Friday, January 30, 2015

Windy Walks on Fit Dog Friday!


My husband took the dogs out to Thousand Acres for a fun windy walk! I stayed home because I haven't been feeling that great this week. The girls were very confused about their Dad taking them! They even took off to look for me! The walk went pretty well once they figured out that it was just him and that he had some treats for them! 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Jones Natural Chews "Wuv You Treats" Review


Hi everyone! I hope you are all having a fantastic Tasty Tuesday! Today I have a review for you on the Wuv You Treats from Jones Natural Chews! Isn't the packaging adorable? These treats would definitely make a cute gift for your favorite pooch for Valentine's Day! You can tell that Zoe is already in love! We received the treats in exchange for an honest review but we were not monetarily compensated to tell you about them.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Unhappy Feet Continued - Monday Mischief

At least her "shoes" match her jacket!

I hope the grass dries out for a bit! It's supposed to be cloudy/sunny this week. She is getting really tired of the booties. She only wears them outside but it definitely puts a damper on any fun, poor puppy! On the bright side, that paw is starting to look a lot better since I'm keeping it clean and dry.


Another not so fun thing!! Phoenix managed to slice one of her back legs open at my apartment complex's dog run. SIGH. It's not very deep but it's about half the length from her ankle to her hock. I was watching her the whole time so I have no idea how it happened. It's not bad enough to require stitches but it is sore. Poor thing. I cleaned it out and she's okay... but yeah.. Fun way to start the week!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Sisters on Saturday


Having a good time at Thousand Acres! :D
Phoenix is so funny, she likes to "get" her sister sometimes when they run!



Friday, January 23, 2015

New Toys From Kyjen!


Phoenix was so excited to get this particular package!! One of the ones that actually made it to my house! Anyways, Phoenix is always really happy when we get to try out new dog toys. Kyjen sent us a couple of toys from their Invincible line about two weeks ago and she's been playing with them pretty constantly. We did get these items in exchange for a review but we were not monetarily compensated for it. I'm actually thinking that this will just be a preview of the toys and that two weeks or so is not enough time for a full review since they are supposed to be tough toys.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Package/Delivery Woes. FedUp!!

Zoe says, "Don't take my package away!! I might not get another!"

So this is a little bit of a rant. Dang you FedEx! We usually get at least one package a week. Between online shopping and reviews I'm a frequent mail carrier flyer. With my review packages, I unfortunately don't get much choice in which carriers they ship with and I don't know the tracking numbers. I just have a general idea when I should be expecting it and that's it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Unhappy Feet - Wordless Wednesday


Zoe's having some contact allergies from the wet grass now that we are back in Oregon. It's not fun. So I put her in booties and we went to a new park. She was not very happy. :(

Has anyone else ever dealt with this before? Have you found anything that worked? Her feet are red with some pus. No yeast. They don't smell either but they are bothering her. We've been to the vet a ton for this and we do have a prescribed spray we've been using. She's also on benedryl. Any suggestions are welcome!

The photo of her foot will be after the break.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Solid Gold "Tiny Tots Jerky Treats" Review


Hey everyone! I hope you're having an awesome day! Today I have a review brought to you by chewy.com! Chewy.com is an awesome company that delivers high quality pet products right to your door. Their shipping is incredibly fast and they have wonderful customer service! I highly recommend checking them out!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Clever Alternatives to Using Aversive Punishment in Dog Training

Hey everyone! I hope you are all doing well! Today I decided to write about some alternatives to using aversive punishment in dog training. If you've read any of my previous posts you will know that I am a huge advocate for using Positive Reinforcement and Force Free Methods.

I would like to introduce you to the Progressive Reinforcement Manifesto by Emily Larlham. I do my best to try and follow it and I did get permission from Emily to share it with you.
 

Here are the key points to the Manifesto:
  • Training by rewarding desirable behaviors so they will be more likely to occur in the future, while preventing reinforcement of behaviors that are undesirable.
  • Interrupting and preventing undesirable behaviors without physical or psychological intimidation, as well as rewarding an alternate response (training a behavior you find desirable in it’s place).
  •  Taking an animal’s emotional state and stress levels into account.
  • Socializing and teaching an animal to cope with his environment using reinforcement.
  • Using a marker to train, whether it be a clicker, some other noise-maker, your voice or touch, or a visual marker.  Or, on the other hand, not using a marker, and instead for example reinforcing an animal by feeding a treat directly to his mouth.
  • Employing humane, effective, respectful training based on the latest scientific evidence.
Progressive Reinforcement Does Not Mean:
  • The intentional use of physical or psychological intimidation.
  • Intentionally disregarding an animal’s stress levels or signals.
  • Holding selfish or uncompassionate goals for your training.




What is an aversive


An aversive is basically anything your dog finds punishing. It can vary from dog to dog but some examples could be: poking, hitting, kicking, jerking the leash, shaking a can filled with pennies or rocks, shocking them, squirting them with water (or other harsh things like vinegar or lemon juice) or even raising your voice (for my dogs, me raising my voice is very aversive). The list could go on, unfortunately. 

In Emily's Manifesto she talks about why we should refrain from using aversives and I highly recommend reading it.


If there's a way to get a behavior out of your dog or even get a behavior to stop without using intimidation or force why would you still choose to use it? It's something that really bothers me and boggles my mind. I think it's a really excellent way of ruining your relationship with your dog. It also creates fear and in most cases additional behavioral problems. There is always fallout when you use aversives, it may not appear right away but it will likely show up at some point.


In example, I used to groom a sheltie named Zeke. He was a really nice dog until you turned the water on him. As soon as the water turned on he turned into cujo. Lashing out, screaming and biting, he even bit one of my co-workers through a muzzle and drew blood. It was a very serious situation. After speaking to his owner, I found out that they had been using the squirt bottle and water hose to discipline him. He was TERRIFIED of the water and grooming him was HIS nightmare. I wish there was a happy ending here but there isn't. He was later euthanized for biting a younger family member when they tried to correct him.


Another example of fallout is dogs that are walked with painful training tools. If they get jerked every time they see another dog what happens is DOG = Pain. So the dog will start having reactivity and lash out in attempt to make the other dog go away so the pain doesn't happen. It's probably an oversimplification and I could go on longer about this but I won't in this post.


YouTube: What not to do to your best friend and why - Emily Larlham



Photo is borrowed  and belongs to: Big Cat Rescue

If we can train tigers, lions, bears and other zoo animals to do voluntary blood draws and other behaviors without the use of force and aversives, why can't we do the same with our dogs? If you tried to force a tiger into doing something he didn't want to do you'd probably be dead. We are lucky our dogs are more cooperative and forgiving.

 

What is Dominance Theory?

 

  1. That wolf pack hierarchy and social order is comprised of an 'Alpha' pair of wolves who maintain the pack hierarchy through physical dominance and even outright aggression to keep the rest of the pack subservient.
  2. That, because dogs are descended from wolves, they will have the same 'Alpha' pack hierarchy and social order as wolves, and share the same behavioural traits.

Based on the combination of these two beliefs, Dominance Theory suggests that, in order to have a successful human-canine relationship, the human must assert his/her dominance or 'alpha' status over the family dog in order to keep the dog subservient and 'in line' within the human's family structure.

In example, Cesar Millan believes in dominance theory. He believes that he must be the pack leader and that any time a dog does something it's not supposed to that the dog is being "dominant". In many of the episodes he describes dogs as"excited-dominant" or "calm submissive", etc. Basically he explains away any behavioral problem by calling the dog dominant. He then uses aversive punishment to control the dogs, like poking them, kicking them, rolling them on their backs, etc.

To read more about Dominance Theory, click on the link above. I also have some great resources about why dominance theory is false on my training page, so be sure to check that out!

I wanted to make sure that I had clear definitions of what an aversive is and what dominance theory is because there was some confusion on this from another blogger recently. Dominance is not synonymous with Aversive.




So how do we go about getting rid of aversives in our lives and training with our dogs?  

One of the best ways is to use management. When I encounter some sort of behavioral problem in my dogs or someone else's the first thing I think about is how can I prevent this behavior from happening or being reinforced? Is there something I can do so the dog won't be able to practice that? The more they practice something the better they get at it. I've found that since I've used so much management with my dogs from the beginning and have set them up for success, they don't even think about doing some of the things that other people's dogs do. I'm proud to say we have never had an incident of counter surfing and neither of my dogs have ever gotten into the trash. 

I never ignore behavioral problems! That is one huge misconception in the positive reinforcement world!! That PR trainers ignore bad behavior and then wait to reward the good behavior. There are some situations where you can ignore behavior, like if the dog is not going to harm himself or others and it's just something annoying but most of the time ignoring doesn't give the dog any feedback or tell them what they should be doing. Management, training alternate behaviors and redirection are the best ways to go about working with problem behaviors.   

 

Examples of Management:


One of the "naughty" things my dogs do is get into the kitty litter box. So the easiest way to deal with that is to put the litter boxes where the dogs don't have access. When we are not home our dogs are in a "dog safe room" without access to the litter boxes. When we are home we supervise and make sure they don't get into them. I could also use a baby gate, as well. If a dog goes towards the area where our boxes are we re-direct them by calling them away and asking them to do something else.




Phoenix and Zoe hanging out in the "dog proof" room (aka: our bedroom) 


Keeping them in a dog safe room when we are unable to supervise is another great way of keeping them from getting into anything while we are gone, too! You could also use crates, as well and sometimes we do!

Keeping your valuables put away is another form of management! We keep our house picked up and our expensive items out of reach. We also provide appropriate toys and chewies for them.


If you don't want your dog to counter surf, don't leave food out or give them access to the kitchen. When we are cooking the dogs are not allowed in the kitchen. They either lay on their beds or wait at the threshold. I've found that training a default leave it to be extremely helpful in this situation, too. I can set a plate of food next to my dogs, get up and walk away and it will still be there when I get back, untouched. I have a friend (who shall remain nameless) who complained about her dog counter surfing all the time, then later I saw a video on facebook where they were feeding her treats off of it! Not only was the dog self reinforcing by counter surfing, they were also reinforcing it! They thought it was funny. I will admit that I was mildly horrified when I saw the clip. Consistency is so important in dog training. You can't be mad at the dog for counter surfing sometimes and then feed the dog off the counter at other times.


Decide what your rules are going to be and stick with them!




This video was taken at the inlaw's house. They did know they were being watched even though I was in the bathroom with my phone poking out but it doesn't matter. I could leave the room and leave the camera running. They won't touch food that we don't give to them or ask them to leave alone. In the video you can see some stress signals happening from Phoenix. Zoe has some mild resource guarding so Phoenix was worried about it. Notice, I did not use a stern voice or anything. Just a normal toned "leave it" was all that was needed. There is no intimidation here.

To learn more about how to teach "Leave It" check out the many videos that Emily Larlham has on her YouTube channel. I would suggest starting with this one: How To Teach Leave It Without Intimidation. Even though that particular video is old, it's still very good!


Speaking of resource guarding, if you have a dog that does resource guard from other dogs or humans there's a lot of management and training to be done. I would recommend checking out the book "Mine" by Jean Donaldson. That book is excellent! My dog only resource guards with the other animals in the house and it is mild to moderate depending on the item. Luckily the other dog and cats respect her space for the most part. Generally, she will only guard high value food items so those are fed in the crate. You can also see a bit of mild guarding in the video above but it was only a look and a tongue flick. The other dog listened immediately and actually jumped off the bed to avoid conflict.


Training an alternate behavior is another great way to get rid of behaviors you don't want.


In example, the dog jumps on guests at the door teach them to sit or down. Or you could have them run to their beds. When we have someone at the door, I've taught them to back up to the carpet and sit. It's a great way to keep them from jumping on guests and door dashing! Two potential behavioral problems killed with one stone. You could also put them on a leash before you open the door as well for better control.


If your dog is fearful of strangers, you might just want to put them in a dog safe room or crate when guests are over. That way the dog is not stressed out and you don't have to worry about your guest getting bitten. We may not be able to control our guests but we can control our dogs and ourselves. Sometimes having them put away and safe is the best option for everyone. In this case I would also recommend getting a PR/FF Pro Trainer to help you work with your dog's issues. The removal should not be a punishment! I would give my dog a stuffed kong in her crate when we had a (dog) guest over that she didn't like. She was perfectly happy and it was never aversive.


Another really important thing to think about is will this behavior be "cute" later? Don't reinforce things you don't want!! Your little puppy jumping on you might be cute now but when he's big it won't be! Teach the puppy to keep four on the floor! Only reward when all four feet are touching the ground.


I have a very brilliant trainer friend who got rid of her dog's problem jumping by teaching him the cue for down was patting her legs or belly! She was having a problem where family, friends and strangers were encouraging her dog to jump on them by patting themselves and asking him up. So she taught him when people do that they want him to lay down and problem solved!! The dog doesn't jump up on people anymore and it was very perplexing to the people!! I'm sure it was also highly entertaining! How clever is that?



Phoenix is the one in the bed on the leash.

When I first got Phoenix she was obsessed with my cats. She would constantly be hunting for cats and trying to chase them. I used a combination of management and training to help with this. For the management portion I kept her either crated, tethered or in a safe room (sometimes putting the cats away in a safe room, too) to prevent the chasing behavior. For the training part I did set ups. I fed her treats when a cat would appear, then later fed her and the cats treats together. Then she learned her "leave it" and we also did impulse control training so she learned to control herself around cats. Now she sleeps with them, cleans their ears and they even play. She is completely cat safe. Sure, I could of punished her for chasing my cats but why would I want her to think cats = bad? If a cat equals something horrible or scary happening, how would that encourage her to have a good relationship with them? Not to mention her relationship with me!! Instead Phoenix learned that cats = best things ever!

 

Redirection


I use redirection a lot. I use a "positive" or "cheerful" interrupter, get my dog's attention and then ask them to do something else. I have a couple of different cues that I use. One is a kissy noise and I also use Uh Oh! 

YouTube - How to Get Your Dog to Stop Unwanted Behavior - Emily Larlham


Any time your dog is doing something that you don't want them to do you can use the interrupter and then redirect them to something else. I used this with Phoenix and her cat hunting as well. When she would zero in on them I would just make my kissy noise to get her to break eye contact and then we went on with what we were doing.


Another example of redirection would be if one of my dogs was barking at the sliding glass door. I can use my positive interrupter, get their attention and then have them do something else. A lot of the time I will tell them "Great job!" for alerting me to something outside and then I have them go do something else. That could be a quick game of fetch or tug or I will have them go to their beds and chill. If you have a dog that is constantly looking outside and barking, you could use management, too by putting a sticky privacy film on the glass so they can't see out, they even have really pretty decorative ones! Or you could prevent them from having access to that room/area.


I also use it when play gets out of hand. Both of my dogs can get a little rowdy at times and play too roughly. When that happens I redirect them. First I interrupt the behavior and then I will give them each their own toy or get them doing something else. Sometimes I have them lay down and take a break. Once they are calm, I will allow them to continue playing.

 

Waiting them out.


I mentioned before that I hardly ever ignore unwanted behavior but there are times when it can be really useful. Dogs are smart and they can figure things out on their own pretty quickly if you set them up for success. I have a friend who was working with her dog's demand barking. Her dog really wanted the BALL and was barking her head off. My friend waited for a brief second of quiet and threw the ball. She continued to wait her dog her out every time she brought the ball back. Whenever she was quiet, my friend would throw the ball. Very quickly the light bulb went on and the dog figured out that quiet = ball thrown. No aversives necessary and it didn't take very long, either! By the time she was done her dog was sitting and waiting without being cued to do that either!

The above also worked for another trainer friend of mine who rescued a pug and the dog would not stop barking in his crate. He wanted OUT and RIGHT NOW!!! He hardly stopped to even take a breath and it was driving her crazy. She sat next to the crate and waited. The dog paused long enough to take a deep breath, CLICK and TREAT. He paused long enough to eat the treat, another click and treat then he looked at his owner with a cocked pug head and she said you could see him thinking about what just happened. He did start barking again but the next pause was much faster and another click and treat. Eventually she was able to teach him to be quiet in his crate and it happened very quickly. 



 

Exercise and Mental Stimulation


Sometimes dogs do exhibit problem behaviors because they are under exercised and bored. I'm not one of those people who think "A Tired Dog is A Good Dog". I believe that exercise and training go hand in hand. Dogs need exercise and mental stimulation! Exercise is very important but it's not the only thing you should do.

About 7 or 8 years ago, one of my friends who was not dog saavy adopted a border collie pit bull mix.. Oh man... worst breed combo ever and he was her very first dog, too. She was a cat person. Back then Cesar Millan was just coming onto the scene and was very popular and he was always advocating for exercise, exercise, exercise! Basically run your dog into the ground so the dog will be good!! My friend did that. She would jog with her dog for miles on end. Guess what happend!?! Go on guess! The dog ended up just building up muscle and extra stamina and needed to run even further. She didn't do much training with him, just run, run, run. My friend was exhausted. No matter how far she ran, he was never tired or calm. Eventually she found an excellent PR trainer and believe me back then they were much harder to find and that trainer explained what was happening to her. She was giving him lots of exercise but she wasn't working his brain. In fact, a lot of the time he was getting overstimulated. He needed to learn how to control his impulses and he needed a job where he could use his brain, too! Once that got worked out things went much better! 


There's a huge amount of resources on Training Impulse Control on the dog forum I belong to. I would recommend checking it out. In my opinion, impulse control training is one of the most important things you can teach your dog and it's one of the first things I work on and continue to work on throughout their lives.


I also find that using Puzzle Toys are a great way to stimulate your dogs brain. I've reviewed a bunch and my dogs love using them! 



 

Premack Principle and Prey Drive


What is the Premack Principle? “The observation that high-probability behavior reinforces low-probability behavior.” High probability behaviors are what the dog wants and low probability behavior is what you want. 

Here is an excellent article about the Premack Principle: What's Premack Got To Do With Dog Training?


For example, my inlaw's used Premack on my husband when he was a kid. They had a rule that he must clean his room before his friend could come over. "Can Donald come over?" "Did you clean your room?" "Nope" "Clean your room and then your friend can come over". Eventually my husband would clean his room before he asked if his friend could visit. The high probability behavior reinforced the low probability behavior. 


I've been using premack on my dogs for the past few years. Especially because Zoe has a very high prey drive. When she gets into her hunting mode she doesn't hear, see or think about anything else but the prey animal she wants to kill. A lot of my training was at the dog park that was fenced so she was completely safe. She would be at the fence watching the squirrels. I would stand next to her and call her name and reward for a split second of eye contact, she would get a food treat (premack doesn't always include the use of food but I chose to use it) and then she was able to immediately go back to watching squirrels. Rinse and Repeat. I slowly worked her up to longer periods of eye contact, then I added behaviors such as sit or down and then she was allowed to go back to her squirrels. Every time she was allowed to go back to doing what she wanted to do. Eventually (after a month) I was able to call her off of a squirrel running loose in the dog park. She did a complete 180 and came right back. I immediately released her back to the squirrel. 


I know that this training is not always possible because you want to keep your dog safe. If you don't have a fenced area to practice in, I would recommend using a long line and running after the prey with your dog. We used to do this in the forest outside of the dog park in the area that wasn't fenced. In addition to that, like I mentioned above I also did impulse control training and taught leave it as well because you can't always use premack. 





I was having a discussion on facebook about aversives recently (it actually inspired the writing of this post) and one of my friends accused me of "not having high drive dogs". It's actually the most common thing I've heard said that high drive dogs have to be punished and that PR doesn't work on them. That you have to use a combination of both. 


YouTube - Training High Drive Dogs - Emily Larlham


It actually kind of bothered me but honestly this friend doesn't know that much about my dogs, their training or myself. The assumption that they are not high drive was probably because they are so calm and easy to live with but again it was an assumption without knowing that much about what I've gone through with them. To quote a trainer friend of mine: "Drives are basically just too much seeking circuit. If anything, drives make it so much easier to train". 


In other words, you just have to take that drive and channel it into what you want. I've spent a lot of time training and working with my girls. Working with Zoe on her prey drive by using premack and impulse control training. When Phoenix came home, she was not an easy dog to live with at all. We used to do 3+ hours a day of exercise and training and she was still bouncing off the walls. Eventually I figured out that I needed to select for calm behaviors and I spent a lot of time capturing them. She was "jackpotted" treats any time she would lay down and relax on her own. The first 6 months to a year were very tough and exhausting. With training, some time and patients things are great now!! You get what you reinforceZoe still isn't 100% perfect when it comes to prey animals but really there's no such thing as perfect. Phoenix can still be hyper sometimes, too but they are dogs! 


I truly believe that positive reinforcement training works on every dog, high drive, low drive. It doesn't matter. It just takes a little bit of knowledge and a bit of outsmarting our dogs. You can accomplish anything! Be clever, figure out how you can make behavior happen or not happen. There's no need for aversives. 


I also think that sometimes dogs have behavioral problems that might be too much for their owner to handle by themselves and when that happens, please do find a dog trainer who is dedicated to using force free methods to help you! Don't wait until the problem gets out of hand. Get help now. There are resources to help you find a trainer on my training page.

 

The Last Piece of the Puzzle


Is You. You can choose not to use aversives whenever possible. I will admit that I'm not always perfect. Far from it actually! I've made lots of mistakes with my dogs, I've punished them and I seriously regret it. We are all human and we get frustrated or mad. Every one of us. When I feel like that I put my dogs away and we stop doing what we're doing. I work on controlling myself all the time and I try not to use punishment. If I even see that something I'm doing is causing my dog stress, we stop. It's just not worth it to me. My sensitive dogs remember everything and I want us to have the best relationship possible!



As always, if you have any questions please feel free to leave them in the comments below or email me. I would be happy to help if I can. If I don't know the answer I probably know someone who does and can point you in the right direction. 


I also wanted to say a special Thank You to Emily Larlham for allowing me to share the manifesto and for being an amazing role model! Thanks so much, Emily!! 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Sleepy Sisters in Sepia!


We are having a lazy Saturday today! I haven't been feeling that great lately and after spending a day and a half cleaning for a 5 minute apartment inspection on our chimney, I'm taking the day off!

What is everyone else up to?

Friday, January 16, 2015

Zoe's Followers on Fit Dog Friday


Zoe made some new friends out at the park while she was trying to hunt the other day! These two followed her everywhere and I think they were really puzzled by what she was doing!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

BEACH!! Throwback Thursday

Zoe (left) and Phoenix (right)

Last week I mentioned I can't wait for Spring. It's still true! I'm also dying to go to the beach!! So today I decided to share a couple of my beach photos from a while back.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Bravo! "Crunchy Delights" Review


Hi everyone! I hope your day is going well!! Today I have a review for you on Bravo! Crunchy Delights treats. I did a giveaway for these a while back and now we finally get to review them! This review would of gone up a while ago but I found out that my apartment complex has been holding my packages hostage at the office and I wasn't getting notification that I had any!! We received the treats in exchange for an honest review but we were not monetarily compensated.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Never Trust Other Dog Owners!

"Let's Be Friends!!!"
(Note: This story is not about the dog that is in this picture.)

In the spirit of Monday Mischief, I want to try and keep this light even though the situation could of been extremely serious. No dogs were harmed in the making of this post! I would also like to say that I'm trying so hard not to stereotype, though, we have had WAY more bad incidents with small dogs than good. I truly believe there are good and bad owners of all types of dogs and I never blame the dog. I also applaud all of you who are actually training your dogs who are struggling with issues! I know how tough it can be!

Never Trust Other Dog Owners!! Unless you know them and their dogs and even then keep in mind that dogs are dogs and sometimes they will surprise you! I've spent two years studying Phoenix's behavior and some of her shenanigans have totally blown me away. Take the picture above, she generally doesn't like black dogs. She got along with that one just fine and even attempted to make friends and play with him! Although, we have been spending a ton of time on CC/DS with black dogs, so maybe the training is finally starting to work!! Who knows!?!

Anyways....

The other day I was out walking my dogs. I usually take them for their longer walk around 4pm (unless we've been to Thousand Acres), that way I can grab the mail on the way back because our mail always arrives super late. On our way back there was an elderly lady kind of hanging out with her maltese, who was on the end of a flexi lead (SIGH), by the mail boxes. The maltese was a little barky and that can get Phoenix kind of excited and worked up so I decided to walk around the block hoping that by the time I got back the lady would be gone.

 "More walks!?! Let's do this!!"

I ended up walking them around the block twice! Thirty minutes later, the lady and her dog were still there. I knew the mail had already come because the mail boxes are directly in front of my apartment and our windows face them. It's starting to get late and I had been waiting for a package. Our packages go directly to the manager's office, they leave a note in your box if you have one and the office closes at 6! 

My first mistake was that I was distracted and thinking about mail and my second happens to be that I generally feel sorry for people who seem lonely and I figured that lady must be lonely. She's hanging out around the mail boxes talking to people as they get their mail and I felt sorry for her. My third mistake was trusting her and my fourth was not taking my dogs back inside and just going to get the mail by myself. Even if I had taken them back inside, we still would of had to pass her somehow, so  the situation may still have happened.

I approached very slowly, holding Phoenix's collar and talking her into being polite and trying to get her to calm down. Which actually works with her. She's generally not leash reactive (she's more excited and hyper than anything) unless another dog starts something with her first, which is a plus. She is also really good about calming down when I hold her close and pet her. 

The lady told me that her dog was friendly and just "talkative". I've been around a ton of maltese and they are generally nice, happy go-lucky dogs, so I trusted her. My fifth and final mistake was not paying close enough attention to the dog's body language, although in my defense, the dog's coat was very over grown and sort of matted so it was hard to tell. I could not see her eyes, either. 

Zoe went to approach the dog to say hi and the dog flew at her face in an aggressive rage. Zoe was so startled by this that she jumped back and landed on my legs, which was super painful for both of us. The next thing that happened shocked the hell out of me. The lady started laughing. She thought it was funny that her dog had just attacked mine. 

"I'M GOING TO RIP YOUR FACE OFF WHILE MY OWNER LAUGHS!!!"
"MUAHAHAHA"
(Not the actual dog, photo was borrowed from google)

Big Sigh. Zoe is already pretty wary of smaller dogs because this is not the first time this has happened. We had several incidents at our last apartment complex with three different dogs belonging to different people. Two were chihuahuas and one was a chihuahua/pomeranian mix. These owners would let their dogs run around off leash in an unfenced complex. They would just leave their back patio doors cracked and let their dogs out unattended. It was a very frustrating situation. The last time Zoe was attacked at that complex she did not react well but I was able to grab her and pick her up and the dog was still biting at her feet as she was in my arms!! It was so bad.

Which brings me to my next point. Dogs are dogs and no matter what size they are, they should be trained and socialized properly. I have spent the last two years with Phoenix working on her socially awkward issues! As much as possible, I was out training her. There's just really no excuses for not training your dog. If you don't want to train keep them home and if you can't keep them home at least be honest with other owners! If your dog is going to eat mine, please let me know! I always tell everyone that Phoenix is socially awkward and give them the full disclosure that she's a work in progress. 

Even though I don't want to stereotype I will say this: I've met so many small dog owners who don't train their dogs. Or they blame others for their dog's bad behavior and it's somehow okay because their dog is little. The behavior is not cute or funny, no matter what size the dog is! If your dog is aggressive or has other issues (ie: rude, pushy, etc), just because he is small doesn't make it okay. That's how some of the little guys get killed. They run into a dog that is just not going to put up with them. Every dog, no matter what size they are, should get training. Saying "Oh, sorry!! She's got little dog syndrome" doesn't make it okay. I'm really passionate about this and I could go on for days about it but I will stop here. It just frustrates me a lot and it's a situation I see over and over again.

We did end up getting our package and right before the office closed! I also managed to not freak out at the little old lady for her dog being naughty but I will be avoiding her next time, for sure!!

"I almost got eaten by a tiny white she-devil!! Oh well, at least I got mail!!"
The girls got some toys from Kygen, we'll be reviewing them next week! 

Did you know that January is National Train Your Dog Month? In our house we train every day but it's nice to have a website like that for some extra motivation. As always, if anyone has any training questions, please feel free to comment below or email me! :) 









Sunday, January 11, 2015

Shiny!! B&W Sunday


We took our tree down but I left some Christmas lights out so I could still practice my bokeh. I think it's pretty neat in black and white!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Pet Blogger Challenge 2015


Hi everyone!! Happy Saturday! I hope you're all having an awesome day! Today I'm taking part in the 5th Annual Pet Blogger Challenge! This is my first time participating.

You can find more information about it at the Go Pet Friendly Blog.

The Pet Blogger Challenge is a list of questions we are supposed to answer so we can see where we are at with our blogs, celebrate success and talk about our goals.

1. How long have you been blogging? And, for anyone stopping by for the first time, please give us a quick description of what your blog is about.

I've been blogging since July 4, 2014, so six months now! My blog is centered around the adventures of my two dogs: Zoe and Phoenix with guest appearances from my cats: Pandora, Lilly and Hurley. My blog features pictures and stories from our daily lives, training and grooming tips, videos, product reviews and more. I also really like taking part in themed posts so we do a lot of the blog hops as well.

2. Tell us one thing that you accomplished on your blog during 2014 that made you proud.

I'm really proud of the readership I've gained and all of the friends I've made. When I started my blog I never thought anyone would actually read it. So I'm really excited that everyone is here and continues to come back and support me. 

3. What lessons have you learned this year – from other blogs, or through your own experience – that could help us all with our own blogs?

The most important lesson I learned this year is to not be shy and to ask for help when I need it. I really appreciate all of my other blogging friends who have been so kind and patient with me and there for me as I learn the ropes! 

4. What have you found to be the most successful way to bring traffic to your blog, other than by writing great content? 

Taking great pictures. No one wants to look at boring pictures. I feel like I've improved in my photography skills this year and I'm pretty excited about it. I also think sharing on social media is important, too. 

 5. What was your most popular blog post this year? Did it surprise you that it was your most popular?

My most popular post was my review on the Ruffwear Front Range Harness it had 319 views. It doesn't really surprise me as that is a really popular harness right now. It was also really fun to write.

6. What was your favorite blog post to write this year?

My favorite blog post this year was Look Who We Found in Portland! It was a really amazing experience to meet other bloggers and a great trip that led to our most important event this year! Our family moving back to the Pacific Northwest area.

I also really enjoyed writing my Wobble Board DIY Tutorial. I did that with my husband and we had a blast putting it together. It's also another one of my more popular posts.

7. Has your policy on product reviews and/or giveaways changed this year?

I am actually still working on developing them. I do reviews but the only policies I have in place is that the items reflect our "aversive-free" training style and that the food/treats be somewhat healthy.


7a. If you do reviews, what do you find works best, and what doesn’t work at all?

I think it's really important to review items that I know I will love. I really like learning about new products but it is easier if I already know something about the product. What doesn't work is reviewing products I don't like or products that just don't work for my dogs and I won't take reviews on those because I would rather my blog not be negative.

8. What’s your best piece of advice for other bloggers?

Staying true to yourself! Write about the things you are most passionate about. Write about things that are important to you. If you're bored or dislike what you're writing about your readers will know. I also think it's important to connect with your readers. I try to visit other people's blogs and reply to comments as much as possible. 

9. What goals do you have for your blog in 2015?

I would really like to write more training articles. I'm really passionate about dog training but I don't write about it enough. I want to improve my writing skills and content. I would also like to continue to improve my photography and I would really like to grow my blog more and expand my readership.

10. If you could ask the pet blogging community for help with one challenge you’re having with your blog, what would it be?

I would really love help with growing my blog. If anyone has any tips to do that I'd love to read them!



Friday, January 9, 2015

Exercise Ball & Great News About Phoenix! Fit Dog Friday


I am so excited to tell you guys!! Phoenix let one of the workers at Home Depot pet her!! She has NEVER let a random stranger touch her, ever! We actually had two great incidents of her greeting people this week, but I screwed the first one up for her. We went into the office at my apartment complex to pick up a package and the girl brought my package out and asked if she could say hi to the dogs. I said: "Sure, but the one in the purple collar is a little skittish." Phoenix had been the first dog to go up to her and the girl jumped back like three feet and didn't want to interact. Oops. My bad. I am definitely going to continue to let her great people if she wants to and I'm excited that she is not being as skittish as before.

Now onto the Fit Dog Friday post!

So I've been wanting an exercise ball for the girls for quite a while but we didn't get one because there just wasn't room for it when we were staying at the inlaw's house. The other day my husband was at the thrift store (he likes to treasure hunt) and he found a brand new one! He bought it and brought it home and we inflated it and then realized there wasn't a valve plug. So we ended up leaving the pump attached and we are going to get a valve plug for it later. It works just fine the way it is, though!!

A short clip of their exercise routine. This is their third session on the ball.
If you want to see a longer training session click the link:
14 minute Exercise and Training Routine - 2nd Session 

The exercise ball is really good for strengthening their core, back and legs. It's also awesome for teaching them balance and body awareness! We do additional exercises, like squats (as seen in the video above), too! I threw in some of their normal tricks as well to keep things interesting. I also stretch them out after each session.

I really like to do these sorts of exercises in between their free running and hiking out at the park and on days where it's raining too much to go for long walks. We do training sessions like this at their breakfast or dinner time so they are not getting extra treats.

Do you have any indoor exercise routines that you do with your dogs?

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Can't Wait Till Spring! Throwback Thursday


I know I have a long wait ahead of me but Spring is my favorite season. When we lived in Oregon before we would often take our dogs to the International Rose Test Garden and it's beautiful there!! I can't wait to see it again! Lately I've been looking around at all the dead brown grass out at the park I frequent and finding myself having a bit of Spring fever.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Happy 5th Gotcha Day to Pandora!!


5 years ago today I brought home my heart kitty! I still can't believe it's been this long already!! Pandora is my special needs kitty. She's not really all there and will always have a kitten mentality but she's so sweet and really funny. She is my favorite of the three, despite her issues. She's the only one allowed in our bedroom at night (other than the dogs) and she will often sleep with me.

I'm so glad I found her! We had been looking at another cat and had made arrangements to adopt him when it fell through and after being really upset by that, I stopped by our local humane society. Pandora was the last cat I looked at in the last room. It was love at first sight and I adopted her on the spot. I definitely believe in fate. :D She's an awesome little cat and I love her so much!

 

Monday, January 5, 2015

ZoePhee's Training Goals for 2015 Positive Pet Training Blog Hop


Hey everyone! I hope your day is going well!

I've actually never sat down and written out training goals for my dogs. I always have stuff in my head that I want to accomplish but I've done most of their training just randomly sort of on the fly. I will just decide what we are going to work on, think about it for a few minutes and then get to work. Or I will take opportunities to train when we are out and about in real life situations without really giving it much thought. Or I will see someone do a trick and decide that I want to teach that and then I do. Or something will happen and I will go, I need to work on that and then I do. We work on training every single day, even though I don't really have a structured plan for it. I mostly go, "I want to work on this today" and then we do. If that makes sense.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Phoenix Hunting on B&W Sunday


I was very lucky to get this shot of Phoenix as she went to pounce on a mole. She did not get the critter (thankfully) but that never stops either of my dogs from trying! Phoenix really surprised me here, Zoe is the one who is usually doing this stuff!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Noise Phobias in Dogs


Hey everyone! I hope you're all having a great day and Happy Friday!! :D

On New Year's Eve, I wrote a little bit about Zoe's noise phobia and how I was worried about the Fireworks. Today I wanted to update everyone on how everything went and tell you more about her problem and her history.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Years Day! Looking back at 2014



Happy New Years, everyone!!! I am so excited to start 2015 but before we do that I wanted to take one last look back at 2014 and post some of my favorite photos of the girls and share some of the things we did!