Category Archives: American Staffordshire Terrier

The Best Dogs for Apartment Living

By Ruthie Bently

I have been in the retail pet industry for over twenty-five years now, and have seen many different dog breeds living with their owners in apartments. I have also seen many lists of dogs that are “suitable” for apartment living, and they included sizes from toys to giants. Then I realized one simple fact (at least for me); the best dog is the one that is right for you! In other words, if you love a dog, then you will do what you can to make it work. I lived with my first American Staffordshire Terrier in a small home with a postage stamp sized yard.

Whatever kind of dog you choose, there are a few things you should consider if you live in an apartment. Are dogs allowed in your building? Is there a limit to the size or weight of dog you can have? Do you need to put down a deposit? Do you need to supply references to the building owner? If you live in an apartment, are you willing to take the dog out at 3:00 AM to go potty? I actually had clients that lived with three Great Danes in a third floor walk up and they were very happy, but that isn’t for everyone. You should consider the dog’s daily exercise needs and energy level. How will they interact with others (pets, people and kids) in a small space? What is their temperament like? Are they hard to groom, and how trainable are they? What is their excitability level? Are they a barker and will they go off like a firecracker if they hear a noise in the hall?

Everything I have read agrees that any dog in an apartment needs exercise every day. This can help curtail boredom and the problem of having an over exuberant dog racing around the apartment when you get home. You don’t need a yard to own a dog, but the dog still needs daily exercise. A bored dog can do a lot of damage to your belongings and the apartment. There are several alternatives to a yard, including dog parks, public parks, hiking paths and dog walkers or exercisers. You could join a flyball or Disc Dog team and practice every day.

So which dog breeds are the best for apartment living? Small to medium breeds usually do better, as they need less exercise and may be less rambunctious. Some of the smaller breeds that may work for you are: Basset Hound, Bichon Frise, Bulldog (French or English), Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Chihuahua, Chinese Crested, Cockapoo, Corgi, Dachshund, English Toy Spaniel, Italian Greyhound, Lhasa Apso, Maltese, Miniature Pinscher, Papillion, Pekingese, Pomeranian, Poodle (Miniature, Toy, or Standard), Pug, Shih Tzu, Schnauzer, Poodle, and Terriers such as Australian, Boston, Bull, Manchester, Scottish, West Highland White and Yorkshire.

As to a list of larger dogs suitable for apartment living, I hesitate to suggest too many (other than the Greyhound, which is a great couch potato). Here are some larger size dogs that, with the proper amount of daily exercise, might do okay in an apartment: Akita, Chow Chow, Collie, Boxer, Bullmastiff or Mastiff, Doberman Pinscher, German Shepherd, Great Dane, Newfoundland, Old English Sheepdog, Rottweiler, Saint Bernard, Samoyed, Shar Pei and Springer Spaniel.

Regardless of size, dog breeds with higher energy levels should be considered carefully. If not properly exercised and well-trained, these dogs can be unpredictable and can do unbelievable damage in a short amount of time. Smaller breeds can sometimes be trained to a litter box or pheromone scented papers, which can be helpful late at night. Some breeds are more prone to barking or making mischief than others. My best advice to you is to research breed characteristics before you adopt a dog. These are only my guidelines and you should pick the dog that is best for you and your lifestyle. You might also wish to check your local shelter to see if anyone has recently given up a dog that lived in an apartment. This way you not only get a dog used to living in an apartment, you are also saving a life.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

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Training Dogs with Kindness

By Ruthie Bently

I grew up with a saying “You can get more flies with honey than vinegar.” Did you know that you can train a dog with kindness and compassion and get better results than when you try to browbeat them? I got my first American Staffordshire Terrier as a Christmas present on December 27th, 1981. He was a great dog and he is gone now, but he taught me several valuable lessons. One of them was to go with my own instincts as to how I trained my dog.

Growing up, I was familiar with dogs and choke chains. I was bothered with the “choking” factor, but it was an accepted way to train dogs in the 1960s and 1970s. With Nimber I learned that AmStaffs, though stubborn as a donkey (this is the polite word), were also capable of being sensitive. Sounds funny doesn’t it? I never knew the dog I got could be a prima donna.

Nimber and I got through his puppy training class and he was pretty well behaved when I gave him commands, so I wasn’t sure about continuing on with training classes. I wanted a companion who paid attention to what I told him and did what I asked him to do. Nimber did about 75% of the time, and I wasn’t really looking forward to going back to class. Nimber didn’t really like school and I couldn’t blame him; I hated school when I was young, why should he be any different.

Nimber and I were going along fine, and I found I needed to go out of town and couldn’t take him with me. OK, not a big deal; I had a great kennel. They would feed his regular food, supplements and give him biscuits for being good. When I scheduled his stay, I was asked if I wanted training time. They explained that it would be a refresher course for Nimber and wouldn’t cost extra. So I said “Sure, why not?” What a jerk I was. The owner of the kennel was a trainer, but unfortunately not Nimber’s trainer. Her husband who was used to dealing with police canine units was Nimber’s trainer. That was my mistake.

I went to pick Nimber up when I got home, and interrupted a training session. My four-legged child, who knew my vehicle by its sight and sound, my smell and all the canine triggers a dog has at their disposal, knew I was there before he could see me, and he reacted. So did the trainer, he grabbed Nimber’s ear and pinched it between his finger and the chain of the choke collar Nimber was wearing for the training session. I was out of the car by this point and saw Nimber yelping, blood beginning to seep from his ear, and a masochist trainer still holding Nimber’s ear in a pinch. I very politely went over to him and got my dog before he could do any more damage to my dog’s body or spirit. I paid my bill, took my poor dog home and never went back.

What this taught me was to check into whose care I am putting my beloved pets, no matter how well I think I know them. It also made me look for alternative forms of training for subsequent dogs. I have read numerous books on training since then and have used the techniques I found within. Through this process, I also learned that you don’t have to bully a dog into doing what you want them to do. When you treat them with kindness and respect, they will give you back the moon.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

Skye, My Special Needs Dog

I have mentioned my American Staffordshire Terrier Skye in several of my articles. Some of you may know of her health issues, but I thought I would share them with you because dogs, cats and other animals with special needs need loving homes too.

I was not going to get another dog for a while after losing my last AmStaff Smokey Bear to old age at over 19 years old. I live in the country and have done so for over ten years now, with never a qualm of being in the “boonies,” as some of my friends call it. However, a violent crime a few miles from my house changed my thinking and after discussing it with my boyfriend, we began looking for another dog to share our lives with.

I found a breeder who had a retired AmStaff that needed a home; however, after discussing her with the breeder I found out that the dog’s handler wanted to adopt her, too. I didn’t feel right about taking her away from the only family she had ever known, and the breeder understood. The breeder mentioned she had another dog that needed a home, but she was hesitant because this dog (Skye) had special needs. Skye is a beautiful representation of the American Staffordshire breed. However, when she turned a year old and went into season for the first time, she began having idiopathic juvenile seizures.

What this means is that she began having seizures for no apparent reason. Skye was checked for epilepsy and did not have it, but that didn’t keep her from having seizures. The breeder had taken Skye to not only a regular vet, but a homeopath as well, and Skye had even been to the state university’s veterinary college to try and figure out what was wrong with her. Skye had grand mal seizures in clusters, which means that she had the most severe seizures and for hours at a time. The breeder mentioned that the seizures had gotten so bad, sometimes she would spend the night next to Skye’s crate to try and keep her calm. Some nights she would kiss Skye good night and say a prayer that Skye would still be here in the morning.

After hearing this story, I am sure you are saying “What were you thinking?” It may be hard to understand, but I had no other thought than to give this special girl a safe, caring, loving home of her own. Don’t get me wrong, I did lots of research into not only seizures but epilepsy as well, as that was the best information I could find that explained seizures and why they happen. I spoke with family and friends to get their opinions of whether or not they felt I was up to the task. I spoke with a trainer, who knows not only me but all the other AmStaffs I have lived with that had special training issues. I also spoke with a friend that said “Run like hell in the other direction,” so this story is not without its detractors.

I even spoke with an animal communicator to see how Skye felt about leaving the only home she had ever known. Speaking through the animal communicator, Skye said she couldn’t understand why she was still at the breeder’s. She knew that other dogs had gone home with families and didn’t know why she hadn’t. I asked Skye if she knew why she had seizures and got a surprising response: Skye thought all dogs had them and thought it was normal, but couldn’t tell me why she had them. I asked the animal communicator to ask Skye if she had any questions for me. Skye did, and what she asked me made me cry. Skye wanted to know if she didn’t live very long if I could still love her as much as I would love another dog. I asked the animal communicator to please tell Skye that I would love her if she was with me for three days or twenty years, but that I was aiming for the twenty year range. I also asked Skye if she wanted to come and live with me and she answered “Yes.” This was important to me, because she was coming from a place with a huge back yard she could run in safely to a place where we had no dog fences yet and where she would have to be walked on a leash until we could remedy the situation.

The breeder had a few requirements for me as well. I had to go for an interview to see if I would be able to handle an AmStaff to her satisfaction. A handsome boy named Henry helped me with that one. Henry got nosy and I didn’t back up or walk away, I just pushed him back and treated him as I would have treated any of my other AmStaffs if they got bossy. I passed the test and after learning about Skye’s requirements I got to bring her home with me.

We go to Skye’s vet every six months for blood tests, so her medication levels can be checked. She also has blood tests to make sure that her kidney and liver functions are normal, because the medication she is on can affect that also. Skye is completely off of Phenobarbital now but is still on Sodium Bromide, which keeps her seizures in check. Actually, my sweet Skye is closing in on her year and a half anniversary of being seizure free, and we have been blessed to never have seen one.

I believe that with love and faith all things are possible, and I have been blessed with a dog that proves it to me every day.

Ruthie Bently

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

How to Pick the Best Dog Toy

Today when you walk into your favorite pet shop there are many more toy options for dogs than there used to be. There are a few things to consider when buying toys for your dog. Do you need toys for a puppy, or adult dog? There are a few things to keep in mind when buying dog toys.
First of all you want to buy toys that are age appropriate. For example, if you have an older dog that loves to tug and is trained to “drop” their toys, by all means buy them a tug. However, this is not a good choice for a puppy starting out, because they may not want to let go of the tug when you want them to. The problem this presents is that if the puppy has the TV remote or your cell phone, you need to be able to recover them from the puppy without too much fuss.
Another thing to consider is buying toys that are size appropriate. If you have a 120 pound Bullmastiff you wouldn’t buy a toy that is more suited to a Pomeranian. You don’t want to get a puppy toy for a full grown dog, no matter how cute it is. The reason I say this is that a puppy’s teeth will not usually do the same damage to a toy as an adult dog’s teeth. An adult dog can make mincemeat of a puppy toy pretty quickly, because their teeth are fully developed while a puppy is still getting their teeth. On the other hand, getting a toy a puppy can grow into is not as farfetched as it sounds. Puppies can grow very quickly and that toy that you brought home last week may be too small next week.
You should also gauge the activity level for your dog when considering a toy. If you have a couch potato with a low activity level that loves to chew, you don’t necessarily want to get them a Frisbee that will take a lot of activity to chase around. While I agree exercise is great for dogs, you need to determine their activity level before getting them a toy that may be too far above their current activity level. Just as we need to work up to a certain activity level, so do our dogs. So if you want to get that Frisbee go ahead, but remember that you should start with 5 to 10 minutes of activity if your dog is not used to any at all.
Last but by no means least you should consider the chewing level of your dog when buying them a toy. I have had American Staffordshire Terriers since 1981 and thought I was well-versed in their tricks with their toys. However I learned something that I have been telling my customers for years, “Every dog is different”. While I knew this myself, I got a refresher lesson, courtesy of Skye.
I made the mistake of buying Skye a rope bone with two tennis balls on it. I was going to toss it and she would go catch it and bring it back to me, at least that is what I thought. Skye had another idea. The first time we got to go outside to play with it, I threw it, and Skye went and got it. So far so good, however Skye decided to test out the strength of the tennis balls. She put her foot down on one end of the tug to hold it still and grabbed one of the tennis balls in her mouth. The tennis ball “popped” like a balloon, and that was the end of one of the tennis balls on Skye’s new rope bone. The toy now resides in the toy box, and I’m not sure I even want to give it to her again. While Skye was pleased with herself, I was worried about how quickly the tennis ball came apart and how many pieces she made of it in less than a minute’s time. I would not want her to swallow one of those tennis ball pieces if I give her the toy again, so in the toy box it stays until I figure out who has a dog small enough to gift it to.
If you remember these easy tips by buying toys that are appropriate for the age, size and activity level of your dog, not to mention their chewing level and ability; you will save yourself time and money and have a few less headaches in the bargain.

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

American Staffordshire Terrier, Breed Profile

The beautiful lady in the picture is my dog, Skye. She is an American Staffordshire Terrier. The American Staffordshire Terrier is a breed that was recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1936 and is a member of the Terrier group.
According to the breed standard of the AKC the general impression of the breed is as follows: “The American Staffordshire Terrier should give the impression of great strength for his size, a well put-together dog, muscular, but agile and graceful, keenly alive to his surroundings. He should be stocky, not long-legged or racy in outline. His courage is proverbial.” Skye is all that and more.
American Staffordshire Terriers (AmStaffs) are a true terrier breed. They are fearless, loyal, courageous and strong for their size. They are well-suited for many of the canine sports available to dog enthusiasts these days. They are good at agility, tracking, and obedience, as well as confirmation. Some of the jobs assigned to this plucky breed include police work, guarding stock, weight pulling, as well as being watch dogs. They need to have a job to do and are never happier than when they are active. This is a breed that needs a fair amount of exercise, and is perfectly happy whether going for a walk or playing a rousing game of ball or Frisbee in the yard.
The adult AmStaff should weigh about 50-65 pounds (23-30kg), and size range for males should be between 18 to 19 inches and bitches should be between 17 to 18 inches at the withers. They have a short coat that is easy to care for. Their life span is usually between 10 and 12 years, but Smokey, my last AmStaff was almost 20 when he passed. They don’t tend to be troubled by hip dysplasia, but congenital heart disease and hereditary cataracts have been reported. Because of their deep chest they can suffer bloat.
The AmStaff is a very social dog and loves their family. They are bred for their temperament and gentleness and make great family dogs. However, because of their keen intelligence like most terriers, they can be independent and stubborn, so they need to be trained and socialized properly. They are not a dog for everyone, and like any large strong dog they need to know you are the alpha dog. However, when raised with love and kindness they make fabulous companions.
Skye was raised in a kennel and only knew other AmStaffs, before she came to live with us. While she was good with other dogs and people, I wasn’t sure how she would be with my cats, chickens and geese, as she had never been around any. She does like to chase the chickens and I have never left her unsupervised with them. I did watch her chase a gander one day, but watching her, I noticed she wasn’t trying to catch him, even though I knew she was capable of it. She was just trying to put him in his place and establish her own place in the pecking order. As for the cats, when everyone gets into bed at night if Skye is up with us, Munchkin (a 6 pound adult) likes to sleep perched up on top of Skye; and the rest of the cats have a healthy respect for her, though she has never harmed any of them. 
AmStaffs can be a handful and are not for everyone, but with the right person, they can be a super companion and friend for life.
Ruthie Bently

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.