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 good nutrition , exercise, an engaging environment and training for them to develop into the pets we enjoy.

Nutrition is important to having a healthy and happy dog.   It can be very difficult to know what to feed your dogs.  There are so many options.  New products keep being introduced and products change over time.  Most dogs in the USA are fed kibble, dry dog food processed into small nuggets.  With the dizzying array of choices and costs it is hard to choose.  Did you ever add up the disclosed ingredients in dog food?  The ingredients listed never add up to 100%.  What is not disclosed is the "filler".   Fillers are non-nutritional ingredients that bulk up the food.  An alternative to kibble that we use is raw frozen dog food.  The main ingredient of raw is raw meat.  Commercial raw products include other ingredients to fill out the nutritional requirements for dogs.  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 dogs need to stay healthy.  We also regularly give the dogs raw beef marrow bones to chew on.  They love those and it's good for their teeth. 

The big girls, our standard poodles eat raw patties as their evening feeding, Stella beef and Jazzmin lamb.  They get a high quality kibble in the morning.  Dollie Lama, our miniature poodle,  eats raw chicken nuggets twice a day.  They are thriving on this routine.  We have experience with dogs developing food allergies.  Constantly feeding the same thing can trigger a food allergy.   Symptoms like itching and lost patches of hair can be caused by an allergic food reaction.  A strategy to avoid allergies is to rotate food.  When we change, we always blend the old an the new for a week or two to help them adjust.  Some new foods work for them and some don't.  Buy new foods in small quantities and pay attention to how they react.  It would be nice to have all the girls on the same food, but they are each different and we juggle the best we can.

We did have one of our previous dogs on a Keto diet.  Sadie was a yellow lab and developed a cancerous hard tumor on her head.   We were able to help control it for a time with a simple recipe we learned from the good folks at Keto Pet Sanctuary  While Sadie eventually passed, the keto diet did help slow the progression of her disease. 

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.  They enjoy to chasing the squirrel that runs along the top of the back fence.  The big girls have learned to bounce together on our granddaughter's trampoline.  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 without tugging on the leash or trying to dash off to "visit" the squirrels.

For us, part of an engaging environment for the dogs is toys.  They have their things to mess with and that keeps  them out of our things.  Toys are also a good tool to redirect behavior.  If one of the dogs is getting into something they shouldn't, offering a toy will redirect them into a better activity.  In addition to regular access to our back yard, we also take Stella or Jazzmin to a really awesome doggie day care about once a week.  They get to interact with other dogs and experience another environment.  We kid that they have their spa days.   

  

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.  We recommend seeking help from a professional trainer.  A good dog trainer will spend time training you how to work with your dog.  Repeated work with your dog, going over commands and exercising their skills, reinforces learning and provides the mental challenge they need.