Hi PUPS folks,
It's Kath...thrower of sticks for Bobby. Some of you know me from way back, and others have never met me before (I get to the park pretty darn early in the morning). I organized Fort Greene PUPS back in 1999 to create a collective group of dog owners interested in preserving the off-leash hours in NYC parks. At the time, the parks department was receiving pressure to abolish the off-leash courtesy hours for dogs in parks. We quickly had a hundred members, then a couple hundred, and now we are over 600 members strong. And thanks to the efforts of Fort Greene PUPS and other dog groups throughout the city, off-leash rules were written into NYC law back in 2007.
If you recently signed up for PUPS e-mails, you may want to visit our site and learn a little more about our history. Occasionally, people who know me stop me in the park and ask me what is the purpose of PUPS, since we have already accomplished our main goal (the permanent off-leash hours). I tell them we are primarily a social organization now, but we do still serve an important purpose, being the largest and most frequent group of park users. Here is our official mission statement. Because dog owners are the park's most regular users, we need to remember to be the park's best stewards: clean up after your dog, fill holes dug by dogs, and keep a watchful eye on them at all times. As long as we do these things, we can continue to enjoy the park's grounds in harmony with other users.
See you in the park!
After five long, hard days of voting, fur-flying excitement, and some very serious soul-searching, the votes have been tallied and the People have spoken. Congratulations to Beaumont, our King, and to Ms. Charley, our Queen! You can see the vote count and read the full story here.
Yes, it's time for this craziness again. The 14th Annual Great PUPkin Dog Costume Contest will take place in Fort Greene Park on the monument stairs on Saturday, October 27 (rain date is Sunday, October 28). Registration will begin on the monument plaza at 11:00, and costume judging will begin at noon sharp. We'll have the usual bevy of prizes and a panel of hard-to-please judges who can never be bribed (wink, wink). Here's last year's winner, Boris, in all his surfing glory.
URGENT: We desperately need volunteers this year; a few of our most dependable and active PUPkin volunteers recently moved away. The fact of the matter is, everyone loves to attend the event, but we just don't have enough volunteers to help run it efficiently. So pitch in if you love the PUPkin, it's fun to volunteer! Here's what Elizabeth Robinson has to say about volunteering for PUPS: "I have volunteered with PUPS for years now doing everything from snapping photos to picking up poop to organizing crowds of costumed canines. It's easy to feel disconnected from your friends and your community in New York if you let yourself. The creativity and camaraderie of PUPS events embodies all the things I love about living here."
We need help with promotion, set-up, registration, sound system, crowd control, traffic, and tear down. Please be in touch with Kath directly if you can help out: kathhansen1 at gmail.com. Stay turned for more details and visit the PUPS Facebook page for updates: https://www.facebook.com/fortgreenePUPS
PUPS had an opportunity to interview Nancy Liao, owner of Zoe's Premium Pet Food, about nutrition and ingredients in pet food today.
PUPS: You started making dog food for your Zoe at home, because she had a skin allergy? What prompted you to start doing this, and how is Zoe doing now?
NL: Zoe was prone to pesky skin problems. I would take Zoe to the vet and they would prescribe a course of antibiotics or steroids to treat her skin outbreaks. After many trips to the vet that would only bringing temporary relief to Zoe, I thought maybe I'd try changing her diet. Who knows? Maybe it would help her a little. So a few years ago, I began looking into pet nutrition and started preparing meals for her using real food ingredients that were both easily found at my local supermarket and beneficial to Zoe. I gradually replaced her high quality kibble with a cooked diet of meat and vegetables along with quality whole grains and legumes. The improvements in her skin were almost immediate. Within a few weeks her skin issues cleared up entirely. The best surprise was that she started demanding more play sessions and seemed wigglier and goofier than ever! As Zoe's human, it was sweet reward to see my beast thriving, and no longer itchy and uncomfortable. On our walks she started getting regular compliments on her absurdly shiny coat. I knew I couldn't go back to feeding her commercial grade kibble. My goal to simply help Zoe's skin turned into a quest to discover other real food ingredients that would help her live her life to its very fullest.
PUPS: There are so many different dog food manufacturers out now. What would you say are the best ingredients to look for, and the worst ones to watch out for?
NL: It's exciting to see dog lovers ask about quality of ingredients! Feeding our animal family members with quality ingredients is something I truly believe in. It seems obvious to us nowadays, but quality meat is hands down the most important ingredient for a dog or cat's daily nutrition. You definitely want to see a specific type of meat listed as the very first ingredient, such as "Chicken," preferably without "meal" following it, as in "Chicken meal," which would mean the meat they are using is not fit for human consumption. I think feeding our beasts the best quality white and dark meat we can has true benefits for their well-being, since they are primarily meat eaters by nature. However, that does not mean they don't need other real and fresh food sources! – Our beasts need nutritional variety to truly thrive, so look for a selection of vegetables and fruits in those ingredient lists. You will want to avoid any food that has preservatives in the ingredient lists, particularly BHA, BHT, ethoxiquin or propylene glycol. These preservatives simply do not belong in pet food and can possibly be very dangerous to our pets' long term well-being. Another way to look at it is, search out brands with ingredients lists that have real, whole and nutrient rich foods that are familiar to you.
PUPS: Aside from a meat source, what is a favorite ingredient that Zoe's Premium is working with right now? What is it good for?
NL: I am personally a big fan of millet. We use it in our Chicken & Sweet Potatoes formula. It is an ancient grain that really isn't a grain – it's a seed! It was a staple of our prehistoric diet and during the cooking process, it fluffs up into an almost creamy consistency not unlike mashed potatoes, but with a slightly nutty flavor. Millet has a quick cook time and is an easily digestible source of trace minerals and B vitamins. It's also great for dogs that have gluten intolerance issues. It is a fantastically nutritious and tasty food for humans and beasts alike.
PUPS: What's the most common type of ailment you hear about from your customers, and what is a good, simple, DIY recipe that people can follow to help their pet deal with this ailment?
NL: I hear a lot about skin issues, such as itchiness and hot spots, which is, as you know, the very challenge that started my journey into pet nutrition. I also get quite a few questions about sensitive stomachs. In both cases, I often recommend raw apple cider vinegar. It's great for soothing itchiness due to environmental or seasonal allergies and it's an economical purchase. Test a small area of your dogs skin first before using it on larger areas. Just be sure to dilute it to about 1:3, vinegar to water. It keeps well in a spray bottle. If you see your dog scratching herself, try misting a little onto the affected areas. It's also great for mosquito bite itchiness. Those bites can do a number on dogs' skin because their scratching can further irritate those tender areas mosquitoes love! And putting a teaspoon or so into your dog's food can help her digest her food better and can also alleviate some of the symptoms of a sensitive tummy.
Click to view a video of the event in Ft. Greene Park - can you spot your dog?
Amazing dog trainer Rikke Brogard of Rikke B. Dog Training answers our questions about common dog behaviors.
This edition: LOOSE LEASH WALKING, a.k.a. "my dog pulls on the leash! Help!"
Dogs pull on the leash because they can and because they think it'll get them to where they want to go sooner..........and they're usually right. For dogs, the highest motivator will always win out and let's face it, if it's between walking slowly next to us or sniffing poop and vacuuming the sidewalk for potential chicken bones, we don't stand a chance. Unless, of course we can offer something better. Ah - ha!!! That's the secret to teaching your dog to walk politely next to you. In fact, that's the secret to getting them to do anything we want them to do. Dogs are all about "Show Me the Money"!
I often hear dog owners say they feel their dog should just be polite because they should want to. Guess what; it’s not going to happen. You are dealing with (awesome and adorable) creatures that don’t have any morals, sense of guilt, or shame. So understanding and accepting that they probably won’t just offer awesome manners because you think they should will probably save you some grief. That said, your dog should learn to be a polite canine citizen of your family and of the world. But you’re going to have to teach her! The good news is that behaviors that are rewarded are repeated.
A few things to keep in mind: Every time you let your dog pull on the leash to get to another dog, a person, a tree, anything, you're teaching him that pulling will get him what he wants. Your dog is going to pull a lot more when he's full of bottled up energy so it's a good idea to start working on leash walking techniques when puppy is already tired after a romp in the park. If at all it's possible, drive your puppy to a dog park so he doesn't get to pull on the way there, then start doing leash walking exercises when he has mellowed out. Have treats ready (hidden in your pocket or a bag) and stop each time puppy pulls ahead of you. Do not jerk or pull him, just stop. Eventually he will turn around to see why you're not moving forward and when he does, say YES in a happy voice and hold a treat right by your left knee (or right knee if you walk him on the right). Your puppy will come back to get the treat and will be reinforced for being by your side instead of being out at the end of the leash. If you do this repeatedly and consistently whenever puppy responds by returning to your side, he'll be more likely to stay by your side than to be at the end of the leash. I also suggest asking your puppy to sit politely before being allowed to greet another dog or person on the street. That will teach him that being polite instead of being pushy will get him what he wants. When he sits, (even if it’s for a second to start with) say YES, then tell him OK and release him to go greet the stranger or dog.
I believe there’s a time and a place for everything and so I would never expect my dog to always walk super politely next to me and pay attention to me at all time. That would be completely unfair. Remember, sniffing and investigating the environment is basically how your dog reads the paper and gains information about all the other dogs that have come by recently (I call it reading Pee-Mail). If your dog has been cooped up inside the house for eight hours, I think it’s perfectly fair that he gets to sniff around and be excited. I would, however, ask for a polite sit or a nice few seconds wait or polite eye contact before he gets to runt to the curb or the nearest tree. Remember to keep the leash nice and lose as you release him with an “okay”. On stretches where you’ve decided that your dog can be casual and go sniff, make sure you walk closer to him and the curb instead of in the middle of the sidewall so he has to pull on the leash to get to where he wants to sniff.
I love a good Front Clip Harness for better management of a dog that tends to pull. Harnesses where you attach the leash on the top of the dog’s back let your dog pull like a draft horse. They are fine for little dogs that don’t pull but for a puller and a strong dog, front clips are the way to go.
There’s another exercise I love that teaches puppies to walk by you and follow your movements. You can start at home with your puppy off leash. If you have a yard or a garden with no distractions, even better. Make sure you have nice treats in your pocket. Walk around a little bit and every time your dog chooses to come near you or follow you, say YES and give him a treat or a good pet. Eventually, he will realize that hanging out close to you is the place to be. Try to be careful about where you give him the treat. Try to give it to him close to your knee on whichever side you want him to walk on. After a while you can begin walking around and changing directions while you say, “Let’s Go” and the second he follows you, Yes it and give a treat. Now you have a cue you can use on walks when you want to tell puppy it’s time to move ahead and he’ll be conditioned to look to you to see which way he should be moving. Remember that your timing in marking your dog's good behavior and delivery is key! If you're too slow or clumsy about it your dog might now understand the message. If you feel you need help, please call a good, Positive, Certified Trainer for a hands on demonstration. Best of luck, and remember to have fun!
Rikke Brogaard is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA), a Certified Pat Miller trainer (PMCT-2), and a Certified Canine Good Citizen Evaluator. She lives in the Fort Greene/Clinton Hill area with her rescue dog Olive and her daughter Dea and runs her own Dog Training business (Rikke B Dog Training) where her training challenges include both basic manners training, and more serious behavior issues such as Fearfulness, Anxiety, Aggression, Separation Anxiety, and Canine OCD. She is also a volunteer trainer and foster parent for MAGDRL, the Mid Atlantic Great Dane Rescue League. Rikke is a committed Positive Reinforcement trainer who firmly believes that there is no need or excuse to use force or coercion in dog training. She is adamant that Positive doesn’t mean Permissive, and twelve years of doing Reward Based Training has only confirmed her resolve to use humane training methods.
Close to Rikke’s heart is the relationship between children and dogs and she especially enjoys helping families happily and safely welcoming dogs and kids into their families.