2017 New Year’s Resolutions and 2016 Review

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Raising Your Pets, Dogs and Cats Naturally

2017 New Year’s Resolutions

Reviewing Life Goals

What does that mean for me for 2017? Like with anything, it's about trying, and getting back up to try again when I’m not successful. We aren't perfect. Just because I didn't reach my 2016 goals doesn't mean I can't try them again for 2017.
Best New Year’s Resolutions

How did you do with your New Year’s resolutions in 2016?

Sticking to New Year's resolutions can be hard. I mean, if you think about, it it's a goal you find challenging. If it were easy for you, you’d already be doing it, and you wouldn’t have it on a list of things you want to change.Click To Tweet

Personally, I know my challenges and try to work on them regularly. But, like so many others, I did set forth with three goals for 2016.

  1. Work on my 3-year plan
  2. Weight-loss and healthy eating
  3. Stay organized and on track

Number one on my list, working on my 3-year plan, was always at the forefront of my day. I’m in my forties, so it is important for me to stay focused on my career and future goals. This 3-year plan encompasses a lot of things in my life, some professional and some personal. This year for my career, I wanted to branch out with more pet freelance work and speaking at pet expos, write another pet book, and work on my personal pet blog.

What I didn’t know was that during this process I would end up totally re-branding my company and the focus of my brand-Raising Your Pets Naturally with Tonya Wilhelm. This rebranding was just what I needed. However, with this, I also ended up taking my main website and 3 blogs and merging them to a new website and host. This was—and still is—a HUGE project. I’m still going over 10 years of online pet articles and reformatting, fixing links, and updating images. Then, there is the issue about SEO and getting my new website listed and linked up across the internet. That’s doing well again, but I still have improvements to make.

#1 is doing well, but like with everything I do, I don’t feel like I am where I wanted to be. Maybe my goal is too high.

Next on my list is the notorious weight-loss and healthy eating. I joined a local gym in January and hit the gym almost daily. Things were on track and I was losing some weight. Eating healthy was going okay, but not fantastic. I’m always so busy and I’m single, which makes cooking a healthy meal quite challenging. At one point I told myself, before buying something to eat, I would ask myself “would I feed it to Dexter?” Basically, that meant it needed to be fresh, not from a box or filled with junk.

My #2 goal of losing weight and healthy eating went by the wayside when number #1 kicked in with the rebranding. That felt so central to my life that I didn’t even want to spend the 60-90 minutes away from other parts of my life, like work. I mean, I ALWAYS make my time for my pets and family, so something had to give, right? Since this goal is more personal and is about me, it always gets lost and deprioritized.

Real food for the human in the house. 🙂

A photo posted by Raising Your Pets Naturally (@raisingyourpetsnaturally) on

My final New Year’s resolution was to stay organized and on track. Not being organized has always been funny to me, because I’m a girl who loves drawers, bins, organizational tools, etc. Everything does have a place, but the problem for me has been to get those things back to their place when I’m finished. Maybe it ties in with the second part, staying on track. For me, I have like five projects I’m working on all on my desk, on the table next to me, over there and here. Don’t get me wrong, though—I never miss a deadline, and usually finish early.

This year, I bought a new computer desk, new office chair, a few wall calendars, and a new blogging calendar. I’m even looking at one of those 32-37” professional computer monitors so that I can have two regular-sized windows open at the same time! Keeping my thoughts and tasks in place comes and goes.

This year, I bought a new computer desk, new office chair, a few wall calendars, and a new blogging calendar. I'm even looking at one of those 32-37” professional computer monitors so that I can have two regular-sized windows open at the same time! Keeping my thoughts and tasks in place comes and goes.
Current workstation

The staying on track part for me is to stick with a daily task plan. But that’s always challenging in my line of work. My main source of income is seeing dog training and cat behavior clients in person or via phone/Skype. So I never know what time of day I will end up booking a session, and what time of day will be free for other work. Or an article idea pops into my head and I feel like I need to write it NOW. My goal, is to just keep my ongoing “to write” list going and when my writing day arrives, go down the list. Or if my website optimization day is here, work on that. At least that’s the goal. 😉

What does that mean for me for 2017? Like with anything, it’s about trying, and getting back up to try again when I’m not successful. We aren’t perfect. Just because I didn’t reach my 2016 goals doesn’t mean I can’t try them again for 2017.

My goal this year is to continue on my path. The first thing I will do is to pull out my trusty calendar, and work on scheduling my daily tasks and goals so I can stick to the plan easier. When something actually makes my planner, I am more likely to follow through.

I plan on writing another book this year, this one about kids and dogs, geared toward kids. I am also thinking about writing a cookbook for busy people who are not cooks! That’s me. My theory is if I make healthy eating part of my career (or my now 2-year plan), I will look at it as a necessity to eat better and cook for myself, instead of something to put off to the side.

It was brought to my attention in a blogger group that we must take time for ourselves. I sort of was looking at this part as #2, but if #2 still has a business angle, am I really putting work aside to JUST BE? Even when I’m in bed trying to unwind from the day, I am looking at my phone on how to improve x. So, I think I will add a #4 to my resolution list, to disconnect from anything work related. This may actually be my hardest challenge for the year!

At least those are my 2017 goals for now.

What about you? Do you struggle with New Year’s resolutions? 

Tell me in the comments.

Are you looking for even more ways to stay up to date with Raising Your Pets Naturally? Sign up for the newsletter for more tips and promotions. Don’t forget to be social and Like, Follow and Subscribe. Comments below are always welcome.

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Latest Articles
Why is My Dog Constantly Itching? I was asked recently how to help a dog with dry and itchy skin. This is a pretty common question and one I’ve talked about in the past. At the end of today’s dog care blog, I’ll link up to some of my previous articles for further reading. Let’s recap a bit regarding a dog’s dry and flaky skin. We all need a diet with plenty of moisture to ensure our organs receive enough moisture to function properly. Our biggest organ is actually the skin. A Lack of moisture in a pet’s diet can lead to dehydration, and dry skin, including a dry nose and paws. A dog with flaky skin, dry paws, and dry fur may also have a Yin Deficiency. In Chinese philosophy, Yin and Yang need to be in balance for good health. Yin represents moisture, coolness, and calmness, whereas Yang represents dryness, heat, and activity. In other words, they are too hot and dry and can benefit from a more cooling and moisturizing diet. Foods are energetically either more Yin or more Yang. Foods to consider can include rabbit, duck, cold water fish, beaver, and muskrat. Foods you may want to avoid are chicken, lamb, goat, and venison, these foods are energetically hot and may contribute to your dog’s dry coat. Learn more in this article. Megan Conrad, BVMS, from Hello Ralphie mentions that “Another, lesser-known, cause of itchy skin in dogs is food sensitivities or mild allergies. Like us, your dog could happily eat the same food for years, then suddenly develop an allergy to it. If your dog is scratching and you have ruled out other causes, you may try changing their food.” Your dog’s veterinarian may suggest an elimination diet. With the guidance of your dog’s veterinarian, you will start with a very strict meal plan, sometimes it’s just a novel protein, such as rabbit. Then, gradually, you will start to add in one ingredient at a time. You are looking to see if a specific ingredient causes a reaction in your dog. Together, with your dog’s veterinarian, you will be able to have a good list of ingredients and a list of ingredients you should avoid with your dog. Just switching foods, usually isn’t successful due to the fact that there are so many ingredients in dog food, you won’t really know what the ingredients are to avoid. However, if your dog is on low-quality dog food, switching to a high-quality, limited-ingredient food, may do the trick. There are a variety of dog allergy tests that may be helpful. It can be a bit of a hit or miss, so speak with your dog’s veterinarian regarding the pros and cons. I spoke with Melissa M. Brock DVM, and she points out, “There are several potential causes of dry or itchy skin in dogs, and determining the underlying cause can be important for effectively treating the condition. Here are some troubleshooting tips for dog parents to help determine the cause of their dog’s dry or itchy skin.” Dr. Brock suggests, “check for flea and tick infestations. These parasites can cause severe itching and scratching in dogs, which can lead to dry and irritated skin. Look for small black specks (flea feces) on the skin or in the fur, or for signs of tick bites.” Patrik Holmboe, head veterinarian for Cooper Pet added, “parasites such as mites can cause itching and dry skin.” He went on to say, “Bacterial or yeast infections can cause itching and inflammation of the skin.” Dr. Holmboe also suggests, “Keep track of any changes in your dog’s diet or environment that may have occurred around the time the symptoms began.” As I suggested earlier, diet plays an essential role in a dog’s overall health. Dr, Brock states, “Evaluate the dog’s diet. A diet that is low in essential fatty acids can cause dry and itchy skin. Consider switching to a diet that includes high-quality proteins and fats, such as fish or flaxseed oil.” She went on to say, “Consider environmental factors. Allergies to pollen, mold or dust mites can cause dry, itchy skin in dogs. Keep an eye on the dog’s symptoms and try to identify any potential allergens in the environment.” Dilber Hussain, DVM, a veterinarian at The Malamute Mom, comments, “Consider any changes in the environment. Have you recently moved? Changed cleaning products or laundry detergents? Anything that could cause an allergic reaction can lead to dry, itchy skin.” He went on to suggest, “If you suspect environmental allergies are to blame, try making some changes around your home and see if that helps.” Medical issues can also play a huge role in a dog’s scratchy skin and biting. Dr. Brock said, “Rule out underlying medical conditions. Certain medical conditions, such as hypothyroidism or Cushing’s disease, can cause dry, itchy skin in dogs. Consult your veterinarian if you suspect an underlying medical condition.” How to Help a Dog with Dry Skin Dr. Hussain also noted, “Make sure your pup is hydrated. Proper hydration is also essential for keeping your pup’s skin healthy and moisturized. Make sure they always have access to fresh, clean water and increase their water intake if you suspect dehydration may be the underlying cause of their dry skin.” Dr. Holmboe suggests, “Feeding a fresh, whole food diet that is appropriate for their dog’s breed, size, and any medical conditions. Provide omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, as they help to keep the skin moisturized and healthy.” He continued by saying, “Use a humidifier in the home to increase humidity and moisturize the air. Keep your dog in a clean and dust-free environment.” If your dog has seasonal allergies, walking your dog in a light boot, or sock can help keep environmental allergies to a minimum. Dexter suffers from seasonal allergies, and he always gets a wipe-down after being outside. I also add various herbs that help boost his immune system or have anti-inflammatory properties. Some herbs include licorice root, stinging nettle leaf, and Meeker red raspberry seeds. Dr. Holmboe suggests, “Bathing the dog with an appropriate, gentle, dog shampoo and avoid harsh chemicals and scented products on your dog’s skin.” I only use 4-Legger shampoo with Dexter. During allergy season, I typically use their moisturizing hemp shampoo. 4-Legger’s organic hemp dog shampoo is a powerhouse at bringing moisture back to a dog’s fur and skin. The all-organic ingredients like organic lemongrass essential oil and hemp seed oil are beneficial for toning and maintaining your dog’s natural skin moisture without blocking their pores. I follow up with their apple cider vinegar spray. 4-Legger’s ACV spray is chock full of beneficial organic herbs and organic essential oils to improve a dog’s skin and coat and help restore their natural skin and coat balance. With Dexter’s fresh diet, additional herbs, moisturizing baths, and wipe-downs, he’s been able to tackle allergy season much better than in the past. If your dog is itching and suffering from dry skin, it’s important to take the steps to determine the root cause of your dog’s scratching. Only once you know the why, can you truly work towards a long-term solution. It might take some time and trials, but it is more than worth it. DIY Dog Itch Spray 4-Legger ACV Rinse and Spray Shampoo for Allergy Relief Topical Healing Balm Yeast Infections in Dogs   Your questions or comments are welcome below. Are you looking for even more ways to stay up to date with Raising Your Pets Naturally? Sign up for the newsletter for more tips and promotions. Don’t forget to be social and Like, Follow and Subscribe. Comments below are always welcome. Facebook   Twitter   Pinterest   Instagram  YouTube If you found my blog helpful, please consider a small contribution. Dexter and I thank you! Google Adsense—> [...] Read more...
Dry Needling vs. Acupuncture vs. Acupressure for Dogs My now thirteen-year-young Cavalier King Charles Spaniel just started dry needling with his practitioner. For those new to the blog, Dexter was diagnosed with Chiari Malformation and syringomyelia just before his 3rd birthday. Over the course of his life, he has had various natural treatments such as food therapy, laser therapy, acupuncture, canine rehabilitation, PEMF treatments, and some pharmaceuticals. Watch some of Dexter’s rehab and don’t forget to subscribe for more content. This month, he started dry needing, so I thought it would be a good time to dive into the difference between dry needling, acupuncture, and acupressure for dogs and how these treatments can be used with Dexter’s overall treatment plan. But I can’t do this alone, so I spoke to various experts in the field, and this is what they had to say. Benefits of Dry Needling, Acupuncture, and Acupressure for Dogs and Pets Alex Schechter, DVM, founder of Burrwood Veterinary, offered these insights: “The benefits of dry needling, acupuncture, and acupressure are numerous and can include pain relief, improved circulation, and relaxation.” Dr. Schechter also offered these insights to the various treatments: “When deciding which modality to use, it is essential to consider the pet’s individual needs. For example, dry needling may be more beneficial for pets with chronic pain, while acupuncture may be more beneficial for pets with digestive issues. Acupressure may be more useful for pets with anxiety or stress.” I also spoke with Michelle Lehr, CCMT ( Therapist certification through Brandenburg Massage Therapy), and she stated, “All three of these treatments can be beneficial for dogs, although the efficacy of each treatment depends on the condition being addressed. In general, dry needling is often the best option for treating musculoskeletal conditions such as arthritis, while acupuncture is best for conditions related to the flow of energy. Acupressure can be used to address both musculoskeletal and energy-related issues. However, the best treatment for each dog will depend on the condition, the dog’s response to the treatment, and overall health.” Acupressure for Dogs and Pets Michelle explained how acupressure can be used with dogs. She said, “Acupressure is a type of massage therapy that involves applying pressure to specific points throughout the body to reduce pain and promote relaxation. This method works by stimulating the circulation of energy, or chi, and can be beneficial in treating a variety of conditions. Acupressure can also be used in conjunction with massage and other forms of therapy.” At this time, since Dexter’s disease makes his body a bit sensitive to touch, I have not implemented acupressure. However, I do some specific canine stretches and some massage, paying close attention to how he responds. Watch some of Dexter’s stretching. Don’t forget to subscribe for more free content. Acupuncture for Dogs and Pets One of the first natural treatments Dexter received for his Chiari Malformation and syringomyelia was acupuncture with Mary L. Cardeccia, DVM, CVA, CVFT, CCRT, CCMT, owner of Animal Rehabilitation Facility. I asked Dr. Schechter about acupuncture and the ins and outs of the treatment. He explained, “Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine form that uses thin needles to stimulate particular points on the body to balance energy flow.” Samantha Amodeo D.C., CCRP, explains that ” Each acupuncture point has specific actions when stimulated. This technique has been used in veterinary practice in China for thousands of years to treat many ailments. Acupuncture is used all around the world, either along with or in conjunction with Western medicine, to treat a wide variety of conditions in every species of animal. Clinical research has been conducted showing positive results in the treatment of both animals and humans, and the use of acupuncture is increasing. Acupuncture will not cure every condition, but it can work very well when it is indicated.” Watch one of Dexter’s Acupuncture Sessions. Dry Needling for Dogs and Pets Dexter’s dry needling treatments just started in January 2023, so I was really interested to learn more about this process. I asked Michelle about the process, and she offered this insight, “Dry needling treatment is most often used to treat musculoskeletal conditions, such as arthritis, and can help reduce inflammation and pain. It can be used as a standalone treatment or in conjunction with other therapies.” Of course, I wanted to follow up on this question with Dexter’s practitioner, Samantha Amodeo D.C., CCRP. I asked her about the technique she is using with Dexter and his specific treatment plan. She explained, “Trigger point dry needling is a technique to help decrease your pet’s myofascial pain caused by trigger points resulting in muscle spasms and dysfunction. We use a sterile needle into the muscle belly and help release the trigger point. The technique we like to use in clinic is called the ‘pulsing’ technique which will give small contractions to the muscle to help relieve pain and eliminate the trigger point. A trigger point is essentially a knotted muscle; when the animal has knotted muscles, they cannot function properly and also causes pain.” She continued by saying, “The most common trigger points we are finding in Dexter are throughout his triceps and infraspinatus muscles due to compensation issues. We find most trigger points due to compensation issues with front end or hind end lameness. Other trigger points are commonly found in the hamstring and quadricep muscle groups as well as the iliopsoas muscle. Canine dry needling can eliminate neuromuscular dysfunction that leads to pain and functional deficits.” This made a lot of sense since Dexter’s dry needling is focusing on the points of his body that are physically tight and tender vs. his acupuncture where the needles are placed to address energy flow. They both are addressing his condition, but different needs. How to Find a Qualified Canine Practitioner Dr. Schechter suggested, “When looking for a qualified practitioner, it is essential to check their credentials and experience. It is also vital to ensure that the practitioner is familiar with pets’ needs and has experience working with them. Additionally, it is crucial to ensure that the practitioner is licensed and insured. Finally, it is vital to ask for references from previous clients and to read reviews online.” Michele also offered these tips: “Ask a few key questions in order to ensure the best match is made. It is beneficial to inquire about the experience level, credentials, and specialty services offered. Are the services provided consistent with the specific needs of the pet? Is the practitioner familiar with the pet’s particular breed or medical history?” Dexter’s Personal Experiences I am happy to report that the addition of dry needling for Dexter has been successful. His triceps have been improving and have been less sensitive. Remember, Dexter’s dry needling is in conjunction with weekly canine rehabilitation, acupuncture, at-home exercises, and so much more. Canine care is a synergy effect. If your pet is experiencing discomfort or mobility issues, I definitely recommend looking into alternative natural treatments such as the ones we discussed. Thank you to all of the wonderful practitioners who assisted me in today’s blog post. Dexter and I truly appreciate what all of you are doing to assist the canine community. Websites to help find a practitioner. https://alumni.chiu.edu/ https://www.caninerehabinstitute.com/Find_A_Therapist.html https://www.ncsuvetce.com/canine-rehab-ccrp/ccrp-practitioners/ Your questions or comments are welcome below. Are you looking for even more ways to stay up to date with Raising Your Pets Naturally? Sign up for the newsletter for more tips and promotions. Don’t forget to be social and Like, Follow and Subscribe. Comments below are always welcome. Facebook   Twitter   Pinterest   Instagram  YouTube If you found my blog helpful, please consider a small contribution. Dexter and I thank you! Google Adsense—> [...] Read more...
Natural Supplements for Senior Dogs Disclaimer: This is a sponsored review. However, I will always offer my readers an unbiased and honest account of my experiences. Your trust is very appreciated, and never taken for granted. ~Tonya, Dexter and Angel Nutter It’s all about Dexter. It truly is. From the moment energetic puppy Dexter entered my world to his now, slower senior years, he’s always been my everything. From day one I tried to provide him with an enriched life full of dog adventures, proper socialization, positive dog training, and tricks, and I’ve always tried to care for him in as natural a way as possible. I always like to provide a little recap for those new to our journey. Dexter is my now thirteen, yes thirteen, year old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. In 2012 he was diagnosed with Chiari malformation and syringomyelia. Chiari malformation (CM) is a medical condition where there is a malformation and compression of the upper part of the spine with the base of the skull. This creates a pressure of spinal fluid that, in some cases, develops pockets or cysts throughout the spinal column known as syringomyelia (SM). Unfortunately, this is a very common condition amongst the Cavalier breed. I am happy to report that, through various natural treatments such as cold laser, acupuncture, physical therapy, food therapy, and some pharmaceuticals, Dexter is leading a very happy and adventurous life. Over the course of his care, I have found a few products that I rely on whenever Dexter seems to be having an off day or a couple of days. I always start by providing Dexter with an at-home cold laser treatment. You can read more about that here. The other natural treatment that is in Dexter’s home remedy kit is Dog Gone Pain (DGP) chews by American Biosciences. I was first introduced to Dog Gone Pain by Dexter’s holistic veterinarian. She felt that the natural anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving ingredients in DGP would benefit Dexter during times he felt discomfort. Watch the video and don’t forget to subscribe. Our plan was to have Dog Gone Pain chews on hand whenever Dexter had an off day. And do you know what? They worked great! Not long after I gave Dexter a chew, he would seem more comfortable and content. He would also have more mobility. I soon decided that DGP chews needed to be a part of Dexter’s travel bag, too! When we travel, Dexter is more active, and his joints can act up. Sure enough, after a chew, he was feeling much better. Because Dog Gone Pain’s ingredients are natural and safe for Dexter, I’ve been more proactive in providing him with a chew. In other words, if I think he’s going to have a long adventure, I will give him a chew in the morning to head off any discomfort, especially now that he’s a senior dog. Just the other day, he stumbled going up the steps, and out came the DGP chews. Why wait when I have something effective and natural I can safely give Dexter that will help him feel comfortable? One of the benefits of using DGP is that it’s an all-natural herbal joint pain reliever for dogs. Dog Gone Pain is made from a unique blend of natural herbs and compounds that ease discomfort and pain. Their bioavailable formula ensures that a pet readily and fully absorbs the benefits, with no waiting around for it to “kick in.” This is why it’s in Dexter’s natural remedy first aid kit and goes with us on trips. Watch the promo video and don’t forget to subscribe. Dog Gone Pain Ingredients If you have read my natural pet blog in the past, you know when I write a pet product review, I always include all of the ingredients, not just the active ingredients. DGP Ingredients: Marine Collagen Extract; Boswellia Extract; Corydalis Root; Wheatgrass; Turmeric; Feverfew Extract; Celery Seed Extract; A proprietary blend of (Mucopolysaccharide C complex, Malt Extract, Wild Rosella, Capsicum Extract, Aniseed Myrtle, Mountain Pepper); A proprietary enzyme blend of (Bromelain and Papain); natural beef extract, stearic acid, microcrystalline cellulose, chondroitin sulfate, silicon dioxide, and magnesium stearate. Now, let’s take a deeper look at some of the natural ingredients in Dog Gone Pain that offer joint relief for dogs. Marine Collagen Extract Collagen strengthens bones and improves skin, fur, and mobility. Collagen is the foundation of connective tissues in the body. These connective tissues include tendons, skin, muscles, and ligaments. Collagen helps to maintain the structure of cartilage surrounding your dog’s joints. It plays a major role in maintaining the flexibility of these joints. Boswellia Extract for Dogs Have you heard about Boswellia for dogs? Boswellia has anti-inflammatory effects on the body. Research has also shown this herbal supplementation can help prevent the loss of cartilage in the joints. One clinical trial noted that 25 out of 29 dogs with chronic joint and spinal disease improved dramatically after taking the supplement. Although it’s a small study, those are some pretty dramatic results. Corydalis Root Corydalis root is an anti-inflammatory herb and helps with relieving pain and discomfort. Turmeric for Dogs The spice contains curcumin, which is an anti-inflammatory. When inflammation is controlled in the body, especially the joints, this will increase mobility. Bromelain Bromelain is an enzyme extracted from the stems of pineapples but is found in all parts of the fruit. Bromelain is used in combination with turmeric to provide the best anti-inflammatory effects. The enzyme itself has pain-control properties but will also increase curcumin absorption from turmeric. If you are looking for a natural anti-inflammatory for dogs that eases joint pain, give Dog Gone Pain chews a try. Use promo code: TONYA to receive a 25% first-time buyer discount, plus get free shipping. Call 800-422-5518 and mention TONYA or go to dgpforpets.com and use the code TONYA at check-out. I always suggest discussing the use of any herbs or supplements with your vet beforehand, as some may interfere with medications or underlying conditions. Your questions or comments are welcome below. Are you looking for even more ways to stay up to date with Raising Your Pets Naturally? Sign up for the newsletter for more tips and promotions. Don’t forget to be social and Like, Follow and Subscribe. Comments below are always welcome. Facebook   Twitter   Pinterest   Instagram  YouTube [...] Read more...
Stop a Dog from Barking at Strangers As a professional dog trainer, I receive many dog behavior queries. One of the questions I get asked a lot is how to stop a dog from barking at strangers during a walk. Today, I wanted to offer a few tips on this common, yet potentially serious dog behavior. If your dog is afraid of strangers, please be sure to read Dogs Afraid of Strangers I received the following question from Suzie Q. I’m asking about my daughter’s dog. He is a four-year-old and horrible on walks. He barks at people and does not listen. We have tried the pincher collar and treats. He also barks at the neighbors and does not listen. Well, sometimes. Any suggestions? That’s a pretty complex question, and there are actually a lot of things that are going on. So for this Ask Tonya, I just want to offer some simple, short dog-training tips. This is not to address the behavior in depth because most dog behavior questions and concerns really need a detailed behavior assessment. Learn more about my one-on-one Skype dog training services here. First, it’s her daughter’s dog. That’s always a bit of a red flag for me because dog behavioral training really needs to be part of their life. And when someone is emailing or calling me and asking for help for somebody else’s pet, it’s probably not going to be very successful because the person with the dog is the one who should be taking this first step. So, hopefully, these tips will be able to be transferred to Suzie Q’s daughter and, hopefully, she will take them to heart and maybe see a professional dog trainer for guidance. Watch this content on my YouTube channel.  Don’t forget to subscribe. Let’s take a deeper look at the dog behavior issues at hand. The first thing that was written was “horrible on walks.” Now, it sounds like the dog is horrible on walks because he’s dealing with some behavioral issues, so it’s not just that he hasn’t learned to walk politely on a leash, but some issues that are happening are making him horrible on walks. Again, this is just a quick interpretation of the query. Read more about dogs lunging on the leash in this article. “He barks at neighbors and does not listen.” I’m guessing this is part of the walk, too, and I’m guessing he does a lot of barking at people during that walk as well. So, the dog probably has some issues with people. read more about dogs afraid of strangers in this article. Most behavioral issues actually stem from fear and anxiety, and the dogs tend to learn to cope by acting like bullies. *Bark bark bark*. *Lunge lunge lunge*. “I’m going to threaten you first so that you don’t invade my space”. The first part of the training concerns the pinch collar. We don’t want to use anything that is negative in the sense of causing the dog pain, discomfort, anxiety, or stress—that would be the pinch collar. So, obviously, I would dump that pinch collar right away, and I would want to make sure that everything is positive, light, and fun for the dog, so he can build up confidence and trust, and not have his walks be stressful. We want to change his mental state from something arousing and stressful to a more ZEN-like experience. Depending on the breed and how big the dog is and the mom who’s walking him (the daughter), I would probably go with a front-clipping harness. This harness has an attachment to the front so that when the dog does pull if we have those oops moments since the leash is attached to the front, we would be able to turn the body and the head to refocus the dog. If the person walking the dog is small or frail and the dog is big, then we might consider a dog head collar. Head collars go over the nose, back behind the ears, and get attached under the snout, not on the neck. I don’t usually go to head collars first anymore because, one, it takes a lot of time for the dog to get comfortable with them—we don’t want to just slap them on and go for a walk. And two, the person who’s actually attached to that leash has to be really aware of what is going on so that the dog isn’t just pulling to the side and getting an issue with the neck, or pulling the dog really quickly and hurting the dog’s neck. So, we just have to be extra careful when we are using head collars. Again, I suggest either a head collar or a front-clipping harness depending on what is going on with the dog and who the handler is. I prefer a harness, and I do not recommend a collar attached to a leash. I’m pretty much a harness person, or a head collar if needed so that I’m not doing any damage to the dog. You can read more about the injury caused by attaching a leash to a collar here. Next, we want to make sure the treats are very valuable. We want to pair things up with good rewards and good food, with high value. I tend to go to meat and meat-based only. I think some of the best dog training treats include things like dehydrated beef, dehydrated salmon, rabbit, or something like that, with nothing added to it. No preservatives or any other fillers, just the meant. This way, when I’m rewarding my dog or the dog at the end of the leash, they’re getting pretty much straight meat. Then I can reward him often and can include that meat as part of the dog’s daily calories, and it will make the value high so hopefully, the dog will be able to go “Wow, Mom’s got meat. This is really good”. The next part is we need to reassociate that people equal barking. This reaction is likely due to underlying anxiety that people are scary or bad. We want to change this association to people equal good things. Distance is going to be key here. You will want to find the distance that the dog doesn’t react, and that is crucial. I will say that again.  It’s important to find the distance that your dog will NOT react. If the person is too close, you are only setting your dog up to fail.  “There’s a human, I need to bark at them. I have this set of emotions whenever I see a human.” If we have that, it’s not going to work. You will need to figure out how far away from a stranger your dog needs to be to not bark or overreact. Is that twenty feet away, fifty feet away, or a hundred feet away? I don’t know what your X number is; you’ll have to find that first in order to set up a desensitization and counterconditioning dog training program. Once you know how far away the stranger needs to be, the dog training would look a little something like this. Start at the distance your dog can be successful. Reward your dog with a high-value dog training treat when a stranger walks by at that safe distance. If you can’t do this on your regular walks and exploration, you will need to set this up with friends and direct them on what their role is. Do this without your dog present. The stranger walks by at the safe distance, your dog sees the stranger and doesn’t react, you say, “Yes!” and follow that with a high-value dog training treat. Repeat. It may feel like your dog is more focused on you than the stranger, and that’s the point. You are laying a foundation that strangers are good, my human is good. Remember, if he’s reacting, you need more distance. If your dog is always going over his threshold, barking, and lunging, then you are not at the correct distance. Even if he turns back to get the treat afterward, but he’s consistently barking and lunges first, and he doesn’t want to eat his treat, then you need to increase the distance. I know that can be hard. My last dog was reactive, not toward people but toward other dogs, and my distance was a football field. I literally had to have friends and their dogs at the end of a football field distance, and Theo and me at the other end to be able to start our counterconditioning. That’s where we had to be. We weren’t able to go to parks, and we weren’t able to go on certain walks around the neighborhood because people with their dogs would come out of their houses, and then my dog would go over the threshold. If you truly want to change the behavior, you have to find that distance first that they can be successful, and then gradually, over time and training and conditioning, that distance goes from, twenty feet to fifteen feet, to ten feet, etc. It does take time and definitely takes consistent practice. And you have to be able to set your dog up for success and help them get to that point. There are things we can do to help move that along, I can’t really recommend exactly what because each remedy is specific to a dog’s behavior and history. But there are certain natural calming aids, herbs, supplements, flower essences, and things like that that can help a dog through his behavior modification program. However, ensuring you are meeting your dog’s 7 daily needs is a good start. Make sure you check out that video. If you are looking to address your dog’s barking at strangers in more detail, please feel free to look into my private Skype behavioral sessions. 7 Daily Needs Don’t forget to subscribe to the channel for more free content. Your questions or comments are welcome below. Are you looking for even more ways to stay up to date with Raising Your Pets Naturally? Sign up for the newsletter for more tips and promotions. Don’t forget to be social and Like, Follow and Subscribe. Comments below are always welcome. Facebook   Twitter   Pinterest   Instagram  YouTube If you found my blog helpful, please consider a small contribution. Dexter and I thank you! Google Adsense—> [...] Read more...
TweetPinShareShareRedditShareFlipYumThirteen! Dexter the Dog is celebrating his 13th birthday. I am beyond grateful for all the wonderful years I’ve had with my little monkey. This year is extra special. Each day in October I will be giving Dexter something new. A new toy, healthy treat, adventure, or canine-enrichment game. You’ll have to follow us on social media to see each fun-filled day. Today, I wanted to share with you Dexter’s healthy dog-friendly cake. Oh, yum. It’s a hit for sure. When I create a dog-safe cake, I look for not only safe ingredients, but I try to make the cake relatively healthy. It is a cake, though, and you should only feed your dog a little at a time. I like to freeze Dexter’s cake into portions, so he can have some over the next couple of months. Or, share with your doggie friends. Better yet, throw your dog a birthday party! But, on to the puppy cake recipe. Serve small portions to your dog for a special treat. You can view all of Dexter’s cake recipes here. A big thank you to Kelly & Kelly LLC for all the wonderful pet photos.  Please visit her on Instagram and Facebook. But first, enjoy Dexter’s cake smash photos! Print Recipe Coconut Dog Birthday Cake Recipe Yum A healthy, safe, and fun dog birthday cake recipe. Course Dog Cakes, Healthy Dog Snacks Prep Time 15 Minutes Cook Time 40 Minutes Servings Cake Ingredients Coconut Birthday Cake 2 cups organic coconut flour1 cup raw goat's milk6 organic eggs6 oz organic blackberries1/3 cup Organic Beets Remove skin2 Tbsp organic coconut oil To grease pan2 tsp organic baking powder Optional Dog Frosting and Decorations 1/3 cup water1 Tbsp gelatin Order- https://amzn.to/3rCI81D1/2 Tbsp Organic Beets Pureed Optional Dog Gummy Frosting 1 cup Organic Coconut, Shredded1/2 cup water Boiling2 organic egg whites3 Tbsp gelatin Order- https://amzn.to/3rCI81D Course Dog Cakes, Healthy Dog Snacks Prep Time 15 Minutes Cook Time 40 Minutes Servings Cake Ingredients Coconut Birthday Cake 2 cups organic coconut flour1 cup raw goat's milk6 organic eggs6 oz organic blackberries1/3 cup Organic Beets Remove skin2 Tbsp organic coconut oil To grease pan2 tsp organic baking powder Optional Dog Frosting and Decorations 1/3 cup water1 Tbsp gelatin Order- https://amzn.to/3rCI81D1/2 Tbsp Organic Beets Pureed Optional Dog Gummy Frosting 1 cup Organic Coconut, Shredded1/2 cup water Boiling2 organic egg whites3 Tbsp gelatin Order- https://amzn.to/3rCI81D Instructions Coconut Birthday Cake Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease your pan with coconut oil. Remove the skin from the raw beet. Add the beet and blackberries into a blender and puree. In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients. Mix until smooth. Pour into your greased cake pan. Place in oven and bake for approximately 40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Allow cake to fully cool. Meanwhile, create your optional frosting. Optional Dog Frosting and Decorations You will be pouring a hot liquid into silicone molds. If your molds are floppy, place the silicone mold on a cookie sheet prior to filling. Your molds will be placed in the refrigerator to cool, so find a spot before pouring. Be ready. The gelatin will start to set up very quickly. In a small saucepan, boil 1/3 cup of water. Once the water reaches a boil, quickly whisk in the gelatin. When the gelatin is dissolved, lower the heat and add the pureed beet and stir over the heat. Pour the mixture into the measuring cup. Then quickly pour the liquid into your molds. Don't fill to the top. Carefully place the molds into the refrigerator to set up. After your gummies are formed, carefully remove them from the mold. Once your cake is cool, it's time to move on to the healthy dog frosting recipe. Optional Dog Gummy Frosting Place egg whites in a clean, dry mixing bowl. Mix on medium speed for ten minutes. Add gelatin and boiling water and whisk for an additional five minutes. Carefully pour over the cake. As the mixture runs down the side, take a spatula and keep bringing the liquid to the top of the cake. It will eventually start to set up. As it starts to set up, sprinkle coconut flakes on the top and decorate the cake with your dog gummies. Recipe Notes Your questions or comments are welcome below. Are you looking for even more ways to stay up to date with Raising Your Pets Naturally? Sign up for the newsletter for more tips and promotions. Don’t forget to be social and Like, Follow and Subscribe. Comments below are always welcome. Facebook   Twitter   Pinterest   Instagram  YouTube Recent ArticlesDry Needling vs. Acupuncture vs. Acupressure for Dogs (Early access for our Patreon community) Read more...Natural Anti-Inflammatory and Joint Relief for Dogs | Dog Gone Pain (DGP) Review (Early access for our Patreon community) Read more...How to Stop a Dog from Barking at People During a Walk | Stop a Dog From Barking at People Read more... Share this Recipe [...] Read more...
Teach Your Dog How to Walk Down Steps Is your dog or puppy afraid to go up and down the steps, or maybe he’s not too sure about his dog steps or his dog ramp? If so, I have some puppy training tips for you. Today, I’m going to give you a few tips on how to teach your dog or puppy to use their dog ramp or to go up and down your household steps. I will demonstrate first with Dexter with his dog steps and his ramp, then I’ll flashback to little puppy Haru going down his basement steps. So, you’ll get to see a new puppy in action. You can view it all in this video below. Don’t forget to subscribe to my channel for more free content.   First thing first. As you may already know, jumping down from objects such as a sofa or a bed is really hard on your dog’s body. This jumping action can actually cause injury to their shoulders, spine, and neck. So, it’s a no-no in our house. You can read more about that in this blog. I have dog steps that go up to Dexter’s sofa. Yes, it is Dexter’s sofa. 🙂 I also have a ramp right in front of my bed. This allows him to safely go up and down the ramp to the bed. I will say, too, that our cat also prefers going up and down the steps when available. If your dog used to go up and down steps and now all of a sudden is having issues, please speak to your dog’s veterinarian, as there may be an underlying medical condition or issue that needs to be addressed first. If your dog’s vet gives you the green light, then it might be a behavioral issue, and then we’ll address that right here in today’s dog blog. Evaluating the Steps or Ramp Think about the steps you are wanting your dog to use. Some steps are actually slick, and they are not carpeted. This can be really challenging for a dog. If at all possible, please consider adding a secure runner to your steps. This will make them much safer and more enjoyable for your dog. Also, if you have indoor steps, I would highly recommend a baby gate so your dog doesn’t do a tumble down the steps and hurt himself. Dogs falling down steps is actually more common than you might think. You can watch as I demonstrate with Dexter how to use the steps. It’s always easier on the dog if you place him on the second-to-the-bottom step instead of the top step. Going down two steps is less daunting and scary. With the treats in your hand, place them by your dog’s nose and lure his head down the first step. Only focus on one step at a time. Yes, and treat for any movement, even if it’s just his head dropping down. If he places a paw or two, tell him how smart he is while providing him a few treats from your hand. This could take some encouragement and some time. Don’t feel like you need to master all the steps at once. Slow and steady is also safer vs. rushing down. You can also work from the bottom steps and work your way up. With the treats in your hand, lure your dog’s head up the step and, once again, reward for any attempt. This stage might actually take some time. It might be more than one session. Reward any little bit your dog gives you. Even one step down or a little look, all that’s fantastic. “What a good boy you are!” Tips You can also use your body as a buffer to help your dog feel comfortable with the steps. Instead of putting their paws on the step to go up or down, they can put their paws on you. You can slowly transition your puppy from your body to the steps. Watch this clip as I use my legs as a buffer for Haru. Dog Steps vs. Dog Ramps Now, some dogs find ramps much easier to navigate, because they don’t have that step height. If you do choose steps, you need to find a set that has the right height for your dog. If you have a little tiny dog and the steps are too high, it would be like trying to climb Mount Everest. Pay attention to that height for your dog and the stability. If it’s too wobbly, that might really scare them. And don’t forget the surface of the steps. If the stops are slick, they may not want to step up. A texture that is easy to navigate and has a nice grip is ideal. The width is also key. A narrow width and wide gait just don’t mix. The wider usually the better. The shallower the step, usually the better too. Ramps tend to be a little easier for some dogs because there is no real step up involved. You always want to pay close attention to your dog and their behavior to make sure they’re not falling off places. Especially with some silly dogs or blind dogs, you’re going to want to make sure that your steps or your ramp have a rail so they don’t tumble off. You can do a little treat trail on one step. Then lure your dog with the treat a bit farther up the step or ramp. Give your dog the treat and a “good job.” You can also reverse the process for going down the steps. Go slow, so your dog doesn’t just jump off. You want him to move down the steps slowly and safely. Going down can be really scary, especially on a set of stairs in the house because they tend to have many steps. As your dog or puppy looks down, it can be daunting. I like to actually pick up the dog and place him on the lower steps, say step 2, facing down. Then I can do the training from there and build up a dog’s confidence. Work two steps up and then two steps down, two steps up, two steps down, three steps up, three steps down because then it won’t be so scary. Basement steps can be a challenge for some dogs if the basement steps are dark or it’s a bit scary down there. Hey, I don’t always want to go down to the basement either. LOL Take a good look at the steps and environment from your dog’s point of view. Does it look steep? Is it dark? Am I leaning over the edge? Do I have secure footing? Hopefully, this post and video provided you with a few tips to help your dog or puppy use the stairs. If so, consider subscribing to my YouTube channel and newsletter for more free content. Some final thoughts are, that you want to remember to be consistent and patient, especially if your dog’s been consistently pottying on potty pads for many years. Again, reacting like us seeing a toilet. That change is going to take time. Don’t get frustrated. Don’t get harsh. Don’t yell at your dog because that stress and anxiety will make things worse. Your questions or comments are welcome below. Are you looking for even more ways to stay up to date with Raising Your Pets Naturally? Sign up for the newsletter for more tips and promotions. Don’t forget to be social and Like, Follow and Subscribe. Comments below are always welcome. Facebook   Twitter   Pinterest   Instagram  YouTube Proactive Puppy Care If you found my blog helpful, please consider a small contribution. Dexter and I thank you! Google Adsense—> [...] Read more...

What does that mean for me for 2017? Like with anything, it's about trying, and getting back up to try again when I’m not successful. We aren't perfect. Just because I didn't reach my 2016 goals doesn't mean I can't try them again for 2017.

37 thoughts on “2017 New Year’s Resolutions and 2016 Review

  1. I have found that in order for New Year’s Resolutions to stick is to make them very specific. “Working on weight loss and healthy eating” is very vague. Set a specific target, as in “I will weight “x” by “date”. I will eat “x” servings of fresh fruit and veggies per day. I will eat no more than “x” unhealthy items per day. Much easier to stick with. Just a thought.

    1. Thanks, Judy! I do have weight loss goal/date. 🙂 Missed it in 2016. 🙁 I think you’re right about having more of a food plan. That might be better for me since eating fresh is so hard for me. Maybe if I force myself to eat those things I will start to enjoy them more and even feel satisfied. Thanks for the tips!

  2. I am so impressed with all you hope to have in store for yourself in 2017! I like the thought of not giving up all you had wanted in 2016 and letting it carry into 2017. Life happens and the goal to just keep striving is the best attitude. My only hope is that you succeed in moving yourself up more to the forefront and not leave yourself at the bottom. Your family human and furry and your friends who care about you..want you to be happy and healthy..not perfect. Give to yourself more often so you can give to others as you choose in a happier state. Putting your family high up in priorities is so important and its admirable that you do. Some have lost sight of this. On the food front, eating healthy as been a challenge for me, I did not meet my goals..at all. I know my body has suffered and most likely I’ve had more migraines as a result. One thing that helps and I hope to utilize more, is to look for uncooked but prepared foods. Like meats and veggies prepackaged together..minus all the extra chunk. I am also going to try harder to have two crock pots going for freezing meals, one for pups and one tweaked more appetizing for humans. I actually love cooking so I guess that motivation and time is lacking..or more accurately time management. Your comment on being organized and liking drawers/containers and such made me laugh..same..same here. I hope 2017 brings you closer to your dream! The beach is waiting..you will get there. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Barbara. That is very kind of you. I really am hoping to take care of myself this year. Reminds me of the old Seinfeld episode, The Summer of George. lol

  3. Long ago I forgo making any resolutions, at least I don’t call it that anymore. Instead I focus on what I would like to do and accomplish in the upcoming year, that way it’s not as overwhelming.
    Professionally I want to focus on my blog – refining it and planning out my posts in advance.

  4. My hardest job is setting aside time just to….be. With nothing else going on. When you work for yourself, and are always “on” with never ending projects, there’s no quitting time. So I’m struggling to get better about that.

  5. You seem like you have your goals figured out with a plan on how you will achieve them. I think that is a really big deciding factor if you’ll actually be able to stick to them. Good luck to you, I’m inspired to set my own!

  6. Oh my gosh, you and I have SO much in common! This year I marked 16 months of a serious lifestyle change, re-branding of my blog (still working on that) and the struggle to pay more quality attention to myself is ever-present. We are twinsies! 😀 You go!!! You can kick butt this year! It sounds like you have already come so far!

    1. Hahaha Thanks, Shannon! I’m glad I’m not the only one with these struggles. You go too!

  7. Hey – I think you are doing fantastic! Good golly, you’re doing a lot and often times it’s when we are busy ‘doing’ that it’s harder for us to practice self-care. But I hear you – exercising and losing weight are tough, maybe if we focused on health (like you asked yourself about “would you feed this to Dexter”). We often laugh when we nibble on Cheetos, admitting that the dogs eat better than us. Hey, maybe we need to start a healthy eating pet blogger support group!! I’m right there with you!

    1. I wish you the best in 2017. Being open for new things would be a great one for you! 🙂

  8. I have had a hard time thinking of resolutions for this year. 2016 was a great year for my blog! I know I need to set some goals to help 2017 to be just as good, or hopefully better!

  9. Those sound like wonderful New Year’s Resolutions! I have found that my own resolutions don’t last that long, so now I’m just try to make better adjustments. Unfortunately, I haven’t been very successful with some of them, especially exercising and eating healthy. I bought some new cookbooks and I hope that will make a big difference.

    1. Thanks for sharing Beth. I hope those cookbooks help. I’m not sure about recipes for me, that’s my downside, I just tend to wing it, hence not such a tasty meal. I need to be better!

  10. You’ve had so much success, that’s wonderful! You tackled a huge project in 2016, that alone is a giant goal. I like to tell myself to set goals but to be Flexible, that way I’m not too disappointed when I go off track with a new idea or opportunity. Flexibility is important. I’m finalizing my goals for 2017 right now, I’m hoping for a successful year!
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

    1. Thanks, Cathy. I appreciate your comments and support. I try to go with the flow, and I do, but my type A kicks in….haha

  11. Those look like great goals, and you seem to be off to a great start. Well done! I’m working on daily goals and organization. I plan to celebrate each accomplishment and not beat myself on anything that will be carried over to the next day.

    1. Thanks, Sadie. One of my goals is to have daily goals, so I can feel like I’ve done something. 🙂

  12. Good luck on your goals! We have several goals we wish to accomplish as well. Healthy eating is definitely one of them!

  13. Best thing I ever did was focus on nutrition. About 7-8 years ago I slowly dropped sugar, wheat, refined and processed foods and so on … it’s 70% of any weight loss process versus exercise that counts for the remaining 30%. Feel so good…. but it was a HUGE lifestyle change. That is for sure. YOU GOT THIS!

    1. Thanks, Sonja. I’m so scared about trying to drop sugar. I’m such a sugar junkie. Little steps, little steps.

  14. I have to ask myself the same question when I’m about to eat something – I’m picky when it comes to what my dogs eat, but I forget to eat fresh foods myself!

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