Second CPE Trial

This past weekend we attended our second CPE Trial. The amazing thing about trials are that there are so many good people around that all love their dogs as much as you do! The people there are almost better than seeing all the types of dogs!

In their first trial, I ran Standard, Full House in Snooker. So in this trial I added another game. We did Standard, Snooker, Full House and Jumpers. We have had a recent problem with Benny, however, where he chooses to always jump out of the ring and run to find his dad. So, we had to hide his dad this trial and not let him know he was present at all. Ben did stay in the ring, but he forgot what a tunnel was I think. Hopefully he grows past this need to find his dad because it would be nice to sit together!

So what I’ve learned for CPE agility is that there is standard and then four categories of games:

  • Handler Games(AKA PASS because I am so bad)
    • Colors and Wildcard
  • Strategy Games
    • Snooker and Jackpot
  • Fun Games
    • Full House
    • Jumper

So here are my interpretations of the games thus far:

Standard is pretty simple. It’s a numbered course meaning you must go in a certain order, and based on your level you can only have so many faults (errors). It is timed.

Snooker is said to be the hardest game but I like it. It’s a two part game, meaning you have to finish part one before you can do the second part. So there are 4 obstacles that are marked as “Red”. All the other obstacles out there are “white” obstacles. You must complete a Red obstacle and then a white, then a red, then a white, then a red and then a white–so three times. The thing is if you do R W W they blow a whistle and you’re done. If you do R R same thing. The other important thing is you can use each red only once. The white obstacles can be repeated. There are 4 red obstacles in case you knock a bar on one of the red obstacles…it’s a safety net. So once you complete your RW,RW,RW you then have to do part two. Most obstacles are also numbered regardless if they are red or white(some reds won’t be a number because they are not part of part two). the numbers are 2-7 and that specific obstacle is worth that many points so obstacle 2 is 2 pts 3 is 3 pts and so on. you must complete this series in order. A buzzer will sound and you have to get to the table within 5 seconds. You will qualify if you get the right amount of points for your level.If you don’t get enough points you can still place as long as you don’t disqualify yourself. The one thing  I didn’t mention above is that during your RW,RW,RW series the R are worth 1 pt and the W are worth whatever numbered obstacle it is. What I learned this trial is that sometimes an obstacle can be a red BUT ALSO a white because it has a number because it’s part of part two. MIND BLOWN. So I guess they let you take that jump as a RW combo. Then that jump can only be used as a white again in part 1. Confusing, i guess.

Full house is typically the first run of the day it’s offered (I’m told at least) because it lets the dogs run around and get some of their energy out. There is no set course, you are just trying to earn enough points based on what level you are in. Contacts are worth 5 points, circles (tunnels and tire) 3 and jumps 1. You need get at least 1 contact, 2 circles and 3 jumps(14 points total). It’s just a lot of fun and just lets you get used to running around out there too. I like it because it lets the dogs sniff the place. You have a certain number of seconds based on the dog’s height and then a buzzer will go off. Once you hear the buzzer you have to get to the table within 5 seconds or they will deduct 1 point per second from your total. If you get enough points for your level and you got the required obstacles then you get a Q(qualify). If you don’t get enough points and/or required obstacles you can still get a placement ribbon like Ben did!

Jumpers is a course that only has circles and jumps. It is numbered meaning you have to go in a specific order. You also have to know what a tunnel is (BEN). It is timed and if you run out of time you will get a NT(no time). This means no ribbons. If you get too many faults (IE point deductions) then you may get a NQ(not qualified) but can still get a placement ribbon.

So Woody Qed in Standard level 1 (2cnd leg), Standard level 2, Jumpers level 1, Full house level 2, Snooker level 1 which was all he competed in so he had a perfect weekend!

Benny Qed in Standard level 1 (1st leg). He NT Standard level 1(ran out of the ring), Jumpers level 1(ran out of time), Full house level 1(didn’t get the right obstacles and didn’t get enough points), Snooker level 2( refused to go in the #3 on 2-7 and thus didn’t get enough points)

It was a super fun weekend. The best thing was that I brought their cages. Ben never goes in a cage and the cage is new for Woody. Ben will now go in the cage as long as the door remains open, it’s actually his bed of choice! So I was able to work with Ben on cage training and shut the door for a few minutes at a time which was really huge for him!

I had one person tell me “yeah you know, agility is addicting” and it’s very easy to lose site of that when all you do are classes and your dog gets a little bored. My suggestion is to try to trial because it really revitalized my energy for agility.  I want to trial again soon! It’s fun to get to actually work your dog with a reason!!

Good Dog! Sojo treats

I am super excited to have the opportunity to test products and blog about them for Chewy.com! They offer great pricing, products, and shipping. I love the variety of options they offer and how easy it is to navigate.

This past week I received my first blog-able product and I’m in love ( I think the dogs are too!)!  I opted to test Sojo’s Good Dog treats! They come in a few different flavors but I decided to go with the apple dumpling flavor because it sounded pretty good and I knew the ingredients were good for my dogs! They are made in the USA, wheat and corn free, and no artificial preservatives flavors or colors.

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After I ordered them, they arrived quickly on my door step. I was probably more excited than my dogs, but that’s only because they don’t realize that 90% of the things delivered to my house are for them (insert eye role).image1.JPG

So let me just tell you guys, these treats smell amazing. The ingredients are so simple that it confused me as to why my treats don’t turn out perfect like these. I mean don’t get me wrong, my treats are pretty good and they work, but the shape is not the prettiest. They are ingredients that I trust my dogs to eat.

The size of these treats is perfect–especially for agility. I am totally done with using Puperoni. They are itty bitty, but they are perfect for training. They are a perfect sized treat to ensure that they are not eating too much because of treats and food!
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So the true test of these treats is not my dog, but my moms picky little terrier mix. She won’t even eat my homemade treats (again, eye roll). I gave her one and at first she backed away but kept it in her mouth. She then proceeded to eat it and return to me as if to ask for more.
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I know this is my first product and I am hyping it up a bit, but they are seriously perfect for my boys. No allergy issues (check), Size appropriate (check), Dog approved(check), training approved(check), and replaces the Puperoni that I hated giving to them but needed quick treats(check)!!

I’m excited to order the other flavors available- Peanut Butter and Jelly, Blueberry Cobbler, and Chicken Pot Pie!

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Nannycam

Today I want to tell you about how much I love my Nannycams. I love my Nannycams. Okay that’s it—CYA!

No, just kidding, but seriously, I had to go a few weeks without just one of my Nannycams, and I felt like I was missing out on way to much. Getting a Nannycam to watch your dogs may seem a little too much, but it was the only way I felt comfortable leaving Woody and Benny together. They used to be out together every day and of course there would be the mystery of who had the accident, who got in the trash or who destroyed something but they were always happy and healthy. Until one day, Andy decided against feeding them dinner, because he needed to go to Home Depot and stare at paint samples, just one more time. Yes, my eyes are rolling too. So the two were hungry, Ben got in the trash and this time, they were not willing to share. Long story short—Woody’s jugular was bleeding, Ben’s face was all scratched up, and we had two dogs in the ER. Woody was the sadest puppy ever, and most of Ben’s were superficial. Luckily, they are both healthy and fine, and they still love eachother, but we could no longer leave them together.
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We knew Ben couldn’t go in a bedroom or a cage so Woody was going to need to. So the first few days was a disaster. Woody’s bark/cry/howl kept setting off our house alarm. He pottied all over and destroyed things. So we decided to put him in a cage in the bedroom. Same thing but he did improve after a few weeks. I knew he wasn’t happy but there was improvement, so I thought okay maybe he’s cool now and I don’t need to put him in the cage. Well that backfired. He was awful and then when I tried to put him back in the cage he just refused.

Side note on something SUPER IMPORTANT I learned from this. DON’T CONSTANTLY CHANGE THINGS ON THEM! Woody wasn’t perfect (or close) in the cage the first go around, but he was getting better. Then I changed things on him again. Prior to this, every single day of his life he was with another dog. So this was a huge change. Think about it, when he was a baby, he was in a cage but Riley was out with him in the same room. When Ben came around all three were in the same room. Woody literally had not spent a day without being with a dog ever. So isolating not only a pact animal but an animal who has never been isolated is probably not going to go over well. Point proven, Woody, point proven. Just a thing to consider in general with dogs, I’ve learned, pact animals like to be, well in a pact. Crazy right?

So, at this point, Woody couldn’t be out with Ben but he also couldn’t be locked in a room, or in a cage in a room. My options were to put him in a cage in the room with Riley and Peter (I just would never trust two jacks out alone together…) or in a cage out with Ben. Honestly, I pictured the Scar and Zazo scene from Lion King. You know the scene where Zazo is in the cage, and Scar is like poking at him. Yeah, I could only imagine Ben doing that to Woody. So, in order to ensure that Ben did not torture poor Woody in the cage, I demanded a Nannycam for Christmas. But guess what. I got two! It was like the best day ever. One to watch the living room where the cage would be and the other for the kitchen to watch Ben NOT get into the trash.

We have the Logitech Circle Nannycam. It was so easy to set up. It needs WiFi and will save 24 hours of footage. You can save different videos if you want to your phone before it erases. The phone app is great, and we always have clear picture. You can hear what’s going on, and talk to the dogs if you want. It’s just the greatest little camera ever.

The Nannycam gave me confidence that Woody would be safe from Ben, but it also allows me to make sure that they aren’t hurt, getting into something, or freaking out. I also like to check if I forgot to put things away, close doors and see if they are doing anything funny (IE-like falling off the couch from scratching). Another great thing about the Nannycam is that when Woody’s freak attacks in the cage continued to set off the alarm, we could check the Nannycam to make sure it’s a false alarm before canceling the police! Another bonus of the Nannycam is that when I’m not home and Andy is, I catch seriously funny footage of him talking to himself and the boys. I highly recommend getting a Nannycam. It is so fun and comforting to know your doggies are safe and sleeping soundly while you’re gone!

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I constantly post funny videos of the boys and me stopping anyfights  from the Nannycam on Instagram. Some videos are too long and on YouTube so check it out!

 

Nice weather and dog walks

I want to paint a quick picture for you. Put yourself in your dog’s shoes. You are casually strolling in the park. Appreciating nature, taking it all in when all of a sudden someone you don’t know comes sprinting up to you comes right in your face and starts breathing and maybe even talking or yelling. You try to move but you’re being yanked back and this person just keeps coming into your space and is now upset that you didn’t think their behaviors were acceptable. I bet you’re thinking “Dang that person is crazy. What’s their problem? Have they heard of personal space?” You finally calm yourself down and continue to walk and then it happens again. This time there isn’t just one person but 2 and you feel trapped. Your only action is to fight or flight and since you’re already being held back and restricted can you really even “flight”? I doubt it and thus you probably fight and immediately you’re in the wrong because you were protecting your own personal space.  Does this seem really fair? Could you imagine a human doing this to another human completely unprovoked? I can’t… unless of course were at a bar and things are getting crazy. My point is that if humans acted the way that many dogs do off leash, it would not be okay.

market.jpg(The crazy one, controlled in public around other on-leash dogs minding their own business!)

I’ve been working really hard with my dogs to create a walk that isn’t about just sniffing the grass. It is exercise and work. I want them to stay focused and not only physically tire but also mentally. When your dog interrupts that not only does it make my dog uneasy but it also ruins a good portion of our walk. It takes about 5 minutes for them to calm down and another 5 to get them to refocus. Having this happen one time during a walk is enough but imagine when it happens 2, 3, 4 or 5 times. My purposeful walk has now become essentially useless and has probably stressed out my dog.

I need to address a few things before moving forward.

  1. No matter how “friendly” your dog is, mine may not be. My dog is still allowed in public parks as long as I have direct control. My dog does not need to like other dogs. My dog just needs to be able to walk without harming anyone or anything else.
  2. “It’s okay, my (big) dog loves little dogs”. Well, I’m sorry but it takes two to tango. My (little) dog may not love your big dog or your little dog for that matter. I’m not necessarily worried about your dog being big and hurting my little dog. I’m more worried about my dog reacting to your dog and thus setting off a perfectly friendly dog.
  3. Public parks that allow off leash dogs do not belong to off leash dogs. They still need to abide by the laws and respect others.
  4. In Ohio and specifically my city, dogs are required to be under direct control at all times. Although it is quite difficult to find a proper and exact definition, Columbus defines “direct control” as your dog will immediately come when you say come, sit and stay by your side. You should not have to say your dog’s name five times. And on that note, be aware that you should give your dog a command like “come” when you are calling them. How do they know that in this moment their name means “come”?

Many dogs are leash reactive. Dogs can be the nicest off leash but when they are on leash they feel restricted—think someone holding you back in a fight. This can be uncomfortable for many dogs. My dogs personally hate when a dog runs up to their face on or off leash. So you could quickly see the problem when your “friendly” dog approaches my dog when they are on leash. The unfortunate fact is that no matter how friendly your dog is mine may not be. And if a dog gets hurt (in Ohio at least) the off leash dog is at fault, not the on leash one. 

I urge people to forget their ego for a second and think about their dog’s safety. I know that where I walk, people hate me because I am constantly asking people to actually gain control of their dog. I’m obviously annoyed that my walk is being disrupted which shouldn’t be the case but mostly I am concerned for their dog’s safety and my own dog’s safety. If I am walking more than one dog at a time, it is much more difficult for me to protect all three dogs from one another because I only have two hands. Furthermore, having a strong recall is so so so important if you ever let your dog off leash regardless if I am walking in the park or not. A strong recall can save your dog’s life. If your dog does not come when you call it, it shouldn’t be off leash in an open area. They could run into the street or into a dangerous situation and you may have no way to get them back and safe. I would suggest that an actual dog park is the best place for you to go with a weaker recall because at least it’s fenced in and can protect them from some uncertainties. Your dog getting to roam freely is much less important than their life or your ego.  You may have a good dog, but if it doesn’t recall then you need to be a good owner and protect it.

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A side note to recalling. Saying your dog’s name five times and slowly walking towards them is not a recall. A strong “Buster, Come” is a recall (given that Buster does in fact come). It is extremely rude to leave the other owner fending for themselves while you slower walk towards your dog to “help”. Typically “help” comes in the form of yelling at the owner with on leash dogs and dancing with their own dog because now Buster thinks the owner is playing. Just because your dog is “good” and is “playing” with other “good” dogs does not mean that you should be talking and not paying attention. Keeping tabs on the surroundings and possible threats to your dog’s safety is very important for all visitors and dogs. I can’t tell you how many times people just let their dogs run up and antagonize others and don’t even notice. It’s pretty scary especially when you can do nothing but run. I’ve literally run into the street before and forgot to look for cars. And guess who followed….Buster.

My dogs are by no means dog friendly. But I can walk them in a park with little issues because they are on leash and I am there to protect them. I am allowed to be there with my dogs and love getting them mentally and physically exhausted. Both types of dogs should have the same opportunities for exercise and be in a public place. It is up to the owners to be respectful of others and control their dogs.

My last plea about off leash dogs is the following. Please ASK me if my dog is friendly and if they can meat prior to letting your dog just roam up to mine. I will politely tell you no and after my response you need to have a quick way to secure your dog. If you don’t restrain your dog from coming up to my dog(s) I can only do so much to protect all parties.

A quick note about other on leash dogs in parks– Thank you! You have acknowledged that perhaps your dog is not under control and needs to be connected to you in some way shape or form. Obviously this is going to be a compliment sandwich so here I go with the “meat” of it. If your dog is on leash and you see another dog acting a little…err…crazy… why do you let your dog pull towards it. Please, bring your dog in closer. No good will come from a dog on leash meeting another dog on leash whom is leash reactive. Leashes can then get tangled and a mess can happen quickly. I don’t understand why people don’t try to pull their dogs in to protect them from the crazy that is passing. Another thing that boggles my mind is that unless you are training your dog, why do you place your dog in a sit while others pass? This is stressful for both parties and by just passing one another, the whole event happens much quicker. I just think that it may be easier for all!

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Retractable leashes are the worst and basically the devil.

  1. If you drop that heavy handle, it can scare your dog and cause it to run into danger.
  2. If you don’t stop that trigger quick enough your dog may end up in the street and hit by a car before you can even react. This is a serious reality and happened to one of my best friends. It is tragic and the bigger the dog the worse this situation can be.
  3. If your dog is going to be on leash and next to you anyways, why do you need a retractable? 5 feet should really be good enough and you can protect your dog better.
  4. The leash material is easily tangled and it hurts! Try getting tangled up in that… it burns.
  5. Have you ever seen two retractable leashes get tangled….try to separate that quick. It won’t work.

Back to the good—I find that other people who walk their dogs on leashes seem to be more understanding of any struggles I am having. They smile at my dogs and acknowledge the progress I have made. That is super motivating and I love that we can both acknowledge improvements in our pups. Thank you for being another dog lover who understands!

To sum this all up—Be respectful. Ask me prior to letting your dog just run up. Have control of your dog. Be there for your dog and not your ego. Protect them from threats. Understand that not all dogs want to be friends. Parks belong to everyone and all dogs deserve to be able to enjoy nature with their owner. I try to not let me walk ruin your time with your dog, so please don’t let your dog ruin my working walk.  I am happy that your dog is able to play with stranger’s dogs and enjoy life. My dog’s enjoy their walk and love to work. 

And remember to not get mad at other dogs! I always remind myself that the ignorance and ego of the owner is not that of the dogs!

Agility?This looks fun….

So given that I have an agility section, obviously I do agility with at least one dog. Benny started agility in October 2014. We put him in agility because we wanted to see him jump high. Turn out that your dog doesn’t just jump whatever they can… they are measured and put into a jump class. Talk about a let down… 16 inches? That’s it? That’s it. 12346460_822797781601_5616702011714559067_n

Woody started Agility about a year (and three months before his first competition) later because he is spoiled rotten and he gets to do everything. Woody learned very quickly because he is a Jack and now they both are in the same class level. 

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So I’m new to this obviously so I am just going to tell you some quick facts that I’ve learned along the way. 

  • New dogs are called “green”. Owners are “green” too. 
  • An agility “venue” is not a location. It is the organization. For example CPE, AKC USDDA, TDAA. 
  • An agility event/competition is called a “trial”. 
  • Trials are done by skill level and height. 
  • Each venue has different rules that must be followed.
  • There is actually skill and practice required on the human’s part.
  • Contacts are obstacles that usually have yellow on both sides. They require the dog to climb up or down something (Think dog walk, A Frame, teeter). 
  • The human is probably the one messing up.
  • Dependent on your breed, it will be really easy or not so much.
  • Most of the time you will not understand the spins, or routes required and you will trip and fall like a fool.
  • People “walk”the course. This means they stick their arm out and follow the numbers as if they were running their dog. They try to get their footing and determine how they are going to run the course. Where will they turn? Will they make their dog slow down? Do they have options to do something different? Do they need to block the entrance to the tunnel? It looks funny. I was like “Yeah, okay. Whatever this is weird”. Well, I walk the courses now too.

Agility is actually really fun. However, I think one of the best things that comes from agility is the bond between you and your dog. They learn to read you, and you them. You create a connection that you are doing something together–its fun but they also need to stay with you and rely on you as the leader. You learn to control your dog and what they do. You also learn a hell of a lot about coordination which is really difficult. The best thing is that you have fun and so does your dog! 12347623_822797776611_3572408532971482662_n.jpg

A lot of people think that you have to have a lot of practice to do a trial. Sure it’s nice but as long as your dog and you have a good connection and they know the equipment, you can most certainly try it out. The judges and other participants explain everything for everyone and you have time to ask questions. It’s actually a great learning experience just to watch. And basically if you try you can get a ribbon-trust me. 12741953_833871355071_361503611206111769_n.jpg

So it looks fun and it is fun! In later posts I will go over some key things I’ve actually learned at class and trials that I hope help other newbies in the agility world! 

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The Crazy that is Riley

Most of what I’ve learned over the years has been a direct result of Riley’s crazy. Riley is a perfectly healthy Jack Russell Terrier…..and I hate to be cliché, but when I say terrier, I mean it. He is a bit of a terror child. I like to think of him as my punishment for the torment I caused my parents growing up. I redeemed myself with Woody because he is so so so sweet. JRTs are a hyper, high strung, and intense breed. They have a napoleon complex. When they fixate on something you need to have great control to redirect their attention. However, I think many people could describe their dogs this way. Jacks may take it to a different level, but all dogs have their own little quirks.

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My purpose today is to describe how we have been able to get Riley to a state where he is comfortable functioning in our pack. He still has his moments but without his medications he would not be as successful as he is now. I am by no means an expert. I ask so many different people advice and am constantly learning. This is just my experience that I hope can help someone else struggling with pack dynamics.

We would have the normal dog arguments once a year. One dog would get pissed for something or another and we would end up with a cut here or there. We knew the trigger for Woody was balls and for Riley it was coming into his personal space. For example if he was under a blanket and another dog jumped up he would (what we termed) “jack-in-the-box” them—pun intended. 

But seriously? Do you even bed though?

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Riley is an alpha at heart despite his inability to ever win a fight. But seriously, his record is 0-20+. I am by no means bragging, but figuring out a pack sometimes takes trial and error, and some ER vet visits. Woody is a push over. He grew up with a bully-brother and pretty much gave into anything Riley wanted. I didn’t help the situation either. I would personally take things from Woody and give them to Riley if Riley showed interest. I THOUGHT I was diffusing the situation, but really I fed into Riley’s ego. I helped create the monster at the expense of my sweet baby(Of course I would give something else to Woody, I’m not the monster here!).

When Woody turned 3 and Riley was 6, Riley began to feel threatened by Woody. Benny was too young to worry about at this point and Peter seemed to not be a threat at all to Riley. It appeared to us that Woody really wanted nothing to do with being alpha but Riley didn’t seem to think the same. Riley developed what I call aggressive anxiety. Aggressive anxiety is kind of like when a guy at a bar punches someone from behind. He tends to be that guy screaming “hold me back bro hold me back” and everyone rolls their eyes and thinks “okay tough guy”. Most times we would have zero idea what Riley got pissed about. After seeking advice from a local trainer (Columbus K9), who came to our house to assess our actual situation, we learned that that trigger we were uncertain about was typically….me. Great, now what?

I had to learn to adjust my attention to reading body language. I couldn’t give in to Riley anymore. I also had to accept that Woody was not quite the angel that I thought he was. He did his fair share of dirty looks as well.  I had to teach Riley to respect me and realize that I do not belong to him. Actually, nothing really belonged to him, especially the bed.

I also had to create a bond between the jacks. I took an activity that was traditionally a Riley and mom thing and made it a jacks and mom thing—running. The cool thing about running was you could visualize a pack. We literally could not move forward without all of us being a cohesive unit. Riley really couldn’t be ahead of Woody and vice versa. They had to work together to move forward. They had to be in each other’s space constantly. It was really a great visualization of progress.They even share water bowl time now. Jack-share is my favorite kind! share

However, without the addition of Prozac in Riley’s life I don’t think that any calmness would have been possible. When a dog reaches a state of fight or flight there is no place for him to understand and learn. In order to show Riley things were okay and he did not have to choose fight we had to get him at a comfortable level where he could absorb and learn. After doing a full bloodwork, Riley was able to get on Prozac. I get generic human Prozac from my local pharmacy. It took about two months but we began to see a different dog. You could see the level of stress diminish from his eyes. His body was looser and he genuinely seemed more tolerant and comfortable. We continued to work with our trainer and learned more about body language. After adding this to his life and a bit more structure, we saw a positive change, a happier dog, and a fuller bank account due to less ER visits!

Our forth dog, Benny, really pushed Riley over the edge five years later. A Basenji by nature is a dominant breed. He is tough and strong minded—a natural born leader. However, if we left Ben in charge, I have no doubt that it would turn into a similar scenario when Scar ran the kingdom in The Lion King—everything is his and everyone else gets the minimal left overs. Needless to say this is not ideal either. For us, there was a fine line where we should force the pecking order and where we shouldn’t.
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I have become so in tune with my dogs (or so i think) that I could see this struggle progressing. Riley became less tolerant of Ben. Ben continued to push Riley’s buttons, but seemed to be conscious of the tipping point. Ben would nip at Riley but because he is so fast Riley couldn’t ever “get him back”. I knew that we were approaching a point where fights were likely to occur again so I contacted our vet to see if we could up Riley’s dosage. Unfortunately, he was on the highest dose so we went back to the drawing board.

What Riley was experiencing is what I like to describe as fear-based anxiety. Riley would stand there and physically back into a corner. It was like he was saying “don’t make me do this. No seriously, please don’t make me”. Ben stood tall and strong and didn’t push but gave the “don’t make me laugh. I would kill you in a fight” look (what? You don’t know that look??) I know at the end of the day Riley would choose fight, he would always choose fight, but he started contemplating flight. I saw this change in him and you could tell he was always on edge and frightened. Personally I would never want to be that way so I knew that another medication could help relax him. I want to mention though that nothing I put Riley on has seemed to alter his personality. I feel like the medications he is on only helped to make him feel comfortable and confident.

What we ended up doing is medication and training. The jacks still run together but Benny and Riley now walk together daily. Same concept—they are a pack. I am okay with Benny taking over alpha with me as a supervisor, so I even let Ben correct (to an extent) Riley on the walks when Riley is out of control.walk.jpg

We added a blood pressure medicine called clonidine. This drug can be given every 8 hours at his dosage. However, we try to always start at the lowest and watch for a change. Within about 2 weeks I could see Riley feel more comfortable. And if you don’t believe me, Riley and Ben started playing more often. This NEVER happened prior (not the best picture, but this terrifies me typically).

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If you want to watch this video from three years ago you can see the style of play is very unpredictable. But in this video you can see it is much more controlled.

The cool thing was that you could see Ben reading Riley and letting up at the right times. However, Ben really doesn’t like Riley to be done playing so we do have to step in to let Ben know that play has ended.  I think sometimes happy playful dogs forget to read when their partner has had enough play and it turns into something it shouldn’t. Learning to read my boys’ body language was so helpful in understanding what they all need.

At any rate, a lot of things I plan on talking about came from learning the needs of Riley. Learning to balance personalities and relationships were crucial to keep the boys and my bank account safe. Also having amazing friends to talk me out of going to the vet when it may not be necessary is a bonus as well. Medication in my opinion, allowed for Riley to become stable enough to open up and learn. It has reduced the level of anxiety in different situations so he can enjoy life. I know some medicines can cause dogs to act “doped” up but the combination I have found for Riley does not do that. He is still a bratty little spit fire but he is perfect:)!

 together

Strawberry Banana Peanut Butter Smoothie Treats

Because Benny has such strange allergies, and I tend to buy fruit that I can’t finish, I started making my own dog treats. 1. I know exactly what is in them and can eliminate things I think Benny is allergic to. 2. I don’t waste as much fruit or yogurt because the boys help eat it! 3. At one point Benny was on a food trial and was eating a Kangaroo based food. To make him treats, I had to literally crush the food, add some water and bake it. Have you ever baked Kangaroo dog food? It smells disgusting. Don’t do it. Also, It’s cheaper for me and they are pretty tasty!

What you need:

2 cups strawberries

1/8 cup plain low fat yogurt

1/2 banana

1 big spoon of peanut butter

1 squirt of local honey (gives it a sweet taste)

1 cup + of oat flour (or any type of flour just watch the consistency of the smoothie)

Steps:

  1. Blend everything but the oat flour. You can use any fruit combination but sometimes citrus fruits may upset dog’s tummys. Sometimes they don’t. I also add a little water if the smoothie won’t blend. I worked at Planet Smoothie for awhile and picked that little trick up. TIP: **PLEASE read the label of your peanut butter. Many companies are using xylitol now because it make the PB less caloric. This is toxic to dogs. It’s what’s in sugar free gum. I use the self serve station at the grocery store where you literally just press a button and it crushes the peanuts. No salt or sugar added. 
  2. Taste the now smoothie for flavor. I may add some extra PB if I think it’s too strawberry tasting or banana tasting. Sometimes I add extra honey. Whatever tastes good. Let’s be real, everything will be good to the dogs.
  3. Pour the smoothie into a mixing bowl.
  4. Make oat flour by taking oatmeal and blending it (separately). This is the cheaper way. You can use any style of oatmeal to make oat flour. Alternatively, you can buy oat flour for a premium.
  5. Start with about a cup of oat flour and pour it in the mixing bowl with the smoothie. Using a SPOON, gently stir in the oat flour. TIP: **Sometimes I need more oat flour than other times. I think this is due to the type of strawberries I use.Currently, I use frozen strawberries because it’s cold out and fresh ones are more expensive.**
  6. Once your mixture seems like it could hold a circular shape on a cookie tray, you can stop adding oat flour and start making circle shaped treats on the pan. Mine generally hold a circle like shape with little running on the tray. It may take a few times to get a feel for your mixtures but even if they run together a little, they break apart nicely in the end. See the picture below.
  7. Bake for ten to fifteen minutes and then flip the treats over. Again, sometimes they need a little more bake time on each side dependent on how thick your smoothie is. My rule of thumb is that they should be a little brown on the pan-side-down side prior to flipping. They also should flip with your fingers or with a gentle nudge from a flipper tool. Bake on the other side for an additional ten to fifteen minutes.
  8. Go ahead, taste one. They are not that bad 😉

Pictures are worth a thousand words:

 

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In case you noticed, on the finished tray there are a few less than on the pre-bake tray. I actually had enough batter to make a few extra so when i flipped them over I transferred a few to the smaller tray that wasn’t full. For me, I know that if my consistency is perfect I should make exactly 7 rows of five  on my tray. So this batter pictured should have had a little more oat flour added. But they still came out just fine. The thinner the batter the easier it is to burn them. Enjoy!

What’s for dinner?


Hi! I’ve been racking my brain about what my first post should be. So I thought about what people ask me the most about and came up with dinner. Not about what we feed the boys so much but how we feed the boys. It’s a process and when I dog sit for “normal” dogs who get to eat out of a “normal” bowl and get a classic “scoop” I bask in the moments of simplicity.

We use cupcake tins. All four have their own but recently we upgraded Ben and Riley to toys for dinner but more on that later. Cupcake tins are great. You put a little in each spot and it slows down the intake so they don’t choke. You could buy pacer balls or put down five mini bowls but this does the trick.

We have dinner toys as well. It started with Ben because he is so puppy like that we wanted to exhaust him. We have the Kong Wobble, a ball, a teeter totter, and a spin disc for Ben. These are pretty basic– they role the toy, or hit the toy in such a way that a kernel of food pops out. It’s also hilarious. The teeter totter made by Toys R Us is not my favorite because he doesn’t really seem to “teeter totter” it. Also Ben eats in the bath tub because I don’t want his food flying all over the place into another dogs territory or fall into a place where another dog may find it later and they have an argument. I’ve been considering getting him a play pen to be honest.

ben tub

Riley has this toy that looks like grass. You spread the food out and he has to use his nose and tongue to work it through to get it out. I knew with Riley being a little OCD and crazy that he would not be a candidate for toys that required a lot of focus, or physical movement with his hands. Because he is a terrier he gets very set on things and I just knew that if it wasn’t easy enough for him to “win” he would become more frustrated and high strung. This puzzle is nice because he can see his progress. riley

So what’s with the two regular bowls? The boys also receive fish oil, bananas/other fruit, and local honey every night. So because of the toys we can’t just top their food so they have it a la carte.

Local honey is really good for dogs with allergies. If you think about it, the dog is simply ingesting the local pollen that are causing their itchiness. They begin to build a tolerance for the pollen because of this. A lot of humans actually eat local honey too!

They also get Nature’s Logic fish oil. It’s really good for their skin and helps keep skin healthy. Ben gets two fish oils because he has such bad skin. Having both gives him different levels of Omegas and I have seen a small amount of improvement. Ben is the only one who gets this fish oil because it is a bit more expensive.

On my Products I Use page I link you to the food I use. We feed 3 dogs Orijen fish blend. It’s expensive but with the allergies, it saves us a lot on vet bills! Peter eats California Natural and it is a pretty great food as well!

One thing I’ve learned about dog food is that you should always be skeptical of the bag’s suggested serving amount. They want you to buy food more often and thus they may suggest a higher serving amount. I always use the “less active” amount as a starting point and adjust from there. Feeding amounts can change during different seasons as well so make sure to watch your dog’s body! If you do any mix ins take that into account as well and reduce the dry food!

We also have pill time at dinner. Woody and Benny get an antihistamine(morning and night). Riley gets  Prozac (in the morning he takes Clonidine to help with the crazy), and Peter gets Dasuquin which is a joint medication.

 

So there we have it. My first blog. Dinnertakes some time but it’s worth the 5 minutes they aren’t following me around at night!