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What is crate training?

Crate training is a process of teaching our pets to accept the crate or cage as a familiar and safe place. There are many people out there that refuse to crate or kennel train their dogs because they think and feel that the confinement is cruel. However, a crate/kennel can give dogs a sense of security. When done properly, Crate training is a highly effective management system that can be a lifesaver for dog owners. A crate/kennel can be a calming and protective space where your dog can relax and feel secure if training and handling are done correctly.


There are quite a lot of benefits to crating, and it's not only for your dog, but for you as well! Just as your dog is getting that relaxation, the same rules apply to you also. I've put together some reasons why crate training is beneficial, and here they are:


  • Helps with house training: From the moment you get your puppy home, crates are a great tool to help with house breaking. There is a lot of useful info on YouTube or the internet on how to start training this.


  • Refuge: Crates provide a safe place for your dog to relax. During anxiety-inducing times such as holidays, parties, thunderstorms, kids running around and bunch of other stressful events that we go through in everyday life, a crate can be a great space for them to retreat to.


  • Easier transport: Crates make transporting your pet a lot easier and safer when in your vehicle.


  • Preventing injury and toxicity: A crate can definitely help prevent injuries and poisoning for your dog when they're left home alone while you're at work or out running errands.


  • Protect your belongings: Crates training helps protect your furniture, floors and other valuable things in your home while you're out and about.


  • Home away from home: when a dog is properly crate trained, it will feel more comfortable and relaxed when they need to be crated at the vets, groomer, or boarding kennel.


  • Post-surgery rest: Your dog will happier, safer, and less likely to have any kind of failure or complication following surgery that requires exercise restrictions.



How do I choose a crate?

Choosing the right crate for you pet is important and the key to successful training. When deciding on which crate to buy, remember that bigger is not better! First thing you want to do is start by selecting a crate that has enough room for your pet to comfortably stand up, turn around and lie down in it. Your dog may not have any hesitation to pee or poo in a crate that is too big him/her. The proper way to measure a crate for your dog is to first get the length. In order to do so, measure your dog from the tip of their nose to the base of the tail (do not include the length of the tail). Once you have this measurement, add 2-4 inches. Now that you have this number, we can move onto the height. When your dog is in the sit position, measure from the floor to the top of their head. Again, add 2-4 inches to this measurement for the minimum height of your dogs crate. The width of the crate is not as important to measure as this is based on the length and height measurements. When it comes to puppies, you have the option of upgrading your crates every time your puppy grows out of it or, the more reasonable solution would be to find a crate that he/she will fit into as an adult. There are dividers or partitions that you can buy in stores which will help you keep the crate at a comfortable size as your pup grows. Simply add a few inches accordingly. These types of crates are more common in wire materials.


Where should I place my dogs crate?

When you're deciding where to place your crate, you should keep a couple things in mind. You should choose a quiet spot away from any high traffic areas such as a busy hallway or the front entrance. Be sure not place it in an area where the crate will be in direct sunlight, on top of floor vent or radiator. Be vigilant and make sure there aren't any power cables, electric cords or anything harmful that your pup might be able to reach for. Often, people ask me if the bedroom is a good place to put the crate. If you chose to do so, you should consider how sound of a sleeper you are or whether there are other pets in the home as well.


Do's and Don'ts

There are some do's and don'ts when it comes to crates and training. If you follow some or most of these instructions, I promise you'll be on your way to a successful and stress free life with a happy dog.


Let's start with the don'ts. First and foremost, the absolute most important thing you should never do is use your crate for punishment or reprimand your dog while they are in their crates! Doing this will only associate a negative and stressful experience for your dog, making crates training harder and longer than it should be. Crate training can reduce anxiety and depression, however you shouldn't leave your dog locked in his crate all day. This will do just the opposite and actually elevate those stress levels leading to anxiety and depression. If you know you're going to be away for a long period of time during the day, consider hiring a pet sitter or dog walker to come in and let the dog out to pee or poo. There are several services out there that offer home visits where they come and do just that as well as play with him/her. If you have a puppy, I wouldn't recommend leaving him/her in the crate for more than 3-4 hours at a time. Puppies have a smaller bladder and need more frequent potty breaks. When you're leaving the house, it's important to make it a big deal. Some people tend to wave, kiss, hug, wave again, and make baby sounds saying "bye bye, we'll be right back". Instead, try giving them a chew toy or one of those food puzzles for them to keep occupied minutes before you intend on leaving. After your dog is distracted by this toy, just simply walk away.


Now that we know what not to do, let's focus on some do's. Before you start any kind of crate training sessions, make sure your pup has had some playtime and has gone potty. This way there are no distractions and we can focus on the task at hand. At first, you're going to want to use a lot of treats and praise. You'll need to be very patient as well as there will tend to test the waters and push your buttons trying to get out and get your attention. It's important not to rush things and take it slowly, working in short increments and at your pups pace. As I mentioned before about not making hot a big deal when you leave house, it's the exact same thing when returning home. Try to keep your energy calm and relaxed, this will help keep the anxiety and anticipation lower. A good tip is to let your dog out to potty as soon as he/she is out of their crate. This will help teach them that potty time comes after they are let out the crate and will solidify potty training. Some dogs enjoy calming music when you're away, so it's not a bad idea to have a radio handy for those particular guys. Remember to always keep crate training fun and positive and your dog will grow to love his "den".


These are the basics as to why I think crate training is important. Hopefully, you have a better understanding of why we use crates and why we will continue to do so. If you're interested in learning how to get started in crate training, stay tuned for part 2 of this blog in the very near future.







Updated: May 30

When you are starting a raw diet for the first time, there are a few things a lot of us experience which go slightly wrong. It’s easy to make mistakes when you're a newbie to raw. Many of us make slight errors of judgement and can get overly enthusiastic with the swap. In this list below, I'll go through some of the most common mistakes we make when first taking the plunge.


Too much Bone!

Bone is only about 10% of the diet, and feeding too much can result in constipation, and the more serious “impactation”, which is when stools become completely stuck!

Some raw feeding models recommend feeding 30% bone, but they mean MEATY BONES, where there is more meat than bone. Raw meaty bones can be very difficult to find, unless you’re hunting in the wilderness. Every dog has a different tolerance to bone. Some older dogs for example, can only cope with less than 10% bone. Sick dogs, and those taking certain medicines, can have a hard time dealing with bone.


You can find charts online that give you a general idea of how much bone there is in a chicken wing, or a duck carcass, etc. But don't let that be your only source as the bone content in such things can vary. It can depend on the age of the animal when it was slaughtered and how it was processed. When you start feeding a raw diet, it's best to start with small amounts of bone. Your best guide to know if you're feeding a good amount of bone is POOP! You want to see relatively small, firm, non-stick pellets, that are neither crumbly nor white, and your dog should not be straining to get them out. If you do have any of these things, then it’s a sign you need to lower the overall bone content in your dog’s diet.


Raw feeding is not about giving your dog a giant bone once a week, and that’s it, it’s important to be more consistent with bone. I like to give my dogs a bone 3 times a week or every other day, and I don’t give too much in one sitting. If you see that dog has constipation, or is straining, or has crumbly white poop, then simply make their next meal boneless, all meat and include some liver, kidney or heart.


Many raw feeders steer clear of weight bearing bones, from bigger animals like cows. If you have just started raw feeding, then you should first learn about your dogs individual bone tolerance, before you feed big bones.


Too much variety too soon and not enough in the long-term

Many people get really excited cause they see that their dogs are enjoying the new diet, so there you are on day 3, and you can’t wait to get to the supermarket or butchers to find bargains from different proteins. DON’T DO IT! You should stick with one protein for a while. Don’t introduce a wide variety in week one cause if you do, then your dog may well have the runs and a very unsettled tummy. Take it nice and easy with introducing new proteins, you have plenty of time. Think in terms of weeks instead of days when introducing new proteins. Another benefit of feeding this way, is that if your dog is intolerant to a particular meat, then you will be able to find out what it is. If you have mixed everything up from the start, then you won’t be able to tell, and you would need to start again, introducing one protein at a time, to find out.


Variety is an important longer-term target, so in the first few weeks of raw feeding, you should have introduced a variety of proteins. Don’t get accustom to just one, instead try to aim for 4 staple proteins (chicken, turkey, beef, pork). When you start looking for others, it’s good to include some “wild game” meats for example. Consider the meat you feed in relation to the animal it came from. What I mean by this is, lambs do not consist of 50% heart, so don’t overfeed heart. The same goes for tripe, an excellent food, but don’t forget that dogs also need muscle meats. Picture the animal (lamb, cow, chicken, etc) , perfectly balanced as a whole and consider what part of your particular meat cut makes up in their bodies to give you an idea. No cow is made up from 75% tripe right?


The best way to achieve a successful raw diet is trying to replicate the balance of nutrition, which can be obtained from feeding a variety of proteins. Different meats, cuts and proteins, bring different things to the table in terms of minerals, vitamins etc, so don’t focus on one, and aim for a variety over the longer term.


Organs, organs, organs

Many newbies don’t realise that organs (offal), for example liver and kidney, are great bowel movers. This is why it’s an important part of a balanced raw diet, and why you might feed a bit more of it if your dog is constipated. If you feed a lot of organ however, your dog will get the runs, or at least extremely sloppy poop’s, so be careful. Organ makes up only 10% of the diet, but once again you should start with small amounts and not a full meal. Heart, which is not classed as organ, is also an important part of a balanced raw diet, and also has a similar “bowel moving” effect.


It's JUST a guideline!

I can't stress this enough, but it’s impossible to know EXACTLY what the right quantity of food is for any individual dog. This is why feeding guidelines are just that! Keep a close eye on your dog. If he or she is losing or gaining weight, the don’t be afraid to adjust the percentage up or down, so if you're feeding 2%, bump him or her up to 3% or down to 1.5%. If your dog is becoming fat, it doesn't mean cutting out all fats from the diet, it’s about feeding less within an overall balanced diet. Fat is essential to dogs as it's great for their brains, cell growth, and nervous systems etc.


Supplements?

I know it can be very tempting for newbies to use too many supplements and too soon. It’s important to remember that they represent a dietary change for your dog, which can cause upset tummies, and the runs. Supplements are an endless road, and can distract you from making the best raw start, making it all very complex. Ignore supplements until you are comfortable with feeding a basic raw diet, as this is the most important thing. Then you can start to add some in, and see what your dog needs.


There you have it, these are just some of most common mistakes we make when starting out on a raw diet. Try to avoid these and you will make your transition a peaceful one with great success!







Updated: Feb 28

Let me guess?... You want to feed a raw diet, but have no clue how to start or where to go. I'll admit that in the beginning, it was all so overwhelming. I had no clue where to buy anything, even what to buy for that matter. I was confused on how much to feed my dog and was lost in this new world. After researching for a bit and starting to understand the idea of it, i jumped in and went all out. In this blog, I'll clear up as many questions as you have towards this new world you're about to enter. This will be a "starter guide" if you will, most of my research put into one place.


Upon doing further research, I found that if you're going to feed pork or salmon, you should first freeze it for a minimum of 2 weeks before feeding. These proteins can carry parasites, so by doing this process, you're reducing the risk. You never want to feed cooked bones as they become harder and can splinter, causing many complications such as piercing the intestines or stomach. When the bones are raw, they are soft enough that your pet can digest them easily. Dogs have a high PH level in their stomach making it very acidic, which is perfect for breaking the bone down. You want to try and avoid any weight bearing bones such as femur and knuckle bones of a large animal like beef. These bones are extremely hard and without supervision, your dog can break some teeth while chewing. The key to feeding the most balanced diet is variety. Feed as many different proteins and animal parts as you can. Things like chicken feet, trachea, pizzles, lung, testicles, etc... are great for a variety of reasons. The weirder, the better.


One of the main questions I get is, How much do I feed? again, this is just a guideline. Most dogs will eat roughly 2-3% of their ideal adult body weight. Remember that this will fluctuate, depending on your dogs energy levels. You want to feed 3% if you have a highly active pet and 2% for the opposite. As you go through week by week, you'll mess around with numbers to discover your pets ideal portions. Here's an example of how I calculate the right portions for my dog weight categories:

2% of adult weight

70lbs: 70 x 0.02 = 1.4 (1.5lbs of food)

20lbs: 20 x 0.02 = 0.4 (400g of good)


3% of adult weight

70lbs: 70 x 0.03 = 2.1 (2lbs of food)

20lbs: 20 x 0.03 = 0.6 (600g of food)



Hopefully this will help you better understand how to get the right amount of food for your pet. I recommend that when you first start out feeding, you want to be in the 2% range and analyze your pet from there to adjust accordingly. Ideally, chicken is the best starter protein as it is lighter on the stomach and easily accessible. If your pet has an allergy to chicken, you can try turkey, duck or lamb to start. Generally, you want to be on this protein for 2-3 weeks before switching so your dogs digestive system can adapt to the new diet. From there, switching is a breeze. You can add another protein source and supervise your pets. The best way to tell if you're feeding the right amount is to run your hands through your pets rib area. You should be able to feel the ribs and count them by pressing down through a thin layer of fat, I like to see the last 2 or even just the last rib.


If you're feeding puppies, you want to target 2-3% of ideal/expected ADULT weight. Split their meals into 3 or more per day. When puppies are 4-6 months old, they require a significant amount of food and a little extra edible bone as they are building adult teeth. Don't let your pup get too thin as their energy demands are huge during this period.


One of the keys is to check on your pets stools. If you see that the stool is very light in colour and is crumbly, it's more than likely that you're feeding too much bone. If this is the case then simply feed no bone in his next meal until you see the stool become normal again. On the other hand, if you notice it's runny and very dark in colour, then it's an indication that you've fed too much organ or meat. In this case, do the opposite and feed a heavier bone meal until the stool has returned back to normal.


Well, that's roughly all there is to starting your pet out on a raw diet. It's not that complicated and there is no need to be overwhelmed by all the numbers and ratios. Remember that balance happens over time and there isn't a need to feed the exact ratios every meal. You don't calculate the exact percentages of nutrients and proteins in your daily meals, so you don't have to do it with your dogs either.




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