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Hey everyone! My name is Ben - I grew up with dogs my whole life but this is my first time having my own dog. I am 32 and live alone (but have a lot of friends and family support. Mila is 3 ½ months old and is pit bull / black lab mix with maybe other breed(s) as well.

I am so lucky! Her mom was owned by a homeless person and the rescue that took her in did such a great job with her. She is so sweet and smart. I have a few questions hopefully I can find some help with.

1. She loves other animals! But plays aggressively. You can see her prey drive kick in. She bites and nibbles but it’s never maliciously. Usually she’s submitting and on her back when she does it, same when playing with me. I know this can be common with puppies but any advice on how to train her not to? So far I do the “ouch” and shun her for a short time (she’s stubborn and doesn’t seem to care when I don’t give her attention haha). Also, I will put her on timeout in her play pen if she gets too aggressive when people / animals are around.

2. What leashes are best? In terms of style and brand? She just got her final shots and I’ve been taking her on walks with a harness. She does fine but I just want to make sure I’m providing something for her that is safe and comfortable.

3. It’s been very concerning learning of all the politics around dog food (certain experts in medical / behavioral fields suggesting food because their associations have partnership with specific food companies). What I would like to know:

-grain or no grain diet?
-what kibble brands do you suggest? Right now I am feeding her Nutri Source grain free.
-should I be feeding her more “human” food? I’m not training her to be Lebark James but we will be living an active lifestyle (running, hiking, swimming). She’s very athletic so probably will get her in agility courses. What diets are suggested for this?

Thank you all so much for your time and suggestions! Mila is the best and I want to make sure I can make her as happy as she does for me.

-B & Mila

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Hi and welcome. To answer your questions in order -

I don't encourage a lot of play with other dogs, for several reasons. First, I like my dog to be dog neutral, with maybe a couple of doggy friends who belong to friends of mine. That way, I can be the centre of his universe and the source of all things fun, which makes it a lot easier to keep his focus. And that makes training and walking much easier and more enjoyable. Also, not every other dog wants a big youngster bounding up to them. They might be old, unwell, recovering from injury, nervous or just intolerant. And Mila will soon lose her 'puppy license' so dogs will be less tolerant in general. And, it wouldn't be natural for you to be best friends with every random stranger you meet in the supermarket, it isn't really natural for dogs to play with every other dog they meet.

When she is mouthing you, the 'ouch' and walking right out gives a clear message that teeth on skin = end of play. Don't just shun her, get up and walk out, closing the door behind you. You only need to stay out for 10 seconds, but if you are consistent - every household person, every time - she will get the message. Come back in and shove a tuggy rope toy in her mouth and continue with appropriate play.

Leashes are a personal preference, I don't like extending leads used by roads as the lock can fail or fingers can fail but I don't have strong views beyond that. Harnesses however - Y shaped front (like Perfect Fit) rather than H shaped front (Julius K9) every time. The H shaped front restricts natural shoulder movement.

Dog food - if you ask two dog food experts a question, the only thing they will agree on is that a third one is wrong! Look at the ingredients. They have to be ordered by biggest quantity first. So if the main ingredients are maize, wheat, and poorly described animal by products, it probably isn't best quality. I'm in the UK but here are a couple of examples -

Rice, dehydrated poultry protein, animal fats, vegetable protein isolate*, maize, hydrolysed animal proteins, vegetable fibres, fish oil, beet pulp, soya oil, minerals, dehydrated tomato, hydrolysed yeast (source of mannooligo- saccharides), hydrolysed crustaceans

Fresh chicken meat (70 %), broken rice, corn (GMO-free), dehydrated chicken protein, hydrolysed poultry protein, dried brewers’ yeast, dried apple pulp, salmon oil, yucca extract, cold-pressed flaxseed oil, cold-pressed olive oil, green-lipped mussel extract, dried carrots, dried tomatoes

The first is a well known one with lots of flashy tv ads. The main ingredient is rice, you don't know how much chicken is in it. The second is less well known but that's because it spends its money on the food rather than the marketing.

There is an independent dog food comparison website that reviews foods, I'd suggest looking there -

Human food isn't necessary when you feed a complete food diet but most dogs get some as treats. My dog loves vegetables. Just be careful as some foods are toxic to dogs, notably grapes and raisins - if your dog eats even one, that is a medical emergency, straight to the vet to induce vomiting.
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