December 2017

Editorial

A Good Dog in the Making

There was a week in December when I had 16 foster dogs staying with me. It’s not quite as crazy as it sounds; 15 of them were puppies – they took up only two crates’ worth of space at night! Nine of those puppies were from one litter of pit bull-mixes that were brought into my local shelter. Six were from another litter, perhaps Chihuahua/terrier-mixes, and are being fostered by a friend, but she was traveling (with her own three dogs!) over Christmas and couldn’t drag the tiny puppies along, too. Both sets of puppies were estimated to be about 4 to 5 weeks old when they were brought to the shelter by people who claimed to “find them.” The last foster who was with me – and is still with me – is a year-old hound.

Extended Ed

See the photo? That’s the house where my office is located. I use two rooms downstairs, and my husband and I usually rent the bedrooms upstairs to students at a local trade school. Only, recently, we’ve had some family members—and more recently, a family friend and her two dogs—in crisis and in need of a dog-friendly place to live. So, the owner of that dog on the roof—see the dog on the roof?—needed a place to stay, and not just any place, when you have a dog like that.

Modifying Your Dog's Behavior

Have you ever had the experience of getting incredibly “stuck” with your dog, unable to teach him a certain new behavior? And then an experienced trainer steps up, and has your dog happily performing the behavior again and again within a minute? At that moment, part of you is happy because your dog “got it,” but part of you may be seething, too. What the heck, dog?

Best Dog-Related Books: January 2016

Friendly wolves, pet heroes, canine yoga, dogs underwater, puppies shaking - and so much more! Check out Whole Dog Journal's January book recommendations. Last month, we listed just a few of our favorite dog reads. There are so many great books out there, we had to do it again!

Be Encouraged

A few weeks ago, in preparation for writing WDJ’s annual dry-dog-food review (which starts on the next page), we asked readers on our Facebook page what they most wanted to know about dry dog food. We received a lot of good questions, including a great many that revealed a common depth of interest in (and confusion about) feeding dogs. We were somewhat disappointed, however, by the number of people who took the opportunity to criticize dry dog food of any quality – the whole concept of kibble. More than one person asked, “Why would anyone feed such an inappropriate diet to a dog they loved?”

Integration

Wow! It’s the start of WDJ’s 18th year of publication. Sorry to sound like a cliche, but where did the time go? When I was hired to edit the inaugural edition of the magazine in early 1998, I had an extensive history of editing horse magazines; I told my new boss flat out, “I don’t know that much about dogs!” Of course, I had a dog – I’ve always had dogs – but most of what my publisher had planned for WDJ to cover was new to me, such as raw diets, minimal vaccine schedules, complementary and alternative veterinary medicine, and especially, force-free training.

Be Not Afraid

Okay, readers, it’s confession time. I’m about to tell you something that I haven’t ever confessed in these pages, not even hinted at it in 17 years: I once was so pig-ignorant about dog care that I allowed my dog – my best friend at the time, my stalwart, beloved Border Collie Rupert, to develop heartworm disease. It’s true, and deeply painful to think about now.

Small But Mighty

Have you experienced that moment when your family has been reduced for whatever reason from multiple dogs to just one, and you keep thinking you need to check the back door to let someone or other back inside? You get used to the rolling thunder of dog paws and canine vocalizations when the doorbell rings, and a circus-like amount of hubbub first thing in the morning when you head to the door to let the pets out – and then suddenly there is just one calm dog, politely following you around. It’s weird, but at the moment, given that I’ve only loaned out my second dog (not lost him), I’m enjoying it.

Striving to Stay Positive (in Dog Training)

Did you know there are still “Nazis” fighting a war? Supposedly, the war is in the dog world, and it’s being fought for the hearts and minds of dog owners over training methods. Apparently, the Nazis – they are scornfully referred to as “Pozzie Nazis” – are on one side, and people who call themselves “balanced” – but who are derided as “brute force trainers” – are on the other. Well, folks, call us Switzerland, because we just won’t fight. Give peace a chance, shall we?

Yes Power

One of my biggest pet peeves with most dog owners and parents? When the authority figure (owner or parent) more or less constantly says, “No!” (as in, “Don’t do that!”) – and only rarely says, “Yes!” (as in “I like what you’re doing! Keep it up!”). It’s no fun to be around, it’s discouraging to dogs and children alike. Worse, it doesn’t offer the recipients of the message any information about what they should be doing to make their owners or parents proud and happy (or at the very least, happier).

Develop Your Dog’s Flexibility

I often dog-sit for friends and relatives. It’s easy for me, because I have all sorts of dog gear, food, treats, and chews laying around. Also, my own home and the house down the block where I have my office are both securely fenced (and well-outfitted with crates and dog beds of various sizes). Plus, if the dogs are fidgety and in need of exercise and stimulation, I can grab my camera, load the dogs into my car, and head out to a nearby open space area to run them on trails or allow them to swim in the river – and any good pictures I get, or interesting experiences I have with the dogs, are helpful to my job!

Fact V. Opinion

You may not be aware that WDJ is more than just a printed publication: it’s also available to subscribers in a digital form. (To read it online, subscribers simply register for access. Then they can read current issues before they are available in print, and follow links given in articles to back issues and articles.) The WDJ website also contains a blog, where I (and sometimes, guest bloggers) post more personal stories and topics for discussion. It’s a place where we can discuss more intimate, emotional, moral, spiritual, and even judgemental ideas and opinions relating to our relationships with dogs.

Must Love Dogs

This happens all the time: People ask me what I do, and I answer, “I edit a dog magazine.” About 70 percent of the time, their next comment is, “Wow! You must really love dogs!” And the remaining 30 percent of the time, they ask, “So how many dogs do you have?” As if the only person who would be the editor of a dog magazine would also be obsessed to distraction about dogs and/or have 10 of them!

Ask For More

Pet food companies don’t have to prove that their products contain the minimum amounts of all the nutrients that are considered essential for dogs before labeling and selling their foods as “complete and balanced” diets. In fact, in all likelihood, some of the products on the market today – perhaps your dog’s food? – may not meet some of the legal requirements of a “complete and balanced” food, even though their labels say they do. To help you understand how this is possible, I have to dive into a lot of facts, and explain some things about the pet food industry and how the whole notion of “complete and balanced diets” is legally defined and regulated.

Food Issues

Recently, an acquaintance posted some pictures of her dog on Facebook. The dog is super cute, but I couldn’t help but notice that something was wrong: the little dog’s hair was completely absent from his chest, neck, top of his head, and paws. “Hey, what’s up with Charlie?” I asked her in a private message. “What happened to his coat?” She responded that it happens to him periodically – and did I think it could have anything to do with the food she had recently switched him to?