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Posts tagged ‘dog toys’

I’m Busy, You Win! [A Special Offer From Fit For A Pit]

Hiya! It’s been a while, huh?

Here’s the scoop: I’m juggling 2 bazillion projects this year (some of which you’ll be hearing about soon) and I’m so overwhelmed this summer that it’s a tiny miracle that I’m able to wrangle enough brain cells to write this at all.

Quick story: I donated blood the other week and during the rigorous interview to make sure I was safe to give up a pint of blood, I got so confused that the tech and I started joking that I was going to be turned away from donating because I was just too dumb. Really, my brain is that compromised from multitasking related-stress. Don’t worry. In the end they took me and my befuddled blood. And I enjoyed getting to lie down for a few minutes. Plus, free cookies! I highly recommend donating blood if you need a break from work.

Here’s the thing, stuff is only getting busier for the next two months, so despite the fact that I’m dying to write stuff here, I just CAN’T. Grad school, presentations for work, dog #2 in physical rehab (yep, it’s Boogie this time – more on that later), and a sorta secret project will do that to a gal.

These days I’m working at finding the positive – noticing the pear, if you will-  so I want to tell you what I CAN do:

Give you stuff!

 

That’s right. To celebrate my inability to write a substantial blog post, I’ve got a deal just for you! I’ve been feeling bad about not hanging out here with you guys, so I asked my friend Heather who own Fit For A Pit if she could hook y’all up with a deal. Heather, Champion of Generosity that she is, said “Hells Yeah I can do that!” and thus the DINOS discount was born.

 

fit for pit

This dog is super psyched that you’re getting a sweet deal.

 

Shop for anything your heart desires over at Fit For A Pit and:

Take $10 off any purchase of $20+ now through July 31st!*

All you have to do is use the coupon code: DINOS  

*Limit one per customer (because we don’t want to put Heather out of business)

 

Despite the name of her store, Fit For a Pit carries stuff that ALL dogs love. But if you do happen to have a blocky-headed, chesty, bull of a dog, they carry products that fit. My dog Birdie – not a pit bull – can’t fit into anything because she’s really busty (she got that from me), but that’s no problemo here!

Let’s do some window shopping together, before you head over to grab your discounted loot, ok? Here are just a few of my favorite products that Fit For a Pit carries:

 

The Flirt Pole (read my blog on them here):

 

flirt_pole_4__82304.1394318267.1280.1280

Dog Tees – that really fit:

fit for a pit tees

Goughnuts and other durable toys (read my blog on them here):

GoughNuts_01

 

Books from Patricia McConnell and Ken Foster (I like him):

good dog

And everyone’s favorite dog walking accessory Spray Shield! (I mention that one all the time):

spray-shield

 

There’s tons more cool, high quality stuff, like Doggles, backpacks, Chilly Dog sweaters, sunscreen, and even the Freedom No-Pull Harness. You can take $10 off on all of this stuff! Frankly the chance to get a flirt pole on the cheap or restock your Spray Shield at a discount is enough to head on over there and get clickin’, ammirite?

Heather carries just about everything I’ve been sharing with you all these years, so I’m genuinely happy to be connecting all of you to her store. You may be wondering, savvy consumers that you all are, is this an affiliate partnership? Why yes it is smarty! If you’re counting, I now have two affiliate partnerships: this one and Your End of the Lead.

When Heather started accepting affiliates, I asked to join her program. I want to shop from a small family business like Heather’s (instead of big anonymous drone-loving Amazon) when I can and I’m happier when I can link to small businesses here too. Heather has been involved in dog rescue for years and goes out of her way to support animal welfare groups, so I’m super proud to be working with her and supporting her business.

If you use the links in this blog to visit the store, I make a buck or two. But guess what, if you’re not into that, you can visit the store without using my links and you still get the $10 off with the DINOS code. Wheee!

Wait, a sec….now what was I talking about?  I believe that we will win! Where are my pants?

Oh yeah, you guys get $10 off this month. Say what?! That’s really generous of you Heather. Thanks pal!

 

But hold on, that’s not all. Next week come on back to look for a secret giveaway here on the blog. One of you is going to win one of my favorite new products…

Okay okay, you beat the secret giveaway right out of me: it’s a hands-free belt from Squishy Face. Next week I’ll share my experience testing the belt out on my dog walks and you can enter to win one!

See, life is good for you guys when I feel guilty about not writing anything new. My loss (of sanity) is your gain. Hip hip hooray!

 

7 Wishes For Families With Dogs In Need Of Space

Ah, 2014. Here she comes! A new year always gets me thinking about what I want for myself in the coming months, but this year I thought: What do I want for all of YOU? For the most part, I’m wishing that you guys are happy, healthy, and discover a river of gold nugget speckled peanut butter running under your property.

But, if I ever do manage to trap a real life Genie, here’s a few other things I’d wish for DINOS families (and all the other dogs too):

1. A veterinarian that uses low-stress handling techniques and treats you and your dog with compassion. I wish this for all of us. Having a skilled, empathetic vet and vet tech that you trust to handle your dog is a huge. HUGE. Here are some leads on vets that might fit that bill.

Also, while we’re wishing, let’s ask for a vet practice with an amazing front desk staff that will make you feel like a movie star (instead of gargoyle with a troll dog) when you use the back door to get into the clinic.

2. That no one gives your dog Henrietta the Chicken. I wish that no one has to hear the sound this toy makes. It’s hysterical, but listening to Henrietta squawk for more than 45 seconds is considered a legal form of torture in at least a dozen countries. A couple of years ago, I worked in a pet store that sold these by the tub full and listened to children squeezing them. All. Day. Long. I sincerely apologize to everyone I ever gave this to as a gift (which is most of my dog walking clients).

henrietta

One squeeze of Henrietta can bring even the toughest man to his knees.


3. A vacation from your dogs. If you have a dog with behavior or medical issues then you’re probably working harder than you even realize to take care of them each day. I wish that all of you are able to take a day or seven off from caring for your dogs. Getting a little time away from your dogs (and allowing yourselves to enjoy it) can be restorative and help you hang in with them for the long haul.

Which leads to…

4. Someone you trust to pitch in. I wish that all of you are able to find a pet sitter, a boarding facility, or a friend that you can trust to help you care for your dog. Whether it’s a friend that can watch your dogs while you go away for a week or a dog walker that can provide some mid-day relief, my wish is that all of you eventually find someone you can lean on, so that you aren’t the only one who can care for your dogs.

5. At least one route to walk your dogs that is predictably safe. I wish that all of you find at least one dog walking route that you can enjoy without fear of being chased by loose dogs.  If you do find one, don’t worry about variety. Find and walk the safe route. You can spice up your dog’s life in other ways, like going Cosmic Bowling or taking a Zumba class together (or playing training games, going for group walks, and doing Noseworks).

Which leads to…

6. A magic belt to defend against rogue people and dogs. I wish all of you a set of gadgets, like the ones Data from Goonies had, that will keep loose dogs at a distance, block invasive people from petting your dogs, help you escape from a tight spot, and let you outwit Mama and her thieving sons so you get to One-Eyed Willy’s treasure first. Maybe this one is a stretch. But it’s my wish for you. You can’t stop me.

data

Respect my boundaries or you’ll get booty trapped.

7. Enough good times to counterbalance the challenges. Before January is over I want you to do this: List ten things you really love about your dog.

They can be big things:

He’s an award winning polka dance champion.

He’s totally house trained.

He never chases the cats.

He used to “debate” every dog he saw, but now he only starts rowdy philosophical discussions on Wednesdays.


Or small things:

He smells like cotton candy even when I forget to give him a bath for a year.

He sleeps in on the weekends.

He takes treats gently.

He does not have a Henrietta.

Or whatever it is that you love about your dog.

Now put this list in your drawer. The next time you have a terrible dog walk and you’re secretly thinking that it might be time to  “donate” your dog to charity: Read your list.


Ok, that’s my seven wishes, but I do have others, like: the ability to freeze time, a coat pocket that generates a never ending supply of stinky treats, and a magical dog park that only you know about. But until I find that Genie, I’ll just wish all of you happiness, health, and peanut butter gold riches in 2014!

I Was a Teenage Gap Girl

UPDATE: As of October 2013, Amazon has banned all residents of the state of Maine from their affiliate program. It’s a gigantic pissing match between a giant corporation and our state government over the “unconstitutional Maine state tax collection legislation passed by the state legislature and Governor LePage…” (quote from Amazon). So the store still exists, but I no longer earn any commission on the products you purchase there. Fun times, right? Stay tuned for updates!

I want to warn you: This blog post is going to result in a shameless self promotion that may make me wealthy one day. And by wealthy, I mean not rich at all, but more like the kind of woman who owns multiple pairs of flip flops simultaneously, including a pair of “dress” flops. You should stop reading now if that makes you uncomfortable. No hard feelings. Promise.

Before we go any further: I have to tell you about working at the Gap when I was in high school. This was weird, because it was the 90’s and I didn’t look like I worked at the Gap. I dressed like a boy. A boy who alternated between farming (overalls and flannel shirts) and skating (huge jeans and ringer tees) and apprenticing at a funeral home (black, black, black, and Docs), while rapping on the side (puffy vests and Africa medallions – just kidding! I never wore a puffy vest).

But I was a teenager in New Jersey and that means the majority of the jobs available to me were at The Mall. When the Gap offered me five dollars an hour, how could I refuse?

So I worked at the Gap and I was a really, really good salesperson. I sold a lot of clothes because I told people not to buy stuff.

I always gave people my honest opinion about how they looked, which if you’ve ever worked a dressing room, you’ll know means I had to tell people they looked terrible a lot. For those of you who have never worked a dressing room, I’ll just say this: it’s never a bad idea to wear clothes in your actual size, not the size you wish you were or the size you were when you were three.

You might think that I got slapped a lot. Nope! People were tired of corny salesgirls telling them to “just cinch it!” and they appreciated my honesty. When I suggested different clothes, ones that looked good on them, people trusted my opinion.

I genuinely wanted everyone to look nice. Especially all the middle-aged ladies that were going on dates. I really wanted to help them because I thought they were super brave to be out there dating when they were so clearly vulnerable to breaking a hip. Looking back, these women were probably 26. But still. I wanted them to feel fierce (I can say “fierce” because it was the 90’s and RuPaul taught me everything I knew about being a woman).

 

All of my teenage fashion influences, in one photo. (source)

Almost all of my teenage fashion influences are in this photo. (source)


This radical honesty, combined with my drag queen-like dedication to empowering women to look their best, led to loyal customers and many sales. Occasionally, it also led to people not buying anything. This annoyed my managers.

Shockingly, I never got fired. Not even when I showed up to work dressed like Columbo (brown wool pants, crumpled white button down shirt, cigar in my pocket). I’d like to think that was because the corporate offices at the Gap were monitoring my new approach to sales: honesty, empathy, and relationship building. But it was probably because I left for college a few months later, before my managers could come up with a plan to fire me without triggering a law suit (discriminating against an employee for being a Peter Falk impersonator is serious business).

So all of this is to say: I’m not comfortable selling stuff just for the sake of the sale. I have to believe that it’s really looking good on you/making your life a little easier/getting you laid on your date tonight.

And the point of saying that is because: I wanted to tell you that I started an Amazon affiliate store filled with some of the stuff I mention here on my blog, as well as some of the stuff that you’ve told me is awesome, and I hope you’ll check it out some time. I thought it would be helpful to have some of the products I write about all in one place for easy browsing and linking.

 

Notes from a Dog Walker Store


Full (Monty) Disclosure: I earn a little advertising fee when you buy stuff in the store – it’s not so much that I can buy an Airstream, but it’s a little pocket change to go towards paying the bills. The less time I spend rolling pennies, the more time I have to write. Which, after reading this, you may or may not want me to do. (10/7/13: Not anymore. See update at the beginning of the blog).

I feel like I should say, just for the record: affiliates doesn’t change what I write about. I share stuff here that I think will be helpful and that I really like, whether or not it’s for sale in the store. Some of what I mention here is for sale in the store, some of it is for sale in other people’s stores, and some of it is being sold out of the back of a truck by that cousin of yours that no one mentions by name anymore. I like to spread the business around. 

No pressure to visit the store. I just felt like it was self-sabotaging to not even announce that I’d made one. So there:  I made a store

Phew!

p.s. It’s not your hips. No one looks good in a treat pouch. But, wear it anyway, because Supermodel, You Better Work.

Also, I know you want to watch this right now. I just did:





That’s Cool Dog.

It’s really hot in Maine today, which means it’s scorching in the rest of the country. I’m worried that everyone south of New Hampshire is bursting into flames as I write this.

So for all of you with hot dogs out there, here’s a few ideas to keep them cool today (if you can’t smuggle them into a movie theater for an afternoon of popcorn and ice-cold air conditioning):

 

Kool Collar

Fill this collar with ice and keep your dog’s body temp down while you’re out in the sun or stuck  inside a stuffy apartment. Yes, you can wear one too.

KoolCollars_001

Hurtta Cooling Coat 

Soak this  coat in cold water, wring it out, then put it on your dog. Keeps them cool as the water evaporates and it protects them from the sun. RuffWear also makes a similar coat.

Kool Dogz Ice Treat Maker

Keep your dog busy and cool for hours with this hunk o’ ice and toys.  Perfect for shelter dogs in outdoor kennels. You can also make one with stuff around the house. Learn how from Animal Farm Foundation here.

Kiddie Pool

Boogie learned how to swim in a lake last summer, but we can’t get to a lake most days. For M-F swims, I’m all about the kiddie pool. Low tech. High fun.

Other low-tech ideas:

Freeze chicken or beef broth in ice cube trays for a tasty, cold treat. Put a cold, wet bandanna around your dog’s neck. Put some green beans or sweet potato slices in the freezer for a frozen snack. Feed them dinner from a frozen Kong.  Read the Polar Express out loud to them.

What are some of your favorite ways to keep your dogs cool on hot summer days? Do tell!



The Flirt Pole: Dog Toy or Life Changer?

I’m headed out for a week of pet sitting in a neighborhood that’s overflowing with loose, sometimes aggressive dogs. I’m not worried. Here’s what I’m packing:

Why the flirt poles? Because in addition to driving out of the neighborhood to walk in a safer area, I also want a fun way to exercise the dogs I’m caring for…without having to leave their fenced in yard. Sometimes walks just aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. I know you feel me on this.

Guys, I want you to meet your new BFF. Introducing the The Flirt Pole:

 

 

flirt pole

 

The flirt pole is what you’ve all been waiting for. It’s a an easy DIY toy (that you can also buy for under $30 bucks, if you hate making stuff). It not only helps your dog work on their basic manners and impulse control, but it also gives them a rockin’ workout in just a few minutes. And you hardly have to do a thing. This is a great way to physically and mentally challenge your dogs, without leaving home.

Wanna know more about this magic pole?

Let’s do this in lists…ready?


How a Flirt Pole Works:

You drag the toy on the ground in a circle, they chase and tug, with rules.

Think Giant Cat Toy.


Why you want to use a Flirt Pole:

1. It totally and completely exhausts dogs in record time. But it doesn’t exhaust you.

2. You can use it as a fun way to practice the following commands: sit, down, look, wait, take it, leave it, drop it.

3. You’ll be working your dog’s rile/recovery skills. That means they’ll get to practice listening to you when they’re in a state of high arousal (chasing and tugging) and learn to cool off quick (drop it and lie down) when you say so. Handy for reactive dogs who are working on impulse control.

4. You can tire out your dog at home, before going on a walk, so they’re more relaxed.

5. You can tire out your dog at home, instead of going on a walk, so you’re more relaxed.

6. You can make a small flirt pole (half the regular size) and use it inside the house, if you don’t have a yard.

7. You can trick your cats into thinking they’ve shrunk, by telling them it’s their regular chase-it toy.


How to make a Flirt Pole:

1. For a medium to large size dog, buy a 4-6 foot long 3/4″ PVC pipe, 10-15 feet of rope, and a dog toy.

2. Thread the rope through the pipe and tie a knot at either end of the pipe, to keep rope from sliding in and out.

3. Tie a toy to the end of the rope.

4. Optional: buy fun colored electrical tape (finally an excuse to buy lime green tape!) and wrap the pvc pipe so it’s all fancy schmancy pants.

 

flirt pole meme

 



Where to Buy a Flirt Pole, if DIY isn’t your thing:

1. Kong makes a lightweight one (a good option for smaller dogs or smaller yards):

2. Squishy Face Studio makes an awesome flirt pole:

flirt_pole_4__82304.1394318267.1280.1280


Flirt Pole Rules You Will Use:

1. Dog must lie down, look at you, leave the toy alone, and wait for you to release them, before playing.

2. When you tell them to “take it”, then they get to chase.

3. After a few passbys, reward them by allowing them to catch the toy.

4. Let them tug until you tell them to “drop it”.

5. Have them lie back down and wait until they are totally calm. Then start again.

6. Change direction every once in a while, so your dog isn’t always running one way.

7. If the dog grabs the toy before you say “take it” or is mouthy or jumping on you: take a time out and/or start over.



When to skip the Flirt Pole:

1. If your dog has bad joints or injuries that could be aggravated by quick changes of direction and jumping.

2. If your dog doesn’t know the following: wait, take it, leave it, drop it. Practice with treats first, then a tug toy, then move on to the flirt pole.

3. If you do not know the dog well. It’s not safe to rev up an unfamilar dog. While this is one of my all time fave tools for shelter dogs (it tires them out so fast!), they must know basic commands and you need to have a relationship with the dog, before getting them super psyched. Establish a working bond first – make sure you’re communicating with each other – then start off slow.

4. If this overstimulates your dog to the point that they can’t calm down after. You know your dogs. If this isn’t a good fit for them, just pass.

5. If your dog thinks it’s dumb. Some dogs just don’t dig it.


Everything I know about flirt poles, I learned from Pit Ed Camp hosted by the super bad mama jammas at BAD RAP. If you learned something here, it’s because of them, so feel free to click on over there and donate some scrills to support their work.

In fact, here’s Tim from BAD RAP showing you exactly how to boogie down with the flirt pole:

Training Video: Flirt Pole Basics from BADRAP.org on Vimeo.

 

Are you using a flirt pole at home? Tell me about it!

 

High Value Treats for DINOS

Finding a treat that your DINOS™ is willing to work for, especially around distractions, can be tough. The “sure thing” treat that one dog finds rewarding, might get the cold shoulder from the next dog.

Back when I helped out at reactive dog training classes, we’d do taste tests to see which treats the dogs were willing to pass up vs. gobble down. We found that freeze-dried raw treats were consistently a bigger hit than soft training treats and often more popular than fresh chicken or cheese.

I like to use Stella and Chewy’s Freeze Dried Raw patties (broken into little pieces) when I know I need to bust out the big guns to help Boogie get through a potentially stressful moment. I never give him those treats at any other time, so they retain their novelty. That works for Boogie, but I know that every dog is different, so I called on Team DINOS for a list of their favorite high value treats.

If you’re still searching for that magic treat that your dog will love or you want to try something new, here are some great ideas from the team:

Brandi C.  Squeeze cheese!

Krissii F.  Tennis balls!

Stephanie F. Lickety Sticks!

Barbara L.  Chicken breast – she prefers the prepackaged kind – or string cheese.

Laurelin S.  Cheese (string or cream), buffalo liver or sweet potato!

Jo J. Bread and butter; dismembered natural gummy bears; bonito flakes.

Paula K.  My dogs’ favorites have turned out to be thinly sliced hotdogs microwaved until they are curly and crispy!  And for dogs not motivated by food: I had a dog in one of my classes who was not food motivated, so I asked the dog’s owner what was the dog gaga for at home and he answered “the feather duster”. I said, bring it in, and the dog worked for the chance to maul that duster ( it was pink, and the owner was a former Marine)!

True Dog  Tricky Trainers Salmon Flavor Cloud Star Treats, Buddy Biscuits Lamb flavor Treats, Bil-Jac Liver flavor, wet dog or cat food in a small dish, couple licks as a reward.

Marie N.  Freeze dried chicken. It’s like crack to her.

Alexis B.  Red Barn! And the number-one-trumps-everything-on-this-earth thing is carnivore diet from the zoo – my husband works at the zoo and sometimes brings this home, it is mostly raw horse meat which is apparently more delicious than anything else on earth.

natural blance logs

Pia R.  Freeze Dried Chicken!

Julia KLane Liver Brownies from the Liver Lady in Woodstock, IL!Karen C.  Any food. Especially roast chicken, string cheese, bacon.

Judy M.  Diced Natural Balance food logs!

Star F.  Natural Balance food rolls are always a big hit.

Deb M.  Try a fox tail tied to a 2- 2 1/2 ft length of clothesline. Stick it in your back pocket and haul out for a quick rewarding game of tug. Training your dog to be both food and toy motivated is the best!

Noelle B.  For Brewster, if anything is going to get his attention, hot dogs will. But not even that works with a really intense distraction. Other things that work most, but not all the time, are chicken, cheese, and Zuke’s Mini Naturals.

Stacy S. ‎Riddick’s Treats (bison liver treats are like crack to them)

Marge R.  I hate to say it (and I blame my friend Eileen) – sausage, egg and cheese biscuit. What can I say? He gets to choose what is most reinforcing.

orbee ball

Bev R.  Anything that squeaks for my girl. Anything they can tug on for both, especially anything that resembles a flirt pole type thing, tug toys, Orbee ball, but food…nothing..they just are not food motivated.

Sheri-Lyn P.  Chicken every time!

Sadie B.  Some dogs are reluctant to eat when there are distractions or they are stressed. In these situations I would work with very high value food (cheese, etc), toys or even environmental rewards (although that is more difficult to employ practically). My girl finds it aversive to have to stop and eat a treat when belting round an agility course, so a retrieve or game of tug is our reward of choice then the fun doesn’t have to stop!

Laurie W.  Canine Carry Outs! Easy to find and inexpensive.

Kristel S.  Frozen meatballs, pieces of roasted chicken or salmon-flavored Zukes are Murphy’s favorites:-)

Johnny H.  The Disc (frisbee) is my dogs highest value distraction. I don’t have them lying around the house, so he never gets them to play with. At 5pm every day, he knows it’s time for him to go to work. I don’t even need the disc now to use it as a distraction trigger. There is nothing that can redirect his brain over the disc – not a dog or dog altercation, motorbike, squeek toy – nothing brings him out of disc mode until I say “mine now” and put it away.

Elisabet N.  Freeze dried beef liver, and cat food.

Juli T.  Walking – Casey is so uninterested in food that when we are anywhere more interesting than our living room, not even nice smelly pepperoni or peanut butter will get her attention. Moving – preferably at a fast pace – is her reward.

Kristen B.  Toby is all about cut up Natural Balance rolls. He chooses them over one of his typical favorite treats of peanut butter.

Rebecca C.  Squeaky tennis ball for one dog. Target\Archer Farms chicken, spinach sausage does wonders for my other dog.

Angelina W. Vienna sausages!

Dawn F.  Cut up hot dogs and string cheese!

Jackie D.  Home-dried liver, smoked cheese, barbecue chicken, liver sausage…

Jennifer N. Only in extreme situations and VERY TINY bits: Lay’s Stax potato chips! It’s the most insane reaction I’ve ever seen. Even for just a tiny speck of chip, Jacks will focus so hard on it he sees or hears nothing else. Even if he can just smell it, he’s completely focused. Mia isn’t food motivated at all, but anything that squeaks is her addiction…

Jennifer B.  Shady Brook cooked turkey meatballs..doggy crack!

Jenifer R. My dog who used to be HIGHLY leash reactive would turn himself inside out for Gorgonzola if he could!

Linda E. My three porties will eat anything put in front of them! They like Natural Balance in the tubes and it’s relatively easy to use. Their favorite is the one I make from scratch and is super simple: Put the six ingredients (2 cups spelt flour, 1-2 cups Quick Oats or Regular Oatmeal, 1/2 tsp salt (optional), 1tsp baking POWDER, 1 can sardines & 1-3 Tbsp Asian Fish Sauce (optional)+ a little olive oil) into the food processor, grind/ pulse, spread 1/4 to 1/2″ on a cookie sheet, heavily oiled with olive oil & bake. Slow bake @ 300 degrees for 30-40 minutes. I use a pizza cutter to score the treats to size, flip them over & bake for another 30-40 minutes until crisp. Much healthier and less costly! I do the sardines first, with some olive oil to make a paste, then add the dry ingredients. I’m a huge user of go tubes filled with premium duck or rabbit canned dog food. Very easy to use, carry and  doggies just lick it up! These have worked the best for me in the dog to dog aggression area!

Susan C.  Any food.

Brooke P.  Definitely cheese. Cookies also keep my Pom occupied with chewing, rather than reacting while we’re passing tough triggers. He’s a very slow chewer, so it works out. By the time he finishes his cookie, the trigger is long gone.

Ann W.  Peanut Butter. I fill one of the little Tupperware midgies, put the lid on, and when I need to get past some other dogs on the trail, I pull the lid off and let my dog lick at it until we’re past.

Ashley C.  Deli rare roast beef and/or a squeeze tube of liver paste.

Rebecca A.  I’m lucky my reactive guy is both toy and food motivated. He goes absolutely nuts for any toy with a squeaker, so I have a small Wubba Kong that we can tug on past any distraction. But if I need a calmer response (so as not to trigger another dog with his energy while tugging) — it is banana chips, believe it or not!

kong wubba

Ann W.  Livercake with garlic.

Marion B.  I make my own liver and bacon brownies. Yuck!! But I can get back flips for them.

Laurie M.  Baby food meat, dehydrated mini hamburger pieces, roasted and frozen beef roast or chicken breast.

Virginia J.  I know it’s not right, but cat treats are the only thing she is wild for.

K9Capers dog day center  Blueberries and celery!

Suzanne K.  Diced cooked chicken breast for reactive class, Merrick lamb filet treats for our daily walks at the park.

Cheryl C.  Steak – when we are going to a new event/new place I grill up steak the night before.

Jen R.  Boiled and diced beef heart does it every time for mine.

Lisa V.  I know sometimes we have to go to extremes to find what our DINOS will work for. In one of our reactive dog classes the only thing their dog would work for was butter! Yikes! My girl LOVES Trader Joe’s turkey meatballs and her tiny squeaky soccer ball. She will do ANYTHING for that soccer ball!

Jennie M.  My pup has had a hard time concentrating in class lately, but today she worked for biscuits. People biscuits with butter that is…put on when they are hot, so it is all melted in! I baked them this morning. As long as it works, I will bake! Hot dogs and cheese work well also.

Laura P.  If she’s really distracted (or scared) it has to be something she needs to lick. Liverwurst or canned food in a squeeze tube, Cheese or Kong liver squeeze cans, meat-based baby food licked right out of the jar.

Elana B.  Diced chicken gizzards. I nuke the package for about 10 minutes and then dice them into training treat size. Way cheaper than anything from PetSmart or PetCo and not made in China!

Nic F.  Any type of food!

Shoshannah F.  Cheese!Jenifer R.  Cheese! Any kind but the stinkier the better.

Katie G.  Dehydrated beef lung!

Helen W.  Bozi Dinos will ignore every scary thing if he is busy playing tug or squeaky hedgehog games with me (on lead) just to be sure. He also loves roast chicken, steak and bacon.

Nancy B. Boiled chicken cut up into small pieces is the highest value treat. Hot dogs second.

 

I hope that gives all of you some new ideas to try on your walks or in your training classes.

If you have favorites that weren’t mentioned here, let me know in the comments section or on Facebook!

 



 

Big Red Ball: A Love Story

Throughout the years, there has only been one toy Boogie hasn’t eventually destroyed. Today we’re sad to report that this toy, the Almost Indestructible Ball, is no longer available at most stores.  We’re tipping our forties in its honor.

Luckily,  he doesn’t need a new one just yet, since they last Boogie a few years, but one day it’ll be so beat up that he’ll need a replacement. Sigh. Then we’ll have to go in search of a new lover ball.

There’s the front runner: the Jolly Ball (just make sure you get the one without the handle: Boogie ate that right off). And a couple of others to try, like the Boomer Ball (good enough for hippos at the zoo!) and a new Indestructible Ball. But it won’t be the same to Boogie.

He’s feeling kind of blue about this, so he wrote a poem.

 

Ode to My Big Red Ball

By Boogie “The Nudge” Dolce

 

Today it snowed.

Mom will release you

from your Home Depot Bucket.

The one with the lid

I cannot get off.

 

They hide you from me because

I forget to poop when you are near me.

No matter how long I am outside

I don’t go.

I would never leave your side

To make a stinky number two.

 

There you are

Big Red Ball!

 

Thump!

My chest bumps you along the ground.

Boom!

I slam you into the deck.

Wack!

I crack you against the trees.

 

 

My paws try to pull you closer,

then they spaz

out of control,

Pushing you away.

I didn’t mean it -

Come back!

 

Mom calls me inside,

I cannot hear her

over my love for thee.

You make me squeal

like a crazy chicken-piglet.

 

 

I want to lie down and

chew you into pieces so bad.

But you taught me the meaning of

Tough love.

My Almost Indestructible Ball.

 

 

 

 

Straight from the Pig’s Ear: Vegetarian Treats Dogs Love

My dogs aren’t vegetarians, but I am, so I’m always on the lookout for non-meat treats for my gang. I do feed my dogs a meat based diet, but when it comes to their treats, which aren’t so much about nutrition as they are about fun, I prefer to stay away from bully sticks (bull weenies) and pig’s ears.

Between you and me, pig’s ears just make me so sad. Those smooth triangles are just like my own dog’s ears – the same ones I like to softly rub between my thumb and pointer finger while we watch tv at night.  I can never make myself buy them, so I searched out a few vegetarian options for my dogs that I could feel better about buying and they would enjoy.

Even if you’re not a vegetarian,  there are two other reasons why these treats are a good option to consider: smell and choking.  Bully sticks and smoked bones stink. These options are a little easier on our noses. And if you’ve ever jumped across a coffee table to sweep a folded piece of slimy rawhide out of your dog’s throat, you know there are some choking hazards to contend with when dealing with rawhide and bully sticks (which reminds me: don’t leave your dogs alone with those things).  Plus, variety is the spice of life right? Why not give your dog something new?


Here are my top picks:

1. Himalayan Dog ChewsThese long-lasting treats are made of yak and cow milk, salt, and lime juice.  That’s right, it’s cheese! Rock hard cheese, actually, that takes forever for your dog to soften and gnaw down. The cheese is made using traditional methods in Nepal and India, which the company purchases directly from the farmers.

Thinking my dog Boogie would destroy these in minutes, I avoided buying  them for years, but when I finally brought them home, I was pleasantly surprised. It took Boogie a couple of hours to get through one of the medium-sized chews. For Birdie, who is a moderate chewer, it lasted all day.  They’re not cheap, but one Himalayan chew lasts 2-3 times longer than a bully stick in my house, so the cost evens out.  Also, they don’t smell and my dogs don’t gulp down big pieces, so I’m not worried they’ll choke. Worth every penny.



2. Sam’s Yams: These dehydrated, 100% sweet potato chews are a great substitution for pig’s ears or rawhide chips.  For heavy-duty chewers, try the Big Boyz (each chew is the equivalent of half of a sweet potato), and it might last 1-5 minutes. For more moderate chewers, they can last twice as long. If you’ve got a little guy at home, check out their Bichon Fries.  If your dog has allergies, these are a great option because they’re made from a single ingredient. No corn, gluten, soy, wheat –  just sweet potato.  My only warning: expect orange poop later. Do not be alarmed.



3. The Everlasting Treat Ball: If you have a dog that you need to keep busy for a long time, these rubber-like, almost indestructible toys are the bomb – vegetarian or not. They come in a bunch of shapes: the double-sided ball, the fire plug, and the bento ball and they’re all hollow in the middle, so you can use them as puzzle toys by adding kibble.

How are they vegetarian? Because you plug the openings of each toy with an edible, rounded disc, bought separately, and three of the flavors: Vanilla Mint, Hickory Smoke, and the Wheat Free Chicken (with “natural vegetarian chicken flavor”) are all meat-free.  This toy/treat combo can potentially last for many hours, sometimes days, and after they’re done eating, they’ve still got a tough toy to play with.


This is another one of those items I thought my dog would destroy, but has held up really well. When I worked at the pet store, the bento ball and fire plug survived the staff’s large dogs: a pit bull mix, a Weimaraner, and a bulldog mix, chewing on them daily.


With these three vegetarian options, you can feel free to skip the bins of pig’s ears, bull weenies, and cow tails. Whether you’re a vegetarian or just want to give your dog something new to grind on, there’s something for all of us.  And if you have any veggie-friendly favorites, let me know about it!




How to Exercise Your Dog Without Leaving the House

Some days, you just don’t want to walk your DINOS.

Maybe it’s because the weather is terrible, like the freezing rain we had here in Maine last week, or it might be because your neighborhood is filled with off leash dogs that terrorize you on your walks. Most of the time, we still grab our leashes and hit the streets, but there are some days we could all use a break.

So whether you’re looking for a safe way to exercise your DINOS without running into other dogs or you just want to avoid extreme weather, here’s a bunch of great ideas for indoor fun from Team DINOS on Facebook!

 

To get us started, here are some of my favorite ways to wear out dogs inside the house:

treadmill

Treadmills: They can be total lifesavers for DINOS.  With a treadmill you can safely exercise your DINOS in your home, with no other dogs to contend with, whenever your dog needs it. You can use the treadmill you already have, purchase a used one for cheap off of Craig’s List, or a buy treadmill specifically designed for dogs. Here’s some advice from Bad Rap for getting started with a dog-powered (no motor) treadmill.

Puppy Push Ups: Sit, down, sit, down, sit, down. Easiest “trick” in the book. It helps burn off a little energy, even if your dog only knows two commands!

Feeding all Meals from Frozen Kongs: If your dog has a lot of energy, I would suggest chucking your dog bowls all together and only feeding from dog puzzles. Firecracker Dogs has some great articles on this and a store filled with puzzles that are worth checking out. If you’re using Kongs, try freezing them, since it’ll take much longer for your dogs to work out their meal, burning more mental and physical energy in the process.

Rile/Recovery work with a Flirt Pole: You can go the homemade route or buy a premade “chase it” toy, but either way, if you have a dog that loves chasing stuff (and has healthy joints), this giant cat toy will rock their world and burn a ton of energy. What’s key to this? Your dog must know basic commands such as: sit, down, wait, take it and drop it for this to be a safe, fun game.  If you want to do this inside, get a smaller 2-3 foot flirt pole, for outside, you can go big! Before you try it, take a look at this video from Bad Rap and read this how-to.

Heavy Duty Chew Toys and Bones: Some dogs can work out an incredible amount of energy through chewing on toys and bones. Particularly helpful for barkers, to wear out those overactive jabber jaws.

Those are some of my faves, but don’t stop here, check out all the great suggestions from the rest of the group (keep in mind that all dogs are individuals and what works for some, may not be the best choice for others):

Heather Masch Nosework is a great activity to do indoors.

Juli Thompson Casey and I play hide and seek. She has to sit and stay while I go into another room, or closet, maybe hide behind a curtain. When I yell “come,” she has to follow my voice to find me. Body and brain both get exercised, and it reinforces “come,” which is still a problem command for us.

Lori Fricks I throw a tennis ball up the stairs, Marshall chases up after it and brings it back down for another go! We also play tug until my arms go numb!

Jo Maisey I do some clicker training to tire out their brains.

Ashley Oslund Laser light in small doses!

Kim Kusznir Odin likes to jump in the air and pop bubbles!

Alexis Bywater Laser pointer!! Keep “dot” sessions short and sweet! 10 minutes with the laser pointer can be a great workout (I combine obedience work with laser play which is a great way to proof commands on a really amped up dog).

Kristel Smart I live on the fourth floor of an apartment building and our stairs are indoors and carpeted. The stairway tends to be pretty deserted (most people prefer the elevator) so I practice send-aways and emergency stops and downs while I have Murphy run up and down the stairs (he has great hips and he’s young). When he’s tired out I let him relax with a good rib-bone.

Kelsey Gidley We play the box game, dinner from puzzle toys and lots and lots of tug.

Suzan Toscano Tug toys & balls thrown down the hall to be retrieved.

Julie Parker Rmdt We play “tag” in the living room. We also like the Kong Wobblers for mental stimulation.

Kathie McDermid Dierk Throw the ball, throw the ball, throw the ball…and then maybe “find it” (he sits in another room, I take a treat, hide it (like in a drawer or something) and then release him to “search”)

Kendra Roering Treadmill!

Jennifer Whitton-Trujillo We throw the ball (or whatever other toy Colby brings), but I love throwing it down the stairwell, so he has to run up and down stairs. Wears him out much better than just tossing it down the hall!

Jessie Copeland We play fetch in our kitchen with light plastic balls or a Kong frisbee, trying to continue basic drop, sit, stay, and other commands. Dash LOVES this game!

Judy Michaels Living Room Rally! My fave: One dog becomes a post, and a little yellow cone the other. Great way to work on Figure 8s and distraction work!

Barbara Lewis I don’t have stairs, so I set up a makeshift agility jump (broom held up about 6 inches off the ground by stacked books or whatever else) – then I toss pieces of dog food across the room so she has to run and jump over the hurdle to get it. It’s sort of ridiculous, but it works!

Laurie James Buchele Puzzle toys, brain games, tricks.

Laura Pescador Misha has the big egg-shaped FitPaws ball for strength and stretching, nosework, recall games with one human holding her and the other hiding, the big box home improvement store up the street still allows dogs (early on a weekday before work there aren’t a lot of other dogs), lots of training games like calling heel from anywhere in the house.

Brooke Palmer Lots of puzzles and messing around with the clicker to see what I can try to get my dog to do.

Violet Elder Run her up and down the stairway.

Celeste Schmidt We’ve had an oddly warm winter this year, but usually good ol’ tug, some shaping, nosework, and treadmill are what help. I’ve also had to jog in circles inside the house, usually I’ll have the dogs come along with me.

Michelle Doram K9 Nose Work!

A Better Life with Your Dog with Fernando Camacho I have done a number of sessions with dogs that become obsessive shadow chasers because of laser pointers, so my favorite indoor fun is bubbles. My dog will jump and pop them for hours. Great exercise!

Laura Elizabeth Mine loves to play tug game, so we play tug of war and some fetch inside.

Jill Michalski Hide n’ Seek, “Find it”, Kong Wobbler, and sometimes a bit of “doggie boot camp” practicing sit/downs (like doing pushups), stay, wait, place, etc.

Jennene Lausier My dog loves our treadmill! It’s his favorite!

Kris Hopkins My last German Shepherd police K9 was the “diggiest dog”. To channel it in non-destructive ways I bought him a small, thin heavy-duty crate bed and let him scratch it from one end of the room to the other. He was totally winded scratching at that scratchy pad for hours! When we could go outside, he got a sand box and it was the “dig patch”. All other areas were off-limits for digging or scratching. It worked and his front legs were unbelievably strong!

Jackie Hall-Reigle I had bought a treadmill for him and surprisingly he got right on it! He loves it, and when he hears it start, he comes running to get on it.

Sarah Power We hide toys while she waits in another room. We put the toy in a taped up box so she has to get it open, also bring out the agility tunnel to jump over and hide stuff under laundry baskets. Mental stimulation goes a long way, she doesn’t get tired without it.

Anne Davidson Indoors treiball (learn to get it out of corners); jump over boxes, legs both directions for fetch a toy. Sit and watch me hide toys (in sight at this point), then go fetch and put each one in the box. Boxes within boxes; prize inside smallest.

Jessica Healy We play fetch and chase up and down the stairs and also brain games.

Bonnie N. Davis Leo’s still too reactive to play inside, but has a mega thick coat, so he gets lots of trips outside during the day. But when he comes in or if it’s too frigid for him to stay out, he gets a huge bone or toy to chew.

Heather Staas Indoor frisbee with lids!

Lynda McLellan Susan Garrett’s Recallers (online classes) is all about games and most can be played in doors. Teaches self-control and focus while having lots of fun. I also use a Kong wobbler and hide and seek, which my son loves to play with the dogs along with Recaller games.

Danielle Cyr Nose works! Only need one room and my household junk! We also do small space shaping for competitions like retrieves, positions, rear end awareness. Keeps their brains warm!

Martha Knowles For some indoor thinking games and great ways to bond with your dog Playtime for Your Dog: Keep Him Busy Throughout the Day by Christina Sondermann

Jill Petro After tossing a toy or ball for a while, my dog is placed on a stay in another room while I hide the toy. Then I ask him to find it. Makes him use his brain!

Chris Jones We play hide ‘n’ go seek. I put my dog on stay and go hide then I call him. Sometimes he can’t find me and is extra overjoyed when finds me.

Cheryl Copenhagen Set up jumps or the tunnel and throw Kirby’s toys so that he has to jump over or go through!

Nicole De La Perrelle I pull out a couple of books and try to teach something new! Kyra Sundance’s books are good for this, so the other week (when it was hot here in Australia- over 40 degrees Celsius), I put treats in a few cups of a muffin pan and then put a tennis ball into each cup of the pan, so the dogs have to sniff out the treats, then use their nose or paw to push the ball out to get the treat. We also play “fishing” by hooking up a toy on a string to a stick and then flicking it around, getting the dog to chase it, try to catch it etc. You can buy toys like that or use a cat toy (Max loves the feather boa on a stick type of cat toy) or make your own. We also play “rev up and calm down” as part of the inside games.  We get the dogs really excited about the game, but then ask for a sit or a drop and wait for a bit of calm before continuing. This stops the games from getting too intense and the dogs from getting too excited. It’s really hard work so wears them out more!

Virginia HappyGirl Johnson We run up and down the stairs. She made up that game when she got the “zoomies” one night, and we’ve played it ever since.

Alison Garfat  On the rare day we don’t get at least a bit of outside time, Monty gets to learn a new trick – over the last couple of stretches of bad weather he’s learned “back up”, opening a cupboard door (“open”) and closing a cupboard door (“push”). Luckily he’s too short to reach the cookie cupboard! Playing “find it” is also a bad weather staple.

 

Thanks for sharing everyone!

 

Super Tough Dog Toys: GoughNuts

Those of us that have dogs who destroy toys in seconds tend to spend a lot of money buying “tough” toys that turn out to be real duds.  And you quickly discover that even the ones that are “guaranteed” tough, tend to get ripped to pieces in less time than it took to go to the store to buy the toy in the first place.

If your dog destroys everything, I highly recommend GoughNuts.  They’re more expensive than your average toy, but they’re worth every penny, because they really do last. So in the end you save money because you aren’t wasting money on other flimsy toys.

These super tough, solid toys are so hard-core, I know a family with three pit bulls who have been playing with a single black ring for over a year. Subjected to heavy use, it still doesn’t have a dent in it. Dude. That’s what a tough toy is supposed to be. Ammirite?

The toys come in green and black.  Rubber loses some of its strength when coloring is added to it, so the black ones are the tougher of the two colors. My own dog, Boogie, who rips apart “Tuffies” and other toys designed for heavy chewers, didn’t know what to do with the large black ring. He would pick it up, give me a look that said, “Oy! This is heavy!”, run a few steps and drop it from exhaustion. I finally got him the lighter green ring, same size, and it suited him better for playing and chewing.

That’s the first time I’ve had to find a less-tough toy for Boogie!

 

Not only are they super tough, but they have a nice safety feature – the inner red core.  If your dog does manage to do some damage, then you know it’s still safe for them to play with until you can see the red core. I’ve never seen the red core, because I’ve never seen a damaged GoughNuts in real life, but I believe that it exists.

And if that’s not enough, they float too.

The pet store where I used to work sold these, and every time I sent one home, I would ask the customers to let me know if their dogs were able to rip these up.  Not one customer had a dog that destroyed these and never once did they get returned. This was unheard of from a customer-base who liked to return bags of $80 kibble, nearly empty, wanting their money back because the dog didn’t “like” the food.

GoughNuts are the real deal folks. And they don’t get paid to say that…I’m just tough toy fangirl.

Check out the website here and, if you buy one, let me know if your dog can crack this nut!

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