Picky Eaters May Not Be So Picky Afterall…

Picky eaters may not be so picky after all. I took a long break from reading “If Dogs Payers Were Answered, Bones Would Rain From the Sky,” but have returned to it. Suzanne discusses “picky eaters.” Now I do believe there are dogs that are indeed “picky” if you wish to call them that. I believe if we feed our dogs from the table, or offer them food constantly without having them perform some sort of trick to “earn it” they may think they should be getting fed these good foods all the time.

I also think some dogs will wait for better foods…but only after a certain amount will they actually wait until they are starving! When I went to puppy class at a local pet store (one of those chains-yikes!), I was told never to feed my dog anything different from their dog food, otherwise they will refuse to eat for days. The trainer there told me a dog once waited 3 days after getting a piece of turkey to see if he would get one again. Of course if you are the dog and you have a yummy taste of something different, you want it again! However, dogs diets should be varied. Protein sources should be switched so the dog does not develop allergies. Additionally, some people like to mix in wet foods, make homemade foods, or add raw or some sort of protein to their dog’s meals. Think about how bored you might be if you had the same food for your whole life.

Some dogs are satisfied with this and enjoy their food. Sometimes I wish I had a dog that scarfed their food, no matter what it was. However, some would call her a “picky dog.” It all started when she was younger, and played with her food. She would like to move it around, pick it up and spit it out on our nice white carpet (we bought the house with the white carpet unfortunately haha). Eventually, we found out she had allergies to fish after she got violently sick from the new fish type of food we tried to feed her unsuccessfully for weeks. Then we realized she must have a wheat allergy, so we moved to a wheat free food. She still didn’t scarf her food down.

Things continued to go downhill with her health. She would refuse to eat food. Some people told us she was just being picky, waiting for something better. But at that time, we didn’t even feed her people food. I was told not to feed her any people food (ugh-how gullible was I to listen to the chain store trainer!). She would throw up bile every morning and I would be outside with her for at least 30 minutes while she chewed on grass to try to help her stomach. I did get recommendations on things to settle her stomach, but she wouldn’t eat them when she was feeling sick of course.  I even got herbal remedies, but no one wants to eat when they feel like throwing up.

We switched to better foods, higher quality. She still never ate all of her food, and didn’t seem interested. We were told to take her food away after a short time, maybe we were spoiling her. We had to show her we were in charge of resources, and she had to eat when we put it out. Unfortunately, that didn’t work either. It actually worsened it, because when we brought her to the vet, we were told to make sure she eats before bed so that she has food in her stomach. Otherwise, bile would build up in her stomach, and she would be sick in the morning. We saw great improvement with figuring out which allergies she had, and making sure she ate, even if it had to be treats.

Some might argue if she eats treats then she must be picky since she is refusing food. When reading “Bones Would Rain From the Sky,” there was a section about “picky eaters.” The author discussed clients who came to her with dogs who refused to eat, or were never excited. The owner was told the same thing from others, but had a nagging feeling the dog just didn’t like the food because it didn’t make him feel good. I’ve noticed the same thing with my dog. I can bet if she starts refusing food, or only taking a small amount, I know she isn’t feeling well. I know she probably won’t be feeling so well in the morning. And in fact I am right! Usually her stool is loose or she is sick the next day or in the next few hours. Sometimes dogs aren’t being picky…they KNOW when a food isn’t good for them and when it’s making them SICK. Yes, indeed they ARE smart (ugh it still amazing me how people still don’t believe dogs are smart and that animals have feelings, now that makes me sick!)

Anyway, the author discusses with her client (she is a trainer) what the dog likes to eat. The woman has been making homemade food for her dog, the same every single day, which the dog refuses. The woman decides to try a new recipe, which includes something her dog likes, and wallah! The dog eats!!! What does my dog like? CHICKEN!!! I did have her on raw, which I saw amazing improvements, but unfortunately she stopped eating it. She did get sick when I switched a protein source, so perhaps that’s why she won’t eat it anymore, or maybe she doesn’t like the texture (not to self-she is allergic to fish, wheat, gluten, and buffalo).

Right now I have switched her to a gluten-free venison food mixed with some k-9 raw pellets which she seems to like, but her stool is getting loose, so I will have to add something to make it better for her before she refuses because she will get sick. I did alternate it with a freeze-dried chicken food. It included lots of great veggies like broccoli in it. Unfortunately, my little darling doesn’t like things that are “good” for her. The broccoli ended up on our rug. She would actually pick out all the veggies, bring them to the rug, then just eat the chicken (haha, laughing is all you can do!) I don’t want to wait 3 days for my dog to “give in” to something, nor do I have the choice. I want to find what she likes, what works for her, and what keeps her healthy. Sometimes dogs aren’t so picky after all, we just have to listen to them and pay attention to their health. I am sure there are people who refuse to change their dog’s food after their dog is sick for years. The dog probably refuses to eat because it doesn’t want to get sick, but the owner just thinks it is picky. Not always so…

If Your Dog Eats Grass…You Know What I’m Talking About

Eating grass, a sure sign your dog has an upset tummy. Last night Oreo got sick after eating. I am assuming it was from her food. Tonight I mixed her regular kibble with some buffalo raw. There is an ongoing debate over doing this, but I’ve done it in the past and she has been fine. She never liked the buffalo too much, but I thought I’ll give it a try anyways. Boy was I wrong…

She was throwing up last night a few times, then this morning twice. We spent at least 30 minutes in the same area around our neighborhood while she hunted for yummy grass to eat. I could hear her stomach making noises as soon as I got up, so I knew she was sick. For those of you who have dogs with stomach issues, you know what I’m talking about. Standing outside in freezing weather for long amounts of time so your poor sick dog and chow down on some grass to regurgitate is something every dog mom or dad has to do with sickly dogs.

She didn’t eat all day, which is unlike her. Usually if she throws up she will eat later. As I am typing this she finally picked up a treat I had on the floor all day for her and nibbled on it! Time to bring her outside, probably for more grass…but next I’d like to talk about what people call “picky eaters.”

Valentine’s Day at the Vet

I came home yesterday to find Oreo had red in her left ear, some yeast, and a pimple or blister looking bump. I knew it was time to take her to the DREADED vet! Oh no!!! Needless to say, my Valentine’s Day was spent at the vet! We got there, rushed Oreo in the back door to avoid the waiting room, and directly into an exam room. I was asked by a tech to swab her ear, which I promptly responded, “She won’t let me.” Ha-all you can do is laugh. Oreo is okay with cotton balls, as long as I warm the witch hazel I use to clean her ears. But anything new like bottles, pens, anything will scare her to the point where she will lift her lips and then give a warning nip if you get to close with it (to her ear).

That’s what a reactive dog is…they react! When they are scared and over their threshold (the point of no return! I’m sooo scared & upset my mind isn’t really thinking, I’m just acting), they usually growl, bark, bite, etc. Anyways, in the waiting room she went directly under my husband’s chair and was shaking & panting. I got her to do some targeting & tricks, but as soon as someone else walked into the room she went back under the chair. I managed to do some hand targeting to get her weight taken on the scale.

However, the vet came to take her in the back to check her ears & her skin since she was so itchy. This was a different case. We had to almost pull her out of the room. Usually, once she is out of sight from us she trots happily into the back. Today it took her longer. She was holding her ground. Luckily, the vet got her to move with some treats eventually. They of course muzzled her for safety (she doesn’t like her ears touched when they are hurting, plus she remembers all the painful trips to the vet).

The vet came back to tell us we are doing a good job, she has seen some improvement with Oreo’s behavior (yay!!!). However, shortly after Oreo was hiding under my chair and the vet came over to hand me a medicine, and Oreo went to bite her. My belief is because Oreo thought she was reaching down towards her & it was a sudden movement. Still upsetting.

Turns out she has a yeast/bacterial infection in her ear. Luckily it is just on the outside, and not the inside so I can put the medicine on a cotton ball and use it. As for her skin, on a level 1 (the lowest) to a level 4 (the highest) of a bacterial infection, she was a 4+, so she is taking an oral medicine to help. She has brown spots and bumps all over her belly. We believe it is because of allergies, more specifically fleas.

We have had lots of flea drama. I didn’t think I’d have a dog with fleas. But…she is allergic to the drops (itches nonstop spreading it all over furniture), allergic to the collars (loses all the hair on her neck), and just about everything. So I was just using a comb to get fleas out whenever she would get them. Unfortunately, I learned a while ago fleas are all over our neighborhood! We live in condos so there are tons of dogs, people, and houses smooshed together. One flea bite will cause Oreo’s whole body to go out of wack. So we are trying a new heart worm medicine that is a combination with flea medicine. I know it might not be the best, I wanted to go all natural since tick & flea medicines are very harmful, but I believe the new flea medicine will be the lesser of 2 evils.

So needless to say my valentine’s day was spent at the vet. Oreo was okay with the first time I cleaned her ears with the new medicine, but this morning she was snapping at me, so this may get interesting. I know her stress level is over threshold, and I may be seeing her stress for a week or two from the vet, but it was needed. Oh the drama of having a reactive dog!!

Barking Bonanza

Training in the snow today! It was snowing and we had training anyway and I am still feeling cold!! I used Oreo’s coat today for the first time at training. She doesn’t love it, but doesn’t seem to mind it too much either. Today we only had 3 people at training due to the snow so we had lots of training time! We worked by going through the barn today. Inside the barn was another dog at the opposite side being worked by an owner (doing tricks & paying attention to the owner…or supposed to be paying attention). Also, there were 2 people in the barn sitting far apart. Oreo loves them all, but especially the trainer!

So I got her out of the car, brought her to the door, and it was time to learn to pay attention to mom! I opened the door, called her name and she had 10 seconds to respond. Why 10 seconds you might say? Well dogs like to see what’s around them, especially reactive dogs-they need to check things out. When Oreo didn’t turn around when I called her name (or look at me), we went back outside the door. We did this until she finally learned she needed to pay attention. When she did, she got a click and the great reward of seeing the person! She performed for everyone, hand targeting and doing tricks. She then came with me and paid attention to me most of the time-even when another dog was in the barn!

We did this a few times & even gave her a break, but after the 3rd time she stopped paying attention to mom, and just wanted to play with another dog. The trainer mentioned she is learned more about reintroducing dogs to play again with other dogs after being attacked or reactive. So I am hoping I will learn more too. I really would like to reintroduce her again to other dogs, and not be so nervous about it. I don’t think I’ll ever fully trust her, just because she was attacked. What if she is playing and the dog play bites her on her back in the same spot she was attacked before? I think I would react!!

Anywho, we had a barking bonanza today at training. We did triple parallel walking (all walking about 5 feet or a little more away from each other in the same direction). Oreo was okay, but kept pulling and lunging to play with the other dogs. Eventually this worked her up. In hindsight, I don’t think I’ll do the triple walk again. She gets too excited to play with other dogs and works herself up. That wasn’t the real issue though. The dog in the middle started barking like crazy at Oreo. I could see the signs-the lip licking, the frozen stare, then the hopping as we are walking. She didn’t have a meltdown or anything, but she did STOP taking treats, which she hasn’t done for a while-so she was over threshold. We then took a walk around the lake to calm down, she did take treats and also ate some goosepoop (ewwww!). She saw some geese and wanted to jump in the water after them-and she almost pulled me in with her! She’s about 35 pounds, but she is strong!!!

So overall, we had an okay day, a little more stressful for her than I would’ve wanted and Oreo would’ve wanted I am sure. She’s having lots of allergy issues again. She’s been itching so bad she’s missing a lot of hair from her legs. I believe it is food allergies. She doesn’t like raw even though I saw great improvements with it in the few weeks she would eat it (I had to mix it with lots of other things). So I’m starting her on some all gluten-free foods. Trying Sojo and Nature’s Logic so we’ll see. She is actually itching now as we are talking. I believe a vet visit is going to be in order soon 😦  I hope not but the itching is becoming horrible. Her eyes did clear up and all of her hair around her eyes was back, but now shes missing lots of hair. Also, she has some brown spots on her stomach, which I’m hoping aren’t yeast. I’ve started putting water and probiotics on them. I just cleaned her ears & have been cleaning them once a week, but they are starting to smell yeasty!! Oh no please not the ear drama again!

So we’ll see how things go…I just want her to be healthy!

Flower Design

Yesterday, we had another lesson. This time we did calming curves again with a larger dog. She did very well walking towards the other dog. She did okay with turning around and going the other day when I called her name. She did much better than last week, but she still will freeze sometimes when looking at the other dog or person. I don’t think this is necessarily because of fear freezing. It is because she WANTS so badly to see the other dog or person. You many wonder how I know this.

I know this because she whines and wags her tail, sometimes she even play bows. Still haven’t gotten her a playmate. A little apprehensive like her I guess. I know someone from her puppy class, and she got along very well with this dalmation, but I’m not quite ready. I will have to work my way up to it. I’m still afraid that if the dog bites her in the back or jumps on her that she will react to it, because that is where she was attacked before. I have seen her before get snappy and defensive if a dog tangles in her leash (they shouldn’t really be playing with the leash on for this reason-they get scared).

Anyways, she did well with the flower design. The other parents of fellow doggies formed a circle and everyone looked in toward each other, talking. I approached with Oreo walking on my side. She would have to walk towards the people, and before reaching them I would call her name. When she turned, I would click and throw treats a few feet in front of us. She got the reward of distance and treats-DOUBLE! But really, she doesn’t need distance too much from these people-she used to be afraid of them, but now she LOVES them! So really, we were working on her and I working as a team. If she wants treats or to greet someone, she needs to perform the desired behavior. After the first few rounds of this we did so much better! Next time we will be doing the flower design, but people from the circle will be greeting her, asking for a sit, treating, then sending off to me where I will click and treat her for returning to me.

By the way, the only thing to do when something bad happens is LAUGH. These 2 women came to observe the class. Of COURSE they parked right in front of my car where Oreo was getting all nervous. I went to feed her treats so she wouldn’t get over the threshold. These 2 women were old, slow moving women. They started getting out of their car, meanwhile I’m in the back with the dog feeding her treats making her target my hand to keep her attention. Otherwise, she would be barking, lunging and losing it completely. So these ladies take their time, put their jackets on, then FINALLY they look like they are going to get walking. OOPS! Forgot the coffee, so they go back. Then they start walking RIGHT BY THE CAR (come on ladies, this is a REACTIVE class, dogs are going to REACT to you, think about it-I’m not in the car feeding the dog for fun!). Then of course again they turn back to the car to get something else. What seemed like forever was probably 5 minutes, but finally they realized they should walk AROUND the car in a large arc after the trainer told them to. DUH!!! All I could do was laugh at how people do not think!