Wednesday, January 28, 2015

10 top ideas to keep your green dog busy and active during the winter months!

Snow can be a whole lot of fun as Gracie and I found last year on our mountain.

We love playing snow fetch! But you can't stay out in that cold for very long, and us dogs need lots of exercise, both mentally and physically, to stay healthy and happy.

So what do we do on cold, rainy and super snow days? We play lots of games inside, then when it's safe, we go out and have a good play in the snow.

A lot of folks ask us what games we play indoors; because mental games can wear out us herding dogs just as much as physical exercise, keeping us from getting into trouble after a long, dark winter day.

So we thought we would share how we play, stay occupied, have fun, learn, exercise and stay happy when we can't get outside for our usual hikes, agility and long walks.

Here's our list of our favorite indoor games and activities:

Tricks

Gracie, Rach and I love to learn new tricks and perfect ones we've already learned. On my other blog, we posted recently a big, big, big list of dog tricks that we have either mastered or want to learn eventually. We suggest you go and visit and get some great ideas.

Over the years we've video taped and added to our YouTube channel lots of tricks that Gracie, Rach and I have learned. It's a great resource to get more ideas. From simple sits, downs and bangs, to pulling off Mum's socks (I love to tug!) to leg weaving, roll over, circus dog and more.

Here's one of our vids on YouTube, a video of Rach learning 'circus dog'. This trick is great for young dogs to learn more about how their back legs work, because if dog's have a better understanding of their body, they can stay safer during activities.


Activities

Indoor games and activities are another thing that Gracie, Rach and I love to enjoy with Mum. Here are our favorites:

Hide and seek - Mum puts me in a stay down stairs, then goes upstairs and hides (sometimes in a closet, sometimes in the bathtub, you get the idea). Then she calls me to come and I find her to get a treat!

Find Target - This is one of my all time favorite games. Mum uses a yogurt container lid as a target, she puts me in a stay, then goes in another room and hides the target, releases me and then I have to find it to get the treats.

Table Games - Being the agility dog that I am, part of that is learning to 'down' on the table immediately. So during the winter, we like to work on this part of my agility inside, but it's a fun game for any dog! Mum sends me to the table (which is really our ottoman), and the faster I get down, the more treats I get! Rach is really enjoying this game.

Walking on a Treadmill - This is a little advanced, but a great activity to get pawsome exercise when you can't get outside because of the deep freeze temps. It's helping your dog learn to walk on a Treadmill. Here's a great resource to learn to teach your dog to walk on a treadmill.

Games

There are lots of fun, intelligent, interactive and puzzle type games on the market, and Gracie, Rach and I love to play with them. But did you know that you can make yourself some really nice and fun interactive and intelligent games with items around your house? Yep...here are some ideas:

The Muffin Tin Game - from our friend Astrid. Take a muffin tin, put a treat in each space, cover with a toy (make sure they're safe ones, K?) and let your dog learn to take the toy out to get the treat!

Hide a ball - Take an old blanket or towel, hide a ball or other green toy underneath and let your dog learn to find the ball under the blanket or towel. When they find it, give 'em a treat.

Hide a Treat - you know those stainless steel bowls you use to feed your dog their dinner? Well, they can become a pawsome hide a treat toy! Just put a little treat on the floor, then put the bowl upside down over it, and watch your pup use their brain to get to the treat. Even better, use three to four bowls and hide treats under just a couple of them. It's a great interactive toy!

Have fun and keep warm!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Road salt and snow melting chemicals are harmful to your dog and the environment! #Snowmageddon2015

#Snowmageddon2015 has hit the Northeastern US and in the states that are affected by all the snow and ice, you see a lot of trucks plowing and putting down road salt to help get the roads clear, as well as your neighbors putting down salt to melt the ice and snow on their walkways, sidewalks and driveways.

What you may not know is that the chemicals that make up this salt has a huge impact on pets, wildlife, streams, rivers and the environment.

The primary chemicals used in road salt are sodium chloride, which is composed of 40 percent sodium ions (Na+) and 60 percent chloride ions (Cl-), ferrocyanide (which is used for anti-caking) and other impurities like phosphorus and iron.

These chemicals make their way into the environment through run off from melting snow and ice, and contaminat vegetation, soil, groundwater and storm drains that lead to our rivers, streams and ponds.

According to the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, "...water contaminated with NaCl creates a higher water density and will settle at the deepest part of the water body where current velocities are low such as in ponds and lakes. This can lead to a chemical stratification which can impede turnover and mixing, preventing the dissolved oxygen within the upper layers of the water from reaching the bottom layers and nutrients within the bottom layers from reaching the top layers. This leads to the bottom layer of the water body becoming void of oxygen and unable to support aquatic life."

In addition the ASPCA incdicates that pets that ingest this road or sidewalk/driveway salt by eating it directly, licking their paws after exposure or by drinking snow melt in the vicinity of road salt run off can experience "drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, volcalizing/crying, excessive thirst, depression, weakness, low blood pressure, disorientation, decreased muscle function and in severe cases, cardiac abnormalities, seizure, coma, and even death.” And just small exposures of your dog's paws to road salt can produce painful irritations, inflammation, and cracking of the foot pads that can be prone to infection and are slow to heal.

What are the alternatives?

For pets: 

Around your home you can use a safer, healthier method to melt ice on sidewalks and driveways by using a product like Safe Paw. Not only is it healthier and safer for your dog, it will not deteriorate your sidewalk and driveway cement over time.

When out and about, keep your dog's paws safer by having them wear simple homemade dog booties and remove when you get home.

A few ideas for cities and towns:

De-icing of roads is very important to cities and towns to keep people safe. There are a few ways that city and town municipalities can create a safe, and yet healthier way to treat roads. These include:

Sand

In many cities, including in the more southern states, the use of sand helps individuals with more traction, without harming the environment and may be a great alternative in some situations.

Other salt alternatives

Experts recommend using calcium chloride over sodium chloride (rock salt) according to Environmental Canada. Calcium magnesium acetate is recommended as a much more environmentally friendly alternative according to the University of Michigan's Salt Use Improvement Team,

Solar roadways

In 2014, the Netherlands installed the first every solar paneled bike path in an effort to help the environment. In addition, a company Solar Roadways created their solar roadway project in an effort to help the environment while preventing snow and ice accumulation.

Sources:
NH Department of Environmental Services
ASPCA
University of Michigan
Green Ventures Canada
Solar Roadways

Photos courtesy of:
Nicholas A. Tonelli
Thomas Barker

Monday, January 26, 2015

Welcome One Dog Organic Bakery to the RAGD Partner Pack!

We're very excited to announce today that One Dog Organic Bakery has joined the Raise A Green Dog Partner Pack.

Their amazingly healthy organic dog treats come in a wide variety of flavors from pumpkin to peanut butter to ginger and more! And they taste super, super good!

One Dog Organic Bakery is a small, family run bakery with the flexibility to adjust to their customers individual needs.

Each order is baked fresh when ordered and always prepared in small batches to ensure the highest quality and freshness.

In addition, they consult with several pet nutritionists, veterinarians and other pet professionals to ensure their product is the absolute best, most nutritionally balanced treat option. Some of their organic dog treats even contain some pawsome supplements like flax seed, coconut oil, pumpkin and more.

Their high standards and implemented food safety protocols means that your treats will always be of the highest quality and most important of all, made with safe, USA sourced ingredients and contain....
  • No chemical preservatives
  • No fillers
  • No by-products
  • No hormones
  • No salt
  • No artificial colors or flavorings
...only simple, safe, organic, ingredients.

And if your dog has allergies, they can customize treats to your specifications.

Stop by and visit with Veronica and Milo and get your organic treat on!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Make quick, easy dog boots to keep your dog's paws safe and comfy this winter!

Winter can be tough on dog's paws! With the cold snow forming those ouchy ice balls, to the toxic salt that cities and neighbors put down to melt the ice.

We've got a fun, easy, quick way for you to keep your dog's paws healthier and much more comfortable this winter! And if your dog gets a little injury on their paw (like I do sometimes), they come in very handy for that as well.

We came across a couple of sites that have really great and easy to make dog boot instructions that we wanted to share.

Check out Sew Your Own Winter Dog Boots from 'So you wannabee a Domestik Goddess.' We like this pattern and simple construction for some easy to make fleece dog boots from material you have lying around your home.

They are super simple with no fancy stuff to get in my way, no extra material to feel uncomfortable, just a simple fleece pull up boot.

Here's another very simple, easy to make set of instructions for another very basic pair of dog boots from UberPest.

Neither of these 'made in basic fleece' would do well on rough terrain, but they are great for a quick trip out in the snow, a quick potty break, or a short walk around the neighborhood in super cold temps and snow.

Here's to comfy paws!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

EPA sued to ban toxic chemicals in flea collars and other pet products.

On January 5th of this year, the Natural Resource Defense Council filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) challenging the agency’s decision to allow the continued use of a highly toxic pesticide called tetrachlovinphos (TCVP) in flea control products used on pets.

"Science shows, time and again, that brain and nervous system-damaging chemicals like TCVP are too harmful to have in our homes, on our pets and around our children," says Miriam Rotkin-Ellman, senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

What concerns us is that if these chemicals included in flea collars and other pet products are harming children, imagine what harm they may be doing to our pets?

In February 2014, the NRDC filed a lawsuit in federal court against the EPA seeking the agency to respond to NRDC’s petitions to cancel all manufacturer registrations and uses of neurotoxic pesticides propoxur and tetrachlorvinphos (TCVP), frequently found in popular pet flea treatment products. Sergeant’s Pet Care Products, Inc. Wellmark International and Hartz were among flea collars brands that NRDC called out for use of these hazardous chemicals.

Prompted by the NRDC’s 2014 lawsuit, the Environmental Protection Agency announced an agreement with Sergeant’s Pet Care Products, Inc. and Wellmark International to discontinue the use of the pesticide propoxur in flea collars as a result of findings in the NRDC's 'Poison on Pets II report' that found unsafe levels of pesticide residues on dogs and cats after the use of a flea collar. However, the EPA did not address the use of other dangerous chemicals in flea products like TCVP. Hence the NRDC's action this month.

In 2009, we interviewed the scientists from the Natural Resource Defense Council immediately following the release of their first 'Poison on Pets' report. We encourage you to read the interview and learn more about the dangers of some of the over the counter flea and tick products currently on the market.

Additionally, if you'd like to learn more about how you can combat fleas on your dog naturally, read our post from 2014, 'The Ultimate Flea Guide for the Green Dog.'

Photo courtesy of Takashi Hososhima.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Bone Broth: The hot new trend is a super healthy treat for your dog!

Have you heard about Bone Broth, the hot new healthy trendy drink for people?

Well what you may not know is that bone broth is super healthy for your dog too!

If you're like me, Marrow bones are a staple in our freezer. We get them as occasional treats after thawed and they are wonderful sources of Omega-3 calcium, iron, phosphorous, zinc, selenium, magnesium, manganese, and other mineral, as well as a wonderful source for Vitamin A.

Dogs not only love them they are very good for them nutritionally too!

During the winter months to take off the chill, Mum loves to make us a super healthy, wonderful post hike and agility treat. What is it? We call it Marrow Stew, but others call it the hot new trend Bone Broth!

If you'd like to make this yummy treat for your dog here is our recipe:

Marrow Stew/Bone Broth for Dogs

Ingredients:
  • Marrow bones (we get our marrow bones from Whole Foods. If you can't find marrow bones you can use chicken or turkey parts, necks and backs are are very good for this recipe!)
  • 2 cups brown rice (pre-cooked)
  • A nice handful of each:
  • Green Beans
  • Carrots
  • Zucchini
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Water (filtered is best!)
Directions:
  • Cut the vegetables into chunk sized pieces. Put all the ingredients into a big 'ole stainless steel pot and fill with filtered water to cover. Cook on low heat for a couple of hours.
  • Once cooked, remove the bones and extract the marrow and add back into the stew. Then throw out the bones, 'cause cooked bones aren't good for us pups!
  • Pour into a stainless steel bowl and you've got a great Fall stew. And you can add a dollop of pure pumpkin puree, we love that!
And pups? Don't forget to share this healthy treat with your two leggers.

Photo courtesy of Ben Beauchamp on Flickr.
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