3 Reasons To Avoid Rawhide

In our Pet Tech First Aid and CPR course we cover many aspects of your pets daily life to promote a safe, healthy environment for your pet. During our section on choking management, the discussion inevitably turns to chew toys and treats. As pet sitters, we encounter all types of products visiting our clients at their homes. Some are relatively safe when used with supervision, others are dangerous from the outset and should be avoided. 
The one item that always falls into the danger category, even under close supervision, is rawhide. 
What Exactly Is Rawhide? 

pet sitter“Rawhide treats come from the inner layer of cow or horse hides. During manufacturing, the hides are cleaned and cut or ground. Then they’re pressed into chewable dog treats of different shapes and sizes. To make them more appealing for dogs, some rawhide treats contain beef, chicken, or liver flavorings.” (Source: Pet WebMD: http://pets.webmd.com/dogs/rawhide-good-or-bad-for-your-dog)

Why Avoid Rawhide? 
1. Choking: Chunks of soggy, yet firm hunks of rawhide can easily be swallowed by your dog. These flat pieces of semi-rigid, processed flesh can swell when they become wet with saliva. They can lodge in your dogs throat, blocking airways and cause choking. In most instances of choking by a dog, the cause most often is rawhide (more than handballs, small tennis balls and other chew toys).
2. Turn Stomachs Into Knots: Some dogs, especially puppies, cannot digest rawhide. Being a processed form of animal skin, it doesn’t remotely resemble the organic nature of prey food that a dogs body is able to digest. Moreover, some dogs are allergic to rawhide and may vomit or have loose stools after consuming it. And going back to point one, if your dog is able to swallow a piece of rawhide, but vomits, it doesn’t mean it won’t become a choking hazard on the way back up. 
3. There Is WHAT In Rawhide?: Rawhide is not a food, but a highly produced byproduct of the food industry. And the details can be downright gruesome: 
Removing the hair from hides often involves a highly toxic recipe: sodium sulphide liming. A standard practice is to procure rawhide in the “split lime state” as by-products from tanneries, facilities that top the list of U.S. Superfund sites. In the post-tannery stage, hides are washed and whitened using a solution of hydrogen peroxide. And that’s just one step.
Other poisonous residues that may show up in rawhide include arsenic and formaldehyde. Even dog skin is a possibility. [sic] Manufacturers told investigators that these chew toys are regularly exported to and sold in U.S. stores.” (Source: http://thebark.com/content/dangers-rawhide-dog-chew-toys)
A Better Chew “Toy”
The fact is for dog owners, you need to supply your pet with something to chew or else you’ll end up with chewed furniture and chewed shoes. Unfortunately there’s not one perfect solution for all pets and pet owners. So we recommend several items for dogs who need to satisfy the need for chewing: 
pet sitter1. KONG brand chew products (unstuffed) 
2. Nylabone brand chew products can be safe as long as you select the size appropriate for your dog and they are not consuming pieces bigger than a grain of rice
3. Deer/Elk Antlers or Raw Beef Bones: Depending on your comfort level with raw bones, both beef bones or antlers can be a long-lasting product for your dogs to chew. However, some dogs have been known to break teeth on these types of products, so check with your vet on your dogs dental condition before offering these to him. 
4. Bully Sticks are an all natural, safe alternative to rawhides. 
It’s important that you never leave your dog by themselves when chewing a chew toy or bone. Supervision is always required. Additionally, after each chew session you should wash the item with hot water, and a mild soap, as you would your pet’s food dishes, to avoid bacterial growth and contamination. 
For more advice on safe pet products or advice, feel free to call us anytime at 321-345-PETS (7387)

Leash Training Your Dog in 3 Simple Steps

dog walkingDog walks are the single most important part of your dog’s daily regime. If you are not walking your dog, you probably realize you have a dog with some behavioral problems. Easily, the number one reason most people do not walk their dog regularly is due to a dog’s poor leash manners.

If you find yourself saying “I want to take him on walks, but he pulls so bad”, don’t worry your not alone. But keep in mind, if your dog pulls on leash it’s not because he’s a bad dog. It’s because he was trained to walk that way.

Don’t worry. We can start improving your dog walks by leash training your dog in 3 easy steps.

dog collarBefore we start, make sure you have the right equipment. You should be using a flat collar with a martingale hoop and a 6 foot leash. If you use certain types of harnesses, retractable leashes or other trendy sort of dog walking equipment you are probably just making your dogs reaction on leash worse by encouraging pulling. (More on that in a future blog.)

Alright, lets get started:

  1. leash pullingStop: When your dog begins pulling you on leash, stop. Don’t allow your dog to pull you. By allowing him to take you where he wants, you are reinforcing his pulling. Instead just stop, don’t move.
  2. Encourage: Now that your dog has stopped moving forward, it’s time to redirect him back the way you just came. Lean over to get his attention, call his name and encourage him with a “come” or “lets go”. Wait for him to react to your call. Don’t yell or become frustrated. It’s going to take some time.
  3. Reward: Once your dog has turned his attention to you, begin walking in the opposite direction you were just being pulled. Watch for your dog to reach your side, by your hip and reward him with praise like “GOOD!” or “YES!”. Then present him with a reward.

Pro Tip: Make sure your dog’s reward or treat is not being held out in front of your dog. Keep it in a treat pouch until you’ve marked the good behavior with “GOOD!” or “YES!”. Holding out the treat too soon turns that reward into a bribe. 

When you’ve completed Steps 1, 2 and 3 continue walking and if your dog gets ahead of you or begins pulling, repeat the steps again. This process will take several times to complete so don’t expect your dog’s

If you find that your dog’s attention is being diverted by other dogs or cars on your walk, practice in your backyard or in your home. Then move outside.

Orlando Dog Trainer: Life Rewards and Food Treats

You’ve finally gotten to the point when your dog is regularly responding to your vocal or hand cues for behaviors.

It’s now time to pull back with the treats and replace them with other rewards. For my dog, the sound of the leash is an exciting time. Rewarding him with a walk for a job well done is always welcome. For other dogs some fetch with a squeaky ball or frisbee is like heaven!

The point is you’ve now moved on to “life rewards”, rewards based on other things your dog enjoys beyond treats and food. You’re showing your dog you indeed are NOT a treat PEZ dispenser. Instead he is learning that by doing as you ask, and making you happy, he gets something that makes him happy too.

Sure we can still pepper in treat based rewards as a surprise every now and then but you want to make sure you diversify your rewards. Dogs love surprises like this and you’ll be motivating them to work even harder to keep the rewards coming.

Have a question for me about your dog’s behavior? Call 321-345-7387 for a free phone consultation.

Orlando Dog Trainer: Bribing Versus Rewarding Dogs in Training

How do I define reward based training versus a bribe?

Ask a dog to do something. The dog does it. Give him a treat. That treat is a reward.

Ask your dog to do something and it’s something he’s done repeatedly before. But this time there’s no action. So you wait. Maybe you ask again. You reach into your treat bag and suddenly your dog is completing the requested task.

THAT is a bribe.

You asked him to do it and he didn’t until he knew the reward. A good dog trainer will help you avoid this pitfall of dog training. If you find yourself only getting a reaction once the treat is visible, your dog has just trained you!

With professional dog training we use techniques that avoid bribery and continue rewarding good behaviors. Knowing when you’re teetering into bribery is a skill that your dog trainer can see, but you may not.

I’ve got a couple more days of insight for you so keep checking back. Don’t hesitate to call me if you have any questions about your dog’s behavior. Dial 321-345-7387 for a FREE telephone assessment.

Orlando Dog Trainer: Using Food As Rewards In Training

Food is a huge motivator for me. I can down a juicy hamburger in minutes. I love grilled salmon and vegetables  My mouth waters just thinking about it. However, burgers, salmon and the like just don’t show up in my refrigerator. I have to work for them.

Like humans, food for dogs is a pretty valuable part of life. Dogs know that food is good as soon as their born. Ever have a puppy climbing all over you while you’re at the dinner table? They may never have tasted a pork chop, but they know they want it!

Most every dog enjoys praise, petting and game play – which are all great rewards. But food is primal. If you want to get an animal’s attention you want to go for what it’s mind, body and soul are craving.

That is food.

Dog owners and trainers alike express concern about using food as a reward in training. Using food exclusively can turn into a bribe where the dog only reacts to the food and not to your command without it. But that’s why using a professional dog trainer is important. To know when your dog knows whats expected and how to transition their expectations of reward away from food and towards other things.

Keep checking back while I post more insights into the dog training process in the coming days. In the meantime, if you have any questions about your dog’s behavior feel free to call me at 321-345-7387 for a FREE telephone assessment.

Orlando Dog Trainer: Why We Reward Dogs In Training

Big Paw Pet Care uses a “PAWsitive” or rewards based training method when training our client’s dogs. At first you feel like a PEZ dispenser handing out treat after treat. What we really want to get to is making eye contact, praise and petting just as rewarding as treats.

But first you have to get the dogs attention.

We call dogs “man’s best friend” and “loyal” but the reality is dogs are fairly self-serving. Ask your dog to perform any task and he’s immediately asking “Whats in this for me?”. You could say dogs are natures capitalists when it comes to their relationships with humans.

So we hand out treat after treat for the simple tasks as we start. By being systematic with rewards, the dog is more likely to repeat the behavior we want. When you reward a job well done, the dog will continue to “show up for work”.

A first step is deciding what is rewarding to your dog. Some dogs love cheese, others hate it. For some dogs rough petting means “good boy” where others may not like touch at all. So we find what works for your dog and start our training there.

Over the next few days I’ll post a few more insights into the dog training process. In the meantime, if you have any questions about your dog’s behavior feel free to call me at 321-345-7387 for a FREE telephone assessment.