Feed in meals,
one or two times a day, not using self-feeders. By feeding in meals,
there will be no overeating, the food will stay fresher, and you
can control the food intake.
- If your dog is active during the day, you should consider feeding in the evening, instead of the morning.
- Do Not engage your dog in intense activity until at least two hours after eating. Do not feed after exercise until your dog has the chance to cool down his body temperature.
- If your dog is bolting his food (eating really fast), try the Brakefast bowl or put the food on a jelly roll baking pan to slow him down.
- Invest in an
above-the-ground feeder or bowl to prevent spills, keep insects
out, and make eating and digestion easier. Mini horse feeders and
buckets work great for food and water. Adjust it to the shoulder height of your dog.
- Buy the
best quality dog food you can afford and that your dog does well on. Things to pay attention to are the general health and luster, condition/weight, or digestion patterns of your dog. Active bird dogs often do good on a diet of at least 30% protein and 20% fat. For links to nutritional articles, click here.
- Dog foods are not made equally, and while reading the labels can give you a better idea of the contents of the food than trusting all the marketing, it won't tell you everything or anything about actual quality. Talk to fellow hunters, breeders, and trainers to get a feel of what might work for you. Remember, just because there is a big brand name on the bag, it doesn't always mean the food is high-quality. Oftentimes, the high quality natural dog foods (California Natural, SolidGold, Eagle Pack, Wellness, Canidae etc) will be from companies of which that the mass public has never heard. On the other hand, working dogs can do well even on Sam's Club Exceed and Kirkland Signature formulas (manufactured by Diamond brand). Some things to pay attention to are checking the guaranteed analysis and metabolizable energy (kcal/cup). Meat meals (ie chicken meal, lamb meal, etc) in the first three ingredients is more important than a listed meat alone (ie chicken, lamb) because the latter is weighed while still containing water.
- Do not feed your dog old foods that you would not eat! Dogs can get sick from spoiled foods. Other foods to avoid feeding are (but not limited to) onions, peanuts, grapes, chocolates, pork, spices, cooked meat bones, cooked poultry bones, apple cores, and cherries.
- Have you ever considered feeding a Raw diet, BARF diet, or SARF diet? With a bit of knowledge and background on the owner's parts, these natural diets can provide adequate nutrition. There is a little controversy about all-natural diets, and it is not common in the sporting dog world, so please do your research on canine anatomy/function, canine nutrition, specific diets, etc. before considering switching. There are many articles online and books published on the subject.
- Always have
fresh, easily-accessible water, and keep it cool in summer and warm
in winter. Hydration is the most important factor in your dog's
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Supplies and Home:
We love versatile products! Take, for instance, the adjustable
nylon horse tie-down. It can be used as a leash, tie down, short
tie-out, collar/leash combo, etc. for home, traveling, bathing,
grooming, hunting, emergencies, etc. They are extremely versatile
and durable. And for less than $10 from Schneiders, we bought a pair of durable, black Dura-Tech Split Rope Draw Reins that we not only use for bitting up horses but also as a short, sturdy check cord for pups, quick/versatile lead, and effective tool for training whoa/heel.
- Owning dogs doesn't have to cost a fortune! Resist purchasing supplies, toys, and health-care products from pet stores; instead, comparison shop catalog/online suppliers, like Valley Vet, Drs. Foster & Smith, and Jeffers Pet.
- Keep toys,
bowls, buckets, yards, beds, doghouses, and kennels washed and clean! Clean
environments reduce the chances for parasitic infestations and other
illnesses. Also make sure they are all intact, with no loose parts that might be ingested by or cut your dog.
- Speaking of dog toys, our number one choice are the KONG products. We keep a variety of them on hand and fill them with healthy treats to help bored pups get through the day. Similar durable products are also available. While your dog will doubtlessly have a favorite type of toy, I suggest all owners purchase something like these, too.
- Get your outdoor dog a waterproof
dog blanket if you live in really wet or cold climates. Each of our dogs wears their custom-made blankets,
by Horse Creations, throughout the winter to keep more comfortable and active. We also recommend and use Weatherbeeta brand dog blankets, economical yet higher quality than many available.
- For snow or ice packed paws, make sure you trim the hair up between the paw pads (on the underside) and apply shortening, cooking spray, or Mushers Secret type of products. If that isn't enough, seriously consider purchasing waterproof, insulated/lined dog boots. Paws can get frostbitten.
- Permanent identification
could make all the difference if your dog gets lost at home or on
hunting trips, vacations,…. RLS highly recommends having your pet microchipped. Vets and shelters have universal-readers, so your pet will have a much better chance at being identified and returned. Don’t neglect the tags, though, as they
are easily read by everyone.
- Get a kiddy
pool for your dog in the summer to help keep him cool. Change water daily for prevention
of mosquitoes, etc. Make sure he also has a dry place to escape the heat.
- Designate an
area in your home for your dog, such as a bed or dog crate- he will appreciate a safe haven of his
own. In the yard, give him a kennel for safe-keeping and structure, too.
- It is important to keep your dog in a fenced or well-contained area so that it is not free to roam at large. Just some of the risks of running unsupervised are self-hunting, poison/ingestion of troublesome things, annoyed neighbors (and any actions they might take), car accidents, theft/loss, etc.
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Let your pup be a pup his first year and don't pressure him. Take him out to fields and different environments as much as possible so he can have fun, get used to the little things, and learn on his own.
- For typical obedience training, always set
your dog up for success and never for failure.
- Be a fair, consistant,
calm, leader- that’s what your dog needs and expects. Among many other things, to earn respect human pack leaders rule the doors, gates, and stairs, they provide their dogs' exercise and play time, they give their dog the foods and leave him and the bowl ALONE, they place themselves between any offending dog and their dog and protect their dog, and they correct all unacceptable behavior immediately and impersonally.
- Give your
dog as much love as you can- AFTER you give him the exercise, leadership, and instruction/structure he deserves.
rush your dog’s training. Progress only when the dog is ready
to and make sure you practice repitition, repitition, repitition!
- Do Not correct in an angry, aggressive, or threatening way. Maintain a sensible, calm, focused attitude and make the correction within 1-2 seconds and at the appropriate level. Your purpose is to correct and move along with the training.
- "That which you are allowing, you are teaching." Remember that....
- Electronic collars should only be used to reinforce or correct commands your dog HAS ALREADY LEARNED. Even if you prefer to do operant conditioning, please only use this for repititious vices that your dog knows he shouldn't be doing or something he can learn that it is more comfortable for him if he is not doing it.
- When you buy an
e-collar, purchase one with many levels, and vibrate/shock options, so that you can tailor the
level just to your dog's needs. E-collars should typically be at a high
enough level to get the dog's attention, not high enough to cause pain.
- For training,
use the tried-and-true CHECK CORDS. They are both inexpensive to
buy or make and are extremely useful when training for basic commands
through hunting commands. Check cords have been used for generations
and are still used by top trainers regardless of the availability
of electronic training aids. RLS cannot emphasize the usefulness
of check cords enough. Please train on a leash and cord before you turn
to e-collars, which can be easily misused.
- Daily walks or jogs,
with your dog at your side or behind you, can be very beneficial.
These activities reduce boredom, creates a leader-follower relationship,
and increases exercise and conditioning. Playing and running in
the yard is generally not sufficient, especially for working dogs.
- If there is still a problem with the dog pulling/walking ahead, it is often helpful then to use a noose type of lead (or if you're in a jam, reverse your regular leash) that will tighten up with slight pressure and release easily when no pressure is being exerted (ie the dog is walking appropriately beside you). Don't let your dog wander around on a flex-lead! And forget the halter-type collar or harness, train your dog to heel properly using training collar or slip lead. Praise and reward your dog when he is in the right position and don't walk with a leash that is forever tight.
- When training,
if you feel yourself getting angry or stressed, ask your dog to do
one last command that he will definitely be successful with and end
the session. Dogs learn better with frequent, regular short sessions.
punish bad behavior such as digging, barking, misplaced chewing… train against the behavior and then correct. But more importantly, prevent the problem at its source! Boredom and frustration can be greatly via exercise,
Kongs, chew toys, long-lasting treats, activity….
- Don't use choke chains unless you really know how and where to apply pressure; they can cause irrepairable damage to the throats and muscles of the dog. Instead, read up on the use and sizing of prong type of collars. Used correctly (gentle pressure and NO TUGS) they are a valuable tool for solving leash issues and are less of a hazard than chokes. Obviously, remove these training type collars at the end of your sessions.
- Never tie a dog up with any sort of tightening collar, be it a martingle, choke chain, prong collar, etc. That sounds like common sense, but people do it.
- Keep your dog
occupied year round- swim, walk, train, play, hike, HUNT. Join a local hunting or bird dog club- you and your dog will learn and have fun!
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Education and Health:
Keep your dog
up to date with yearly health checks by your vet, wormings, and grooming. Stay up to date with your chosen vaccination regimen.
Previously, we were dedicated to our annual vaccination schedule; however, due to some recent readings of articles, studies, and personal accounts of vaccinosis, we have re-examined our protocol for vaccinations. Please note, that this is a personal choice of RLS, and we encourage you to make an informed decision, too. Please read articles on the subjects (some are included here), talk with your vet, and others active in the hunting/dog community, before you form a view on vaccinations/vaccinosis and make a huge, important decision that concerns the well-being of your pet.
veterinarian or breeder whenever you have a concern about your pet’s
health. They are here to help.
While we recommend the general neutering of non-working and mixed-breed dogs, as well as poor quality, non-competitive, purebred dogs, we have come across information that makes us know reconsider when and why working dog owners should have their animals neutered. Please read about both sides of the procedures, since we are unfairly often only presented one side. It is important that you make this decision with the best judgement and consideration for the quality of life for your dog.
- Always make
sure your pet has several options for getting out of the weather,
whether it is the heat, cold, or rain.
- Learn what
kind of foods, plants, household, and lawn care products are harmful
to your pets.
- Education never
ends! Keep doing all you can to learn about your dog- (s)he is your
RESPONSIBILITY and you can't just take care of them like little people. They have different behavior and needs.
- Not sure about
something? If you need assistance researching, please ask RLS for
help. It is always beneficial for the Rocks to continue their studying
of the different aspects of dogs, so they’d be glad to give
you a hand.
Top | Supplies & Home | Training, Behavior, & Exercise | Education & Health