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Choosing The Best Collar For Your German Shepherd

German shepherd wearing collar

A German Shepherd is a big dog with a unique head shape—which makes it especially important to choose a properly fitted collar. Your dog's collar is where you attach vital information: ID tag, phone contacts, pertinent health info, etc. That's why fit is so crucial for comfort and to ensure that the collar stays on, whether he's running through the woods or crawling into tight spaces.

To measure for fit, place a tape around your dog's neck halfway between the back of his head and top of his shoulders. Then add at least one inch for correct sizing. When the collar is fitted properly, you should be able to slip two fingers between his neck and collar.

Keep in mind that German Shepherds have a unique head shape, with a thick neck (generally 18" to 24") in relation to skull size. That means shepherds can slip out of their collars if they are not fitted carefully. Also, choose a collar 1" to 1.5" wide to prevent a strong dog from slipping free.

Your German Shepherd is no Chihuahua. He's powerful with a strong pulling reflex and, even as a puppy, he can be a challenge to control. But when properly trained, your breed is a model of predictable behavior. Here are some frequently used training collars:

  • Choke Collar: Commonly used for temporary correction, it tightens around the dog's neck when the lead is pulled, getting his attention, then slipping loose. A choke collar can be dangerous if left on an unsupervised dog. Prong or pinch collars should only be used under the guidance of a trainer.
  • Head Collar: Also called "gentle leaders" or "halters," these attach around the head and behind the ears. Currently popular, they allow gentle correction by pulling at your dog's weakest point, the muzzle, while allowing him to pant, drink, and bark.
  • Harness: Consider this option if your dog has a respiratory or throat problem that makes wearing a conventional collar uncomfortable. Just remember that harnesses were designed to give working dogs more pulling power. That means you'll have less control when walking your strong German Shepherd. You can also try a No-Pull Harness, which puts gentle pressure against the chest and discourages pulling.

For your German Shepherd puppy, consider having both a conventional and training collar on hand. And always speak to a qualified dog trainer if there's any question about the proper use of a corrective collar or training device. Remember, keeping your German Shepherd safe and comfortable is the first priority when selecting the perfect collar.

  • When Should You Switch Your Senior Dog to Soft Food?

    smiling lab sitting in front of brick wall


    As your dog ages, you’ll likely notice changes in your best pal’s energy levels, routine and even muzzle. Older pets may require adjustments to help them get around, exercise and live their best life as a senior. One important aspect of caring for a dog entering their golden years is diet.

    When it comes to diet, every dog has unique, individual needs, regardless of age. So, there's no one easy answer to the question of soft food versus hard food. Both types of food can provide your dog with the nutrition they need — as long as you feed your dog a high-quality dog food that’s nutritionally balanced and complete.

    two dogs eating from two bowls

    Signs Your Senior Dog May Benefit from Wet Food

    If your dog has very specific health concerns, such as aging joints or weight issues, consult with your vet for more information about what type of food best addresses your dog's needs. That being said, there are a few reasons why you may consider switching your senior dog to soft food.
     

    fluffy brown dog yawning showing teeth

    Teeth Sensitivity

    As your dog gets older, their teeth may become more sensitive, which can make chewing kibble more difficult and even uncomfortable. Switching to a soft food can help to alleviate your pet’s oral discomfort when eating.

    However, if your dog is experiencing serious pain at mealtime from a condition like tooth decay or gingivitis, switching to soft food won't remedy the problem. Make sure you talk to your vet about oral care and dental treatment.

    Digestion Aid

    Digestion begins in the mouth with saliva, so if your dog has a tendency to scarf down meals, they may not be adequately chewing the food or adding enough saliva to it. Soft food can aid with digestion because it's more easily chewed.

    Hydration Help

    It’s no surprise that wet food has a higher moisture content when compared to dry kibble. If your senior pup is prone to urinary-tract issues or simply needs a little help staying hydrated, canned dog food may be a good choice.

    girl kissing older dog on the head

    Slower Metabolism

    Aging dogs tend to have a slower metabolic rate compared to their younger years, which puts them at a higher risk of becoming overweight or obese. Many nutritionally balanced wet dog foods offer high protein content with fewer carbs than dry food, which can benefit older dogs with slower metabolism. Always talk to your vet if you have concerns about your pup’s weight.

    Picky Eaters

    While wet food may be less than appetizing to humans, the opposite is true for dogs! If your aging best friend has started turning their snout up to dry food, wet food tends to be more appealing to picky eaters. Mixing wet food and kibble offers your pup a variety of flavors and textures; try adding wet food as a topper on dry food for a real treat!

    Whether you choose dry food, soft food  or a mix of both, ask your vet before making any transition. And when it's time to switch your dog's food, remember to do it slowly — even if it's the same brand and flavor — to help prevent stomach upset and allow your dog time to adjust.

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