Thursday, January 31, 2013

Star Puzzle

I found a surprise for Cody in a closet - a food puzzle I had forgotten about! This is an easy puzzle similar to the Nina Ottoson Tornado and is a good one to start dogs on. Cody is turning into a puzzle master, so this wasn't a challenge for him. However, this boy loves working for food and spending time on puzzles so he had a good time anyway!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Homemade Raw

Getting the ingredients ready.
(DISCLAIMER:I am not an expert on raw, and I make no claim that the raw food I make is the only way or even the best way. It is a way that works for me, and it is the same method I've learned from other folks who have done raw far longer than I have!)

There are some wonderful high-quality kibbles on the market and most New Rattitude foster dogs are fed one of these fantastic kibbles - mine included. I feed my personal dogs raw, and I often give my fosters at least some raw food to help them gain the benefit of minimally processed meats.
Grinder is set up and large casserole dish is clean and empty.
There are several ways to feed raw ranging from grabbing scrap meat from the butcher to buying commercial raw at a local independent pet store or online. I feed homemade raw. I do this because I like knowing what goes into the food, but also because this is the most economical for me and is even cheaper than feeding my dogs high quality kibble. 
I use plastic sandwich containers for storing.
I usually do a raw grind every month or so. I try to mix up the protiens but don't do anything exotic - fish, beef, duck, chicken, and turkey are the only proteins I've used so far. Nothing wrong with other proteins, but my goal is to give my dogs the best nutrition at the best price. I may occasionally supplement with a meat like venison or rabbit, for the most part I stick to the common proteins.
Five pounds of ground chicken gizzards
This last round of grinding involved three ingredients - chicken gizzards, chicken livers, and pollock filets. I order from a raw co-op and often I have to order 30-40 lbs per meat type at once. This means if I get too many ingredients I quickly run out of freezer space to store them! Instead I'll do a batch of one set of ingredients, then order a different set of ingredients. For my next set I already have Bravo Turkey Organs to which I'll add turkey muscle meat and likely another protein sources from another species.
Three pounds of ground pollock filets on top of the gizzards.
When creating the ingredients list, I try and shoot for roughly 85% muscle and 15% organ meat. Raw foodists will notice I am missing bone - but only from the preground mix! In addition to the ground product I also feed raw meaty bones a couple times a week in place of their normal meal. My goal is to hit the 80% muscle, 10% bone, and 10% organs ratio over a period of time, or close to those numbers.
One and a half pounds of ground chicken liver.
Making homemade raw is incredibly easy. The only challenge is deciding what grinder you want! The one I have is the STX Turboforce 3000 series which has a moderate price point between cheap grinders and grinders well over $400. It does muscle fine, but despite claims that it can grind near anything I've found it can't grind bone, not even turkey necks.
Mix it together well.
It's beneficial to have a lot of freezer space, especially if you want to purchase through a raw food co-op to get the best prices. However, even if you have limited freezer space but have space to store a few pounds of meat you can still grind in small batches. Our solution is to have a chest freezer out in the garage that is devoted solely to the pet foods so I can buy the ingredients in bulk.
Once everything is ground, it's time to package. I prefer using plastic sandwich containers, and I'll buy 2-3 dozen at a time to make sure I have enough to package all of the meat. I place one-pound of meat into each container, measured on a kitchen scale, and smoothed down. All of my pets (including the cat) are raw fed and they each get 2 ounces of meat twice a day. If they need less then I cut back a little, and if they need more I add in another source such as Ziwi Peak, Honest Kitchen, or extra coconut oil beyond their normal 1 teaspoon daily dose. Since each pet gets 2 ounces, it makes it easy to score 8 sections into the flattened ground meat for fail-proof portioning, even at 5 AM in the morning!
Finished product and a hand-washed grinder and parts!
As a way of ensuring my pets get the vitamins and minerals they need, I additionally supplement them with Missing Link, fish oil, and coconut oil. To round out the diet I include a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables to bulk up the amount of food so they feel fuller as well as adding fiber to their diet for healthy eliminations.
Sorry Cody - the next post is all about you, I promise!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Vet Visit, part 2

Cody paces around the exam room.
While Cody and I waited for an exam room to open, he stayed busy by performing for treats. Cody knows sit, spin, and touch so we alternated those along with short recalls. We shared the waiting room with several other dogs, some relaxed, and some frantic and noisy. While the noisy dog made Cody a little nervous he redirected easily when I called his name. Finally an exam room opened up!
Exploring the room.
I was able to let Cody off the leash for a few moments and let him explore the room. In normal Cody fashion didn't remain still for very long and circled the room a few times checking everything out. After he finished it was time for a return to doing tricks for food to help him settle down and enjoy himself until the vet came. I packed Cody's two favorite portable treats - Ziwi Peak Fish and Venison and K9 Natural Air-Dried Lamb Tripe in hopes that such high-value food would head off any nervousness.
I put the treat bag on the exam table...
Cody first tried to reach it...
Unable to reach the bag, he tried a new tactic - puppy dog eyes!
The vet technician came in to take his temperature, and Cody let me pick him up and place him on the exam table without even a grumble. He didn't appreciate the thermometer, but he let me hold him and feed him treats.
We took a break between the temperature check and the vet exam.
Next came the vet, which was not a pleasant experience. If Cody gets scared enough he will bite. He has bitten me a few times but has never even left a bruise. At the vet's request I muzzled Cody. He growled and shook while she examined him, then they took him in the back to draw blood for a thyroid test, and microchipped him. It only took a few minutes but was very rough for Cody, who has a growly exterior but is sweet and soft inside.
Cody when he returned.
Cody was understandably freaked out when he came back from the back, and so my priority was to help him out of that distressed state of mind as quickly as possible and get him back to feeling good. Out came the treats, the baby talk, and the kisses. While Cody normally paces, he jumped up beside me and didn't want to go very far from me.
Getting back to the eager boy I know.
After a few minutes Cody started to relax and focus back on how to earn more rewards. We waited about 15 minutes for the results of the thyroid test, and that came back normal - great! The vet prescribed Cody clomipramine, a tricylic antidepressant. My hope is to use this for 3-6 months while working through Cody's touch sensitivity and insecurities, then wean him off it as quickly as possible.
 Once he had settled down we packed up and headed out to the car for a potty break and then some well-earned nap time for Cody!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Moche is Home

Penny and Momma Debbie.
Moche is off to her new life! We met her new mom, Debbie, at the wonderful Sam's Dogs and Cats, Naturally in Monroe, WA. This fantastic pet store carried a variety of products to get Moche, now Penny, onto her new life.
Penny got a new harness, a bright pink leash, a couple toys, and Debbie was careful to pick up the exact same food Penny ate while she was with me. Debbie is determined to do everything she can to make sure Penny succeeds and has a wonderful life with her!

Penny will join Dad Eric, and four-legged brother Gauge (boxer/lab mix) both of whom she already met at the Home Visit. I look forward to hearing updates on her wonderful life!
Congratulations Penny, you are a very lucky little sprite!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Vet Visit, Part 1

Cody showing off his sit.
I've had Cody for roughly two months, and together we've made fantastic progress. For the first couple weeks Cody wouldn't allow me to touch him, although he would rub up against me. He had to say home during my long work days until he trusted me enough to load him into my car. He didn't want to eat for the first week, and then we had to work through his reflux to find both a food and a feeding method that would manage the reflux. I had been told he was human and dog reactive so we had to explore whether he was actually reactive.

Watching the other doggy clients.
Since then, Cody has brought laughter and so much love to our household. In many ways he is an incredibly easy-keeper. He sleeps in his room at the front of my house behind a baby gate, he's housetrained, loves to learn, hops up in the kennel in the car for a car ride, enjoys walks, and loves to mash his face against you and rub his body against yours like a cat. He's a sensitive soul, quick to send appeasement signals with even a slight raise in my vocal tone, and he greets me at the baby gate with a dip of his hips and his stubby tail curled to the side in a abbreviated "U" gesture. He loves meeting new people and seeks strangers out for a chance at food at affection.
A barking dog caused some concern.
We have some remaining challenges though. Cody is still extremely touch sensitive and can't tolerate anything more than collar or harness over his body without triggering a lot of anxiety. He has a hard time settling and spends most of his time pacing at home. Any change in his routine or environment - such as having a guest come over or being left at home while I run out for the day - can trigger upwards of two days of increased anxiety and reactivity. It is extremely hard for Cody to relax unless he is by himself. If left alone for a long enough period of time he will settle down, although often its preceded by 15 minutes or more of anxious whining and rapid pacing. The fact that Cody can only relax when alone isn't a surprise considering his history of being isolated in a tiny pen at a no-kill shelter for years.
Goofy boy checking under the bench.
After consulting with New Rattitude's Behavioral Modification team, Cody was approved for a thyroid test and a behavioral modification drug consultation. His thyroid was checked because hypothyroidism can have behavioral issues as one of its symptoms, and before starting him on a BMod med we wanted to rule out any physical causes.
Seeing how he can get that treat in my hand.
One it was approved, it was onto the vet. The vet visit itself was a source of worry for me since this was our first vet visit since he came to me. Cody's last vet visit had involved an uncaring vet who chose to use a catch-pole on Cody and drag him by his neck out of the kennel in which he was hiding, and she repeatedly recommended to the temp foster parent that she euthanize Cody for aggression. I was concerned that Cody would have a negative association with the vet due to this, so I armed myself with treats, a shorter, 4-foot leash, and prepared to make this visit as positive as possible for him.

Stay tuned to learn how he did!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Moche and the Bob-A-Lot

The TerrieRex strikes again!
Having mastered the Premier Busy Buddy Twist'n'Treat, Moche tried her paw at the Starmark Bob-A-Lot. This is another easy toy for starting out a dog. Treats or kibble drop in from the top and exits through a single hole at the bottom. The hole has a little slider to increase the challenge if desired.
How's this work?
Moche at first didn't know what to make of it. She knew it had food in it, but she hadn't used it before.
What if I push it?
After sniffing around, Moche got to business getting her dinner out. First she pawed at it tentatively, and it took a couple tries before a kibble fell out. She kept at it and soon she figured out the more she pawed the more that came out!
This video is from the very beginning. Moche has a little difficulty at first figuring out what makes the food fall out, and she paws it without anything come out. Around the 45-second mark she pauses and shakes, releasing the frustration of trying to figure out this toy. She pauses again, checks with me to see if I have any food for her, and then decides to keep working the toy. These toys are great not only to engage the brain, but also to build frustration tolerance and teach a dog to keep working at it if they don't immediately succeed! This comes in pretty handy when you're doing creativity games or shaping too!
Maya watches from the other side to make sure Moche finishes her dinner!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Ken Ramirez Seminar, Day Two

Sweet Cody out for a walk.
Day two of the seminar began on a super chilly morning, the same as Saturday did. Everyone bundled their dogs inside and settled in for another day of education about everyone's favorite topics - training and dogs!
Ken started the day off with discussing concept training, modifiers, and adduction. We saw videos of concept training in guide dogs and adduction in dolphins. Lunch came as a welcome break to sit down and process all of this information and make room for the afternoon session!
We headed out for a walk and Cody conitnued to handle everything with grace and aplomb. Moche was feeling better, but despite her happy bouncing around and puppy antics, I kept her potty breaks short. Since she had a major bought of gastroenteritis only two days ago it was important for me to encourage her to rest as much as possible.
We headed over to the Ahimsa store which is full of great products like Kong Genuises, Eggs, Freedom Harnesses, treat pouches, and of course some treats!
Afterwards it was back for the afternoon session on mimicry and training social animals in groups!

Thanks so much Ken and Ahimsa for putting on such an amazing seminar. I can't wait to see future speakers come. It's a great facility, wonderful people, and all around a fantastic time! Bring something to write with though and a hard surface, because you'll be taking a lot of notes.
Cody gives Ahimsa Dog Training his "Mark of Approval!"

Monday, January 21, 2013

Ken Ramirez Seminar, Day 1

The second weekend in January brought a wonderful speaker to Ahimsa Dog Training in Seattle. Ken Ramirez is a biologist and animal behaviorist with over 35 years of experience, primarily working with marine mammals. He is the idol of many of my idols, including Kathy Sdao and Patricia McConnell, so I knew this would be a seminar I couldn't miss!
One of the wonderful dogs at the seminar.
Since the seminar took place at Ahimsa, they encouraged attendees to leave dogs at home but allowed them to come. A wonderful friend said she would pet-sit Maya and Sappho on Saturday, and I took Cody and Moche with me. Little Moche was recovering from a bought of gastroenteritis so she came too so I could keep an eye on her, and I felt more comfortable keeping Cody with me than with someone who hadn't had time to build a rapport with him. Fortunately there was plenty of room at the back for a chair and two covered crates, and the three of us settled in for an exciting weekend.
Ken is a fantastic speaker, full of analogies and anecdotes. He answers questions during the flow of the seminar and intersperses his talk with videos to demonstrate the techniques and theories he is discussing. Saturday morning focused on secondary reinforcers and how to set up, proof, and use these reinforces, and Saturday focused on the use (or ill-use!) of negative punishment, time outs, and no reward markers.
During our breaks and lunch, several of us took the dogs out to get some fresh air and potty. We met several wonderful dogs, and dog-loving Cody wanted to meet them all! This is a young, shy Australian Cattle Dog who at first wasn't sure if he wanted to meet this eager guy who was as big as he is!
I coaxed Cody away from the pup and let the pup come closer on his own before I let Cody approach him again.
Cody got a little over-eager and started to make the little guy nervous (notice the ears turned back on the pup!) so we both called our dogs away and rewarded them.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Twist 'n Treat

Food toys are amazing. They slow down a dogs ingestion, make them think about how to get the food, and frankly its darn fun to watch! Moche's first experienced involved the Omega Ball, which has a single opening and has an inner lip that tends to catch the kibble.
The Premier Busy Buddy
While it isn't hard to maneuver, it takes perseverance to get that kibble out. This toy ended up a bit much for Moche and she didn't understand that she had to keep moving it. So the next night I dug out the Premier Busy Buddy Twist 'n Treat, which is one of the best toys for dogs new to food toys.
We started out with the Twist 'n Treat pretty wide open so that each movement gave a big reward of multiple kibble. Moche took to this right away!
Next, I screwed the Twist 'n Treat a little tighter so that the kibble wouldn't come out the sides and only would come out of the areas where the half-moons are. Kibble still came out with almost every touch, but less kibble came out and sometimes it would take more than one touch to get a reward.
No problem for Moche!! Next we'll move onto a more challenging toy, but you'll have to come back to find out which one it will be and how she does!
There is a reason for the baby gate...