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"FOR THE LOVE OF LABRADORS"
My goal with this blog is for you to enjoy your time here. Most of the posts talk about my experiences raising my two yellow Labrador Retrievers, some are just for fun, and others share the best dog related information and products I have found.

Use the tabs above for quick navigation. I have imbedded links for as much as possible so that you can find the resources easily from this blog. The links in the side bar are for websites that have been helpful to me. I hope that you find them useful for you and your canine "family member"

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Let's be honest about Labradors

Labradors are a challenging breed to own. Raising Labradors from 8 weeks old is even more challenging. Just when you think the worst is over, because they have stopped chewing everything in sight including you, they become "teenagers". If you make it through puppy adolescence with your sanity intact the full realization hits as to the extent of the commitment you've embarked on.

Please don't misunderstand me. I absolutely love my two Labradors. I wouldn't trade them for the world regardless of the challenges the last year and 1/2 have brought. I just think that it's very important to really consider what you're doing when you choose to bring a Labrador into your life.

My thoughts went in this direction after talking to a young woman at the park. She was in the area on chance and when she saw me and my Labradors out for some exercise and ball fetch time she stopped to let her dog get some wiggles out. As it turns out she was raised with a Labrador as the family pet. Of course, this Labrador was the ideal perfect temperament of a Labrador. When her mom got divorced they bought her a Labrador, this was her mom's Labrador she had with her. Unfortunately with the house a lot quieter, now that all the children were adults and no longer at home, this new addition to the family had been able to set all the rules. As the daughter told me the story I realized quietly to myself what a huge mistake they had made. Her mom was out of her element in setting limits and establishing good leadership for the Labrador, not to mention offering him good exercise. Than there was the fact that he was intact and even she admitted this made him harder to control if another dog was around. At two years old this Labrador's behavior was easily 8 months behind Shelby.

With this in the back of my mind I saw an article and it made me think that more people need to see the full picture when it comes to Labradors. The article is titled: "Labrador Retrievers: What's good about 'em, What's bad about 'em." Although I don't agree with everything mentioned in this article it is worth considering many of the points brought up before you decide on a Labrador Retriever as your next "family member."

If you find yourself reading this and saying, "too late - I've got one and they are part of the family now", please realize that the challenges I found in raising my two Labradors is why I started this blog. Hopefully this blog will help you find the answers you need to enjoy what in my opinion is one of the best breed of dogs.

Monday, November 27, 2006

What's really in pet food?

Have you ever wondered what is really in commercial pet food not to mention all animal feed? (That also includes the animals that become our own meat source at our table.) I did and before our dogs came home I did the following Google search:

"What's really in dog food?"
I learned a lot more than I'd bargained for. When it comes to dog and cat food the Animal Protection Institute has some disturbing things to say.
Get The Facts: What’s Really in Pet Food
Animal Protection Institute
[excerpt]
What most consumers don’t know is that the pet food industry is an extension of the human food and agriculture industries. Pet food provides a market for slaughterhouse offal, grains considered “unfit for human consumption” and similar waste products to be turned into profit. This waste includes intestines, udders, esophagi, and possibly diseased and cancerous animal parts.
Than there is the animal feed indusrty in general. Check out this disturbingly insiteful news video clip.

If your thinking, "well what do I feed my dogs than?", check out The Animal Advocate link here and in the sidebar. Also worth your time are the following books I've mentioned before.
You can also check out the back issues of "The Whole Dog Journal" to purchase the following excellent articles:
I feed my dogs and cat Flint River Ranch, that being said it may not be the right fit for you and your pets. However, I hope that armed with the above information you will find a dog or cat food that you feel comfortable giving to your beloved "family members".

Updated 11/28/06
Here's a very informative article form "The Peeing Post", and editor Mogens Eliasen
Our Holistic vet told us to include a handful of chopped salad with the new food and to make the switch in one meal. Although it worked for us at the time I am not sure it was the most ideal. Personally I just wanted my dogs off the commerical "garbage" that the breeder had unfortunately started them on at 3 weeks of age. The extra bulk/fiber from the salad I believe is what helped ease the diarrhea almost over night. This had been making the transition very difficult. The customer service person I contacted at Flint River recommended adding a heaping spoonful of cooked outmeal to the new food. This also worked very well and with in 2 months we were fine. Part of the picture was the dogs had just gone through spay and neutering surgery. The holistic vet recommended Milk Thistle for a month to help detox thier liver of the anesthesia. I recently read that Mild Thistle also works specificly in the intestines and is good for diaherrea bouts in general.

Home Sweet Home

There's nothing like coming back home to our beloved pets after 5 days away. We were fortunate enough to have a great young couple stay and house sit and care for our pets while we were gone. Even with this in place I was still anxious in the weeks leading up to our departure.

With everything we've worked through with their training, especially with Shelby, I was a darn proud "mom" when, prior to leaving we went to the park with the couple who would be caring for them, and Shelby made a smooth and obedient transition from me giving him the commands to them giving him the commands. I knew this was critical as without the assurance that he would obey them it would have been impossible for them to take the dogs out for good running and exercise at the park. I figured that if the dogs were mainly taken in the evening with there "Fetch & Flash" glow ball there would be very little chance of distraction from other dogs. This would avoid the possibility of Shelby taking off.

Well much to my pride and joy, by the last day our house sitting couple felt so confident with how good the dogs had obeyed they took them out mid afternoon. Despite several other dogs being around our dogs were mindful and obedient. I felt like a parent hearing about their child being named on the honor roll for their straight A report card. All that we've worked for, all the time we've put in had paid off. My dogs had learned the rules so well they were able to enjoy the freedom and fun of extended off leash play time even without me being there. What a huge milestone in their development. Of course it is also very true that they were in the best of hands and all went well.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Bark Busters - The truth will be told: Part 2

Once again thanks to all for continuing the discussion. I appreciated the link someone provided to the journal entry where another dog owner, Erin, talks about her own personal experience with Bark Busters. For those of you who are interested here it is as an edited active link: journals.aol.com/erinsjournal[ ...]bark-busters. I must however comment on this journal entry.

Erin writes the following:

"The only downside is that during the 5 week training period, the dogs are not allowed to be on the couch or bed when I am. Part of establishing dominance. We still fight about it at bed time every night."
Suzanne Clothier in her book "Bones Would Rain from the Sky" she discusses the absurdity in the notion that to "establish dominance" dogs can not share the couch or bed with you. She points out that the couch or bed is not the issue, the issue is will your dogs willingly give up the location at your request.

Then there is this comment:
"Basically, they teach you how to be the leader of the pack using vocal and body language that my dogs at least, seem to understand."
Is she saying here that Bark Busters teaches owners to use vocalizations such as "growls" and "barks" to redirect dogs? Please, someone correct me if I am wrong. Is this what Erin is referring to when she says: "using vocal . . . language that my dogs at least, seem to understand." If spoken commands can be taught and used for many other behaviors than why are unintelligible sounds needed? We are the ones here with the higher intelligence, are we not? I implore any and all "dog owners and lovers" (hopefully these two are synonymous) to read Suzanne's book. Dogs are very intelligent creatures and with loving, fair, dog compassionate leadership they are the best companions anyone could hope for.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

I realized in planning our trip for the holidays that are dogs vocabulary understanding is quite impressive. I put together a list, for the couple that will be house sitting for us over the holidays, all the words are dogs know. I know this will help them as they spend time with the dogs in the everyday routines they are familiar with. I thought I'd share the list here in hopes that if you haven't considered how intelligent your dogs are you'll see that you've underestimated your faithful companions. Of course this is only the spoken words that our dogs understand and says nothing about the nonverbal communication we convey; nonverbal communication that they are masters in deciphering.

  • Sit
  • Wait -- stay there until I say you can move, or at least stay in that area
  • Stay -- stay there and don’t move until I come back and release you
  • Lay down -- lay completely down with your hip on the ground - not the easy jump back up again position
  • Down -- same as “lay down”
  • Come -- come and sit in front of me
  • Go to your bed -- when in the kitchen refers it to their kitchen bed, when in the office it refers to their office bed, used before meals and when they’re under foot or pestering me
  • Go outside
  • Outside please
  • Go potty
  • Out -- get out of that room, space, location - more corrective in our house
  • Inside please -- into the house typically
  • Ready -- for the next throw when playing fetch, to go some where
  • Ready to “eat” -- a very magical phrase as far as they are concerned
  • Back up -- for when they are in the way, when Shelby is not all the way on his bed in the kitchen before meals - tell him to "back up” onto his "bed”, when they are pushing ahead of you to go in the door
  • Behind -- when they are rushing ahead of you or blocking you when going through doorways
  • Off -- if they jump on you and you want them to get off you
  • No jump -- if their jumping when you first get home and are over excited
  • Let’s go -- when walking after coming to a stop & sitting by your side, said before crossing the street, or continuing after stopping
  • Heel -- walk at your left side
  • Side -- walk on your right side, a new command so they are still getting the hang of this one
  • Go Play -- when I’m sending them outside to burn some energy on their own out in the driveway
  • Bring it -- return the toy or ball and drop it at your feet or in your hand
  • Find it -- used when playing with them, i.e. “go find your bone”, “go find your ball”, “go find your toy”
  • Go get your -- "ball", "bone", "toy", ect. - when you’re playing with them
  • Go to your crate -- at night when we’re putting them to bed
  • Life is a beautiful dance, Always keep your balance

    Life is a beautiful dance, Always keep your balance

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    I'm a California girl! & Happily married "mom" of 2 yellow labradors, who teach me everyday.

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    Everything you will read here comes from our real experiences; all the fun, all the mistakes, all the struggles, and how I have tackled each problem. I'm not promoting a training approach solely for monetary gain as so many are on the web. All of the links to web based dog "training articles" are Free. I simply hope this blog serves as a starting point for your quest. Remember the answers are out there if you only look so,
    "Never Stop Learning".
    Despite the knowledge I continue to acquire while raising my two yellow Labrador Retrievers, I am not a trained professional. The information contained in this blog, "For the Love of Labradors", is strictly intended to be experiential and educational in nature. Readers should always seek professional advice, before initiating any of the advice contained in any blog post here in the "For the Love of Labradors" Blog.

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