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BBS Training Tip #7: Finding and Choosing an Obedience Trainer

Obedience classes offer dogs a way to learn basic tricks while picking up important social skills along the way. BestBullySticks suggests starting obedience classes while your dog is still a puppy. In fact, training should begin as soon as your dog shows interest in receiving treats. Of course, old dogs are welcome too! It’s never too late to learn new tricks or reshape undesirable behaviors. Before you try and get your dog to jump through hoops, there are a few factors to consider before choosing an obedience class.

Finding Your Trainer

The best way to find a reputable trainer is to get a referral from someone you know. This could be a friend who’s a dog owner, family members, your veterinarian or even a neighbor. While it’s great to get a personal referral from a trusted source, it isn’t always possible. In case you can’t find a recommendation for obedience classes in your area, consider searching online or contacting your local SPCA. Many SPCAs even hold obedience classes of their own.

Quality of instruction is a very important factor to consider when choosing your obedience class. If possible, try and locate a certified trainer. Certified trainers and animal behaviorists are more thorough in their training. read more…

Dog Care 101 Tip #218: Tips for Keeping Your Dog Cool This Summer

Summer is now in full swing! It’s prime time for cookouts, trips to the beach and loads of other great outdoor activities. Including your dog in outdoor activities is great exercise. But when the summer heat hits, it’s crucial to take extra precautions to keep your dog safe. So in the name of summer safety, BestBullySticks has thrown together this quick and easy guide focused on key areas of concern all owners should keep an eye on.

Heat Stroke

Getting dehydrated during the hottest months of the year isn’t too much of a challenge. This is especially true if you’re spending a lot of time outside. And while minor dehydration only causes minimal discomfort and the occasional headache, it’s still a very dangerous and slippery slope. Minor dehydration leads to more serious issues like heat stroke. It’s much harder for dogs to cool off than people so keep a close eye on your dog this summer and get familiar with the early signs of heat stroke:

  • Heavy or excessive panting and breathing

  • Vomiting

  • Exhaustion

If you think your dog is showing symptoms of heat stroke try and cool the dog down by bathing him/her in cool water. Get your dog to drink room temperature water (ice cold water can shock the stomach) and apply rubbing alcohol to their paw pads. When in doubt, seek veterinary attention right away. It’s always best to play it safe! read more…

Dog Care 101 #217: Top 5 Dog-Friendly People Foods

 

BestBullySticks is committed to providing our customers’ dogs with healthy, nutritious chews and treats. However, our interest in providing all-natural, healthy dog treats extends beyond the occasional snack and all the way to food! Maintaining a healthy diet is the biggest factor in maintaining long term health, staving off disease and enhancing general well-being.

Many store bought dog foods are nutritionally poor and contain scarce amounts of beneficial nutrients. Others are healthy and do provide complete nutrition. Either way, there’s always room to supplement. As the saying goes, you are what you eat!

All Food Isn’t Created Equal

Many pet owners get up in arms if you tell them you feed your dog food from the table. But the fact of the matter is many of the healthy whole foods we eat for dinner, are pretty good for Fido too! Of course, there are some exceptions. But on the whole, we’ve got a lot in common with our canine companions when it comes to food. For today’s post we’ve selected five dog-friendly people foods — great for both people and dogs — that stand out among the rest.

5 Super Foods for Dogs

1. Fish – Oily fish like salmon, trout and tuna pack the highest nutritional punch for your dog. These fatty fish have higher levels of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids — two nutrients proven to reduce the risk of heart related illnesses. Additionally, fish is a rich source of healthy low-calorie protein and it’s also easy to digest! Making fish part of your dog’s diet twice a week is a great way to offer them some long term health benefits. read more…

BBS Training Tip #6: Loose Leash Walking

Our Training Tips series has provided dog owners with a solid introduction to a variety of training methods out there. First, we touched on How Dogs Learn, then we progressed into practical information about teaching tricks with clicker training. Now that we’ve laid a foundation to help you get your unruly pup in line, BestBullySticks wants you to get out there and put that knowledge to use!

The Loose Leash Walk

One of the most difficult things dog owners struggle with is being able to take their dog on a leisurely walk. All owners should train their dogs to go on a “loose leash walk.” This type of walk is simply one where the dog does not pull. There are many benefits to training your dog to do this.

First, dogs who pull exceptionally hard on the leash can injure themselves — especially if they’re not wearing a harness. Pulling on a collar can injure your dog’s trachea and neck. If your dog does pull, invest in a harness to help reduce the physical stress of walking. Retractable leashes should be avoided as well. Not only to they offer little to no control while walking, the thin cords of these leashes can injure owners when trying to wrangle their dogs! We recommend a heavy duty leash like Krebs Reggie 6’ Leash. Thick and easy to grasp, it will make loose leash training way easier!

Second, dogs who pull are generally just excited to be outside. While they might be having fun, they are unable to remain focused on their owner and if they get loose, the chances of being hit by a car or running off increase dramatically. Loose leash walking will increase your dog’s focus on you (the owner) and put you more in control.

Practice Makes Perfect

Just like with any other form of training, practice is key! Many owners don’t realize it, but if their dog pulls on the leash, chances are they have unknowingly reinforced the dog to do so. Time to break this bad habit! Make sure you’ve got your clicker ready. Don’t forget to grab some healthy training treats like our Dried Bison Liver treats.

Begin loose leash training inside or in the backyard and with as few distractions as possible. The more distractions around, the harder it is to grab your dog’s attention.

1. Leash your dog and stand still. Wait until your dog pulls and the leash goes taut

2. Once your dog moves back and releases the tension, click and offer a treat

3. Remain still and only when your dog offers eye contact, click and offer a treat

4. Once your dog begins to seek eye contact, begin tossing treats closer and closer to your right foot

5. Begin walking slowly, click and reward when your dog maintains pace with you

Achieving results with these 5 steps won’t happen overnight. So don’t get frustrated right away if you can’t get past step 2. Only advance to the next step if the previous has been mastered otherwise you run the risk of confusing your dog.

Taking the Show on the Road

Once you feel your dog has the 5 basic steps of loose leash walking down, it’s time to hit the road. A new environment will distract your dog but by remaining consistent with the previous training sessions, things will get easier.

If your dog does pull once outside, come to a dead stop once the leash becomes tense. Don’t resume the walk until the leash goes slack and your dog comes to your side. Click, offer a treat and resume the walk. During a slow walk you can even place treats at your feet to help your dog maintain an even pace. By refusing to be led by your dog, he/she will begin to understand you’re the one in charge. Before you know it, going on walks will less stressful and way more fun!

BestBullySticks.com offers best selection of safe and all-natural dog chews and treats anywhere. Follow us on Facebook & Twitter to catch the latest news and product specials!

 

Dog Care 101 Tip #216: Animal Rights Awareness Week

If you hadn’t already heard, this week is Animal Rights Awareness Week! BestBullySticks, being all about everything dog-related, is using the opportunity to spread the word about animal rights. In honor of this important week, we’ve put together a brief history of animal rights as well as some valuable information about how you can become involved in your community.

Animal rights as we know them today are a far cry from centuries past. Luckily, modern times have brought about a progressive shift towards recognizing animal rights and welfare. Things began to change in the 19th century —  during these times there was a dramatic and sudden interest in animal protection. A movement which got it’s start in the United Kingdom would eventually spread worldwide and become law in many countries.

Baby Steps

Until the early 1800’s, people were only punished for animal cruelty because it was seen as a destruction of the owner’s property! However, thanks to some caring minds of the era, the animal rights movement slowly gained momentum. Initially, many activists focused their attention on “baiting” — a practice of setting game dogs against a captured or chained animal with the intent of incapacitating or killing it. The first major accomplishment in the protection of animals was made in the fight against baiting and led to the practice becoming illegal.

The first animal rights bill in history, named Martin’s Act, was introduced into Irish law in 1822. This groundbreaking set of laws sought to protect beasts of burden from abuse. People outside the United Kingdom were taking notes, too. Soon thereafter, other countries followed suit and by the 1850’s many Western nations had passed comprehensive laws with severe penalties for animal abusers. read more…

BBS Training Tip #5: 4 Dog Tricks Every Dog Should Know

Summer is a great opportunity to spend more time outdoors with your dog. It’s also a good time to make sure dog is up to par on a few basic but very important commands. Whether you’re headed to the beach or going for an afternoon stroll in the neighborhood, BestBullySticks wants to make sure you’ve got the right tools to have fun while keeping your dog safe.

Many of the tricks we’re reviewing use a clicker. If you haven’t heard of a clicker before, we recommend checking out our previous posts on dog training where we discuss how clicker training works.

Good Behavior and Safety

It may sound strange, but learning commands and tricks can help keep your dog safe. Teaching a dog new tricks helps them maintain focus on you. If you’re able to keep your dog’s attention, especially in a busy places like the beach, you’ll have no doubt about whether or not your dog will listen to you at a critical moment.

First things first — if you are going to use a clicker, you need to first train your dog to respond to the clicker. Luckily, this is a very simple task. Clicker training relies on the use of positive reinforcement and treats. Lots of treats! BestBullySticks recommends owners use low-calorie treats like our tasty Lamb Lung Treats as a training aid.

  • Step 1: Click and give your dog a treat
  • Step 2: Repeat 15-30 times (This will build an association between click and reward)
  • Step 3: Always follow through with a treat. Consistency is key for clicker training! read more…

Dog Care 101 Tip #215: Summertime Safety

Summer is one of the best seasons for outdoor activities and BestBullySticks wants to make sure both you and your pet get the most out of the season. While summer hasn’t quite arrived, it’s already pretty hot outside. Before you hit the road and head for the beach, make sure your dog has everything he/she needs to enjoy carefree fun with the rest of the family.

Fun In the Sun

When we get to the beach we usually shed some layers to stay cool. Imagine for a moment having to wear a heavy sweater in the dead of summer — yuck! Breeds with long hair and thick coats are more suited for colder climates and properly groomed for the season. Extra fur is only half the battle for dogs in the summer. Unlike people, dogs can’t sweat. Instead, they pant in order to cool down. Less efficient than sweating, this puts dogs at a disadvantage in hot summer weather.

Dehydration is your dog’s worst enemy in the summer. Make sure you’ve got plenty of clean water on hand for your dog at all times — especially if you plan on spending lots of time outside.

Heat and direct sunlight, while enjoyable, can pose a danger to dogs. Dogs can even get sunburned, too! When applied to less furry areas sunscreen can help reduce the damage caused by UV rays. Sunscreen is a great solution for people but it doesn’t work too well on dogs. Make sure you bring an umbrella to the beach so your dog can escape the heat. Not only will this help protect your dog from the sun, it’ll drastically reduce the chance of heatstroke.


Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is a very real danger for dogs. All pet owners should become familiar with the signs of heat stroke:

  • Heavy or excessive panting and breathing

  • Increase in drooling or vomiting

  • Loss of balance read more…

BBS Training Tip #4: Dog Training Methods Part 2

Last week BestBullySticks tipped off our discussion on dog training with the first installment of our Training Methods blog series. In today’s followup post to Training Methods Part 1, we’re delving into specific training methods.

Origins of Modern Dog Training

Modern dog training developed dramatically during the 20th century. Most notably, advances in psychology furthered dog training and led to the creation of new training methods. BestBullySticks recently talked about this fascinating evolution in our post on The History of Dog Training.

In recent years, older training methods have been labeled overly aggressive or unnecessarily physical. In some instances this may be the case— BestBullySticks encourages all dog owners to use their discretion in the matter. Just be sure to avoid any training methods that are outright abusive. There are many factors to consider when training your dog — refer to our post on How Dogs Learn to gain some more insight into what your pup has on his mind!

Corrective Training

A training system that would fall into this category is the Koehler Method. The cornerstone of the Koehler Method is to let dogs make their own mistakes. In doing so, it gives the owner the opportunity to provide consequences for both desirable and undesirable behaviors. The punishments of the Koehler Method are generally more physical, sometimes advocating “alpha rolling,” where a dog is pinned on his back to assert dominance.

It should be noted, this “alpha rolling” technique, while still used today —and even by big name trainers— the “natural” action it is supposed to mimic is an action where submission is actually given, not forced.

Dominance-based training methods like the Koehler Method rely on the theory that dogs are in fact wolves and there are hierarchies in their pack with an alpha-figure at the top. However, the Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) has argued against this idea of aggressive-submissive positions. Additionally, attempting to physically exert dominance could cause your pet to lash out. read more…

Dog Care 101 Tip #214: Caring for Senior Dogs

As we near the end of “Adopt a Senior Dog Month,” we at BestBullySticks wanted to set aside some time for a very special group of dogs — seniors. For aging canines, there are special considerations that need to be kept in mind. Keeping a keen eye on behavior and general health in addition to some fine tuning in diet is all that’s needed to maintain healthy living into the senior years. Old age comes at different times for different breeds, though. That’s why we’ve put together a guide to not only identify aging, but also how to properly care for your dog as a senior.

Expectations

Knowing what to look out for is half the battle. If you’re able to spot signs of health complications early, there’s a good chance the damage can be minimized. Here are some common health issues to watch out for:

Graying: Of course, there’s nothing dangerous about going gray, but it is a good indicator of middle-age and early seniority. It should be noted, some dogs go gray early despite still being quite young.

Vision & Hearing: Inevitably, vision and hearing deteriorate with old age. For vision, some signs to watch out for are increased clumsiness and cloudy eyes. Cloudy eyes, which are often harmless and a normal process of aging, are the product of lenticular sclerosis. This is sometimes confused with cataracts — a clouding of the lens inside the eye — which is very detrimental to sight. If a clouding of the eyes occurs, make sure you promptly pay a visit to the vet. read more…

BBS Training Tip #3: Training Methods Part 1

Dog Training MethodsThis week’s installment of BestBullySticks’ Training Tips is the first half of a two part series on Training Methods. As pet lovers, it’s our hope that this information will help owners make more informed decisions about how to train their pets. Let’s get to it!

Selecting a Method

Unfortunately, there is no universal “one size fits all” training system for dogs. Choosing the best training method for you and your dog takes a bit of research. Don’t sweat it, though. We’ve cut through the thick of it to bring you the skinny on what’s what in the world of dog training.

If you haven’t already, BestBullySticks recommends reading our previous post on How Dogs Learn to ensure you get the most from our explanation of these training methods and their key concepts. At the end of the day, the most important factor to consider when selecting a training method is how comfortable both dog and owner are using a system.

Despite the large number of training systems out there, in one way or another many utilize the same three key concepts.

“Marker Training”

Built on the ideas of classical and operant conditioning, Marker Training is a way to build association between a command (marker) and a desired result by immediately offering reinforcement the moment a desired action is completed. For example — if you’re teaching a dog to lay down on command, use the marker (in this case the words “lay down”) when the dog lays down on its own, then offer positive reinforcement such as a treat. read more…

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