Doberman Pinscher

How To Turn Walking Your Dog From A Chore To A Fun Activity

I as a runner, I can honestly say that I do not enjoy walking. I’m accustomed to moving twice the distance in half the time, which makes walking feel painfully slow. But since Otis is still too young to run, with Bella’s front wrists still healing, and as I work toward strengthening my back, walking is our only option right now. So, over the last few months, I’ve figured out how to look forward to my walks with the pups and find joy in the littlest things. [For some of my tips and tricks for a swift and easy dog walk, keep reading after this post!].

Walking your dogs creates an incredible bond and a huge level of trust. Any dog trainer will tell you that the best way to bring a new dog into your home is to take it for a walk. Why should that be any different with dogs you already have in your home? Dogs are pack animals by nature, so walking in a group is extremely natural and instinctual for them. And if you have more than one dog, they also bond with each other on a walk which is great for their relationship, too. Walks are the one place where my two pups are in harmony and aren’t trying to roughhouse, wrestle, or outdo each other. I don’t know about you, but I find that to be extremely peaceful!

If you live close to a school or park, walk your dog there and then let him run off leash. For me, there is something about seeing my dogs run free that just brings me so much joy! Leash walking is good for their minds, but running off leash is so good for their souls. Often times we humanize our dogs at home [admittedly, I am super guilty of this], and when we let our dogs run without a leash connection, it’s a reminder to both them and us that they are actually dogs. One of the highlights of both mine and my dogs’ weekends now is that we get to go to the school down the street from us so they can run around and be dogs. The other bonus of finding an enclosed place like a school to let your dogs run is that you can work on off-leash training and really build that bond and level of trust.

Getting outside does wonders for us humans, too. Since most of us hold jobs that keep us inside all day, we should take every opportunity to get out in nature. Having a dog leaves you with no excuse, since they need at least one daily outing to keep them sane. When I’ve had a stressful day at work [or when it’s that time of the month], I look forward to my evening walk with the pups because it allows me to decompress, and in my own way, meditate. I do a lot of my blog writing in my mind when I’m out with my pups. Something about the fresh air and the quiet evenings helps me think more clearly and get my thoughts on track.

While it’s slower and less effective than other forms of cardio, walking is, in fact, a form of cardio. You won’t burn as many calories or get your heart rate up as high, but you are exercising and you are making a difference in your health. If you live in a neighborhood with hills – great! Try to keep a consistent pace while you’re going up and down them. Don’t slow down! And if you don’t live near any hills, see if there are any neighborhoods or places nearby that have them. It’s a great way to get your heart pumping [and, if you’re pressed for time, you don’t have to go as far].

Grab a friend with a dog and go walking together. This is huge! This automatically makes you have an accountability partner so neither you nor your dogs miss out on a daily walk. I have a friend who lives close to me, and we try and get a walk in together every evening. For the pups, it’s great social interaction and learning to walk in a pack with other dogs. For the humans, it’s exercise and social hour. Need I say more?

Change up your walking route every once in a while. I love the days where I turn down a new street and get to check out different architecture and landscaping. It sounds silly, but it gets me daydreaming about the next home my fiancé and I buy and they way I’d like to design and decorate it. Plus, the dogs will love exploring a street with all kinds of new smells and sounds.

If you’re walking during the day, bring your phone with you so you can listen to music, an audiobook or a podcast. Generally I’d be against this, since the point of being out in nature is to let the noise of daily life fall away, but sometimes it’s nice to pop some headphones in your ears and zone out while you cruise with your pups.

There are going to be days where your walks aren’t fun. Maybe your dog is acting up, or it’s pouring rain, or the park down the street is busy so you can’t let your dog off his leash – whatever the case may be, the bottom line is that you got out there with your dogs. And when they’re sacked out at home, snoring little doggy snores and dreaming doggy dreams, you’ll have this odd and overwhelming sense of contentment. A proud pet parent moment. I imagine it feels something like what a parent feels for their own baby. Elation, maybe. Knowing that not only did you do something for your dogs, but you did something for you, too.


As a(n) [almost] daily dog walker, I’ve compiled a short list of some tips and tricks I’ve learned from both licensed dog trainers [who Bella and I have worked with], and my own experiences.

If you have a dog that doesn’t get along well with other dogs, it’s important to always be looking ahead and paying attention. If you see another dog coming, DO NOT STOP WALKING. Dogs are not multitaskers, which means that if you keep moving, they can’t walk forward, walk sideways, bark, growl, and watch their step all at the same time. If a dog is coming toward you, quickly check both ways and cross the street as soon as the coast is clear. The further you are from a situation, the more power you will have.

If you hope to work on off-leash training, I highly recommend bringing treats with you. Be sure your dog knows you have them before you release him. While he may be a scent dominated animal, there’s no way he will know you have them unless the wind is miraculously in your favor. Be sure you purchase high value treats – something your Fido will be willing to give up the fresh scent of a squirrel for.

Always, always, ALWAYS bring poop bags with you! I never leave the house without at least three doggy bags in my jacket, pants or fit belt. I even carry a roll in my car! Be a responsible dog owner. I can’t tell you how furious it makes me when people don’t clean up after their dogs, especially little ones. Just because your dog’s poo is the size of my finger, does not mean you get to leave it lying on the sidewalk.

In my personal opinion, there is nothing wrong with using a shock collar or a prong collar on your dog. You want to feel comfortable and confident as the owner of your dog – and if that means you can’t overpower him without the assistance of a tool, that’s nothing to be ashamed of. With Bella’s tendencies to dislike other dogs [and with her intimidating size and breed working against both of us], I always have her shock collar on when I know she will be in social situations. It’s more peace of mind for me, knowing that I have the power keep her from getting to a level where she feels like she has to take action on somebody else.

Don’t let your dog dictate the pace of the walk. You are the human, you decide how fast or slow things go. Because dogs are so scent dominant, they will follow any smell of interest that comes their way. My two are constantly trying to stop and smell the roses [literally and figuratively]. I am continually teaching them that they will get a sniff break and a potty break when I decide it’s time.

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Health Insurance For Fido. It’s A Thing!

In January of this year, my fiancé and I celebrated our eleven month anniversary [and a much needed date night out]. As an early one year anniversary gift, he surprised me with the fact that he was ready to bring another dog into our home.

If you know me at all, you know the big soft spot in my heart for dogs. For nearly a year I had been joking with him about just showing up at home with a puppy one day, and becoming an old, retired married couple with hundreds of dogs. For a year he pretended [or maybe it was real haha] to be afraid of having any more dogs. Bella was more than enough, he said. So I was completely shocked and so excited when he announced that he was ready for one more. And as much as we were both looking forward to finding our perfect pup, we knew it wouldn’t be right to start the puppy process before our big Europe trip in September.

Fast forward to four weeks ago. Mitch and I were lying in bed on a Saturday morning, looking at puppies online. After seeing the movie, I Love You, Man, we both had our hearts set on a Puggle. For months we had been searching for a breeder on the west coast, but, me being the crazy dog lady that I am, I refused to go with a breeder that seemed to be breeding for money instead of passion. We finally found one in Iowa who had the cutest black coated male, and we were sold. We emailed the breeder, put down a deposit, and five days later I picked our little guy up from the airport [sidenote: we both did a ton of research on flying a puppy – I did not want to pay money for a dog that would arrive traumatized for life].

Enter: Otis. Spunky, vocal, and the bravest little dude the world has ever seen. Hence why I decided that we needed doggy insurance. Actually, it was about 6 months ago that I began researching the different pet insurance companies, after I took Bella in for a bit of holistic healthcare [look for a post about this to come].

You guys know I will pay any amount of money to keep my pets healthy and happy. But having a 6 year old Doberman who eats raw is costly enough without the added vet bills, not to mention a new puppy who needs regular vaccinations and really likes to live life on the edge. Working in the health insurance industry myself, I knew it would be more beneficial for me in the long run if I purchased insurance for my pups.

I am so thankful I did.

Five days before we left for Europe, I took Bella on a hike with my friend and her German Shepherd pup. They ran around like crazy, and later that afternoon I noticed Bella limping. Knowing I would be boarding her for two weeks, I took her to the emergency vet near my home to have her examined. Between the x-ray the vet took that day, the fee to actually see a vet at an emergency clinic, and the laser treatments and blood tests after Europe because she wasn’t healed.. Well, let’s just say the numbers added up quickly. Luckily, because I signed Bella up for insurance, I will get reimbursed for all of it!

One of the other benefits of pet insurance is that you can easily customize the plan you wish to sign your pet up for. There are different deductible options, and tons of riders [add-ons] available to cater to your pet’s specific needs. And, compared to the cost of x-rays, acupuncture, blood tests, vet visits, etc., the insurance is pretty freakin’ cheap.

I definitely don’t think it’s necessary for everyone. The only reason I even looked into it in the first place was because Bella is starting to enter her “older” dog years and I want to be able to cover as much of her healthcare expenses as I possibly can. And the only reason I added Otis to it was because he’s a daredevil and if either of them is going to get seriously injured it will be him [fingers crossed that doesn’t happen, though LOL].

I only compared two different pet insurance companies when I looked, and I ended up going with Trupanion [I felt like they had a good variety for a bit cheaper cost]. There are tons of options out there, though, and some employers offer discount programs that include pet insurance [worth checking into!].

Unfortunately I won’t be much help in referring anybody to any companies, as I’m super new to pet insurance myself, and I don’t personally know any other pet owners that have it. But if you have questions on plans and what they cover, I can help you with that, and I’m happy to! Please feel free to ask.

The RAWsults Are In

We’re just a couple of days shy of Bella’s one month mark of being on the raw diet.

Conclusion?

Switching Bella to raw food was hands down paws down the best decision I ever made [well, best decision in relation to Bella’s diet, that is].

When I initially decided to try raw food for Bella, it was because her skin was reacting so horribly to kibble – and not just any kibble, one of the most expensive ones on the market! She was losing chunks of hair and she had so much dandruff it almost looked like she’d been snowed on. She was constantly scratching her ears and her belly, shaking her head, sneezing, chewing on and licking her legs. At $80+ for a 28 lb bag of high quality food, these weren’t the results we should have been getting.

Today is Bella’s 27th day eating raw. She looks like a completely different dog. Her coat is shiny and soft; the dandruff that she does still get is stress-induced [a fun Doberman quality] and goes away the instant we head out for our evening run. Her hair has grown almost completely back and she no longer scratches uncontrollably. Even her energy levels seem to have stabilized.

If you’re on the fence about feeding your dog raw, I would highly recommend making the switch. Even trying it out for a month to see what you think. It is expensive, but I believe in keeping both my dog and myself healthy. And so far I’d say the results of the raw diet have been worth every single penny.

If you have any questions about starting your dog on the raw diet, please feel free to ask/email: bellaandtheblonde@gmail.com. I am by no means an expert, nor do I boast to be, but I’d be happy to help you with inquiries and get you headed in the right direction.

RAWr

Real talk – I care waaayyyyy more about Bella’s well being than my own.

I mean, I would legit starve myself for a week if it meant that my dog could eat and survive to see another day.

Yeah.. I’m a bonafide dog mom. And DAMN PROUD OF IT.

I may have mentioned before that poor Bella has struggled with sensitive skin from the get-go. When I adopted her at eleven weeks old, she had a mild form of mange [demodex], which is relatively easy to treat if recognized and diagnosed early enough. And through trial-and-error with different kibbles, I learned that she has a very common gluten intolerance, as well as a sensitivity to fish-based food formulas. It’s basically been a constant uphill battle with trying to find a dog food that was good quality and helped her skin allergies.

**SIDENOTE: something I learned recently in my research – if you’re feeding your pets a gluten-free chicken- or turkey-based food, make sure that the meats the company uses are grass-fed. Because grain-fed animals bear grain-fueled meat. So, essentially, you aren’t really feeding your pet grain-free food at all. ALWAYS make sure you do your research!

I thought we’d finally found a solution with a brand called FROMM [I highly recommend this food, actually, for those of you whose pets don’t have horrendous skin issues and are willing to shell out some extra moola for a good quality food], but in our situation it seemed to only temporarily mask Bella’s skin sensitivities instead of help them long-term.

So the hunt was on again.

I am constantly doing research on the proper diet for Doberman Pinschers specifically. As is typical with the internet, though, every blog and every website say something different. You can basically do all the research you want but nothing will actually matter until you try things out for yourself.

I’ve always been interested in the raw diet, but I never knew anybody who had fed their dogs raw, and had heard it was pricey so I never looked further into it. But after hitting yet another dead end in Bella’s diet, I decided that maybe it was time we tried something new. Drastically new.

As luck would have it, a coworker of mine happens to feed her two black Labradors raw. And has been for six years. She hooked me up with a bunch of links to sites and gave me some pointers on where to find stuff locally. But since I’m totally green when it comes raw feeding, I decided to do some more research before jumping in feet first. And that’s when I stumbled on a company out of Maine called ReelRaw.

If you’re considering raw feeding, I HIGHLY recommend this company. You can email them before you make any decisions and their staff will answer any questions you may have. The BEST PART about this company is that they MEAL PREP FOR YOU! This is honestly what swayed my decision. Having never prepared and handled raw food for my dog, I wasn’t sure exactly what to feed her, how to properly introduce the diet, and how much to give her. This company does all of that for you [PS – this is not an endorsement, I just really like how this company works].

Literally the one and only downside is that if you live on the west coast, it takes roughly two weeks for your order to arrive. But when the package arrived at my office a WHOLE DAY EARLY, I was like a kid in a candy store. [Yes, that is literally the point of desperation I had gotten to with wanting and needing Bella to be healthy. I get excited about raw food deliveries].

We are only a week into the new diet so I can’t say for sure if this will be the winning food route for Bella, yet. But STAY TUNED – I will definitely post my observations in a month or so..

I know that raw feeding isn’t ideal for everybody. I’m not trying to convince anybody to switch over unless you have the means to do so and are willing to try. It is more expensive than kibble, and it’s really not worth cutting corners to cut cost because in the long run you’re still paying more but lower priced meat means lower quality meat.

But what I am asking is that you DO YOUR RESEARCH when it comes to the food that you’re feeding Fido. I mean, you see the way that eating McDonald’s every day effects the human body.. The kibble you’re feeding your pet could potentially be doing the same kind of damage.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT.

Do any of you guys feed your pets raw? I’d love to hear thoughts and feedback!

K-9 Konundrum – Dog Aggression

A friend of mine is an avid animal lover and is pursuing a career as a dog trainer and rehabilitator. Naturally, dogs are the topic of most of our conversations. As a trainer at Petco (hey – we all gotta start somewhere!), she often times deals with dogs that have not been socialized due to behavioral issues they have – a doubly whammy. This can lead to aggression towards other dogs because they have an anxiety and feel the need to lash out.

If anyone knows me at all, they know I love watching Cesar Millan episodes. Most of the things he shows on-air are just basic behavioral issues that have spiraled out of control due to incompetence or a lack of education on the human’s part. But the common theme among all of his shows is that when rehabilitating a dog we have to go back to basics.

If we look at dogs as a species, we know that as a whole they are pack animals. They thrive best in groups and they work together to raise their young, hunt, herd other animals, etc. So if this is the way dogs live in the wild, and if this is the way they are socially and instinctually, wouldn’t it make sense that they naturally SHOULD get along with other dogs? Or, moreover, that they would WANT to?

The answer is, YES.

I am by no means an expert on dogs. I know what I know about my own, and what I’ve seen on TV or read about in articles and books. But what I’ve noticed the most about a lot of the issues I witness between humans and their dogs is that the humans are choosing their furry friend based on cuteness or looks. Little to no research is done by the humans on the breed of their choice and whether or not the dog will be compatible with their lifestyle and family.

I will use myself as an excellent example of this.

I came into possession of a Doberman by accident. My ex-boyfriend wanted a “guard dog” or a breed that is stereotyped as protective. His first choice was a Rottweiler. At the time, however, he couldn’t find anybody who had any pups available. Next on the list was a Doberman. Neither of us knew a single thing about the breed. I had grown up with Labradors – my grandparents, my aunt and uncle, and my parents had all been Lab people. The area I’ve grown up in is mainly populated by Labradors. I actually don’t think I’d ever seen a Doberman in person before, as they are not a popular breed in Sacramento.

So when he found a pup and we went to pick her up, I instantly fell in love. Her gigantic floppy ears and golden eyes sold me on Dobermans the instant I saw her. And that was pretty much where the cuteness ended.

Little did we know that Dobermans are vocal – they protest anything they disagree with (aka crate training, leash training, basic training in general). They are ridiculously oral – I thought Labradors liked to chew. Dobermans might take the cake on oral fixations. Bella would gnaw on anything that was left lying out – shoes, clothes, money, literally anything she could sink her teeth into was annihilated. It also took us about six months to potty train her (this was mostly due to human laziness, however, she was a bull-headed pup and refused to conform to our rules). Dobermans are also extremely high energy. Bella needed consistent exercise and at least an hour or two of it a day. As new dog owners with little-to-no experience in raising such a high maintenance dog, we were completely unprepared for this rambunctious pup.

As with any breed, there are always exceptions to the “breed stereotype” rules. Obviously not every single Doberman will have these same puppy tendencies – that was just my personal experience. However, it brings me to my point of humans not doing their research on the breeds they choose. If you have an active lifestyle – if you run every day, if you leave near a beach, etc, then by all means adopt a high-energy dog. If you work a lot but like to have a companion there when you get home at the end of the day, then an energetic breed is definitely not the right choice for you.

Dogs need just a few basic things to be happy: exercise, rules, and reward (generally, food and affection). That’s it. That’s how easy it is. And providing them with these things will help to keep your home balanced. I’m not saying that it will 100% prevent naughty activities, but it will help to alleviate them.

Which brings me back to our main topic – dog aggression.

My dog that I mentioned above, Bella, was attacked by an Akita when she was only six months old, and then again about three months later when she was nine months old – by the same exact dog (the neighbors, needless to say, were also believers in “protection” dogs). This made her extremely gun-shy of other dogs, and, in fact, brought about an aggression towards unfamiliar dogs. She thought that they would all turn on her, and therefore felt that she had to be the one to make her feelings known.

I always told myself that I would NOT be one of those dog owners who had a dog with issues. I wouldn’t have a dog that was afraid of people or dogs, antisocial, or completely unbalanced and untrained. It broke my heart and upset me that my first dog was already turning out to be this way, and at not even a year old. And so I made a decision to help her. I refused to believe that she would be this way forever. I told myself I would do whatever I could to bring her back to what normalcy is for a dog.

The first step was getting her enrolled in dog classes. I knew that she would be around other dogs, but I also knew that there would be a professional there to guide me through the process. We signed up for basic training classes through PetSmart. The first day went as I anticipated. The minute we arrived, Bella wanted to attack everybody in the class. The trainer immediately took charge and set her straight. I know that initially my anticipation of Bella lashing out was what was causing her anxiety in the class. She could sense that I was not entirely comfortable with the socializing situation. But, as anything goes, the more classes we attended, the more comfortable we both became.

After the classes ended, the next step for both of us was reintroducing Bella to larger social environments, like dog parks. My parents loaned me their old dog’s shock collar (which they purchased from their trainer), which I used only as a preventative in case things got out of hand. They never did. Bella did wonderfully at the dog parks. I was so confident in her social abilities and refused to believe that she could revert back to her aggressive tendencies that she has actually ended up as the opposite dog. She LOVES going to the parks now, and has actually become one of the more stable dogs at the parks I take her to. A couple of months ago, I introduced her to my [now] roommate’s dog, who is extremely unfriendly and actually tried to bite her. She was so calm and relaxed – I was such a proud dog mom!

What I’m hoping you’ll take away from this post is that it IS possible to rehabilitate your dogs. You have to have faith in them, and faith in yourself. However, I wouldn’t recommend just going ahead and doing any training like this on your own. Please, please, PLEASE seek a professional’s help before you start taking the steps to help your fur baby. And if you don’t have a dog yet, do your research on breeds and figure out who is going to be the right fit for you. This can and will be a great way to avoid issues later down the road. A dog that suits your lifestyle will undoubtedly have all of its needs met. A dog that doesn’t will act out due to lack of exercise or lack of fulfillment.

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “Happy wife, happy life.” The same goes for our dogs. Fulfill their basic, everyday needs, and they will, without-a-doubt, fill your heart with the joy you sought in bringing a dog into your life.

**If you do NOT have a dog, and you ARE thinking about bringing one into your life, definitely do your research on potential breeds. Also, do your research on breeders – many of them breed according to temperament. Some breeders are known for calmer, some for more energetic. Like I mentioned above, there are loopholes and exceptions to the “typical” temperament of many breeds. Just do your research, and you will no doubt find the perfect dog for you. Something else to note – if you are thinking about adopting a shelter dog, make sure you visit numerous times and really interact with the dogs of your choice before you sign the documents. I know we all have a soft spot for dogs that live in shelters, but, more often than not, a dog will act submissive in that environment and then go ballistic the minute they leave. Ask if you can remove the dog from the environment to go for a walk or even play out in a yard where the energy level is different. At the end of the day, you want your dog to be compatible with you from the moment you say “I do.”

Loving the Little Things

I meant to write this post yesterday, but I’ve been so busy that I’m a day late (but not a dollar short)!

This weekend kicked off my start to living a happier, healthier, more responsible life (and, more specifically, summer).

In my previous post I vowed that I would be devoting this summer to my fur babies and being a better “me.”

I am generally an early riser, even on weekends. I hate the feeling that precious time is passing me by while I laze away in bed. My Dobermans feel the same. My mornings typically begin with Baby Roca’s wet Dobie nose poking my face, and her giant pink tongue leaving a slobber trail all across my face. Some mornings she does this from her spooning position beside me, other mornings she hops off the bed, walks up to my head, and lays her adorable face right next to mine (let’s face it, she’s so tall her head is the exact height of my bed). If she’s already off the bed, it’s time to get up PRONTO because somebody has to do a number two in a BAD way.

This last Saturday, the Dobies could tell I had plans, and that those plans included them (little did they know that they each had a bath in store for them). I loaded them up in my new car and we were on our way!

There is a gorgeous, preserved nature trail that follows a paved path behind several neighborhoods. The dogs love it because it’s chalk full of wetlands – this means DUCKS and WATER.. Easily two of their favorite things. Not to mention they get to run off leash the entire time.

It was on this walk that I really noticed the beauty around me; the fact that all three of us were fully enjoying nature in such different ways. I love to photograph everything I see on these walks, while the dogs love to swim and chase birds and run up and down and around in big giant circles.

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After our romp on the nature trail, we went to visit my [NEWLY RETIRED!] dad and give him a celebratory gift..

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At 9.5% alcohol he couldn’t exactly drink the beer that early in the day without needing a giant nap, but since our last name is “Jack,” I thought it was pretty appropriate..

I finished my Saturday with a sunset cruise on the boat (I know, I know.. I said I wasn’t going to go boating – but to be fair, the dogs got a great workout and were exhausted the rest of the day).

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Sunday morning, Baby Roca and I headed over to grandma and grandpa’s or show them my new car. Roca was in heaven! Grandpa spoiled her with half his sandwich AND a snickerdoodle cookie. She also didn’t have to share her ball with alpha female Bella..

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And finally my Sunday evening was, yet again, spent on the boat enjoying nature and it’s glorious beauty.

I feel blessed every day to have been given such a wonderful life. Not every day is easy, but I always try my hardest to put my best foot forward. I’d say for my first weekend of a responsible summer devoted to my dogs, I did a pretty good job.

Stay tuned.. I’ll be keeping you updated on my yummy summer recipes as well!

Doberman Diet: Raw vs. Kibble

I’ll admit, when my boyfriend first told me he wanted to put our dogs on a raw food diet, I balked. As humans, the words “raw meat” directly translate to salmonella, food poising, illness – something along the lines of unpleasant. Our bodies aren’t equipped to handle a cold cut of meat. Dogs, however, have not evolved as exponentially as humans have. Their diets, for the most part, have remained the same.

Archaeologists have discovered evidence of domesticated dogs as far back as the Paleolithic Era (roughly 20,000 years ago). We can absolutely know for sure that dog kibble did not exist in those days. In fact, the first dog food created specifically for dogs was released in the mid-1800s. So, for 19,800 years, dogs lived on the same diet of meat and table scraps. 200 years just isn’t enough time to allow a whole species to evolve to the point of needing a different diet. After coming to this realization, I thought that perhaps it wouldn’t hurt to give it a try.

And, of course, the dogs loved it. What dog WOULDN’T? Raw steak every morning and every night? They were in heaven.

We tend to think of dogs as garbage disposals. They rarely refuse human food. We do have to be careful what we feed them, though. Of late, more and more dogs are showing signs of gluten and corn allergies. A lot of cheaper brand dog foods contain lots of grain and corn products, which, if your dog is allergic, will most likely induce skin allergies and lots of itching and scratching. Dobermans have thin hair and generally have sensitive skin, which means cheap dog foods are a no-no. Since having mine, I’ve done a lot of research through trial-and-error as far as dog foods go. I have also found that foods that are chicken-based cause allergies and dandruff as well. Think about the life of a chicken – they are scavengers, they’ll eat ANYTHING. People that raise chickens to kill and sell, though, probably feed them mostly grains. Grains = allergies. Chicken = allergies. The best meat to give your dog if you’re considering a raw diet is steak.

Yes, steak is expensive – the raw diet is expensive! Take heed.

The great thing about dogs, though, is that they are not picky about the type of steak you feed them. Obviously, you don’t want to give them rotten meat, but the cheapest cut you can find will do. As a suggestion, WinCo was the best place I found for inexpensive steaks. They usually have a cut at $2.30 a pound, or somewhere in that ballpark. The other thing you need to think about if you’re considering the raw diet for your dogs is the fat aspect. Meats are chalk full of protein, but if you don’t exercise your dog, this may not be the best diet. Protein-based foods are best for growing or active dogs, who will be either storing the protein for bulk, or burning it off in exercise. Raw meat also doesn’t contain 100% of your dogs dietary necessities, so you will need to consider how you’re going to supply your pet with a well-rounded diet. There are wet foods that contain mostly liver, which is great for dogs on a raw diet. For my Dobies, they got a cup or two a day of Taste of the Wild Puppy formula (a mid-range priced dog food that contains no grains or corn).

In the end, I ended up taking my girls off the raw diet. It became extremely time-consuming (cutting up the food, keeping it refrigerated, going to the store every other day for fresh meat – you get the idea), and, of course, it cost me a pretty penny. If you have the time and expense to do this for your dogs, though, I highly recommend it.

*If you don’t want to do the raw diet, but you are concerned about your dog having food allergies, I recommend Taste of the Wild Salmon or Orijen Salmon. Both foods contain no grains or corn and the salmon is great for dogs – it also doesn’t hurt that it makes their coats soft and beautiful. My dogs have had both and they have produced the same results. They are on the more expensive side, as far as dog foods go, so if you’re on a budget, visit your local feed store and ask them what they recommend for a similar formula but a lower price. If you live near a Western Feed, I would try there first. The employees are knowledgeable and won’t try and sell you something you don’t need.