Dog Blog

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Pet Botanics Mini Training Rewards are an ideal solution to the problem of dogs gaining weight from consuming too many treats during training. Each of these delicious morsels contains only 1.5 calories (1.6 calories for the Grain-Free version), so they can be given repetitively to reinforce behavior -- with no worries that Fido will get flabby. And, because they’re made with real meat as their #1 ingredient, they’re irresistible to dogs, making them a great training motivator that has been recommended by professional trainers nationwide.

Small Treats = Big Rewards

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As a dog training professional, you know that positive reinforcement is the best way to shape canine behavior. But all those food rewards can add up and cause pups to gain excess weight during training. How can you and your clients keep dogs from packing on the pounds while still giving them the repetitive rewarding that effective training demands? Read on.

The 10% Rule

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Canine nutritionists recommend that dogs get no more than 10% of their daily caloric intake from treats, with the other 90% coming from a well-balanced nutritional food. A look at a 30-pound dog’s daily caloric requirements shows how easy it is to go over this 10% limit when repetitive rewarding is used in training.

A popular formula for calculating a dog’s total daily caloric Resting Energy Requirement (RER) is: the dog’s weight in kilograms x 30 + 70. This would give our 30-pound (13.6-kilogram) dog a total daily requirement of 478 calories, with about 48 calories (10%) allowed to come from treats. (Keep in mind this is the basic “resting” requirement. The RER formula may be adjusted based on factors like age, activity level and reproductive status, so always consult a veterinarian to find out how many calories any specific dog needs daily.)

Unfortunately, our 30-pound pup can easily be given well over her entire 48-calorie treat allotment in just one training session. Too often, high-fat foods such as cheese are used as training reinforcers. A one-inch cube of cheese may contain 60-110 calories, depending on the type. Even if this cube were to be cut into 8 very tiny pieces (not so easy to do), our example dog could be given only 6 treats a day at most --and a mere 3.5 treats if the highest-fat cheese were used-- without going over the 48-calorie limit. That’s not going to go very far in teaching training commands!

Stay Skinny With Minis

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That’s why it’s so important for trainers and pet parents to choose a training reward that’s not only delicious enough to motivate their canine student, but also low enough in calories that it can be given repeatedly without causing the dog to break the scales. Pet Botanics Mini Training Rewards were designed specifically to meet these training demands.

At just 1.5 calories per treat (1.6 for the Grain-Free version), Pet Botanics Mini Training Rewards are perfect for repetitive rewarding. Our 30-pound dog can consume up to 32 Pet Botanics Mini treats daily without going over the 48-calorie limit. That’s enough for some serious training – plus a few extras left over for showing the pup some love and affection after the lesson is over!

In addition to the Originals, Pet Botanics Minis are available in a Grain-Free version. Original Pet Botanics Minis come in Chicken, Beef, Bacon and Salmon flavors, while the Grain-Free treats are offered in Chicken, Duck Bacon, and Salmon flavors. All Pet Botanics Minis – Original and Grain-Free – are have an irresistible taste that will motivate canine students to perform. This will help shorten the learning curve, without having to use high-fat rewards, allowing dogs to maintain a healthy weight during training. (See the following article for more information about Pet Botanics Mini Training Rewards.)

Intermittent Reinforcement

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Another strategy trainers and pet parents can use to keep pups-in-training from packing on the pounds is to give fewer rewards. Research has shown that once a dog has learned a command or behavior, he may actually retain that behavior better if he is not rewarded every time he performs it.

For example, once a dog reliably obeys the “Sit” command, try withholding the treat reward and giving it to him only every second, third or fourth time he sits on command, varying the intervals. Behaviorists call this intermittent reinforcement.

Intermittent reinforcement can make a dog’s learned behavior very durable. He knows it will eventually pay off so he becomes more focused and will try harder to perform the desired action.

With intermittent reinforcement, it’s truly a case of “less is more,” since you get better training with fewer rewards. When this strategy is combined with a low-calorie, treat that’s also very irresistible – like Pet Botanics Mini Training Rewards – trainers and pet parents have a powerful one-two punch for eliminating the problem of weight gain during training.

Help Your Clients Understand What Their Dog Is “Saying”

Pet Botanics wishes to thank Steven Appelbaum, president of Animal Behavior College, a vocational school for professional dog trainers, for contributing to this blog post. Appelbaum is also a professional dog trainer himself with over 30 years’ experience. www.animalbehaviorcollege.com
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Even though dogs can’t communicate with words, they do speak to us through their body language. But some of our notions about common canine gestures, like tail wagging, may not always be correct. Often you have to look at several physical cues such as the dog’s eyes, ears, and mouth and body posture to get the true message he is expressing. Here are some pointers that will help your clients become better “listeners” to their dogs and may even help them anticipate and avoid aggressive behavior.

Telling Different “Tails”

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Tail-wagging is a good example of a gesture that humans often misread. Most people take it to mean that the dog is happy, but while that’s often true, a wagging tail in itself is simply a sign of arousal. It’s important to look at the tail’s position and how it is moving to determine what the wagging actually means. If the tail is held high above the spine and is moving stiffly, this could be an indicator of overstimulation or even aggression. “I have worked with dozens of people in my career who were bitten by dogs that they thought were friendly due to their wagging tails,” said Steven Appelbaum, president of the training school Animal Behavior College. On the other hand, if the tail is wagging slightly but held very low, this may indicate submission in a fearful dog.

So when is tail-wagging the sign of a happy dog? Usually when the tail is even with the spine or slightly elevated, its movement is fast and relaxed, and it may even be rotating in a circular motion. Research has also shown that when a dog sees a person it likes, the tail wags more to the right, whereas with an unfamiliar person, the movement is more toward the left.

Listen To The Ears...and Eyes

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A dog’s ears provide one of the best clues to its state of mind. Ears that are up and relaxed often indicate a calm, relaxed and friendly pup. When the ears move slightly forward but remain in a relaxed position, it may signal that the dog, while still friendly, is becoming edgier and alert to something in its environment. Ears that are pricked far forward can be a sign of play arousal, but they can also indicate aggression arousal, especially if the body is stiff and the mouth is open showing the teeth.

When the ears are tilted back, the dog is usually stressed or fearful and may be in a submissive state. But – caution here – a dog holding its ears back could also become fear aggressive. “Most fearful dogs will tuck their tails, flatten their ears, avoid direct eye contact and slink down to make themselves smaller,” said Appelbaum. “These dogs will typically try to retreat if approached, and biting usually occurs when pet parents try to corner them.”

Eyes, too, can be the windows to a dog’s soul – or at least its psychological state. Soft direct eye contact is a sign of friendliness, while a hard stare may indicate excitement, arousal or even aggression. Rapid blinking and dilated pupils are symptoms of stress. No eye contact at all may mean the dog is submissive or fearful. But some dogs may still want to monitor the source of their discomfort, in which case they will look out of the corner of their eye, causing the white to show -- a phenomenon called “whale eye.”

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Body Of Knowledge

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Pet parents should always look at the overall body posture when trying to determine what their dog is “telling” them. A straight relaxed stance with feet flat on the ground generally means that the dog is relatively content, unthreatened and approachable. A forward lean with weight on the toes indicates an alert dog that is checking things out, trying to determine if a threat is present. A lowered body with a tucked tail and ears held back, as described by Appelbaum above, is a sign of fear aggression. Dominance aggression is often manifested by a stiff legged stance with a slight forward angle, elevated hackles and a raised and bristled tail.

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A dog in a playful mood will commonly “bow” or lower its forequarters by bending its front paws, hold its ears and tail high and open its mouth, exposing its tongue. When a dog rolls over on its back, it can be the ultimate sign of total surrender and submission -- or it can just mean the pup wants a tummy rub!

Bark – Worse Than Bite?

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While canines don’t speak in words, they do communicate by vocalization -- another useful way to gain insight into what they’re “saying.” “Vocalization usually involves barking, growling and whining, although it can sometimes include shrieking and even howling,” notes Appelbaum. “Within each of these vocalizations, volume and tone have to be considered.”

Appelbaum cited the example of his own Labrador Retriever’s different types of barks: “His deep ‘big boy’ bark was something he reserved for anyone knocking on the front door. Once, late at night, I was awakened to this bark out in the backyard. Walking outside to see what was going on I saw him at the back-fence barking and punctuating this with low menacing growls. I had never heard this from him before. As I peered over the fence and shined a flashlight into the open field behind my house, the beam from the flashlight illuminated two coyotes slinking away. When playing with me or the family this large lovable dog would become excited and occasionally start to bark. This was higher pitched and combined with body language involving play bows. Still other times the big dog would get himself stuck somewhere. How would we find him? We’d follow his high-pitched puppy bark, something he retained even in old age.”

Being able to read a dog’s vocal cues can often give advance warning of aggressive behavior, added Appelbaum. “Dogs usually vocalize impending aggression with growls or barks, but not always,” he said. “Some dogs simply warn with body language, and people who don’t understand this language are often surprised when the dog bites. This is part of the reason why so many people describe the dog that bit them as having ‘given no warning’ before the attack. While no warnings are possible, they are extremely unlikely. What is far more likely is the dog gave numerous warnings which the pet parent either ignored or didn’t understand. . . ” All of which shows why it’s so important for trainers and pet parents to be attuned to canine body language.

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With delicious real meat as their #1 ingredient, Pet Botanics Training Rewards are irresistible to dogs. Pet parents love them, too, because they're filled with healthy ingredients like our exclusive BotaniFits™ botanical nutrient blend. This unbeatable combination of flavor and nutrition has earned Pet Botanics Training Rewards praise from trainers and pet parents as the "perfect" training treat. But at Cardinal Pet Care, we know there's no one-size-fits-all training reward, which is why we offer Pet Botanics Training Rewards in so many different choices.

Skinny Minis

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Humans get to make choices in life, so why can't our dogs do the same? This question has given rise to a new trend in professional dog training -- choice training. As its name suggests, choice training empowers dogs to make their own choices during the training process. Canine students are given the freedom to control everything from whether to participate in a training exercise, to when the session should end. Many canine behaviorists favor extending this to other life activities as well, such as allowing the dog to choose whether to get his nails clipped or which path to take on a walk.

Why Choice Training Works

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More than 600 professional dog trainers from the US and Canada --and as far away as Great Britain -- traveled to Memphis, TN October 17-20 to attend the 2018 Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT) Conference. Cardinal Pet Care was proud to be a sponsor of this premier industry event, which gives animal training professionals the opportunity to network and exchange ideas, participate in roundtable discussions, and attend educational workshops that help sharpen their training and business skills.

This year's program featured nationally-known author-trainer Mikkel Becker as a keynote speaker, and included presentations on a wide range of topics, from fear-free canine training to understanding digital technology. Some 50 exhibitors, ...

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temp-post-imageThis is something that we never see from Pepper when we are on the road. The dogs are usually stress panting and up and down constantly. So before this 4-hour trip we misted the back of the vehicle where the dogs would be most comfortable. This was the scene only a few miles down the road. AMAZING! Colbie was sleeping on the floor behind the driver seat.

temp-post-imageWhen we arrived at our destination the pups were up and ready to hit the beach! So we went down to the designated "Dog Area" with our Pet Botanics Training Rewards in hand. Both the girls loved the water and enjoyed a walk down the beach during the sunset.

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More people are taking their four-footed family members along with them on vacation. According to the American Pet Products Association, 37 percent of pet parents now include their dogs on road trips, nearly twice as many as 10 years ago. Here are some simple steps that will help keep pups calm, happy and well behaved during car rides - and make the trip more enjoyable for everyone.

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Special treats add fun to summer outings – not just for people, but for dogs, too. Pet Botanics Grain-Free Mini Duck With Bacon Flavor Training Rewards are the perfect zesty canine snack to take along to parks, beaches and other warm-weather destinations. With a unique combination of two tantalizing flavors -- succulent duck and sizzling bacon, they’re irresistible to canines. And because they’re so healthy and nutritious, pet parents will love them too.

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M-mm M-mm Meat

Meat is the taste dogs love best, which is why it’s the #1 ingredient in Pet Botanics Grain-Free Mini Duck With Bacon Flavor treats. They’re made with real pork liver, along with duck and bacon flavors, for a meaty “around-the-campfire” taste and aroma that dogs will go crazy for. No worries about Bowser begging at the picnic table when he’s got such scrumptious treats of his own!

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If the travel plans include stops at hotels or restaurants, there's no reason to leave Fido behind. Many eateries now have patios, decks and rooftops where four-footed patrons can dine with their human companions. More hotels, too, are accepting canine visitors, as long as the dogs are well behaved and pet parents follow certain guidelines. All it takes is a little pre-planning and some basic rules of pet-iquette to make your pup a welcome guest at these establishments.

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Find Dog-Friendly Places

Pet parents should check ahead for dog-friendly venues along the route and at their final destination. There are a number of websites that list hotels, restaurants and other places that allow dogs, including:

Be sure to contact any establishment you plan to visit beforehand to make sure they still accept pets and find out if they have any special policies regarding furry guests, such as an additional fee or size limitation.

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