Holiday gift guide for the dog lover in your life

Blue and red hands free leash from Rugers Ropes. Whale bandana from The Mispit Shop

I brought in a guest blogger for this one! Between working with her own dogs, and shadowing me on appointments, Keri and I have been together for about a year now! Many of you have met her at Recalls on the Beach and at appointments. She will be taking her training certification exam in March, and I can’t wait for her to join the team at The Freckled Paw! If you love cute dog pictures you can follow her on Instagram at @nalas_foster_furiends

Here’s what she has to say about her favorite online shops for her pups!

GstopYbowtie makes gorgeous, high quality bow ties. 50% of their profits goes towards helping dogs involved in the Yulin Dog Meat Festival. I personally love the style called “Party for Two.” You pick a secondary color for the background. It adds more color and even more stability! I recently let her choose the fabrics and was pleasantly surprised by her choices. These are velcro bow ties so they easily attach to any collar.

Biothane collar and tag from TagNTrail

RugersRopes hand dyes cotton leashes. We have several four and five foot ones, along with two hands free leashes. She also sells pre dyed super soft leashes, but still with her perfect whipping to keep it all together. I previously tried another cotton leash company, but the whipping fell off within a month, causing the entire leash to fall apart.

FourMuttsAndCo creates fabric collars. She is based out of Canada, so shipping takes a little longer, but it’s definitely worth it. As a pitbull owner, I love that she has a house full of bully breeds. She is always finding great new patterns. Her size range is broad so they can go grow with your puppy. Don’t forget your keychain to match your pet! Use code AZUL20 to save 20% on your entire order.

 

GStopYBowtie Wham Bam, Thank You Ma’am bowtie 4 ft Rugers Ropes leash

TagNTrail has over 200 tag designs and will custom make any tag you can think of! They’re double sided and include a silicone silencer. In our house, we have a tag for every collar, so the variety is helpful. You can choose the fonts, colors, and patterns, making every tag unique. Her customer service is great and she sends you proofs before she creates the final product. We have never been disappointed! She has also recently added biothane collars to her shop. They’re great for the beach!

 

TheMispitShop does bandanas with a sturdy pleather backing.  Pleather helps the bandana to say where it’s supposed to. Each bandana is made to size with snaps to fit your dog perfectly. The snaps allow for a quick and easy on and off.Use code AZUL15 to save 15% on your entire order.

Got a favorite “dog stuff” shop? Let us know!

Black Friday Shopping: For the Dog (and owner)

Thanksgiving is almost here, and after turkey means shopping for the holidays!

Happy rescue dog under the tree!

I am one of those people who would rather hold a snake than go black friday shopping. (too many “not-dog people.” Y’all are my dog people.)  I will be sitting at home scouring Amazon and all my favorite shopping sites with Pixie beside me since she’s the only one who cuddles.

So what am I looking for this year? Here is a quick guide of a few of the things I think every dog owner needs to have in their possession!

Harness

I like the Freedom Harness by Two Hounds and the Balance Harness by Blue9. All my dogs wear a Balance Harness, but I like the safety and no-pull function of the Freedom Harness. If you have a bit of a puller on the leash then go with the Freedom Harness.

Long Line

I’ll be looking to upgrade to biothane this year since cotton and nylon tend to get heavy when it gets wet, and my dogs love the water! If you are looking for something a little less expensive, cotton or nylon still get the job done!

Treat Bags

Y’all have seen my “fanny pack” made by EzyDog. This was a christmas present a few years ago, and my favorite treat bag for wearing everyday! It’s got all the pockets and compartments that I need to get through the day training your dogs. It’s held up to everyday wear and tear like a champ, but I wouldn’t expect anything less from Ezydog.

Another great option that doesn’t break the bank is the Rapid Rewards pouch from Doggone Good. This was my first training pouch as a serious dog trainer. It held up pretty well until Pixie’s leash got wrapped up and broke the clip. I could have easily bought the belt that goes with it to eliminate that problem.

Some other places I can spend a ton of money

Ruffwear – God help me when they have stuff on sale! I have more unnecessary Ruffwear purchases than I care to admit to. I have bowls, bumpers, balls, cooler coats, backpacks, harnesses and so much more. Very geared toward hiking and trail running, the quality is definitely there and can certainly get you through the neighborhood.

Clean Run – Not just for agility equipment, although that gets a good chunk of my money too. They have a great supply of toys and treats for general training aid. They also have a wonderful library full of training books by the industry greats, such as Leslie McDevitt and Denise Fenzi.

Two Brothers Dog Wash – For my local folks. This is where I get all my snacks and food for my pups. They are super committed to excellence in service and products they carry. If you are worried from all the dog food recalls and treats being manufactured in China where the regulations are lax, fear not at Two Brothers. They make sure everything they carry is sourced responsibly and safely to keep your pet healthy and happy. They also carry my recommended products: Annamaet Pet Food and Treatibles PCR treats

Show off your pups new toys on my Facebook page or tag me on Instagram @thefreckledpawdogtraining

 

 

Don’t read this: Dog Training is Boring!

Yeah you read that right! Dog Training, when done correctly, is really boring. Dog Training is slow, behavior modification is even slower, and (i need a stronger word than) boring!

We got as excited as grass…

Excitement usually means something went wrong.

Let’s look at one of the cases I am working right now. We are reintroducing the household dogs together after a string of ugly fights. They have lived in different houses for 6 months now and recently they have started to be in the same place at the same time. Here we are in our giant field with the dogs on opposite ends. They see each other, and nothing happens. They continue to walk and sniff, and still nothing. No explosions, no barking, just some side eye, and hot dogs.

So boring!

When working on sport skills with my own dogs, our training schedule looks very similar week after week because our training sessions are very short, and include many of the same tasks. It’s taken me months to teach Cargo to pivot into a heel position. The tediousness comes from having to break this seemingly simple task into many different moving parts and raise her criteria so slowly that she doesn’t realize she’s doing something harder than she did a minute ago. Too big of a jump and she quits, too small of a slice and she gets bored. (All while making sure she loves working with me. Dog training is not as easy as it seems)

This is good dog training. This is good behavior modification. When something exciting happens, the train has skipped the track.

That one time I met Victoria Stillwell at a conference!

Good dog training will never have a television show because people want to see the action, and the excitement of sudden changes. Effective dog training doesn’t have the action shots or the suspense that good television has. Remember that show “It’s Me or the Dog” with Victoria Stillwell? There is a reason that was only done once.

Keep plugging along with your goals for your dog. It’s the small successes that we get the most excited about. Those little things become big things, and the next thing you know you are texting me saying “nothing happened!” and we cry and scream and get very excited!

 

3 things to keep in mind when bringing home a new pup!

We recently had a “clear the shelter” event in our area. It was widely successful and many great pets found wonderful new homes. Many of you know I am a huge supporter of our animal shelters and the staff and volunteers there. They work extremely hard for a thankless and never ending job of finding these animals new homes. Now that these pets have been at home for a few weeks, the shelters are now starting to see the return of the animals who did not get set up for success from the beginning. Lets touch on some of the things that can help smooth out the transition for those of you who are thinking of a new furry family member.

Barriers are your friend!

Many people do the quick meet and greet at the shelter and then think everything will be peachy when they get home. Your pet doesn’t know that this friend they are meeting in a strange place, will be their new best friend and part of their life forever. Give everyone some safe space to adapt to this new normal and take it very slow.

x-pens are great for giving your puppy a play area while you get some work done

Barriers like baby gates and crates are going to allow your new pup to slowly explore its new home while not allowing them to get into trouble. Give your new pup some freedom in your main living area first, then over the course of a few days or week allow them to explore the rest of the house.

Decompression is a must!

The shelter is an extremely stressful place for dogs. We all know it, and there is not a whole lot we can do about it. When you bring home your pup, allow them to have a few “easy” days to take it all in and slowly decompress from all that built up stress of their life changing! Give them a variety of things to chew, a few boxes to shred, some easy puzzles like a slow feeder bowl. Don’t try to show them all the great things that their life will have in the first 3 days they are there. No beach or park trips for a little while, let them get to know you.

Start training right away!

Developing a relationship is so important!

A little basic training goes a long way. Find a good basic training class just to see what your pup knows. Teach them that you are full of great and wonderful things by rewarding the things that you like. Don’t wait for the bad behaviors to pop up to address them. Reward anything you like right from the beginning so you don’t have to re-do the wrong things. If things start to go sideways call in a professional as soon as you notice you are out of your realm. Bad behaviors are much harder to fix if they stick around for awhile. Practice makes perfect!

As always, slow and steady is the way to go. You have your dog’s whole life to do all the fun stuff you want to do. There is no reason to do it all right at the beginning. Spend some time enjoying your new dog, and developing a relationship with them. That will keep all those crazy behavior problems at bay later on!

Medicine and Behavior: The two go hand in hand

Puppy’s brain melted!

Every so often I meet clients who believe that their dog is “stubborn” or has “selective hearing” when given cues. Sometimes the issue is lack of training, which I addressed in a previous blog: here! Occasionally there is also an underlying medical issue that also contributes to the “selective hearing” process. Since your dog can not tell you that something hurts, or that a task is too difficult, we just have to use our context clues to figure it out. Thankfully, your dog has both you and me to help navigate those areas of uncertainty between you and your vet. Let’s explore some of the routine areas where I ask the vet to get involved in training.

Pain
This is the number one most discussed trip to the vet. Dog suddenly doesn’t want to be picked up or petted? Sudden snarkiness with other dogs, in an otherwise friendly individual? Dogs reluctant to sit or stand from a down position? A dog that is throwing their weight around when asked to sit?

I start all these with a vet visit to discuss some pain management. Dogs are incredibly stoic and will not show outward signs of pain until they feel really bad. (Ask anyone with a sport dog!)

There are many different pain management options these days, and many of those options are safer than they have been in the past for long term use. There are also different options depending on your dogs medical history. I keep a stash of Deramaxx in my house for those days when my pups worked too hard and just need a doggy ibuprofen. When Scooter (my big dachshund) got old, he was on 3 different pain medications to make sure he could still go up and down the stairs daily. Discuss these options with your vet to find the right one for your pup.

Impaired Vision, hearing
This one is hard to diagnose in dogs because they can’t tell you if they can’t see their periphery or can’t hear those high pitched sounds. Usually, these clients come to me with wild rambunctious puppies or adolescents that just can’t seem to figure out what is being asked. I usually get to tell them that what they are experiencing is not normal At that point I can give them ways to adjust their lifestyle to help their dog be successful. I get to see lots of normal puppies so I can pick out “not normal” pretty quickly. Unfortunately, there is not much you can do for lack of vision or hearing in dogs except to have it confirmed by the vet and adjust how you interact with your pup. Thankfully, dogs are fairly resilient and figure out how to live with an impairment just fine. As an owner, you need to remember that your dog can’t see you when you call him to you!

Aggression and Separation Anxiety

He got up there all by himself!

I can go down a rabbit hole with this one but I will try to keep it on track. Sudden onset aggression, or behavior that is deteriorating instead of getting better might require some prescription help to allow the client to meet the goals that they have for their dog. Just to be clear, medication does not fix the problem, but can allow the dog to be in a better brain space to learn what is being taught. Anti-anxiety medications in dogs also need to be used with a behavior modification plan and have a plan to wean the dog off the medication. Some dogs do better on medications for the rest of their lives, but most dogs can be successfully taken off medication at some point.

And at the end of it all, be your dog’s advocate. If your vet doesn’t believe you or won’t listen to your concerns, then find a new vet! You are the one who is responsible for keeping your dog happy and healthy! Take a few moments to  listen to what your dog is telling you when they ‘can’t’ comply with what you are asking.