Monthly Archives: January 2013

What’s the Scoop: Brewer’s Yeast

If you’re a curious dog owner, you’ve probably looked at the bag of dog food your pooch is scarfing down on a daily basis. You’ve read through the ingredients – hopefully the list was short and didn’t include anything that would damage your dog’s health – and you have spotted “brewer’s yeast” on more than one label. Why would anyone put yeast in a dog food? Read on to find out.

Brewers YeastWhat is Brewer’s Yeast?
Brewer’s yeast is actually yeast in the sense that it is a single-celled organism that eats sugar and produces alcohol and carbon dioxide as it chows down. Brewer’s yeast is used to make beer – or ‘brew’ – wine, and even bread. Generally speaking, the kind you see in your dog’s food is made from fresh ingredients, though occasionally poorer quality foods just use the left over brewer’s yeast that is a result of making beer.

Why it’s Good for Your Pup
There are a couple of reasons your dog benefits from this nutritious yeast. First, brewer’s yeast is a natural flea deterrent. Most brewer’s yeast contains sulfur-like compounds that make fleas jump away once they get a bite out of your dog. It may not kill them, but they won’t stick around for long once they get a good taste!

Secondly, many holistic stores and vets say that brewer’s yeast actually strengthens the immune system of canines. In fact, the protection doesn’t stop at our furry friends. Some studies have shown that salmonella-tainted chicken feed didn’t affect chickens that had first been on a diet that included brewer’s yeast.

Third, brewer’s yeast is full of good things for your dog, like zinc and biotin. These minerals can help your dog’s fur become glossy, fluffy, and much more lovable. Brewer’s yeast can even cut down on dandruff, making your dog less itchy during the summer.

Many of the better dog food brands (like BOGO Bowl) include brewer's yeast. But if you're buying a supplement, make sure when you’re shopping for brewer’s yeast that you compare labels so you know you’re getting the good stuff for your companion. Overdose on brewer’s yeast can cause allergic reactions, and a low-quality yeast can have fewer nutrients and less effectiveness in warding off fleas.

Overall, brewer’s yeast is a nutritious addition to your canine’s food bowl.


Why "Dog Years" intrigue us

Animal lovers are humanizing their pets more than ever.  Putting a human age on your dog is a natural part of this process.  “If Duke is four, that means he is 28 in human years.”   Well, not necessarily.  We have long been told that one dog year equals seven years of human life.  But actually, the ratio is higher in the younger years and decreases as the dog ages.

Not only is it fun to calculate dog years, we also use it to try to predict how long our best bud will be around.  We all hope for our pups to live long, healthy lives and there's a tenuous sense of control that comes from understanding their "age" at various points in their time with us.

The following chart considers different development stages and the average rates at which they are reached for the various sizes of dogs:

dog years

FUN FACT:  The oldest recorded age for a dog is 27 years.

Besides the size of the dog, other factors play a role in the lifespan of dogs:

Neutering/Spaying  -  Neutered or spayed dogs tend to live longer than intact dogs.  The risk of cancer is greatly diminished by removing sex organs.  The sooner these procedures are done, the lower the risk of cancer these areas.

Diet - Like humans, a dog’s health and lifespan will be improved with a high-quality diet and suitable portion sizes. Foods without fillers, additives, and unnamed ingredients offer the healthiest nutrition. A dog’s requirements will depend on its age, weight, breed and lifestyle.

Exercise - All dogs require regular exercise for a healthy, long life. The amount and type of activity will depend on the breed and individual dog.  Mental stimulation for dogs is very important as well.  Changing up the daily walk route, playing with different toys, or giving the pup tasks to perform will all stimulate the mind.

Living Conditions – Dogs that live outside and endure extreme weather will have a shorter lifespan and be prone to early illness.  There are certain breeds of dogs can handle wet and cold conditions easier than others, but keeping your dogs indoors is recommended.

Medical Attention – Regular vet visits, vaccinations and monthly preventative medication will increase the lifespan of your dog.

Breed - Large breeds generally have a shorter lifespan than smaller breeds.  Pure-breeds tend to be less healthy than mixed breeds.

BOGO dog Lady, below, will be 14 (78 in dog years) in early March. She's got cataracts and her back end gives her issues some days but the word "Walk!" or any movement suggesting she might get a treat have her prancing like a two year old.



It's National Training Month!

National Train Your Dog Month"Training is not a luxury, it's a key component to animal care. Is feeding your animal something you do only if there is time? It's just as important, and you have to make time to make training happen." Ken Ramirez

This time of year we tend to be full of New Year Resolutions.  Two years ago the The Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) decided to start a major public relations effort to inform the public that training your dog can be easy and fun.  No surprise the APDT picked January because many households chose the holiday season to purchase puppies from breeders or adopted from shelters and rescues.  January also marks our societies  efforts to start new positive habits.  But a entire month dedicated to training your dog?  Sounds like a challenge, however, I feel that January is the perfect time to start training your dog.  Training doesn't need to be time consuming, I train my dogs anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes per day. Not only is training easy and fun, it's tiring for dogs. Training can build a bond that lasts forever.

Amy works with Chico.

Why Should I Train My Dog?

According to the APDT, there are many benefits of training your four legged friend, here is a list of their top 10 reasons to train your dog:

  1. Puppy classes provide the experiences and opportunities for your puppy to develop interaction skills with other puppies, with people, and in new environments.
  2. Puppy socialization has been found to be critical to the psychological health of adult dogs.
  3. Training classes provide dog owners the skills and knowledge for dealing with common, normal dog behaviors—including house training and chewing.
  4. No matter what age you start training your dog, foundation training provides the basis for any activity, behavior or job you want your dog to do.
  5. Training provides dogs with the basic good manners, such as polite greeting when guests arrive, walking nicely on the leash, and coming when called.
  6. A trained dog is a fully participating member of the family for the dogs entire life.
  7. Training enables you to choose from among a broad range of activities and dog sports to participate in and enjoy with your dog such as dog agility, Rally-obedience, dancing with your dog, tracking, search & rescue, sledding, water rescue trials, obedience, carting, reading programs, therapy work, the list is endless.
  8. Training has been shown to be the single most important thing that keeps a dog in his or her “forever” home.
  9. Training builds your mutual bond, enhances the partnership and enriches the relationship you share with your dog.
  10. Having a trained dog is a joy for both you and your dog!

What Should I Train My Dog?

Recently I read a great little training tip on Karen Pryor's Clicker Training website.  It was training advise for pet parents of dogs that bark at everyone (and everything) that walks by or approaches your house.  Sound like your dog? Try this clever method is written by Kiki Yablon, KPA CTP.

Don't mind your dog giving a woof or two when people pass or approach the house—but want him to stop when you've got the message? First, temporarily block access to the window or door where your dog tends to bark.

  • Next, train a cue that for you means "that'll do" and for the dog means "hey, I have something delicious for you over here." My suggestion: "Thanks!"
  • Start far away from the window. Stand right in front of your dog. Give the cue, followed immediately by a click and a small, soft, meaty treat right in front of you.
  • When the dog starts to brighten up at the cue—before the treat even comes out—move to the side, so he has to turn to you to get the treat. When he starts turning, switch to clicking the turn.
  • When the dog is turning quickly, move a few steps away and switch to clicking movement in your direction. Work up to having the dog follow or chase you into another room to get the treat. If you have a dog that loves to chase, this can be an extra treat. Click when your dog has found you in the other room.
  • Move to the window or door where the dog usually barks. Get in some good practice when nothing's happening outside. Then stand close to the dog again, wait for passersby, and give the cue the instant your dog begins to bark.
  • When he's responding well, give the cue from farther away, increasing your distance a few steps at a time.
  • Remember that your cue will reinforce whatever comes just before it. Be sure you cue the dog after just a woof or two.

Your goal is for the dog to come away from the window to find you on the "thanks" cue. When you've accomplished that, try skipping the cue. Your dog may come to see why you haven't thanked him yet! If that happens, reinforce him for coming to find you. Keep it up and your dog may begin to skip the barking altogether.

Although Kiki doesn't discuss in detail in her article, I like to baby gate my dogs away from the "party places" (windows) while I'm not home.  That way they don't have the opportunity to practice their barking skills while I'm not home to train the correct behavior.

As a dog trainer, I've found that not all dog training needs to take place in a dog training facility.  Some dogs are much more successful with a private trainer within the home setting.  Whether your dog has behavioral problems or just needs a few reminders that the house guests are not launching pads, January is the perfect time to start working on the less desirable behaviors.

Fabulous Training Links:
Find a Trainer: The Association of Pet Dog Trainers
Learn More About: National Train Your Dog Month
What the heck is Clicker Training: Karen Pryor Clicker Training

Amy Turner, BS, APDT Member

President,True Dog Training, LLC
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Photo Credit: De Turner