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News and Information about Dogs, Cats, and Pet Products

 

Best Treats for Puzzle Toys

Treat-dispensing puzzle toys are all the rage – and for good reasons! If you don’t know why, we’ve written about the many benefits of treat-dispensing toys many times, including here, here, and here.

The configurable Orbee Link lets you change the challenge whenever you want

If you don’t have a treat toy and aren’t sure about the best kind to start your pet on, or if your dog has figured out the one puzzle toy you own, stop in to a Two Bostons store for a little show and tell. We’ll listen, show you your best options, and help you pick out the best one for your particular pet.

Remember, it’s always better to have a few different puzzle toys and alternate them. Variety is the spice of life and with puzzle toys it’s also a good way to keep the interest high for a long time.

Choosing the Best Treats for Puzzle Toys

We’re often surprised how many pet parents make good, informed, healthy decisions about the kind of food they feed their pet, but turn around and buy unhealthy, highly processed, and chemical-filled treats to give their pets or fill their puzzle toys.

Buy healthy treats for your pet and for your pet’s treat-dispensing toys. No junk food. Good food only – that tastes good and is good. Our philosophy for buying treats is similar to what we look for in the foods we buy – as few ingredients possible, and we know the ingredients listed.

Take our Vita-Essentials line of treats that are a perfect choice for puzzle toys. We offer six varieties – Rabbit, Beef Nibs, Beef Tripe, Turkey, and Chicken Breast.  The ingredient list on the Chicken Breast reads:  “Boneless, skinless chicken breast.” That’s it. For the turkey: “Turkey heart, turkey liver.” You can’t beat that…just freeze-dried healthy protein that tastes as good as it smells.

We also like Wild Meadows Minis for treat toys, especially since there are a variety of flavors. The best thing you can do to keep your dog engaged is to put different flavored treats in your treat ball. Duck for one reward, then Bison, then Beef…I gotta keep playing with this to get another one of those Bison treats!

Tricky Trainers are another good treat with a shape and size that make them perfect for a wide variety of treat toys. Plus they come in a lot of fun, interesting flavors, like cheddar, and salmon, and liver, so you can mix it up and keep your dog stimulated for hours.

Speaking of liver…

Of all the treat flavors or types available, the one treat that has almost universal appeal to dogs is liver. Dogs love liver. They love the smell, they love the taste, and they’ll do whatever it takes to get at it. We’ve got lots of great live treat options so stop in and let us find the right one for the toy you have.

There are options galore for puzzle and other treat-dispensing toys – even a bully stick works with some toys to make the bully stick last a lot longer. The best option is the one your pet loves the most – as long as it’s healthy. The second best treat is the other one you put in that toy because that one makes this game really interesting.

 

 

For puppies and dogs that like to snuggle, soft plush toys provide a sense of security and help relieve stress.

Choosing starts with observing
Dog toys come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and types. Choosing the right one for your pet depends on your particular pet and what you’re trying to accomplish. Are you going for exercise? Mental stimulation? Something to chew on to occupy their time? Or just to snuggle with?

If you’ve ever been in a Two Bostons store, you know of our impressive variety and wide selection of dog toys. Because we’ve been where you are, we know that looking at an expansive wall of colorful and diverse toys that you know little or nothing about can be overwhelming.

Relax. We know toys. We did the research, tried and tested thousands of toys over the years, and have the knowledge, training, and experience to help you find the very best toy for your best friend.

Rubber toys relieve anxiety and boredom and can help prevent destructive behavior.

Quality is king when it comes to toys because safety is paramount. We carry the top toy brands in the industry – Kong, Planet Pet, West Paw Design, Tuffy’s, and many others – who have established strong reputations for using quality materials in products that are well designed and made well.

Avoid cheap toys. First, they won’t last. More importantly, in an industry that has minimal regulatory oversight – especially in developing countries overseas – cheap toys are often unsafe toys. The most common hazards are choking and stomach obstruction, but the risk doesn’t end there. Too often we read about recalls of imported toys due to toxic chemicals or hard metals used in the production process or found in the components of the toys themselves.

Tug toys mean playing with you, which is what your pet really wants most of all.

The best tip we can give you when you’re thinking about buying a new toy is to observe how your dog plays now with his toys and what kinds of toys he gravitates toward. Does he choose hard or rubber toys to chew on? Or soft plush toys to toss or carry around. Is he an aggressive chewer? Does he enjoy tugging games with you or is fetch more his style? Does he like the challenge of treat toys or puzzle toys? Or perhaps prefer the squeak and texture of squishy vinyl toys.

Once you have a good feel for what he enjoys and how he interacts with his toys, come in and tell one of our team members what you observed in his play and what kind of “personality” your dog has. With your insight into your dog, and our team members’ training and knowledge of toy types and brands (and dogs!), we’ll help you find the perfect toy for your pet’s individual preferences and needs.

What’s the Difference?

 

As more pet owners choose to incorporate raw food into their pet’s diet – or switch completely to a raw diet – many of our customers are asking if there are alternatives to frozen raw food that still provide the high nutritional value of a raw diet.

After informing them that convenient options do exist – dehydrated food and freeze dried food – the next question they ask is, “What’s the difference?”

Well, here’s what is similar and what is different between the two…

 

Similarities between Dehydrated and Freeze Dried Raw Food

Stella & Chewy’s freeze dried foods are customer favorites

Both dehydrated and freeze dried foods have a higher nutrient value than kibble diets because of the ingredient quality and the manufacturing process. Both are dry, have a long and stable shelf life, and are lightweight because almost all the water is removed. Both options usually contain a limited ingredient list consisting of mainly fresh, whole foods, and neither option requires freezer space or  refrigeration until after they are rehydrated.

Freeze dried and dehydrated dog foods dramatically simplify serving raw foods at home. You simply measure the proper portion from the package, add the right amount of water, stir, and serve it to your dog. Freeze dried food can also be fed directly from the package, or is often crumbled and used as a topper on kibble or canned food.

Dehydrated foods – just add water, wait a few minutes, and serve! Easy AND convenient.

Both options come in small bags/packages that make a surprisingly large quantity of fresh food. Don’t be fooled by the compact packaging – one pound of either food can rehydrate to between 3-5 pounds of fresh food, so they are actually significantly more economical than they appear when considering overall cost.

Most importantly, pets on either option are less likely to experience allergic reactions, and will have healthier, shiny coats, more energy, and cleaner teeth. What draws many people to these options is how convenient they are to feed – at home and especially when traveling.

 

Differences between Dehydrated and Freeze Dried Food

The differences between dehydrated pet food and freeze dried lie primarily in how they are processed and the result of their processing methods.

With freeze dried, food is flash frozen and then placed in a vacuum chamber where temperatures remain below freezing during the entire process. Increasing pressure within the chamber causes the ice crystals (moisture) to vaporize, rather than evaporate, preventing moisture from ever reaching a liquified state before it is removed.

Dehydration, on the other hand, uses low heat to remove moisture through evaporation. A few foods are “air dried” using warm ambient air to remove moisture instead of heat.

Because heat is generally used in dehydration, some people claim that “technically” it is no longer raw because the heat partially cooks the ingredients. However, because the nutrient value remains so high, most people consider dehydrated food a raw food choice.

From a nutritional standpoint, both are excellent choices, though freeze dried food does provide higher nutritional value. According to a food science professor at UC-Davis, because no heat is used in the process, freeze dried food retains 100% of the nutrients in their original form, compared to dehydrated food which retains up to 75% of its raw nutrient value.  As a result, freeze dried food keeps its natural scents, original texture, and flavor, so while both foods taste great, freeze dried generally tastes better to dogs.

Freeze dried food can be served as is, rehydrated, or crumbled and sprinkled on other food

The freeze drying process removes 98 – 99% of the moisture, while dehydrated clocks in at 85-95% moisture removal, giving freeze dried an extended shelf life (20 years compared to 1-8 years). Freeze dried foods also have no additives, while some dehydrated brands of pet food may contain a small amount of added salt, sugar, or other preservatives.

Either way you go, both options are excellent choices if you want to feed the best, most nutritious food for your pet’s good health in a convenient, easy-to-feed meal. Many people who want to feed a raw diet often dip their toes in either a freeze dried or dehydrated food first before deciding if the freezing, thawing, and conscientious cleanup required for a raw diet fits with their lifestyle.

Remember, you are still dealing with raw meat when serving freeze dried or dehydrated food so proper handling and cleanup is still important.

If you have any questions about raw diets, freeze dried, or dehydrated pet foods, feel free to stop in to any Two Boston store and ask one of our knowledgeable team members. They’ll be happy to find the best food for your pet that is also right for your lifestyle.

Essentials for Fun, Safe Walks

Walks are a great way to bond with your best friend. Not only do you both get much-needed exercise and fresh air, but your pet gets the mental stimulation he requires for good health and his best behavior.

You don’t need much to do this healthy activity with your dog, but there are a few essentials and precautions you should consider before hitting the road or path with your companion.

 

Identification Tags

Check your pet’s I.D. tag to make sure it’s readable and secure. A quick check could save you – and your pet – from a tragic event if he got loose when away from home in an unfamiliar area.

 

Flea & Tick Prevention

The out-of-doors exposes your dog to fleas and ticks, and you DON’T want any of these potentially disease-carrying pests hitching a ride into your home on your pet. We prefer natural solutions to flea prevention and control for your dog’s safety. Visit our Grooming Products section for a choice of solutions.

 

A Good Leash and Collar or Harness

Check your collar and leash to make sure they’re in good shape and the clasp is secure. You know we believe a quality 5-6 ft. web lead is safer and more effective than retractable leashes. If your dog pulls during walks, we highly recommend that you consider a harness as they remove pressure from your pet’s neck and help prevent pulling.

Our Sporn No-Pull Harness is especially effective for wanna-be mushing dogs that want to pull you rather than walk with you. With its unique design, pulling pressure is transferred to their armpits to safely and painlessly discourage them from pulling.

 

Portable Watering Bottle

Going for a longer walk? Always remember to bring along water, even if it’s not super hot. Dogs get thirstier faster and it’s critical for their good health to remain hydrated at all times. Our Gulpy Water Dispenser by Kyjen is a great solution – it has a handy belt clip and even fits in most bicycle water bottle holders.

 

Poop Bags

Of course. PLEASE always be considerate of others and pick up after your pet. Responsible, considerate dog owners are key to keeping our communities Pet Friendly and allow us to take our pets with us more often.  We have a selection of bags and dispensers to choose from that conveniently attach to leashes or belt loops. Our popular Lavender Scented Bags by Earth Rated are strong, easy to use, and have a pleasant scent.

 

Training Treats

Walks are a great time to train your pet or reinforce prior training. Be sure to bring along some training treats to reward your pet and reinforce positive behavior.

 

Paw Protection

If your walk is taking you to muddy places, or if you want to protect your pet from hot pavement or lawn chemicals, you may want to consider PawZ disposable boots. These thin foot protectors are easy to put on, are reusable, and dogs get used to them quickly since they don’t interfere with their sense of the ground when they walk.

 

Make it a routine to walk your dog as often as possible. It’s fun – and good – for both of you,  and remember…a tired dog is a happy dog!

 

Ready? Set. Walk!

 

 

Top Tips and Products for a Clean Start this Spring

We love this time of year. The days are longer, our walks with our pets are longer (and warmer) and for whatever reason, Spring makes us want to clean!

As you plan your Spring Cleaning projects, include your best friend in your planning.

Here are some great tips and great products to freshen up your pet’s life – and yours as well!

 

Wash it!

Your pet’s “stuff” could use a good cleaning. All of it. Toys, beds, dishes, collars, winter clothes, carriers, you name it.  Most of your pet’s products should be washed frequently, and Spring is a perfect time to start fresh.

Toys –  Clean ‘em off, spruce ‘em up. Wash most soft, plush toys in your laundry with a mild, unscented detergent, and hard toys in either the dishwasher or sink (try a 50/50 mix of vinegar and water or water and a mild dish soap).

Too many toys? Time for a few new ones? Consider donating your used-but-nice toys to pets who aren’t lucky enough to have a Two Bostons pet parent. Your pet probably deserves a new toy or two, anyway, right? (Bring your clean, used toys to any Two Boston store and we’ll make sure they find a good home.)

Collars and Leashes – Clean nylon web and cloth collars and leashes by soaking in a bowl with warm water and a tablespoon of your dog’s shampoo for 15-20 minutes. Rub the collar against itself to remove ground-in dirt. (Need a new look? We have a rainbow of fun colors and styles to match your pet’s personality. Stop in and see what’s new for Spring).

While you’re at it, be sure to check your pet’s tags as well to make sure they’re secure and readable.

Beds & Clothes – Wash removable bed covers and clothes in the washing machine with an unscented detergent (and much more frequently than once a year). Bed still looking or smelling a little suspect after washing? It’s time for a new one. She’d love a comfy new crib from Two Bostons.

 

Out with the old, in with the new

Check your pet’s wellness and grooming products to make sure they’re there and you’re ready when the time calls. Out of date medications and wellness products? Toss them and get new. Set with shampoos, wipes, and conditioners? Stock up – Spring means rain and rain means mud.

Our customers love our line of Bobbi Panter shampoos  Good selection of delicious scents, tear free, gentle, and made with natural ingredients for clean, thick, soft coats.

Want a quick, easy way to keep your pet clean and smelling great between baths? Our Earthbath Dog Grooming Wipes provide a convenient waterless touch-up solution for muddy paws, removing dander, pollen, and dirt, and leaving your pet smelling fresh and clean. Great for cats as well. Be prepared – have them on hand for when you need them.

Do a quick check of your other grooming products – toenail clippers, ear and dental wipes, brushes and whatever else you use – even occasionally. You should also take a gander at your treat drawer and toss any old treats.

Keep your space clean

Dog Gone Smart Brown Dirty Dog Doormat

 

Our versatile Dirty Dog Doormat isn’t just for inside or outside the door anymore (although you’ll want one there for muddy paws). Our customers tell us they love them under water/food bowls, in crates, in their cars, or even just to lay on (well, not the customers, but their dogs love to lay on them). The plush, velvety-soft microfiber is super absorbent, sucking up 7x its weight in water, mud, and mess, and its non-skid backing keeps it where you want it. It’s a great product, is available in five colors, and it’s even machine washable.

 

Spring is the perfect time of year to do a comprehensive clean of your pet’s stuff and make a list of what you need for the summer ahead. You’ll feel great for being a good pet owner and your best friend will certainly appreciate having everything looking and feeling and smelling clean and fresh.

When you’re done with your Spring cleaning and summer prep, celebrate the season! Take your best friend out for a long walk, and feel free walk in to any Two Boston store so you can treat your buddy to a new toy, natural chew, or a yummy Spring-themed cookie from our gourmet bakery.

And we’d love to see you again, both of you.

Preppy Puppy Bakery Tulip

Keeping your pet at their ideal weight is so important to their health. If your pet is overweight, I strongly urge you to take the steps to start helping them lose the excess pounds.

To see if your do is a their ideal weight, there are 3 areas to check:

(1) Ribs

You should be able to feel your dog’s ribs as if there is a thin blanket over them. You can feel them, but they are not noticeably visible when standing. If you feel a layer of “squish” over this area or can’t feel the ribs at all, your dog is overweight.

(2) Abdominal Tuck

You should notice an upward slope of your dog’s belly from the end of their rib cage to their thighs. If there is barely to no slope here, your dog is overweight.

(3) Waist

From a bird’s eye view, looking down at your dog, you should notice an inward tapering of a waist, just before their rear end. If you can’t make out a waist, or you are noticing more of a sausage shape here, your dog is overweight.

The above 3 areas to check ideal weight are there in EVERY dog.

Extra weight adds extra stress on the joints as well as the rest of the body. It can make them prone to so many different health conditions as well as make it more difficult to recover from injuries. If your pet is overweight, it’s time to start taking the steps to slim them down.

To help your pet lose the extra weight, there are two main areas to look at:

(1) Food

Your dog’s diet is the most influential factor to their weight. Start by cutting back their food, or better yet, look to providing your pet with a better quality food. Keep track of everything that goes into your dog’s mouth everyday. If your dog gets a treat in the day, be sure you account for this at meal time. If you feed a food like kibble or canned food, try going to a less processed food such as a freeze, or best you can feed raw.

Notice the 3 areas to check: ribs, abdominal tuck, and waist spell “raw?” They were put in that order at no mistake! Raw food provides your dog with nutrition in the form their body was designed to recognize and utilize. It will make weight loos much easier, and it will benefit every other aspect of their health as well.

Sometimes if a dog has been on a kibble or canned food for a long period of time they are lacking the beneficial bacteria and enzymes in their gut micro-biome. Supplementing probiotics and enzymes, or feeding foods like raw green tripe to  replenish and balance their gut can help with weight loss as well.

(2) Exercise

Be sure your dog is getting an ample amount of exercise in their day. Many dogs are lacking the amount of exercise they should get. There are so many ways to help your pet get active, whether a walk, a run, swimming, hiking, playing with other dogs, playing with you, and much more. There are so many things you can do to get your pet moving.  You can get creative here.

There are many interactive toys available to help get your pet physically and mentally stimulated on days you may be extra busy, such as treat balls to roll around the house. “Wait, treats?!” Again, be sure you account for any treats at meal time and be sure they are minimally processed treats such as freeze dried or dehydrated treats, limited ingredients such as a single protein source, so that they do not hinder your weight loss goals.

You can also check out dog training facilities and try out some dog sports like agility, flyball, canine freestyle, disc dog, or dock diving to get your dog moving and having fun. If your dog is older or has joint issues, you can look into a lower impact activity like nose work or barn hunt (some jumping).

If your pet is already at their ideal weight, thank you so much for looking out for your pet’s health and wellness. If you realize your pet is overweight after reading this article, start your plan and make it your number one priority to get your pet to a healthy weight.

Dr. Erin O’Connor is an AVCA Animal Chiropractor and ACAN Naturopathic Carnivore Nutrition Consultant. She sees patients out of her clinic, Vitality Chiropractic Center in Aurora, as well as Autumn Green Animal Hospital in Geneva. For further information, visit myvitalitychiropractic.com or email Dr. O’Connor at drerinoconnor@myvitalitychiropractic.com.

 

 

When a client calls me on the phone and describes their dog as “aggressive,” I have my own picture in my head of what aggression looks like. But what is their picture? What exactly does aggressive look like to them? So I ask.  And I ask a very specific question.

“How do you know? What exactly does your dog’s reactivity look like that makes you think this?”

Did you see what I did there? I changed their word “aggression” to “reactivity” because the bottom line is, the dog is simply reacting to a stimulus. The severity of the reactivity is what I’m trying to find out.

“My neighbor came over and my dog jumped on her and barked” VERSES “My husband was in the ER because our dog bit him.”

I never give advice about reactivity/aggression over the phone. Not until I see it in person, I need too much additional information before I can begin. However, there is some information that I can give that is an overview no matter what or how severe the reactivity is.

Reactivity is mostly fear-based. I would even go as far as to say 99% of all aggression cases are based and rooted in fear or they started there even if they have morphed into something else today.
The humans frequently make the reactive behavior worse on accident because of how they react. You should become aware of how you react and everything you do. This includes your voice and your body language.

Threshold. No matter how reactive the dog is, no matter what the dog is reacting to, no matter the location where the dog is reacting, the dog cannot have his mind changed about anything unless he is under threshold. The dog must be in a position to learn. Once a dog has reached the height of his reactivity, it is too late to train or learn, the only option then is management. Begin implementing training under threshold. This usually means distance from stimuli. Distance is always your best friend.

Counter Conditioning. When a dog is reactive, the dog has already made a decision about how he feels about the stimulus. That’s why he is reacting! Changing how the dog feels about the stimulus is the most common, and often, the easiest technique. Associate a positive interaction with the aversive. Present a beloved chewy water bottle as you need to pass another dog on a leash.  Allow the dog to begin to associate happy things happen when the bad things enters the scene.

Incompatible Behaviors/Replacement Behaviors. IBs teach the dog to do something that causes him to be physically unable to do the unwanted behavior and RBs are performing a wanted behavior instead of an unwanted one. For example, it is physically impossible for a dog to jump if he is sitting. This same idea can be used with reactivity. Replace lunging at the end of the leash with eye contact to you. Or train the dog that a tight leash is a cue to find you so if he does reach the end of his leash, he is able to cue himself out of lunging!

Be a Detective. Why is your dog reacting? Sometimes if you can find the root, you can fix the problem. Most of the time we don’t have the originating situation to cause this but sometimes we do know! A client called me recently about their dog now displacing reactivity to anything that beeps. But she also knows the exact moment it happened! The dog was home all day when the smoke alarm battery started chirping. The dog now associated the obnoxious noise with being afraid and fear turns into “aggression.”

Earlier the better. The sooner you can recognize there is a fear or reactivity starting, the easier and quicker it can be reversed!

No practicing. Practice makes perfect so every time the dog gets to practice the reactive behavior, it gets better and stronger and more default. Management and prevention can play a huge part in reversing a guarding behavior.

Don’t hesitate to consult a positive reinforcement trainer or your veterinarian for more information.

 

 

 

I will assume that you want the cold weather to go away and Spring to stay as much as I do.  And this includes our pets too!  We are all really starting to feel the cabin fever and have a lot of pent-up energy.  This weekend we are going to be having our Free Harness Fittings, so I thought I would get you thinking about getting out of the house and out on regular, relaxing and enjoyable walks!

Most complaints about dog walking is about them pulling…Have you ever asked yourself, “Who’s walking who?” this is for you!!

1. Collars, Leashes and Harnesses: You want to find a collar that is an appropriate width for the size of your dog and a leash that is easy for you to hold and handle. We have all kinds of different leashes to choose from! We strongly recommend that you use a standard leash instead of a retractable leash.  Read about retractable leashes in a previous Blog: Do you know why you can’t find retractable leashes at Two Bostons?

Using a harness to walk your dog is safer and healthier. Placing them in a well-fitted harness will be much better for them and will give you more control as well!

If you have a dog that REALLY pulls (or maybe you want a very well-mannered walker) you should try the No-Pull Dog Harness by SPORN. This is the best no-pull system that we have found. The SPORN fits just like a regular harness but pulls up on the dogs’ armpits, which is a pressure point, when the dog pulls. This doesn’t hurt the dog at all, but it does make it uncomfortable if they continue to pull.  The best thing about this is that you don’t have to correct your dog, he will correct himself!

2. Poop Bags: Let’s face it, they do it…so be prepared! We have several different poop bags and poop bag holders to choose from. One of our favorite Poop Bags and Dispensers in the Lavender or non-Scented Bags by Earth Rated. These poop bags are for those who want to go green! Made of 100% renewable resources and dissolve in as little as 40 days.

3. Hydration: If you are just going around the block you may not need to worry about taking water with you, but if you are on a longer walk or it is in the middle of a hot summer day, you will want to keep your pups hydrated! We have a few different options for you to choose from. One of those is the Gulpy Water Dispenser by Kyjen. It is easy to use, doesn’t leak and you can easily carry it with the built-in belt clip.

 

The most important thing is to have fun on your walks! Stop into Two Bostons this Saturday, (3/11/17) for our Harness Fittings and we will help you find all the right walking gear for you and your pups!

Two Bostons will also be starting our very popular Weekly Walks on Thursday, April 6, 2017 at our Downtown Naperville and Burr Ridge stores.

Make no bones about it, chiropractic care is not just for people. Our canine, feline and equine family members appreciate feeling well adjusted and functioning at optimal health. Just because they walk on four paws (or hooves) doesn’t mean they don’t suffer from the same aches and pains as we humans experience. The spine, muscles and nervous system in all species are very similar and therefore those same aches and pains can be treated similarly.

Animal chiropractic is a gentle, holistic branch of medicine that allows the body to heal and function properly with a little help from a highly trained friend. A certified veterinary spinal manipulative therapist (cVSMT) is a licensed chiropractic physician or a veterinarian who has undergone specialized training in chiropractic medicine specifically for animals.

So how do our non-linguistic family members let us know they are feeling out of sorts? Some furry friend tell-“tail” signs may include: less playfulness, sore spots when being cuddled, changes in the way they walk, sit or play, and multiple other maladies. Our competitive sporty companions may not be performing at their peak as well.

Take a moment or two to decide if you think it may be time to “Take Paws for a Chiropractic Adjustment” with a friendly neighborhood doc who loves animals and knows how to keep your four-legged family members in healthy alignment from wet nose to happily wagging tail. Dr. Sarah is a board certified and licensed chiropractic physician with certification from The Healing Oasis and The Collage of Animal Chiropractic.

You can contact Dr. Sarah at (630) 470-5737 or SarahRussDC@Russfamilychiropractic.com with any questions you may have or to schedule an appointment today. Be sure to tune in again for another segment of “Take Paws for a Chiropractic Adjustment” with Dr. Sarah Russ.

 

 

Since I’ve been away on my Mommy Sabbatical, my colleagues have been telling me they have seen an increase in a behavior commonly referred to as Resource Guarding. This is when a dog finds something valuable and wants to protect it from the humans or other dogs or pets. The behaviors can look as minimal as walking away with the valuable item or can be as severe as biting. This behavior is unwanted by us but still totally normal and not a dog trying to claim a status of dominance.

There are some things all owners should be doing and not doing to prevent resource guarding with the family dog! If your dog is already showing signs of Resource Guarding, have hope that it is a changeable behavior. There are a few things to keep in mind.

Resource Guarding DO:

Do an exchange with your dog for everything to take. Take a toy, give a treat. Take a stuffed KONG, give a toy. Etc. The mistake made is “I’m your master,” when in fact your dog is just interpreting you as a jerk and learns to guard instead. This is most helpful when a puppy or dog is new to a family.

Do leave your dog alone when eating meals or snacks other than dropping goodies. Always and forever.

Do prevent the opportunity to guard. Separate multiple dogs food bowls and chew toys. Always and forever.

Do train your dog. Training as many behaviors as possible gives your dog default options to offer you to gain access to things they want. It’s important to include a drop and leave it in the mix of behaviors.

Resource Guarding DON’T:

Don’t put your hands in your dog’s food bowl while he eats. Can you imagine if a restaurant server stood at your table with his hands on your plate?!? Just leave the dog alone unless you’re dropping an extra yummy in.

Don’t take anything from your dog and walk off.

Don’t allow you dog access to things he can guard.

Resource Guarding CHANGING BEHAVIOR:

Do have your dog work for everything. No free handouts.  All food, treats, and toys require eye contact, sit or down behavior.

Do hand-feed. Hand-feed can come from your actual hands or from a pouring container. Ask your dog for eye contact or a sit and pour a small amount into their bowl. When the dog finishes, ask for behaviors and pour a small amount, repeat. Include high value food into their diet when your dog automatically begins to offer these behaviors.

Do train a give release or drop cue.

Do train a leave it or off cue.

Do make yourself valuable so your dog knows that when you are around, good things happen and less guarding will “need” to exist.

Don’t punish or challenge a dog displaying resource guarding.

And don’t hesitate to contact a positive reinforcement trainer or your veterinarian for questions or additional help!

You can contact Amber Walker at (630) 53-PUPPY, amber@aitrainers.com or visit her website www.aitrainers.com