Feeding your dog

A healthy dinner for both Elsa and I; although the orange would have to be snuck in somewhere for her. 

What did you have for dinner last night?  I had an organic romaine heart salad with organic quinoa, pecans, beet and cabbage sauerkraut, organic black beans, with dressing.  To drink I had water with cranberry juice.  I pretty much eat salad every night.  I feel really great eating at least one salad a day; plus it's super easy to make.

What did your dog eat for dinner last night?  Elsa had grass fed beef, wild caught salmon with bone and skin, organic quinoa, organic greens, chia seeds and cranberry juice.  Right now I have a turkey meatloaf for her in the oven that will be packaged up and put in the freezer for later.  For breakfast this morning she had wilted organic romaine, eggs over easy, egg shell, organic quinoa, hemp seeds and cranberry juice.  Earlier this morning she shared my peanut butter Perfect Bar in bed before 6:00am.  We eat well.

Nutrition is such an important part of feeling good.  Sure you can exist on over processed, dried and packaged food but you will not feel optimally healthy.  If you've only ever eaten a diet of processed food then you won't even know what you're missing as far as feeling great.  Same goes for your dog. 

Yes, dogs can exist and be sustained on a diet of over processed garbage, like Pedigree or Beneful but will they thrive?  Nope.  There are lots of folks out there that will say "my dog is so healthy," when questioned about what they feed.  If it is a poor quality dry dog food then your dog could be much healthier.  

There is such a range of food available for canine guardians to feed their dogs.  If price is the first thing you look at, you need to do some homework.  Just because you can feed your dog for penny's a day does not mean that you should.  No, you do not need to spend a fortune on food to feed a better diet.  When you buy better food, the amount needed is typically less.  Many dogs eat too much food that contains too little nutrients. 

Think of a wolf when considering what to feed your dog.  How much actual real meat is in their food?  How much nutrients are accessible for their body to utilize?  Elsa and I often eat a very similar dinner albeit different rations.  She is heavy on the meat where mine will be heavy on the veggies.  We need to think about food as fuel for the body; both for us and for our dog.  When I take Elsa out for a run; I consider what her powerhouse of a body needs to run.  She is a high energy dog in peak condition.  Much thought goes into what she eats so that she feel as great as she looks.  

Feeding real food makes sense; eating real food makes sense.  The more processing a food goes through the less nutrition is left at the end of it all.  Does your food resemble real food?  How about your dogs?

Getting in shape

It's time, we've long since passed the holiday season; and chocolate filled Valentines day is over.  It's time.  Have you had a look at the dog by your side lately?  Chances are they've packed on a few pounds.  I see heavy dogs all the time.  Dogs who have a few lbs. to shed all the way up to obese Fido's.  When our dogs are fat, there is only one place to look for blame, and that is in the mirror.  

Unless your dog is suffering from some disease, results of medication or genetic defect then the extra weight that they carry is all on us.  Is your dog fat?  Take this very easy test to tell if your pooch could lose a few.  First have a look.  Do they have a waistline, both from the side and when view from the top down?  Depending on their coat length and texture; viewing may not be a great help so you are going to have to feel.  Do you feel ribs?  There should be the slightest amount of coating on their ribs; a very small fleshy feel to the ribs but you should be able to feel each one.  

Most dogs are overweight.  We humans tend to think that treats and treats and more treats are the way to show our dogs that we truly love them.  Yes they love food (most of them anyway) but it needs to be rationed.  Especially if you have a piggy type.  The look of the svelte canine athletic body often has people whispering about being too skinny.  This of course is because we are use to seeing dogs with too much sponge coating over their ribs.  

Along with too much food, most dogs don't move enough.  Just like with humans, there is no magic pill or secret to getting and staying fit.  Eat well and move, that's it.  It is a balancing act and if one gives way to the other then there will be fallout.  If you give your dog the opportunity to run and exercise, great.  But you must also focus on nutrition to fuel your dog's body for movement.  The better the fuel you put in the more nutrition your dog can utilize.  

A couple of years ago when Tilley was stricken with several debilitating health issues; I was forced to carry her up and down the stairs.  When Luke was ill I did the same.  Each time I carried their over 40lb bodies I thought to myself "this is what it would feel like if I gained 40lbs."  It did not feel good and my body struggled with the extra weight.  Thankfully I was able to lift and carry them because I weight train.  But the lifting and carrying left me with a lasting impression.  

Just think about every extra pound your dog has to carry around as you feel for those illusive ribs.  Now factor in that they don't move enough to build muscle to carry that weight.  Their joints suffer, as do many of their organs from extra weight.  

Time to get fit.  While you are getting your dog in shape; there will be added benefits for you as well.  Let's go.  

Food vs. nutrition

Luke and Elsa had Mackerel last night, a first. 
You've gone to the store and bought a big bag of dog food.  You went for the really big bag because it just made economical sense.  20 lbs of dog food for only 13.00, pretty good deal right?  Or is it?  Do you know what you are feeding your dog?  Do you care?  Many people don't really care what they feed their dogs.  Let's be honest.  Canine nutrition is not something that man people concern themselves with.  To them food is food and dogs are meant to eat dog food, end of story.

But that is not the end of the story.  What you eat makes a huge difference in how you feel.  The more nutrient dense a food is the more your body and our dog's bodies can pull from it.  Sure a dog can survive on poor quality dog food just like we can survive on a diet of donuts, hot dogs and mac'n cheese.  Will we feel great?  Probably not, nor will our dogs.

A dog's diet should be based around high quality animal protein.  That said, many dog foods have very little if any high quality animal protein in them.  Instead they are based on fillers; unusable stuff that simply fills the need of eating not utilizing nutrition. 

I have often seen people who have one or two tiny dogs that feed very poor quality food.  This always shocks me because they eat such small amounts that feeding really high quality food will not cost a lot.  Now if you have 5 Great Dane sized dogs; I can see the desire to go cheap, cut corners and stick to a budget.  But no matter what size your dog is; nutrition should always be considered.  Why should we not feed the best that we can afford?  Why do some people shake their head about good nutrition for our dogs?  They deserve good nutrition as much as we do.

There are so many dog food manufacturers out there now.   Many great new ones are popping up with different ways to feed our dogs.  There are also lots of websites where you can read about the quality ratings of each food and go from there.  I say "stay out of the big box stores when buying dog food."  The lower the quality the more chance they will be sold in the big box stores.  Hit the Mom and Pop shops, somewhere they are concerned with quality and your dog.  Online is a great place to buy dog food now.  Especially because many people cannot find a place close by them to purchase the good stuff. 

Don't stop your search at dry bagged dog food.  Canned food is a great option.  There too of course you need to weed through the bad to get to the good.  Great canned food is easy and often something more palatable for our dogs.  Forget the idea that dry dog food is good for their teeth when steering away from canned food; that is another myth put out their by the dry dog food manufacturers. 

The better the food, the less the quantity needed to fuel our dogs.  I am always surprised what a small amount of food is needed to keep a dog in peak shape.  If you feed real quality food, it is very little.  Nutrition is very important and it all started way before someone came up with the idea of dry food kibbles to feed our dogs.  Think about that. 

Seeing a nice change in the old guy.

I am really seeing a difference in my old man.  For those of you who do not know Luke, he will be 14 years young in August. Since the addition of smelt into Luke and Elsa's diet, I like what I see.  This is truly the first time that I can actually see the difference.  I have noticed something different, a spring that was once gone has now returned.  A glimmer in his eye and a general overall lift.  As someone who is constantly aware of infinitesimal behavior, it is huge.  Every step, turn of the head or hop onto the couch can mean something when it is different, slower or strained.  What I'm seeing is ease.

Food is what makes us and our dogs tick.  You are what you eat as they say; the same goes for our dogs.  What goes in will result in how our dogs feel and act.  As far as nutrition is concerned, I do the best that I can for my dogs.  I try to feed a real food diet to them as much as possible; I am constantly researching nutrition and try to learn what I can.  The problem with most of today's dog food diets is that it is overly processed food; taking all the nutrients out of the product.  That and the fact that many of the foods start out with low grade quality ingredients. 

I am a fan of whole foods so the idea of giving my guys a little fish each day appealed to me.  Now that I am seeing a big difference in Luke, I'm sold.  There is so much information out there on what we should and should not feed our dogs; it can be mind boggling to say the least.  You will get information from every direction possible.  Big dog food companies will sell you stuff in the shape of fish, chicken and veggies; telling you that it contains all of those things.  But how about just feeding fish, chicken and veggies in their real form?  Processing damages nutrients.

I am not telling anyone what they should or should not feed their dogs.  What I do is share what I like and learn, take it or leave it.  Since the addition of these dehydrated smelt from Bahia-Blue; we have noticed a marked improvement with Luke.  As far as I'm concerned that proof is in the pudding.  I am not a fan of vitamins in pill form; I'd much rather eat and feed my dogs vitamins in whole food form.  The less processing the better when it comes to nutrition. 

Just dogs.

                                    Penny, Elsa, Luke and I having a snugglefest. 

Just dogs with Sherri, "oh what do you do with dogs?"  Is a question I hear often.  I have shortened the answer due to the practice of offering up what I do.  I do dogs. 

I am:

- first and foremost a dog trainer.

- a dog photographer.

- a dog writer. 


To elaborate a small bit.  I started my life in the conformation show ring at the age of 13 years young.  From there I went on to train with conventional training methods (choke collars).  In the mid 90s I discovered positive reinforcement training and never looked back. I have taught years of group obedience classes; then moved on to private in-home training where I was able to do more personalized behavior modification.  I am now offering email behavior consultations.  I love that I can help so many people with one on one assistance on their everyday to serious canine issues.  Giving people the tools to help make living with their dog a smooth one is about as good as it gets for me.  Being able to reach those in remote areas and help anywhere in the world is remarkable.  Help is just a click away. 

Canine behavior is by far my biggest passion; it is where my love of photographing dogs stemmed from. 


 Specializing in action photography and the canine/human connection.  It started years ago when a camera was left in front of me.  It didn't take long to discover that I loved capturing the very essence of a dog.  I very quickly worked into many of the big dog magazines; having been in many, had feature photo spreads and covers.  But it is the private shoot that really charges me; capturing a dog for the person who loves it.  That or capturing the love between the two; the canine/human connection. 

Stopping  a moment in time; one that you might never see otherwise is as they say, priceless.


I needed more, I have a lot to say and writing seemed the way to do it.  I have been writing this blog for years, almost 7 years now.  Pretty crazy when I look back at the beginning.  So this blog gives me an outlet to share dogs with you all.  When I hear about new canine related things; I like to share them with you.  When my dogs and I experience new, weird, crazy and interesting things; I like to share them with you. 

After blogging for years I put my love of writing and photography together into my children's books.  The Luke and Elsa series.  If you have not seen or heard of them; check them out on my website books page.  I am currently working on book #3 in the series which will feature other dogs as well as Luke and Elsa. 

There is also my novel PBJ and me (which is on my book page of my website as well).  A book that came from a trip, an adventure that changed everything.  I had planned to do a cross country photography book with the trip but it quickly became much more than just pictures.  I am currently working on the sequel to this book which will hopefully be out soon. 

I also have a training/behavior book for the new puppy owner that is very near completion.  Stay tuned for the news on that one. 

But wait, there's more.

Canine behavior, photography and writing are my main work; the stuff that fills most of my days.  But there is more, I am working on some new treats which will hopefully be available soon.  There is also the canine related gear that I am working on.  Testing canine related products for lots of big dog companies.  Nutrition, grooming, grooming products, dog related human gear and the list goes on and on and on.

So what do I do?  Dogs, Just dogs with of course me, Sherri.  :)