Pack Heirarchy & Pregnancy

As I sit here with my now 6.5 month belly.. I find myself in amazement.  Humans are pretty incredible! We are capable of some extraordinary things and I have a new found appreciation for the human body and all its glory. On my new journey into (human) motherhood, I have had lots of opportunities to learn and grow with my current pack.

I have done lots of research and read a ton of studies on how dogs are affected by pregnancy. I am strong believer in the pack hierarchy in dogs (although it seems to be subjective for some people). After working with dogs for the past 8 years, I have no doubt in my mind that dogs have a pack mentality, it is often just misinterpreted or misunderstood.

As I have always said, dogs are pretty incredible too!  

For dogs to be around a pregnant human, they undoubtedly are aware of our changes from a biological stand point, more than the perspective that they understand human gestation. However, this doesn’t make it easy for them understand the energy changes they are in tuned to.

Pregnancy goes hand in hand with hormonal changes (boy are they fun!) which causes a change in our body chemistry and how we smell to our canine companions. Think about a male dog who is not neutered. His hormones will smell about 5x stronger to other dogs than a dog who is neutered. That is the reason some dogs (more so in males) have a hard time “getting along” with dogs who still have their goods. These changes can make your fur baby reluctant to bond with you since they are unsure of your new scent OR it can do the opposite and make your dog show signs of protective behavior and neediness.

In my case, I got both behaviors! My 4lb warrior Chihuahua mix has become distant and very unsure of me and others in our home. My 75lb rescue mutt has become EVEN MORE of a baby and remains glued to my hip. If I can offer any advise to others, here are the top 5 most important areas to work on to keep your pack hierarchy in check:

1. Be aware of your energy – No matter how much your hormones are raging, the only thing you can control is the present. So stay present & calm.
2. Focus on leadership – Rules & boundaries are NOT the enemy!!!
3. Go back to basics – It is never to late to make sure your dogs command of sit, stay, wait & heal are solid.
4. Establish a flexible routine – Dogs are not to meant to live a cookie cutter life & once the baby comes, you are on BABY time (that includes the dog). Introducing different play times, walk schedules and feeding regimes will smooth the transition of a new pack member.
5. Desensitization – Babies demand a lot, they want to be held, cuddled, fed, changed etc etc. Allow your dogs to experience the sounds of a baby, smell of baby items or even see you walking around carrying a “baby.”


The Dog Mom Becomes A Human Mom

My beloved blog…. how I missed you so.

I apologize for being such an introvert the past few months but I have experienced a multitude of changes. I knew eventually I would get back to blogging about my life (dogs) and my weekly ramblings. As I enter into this new chapter life, I have been inspired to share my motivation and determination as a mom.

I have always wanted what is best for my dogs. Like any dedicated doggy mom, I wanted them to be happy, social, and even tempered. Since my entire world revolves around dogs, I felt a moral obligation to hold my dogs to a high standard. I found out in June that I am no longer going to be a mom to a pair of adorable pups, but also to a human baby in only a few short months. WOW.

Maybe it is my maternal instincts, who knows, but immediately I became concerned for my dogs. A mental shift has occurred and I find myself studying the pups every stare, bark, movement, response and their idiosyncrasies on a day to day basis. Its one thing to integrate a canine into a life with adult humans, but how to integrate a new born baby into a multi-species pack of 4? To my many clients who hear me compare toddlers or teenagers to dogs, lets face it … the similarities are present. We love, feed, teach, groom & comfort both…right?

I want my journey to be about balance, first within myself & baby and then with my boys (husband included).  With some mommy dedication and the help of some great industry professionals, I have high hopes for the greatest integration this mother will witness.  Stayed tuned for more updates on our progress!!

Starting a Prey Model Raw Diet

You have finally decided to switch your dog on to a raw diet… CONGRATULATIONS!  This is a nerve wracking and exciting time for any pet owner because it required dedication and commitment it is a high maintenance diet. The pay off is WELL worth your efforts I promise. Some of the benefits of feeding raw (to name a few):

◾Eliminates allergy symptoms
◾Stabilizes energy levels
◾Promotes lean muscle
◾Diminishes flatulence
◾Improves skin & coat
◾Regulates bowel movements
◾Strengthens & cleans teeth

I have met some “raw crazy” people out there who will scare you into believing there is one way to feeding raw. Ignore them. The most important piece of advise I can start you with is to make sure you are comfortable with how you are feeding your dog. If the sight of salmon heads or pig snouts will haunt you in your sleep for weeks…avoid it. If you stick to a few helpful guidelines, I promise you will have an easy time changing to raw.

Guidelines To Feeding a Prey Model Style Diet

1) Start simple. Choose 1 protein (I recommend a lean protein like chicken or turkey) for the first 3 weeks while your dog transitions to this new way of eating.
2) To ensure your dog maintains a healthy weight, feed 2-3% of your dogs current body weight. If your dog is a puppy, you want to feed 3-4% of its estimated ADULT weight.
3) After feeding raw for 3 weeks, you can begin to introduce organ meats. Prey model diets are typically broken down into the ratio of 80% meat (skin, muscles, fat etc), 10% bone and 10% organs.
4) If you are feeding whole cuts, make sure they are LARGE. The biggest choking hazards come from feeding portions too small. Small breeds you can feed chicken thighs or turkey necks. Medium breeds you can feed chicken legs w/ back, chicken quarters  or halves. Large breeds you can feed whole chickens, rabbits etc.



Are YOU ready for flea/tick season?

Canine Living Raw

I feel like a HUGE nerd because I get SO enthusiastic when talking about this product! I have been using this for my pups for a while now but I heard about Diatomaceous Earth 4 years ago. Back then.. it was almost impossible to find but NOW you can find it in boutique pet stores,  Global pet foods or order it from holistic pet food distributors.

True Raw Choice’s food grade Diatomaceous Earth (the label had to have fancy pretty writing because of its crazy name) is a product designed for internal and external parasite control. It is 100% Canadian made, fossilized algae shells known as Diatoms. This sand like product kills fleas, worms and other parasites by dehydrating them. This product can be sprinkled on food or ingested (read container instructions) but can also be used around the house as well.

If you are looking for a organic flea prevention/parasite control as an alternative to veterinary prescribed products…

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What the HECK is a prey drive?

The first time I heard of a ”prey drive” I was terrified of what that meant! At work, it was my job to perform temperament assessments on new dogs..aka..I had to tempt every dog I evaluated to see if a tiny dog, rabbit, cat or squirrel would trigger a wild, instinct driven rage to hunt or kill.

The more I learned about dogs, the more I absorbed the truth that these furry “babies” are really animals. Animals who have an instinctual, predatory drive to stalk, hunt, chase and kill.

The dangers of domesticating our prey driven canines is that we run the risk of them chasing a squirrel on to a busy street or killing a poisonous or diseased animal. So where does that leave us dog owners who bought or rescued a dog with a high prey drive? Maybe you havent tuned into those behaviors in your own dog.

Signs of a prey drive can be:
-pouncing on toys or shaking them
-has an obsession over things with erratic or fast movement such as bugs/bees, motorcycles etc
-ignoring vocal commands while engaging in the chase

The best advice I can provide when owning a dog with a high prey drive is to GO with nature! I am not suggesting you let your dog hunt and kill its own food..I am suggesting that you find activities to satisfy the drive in a manor which YOU control.

We have identified the prey drive…now lets learn what motivates their drive. Every dog has a motivator! Some dogs are chase driven, relationship driven, food driven, play driven etc. This will help you manipulate their attention from actual prey to you. You now become the source of all things glorious!

You can work on commands (on leash) such as sit, stay or leave it while on leash and reward these behaviors with chasing a ball, or engaging in tug of war, or chewing on a juicy bone. This strengthens your relationship (what you want) & rewards what drives them (what they want). Once this is mastered for at least a month…you can begin to work around distraction and triggers outside (on leash).

Everything I’ve Learned About Dog Socialization

Great post !

Marking Our Territory

No doubt it’s a big world out there. But is it big and scary? Or big and exciting? Well, that all depends on how you look at it.

“Hey bro, I can’t see. Is it scary or exciting!?”

For my first dog, a terrier named Blitzen, I treated the world as big and scary. When he was a puppy I worried he might get parvo or some other illness so I never took him far from home. I kept our outings short, uneventful and far away from dogs who might get my puppy sick. I loved Blitzen like crazy and did everything I thought best to keep him safe and healthy.

It wasn’t until Blitzen was older and had his full vaccinations that I felt comfortable introducing him to new people, dogs and places. Despite my coaxing, Blitzen was wary and uninterested in these novel experiences. Blitzen was a loving and loyal…

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WOOFSTOCK 2014 !!!!

Woofstock is north america’s biggest dog festival that takes place in Toronto. This was my 5th year going but also my first year going with both my dogs. If you want to SPOIL the life out of your dog with endless friends, toys, treats, bones and food.. this is the place to be! I owe a lot to my dogs because of the unconditional love they give me, all day, every day. This weekend we only attended Saturdays festival down at the beaches. I was super excited to see at least 5 other raw food companies who were all there for the same goal. After meeting the different staff and company owners, we all shared the same goals, to better the lives of dogs. I felt very uplifted to see how far a long pet nutrition has come. YAY!

My proudest mommy moment I would love to share was that my boy Hemi passed his Canine Good Neighbour Evaluation. My friend & I were planning to sign up for a prep course before this evaluation. When I heard that The Canadian Kennel Club was doing on the spot evaluations at the festival, I thought… why not now? The Canine Good Neighbour certification signifies that your dog is a respected member of the community because it is trained and conditioned to act mannerly in the home, public places and the presence of other dogs. Considering my boy is a rescue who had a ton of fears and issues.. I couldn’t be happier.

I would love to share some amazing photos we took at woofstock for all of you DOG LOVERS to enjoy!



The Skinny on Raw

One of the fascinating perks of feeding dogs a raw diet is the awareness it brings to you about your dogs health. When I rescued Hemi..he was too skinny. It sounds like a simple fix right? just feed him more. For months I free fed him all the high calorie vet brand kibble he could eat. The result? No weight gain, just lots of gas and inconsistent poop (which required medication to regulate his movements). So what is the confusion here? The misconception here is that a dog needs carbs instead of healthy fats to keep on weight.

Raw diets are not only biologically appropriate but are dense in beneficial nutrients. When consuming raw, minimal effort is required by the digestive tract and all those awesome nutrients are ready to be absorbed; including healthy fats and proteins! In 2 days you can see if your dog is being fed too much or too little. Problem simplified 🙂  If you have a working dog, under weight or high energy dog, make sure to include healthy fats in your dogs diets. Studies have shown that working dogs who consume a meal that is high in fat can regulate their body temperature. This increases their stamina and prevents over heating or exhaustion when working. A dogs body will utilize healthy fats as energy faster than protein and carbs. Some healthy fats to consider are fish oils, raw chicken fats, flaxseed oil, olive oil, coconut oil, or even raw eggs (good source of protein as well).


Life is a Beach!

I may be a city girl but I spend A LOT of time trying to connect with nature. I seek and find great camping grounds, hiking trails, beautiful lakes and beaches. The downfall of the city is that those are all had to find …especially if you want your canine companions by your side. I spent a beautiful long weekend with my parents to celebrate mothers day. Sure enough we found some AWESOME beaches with DOGS allowed!!


For my fellow city dwellers… here are some spots that are dog friendly and well worth a visit:

1. Cherry Beach. Downtowns designated off leash beach with areas to run, play and swim! Be mindful…it gets crowded…fast!

2. Claireville Conservation. The west ends 848 acre playground! Dogs are allowed throughout the park grounds and trails. Awesome day trip.

3. West Don Mills Park / Earl Bales Trail. Uptowns little gems. West Don Mills Park is a smaller forested park but trails are peaceful and not over crowded. Earl bales trails have endless paths for you and your pup to explore.

4. Sandbanks. The best for last..if you havnt been here..go now! Its east of the city so I suggest camping for a day but the dog beach and trails will leave you speachless. Heres a shot of my hubby and the pups here last year. Dont miss it!





Doggy Sports

To my followers who have kids…there comes a time when your child has this abundance of bubbly energy that needs expelled.  Dogs require the same energy draining outlets to avoid behavior issues like anxiety, destructive chewing, excessive barking etc. Not only this, some breeds of dog were bred (designed) for a job! Yes … a job! Dogs like sheep herding breeds or hunting breeds have instincts telling them to exert behaviors (like nipping at heals, or barking when they see a bird) that a dog with a job would do. So what kind of sports or activities can help our high energy/working dogs live a happier and more full fiilled life? Check these out !

Agility is a sport where the handler directs their dog through a variety of obstacles (tires, weave poles, tunnels, levels) in a race against time and accuracy. This sport full fills a dogs desire to chase and hunt prey as in the wild, they would be racing through natural obstacles in order to get their food. Not only it agility GREAT exercise for you both, but it strengthens the bond between you and your dog. You are not using toys or food to lure your dog through this course, it is your directions that guide them.

Disc Dog
The disc dog (or frisbee dog) sport started in the 1970’s and a sport my big dog Hemi LOVES. It consists of the handler tossing a frisbee in a variety of ways while your dog fetches. There are three styles in this sport: Toss and Fetch, Freestyle & Long Distance. It is almost like a choreographed dance but really strengthens your dogs focus on you and your leadership skills.

Flyball is a sport where 4 dogs compete in a race where they have to jump over 4 hurtles (each way) to a box that releases a tennis ball when they step on the spring loaded pad and return it to the handler.  This sport began in the late 1060’s and is very competitive. Flyball is great for a dog with lots of stamina with a great drive for toys!

Cart Pulling
“Carting” is a dog sport in which a dog (large to giant breed) pulls a dog cart filled with farm supplies or even people. This sport is called dry land mushing and in known around the world. This sport is typically used for sled dogs so they can stay in shape. This is great exercise for large/giant breeds with high energy such as Huskies, Malamutes, Bernese Mountain Dogs & Bully breeds.