We love our pets. We currently have three dogs. They are all poodles, 2 standards and a miniature.
It takes a commitment on our part to have healthy and happy pets. They just don't magically become well behaved, fit and enjoyable companions. It takes training, nutrition, exercise and an engaging environment for them to develop into the pets we enjoy.
Training is really about learning how to interact with the animal. The first step in training a dog is to learn how to train. You need to be consistent in the approach and learn from experienced trainers how to train a dog. It's ok to seek help from a professional trainer, but be prepared, a good trainer will spend time training you how to work with your dog. Working with your dog, going over commands and exercising their skills, reinforces what they've learned and provides the mental challenge they need.
We believe an important part of nutrition is a raw diet. It's our belief that cancer in dogs is an epidemic in America and is related to the overly processed dog food. Most dogs here are fed kibble, dry dog food processed into small nuggets. Did you ever add up the disclosed ingredients in dogs food? They ingredients list never adds up to 100%. The rest is "filler". The downside of raw is that it can be expensive. We've taken to using the approach of 1/2 raw, 1/2 kibble. That helps lessen the cost and provides the quality nutrition the dogs needs to stay healthy. We also regularly give the dogs raw beef marrow bones to chew on. They love those and it's good from their teeth.
We are currently feeding the dogs Primal raw. The big girls, our standard poodles Stella and Jazzmin, eat Primal beef patties. as their evening feeding. They get a high quality, local Texas kibble for their morning feeding. Dahlie, our miniature poodle eats Primal chicken nuggets twice a day. They are thriving on this routine.
Getting settled into this combination took some trial and error. Dogs often have issues with different foods. They develop food allergies that show up as skin issues. Symptoms like itching and lost patches of hair can be caused by food allergies. Constantly feeding the same thing can trigger a food allergy. We occasionally change the kibble. When we do that we always blend the old an the new for a week or two to help them adjust to the change.
The poodles love exercise. Having the three of them has the benefit that they love to play with each other. We have an enclosed back yard and they love to romp around it in and chase the squirrel that runs along the top of the back fence. But they also need structure. A good walk fills that need and is good for us too. We walk the dogs on a leash and have recently started to use a harness. It took some training to teach the dogs to walk on a lead or leash. Now they have learned to walk next to us without tugging.
For us, part of an engaging environment for the dogs is toys. They have their things to mess with and that keeps them our of our things. Toys are also a good tool to redirect behavior. If one of the dogs is getting into something that shouldn't, offering a toy will redirect them into a better activity. We are able to provide a play area in the backyard where they spend hours each day. As a special treat we also will take Stella or Jazzmine to a really awesome doggie day care. The Cypress Falls Pet resort is an awesome resource for us.