Training Tips with Cora Wittekind: City versus Country Dogs

Judge rules against prescription dog food companies

Rewards 12.5 Million judgement

Regularly, I hear friends and colleagues lament about their desire to get out of the hustle and bustle that is an inevitable part of living in an urban environment – either physically or at the very least, mentally. Certainly, that was how I felt when I recently departed for a two-week trip to the Scottish Highlands with my training partner, Sim Williams, who represents the U.K. branch of Prestigious Pooch Dog Training. Although I have built a career around being a translator between dogs and their owners, it didn’t really occur to me that dogs also might need to escape the city sometimes in much the same way. Taking a mental break through yoga or meditation class isn’t possible for them. They rely on us to provide that break for them.

Cora Wittekind and Sid Williams smile at camera with the Scottish Highlands in background

Cora Wittekind and Sim Williams, Founders of Prestigious Pooch

Perhaps it is an occupational hazard, but my vacations inevitably involve meeting dogs and applying what I learn from them to my job as the founder of one of the top dog training companies in Los Angeles. This trip was no exception – these country dogs demonstrated many of the characteristics that our clients are desperate to see exhibited by their urban dogs.  They were relaxed, happy, displayed excellent recall skills, and were completely focused on their owner.

It is often the case that I am brought in to help clients with dogs that display the exact opposite characteristics – they are easily agitated, display reactive tendencies, and expect immediate gratification… Sound familiar? Just as it is with us humans, the urban environment can be a huge obstacle for the overall happiness of our canine companions. Distractions are everywhere, and living in the moment can be a challenge at the best of times. So what should we do?

First off, I can’t stress how important it is for you to walk your own dog… at least some of the time. It sounds simple, but for many of us, work and life too often gets in the way. We hire dog walkers, or rely on dog parks and doggie daycare to give our dogs the stimulation they need. However, nothing can replace a walk with you in the eyes of your dog. Walking together helps to deepen your bond and establishes trust in your relationship. Not just one that is all “business related” – but one that allows your dog to set the pace as well. Taking them out of the city to a place with a more natural environment is optimal, but failing that, a “smell walk” is a great solution. Basically, start your walk as usual, with your dog in a “heel” position. Then allow them to move into a loose leash walk where they are able to smell and take their time learning from their environment without a set agenda or route. Dogs learn through smell and allowing them to feel relaxed during their walk has numerous benefits to their overall well-being and disposition. Most importantly, you as their owner resume your position as their key source of positive enrichment.

Brown dog in country, looking happy and healthy

Alice, the inspiration behind Prestigious Pooch (and Cora’s business partner)

It is essential during your walks that you do what you can to focus on your dog so that they in turn focus on you… ie. try and leave the phone on silent and in your pocket if you can, and bring treats, or a special toy that your dog enjoys. While on one of these walks, start with your dog in a “Heel” position by your side, but use a 6-foot leash that will allow them to have some freedom to move around when you release them from the “Heel” command. You need to be ready to regain their attention as needed – using a focus word such as “look” or “wait” and rewarding with positive reinforcement to condition eye contact or to have them immediately pause on command. It was very interesting to study the dogs and their owners that we met during our travels in Scotland. Not only were the dogs completely focused on their owners, their owners were completely focused on them. All while they had the bonding experience of enjoying exercise and fresh air together.

Secondly, it is important to recognize that dog breeds are not just what we see on the surface. Each breed was originally bred with a specific purpose in mind. That is not to say that you should never get a Border Collie unless you plan on having them herd sheep – it just means that every dog breed has certain personality traits, and it’s important for you as their owner to help them adapt to their environment in a way that allows them to be their best self.

Lastly, always remember the end goal. To have a well-adjusted dog who you can put into any environment – rural or urban – and he or she can feel comfortable. (That means more fun vacations together, yay!) It’s not impossible, it just takes work. So, as the saying goes, take the time to go out and smell the roses – your dog will thank you!

Demi Moore’s four pups (long time Lucky Dog Cuisine and Prestigious Pooch customers) enjoying a break from city life

The use of Presciption dog food is one of my pet peeves and shows that the
phrase “Marketing over Mother Nature’ holds true.
If you are a dog owner, you may have heard about the class action suit
against prescription dog foods. Hills, Science Diet, Royal Canin and Purina
are some of the brands that are accused of misleading consumers and
veterinarians about the benefits and ingredients of their products. The
lawsuit claims that:

  • these companies charge premium prices for prescription dog foods that are not significantly different from regular dog foods. In fact, they are made in the same facilities, using the same suppliers as low-quality grocery store brands like Alpo and Beneful.
  • they do not have any scientific evidence to support their claims of treating or preventing various health conditions in dogs. They are not made in facilities that follow traditional drug manufacturing protocols.
  • that these companies have violated consumer protection laws and engaged in false advertising.

The class action suit was filed in 2019 by a group of dog owners who purchased prescription dog foods from these brands for their pets. They are seeking refunds, damages and an injunction to stop the companies from selling prescription dog foods without proper authorization and
. The suit is currently pending in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Prescription dog foods are supposed to be specially formulated to address specific health issues in dogs, such as kidney disease, diabetes, allergies, obesity and more. However, according to the lawsuit, these products are not
regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or any other agency,
 and they do not require a prescription from a veterinarian to be sold.

The lawsuit claims that these companies have exploited this loophole to market their products as prescription dog foods, even though they are not approved or tested by any authority.

This suit also accuses these companies of using low-quality ingredients and fillers in their prescription dog foods, such as corn, wheat, soy, by-products and artificial colors and flavors. These ingredients may not only be ineffective for treating or preventing health conditions in dogs, but they may also cause adverse reactions and allergies in some dogs. The lawsuit cites several examples of dogs that suffered from health problems after
consuming prescription dog foods from these brands, such as vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, skin infections, kidney failure and death.

The lawsuit seeks to hold these companies accountable for their deceptive and unlawful practices, and to provide compensation and relief to the dog owners who have been harmed by them. It also aims to protect the public interest and the welfare of dogs by ensuring that prescription dog foods are properly regulated and labeled, and that consumers and veterinarians are informed about their benefits and risks.

Please be aware that the FDA does not review or verify the health claims on any veterinary diet.

Take a close look at the ingredient list and ask your vet for evidence that the foods in the prescription diet are any better than most regular diets. Also please keep in mind that while your vet has the best intentions, they get little or no nutrition training and often what little training they do get comes from the very companies that are named in these lawsuits. 

Ultra processed foods made with poor quality ingredients are not what your dog needs if they are suffering from an illness. Give your dog a fighting chance with fresh, quality foods for a long and healthy life. 

This lawsuit was settled in July of 2021. Hills Pet Food paid $12.5 million to participants.

Is it any wonder that here at Lucky Dog Cuisine we believe wholeheartedly “Fresh is Better”
The food we send your dog is the exact same food we feed our own beloved pack. 


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