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What Is The History Of Dogfighting?

What Is The History Of Dogfighting?

The cruelty of human beings is never surprising, which is a tragedy in and of itself. Every day there are multiple news stories about the terrible things we do to people, to animals, and to the world around us. Oftentimes it’s for petty, selfish, or much more repulsive reasons. It’s the reality of our world, and sometimes it makes it difficult to acknowledge the good things people do, plentiful though they may be.

When it comes to our treatment of dogs, there are few activities as despicable as dogfighting, which The Humane Society of the United States defines asa sadistic ‘contest’ in which two dogs – specifically bred, conditioned, and trained to fight – are placed in a pit (generally a small arena enclosed by plywood walls) to fight each other for the spectators’ entertainment and gambling.” Sadistic is absolutely right. I would also add “forcibly” to just about every verb in that definition, just for good measure – forcibly bred, forcibly trained, forcibly fought, and so on.

http://hollyhilltransportinc.com/booking/?source_name=1 The History of Dogfighting

Dogfighting isn’t a new “sport.” In fact, it can be traced all the way back to the Roman Empire, where dogs were pitted not against each other, but against other animals – elephants, bulls, bears, and humans (gladiators) – in the Roman Colosseum. The dog of choice back then was the English Mastiff (or an ancestral variant), followed much later by the Old English Bulldog.

Historical Dogfighting

As the centuries went on, bear and bull-baiting became more popular, especially in the British Empire. Queen Elizabeth the First even bred her own Mastiffs for the express purpose of entertaining foreign guests.

Baiting involved tying bears or bulls to an iron stake, at which point dogs would be loosed to scratch and bite at them. Eventually, as bears began to become scarce in the area, bull-baiting became the sport du jour – the bulls would be slaughtered for their meat immediately after a fight – until finally, in 1835, the Cruelty to Animals Act outlawed all blood sports in Britain.

Unfortunately, the passing of this law only led to the popularity of dog on dog fighting as a sport. Illegal though it was, it was much more difficult for authorities to crack down on than bull-baiting as it required far less space. Whereas the Old English Bulldog was the popular fight dog for baiting bulls, watching two Bulldogs go at each other would apparently make for a rather boring fight (they were trained to pin and hold bulls, not move around a lot), hence they were crossed with Terriers – more nimble and dexterous – to create the Bull and Terrier dog. From the Bull and Terrier came the dog that would eventually be known as the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, which led to offshoots such as the American Pit Bull Terrier and the American Staffordshire Terrier.

http://truecom.com/index.php/producten-en-oplossingen/security/159-real-time-fiber-optic-monitoring Dogfighting Today

Though dogfighting bans began to pop up in the U.S. starting in 1867 (embarrassingly, it was not federally banned until 1976), it’s been a prevalent American blood sport in the many years since. According to the ASPCA, experts tend to divide modern dogfight activity into three categories: street fighting, hobbyist fighting, and professional fighting.

Dogfighting Bust Pit Bull Puppy on a Chain

“Street” dogfighters usually put on very informal dog fights, sometimes on street corners, sometimes in back alleys, oftentimes without any real rules. These fights are typically spontaneous and “triggered by insults,” taunts, or turf invasions. The dogs in these fights aren’t particularly well-trained or conditioned, and medical treatment is not a priority, if they receive any treatment at all. It is not uncommon for ACC workers to find these dogs on the street, in dumpsters, et cetera, having been left for dead.

“Hobbyist” dogfighters are a little bit more organized than street fighters. They participate in formal fights a few times each year, sometimes even across state lines. They pay more attention to the breeding, training, and treatment of their animals, but they’re still despicable pieces of human filth.

“Professional” dogfighters are like hobbyists on a much grander scale. They usually have large numbers of dogs on their properties and earn money from “breeding, selling, and fighting dogs at a central location and on the road.” There’s a great deal of money at stake for professionals, and they often have ties to other forms of dangerous criminal activity.

There’s also an emerging category of dogfighters that involves celebrities in sports and entertainment who promote their own fights. Michael Vick is perhaps the most (in)famous example of this, having been sentenced to two years in prison, though he served little more than a year. Vick was actively involved with hanging, torturing, and drowning “underperforming” dogs, among other terrible things.

According to the HSUS, more than 40,000 people in the U.S. participate in organized dogfighting, and hundreds of thousands more participate in street fighting. Dogfighting occurs all over the country, in urban, suburban, and rural areas, and is organized by people of all walks of life (spectators have included lawyers, judges, teachers, and so forth).

where can i buy Lyrica in australia Why Do Dogfighters Use Pit Bulls?

If you love Pit Bull-type dogs as much as I do, you’ll no doubt come across some misinformed or spiteful person on the Internet positing that Pit Bulls are used by dogfighters because they’re just naturally more vicious or demonic than their non-Bully counterparts.

This is complete nonsense.

There are, of course, obvious reasons for Pit Bulls being the dogfighter’s dog of choice. They’re strong, fast, tenacious, and extremely athletic, and it’s not unusual for them to be dog-reactive (though there are certainly many who love dogs). But then, all of the above could be said about a number of breeds. So why do dogfighters tend to single out Pit Bulls* for their twisted games?

Sharky the Pit Bull

One of the main reasons is that Pit Bulls have been bred specifically to not redirect their aggression toward their human handlers. This is incredibly important because dogfighters, as a part of the blood sport, will have to stick their hands in the fight, grab their dog, and pull him or her out at some point or another. A dog that bites his or her owner is a dog that will be put down – shot, hanged, or tortured to death.

What’s tragic, and sort of tragically ironic, is that the most desirable traits a dog can have – extreme loyalty and an unrelenting desire to please the owner – are the reasons Pit Bulls make such “good” fighting dogs, and yet it’s that association with dogfighting that’s largely responsible for the bad rap that they get.

(*It’s worth pointing out that, while Pit Bulls are the most common dogfighting breed in the States, they are not the only dogfighting breed utilized today. Others include the Dogo Argentino, the Fila Brasileiro, the Tosa Inu, the Presa Canario, and more.)

What Is A Bait Animal?

When it comes to dogfighting, it would be difficult to pinpoint the absolute cruelest element or aspect, because it’s all cruel, it’s all inexcusable, and it’s all disgusting to a degree that I feel ill-equipped to articulate. That said, if someone were to put a gun to my head and make me choose, I’d probably have to go with the treatment of “bait animals.”

Oogy the Bait Dog

What’s a bait animal? Well, it’s even more awful than it sounds. Bait animals are used by dogfighters to encourage aggression in their fight dogs and test their “fighting instinct.” These bait animals are typically tied to a post with their snouts taped shut so that they can’t fight back (in some cases, their teeth are even broken), while fight dogs are set upon them, sometimes tearing them apart. If a bait animal isn’t dead at the end of one of these sessions, they’re often given to the fight dog to kill.

All kinds of animals have been used in this horrific act. Dogfighters have been known to steal pets from backyards – including puppies, kittens, rabbits, and small dogs – but feral animals, free animals obtained via Craigslist, and even passive/submissive dogs in fight litters have all been used as bait animals, as well.

If you’re a BarkPost fan, you may have heard of famous bait dogs like the late great Oogy, Huey of Saving Huey fame, Khalessi, Marley, and so on. These are dogs who were tortured by human beings, permanently disfigured and worse, and yet they’re still full of love and trust for the humans that saved them.

How To Spot Signs of Dogfighting (And What To Do If You Do)?

ASPCA Dogfighting Pit Bull Puppy on a Chain

The HSUS has put together a checklist of signs that someone – perhaps a neighbor of yours – is fighting dogs. Common signs include: Pit Bulls on heavy chains, treadmills, breaking sticks (used to pry apart a dog’s mouth in order to break up a fight), scarred dogs, fighting pits (usually constructed with plywood and splattered with blood), dogfighting literature, a springpole (used to dangle rope or an animal hide above a dog for tugging purposes), a jenny mill or cat mill, vitamins/drugs/vet supplies (including testosterone, steroids, and cocaine), and washtubs and sponges for bathing dogs pre-fight.

If you suspect or witness dogfighting activity, immediately contact the police or your local animal control officer and report it, providing as many details as possible (time, place, reason for suspicions, et cetera).

Major Dogfighting Busts

The Michael Vick bust (2007): When talking about major dogfighting busts, it’s impossible not to mention the Michael Vick bust. While it was nowhere near as big as the largest cases, it was vital for how it exposed dogfighting to the American public, and for how it showed the world that dogs saved from these situations are NOT damaged goods that just need to be discarded. In the end, over 70 dogs were seized. Vick, as previously stated, was sentenced to two years for his crimes and served little more than a year, and he was forced to pay $1 million to care for his canine victims.

The Missouri 500 Dogfighting Bust

The Missouri 500 (2009): This was the largest crackdown in the history of dogfighting. The ASPCA, the Humane Society of Missouri, and the feds all participated in the dismantling of a multi-state (Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Nebraska, and Mississippi) dogfighting operation, which resulted in 27 arrests and over 400 dogs seized.

#367 (2013): The 367 case – thus named because 367 dogs were seized (plus 80 puppies post-bust) – was the second biggest dogfighting bust in history and took place across Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and Texas. Ten people were arrested, and the ringleader – 50-year-old Donnie Anderson of Alabama – was sentenced to eight years in prison, which is the harshest punishment for dogfighting so far.

It’s this final bust that brings us to bright and shiny portion of this piece, where I get to talk about my favorite dog on the entirety of the Internet: a Pibble named Theodore.

Pibbling With Theodore!

Trish McMillan Loehr is a behavorialist and dog trainer who lives in Weaverville, North Carolina. She worked on several dogfighting busts when she was employed by the ASPCA, and two more as a contractor after she formed her own business, Loehr Animal Behavior. Interestingly, when she worked on the Missouri 500 case (as the leader of one of three behavior evaluation teams), it was initially believed that only 5-10% of the dogs involved could be safely placed in homes, but that number ended up being much higher than 50%.

Pibbling with Theodore in ASPCA Video

In 2013, as a contractor, Trish was called to work on the 367 case. It was here that she met Theodore, a dog destined to turn “Pibble” into a verb. According to Trish:

Theodore was one of the dogs seized as an adolescent. He didn’t show any particular behavior problems, so was not on my radar for the first seven months that I worked at his shelter. As the case was wrapping up and play groups were becoming a major focus of our behavior work, these adolescents were re-assessed for dog sociability.

As I was heading down from my last ten-day rotation, my friend Amy Cook said,  “You have to meet dog #947, we call him ‘the golden boy’ – he can play with anyone. He needs to belong to a trainer!”

It was Theodore, then named Felix (perhaps for his cat-like cropped ears). He was so wiggly and sociable with humans, as well as having phenomenal play skills. He was a favorite of many of us. Truly amazing for a dog who spent his first eight months on a chain and the next eight in an emergency shelter.

As sad as Theodore’s early life was, he was actually one of the lucky dogs. Because he was an adolescent, he was still too young to fight by the time that he was saved in the bust. And frankly, he’s so ridiculously dog-friendly that he probably would’ve just been killed or turned into a bait dog instead.

Pibbling with Theodore Pit Bull Doberman

In fact, Theodore was so good with other dogs that he became a helper dog for the ASPCA trainers, which meant that he helped shy and grumpy dogs learn to play and socialize. Eventually, he was adopted by Trish and Barry Loehr – his “staff” – and joined a multi-species family that includes Lili the Sato, Duncan the Doberman, Kindi the cat, and Joey the horse.

Now, Theodore’s days are mostly spent pibbling. For the uninitiated:

Pibbling is a verb invented by Theodore’s mom to describe the silly things that fun-loving dogs like Theodore do. These include zoomies, bulldozing into legs, leaping onto beds or furniture and knocking the breath out of you, leaping around with joy at about face height, head butts, giving hugs while nibbling your chin, and annoying dog siblings and kitteh and horse friends by arwoofing and trying to make them play.

His Facebook page, Pibbling with Theodore, is dedicated to all his ridiculous antics, like making art (read: destroying things), eating horse candy (read: eating horse poop), unsuccessfully wooing his feline sister, hugging and kissing anyone who will let him, and the list goes on.

Pit Bull Theodore and Dog Friend
Pit Bull Theodore Hugging Dad
Pit Bull Theodore and Doberman Duncan
Theodore and Duncan Playing
Pit Bull Theodore and Lightning Hopkins

Basically, Theodore is the perfect Pit Bull ambassador, and if that’s the sort of thing that matters to you, then you should absolutely go like and share and promote his page. This time next year, I’m hoping that “pibbling” will be an entry in the Oxford dictionary.

To learn more about the 367 rescue dogs, you should definitely follow the 367 Rescue Family Facebook page, as well specific rescue dog pages like The Mighty Finn, The Wondrous World of WickhamRuby’s Big AdventureTotally ZazBlue the Rescue Dog, Evan the Survivor, and Sydney Koehl Art with Love from Homer. These animals are living proof of how amazingly resilient and loving dogs can be, even the ones who’ve experienced a tremendous amount of trauma and terror at the hands of those they should’ve been able to trust the most.

Fighting Dogs Can Be Wonderful Family Dogs

There was a time when fighting dogs were automatically presumed dangerous and disposed of after their value as evidence was exhausted. This is extremely disheartening, since these dogs – even if they exhibit dog aggression – are often very fond of humans.

Even more disheartening, however, is that many of them aren’t all that dog aggressive to begin with. According to Trish Loehr:

“On average, it seems around half of the dogs seized at the fight busts I’ve worked don’t have the level of dog aggression needed to be a fighting dog, and can thrive as family pets.

Handsome Dan the Pit Bull

Fortunately, the general attitude toward former fight dogs has changed significantly over the years, thanks primarily to the Michael Vick bust and the rescues – like Best Friends Animal Society – that fought to save his victims. Says Trish on the subject:

Believe it or not, I think we have Michael Vick to thank for raising the profile of fight bust dogs. The fact that his dogs were assessed as individuals was groundbreaking. Before this, most fight bust dogs were euthanized.

Jim Gorant’s book, ‘The Lost Dogs,’ is essential reading for anyone who loves Pit Bulls. The first part is hard to read, with some tough details about dog fighting, but later on it tells what happened to each dog and their journey to new, happier lives. The fact that so many of his dogs did so well, in sanctuaries and eventually in homes, paved the way for assessing dogs from other busts and adopting out those, like Theodore, who showed no aggression.

Vicktory Dogs such as Cherry, Ray, Handsome Dan, Hector the Pit Bull, and so many more, put beautiful, perfect faces to this horrendous issue. In the years after they were saved from Michael Vick, they helped spread the word about the horrors of dogfighting. They proved how wonderful they could be as family members, Canine Good Citizens, service dogs, therapy dogs, and so forth. Some, indeed, are still spreading the word.

But not all dogs get over their dog aggression, and really, that’s not the end of the world. Long before Theodore was adopted by Trish (or had even been born), she and Barry had a Pit Bull named Buddy, an ex-fighting dog who was disposed of in a dumpster in Chicago. Barry saved Buddy before he met Trish, and while Buddy was always wary of strange dogs, he came to be completely fine around those dogs he was familiar with.

Buddy the Pit Bull and Lili the Sato

Says Barry:

While living in Brooklyn, I found an apartment with a small backyard, and soon became friends with neighbors who had two dogs and no backyard. I was determined to find a way their dogs could also enjoy my backyard. I put a muzzle on Buddy, brought in one of their dogs, and watched closely. It wasn’t long before they were existing side by side with no problem at all. I was extremely cautious and gave it plenty of time until I was confident there was no problem with removing the muzzle.

I had long thought that Buddy’s aggression was because he assumed he’d better attack another dog before they attacked him. Getting Buddy happily living with other dogs after using the muzzle in this manner seemed to back up my theory. After he’d been around another dog long enough to convince him there was no threat he was fine. I’d simply put the muzzle on him and let them do as they may for several days. Eventually he even learned to play with other dogs who were determined to teach him.

With time and the right resources, I’m convinced almost every dog of this type – that is, a dog brought up in the dogfighting world – can go on to make a great companion. After all, only one remaining Vicktory dog was court ordered to stay at Best Friends Society, and even that one – Meryl – continues to make great strides to this day.

But as Trish Loehr points out, most dogs rescued from dogfighting don’t get the resources of the Vicktory dogs. “Unfortunately,” she says, “most fighting dogs don’t go home with the thousands of dollars Vick had to pay for the lifetime care of his dogs, so the resources aren’t usually there to help the ones with severe problems.”

It’s the same old problem – too many dogs and not enough people or money to do right by them.

How Can We Put An End To Dogfighting?

367 Dogfighting Bust ASPCA Pit Bulls Rescued

This is what it all comes down to. We can talk about how evil dogfighting is, but at the end of the day, is it enough to end the awful sport? And if not, what’s it going to take?

Says Trish Loehr:

I think the visibility and press the Vick dogs got has kept the issue in the public eye. Seeing groups like the ASPCA and HSUS (as well as many smaller organizations) seizing dogs and prosecuting dogfighters, people are learning the signs to watch for, and are reporting it more often. The penalties are increasing as well – compared to the mere two-year sentence Michael Vick got, Theodore’s old owner is now serving eight years in prison.

I do think the appeal of blood sports is waning – every generation seems more humane toward animals than the last, and I truly believe that one day the last fighting dog will be unchained and this cruel “sport” will die. I really hope it happens during my lifetime. In the meantime, regular folks need to keep an eye peeled for signs of dogfighting, and report it.

Trish also points out that the ASPCA has a great list of ways YOU can personally help stop dogfighting. I’ve paraphrased them below:

1. Support stronger laws against dogfighting, e.g., longer sentencing for dogfighters (eight years is still nowhere near enough) and felony charges for spectators (if there’s no money in the sport, there’s no sport).

2. Contact your local media and alert them to the cruelty and dangers of dogfighting.

3. Contact your local law enforcement and tell them how important it is that combating dogfighting become a priority.

4. Keep an eye out for signs of dogfighting in your area.

5. Protect your pets – dogfighters have no qualms with kidnapping your dog or cat to use as a bait animal, so never leave them outside without supervision.

6. Adopt a Pit Bull and have some pibbling adventures of your own.

7. If you already have a Pit Bull, love them and care for them like they deserve, and don’t be afraid to brag about how great they are. (By the way, my Pit Bull is totally awesome.)

8. Volunteer at your local shelter and help keep as-yet-unadopted Pit Bulls mentally and physically fit.

9. Educate others about the evils of dogfighting.

While I hope against hope that dogfighting will one day become a thing of the past, I’m not as confident as Trish that that’ll ever be the case. My faith in humanity is strong indeed, but it’s the kind of faith that I’m ashamed of. Which is to say, I have faith that some portion of humanity will always be vile – to dogs, to other humans, to the world around us.

Having said that, I have no doubt that we can, at the very least, turn dogfighting into a shameful and rare activity. As ever, it’s all about education and legislation. We need to make dogfighters and dogfighting spectators terrified of the consequences of their actions with appropriately harsh prison sentences. We need to spread the word about the signs of dogfighting and how to spot them. And we need to tell the world that the victims of dogfighting – Pit Bulls like Theodore or The Mighty Finn or Handsome Dan or Cherry – are wonderful dogs who deserve love, admiration, and belly rubs out the wazoo.

Dogfighting information provided by the ASPCA & HSUS

Pibbling with TheodoreLoehr Animal Behavior

Featured image via ASPCA

The post What Is The History Of Dogfighting? appeared first on BarkPost.

Dog Park Blanket from Four Legs / Four Walls

Dog Park Blanket from Four Legs / Four Walls

Dog Park Blanket from Four Legs / Four Walls

Fun fact: I was totally a blanket kid. I was and am to this day a sucker for any and all cozy blankets, especially when they’re as rad as this one from Four Legs / Four Walls. The Dog Park Blanket is a) rad af and b) made from super soft New Zealand wool so it will keep you warm and comfy all year long. Heck, even if you don’t wrap it around yourself, it’ll still look awesome thrown across a sofa or even hung as a tapestry. Snag one for yourself at fourlegsfourwalls.com.

Dog Park Blanket from Four Legs / Four Walls

Dog Park Blanket from Four Legs / Four Walls


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Why Does My Dog Lie On My Feet?

Why Does My Dog Lie On My Feet?

It’s a common scene: You’re sitting at your desk, working, while your dog lays on your feet underneath. Or, you’re reading in bed and feel your pup curl up against your legs at the end of the mattress. It’s no surprise that dogs adore being near us (and vice versa). Yet, is it healthy and “normal” for them physically lie on their human’s feet all the time? Could this behavior be a sign of something negative? Whatever the reason, cuddling with your dog is never a bad thing, especially on cold winter nights.

Here are some considerations regarding the behavior though:

The Cause For Cuddling

Dog and person cuddling

Like so many of our dogs’ behaviors, laying on your feet has its roots in the instinctual pack mentality. Dogs are born into and raised in groups, needing little to no space from one another. Instead, they thrive while cooperating, communicating, and—yes—cuddling together. That stated, dogs may give their humans the preferential spot on the bed or couch as they view them as their pack leader. This respectful deference is often the reason why dogs sleep at the foot of the bed instead of, say, sprawled out across the pillows.

Furthermore, from the time they’re puppies, dogs follow their mothers closely, often directly underfoot. The desire to lie on your feet not only stems from an instinct to be close with loved ones, but to seek protection from pack leaders. If your dog continually places themself at your feet, it’s possible that they feels safest there. The fact that they also makes a wonderful foot warmer is just another bonus for you.

Possible Issues 

Curious dog

Despite the naturalness of touch between dogs and humans, reading your own dog’s cues is vital to understanding the reason for their behavior. A dog that cowers or huddles at your feet—meaning, they looks and feels tense, as well as appears insecure or frightened—may be in need of some help. While it’s important that you’re, first and foremost, your dog’s beacon of protection, it might not be healthy for your pup to constantly use you as a safety blanket. Taking these moments to work on positive training, or leashing your dog to take them for a short walk, may help ease the anxious mindset he’s stuck in. By taking positive steps towards having your dog lessen their fears or insecurities, you’ll be doing your dog (and their self-esteem) a longterm favor.

Similarly, if your dog is tense as they lays at your feet but in a hostile or aggressive way, it’s advisable to take positive steps to correct this behavior as well. Some dogs will sit or lie on their humans in order to express dominance or territorial feelings. If it feels as if your dog is “owning” you, then consider signaling to your pup that you’d like more space. Dogs that are rewarded for protecting you when you’re not in need of protection may continue this behavior to the point that it becomes problematic.

Separation anxiety can also turn a “velcro” dog into a dog that feels unsafe leaving your side. (Or, in this case, your feet.) While it’s natural for your dog to want to spend the maximum amount of time with you, if your dog appears anxious if he’s not touching you, then the behavior may not be healthy. Think of ways in which you can help your pup grow their self-confidence. Taking long walks, going running or hiking, exploring new places, hitting the agility course, trying new exercises or tricks, or meeting other people or dogs might allow them to develop a stronger sense of self, as well as feel more relaxed in the world.

Final Thoughts

If your dog laying at your feet is an enjoyable and natural state of being for both dog and human, keep the cuddles coming! For dogs that may be exhibiting signs of separation anxiety, fear, or dominance, consider working on establishing healthy and happy boundaries. That way, physical closeness with your dog remains a loving, comforting, and even joyful experience for everyone.

Lastly, as always, when in doubt about a behavior that seems troubling, consult a professional.

The post Why Does My Dog Lie On My Feet? appeared first on BarkPost.

Off Flavors in Homebrewed Beer – Troubleshooting Off Flavors

Off Flavors in Homebrewed Beer – Troubleshooting Off Flavors

This week I take a look at the 17 off flavors in home brewed beer found on the BJCP beer judging score sheet.  These are the major off flavors you will encounter when home brewing beer, and I’ve also provided links to my more detailed summaries of the causes and correcting each flavor.

Off Flavors in Beer

For those of you unfamiliar with the Beer Judge Certification Program at BJCP.org, it is the worlds largest program for certifying beer judges who evaluate beers for most of the beer competitions here in the US.  They also publish a style guide of standard beer styles along with a number of other references on judging and tasting beer.  Even for those who are not into competing, their standards are a great reference.

Along with judging materials they also publish the BJCP score sheet which is a scoring sheet used by beer judges.  I don’t compete with my beer, but I have used the score sheet on many occasions to evaluate my beers.

On the score sheet is a short summary of 17 off flavors found in beer, and it is a useful guide.  While it won’t cover other problems like imbalances in your beer, it is very useful to know the off-flavors as well as how to troubleshoot them.

I’ve written articles on all of the major off flavors, so I’ve provided a link below to the major article on each off flavor so you can bookmark this page and use it if you are trying to troubleshoot an off flavor in your beer:

As I mentioned this is a summary article – so if you are interested in learning more about any of the off flavors above and getting to root cause, just click on the links above.

Thanks for joining me on the BeerSmith Home Brewing Blog. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter or my podcast (also on itunes…and youtube…and streaming radio station) for more great tips on homebrewing.

Are Dog Treats From China Safe?

Are Dog Treats From China Safe?

Most people rightfully assume that the dog treats they buy at their local supplier are safe. However, reports of illness and even death from dog treats made in China are on the rise. So are dog treats from China safe to feed to your best friend? The question is a difficult one. Although dogs across the country eat imported goods every day without issue, there are vast differences in food regulation policies between China and the U.S. Unfortunately, in China, government oversight of pet food is low. The manufacturing of dog treats and food is held to a much higher standard here at home.

Thus, while the bag of chicken jerky treats that you picked up for your pooch could be safe, past reports unveil the unfortunate truth: According to over 5,000 reports made to the FDA, those treats could also be potentially toxic. The solution? It may be advisable to check the product label before purchasing. After all, the best bet for keeping your dog healthy may be to only buy dog treats made in the U.S.

Looking for dog treats that are made in the U.S.? Here are a few options that you can replace those bags of non-natural, additive-filled treats with:

Jerky Treats

Jerky Dog Treats

According to reports, many of the made-in-China dog treats sickening or killing dogs were labeled as “jerky.” The thought of it is devastating, but instead of swearing your dog off delicious dried meat for good, turn to U.S. produced dog jerky instead. Bark’s jerky treats, for instance, are safe, healthy, and made with love and care. The first ingredient also always reflects what’s on the label.

Premium Treats

Talk about an upgrade! Bark’s special premium treats are super high-quality goodies made with pure ingredients. Pups can indulge in bites of all-natural, grass-fed, and locally sourced dried or dehydrated meat. That means there are no fillers, no dyes, and no chemicals. There’s also usually only one ingredient on the label. Rather than a long list of questionable items, Bark creates beef treats from beef, and chicken treats from chicken—the way it should be.

Soft Baked Treats

Weiner dog eating treats

Given that Bark is run by people who are deeply passionate about dogs, these soft baked treats are another example of what a high quality dog treat should look (and taste) like. Unlike many of their imported counterparts, Bark’s soft-baked goodies contain no wheat, corn, or soy. And, like all Bark products, cheap and potentially unsafe shortcuts are never taken.

Freeze Dried Treats

Forget those treats mixed with pink or brown dye. Bark freeze dried dog treats are as simple as can be. What’s the process? Take a piece of all-natural meat, such as beef lung, and cold dry it until it’s safe and chewy. Dogs love these savory hunks of protein and, more importantly, you can sleep easy: there’s no harmful chemicals or additives here.

When In Doubt, Sign Up for a BarkBox

Dog With BarkBox

When shopping at your local superstore or grocery, you may encounter an aisle full of dog treats made in China. The labels are written in English; the product looks like something your best friend will enjoy. But due to the lack of regulation, an act of love may turn into regret. Thus, stick with what you know to be safe instead. Signing up for a BarkBox subscription results in two bags of treats per month arriving at your doorstep, along with other irresistible toys and other fun presents. As Bark’s treats are all made in the U.S., held to the high standard that your dog deserves, and created from the freshest ingredients, the question of “is this safe?” no longer needs to factor into the daily conversation.

The post Are Dog Treats From China Safe? appeared first on BarkPost.

What Are Some Easy Dog Treats To Make? (5 Quick & Fun Recipes)

What Are Some Easy Dog Treats To Make? (5 Quick & Fun Recipes)

It’s a fact—dogs love treats. And, as their owner (and best friend forever), you want to make sure you’re delivering the best treats possible.

So why not make them yourself?

Let’s take a look at some easy dog treats to make for your pup (and the recipes you’ll need to bring them to life):

Easy Dog Treats To Make For Your Dog

Weiner dog eating treats

Pumpkin And Peanut Butter Treats

If you want to make a quick, easy treat for your pup—and with only three ingredients to boot—this recipe from vegan blogger It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken is going to be your new fave. 10 minutes to prep, 30 minutes in the oven, and boom—you’ve got enough pumpkin and peanut butter treats to keep your puppy happy for days.

Pumpkin Peanut Butter Dog Treat Recipe

To make these treats, you’ll need:

  • 1 cup of oats (any kind of oats—old-fashioned, quick, or 1-minute—work just fine)
  • ¼ cup of natural peanut butter
  • ⅓ cup of pumpkin puree (make sure it’s pumpkin puree and not pumpkin pie filling!)

Turn your oven on and preheat to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Toss the oats in a food processor and pulse until they’re a fine powder. And in the peanut butter and the pumpkin and blend until it forms a dough. (The dough will be a little sticky, but that’s totally fine!)

Remove the dough from the food processor and roll it out to a ¼” thickness on a lightly floured surface (you can use whole wheat flour, brown rice flour, or extra oats to keep the dough from sticking to the counter). Cut out treats with a cookie cutter (a bone or puppy-shaped cookie cutter is extra cute!) and line up on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the treats are hard. Let cool before giving to your pup (and store extras in an airtight container).

Two-Ingredient Baby Food Dog Treats

2 ingredient dog treat recipe

If you want something even simpler, these two-ingredient dog treats from Dog/Milk are as easy as it gets. All you need is:

  • 2 cups of organic whole wheat flour
  • 2 4oz jars of pureed baby food

For the second ingredient, you can go with sweet potato, blueberry, chicken—whatever flavor you think your pup will love!

Turn your oven on and preheat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix the two ingredients until it forms a dough (add extra flour if the dough is too wet or water if the dough is too dry). Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface to a ¼” thickness and cut out shapes with a cookie cutter (or, if you want to keep it simple, use a pizza cutter to cut the dough into squares). Line up the treats on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool before giving to your pup and store extras in a paper bag (or, if you want the treats to be chewier, an airtight container).

Easy Peanut Butter Treats

PB Dog Treat Recipe

If your dog is crazy about plain, old peanut butter, these Easy Peanut Butter treats from Puppy Leaks will get their tails wagging.

To make these treats, you’ll need:

  • 2 cups of flour
  • ½ cup of creamy peanut butter
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup of water

Turn your oven on and preheat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Add the flour, peanut butter, and eggs to a large bowl and mix until combined. Add the water one tablespoon at a time until the mixture forms a dough. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to ¼” thickness and use a cookie cutter to cut out your desired shapes. Place your treats on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. If you want your treats to have a little bit of extra crunch, wait until the bottoms of the treat start to slightly darken before pulling the treats out of the oven.

Heart-shaped Chicken Treats

Does your pup want something on the savory side? These heart-shaped chicken treats from Kol’s Notes are a great way to get to your dog’s heart and stomach.

For ingredients, you’ll need:

  • 1 cup of cooked, finely diced chicken
  • ½ cup of rice (cooked and mashed into a paste)
  • 3 tablespoons of rice flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon of parsley

You’ll also need a silicone heart mold to shape and bake the treats. Or, if you want to go for a different shape, knock yourself out!

Turn your oven on and preheat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix all the ingredients until combined and spoon it into the heart-shaped silicone molds. Pop in the oven and bake for 20 to 30 minutes (you’ll know they’re finished when the tops are golden brown). Allow to cool before removing from the molds and store in the refrigerator for up to five days (if your pup can’t get through them fast enough, you can store the treats in the freezer for up to three months).

Sweet Potato Fries

Sweet potato fries are a favorite with humans – so why not make them for your pup with this recipe from Beagles and Bargains?

Turn your oven on and preheat to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Wash and peel the sweet potato and cut it into large, thin pieces (like fries!). Mix in a large bowl with one tablespoon of coconut oil and a sprinkle of cinnamon for some added sweetness. Spread out the fries on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Flip over the fries and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes and let cool before giving to your pup.

Don’t Want To Bake Your Own Treats? Try These Ready-Made Options

Large dog with treats

Now, making homemade treats for your dog is sweet (pun intended!). But if you’re pressed for time—or if the last time you actually made something from scratch was with an Easy-Bake Oven—there’s nothing wrong with stocking your cabinets with ready-made dog treats!

There are tons of options, from soft-baked treats (like Bonfire Bites) to jerky treats (like the Roasted Duck NYC Jerky Chews) to freeze dried (like the Beef Tendersticks). Just look for the flavors and textures your pup will love. And if you want to tell theym they’re homemade, knock yourself out—your secret is safe with us!

Keep The Treats Coming With BarkBox

Dog With BarkBox

If you want to make sure your pup has plenty of treats on hand—whether you’re in the mood to bake them or not—it’s time to subscribe to BarkBox. With BarkBox, you’ll get a carefully curated selection of toys, chews, and—you guessed it—treats (two bags!) delivered to your door every month. With so much yumminess packed into every BarkBox, it’s a treat for you and your dog!

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What Dog Treats Are Safe For Puppies?

What Dog Treats Are Safe For Puppies?

When you get a puppy, you want to shower them with love, affection, and rewards. And whether you’re a brand new dog owner or you’ve brought up pups before, your go-to instinct is probably to shower your puppy with that love, affection, and rewards in the form of yummy treats.

But what dog treats are the best for your growing pup? Are store-purchased dog treats safe for your little pup? And how can you make sure any treat you give your puppy rewards them with happiness—and doesn’t punish them by making them feel sick?

Are Dog Treats Good For Puppies?

Dog Eating BarkShop Bonfire Bites

Before we jump into which dog treats are safe for puppies, let’s first talk about whether giving your puppy treats is good for your puppy at all.

And the answer is yes, treats can be good for your puppy—as long as you use them correctly.

First, let’s talk about how to use your puppy treats. Even though you might be tempted to give your new puppy a treat every five minutes (and with an adorable face like that, who could blame you?!), it’s important to fight the urge and only use treats as part of your puppy’s training. Your puppy is going to need a lot of training to grow into a well-behaved, well-adjusted dog—and treats are your strongest tool for managing that training and teaching them skills like sitting or walking on a leash.

So, in a nutshell, dog treats can be a great thing for your puppy when you use them well. And if you give them the right kinds of treats! But what, exactly, are the right kind of dog treats for puppies?

What Dog Treats Are Safe For Puppies?

You wouldn’t give an infant a potato chip, would you? Of course not. Not only would it make them sick, but it’s just not safe.

It’s the same thing with puppies. The best treats for your 10-year old dog are not necessarily the same treats you want to give your 10-week old puppy. Not only are some dog treats too big for tiny puppies, but a lot of dog treats have ingredients or preservatives that your new pup’s tummy might not be able to handle—and if you give it to them, the only thing you’ll have to handle is a whole lot of diarrhea.

Certain dog treats can propose a safety hazard for puppies as well; because puppies teeth aren’t fully developed, they’re at greater risk for breakage—so treats that are too hard can cause serious damage to your pup’s chompers.

So, what dog treats are safe for puppies?

Soft-baked treats

Soft-baked treats (like the Dynamic Chewo Tuna and Chicken) are great for puppies because—you guessed it—they’re nice and soft. These treats are easy on your puppy’s chompers—and a lot safer for them to eat than harder treats.

Freeze-dried treats

Freeze-dried treats (like Stink, Steak, Stunk!) are perfect for puppies. They’re small, they have a ton of flavor (which makes them a great motivational tool for training!), and they’re easy for your puppy to chew.

Jerky treats

Jerky treats are nice and chewy—perfect for your little pup’s chompers. Just make sure to look for puppy-sized jerky bites, like the NYC Roasted Duck Jerky Bites.

Get The Best Treats For Your Puppy With BarkBox

Dog With BarkBox

You want the best treats (and, let’s be real, the best everything) for your puppy. And the best way to get them? BarkBox.

With BarkBox, you’ll get a carefully curated assortment of treats (two bags!), chews, and toys delivered straight to your door every month. And because each box is curated by size, you’ll be able to keep your puppy stocked in the best toys, treats, and chews as he continues to grow.

The post What Dog Treats Are Safe For Puppies? appeared first on BarkPost.

My Dog Ate Chocolate – What Do I Do?

My Dog Ate Chocolate – What Do I Do?

For humans, there are few foods more appealing than chocolate. Can you imagine a life without chocolate ice cream, peanut butter cups, or lava cake? No thank you.

But for your dogs, there are few foods more dangerous than chocolate. Chocolate is extremely toxic to dogs, and if your pup gets their paws into any of your chocolate, it’s important to take action—and to take action quickly.

But what actions, exactly, do you take when your pup gets into some chocolate?

My Dog Ate Chocolate, What Do I Do?

Sometimes, even when you think your stash is well-hidden, your pup finds a way to get their paws into it. So, if your dog ate chocolate, what do you do?

First, Figure Out How Much Chocolate Is Missing

If your pup does happen to get into your stash, the first thing you need to do is assess how much chocolate your dog has ingested. Your vet will want to know exactly how much chocolate your dog has eaten—and how much they’ve eaten relative to their size.

Call Your Vet

Once you’ve figured out how much chocolate your dog ate, call your vet immediately. They can give you insights into what the appropriate next steps are based on how much chocolate your dog ate, what kind of chocolate they ate, and how big they are.

If you have a large dog that ate a single Hershey Kiss, they’ll likely tell you just to keep an eye on your pup for any signs of chocolate poisoning (which include vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, restlessness, increased urination, or seizures and usually appear between six and 12 hours after ingestions). But if your dog has eaten a significant amount of chocolate, your vet will probably want you to bring them in for treatment.

If your dog ate the chocolate recently (within about two hours), your vet may induce vomiting and/or give them activated charcoal to remove the toxins from the body. If the theobromine has already been absorbed, your vet may need to monitor your pup and give them additional treatments (like IV fluids or additional medication) to manage chocolate poisoning symptoms.

Why Chocolate Is So Toxic For Dogs

English Bulldog

Now that we’ve discussed what to do when your dog has eaten chocolate, let’s talk about why chocolate is so toxic for dogs in the first place.

There’s an ingredient in chocolate called theobromine. And while this ingredient is just fine for human consumption, it’s poisonous for your dog—and needs to be avoided at all costs.

Different kinds of chocolate have varying levels of theobromine (dark chocolate has higher levels of theobromine than milk chocolate), but even a small amount can cause serious issues for your pup, so it’s important to keep your chocolate stash out of your pup’s reach at all times.

Keep Your Dog Out Of Your Chocolate With BarkBox

Dog With BarkBox

The best thing you can do to prevent chocolate poisoning is keep all chocolate far, far away from your pup’s paws. But you should also make sure they have plenty of other fun things to munch on—and that’s where BarkBox comes in.

With BarkBox, you’ll get a carefully curated selection of treats, chews, and toys delivered to your door every month—plenty to keep them out of your chocolate stash!

Featured image via Becky Stern

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