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Top Tips for Keeping Your Dog in Tip Top Condition

posted 25 Sep 2011, 08:12 by Dom De Vitto   [ updated 7 Oct 2011, 15:06 ]
Over the years I've had a few dogs, here are some of my top-tips that may be a use, especially if you have a Yorkshire Terrier.

Food

Dogs eat food, along with other things.  Always remember that your dog is basically a wolf - wolves eat other animals, including skin, fur, bones, and whatever else - 'yuk', yes, but natural, yes.  Dogs have slow digestive systems for exactly this reason, and one good feed a day (20 mins of eating) should suffice.  Never cook bones (especially chicken) as this makes them splinter and be dangerous to eat!
We give our Yorkie raw chicken carcasses 4 times a week (he only eats about half a carcass eat time), and two days a week we blend up some vegetables (carrots, swede, parsnip, etc.) with the same amount of minced meat (beef, lamp, whatever) and he woofs this down.  One day a week we don't feed him - as dogs have a slow metabolism this isn't a problem (in the wild wolves may go days without a feed) and dogs are easily overfed, so this keeps there weight in check, especially as they get older and less active.  We get around 15-20 carcasses from a local butcher, bag them up individually and defrost them (still in the bag) before giving them to our dog.  Gob-smackingly, this only costs £10 (it's basically 'waist' from the butchers point of view), so we usually get a few 'recreational bones' too, for the dog to gnaw at and lick the raw marrowbone from the core.  http://julieannamos.hubpages.com/hub/Bones-To-Feed-Your-Dog has some more detail on why raw food is so much better, and cooked bones are dangerous.  Wikipedia's raw_feeding page, has more details including the problems of both processed (supermarket) food and raw feeding.

Flaps and Free Roaming

If you've an area that's safe for him to go in/out of, I'd recommend a dog flap or pet flap - out dog goes in/out whenever he wants, and he really appreciates the extra freedom.  If you think about it, if you couldn't go in and out when you wanted, you'd feel 'cooped up' pretty quickly, and dogs are pack animals that like to patrol the area around their 'den'.

Treats

I don't know why, but dogs LOVE cheese.  Unfortunately, like people, too much cheese tends to 'bung' them up.  The solution to this is cheese-in-a-tube - especially Primula Cheese (www.primula.co.uk).  It's low salt, easy to carry around, doesn't dry out (it's in a tube!) and ALL the profits go to charity!  It's a little harder to initially train a puppy with this kind of cheese/treat, as little solid treats (like small chedder cheese cubes) are easier to hand out and teach them to 'paw' at etc. but once they get the idea that doing the right thing gets them a treat, this kind of treat is brilliant.  Our dog won 'best trick' at a local dog show before he was even a year old, so it's highly effective.

Pack Order

Dogs are pack animals - it doesn't matter if it's a wolfhound or a chiuaua - get a few together and they will happily chase a toy or treat all day.  The important thing is to remember that you're the top dog in the pack - 'Alpha', and they don't do anything (in the wild or in your home) without the permission of the Alpha.  Not only is there an alpha, but everyone in the family has a pack order - and it's vital that your dog knows it's not the boss of any humans in the house - otherwise it will refuse to obey that human and may boss that human about - through growling and biting.

Leads

Leads are tricky - not the kind, but the restriction.  Some dogs need to know they are not in charge, but smaller dogs it just limits their ability to flee from an attacker.  For our yorkie, when he's on a lead he is more aggressive because his normal 'fight or flight' instinct is curtailed - his only option is fight.  Once off the lead, he knows he can 'escape' and he's much more friendly.

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