Noticable Changes On Real Foods Diet

Avery in the backyardI talked previously about switching Avery over from a kibble based diet to a real foods diet.  Our previous dog, Rocky, I switched over to real foods within the first couple months that we adopted him.

He then was on this diet the rest of his life so it’s been awhile since I’ve been with a dog who was on kibble.  The two things I noticed right away with Avery was gosh he pooped a lot.  I mean a lot.  Upwards of 7 times a day and the stools were gigantic!  And this was when he was eating “good quality” kibble.

He also drank a great deal which when you’re trying to teach a dog bladder control, trust me when I say that huge water intake doesn’t help with training.

Once I made the switch those two things decreased dramatically.

He probably has a bowel movement twice to three times a day which is completely normal on a real foods diet.  And the stools are small and don’t usually have too much of an odor to them.  I say “usually” because if a dog is anxious or nervous about anything, chances are that’s going to reflect in their stools, causing them to have more odor.

When dogs are on a real foods diet, they are able to absorb and utilize the nutrients much easier and efficiently, resulting in the body producing less waste.

If you saw how small his stools are, you probably wouldn’t believe me when I told you they came from a boxer.

His water intake is also down because his food now contains a lot of moisture.  He only drinks if he’s been playing hard, he was out in the sun, or when he gets out of his crate.

It’s not unusual for him to not need a drink all day.  I realize that probably doesn’t sound like it’s okay but I promise you that is totally normal for a dog on a real foods based diet.

His coat is also very smooth and shiny.  Dogs with a dry brittle coat aren’t getting enough good nutrients in their diet nor are they getting enough good fat.  With a real foods diet, he benefits from better absorption of nutrients along with getting healthy fats.

This is reflected in his shiny soft coat.

Avery also doesn’t have an “odor” or smell “like a dog”.  In fact, Avery doesn’t smell at all.  He’s able to go months without needing a bath.  Dogs who smell or need baths often, their skin and coat is exhibiting distress.  This can be greatly reduced once a dog is switched over to a real foods based diet.

This might come as a shocker to you, but Avery also doesn’t pass gas.  Oh sure, on occasion he’ll toot or if he needs to go out to the bathroom he might toot but for the most part, no gas.

Even on good quality kibble he had gas.  Boxers are said to be notorious for stomach problems and issues with gas.

Dogs shouldn’t have gas all the time.  And they certainly shouldn’t be “clearing a room” or “causing tears” because their gas is so strong.  That’s a problem and means that they are not digesting the food they are given very well.

Real foods diet ended the issue of passing gas and tummy gurgles.

Avery mid-run

A couple of other things I noticed were that Avery has more energy now and he’s also mellowed out a great deal.  He’s not as anxious in the house any longer.  Oh, I’m sure some of that has to do with him getting more comfortable living here and more comfortable with us, but I also think it has a lot to do with him being more satisfied with his meals and his body responding to them in a positive way.

I highly recommend at least providing your dog with some fresh fruits and vegetables so that they are getting some fresh whole foods in their diet.  Even if you just give them some apple slices on occasion and some veggie mix in with their kibble.

I have a Resources page that can help you get started with your nutrition research.

I know that a real foods diet can be intimidating at first!  But if you are at all interested in it, I highly suggest talking with someone who feeds their dogs that way and ask as many questions as you can.  Always research as much as possible to make the right decision for you and your dog.


More Snow

Avery and Scott in the snowMore snow!  This time it’s completely welcome though! Fort Collins desperately needs the moisture that the snow brings with it.  We already had one wildfire last month due to very dry conditions.  We need to keep that to a minimum!

Last week it was reported that we were going to get hit with a blizzard bringing with it 11 inches of snow and whiteout conditions.

We got maybe an inch of snow.  It was very cold and mighty windy though.

On Monday it was predicated that we would get anywhere from 6-12 inches of snow, total accumulation, starting early Monday morning and continuing through Wednesday.

Well by lunch time on Monday we already had a foot of snow and it was still coming down hard.

We were stuck indoors on Monday so Avery and I worked on some new tricks.  He’s starting to get it but one of them is very challenging for him so it is taking a little bit longer for the concept to sink in.  It is fun watching him try to work out what I’m asking him to do.

We had a little break outside where we played “find it” with treats.  He loves this game so much and since we got a lot more snow this go around, he got to dig in the snow which he found to be very exciting.

It’s Wednesday and the snow is still coming down hard! Weather predictions are that accumulations will be another 8 inches today.  I’m curious to see how much we end up with, this is the most snow we’ve seen since we moved here!

There’s a lot of exciting things going on in Avery’s world right now!  He went to doggie daycare for the first time on Saturday and had a blast being the social gentleman that he is.

This week he will be getting evaluated to make sure he’s in alright condition to take swimming lessons (which I’m sure he is) and then next week he has his first lesson!  Don’t worry, there will be full reports on that!

Also on Sunday Avery starts group obedience classes which I cannot wait for!  Being around other dogs and having to mind his manners is very challenging for him and I know this class will provide great mental stimulation for him.

Lots of fun stuff going on right now!

I Have A Reactive Dog

Avery laying in the sunAvery is on-leash-reactive.  He can be reactive to dogs, sometimes people if they catch him off guard, and reactive to new things like fabric blowing in the breeze.

On-leash-reactive means that when the dog is leashed, it may bark, growl, lung, or even whine at some sort of stimulus.

That stimulus can be anything from another dog to men in hats to a trash bag. Literally anything.

While the behavior might look mean or aggressive, that is not always the case.

Avery is not an aggressive dog.

He is not aggressive towards people, he loves meeting people.

He is not aggressive towards dogs, he loves meeting dogs.

There’s a big misconception out there about reactive dogs.  Most people assume that a dog who is reacting to something by growling and pulling on their leash is aggressive.

While it can look that way, the two do not go hand-in-hand.

Some dogs who are aggressive are also reactive while on leash.  But not all dogs who are reactive while on leash are aggressive.

My dog is reactive because he loves dogs and people so much that he immediately wants to go see them.  His previous owner probably let him.  He was a stray for a while and had the ability to do whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted to.  Now all of the sudden I’m telling him he can’t AND he’s being restrained by the leash.

This leads to frustration which leads to reaction.

Again, reaction doesn’t mean aggression.  Reaction is a response to a stimulus.

Part of the reason I started this blog was to discuss training with Avery and how we are dealing with some of his issues.  One of the main things we are working on is his on-leash-reactivity towards things.

We are doing this by exposing him to a lot of new to him situations and helping him understand that life occurs around us at all times.  And that life includes many things like dogs, and bikes, and people.

We are actively training him on every single walk we take.  Through constant training we are at a point where sometimes Avery reacts and sometimes he does not.  This is a very positive step!  It takes a while to get there though and we are working at it every day.

I bring this up because having a reactive dog means that I get a lot of disgusted glances from strangers when Avery is reacting to something.  A lot of unpleasant looks and sometimes mutterings of “train your dog” and “that dog is mean”.

I am training my dog.

And my dog has made great improvements because of it.

In order for Avery to learn his manners, we have to do things like go to the park and go shopping.  We need to be where the action is because the more we expose him to those situations, the more comfortable he becomes as he realizes this is just normal everyday life.

Avery is a rescue.  He came to us with these issues and it’s up to Scott and I to help him through it and learn to have manners.  Manners that he was never taught before.

We are doing as much as we can to help him.

By sharing my experience with owning a reactive dog, I hope to create more awareness and tolerance about reactive dogs.

So the next time you are out and you encounter someone with a dog who is having a reaction to something, don’t judge or condemn that person and their dog.  Instead take a moment to consider the situation. Perhaps, that person is just like me, having adopted a rescue who needs love, patience, guidance, and support.

For more information about dog reactivity, check out Paws Abilities post!

Play Dates

Avery and Clover in the backyardAfter having Avery tested and knowing for certain he is awesome around other dogs, I’m interested in finding him some buddies for a playgroup session.

Avery loves other dogs so much and he would greatly benefit from having some doggie pals of his own.

I’ve researched some daycare options here and found one that I think will suit him.

However I would like him to have some friends that we could host or maybe rotate hosting spots for little play sessions.

Most boxers like to wrestle, body slam, and of course box.  Avery is no exception, but he does a really great job of reading other dog’s body language and figuring out their play style.  If they don’t want to wrestle, he doesn’t force the issue and he’ll gladly play their way.

This is exciting because it means that Avery has the chance of making a wide variety of friends and get to experience playing in different ways.

Avery and Clover in the snowNow how to go about finding folks interested in a playgroup?  Do I put up a personal ad?

Mature Male Brindle Boxer

Seeking male or female companionship

Must be willing to share water bowls and not be afraid to romp on the first date.

Contact my mom to set up a time for us to meet.

If you and your dog participate in small playgroups, how did you go about finding them?


This post is part of FitDog Friday!

Run Fur Fun 5K

Run Fur Fun 5KAnimal House, the shelter where I do volunteer work, is hosting a 5K next month!

It will be their first 5K and it’s a pretty exciting event!

There will be a kids race before the 5K starts.  Participants can bring their dogs and the dogs can run the race as well.  There will be bandanas for the dogs to wear and special bandanas for Animal House Alums!

Adoptable dogs from Animal House will also be at the event participating in the race and also hanging out in the adoption area so folks can meet with them.

Water and snacks at the finish!  Participants will receive a race tee-shirt as well!

The 5K will be on Sunday, May 19th, at 8am.  Race Day packet pickup and registration will be from 6:30 to 7:30am.

The kid’s race starts at 7:30am and the 5K starts at 8am.

Right now there is early bird pricing for the race and registration is only $25!

Early packet pickup will be on Friday, May 17th from 4pm to 6pm and on Saturday, May 18th, from Noon to 4pm.

Click Here To Register!

All proceeds go to support Animal House and their Canine Coaches program.  The Canine Coaches program trains volunteers how to work with the animals at the shelter teaching them basic manners and obedience.  When a dog knows how to be polite and walk on leash this helps them get adopted more quickly.  Because of the Canine Coaches program, Animal House is able to find forever homes for their dogs more easily and efficiently.  Everybody benefits from this program!

This race will be fun for the whole family and a great way to spend a Sunday morning!

Please signup to run or walk and bring your best buddy with you!  It will definitely be a great time for everyone involved!

You can register here!

Weekend Sun

Avery sitting in the sunI wish that I had some more pictures to share with you from the weekend because it was a lovely one.

We had some more awesome spring weather and we fully enjoyed that to the max!

Avery’s favorite thing right now is to go out after breakfast and lay in the sun in the backyard.

He’s never outside unsupervised (ever) so we’ll pack up the laptops and head outside to be with him.

On Saturday we got to enjoy some alone time and headed out to some breweries.  Avery was tucked in his crate with a stuffed frozen kong and we were off to enjoy the weather and some local brews.

Sunday was an all around relaxing day.  We enjoyed a sunny morning but sadly that gave way to overcast skies.

Now our spring weather looks more like this.

Avery in his jacketIt’s snowing and blowing.  The weather forecast predicted 8-11 inches of snow but thankfully that doesn’t seem to be the case.  We only have maybe half an inch by this point but it is super cold with high winds!

Here’s hoping we get our spring weather back this weekend!

Avery At Oskar Blues

Oskar Blues SiloTo celebrate Avery’s big success with his playgroup testing, we made a pit stop on the way home.

Oskar Blues!

The restaurant (and brewery) isn’t far from the shelter and they had a great outdoor seating area that was empty that afternoon.

We asked if we would be able to bring our dogs out to the patio area while we had a beer and they had no problem with that.  Hooray!

This was Avery’s first time out at a brewery and he did such a great job, making us more proud of him!

Avery and Clover at Oskar BluesAvery and Clover are old friends by this point and he has no reactivity towards her.  We soaked up the sun and had a couple of brews.  Overall Colorado is a big dog-friendly state and dogs are accepted at most places.

Avery and Clover at Oskar BluesAvery and Clover can both be reactive towards things they haven’t experienced before and both of them did so well on Wednesday.  They handled people and kids walking out to the back.  A worker walking around with huge table umbrellas and even another dog that showed up.  Avery only had a slight reaction to that but we were able to get his attention and he eventually lost interest in the other dog.

Avery at Oskar BluesHe had such a good time yesterday being out in the sun and hanging out with Clover!  We’re working up to exposing him to more and more situations like this.  He loves being around people and I know that he’ll really enjoy being able to go out with us.

Do you take your dog on outings around town?

Playgroup Testing

Avery at Longmont PlaygroupYesterday was a big day for our Avery! We got up bright and early to make the trip down to Longmont Humane Society for a playgroup testing session.

Longmont Humane Society is a large shelter just outside of Denver. They have an amazing behavioral department filled with skilled workers and handlers.  They will work with you to help you figure out what kinds of situations your dog can handle and what they possibly cannot.

We wanted to test Avery out with multiple dogs in a playgroup type setting to see how he would do.

He’s already had success with meeting and playing with another dog.  But a playgroup setting is different and can be overstimulating for a dog.  We wanted to see how well he would handle himself and to make 100% sure that he doesn’t have issues with dogs and that his on-leash reactivity is all frustration at wanting to play vs. aggression.

Setting him in a controlled environment with skilled trainers was the best way for us to do that.

Avery at Longmont Play Group

Avery did amazing and was a total rockstar yesterday! He handled all the dogs really well and if they didn’t want to play, he didn’t force the issue.

He was tested with females, young males, just neutered males, and also little dogs.  He loved them all and didn’t have issues with any of them.

He backed off if the dogs didn’t seem to want to interact and he took appropriate play breaks as well.

There was a little chihuahua that when he first entered the room was a little overwhelmed and barked his fool head off right in Avery’s face.  Barking, air snapping, the whole big-man routine.   Avery just looked at him and then walked away.

Avery at Longmont playgroupWe’re so proud of Avery! And now we are starting the research of finding a great daycare around town that we can take him to a couple of times a week.

Hooray Avery!

From Kibble To Real Foods

The Honest Kitchen SamplesI’m not much of a fan of kibble.  I personally feel dogs do better with real foods and a variety of foods.  Rocky was on a raw and homemade diet pretty much his entire life and it did wonders for him.

I knew that I would be switching over Avery to a real foods diet at some point but wasn’t sure of the time frame.  I wanted him to get adjusted and used to his new life first before I started throwing out new foods to him.

I did introduce him to veggies right away though.  He was underweight and not looking too good so I wanted to introduce some fresh foods to him quickly.

Veggies are a great way to add in fresh foods because they are pretty easy on the stomach and a great source of vitamins and minerals (just like for humans!).  They can get mixed with kibble without causing too much stomach distress.

My next step was to then start to wean him off kibble and move to a dehydrated food. This got accelerated thanks to his dental issues. After his surgery, he wasn’t allowed to chew anything for a week.  Dehydrated food worked great because it’s soft and easy to eat.

I got some samples from The Honest Kitchen and tested them out with him to see what he preferred.  I’ve been a customer of theirs for years and love their products.  I ordered three grain-free samples and one that had quinoa in it.

He really enjoyed their Love (beef, grain free) and Thrive (chicken with quinoa) varieties.  I got the 4lb boxes of each and those were his meals post surgery.

Dehydrated food dryThis is what the dehydrated food looks like before you add water to it.

dehydrated food wetThis is what it looks like once water has been added and it has time to reconstitute.

You can make the food thicker or thinner by the amount of water you add.

I still mixed in fresh veggies and I also mixed in some canned dog food.  So he wasn’t off dog food entirely at that point but getting close.

Then I switched out the canned food and added in some cooked chicken along with the dehydrated food.  After a week of that, I switched to cubes of raw chicken in with the dehydrated food.

He handled that really well so after a week of that I put him on pre-made raw food.  Right now he’s eating the Stella and Chewy’s variety which I can buy at my local pet food store.

Again, since he does have teeth issues and can’t chew hard things, giving him something like chicken backs is out of the question (that used to be Rocky’s breakfast, a bowl full of backs. Which he loved!).  Avery needs something where the bone is ground up with the meat.

Veggie Mush for Avery

Currently Avery is now fully switched over to a real foods diet.  I make veggie mush for him every week and that gets mixed up with the ground raw food.  He’s a great veggie eater which allows me to rotate the veggies around and provide him with some variety.

His coat is so shiny and soft now that he’s fully off kibble.  I do give some supplements as well which I’ll talk about in another post!

Do you feed kibble? Have you considered a fresh foods diet for you dog?

Avery’s Milestone Day

Avery and CloverAvery is on-leash reactive towards other dogs.  Sometimes he can react to people as well but that is becoming less and less of an issue as he gets used to people being out and about.

The reaction to dogs is something we are actively working on. We have been working with a trainer for the past 6 weeks to learn how to handle his reactivity.

Avery is not dog aggressive.  He wants to meet and play with other dogs desperately and since he was never taught on-leash manners before he becomes frustrated that he just can’t walk right up to a dog any time he wants.

Last week was a huge day for him. During our training session we were able to get him to greet our trainer’s dog (Clover) as politely as he could while he was on-leash and then walk away.  We did this several times and once he had a chance to interact with her, his reaction to her vanished.

It got to a point that they were able to be next to each other and Avery was as calm as if this happens everyday.

Avery and Clover on leashI apologize for my outfit. Had I known that Avery would be a rockstar that day and we’d be getting our pictures taken, I would have dressed up!

Avery did amazing and then the two dogs were able to have a play session in the backyard.

Avery and Clover in the backyardAvery was a perfect gentleman and totally acted appropriately with Clover.  Of course he wanted to box and wrestle, but she did not and he didn’t force the issue.  She wanted to run and chase and so that’s what he did.

Avery and Clover in the snowThey also took appropriate play breaks, shared a water bowl, and had no issue with treats being handed out to each other.

She’s a few years younger than him, and my old man was worn out by the end of the day!

He did awesome and I’m so proud of him!

This week we are going down to Longmont Humane Society which has an amazing behavioral department.  We’re going to set Avery up in a playgroup type situation and see how he handles being around multiple dogs and what kinds of dogs he prefers.  Basically just to get a better idea of his personality around different kinds of dogs.

We’re hoping to be able to get Avery into some doggie daycare a couple times a week and this is kind of a baby step towards that.  Being around other dogs makes him so happy and I think it would be really beneficial for him to get some playtime in. I also feel like it would help his reactivity in a positive way.

Last week provided us with a chance to see that all Avery wants is to play and say hello but he never learned how. With training, I know we can work him through this and he’ll learn his manners.