Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Homecooking for your Schnauzer

Amazon Basics Slow Feed Bowl

Are you tired of hearing about all the recalls on commercial dog food? Are you fed up with the fiascos we are seeing coming from the dog food companies: Questionable ingredients, false marketing, recalls because of deadly bacteria?

As schnauzer owners know too well, schnauzies are very susceptible to pancreatitis, Cushings Disease, diabetes and skin conditions. 

What can a concerned dog owner do? Get back to basics. You can easily learn how to cook for your dog at home and be sure they are getting fresh, quality, human-grade ingredients that will not only improve their health, but make rashes, disease and pancreatitis worries just disappear.  It’s easy, healthy & very satisfying to know you are feeding your pups good, whole nutritious food.
Bella saving her bananas for last
I started cooking for my dogs about a year ago and have been pleasantly surprised at how easy it really is. It definitely takes more time than opening a bag and scooping a cup into their bowl, but the benefits and rewards more than make up for the time deficit.

Recipes: The first question most people ask is do you have recipes?
My recipes vary depending on what is in season, on sale, in my refrigerator, etc. I aim for 50-70% protein, 5-10% organ meat, remaining percentage is vegetables & fruits. I usually add a little grain because my dogs need a few extra calories for their high metabolism.
Cooking: I cook everything together in my large crockpot until meat falls apart & veggies are soft. I roughly mash or chop everything with a fork or potato masher and serve, refrigerate and/or freeze in containers. I am not precise, I do not measure anything. I vary all ingredients from batch to batch to be sure they get a nice balanced diet.
For variety or if I have run out of crockpot meals, I occasionally cook everything separate and mix at the end.
Cost: I always bought the high end kibble and cooking for my five actually costs about the same.
Supplements: I use an Omega 3 supplement (fish oil) or canned sardines, seaweed or crushed eggshells for calcium and probiotics. Occasionally, I will also add Nupro as a supplement on occasion.

How Much to Feed: How much you feed your dog will depend on how much they weigh, how active they are, how well they absorb their food and several other factors. As a general rule, dogs will eat around 2 to 3 percent of their body weight in fresh food daily (use cooked weights for foods that are cooked). Large dogs will tend to eat a lower percentage, and small dogs a higher percentage of their body weights. Toy breeds may need as much as 4 to 5 percent of their body weight daily, while giant breeds might eat as little as 11⁄2 percent, or even less.

I use a cooking scale to measure out the cooked food. Here is the formula I use:

Dogs weight in lbs x applicable percentage = A
A x 16 oz = B (this is the total number of ounces you feed each day)
B divided by 2 = ounces you feed at each meal (if you feed twice a day)

My Abby's ideal weight is 10 lbs. I multiply that times the percentage (10 x 6%=.6). Abby has a super high metabolism, so I use 6% for her.
I take that number and multiply by 16 oz (.7 x 16=9.6). That is the number of ounces she gets for the whole day.
Since I feed morning and evening, she gets half those ounces in the morning and half in the evening (9.6 divided by 2=4.8 ounces)

Dogs tend to require more homemade food (by volume) than kibble. Sometimes up to 50% more. The best way is the “feed and watch” approach. If your dog loses weight, add more quantity; if they gain weight (less likely) cut back.
Slow cooking & retaining nutrients: This questions always comes up, especially with the raw feeding crowd: Does cooking my dogs food cause the food to lose all the nutrients? With all cooking methods, there can be a breakdown in nutrients, although a few nutrients such as lycopene become more available with processing. The advantage of a slow cooker over other methods is that the foods are cooked at a relatively low heat for a longer time. This lower heat may not destroy as many nutrients as other methods such as steaming or boiling. Another benefit is that with slow cooker meals, the nutrients can often be recaptured when the resulting sauces or juices are served with the meal.

Stools: Their stools are generally well formed, just less of them. Without all the fillers in commercial dog food, they poop less. They may be a little softer because a homemade diet has more water, which is a very good thing. (You will notice your dog drinks a LOT less water than with kibble. Kibble has practically no water content which dehydrates the dog. A homemade diet is so much easier on their kidneys.)
Slow Feeder Bowls: Anytime I post pictures online of my dogs eating, I always get inquiries about the bowls I use. These are slow feeder bowls that slow down gulpers. When most dogs start eating real and tasty food, they tend to eat very fast.

Food List
Protein: chicken breast, chicken thigh (lean only), lean ground turkey, lean cuts of beef, lean ground beef, Alaskan salmon, cod, halibut, flounder, mackerel, eggs, venison, lean pork, sardines (added after cooking), shrimp, mussels
Organ meat: chicken liver, gizzards & hearts; beef liver; calf liver
Veggies: sweet potato, pumpkin, carrots, green beans, peas, butternut squash, broccoli, cabbage, kale, celery, spinach, cauliflower, green, red, orange & yellow peppers, shiitake mushrooms, asparagus, turnip, yellow squash
Fruits: blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, cranberries, apples, pears, bananas (sometimes I add the fruit after cooking)
Herbs: ginger, peppermint, chamomile Turmeric, fresh ginger root, parsley, garlic (small amount)
Grains: Quinoa, barley, oatmeal, bulgar, brown rice

Any doubt they love their Mama's cooking?

Friday, November 10, 2017

Should You Let Your Dog Sleep With You?

Should You Let Your Dog Sleep With You?
Ask the above question on any dog forum and you will get a wide range of answers with a sprinkling of spirited debate over why you should or should not invite your pooch into the family bed. I personally believe it can't be a black and white subject because there are so many variables with each family and each dog. I listed some why’s and why not’s below that I have pulled together from different discussions I have had with my vet, my trainer and dog forum members.

I have always allowed my dogs into our bed from day one as young as six weeks old. Those first few nights of transition were much easier for the pup and myself. I always kept a potty box next to the bed so all I had to do was place them in the box when they started to wiggle and showing signs of needing to potty. I know this sounds lazy, but it always worked great for me.

With five mini’s, even our king-sized bed sometimes felt pretty crowded. Fast forward to today, our elderly gentlemen, Scooter, can no longer sleep with us because he doesn’t seem to judge distance well anymore and will walk right off the bed. Afraid he would break a bone, I made him a warm cuddly spot in a crate in our bedroom. He didn't object and seems to be happy not having to compete with his sisters for the warmest spot under the covers.

Little Miss Independent (Abby) decided one night to sleep in the crate too for reasons unknown to me. I bought another crate so her and Scooter each had their own bed space. She jumps up to cuddle every morning, but she prefers her own bed.

Now sharing with only three dogs, the bed feels rather spacious, lol. I personally love having my dogs close to me at night. I’m not sure if it’s the right decision, but it feels right to me (and them)!

👍You might feel more relaxed or safe with your dog in your bed, especially if you live alone.

👍The rhythmic sound of your dog's gentle snoring and breathing can lower your heart rate which means less stress and more relaxation.

👍Waking up with a cuddly, sweet fur ball is always nice.

👍If you are away from home many hours each day, co-sleeping is a good time to bond and spend time together.

👍On cold nights, those warm little bodies are like gentle heating pads.

👍They will alert you the minute any unusual noise is heard. No worries about being awakened in your bedroom unexpectedly by a burglar.

👍It is a proven fact that sleeping with your dog(s) helps stimulate your immunity.

👎Dominant or aggressive dogs can become even more so if they are allowed in your bed.

👎Dogs can have a form of restless leg syndrome that could wake you when you get kicked.

👎You may be allergic to your dog's dander or the allergens that sticks to his feet and fur when he goes outside.

👎If your partner doesn't want to sleep with a dog, this could cause some pretty serious disagreements.

👎If you have a compulsive licker or scratcher, you will definitely not get a good night's sleep.

👎Some people find it distasteful or dirty to sleep with an animal and are worried about germs or catching something.

My snoozing schnauzers:

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Easy Dog Tool That Works Like Magic

When my trainer first suggested using a drag leash, I could not understand why I had never thought of using a leash inside the house. It is a great tool to get my dog to do what I want them to do without a lot of fanfare. It took the burden of me physically moving my dog to letting them learn for themselves with some gentle guidance from the leash.

What is a drag leash?

A leash that has been modified by cutting off the loop. Your dog wears this during the day while you are home. What this tool does is gives you a "handle" to your dog. 


For Puppies:

It is a great tool to use when training puppies.  You can always get a quick handle on them while at the same time getting them used to wearing a leash. 

Jumping on the trash can? A quick "no" and gentle tug to guide them away works great. Playing hide and go seek behind the couch or under the bed? Without having to crawl under the bed, you can just grab the leash and slide the rascal out. Running through the house with your underwear or sock? A quick foot on the leash stops him dead in his tracks.

Carly, Bella, Daisy & Abby 

For Leading: 

One of the best uses of the drag leash is to be able to gently lead your dog where you want her to go. You don't even have to say anything. You can just pick up the end of the leash and gently lead her to her "place" or "spot". I usually say "let's go" and use a gentle pressure to get them moving forward. 

You can use it to get them off a piece of furniture or bed by giving a gentle tug and saying "off".

When I have given the command "Place", I can use the drag leash to gently move them back onto their cot if they break command. I do not drag them, just a touch of pressure in the right direction and then let them use their brain to figure out what they need to do.

For Jumping:

If your dog is a chronic jumper, just put your foot on the end of the leash when she is apt to jump and it does not give them enough room to jump up. They get the idea pretty quickly if you are consistent. Carly is my worst jumper. I have been working on breaking this habit with her. She wants to jump on the grandkids and am always afraid she will knock the toddler over or scratch them. 

For Door Control:

At my house, mention the word "outside" and you can have a stampede. I have been working on a more orderly and calm exit by making them wait until I call their name before I release them out the door. This has been going pretty well with the exception of Abby. Abby likes to be first out the door.  She likes to turn and jump on each of them as they come out. I usually step on her drag leash to be sure she waits her turn.

For Submissive Pee-ers (is that a word?):

If you have a dog who submissively pees when you reach for her, the drag leash is the perfect tool for you. Don't make eye contact with your dog but gently reach down and pick up the leash to lead her to her potty area. When she starts to move forward, you can give her a very soft praise word and again after she potties.

How Many Toys Can We Pull Out?

Care For Your Drag Lead:

I usually toss the leads into the washer with a load of towels once a week. It can get pretty grimy being pulled around on the floor and when they go outside. I buy the cheap leashes from the dollar store so I can also replace them quite often.

I hope this little training tip helps you as much as it has helped me!

For some other great ideas on other training tools, see my post on 10 Tools That Can Change Your Dog's Behavior.

Scooter Cuddling With His Sissy

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

7 Things to Know Before You Travel With Your Dog

7 Things to Know
Before Traveling With Your Dog

Hello Schnauzer Friends!

I have been traveling with my dogs for over 40 years. I have taken them to lakes, oceans, mountains & campgrounds. We have stayed in hotels, beach houses, and many different types of RV's. We have traveled with one, to as many as five, dogs at a time. Actually for the past two years, it's been five. As I am writing this post, we are in route to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina in our motorhome.

Daisy Traveling in the Motorhome

Why Do I Love Traveling With My Dogs?

I know they are being cared for properly.

I know they are eating & are not on a hunger strike.

I don't keep having that feeling that "something is missing".

You have more money to spend since you won't be paying for kenneling and in my case that would be big bucks for five dogs.

You don't have to work your departure and return time around the kennel's hours.

I always have my sweet teddy bears to love on and cuddle with.

I wanted to offer some ideas to those of you who have never traveled with your dog(s) and are thinking about it. For those of you that do travel with yours, maybe I will share something you can use too.

Getting Accustomed to Traveling in a Vehicle

Start your dog out with short trips such as picking the kids up from school, trips to the park, or picking up dog supplies at the pet store.  Take advantage of every opportunity to get them in the car. 

If your dog gets car sick, make sure they haven't eaten just before heading out. Try putting them in the front seat. If they want to jump all over you (which is dangerous), get a dog seat belt connector that keeps them in their own seat. Always carry a roll of paper towels, a couple of grocery bags and a spray cleaner just in case they get car sick. 

My dogs start riding in the car as tiny pups as soon as I bring them home. Through the summer months, we travel to the lake almost every weekend, so they get an hour drive each way. Carly is the only one who ever had motion sickness. She would pant, salivate & eventually vomit. I started putting her in the front seat on my lap and she did better there. After a while I would let her ride in the back for short periods of time and worked her up to all the time. She no longer gets sick, but she still won't move much when we are in motion.

This is how they roll...

Seat Belts

I'm sure everyone won't agree with this, but I don't belt, crate or secure my dogs in any way. I'm not convinced what is on the market would work anyway. I do use a belt that connects to the seat belt latch and the dog's collar when I have the top down on my convertible to eliminate any chance they would jump out. 

Daisy & I cuddling

Feeding & water

I feed my dogs a light breakfast (half their normal meal) on days we will be traveling most of the day and their regular size meal when we stop for the evening. When traveling, I keep their stinky fish flavored food in this container to keep it fresh and also contain the odor. I keep water available at all times in the motorhome.  They only get bottled water when traveling because diarrhea with five dogs is no fun (I know this from experience). I do have to keep a diaper on my elderly dog because he can't hold his urine very long.

Lounging on their cots

Stopping at Rest Areas & Gas Stations

With five dogs, potty time is quite an ordeal on the road. My husband and I take them one at a time on leash of course. I have taught them the words, "go potty" and "hurry up" so they usually move along pretty quickly. We always pick up any droppings and encourage everyone to do the same because not only is it disgusting but it's also a health hazard. I like these heavy duty bags because I don't like the super thin ones that you actually feel as though you are touching it. Yuck!

We always have a full backseat

Be Careful at Campgrounds

We have always loved RVing and have spent a lot of time in campgrounds and RV resorts. We use a small x pen for our dogs so they can have outdoor time when we are sitting outside. I like to put a vinyl camping rug underneath the pen to keep them clean and insect free. Of course, there are a few campgrounds that won't allow pens or rugs so we adjust accordingly and may ultimately not visit that campground again. We will use the dogs' cots and a tie back if we can't use their pen. 

I caution you to be hyper aware when walking your dog in campgrounds. Unfortunately, there are always those people who think the rules don't apply to them and won't have their dogs on a leash. I have heard too many horror stories of dogs getting attacked by these unleashed dogs. I always carry a sound deterrent and a can of Halt dog repellent. If the sound deterrent doesn't faze them or they are coming at us too fast, I won't hesitate to use the dog repellent. I would much rather the rule breakers have to take their dog to the vet for eye irritation than me to have to bury my dog. Don't get me wrong, I am a dog lover of the highest degree but I will not stand by and let my dog get hurt.

Leaving Your Dog in an RV

For years, I worried when we left the dogs in the RV on days we left to go to the beach or on excursions where we couldn't take the dogs. What if the air conditioner stopped working or the power went out? It could get hot very quickly on a sunny summer day. I found something called an Animalarm that would monitor the temperature and send me a text if it reached a set temperature. This worked great until it became obsolete with the newer cell phone technology. 

I now use a Piper camera. Not only does it monitor the temperature and send me notifications, I can also check in to see and hear what the dogs are doing. I can even talk to them through a speaker on the camera. It also has a "loud sound" notification and I can tell if they are barking their heads off. It definitely puts my mind at ease when I can check in on them through the Piper.

Naps are better shared...

Bring Along Familiar Items

Try to bring some of your dog's own belongings such as their favorite blanket, a couple of toys, bone, food and water bowl. If you are traveling in an RV, bringing their crate (if they use one) will help them feel more at ease. 

I always pack the following:
*Our vacation to Myrtle Beach was awesome, as always. We got to have a lot of beach time and was able to walk the dogs on the beach some too. You are allowed to walk your dog on the beach before 9 a.m. and after 5 p.m. It made for a sandy bed, but who's afraid of a little a lot of sand. :)

While shopping at Myrtle Beach, I ran across this cute little purple polka-dotted rain slicker. I tried it on Daisy and she was running all over the motorhome trying to get it off. Abby thought it was playtime:

Thursday, May 11, 2017

A Fun Way to Teach Your Dog Focus

Training is an important and necessary part of having a dog. I believe focus is the most important and the first thing you should train your dog/puppy. Every other command builds on them being able to focus on you. Communication with your dog is easier when he can focus on you instead of the distractions around him. It can help your dog cope with a situation that is stressful to him. You can use a word such as "focus" or "watch me" or simply use the dog's name. When I say my dog's name, I want them to stop whatever they are doing and turn to look at me. 

The simple act of eye to eye contact with my dogs has changed the dynamics of our relationship. They now quickly look to me for guidance when they are in a situation they are unsure of. When I call their name, they now come to find me much quicker than before. 

I wanted to share with you an exercise I have been using with my dogs for a few months now that has taught them excellent focus skills and has created great "muscle memory". It has become automatic and they can't help themselves but to look in my eyes when I say their name. I feed my dogs twice a day so I get to practice this command many times a day. 

I think it is important to build training into your normal day so that it isn't something that is likely to be forgotten. 

Here are the steps:

(1) I give my dogs the "Place" command, which means go sit on your spot, don't get off and chill out. (Your dog doesn't have to be in "Place" to do this exercise. I started out with them just standing in front of me.)

(2) I grab a handful of kibble, stand in front of them, hold both my hands up and out to the sides & say their name (only once). (Sometimes I won't even say their name, I just wait for the eye contact.)

(3) The minute I get eye contact, I say "Yes" and reward with the kibble in my hand.

You will notice as they get really proficient at this, they will stare a hole through you as you approach them (notice Daisy in the video). Be sure to practice at other times too so they will focus at times other than meals.

It's easy to come up with many different situations where you could use basically the same steps to practice focus such as using a toy, a treat, picking them up, putting on their leash to walk, etc.

Give this a try with your pup and let me know how it goes....

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

10 Tools That Can Change Your Dog's Behavior

Having five dogs and being a natural problem solver, I am always on the lookout for good tools and information on dealing with problem behaviors.

Listed below are several tools I have personally used and recommend:

(1) Pet Corrector - I am listing this one first because it is my favorite. When one barking dog sets off my other four, this tool is great to put an immediate squash on all barking. You simply say "No!" or whatever you want your word to be then push the button and it produces a hissing sound which startles your dog into being quiet. From that point on, all you usually have to do is pick up the can and they all immediately get quiet. This works great on four of my five dogs. Note: Don't overuse for many different behavior problems. Dogs can become desensitized if you overuse it.

(2) Pet Convincer 2 - This was recommended by my trainer. It is a more professional version of the Pet Corrector above. It also emits a hissing sound to help "reset' your dog's brain when barking, being aggressive, jumping, etc. It is rechargeable with C02 cartridges which can be purchased separately.

(3) Doggie Don't Device - This was also recommended by a professional trainer. It is used to "interrupt" the dog's thought to bring their focus back to you. It emits a "zapping" sound which gets your dog's attention very quickly. This is a great tool to stop jumping, barking or leash reactivity. I stick this in my back pocket on every walk.

(4) Dog Dazer II Ultrasonic Dog Deterrent - For whatever reason, my dogs feel the need to scuffle whenever I remove the full garbage bag from the can to take out. This little device stops the fight instantly. You can't hear it because it is ultrasonic, but the dogs jump back like something hit them. The garbage can theatrics are almost a memory now. 

(5) ScatMat - This is a mat that you can place on your couch or anywhere else you do not want your pet. I used mine on the bottom step because I did not want my dogs upstairs. If they put a paw on it, it emits a loud beep and believe me, they back off. One of the many purchase options is a thin, narrow mat you can use in a window sill or on a counter top.

(6) Sentry Calming Collar - I used this collar on three of my dogs. It worked great on two of them and I saw marginal results on the third. If your dog is high strung or fearful, it is worth giving this collar a try. It's a bonus that it makes your dog smell great too. Amazon's cost for a package of three is way below what you will pay in the pet store.

(7) Doberman Security Motion Alarm Detector with Infrared Sensor - This little alarm can be used in so many ways. You can use it to block off any area of your house you do not want your dog in. You can also use it to teach your dog to stay off the counter or furniture. It's also a great way to teach your dog to leave your food alone when you turn your back. I can't tell you how many times I have went to the bathroom to come back to an empty plate. Set them up a couple of times with this sensor and they won't go near it again. If your dog likes to sneak to a certain spot in your house to potty when you aren't looking, you can break that habit with this alarm.

(8) Home Security Camera with two-way audio - I have a camera on my dogs in the living room because that is where they spend 99% of their time when we aren't home. I can listen to them and talk to them through the camera. I have on several occasions logged in to find them howling. When five schnauzers howl, it's quite a little party. I spoke to them through the camera and told them to knock it off and they stopped. However, the camera I have cost eight times as much as this little guy. I'm liking what I see about this camera and may purchase one to expand my viewing area.

(9) Elevated Pet Bed - I now own five of these beds. If you do not teach any other obedience commands, you should definitely consider teaching "Place". It is the best dog obedience command out there. This hammock is great to designate your dog's "Place". We use the command "Place" several times a day now with our dogs: when someone rings the doorbell, when we have company, when I am fixing their meals, or when I just need them to be quiet, still and get out from under my feet. Here is a link to a great YouTube video about how to teach "Place". 

(10) Thundershirt - I have used this on two of my dogs. Abby used it when she was in obedience training to help calm her around other dogs. I use it on Bella when we have thunderstorms because she is terrified of loud noises. It works great for both. If you have a dog who is anxious in the car, this would be great for that too.

I hope you can find a solution for your dog(s)' behavior issues within this post. With five dogs, I am always running into something that needs attention and the above tools have helped out tremendously.

Here's a video of three of the girls going to their "Place":

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

6 Natural Flea & Tick Preventatives


It's almost that time of year again. The fight begins! Those nasty little blood-sucking, creepy-crawly fleas and ticks that hitch a ride on our best friends will be hatching and hungry in the next few weeks here in Indiana. There is so much controversy over flea and tick medications, it's really scary to even think about the side effects of feeding our dogs an insecticide to kill them from the inside-out or to put the insecticide on their skins so it can spread to every pore of their body. So what can you do?

I have used Frontline on my dogs for many years and never had any problems with ticks or fleas. For whatever reason, last year it stopped working. I had a mild flea infestation in my house which really freaked me out. Daisy, who has the thickest coat, was picking them up and bringing them inside. I ended up having to give many flea baths and spray my house with a strong insecticide which I hated to do.


I cannot bring myself to use any of the other topical or pill type flea controls because there are so many reports of illness and deaths from using them. So I am going to try to go natural this year with a product line called Wondercide. I have read many good reviews but there are also a few not-so-good reviews.  I am keeping my fingers crossed.

Here is my plan:

1. I have purchased an all natural spray from Wondercide that contains essential oils to spray once or twice a week on each dog. You can also use this to spray on your upholstered furniture so I will spray the couch where they all nap.

2. I have a potty pen filled with pea gravel so when they need to go outside so they won't be rolling in the grass. I plan to spray their potty pen weekly with the Wondercide Natural Flea & Tick Control Concentrate for Yard & Garden. I will also be spreading food grade diatomaceous earth in and around their pen from time to time.

3. I will be using the Wondercide shampoo bar for all their baths.

4. I will be washing all my bedding & the dog's couch blankets weekly with hot water.

5. I no longer have any carpeting, but I will be vacuuming all my floors at least twice a week. I have an iRobot Roomba so that's not really a big deal

6. The lawn will be kept short and weeds removed.


I groom my dogs frequently, so I will know if they have any fleas. My husband was not too happy with the flea bites he got last year so I know I have to be vigilant in my quest for natural prevention. I would be interested in learning of any other natural preventatives that you have found to be effective! Please let me know in the comments below. 

Laser Fun

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Quick, Simple & Fun Way to Teach the "Come" Command to Your Dog

Are you tired of your dog running the other direction when you call his name? I was reading a post on Facebook about an owner who was frustrated about her dog ignoring her command to come. 

I suggested a game that I use to reinforce recall in my dogs. My dogs love this game and they are learning at the same time. It strengthens that "memory muscle" if you play the game often, so they can't even help themselves but to come to you when you say "come".

Here is the game:

1. Instead of feeding your dog's meal in a bowl, throw a few pieces on the floor. 

2. While they are gobbling those up, run to a different location & yell "come" in an excited & happy voice. 

3. When they get to you, say "yes!" and throw a few more pieces to the floor, run to a new location & yell "come!"  

4. Do this until you have fed the entire meal.  

If you feed every meal this way for a few weeks, they will come every time. They can't help themselves after being so conditioned.

BTW, dogs LOVE this game & they're learning a very important command at the same time!

Here is Daisy demonstrating how we play the game. She has gotten so good at it, she just automatically turns and runs to me.