Giving the discerning dog owner the "upper paw" on the best products, nutrition and training tips.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Let's Get This "Potty" Started! Tips on potty training

As you know, we love bringing our readers the latest and greatest information when it comes to nutrition news, must-have products and beyond.  The subject of training is no different and this is what we have decided to highight in this week's post.

As our "Pup-of-the-Month", Franklin, turns 9 months old; we decided to reflect on his progress in regards to potty training and to give you some tips on successful training.

Let's get this "potty" started!

First of all, when it comes to training patience and consistency are absolutely essential!  We also train our dogs using The Loved Dog Method by Tamar Gellar.  You may recognize Tamar Gellar's name because of her many famous clients...(cough, cough Oprah Winfrey, Ben Affeck), or maybe because of her amazing experience of studying wolves in the wild, while serving as an officer in MOSSAD (Israeli Military Intelligence).  Either way, we are big fans of her teaching methods as they are always based on reward and kindness.  We strongly believe in rewards-based training as opposed to dominance or fear-based training.  Rewards-based training creates a stronger bond between you and your dog by fostering feelings of confidence and security.  Additionally, if your dog does not fear being physically reprimanded for making a mistake, he or she will be better equipped to concentrate and learn the desired behaviors faster.

With Franklin, and the many puppies we have potty trained over the years;  training commenced immediately.  We first developed a routine and took him outside at similar times each day.

Tip:  We recommend taking your dog out to potty every two to two and half hours.  If you are actively playing with your puppy, he or she may need to go out every 30 minutes. 

When it was time to go outside to potty, we enlisted the "bell system".  This is a small bell attached to ribbon or string that you can hang from your doorknob.  Each time you take your pooch outside, ring the bell with their paw, provide a treat and take outside.  Once your dog relieves himself or herself, excitement and reward is a MUST!  Clap, hug, pet your dog and tell him or her "Good Potty!" Provide your treat and repeat.

The "Bell System" works wonders

It is key to be consistent with the order of reward and word usage.  For example, if you use the "bell system", use it every time you go outside to potty.  This will train your dog to recognize the bell sound and associate the sound with going potty outside.  Also, using "Good Potty" each time will help with word recognition of the desired behavior.

Like many of you, we are not able to be at home during the work day with our dogs.  Therefore, when the time came to plan Franklin's potty breaks during the day, we decided to enlist a dog walker.  Puppies bladders are not truly developed until they are 6-9 months old, depending on the breed.  It is essential to make sure your puppy can go out during the day while you are at work.  Not being able to go outside during the day is unsafe and could lead to bladder infections, as well as, derail your training.

Tip:  It is important to manage expectations when it comes to potty training.  Dogs may know they need to go outside, but depending on age, may not be able to control their bladders.  Large breeds are able to have full bladder development at 6-8 months, whereas smaller breeds can take up to 10 months. 

Potty Training Top 5 Keys to Success:

1.  Develop a routine

2.  Be consistent

3.  Praise, Praise, Praise!

4.  Be patient

5.  Don't give up

Tip:  If you do not catch your dog in the act of peeing or pooing.  Do not scold.  This is pointless.  Your puppy will have a memory span of a fly and won't understand

We hope you've found this week's post helpful!  Be sure to check out Tamar's website and must-have training books!


A & A

30 Days to a Well-Mannered Dog, The Loved Dog Method by Tamar Geller

A Training Essential!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Staying Active in the Cold

As we navigate these wintery days of ice, snow, and sub-zero temperatures, it is important to stay healthy and active.  This is also true for our canine companions.  Admittedly, it's not as easy to be active with frigid temperatures outside, but there are many options that can be found indoors that are both fun and engaging for your dog.

In this issue, we will identify some great ways to stay warm and active during the dog days of winter.

Indoor Agility

This is a great way to engage your dog both intellectually and physically.  Agility takes your dog through a series of obstacles where the dog must work with you and follow your verbal commands to navigate the course.  This activity is fantastic because it offers a myriad of benefits such as burning off extra energy, building endurance, and stimulating your dog mentally.  Dogs of any shape and size can don't hesitate to invite your friend's Pug to join you and your Golden Retriever.  Plus, agility is a wonderful way to bond and strengthen the relationship between you and your dog.  Courses cannot be completed alone, you both need one another to complete the course which promotes team work and trust. 

Be sure to check out a class near you!  Businesses offering agility classes are becoming increasingly popular all over the country.  If  you get really serious about agility, you may want to consider entering agility competitions in your area.

Indoor agility obstacle course

Indoor Dog Parks

Indoor dog parks are also becoming more popular, particularly in urban areas where green space is limited.  Indoor dog parks are a great way to allow your dog to exercise off-leash; which can be quite exhilarating for dogs dwelling in the city where leash laws are heavily enforced.  Secondly, taking your dog to an indoor dog park, or any park for that matter, is a good way to socialize your pooch.  By interacting with dogs of all shapes, sizes, smells and personalities; your dog will be better adapted to social scenarios.  In fact, it is believed that most dogs would "prefer" to meet off-leash.  This puts both dogs on neutral playing fields and eliminates the anxious and/or protective behavior that can occur when on leash.

Indoor dog park

Indoor Activities at Home

Never underestimate the convenience and comfort of staying home.  If you don't feel like braving the elements and driving to your local agility course or indoor dog park, use this opportunity to get creative with activities at home.  One of our favorite home activities is hide-and-seek.  Our 6yr old Japanese Chin, Jack, absolutely LOVES this game!  He gets so excited with the anticipation of knowing he's about to find you and loves to be surprised and chase us when he finds us hiding around the house.  Additionally, a good old-fashioned game of fetch or tug-of-war can be a great deal of fun for your dog.

Happy playing!


A & A

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Nutrition: Wet vs Dry Foods

It's challenging enough to sort through the countless brands and nutritional trends in order to make a diet selection for your dog.  Never mind deciding if you should buy wet or dry foods.  Is one better than another?  Should you alternate?

In this issue, we will break it down to help you better understand the differences between wet food and dry food.

Wet Food:

What is wet food?  Wet food is also known as canned food.  To the human eye, it is not always the most pleasing to look at or smell, however, most dogs absolutely love it!  Canned food comes in countless varieties and flavors; which is a great way to feed picky eaters, older dogs that may be losing interest in food, and as a reward option for dogs on kibble-only diets.  Canned food also contains the highest water content compared to other forms of dog food.  This helps dogs maintain healthy levels of hydration, and particularly helps dogs with dry skin and coat issues.  Lastly, canned food tends to be higher in calories compared to other foods.  This is great for active dogs and aging dogs needing more caloric intake than the average daily recommendations.

When feeding canned food, be sure not to allow the food to sit in the bowl for too long.  If left out for too long, bacteria can develop and harm your dog.  It is also necessary to clean the bowl after feeding so that food particles don't begin to grow harmful bacteria.

My boys had this for breakfast this morning.  Wellness has numerous flavors that your dog will love!

Dry Food:

Dry food, kibble, bagged food...this is your most common and basic format of dog food.  The vast majority of dogs in America live strictly on a dry food diet (with the exception of the occasional table scrap or potato chip handout...we don't recommend).  Dry food diets are not only great because of their convenience, but they are also less messy and smelly than canned food, and are intended to be "complete and balanced" diets.  Never feed your dog a dry kibble that does not display the "complete and balanced" verbiage on the label.  This wording is stating that the kibble is formulated according to AAFCO standards and nutritional profiles and is intended to be adequate for your dog's sole nutrition source.  While this may meet the published requirements, even the best food can be deficient.  

When feeding kibble, be mindful of the ingredients.  Dogs benefit and absorb nutrients more effectively from protein than from starchy, high grain feeds.  It is also important to store your food in sealed containers.  The fats in the kibble can be become rancid and spoil towards the end of the bag, causing diarrhea and upset stomachs. 

Dry kibble is also great for dental health!  Crunching on the kibble can help reduce tartar build-up

So, as you can see, there are multiple forms of food that you can feed your pooch.  We don't recommend one food over another; we recommend incorporating  a variety of these forms into your dog's diet.  After all, isn't variety the spice of life?  Dogs, just like humans, can become bored with their food and genuinely enjoy variety.  

Additionally, even though your dog's food may say "complete and balanced" no food is perfect and can still be deficient from certain nutrients and minerals crucial to your dog's overall health.

We hope you enjoy this post!  Happy eating and be sure to check out our Facebook page for the brands we feed our beloved pooches!


A & A  

Disclaimer:  As with any nutritional advice The Upper Paw provides; we strongly advise you to consult  with your veterinarian before altering or changing your dog's diet.  Discuss your dog's specific health needs with your veterinarian.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Tea Time with your Dog

With the new year upon us, there are so many exciting changes coming in 2013!  For the new year, one of our many resolutions is to strive to live a healthier and happier lifestyle.  As a result, these resolutions have inspired this week's post to introduce your dog to the benefits of tea.

This topic also happens to perfectly coincide with the main events occurring (at least for me) in January 2013.  One event being a 7-day juice cleanse, which will most likely end up being 3 days, and the start of the long anticipated 3rd season of Downton Abbey!

Isis from Downton Abbey
With that said, let's talk tea!

Up until now, you may have only considered tea for human consumption.  However, tea can offer many health benefits for your dog, such as promoting calming and healing affects.  We have tried to dedicate this post to leading you in the right direction when it comes to choosing tea for your dog.  As with any supplement to your dog's diet, be sure to consult your veterinarian before introducing an addition to their diet.  Also, be sure to test small quantities of tea with your dog to ensure there is no allergic reaction.

Suggested Teas and their Benefits:

Herbal Teas - Teas within this category have several benefits for your dog.  Of the herbal teas, chamomile is the most popular.  The anti-inflammatory properties contained in the chamomile flower help soothe dry, itchy skin.  This tea also aids in easing digestion for dog's with primarily dry food diets, and can serve as a powerful calming agent for anxious pooches.

Green Tea - This tea is most notable for being packed with anti-oxidants and immune-boosting powers.  Green tea is powerful not only in keeping your dog healthy, but can help promote healthy teeth and better breath.  Many retailers have jumped on the "Green Tea Bandwagon" and you can find various ways to incorporate its benefits into your dog's diet.  Caution:  Be sure not to incorporate too much into your dog's diet as this can be toxic to their digestive system

Black Tea - There are many different types of tea, and you are probably most familiar with Earl Grey or English Breakfast when it comes to black teas.  This group of teas has powerful anti-inflammatory affects on the digestive tract and can be a powerful remedy for dog's suffering from extreme digestive issues.  Dog's with upset stomachs and diarrhea can benefit greatly from having just a bit of this poured into their water dish.  Not only will this curb their discomfort, but will help hydrate in the healing process.

The teas discussed above are a good place to start when introducing your dog to tea.  They are most likely to be found in your pantry and local grocery store.  If you don't want to brew your own tea at home, or you are looking for a specialized blend, we suggest you take a look at some of our favorite herbal blends listed below.

Teas we LOVE!

  • Machu's Blend - Tea for Dogs by The California Tea House = Named after the owner's Great Dane, Machu Picchu, this tea contains chamomile, ginger root, fennel seed, skullcap and calendula to create a wonderful herbal supplement.  The tea boasts such benefits as supporting a healthy skin and coat, as well as, reducing stress and stomach discomfort from indigestion.
  • Quiet Tea by The Honest Kitchen = Ingredients include oat straw, chamomile, passionflower, skullcap and Valerian root.  This tea is great for promoting calming and anxiety-reduction during stressful situations, such as travel, separation anxiety, thunderstorms, and so forth.
  • Lithe Tea by The Honest Kitchen = Contains alfalfa, white willow bark, yucca, ginger, red clover and boswellia.  This tea is great for aging and large-breed dogs that require supplements for bone and joint function.

Enjoy your next tea time and don't forget to invite your pup!


A & A