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Posts tagged ‘boogie’

The (Dog) Days of Our Lives

I don’t know about you guys, but between the (almost) end of the world, the holidays, and some snow shoveling, December was one busy, where-the-heck-did-it-go month around these parts.

Allow me to give you the highlights. Or, if you prefer, the blooper reel.  In no particular order, the dogs I did the following:

Played in the snow. Fell down in the snow. Shoveled the snow into his face so Boogie could eat the snow mid-air.

Also: After recovering from a serious collar-buying addiction, now I only indulge my habit once a year at Christmas. Boogie gets a custom martingale, and Birdie gets a flat, buckle collar. Last year, Boogie and Birdie got matching collars from Preston, a New England company. 2012 was the year of the preppy alligator.

For 2013, we decided to switch coasts (B+B are jet setters like that) and order our collars from California-based Sirius Republic.  I couldn’t decide on a matching set, so we went individual-styles this year.

Boogie will spending 2013 as a lumberjack:

Boogie's collar

Boogie thinks getting his photo taken is lame-o lame.

Birdie will be spending 2013 in a ring of love birds:

Birdie's collar

Birdie doesn’t get out of bed for less than $10,000 a day

Speaking of loving Birdie, I signed her up for a Nose Works class this winter. It starts in February and I’m looking forward to our girls night out together. If the class is a good fit, maybe I’ll let Boogie get in on the fun (ew, boys!) in the Spring.

One of the reasons Birdie gets to go to class first is because she’s a senior citizen. This winter she’s turning 11 and in preparation for her forthcoming geezer-ness, Birdie decided to get really drunk the other week. Or at least, that’s what it looked like when she suddenly started walking like her legs were made of rubber. One minute: sober as a judge. Next minute: falling over drunk.

It looked like something was misfiring in her brain, so I called the vet, blubbered, and drove 85 mph to the office. By the time we got there, she wasn’t falling over like a narcoleptic goat, but she was stumbling and her eyes were vibrating (nystagmus). Bloodwork, x-rays, and hours of observations later, Birdie was once again walking a straight line and her eyes were ok. All the tests came back: healthy. With no clear diagnosis, we decided on a run of prednisone to clear up any possible inflammation. We just wrapped the meds up the other day and so far, so good.

Although, as you can imagine, I’ve hidden the key to the liquor cabinet and I’m watching the Bird Dog like a hawk.

If you’re wondering, it’s possible that this was Old Dog Vestibular Disease, but the vet wasn’t totally convinced (her symptoms weren’t severe enough to warrant a clear diagnosis). We just have to wait and see. Fun! But I did read this helpful article from Bark Magazine, just in case.

So, speaking of being petrified and worrying about bad things, I decided to use Legal Zoom to help me draw up a Pet Protection Agreement, just in case you-know-what-happens to me and the husband. I felt like a lunatic doing it, but for $40 bucks I bought myself some peace of mind knowing that if you-know-what-happens to me and the husband, the care and guardianship of our pets is clearly spelled out in a legal document. Asking family and friends to be the “guardians” of our various pets (we have 2 dogs, 3 cats) was one of the weirder emails I’ve ever written to my crew, but I’ll do anything to ward off the heebie jeebies.

Well, that’s not a very fun way to wrap things up, so let me tell you about some good stuff coming very soon in the new year:

I’ve been working with the cool kids at Design Lab Creative Studio  to come up with a couple of fab things for y’all. I don’t want to spill ALL the beans, but there’s a new poster, new handouts, and even a new-ish site coming in Jan/Feb of 2013. I don’t think it’s going to start a revolution, but I’m very excited to give you guys better quality tools and a really cool poster! It’s almost done, so bear with me as we finish up the last steps and then I’ll take you guys on a walking tour of all the new stuff.

And I know that on our daily walks it may not seem like the world is getting the DINOS message, but on this last day of 2012, let me leave you with this nugget:

Banfield Pet Hospital, the largest privately owned veterinary practice in the United States, has added a DINOS-related page to their website and will be releasing a beautifully done DINOS handout in the new year. Banfield has an enormous client-base, including lots of first time dog owners and folks with puppies, so I’m very excited about the DINOS message spreading to this new audience. Every day, in ways that are big and small, the message of responsible and respectful dog ownership is making its way into more conversations. Change is slow to take hold, but it is happening.

On that note: Thank You! Team DINOS (that’s you guys!) is made up of such incredibly smart, compassionate people. Your thoughtful comments, your resourceful tips, and your funny jokes are what makes this all possible! Thank you for being such an important part of the conversation and making this wacky project a pleasure for me to work on. I appreciate your support – the big hearts and the big laughs – so very much.

Happy New Year everyone – may 2013 be the Year of Safe, Happy Dog Walking!

A Head Harness You Won’t Hate

I don’t know about you guys but I have a real love/hate relationship with the Gentle Leader (GL). One one hand, as a dog walker, it has allowed me to walk countless Tasmanian devils challenging dogs. So big ups to the GL for helping me handle some tough dog walks.

On the other hand, I HATE that the leash attaches to the GL under the chin. When a dog switches sides, I have to pause to bring the leash around, underneath the dog’s chin. Otherwise the dog gets stuck with their head cocked way over to one side, pulled up from under their chin, with one eye smashed shut, because the leash is now going OVER their head, not under it. I’m sure you’ve seen it. It’s the Tilt-a-Smush.

Smushed-faces aside, some dogs just really hate wearing a head harness and never get acclimated to it. The second you put the GL over their snout, the light goes out of their eyes, their head hangs down, and the joy of going for a walk is g.o.n.e. Instead of having a calming effect, it shuts them down. For some dogs (not all), the GL just isn’t the right option.

One of those dogs is my guy Boogie. He thinks the GL is the plague, despite months of trying to make it super fab for him. To this day, years after we abandoned it, if I bust out the GL, Boogie sneaks out of the room and pretends he’s dying of the sniffles.  Kind of like this:

Woe is Boogie.

It’s a bummer, because the Gentle Leader, for all the stuff I don’t like about it, is a good training tool option for dogs that are strong pullers and/or reactive. Head halters are especially handy in tight spots and crowds because they offer a lot of control.

So when I was on the Bold Lead Designs website, checking out their new “give me space” patches, I noticed that they sell something called the Infinity Lead. It’s a head harness – but it had some neat details that told me it might be the smarter, kinder version of the Gentle Leader. I asked about it and (full disclosure) they sent me a freebie to try.

First, let’s go over what an Infinity Lead is:

From the website: The Infinity Lead forms a figure eight around the dog’s upper neck and muzzle, crisscrossing under the chin. There is no pressure on the throat. The lead attaches at top of the neck. All-in-one collar and leash design means there’s no leash snap to get in the way, and it’s easy to use!

It looks like this:

cora-profile-rt

The Infinity Lead is one piece, so you basically make a big loop around their head (like a slip lead) and then twist it to loop over their nose. It’s very easy to put on.

cross-under-chin-rt

Then you tighten it by adjusting the slip behind their ears. The leash is part of the deal. You can choose between 4 and 6 foot leash options. It’s all one piece, without any clips or rings:

bold lead design infinity

Here’s what happened with Boogie:

I was surprised by his lack of “woe is me” theatrics. The fabric is much softer and way lighter than that of the GL. That helped. Boogie totally shuts down with a GL, but was  a little looser with the Infinity Lead. Not exactly full of joy, but not walking like he’s 100 years old either. I was happy to see that the second time I brought it out, Boogie didn’t try to hide behind the cat.

To give it a good road test, I brought it dog walking with me for a few days. I tried it out with one of the more reactive dogs I walk who is approx. 50 lbs and wears a Gentle Leader regularly for city walks. On our walks the Infinity Lead did what all head harnesses do: it reduced pulling, gave me better control, and directed my dog’s attention to me for training purposes. So far so good.

I did worry that the Infinity Lead would be too loose and the leash too thin, for walking a really rambunctious dog. Would a dog slip loose of the snout loop, in a  full blown dance-off with another dog? Would I have enough control during a really dicey moment?

While we avoided any major meltdowns, my friend did get worked up at the sight of another dog and tried to kiss a few squirrels. I had the lead fitted very snugly behind my pal’s head and I was pleasantly surprised by how much control I had. When she began to lunge forward, the leash tightened like a regular slip lead, reducing her wiggle room, and I was able to re-focus her attention.

p.s. This slip feature is handy if you need to quickly shut your dog’s mouth for some reason (like when a screaming kid comes running out of nowhere and tries to grab your dog’s tongue out of their skull).

The dog I tested this on has some good training under her belt. If she has enough space, she can stay calm around other dogs. Would the Infinity Lead be the right tool for a large dog with no prior training? My bet is that for straight-up pullers who are non-reactive, the Infinity Lead will be a good option, no matter how big or clueless the dog may be. But if your dog is large and really reactive and/or you’re just starting to work with them, I’m guessing you might need other options in your toolbox, like a more sturdy head harness and leash or, for smaller reactive dogs, a body harness with a two ended leash  might work, for added safety and better control.

Ok, back to what I loved the most about the Infinity Lead: I was connected to my pal at the back of her head, not under her chin. No more Tilt-a-Smush when she switched from side to side to smell stuff. We were tangle-free. It was amazeballs. The sun shone brighter and little birds sat on my shoulder to sing us sweet, sweet songs. I swear.

To be fair, there is another option in the behind-the-head category: the Canny Collar. I’ve tried it, but didn’t like it any more than the GL. Other people think it’s great. So there’s that.

Another thing that ruled about the Infinity Lead: the safety-first cord. The Infinity Lead has a safety-first piece that connects to the flat collar as a back up, in case they slip out of the snout loop. The GL does not have this and that stinks. (yes, the Halti also has a safety-first cord, in case you’re keeping track, but like the GL, the leash attaches under the chin). With the Infinity Lead I loved knowing that no matter what happened, if the loop came off her snout, we’d still be connected because of the extra safety bit, seen here:

lead-on-hazel-rt

There are some other handy features too: it’s one size fits all (for dogs 20+ pounds), so if you have multiple dogs or your dog is still growing, you don’t need different sizes. I can keep one with me and use it on all of the dogs I walk. Yay for adjustable tools.

It also doesn’t have any difficult latches or tiny buckles. Bold Lead Designs makes products for service dogs and they were thoughtful about making this tool accessible to those with physical limitations.

There’s more and you can read all about it here for the complete details. Oh, it’s $19.99 by the way. Totally affordable.

So, if you’re looking for a new training tool to try, I would recommend giving the Infinity Lead a test run. And if your dog fakes his own death at the sight of a GL, well I can’t say for sure how they’ll react to the Infinity Lead, but it is soft and really lightweight. For Boogie, that’s was enough to live for.

Wishing you all Happy, Safe Walks!

** One last thought for shelters: If you’re familiar with the Weiss Walkie, consider the Infinity Lead as a head halter equivalent for your dog walkers. Easy to put on in a kennel, adjustable sizing, all one piece.

*** OK, one more thought. Based on all the comments, their are some strong feelings about head halters out there! So I just want to be clear: I don’t think that there is one item that is the perfect tool for ALL dogs. Every dog is different and I use a variety of head halters, body harnesses, and collars with the dogs I walk. It all depends on their individual needs and preferences. I also use a variety of tools with the same dog, changing them up depending on the environment we’re in. So I might use a body harness in a quiet area, but switch to a head halter in a crowded spot for more control. And the funny thing about ALL of these options is that what one person loves, another hates! So much of it depends on the individual dog and the style/skills of the person when using the tool. The halter in this blog is just one option – I encourage you to shop around until you find what works best for you and your dogs!

No More (Doorbell) Drama

If your dog goes bonkers every time the doorbell rings, may I suggest this?

Over the weekend I picked up a wireless, plug-in doorbell for $15 at Home Depot. I bought it because our new house has a funky entrance that forces visitors to enter our small, enclosed porch in order to get to our front door. Rather than having strangers half way into the house before they could ring a bell (and startle the pants off of me), we got a wireless doorbell and installed it on the outside of the house. This allows people to stand on our front steps and ring the bell – without entering the porch/house – and gives me a second to tell Boogie to go to his room and chill out while I deal with botherers vistors.

Turns out, this little gadget has a bonus function: my dogs don’t recognize the chime as the doorbell! So when someone rings the new bell, Frick and Frack don’t bark. My mom also has one of these bells and she reports that her dog doesn’t bark at the wireless door chime either – so it’s not a fluke. Two out of two families recommend it.

Granted, desensitizing dogs to the sound of the regular doorbell and teaching them to stay calm is the way to go about this issue. And you can use these battery operated, portable doorbells to do that sort of training. But hey – it’s not such a bad thing that the new bell doesn’t register, in their ears, as a doorbell.  Of course, that will change with time as the dogs make the connection that the ‘new sound’ = people at the door. In the meantime,we’re working with a clean slate.

So, if your dog turns into a hot mess at the sound of the doorbell, this cheap solution just might be what you need to help them make some progress. The kit I bought only had 2 different tones to choose from, but other more expensive kits, give you the option of 8+ chimes to pick from. So in theory, you could keep changing the sound and your dogs will be totally mystified for years.

And for anyone that has a weird front door set up, like me, this is a great, cheap solution because YOU get to decide where visitors stand when they ring the bell. Buy yourself some extra time and put your doorbell somewhere really convenient – like next to a pay phone at the end of your driveway, so visitors can call first and tell you they’re about to ring the door bell. That should give you enough time to tell your dog to “go to his mat”, right?

And if you get one now, it’ll be just in time for all those cute intruders Trick or Treaters!

So go for it – put an end to all that doorbell drama! Mary J. Blige understands, don’t you Mary?

Happy Boogie Day!

Today is Boogie’s Gotcha Day aka the day we adopted him. Well, sort of.

Today is actually the day when I went in to work on my day off,  back when I worked at the shelter, and said, “It’s my birthday, so my husband told me I could bring home any dog I wanted. And I pick Stoli.”  And then I loaded this worried little pit bull into my car and took him home to “foster” for a while. That was four years ago.

Here he is on his first day at home with what I would soon discover is the thing that makes him feel most safe in the world: a ball.

Ball = I’m OK

Back then, Boogie was really afraid of everything: cell phones, cameras, coffee cups, people dancing, the cats, strangers, other dogs…you get the drill. Despite all that, he was (still is) the sweetest, most handsome little man in the world.

And even though he turned out to be a DINOS , Boogie is such an easy dog in all the ways that matter most to us. He didn’t need to be potty trained. He’s gentle with our older dog Birdie. He’s not destructive and doesn’t mind being left home alone. He sweet on our three cats. He’s a couch potato, so he doesn’t need a lot of exercise (even as a youngster). And he’s happy to hang out on his bed, chewing a bone and entertaining himself all evening. All he asks is that we play ball with him for a little while every day.

I know a good deal when I see one, so we stopped “fostering” him and adopted Boogie that fall. Our little gang has been complete ever since.

Boogie is a really happy dog at home. The world he lives in is on the small side, but he’s got Birdie, three cats, and the two of us to love on him every day. Plus two pet sitters that think he’s the bees knees, a gang of friends from all over the East Coast and a Grandma who looks forward to coming to stay with him. Plus lots of naps:

Here’s the thing. One of the reasons we’re all so happy is because Boogie’s world is purposely small.

To be honest, I don’t do a lot of training with Boogie anymore, though there is stuff we’re working on. I’m kind of a slacker and I don’t really enjoy training dogs (I’ll do it, I’d just rather be doing something else). For example, we’re not constantly working on his leash reactivity, like we used to when we lived in a city together. The first couple of years, we got all of our exercise by walking on leash, so leash skills were a priority. But this summer we bought Boogie a two acre yard, so he can chase balls until the sun sets.

We live in the middle of nowhere now. Walks are for pleasure and we can choose when and where we want to go. They’re no longer a part of our daily exercise (that’s where a flirt pole comes in). So I’ve slacked on his leash skills. Yep, that means I’m a dog walker that doesn’t walk my dog every day.

I have no doubt that if I put in more effort, he would be less leash reactive, but on a day-to-day basis, everything is working for our family. I think that’s important for all us: find out what works for you and your dog, so that everyone is enjoying life and each other’s company. Then don’t feel bad about it if it’s not exactly the same as what the next person is doing. Is your dog safe and happy? Is everyone around your dog safe and happy? Then you’re doing something right. Plus, happy people tend to keep their dogs.

Do what you need to do to set your dog up to succeed at his own pace and try not to make yourself miserable either. That might look different depending on your individual dog or the environment you live in. For Boogie, that means he hangs out at home some days, while we take Birdie on more public adventures.  For other dogs, it might mean lots of training classes and regular walks with a social club. Figure out what works for you and your dog.

I don’t have anything to brag about – no titles or certifications. Except that we’re all really happy together and Boogie isn’t stressed out. It’s a simple life for our little man and it works for all of us. And that feels like a success to me.

But just in case you think we lock Boogie in a closet all day: even though we keep things simple at home, it doesn’t mean we don’t have fun together or try new things! We just got back from our summer vacation in the woods.

Last summer we taught Boogie how to swim. He was very scared of the water, but he went in because we were there to cheer him on and…his ball was in the water.  No ball will ever be left behind on Boogie’s watch!

This year, he got really brave and learned to jump off a dock. He was so scared and made such crazy crying noises as he watched his ball float away (it sounded like he had a rubber chicken stuck in his throat), that I thought the entire town was going to call animal control to help him.

Finally, he put his front paws on the top rung of the dock’s ladder and plopped into the lake like a little hippo bull. Next thing we knew, he was running and JUMPING off the dock, faster than we could even throw the ball.

Not every day is a dock diving day for us, but we make small steps, at our own pace, each week in the right direction. These days coffee cups, cameras, and overnight guests don’t scare Boogie. He’s almost five years old now and he’s a good boy. He makes me so happy.

Happy Gotcha Day Boogie. You’ll always be my very best birthday present.

The Inventor of Spray Cheese is My Hero.

Today I splurged and bought myself a veterinary house call.  It was time for Boogie’s annual exam and we’ve been searching for a new vet, so I figured that since we’re switching vets anyway, why not upgrade to an in-house visit?

Last year’s vet visit was a disaster (see: 2011 stink-a-thon) and we figured a visit at home would not only help Boogie feel more relaxed, but it would nice for us too: we have 5 pets and I’m tired of airing out my car for three months after my cats explode in their crates from car sickness. Dude, have you ever tried to get cat pee smell out of a car’s upholstery? Years. It takes years.

The vet was just here this afternoon, so I figured I’d give you guys an update, for anyone following the saga of the wee Boogie.

We didn’t take this vet visit lightly. Prior to today, we’ve been practicing different restraints and approaches to see what’s most comfortable for Boogie and trying to counter condition him to some stuff, like blood draws. Many fearful dogs prefer a blood draw from their rear leg, because it’s scary having people up front, near their heads, but after a lot of counter conditioning (per Sophis Yin’s great resource), Boogie wasn’t getting any more comfortable with it. So we knew we needed to practice restraints for a front leg and maybe a jug draw.

Earlier today, as the clock ticked closer to lift off, I gave Boogie a wheelbarrow of calming treats and exercised him for an hour right before they arrived.

Ok, so picture this: the vet pulls into the driveway.  We started off out in the yard. Boogie was freaked out when the vet and the vet tech (Hi Denise!) arrived. This is something we used to deal with a lot, but in the last year, thanks to lots of practice, he’s started to enjoy meeting new people in the yard. So it was a bummer that it was a rocky start. I’ll chalk it up to being in a new house, since we just moved in a couple of weeks ago and these were our first visitors. 

To let him cool off, we let him hang out with his ball and focused on our other dog, Birdie, for a few minutes.  Birdie loves meeting new people and wanted to show the vet the new cyst she grew on her head. She was really proud of it.

Then we went inside and put Boogie’s basket muzzle on. Boogie needed vaccinations, a blood draw, and a lump inside his ear examined. While he was lying on his bed, getting fed a steady stream of Easy Cheese by me, the vet looked in his ear and gave him one shot, then I picked him up (he was too nervous to leave his bed, but we had to get him on all fours) and placed him between my legs. I loosely restrained him and gave him some distracting-noogies on his forehead while the vet gave him another vaccination in his hip.  Lastly, we restrained him for a front leg (!) blood draw. I rubbed his forehead a lot, feed him more cheese, and told him he was a champ. 

 

Did I ever tell you, you’re my hero?

 

Did Boogie growl during the exam? You bet.

Did he struggle or try to get away? Nope.

Did he eat half a can of cheese? Oh yeah. I heard the nozzle sputter and cursed myself for not having a spare can of cheese on hand (rookie mistake). Luckily I had a Lickety Stick handy. Mental Note: don’t cheap out on the spray cheese next time. Buy a case.

After the examination, we took Boogie’s muzzle off and he approached the vet and vet tech with a wagging tail. Not a bad way to end the visit.

Wanna know one of the very best parts? Start to finish, I think they were here for 15 minutes. Normally, going to the vet takes 2 hours (packing them up, driving them there, waiting in the car, the exam, and return trip. Plus post-car vomit, poop, and pee detail.  And then a stress-induced coma nap.

So the fact that I’m writing this to you all right now, while my husband picks up some Thai food, is a victory in and of itself.

But back to Boogie. I really appreciated that, rather than scold Boogie for growling, the vet just kept examining Boogie while I fed him treats. Hopefully, that approach will begin to change Boogie’s emotional response to being handled by a vet. One of these days, Boogie will need more vet care than just an annual exam, and I’m hoping we can start making it a more positive experience for him.

What was the most helpful thing we did in preparation for the visit?  Hands down it was teaching Boogie to love his muzzle.

All the other stuff helped a wee bit, but the most helpful counter conditioning that we did, prior to this visit, was teaching Boogie that his muzzle is the best thing ever. We started by letting him use it as a giant ice treat (aka the Kuzzle), then had him wear it for very short periods, and then eventually for longer lengths of time and during pretend exams, all while being hosed by Easy Cheese.  We’re talking many, many weeks of cleaning cheese out of his muzzle. It wasn’t overnight.

So the end report: Home visits are super great. Get one. It’s like going to spa, only there’s a stool sample involved. And this new vet is welcome back any time. Most of all – muzzles are really handy. Teach your dog that it rains cheese or peanut butter or liver when they wear one.

Oh, and now for the really good news: tomorrow we leave for a  family vacation with the dogs. Boogie earned it and we can’t wait to take him swimming. Here he is on last year’s summer vacation:

See you all in a week!

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!



DINOS in the House

So things are going to be a wee bit quiet in the land of dog walking and DINOS-loving for the next week or so. The gang and I are up to our wet noses in the insanity that is house hunting. Things are percolating with one house in particular – I don’t wanna say too much, since it’s a sure jinx. 

Things have been a *wee* bit busy. Like I’m under siege.

Anyway, what I wanted to tell you all is that every time I look at a house, I do it with DINOS in mind. How much space will my dogs have to run? How far away are the nearest neighbors? How much time should I spend sitting in my car, stalking this house, to see if there are loose dogs that run around these parts?

 

Yes, please.

 

As soon as things chill out, I’ll share how much living with DINOS (both my own and the dogs I walk) has impacted my home search and maybe we’ll spend some quality time talking about fences. Because I. can. not. wait. to have a fenced in yard. Gimme gimme.

Happy dog walking everyone!

Meet the Kuzzle

Boogie isn’t a huge fan of going to the vet (we’ll save that story for another day). In order to make vet visits a little less stressful for everyone, I’ve been working on getting Boogie more comfortable wearing a muzzle, just in case he needs it. And while he already tolerates wearing his basket muzzle, I’d like for him to have a more positive association with it.

A few months ago I read about “muzzle-cicles” in Grisha Stewart’s BAT book (she has all kinds of great muzzle related advice – check it out) where she describes filling a basket muzzle with food, freezing it, and using it like a Kong.

I figured Boogie would enjoy sticking his snout into the basket to enjoy some crazy-good snacks and doing so just might help him fall in lust with his muzzle, bearer of frozen delights.

I thought I’d give that a try. Here’s how:

First, wrap the outside of the muzzle in plastic wrap to form a barrier, so the food doesn’t fall out of the sides. I was out of plastic wrap, so I used a piece of wax paper, then covered that in tin foil so I could smush it on there real good (highly technical, no?):

Then I filled it with apple slices at the bottom and a mixture of kibble and wet food. To guild the lily, I spread some peanut butter at the opening. And freeze!

Behold the Kuzzle. 

Or maybe it’s a Mong?  Either way, you’ve got yourself a frozen Muzzle/Kong type treat:

Boogie was wary of it at first, as he is with all novel objects. He licked the outside of the Kuzzle for a while, keeping his tush in the air, just in case he needed to make a quick escape from this odd duck.

Eventually, he settled down on his bed and enjoyed the Kuzzle in all its glory. After lying down and licking away, he stood back up to get some traction so he could score the last bits of food.

He ate it all, then tried to eat the Kuzzle itself.  So my advice is to carefully watch your dogs if you do give this a try. It’s a quick jump from frozen treat to new rubber chew toy.

I’m not sure if this will pay off in the long run, but I’m going to give it a try a few more times in the hopes that Boogie will get all wiggly at the sight of his new favorite treat dispenser.

By the way, Boogie is camera shy, so taking photos of him didn’t exactly help him feel comfortable. Next time, he’ll get to romance the Kuz in private – no paparazzi.

Update: Boogie loves his basket muzzle and wears it happily these days. Huzzah for the Kuzzle!


What about you guys? Anyone do some creative Kuzzling or muzzle tricks at their house?

Looking for muzzles, the BAT book, and more? Check out the Resources on the Dogs In Need of Space website!

kuzzle (1)

The Never Ending Rainy Day

It’s been raining for, like, a hundred years straight here in Maine (ok, ok two weeks) and I. am. going. crazy.

Between playing ball with Boogie in our mud pit of a back yard, coaxing Birdie to please, pretty please, stop pretending she’s a camel and go to the bathroom already, and all the soggy dog walks I’ve been doing every afternoon, I’ve lost my mind.

And I’ve decided this is my future:

patio park

That’s right. I want a Patio Park.

Not only do I want one, but my rain-induced insanity is making me think that buying a van, throwing one of these inside, and offering up a mobile, door-to-door, covered potty break station is exactly what the pet industry needs and I’m the gal to do it.

Right?!

I know that’s bonkers. But I kinda wish I could do that today, this millionth day of rain.

p.s. This actually might be handy for city-DINOS. Or is that the soggy mush in my head talking?

Treat Yo Self: The Dog Edition

Yesterday we took our dog Birdie for a long walk. We left Boogie at home.

We did this because Birdie is easy to walk and Boogie can sometimes be a challenge. So we played ball with Boogie in the yard, to exercise him and make him happy, then we roped up the Bird and headed out for a stroll around town.

We encountered a loose dog, a pissed off dog that was tied up in front of his house and barking expletives at us, a gang of off leash kids running to church (Easter morning), and a million other things that would have been a challenge if we had been with Boogie.

We would have had to manage him around the kids, because that would have scared him, the off leash dogs would have forced us to do u-turns, and the cursing pooch would have required some finesse to pass without a return F-bomb from Boogie. A lot of work.

But he was at home and we had Birdie instead. Birdie is not phased by much of anything, so neither were we. It was…relaxing.

Every single dog I walk is reactive. All day, every day, I’m on guard while I dog walk. So once in a while, I like to take a walk with Birdie and try to remember what it’s like to walk a non-reactive dog. Whenever I do, I’m always struck by how incredibly easy it is!

It also helps me to understand the “others” – you know – the MDIFs. Some of them really have NO idea what we’re dealing with – and that’s why they never really get why we’re running in the ocean to escape their dogs.

But that’s not why I’m writing this. I’m writing this because I want to tell you that it’s totally ok to leave your dog at home sometimes. It’s ok to take your easy dog for a walk or to the pet store or to the strip club and leave your more challenging dog at home some times.

Look, we all need a break. Working with our dogs can be really exhausting, sometimes scary (if you encounter a lot of loose dogs), and can suck all the fun out of having a dog. So it’s cool to take a day off, you feel me?

I used to feel bad about doing this. It always had to be both dogs or nothing. But then I got over it and I’m way happier. Judging by some of your emails and Facebook comments, a lot of you feel really guilty about doing this sort of thing.

So, if it helps, I hereby declare: It’s ok to Treat. Yo. Self.

 

Choosing to go for an easy, relaxing walk with your other dog or leaving both dogs at home, so you can take your time browsing for that perfect cable knit sweater at the dog boutique or whatever it is that you want to do and not be stressed – doing those things doesn’t make you a bad dog owner.

Want to know a secret? Your dogs told me they sleep the whole time you’re out sneaking around behind their backs. Mostly, they’re sniffing for crumbs, napping, licking their paws and leaving wet spots on your side of the couch, and napping.  They are not writing in their journals about how abandoned or rejected they feel when you leave them behind. Promise.

Seriously, your dogs love you. They’re really psyched that you love them so much. They really appreciate the food and soft bed and fun toys and the training you’ve been doing with them. They think you’re the bees knees, even when you’re picking up another dog’s poop. And they really want you to be happy. Happy people keep their dogs.

You guys are working hard. Really hard. Please don’t feel guilty or naughty for taking a break.

So go on and Treat. Yo. Self.

Look, even the kids at Parks and Recreation have your back: