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Bowwow Haus

Teaching your dog to "Watch Me"

Here's a great article from Shannon Malmberg at Zen Dog Training - a great foundation command to teach your doggie:

This exercise is the precursor to all dog training. It teaches the dog calm focus and attention to his handler. Without teaching your dog the "watch me" command, you are competing with the world (ie. squirrels, children, other dogs) for his attention - and without his attention, you can't properly reach him through training. Once your dog understands this command, use it before giving him anything he adores - going through the door for a walk outside; being let off leash in a park; getting his dinner; etc. By looking into your face before receiving something wonderful, he learns that all heaven comes through you.

Start with your dog on leash, in a sit-stay, if possible. Draw his attention to a food treat (make it yummy - like wiener bits) in your hand. As he focuses on the food, draw your hand up to your mouth and lean so that you are a few inches above your dog. As his eyes come into your face, give praise with "good watch me" and drop the food into his mouth. Make this easy for him - you want him to catch the food from your mouth the first few times, so get as close to his face as you need to. Repeat repeat repeat. Remember to drop the food the instant he looks into your face - you are rewarding his eye contact. Always attach the words "good watch me" with your actions.

As your dog becomes proficient at catching food from your hand, move a few inches up above your dog's head, making the exercise slightly more difficult. Should a piece of food not make it into his mouth, do not let him eat it off the floor - this is where holding his leash comes into play. He is not to learn that "watch me" means to start looking around on the floor for food. If you need to, keep the leash taut.

Once you are about 6 inches above your dog, remove your hand from this exercise. Draw your dog's attention to the food and then place it in your mouth. Hide your hand behind your back. If you need to, make smacking or kissing noises to get your dog's focus back on your mouth (and realizing where the food is). Again, watch for the eyes coming into your face and then reward by dropping the food from your mouth.
Most likely your dog will miss the food drop at this point because you have changed from hand to mouth feeding. Be persistent. Do not let him eat off the floor. Instead, repeat the exercise until he wins. Then BIG praise and a jackpot of a few extra pieces from your hand. Give it a break and try again in a few hours.

As your dog gets better with catching food from your mouth, move further and further back from his face. At the conclusion of this exercise, unless you have a toy breed, you should be able to stand up straight.

An easy no-recipe recipe...

Many of you will have tried the amazing meaty "muffins" we carry. I often use the same specialty muffin mix to create quick & easy healthy treats for my dogs with whatever else I happen to have on hand - with no measurements needed.

First, gather whatever healthy ingredients you have on hand to create the wet base. I mashed up a couple ripe bananas and mixed in some natural peanut butter (thinned with some warm water to loosen it up!), coconut flour, chia seeds, cinnamon, and olive oil. (In the past, I've also used mashed up leftover cooked butternut squash or canned pumpkin, grated apples, some ground flax or even a can of salmon whizzed up in the blender with some water instead...)

Add a few cups of the wheat-free Canine Life muffin mix until you get your mixture into a firm cookie dough consistency - and your dough looks like the picture below. Then roll the dough out on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet (or just push it relatively flat with your fingers) until about 1-2 cm thick.
Bake in a 350 oven for about 20-25 minutes until it feels dry to the touch - but still soft - then cut into strips then cross-wise into little squares. Sweep the squares back into the pan and return to a 220 degree oven for 2-4 hours to make them dry and crunchy. Leave treats in oven, but shut the oven off and let them be until completely cool... I often just leave them in overnight.

My doggies really seem to know that homemade treats are special - and they love these little biscuits!

Find the West Coast Canine Life Muffin Mix and other quality ingredients at bow wow haus - or if you're feeling a tad too busy to bake, we of course have lots of ready-to-go tasty (and v. healthy) treat options for your pooch in-store!


Encouraging Play with your Pooch!

While I grew up with dogs in my childhood, Lucie, my golden retriever, was my first dog that was all mine and as an adult. Looking back, I see that I was awkward in my new dog parent role - I remember feeling like I had two left feet at my first group class, trying to maneuver a wiggly pup on a leash, and feeling self-conscious using my "happy voice" to praise effusively when she pooped outside... But most of all, I didn't really know how to get Lucie to play with me, and I often felt silly playing fetch with myself in the park.

Luckily, a friend recommended a great dog trainer and I booked a few private sessions (on a sidebar note, puppy training was the BEST investment I've made towards the sweet, happy, playful dog I have today!!!) - and I realized that I had to learn how to play with my dog AND that I had to teach my dog how to play. Sounds simple, I realize... but it was a lightbulb moment.

At the shop, we often hear customers say that their dogs don't like toys or that they don't like to play. But especially for our urban dogs, play exercise is a must for keeping them physically and mentally stimulated... and just like we train our dogs to learn any other command or behaviour, we can teach and encourage dogs of all ages to find joy in play. Play sessions can help tone muscles, maintain a healthy heart, reduce stress, and alleviate boredom. When dogs are under-stimulated, it can contribute to behavioural problems (excessive barking, food guarding, separation anxiety) and destructive behaviours (chewing, digging). All dog people know: a tired dog is a good dog!

A few tips on encouraging play:

* Have a couple SUPER special toys: It's great to have a few toys that your dogs can play with anytime, but get a couple new toys that are only pulled out when you are playing with your dog. With Lucie, I chose a ball on a rope and a big stuffed animal - both of which she showed no interest in at first.

* Be enthusiastic: A couple times a day, I pulled out one of the toys and played with it by myself - having an exaggeratedly fun time throwing the ball in the air and catching it with glee, chasing it down the hallway with energetic flair (did I mention I felt v. self-conscious??!!) then when she started to express interest, I let her get close enough to sniff for a second - then put the toy away while her interest was still piqued.

* Once they're playing, keep it short: After a few days of feeling silly by myself, I started snaking the toy on the ground in front of her until she started wanting to chase it then we'd play for a minute or two until she was really, really into the game - then at the height of her interest, I'd stop and put the toy away. The key was for ME to end the play, rather than playing until she lost interest. After a week or so, when a special toy was pulled out, she was raring to go!

* Signal the start of playtime: Once she was starting getting consistently excited about our play times, before taking out the special toy, I marked the start of playtime by saying "ready, ready, READY??" in a super-happy, excited voice. Now at the park, when I'm ready to play fetch, I just have to ask "ready, ready, READY?" to have my dogs happily leaping expectantly.

* Not all play has to involve toys either - they can play with just YOU: For me, our playtime tends to involve reinforcing a training command, which also keeps the dogs enthusiastic about responding to them. Here's a couple of my simple faves:

a) COME :: You'll need about 20 small but super-tasty treats for this. If you have a pup, I'd recommend starting indoors (long hallways work well) - but unoccupied tennis courts work well too. Start by standing on one end of the hall with your dog, making sure that she is watching you, throw one treat a couple feet behind you. While your dog chases the treat, run towards the other end saying "Lucie, come" in a happy, fun voice (really, the voice makes a big difference). She should naturally start chasing you. At the other end, praise quickly and happily with a "GOOD COME!" and a little pet, then without any delay, throw another treat a couple feet away, and run back to where you started, again while saying "Come". Continue until you get tired, or your dog appears to start losing interest. Remember you always want to end your play sessions while your dog still wants more.

b) SIT-STAY :: This works well for dogs that already have a pretty good sit stay, but with a second person, it can work with pups too. Find a space with not too many other distractions initially, then work up to a busier space to test their sit-stay! Sit and stay your dog - walk away however far away you can leave your dog before she jumps up to follow. If she hops up, remember to walk them back to where they were supposed to be sitting and make them sit and stay again (and don't walk away as far). Ideally, you should be at least 10-15 feet away. Wait for 30 seconds, then in an excited voice, ask your dog to COME! They should come racing to you - then happily fuss and praise. Lucie has always been a fairly low-energy dog, and this is one of the only ways I can get a full-fledged RUN out of her (usually when I'm so far away from her at the park that I have to use hand signals to get her to come). If your dog doesn't have a good stay, you can ask a friend to hold at one end (and maintain a sit) - until you call from the other side.

If you have any tips on how you encouraged play with your dog, we'd love to hear them. bow wow haus carries a great selection of engaging toys for doggies of all sizes. Come by one of our locations and let us show you some of our dogs' favourites!

The scoop on poop...

When I got a dog, never did I think I'd spend so much time talking about (and I admit, thinking about) poop! In the shop, I also spend a lot of time talking to customers about it too. Though to a non-dog owner it may seem strange, it actually does make a lot of sense since their poop is a good indicator of how well their doing on their current food, responding to a new kind of treat - or even as a sign of their general health.

For me personally, I've been thinking about doggie poop more this week because I've been trying our newest line of food with my own dogs. Unlike the other dehydrated/freeze-dried raw foods we've been carrying, K9 Natural includes ground bone in their food - so even with the convenience of a freeze-dried food, they've been having the perfect, small poops they usually only have with the frozen raw diet. I really do deeply appreciate the dry, hard (and much, much less odorous) poops that my dogs have on their raw diets!

Also, here's a great article I came across on dealing with doggie constipation naturally that I wanted to share with you.

Hello, Monday :: Meet Punk!

This week, we're introducing Punk - one of the store doggies at our 4th+Pine location! He's really the friendliest little guy who loves to play with all doggies - and would love for you & your doggie to come say hello...

Tell us a bit about Punk! What kind of doggie is he - and where did he come from?

Punk is a mix of breeds. Definitely poodle but after that it is a guess. Where did he get those ears? I call him a punkydoodle. Punk was a stray in California and landed in the Los Banos shelter where a plea to have him saved was issued – it was a place where he had little chance of being adopted. Pamela McKenzie (http://www.Pamelasdogs.com) scooped him up in a dog rescue transport in February 2011. He arrived in rough condition with a badly matted coat with dead fleas and other terrible things embedded in it. After he had an extreme hair cut and a little vet care he became a happy and charming dog! That is when he came to me.

What is Punk's fave toy?

Punk has two favorite toys. The very best is a plush tree-stump with 3 little squirrels that he can pull out. It is a game we can play over and over. I put the squirrels in he takes them out! The other is an odd ball with an eye legs and hair. He likes to chase it and then shake it in his mouth like he is killing it! So much fun!

His best trick?

Punk dances really well. Sometimes we have little dance parties.

What is one thing you wish you knew before adopting a doggie?

I agreed to foster Punk while I was looking for a dog that I wanted. I thought I wanted a bigger dog, maybe black or brown. I did not think I wanted a small white fluff dog whose happiest place is being held. What I did not know was how loving and how sweet adopted doggies can be. I think he knows how lucky he was to be saved from the high-kill shelters in California. After having Punk for about 3 hours I knew he was not going to any other home. Like all shelter dogs, he had learned to do his ‘business’ where he ate & slept. It took about 2 weeks of work to train him not to do his “business” inside.

Does Punk have a guilty pleasure?

Punk is a calm dog and loves nothing more than being held. He will snuggle into the arms of pretty much anyone. Holding him and scratching the sweet spot on the top of his head is the best way into his heart! He also loves to play with other doggies. No day is complete if he has not met someone to have a good romp with.

His fave spot for a walk?

His favorite walks are through the neighbourhood. He likes to check keep track of this favorite spots. He gets very excited about it all and we have to run sometimes to get there really really fast!

Getting ready for Howl-O-Ween!

Not sure how the dogs can tell, but somehow they seem to know when I'm baking doggie snacks and not people snacks. Tonight, I baked up some roasted sweet potato mini cupcakes for our Howl-O-Ween party happening at all the BWH locations (Friday, Oct 28 @ 6:30p :: All friendly doggies & their people are welcome!) The dogs love it when I bake treats for them at home - and I love that they love it! It's really easy, and you don't have to be super accurate - I'm sure your doggie won't mind if a cupcake turns out a bit denser sometimes!

Now for the recipe:

2 cups oat flour
3 eggs, separated
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t baking soda
1/3 c olive oil or melted coconut oil
1 T berry supplement - I used Cranimals cranberry supplement
1-2 sweet potato or yam (approx 2 cups) - or sub in canned pumpkin

To start, I washed sweet potatoes and roasted it on a baking sheet at 375 degrees until soft - about 60-90 minutes. Peel and mash with a fork - let cool. Turn down oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl, beat egg whites to soft peaks and set aside. Mix all other ingredients in large bowl until well mixed. Fold in about 1/3 of the egg whites and fold in gently until incorporated. Then fold in remaining egg whites.

Scoop batter into a mini muffin pan - about 3/4 full. Bake for about 11-13 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Since I was baking for a special occasion, I frosted them with a sugar-free yogurt based frosting developed for doggies.

We hope to see you & your doggies on Friday!

What exactly is green tripe??

Most dog owners know that their doggies LOVE green tripe and that it smells gross... but do you know what it is and why it's a great thing to add to your doggies' diets?

We recently added K9 Naturals to our line-up of healthy foods - and they had a great overview of green tripe and we wanted to share some of the info with you:

"Tripe is the stomach of ruminating animals, such as sheep, cow, or deer. These animals have a stomach which consists of four chambers serving the purpose of regurgitating, chewing and mixing the food (grass in the case of New Zealand) with saliva. The final process then consists of breaking the food down further still; this is achieved by gastric juices and digestive enzymes. Green tripe is called so because of the fact that it hasn’t been cleaned or bleached. The colour is usually brown and can have a green tint to it from the grass the animal has eaten.

So how does this benefit a dog?

Well the same gastric juices and digestive enzymes which help the animal digest its food also help dogs do the same; this has the result in enabling a greater utilization of food. Furthermore green tripe is an excellent source of protein (60%) and fats (28%). In addition, Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s) linoleic and linoleic acid are present in green tripe, thus helping in:

Well, the same gast

  • Reducing the risk of developing cardiovascular disease
  • Increasing energy production
  • Regulating skin and joint inflammatory responses
  • Improving general immune function

In addition, Lactic Acid Bacteria is also found in high levels within green tripe. Also known as lactobacillus Acidophilus, this so called “friendly bacteria,” is the main ingredient found in probiotics, helping break down complex food molecules and reducing the risk of developing coronary heart disease, Anderson, J, W and Gilliland S, E (1999).

By feeding green tripe to a dog, many associated health issues are successfully addressed primarily due to its ability to aid in the digestive process. These include not just general digestive conditions, but also symptoms associated with having Irritable bowel syndrome. In essence green tripe provides a dog with high quality protein, fats, essential fatty acids and an enhanced digestive system!


Effect of fermented milk (yoghurt) containing lactobacillus acidophilus L1 on serum cholesterol in hypercholesterolemic Humans. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. Vol. 18, No. 1, 43-50 (1999)"

At bow wow haus, you'll find freeze-dried, raw green tripe, canned tripe, tripe snacks and raw frozen tripe. If you're new to tripe, we definitely recommend starting with the freeze-dried variety - even the pickiest dogs LOVE it - and we find the smell a bit easier to handle!! :)

*Interested in learning more about feeding raw to your dog or cat?
Here's a good video : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G3wLTlqnMMg - or you can also
contact us at info@bowwowhaus.ca to schedule a free, private consultation with one of our
raw food experts at any of our shops.


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