf, has a good dies, and does not NEED to eat it, but some will argue that he is 'pre-programmed' to do so. 

Again, GENERALLY speaking this behavior is not harmful, however there could be health related reasons he is doing it. A very small percentage of the poop eaters have malabsorbtion syndromes. This is a condition in which the dog is not absorbing the nutrients he requires from his own diet, so he is trying to get it second hand (or butt if you will.) This is RARE and if you are really concerned about this or ANY of your dogs behavior, then consult your Vet. 
Is this BAD for my dog?  This depends on whose poop your dog is eating. In your case it is another of you own dogs that you know has had all it's shots, has no worms or other health issues so the rist is very very low. The health issues arise when they eat strange dog's poop. This is how parasites, worms, and numerous other health issues are spread, so this practice should be discouraged with vigilance on the part of the owner.
How to STOP your dog eating poop? If you want to try and stop this behavior you can try a couple of additives to the other dogs food.Meat tenderizer is harmeless to yoru dogs, however the papaya enzimes in the tenderizer are fine for the dog that eats the food, but it makes the poopie nasty and unappetizing to Baily. Adding Pineapple to their diet will accomplish this as well. 

Thank you For your letters, and please keep the coming! Submit them to and remember to visit us at

Now, go love on your dogs!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

My Dog would NEVER do That!

My dogs are 'mostly' perfectly behaved in public. I say 'mostly' because Jethro is not quite 2 years old and still VERY excited about new people and other dogs. However, when we walk they both heal very well. When we stop at the corner they both sit on command, and wait until I step off to go and fall right into their heal. I do not consider this "well trained" but merely the foundation to train them, but other people seem to disagree.
Hondo out for a walk with the family!

"WOW, they are so good. My dog would never . . ." is something we hear a lot. While I am very happy to get the compliment about my dogs behaving well, I always ask them about their dogs and why they think their dog can't "be good." The story will almost always come back to the same general issue. They tell me about how their dog drags them down the street when they USED TO try and walk them, or they just don't have time to walk their dog, or (my FAVORITE!) their dog doesn't NEED exercise because they have a yard. So their dog gets zero exercise.

I encourage them by telling them that my dogs are the result of 2 or 3 years of work, every day. One of my new favorite expressions (new because I just made it up in Home Depot the other day) is:  "Rome wasn't built in a day, and if you don't walk your dog he will NEVER obey!

Training your dog is work, and that work begins with daily exercise. Pick small, attainable goals, and keep expanding them as you go. With the example above of the dog pulling on the lead during a walk, I will ask questions about the equipment they are using, how they walk, and how often. In many cases the problem lies not with the dog, but with the owner. Using a PULLING harness on a Pitbull or other medium or large dog and then being SURPRISED it is pulling you is what Bekki
Two happy dogs after a nice long walk up and down hills!
likes to call "paying your stupid tax." Changing to a harness that is designed to not allow the dog to pull, and you will quickly change the pulling behavior. We have reviewed the Premier Easy Walk Harness and Bekki absolutely loved it as it helped her control Jethro our Pitbull and helped her confidence when she was out with him.

Once this issue has been addressed, the next is repetition. With this example changing the equipment is only the first step. Walking the dog every day is the next. Dogs require exercise every day, and some dogs (like Huskys and other working dogs) require more . . . a LOT more. So find time every day and get out with your dog. By adding consistent exercise into your training routine will absolutely help you achieve your other training goals. why? Because a tired dog is easier to work with!

Consistency is the key. Decide what the rule are, and what the dog is required to do, and do it every time. I GUARANTEE that  you will see results or your money back!

(yes, I know you didn't actually pay for anything, but you have to admit, it WAS a dramatic ending!)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Doggie Dentures?

If you have not seen this commercial yet, get ready. I nearly spit up my drink when it came on. It is a commercial for a dog chew that promotes good oral hygiene called Dentastix. When I finished laughing I started to think: What do I do to take care of my dogs teeth?

We take good care of our dogs and their shots and other items, but other than feeding them dry food I cannot think of anything we actively do to take care of our dog’s teeth. I asked many other dog owners what they were doing about it, and most looked and me and blinked. This response can ONLY lead me to believe they a) did not speak English, or b) did not understand that it was an issue they should be doing something about.

So it was time to start asking the experts (meaning Bekki’s dad!) who ‘learned me up on it. This is a very important health related issue for dogs. They are living longer and as such their oral care can become a much bigger issue. He told me all about their morning ritual their vet got them started on about 6 years ago and they have been doing it every morning since. The dogs line up in the bathroom with the humans to have their teeth brushed. The dogs love it. Why? Chicken flavored toothpaste. Each dog has their own toothbrush too. Each dog also gets a yearly cleaning. So far zero cavities for his dogs! Better than my kids.

Another great thing you can do, and frankly the easiest thing you can do,  is provide specific dog chews and treats designed to help clean the teeth while they chew. The idea is that because of their shape and or what is in them they will help scrape the ‘bad stuff’ (I am so technical sometimes) off their teeth while they chew. The dog gets a treat, you get to ‘kinda’ clean their teeth while reading your email; a win-win!

The following is a list of some of the brands available, you will need to see which your dog will like (Hondo HATES the greenies!):

  • Bright Bites and Checkup Chews for Dogs - all sizes
  • Canine Greenies® - all sizes
  • Canine Greenies® Lite - all sizes
  • Canine Greenies® Senior - all sizes
  • Del Monte Tartar Check® Dog Biscuit: Small & Large sizes
  • Friskies Cheweez Beefhide Treats for Dogs
  • Eukanuba Adult Maintenance Diet for Dogs
  • Hartz Flavor Infused Oral Chews - Large Dogs and Small Dogs Sizes
  • Healthymouth antiplaque water additive
  • (Hill's) Prescription Diet Canine t/d: Original & Small Bites
  • Iams Chunk Dental Defense Diet for Dogs
  • Purina Veterinary Diets DH Dental Health brand Canine Formula
  • Purina Veterinary Diets Dental Chews brand Canine Treats
  • Science Diet Oral Care Diet for Dogs
  • Tartar Shield Soft Rawhide Chews for Dogs
  • Vetradent Dog Chews marketed as 'Bluechews' and 'dc Dental Chews'

For additional information here is a great article on Doggie Dental Care and what should be included in your program. It is a great start for any questions you might have.

Whatever it is you are currently doing you can, like us, do more. Please take a few minutes a day to help prevent COSTLY health issues for your dog.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Product Review: Newman’s Own Organic Dog Treats

Most dog owners want to feed their dogs better quality of food, and if they don’t they should. The biggest reason why that better food = smaller poop, seriously. So if for no other reason you should now want to feed your dog better, but what does that mean. So you have selected a quality food, but what about the treats your dog gets? This can be as much as 20% - 25% of their daily intake, and you must look at these labels too.

I have found a great product you can use and feel good about it. I will admit right up front, I have been a fan of Newman’s Own products for some time. The work that the Newman's Own funds behind the scenes is wonderful, and 100 % of the profits go to their charities. Best part is they generally give you a good product for your support and your money, although they are normally a little more expensive than similar products.

So in my local PetSmart I saw a Newman’s Own Organic s Premium Dog Treats and decided to give them a try. Something I liked immediately (and is stated right on the front of the package) is they contain no wheat or corn in any way, and most ingredients are “certified organic.” The ingredients list reads like my shopping list (OK, that’s a lie it is actually better) and was very impressed with the thought that obviously went into the selection of each. So, I bought the Turkey & Sweet Potato flavor (both certified organic) because they come in a medium size treat but are scored to break in half. I have both a big and a small dog, so this makes giving both a treat easier. I paid $4.99 for a 13 oz bag. A little expensive, but like I said I understand and support this.

Now in a human product I would have to say that this whole organic thing would spell tasteless and unappealing, so I was most interested in whether Hondo would like them and, most importantly, would he work for them. Jethro is an omnivore and will work for any kind of food, food product, something that smells like food, or something that maybe reminds him of food. Hondo on the other hand is a picky eater, and has turned down treats in the past because they just didn’t “do it” for him. 

The treats are a good size and are scored to easily break in half, and for that half to be big enough for Jethro. He is an 80 pound dog, so this should give you some point of reference. They are hard so not greasy or messy, but they break pretty easy. I have had some treats that you needed hammer and chisel to break in half. The other half also breaks well, but require more force, so Hondo gets 2 pieces. One good part of being a small dog I guess. The product seems to have a pleasing scent to both humans and dogs, as both of the lads came-a-running when the bag was opened.

Surprisingly Hondo was very attentive and was really wanting to do his sit and down or shake or whatever to get one of these new things, but that is generally attributed to them being new. He ate his pieces vigorously and seemed to enjoy them, but he always likes new stuff. The best news is even after a couple of days he was still willing to work for one, and this is a good sign.

Not surprisingly is the fact that they were a big hit with Jethro. He loved them and seems very happy working for them, but like I said above we would work for a tin can that smelled like food.

Overall I would say that this is a good product for both the human owner and the pet in question. The owner can feel good that they are giving their dog high quality treats and are supporting some amazing causes, and the dog can feel good because the owner feels good so will probably give them MORE TREATS!

The very definition of a win-win!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Woman Tries To Mail Puppy In Box

One of my friends emailed me an article that was so amazingly horrifying that I had to not only share it but felt compelled to comment. We require people to take a test and get licensed to drive a car, we should make this mandatory to own a dog. WHY? The headline below says all that needs to be said:

Stacy Champion wanted to send a puppy to a friend, but to REALLY ship a dog is quite expensive, some times as much as $200.00 - $300.00. So she had the brilliant idea to send the little poodle-mix through the US Postal Service! She also thought ahead, and decided to pay extra, a whopping $22.00, to ship the poor dog Priority mail so it would be there in 2 days. I guess she figured imprisoned in a dark, cramped box for 2 days with no food or water would be fine for the young pup.

The only reason this handsome dog is still alive, is because during the sorting at the Post Office the dog must have started moving, causing the box he was imprisoned in to fall from a table. The Postal Worker that picked up the box said he could hear panting inside, so they ended up opening the box. Had this package gone into the unheated, unpressurized baggage compartment the puppy would certainly have died.

Perhaps even more disturbing that the behavior of Ms. Champion, is the fact she can still get the puppy BACK! A quote from the article really shows how serious we are about punishing abusers of animals:

“Champion has until Friday to make an appeal to animal control to get the puppy back. If animal controls says she can’t have the puppy back, it will go up for adoption.”

Get it BACK? Either locally for cruelty to animals or federally for mail fraud (or some such), my primary question is why is she not in jail? This is one of the most abhorrent examples of owner stupidity and blatant cruelty and yet no one seems willing or able to punish this person to the level she deserves.

The report says she was charged with animal cruelty; however on a local level this generally means a fine of some kind and perhaps community service but rarely any jail time. 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Effective Marketing is a Joy!

I will absolutely admit that this video has no dog training value other that seeing what some great person was able to teach a dog to do, and what some funny director was able to shoot, but I gotta tell ya it made me nearly spit coffee all over my desk. Some of you may have seen it before, but a lot of you have not, It is REALLY worth the couple minutes. Very well done!

For those of you out there in business, specifically sales and marketing, you should be watching this with an eye to how much effective marketing works, and how much being yourself and letting that shine through can have amazing results.

For the rest of you this is funny and should be shared with everyone you know. Really! They will THANK YOU for it!

Patience is the Thing

As responsible dog owners we have done our research into training methods, how you should do this and that, and in general learned what we want be doing and teaching our dogs. This might sound like the simplest part, however with all the different methods and styles and tools out there even deciding how to train your dog can take more time than the actual training.

We are NOT training experts, but students and observers of dog behavior. We have taken a compilation of a number of different philosophies and approaches and have started down the training path with our now 2 dogs. I will say that for the most part, either by talent or dumb luck, we have been pretty successful. Our dogs will sit, down, and stay and they also walk well on a leash without pulling, among other things.

There are some challenges, I will be honest, but they are usually on my part and not the dogs. After all, they are dogs and I am supposed to be smarter than they are.  One of the biggest I have is at feeding time, but is not the same one that many of you have; in fact it is probably the opposite. My dogs do not rush me and try to hurry the process along. Instead they leave me standing there with their bowls in hand while they run around the yard play (to impress dad while he is watching is my suspicion) and will eventually come back to me and start eating. Instead of just putting the bowls down and letting them fend for themselves, we have been working on getting the dogs to know it is feeding time, to come to whoever is feeding them, and sit down politely and wait. They will then get fed.

It is very easy, and ‘some others’ in the house do it frequently, to say “forget it” and just put the food down and go back to watching American Idol or whatever.  I totally get that this seems easier in the short term, especially to the person who really does not want to be doing the job. However in the long run this is very counterproductive and makes the process of training your dogs take much longer. Not taking that extra 3 – 5 minutes for the dogs to give you the behavior you are working for sets your efforts back significantly.

In order to get the behavior we want the feeder needs to fill the bowls (which gets their attention and into the yard) and take them outside, and stand there and wait. After 10 – 15 seconds the commend ‘Come’ is given, and then stand their patiently. The desired behavior (and believe me they KNOW what we want of them) is to walk up to the feeder, sit, and patiently wait for the bowl to be put down. If the dogs do not come in the next 30 – 45 seconds the command is given again and then nothing.

The longest I have waited in 6 minutes, but only once. Usually it takes less than 3. The good news is they come and sit much quicker than they have been, so patience DOES pay off. The most important things, and you will have seen these in previous articles, are:
  1. Set Realistic Goals
  2. Get Everyone on the Same Page
  3. Be Consistent – Same Way, Every Time
No matter what it is you are working for or training for, be patient. Take the time to allow the dog to ‘think it over’ and give you your reward, then be sure to give them theirs. They earned it!