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We love dogs around here, and lucky for the wee ones, “their” dog lives just up the road at my parents’ house. Needless to say, we visit her often, and Little Miss is proud to take charge of training her (which is good because chocolate lab mixes that aren’t at all trained are a disaster waiting to happen).
Lola has been a part of our family since she was eight weeks old. She was a part of a littler of puppies that was abandoned outside a local shelter at six weeks without their mom. I honestly don’t want to know the full story behind that, but I’m grateful that the six lab mix puppies were all healthy and adopted to loving homes, including my parents. Little Miss insists that Lola is her sister and treats her as such. They can lay together and have “chats” about who knows what for hours.
Not surprisingly, as part of the family, we take her nutrition as seriously as we take our own. Though I don’t cook from scratch for her quite the same way I do for the rest of my family, we’re all pretty careful about what we feed her. On Mother’s Day when we headed to my parents for a planned afternoon barbecue, I picked up some delicious steaks to grill.
Lola wasn’t lucky enough to get a bacon wrapped filet of her own for many reasons, but I did stop in the pet care aisle when I was in Walmart picking up our barbecue fixings to get her a treat that I knew she’d like just as well. The new Nudges® Grillers and Sizzlers caught my eye not just because they are a natural product with no artificial preservatives, but real meat is the number one ingredient. The fact that the Grillers come in both chicken and steak was just an added bonus. Of course the Nudges® Grillers 18 ounce steak variety ended up in my cart.
Although it was tempting to give Lola one of the Nudges® Grillers treats as soon as we arrived (after all, per the package, she could have up to four per day – I love that they have the recommendations by dog weight clearly listed on the packaging), we held off for a variety of reasons. It wasn’t her meal time, and just like we don’t want to mindlessly eat when we aren’t hungry, we don’t want to get Lola into a habit like that either.
More importantly, Lola is crazy when people first arrive. She is constantly jumping and nudging people and flat out demanding attention. Yes, her training needs a bit of work. Rather than rewarding this behavior by giving her treats, we simply turn our backs to her whenever she acts inappropriately in greeting us until she is calm and willing to accept a pat hello without getting overly excited and jumping everywhere.
Her dinnertime tends to coincide with our own dinnertime, which usually works out fairly well. While I was manning the grill and ensuring our steaks were cooked perfectly, Little Miss and my dad prepared her dinner.
The Nudges® Grillers were a part of this, but to ensure that she ate the entire dinner and not just the Nudges® Grillers, they were placed at the bottom of her dinner bowl, with the rest of her meal atop it. That way, she had to eat her whole dinner. They also ripped the Nudges® Grillers into smaller, bite size pieces to ensure that she didn’t eat them too quickly. Just like I used to cut up my kids’ meat before they learned to use knives and do it themselves, Little Miss ensures she is a good dog parent and “cuts up” the Nudges® Grillers for Lola.
Coinciding our meal with Lola’s also helps to ensure that she isn’t by our table begging for scraps. Although most of us are very conscious of not feeding her from the table and rewarding any begging behavior, my dad is notorious for spoiling her – and not in a good way at times. While she’s enjoying her dinner, however, we can enjoy our own steak dinner in peace.
Once we have finished eating, Little Miss uses that time to work on her training of Lola.
Tips for Training Your Dog
As a lab mix, she loves having a job to do, even if that’s as simple as performing “tricks” on command. She loves to fetch, and we’ve worked long and hard with her to ensure she knows to let go of her retrieved item and share it with us so that it doesn’t turn into a tug of war effort. Little Miss has also successfully taught her to sit, although when she doesn’t use a firm voice, Lola doesn’t always want to obey. Using a Nudges® Grillers as a reward – not every time, but instead periodically – helps to ensure she’s both paying attention to us and enjoying her training.
I love the confidence working with Lola builds in Little Miss. She can see the tangible result from the effort she puts in, and she loves how she’s making a difference in this dog. Lola is nowhere near ready for graduation from the Little Miss Obedience Academy, but they’re both better off for it. And one day when we arrive at my parents’ and Lola doesn’t jump all over us or try to lunge out the door to greet us? We’ll know it’s in part due to all the hard work Little Miss has put in.
Working on training your own dog? Here’s a printable you can keep to share with your kids talking about some of the important things to remember to keep training fun and make it effective.
We plan to have Lola around for a very, very long time. Lola’s predecessor, Stella, was another rescue lab mix who survived to (we think) 14 before succumbing to the ravages of old age. Exercise and love is a big part of it, but the nutrition she eats is also a factor. Nudges® Grillers and Sizzlers are made in the States with protein sourced in the USA. The high quality treats are part of the diet we look to feed our special pets, and we love that in addition to the Nudges® Grillers and Sizzlers varieties (chicken and steak Grillers, plus chicken bacon and beef & cheese Sizzlers), there are also a new Jerky Cuts value size at Walmart. Yes, with a big lab mix, a 36 ounce package is definitely in the cards!