Tips for Taking Great Holiday Photos with Pets

Tips for Taking Great Holiday Photos with Pets

Getting your dog (and any other family pets) to sit still and look nice for a holiday photo can be a challenge. And they never end up looking like those photos in the pet calendar. Sure, you can hire a professional, but there is no reason why you can’t recreate those stunning photos yourself with just a bit of practice and these secrets from a professional photographer.

#1 – Preparation

First make sure your dog is groomed and brushed prior to the photo. If they are going to wear a collar, a new one always looks the nicest. Otherwise, at least wash their old collar. Having a hungry dog can help too. If they are hungry, most dogs will sit and look at the camera if there’s a treat in it for them. Have an active dog? These types of dogs often do better if they have a bit of exercise first, not so much that they are panting in the pictures, but enough to make it easier for them to sit still.

#2 – Perfect Background

Natural backgrounds can make lovely sceneries, and of course so does the Christmas tree or the fireplace. No matter where you shoot, keep in mind that your main subject is the pet, and shooting with a shallow depth of field will help them stand out in your image. If you really want your pet to “pop,” use a solid background like a grassed area, blank wall or hang a sheet up.

#3 – Color Coordinate

Think about what colors coordinate with your dog’s coat and make sure those are in the background, or if you are going to be in the photo, wear colors that coordinate with your dog but don’t make him blend in with you. So for example, don’t wear black pants and then have your black Miniature Schnauzer sit on your lap. Red or green pants would be more festive and will make your dog stand out without clashing.

#4 – Preventing the Blur

The hardest part of taking pictures of dogs is the movement. If you are using a camera and not a phone, make sure your shutter speed is fast to prevent the blur. With dogs that are highly active, you’ll probably need to take more photos in order to get that perfect shot.

#5 – Time of Day Tips

If you are shooting outside, pay attention to the different lights at different times of day. Different lighting will really affect how your dog looks, especially those with bright coats, such as an all white Maltese. All white dogs get washed out in bright light, an overcast day works better for them. On the other hand, avoid dark times of day if you have a dark dog.

#6 – Have Helpers

Having someone to wrangle your dog is always helpful, especially if you have more than one. That way, you can stay posed at the ready to capture the shot as soon as the other person or people get your dog(s) into position.

#7 – Pricked Ears

Be prepared to get a little silly and make some strange noises. Squeaky toys work from some dogs, though some get too excited and will want to take the toy.

#8 – Get Low

Getting low to the ground can give you some interesting angles and make the shots much more dynamic since you are at your dog’s level.

#9 – Special Tips for Black Dogs

With any black animal, overexpose the shot. This will bring out the details in the fur, and should prevent their eyes from becoming black holes. Professional photographers rarely ever use flash with pet photography, but almost always use reflectors to bounce some light onto their fur and into their eyes.

#10 – Photo Editing and Cropping

If you have any type of photo editing software on your computer, take some time to learn the basics, this can make pet photography much easier. For starters, you can keep your dog leashed and just erase the leash in editing. Cropping is available on all computers, even in Paint, and is very simple to do learn. No professional editing skills required. Cropping lets you cut out the stuff on either side of the photos so your perfect shot isn’t ruined because you didn’t notice you got the mess next to the Christmas tree in your haste to snap the perfect pic.

These tips will help you take amazing pet photos for the holidays, or any time for the year. Just remember to have fun and snap away – sometimes you get the perfect picture without even realizing it. And sometimes, the candid photos may not be what you were planning, but end up being the best ones. Finally, make sure your dog gets plenty of breaks so he has fun during the shoot too.

Why We Put Inulin in Stay Loyal Dog Food

Why We Put Inulin in Stay Loyal Dog Food

Looking over the Stay Loyal ingredients, you should recognize almost everything in the list because we use natural items and no chemicals or vague things such as “meat meal.” But there is one item on there that you might stop and say, what is that? And that is Inulin.

What Is Inulin?

Inulin is a powerful soluble fiber found in many plants. Some of the main plants that are used as Inulin sources are: asparagus, chicory root, garlic, Jerusalem artichoke, jicama and yacon root. Due to the way its molecules are linked together, inulin is not digested by the small intestine. Instead, it travels into your lower gut where it acts as a prebiotic.

What does Inulin do for the body?

A prebiotic is a food source for the beneficial bacteria that you want to have in your intestine. Studies have even shown Inulin can help stimulate the growth of those beneficial bacteria.

Those good bacteria convert inulin into fatty acids that provide nourishment to colon cells. Also, because it’s increasing those good bacteria, it helps with immunity, improved digestion and overall health.

Inulin can also help relieve constipation and creates more consistent stools.

In short, inulin helps with overall digestive health that will keep your dog regular – something every dog owner who has to pick up their dog’s poop can appreciate!

But that’s not all! Inulin also:

Controls Diabetes

Interestingly, Inulin can also help control diabetes by improving blood sugar control. With all the overweight dogs that are heading in that direction, this could be a very important part of all dogs’ diets.

Improves Mineral Absorption

If that’s not enough to make you think this is a great ingredient, there’s more! In studies, inulin has also been shown to improve mineral absorption and bone health by increasing bone density. This is especially important for growing puppies and aging dogs.

Prevents Colon Cancer

Incredibly, inulin has also been shown to help prevent colon cancer. An animal study showed that 88 percent of the animals given inulin saw a reduction in precancerous colon growths. While the research is still being conducted, preliminary findings suggest it does reduce the risk of colon cancer.

Makes food more Palatable

Have a dog that isn’t interested in his food? Inulin is sweet, making food taste better which can help those picky eaters stay interested in their food. Unlike sugar, however, inulin is low in calories – 25 percent less than sugar and 10-12 percent less than fat.

So as you can see, there are many reasons to have inulin in a dog food, yet one study found that only 8 percent (approximately) of dog foods on the market contain inulin. We are happy to report that Stay Loyal is one of those because we carefully selected our ingredients to give your dog the best health possible.

7 Health Problems Caused by the Wrong Dog Food

7 Health Problems Caused by the Wrong Dog Food

“You are what you eat” is an old adage and it really is true. What we put in our bodies – and our dogs’ bodies – has a direct effect on the health of the entire system. It makes sense if you think about it, after all food is what fuels our functions. However, not all bodies are the same and therefore, they don’t all need the same fuel. If your dog is not eating the correct diet for him, there can be many health consequences. And when we say “wrong food,” we don’t just mean low quality. Even high quality food can be wrong if it doesn’t have the right ingredients and nutritional make-up for your dog. Here are just a few of the things that can be caused by your dog eating the wrong food.

#1 – Skin Issues

One of the most noticeable things that the wrong food can cause in your dog is skin issues. And sometimes it’s easy to forget this and think our dog must be allergic to his shampoo or the grass (which they can be as well), because those actually come in contact with the skin. However, many food allergies in dogs manifest themselves as skin issues.

In addition, food that does not have the right balance of amino acids, fats, vitamins and minerals can also cause skin issues because the body isn’t getting enough nutrients to keep your dog’s skin and coat healthy.

#2 – Obesity and Pancreatitis

Feeding foods that are excessive in calories from fat can lead to obesity or a painful condition called pancreatitis in predisposed dogs. Of course, this depends on many factors. Some dogs need more fat than others depending on age, activity level, genes and even breed. But it’s good to know in case you have a dog that already has pancreatitis, as an example, to be aware of the food you are feeding.

#3 – Diabetes

More attention is being given to foods that have a high glycemic index such as those high in processed carbohydrates. Grains and high amounts of processed carbohydrates can cause problems in pets just like they do in us, in particular diabetes.

#4 – Gastroenteritis

If something in your dog’s food does not agree with him, it can cause ongoing stomach upset. In addition, some brands of dog foods have frequent problems with bacteria, which can also cause your dog to be sick. Avoid brands with frequent recalls for E. coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter, and Clostridium. These are all bacteria that can lead to bloody diarrhea, and in severe cases, hospitalization or death. The transfer of Salmonella and E. coli to humans (from your dog) is also a concern.

#5 – Metabolic Diseases

These can be caused by deficiencies in important nutrients such as calcium. Too little calcium could lead to nutritional diseases such as nutritional hyperparathyroidism and developmental bone disease. See our article on calcium for more information about the importance of the right amount.

#6 – Bladder Stones

Thought not as common in dogs as they are in male cats, dogs can suffer from bladder stones and if they do, their food can make it worse. If your dog keeps getting stones, you may want to think about a food that is low in calcium and phosphorus. Be sure to ask you vet before you switch.

#7 – Heart Disease

If your dog’s diet isn’t properly balanced, it can lead to heart problems. Too much salt is a key factor in heart disease in dogs. It causes water retention in the blood vessels leading to high blood pressure. If your vet believes your dog is at risk for heart disease, watch salt content in his food and treats.

If your dog is experiencing one or some of these and nothing the vet has thought of has helped, you may want to consider trying a new food. Again, it’s not necessarily just about quality, it’s also about the ingredients. What’s right for one dog is not always right for another. That’s why we offer several formulas here at Stay Loyal, so you can pick the formula that is right for your dog’s health.

13 Natural Supplements for Common Ailments

13 Natural Supplements for Common Ailments

There is a lot of talk about using more natural remedies for ourselves and our pets. But you may be wondering what natural supplements are safe for dogs and what ailments do they help address? This guide is just a start – there are dozens of supplements for all kinds of ailments – but this list is a good beginner’s guide. It has many of the common supplements that help with common issues. Here are 13 supplements that can help keep your dog at his best.

#1 – Rosemary

Rosemary is a great supplement for dogs that are anxious. It’s also an antioxidant, helping remove free radicals. And, it helps prevent spasms on smooth muscles, so it can help with heart health, including dogs with cardiac arrhythmias. Finally, it’s great for the digestive system. You can see why we put it in Stay Loyal – it’s definitely a super herb. Just don’t feed your dog the concentrated oils, they are too strong and can cause seizures.

#2 – Kelp

Kelp is high in mineral and trace elements and is a good source of iodine. It helps prevent thyroid issues, cancer, and allergies. It also supports good metabolism and even treats diabetes.

#3 – Pumpkin

Pumpkin is high in soluble fiber and low in fat, making it a healthy treat for any dog. In addition, it helps with digestive issues (both diarrhea and constipation can be treated with pumpkin). It’s a great supplement for many dogs.

#4 – Garlic

Garlic does a lot of good things. Aside from being full of vitamins, calcium, inulin, and amino acids, garlic improves circulation, helps detoxify the body by breaking down wastes before they enter the bloodstream. For these reasons, we put garlic in our Stay Loyal formulas.

#5 – Ginger

Like pumpkin, ginger is good for relieving stomach upset, including motion sickness – it’s great for a car sick pup! It is also an anti-inflammatory that helps alleviate all kinds of pain, including joint.

#6 -Cloves

Cloves act as an antioxidant and anti-fungal. It is also good for the teeth and helps get rid of bacteria in the mouth.

#7 – Green Tea

As most people know, green tea is full of antioxidants as well as vitamins A, B, B5, C, D, E, H, K. It also contains important minerals including manganese, zinc, chromium and selenium. It packs a powerful punch, which is why we add it to our Stay Loyal Original formula. And, if you were looking for external uses, green tea is a safe cleaning agent for your dog’s ears and also can be used at a topical on hot spots to relieve the pain, redness and itchiness.

#8 – Peppermint

Peppermint can soothe an upset stomach. It also is very helpful with freshening up that doggy breath.

#9 – Turmeric

Turmeric is an anti-inflammatory as well as an antioxidant. It can help prevent cancer and also alleviate pain associated with joint issues such as arthritis. That’s why we put it in our Salmon and Turkey Formula.

#10 – Apple Cider Vinegar

Like many on this list, apple cider vinegar helps with digestive issues. However, it can also be used topically as an insect repellent and to relieve aches, bruises, sunburns, bug bites, and boost coat health.

#11 – Cranberry

Loaded with vitamins and minerals, cranberry acts as an antioxidant, boosts the immune system, and promotes urinary tract and heart heath. It is a great supplement to give your dog if they have a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) or are prone to them.

#12 – Coconut Oil

Topically, coconut oil is amazing for keeping the skin and coat healthy. When ingested, it boosts the metabolism and immune systems and promotes heart health.

#13 – Spirulina

Spiruina is a microscopic algae that contains many nutrients and proteins, trace minerals, and fatty acids. This superfood boosts the immune system and suppresses allergies, as well as detoxes the body.

All of these supplements are easy to find online or even your local natural grocery store. If you are not sure about the amount to feed your dog, check with your vet. Serving size will depend on breed, weight, and health of your individual dog. Most of these are very safe and are hard to overdose on, but it’s always best to be sure. Also, when introducing something new to your dog’s system, don’t forget to increase the amount gradually to avoid stomach upset.

Types of Dog Collars and their Uses

Types of Dog Collars and their Uses

Just like there are a lot of leashes for you to choose from, there are also several types of dog collars. While modern marketing may make it seem like your dog’s collar is just a fashion accessory, it’s really much more than that. For starters, a collar immediately lets people know he is owned by someone should he get lost. And a tag on that collar could help him find his way home. Collars are also one of the main ways we keep our dogs close to us through the use of a leash. Each type of collar was designed for a reason and work in different ways. Here is a brief overview of the common types of collars and their uses so you can choose the one that will work best for you and your dog.

FLAT COLLARS

This is your typical collar. Usually it has a plastic or metal snap buckle, some have buckles like a belt. This is what most people think of when they hear the word “dog collar.” They have been around for ages and for many dogs, they are all that’s needed.

Pros

They lay flat against your dog’s neck and are quite comfortable for them to wear all the time, provided you don’t have it on too tight.

They come in all kinds of materials that work with different life styles, including leather for the dog that plays rough and needs something sturdy. Synthetic materials can be good for dogs that are in and out of the water or go to the beach where salt water would damage a leather collar quite quickly.

Cons

Many dogs can slip out of these collars, which can be dangerous if you are out for a walk in the neighborhood. If your dog is a constant puller, it does put pressure on your dog’s neck and throat, which can cause injury to the trachea.

There is no extra control feature in this collar, so dogs that are not trained to walk nicely on the leash can pull you down the street.

Types of dogs flat collars work well for:

If you have a well-mannered dog that doesn’t pull constantly and has a blocky head, than this type of collar is just fine. Think Labrador , Saint Bernard, Mastiffs etc. If your dog does back-out of or otherwise slip their collar, than skip this type for safety reasons.

How to Fit a Flat Collar

When fitting the collar, you should be able to put two fingers between the inside of the collar and the dog’s neck. Remember to check your growing puppy’s collar often – they can get tight quick!

MARTINGALES

If you are a horse person, the name of this collar may confuse you. Others have probably never heard this term, because they are often referred by other names as well. A martingale is a collar that has an extra loop where the leash attaches that tightens when tension is applied. These collars were created to

fix the problem of dog’s slipping out of their flat collars. Sometimes they are referred to as “no-slip collars” or “limited choke” due to this feature.

Pros

Makes it so your dog cannot slip their collar, which is very important.

Like flat collars, you can get them in leather, nylon or leather/nylon-chain combination, so you have some choice of materials.

Cons

If fitted improperly, they can work like a choke collar, so they must be fitted correctly.

Like traditional flat collars, martingales can cause damage on a dog’s trachea if they constantly pull.

On short-legged breeds or tiny puppies, the extra loop can cause a tripping hazard if their foot gets caught.

The loop is a danger for getting caught on things, so it’s not recommended that this collar be left on your dog when he is loose in your house or yard. Keep a flat collar with tags on it for yard play.

Types of dogs martingale collars work well for:

Martingales are great for bullet-headed dog breeds such as Greyhounds, Shetland Sheepdogs, Collies, Whippets, etc., that can slip flat collars. Since when it’s properly fitted it should not work like a choke collar, these collars work best on dogs that have nice leash manners.

How to Fit a Martingale Collar

As mentioned above, fit for this collar is imperative otherwise it becomes a limited choke, which is not the intended use. When the collar comes together on your dog (so pulled tight), you should be able to fit your two fingers between it and your dog’s neck, just like with the flat collar. Then test to make sure your dog can’t slip out by bringing the loop on the martingale to the top of your dog’s head, and then gently pull forward to test if your dog can back out when it’s tightened. If you can slip it over your dog’s head, tighten it a bit more and test again. It should be just tight enough to keep your dog from slipping out.

AVERSIVE/CORRECTION COLLARS

The next set of collars are all “aversive collars” – these are collars that were created to cause pain as a form of correction to train dogs. The collar becomes an aversive that your dog wants to get/stay away from by (theoretically) doing the right thing. I’m adding these types of collars because they exist and want you to know about them. We are not commenting on whether they should or should not be used.

PRONG

Prong collars, also sometimes called pinch collars, have been around a long time. The collar is made of links with “teeth-like” prongs on the inside. When the control loop is pulled, these teeth pinch your dog’s skin, causing discomfort and pain as a form of correction. Originally, these were always metal, but

they are now making them with plastic prongs, and even nylon and leather covered ones that conceal the prong collar. They are banned in Australia.

These collars are popular with correction-based dog trainers. They are often given to owners to use on dogs that are reactive, strong pullers or just generally hard to handle. However, they come with great risks.

Prong collars can damage a dog’s trachea as well as cause injury to their neck.

Types of dogs prong collars work well for:

Many will say a dog that pulls should be on a prong collar, but really, it’s just damaging their trachea. Since science has proven that positive-reinforcement techniques are more affective, there is no reason to use a prong collar.

CHOKE CHAIN COLLAR

Almost every dog owner is familiar with the choke collar. Usually made of chain (but can also be made of fabric and even leather, which are typically seen in the conformation ring), choke collars do exactly what their name implies. As soon as either end of the leash pulls, it tightens around your dog’s throat.

Again, like the prong collar, the choke collar has a lot of health hazards including trachea damage. If your dog pulls enough on a choke collar, especially a little dog, you will be facing trachea surgery, which costs thousands of dollars.

Types of dogs choke collars work well for:

If you show your dog in conformation, it should be noted that you can use a martingale collar in the ring, it doesn’t have to be a choke. Most dogs in the show ring are very well trained and never actually choke on the collar because they have been trained not to pull on the leash. This is the only type of dog that won’t be at risk of trachea damage from a choke collar – an already trained one.

ELECTRIC COLLAR

Electric or shock collars do exactly that – they shock the dog with electrical current as a severe form of correction. They are illegal in the following states: Australian Capital Territory, South Australia and New South Wales (NSW allows the use of electric collars for invisible fencing).

When deciding between a flat and martingale collar, make sure you pick the right size collar for your dog. As you probably noticed, all dog collars have the capability to cause trachea damage. For that reason, really small dogs or dogs that pull a lot, might do better with a harness (front clipping for pullers) or a head collar (Gentle Leader is the prime example). Those may save you some vet bills down the road and will actually make walking the puller easier until he has learned some manners. And of course, your dog can always have more than one collar if you just can’t decide what style, type or color you want.

Verbal VS. Hand Signals: Which is Best to Teach My Dog?

Verbal VS. Hand Signals: Which is Best to Teach My Dog?

If you have ever gone to a dog obedience competition, you probably noticed that many handlers use hand signals instead of verbal. In fact hand signals seem to be the preferred signal by these competitors. Of course in agility, both hand and verbal are used. And in herding, verbal (voice or whistle) is almost solely used.

So is one better than the other? If you have a dog you are just starting to train, you may be unsure about what cues you should teach. To start, here are the pros and cons to each type of signal.

HAND SIGNALS

Pros

A 2016 study conducted by Dr. Biagio D’Aniello in the Biology Department at the University of Naples did a study on hand vs verbal signals and found that most dogs will respond more reliably to hand gestures over verbal. D’Aniello believes this is because dogs use their own body language as a way to communicate, so gestures are something they are naturally more inclined to notice and pay attention to, rather than human sounds.

If your dog goes deaf, you will still be able to communicate with them.

Since your dog has to be looking at you to get your cues, it may promote better focus/attention on you.

Cons

It can be hard to learn to be consistent with your cues. Dogs are very observant and slight changes in a cue can result in a nonresponse.

Because the cues have to be consistent, it can sometimes be hard to get the dog to listen to other people, who may not signal exactly the same way as you, so you have to teach your dog to generalize the cue a bit, to respond to gestures that are similar.

If your dog is out of sight, you can’t cue him.

If your dog goes blind, he will be unable to respond to your cues.

If your hands are full, you will not be able to cue your dog.

VERBAL SIGNALS

Pros

Your dog doesn’t have to be within eyesight to get your cue – for example you can call your dog to Come when he is wandering in the woods and he can hear you even if he can’t see you.

If your dog goes blind, you can still communicate with them.

You can cue your dog even if your hands are full – handy if you are holding your leash, clicker and treats, or if your hands are full of groceries and you need to communicate with your dog.

Cons

Since dogs are not naturally able to understand our language, it may take longer to get your dog to listen to your cues according to the above study.

If your dog goes deaf, you won’t be able to communicate with him.

The way you say your cue – tone, pitch, accent, etc. – will become part of the cue meaning your dog may not respond to someone else giving the cue if doesn’t sound the same. So you may have to spend some time teaching your dog to generalize the cue and respond to other peoples. (This is why dog trainers tell families that anyone who wants the dog to respond to them must practice with them!)

THE BEST CHOICE

As you can see, both hand and verbal has some solid pros and cons. So what’s the best choice? How about teaching both? Teaching your dog both a hand and a verbal eliminates any potential con, and provides all the pros of each signal.

IF YOU ARE GOING TO TEACH BOTH, TEACH THE VERBAL FIRST!

Why? Because as the study we mentioned says, dogs pay much better attention to body language, it is how they communicate. So if you teach a hand signal first and then try to add a verbal, it is much harder for your dog to make the connection because they are already focused on your body language. Especially after months of you rewarding them for reading your body language correctly!

Instead, start with teaching a verbal cue to a behavior. Once your dog has the behavior and the verbal cue is set, then start adding the hand signal.

How do I add a signal?

Adding a signal is simple. First, pick a signal that will be easy for you and others to repeatedly do the same. As an example, we will use the Sit cue. Here are the steps:

1. Make sure your dog is looking at you.

2. Use your new hand gesture and then almost immediately say your verbal cue.

3. Dog sits and gets a reward.

4. Repeat this a few times, then gradually lengthen the amount of time between the hand gesture and the verbal.

5. Watch your dog, is she starting to sit as you gesture or before you say the verbal? If so, she is starting to connect that the signal means the same as the verbal. You can now test it by just doing the gesture. Did she sit? If not, you will need to keep pairing the two for a bit more practice.

Since dogs pay attention to body language so well, adding hand gestures is usually pretty easy, even if the dog has been listening to verbal signals for quite some time. Having both will give you a lot more control of your dog and you won’t have to worry if your dog ends up not being able to see or hear you as he ages – it really is the best of both worlds.