23 August 2016

Mirror Lake

16 August 2016

Tom, Dick and Harry Mountain Hike

12 August 2016

A Safer and Quieter Car Trip with the Air PupSaver

I have a confession. Sometimes Mr. N would ride in my lap in the car. I know it's unsafe. But Mr. N has terrible crate anxiety which I think stems from being shut up in a crate for 10-16 hours as a puppy and he will whine almost the entire way if he's confined in the car. And if I have to listen to him whine for a half-hour straight, my brain will explode and we'll get into a car accident anyway. 

We've tried several different car set-ups for small dogs including crates, carriers, and booster seats. He really hates anything where he's  and I couldn't find a booster seat that had been crash-tested. I thought he would be more comfortable with a car harness but they don't make crash-tested ones in his size and manufacturers recommend against it for tiny dogs. 

Then I found the Air PupSaver and it ticked the vast majority of the boxes. The car seat looks like a bolster bed which is Mr. N's favorite type (he likes using the edges as a pillow). I can use it in the front seat. It has been through crash testing at the MGA Research Corporation and passed the canine variation of the FMVSS 213 crash test since 2012. 

The updated model comes in two sizes (under 25 lb, 26-40 lb) and in a black-and-white hounds-tooth pattern.The rear-facing design is meant to mimic infant seats in their safety design. And the airbag style seat back helps makes the seat lighter and safer. You fill up the three compartments with air with the provided pump before using it. I found the pump a little tricky to use until I discovered that one of the air valves had to be blocked off while filling it.

Mr. N's ringing endorsement would be that he hates it less than everything else we've tried and if he must be restrained in the car, this would be his pick. He actually finds it very comfortable, he just dislikes captivity. Before I put it in the car, it was sitting on the living room floor for a few days. He would use it as a little den and sleep and hoard toys and chews there. 

The company also makes Pupsaver-compatible harnesses. I'm anxiously waiting for them to come out with the xx-small harness as they run a little big and their existing models won't fit Mr. N (x-small to medium). They no longer recommend using collars with their products. Their harness has a chest d-ring which I think will make it easier to attach to the car seat. All of Mr. N's harnesses have back rings and the seat clasp is bulky which makes it a little difficult to fasten and unfasten from that angle.

The Pupsaver can be used in both the front and back seat if the air bags are turned off in the front. I have not tried the Pupsaver in the back yet because I'm anticipating that Mr. N will throw more of a fit if he is further away from me and I want him to get further accustomed to riding in the Pupsaver first.

There's an installation video but basically you yank the seat back away from the air bags, pull out the seat belt all the way and keep it from retracting with a provided clip. Then you fasten the under seat and front buckles on the Pupsaver and adjust the clip. There's a clasp in the middle of the seat which you attach to your dog's harness. It takes maybe about two minutes. 

Car rides are so much easier and quieter(!) with the Pupsaver. Mr. N's whining has decreased significantly. He averages about three (on a good day) to about a dozen whines per trip. Compared to when he would whine almost the entire way. I feel much better knowing that he is safely restrained and if we get into a wreck, he's not going to slide off the seat and go hurling into something. A friend has already offered to buy the Pupsaver off me! 

How does your dog ride in the car?

This post was sponsored by Pupsaver. They are not responsible for the contents of this article. All opinions expressed are our own. 

09 August 2016

I Can't Believe You Said That

02 August 2016

Door to Another World

If I open this door, where do you think it will take me? Narnia? Middle-earth? Hogwarts?

01 August 2016

Taking our Dog to the Drive-in Theater

How could we not take Mr. N to see "The Secret Life of Pets"? We made a special trip to the drive-in so he could see a double feature of "The Secret Life of Pets" and "Ghostbusters" with us.  It was my first time going to a drive-in and Mr. N has never been to see a movie either (despite going to numerous plays, concerts, and readings).

It turned out to be a much more tasking trip than I had anticipated and I was very proud of the way Mr. N handled it. From start to finish, we were gone for nine hours between traveling to and from the theater, waiting in line and watching the double feature.

The lines were epically long that day due to an employee shortage and movie popularity, according to the theater. When we got there, we saw a steady stream of cars waiting that stretched onward for several more blocks. We were worried if we were going to make it in or not. The theater had about 300 spaces but the line of cars was endless. We got in line about 6:45pm and we entered the theater around 8. We narrowly made it in as the cars behind us were being turned away.

Mr. N was a good ambassador for Yorkies and small dogs that night. All the training we had been doing regarding ignoring distractions and settling and having good public manners really came together. People so often expect small dogs to be yappy and ill-mannered. Several people told me that they didn't bring their small dogs because they would be barking and were impressed with how Mr. N conducted himself.

We did a quick walk around the grounds before the movie started and during intermission but for the most part, we were in the car. During the walk, he ignored all the children running around yelling and the other dogs that were there (including the barking ones).

He slept perched on the window ledge for the entirety of The Secret Life of Pets. For the record, Mr. N is totally a Max with a little bit of Snowball thrown in.

When Ghostbusters came on, he moved to the backseat and continued to nap there. It was a long and boring night for him but he handled it very well. 

I love bringing him everywhere I can and I am conscious that it is a privilege that is extended contingent upon good dog manners so we train to make sure we can keep enjoying that privilege. And I hope that seeing good dogs in public will silence the naysayers who like to complain that people bring their dogs unnecessarily everywhere. 

28 July 2016

Tales and Tips about Lost Pets from a Pet Detective (Part II)

Kat Albrecht is the founder of Missing Pet Partnership, a national non-profit that specializes in community-based lost pet services and a police officer turned pet detective. She also trains people in the the science of finding missing pets. The Missing Animal Response (pet detective) training course is offered online and is available to anyone residing anywhere. For Lost Pet Prevention Month (hosted by PetHub), she shared stories and advice from her work as a pet detective. You can read part I here. 

  • Why did you start your business?
I first started moonlighting as a pet detective in 1997 after my police bloodhound, A.J., went missing in the woods in Santa Cruz, California. I used another search-and-rescue dog to track A.J. down and find him and that gave me the idea to see whether dogs could be trained to find lost pets. 

As an experiment, I took my retired cadaver dog, Rachel, and trained her to find lost pets. In her first four searches she found two missing cats and one missing dog. Since that day, my passion has been to make these services available in all communities. I formed Missing Pet Partnership, a national nonprofit in 2001, launched the first-ever pet detective academy in 2005, and have been training volunteer and professional pet detectives ever since.

You can read about my early pet detective work that include many of Rachel’s pet searches in my book Pet Tracker: The Amazing Story of Rachel the K-9 Pet Detective (available as an ebook, softcover, and audiobook) at http://tinyurl.com/PetTrackerBook.

MAR Cat Detection Dog Susie greets Target Cat Cheeto with a kiss.

  • What is your most memorable pet detective experience?

I’ve been doing this work since 1997 and have had so many “memorable” experiences! I guess I would say the time I was flown to New York City by the Today Show to search an apartment for a loose snake was memorable. A violinist who lived alone opened a cabinet to find a giant shed snake skin in her pantry! She did not own a snake and was too afraid to sleep or stay in her apartment. I was flown out on a red-eye flight with Rachel my search dog and an infrared camera. 

It was a surreal experience to be in San Francisco one day and in NYC the next with camera crews following our every move. We searched very inch of that tiny apartment and did not find the snake, but we did locate the hole in the floor where the snake had entered and then exited after depositing his skin. The violinist was grateful for our help.
  • How do you train your dogs to find missing pets?
We select dogs that love to play with other dogs and that become excited when another dog runs away and hides from them. We progressively train the dog to follow a scent trail after having them sniff the scent from that “target dog” which has run from them and is hiding. It takes anywhere from 12 to 18 months to properly train a dog in MAR Trailing work. 

The second type of dog we train are MAR Cat Detection dogs. We select dogs that love cats and that become hyper excited when they smell the scent of a cat. We train these dogs to detect the airborne scent of concealed cats and utilize the dog as a search tool when we conduct a slow, methodical search of a missing cat’s territory. It only takes around 3 to 4 months to train a cat detection dog because we are basically shaping their existing behavior of excitement towards cats. 

If anyone wants to learn more about how to train a dog in MAR work you can check out my book Dog Detectives: Train Your Dog to Find Lost Pets https://www.dogwise.com/ItemDetails.cfm?ID=DGT250
Trainer Kat Albrecht introduces MAR Cat Detection Dog in training to Target Cat Myron.
  • Can you search for any type of pet? Does the process differ?
    The pet detectives that I train occasionally are asked to search for different species like turtles, ferrets, birds and iguanas. Many of the principles that we use to recover missing dogs and cats are also used to search for other species. One of the most common techniques that we use for nearly every species is switching from using small, white, 8 ½ X 11 pieces of papers used as “flyers” to instead creating giant, neon, REWARD LOST DOG posters that utilize what we call the 5+5+55 MPH Rule. 
    You want to use five words that drivers passing by can read in five seconds when traveling fifty five MPH. We have used signs like these to help recover countless numbers of missing dogs and cats but also for other lost species. It is critical to capture the attention of people driving through an area that a companion animal is missing, and these types of signs are able to do that. 
    Many people falsely believe that a “bloodhound” or a “tracking dog” is the answer to finding their missing pet and yet the majority of lost pets that we’ve been able to help recover have been due to using the big, neon posters.
Giant neon lost dog posters.

  • Under what circumstances would you turn down a job (weather, time etc)?

I would turn down a request for a search if I felt for any reason that I was not able to help. Past reasons where I have turned down cases have been because the weather was terrible (too windy, too hot, etc.), the pet had been missing for over a week or the scent trail was impossible to follow, or the terrain was just too steep or dangerous for me to work in.

*All photos are the property of Kat Albrecht. 
** We are participating in PetHub's 2nd Lost Pet Prevention Month. This post was sponsored by PetHub. They are not responsible for the contents of this article.

26 July 2016

Tales and Tips about Lost Pets from a Pet Detective (Part I)

Kat Albrecht is the founder of Missing Pet Partnership, a national non-profit that specializes in community-based lost pet services and a police officer turned pet detective. She also trains people in the the science of finding missing pets. The Missing Animal Response (pet detective) training course is offered online and is available to anyone residing anywhere. For Lost Pet Prevention Month (hosted by PetHub), she shared stories and advice from her work as a pet detective. You can read part II here.

Pet Detective Landa Coldiron uses her bloodhound Ellie Mae to track the scent of a lost dog.
  • What should pet owners do in terms of missing pet prevention?
There is not much that can be done to prevent a pet from becoming lost, because they become lost in so many ways. The majority of people who lose a pet never expected it to happen to them. Incidents range from animals being involved in roll-over car crashes where the dog or cat is ejected from the vehicle and runs away in fear, to escaping out an open gate or door, escaping from a pet sitter, digging out or jumping over a fence, or jumping off a balcony.

 What is critical is that all pet owners protect their pets so that if their pet goes missing they can increase the chances that it will be recovered. The two primary methods are microchipping your pet and having it wear a collar with ID tags. And if your pet is microchipped it is critical that you make certain that it is also registered. 

Owning a microchipped pet is like owning a vehicle with a license plate—the only way that the license plate of that car will be connected to you is after you register it with the department of motor vehicles. If you are not sure whether your pet’s microchip is registered, ask your veterinarian’s office to help you find out. They can scan your pet’s microchip, contact that microchip company, and verify that the chip is registered with all of your contact information.
  • What tips do you have to offer people who are missing a pet?
First and foremost, don’t panic—there are people and information out there that can help you. There are plenty of lost and found websites where you can post your lost pet’s information, including http://www.helpinglostpets.com/ which offers many features for pet owners. There are many states that have community-based lost and found Facebook pages like those created byhttp://lostdogsofamerica.org/

There are free-behavior based tips along with videos on Missing Pet Partnership’s website at www.missingpetpartnership.org. MPP also maintains a pet detective directory where you can find a listing of training professionals and volunteers willing to assist you. 

Dogs and cats are like apples and oranges—they behave differently when lost. The methods that we suggest that you use to search for a missing dog are very different from the ones we suggest that you use for a missing outdoor-access cat and a “displaced” indoor-only cat that has escaped outside. 

The most important tip that I can give is that you should not lose hope and that you should not give up the search for your missing pet. We’ve been able to help recover missing dogs and cats weeks, months, and in a few cases, years after it went missing. The moment that an owner stops searching for their missing dog or cat, the chances that it will be reunited with that owner plummet.

Only cats with bold, gregarious temperaments that are fearless around dogs and that are trained to crate quietly are used for Target Cat work.
  •     What are misconceptions that people have about the pet finding process?
One major misconception is that hanging out small, white flyers is the best way to find a missing pet. Most pet owners try that and then give up when no one calls with a sighting of the pet. In some cases, that is because the person who found the missing pet has simply not noticed the small white flyers.

 In other cases like when an indoor-only cat escapes outside, the cat is actually hiding in silence near the escape point and no one will ever see the cat because it will only sneak out of hiding in the middle of the night. 

Another misconception is that most cats that go missing in an area where there are coyotes were likely eaten by a coyote. While this certainly does happen on occasion, more cats are actually killed in animal shelters (where they are euthanized because no owner came to search for them) than are ever killed by coyotes. That is because cat owners who believe that their cat was killed by a coyote won’t even bother driving down to the shelter to look for their cat—why would they if in their mind their cat is already dead? 

A misconception about lost dogs is that they will come running to their owner when called. While this is certainly true of many dogs with friendly temperaments, many dogs that are timid or shy will become panicked with the process of escaping and they will run from anyone who calls them, looks at them, walks towards them, or pays any attention to them, including their owner.

Attention getting lost dog flyer.
  • Why should people consider hiring a pet detective? 
Pet owners should definitely consider hiring a pet detective if they are not physically able to put in the amount of work (and time) that needs to be done to recover a lost pets. The people who fail to do all of the work that is required have a reduced chance of recovering their missing pet. There are only so many hours in the day and if you work a full-time job, the chances are that you need someone to help you in your search efforts. 

There are many things that have to be done to properly search for a missing dog or cat, including creating effective lost pet posters, notifying all of your neighbors, conducting a physical search of the neighborhood, checking the shelter cages, posting your pet on lost and found pages, placing ads on Craigslist, and following up on all leads. 

If you have the time and you are physically able to do all of this work on your own, you still should ask for help from friends, family, or even from volunteers from a lost and found Facebook page in your community. Many of these groups offer to put up posters for you, follow up on leads, and even help with setting up feeding stations, wildlife cameras, and humane dog traps if your dog is skittish and running from people. 

Although many of these groups are all-volunteer, these people work hard to help get dogs back home and many don’t even ask for donations. Whether you hire a paid professional or utilize the services of a volunteer group, you really would benefit from receiving advice from someone who has been trained in lost pet recovery work.
  • If people want to hire a pet detective, how can they tell if they are reputable? 
The number of “pet detectives” out there who’re offering lost pet recovery services across North America is growing rapidly. While there are several pet detectives who are very good and quite reputable, there are also a few bad apples out there who really should not be in business.

Currently there is no governing body within the pet detective industry and anyone can hang out their “shingle” without any previous training for either themselves or for their search dog. However, Missing Pet Partnership is working to change this. We’re preparing to launch a membership program that will include MAR (missing animal response) training and certification for both volunteer and professional pet detectives, strict training and impartial certification requirements for MAR (missing animal response) search dogs, advanced training courses, a code of conduct, a code of ethics, monthly training webinars, regional seminars, and regional dog training “boot camps” across the US and Canada. 

Our National Pet Detective Directory currently only lists people who’ve taken between forty to sixty hours of classroom training and who’re in good standing. To determine whether someone is reputable, you can check Missing Pet Partnership’s Testimonials “Praise for Our Pet Detectives” page to see whether people have posted a good word about the pet detective in questions http://www.missingpetpartnership.org/testimonials/praise-for-our-pet-detectives/

Another way to check whether or not someone is reputable is to ask them for references and be sure to contact those references. You can also check that person’s business name under Yelp to see whether there is a pattern of complaints.

One other test is to ask them how long they believe that scent survives. Missing Pet Partnership has a page “How Long Can Scent Survive?” http://www.missingpetpartnership.org/lost-pet-help/find-a-pet-detective/how-long-can-scent-survive/ that explains that some so-called pet detectives are claiming their search dogs can track a scent trail that is several months old (one even claims his dogs can track a scent that is one year old!) and yet the oldest documented scent trail that police bloodhounds tracked was just 13 days old. 

Search dogs are a great tool if they are available in your area, however, there are limitations on their use. Pet detectives who make claims about their professionalism while bashing other pet detectives (especially all volunteer pet detectives) and who try to convince you that their search dog is THE answer to finding your lost pet should be treated with suspicion.

Trainer Kat Albrecht explains that this bloodhound failed his evaluation for Cat Detection work due to a lack of excitement towards the crated target cat (that was in the black bag).
  • How is finding missing pets different from finding missing people? 
Finding missing pets is very different from finding missing people in two major ways: the level of community support and the search tactics that are used. When a child or an Alzehimer’s patient is lost, a highly trained search-and-rescue team is dispatched to conduct a high profile search of the area. This team typically includes a few paid staff (law enforcement officers) members and many volunteers.

There are often volunteers who specialize in conducting ground searches where they look for physical clues, searchers who use air scenting search dogs and attempt to pick up the airborne scent of the missing person, searchers with trailing dogs that attempt to track the scent trail of the missing person, horse “posse” team members who use horses to quickly search trails for the missing person, and other teams like fixed wing aircraft and helicopter crews. Most of these missing person searches end up in the news because they just don’t happen all that often. 

In addition, only trained searchers, who are managed by a team using the Incident Command System, are authorized to participate in these searches. The tactics and techniques that are used in these searches come from years of research into the analysis of lost person behavior and best industry practices for search-and-rescue teams. Search managers don’t send searchers out into the woods to wander aimlessly—there is an organized, structured search plan and everyone involved knows how to operate under this much needed coordination and authority.

In contrast, the search for missing pets is like the wild, wild west! Community support is limited to those who post on social media pages like Lost and Found Facebook pages. Most other people in the community are unaware of or ambivalent towards a missing dog or cat. And if the dog or cat owner fails to use proper marketing techniques to get the word out that their pet is missing, most people within the immediate search area just never get the message that the pet is missing. 

A growing trend with lost and found Facebook pages is to post information about lost dogs and then to post sightings and ask for people to “help.” The problem is that the majority of the people offering to help have not been trained in how to lure a panicked dog. In spite of posters and warnings that people should not call or chase the dog, many well-meaning people do just that—they call the dog’s name, slap their legs or clap their hands, causing the dog to bolt and run away! 

Sadly, this has resulted in many missing dogs that have been chased into traffic or chased out of a search area where a team was trying to calm the dog and lure it to enter a trap. Missing Pet Partnership has a page that details panicked pet behaviors and includes a YouTube video http://www.missingpetpartnership.org/recovery-tips/panicked-pets/ of how NOT to call a loose dog but instead how to use “calming signals” to attract a panicked dog.

MAR Cat Detection dog Sadie checks heavy brush for a missing cat.

*All photos are the property of Kat Albrecht. 
** We are participating in PetHub's 2nd Lost Pet Prevention Month. This post was sponsored by PetHub. They are not responsible for the contents of this article. 

20 July 2016

Styled by #Wagdrobe with Custom Pet Fashion Boxes at BlogPaws

These days red carpet styling isn't limited to celebrities, their pets can rock a custom-styled look too. 
Wagdrobe is a new company that curates wardrobe boxes for pets. 

You specify your pet's style (you can choose from themes like Hipster Hound, Summer Bark-BQ, Trendsetter, Ivy Leaguer, Spoiled Princess etc), breed and size and the stylists pick out a custom box for your pet. Then you choose between two sizes of boxes: $25 Simply Stylish (1-2 pieces of apparel with fashion accessories) and the $50 Pawesome Value (3-4 pieces of apparel with fashion accessories). 

The boxes are not by subscription, you can pick whichever box you would like when you want. Wagdrobe periodically comes out with new themes like their Summer Bark-BQ in addition to perennial favorites like Hipster Hound. They source their outfits from fashion vendors around the world. Right now, sizing is limited to pets under fifteen pounds. 

When I decided to take Mr. N to BlogPaws, I knew he needed to look his best. Wagdrobe sent us an array of outfits for Mr. N to wear at the conference. We started the first day off simply with the owl bandanna. 

Photo by Annabelle Denmark Photography
The next day, he rocked the Hipster Hound look which consists of a plaid shirt, glasses, and a funky tie or bow tie. 

Surveying the conference
After all, coming from the city of hipsters, he has to pay homage to his roots right?

Mr. N, Little Oz and Oz's human
Mr. N put his brains to work and offered brands detailed opinions on their offerings while wearing his Ivy Leaguer attire.

At the Merrick booth
He borrowed the glasses from his Hipster Hound outfit because everyone takes you more seriously in glasses.

Photo by Annabelle Denmark Photography
After all, one must be fashionable even when one is being kidnapped by a giant bone. 

Mr. N and the Vitabone mascot
When you run into another dog who shares the same aesthetic, you simply must take a photo together. Mr. N and Surfin' Jack in their Hawaiian duds, right down to the matching glasses. 

Lucy Pet Foundation booth with Surfin' Jack
Mr. N dreamed of a tropical vacation while being surrounded by the smell of fishy Wonders at the Honest Kitchen booth in his Summer Bark-BQ outfit. He doesn't think he's cut out for the desert. 

At the Honest Kitchen booth
He had some stiff competition but he earned numerous accolades from people as one of the best-dressed pets at the conference.  And he proved that even boy dogs can be fashionable. Mr. N posed on the red carpet in a grey tuxedo from Wagdrobe's Special Pawcasion line. 

Photo by Annabelle Denmark Photography
Which one of Mr. N's looks did you like the best? Which style would suit your pet?

This post was sponsored by Wagdrobe. They are not responsible for the contents of this article. All opinions expressed are our own. 

15 July 2016

Tricks You Won't Teach Your Dog

The one trick I will never teach Mr. N is "limp." It always drives me into a tizzy whenever I see him limping (usually because he has something caught in his paw). And someone has already learned that limping means attention. He started fake limping once in class when he felt like I wasn't paying attention to him. I don't need more unnecessary panic in my life.

I've heard of conformation people not teaching "sit," people with long-backed dogs not teaching "sit pretty," not teaching "play dead" because it's too morbid and big dog people not teaching rebound and back stalls because really do you want a 70-pound dog trying to bounce off your stomach?

A trick I do want to teach him that a lot of people refuse to teach is "speak." He alerts barks and play barks but he's not one of those dogs that is enthralled with the sound of their own voice or alerts to every falling leaf. And he will generally shush when I tell him to so I'm not worried that I'm going to create a barking monster.

You can't make me bark when I don't want to.
But when I actually want him to bark, he refuses. I sometimes think that he thinks it's rude to bark without a good reason. I've tried everything I can think of. I've played animal noises on Youtube to see if he will react. I've made various high-pitched noises at him. I've teased him with a treat and refused to give it to him to see if he will bark out of frustration (he thinks it's very rude and will go away and turn his back to me).

I fake knocked at the door and had other people try it as well. A trainer suggested that method when I told him about it. I told him Mr. N can distinguish between real knocking at the door and fake knocking and doesn't react to the fake noise. I don't think the trainer believed me. He tried knocking where Mr. N couldn't see and Mr. N was not impressed.

Nada. If anyone has any brilliant ideas, I'm all ears.

What do you refuse to teach your dog? And why?

12 July 2016


Photo by Kolu Photography

06 July 2016

Getting Ready for the Ball at #BlogPaws

Pretty sure Mr. N is admiring himself. 

05 July 2016

What to Know if You're Bringing Your Dog to #BlogPaws, Pet Expos and Other Dog-Friendly Events

Know thy dog. Are they non-aggressive, well-behaved, and able to handle crowds, loud noises and constant stimulation? If so, they're ready to attend dog-friendly events like BlogPaws, pet expos and other dog-friendly events. If not, maybe next year and in the meantime they can await the goodies you'll be bringing back.

We recently came back from a trip to Arizona to attend BlogPaws, a multi-day conference where people and pets mingle. It is a high octane environment with multiple distractions in the form of people, other animals, food and toys.

Mr. N exploring in front of our hotel
I was impressed with how the majority of the animal attendees behaved in such a setting but we had a couple of incidents where I was seriously concerned for Mr. N's safety. Mr. N was charged at and almost knocked over multiple times because the owners were not paying attention to their dogs.  I know we were not the only ones who had issues.

Dogs that attend these events should be:
  • Healthy. Do they have a strong immune system to combat being with numerous other dogs and the potential for infectious viruses, bacteria and parasites and up-to-date on shots? 
  • Good with other animals. Dogs make up the majority (of various shapes and sizes and colors) of animals at BlogPaws but there are also cats, rodents and ferrets. 
  • Well-socialized. Can they handle other dogs barking, loud music, people talking on microphones, applause, and small children? This is not the place to expose your dog to multiple new things for the first time. 
  • Trained. Do they have a strong leave it, good leash manners, and the ability to settle quietly for long stretches of time? 
  • Under control. Are they on a short leash or confined to a carrier or a stroller? More and more dog events are banning flexi leashes and I applaud that decision. Crowds and flexis do not mix.
Mr. N napping quietly in his stroller during a session.
Bringing dogs to events is fun but also comes with a weighty responsibility. Are they having fun? Are they preventing other people or dogs from having fun? It's your job to make sure your dog is having a good time as well as not stopping other people/dogs from having a good time. 
  • Watch your dog for signs of stress. They include but are not limited to panting, yawning, whale eye (showing the whites of their eyes), pinned back ears, refusal of food, tense body posture. 
  • Make sure to give them breaks. Sit out a session and go walk them around. Have them take a nap in a quiet area. Take them out to go to the bathroom. 
  • If they're being a distraction, remove them. If your dog is whining or barking for a prolonged period or otherwise being distracting, time for a break! 
  • Don't let your dogs be rude. Don't let your dogs charge up to other animals or sniff them for long stretches. If you see your dog fixating and staring at another dog or one of the other animals, redirect them and give the other animals a wide berth. 
  • If something happens, apologize profusely. Dogs are dogs and things happen. People will be much more forgiving if you apologize and take steps to ensure it doesn't happen again.
Mr. N decided he needed a nap
There are an abundance of cute fuzzy dogs (and other animals) at these events. It can be hard because you feel like you know these dogs already and just want to hug them already but they don't know you and would much rather be approached in a slower fashion. If you're bringing your dog, ask people to keep the following in mind when they approach your dog.

How to approach strange dogs:
  • Don't disturb dogs that are eating, sleeping or in a confined area (crate/stroller/carrier). 
  • Ask permission before petting. 
  • Don't loom over the dog. 
  • Don't reach over their heads to pet them. 
  • Don't lean in really close to their face. 
  • Dogs generally do not like hugs. At all. Especially from strangers. 
  • Stand still and wait for the dog to approach you.
Mr. N with Ann from Pawsitively Pets. He is happy to be petted and sit in laps if you follow the above!
Do you have any tips for bringing your dog to a dog-friendly event and making it a good experience?

Welcome to First Monday's Positive Pet Training Blog Hop hosted by Tenacious Little Terrier and Rubicon Days. Please share your responsible pet owner positive pet training tips by linking a blog post or leaving a comment below.  Our theme for this month is wildcard (whatever you want). but any positive reinforcement training posts or comments are also always welcome. The Positive Pet Training Blog Hop goes all week long. Our next hop will begin Monday, August 1st, and continues for a week.

01 July 2016

Choosing a Pet Insurance Plan with #Figo

Mr. N has had pet insurance since we adopted him. It was a condition of his adoption actually. The thing to remember about pet insurance is you have it for your peace of mind and not because you expect to recoup the money you spent. If Mr. N needs to have a costly surgery or has an emergency, the bulk of the cost will be covered. If you break even, your pet has most likely had a lot of medical emergencies. Healthy pet makes for a happy life right?

No pet insurance company will cover pre-existing conditions so you want to buy insurance before something happens.

This post was sponsored by Figo Insurance. They are not responsible for the contents of this article. All opinions expressed are our own. 
We're comparison shopping for a new insurance plan and this is why Figo Pet Insurance, a new competitor in the market is worth considering for us:

  • They cover veterinary exam fees for treatments. Our current plan does not and it is a consideration sometimes when we're debating if we should wait and see or take him in if it's not an emergency.
  • Accessible customer service. You can tweet, text or chat. I like when companies have a chat feature so I can multi-task while chatting and not have to wait on hold.
  • The claims process. You can file a claim from your phone, track the process and be paid electronically too. Right now, we have to have the vet's office fax the forms and it's not the most convenient. 
  • Flexibility in plans. There's only one plan option with our current company.
  • Copay and deductible waived for emergency life-saving treatment. Mr. N has never had a true emergency while we've had him (knocks on wood) but in the case that we did, it's nice to know that there would be fewer costs to pay.
  • Holistic and alternative therapies are covered. We recently switched to a veterinary practice that does alternative and regular medicine so an insurance that covers both would be a plus. The company we are with does cover them but you have to purchase an additional rider.
  • The cloud. Like most Millennials, I prefer doing everything online when possible. With Figo, you can manage documents electronically, share your pet's records with anyone and get shots and medical reminders as well. 
Practicing kawaii faces.

I plugged in Mr. N's stats into the online calculator and it is slightly more expensive (an additional six dollars/month) than our current plan. Figo does cover exam fees though so the end cost may be similar. I have some more questions to ask (like 24/7 customer service availability) and I need to sit down and run some figures but Figo is definitely on our short-list for consideration.

Do you have pet insurance? Which factors do you consider when choosing a plan?

29 June 2016

#BlogPaws Swag Bag 2016

This year the swag bag came with something special.