The Yellow Ribbon Project – What you should know

The Yellow Ribbon Project – What you should know

This idea has been making the rounds pretty regularly over the past few months and so I felt it time for me to weigh in. The thought behind this is that a yellow ribbon, or a yellow collar or leash, will notify people around you that your dog needs space. To me, this is a wonderful idea. I believe that all people should give pets and people more room than they are already given, but that said I do recognize that having people do so might be asking too much. To have some way of notifying people for the dogs that specifically need more space would be a great thing to get off the ground. For those who are injured, frightened, young and training, or any number of other things, this would be a wonderful concept.

I am worried though. Worried that some might see this as not asking for space, but an admittance that their dog is dangerous or aggressive. That is not what this is about but I can see people viewing it as such. People will look at the yellow notice as a “Warning” sign, not a “Yield” sign. People will look at this as an admittance of guilt rather than as it should be, looking for patience and calm.

Do I believe this is reason enough to not attempt doing this in our neighborhoods and towns? No, I don’t. I think we should do what we can and get the people around us to look at this as it should be, to try. I believe that if we could get those around us to know what a Yellow Ribbon means, that the idea will spread beyond our friends groups and our neighborhoods. This image and idea has been circulating the internet dog world for months as I mentioned earlier, but it needs to spread beyond the dog world. We need to share it with our friends who don’t own dogs but maybe have kids, or with people who work in stores and parks. If people learn what it means, there is less of a possibility of people wondering and coming to their own conclusions about what it is.

National Puppy Day

National Puppy Day

Today is National Puppy Day and in honor of that I would love to give my big picture idea of what to do when bringing your puppy home and what you should have when you do.

Please see my post on Responsible Ownership if you haven’t already, where I talk about what goes into picking your puppy and some generalizations on the day to day with a puppy.

There are many things which people say are necessary when you bring home your dog. Here’s my list:

  • Long Leash – 6+ Feet (Great for recall training and explorative walks in the future)
  • Short Leash – 2 Feet or less (Great for leash training and walks)
  • Solid Collar – Primarilly for Identification
  • Head Halter or Front Connect Leash –  For leash training and more
  • Food Bowls – Metal, Glass, or Ceramic. Plastic bowls will hold flavors, hold bacteria, and can leach toxins into food and water
  • Crate and Bed- Big enough for the puppy to stand up and turn around comfortably. If the crate is too big the house training benefits of crating will be lost and they will eliminate and still have room to get away and sleep.
  • Quality Puppy Food – Talk to your veterinarian and do your own research to see what the best recommendations for your pet and your pets breed.
  • Quality Toys – Your dog will want and need to chew. It’s recommended to have many varieties of toys and feelings for your dog, and to rotate toys so that they don’t get ‘bored’ with them.
  • Quality Treats – You should have a variety of treats of different interest levels. Plain biscuits, soft smelly treats, freeze dried high value, and more
  • Clicker – This is optional but I feel it’s a very beneficial and helpful training tool.

Within I’d say the first two weeks or so of having your puppy I would recommend not trying to actively train. I believe that the best thing for this time would be to simply introduce your dog to a positive and negative word or sound. When they do something you want to encourage you can quickly click and treat while saying your positive word or sound and if they do something you don’t want to encourage you can say the negative word or sound and redirect them to something you want or like.

More on puppies to come in the next few days!

Dog Food Decisions

Dog Food Decisions

Before I begin here, everyone has the right to choose the proper diet for their own dog and for their own pets. What is important is to make informed decisions and to be sure that your pet is getting all of the nutrition they need.

Though some may like to make their dogs food on their own, I would not recommend doing so before consulting with your vet and doing a lot of research to learn about the nutritional needs of your dog. Thankfully there are countless dog food producers now who are doing wonderful jobs putting together great foods.

Here is what to look out for in a dog food product:

Real Meats – Though meat-byproducts are not always as bad as some make them out to be (heart, bone, lungs, skin, etc.) having real plain meat, preferable as the first ingredient, is indicative of a quality food.

Natural, Organic, or Holistic – Don’t let these words skew your decision. Their use is not regulated and have not been defined by the organisation who regulates animal food. The only word that you can use to help influence your choice other than the ingredients themselves should be “Human Grade”. This means that the ingredient is best of the best.

Corn: For years many have seen their dogs have irritation and skin problems which cleared up when they were switched from a food including corn to food without it. It has not been widely scientifically studied, though interest in doing such has been shown, but one would recommend that if your dog is itching and biting frequently to try food without corn.

Grain: In the same relation to corn as mentioned above, some dogs would benefit from grain-free diets. This would have been something quite difficult to achieve just a few years ago, but now you can find grain-free diets from even the big name dog food producers. I would recommend having a conversation with your vet before making any drastic changes to a diet or before choosing a grain-free diet from the get-go.

Another thing to think about when feeding your dog is whether you will stick with one food or if you should rotate their diet. A lot of favor has been put towards a rotating diet as it is very likely that such a diet will help broaden your dogs palette, especially if fed this way very early. This can benefit you because a dog fed one food only may be less likely to take to a different food in the future if you want to change or if the food gets discontinued, or even if the recipe for the food changes.

As with anything, be informed as much as you can about the things which you give your pet. If you would look at the labels on the processed food you give your family, or which you eat yourself, why would you blindly purchase something for your pet?

What NOT to Feed Your Dog

What NOT to Feed Your Dog

Countless people will tell you what kinds of foods you should feed your pet, but that’s a topic for another day. Right now I want to focus on some things that you shouldn’t be feeding your pet.

Firstly, here are some foods that are poisonous to most dogs and should be avoided.

  • Avocado
  • Bread Dough
  • Chocolate
  • Alcohol
  • Grapes or Raisins
  • Macadamia Nuts
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Pitted Fruits (Plum, Peach, etc.)
  • Artificial-Sweeteners (Specifically Xylitol)

If you believe your dog has ingested one of the items on this list please keep an eye on your dog. Call your vet but stay calm and explain what you believe has happened. They will be able to advise you as to what would be best.

Other Foods to Avoid, these aren’t as dangerous but follow the same procedure if you believe your dog has eaten any of the following.

  • Dairy such as Milk or Cheese
  • Coffee
  • Excess Fat
  • Raw Eggs and Meat (White, Red, Pork, Fish, etc.)

The last two mentioned above are controversial and here’s what I have to say and why I keep them on these lists.

Excess Fat: Many people have and do give their pets fat trimmings from their plates or before cooking the meat. What they don’t know is that in excess these trimmings can cause pancreatitis. This is a serious condition and should not be taken lightly. If your dog is not eating, lethargic, vomiting, and/or appears to be having a hard time breathing please contact your vet right away.

Raw Eggs and Meat:

These items can contain salmonella which is just as harmful to dogs as it is to humans. They also contain many enzymes and proteins which dogs cannot always properly digest, causing them to have stomach pains and distress. My one exception to my rule of no raw foods are the processed high quality freeze-dried raw treats and foods that are being produced by ingenious dog food makers such as Origen and Natures Value. These products are well controlled and monitored throughout the process and the freeze drying process is great at killing possible bacteria. Careful handling is necessary with these items though as they are still technically raw. Please wash hands carefully when feeding or giving treats that are freeze-dried raw.

Do you have things to add to this list? Do you know something which I have accidentally omitted or do you think I included something I shouldn’t have? Please comment below or tweet me @yourpositivedog

Things of Ireland : Dog Breeds and Names of Ireland

Things of Ireland : Dog Breeds and Names of Ireland

It’s unfortunate that today has become more about drinking and less about actual interests in Irish history and nationality.

Here are a few of the wonderful pieces of Ireland that last in the form of dog breeds and names! Take note of these between pints for me.

Irish Breeds:

There are some very obvious ones, with their nationality literally in the name

  • Irish Setter
    • Wonderful hunting companion who is (primarily) eager to please
  • Irish Wolf Hound
    • One of the largest breeds of dog. That size is nothing to be scared of though, this breed is traditionally very kind-hearted!
  • Irish Water Spaniel
    • Another great hunting dog who would be happy to join you for a swim (or a few tosses of a tennis ball) any day.
  • Irish Terrier
  • Irish Red and White Setter

Some others are a little less obvious

  • Kerry Blue Terrier
    • Like many terriers this dog was bred to control vermin. They are known for their iconic “Blue” coat.
  • Glen of Imaal Terrier
  • Lurcher
    • Stealthy and cunning, this dog is not yet to the point of being “Purebred” meaning it is a breed in the making. Some are bred more for herding abilities, others for hunting.
  • (Arguably) Border Collie
  • Kerry Beagle

One thing that’s important to note is that all of these dogs were bred for a purpose. All of these are working and active breeds who had jobs, and many of them are still bred to do those jobs in Ireland and abroad. Border Collies were bred for herding and for the intense “eye” that they can give the sheep. Wolfhounds were bred not only to protect land, but to hunt alongside their people in the lowlands.

Now for some Irish names you might want to consider, some popular, some not, and all Irish.

  • Aiden
    • Meaning little fire.
  • Brady
    • Meaning spirited and broad
  • Bran
    • Meaning Raven
  • Brennen
    • Also meaning Raven. Very popular after Saint Brennan.
  • Bridget
    • Celtic Goddess (now Saint). For vigor, strength, power.
  • Canagan
    • Meaning little wolf
  • Cass
    • Meaning curly-headed
  • Clara
    • Meaning Bright
  • Colleen
    • Meaning Little Girl
  • Derry
    • Meaning red-haired and Oak (strong tough red wood)
  • Douglas
    • Meaning dark water
  • Dugan
    • Also meaning darkness, dark of skin
  • Erin
    • A name for the old name of Ireland
  • Felan
    • Meaning like the wolf
  • Fergus
    • Meaning strength and Power
  • Flynn
    • Meaning red or ruddy
  • Gallagher
    • Meaning eager helper
  • Hugh
    • Name for an ancient Celtic god. Meaning heart and spirit
  • Kane
    • Meaning fighter or Tribute
  • Kerry
    • County in Ireland, also means Dark and Dusky
  • Larkin
    • Meaning Rough and Fierce
  • Lia
    • Meaning hard-working and strong
  • Macree
    • Meaning of grace
  • Murphy
    • Meaning warrior of the sea
  • Nolan
    • Meaning of renown and noble
  • Oran
    • Meaning pale
  • Pooka
    • Meaning goblin and fiendish
  • Rohan
    • Meaning little red one
  • Rosaleen
    • Meaning flower or rose
  • Shella
    • Meaning clear or blue
  • Tara
    • Meaning queen or diamond

Do any of you have dogs with Irish names? Any of them listed here or do you have another?

Do you have a dog with a name of particular meaning or purpose? What made you choose it?

Leave your answer in the comments below, or Tweet me @yourpositivedog !

Training Tools – Part 3: The Ugly

Training Tools – Part 3: The Ugly

Lastly, here are some tools which many people still use but which should not be used. I call these the “ugly” parts of training. These items have no place in positive training methods and are rooted in negative reinforcement and in punishment.

  • Choke Collars
    • These have been called “training” or “pinch” collars in addition to many other names but regardless of what they are called, they are choke collars which are meant to choke your dog if they attempt to pull on their leash while walking. In addition to not being an effective method of stopping the behavior, this sort of tool can cause long-standing health problems for your pet in addition to harming the pet’s relationship and trust in you.
  • Prong Collars
    • Just as bad as choke collars but with the addition of metal prongs meant to point in on the dog’s neck. This way, when the dog pulls in addition to getting the pull from the collar itself those prongs will push into the neck causing a more severe punishment. This also has all of the same negatives of the choke collar with one even more severe. The prongs of the collar can puncture the skin of the dog causing serious pain and lasting damage.
  • Dominance
    • I have gone in-depth into why Dominance based training methods are not to be used. They are not only based in incorrect science, but they also train reactively rather than proactively. By training in this way you might initially see results, but those results may not last and your dog will be faced with very debilitating stress and anxiety.

As with the previous posts, I could probably go on about each of these tools/methods for much longer but this is meant to be simply an overview. I would simply say as I have previously, if something doesn’t feel right or if you aren’t comfortable at the thought of using something, simply don’t.

Training tools – Part 2: The Bad

Training tools – Part 2: The Bad

Now that I’ve gone over some good training tools, let’s talk about some not so good. As with anything, we are learning more and more about how to properly train a dog (or any animal) as we go on. There has been some trial and error which means some of these tools have been marketed as great training tools in the past. We know now that this is NOT the case. These tools can leave lasting impressions on your pet and can very negatively affect them. Please void, even when used by a “trained professional”.

  • Shock Collars
    • Whether remote-controlled, perimeter bound, or bark activated this tool is one which many people had negative feelings about and yet went along with because their trainer said it was the best. Rather than training your dog to ignore stimuli or to not react, the collar reacts and tells them that a thing is dangerous, scary, and aggressive. Instead, use the clicker method to reward good behavior and your dog will learn not to do those things which don’t get them a reward.
  • Spray Collars
    • These are less harsh than a shock collar, but do the same thing to your dog. The collar is a reactive and punitive form of training which we now know is not as reliable and does not cause long-lasting results. This tool as well as shock collars could also cause dogs to become more reactive and aggressive when faced with stimuli which (in their minds) caused the negative effect.
  • Martingale Collars
    • Though these are less harmful than a full choke collar, these have the same negative aspects. Though they have a limit of tug that can be done these collars still choke and use pain to “train” a dog not to do something. When clicker methods can provide safe, reliable results, why use something that intentionally causes pain and discomfort.
  • Retractable Leash
    • A tool that would be wonderful for well-trained dogs on open trails that is used for daily walks with untrained, in training, leash reactive dogs, and many more inappropriate pets. This leash gives your pet the ability to roam and explore which is wonderful, but if your dog is reactive, not trained, or disobedient, this is a problem waiting to happen. The lines are usually thin and easy to break, and even if your pet is too small to do any damage to the leash, them pulling can harm the person holding the leash, or even pull it out of their hand. Please stick with a solid lead when training and with larger dogs.

There are many more bad training tools, some of which you’ll see later in my “Part 3: The Ugly” post but I will say the same thing you’ve ready many a time from me. If something seems or feels wrong, or you feel bad using a tool on your dog, do not feel compelled to use it.

More information on Shock Collars: