Why feed the Raw Diet to your dog?

raw2Let’s talk eyeballs. Add some liver and maybe a thigh and a few ribs.

Now we have some of the ingredients to the BEST diet for your dog! Why does your dog NEED this diet? Simple. This diet is what was intended to be digested by your dog.

Much like the diets of canids in the wild, the prey model for these CARNIVORES is the muscle meat, organs, and bones, YES BONES, of other animals. It is, in fact, what have fed our domesticated pups since they have been… well, domesticated.

Before the 1860’s there wasn’t such a thing as a bag of dog food. Dogs ate what we ate. They had leftovers and scraps of food from our very own kitchens. Times were changing and a clever entrapenur by the name of Spratt noticed dogs eating hard tack. Hard Tack is cereal grains processed to be non perishable food for sailors on long trips on a boat. The idea for modern commercial dog food was born.

I love capitalizing on a great idea but let’s be honest folks. I have seen dogs eat plastic bottles and cat poop and towels. None of these things would seem to be a good choice of ingredients to feed your dog. NEITHER ARE CEREAL GRAINS.

Dogs, being carnivores, simply lack the enzymes to digest grains such as corn and wheat. Need some proof? Take a look at your pooch’s teeth. Those teeth are super pointy and sharp. By design they are meant to rip and tear and crunch bone. Now look at your own teeth. You (should) have a few teeth that are sharp and a bunch that are flatter. This is because we are omnivores. We were meant to eat berries and leafy greens and Steak tips. Dogs weren’t meant to eat anything more than they could chase down and kill on their own.

Need MORE proof that dogs don’t do well with the grains that your bagged kibble is full of? Go look at his stools. ALL of that money that you paid for that dog food on sale at walmart is sitting in a LARGE steamy pile on your lawn. Not unlike the canids in the forest behind my home, my own dogs who are on the raw diet have small, dry, (relatively)non smelly stools. The reason for this is the higher the quality of food you feed your dog, the easier and more efficiently (less waste) your dog digests it.

In the last 12 years I have seen MANY dogs come through my training programs with symptoms such as excessive sheding, HOT SPOTS, dry skin, broken nails, bad odor, and nasty teeth. Many times these dogs are diagnosed with some ambiguous allergy. They are put on medications and special shampoos and given daily doses of things like benadryl only to find that the chronic ailment never goes away.

When an owner tries a diet change to a GRAIN-FREE product it almost always alleviates these symptoms. There are a ton of other benefits that go along with a raw grain-free diet as well. Your pet will smell better, shed less, feel better, and act better. Their energy will balance out. Lethargic dogs will be more bouncy and the overenergized dog will be a bit more calm. Another overlooked benefit for all of the puppy owners reading this blog is that your dog will drink LESS water which means LESS accidents and EASIER, FASTER HOUSEBREAKING!!


For the month of MARCH 2013 we are offering 15% off of our Bravo raw line of dog food so that people can try this food and see the results for themselves.

Contact us today at http://www.dogtrainerma.com or call us at 978-597-0753


Why BREEDERS get my business more than SHELTERS AND RESCUES do


Q. What’s the worst thing you could say to a shelter volunteer or dog rescue worker?

For all of the shelter volunteers and rescue workers that I always hear whining about people that use breeders and preach about how rescues are the best way to help the plight of abandoned and abused dogs around the world(insert sad Sarah McLachlan music), let me shed some light on why people like myself purchase dogs from breeders and brokers. There are FEW shelters and rescues that will relinquish their death grip from the sheltered dog’s neck and let a dog trainer use his or her craft for placement in a loving home.

I am a dog trainer that does well in my craft.  I cut my teeth fresh out of dog training school over a decade ago at rescues and shelters training dogs to insure they went to loving homes and never came back to the shelters!

Many of my clients inquire about PURCHASING a dog that is already fully trained. The process of sourcing a dog for a wanting family begins AT THE SHELTERS AND RESCUES in my local area.

The reason I do this is that I have witnessed more than my share of dogs EUTHANIZED over the last 12 years due to lack of resources in shelters as well as lack of funding. It only makes sense to try to source a deserving dog from a shelter/rescue to relieve some of the bottlenecking that occours at these kennels by ADOPTING animals from here.

Here’s the rub.  MOST rescues/shelters REFUSE to work WITH competent reliable trainers to get these dogs homes.

Let me share the body of the email I received from the last rescue I contacted for a client.

     …I’m sorry, no. While I am all for training (!!!!!) and steer all adopters toward great training options in our area I would never be in favor of a dog being trained in one location and then rehomed. I just don’t agree with it.

THIS is the norm when I inquire about dogs to our local shelters/rescues. It seems to me that an attitude toward finding a dog a forever home simply and factually ISN’T the priority for these shelters.

I DO work with a select few local shelters that understand that I (literally) wrote the book on safety protocols and procedures and the adoption process.  I applaud these organizations for actually having the DOG’S best intentions as their priority as opposed to their own self importance.

Keep in mind that when I adopt a dog for a client I do just that, adopt it. It becomes part of my canine family and it finds balance. The shelter/rescue gets their fees. I then re-vet the dog because I have higher standards than some of the shelters I deal with. The dog then completes basic on leash obedience, behavior modifications (to eliminate all of the common behaviors that drive people to bring dogs back to shelters), housebreaking, socialization, and finally ADVANCED OFF LEASH OBEDIENCE. So my client is providing a home for a dog that they can take anywhere and do fun things with under complete control. Oh, I also GUARANTEE the dog’s training for it’s lifetime to insure that the dog NEVER has the possibility of going back to a shelter.

It is my opinion that providing a TRAINED dog and GUARANTEEING that training for the dog’s lifetime is somewhat more proactive than “steering adopters toward great training”. It is no wonder some dogs end up back in the same shelter it was adopted from.

Unfortunately, some families just aren’t looking for the dogs that are available at these few shelters some of the time. The next stop when I can’t source a family companion from the few shelters that will work with me is the BROKER. After that, it’s off to the breeders.

It seems to me that the only ones standing in the way of these dogs getting into a great home and staying there for a lifetime of love is the idiots that run these shelters/rescues.  The dog left in the shelter is the only one that loses and that makes me sad.





n. pl. hy·poc·ri·sies

1. The practice of professing beliefs, feelings, or virtues that one does not hold or possess; falseness.
2. An act or instance of such falseness.

The Power of Body Language

Body language- n. communication via the movements or attitudes of the body

This is how thefreedictionary.com defines body language.  It is one of the most important ingredients in communication with our canine friends.

Today a client mentioned at the end of our lesson that when her sister watches her dog she seems to get along with the dog almost effortlessly.  The dog doesn’t pull on the leash or go after bicycles when they pass them on a walk.  There is also no jumping on her sister and the dog just seems more at ease in general around her sister.  Just by chance it was mentioned that her sister is blind.

What does all of this have to do with body language?  The input of a human’s body language is how we teach and communicate signals to our pups.  Our dogs’ body language and postures, even before you understand what they mean, become precursors to behaviors.  Just like our canine counterparts we learn these signals that we give each other as well as the resulting reaction.  Then both species begin to anticipate.

For example, when my client sees a bicyclist coming down the road, she begins to tense up.  Her body language changes in many ways.  This will signal to her dog a few different things and the end result is the same old behavior as always, barking and lunging (before we fixed that problem).  When her sister goes for the same walk, she doesn’t get the same result, mostly because, in being blind her perception of the bicyclist doesn’t allow her to anticipate and she doesn’t change her body language.

Something as simple as your body tensing up in anticipation of your dog misbehaving can and usually triggers the exact habit you are hoping WON’T happen.  Conversely, by not anticipating you can actually build on better behaviors by not encouraging bad ones.

Remember this interesting little fact when you are interacting with your dog, no matter what age or level of training.

Body Language: a pretty powerful tool.

Why train your dog? You may be surprised what motivates some to fix their dog problems.

I found a note in my calendar – how you changed my life by helping me with my wild Terrier Tigger, starting in 2008…

I added 2 more dogs to my pack – making it 4 now – since then… I owe you for Tigger being my best role model, however!

He is an agility performer, therapy dog, and all around brilliant hound!

I am forever grateful!


I wanted to share this with all of you who have dogs, have done dog training, and those of you thinking of getting into dog training.

Emails like these are one of the things that keep me motivated in my craft. Sure, I have my share of people that join our training family merely because they are sick of picking up piles and puddles in their living rooms, but for most people fixing the behavior problems in their dog ends up extending into their personal lives.

The irony is when a dog comes in with a behavior problem it almost always has something to do with people problems. As soon as something goes wrong in the client’s life the little problems in their pup become serious, big problems.  Most of the time the owner never even notices the problem until it becomes unmanageable.

When owners begin one of our training programs it sets things in the right direction, not only for eliminating unwanted behaviors in the dog, but it stands as a great motivator for most people to organize their own lives and tackle some of their own obstacles.  It makes for a win-win scenario!

A happy owner makes for a happy dog makes for a happy owner .

Dry Skin Remedy?

Q. Hi Ian,

I was wondering if you could recommend any oils for Chance.  His area near his tail is very dry and he’s been scratching at it.  We put neosporin on it a while ago to help him and that seemed to stop him from going after his dry skin (which started to become red and sore).  Now that the soreness is gone i notice that his skin all in that area is just really really dry and flaky.  Is there any type of oil that i can use in his food to help him out?



A. Hi Paula! Dry skin is a fairly common condition during the winter months.  What most people don’t realize is that dog’s can get dehydrated just as easily in the winter as the summer months.  Cold and dry outside combined with warm and dry inside makes for…you guessed it DRY!

First and foremost, if there is any question of a medical condition, always contact your veterenarian.  If it is simply environmentally induced dry skin, treat just as you would your own dry skin.  Gently clean the area and keep it moist with something you wouldn’t be afraid to put on your own skin as moisturizer.

On the diet end of things, you can try adding FISH OIL to Chance’s diet along with a good MULTI VITAMIN for dogs.  They sell canned mackrel fish at most grocery stores and you can supplement a can of fish for a meal or two a week.  Sometimes with the dogs in our care at Absolute K9 Solutions, we will go as far as to soup their meals.  Basically just add some warm water to their normal food.  Again the basic idea is to maintain a balance of water for hydration.  Along with fish oils there are numerous commercial skin oil blends you can add to Chance’s diet.  Show Stopper or Shed Stopper are a couple examples of this.  Basically these are blends of Lineolic acids and soluable oils along with basic multi vitamins. I also tend to gently increase things such as raw marrow bones and knuckle bones.  This is just a fun addition to any dog’s weekly food/recreation routine and it will help balance the moisture factor in your pup.

As with any diet recommendation that I give, GET RID OF THE GRAIN!  So many dogs have a difficulty with skin and coat problems simply due to the overload of grain in their diet.  With the new flood of no grain diets commercially available I urge everyone to give it a try for a few months.

Chance by the fire place

The Collar-Wise Dog

There is nothing more frustrating when you are training your dog than when you find out that it only listens to you SOMETIMES. This can happen for MANY reasons.

Today I was talking to a fellow trainer about a dog that she is working with.  This dog only listens to the owner when her training collar is on.  AS soon as the collar is taken off the dog stops listening.  This condition is known as being collar-wise.  All this means is that when the dog has the hardware on she is going to listen just as she was taught and when that hardware is not on the dog flips you the paw.

Why does this happen?  It can happen for a few reasons, but most commonly, someone has either rushed through training, foregoing good solid foundation work and skipped steps such as proofing, OR the training has not been consistently reinforced AFTER initial training has been completed.

Think of the collar as a switch.  As soon as you put the collar on, it now signals to the dog that it is time to work.  In the application of pet dog training, this is a TERRIBLE idea as you ALWAYS want the dog to listen whether or not she has a collar on. What has happened is that the collar now represents a series of exercises.  Collars and any other training aids should not be the REASON why your dog listens but a step in the process of learning and reinforcements.

In other words, training aids such as collars should NOT be a metaphorical switch.  They should be a metaphorical set of training wheels on a bicycle.

So how do you fix this nasty little problem? Start back at the beginning.  Start going through every single step of training with your pup while she wears the collar so that you dull her sense of that switch.  Eventually, instead of the collar being the reason that she is listening, it will merely be another cool piece of jewelry that she wears around all day.  After you have dissolved the connection between work and the collar you will not have any problem phasing the training aid out completely.