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Nutrition or Marketing? Don’t be fooled

Canine Nutrition

Nutrition or Marketing? Don’t be fooled

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As I was perusing the “New Movies Added” section, I came across a movie called PET FOOleD. I have not watched it (yet), but based on the title & the trailer, I can safely assert that it is about the pet food industry.

Though I am not a canine nutritionist, nor a vet, I have done a lot of reading about canine nutrition and do believe that we should not blindly purchase what is being marketing to us.

Some interesting reads along the years have come from the Whole Dog Journal. I was a subscriber for a few years. A big part of their mission is to educate people about nutrition and canine health.

The Dog Food Project has also been eye opening. There are a lot of articles on this website. Some may need updating, but a lot of great quality information. I particularly like how it is organized, with sections on reading labels, choosing a better dry food, determining how much protein is too much protein, feeding your dog a vegetarian or vegan diet, and so on. I don’t think they’ve forgotten to include anything! You could certainly spend days reading the content on that website.

The Dog Food Advisor is another good site. Though it has a lot of US brands that we don’t carry here in Canada, it also ranks dog foods that are only available in Canada. I love how everything is analyzed and easy to follow. Dog food brands are given a star rating. You can look up a specific brand, see how it graded and why, and make a better choice. I like this as a quick reference guide. However, I much prefer the aforementioned sites before you learn how to read labels and can make a sound choice without second guessing.

If you’re curious about the Pet Fooled movie, here’s a trailer. If you’ve seen it, let me know what you thought of it!



Preparing for baby

Chantal Mills No Comments

CONGRATULATIONS!!! You are expecting. Your life is about the change, baby. And for your dog ? Well, a lot is going to change too! The toys won’t all be his anymore. The noises will be odd and what about those smells ? The hardest change may just be not being the centre of attention anymore.belly_and_dog21



Dogs love routine, consistency, yada yada… you know this already. So of course they will notice,  that their life is changing.  They start noticing way before the baby arrives. Because dogs are so in tune with us, they can notice that our routine is changing. Perhaps you are sleeping more or maybe your work schedule has changed or perchance you are changing things in the home to get ready for baby. All these things can have an impact on rover.


I believe they notice the smell of pregnancy. Dogs have 250 million more scent receptors than we do (on average) so it only makes sense that they can smell the hormonal changes going on during pregnancy. Everest often came up to my belly to sniff me while I was pregnant.  There was a cute moment, when Dominik was just a few days old, where Everest came up to smell my belly, then went over to smell the baby, looked at me and then settled in his favourite spot. I like to think that it was a bit of an “ah ha” moment for him.


there is a lot that you can do to prepare your dog for baby.

You are the centre of your dog’s world. A new baby doesn’t have to upset your canine companion. With a bit of management and training, you can avoid the stress and anxiety a baby can bring into a dog’s life.

When I was pregnant for my son, I had 2 dogs and 1 cat. There were a lot of things that I did before Dominik was born that really made a difference. Practicing basic obedience in various areas in the house was hands down the best thing I did.  A sit/stay is really useful when you are changing a gross diaper! A solid “go to your bed” is handy when you are trying to feed a messy eater, or doing tummy time on the floor. I also spent some time teaching the dogs which toys were off limits. Everest is a toy shredder and I suspected that baby would be upset if he found all of his toys ripped and gutted. This was surprisingly easy and I didn’t need to buy TWO of Dominik’s favourite toys just in case 😉

Both dogs adjusted really well to this little furless creature. There was one scary moment, the day our Great Dane Hemingway met the new baby. I had Dominik on the floor and Hemi came by to sniff him. The sniff was very gentle, but then came the big old tennis racket sized paw. Yes, Hemi pawed the kid. Unfortunately, my mother was there and she was horrified… she thought I needed to rehome the dogs. Fortunately, Hemi was so sensitive that our reaction to his pawing was enough to make him never want to do that again. Had he been persistent, unpredictable, snappy and snarly I would not have been as encouraged.

Today, our son is 7 years old. Hemingway passed in August. Everest is now 11 years old. I have my son and Everest’s relationship grow and deepen. It’s moving to watch, and, I like to think, it all started when Dominik was in my womb.


The LINK between Domestic Violence & Animal Abuse

Ottawa Canine School 3 comments

It will come as no surprise to you, I’m sure, that there is a link between animal abuse and domestic violence. According to the Alberta SPCA, unknowndecision-making regarding leaving an abusive situation is negatively impacted by the presence of companion animals, and perhaps, to an even greater degree, by the ownership of livestock.  The statistics are significant: 59% of abused women who had animals
delayed leaving out of concern for their animals.  The full report can be accessed at albertaspca.org/cruelty

It is a real concern. What happens to the animals when a partner leaves an abusive relationship? In Ottawa, we now have an organization called SafePet that connects victims of abuse with a safe place for their pet. The pets are fostered until it is safe to be reunited with their family again. Find out more on their website: http://safepetottawa.com

What about legislation? What does the LAW say as 8149dcb5d1dfb3c75c1749559899bccfto what happens to the abused animals when a marriage dissolves in Canada? I haven’t yet found anything significant in my research. What I have found so far is more focused on regulating the animal’s behaviour rather than people’s behaviour towards animals. I’m either looking in the wrong spot or there is nothing to find. The State of Alaska is addressing the issue of what happens to pets living with domestic and/or animal violence when a marriage dissolves. Alaska has devised the most comprehensible bill in the U.S. (if not the world).  “Alaska HB 147 was signed into law on Oct. 27. The law, which takes effect on Jan. 17, 2017, will allow victims to petition the court for a protective order that the abuser may not remove, harm or dispose of any animals in the household, and to grant her exclusive care and custody of them. Peace officers investigating domestic violence cases must inform victims of this provision. The law also declares pets to be marital property and gives courts authority to decide individual or joint custody when people divorce, with consideration of what would be best for the animal. It also defines an act of animal abuse in this context as domestic violence.” (Link Newsletter, November 2016)

This article below is from the November 2016 Link Letter. Permission to repost was granted. Check out more on the link between animal abuse and domestic violence on their website: www.nationallinkcoalition.org

Alaska Legislation Allows Courts to Consider Pet Well-Being in Marriage Dissolutions and Pet Protective Orders

The State of Alaska has enacted the most comprehensive bill in the U.S., if not the world, addressing animal abuse committed to intimidate a spouse or partner in domestic violence settings. Gov. Bill Walker signed HB 147 into law on Oct. 27 in a ceremony that was widely awaited by the domestic violence, animal protection and Link communities (See the May 2016 LINK-Letter).

The measure, which takes effect Jan. 17, 2017, includes the following groundbreaking provisions:

  • The amended statutes AS 25.24.160(a),
    AS 25.24.210(e), AS 25.24.220(d), AS
    25.24.220(g), and AS 25.24.230(a) now
    allow Alaska courts to consider the well-
    being of animals when determining custody The new law will allow courts to consider animals’ well-being
    or joint ownership by a couple as part of a when awarding custody in divorce cases, include pet care costs in divorce proceeding. Such a provision has divorce decrees, add pets to protection-from-abuse orders, and long been established in child custody cases define animal abuse as an act of domestic violence.
  • Courts may now also amend divorce or marriage dissolution agreements relating to child custody and support, visitation, division of property and retirement benefits, and spousal maintenance to include ownership of an animal, taking into consideration the well-being of the animal.

Advocates (both human and canine) were on hand on Oct. 19 when Alaska Gov. Bill Walker signedinto law the historic HB 147


  • AS 18.66.100(c) now allows domestic violence protective orders to grant petitioners possession of a pet, regardless of the ownership of the pet. In addition, this provision must now be printed on the form providing notice to a victim of domestic violence. Alaska joins 30 other states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico with Pet Protection Order provisions.
  • Petitioners can now also ask the court to issue a protective order that requires the abuser to pay support not only for the victim or minor children, but also for pets in the petitioner’s care.
  • Under new terms in AS 18.66.990(3), Alaska now joins eight other states where an act of animal cruelty to a pet within a domestic violence context is also defined as domestic violence and can be prosecuted accordingly. Such provisions already exist in Arizona, Colorado, Indiana, Maine, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, and Tennessee. In addition, Louisiana and Arkansas are believed to have provisions whereby a history of animal abuse can be defined as emotional abuse and presented in domestic violence prosecutions as an enhancement to penalties (See the February 2016 LINK-Letter).The amended statute AS 18.65.590 now defines a pet as “a vertebrate living creature maintained for companionship or pleasure.” It does not include dogs owned primarily for mushing or pulling contests or practices or animals used primarily in rodeos or stock contests.

Coprophagia… when poop is a delicacy

Chantal Mills No Comments

crotteAccording to Wikipedia, Coprophagia  is the consumption of feces.  Coprophagy refers to many kinds of feces eating, including eating feces of other species (heterospecifics), of other individuals (allocoprophagy), or its own (autocoprophagy) Some animal species eat feces as a normal behavior; other species may not normally consume feces but do so under very unusual conditions.

Ok. That’s disgusting. Why do dogs do this?

Thcrottemonsieure reality is that from a dog’s point of view, dining on a Crotte Madame or a more traditional Crotte Monsieur just isn’t as revolting as it is to us. Not all dogs do it and I count myself quite lucky to have never owned a poop eating, face licking pooch. I have, however, worked with many dogs that do find it terribly appealing. One in particular would run up to any defecating dog and indulge in snurding (snacking on turds… yeah, I just made that word up) before the gooey goodness even hit the ground. This dog’s great pleasure was to go to the dog park and wait for snack time, to the horror of his doggy parent, as you can imagine

The theories abound as to why some canine companions, who are well fed at home, are dedicated to the poop diet.  Some say that dogs think it’s a valuable resource because humans rush to pick it up. Humans want to put a turd in a bag quickly and efficiently, therefore, said turd must be valuable. Apparently this would explain why a dog may want to eat it before we have time to claim it. I, on the other hand, am not so sure about this
whole resource guarding theory mainly because it assumes quite a high level of analysis from the dog’s perspective.

Others have theorized that dogs are drawn to it because something is missing in their diet (specifically Vitamin B).  Some dogs would, accorcrottesnackding to this theory, eat poop to compensate for a lack of certain minerals and vitamins? Seems like a crappy way to get your daily dose… but if it’s true, the fix would be pleasantly easy: just give the dog extra vitamins and minerals. It is also worth investigating if your dog is absorbing nutrients properly. If that is the case, simply adding them to his diet may not be the solution. Some folks have had luck adding enzymes that contain papain (think meat tenderizer) to their dog’s diet, to help with malabsorption issues.
pooppartySome dogs enjoy it as a frozen treat, otherwise known as Le Poopsicle. Others are cool with it at any temperature, as long as it’s not their own.  It stinks, I know, but is it dangerous? The answer, I’m afraid, is that it may be not only dangerous, but potentially fatal.  This is especially true when dogs prefer to dine on others’ dung. Dedicated poop eaters are at a higher risk of becoming infected with heartworms, hookworms, roundworms and tapeworms and of contracting parvovirus, giardia, salmonella and E. coli

If your dog is afflicted with coprophagia, you may want to visit your vet to make sure they haven’t been infected with anything and to also rule out the following health issues, which may also be motivating your dog to indulge:

  • cushing’s disease (increase of appetite)
  • thyroid disease (increase of appetite)
  • parasites
  • pica
  • malabsorption syndrome

If, like me, you have a dog who sticks to the regularly programmed dine-in option, please be mindful of others that are struggling with their coprophagic dog. The best thing we can do is pick up after our dogs. Not only is it part of being a responsible pet owner, but it helps in stopping the spread of disease. Doggy doo is not good for the environment. It’s not fertilizer – it kills grass and, if left alone, it can end up in our water supply. No one wants to step in it either. I like to consider doggy do pick up as a way to check in on my dog’s health. I know what I should be picking up and if it’s not what’s expected, it’s valuable information to have.


Try as we might, we still can’t remove all the poop from our dog’s environment. So what do we do to stop a dog from indulging? Management is always the first step in any training plan. This could mean keeping your dog on leash to prevent him from reaching the delicacy. It could also mean muzzle training your dog so that he can run around and play, but not eat anything that would be off limits. Training can also help.  A solid recall, for example, would be golden. Being able to call your dog away from a tempting snack… yes please! You could also teach your dog that turds are aversive, but that requires a lot of management and getting to the feces before (or at the same time as) your dog. If your dog has coprophagia, you are probably already scouting out the environment for brownies, but teaching your dog that they are evil, sounds like a strategy that is unrealistic and exhausting.

If you are struggling with this issue, we can help. We offer a Total Recall class, private lessons, and we also have a (free) lending library stocked up with great resources.



Barking Barista and the OCS

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If you have been to the Ottawa Canine School (421 St. Laurent blvd), you may have seen Barking Barista Coffee on the shelves. Barking Barista is co-owned by Matthew Ellis and Chantal Mills, husband and wife team behind the brand. Chantal is also the owner and head trainer of the Ottawa Canine School, which is why it came to be that part of proceeds from the coffee sales goes to help dogs in need. You can read more about the story and people behind Barking Barista Coffee Roasters here.

Just this past Saturday, the Barking Baristas had the pleasure of hand delivering a special donation to the lovely folks of the Ottawa Dog rescue. . “Donation time always gets us a bit giddy, as not only do we want to craft the best, most delicious cup of coffee but we also have an unstoppable drive to help animals in need. Hand delivering a donation is our biggest reinforcer. It’s why we care so much about every part of the coffee roasting process. It is what fuels the drive… that, and coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.” – Chantal


Andrea Valois, President and Co-Founder of The Ottawa Dog Rescue (pictured here with puppy mill survivor Chanel the Chihuahua), contacted us many months ago. She had heard about our coffee from a friend of hers, who enjoyed a cup when we served it up at Etsy Made in Canada. He raved about our coffee and told her about how we help dogs.  For the last 10 months, we have been putting aside a portion of our proceeds  in support of the Ottawa Dog Rescue.




Left to right: Andrea Valois (with Chanel) Chantal Mills, Matthew Ellis. Picture taken at the Beechwood Farmer’s Market, where the Barking Baristas can be found Saturdays between 9am and 2pm.

The Ottawa Dog Rescue is a registered charity and has been in the community for 3 years now. They are an all breed, foster based, volunteer run rescue dedicated to saving abandoned, neglected & abused dogs. If you wish to donate directly to them, it’s easy peasy! You can do so directly on their website.

Here are some of their adoptable dogs… I know!!! Irresistible








Thank you to everyone who has purchased beans, hot coffee and cold brew coffee, or given us money “for the dogs”. You have helped make this happen and I can tell you that the donations are deeply appreciated.

Request support for a dog or rescue in need

If you would like the Barking Baristas to know about a dog in need, we’d love to hear from you.  Reach out and request our support, or request coffee for your fundraiser. Find out more about how we help.

Drink Coffee. Help Dogs.


Pictured: Chantal (owner of the Ottawa Canine School and co-owner of Barking Barista Coffee Roasters) holding Puppy Mill survivor Chanel

Giving cookies to dogs doesn’t work, right?

Chantal Mills one comments

When I was a so-called traditional trainer, when I first started training dogs, I really did not understand how using food in training could be as effective as what I was doing. I’ll be frank – I thought only the weak had to revert to using food.  Ah… how wrong I was!

I will NEVER say that punishment doesn’t work. I use it too. Ignoring a dog that wants your attention is punishment. Taking away an item your dog is guarding, is an example of punishment. Harsher punishment also works, and works awfully well. I know, I used it on my dog and taught others to do it with their dog. I also didn’t think I was hurting any dogs, nor did I ever consider it a problem if I made them uncomfortable in any way. In fact, I was untrained in recognizing the signs of discomfort and stress in a dog.

I continued to learn. That insatiable thirst to know more and more and more wouldn’t leave me. Though reluctant at first, I let my mind consider other ways to train a dog, and I allowed myself to consider training options that involved food. It was not easy to unlearn things I so fervently believed. It took a lot of time for me to let go of concepts and approaches that had made up the basis of how I operated. Even my dog was confused. But, I persevered. I really wanted to “get it”. My dog adapted and the changes I saw in him are what made me decide that I could not go back to what I was doing.

Today, I look for more than just compliance from my pets. That used to be the golden standard and what I used to get from my dog Everest. To get him to comply, I had to give a leash correction and I needed a prong. I don’t care about compliance any longer.  Nope. I strive for cooperation. I allow my dog to choose to engage with me and you know what? when you remove the threat of an aversive, that possibility of a correction no matter how light you make it, it is amazing how willing that animal becomes. That may be difficult for some to relate to. I expect that. Believe me, I would have scoffed at that notion 10 years ago. It may feel like you are relinquishing control. I get it. I would have thought so too a decade ago. However, today, I see that a relationship based on cooperation is not only kind and humane, but more powerful than a relationship based on avoidance.

My dog used to “talk back” to me a lot, but at least he did what I asked him to do. How is that success? I want more than a dog going through the motions just because I asked him to. Do I have all the answers? Nope. I wish. But I will never stop my quest for knowledge, I will continue learning from my mistakes, and I will strive to keep an open mind since that is what got me here in the first place.

Here is a blog entry from a fellow dog trainer that is well worth the read.

But We Don’t Give Our Kids a Cookie Every Time they Tie Their Shoes!

The Dog, The Gorilla, and the Gun

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Here’s a good article that has some interesting things to say about the recent incident involving a child at a zoo:

The Dog, the Gorilla, and the Gun

What Does a “Force-Free” Trainer Do Anyway?

Chantal Mills No Comments

Don’t get the wrong idea! I’m a firm believer in humane and respectful training. You won’t see me giving the leash a good “pop” to get a dog’s attention, nor will you hear me tell folks that they should be the dominant one in their relationship with their dog. I used to do and say those things, but I’ve continued to attend seminars, workshops and read countless scientific based research and can no longer see the value in using intimidation and “I’m the boss” techniques in my practice. So this blog post entitled “Why I’m not a Force Free Trainer” caught my attention.  I wanted to see what the author, Sarah Reusche from Paws Abilities had to say about Force Free training and see if there was anything I could learn.
I found her entry very interesting and hope you will too.



What Every Pet Owner Needs To Know About Dog Trainers

Chantal Mills No Comments

Here’s a great little list entitled ‘What Every Pet Owner Needs to Know About Dog Trainers

I really like #10 – “Just because dog training is an unregulated industry doesn’t mean that some of us are not preparing ourselves and learning to train as though it was”. That is definitely our approach at the Ottawa Canine School! I strongly believe in continued education. It was crucial to my former career, and still is now.

Stop, look and listen!

Chantal Mills No Comments

Sharing a blog post that I found most interesting. What if your dog runs out into traffic?


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