Thursday, July 31, 2014

Whiskey is carsick!

Whiskey's always been fine with cars, but the other day I took her out alone and noticed she was drooling on the front seat.  Then, when I stopped the car and she got out, she threw up her lunch.  Today it happened again.  I'm thinking it's because she's used to sleeping on a lap (both times she was not being held) and she was moving around too much on the seat?  It's also been quite warm and I don't think the heat helps either.  I get carsick myself so can relate.  Poor thing!

Of course I had to immediately start researching what to do because this coming weekend we are going on a long 4 hour drive up north for camping.  A carsick puppy would be really difficult!  After a couple hours on the net, I read that they can take a small amount of children's Gravol (Dramamine for Americans), ginger extracts or cookies, and also less food before the trip helps.  I think I'll buy different things and start with ginger.  I'll let you know how we make out!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Video montage of Whiskey's first month

We've posted a video montage of Whiskey's first month under my partner's Vimeo account.  She's got loads of personality- check it out!

Puppy Whiskey from Thierry Muller on Vimeo.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Puppyhood : What I've learned after the first month

-A good breeder is insanely important.  They will give you all the right information, keep in touch, pick out the right puppy for you, and have the best chance you can get to have a well balanced, confident pup.  There is no guarantee however, but you have a much better chance.

-I suggest to take at least a month off when you get the puppy.  My partner took time off since I had work lined up (we are contract workers) and I have no idea how we would have done it otherwise.  In fact we extended his time off to 3 months because she's doing so well with all our attention and her bladder still can't hold for more than 1.5 hours in the crate consistently.  The amount of bonding that happens (vs putting her in daycare) and training, I believe, sets her up for life.

-In the first weeks do EVERYTHING (cars, major intersections, roads, buses, people, cats, horses, noises, helicopters, trains, kids, men).  Our little one doesn't even lift her head up for fireworks and the vet says she's the calmest Vizsla puppy she's seen this year (even with a thermometer up her butt).

-Go with your instinct in terms of socialization.  If you see your puppy is unafraid, give her more experience to see new things.  We didn't wait until she was 12 weeks old to have her walking outside and in the parks.  Ask around (vet, neighbours, breeder) to see if you want to.

-In the beginning treat like crazy with the highest value treats, then quickly taper off the treats and don't over-treat once they know the command.  Except for toilet training.  Treat like crazy for toilet training!

-In an apartment, toilet training will be harder.  Be patient and understanding.  Wait them out if it's raining and they don't want to go.  Some dogs are faster, some take longer.  Don't concentrate on those stories that tell you their dogs learned in 2 weeks.

-walk, run, chase, play and (attempt to) swim.  Try to keep them off stairs and on soft surfaces.  No extended anything (don't go on runs or bike with them), just go at their pace.  Find good play buddies and watch play carefully.

-Get them happy in the crate (treats!).  Only put them in the crate when they are tired, and then ignore all whining.

-They feed off your energy.  Happy voices and genuinely happy responses get the best out of them.  If you are getting pissed and frustrated, you are asking too much of them.  Take a break, relax, regroup and go back.

-Sharkies draw blood, scars, and this is normal.  I have scars up and down both arms.  Turning away, yelping, time-outs, etc, may not work.  Even if they learn not to bite you, they may still go for a friend, or worse, a stranger.  They can learn a soft mouth, just give them time.

-Train train train and train some more.  Make it fun, short and different.  Try 'sit' with voice only, or hand signal only, or from a standing position, from a sitting position, with your back turned, with something in your hand.  Make up games and have fun.  Be in charge, but generous with kisses and praises

-It is not as easy as the books and videos make it out to be.

-Strangers and well meaning friends will train them to jump and beg.  This is annoying but unless you're willing to tell everyone off, you'll need to train harder.

-You cannot ask a puppy to be consistent quickly, but you can ask them to play pretty difficult games when they are in the mood (they are smarter than you think!)

-Do their nails, brush their teeth, take showers and baths with them, clean their ears, put eye drops in, and handle them in as many ways as you can (gently).  Get this all done so they can deal with it when they are older.

-I had no idea how fast and far I would fall in love with her little eyes, ears, wiggly butt and cute yawns.  I can't wait to come back home to see her, I can't wait to wake up in the mornings and cuddle with her.  Sometimes when she's sleeping in my arms, I wonder why I didn't get one sooner.


and here's another list I love: Things You Wish People Had Told You Before You Got a Puppy

How easy is it to fall in love with this face?

Oh the trouble this one can get into

She hates the rain, even with a jacket

The teeth on this one can make you bleed daily

Going throw a chewing stage

Friday, July 18, 2014

Why choose a Vizsla?

So walking down the street with Whiskey, I will inevitably hear a squeal followed by "oh my god!! can I pet your dog?  what is it?".  Vizslas are dead gorgeous dogs.  There is no denying that, and a puppy is even more heart-melting.  People want to know about her breed and where we got her.  I've had loads of current and previous Vizsa owners stop me and go gaga, and even had a little girl of about 8 years old who didn't speak English come up and say "Vizsla? Vizsla?"  Do not own a Vizsla if you don't want to be stopped several times on a walk!

So why did we choose this breed?  It was not a light decision.  I think that when you select a dog you need to take time to sit down with the family, and over a year or so, go through pros and cons of every breed, and even if a dog is best suited to your lifestyle.  Will you wake up at 7am before work and walk it in the rain?  What about a cat? or fostering? or rescue?  Meet different breeds and talk to owners.  Pet sit for a weekend if you can.  Read read read!  Then do the whole process again with researching different breeders you are considering (if you go down the breeder route). 

We know at first look we weren't the ideal Vizsla owners but we were willing to make adjustments and compromises.  Here's what we took into consideration:

-We wanted a dog for hiking long distances over mountains (we live in Vancouver).  An 8 hour hike for us is normal.

-Our idea of a vacation involves camping, dog sledding, falconry, scuba diving, snowboarding, etc.  We are not sit-on-the-couch people and we wanted a dog to keep up, not one we needed to carry.  On the other side, we were willing to give up some activities (like scuba diving and snowboarding) for more dog-friendly ones.

-We live in an apartment in the Vancouver downtown core

-We live next to a large park that allows off-leashing and includes a beach, as well as a 10 min drive to other large parks, as well as a 30 min drive to 3 mountains and loads of hiking options

-We live in a rainy city so we wanted low maintenance hair

-We wanted a dog that stays close to us on the trail, and a cuddle monster at home

-A dog that we can hike with off-leash is a must (no hounds)

-We can afford pet insurance,  daycare, and vet bills

-We were willing to make sure one of us would take time off to welcome the puppy

-The idea of training an intelligent dog appeals to us

-we wanted a medium-sized dog with few health issues that was bred properly

-and finally we wanted a beautiful dog that wasn't as popular as everything we see around here

So we considered German Shepherds, Belgian Shepherds, Great Swiss Mountain Dog, Bernese, Australian Shepherds, Weimaraners, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, Chocolate Labs, Catahoula Leopards, and Vizslas.  These are generally all working dogs and we realized we were going to be in for alot of work the first couple years, but knew it would pay off in the end.  Finally, we went with the Vizslas because I loved the idea of a velcro dog, and they were bred for working and are generally very healthy.  We also liked the idea they were clean and cat-like while we have a cat called Moo who is very dog-like.

The main issue with a Vizsla is that while they can be the best dog in the world, this is on the condition that they get enough exercise.  Between grooming, health issues, digging, barking, anxiety, chewing I would rather deal with a dog that needs an extended amount of exercise (this isn't to say Vizslas won't have the other issues, it's just that going into it, I chose my poison).  I love being outside, and don't mind hiking in the rain, shine, or snow.

Vizslas are amazing pets, very gentle and soft but seriously active

Sharing a stick

Whiskey will fixate on a smell and dig like crazy

She loves climbing and challenges

Training her to "leave it"

They are snuggle buddies and love a soft surface

Vizslas are insanely active and need hours of exercise a day.  They will not exercise themselves

Monday, July 14, 2014

Puppy Food Choice

When I first started researching food for dogs, suffice to say I had information overload.  There was just so many warnings, advertisements, opinions, etc.  I read everything I could find, talked to owners and pet stores, checked the forums and was no closer to making the "right" decision.  I think the best advice I got was to just try something and see what happens "go with the poop".  Sometimes Acana works, sometimes they don't tolerate it.  Sometimes raw is great, sometimes not.  I mainly wanted local food with good ingredients that I could trust.

We are feeding NOW large puppy food.  What I found was for a larger breed puppy (vizslas are on the edge), make sure the calcium levels are not too high or the dog will grow too fast (see here).  We kept her on breeder food for a couple days, then slowly switched over a week to NOW while watching her poop closely.  Her poop was ok, but she wasn't as interested in her food so I started watering it down with boiling water and giving that to her (once it was a good temperature) so she would be more interested.

After another week, I started looking into raw and cooked food options and tried experimenting with giving her some human food mixed in with kibble.  I know some say not to do this because you'll make a picky dog.  Honestly, I don't mind as long as she doesn't pick out the good stuff.  We tried adding in pumpkin, carrots, berries, sweet potatoes, chicken, and after realizing she had no issues (I've heard Vizslas can be sensitive to many foods), I got a bunch of groceries, and made a dog mix to last for a month.  It's a mashed up mix of raw and cooked that I mix into her kibble for each meal.  I include:

-raw carrots, banana, broccoli, berries, peppers, apples, coconut oil, yogurt, sunflower oil, oats

-chicken, sweet potato, beans

I try for 1/3 meat, 1/3 veges and 1/3 starches (although since I mix it with kibble it doesn't matter so much). Warning: make sure your puppy is ok with each food before adding it to a mix like this.  It would be awful if you had to throw the whole thing away after finding out that they're allergic to one of the items.

The next time I'll try a different protein (egg, lamb, turkey, duck) and some different veges.  She loves it and we have no issues with her eating at all anymore.  I also heat it up from the fridge so it smells super yummy.  Currently, I really enjoy making pet food and I freeze it in batches so it lasts for about a month.

For snacks I give both cat and dog some boiled chicken, duck gizzards and chicken hearts (quickly fried on the outside).  The cat, Moo, gets raw duck feet from time to time, but I've discovered Whiskey is too young to take apart feet, so for now Whiskey gets peanut butter and banana frozen kongs (with kibble). 

For training snacks we found these are great:
-lamb lung (dried)
-freeze dried chicken
-freeze dried liver
-peanut butter snacks
-dried goat heart
-mix of various sample kibbles (to keep it interesting but cheaper)
-deli meats

I now have bits of lamb lung in most of my pockets!

Chicken Hearts in a pan

Current dog food

Monday, July 7, 2014

A sick puppy: Giardia

Poor Whiskey is sick.  She's thrown up once and her poops have gotten consistently softer, smellier and greener.  A couple times she's had full on diarrhea and her energy levels have dropped considerably which were the warning signs.  Her tail still wags like crazy in the morning when she wakes up, but she sleeps more and runs less (no zoomies for awhile).  My partner is quite happy about this (a tired vizsla is much easier to deal with) but of course we're both concerned.

We just took her to the vet and they did a snap test on her poop and discovered my fears (and internet research) were warranted and she has giardia, an intestinal infection.  They get this from drinking contaminated water and she totally has been drinking from puddles since it's been a bit rainy lately.  Anyways, we can't do the next round of shots until she's better so she's on antibiotics for the week and hopefully she's better next week for vaccine shots.  I've been waiting and waiting for these shots so it's painful to wait another week of keeping her 'safer'.  Also, I've switched her food to boiled chicken and rice for easier digestion.  She's such a trooper and we caught this in time (no blood in stools) so very happy about that!  I can't wait for the zoomies to commence again.

A sleepy sick Whiskey

Cuddles- we are not supposed to let her lick our faces

We let her in the bed after her 6am potty because we can't resist

How cute is she?  I love how she grunts in her sleep.