Raising Dogs With Common Sense

Tid-Bits from my Book

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I've enjoyed writing for our local newspaper, The Horry Independent "Shopper."  They began a great little column called "All About Pets" and needed a guest writer until their ad spaces filled up with paying clients.

I also enjoy writing for blog-spots upon request, especially for rescue programs and internet sites that promote excellent canine health and general care of all pets, large & small!  

Below please find articles that I received the most feedback from.

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I consider “Nutrition” to be the most important chapter in my book, Raising Dogs With Common Sense.  First, I encourage you to follow the advice and instruction of your trusted veterinarian.  Some dogs require specific diets due to certain illnesses or peculiarities associated with their breed.  While I am a bully-breed fan, I love all dog breeds, and I have done much research into the ingredients that seem to work best for most breeds.


Nutrition Rule: READ THE INGREDIENT LIST of anything you intend to feed your dog (dry kibble, can food and even treats).  If you find corn, wheat or glutens of any type in the ingredient list, please search for a better product.  Dogs are unable to digest corn and corn glutens; therefore, corn = filler = more poop in the yard.  Wheat and wheat glutens convert to sugar in the body, and cause yeast to form on the dog’s skin.  Yeast can also cause stinky ears and “eye boogers.”  The wrong ingredients have potential to irritate skin and coat.  Gluten is a sticky protein that can build up in the body and blood stream, causing allergies and other health problems.  I believe in prevention, so I do not allow “bad” ingredients in my dogs’ nutrition.  In my 20+ years of raising dogs and experimenting with various canine formulas (I even cooked for my dogs at one point!), I discovered that I saved money by spending more on the best foods.  My dogs actually eat less because I provide them with grain-free, meat-&-sweet- potato-based dry kibble.  Please see my website for preferred brands, etc.  Remember, in the wild, dogs are carnivores (predominantly meat eaters). 


Sure, I supplement my dogs’ diet now and then with meat and dark greens from our meals.  I also throw a handful of fish oil gel caps into the yard each morning, as fish oil is excellent for humans AND dogs (more info on supplements in my book).  The ONLY “treat” I purchase is meat jerky – 100% meat, no fillers.  I break the strips into tiny pieces to make them go further, for training purposes.


As of 2014, I own five dogs that enjoy running our fenced-in farm.  None of them are over-eaters even though they have an automatic feeder containing 100% digestible, grain-free food.  My senior dog (“Cindy,” age 8yrs) has a few health problems, but she still has loads of energy once she gets going in the mornings.  Her skin and coat are beautiful, and she has clear eyes.  My other dogs range ages 5 months to 2 years, and they fall into the criteria of what I feel a young, healthy dog should possess:  excellent muscle tone, plenty of energy, beautiful coats, healthy skin, great temperaments, wagging tails, clear eyes, and clean teeth!

 

Angela T. Roberts, Author

Raising Dogs With Common Sense

 

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NUTRITION:  TREATS & CHEWS


In my last article I discussed the importance of reading the ingredient list for all edible products.  My #1 rule is to avoid wheat, corn and glutens of any type; these "bad" ingredients are potential hazards to Fido's overall health.  I believe in grain-free nutrition, but I also encourage you follow the advice of your trusted veterinarian.



While treats are not necessary, most dog owners prefer using something different than dog food kibble for training and reward purposes.  The most economical "treats" are tiny pieces of leftover meat from family meals.  NOTE: it is best to use grilled, boiled or baked meats, (not breaded, spicy or fried), to protect Fido's intestines.  Freshly cooked meat should be stored in your refrigerator, no more than a few days for safe use.  If you prefer easy, nutritious training tools, I suggest 100% meat jerky strips which store for a long time in room-temperature containers.

 

Warning: some treats resemble jerky, but consist of the "bad" ingredients.  Please read the labels - jerky should be meat only, and may include vegetable glycerin and salt as preservatives.  Jerky is expensive, so I break the strips into small pieces to make them go further.  I avoid all typical dog treats, because most of them contain wheat, corn, flour and/or gluten forms of those ingredients.  You can seriously undo your efforts of providing excellent daily nutrition by giving Fido the wrong treats.  


All dogs will chew on SOMETHING.  Chewing is the only way for puppies to shed their baby teeth.  Chewing helps remove plaque and debris from nasty mouths.  Chewing relaxes Fido, and passes time for him when his humans are unable to play.  In my opinion, deer and elk antlers are the safest and healthiest chew-bone sources available.  Antlers do not splinter, they last for a long time, and they are full of natural minerals.  Hunters, you have full access to free antlers, but please saw off the sharp points and boil the antlers for about 10 minutes to kill any parasites, then let the antlers air dry for a few days before gifting Fido with this awesome chew bone.  If you prefer the easier route, please see my website for my source of ordering safe antlers, already sawed and sanded for safety.  I have large-breed dogs, so I order elk antlers... by the pound!



NOTE: Rawhides become soggy as the dog's saliva breaks down the material.  Left unsupervised, this material can cause choking.  Likewise, pig ears are hard/crispy when purchased, but they become soggy as the dog's saliva break them down.  Anything that has potential to get soggy, splinter or break off should be SUPERVISED while Fido is enjoying his chew time.  The more dangerous chews that I have described can be swallowed, build up in the intestines, and turn into a life-threatening blockage.  SOME natural bones may be safe for a little while, but once the end pieces fall off, Fido is at risk for choking and blockage.  In addition, once you notice any jagged edges on a bone, it is time to trash it.  SAFETY RULE: Any chew-bone or antler should be too large to fit inside Fido's mouth.  He needs to "work at it" in order to scrape his teeth along the chew bone/antler, removing plaque in the process.


Subjects in this article are discussed in great detail in my book.


Angela T. Roberts, Author

RAISING DOGS WITH COMMON SENSE

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ADOPTION DAY STRESSORS


This article is an EXCERPT from my book, Raising Dogs With Common Sense, where I use the name “Odis” (my first bulldog) throughout the entire book as a substitute for repetitive words such as “the dog” or “your puppy,” etc.

 

Whether Odis is 6 weeks or 6 years old, the day you bring him home (and even a few days into his adoption), will be stressful.  Even though he wags his tail in your presence and seems to be totally at peace lying in your lap, he may be stressing inside with no way to tell you about it.  He is digesting a brand new environment with different sounds, scents, and appearances. He has new humans, a new place to sleep, and quite often, an entirely new routine to adjust to.  Try to put yourself in Odis’ position. Imagine that you are sitting in your living room watching your favorite show.  You hear the sounds of your loved ones’ voices, you smell the yummy supper cooking in the kitchen, and you feel the overall security of familiarity. You are feeling pretty good!  But then a complete stranger appears in your home and picks you up. He loads you into a vehicle and drives you away from everything and everyone you have known to date.  You try to accept the abrupt changes taking place, but you actually are in a state of utter confusion.  Then imagine adjusting to a new meal schedule, being expected to “hold it” when you need to potty, and being locked in a jail cell (crate) until the owner of this new home has time to let you out in the yard to do your business.  Oh, and add a host of company (more unfamiliar faces and smells) that want to see YOU!  Family, friends, and neighbors take turns picking you up and carrying you around while breathing germs of every sort into your face. A few of them even dangle you by your legs as you are lowered to the floor.  More noise fills the space you now associate with “home.”  There is no place to hide.  Nausea and other tummy troubles have become real possibilities now stemming from the overwhelming stress ball of chaos that your adoptive family has allowed into your new environment.  Enter one more surprise … another dog!  Not just any dog, but one that already lives there.  Before you realize it, he’s sniffing at you, and you are expected play nice with good ole’ Fido.  Nobody understands why you retreat to the nearest corner or dark space to hide from the excitement building in the room.  Yay!  It’s adoption day!  Just wait until tomorrow when the new family hauls you to the big pet supply store to show you off to more strangers AND more dogs.

 

The above scenario is a comical culmination of adoption stories collected from my clients over the last 20+ years.  This is a light-hearted way of communicating a serious subject that adoption is very stressful to a puppy even under the most controlled, quiet, and pre-planned conditions.  If you like this article, then you will love my entire book!

 

Angela T. Roberts, Author

Raising Dogs With Common Sense

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SOCIALIZATION:  Fido’s First Outing

 

Let’s stop and think about our own comfort zones when it comes to meeting new people and being exposed to places we are not familiar with.  How did we feel as children when we were forced to leave home that first morning of elementary school – or even nursery school/daycare?  Can you remember the gaping hole in your heart as your parents waved goodbye to you from the sidewalk while your teacher gently steered you into that foreign environment called a classroom?  Try to remember the feeling of being forced into making friends with a room full of strangers, and having to wait for permission to go to the restroom!  Recess was a welcomed relief but you encountered several more strangers; you had the choice of “dealing” with aggressive bullies or making friends with them.  Some of us were picked up by family at the end of the school day.  The rest of us enjoyed riding a big, yellow bus full of more strangers.  It’s safe to say that we were tired from the day and glad to be back in the comforts of home.

 

I compare the above “spill” to taking Fido out for his first outing after adoption day.  I can only hope that this trip is a well-puppy check-up for vaccines or a general health/maintenance vet visit for adult Fido.  You know by now that I stress safety/health before entertainment.  Some diseases (Bordetella, Brucellosis, Parvo/Distemper & others) are spread through saliva, mucus membranes (eyes/nose), and even from allowing Fido to walk on or sniff the ground where a diseased dog has “been excused.”

 

Once Fido is current on vaccines, it is understandable that you would want to take him for a run on the beach, perhaps stop in at the local dog-friendly stores, or just show him off in the passenger seat of your car.  Who doesn’t love an adorable doggie smiling from the car beside you at red lights?  But here’s where I caution you that beyond his wagging tail lies potential for Fido to be stressed out.  Keep him leashed and close to you when in public areas.  Have a baggie with tiny pieces of meat jerky treats so that new encounters with strangers are pleasant experiences.  Be very cautious when socializing Fido with other dogs.  If both are leashed and allowed to slowly approach each other, owners can facilitate these meetings with “good dog” phrases to encourage the dogs to get along.  Never force meetings with other dogs or people.  If Fido acts nervous or you notice the hair standing up across his neck and/or back, say “No” firmly, while immediately removing him from the problematic environment.  Reassure him with soothing voice tones while petting him, as he may have just attempted to PROTECT YOU.  Depending on Fido’s age when you adopt him, he may have had a bad experience with another dog.  I suggest seeking out a trainer for aggressive or defensive behavior.  On the other paw, puppy Fido is more likely to run toward other dogs in hopes of playtime, so you must be careful that older dogs are not aggressive toward him.  Not every adult dog will take kindly to a puppy’s energetic introduction!  (I speak from experience in my own yard.)  I encourage dog owners to sign up for group obedience classes for excellent social opportunities.

 

From the time you leave home with Fido until the moment you return, there are numerous opportunities to test his temperament. Socialization is a gradual process that requires patience and diligence on your part as a responsible dog owner.

 

Angela T. Roberts, Author

Raising Dogs With Common Sense

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ADOPTION:  Frequently Asked Questions

 

How old should my puppy be when I bring him home?  Are you ADOPTING a puppy from the humane society, a responsible breeder or even from a pet owner that responsibly raised an accidental litter?  If so, your puppy should be around 8 weeks old.  The smaller the breed, the longer puppies need to stay with mamma dog, in my opinion.  Even with larger breed dogs, puppies should not be taken away from mamma until they are eating and drinking independently, no longer nursing on mamma, have been wormed on a regular schedule since age 2 weeks, have had a veterinarian check-up and a clear/negative stool check within adoption week.  Your puppy should also have received his first set of vaccines, which normally happens at age 6 weeks.  By leaving pups with mamma dog for a while after receiving their first vaccines, the breeder will have time to watch for adverse reactions from the vaccine, and puppies will continue to socialize and develop personalities until adoption day.

 

Am I financially prepared for a dog?  The expenses in this paragraph do not include emergency doctor visits for the occasional accident or illness encountered while owning a dog.  I suggest that you obtain an “estimate” from your veterinarian regarding the cost to properly immunize and protect your dog.  Some vets offer a wellness plan that covers all basic vaccines, stool checks, heartworm testing, spay/neuter and more, for a low-cost monthly payment.  I recommend researching what is included in these unique plans compared to paying “per visit” with a new puppy.  Vaccines are normally administered 3 to 4 weeks apart and most veterinarians require at least 3 to 4 sets of immunizations plus the rabies vaccine in order for your puppy to be protected against fatal diseases common to this area.  Regardless of who you adopt from, you are still looking at several trips to the veterinarian within the first year of pup’s life in order to keep him healthy, along with purchasing heartworm prevention and flea/tick control as “monthly” health maintenance.  There are many products available – some are all-in-one pills or topical liquids that prevent heartworms, fleas and ticks, making life much easier on the pet owner.  Another expense to consider is spay/neuter surgery while your dog is young; please consult with your veterinarian on the proper age for your dog.  If you already own dogs and you do not have a trusted veterinarian, please consider a spay/neuter clinic.  Most clinics keep surgical fees as low as possible and offer rabies vaccines and a few other immunizations at reasonable prices.  In addition to health maintenance, don’t forget about general supplies!  The “basics” include a crate, food/water bowls, containment options (fencing, tie-out lines, leash/collar/leads for walking), and a continuous supply of high quality dog food; nutrition is the key to raising a healthy dog.

 

Am I physically prepared for a dog?  If your dog is an inside pet, he will need potty breaks quite often.  Unless you have a fenced yard with no gaps that allow for “escape,” you should be prepared to leash-train and walk your dog frequently throughout the day for potty breaks.  If you plan on training your dog with puppy pads in the house, this may save you some steps, but you will be doing much more clean-up and odor control.  If you crate-train, you still have puppy pads or newspaper to deal with several times per day; this involves bending down or sitting in the floor to maintain a clean crate.  New puppies scream through the night unless you master the art of making them feel completely safe in their kennel/crate (see my book, Chapters 3 & 12), so be ready for sleepless nights.  If a pup stresses out from crying, I can guarantee a trip to the vet’s office to control stomach and bowel issues resulting from stress.  Housetraining is physically demanding on the dog owner, requiring much supervision, constant bending, clean-up, and walk-time outside.


We rescued a dog in need of love and a forever home.  What should we do first?  Whether you are adopting from a shelter, a rescue program, or you take in a stray, you’ve rescued a dog, and THANK YOU for doing so!  If Fido comes to you as an older pup or as an adult, there are some things that should take priority in your agenda:  Most important is a trip to your veterinarian to assess Fido’s health.  If immunization records did not accompany Fido, I suggest a Rabies vaccine among other shots that will help to shield Fido from dangerous diseases.  Check his skin.  If you notice patches of hair missing or sores in his coat, he may need a special nutrition plan along with medicated baths.  (I recommend Chlorhexidine washes for “every” dog, for optimum skin/coat health, even if the skin is already flawless.)  Schedule spay/neuter surgery within a short period of time to prevent unwanted litters, and also to help extend Fido’s lifespan.  Discuss with your veterinarian which heartworm/flea/tick prevention will be most effective and convenient for Fido’s needs.  While addressing the above criteria, try to set aside quality time each day with Fido so that he learns the personalities of you and your family members.  Consult with trainers if you notice a temperament issue, and be consistent in your training of basic commands, leash/lead walking, and housetraining, if applicable.  Regardless of Fido’s age, I advise keeping him at home for the first few months other than necessary vet trips, in order for Fido to feel secure in his new environment.


How can I prevent STRESS to my new puppy/dog?  It is very tempting to “show off” your new puppy or even a new adult dog, because you’re proud of your new canine kid!  Please remember, however, that changing environments puts stress on a dog’s entire system.  Puppy Fido (and often times, older/adult Fido) is leaving his mamma, siblings and the only home he has known since birth.  A wagging tail usually means Fido is happy, and, being a people-pleaser, he will naturally wag that tail when his humans are within eyesight.  What he cannot tell you is that he really does not want to be taken to even more strange places to meet new people or have a stranger dog approach him, at least for a little while after adoption.  Try to resist the urge for field trips and socialization with other dogs until Fido has had time to your family and the new routine.  Above all, be sure that Fido has had all puppy immunizations and a rabies vaccine before exposure to public places; some diseases are contracted by walking across the wrong dirt or even by letting Fido sniff the wrong dog’s muzzle.  Many puppies are sickly within a few days of adoption due to exposure to the wrong environments.  Take every precaution to protect your new doggie.


What are symptoms of a sick puppy?  The following issues should be examined by your trusted veterinarian ASAP:  If Fido will not eat and/or drink independently, that is the first red flag.  Hand-feeding may be required in order to get him to eat.  Keep a digital thermometer handy to check Fido’s temperature if he acts sad or lethargic.  Anything over 102 is cause for alarm.  If Fido has any difficulty “doing his business” this is a serious problem; likewise, loose stool is the precursor to several problems that can be diagnosed with a veterinary stool check.  Excessive whining/crying may accompany bloat and/or fever.  If Fido trembles or wobbles upon standing up, he is weak and needs immediate attention.  Many issues are resolved with proper treatment, excellent nutrition,  regular de-worming and other preventions.  I cannot stress enough the importance of having your veterinarian on call when you plan to adopt a new dog.  Puppies can go downhill in a hurry.  My vet has saved many puppies for us because I knew when to get into his office with our little canines.


Angela T. Roberts, Author       

Raising Dogs With Common Sense



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I am humbled and thankful to be a part of any effort to help dog owners everywhere!  If you do not find answers to all of your questions in my book, I welcome your calls & emails!

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ANGELA T. ROBERTS, Author
Please call between 10AM-8PM,
Eastern time:  843-340-5818
 
 

We promote SPAYING & NEUTERING of your pet.