Holiday Shopping Guide

Tis the season for Christmas shopping! For those of you that may not know me, I’m Keri and my dogs are Nala and Conway, plus, whatever foster we have at the time. 

Follow us on Instagram (@myperfectpitties) We also model for a few shops. Here are a few of our favorites for this holiday season:

1. 4 Mutts and Co- We’ve been modeling for this shop for about 2 years. They’re handmade collars, based in Canada. You can use code AZUL20 to save 20% on your order. Plus, you get free shipping with purchase of two or more items!
https://www.etsy.com/shop/fourmuttsandco/

2. Naked Beasts Snacks– We stumbled across this awesome shop this year. They’re smaller now, but are in the process of expanding. They have air dried treats, a process that leaves majority of the nutrients! Nala’s favorite are the shrimp! You can use code Thankyou10 to save on your order!
https://nakedbeasts.com/password

3. G Stop Y Bowtie– This awesome shop donates 50% of their proceeds towards saving the dogs in the Yulin Meat Festival. Their quality is amazing! We prefer the “party for two” style bows as pictured below. Use code SHOPSMALL for 20% off your order!
https://www.etsy.com/shop/GstopYbowtie

4. Luvabullz and Co– This amazing shop makes edits of your pet that can be put on stickers, hoodies, bags, and more! They help educate people on the benefits of adopting senior dogs and leashing your dog while in public. They also use positive reinforcement training for their own dogs! So far, we’ve had an edit made of two of our dogs. Then, we had stickers and a hoodie made with the image on them! Use the code FREESHIP for free shipping on your order!

*You must to purchase an edit first, before ordering anything with the edit on it
https://www.etsy.com/shop/luvabullzandco

5. Furr-bulous – I recently found this shop. They do harnesses, bandana collars, matching pajamas for you and your dog and more! They are donating a portion of their sales to our favorite bully rescue, BARC for the month of December. Use the code PITTIES15 to save and donate!

https://furr-bulous.com/

https://furr-bulous.com

I threaten to sell my dogs to the gypsies.

In the last week I have threatened to give Cargo back to her breeder twice, drop Pixie off at the BARC shed for adoption, and send Opie to live with his Nan in Northern Virginia.

Some days are just frustrating. Days with dogs are no different. Yes, even as a dog trainer I get frustrated with them. I am also a business owner, a manager, a maid, a wife, and a daughter. I am allowed to be frustrated when they just won’t stop barking at the neighbor getting in his car 500 yards away. We all feel this way at some point.

If you don’t, you are lying!

What do we do about it when we feel like this. I will walk you through what I do to get to the other side with all my dogs at home and alive.

Is this something I am getting frustrated with often?

Be grateful for any behaviors your dog came pre programmed with. I have had to train Cargo to do everything. I got nothing wired in except to bite things (a Malinois trait), and work (also Malinois).

Getting in the crate? Never seen one before in my life. Putting on a harness or leash? Going to eat her while she walks. Wearing her pants when shes in season? Definitely not going to happen, although the temper tantrums are ridiculous. (Don’t get a malinois)

If I am finding myself frustrated with these things often, then I develop a training plan to relieve some of that frustration for myself. Learning to wear a leash is not as fun or sexy to train as a down stays or agility skills, but still needs to be done. If I find myself fighting with my dogs over something they have to do, I will make sure I come up with a plan to train an alternative behavior that works for both of us, or help work through the pain point.

“Why does my dog need my attention right now?”

I go through the mental checklist, starting with the most obvious.

  • Is there water in the bowl?
  • Have they had food?
  • Do they need to go out?
  • Do they have something to chew?
  • Have we trained today?
  • Is it Cargo’s nap time?
Can I sit down and enjoy this or should I walk the dog first?

I try to make sure all these things are complete before I sit down to get some work done. They get breakfast, then I fill the water dishes while the coffee is steeping. I get my coffee and sit with puppy for a bit. (She likes pets in the morning. That was also trained.) After about 30 mins, she’s ready to go back in her kennel for a nap and I get about an hour of work done. When she goes out, I play with her and Opie for awhile, then sit back at my computer to get some more things done.

Help the dogs meet their needs without me

Some days the dogs need more. Those puzzle toys are not for one time play or just when you feel like it. We do puzzles every day! Opie got to play with the snoop the other night and he was passed out 5 minutes after. That freezer full of Kongs and bones is worth it for those moments that I just need peace!

Planning for peace seems like it would require and brain power that you don’t have. Believe me, the relief you feel when you can grab something premade, and entertain your dogs is so worth the prior planning.

Need some peace and quiet ideas? Keep an eye on The Freckled Paw facebook page. We have something fun coming up!

I’m a dog trainer who doesn’t walk her dogs!

Its true.

brown dog sniffing grass

Sniffing is so important for dogs!

I don’t walk my dogs. I have 3 dogs, and I don’t walk them.  Most dogs don’t enjoy walking in a neighborhood, and mine are certainly no exception. When I tell this to many of my clients their jaws hit the floor.

“You have to walk your dog for them to be happy!” 

“He’s so excited to go for a walk! I can’t take that away from him!”

Both of these statements are probably false. (There are those dogs who are emotionally and physically stable enough to enjoy a walk around the neighborhood. Those dogs are the exception to the rule!)

Let’s take a look at a few things I’ve learned to look for to determine if your dog actually enjoys their walk in the neighborhood.

She is not Reactive

Can you get through a whole walk without your dog barking at anything? Not a dog behind a fence, not a person coming out of their house, not a goose on the sidewalk. I find that dogs who bark at stuff are actually prepared for something to come and get them. They are terrified to be on their leash, tethered to you and unable to escape the things that are going to eat them alive.

He can take food while on a walk

There is a bit more to this than just eating food. Can your dog eat kibbles or lower value treats while out on a walk? Is he taking treats gently? If you drop food on the ground, can he use his nose quickly to find the food? If your answer is no, then maybe reevaluate how much your dog actually enjoys your neighborhood. He maybe feeling a little overwhelmed.

She knows you exist at the other end of the leash

Does your dog check in with you while you are out? Do they look back to see if you are coming too? If you talk to them do they respond? Do they respond to leash pressure? Most people find they are just an anchor at the end of the leash, preventing their dog from exploring all the really interesting stuff in the middle of the neighbors yards.

You can put on their leash or harness without drama

Do you find that you are chasing your dog around in circles or dealing with a bunch of barking before you go out? Is your dog trying to climb the walls while you get them dressed? This might be a temper tantrum because they actually don’t want to go, and they know you are going to make them go. This often looks like excitement to leave the house, when really they are scared and trying to tell you they would rather not.

Why I don’t walk my dogs. Case Studies:

Pixie: Is terrified of life. I have tried numerous times to get her comfortable being on a leash in many different environments, and she can’t do it. She has soft stools, can’t take food gently, stress pants, and otherwise wants to get back in the car as fast as possible regardless of where I take her. She has also been attacked by numerous loose dogs while on walks and approached by terrifying people. At this point, the experiences she would gain from going for a walk, would just make her aversion to being on a leash that much worse.

Opie: Opie is the best boy, and he can go for a walk, but for him they are boring. There are no people who want to pet him, no critters to chase, and no dogs to be friends with. He can take food gently, he responds to leash pressure, and puts his harness on without much drama. He would rather play some training games with me, visit with people at a trial, or go swimming at the park than walk by my side down the street.

malinois on trail

Cargo in the park

Cargo: Some of you may remember that I forgot to teach this puppy how to walk on a leash. That’s been our training goal the last few weeks. While she still finds walks boring and a bit stressful because the other dogs bark at her, neighborhood walks are becoming a “job” for her and she is falling into “work mode.” If we were in “work mode” every day we would lose it. (Vacations are necessary!) Same with our dogs.

Note: these are not all the things I observe, but the most common.

So what do we do instead?

Our walks are hikes in the woods where they can go swimming, chase skinks and sniff all the grass they want to sniff! (Pixie doesn’t leave the house and she’s fine) We play training games, and puzzle toys. They each have a conditioning plan that we try to stick to to make sure no one gets too fat and lazy. On the surface this seems really difficult to get in. Truthfully, after a little tweaking and planning ahead it becomes automatic. Give it a try! Replace your neighborhood walks with a puzzle or a hike in a park or big open field. Let us know what changes you have observed!

I have a little secret for you!

No one wants to hear it. 

It can’t be true. 

The winter holidays are right around the corner y’all!

Are you are telling yourself, those pool parties were a disaster because of the crazy dog? Then the time to come up with a plan for your holiday get togethers is NOW.

Yes, your puppy will be a little bit older and wiser, but we have a short 7 weeks until Thanksgiving, and lets be real, that last week doesn’t count.

So what can you teach your pup in 6 weeks that can prevent a winter meltdown? Thankfully, quite a few things if you get started now!

Here are a few free tips from us at The Freckled Paw. Three things to work on to keep your sanity!

  1. “Go To Mat”

    This one is especially useful for a number of situations. The most common use of “place” in my house, is while I am cooking, when people come in my house, and today, while I am soaking Opies foot because he wanted to chew it off. (Cargo wants to “help”)

  2. Nose Touch

    A cheap behavior that can quickly be rewarded and can quickly redirect your dog to something more appropriate. We emphasize telling your dog what you want them to do instead of telling them “No.” Since “no” doesn’t give your dog any information on an alternate behavior, come put your nose on my hand is an easy way to keep your pup out of trouble.

  3. Puzzle toys

    My current collection of puzzles is a little larger than this

    Okay not a training tip, but we are all busy during the holidays. Make life easier, by having your dog work for his meals. We are lazy dog trainers. (Meaning we want the shortest path to our goals with the least amount of resistance) A bored dog makes our lives harder. If putting kibbles in a $10 toy everyday makes my life easier, I am all for it! (Pro Tip: it does make my life easier, you should try it!)

Give these quick tips a whirl. If you find that you are in need of a little more assistance getting ready for the busy winter season, let us know! We can get you squared away! Just don’t wait until December to reach out. By then it will be too late!

Birthday Party for a 4 year old: A comparison to Dog Training

I was lucky enough to attend my favorite four year old’s birthday party last weekend. This post is not about dog safety tips or parenting with dogs. These two are the best parents I have ever seen. (No unwanted parenting advice. I’ll call you out.) This friend and I have many conversations about behavior and it’s antecedents, its consequences and manipulating all of the above. She is not a dog trainer, she’s a teacher and a parent. I know that dogs are not children and should not be treated as such, but the similarities are there.

As a dog trainer, it is my job to observe and note all the things. This is how I avoid getting bit by my clients, and design training plans that work for the individual in front of me. Just because I have an idea of what should happen in a situation, does not mean that it is going to happen if my contingencies are not there. As a parent, it is also your job to know your child. What motivates them, what drives behavior, and how to manipulate the antecedents to get the behavior you want or avoid behavior you don’t want. The other, most important aspect is to look at what is actually happening in front of you.

Back to my birthday party.

Now, it’s difficult not to trigger stack a 4 year old. 4 year olds also think they want to do things that maybe they aren’t quite ready for. (sounding familiar?) There was an inflatable water slide at this birthday party, complete with a hose at the bottom. (where was this stuff when we were kids?) Now, this 4 year old was really excited to play on this slide. I watched her run outside with her friends, and climb the ladder to the top. Once at the top, I could see the mood change. Suddenly, the slide was a long way down, and that pool didn’t look quite so inviting. Her friends were there cheering her on and after some hesitation down she went, straight into the hose spraying water in her face. And we were done.

Now the fabulous parents that my friends are, unemotionally, swooped in and asked her what was wrong, settled her into a towel, and she sat and watched the slide happen for a good 20 minutes. Once she was in a better state of mind, playing inside with her new toys was a much better way to spend her party.  Everyone is happy again.

Now let’s look at how this could have gone differently.

These parents could have forced her down the slide again to “get her over her fear.”

They could have done nothing and let her continue her meltdown in the pool.

Instead, they chose to treat her fear as something legitimate at the moment, but address it in a way that she could learn from. Meltdowns don’t happen for no reason.

What does this look like in our dogs? (This is a dog training blog after all)

Let’s operationalize what a meltdown for our dogs looks like. This would be the barking, lunging, spinning, and otherwise embarrassing behaviors that we as owners work very hard to avoid.

Face your fears: This is the “lets get closer” approach.  Your barking, lunging, dog is now forced to approach the scary thing to see that it is in fact, not scary. Think about something that you are afraid of. For me it’s snakes. If you dragged me over to see a snake to prove that it was not scary, I would punch you in the face. This also would do absolutely nothing for my fear of snakes.

Do nothing: This is what most people opt for because they have no idea what to do in this moment. (Keep reading! I’ll be giving you some tips!) Just like the birthday girl, ignoring the meltdown is going to break the trust that she has in the people who are supposed to protect her. Her fear is real to her in the moment. So is the fear your dog is feeling. It’s real in the moment, and he needs you to tell him that you are going to protect him.

So what do we do?

First, we pay attention! Get really good at reading stress signals. Walking your dog is your time to bond, it’s not the time you catch up on phone calls, and emails. If we wait for the embarrassing behaviors, we are too far gone. When your dog is worried about something, he’s going to look at it for a bit longer than normal. That is when the reassurance kicks in. Talk to your dog and when they turn to look at you, there you are with a snack. Can your dog take the food? Yes? We are okay, can we look at it again and move on? Yes. Great!

Can’t take the food? Uh-oh, we are drowning a bit and need to get away. Happily move your dog farther away from the thing. Here he can process from a distance that is comfortable for him. Once we can take the food and dismiss the thing, then we can move on.

Now, this is a very simplified way of looking at fear and counter conditioning. This seems simple, but I work with people for months to get their dogs to a point where they feel confident walking down the street.

Every dog is going to meltdown at something at some point in their life. Have a plan in place to deal with it. Always have your food on you, always be paying attention. These two quick tips will help you avoid a much more embarrassing moment later on.