Friday, December 19, 2008

Going on a Safe and Happy Holiday!

We're going to see Eric's parents on a holiday trip! I've only been to their house once and I was three months old at the time. This time I'm an adult with Big Sandy and Bernie going with us too. Jenn is going to help me be a good guest so they will invite me back again. I guess that means that I shouldn't lift my leg and leave my mark all over their house like I did at Jenn's parents. I have a feeling that people will be watching me the whole time and not letting me get away with anything. Hmph! No fun.

Traveling with your pet takes extra thought and planning as Jenn and Eric have been doing. You need to think about feeding us, taking crates, taking chew toys and mental toys, and planning to keep us well exercised.

DIET It's a good idea to keep your pets on their normal diet while traveling and being a guest to avoid stomach upset. It's also not a good idea to give us too many holiday goodies. I'm sure that last thing anyone wants to deal with is doggie diarhhea at your in-laws. Jenn definitely doesn't want to experience that.

CONTAINMENT/SUPERVISION Be sure to take sturdy crates with you so your dog can travel in safety in your vehicle and so that you will have a way to contain them wherever you are visiting. Crates also serve as a quiet place for your pet to retreat to if they want some alone time and keeps your pet out of harms way when you can't supervise them. That will help me not get into things like the tree and the tinsel and the presents, etc. There are lots of holiday hazards that puppies can get into so be careful and supervise, supervise, supervise.
PHYSICAL AND MENTAL EXERCISE Tired dogs make the best house guests. Jenn knows there are nice walking trails nearby where we can go everyday on our holiday and that we will be walking many miles. Try to keep up with your dog's exercise routines while you are traveling so that your dog will be a calmer, less anxious guest. Additional exercise will keep down stress levels. Take mental activity toys with you so you can give your dog something to do when they need it.
And lastly and most importantly, don't forget to have your pet's ID tags on wherever you go. So, lets see if Jenn follows her own advice on our holiday. I'm looking forward to all the excitement of traveling! For more holiday pet safety tips, click here.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I have fleas!

So I've been feeling great this week, back to normal after my neuter surgery. But I started scratching the other day, not thinking much about it other than the itches kept itching. Jenn didn't seem to think much of it either saying maybe my skin might be a little dry. But Big Sandy scratched so much she lost some hair on her back and Jenn found out she has flea allergy dermatitis, a condition that occurs from a flea bite. Some dogs are allergic to the flea's saliva and even one flea can have a dog miserable with scratching in no time flat. The skin becomes very sore and can get crusty and oozy. Yuck!

Jenn got pretty upset at that point, saying that fleas have never been a problem before since she and Eric keep things pretty clean with vacuuming, they wash our beds regularly, and we dogs get dietary supplements like garlic and brewer's yeast that keep fleas away. But sometimes, especially someplace warm and humid like North Carolina, you can get fleas anytime, anywhere. And we've had lots of warm, wet weather, there you go.

So, Jenn decided to refresh her memory on fleas in general, their life cycles, using natural products, cleaning routines, and dietary supplements to make our house a
"no vacancy" zone for fleas. If you want to learn more about controlling fleas in your house naturally, click here.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I'm feeling better all the time...

It's been two days since my surgery and I'm feeling so much better. I'm not as tired or sore, but I've been sleeping a lot. Jenn took me for a walk this morning and it was nice to get out and stretch my legs. Jenn's also been giving me lots of TTouches to support and help my body heal. Jenn's teaching a TTouch workshop on Sunday afternoon so you can learn some of these techniques too. Check out her website for more info. TTouch is useful all sorts of health and behavioral issues and there is a great video clip on YouTube on using TTouch to help animals recover from injuries or surgeries. Click here

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

My First Full Day as a Neutered Dog

I'm feeling sore today and a little tired and confused. Jenn says this is normal for a dog post-neuter. I didn't feel much like eating until this morning. Recovering from any surgery can be disorienting and while my body heals, I have to take it easy. I don't have any external stitches since the incision was small and sealed with a special medical adhesive. But there are internal stitches and it is very important that I don't pop a stitch being too active. That could be trouble. I shouldn't run or jump and every time I go outside, I have to be on a leash. I can't run or play for about a week. Luckily, I don't have to wear that cone unless I'm left alone. That thing is horrible.

My girlfriend Ayla sent me a "get well" card today. That was very nice of her. It made me feel a lot better.

Monday, December 8, 2008

I'm neutered and a conehead...

This morning I had my neuter surgery. OK, so this wasn't my best day. I'm feeling sore and sleepy and I have to wear this plastic cone on my head to keep me from licking. Jenn says that I have to take it easy for a week. A week? Without dog park and playtime? You can't be serious. Well, I going to rest up so I will feel better.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

My First Parade!

Yesterday, I marched with the Drill Team in the Hillsborough Holiday Parade. This was my very first parade experience and it was most exciting. Bernie was in the parade too with Laura and so were my girlfriends Niamh and Ayla. We all got to wear special bandannas that Barbara, our Drill Team captain and Niamh's person, gave us. We waited forever for things to get started and I wanted to earn that chicken in Jenn's treat pouch. There were all sorts of cars, trucks, horses and groups of people all around us.
All the Drill Team got in line and marched down Churton Street and I could not believe all the people and noises. There was a loud red truck just behind with lights and a siren blaring. It was very loud with crackling sounds which scared all the dogs, me included. Jenn kept feeding me chicken and that made everything OK and off we marched.We did all our Drill Team moves as we marched, showing off our skills. I gave Jenn great attention but decided that laying down was just too boring. So, I didn't quite get that part to Jenn's liking. The rest of the Drill Team looked great and no one seemed to mind my silliness.
Jenn said she was so proud of me. Check out the Drill Team parade video and see me strut my stuff!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Jenn's on TV!

Jenn was on TV helping a Sheltie named Mali and her family. Mali likes to chase cars and reflections and some other not-so-good behaviors that were getting her into trouble. I totally understand being a herding dog and wanting to chase interesting things, but chasing cars is dangerous. Jenn showed the family how to give Mali other jobs to do and how to change her behavior with the help of the clicker.

Check out Jenn's video on the WRAL Bad Dog Challenge here.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Playtime with Niamh

I got to play with my girlfriend Niamh in the park yesterday. She is so fun to chase.We both got a good workout running around this way and that way.Jenn says Niamh does such a good job telling me off when I try to sniff her in private places. I guess I can be a pretty rude boy sometimes. Jenn says my neuter surgery will help with that and that other dogs will like me even more after my hormones calm down. Niamh and my other girlfriend Ayla are going to come over to my house for a playdate tomorrow. We all need a good workout before we march in the Hillsborough Holiday Parade. This will be my first parade and it should be so exciting.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

You're going to do what??? Neuter!!

Neuter! Jenn says that neutering will be a good thing, particularly after my randy, rowdy behavior over the food holiday. Oh really!! She says that dogs that are neutered:
  1. Have reduced desire to roam and mark-I won't want to spread my scent as much (especially around Jenn's mom and dad) or track down females in heat
  2. Have reduced desire to mount-so I won't bother Big Sandy and the other girls as much
  3. Increases concentration-some dogs find it easier to work and learn after neutering
  4. Can have decreases in dog/dog aggression-though this varies with the individual
  5. Have fewer prostate problems, fewer hernias, and no testicular tumors
What neutering won't do:
  1. It won't change my friendly, happy personality-I'll still be me
  2. It won't make me a wimp-if anything, being neutered will help me avoid situations where other male dogs find me threatening (because of my hormones)
  3. It won't make me fat-my metabolism will still be high as long as I'm kept active
It certainly would be nice to have a clear head and concentrate on other things, like learning new things, making new friends, and earning more clicks and treats. I guess it won't be so bad.

To learn more about the benefits of spaying/neutering, click here.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Yes, I am the Marking Man..the Marking Man...

So I still don't know what all this fuss is about. We went to visit Jenn's mom and dad for that holiday with all the food. We arrived and when I walked through the house, it smelled like their little poodle Bailey. I had to fix that right away, so I went through every room (while Jenn and Eric were unpacking the car) and I left my mark. Boy, then everybody got upset. Jenn's mom started finding my marks all over her house and Jenn kept saying "You've got to be kidding" and she and her mom cleaned up each spot with Nature's Miracle cleaner. That stuff takes my scent away, which defeats the purpose of my marking entirely. Everyone watched me like a hawk the rest of the time. No fun. Don't they understand that marking is part of my job? My body and my brain tell me to do it. It's nature after all. I even squeezed into Bailey's little dog bed so I could have that as well. Jenn said that is was time for some changes when we get home. Whatever that means...

Want to learn more about canine urine marking? Click here.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

My Review of the Dog Brick

This is me posing with the "Dog Brick". The Brick is one of several new puzzles created by Nina Ottosson. She calls them dog activating toys but they are used with cats, pocket pets, birds, pot bellied pigs and zoo animals. Jenn thought they would be a great mental toy for me, so she got the Brick and another puzzle the "Dog Tornado" at the APDT conference for me to try out. These toys are designed for dogs and people to play together. It is not a toy that you would leave your dog alone with. I will now commence my review of the Brick.The brick has sliding black blocks and small chambers under the blocks where treats hide. I must slide the block with my nose or foot to reveal the treats. Jenn helps me at first, teaching me to move the blocks myself. This is a learning process and it takes some time for me to understand. But the treats keep me interested that's for sure.
Soon, here I am sliding the black block with my foot uncovering the treat. Cool. This is something that really makes me think and I so want to understand it. We only play a few minutes at a time at first, so I'm always wanting to do more. Jenn says the main drawback of the Brick is the cost (about $50 retail plus shipping). Woof! All the dog activating toys are very well made and solid wood, much like handmade Swedish children's toys. The very good news is that there are plastic versions soon to be available that will be much less expensive. So my overall opinion of the Brick is a Paws Up and a higher Paws Up for the less expensive plastic versions.

Click here to read more about Nina Ottosson and her dog activating toys.

Watch a video of a dog working with the plastic Brick on YouTube.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

More Play Everyday!

Jenn and I started a new class at the APS called "Having Fun With Obedience". I love this class! It's all about playing different games to improve communication between dogs and their people. I love games. The instructor is Jenn's friend Chris. One of the games is using clickers to get us dogs thinking and experimenting with new behaviors called "freeshaping". The click means I've done something good and I'll get a treat. Jenn can use the click to mark the exact second of my behavior. In this picture, Jenn is using the clicker to help me learn to play the piano with my feet. First she clicked me for looking at the piano, then for touching the piano with my nose or feet, then only with my feet, and then only the keys with my feet. This photo is courtesy of my girlfriend Niamh's person Barbara.

The clicker is just a little plastic box that makes the click sound. Jenn says you can also use a word like "YES" to mark a behavior in the same way. Some dogs are a little scared of the click sound at first so you can put the clicker in your pocket and click to muffle the sound.

What to learn more about clicker training? Click here (ha!)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Digging in the Dirt!

I love to dig! What fun it is to plow through the soft ground with my feet and shove my face into the cool dirt. Check out my brown feet and brown tongue! Sometimes I dig because I'm trying to get to something, like a mole. Other times, I dig to just lay in the cool place. Lots of puppies like to dig for various reasons, but their people don't think that it is so great. Especially if we dig up the flowers or special plants or make holes all over the yard.

Jenn and Eric know how much I like to dig and they didn't want me to dig up the whole yard, so they let me have my own magic dig pit. This is a special place just for me where there are hidden treats and toys. I go to dig there and voila, there is buried treasure like a toy or a bone. Why would I need to dig in any other area of the yard? I never find anything interesting there. My magic dig pit always has the best stuff.

Excessive digging can be caused by lack of exercise and boredom. If a puppy has nothing to do in his yard, digging is a creative way to burn off energy and frustration. Make sure your puppy is getting enough exercise.

If you want to manage your dog's digging habit, check this DogStarDaily article out.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Check out my videos from TTouch...

Here are some video clips taken by Karin, a TTouch practitioner and class assistant during this weeks training. The TTouch instructor is Kathy Cascade, who was very kind and patient with me. Jenn is there too, to reassure me that everything is AOK. In this exercise, Kathy helps me move around the poles on the floor slowly, without pulling, and to stop with my body balanced on all four feet. So much harder than I thought! This exercise really made me think and I did get a little anxious about it. So I did my "ort, ort" bark. I'm glad I was able to do this exercise to help folks new to TTouch to learn the importance of slow, thoughtful movements. This can help a dog to think, coordinate their bodies, and develop confidence.

My Day at TTouch with Kathy Cascade

I got to spend a day with Jenn at TTouch training at the APS. Jenn organizes these training several times a year with her friend Laura (my special girlfriend Mona's person). Many people come to learn about TTouch and how they can share it with their animal friends. The Tellington TTouch method is a way of interacting with your companion animal that reduces stress, builds confidence, and reduces pain. There are touches that are calming and quieting and movement exercises that engage a dog's attention. The instructor was Kathy Cascade and she showed me how to do this movement exercise where I have to stand quietly then move with her slowly. It's so hard to move slowly! I just want to go, go, go and I get anxious when I can't. Jenn said I did a great job and she's going to help me do all the exercises with confidence.

Jenn says that she's going to offer a workshop for local people that want to learn more about TTouch. If you are interested, just sign up for the Blue Dog newsletter.

To learn more about the TTouch Method, check here.

Monday, October 27, 2008

I graduated from Agility 1!

Yeah! I am officially a graduate of Agility 1. Here I am with my instructor Dean. Hopefully I will be able to move on and start working on agility equipment outside in January. Jenn says that she is going to keep me busy until then in two classes called "Really Reliable Recall" and "Have Fun with Obedience" at the APS. The APS is offering other classes that you may want to check out for your puppy here.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Playtime with Mona

I went to go visit my best girlfriend Mona this morning. Jenn had a lesson near her house, so she coordinated a playtime.
Mona is so much fun! We wrestled and ran around her yard and played tug with her Kong rope toy. Oh, and I got really dirty too. Jenn brushed me out when we got home and helped me clean myself up a bit. She mentioned that I'm "blowing my coat". For dogs like me that have a "massive" undercoat, we lose it twice a year and shed a lot during those times. And I mean a lot...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

My Favorite Show is Back! New "It's Me or the Dog"

My favorite show, "It's Me or the Dog" is back on Animal Planet, Saturdays at 9pm. Victoria Stilwell is a reward based trainer and APDT member that helps people and their dogs live better together. It's fun to watch and you can learn how positive training, proper exercise and healthy diets are vital for properly managing dogs. Jenn says she got to see Victoria at her APDT conference last week and that she was one super dog person. So watch "It's Me or the Dog" with your best furry friends.

Click here to go to the "It's Me or the Dog" website.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Dr. Doug Knueven at APDT

Jenn said that Dr. Doug Knueven was one of the best speakers at her APDT dog trainer conference. Dr. Doug is a holistic vet from Beaver, PA. He has two books on holistic dog health, The Holistic Health Guide: Natural Care for the Whole Dog and Stand By Me, A Holistic Handbook for Animals, Their People and the Lives They Share Together.

Dr. Doug spoke about preventative approaches for avoiding sports related injuries and prolonging health in both competition and companion dogs, including diet, limited vaccines, accupuncture, chiropractic care, massage (and TTouch).

Jenn was so impressed to hear Dr. Doug speak about the positive health impacts from feeding a raw or home prepared diet.

Dr. Doug has a great article about his philosophy on pet diets here.

Several other articles on holistic care, vaccinations, and alternative vet care are available on his website here.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I have new toys!

Jenn came back from the Association of Pet Dog Trainer Conference on Sunday night and I was so happy to see her. She said that she learned a lot and the major topic was using play and games in training. That sounds like fun! She brought many new toys for me and treats to "test drive". She got Katie's Bumpers, two Nina Ottosson dog activity puzzles, the Kibble Nibble, the Waggle, and giant stuffed toys from Premier, and some others too. How exciting! I'm going to give you my opinions and see what passes muster with me.
First up in the Premier Wild Fox Stuffed Toy. Now, usually I don't get stuffed toys. Mainly because Bernie and I like to unstuff them. But Jenn thought this toy was quite well constructed and may stand up to our rough treatment. I have tossed it, tried to rip it to get the squeaker, tried to tear the tail off, shook it, and it is still together. So this toy gets the thumbs up. We'll see if it lasts through the week...

Saturday, October 18, 2008

This week is starting to suck...

I am so bored! This is completely unacceptable. Eric is not entertaining me enough. The only way I can get any attention from him is to bark at him or stare at him or drool on him. I didn't even get my walk yesterday because it rained. Can you believe that? No walk, no dog park. How am I expected to live in these conditions?

Eric just talked to Jenn and she is apparently having a wonderful time at the dog trainer conference in Kentucky. She saw Dr. Robert Miller, Suzanne Clothier, Dr. Patricia McConnell, Dr. Ian Dunbar and ran into my old friends R.K. Anderson and Duffer Schultz.

Jenn is coming back tomorrow night and I cannot wait. She promised to bring me back some new toys and the latest products and treats. I'm sure she'll give me the scoop on everything she learned....

Monday, October 13, 2008

While Jenn is away...

Apparently, Jenn is going on a trip. She says that she'll be at the APDT dog trainer conference in Kentucky for five days. When she told me I felt like hiding my head. But then, I thought about all the things I might be able to get away with. Yehaw! Eric will be in charge of everything while Jenn is away. He's really going to have to watch those remote controls and his shoes. We'll see how well he manages things...

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Do you know about Secondary Chewing Phase?

I must chew, now more than ever! Why must I chew you ask? I'm not such a puppy anymore, but a teenager. Teenage dogs can actually chew more than younger puppies because we are in the secondary chewing phase. This starts around 6-10 months of age and happens because the puppy's teeth are setting in the jaw.

Lots of people don't know that puppies go through this and assume that the puppy is acting out when they destroy things. Actually the puppy is just chewing everything in sight because of how uncomfortable and painful our jaws/mouths feel. Imagine teeth as big as ours coming into your mouth!

What can help? Jenn keeps me well exercised, she supervises me or puts me in my crate when she can't, provides lots of safe, indestructible chew toys, and she gives me things that I can destroy like my favorite cardboard boxes.

Click here for a great article on the secondary chewing phase and what you can to do help your puppy through it (and save your stuff!)

Monday, September 29, 2008

My Birthday Party

I waited all weekend for my birthday surprise! Jenn said something special was going to happen and around 4pm yesterday my friends started arriving. My surprise was my own birthday party with a few of my special friends: Niamh the Gordon Setter, Ruby the Aussie, Sky the Golden-Doodle, Mona the German Shepherd, Trudy and my special friend Oscar, both Italian Spinones. My housemates Big Sandy and Bernie were happy to share my special day too.For an enjoyable and safe dog party, be sure to invite the right number of guests. You want a 1:1 human to dog ratio and probably no more than 10 dogs total. A fenced back yard is a great place for a dog party. You want to make sure all your guests "play well with others" and enjoy the company of dogs and people. We ran and played...The people tried to keep the dogs moving and not bunching up in one area...I was very happy to share my water with my special girlfriend Mona. Even on a cool day, you must provide lots of fresh water for your party goers.
Bernie had to take a break in a hole under the stairs. Some dogs need time out from the crowd and place to crash and chill.
Every birthday boy needs a cake and here is my birthday peanut butter carrot cake which Jenn made from a recipe for "dog birthday cake". It has cream cheese, dog biscuits and sprinkles. Click here for this recipe and a few others.
Everybody sang a song for me wishing me a happy day!
Then I got to test out the cake. I must say that it was unlike anything I've tasted. It definitely passed the taste test.
We cut the cake up and every dog got to eat some. Jenn's friend Mimi brought some yummy doggy "ice cream" made with plain yogurt and peanut butter that went perfectly on top of the cake. We all had small pieces so we could share. Jenn says that small pieces are best for dogs, even if the cake is special for them. She didn't want anyone to get an upset stomach. No one complained! Then we did our gift exchange so everyone could go home with a new toy.
Wow! I am bushed. What a super special day. Thanks to all my friends and their humans for coming out and sharing their day with me.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

It's my first birthday!

Today I am one year old! Jenn says that she cannot believe that a whole year ago, this was me...
Here I am with all my brothers and sisters, who I have not seen since I was 10 weeks old. I'm second from the right. I'd like to wish them all a happy birthday too: Happy Birthday to Rockstar, Jazz, Onyx, Topaz, Flash, and Justice!
Jenn says she has something special planned for me next weekend to celebrate my birthday. I can't wait!! I'm sure that I'll get some new toys or maybe we'll take a field trip somewhere exciting.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

My Favorite Toys: Kool Dogz Ice Treat Maker

Here's a new addition to my favorite toys list-the Kool Dogs Ice Treat Maker.
It makes a giant ice cube treat that lasts for hours. Jenn takes some treats and toys and freezes them inside the tub. Here she put in a stuffed Squirrel Dude (see previous post), some dog biscuits, and some baby carrots and then she adds water immersing all the goodies. You always want to use healthy things that your dog likes, but no more than just a snack.Once the tub is completely frozen, you take it out in the yard and plop it on the base which is pushed into the ground. Viola! A super fun frozen treat that keeps me occupied.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Big Sandy has Spondylosis

Jenn told me that my best girlfriend Big Sandy has something called spondylosis. Spondylosis is a very common condition that comes with dogs getting older. Lots of times people don't even know their older dog has it unless they have an x-ray. People get it too. Spondylosis happens over time as the spine becomes deformed from boney growths. Sometimes the growths create fusion of the vertebrae, which is what's happened to Big Sandy. For her it is probably more of a problem because she only has three legs. She's just not as flexible and she gets pain sometimes. So Jenn started to take her for acupuncture and she give her lots of TTouch, which seems to help a lot and she'll give her medications from our vet for pain and inflammation.

Jenn says that I have to play more gently with Big Sandy from now on and give her lots of breaks. People should monitor their puppies when they play with their older dogs. Puppies can be overwhelming for an older dog, especially if they are feeling stiffness or pain from aging and you need to step in and give the older dog a break.

You can learn more about Spondylosis by clicking here.