Friday, July 31, 2009


Agility expert "spoof"!

And one more funny video!


I hope everyone is having a wonderful Friday, and that you all have a safe weekend. For today's FUN FRIDAY I wanted to share some videos of activities you might not know even exist, and perhaps some of these will inspire you to try a new sport with your dog!

Dock Diving - I really want to do this with my next dog! I wish Milly wasn't scared of swimming!!

Surf Dogs - Apparently some dogs really love it! If you try this I suggest getting a doggie life jacket!

Freestyle - Think of the obedience skills it takes to master this! Simply inspiring! I know I've posted this before, but I LOVE IT!

Toy breed agility - You thought agility was reserved for the large breeds? Think again!!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Boarding Your Dog

During the summer months many individuals and families love to travel, but owning a dog and traveling is something that takes planning and creativity. Over the next few days/weeks I will be focusing on different things you may encounter when it comes to vacation planning as a dog owner.

If you decide not to bring your pet on your trip, you have a few options – leave your dog with a friend or family member, hire a dog sitter to come to your house multiple times a day, hire a dog sitter to keep your dog in their house for the duration of your trip, or use a boarding kennel (many veterinarians also provide boarding services).

Finding the right boarding kennel can be a scary and daunting task, but hopefully these questions will help you weed through all of the kennels in your area, and ensure you board your pet at a reputable kennel that will take excellent care of your beloved dog.

If you need to board your pet while you travel, there are several considerations in choosing a boarding facility. East Lake Veterinary Hospital in Dallas, TX ( provides their clients with the following questionnaire to help evaluate facilities:

1. How often and with what disinfecting agents are the pet’s quarters cleaned?

2. What type of bedding material is provided?

3. Are pets walked to eliminate and exercise? If so, where?

4. What type of walking surface is provided? Inside or outside?

5. Does the facility require current immunizations, especially bordetella (kennel cough)?

6. What steps are taken to assure that pets are healthy and parasite free?

7. What diet is provided by the facility?

8. Are staff members trained to monitor pets? Give medications?

9. What protocols are in place to provide medical care in the event of an unexpected illness, injury, or emergency?

10. Are pets kept in separate quarters, or is there a community area where pets intermingle?

11. Are separate cat and dog quarters available?

12. How is noise controlled in the facility?

13. Is ventilation good and temperature comfortable?

14. If community playtime is offered, do trained staff members supervise it? If so, what is the staff per pet ratio during this time?

15. How are pets screened for temperament and socialization skills for interaction with other pets?

16. Are the check-in and checkout times convenient?

17. Are there additional charges for medicating or exercising your pet or feeding a special diet?

18. What additional amenities (such as TVs, music, etc) are offered to make your pet comfortable and feel more at home?

19. Is the pet’s environment generally comfortable?

Sweet Potato Treats!

I am always looking for natural dog treats to spoil Milly with. About a month ago I picked up a bag of dehydrated sweet potatoes for her. They are cut into strips, and the perfect treat to give her – it takes her longer than a small biscuit would to eat, but it isn’t a chew treat that she would spend a significant amount of time on. She goes bonkers for her sweet potato treats, but they aren’t cheap. My bag was $9, and I now have 3 treats left in it. It probably had about 2 or 3 sweet potatoes worth of dehydrated strips in it when I originally bought the bag.

For a long time I have been thinking about purchasing a dehydrator to make my own jerky treats, but right now my next big dog purchase is going to be a professional dryer, and so I’m putting the dehydrator on the backburner for now. But, I really can’t justify or afford regularly spending $9 on bags of dog treats that won’t last that long, and to me the price seems somewhat steep, so I decided to see if I could make these myself.

A few days ago I bought two sweet potatoes ($.99 each) and scrubbed them very well. I then thinly sliced them, and laid them on a cookie sheet (I lightly greased the cookie sheet with oil, but I don’t think I will do that in the future), and pre-heated the oven for 200 degrees. The hardest part was thinly slicing the potatoes, and I found the thinner slices the better. I then laid my sliced potatoes on a cookie sheet (1 potato sliced perfectly fit 1 cookie sheet) and put them in the oven, and waited. Every 30 minutes I flipped the potato slices, and back in the oven they went. I waited, and waited, and waited… after almost four hours in the oven I was tired of waiting. The thinnest sliced potatoes I removed at about 2.5 hours (they were potato chip thin), but the larger strips (like the dehydrated bag I bought) were not yet crispy. I cranked up the heat to 350, and gave them another hour and a half in the oven. The results were great! I actually tasted the chip thin ones, and loved them. Totally baked, all-natural, healthy, easy and satisfying, but would Milly like them? I always ask her to perform a task before she gets a treat so I asked for a “down” and then handed her the potato, and she gobbled it right up, and wagged her tail asking for more. I still have a few left from my homemade batch, and all-in-all I think it was a success.

In the future I plan on doing this on a weekend when I have time to be at the house with the oven on. I will set the oven to 200-250 next time, and give them 6-8 hours at this low heat. Other than wanting to cook them for more time at a lower heat to really dry them out, I was very pleased with my cost-saving healthy alternative to buying dog treats at the store. Milly seems pleased too.

If you have a dehydrator I totally suggest doing them in that, but if you don’t have one, give it a whirl. It’s a great treat for dogs on a grain free diet too! I am saving about $7 by making these myself, and that is $7 I can put towards either a puppy, or the dog dryer I am lusting after! :)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

An update: Upcoming vacation; K9 First Aid; Looking for Guest Bloggers!

This coming Saturday Milly, my boyfriend Bill, and I will be loading up Bill’s car and making the long drive from Arlington, Virginia to the North East Kingdom of Vermont for vacation. It is always a sight when we travel, because with Milly’s bag, my bag, Bill’s bag, and the dog bed our car tends to fill up very quickly! I will be gone for 9 days, and am trying to arrange some guest bloggers. If you are interested in being a guest blogger while I am out of town please comment with your contact information, and we can set this up.

Back to the trip, I’m already mapping out our route, and trying to plan a course that will enable lots of stops in more rural areas, because I absolutely hate driving (or riding in the car) on busy interstates in urban areas. I also want Milly to have the opportunity to stretch her legs on some grass every couple of hours. As a senior citizen it is important that she regularly get out of the car for potty breaks, small walks and water breaks.

We will be breaking up our trip by staying the first night near Manchester, VT with my brother and his family, and then leaving on Sunday to drive to a small, picturesque town 40 minutes north east of Stowe. I am so excited about this vacation – it is the longest vacation I will have had in nearly 3 years, and I’m just ready to be off the grid. Many parts of Vermont don’t have high speed internet (this town just got it), or cell phone service (this town does no have reception), and I’m excited about being able to just relax and enjoy the outdoors. Our house has lake front property, and I’m hoping that the 9 days on the water will boost Milly’s confidence about swimming, and water in general. She likes to wade in up to her belly, but no further than that.

I just received an email from my mom (she and my dad are already in Vermont) explaining how she recently met a holistic dog trainer who has a wonderful reputation with locals in VT. This trainer is offering a canine first-aid/CPR class on Sunday, August 2nd, and hopefully I will be able to attend (it is about 3 hours from Manchester though, so we’d have to leave early in the morning). I am trying to learn more about the trainer, but her name is April Frost, she is the author of "Beyond Obedience, Training With Awareness For You And Your Dog" - she sounds very interesting! Apart from taking a very natural approach to dog training, she also regularly volunteers with a wolf-hybrid/wolf dog rescue and sanctuary – that’s pretty neat, I think!

I try to keep an open mind when it comes to animals, their care, and training, and I really like to try a variety of training techniques. I know some about the natural pet movement, but it seems like she is on her own level, and there will be lots to learn from her. I really don’t believe there is any “right way” to train a dog, but I do believe in learning as many different methods as possible, and figuring out what works for you and your dog, often times it is a combination of methods.

While I doubt I’ll have the opportunity to do any dog training/obedience sessions with her, I really hope this canine first-aid course works out, and I’m able to fit it into my schedule. I have read a lot about canine first aid, but have not yet taken any hands on classes. In an emergency, when you are on the phone with your vet, and he/she asks you a question a lot of times the dog owner may not know the answer, and this can be very frustrating/difficult for the vet. However, if you know canine first-aid and CPR the answers to these critical questions tend to be things you will either know, or can easily figure out. I am very excited about the opportunity to take this day-long course!

Don’t forget to comment with contact info if you are interested in being a guest blogger!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Pupcake Giveaway Winners...

I finally found the time to sit down and fill you all in as to who won my most recent giveaway!! I do apologize for the day delay. I have been so excited about this giveaway, because there is a surprise – there are FOUR winners! I used a random number generator to select the winners. As you all know, this giveaway allowed the winner to pick between the pink pupcakes and the blue pupcakes – therefore, our two first place winners will get to pick the color they desire, and the second, third, and fourth place winners will get the colors not chosen. I have a few sponsors lined up for giveaways, but first I need to reach 75 followers. If you have any dog owning pals please tell them about The Wet Nose so we can have many more giveaways! :)

So without further ado the Claudia’s Canine Cuisine Cookies – special PUPCAKES go to...

comment 3, HLEure!
Please send your mailing information and your color selection my way and I will get your prize in the mail! You can simply comment with your e-mail address and I will e-mail you for a mailing address. I hope Mabry enjoys her PUPCAKES!

And our second place winner is…

comment 15, Donna!
Please send your mailing information and your color selection my way and I will get your prize in the mail! You can simply comment with your e-mail address and I will e-mail you for a mailing address!

And our third place winner is…

comment 14, Lauren!
Please send your mailing information my way and I will get your prize in the mail! You can simply comment with your e-mail address and I will e-mail you for a mailing address!

And our fourth place winner is…

comment 21, The Little Jewelry Box!
Please send your mailing information my way and I will get your prize in the mail! You can simply comment with your e-mail address and I will e-mail you for a mailing address!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

One of my favorite photographs of Milly

I wanted to share one of my favorite photographs of Milly - there are a handful I love equally - and this is one of them! This photo was taken about a year and a half ago, and now Milly's face is almost entirely white. I love the way she is looking up at the camera in this shot, and the lighting really captures her in a beautiful way. Another one of my favorite shots of her is the picture in the header and my avatar taken at the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC, because you can see the reflection of the cherry trees in her eye.

Milly and I are currently working very hard on basic obedience in preparation for taking our Canine Good Citizen test. For a long time I have wanted Milly to pass the Canine Good Citizen test, but our training and practicing kept getting side tracked - first with my shoulder surgery, and then with the election (for those of you who don't know I work in politics) - but for the past few weeks we've really practiced almost everyday! Today and yesterday I had to take time off from our hour of practice/training, because of bad weather, but I'm hoping to do a lot tomorrow. I try to make the training/practice sessions very fun and positive for Milly. She really seems to enjoy every minute of it (that makes my job much easier)! Over the past two weeks we have worked hard on perfecting loose leash walking, down, down/stay, and long distance recalls. She is really doing great, and I'm very proud of her. Milly and I will be heading to the North East Kingdom of Vermont in about a week, and while on vacation I plan on doing a lot of off leash work with her, and hopefully by the end of nine days on a lake she will over come her fear of swimming. It's probably a stretch, but I'd like to try to take the CGC test when we get back from Vermont (the middle of August).

I will be doing the drawing for the pupcake giveaway tomorrow using a random number generator. If you haven't already entered there is still a little bit of time left. Your odds are pretty high of winning, because there will be TWO winners! :)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

PRODUCT REVIEW: Pledge Fabric Sweeper for Pet Hair

I recently bought the Pledge Fabric Sweeper for Pet Hair, and was a bit skeptical at first, but after their massive ad campaign I really wanted to review it for the blog. If you have dogs (or cats), then you understand the headache of dog hair being everywhere! I hate sitting on the sofa in nice black pants, and standing up to find Milly hair all over my pants, and I am embarrassed when people come over and sit down for fear they will leave wearing Milly! I have been able to really reduce the amount of dog hair in the house by using the Furminator, but I still can’t seem to get it all, or should I say couldn’t before the Pledge Fabric Sweeper for Pet Hair! I am thrilled with this product! It really was intelligently designed (with only one flaw that I can see, I’ll discuss this below), and it actually works!

I bought mine at Giant for under $6 and it was worth every penny! I've seen them for sale for anywhere from $4 - $12, and you can buy a pack of three on Amazon for $21.

I’m not an engineer or product designer, but what I can gather is the Pledge Fabric Sweeper for Pet Hair appears to work like two lint brushes (only they are in roller form). You simply sweep the product back and forth across a fabric surface and one roller picks up hair, as the other roller cleans the first and deposits the hair in a filter at the top of the contraption. I tried the fabric sweeper on my comforter, the living room chairs, and my sofa and found it really works much better than a lint roller, and even better than a vacuum (most vacuums are not designed to pick up pet hair). I like that it fits nicely in my hand, but I do think it is designed for slightly larger hands (I have very small hands and have to wear child size gloves). I was amazed at how much hair this product picked up (it got pet hair where I didn’t even think pet hair was!), and it really requires minimal elbow grease.

The only real flaw I found with this product is it is not at all environmentally friendly. It is disposable, not reusable. In a time when people are strapped for cash and more and more people attempt to lead green lifestyles, I find this to be a major flaw. However, I have read some reviews online where people simply cut a hole with a box cutter into the top of the hair collecting chamber, and scoop out the hair when it is full, and reuse the fabric sweeper. You could easily keep some duct tape or masking tape over the hole you’ve cut out to keep the hair from falling out. Once mine is full I plan on trying this, and will let you know how it works.

I have a Golden Retriever, and when they shed their hair it tends to ball up into fluffy loose big puffs of hair on the furniture, the floor, pretty much everywhere. With this in mind, I feel a long haired dog like Milly produces more hair than the average short haired dog would. I have used my Pledge Fabric Sweeper for Pet Hair about 10 times, and the hair collection chamber is about ¾ of the way full. So you will get about a month of use out of it (or more), even if you do decide to simply toss it in the trash when it is full.

Apart from not being reusable (once full) I really love this product! It works great, and it is fast and simple to use. A bonus is it came with two coupons for $1 off future purchases. Without sounding too extreme, I really feel my life has improved since buying this product. I don’t have to worry about getting covered in dog hair when I sit on the sofa, and it is so fast and easy to use that I can run over the fabric surfaces in our house every few days, and pet hair is kept to a minimum. Do check it out and let me know what you think of the Pledge Fabric Sweeper for Pet Hair.

Do not forget there is still time to enter the second PUPCAKE GIVEAWAY!!! The drawing will take place on July 24th using a random number generator!! Good Luck!! :)

More Details Emerge - Dog Dragged Infant From House

I just stumbled across this article, and wanted to share it with all of you as the details unfold surrounding the infant dragged from his crib by the family's dog. This is such a sad story.

It turns out little A.J. was three weeks premature, and had only arrived at home on Sunday. Dakota, the dog in question is now being referred to as a wolf/collie mix, and the family is no longer considering Dakota a part of their family (I can't say I blame them, though it is simply a sad situation on every level). They are hoping Dakota will be adopted by another family, but if not she will have to be put to sleep. If she goes to the rainbow bridge I will be praying for her.

The article gives some great tips on how to introduce your dogs to an infant before ever bringing home the baby - you can get the dog familiar with baby smells by allowing him/her to sniff baby oil, baby powder, diapers, etc. I know my brother and his wife allowed their one-year-old Polish Lowland Sheepdog (PONS) to sniff around the nursery quite a bit for weeks, if not months, leading up to the birth of my niece. They have had no problems what-so-ever with Minka (their PONS) adjusting to a new baby in the house.

If the hyperlinks do not work for you you can copy and paste this into your browser:

Do not forget there is still time to enter the second PUPCAKE GIVEAWAY!!! The drawing will take place on July 24th using a random number generator!! Good Luck!! :)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Raw Marrow Bones

With so many risks associated with feeding a commercial pet food diet, and recalls hitting every part of the animal nutrition industry – from canned food to kibble to treats – it’s comforting to know there are some natural ways to reward your pet. The raw food movement has really infiltrated the pet market, and I have considered on numerous occasions switching Milly to a raw diet, but ultimately I have decided not to change her diet, because I have finally found a food that works for her itchy skin. I do however feed raw marrow bones, and want to tell you a bit more about these. They are a wonderful treat, and you will be amazed at how white your dog’s teeth will become after eating them. They really are great for promoting healthy teeth and gums.

For most dog owners they’ve heard their entire lives never to feed a dog bones, as they not only pose a choking hazard, but can also break and splinter and cause severe damage to a dog’s esophagus and entire digestive tract. Well, this old idea is true to an extent – never feed a dog COOKED BONES. Raw bones are an exception to the rule, and a wonderful, natural chew treat to give your dogs.

I have spent the past year reading up on the wonderful qualities of treating with raw marrow bones. I searched high and low, but could not find a butcher in my area, and instead decided to try Nature’s Variety raw bones – they come in a variety of sizes, and you can chose from many different animals. I’m sure they are a bit more expensive than just going to your butcher, but they are only a couple of dollars a bone, and I thought they were worthwhile. I bought lamb, bison and beef marrow bones and serve them frozen one at a time – each bone will last months, I’m told.

Milly has so far only tried the bison marrow bone, but she LOVES it. She happily chomps away for a solid hour when I give it to her, and when she’s done, I simply rinse the bone and pop it back in the freezer in a baggie for next time. I highly recommend trying raw bones with your dogs, but if you do decide to try this make sure the bone is large enough that your dog cannot swallow it (this could be a choking hazard). You want to stay away from raw soup bones (often found in the frozen section at the grocery store), because these tend to be cut small, and can easily cause your dog to choke. Also, for the most part stay away from joints like elbows and knees (these also can easily break). I always supervise Milly when I give her a raw bone to be on the safe side. I also recommend giving the bone outside, on your porch, in your garage, on-top of newspaper, etc. so you do not get raw marrow all over your house.

You can see in this photo the bones come shrink wrapped, which in my opinion reduces the gross factor of buying raw bones, and storing them in your freezer beside the Ben & Jerry's!

The easiest way to find these bones would be to look for a retailer on Nature’s Variety’s website, and then call the retailers to see if they sell the raw, frozen bones.

Do not forget there is still time to enter the second PUPCAKE GIVEAWAY!!! The drawing will take place on July 24th using a random number generator!! Good Luck!! :)

Dog Drags Newborn From Family Home

A 4-year-old mixed breed called a Native American Indian Dog is under quarantine by animal control authorities in central Kentucky. The breed is said to have wolves in its direct ancestry. A newborn baby boy was hospitalized in critical condition after being taken from his crib and carried outside his home by the family pet, authorities said Tuesday.

A family in Kentucky is dealing with a tragedy as their newborn baby lies in the hospital in critical care, and their pet dog is in the possession of animal control. The family’s dog, a Native American Indian Dog, a breed with wolves in their direct ancestry, stole the baby from its crib, and took the baby into the family’s heavily wooded backyard. The father of the baby was frantically calling 911 when he spotted the dog with his bleeding infant child in its mouth (news reports conflict - some say father spotted dog with infant, others say father went outside to look for dog and infant).

The infant, Alexander James Smith, was only four days old at the time of the attack, and was immediately rushed to the emergency room at University of Kentucky Hospital in Lexington, KY. The family had been preparing for a baby shower, when the mother placed baby Alexander James in the crib for a nap, and returned a few minutes later to find the baby and the family dog both missing, and the door ajar. The baby was listed in critical condition today, with two collapsed lungs, a skull fracture, broken ribs and various cuts and bruises, an AP article by Jeffrey McMurray explains.

Doctors are now optimistic the infant will survive, although the day of the attack they (along with a pastor) braced the family for the worst, after having to use resuscitation paddles to get a heartbeat back on the infant.

Like many dogs with wolves in their ancestry, Dakota, the family dog in question, was known for taking items and hiding them in the woods behind the house. He had a history of taking everything from the families dishes to wallets and hiding them in the woods. Michael Smith, the father of the infant, immediately headed outside to look for the dog and baby, but it took about 10 minutes of searching the heavily wooded 2 acre backyard before he found Dakota, with the infant in his mouth.

According to McMurray’s article, no charges have been filed, but the case remains under investigation.

Michael Smith says the dog was not trying to viciously attack the newborn baby, but instead was treating it as a bitch would treat her litter of puppies. He explained, "It wasn't a vicious dog attack," Smith said. "She had A.J. for 10 minutes on her own, and if you look at A.J.'s belly, there's about 100 little marks. All the dog had to do was one bite and A.J. wouldn't be here."

Dakota is a 4-year old dog, and one of three dogs the family has had since puppies. Michael Smith says Dakota and the other dogs have never shown any sign of aggression, even when playing with Smith’s two other children from a previous marriage. The fate of Dakota, who remains in custody of local animal control, will most likely be euthanasia.

I expect to see this story remain in headlines, as little A.J. hopefully makes a strong recovery. Many states already have in place laws restricting the owning of wolves and wolf hybrids, though it can be difficult to determine whether or not a dog has wolves in its ancestry. Almost all dogs are believed to be descendants of wolves (the Chihuahua is thought to possibly be an exception to this rule), and in recent years DNA profiles of wolves have determined they are strikingly similar genetically speaking to dogs. This has come up in court cases where ownership of wolves and wolf hybrids is restricted and the dog’s ancestry is called into question. After the brutal pet Chimpanzee attack, a pet boa constrictor that killed a child, and now a dog with wolves as ancestors kidnapping and critically injuring a newborn all making headlines, I expect to see debate in the media about the ownership of wild animals and exotic pets.

I have always believed that all dogs bite – they might not bite humans, but they bite their food everyday, and they are certainly capable of biting humans. I view even my sweet Milly with this same belief, and always keep in mind a saying my mom told me growing up, “Animals will make a liar of you.” When someone asks to pet Milly, I always explain she has no history of aggression, and will most likely lick the person, but she is an animal with large teeth, and has the potential to bite. The idea that animals have the potential to be unpredictable is an important one to always keep in the back of your mind. If you make everyday, simple precautions based on the potential unpredictability of animals, you will find many potential risks will automatically be eliminated by these precautions.

In this instance, and until more facts are revealed, it seems this was simply a tragic accident, that no one could have predicted, and I pray for all those involved.

Do not forget there is still time to enter the second PUPCAKE GIVEAWAY!!! The drawing will take place on July 24th using a random number generator!! Good Luck!! :)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Pulling/Walking... Some Tips and Tricks - Share What Works for You!

I would love for you to let me know things you have done that WORKED to stop pulling on walks. Please post your comments! This post is to educate you about what tools and methods are out there, but in no way endorses one over another. The importance of this post is to share with you things that may enable you to SAFELY walk your dog, because I would rather see people walking a dog SAFELY and using artificial aids, than being dragged down the street and endangering themselves, their dog, and other walkers.

I know when I adopted Milly she was a saint at the SPCA off leash, but as soon as I walked out of the building and towards my car she was pulling so hard on the leash I wondered, “What have I gotten myself into?” Milly came with free obedience classes, but the evening the classes were held on conflicted with a class I needed in order to graduate college, and I never was able to use that valuable perk of adopting locally vs. buying from a breeder (in case you are wondering, many rescues and shelters will have some sort of perks – whether it is free pet insurance for a few months or free obedience school - to encourage you to adopt). I had never adopted an adult dog before, and none of the dogs I had growing up ever pulled on their leashes, because I dedicated most of my free time during childhood to training them – I never had formal training in dog whispering, but I did manage to figure it out as I went along, and the results were pretty amazing. Sweetie was able to leap over large frightening obstacles that even an agility dog might balk at, and was trained to do things by my snaps – hand raised even an inch meant sit, hand lowered an inch was down, hand moved forward an inch was shake – she was able to read my slightest cues, and was simply a joy to own and train.

Back to Milly – boy did she pull, and pulled hard for years! In fact, she’s only now getting over it after I’ve figured out what really works. Milly is the type of dog who responds very well to positive training, but usually to “really get something” she will need one or two corrections (ever) like a quick pop on the collar. Many people will disagree with this training, but I’ve found for me, the positive with the reinforced correction really does work for her. I tried a variety of products in my effort to get her to stop pulling, and it was very frustrating having a dog behave beautifully off leash, but rip my arms out of the socket (quite literally) on leash. I finally realized no product is a substitute for good training, but some, combined with proper training can really help.

I have compiled a list of suggestions a friend of mine that posts on the Golden Retriever Forum shared with me, and added some of my own, try to present the best tips and tricks that work to prevent pulling while walking your dog(s).

Correction based method: My first suggestion is to wear your dog out before a walk – play fetch in the backyard, run around the house with them, pretty much anything you can do to get them tired, listening to you and less distracted. Then, take your dog on a walk (only walk one dog at a time for this method). Use a regular collar or a martingale for this - do not use a PRONG collar (more about prong collars later). A common mistake people make is start with a nagging light correction "no... stop," light pull on the leash, and so forth... slowly building up the correction until the LOSE IT. From the very beginning you should LOSE IT - your first correction needs to be serious enough to STOP the behavior, immediately. If you slowly build up, you're building up your dog's tolerance for corrections and essentially TRAINING him to ignore signals and corrections from you. This common mistake applies to ALL training where correction based methods are applied, not just this particular method. When I finally stopped trying to correct Milly with a take give, and applied this method the first instant she pulled, the results were amazing. The pulling did not end over night, but it went from her dragging me down the street, to a taught leash after only one correction. So no, the results were not perfect (perfect would be loose leash walking while healing) but they improved A LOT.

When applying this correction method you do not have to be mean, and I would not suggest it, because constant shouting and yanking on the lead will condition your dog to ignore you. I have no problem with you giving some slack to the leash, turning around rapidly and yanking very hard in the opposite direction while shouting, "No!" or "No Pull!" Often times this abrupt, and forceful correction will be enough to stop the pulling, and after that simply stating, "No Pull!" in a firm voice with slight tension on the leash is all your dog will need to stop pulling. This is an example of "losing it" at the first instance of pulling, and not allowing your dog to be conditioned to ignore your cues, commands, or orders. When your dog does not pull, throw him a party - feed him, kiss him, give him a treat, a belly rub, a squeaky toy, whatever he likes best in this world - let him have that thing. Really reward him for this positive behavior! Like I said already, correcting this way does work, but it isn’t going to work over night. And in case you did not know, please use a flat leash, not a Flexi or other type of retractable leash when doing any training.

For the sake of urgency, you can use a prong collar to stop pulling. Never give a hard correction like I describe above on a prong collar (unless your dog is a literal monster). Prong collars are self correcting and you need very little skill to use one. The biggest rules with using a prong are to fit it correctly and not yank hard on it. In order to properly fit a prong collar you can remove the links from the collar (I chose the photo of a prong below to show you how the links are removable). Positioning the collar is also important, you want the collar to sit high on the neck, fairly close behind the dog’s ears. Very often I see people using prong collars that are not properly fit, and this can hurt the dog, and is not very effective. If you do not know how to properly fit a prong collar ask a dog trainer, or even your veterinarian. With a well fitting prong collar the dog will condition himself not to yank hard on the leash. However, there are some dogs that seem immune to the prong - if your dog is this way do not yank harder, but instead use a different method. After buying a prong collar for Milly, and properly fitting it to her, I was overjoyed with the results. Many people think prong collars are cruel because all they see are spikes digging into a dog’s neck, but the spikes are quite dull, and set on an angle – the result is when a dog pulls on the leash the prong will gently pinch the dog’s neck. I actually put on Milly’s prong collar to see how it felt, and it does not hurt – I even harshly popped/yanked on the collar while wearing it, and that hurt a little, but not too badly… though I would not recommend snapping/yanking/jerking a prong collar on your dog, because after all, it is a self correcting aid, and harsh corrections are not necessary. I have seen dogs stop pulling wearing a Halti/Gentle Leader (I'll discuss these below) and they clearly look in pain, but I have never seen a dog in a prong collar look distressed or in pain. With a prong, a dog should never have a retractable leash on, and you should never tie a dog wearing a prong collar. A prong collar should only be on the dog when you are actively on the other end of the leash.

Choke chains are wonderful tools and a favorite tool of many trainers and handlers, but in untrained hands the results can be devastating (and severely hurt your dog).You should never use a choke without first having a genuinely good trainer's instruction on the proper use. If used incorrectly, you can ruin your dog's response to corrections, at best, and at worst, you can seriously damage your dog's neck and windpipe. It is hard, active work to use a choker correctly, but in educated hands they can be very effective. A dog should NEVER have a tight leash on a choker. It should always be loose, no matter how many corrections you have to give to keep it that way. The leash should look like a J from the collar to your hand. If it doesn't, you're not using it right/actively enough.

Haltis, Gentle Leaders, and fancy harnesses are all the rage right now. I see them all the time at the dog park, and there is an entire aisle dedicated to them at Petsmart! I have tried many of them, but I no longer use any of them. I strongly believe in the importance of being able to safely walk your dog, without having your arms ripped off - if you need one of these devices in order to walk your dog, by all means use one. While they are not a replacement for proper training, they can be a great tool in ensuring a safe and happy walk. I will not endorse the Gentle Leader/Halti, because a dog’s snout is extremely sensitive, and I often see dogs that clearly look in pain being walked wearing one of these. As far as fancy harnesses go, many train your dog to pull by putting pressure on their chest or armpit area, think this sounds counter productive? It is. This is the same reason a sled dog will pull when wearing his harness.

I will say, I had wonderful results after shoulder surgery when I tried the Sporn Harness, though now that I have really trained Milly not to pull I see this was not a replacement for good training, but instead an aid to help me walk my dog in a manner that was safe to her, other people walking on the sidewalk, and me. Looking back on it, I wish I had used the prong collar, rather than the Sporn Harness, because Milly never walked on a loose leash at my side using the Sporn, but instead a loose leash a few steps in front of me. The last image in this collection of photos is the Sporn Harness.

Now I will discuss non tool based training, or the "be a tree" method. The key to this method is to stop walking as soon as your dog starts pulling - you must not take another step until the leash is loose. You can be silent while standing like a tree, or you can say, "No!" and then praise your dog when the leash loosens with a sweet voiced, "good!" to encourage your dog. If you are patient this method can and does work. You can also do this using food as a reward for loose leash walking, but you do not have to. Another way, and my personal favorite, of using the tree method is to actually turn and walk the OTHER WAY when your dog starts pulling (as opposed to simply standing still). As soon as your dog pulls you simply turn around and start walking in the opposite direction. You must not stop walking the other way until there is a loose leash in your hand, and a dog at your side. My boyfriend actually had great results with Milly doing this, but he was very patient and really set his mind to it. Sometimes on walks he would have to turn around 20 times, but with-in a few walks Milly was not pulling on the leash.

Another method of training your dog to stop pulling is using the Clicker Method. You can train a dog to walk however you want, and some advanced freestyle performers even clicker train their dogs to walk backwards! Many trainers, handlers and dog owners use clicker training for fancy dancy prancy heelwork, or advanced obedience, but not for everyday nice walking on a loose leash. This method certainly does work for training your dog for everyday walking, though. Clicker training is a very positive way to teach your dog to associate the click of a clicker with a reward - good behavior = click/click & treat. Clicker training is frequently taught in obedience classes, as strictly positive training is en vogue right now in the dog world. You can pretty much use clicker training to teach any trick or behavior you want – from loose leash walking, to freestyle dog dancing!

Finally, if your dog pulls on his/her leash throw away your Flexi/retractable leash, donate it to a local shelter, sell it in your next yard sale, etc. Flexi leads train a dog to walk on an always taught leash with resistance, and teach your dog that he/she can keep walking forward after whatever their heart desires. If your goal is to have your dog walk on a loose lead you will never accomplish this by sending mixed messages when you occasionally (or regularly) use your retractable leash. Also, especially with a dog that pulls, a retractable leash can be very dangerous. There have been cases of people’s fingers being chopped off by these leashes – the dog takes off, person is struggling to maintain control, the cord of the retractable leash gets wrapped around the handler’s finger, and the next thing you know they are missing a finger! There have been many instances of someone walking their dog on a retractable lead, cresting a hill, and running into another dog or person - resulting in people getting tangled up. You have little control of your dog with a Flexi, Flexi’s have been known to break, the box type handle where you hold a Flexi can be very difficult to grip (especially because it is designed to hold with one hand) in an emergency, if you accidentally drop the leash, or it is jerked from your hand, the clanking of the box on the pavement or the ground often will scare your dog and it could run into traffic, etc. Simply Google ,"problems with retractable leashes," and you will probably reconsider ever using one again! I know I stopped using mine about two years ago, and I don’t think I can think of an instance where I would use it. Perhaps, I might possibly use it with an extremely well trained dog on a hike, but even that is questionable.

Finally, while not a training method, in an emergence that requires safe and controlled walking of your dog you can put your dog's collar very high, above the top of his windpipe (there's a little bump you can feel in the throat) and hold the top of the collar between the ears on the base of the dog's head. As long as the collar is up above this bump on the neck, it won't choke the dog and he's basically powerless to pull you. A friend on the Golden Retriever Forum explained how she has walked some real untrained lunatics, even aggressive dogs, through big crowds with this method. I have had to use this method with a dog I was dog sitting, while walking on a crowded street, and it really does work. It is not training, but it's a way to handle a dog that's going nutso when necessary, without harming him in any way, or harming those around you. How do you think some handlers walk five dogs they barely know through a crowded show hall? They do so with fine, thin choker collars in this position on the neck. A thin show choke collar is pictured here.

Please share any methods you have used in the comments section!

Do not forget there is still time to enter the second PUPCAKE GIVEAWAY!!! The drawing will take place on July 24th using a random number generator!! Good Luck!! :)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

More birthdays and another PUPCAKE GIVEAWAY!!!

Today is my dad's and my uncle's birthdays, yesterday would have been my grandmother's birthday if she were still alive today, in two days my Great Auntie Anna will celebrate her birthday in Scotland, and as you know 10 days ago was my birthday - July is just filled with birthdays in my family! On a side note, you probably think my dad and uncle are twins, but they aren't - my uncle is 7 years older than my dad, but they happen to share the same birthday!

Due to the high response of the last giveaway, and in honor of this special day The Wet Nose is giving away beautiful, tasty, all-natural Claudia's Canine Cuisine Cookies - special PUPCAKES!!! If you entered the last giveaway YOU ARE STILL ELIGIBLE for this giveaway, so enter away! :)

The drawing will take place on July 24th, and you will be able to choose from the pink pupcakes or the blue pupcakes! There will be TWO WINNERS (first winner gets first color choice)!! These are so cute, and would be perfect for your own puppy pawty! It doesn't matter if there is no special occasion for your pup to celebrate with these, because I have a feeling your dog is so special that everyday is worth celebrating! Go ahead and tell Miss Muddy Paws one special tidbit, tale, story or characteristic that makes your dog deserve these adorable and tasty pupcakes!!

A little product description: Spoil your lil’ pup with colorful, beautifully decorated sweet treats on their birthday (or any other day)! Birthday/Special Day PupCups are the perfect surprise for that wagging tailed special guy or gal in your life. Also great for doggie birthday parties!! 8 PupCups in each box. Made in the U.S.A.

You must be a follower to be eligible for this giveaway! Simply follow the above steps to be entered once. Please tell all your pals about The Wet Nose and you will be entered twice to win!