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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Another Day At The Races

Every Shiba Inu owner has heard of the famous "Shiba 500", where the dog will run in circles around a set area as fast as he/she possibly can, and many are fascinated by it and the fact that there hasn't been a confirmed cause for the behavior. Some owners report bowel movements or the presence of treats as triggers, but there has been no definite cause.
Marou's favorite time to run his Shiba 500 is when we return from a prolonged absence or when we get down on the floor with him and play rough. 
He has been known to run his Shiba 500 as many as four times in one day, but his average is only about once a day.
Start Your Engine!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Training Diaries - Verbal Commands

Verbal commands can be some of the simplest training you will ever have with your Shiba. Verbal commands must be strictly enforced to have any success.
First, give the command followed by an example or some assistance if it is a more complicated command. Make sure to reward the pup for the successful completion of the command, and do this every time. This is imperative for successful memory.
Marou, like many Shibas, didn't need much assistance or too many examples due to his intelligence. He has picked up the majority of our commands fairly quickly, though he does still like to ignore us from time to time if it will interrupt his fun.
Next, when you think your pup has learned to do the technique alone, withdraw any assistance and stop giving any examples. Upon successful completion, reward your pup well, and always be sure to do this to emphasize the priority of these commands.
In Marou's case, this was the harder step due to his whimsical nature and reluctance to pay attention for more than a few minutes. 
It may take a little while for your pup to catch on, but after the first couple of commands, it seems to become easier for them to learn new commands. The earlier you start, the quicker and easier this will be and the more receptive you will usually find your pup.
Marou laying on his back waiting for a belly rub

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Training Diaries - Potty Training

Potty training is the focus of every puppy owner. Some pups take only a few days or weeks, and some take as long as a few months. I've even heard of some people that were never able to  potty train their pups.
Thankfully Marou is absolutely repulsed by his own waste, so potty training was as simple as taking him outside when he showed any signs of needing to relieve himself. Save for a few incidents and some extenuating circumstances, he doesn't relieve himself inside at all.

The first step was to acquaint Marou with his harness and show him that it was not bad or scary. This was simple: we just fed him a few pieces of kibble or training treats that we had on hand as we put his harness on him. Getting accustomed to it took him a little while, but now he wears it like a natural.
Next, we showed him where the door was and taught him that it leads to outside (where he should relieve himself). This was accomplished by many short trips outside when there was any suspicion that he had to go. He caught on fairly quickly and began to sit by the door when he needed to go. If he needed to get our attention he would paw the door or "speak" to us until we acknowledged him.

Josie did an amazing job teaching him where the door is and how to show us that he wants to go outside.
He's by no means a model citizen, but his compliance with the training has made life so much more pleasant and a whole lot easier.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Picky Eater

I'm sure we've all dealt with or seen them at some point, but picky eaters can be an unnerving ordeal to overcome. There are many tricks out there to do exactly that: trick your pup into eating, but if you're like me and the large community of pet owners who treat their pets like their children then you want to do more than trick them. You want to make sure they actually enjoy what they're eating.

The simplest (sometimes not quite so) method is to change foods until you find one that they like. This can cause many unforseen complications though, so many owners choose to add in supplements or oils to mask the food's flavor. Josie and I will mix certain dog-healthy foods like plain greek yogurt or plain mashed sweet potato with his kibble to entice him to eat it.
There are different ways to get each pup to eat what they may not like or want but is good for them, and you may just need to get creative. Always check to see if foods are bad for your dog before trying any of them, though.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Bath Time Contenders

Love it or hate it, bath time is an important part of every person's and every animal's life.
As it is a very important time, Josie and I decided to try a variety of shampoos to attempt to find the best for Marou. We tried a number of shampoos, some of them even semi-home made, and we've found that they're not all the same. Most of them aren't even close to each other.
Our least favorite and probably the least affective was Sergeant's Oatmeal Flea and Tick shampoo. It cleaned him quite well, but it didn't last very long. Within 2 or 3 days, his fur was oily and he was itchy all over again.

Our next attempt was with Hartz Whitening Shampoo. The smell was quite nice, but it did not clean him very well. He would appear oily and be itchy as soon as he was dry. This necessitated baths almost every other day just to keep him remotely clean and comfortable.

Next Up was Kong Maximum Revitalizing Shampoo. It has a nice, mild Tea Tree/Mint scent, and it is soap free and paraben free to minimize skin irritation. This shampoo does an excellent job of cleaning Marou as well, and he stays quite clean for up to 5 or 6 days after each bath. He has almost no itching when bathing with this product, which is a definite plus.

Our final product, and our personal favorite, is Cain & Able Peppermint/Tea Tree Conditioning Shampoo. Made from a soft soap and all natural ingredients, it is very gentle on even the most sensitive skin. The scent is a mild but powerful Minty, Tea Tree that persists for days, sometimes even a week, after a bath. This shampoo does an amazing job of cleaning Marou, and he stays clean for up to a week with only 1 bath.

There are more shampoos that we would like to try in the future, and we will post our thoughts about them then, but we will keep a bottle of the Cain & Able around as our "Go-To" shampoo.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Great Pillow Caper

One of Marou's newer habits (which we have somewhat expected) has been to steal any pillow that he can get his paws on. If Josie or I leave our spot, it's his. If we leave our pillow, it's his forever. 
We have affectionately nicknamed him our little pillow thief. We even had to give him a little pillow of his own just to be able to keep ours.

Marou Thoroughly Enjoying His New Pillow

He loves his new pillow and plays with it daily. He still occasionally steals our decorative pillows from the couch because they're the same color as his, but even then we can't be mad at him because it's just so cute to watch.

Along with stealing pillows, he has developed a habit of hiding our socks and shoes in awkward places. I found one of Josie's walking shoes under the couch and the other in his bed.
I've found my socks anywhere you can imagine, and hair brushes beware!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

California Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food

Marou has a very sensitive stomach and a yeast allergy, so we tried a variety of different food brands before finding one that he could actually eat without complication. Recommended by our local pet boutique owner, California Natural Grain Free Kangaroo & Red Lentils is specifically designed for dogs with sensitive stomachs. At only 21.0% protein, it's perfect for dogs who can't handle the large amounts of protein found in finer foods such as Acana and Orijen but who still need a little bit more protein than some big name brands can offer.
The Kangaroo and Red Lentils formula was our first venture with this food. Marou loved the food and had no complications whatsoever. He does get bored of the flavor easily, so we've decided to try the other flavors in hopes of keeping him interested in the food.

The Venison Meal formula has succeeded in keeping him interested, and he loves it just as much as the Kangaroo and Red Lentils. With a different amino acid profile, transitioning to this food helps keep Marou's sensitive stomach from rejecting his food.

We plan to try other varieties of California Natural to ease his stomach and keep his diet regulated. For anyone who has a pup with food allergies or a sensitive stomach, I can Wholeheartedly recommend the grain free California Natural Line.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Home Made Toys

Josie recently got creative and decided to make Marou some home made toys, so $10 and 20 square yards of fabric later she had made Marou a plethora of toys that have lasted him quite a while.
One of his favorites is actually modeled after a cat toy that he stole from a friend's kitten during a play session.

Cat Toy Recreation

Stuffed Bone Shaped Felt Toy
Another toy idea that she had was made from an old white t-shirt. She cut it into strips and tied them in knots to make a neat little tug toy that Marou can't get enough of.
An alteration of that is to put a soda bottle inside of an older, high thread count pillow case and tie it closed with a firm knot. As with all other toys, be sure to watch your pet when he/she plays with this as it contains plastic that can possibly choke them.

With a little sewing skill, some fabric, and an idea or two you can make your pup some unique toys that they'll love for a long time.
Just let your creativity run wild.

Thursday, June 21, 2012


My wife and i had decided that we wanted to adopt a Shiba Inu around the beginning of the year. We searched through a few places and did our homework on the breed before finally finding a puppy we liked and contacting a breeder that we thought seemed like a good choice.

We immediately fell in love with our puppy (who we have named Marou) when we saw his picture. 
We decided then that we would have to get him.
All of the arrangements took approximately a month, but on February 27 around 7:30 p.m., we went to the airport to pick up our new best friend.
Scared, Excited, and just plain restless, Marou endured the ride home only to jump out of the car as soon as we arrived at the apartment. A 15-minute game of chase consisting of Josie (my wife) and I chasing an 8-pound puppy around a crowded parking lot. After the commotion ceased, Marou, tuckered out, stopped to relieve himself resulting in his recapture by Josie and I.
We got him back inside with some food and water since he hadn't eaten all day due to his flight from South Dakota. 
After the excitement of the day, Marou was fully tired out and ready for some good old rest and relaxation. Little did he know that there was plenty more to come.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Breed Introduction - Shiba Inu

The Shiba Inu is not a breed for the faint of heart, as training one can be a nightmare if not done early and correctly. The Shiba needs a strong willed trainer willing to always be stern and confident in his/her decisions.  Like most dogs, they can sense any insecurity or doubt, and they will be openly defiant if any of this is present.
The Shiba is a very mischievous breed, and this often shows, especially when bored.
Not everything about the Shiba is negative or frustrating. The Shiba has a definite "one-of-a-kind" personality that is larger than life.
With their foxy cuteness and "big-cat-in-a-small-dog-body" personality, the Shiba Inu will make a unique and unforgettable companion.

What? I Didn't Do It!