Saturday, 22 April 2017

Current Boredom Breakers

Hey! If you didn't know already, I work a full time job, and Diego, the poor sod has to stay at home alone during my hours of work.  I did try and find a dog for him to hang out with during the day, but he much prefers not to have to share his food and toys. This means I have to find new ways to entertain him during the day and keep his mind occupied since we have moved away from my mother and Chico.

Recently, I have put three enrichment/treat toys on rotation with a similar recipe inside them and it has been working well. I usually make up two of the toys daily, and just change around which two are used each time. I have been doing this over the last month or so, and Diego seems to really enjoy it. Inside the toys I use his usual dog food, which currently is Orijen Adult, some of the Omega Plus Fish Oil and a tiny bit of peanut butter. I feed these toys instead of his breakfast, and this makes sure he isn't getting overfeed or too many extra treats.

The first toy is the mainstream Kong toy. This is one of the first toys that was put on the market as a tough toy, that can be filled with food and treats to entertain your dog. I purchased my Kong online second hand (although never used as it was still in its packaging, it had been sitting around their home for several years) back when Diego was a puppy. This has been well loved, and lost multiple times but it always finds a way back to our collection. With the Kong, I put peanut butter in the top hole as a plug, and then fill the rest with food. Once full, I add a couple of squirts of the fish oil, and then close up the bottom with more peanut butter. I let this sit while I am getting ready in the morning, and during Summer I would put it in the fridge. This lets the oil sink in a bit more to make it less likely that the kibble would just fall out.

The next toy is the Bionic Bone which is branded as another tough toy that you can fill with food and treats. This one is a different shape, and adds more challenge than the Kong. I follow the same process as with the Kong when filling this one, doing a side at a time and making sure the toy is completely filled with kibble. I find that Diego enjoys this one more as it takes more time and effort to get all the kibble pieces out. However, his tongue doesn't reach all the way in, and the shape of the toy means that food can easily get stuck in the middle. This isn't too bad with this dry mixture I have been using, but when I used to use canned dog food, it caused quite a mess. This one also holds less kibble than the other two toys so is good as a time-user that doesn't mean lots of food.

The last toy is the Furchun Cookie that I reviewed a few months ago. With this toy, I don't add the peanut butter or fish oil, just the kibble. It's perfect as a quick to prepare toy when you are just rushing out the door. This one holds more food than the other two options, but it doesn't hold Diego's attention for as long. This one is generally given to Diego daily, with either of the above options as it is good to make sure Diego is getting his usual serving of breakfast, but not too much peanut butter or oil in one day.

I find that adding these toys to Diego's daily life has made him a lot more calm, and he actually seems excited for me to leave in the mornings so he can get his toy. These are not used in replacement of walks, training or any other stimulation that I give him when I am at home. These just make sure I don't feel completely terrible about leaving him at home alone. I love these toys, but would really love to add some more to my rotation so if you have any ideas feel free to leave me a comment below, on my Facebook page, or Instagram.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Book Review: Team Dog

Hey! I love researching and finding out new ideas and ways of training dogs, so when I saw this book at my local library, I had to give it a read. Team Dog is written by Mike Ritland who also wrote Trident K9 Warriors which I reviewed in 2015. Mike Ritland is a Navy Seal, turned military dog trainer who specialises in training some of the most amazing war dogs for the US. This book sells itself as a how-to guide to training your dog the Navy Seal way.

As always, I don't want to give away too much of the book for those that are going to want to read it. I have made sure to bookmark some important pages and quotes that I appreciated though, which will get you all thinking a little bit more about how you are currently training your beloved pooch.

A big principle of Mike's is that:
Whatever behaviour is consistently rewarded will be repeated. AND
Whatever behaviour is consistently not rewards will be extinguished.
This is a very simple way of looking at dog training, and one that I have noticed across many different training styles. He dives deeper into this principle, and explains how to do both of those main points correctly to get what you want from your dog. Quite a big portion of the book is centred around this concept, and how he uses this to train not only the military dogs, but also how it can be effective in training your house pet.

Mike also delves deeper into some common faults that people complain to him about with their pet dog, including chewing of furniture and other objects, barking and not listening. I enjoyed this chapter as he gave answers to a lot of the questions that people are asking, but also admitted that there is a range of scenarios that is why your dog is acting like it does. If you have a dog with these common faults, I would definitely recommend checking this book out for this chapter!

A lot of your 'faults' with your dog can also be put down to the lack of exercise and mental stimulation. Mike brings this up multiple times within the book, making you think about the amount of time you have your dog just relaxing around home. Dogs are very active animals, but a lot of how people are currently keeping them, means they do not get as much exercise as they need. My favourite quote from the book is 'many cattle have better lives than some of the pampered pets'. This is true in a lot of situations, because at least cattle get to graze, and walk around like they have been for hundreds of years. Dogs on the other hand, are completely dependent on how we treat them, and exercise them to meet all their needs. I know plenty of dogs that don't get enough attention, or even leave their yard, so this statement really makes a lot of sense to me.

Overall, this book has some great points about dog training, and the difference between training a house dog compared to training a dog to go into war torn countries. Some of his ideas are not what I personally would do when training Diego, but that is like most, if not all, dog trainers out there. The book itself is set out in a good way, making it easy to understand what he is getting across. It also follows a good story line, not bouncing from ideas too drastically, or going back on ideas that have already been mentioned.

I think this is a book to read for those that are interested in learning about different ways of training dogs, or who have a dog with a common problem like barking or not listening. This book isn't a 100% comprehensive book on dog training, or philosophy so I don't believe it should be used as the only dog training manual. In conjunction with other dog trainer principles, or just a basic knowledge on how the dog thinks and behaves I believe this book, and Mike Ritland's approach will give you a nice well-rounded dog with minimal faults.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Yours Droolly Floating Droolly Dog

We moved to a house right on the river in December and since then Diego has found a new love for the river and swimming. Last Summer he slowly learnt to enjoy putting his feet in, and playing with toys around the waters edge, but this Summer he has really extended his limits of swimming. He now will happily swim around chasing sticks, rocks and toys and will even dive under to get a lucrative prize. I decided that I needed to purchase some new toys to play with down at the river, and test them against the destroyer, Diego. I purchased three toys to begin with from Petpost with free shipping and they all arrived within two days!

The first toy we tried out was the Floating Droolly Dog by Yours Droolly. Yours Droolly is a range of products ranging from toys and treats that is owned by Masterpet. I purchased the smallest size (and cheapest in case it got lost in the river) which is selling for just over $16. This toy is sold as a 100% water resistant toy that floats which is perfect for our river play. It is in a bright, thick fabric and has squeakers in all four paws.

To start with, the claim that it floats is true, and even after ripping it still maintained its buoyancy. I am surprised how this is actually a very important feature in water toys, it meant that Diego always found the toy easily, and even if it travelled with the current he could easily spot it to swim after. With other toys (there will be reviews) I often had to chase them down stream as they travelled and Diego had no idea where they went. I didn't have to once grab this toy as Diego could always track it down.

I am unsure whether the water resistant claim is true. Diego and I played for maybe about half an hour down at the river with the toy, mainly fetch and it did get heavy and water sodden within a few rounds. The reason I can't confirm whether the claims are true, is because by the end of this play session, the face of the dog had ripped open and stuffing was falling out. It could have started with a tear in the stitching early on and that let water in. Either way, with water in it, it still wasn't impossibly heavy, and still floated.

As I mentioned above, the toy didn't hold up for even one play session. Diego wasn't being overly destructive, shaking his head with the toy, but no pulling or chewing. It is possible that because I got the littlest size, it didn't hold up to Diego's jaw strength, and I should have got a more appropriate size. The toy also doesn't claim to stand up to rough play or be a strong, durable toy. I think if you have a dog with a stronger jaw, get the size up, and definitely limit the amount of time you are playing.

Now that the face has been ripped open, there isn't much point in keeping the toy much longer. I may be able to get a few more play sessions down at the river with it before it completely becomes rubbish.

Obviously this is not Diego approved. With it being ripped within the first play means that it cannot be a toy that I would recommend to other chewers or dogs with strong jaws. However, it is not a complete fail on my part. I am happy that it floats, and is somewhat water resistant which is the claims they made on the toy. It was one of the better toys for playing in the river with while it lasted, and maybe if I had got the correct size, it would have lasted a lot longer. The other bonus, it is super easy to clean after playing down at the river or beach. I would recommend this toy for water loving dogs, that are more delicate, mouth wise.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Isle of Dogs 'Smile' Treats

Hey! Recently we went to the opening day of Animates in Whanganui, and were browsing the isles for new products. Immediately, the Isle of Dog treat range caught our eye with their brilliant packaging. They had a range of the treats on offer but I picked up the 'Smile' version to try out with Diego.

Isle of Dog treats are 100% natural and depending on what type of treat you get, have ingredients that naturally help your pooch. In the Smile treats there are apples to help scrub tartar and kelp which works to support the digestive system making these treats perfect for supporting your dog's oral health. The rest of the ingredients are easy to read, and stuff that you could easily find in your own cupboards. These have no nasties in them, that I even gave them a try for myself. I personally am not the biggest fan. They were a bit like cardboard for me, but still very edible!

These treats are oven-baked which makes a wonderful crunchy treat of the perfect size for any dog. They are easily broken into smaller pieces, so can be used as training treats as well. Also, a bonus is that they are not super crumbly, so you can break these indoors without risk of having crumbs all over your floors. They are in the shape of a heart, so really what more could you want?

Diego is a big fan of apple, which is something that originally drew me into these treats. The Smile treats are no exception to Diego's love, as he adores these. I have been using them recently as a training treat for learning new tricks and Diego is very keen to please. They are easy to break on the spot for ease of treating, and do not cause my hands to stink overly. I also have been taking them in a treat bag while out walking, and I love that they don't make a mess at all, but still can get Diego's attention.

The package does suggest only feeding two to four treats a day, which for a bigger dog would not be enough for a full training session. Obviously this is a guideline only, but something to consider when looking for a new treat. 

Each box of treats from Animates will set you back $20, and for that you will be getting 340g of product. This makes them obviously not the cheapest treat you could find, but also not the most expensive. I think for the quality ingredients you are getting within these treats, the price is worth it.

Overall, I am super happy with these treats, and am excited to try out the other versions. I honestly can't say I noticed a difference in Diego's teeth and gums, but I think in the long run they would have a positive impact on the overall health of his mouth. This is an exciting new brand to come to New Zealand and I am definitely going to keep a keen watch on their other products they bring over here. I would love to hear your thoughts on these treats if you have tried them. Leave me a comment below :)

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Petprojekt Furchun Cookie

Hey! In April last year, I got a Lucky Dip Pack from Puss and Pooch  and in that package was the Furchun Cookie. At the time, Diego had a bunch of other toys so this one got pushed to the side and somewhat forgotten. Until recently. For the past couple of months, this toy has been used nearly daily so I decided to share our thoughts on it.

The Furchun Cookie is a 100% rubber dog toy, made in the shape of a Fortune Cookie. It has a slit opening the whole way around the cookie, that when squished opens up wider. This means it is perfect for stuffing with treats to make a boredom breaker. It is also light-weight, durable and comes in a range of bright colours and two sizes, small or large. We got ours in green, and I believe the large size.

What I have been doing is filling the toy with Diego's normal dog food (Orijen Adult) when I leave for work in the morning. I give this alongside a Kong toy with a mix of dog food and peanut butter. It doesn't hold a lot of kibble in it as you can see from the photos. However, Diego still takes a while to get all of the kibble out, because when there is less in it, they are harder to get out. Diego is what I would consider to be a small sized dog, and although the toy fits nicely in his jaw, he can't get the best grip to open the toy and get treats out at the same time. This makes it more of a challenge. If your dog is bigger they may find this toy too easy.

I haven't tried this toy with a soft substance like peanut butter or canned dog food. I would be worried that Diego could easily get his tongue caught in the toy if he was trying to lick out the contents. Maybe with a bigger dog it would be less of a worry. They are advertised to take peanut butter so it is by personal preference if you would want to take that risk.

The Furchun Cookie is also multi-purpose as it can also be used as a fetch toy. As we have lost Diego's favourite ball, we have had to start trialling out other toys to play fetch with. This one has been well loved by Diego as it fits nicely in his mouth, and bounces in odd directions when thrown. For me personally, the Furchun Cookie is easy to throw, and isn't too hard which can be a worry when Diego catches toys on the full.

The great thing about this toy, is even though we have used it daily, there is no huge damage to the toy. Diego spends roughly an hour chewing this, and still there is only bite marks in the rubber. No major pieces have been ripped off, or become defective. This is a big deal for Diego, as he has managed to destroy a Kong before and is known to rip toys apart.

All in all, I really love this toy, and it has been a great way to remove some of Diego's boredom while I am away at work. Anything that makes eating his breakfast more of a challenge is a plus in my mind, and the fact that this has stood the test of time is fabulous! He also hasn't mastered it yet, so even after a few months, he still finds it a challenge and takes time to remove all the treats. If you can get your hands on one of these toys I definitely recommend it.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Valentine's Day Dog Treats

Gosh, Valentine's Day crept up on us fast, but I am here to bring you a simple recipe to make for your pooches this holiday. I got the original recipe from The Ultimate Dog Treat Cookbook and then modified the recipe to suit what I had available, and to make it more Valentine's themed.

1/2 C Dog Food Kibble 
2 C Grated Carrot
1/2 C Apple Sauce
3/4 C Beetroot
3 C Wholemeal Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 Tbsp Milk

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees
2. Put the dog food kibble into a food processor or blender and grind until a course flour.
3. Use a food processor or blender to puree the grated carrots and beetroot.

4. Add the applesauce and milk to the food processor or blender and puree again.
5. Spoon the pureed mixture into a large bowl. Add the flour, ground dog food kibble and baking powder. Mix until a dough forms, and then knead with your hands until mixed well. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour.

6. Roll the dough out on a floured surface. This dough is super soft so don't roll it too thin. Cut out your desired shapes and place these onto greased cookie sheets.
7. Bake for about ten minutes or until the bottoms are brown, then flip over and bake for another ten minutes.
8. Let these cool thoroughly before storying in an airtight container.

Some things to note with this recipe is that the mixture is incredibly sticky. The original recipe calls for two cups of flour, but I found I added another two or so cups to the mixture to try and roll it out. Even then it was still super sticky. The treats are also not super crunchy, more of a rubbery consistency. If you want them to be crunchier, you can leave them in the cooling oven for a few hours or overnight and they will hopefully go to a more crunchy consistency.

I'd love to see your homemade dog treats for Valentine's Day. If you make these biscuits make sure to share them on our Facebook page, or #daisypets on Instagram. I would also love to know if you adjusted the recipe and how they turned out.

Monday, 30 January 2017

Omega Plus Fish Treats

Hey! I recently started noticing Omega Plus Treats coming up on other New Zealand Instagram accounts and knowing how much Diego thrives on fish treats I was intrigued. I contacted them to see where I could purchase some in the North Island, and was lucky enough for them to send Diego and Chico a gift pack before Christmas.

Omega Plus Pet Food is a New Zealand company that is a division of New Zealand King Salmon which has been sustainably farming the king salmon species in the Marlborough Sounds for over 20 years. Omega Plus offers food and treats for both cats and dogs using human grade fish cuts as the main or only ingredient. King Salmon species has the highest natural oil content of all salmon and contains a naturally rich source of healthy long chain omega 3-s. Also contains vitamins A, B12 and D, as well as high-quality protein, niacin and thiamine.

We received the King Salmon Fins and Tails treats which is literally just the fins and tails chopped from the fish. These have been freeze dried, with no preservatives added. I gave Diego a tail as his first treat, which he happily chomped down. I wish I could give you a close up of these, or even a photo of Diego with them, but the day Diego got that first tail, he loved it so much he tracked down the packet. I came home from work and found the resealable pouch destroyed around the yard, and some scales scattered around to show what he had been up to. Diego is not generally one to get into mischief while I am at work so it is a big deal for him to scout these off the bench to enjoy.

The fins are super unusual looking, with it literally being a fin cut off the fish. They are of a decent size, big enough for it to take a couple of minutes for Diego to eat. They would also suit any sized dog as they wouldn't be a choking hazard for larger breeds. A great thing about these treats, compared to other fish treats we have tried, is that there is minimal mess. There is no leftover scales on the floor, and if there is, they are delectable enough for Diego to lick them up. The great thing about the packaging on these treats is that the plastic is made from a thick plastic, to keep majority of the scent out, and it has a resealable closure to keep them fresh after opening.

We also received a container of their King Salmon Oil which I have been putting on the dogs food. Diego absolutely adores the oil, and goes crazy when he sees me getting it out. I have been putting a couple squirts on his breakfast most mornings and have noticed a difference in his coat. It is a lot softer, and quite glossy. Mum has been giving Chico the oil as well, and has noticed similar results. Fish oil is a great supplement to any dogs meal times, as it contains Omega-3 and 6 which is great for skin, coat and joint mobility. The 300ml size is also perfect, as it contains roughly 125 doses which will last a couple of months depending on the size of your dog and how often you are supplementing.

A big thing I find with fish treats and oil is the smell, and the grease. I don't like touching the packets, or the actual product as I can't seem to remove that fishy smell. Sorry to break it to you all, but these products are no different. You will need to scrub your hands thoroughly after going anywhere near these. As for Diego, I haven't noticed any lingering bad breath due to the fish. Straight after he has gnawed on a treat might be different, but after a little while his breath is back to normal.

I would definitely recommend trying these treats, especially if your dog is fond of fish like Diego. I am going to be going out to buy more when they hit stores near us. They make a great treat to give when you are leaving the house, or just to keep your dog occupied for a few minutes. The fish oil is a absolute treat, and at a cheaper price than typical fish oils, it is one that I will be repurchasing when we run out.