Monday, August 16, 2010

Calming Band vs. Face Wrap for Barking

So Jenn and I are doing more experimenting with face wraps (see previous post) to help me keep my cool on leash walks (and not wake up the neighbors by barking at deer, etc.). Today, Jenn fit a Calming Band on me before our walk. A Calming Band is fabric and elastic that fits on my face in a figure eight, around my muzzle and behind my ears. It is just kind of there, not tight and all face wraps/Calming Bands need to be used with supervision. You can't leave your dog alone with one on. The elastic around my muzzle on the Calming Band definitely feels a little different than the elastic face wrap we used yesterday. A Calming Band looks like this:Here I am walking in my Calming Band:And here I am looking at a squirrel frolicking in the field:I kind of lost it on the walk home when I saw a deer, so I actually did a little better yesterday with the elastic face wrap that Jenn made from an old pair of underwear. You can also cut apart an Ace Bandage to make a simple face wrap. Jenn thinks that it is funny that a piece of elastic on my face can make such a difference in the amount that I bark. But it kind of makes sense, because if my face isn't tense, then barking isn't quite the same. I'm aware of the face wrap and for me, that seems to help. Maybe your puppy might benefit from a face wrap, at times when they are likely to bark. The worst thing that can happen is nothing.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Calming Face Wrap-The Bunny Test

Jenn's been doing some interesting experiments on me using a Tellington TTouch Method face wrap. I get really excited on our walks and I like to bark. It feels good to bark, and barking helps me release tension when I feel excited-looking at deer and bunnies especially. But Jenn doesn't want me waking up the neighbors on our early morning walks. So, she thought a face wrap might be worth trying to reduce my barkiness on walks. A face wrap looks like this:It is a soft piece of fabric or elastic that goes in a figure eight around my face. It is not tight or restrictive, it just sits on my face and feels stretchy when I open my mouth, not unlike the sensation that I feel when I where my Halti headharness. A face wrap is used to release tension in the face, mouth, and muzzle. Jenn puts in on and feeds me treats so I don't mind it, then we step out the door for our walk. So the real test for me is seeing a bunny. Jenn took me out this morning and here I am looking at a bunny:
So the interesting thing is that I'm just looking at the bunny. Not spinning or barking of pulling. Here's another picture. Can you see the bunny sitting in front of the rock?
And there I am quiet as a church mouse. The face wrap relieves the tension in my face, so I don't feel the need to bark as much. Cool. Face wraps can also be helpful for dogs that whine, puppies that are teething and mouthy, and fearful or anxious dogs too. A face wrap can be calming, just like a body wrap, but really targets issues going on around the mouth. Jenn's writing an article for the next issue of the APDT Chronicle of the Dog about face wraps and mouthwork. You can check out Jenn's other articles about the TTouch Method here.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Puppy Playdate with a Whippet

So first of all, I would just like to mention that Jet has been a little crazy puppy lately. Having to be inside because of the heat doesn't help. She has lots of pent up energy. The other issue is that her usual playmates Mona and Joey are out of town. So that means Jet bugs me all the time to play and frankly, I just don't want to play all the time. I like to play a bit, then take a long nap next to the air vent, then maybe play again later and then another long nap. This is not Jet's schedule. She's ready to play all the time.
So Jenn and Jet had a playdate with a new friend today, Zoe the Whippet and her person Deb. Whippets are sighthounds, which means they hunt by keen vision and incredible speed. They have large chests and long legs and look like small greyhounds. They are very social dogs and love to play chase games, so Zoe might be a great new friend for Jet.Zoe is very pretty and has a brindle coat, kind of like tiger stripes. Whippets can be many different colors, from white to black to red and everything inbetween. Jet was ready to sniff Zoe all over and thought she was a very cute puppy too.Then they got to romp and run. Whippets are way fast! No, I mean waayy fast. And way too fast for Jet. That speed helps a Whippet capture game, like rabbits. But Jet sure gave it all her effort. She ran herself ragged trying to catch Zoe. They became fast friends (no pun intended). Finding an appropriate, social playmate for your puppy is a great way to manage lots of adolescent puppy energy. I hope Jet gets to play with Zoe again soon!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Taking Your Puppy to the Beach

I love going to the beach! The beach is a very fun place to take your puppy and with a little planning ahead, it can be a safe and happy trip for everyone. There are lots of dog friendly rental properties on the North Carolina coast. Many communities permit dogs on the beaches year-round, as long as you follow some simple "dogs at the beach" guidelines.
First, check with the community you are staying in before your trip, so you know exactly what the rules are for having dogs on their beaches and their leash laws. Most beaches require you to pick up your pet's waste and some even provide pet pick-up bags and receptacles to make it easy. When you travel with your pet, make sure they have their ID tags on their collar with your cell phone numbers listed. Here's Jet and me with our tags. It's also a good idea to bring your dog's vaccination history. There are some vets that will refuse to treat any dog without proof of their vaccinations, especially rabies. So, just in case something happens, Jenn keeps copies in the glove compartment of her car. It's also a good idea that you know before your trip where the closest veterinarian's office is located to your rental property.
I showed Jet the beach. She liked to sniff and explore all the cool beach shells and watch the seabirds. Make sure to watch your puppy on the beach, so they don't pick up anything that could make them sick. And try not to be out on the beach with your puppy during the hottest part of the day. We do most of our beach walking and exploring in the mornings and early evenings. The best part of beach walking is getting to cool off in the ocean. Jet followed me in and didn't hesitate one bit. Soon she was bouncing around in water like a crazy little seal.Remember that we can get overheated and it is important that we have shade and access to clean water after getting tired.Our rental house has a nice screened in front porch that we can sit on, relax, and dry off. Jet really liked hanging out on there. And, I got to supervise the comings and goings of the next door neighbor. We all agreed that our beach trip was just too short. But we had a super time!Wait! We left out one very important member of our family on this trip because sometimes traveling is very stressful on an older dog, like our Big Sandy. We have to be really careful that she doesn't fall and she gets easily confused in new places. This was the first trip that Jenn decided that is would be less stressful if Big Sandy stayed at Bed and Bone, her favorite boarding kennel. And wouldn't you know that it worked out just fine. Big Sandy didn't have to get stressed out on the long trip and she was very well cared for. She came home and passed out on her special bed.The only downside of the whole trip was having to get a bath as soon as we got home. Last thing to remember about your beachtrip is getting your puppy cleaned up. The sea water and sand can irritate skin and eyes, so be sure to wash your puppies up after your next beach adventure.