March 2018

Features

Whole Dog Journal's 2018 Approved Dry Dog Foods

It’s an inescapable fact that quality pet foods cost money – and the highest quality dry dog foods cost a lot of money. As much as we may want to buy “the best” food for our dogs, most of us have a budget – unique to each of us, based on our financial status, the size and number of dogs we own, and perhaps even our relationship with our dogs – to which we will respond, “No, forget it; that’s too much.” So how much does a good dog food cost, and how do we find the happy medium between nourishing ingredients and an affordable price tag?

The 3 Reasons Dogs Ignore Our Cues

Dogs sometimes don’t do what we ask them to do. Annoyed, we might repeat a cue several times – louder and a little more sternly each time – usually with very little effect. “Fido, come here. Fido. Come. FIDO. I said here! COME! I mean it!” We all do it. I once heard someone threaten to count to three – or else! (It didn’t work.) Often, the dog is then labeled as “stubborn.” It’s easy to think that’s the reason he “won’t listen.” I get it. It does kind of look like your dog is blowing you off.

How Can You Know What Your Dog is Feeling?

Dog body language can be quite difficult to read, so it’s important to consider the context when interpreting behavior. Not only do you need to consider the environment (for example, dogs will pant when they’re hot, but also when they’re stressed), you also need to look at all of the body parts together. Although many people attempt to correlate each type of movement with a specific emotion, the easier approach is simply to compare the overall pictures of a distressed dog to a happy dog.

The Emotional Lives of Dogs

Traditionally, dog trainers have spent little or no energy considering a dog’s emotions when training or changing behavior; indeed, trainers or owners who did talk about emotions were often ridiculed and accused of anthropomorphizing. But when emotions are driving behavior, a dog cannot simply choose to stop doing the behavior without ramifications. The reality is that animals (including people) are quite often not rational actors. If that sounds counterintuitive to you and you believe that behavior is largely chosen rather than the result of emotional experiences, perhaps a few examples will help you understand.

Fecal Transplants for Dogs

A healthy microbiome destroys harmful pathogens, including disease-causing viruses, fungi, bacteria, and parasites. As a result, the microbiome is the immune system’s first line of defense. Differences in microbiomes help explain why some dogs exposed to diseases like parvovirus, distemper, leptospirosis, Lyme disease, canine flu, heartworm, or kennel cough get sick while others remain symptom-free.

Your Dog's Behavior: When to Manage, When to Train

How do I stop my dog from stealing food? How do I get my dog to stop drinking toilet water? Why does my dog run off all the time? These are just a few of the countless things dogs do that make their guardians run to professional trainers for help. The reality of dog behavior modification is that often the solution to a dog's bad habit is not through training the dog, but through carefully managing every opportunity the dog has to practice unwanted behaviors.

Suggested Dog Park Rules

The most successful dog parks have rules – and people who enforce them. Registration and numbered armbands make it easier to identify rule-breakers, which helps with enforcement. Here are some suggested rules for dog parks, which you should feel free to share with your community.

Puppy Food: Nutritional Guidelines to Maximize Health

There are many different ways of feeding dogs – commercially prepared dry, wet, semi-moist, freeze-dried, and frozen options, as well as home-prepared diets that are cooked or raw, including both BARF (bones and raw food) and prey-model methods. Because feeding can evoke a strong emotional response in the human who fills the food bowl – in our world, food is love, after all – our reflexive response is often to assume that the way we currently feed is the best way.

The Pros and Cons of Dog Parks

Dog parks are lifesavers for the owners of dogs who need extra exercise and outdoor stimulation in order to be able to relax and behave well at home. But well-enforced dog park etiquette is a rare thing, so what happens when badly behaved dogs at dog parks start influencing your dog? Taking your dog to the dog park for the first time should warrant caution; even securely fenced parks hold risks simply because they involve lots of strange, unleashed dogs. How do you know if you should try your local dog park? Just as with so many other dog training and behavior questions, it depends!

Dog Food Digestibility Levels Matter

What is digestibility and why does it matter? Digestibility reflects a food’s ability to deliver essential nutrients to the dog who eats it. This ultimately affects not only defecation quantity and quality (how much your dog poops and how the poop looks and smells), and a dog’s propensity for flatulence (no explanation needed), but more importantly, a dog’s long-term health and wellness. The graphic on this page summarizes how digestibility is measured using feeding trials with dogs.

Best Dog Gear of the Year: 2017

When it comes to our own needs, we’re pretty boring shoppers. But send us into a good independent pet supply store, and we might not come out for an hour – with a store employee helping us carry stuff we just had to try out. Hunting for unique, attractive, fun, and/or useful dog gear is so much more satisfying than shopping for anything else! We found many of the following items at pet product trade shows, and the rest in our favorite pet supply stores. We hope you enjoy them as much as our dogs have been!

WDJ's Approved Canned Dog Foods List of 2018

Lotus is another company we love. They make only a few foods, but with ingredients they source close to the cannery they built and operate themselves. They invited us to come and watch them make canned food and allowed us to take as many photos as we liked, of anything we saw. We love transparency!

The Best Canned Dog Foods Review

Which canned dog food is best? What is wet dog food made out of? What common ingredients of canned dog food do I NOT want my dog eating? Since the start of Whole Dog Journal 20 years ago, we have worked to seek out and highlight the pet food companies who are dedicated to high quality dog food ingredients, fair prices, and national accessibility. There are more "healthy" and "natural" dog food options than ever before; WDJ is here to separate the truly good canned dog food from just the well-marketed ones.

The Safest Types of Dog Collars (and the Most Dangerous)

What type of collar should your dog wear? It depends on your dog, your personal taste, and your training goals, philosophies, and needs. But from our force-free perspective, there are some types of collars we wholeheartedly endorse, some we support with caution, and some that we regard as unnecessary and risky.

The Best Pet Steps for Senior Dogs

Older dogs tend to develop mobility issues, whether from arthritis or injury. Many aging dogs will experience increased difficulty getting on and off furniture, in and out of cars, or up and down steps. Quality pet stairs come in many styles and prices. A small stepping stool designed for pets could be just what your senior dog needs to continue living comfortably!