19 October 2016

The Bunny and The Lion

The lure operator said it was like watching a bunny chase a bunny!

Mr. N doing his best skulking lion impression.
Photos by Polis Photography.

12 October 2016

How Could You?

Mr. N still can't believe I went to the cat cafe and didn't take him. He may not speak to me for a week!

07 October 2016

Small Dog Outdoor Adventures with the Wrapsit Crate

If you're anything like me, it takes more time and effort to pack for the dog than for yourself. And he always has more stuff than I do. Anything to reduce the amount of things I have to lug around is super welcome.

We went to a lure coursing trial over the weekend. I packed a book, snacks and water for me. Mr. N's packing list was more extensive (treats, toys, towels, rain coat, fleeces, water etc) and filled two bags. I normally bring a soft carrier for him as well but on this trip, I brought the Wrapsit instead which meant I had one less (bulky) thing to carry.

This post was sponsored by Wrapsit. They are not responsible for the contents of this article. All opinions expressed are our own. 
The Wrapsit is a 5 cubic foot soft slipcover that goes on a folding quad chair and acts as a fully enclosed crate and/or storage area. The four sides are mesh allowing for ventilation and the pet to look out. And there's a shoulder strap that serves as a lead. Installation is quick and easy, you put a few velcro straps together and attach some clips.

Lure coursing is a high arousal sport and many of the dogs were screaming and lunging towards the lure like maniacs while waiting for their turn. Mr. N does not approve of this behavior. He will shake from excitement but generally he's quietly intense while waiting for his turn. And while he's running.

Photo by Polis Photography.
In the absence of a plastic bag to chase, a couple of the dogs were eyeing Mr. N in a "you look like a fluffy bunny and I want to eat you" way. He decided to pop into the Wrapsit of his own volition a couple of times to get away. 

His favorite feature is probably the waterproof base as it rains here the majority of the year and rain is always a risk at outdoor trials. The rest of us might get wet but he'll stay dry. If your dog is a texture snob like Mr. N, I would bring a towel or something else to put on the floor of the crate as it is not padded.

As for me, I like the pockets (storage space) and that you can just fold it up with the chair and it becomes the carrying case complete with padded handle. No repacking. 

Several people at the trial asked me about the crate and lamented the fact that their dogs were too big to go under the seat.  Wrapsit recommends it for dogs under 16 inches. Mr. N is small but leggy (11.5 inches) and he had no trouble popping in and popping out.

 The chair that I used is on the smaller side. Mr. N found it roomy enough but bigger dogs may want more space. Wrapsit adjusts to fit most popular size chairs up to 22 inches in length and 18 inches in height and the company suggests chairs close to the limit for maximum space and full functionality. 

Keep in mind this is a soft crate with velcro fasteners and it will not prevent a determined dog from getting out. I would not use this unsupervised or with dogs that are bad with crating. Mr. N is OK with soft crates as long as I am right there with him. 

If you have a small dog who goes with you on outdoor adventures, I highly recommend the Wrapsit. Your dog will have a safe space wherever you go. It's lightweight and convenient and one less thing to carry!

Wrapsit has generously provided a Wrapsit for one of our readers. Enter below!

05 October 2016

Halloween Dog Trick: Hold

Going to grandmother's house. 
I freely admit it. I taught Mr. N a "hold" purely for photo purposes. Now he's quite good at holding things in his mouth for photos although he still doesn't like metal objects. 

I had a bit of trouble getting him to do it originally as he kept trying to retrieve the item instead of holding it in his mouth. What helped was having him do it in a down as then he couldn't move to retrieve the item. I think I taught it backwards and most people start with the hold so this is probably not a common problem. 

Basically, I rewarded him for any interaction with the object and then mouthing. Once he started holding it his mouth, we built up duration slowly. And Mr. N is super non-mouthy so if he can do it, any dog can! I had to teach him how to fetch using a bully stick. 

Originally, I was going to have him hold a toy saw but I have no idea where we stowed it in the basement and I couldn't find it. So we improvised and did a Red Riding Hood-themed hold instead. Other objects that could work: bones, zombies (the stuffed kind), pumpkins, and treat baskets.

Do you have a favorite Halloween-themed trick?

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 Halloween-themed tricks 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 November 7th and continues for a week. November's theme is indoor activities and games and December's is training gifts (a training gift you have given your dog, such as working slowly through something scary like nail trimming, or conversely, a training gift your dog has given YOU!) 

29 September 2016

What To Look for In a Dog Food with #PetcoWholehearted

Before we adopted Mr. N, I went to a pet store to ask about food and blindly bought a bag that the salesperson recommended. I didn't have the first clue about dog food. I didn't know to ask about where the food was made, what ingredients are good or bad, if the food was grain-free, or even what size bag to buy, really (do not buy dry food in bulk for tiny dogs despite the savings).

I did end up buying a good brand of food but that was sheer luck. Now I know a lot better and I know what questions to ask before buying dog food. The sheer variety that is available today can be overwhelming, especially for people new to the dog world.

This blog post is part of a paid Megan Media and Petco’s Wholehearted blogging program. The opinions and ideas expressed here are my own.
Mr. N has recently been trying out Petco's new grain-free line, Wholehearted. He is super finicky and often refuses to eat kibble, so I have been giving him Wholehearted  consistently so he's been eating their canned food. He's pretty tiny and has never had any trouble with bigger-sized kibble when he was sort of kind of eating it but some small dogs struggle especially if they have dental issues. Wholehearted offers both small breed and large breed options as well as food for puppies and adult dogs.

I like to give Mr. N different choices, both so he gets variety and so he doesn't get bored. He would not be happy eating the same thing every day. Even with treats, I have to make sure I rotate or he loses interest. And I wouldn't either. I love sushi but if that's all I had to eat, I imagine I'd get tired of it pretty quickly.

The lamb flavor with Mr. N's nettle root supplement sprinkled over it.
Petco’s Wholehearted dry food is available in: salmon & pea, chicken & pea, and beef & pea flavors. The canned food comes in: chicken, beef, turkey, chicken & fish and lamb. For the allergic pups out there, the lamb wet food is the only one without chicken or beef, out of the canned varieties.

Wholehearted is affordable, especially for a grain-free dog food (it contains no: corn, wheat, soy, or other grains). It provides vitamins & minerals for balanced nutrition and Omega-3 Fatty Acids which help improve your dog's skin and coat. The antioxidant  formula guarantees levels of Vitamin E, Selenium, and Zinc.

Mr. N prefers the canned food slightly warmed and especially likes it as an after-walk meal on rainy days (i.e. nine months out of the year in Portland) when he comes home dripping wet and needs something warm and nourishing in his belly.

How did you pick your first dog food?

Dinner time!
Readers have two chances to win a $50 Petco gift card, once for commenting on this post and once for sharing the post. And one very lucky dog will win the grand prize of an one-year supply of Petco Wholehearted dog food! 

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

28 September 2016

This Does Not Compute

Mr. N loves meeting new people and getting attention. He tried so hard to make friends with a visitor and pulled out all the stops. Bringing a toy over, flopping over for a belly rub, looking at her pleadingly with puppy eyes and tongue sticking out. Nothing worked and she gingerly petted him once or twice (she is not afraid of dogs, just not an animal person). Mr. N was dumbfounded that there was someone who didn't want to pet him. Everyone wants to pet him! 

20 September 2016

Catching Bulbasaur (or Ivysaur?)

14 September 2016

Group Photos are Hard

12 September 2016

Positive Dog Training Reaps Rewards, Love, and Happiness

I often refer to Mr. N as my "guinea pig" dog because he is my first dog and he gets the brunt of my training mistakes. One mistake I'm glad I've never made though is using aversives to train. I've always trained him positively from the beginning.

I didn't really have a training philosophy when we first got him. Nor was I really aware of different training philosophies or tools. I just knew that I didn't agree with using corporal punishment as a learning tool for children or for dogs and I wanted my relationship with my dog to be one based on trust and affection and not fear.

Maybe it's because he's generally well-behaved or because he's tiny but no one has ever suggested I use a prong or shock collar on him or alpha roll him either. Although one woman did suggest debarking him when I mentioned he had separation anxiety...

Mr. N has a really soft temperament. I've never even raised my voice at him and yelling at him might break his tiny little heart. I yelled at the screen once during a soccer match and ever since then he has been super wary of us watching soccer. Using force on him would be pointless and unnecessary. 

Portland has numerous positive reinforcement classes (unlike many other places) so I didn't have any trouble finding positive-based training classes. Mr. N has taken a couple of training classes (basic manners, a reactivity one and some sports workshops) but the bulk of his training I have done myself using various books and DVDs and Youtube videos. I also take classes through Fenzi Dog Sports Academy which is online, positive-based and has classes for almost every dog training issue or sport. 

He gets rewarded for good behavior and making good decisions. We use his preferred reward medium (mostly food and some life rewards like chasing squirrels and going for walks, we're slowly trying to add play into the mix). He does not believe in this working solely for praise thing. He is pretty biddable but he is a terrier and he wants a good reason to work! 

I try to set him up so he doesn't fail. And when he does something he's not supposed to, he gets redirected or removed from the situation or misses out on the fun.

And all this creates a dog who wants to work with you. After a few minutes of acclimation at the park, he decided to ignore the squirrels and the birds and the kids and we worked on his latest trick. We did a few repetitions working in the new distracting environment and then as a reward, we went off to go chase some squirrels. 

How did your journey to positive training begin?

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 my positive training journey 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 October 3rd and continues for a week. 

07 September 2016

Canine Navigator

02 September 2016

Dog-Friendly Kubota Garden in Seattle

Zen and dogs usually do not go together. The Japanese Garden in Portland bans pets as does the Seattle Japanese Garden. However the Kubota Garden in Seattle allows dogs as long as they are leashed and you clean up after them. It is also open year-round during daylight hours and free.

The 20-acre garden is owned by the City of Seattle which bought it from the Kubota family in 1987. It was founded in 1927 by Fujitaro Kubota, a self-taught gardener and immigrant from the Japanese island of Shikoku. The gardens on the Seattle University campus and the Japanese Garden at the Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island are also his work.

The garden is less manicured and more "wild" than the Japanese gardens I am accustomed to seeing. Which makes a lovely place to bring dogs without worrying that they're going to wreck something perfectly landscaped. The garden's casual atmosphere also lends itself to a variety of activities. 
There was a group practicing martial arts and a big wedding party that arrived in a Hummer limo and people rehearsing lines from a script. 

Mr. N evidently approved as he perched on a rock and refused to leave until we took his picture. I'd definitely recommend it if you're looking for dog-friendly activities in Seattle. 

31 August 2016

Japanese Garden Guardian

Kubota Garden

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.