Fundraiser: Prize #11 – Play Bow!

You may remember in a recent post (here) we talked about the important of stimulating our dogs mentally. We stressed that this is equally as vital as physically exercise! One of the quickest ways to exhaust your pup, is to work his or her mind. 1 tired dog = a happy dog & happy owner! This theory is catching on in animal shelters, where boredom and stress can run rampant. A tired dog will ‘show’ to potential adopters much better than one who is over-excited, mouthy, or jumpy. If we give shelter dogs a way to expel some energy through quiet play, we are helping them come one step closer to a forever families.

This interactive toy is Gaige's FAVORITE

This interactive toy is Gaige’s FAVORITE

Simple enrichment works wonders in shelters, but it is just as effective in our own homes! When we were expecting a large amount of company around the holidays, we were careful to think about all three of our dogs, but especially Georgia. While she had always been calm and friendly with strangers, we weren’t quite sure how she would handle excessive noise and foot traffic. Of course, she blew us away by displaying the best manners out of all three dogs, but it sure helped that we kept lots of ‘puzzles’ around for her to work on in case she became bored or anxious. For us, these puzzles were oftentimes just kongs with frozen ingredients inside, but rest assured that the animal market is catching on to the trend and need for such products!

Tonka loves it, too

Tonka loves it, too

Poochie Heaven – Interactive Toys for your dog!

Although we originally only planned to offer TEN prizes, while searching for a dog toy company that specialized in puzzles, I was delighted to come across Poochie Heaven. I couldn’t resist including them in our giveaway! They seem to take their business a step further, by truly understanding how dogs play and learn, and providing products that enhance the bond between dogs and their owners. While they carry everything from dog beds to collars and bowls, their toy selection was most impressive. They share their approach to toy selection, below:

“Interactive dog toys typically have some element of a challenge attached to playing. The dog must move pieces around in order to be rewarded with a toy or a treat. Many of the interactive dog toys act as puzzles which the dog must solve in order to be rewarded. Interactive dog toys are available at different levels of difficulty as some dogs need easier puzzles, and some need more advanced puzzles. The dog puzzle toys can be as simple as moving a ball a certain way to release a treat, to arranging pieces of a complex puzzle. As the dog completes the easier puzzles, they will happily move forward with the more challenging interactive dog toys.

It can be a very fun bonding experience to play with your dog using an interactive dog toy. The dog begins to learn through the toy that when he or she completes certain tasks, they are rewarded. If the owner helps the dog with the puzzle, the dog soon learns that if they listen to their owner’s commands, they will be lead to a treat. Therefore, an interactive dog toy can help make your dog respond more positively as you teach it other commands and behaviors. Interactive dog toys are suitable for dogs at any age; they can also be a great tool to use when developing a trusting relationship with a new puppy.”

You can head over to the Poochie Heaven website to check out their vast array of dog toy puzzles. However, if you are feeling lucky, simply make a donation to our fundraiser, here! You will be registered to win the Poochie Heaven interactive dog toy shown below, as well as ten other AMAZING dog-inspired products.

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This toy may look unassuming, but it packs a powerful punch when combatting your dog’s boredom or anxiety! By hiding treats beneath the hollow blocks, your dog will learn to remove the blocks with their paws or teeth to enjoy the morsels hiding below. As your pup becomes an expert, you can increase the level of difficulty so that only some of the blocks contain treats. This way, your dog has to use their sense of smell to uncover their reward.

This toy, at a value of $57 + shipping, was generously donated by Poochie Heaven!

Pit Bulls and Dog Aggression: Dispelling the Myth

If we hear the term ‘pit bull,’ in the media, it is not uncommon for it to be used with a negative connotation. If you are reading this post, you probably know about a million reasons that these stereotypes are untrue. In fact, perhaps your ‘vicious’ pit bull is curled up, sleeping on your lap as you read…

Regardless of the many facts and statistics we can spout in regards to our breed’s positive traits, even ardent supporters of these dogs can recognize that some pit bulls are aggressive to other dogs. Of course, we all know tons of pitties that live happily with other pooches. Usually, these dogs have been well-socialized and slowly introduced, and live with owners who are cognizant of dog behavior and management… as is typically the case with ANY peaceful multi-dog household, regardless of breed. As we have always shared on this blog, it is so important to judge each dog on a case-by-case, individual basis. That is the only way to be fair to the dog in question.

The question remains, are pit bulls unique? As a pit bull lover and long-time proponent of the ‘breed,’ the words I am sharing may sound contradictory to my self-proclaimed title. Some of you bully breed lovers out there may feel that I am doing a disservice to the dogs, and simply perpetuating the stereotypes we work so diligently to dispel. If you are in that category, I ask you to stick with me… While I do not want to perpetuate any myths, I also think that it is vital to be objective and honest with anyone when discussing our pitties, whether they are lovers or haters.

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Are Pit Bulls Unique?

It is important to note that dog-aggression is a completely normal canine trait, present in virtually every breed in varying quantities. The fact is, this is a very common behavior in numerous breeds, including and especially working dogs and terriers. To compare, the recommendations offered by reputable pittie rescues are mirrored in websites and books, and by trainers, that focus on any other breeds of working dogs and terriers. These breeds include Jack Russels, Akitas, Huskies, Boxers, Ridgebacks, Australian Cattle dogs, Shar Peis, Poodles, German Shepherds, Dobermans, Chows, Tosa Inus, Rottweilers and many others. We can all read this list, and probably come up with many dogs we know, in each breed, who are incredibly friendly and receptive toward other dogs. (Tonka, the boxer cross, anyone?!)

In some cases, those who dislike pit bulls have used this trait to condemn them and even to justify breed specific legislation, including bans. For me to get into all of the reasons why breed specific legislation is ridiculous and ineffective would take about 5 long posts, but it is important to explain that if we allow banning based solely on breed of dog, we are enabling these bans to spread to any other breeds, due to past precedence. If you have a problem with pit bulls, and vote in support of BSL for that breed, you are one step closer to legislation that will allow your Boxer or Cattle Dog to eventually be taken from you.

It is not how dogs are raised, but how they are managed, that matters most.

*It is not how dogs are raised, but how they are managed, that matters most.*

Additionally, dog-aggression is a trait that can often be managed. Many dogs that come from cases of neglect or abuse, will not display positive reactions to other dogs. However, through repeated positive exposure to other well-mannered dogs, they may learn that there is nothing to fear in interacting with other pups. It is common for even bully lovers to say that it is how a dog is raised that matters most in their dispositions. However, this is not entirely true, and can be downright dangerous when evaluating rescued dogs. A dog with an abusive past can still be successful with other dogs and people, even if their past would suggest otherwise, given proper training and management.

The important message that we need to convey to those that are unfamiliar with our baby bullies, is that there is nothing about the pit bull breed that makes them any more unsafe or unpredictable than any other type of dog.

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While many reputable pit bull rescues recognize the breed’s potential for dog-aggression, it is important to note that dog aggression is a completely separate genetic trait than aggression toward humans. Though it is unfortunate that some dogs may have been bred to be aggressive toward other dogs, even they have always been bred to be loyal to their human counterparts.