Wednesday, December 31, 2014

On Christmas Day, the dogs got to go to the park and open their Christmas presents before I went to a movie with my mom.

Pallo rips into his presents gingerly and with great care.
Dog's Christmas Presents

Koira, on the other hand, LOVES ripping into presents. I had her sit, and then tossed her present to her. She caught it mid air, then bolted to the middle of the park to unwrap it.
Dog's Christmas Presents

Of course, I then had to wade through the muck of the park to go pick up the wrapping paper she left there. About two seconds after the below photo, she grabbed the paper and tore it into about twenty smaller pieces before she decided her present was fun too.
Dog's Christmas Presents

As well as presents, the dogs got frozen stuff Kongs as a special Christmas treat. (I can't ever remember to stuff and freeze kongs in advance for the day to day life we live.) sent us a limited edition Merrick canned holiday recipe to try out and review this month, so I used that to stuff the Kongs. Both of the dogs thought it was some awesome stuff, both frozen in the Kongs on Christmas and when they got to lick the spoon clean from stuffing the Kongs on Christmas Eve. The cats also got a few spoonfuls of Merrick as well as a Christmas morning treat. My cats are pickier than my dogs, but still, everyone in this house thought this was some super tasty stuff. To me, it looked and smelled like any number of canned dog foods, but the cats at least won't go crazy over just anything (the dogs totally will).

For New Year's Eve, I took the pups down to the park to play with their Christmas presents. Our weather right now is super cold and clear, but while my hands were freezing, the dogs seemed to have a lot of fun playing.

Pallo got a package of the rubber Chuck-It balls for Christmas, since they are his favorite toy ever.
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Koira got a Ruffwear Gourdo toy, which is basically a kind of dense rubber bumper. So far, she hasn't destroyed it, which is a good sign I think. And she always loves bumpers.
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I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and has a great New Year.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Dogs on a Trike

Vaguely holiday-themed, here are my dogs on a trike.

Koira on a trike

Pallo on a trike

Hope everyone has a great Christmas Eve and Christmas Day tomorrow.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Dog Themed Holiday Decor

On Facebook last week, Jodi from Kol's Notes shared a link for this awesome holiday printable. I just had to print it and use it as part of our holiday decor this year.

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I downloaded the free PDF file and converted it to a JPG in order to print it. Then I used an online print option at a local store to print the artwork at 11x14. I picked up a cheap 11x14 picture frame at the dollar store, some Christmas themed washi tape at a craft store, and decorated the framed artwork with the washi tape and a single bow. I love the clean white/black of the artwork, and just wanted to jazz it up a little without it becoming cluttered or overbearing. Overall, I think it turned out great, and the project cost less than $10 all together for the photo printing, frame, and washi tape. 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Santa Photoshoot for Animal Control

This year, I decided to give back a bit by volunteering to shoot photos. Linn County Animal Control is where I adopted Pallo almost five years ago. Back then, they had some pretty appalling euth rates. The past year or so, though, the shelter has really been making some big changes. The kennels have been improved, a play yard was built for the dogs who are staying there, and they have started making a serious effort to transfer animals to other shelters and rescues when they need space. Instead of the hundreds of dogs being euthanized each year (500+) in the past, the progress they have made means that fewer than ten dogs have been euthanized there this year. In addition, they have expanded duties now, and instead of just being dog control, they are animal control, meaning they have to take animals like horses, cows, goats, and other animals sometimes. Of course, all of these changes are amazing, but they all cost money as well. Recently, animal control gained a nearby lot that they are hoping to turn into a larger play yard, holding pens, and stalls for livestock to be temporarily housed.

I was hoping that by volunteering as the photographer for a Christmas photoshoot and asking for donations for Linn County Animal Control that they could get some great donations to help with the awesome work they have been doing. The staff were enthusiastic for the idea and excited to help with getting the entire thing together. They decorated the play yard for the photoshoot and got one of the local officers to dress as Santa for the photos as well.

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Pallo with Santa

I think the staff did an amazing job decorating. And having a very dog-savvy Santa, as well as two of my dog-savvy friends coming along as assistants, made the entire thing go nice and smooth. Not a single dog went away without getting their photo taken, even a few who were extremely shy or nervous.

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Koira with Santa

And of course, I had to get a few photos of my pups while we were there. Pallo was our test dog at the beginning, to make sure everything was right. And I snuck Koira in during a slower part of the afternoon. I'm pretty thrilled with the photos of my dogs, and I am pretty sure everyone who came is going to be happy with their photos as well. And hopefully the shelter got some great donations from this event.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

National Pit Bull Awareness Day

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Today is National Pit Bull Awareness Day. It is a great day to help educate the public about what awesome, friendly dogs pit bulls can be.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tasty Tuesday: Cinna-Bone

This month, sent us some Solid Gold Cinna-Bone treats to review. They are a crunchy biscuit type treat, which I normally use more for a treat when I leave in the morning than for training.

The bag of treats. Nice big bag, with lots of cookies in it.

The instant I opened the bag, I could smell the cinnamon, and it smells amazing this time of year.

Both dogs were on full alert the second they heard the crinkle of the bag, and their noses started sniffing when the bag actually opened up. So I then proceeded to torture them with the treats before letting them enjoy.

Pallo looks like a beached seal or something.

Koira just concentrates hard.

And I just love her expression when I say "okay"

At ten dollars for a 1 pound bag of these treats, I would say they are well worth if it you feed your dog biscuits. And this time of year, the cinnamon scent and flavor gives it a nice festive feel. Imagine getting creative and making a pumpkin frosting for these! Or even crushing them up and using them as the crust for a dog-friendly pumpkin pie.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Fit Friday: Flyball gear

I'm off to a flyball tournament this weekend with the dogs. I thought I would share some of the things I make sure to bring in our flyball gear bag today.

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Gear all laid out
Some of the essentials for us include crates (of course!), tug toys, vet wrap, skid boots, treats for during the day, an extra bowl, the gear bag, and the poop bags that are attached to the gear bag.The thing in the bag on the left side of the photo is Koira's Back on Track jacket, which helps keep dogs from getting stiff when they are exercising. She gets it put on before racing, taken off during the race, then back on between races to help keep her limber. The vet wrap and skid boots are also for Koira, who has delicate feet. Pallo has feet like steel.

All of it fits together into the pink bag (which was actually a prize at a previous flyball tournament).

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All packed together
Not pictured here are the crate mats (or in Koira's case, bed for in her crate), or any of the basic essentials for overnight stays, such as food. This is really just the stuff that I keep in a bag at our crating area, so that all the essentials are in one place. 

What stuff do you pack for your weekends, be they flyball, agility, hunting, hiking, or any other activity?

Also don't forget to visit our Tasty Tuesday post this week for a chance to win a $25 gift card to Paw Street Barkery.

Thursday, October 16, 2014


What a relief. Our classic fall rains have finally started. I was getting really tired of nothing but hot, clear days. Having our standard fall weather back is a big relief, even if I did discover yesterday that my shoes have holes in the bottom of the soles, soaking my feet. Pro tip: the time to buy new shoes is before they develop holes in the soles, not after.

Even with the heat on in the house, it is a bit chilly, so the cave bed is once again one of the most popular places for the dogs in the house. This morning, two feet are all I could see of Koira.

Her cute little feetsies. 

We are off to a flyball tournament up in Washington this weekend, so wish us a fun time, clean runs, and dry weather for camping!

Don't forget to enter the $25 Paw Street Barkery gift card giveaway! Check out Tuesday's post for a review of some of their products and instructions to enter.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tasty Tuesday: Review and Giveaway

Paw Street Barkery was awesome enough to offer to have Koira and Pallo sample some of their products and share our thoughts here on the blog. We checked out their website and decided there was no way to pass up that offer.

We were sent three different treats to review. One of the treats we chose is a specialty that requires special shipping over the summer due to the heat- in October, however, the temperature starts being cool enough for them to ship through regular channels until the summer heat comes back again the following year. So what is this special treat? A peanut butter cup, of course!

I may or may not have sampled this one before taking a photo. But no one could prove those are my teeth marks on it...
In the box, these peanut butter cups are absolutely adorable. They look just like a Reese's peanut butter cup made by a fancy candy place. Which is basically what they are, really, only these ones are made with carob instead of chocolate in order to be dog friendly. And while I know a number of people who don't care for carob, I actually like it quite a bit. And the dogs love it.

The longer you make him wait, the bigger his eyes get, and the more he drools. There was seriously a drool puddle where he was laying after we were done.
Koira just gets super stoic. Like she won't break, no matter what type of torture you use.
I did make the dogs wait long enough for a photo, but then I released them to eat their gourmet treats. This is why I loosened the wrappers before the photo, so I could release them straight to their reward after their stay.

Koira took a few licks of carob off the top before picking up the entire cup and it went down the hatch.

Pallo just went in, mouth wide, all at once. 

I think you could say that these were a big hit with the pups. Fancy and decadent, for sure. I think they would be perfect for any pup who is going to spend a long night trick-or-treating for Halloween this year, or as an awesome stocking stuffer. But the carob does melt easily, so they are best stored in a cool place until they are served.

Paw Street also sent us two more treats to review. While not so over the top fancy as the peanut butter cups, both of these treats were a big hit with the dog as well.

The two other treats sent for us to review.
The blueberry bone-anza treats smelled amazing, both to me and the dogs. They may not look like much in the package, but they really don't have to. Of course, the Chicken Bow-Wow treats were received very well too! I wouldn't be able to say which ones the dogs liked more, actually, though I loved the blueberry ones for the smell.

Because Paw Street Barkery is so awesome, they not only sent all this awesomeness to Koira and Pallo to review, but they are going to give one lucky reader of mine a $25 gift card! To enter, just use the rafflecopter widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Can't wait for some awesome treats? Use the code Treat14 at checkout to receive 20% off your purchase. Also, you can head on over to their Facebook page to enter a costume contest in which the grand prize winner gets a gift basket worth $50!

*Paw Street Barkery sent these treats to us to review. No other compensation was given, and the review here is completely honest and entirely our own.*

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Crater Lake

Last week, I went to Crater Lake for the first time. My grandmother was in town from Minnesota, so I went with her and my cousin.

We arrived at Crater Lake National Park about an hour before sunset, and began the long drive through pumice desert up to the actual lake the park is named for (Crater Lake makes up only 7% of the area of Crater Lake National Park). We got our first glimpse of the lake from one of many pullouts that are along the road. We were all hungry and tired, though, so after a brief stop, we pressed on to find the cabin we were staying in for the night and the restaurant nearby. None of the lodging at Crater Lake except for the campground allows dogs, so keep that in mind if you choose to visit. In early October, it was 28* at night, which for me, is way too cold for camping. That said, three of the hiking trails in the park are now open to dogs (dogs used to be restricted to parking lots only). Service dogs, of course, are not subject to those restrictions when accompanying a disabled handler.

After we checked into our hotel room and had some dinner, I talked my grandma and cousin in going back up to the lake so I could try some night photography. Neither of them really wanted to go, but I managed to talk them into it, and we took the seven mile drive back up the hill to the lake. And in my opinion, it was well worth it.

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Crater Lake, two hours after sunset

I did try to get a photo of Pallo in front of the lake with the stars, but since it was dark, neither the camera's autofocus nor my manual focus actually managed to focus on him very well. Still, I thought this photo was decent, especially since it was a 20 second exposure, meaning Pallo had to stand perfectly still for 20 seconds for the picture to not turn out blurry.

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Pallo posing on the wall at Crater Lake, two hours after sunset. I didn't quite get the focus right though.

The next morning, we got up and had breakfast, packed up the room, then drove back up to the lake. We were aiming to go to a ranger talk about the history of Crater Lake and how it was formed, but we missed the first one and decided to just go on our hike before the day got too hot. We ended up choosing the Sun Notch hike, since it was rated Easy (my grandma has bad knees, and my cousin is 7 months pregnant, so an easy hike was a must). Sun Notch was the only easy rated hike that had a view of the lake. It was well worth it.

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A glimpse of the lake through the trees. There were a ton of pine trees.

Sun Notch is also the best place to view the island formation known as the Phantom Ship.

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The Phantom Ship, which is actually the remnants of another volcano, stripped down to just the hard lava tubes.

After our hike, we decided to take the trolley tour around the lake. The whole drive around the rim of the caldera is long and has some really steep drop offs that I was not at all comfortable with. Since my grandma wanted to do the trolley tour, that saved me from driving on the scary roads around the lake too much. The trolley tour is led by a Forest Service Ranger, who talked about the history of Crater Lake and the surrounding park, the types of trees found there (mostly just 7 varieties of pine tree), the varieties of rock and how they ended up where they were, and even some of the legends the Klamath People have about the area, which is particularly interesting since the Klamath People actually witnessed Mt. Mazama blow up and eventually form Crater Lake. The trolley stops at a variety of the pull outs along the way so everyone can get out, take a look at the lake and surrounding countryside, and of course, take pictures.

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Wizard Island, the biggest island in Crater Lake and the one in most of the iconic Crater Lake photos

At every single stop, Pallo couldn't wait to take a look at the view.

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Pallo taking in the view during one of the trolley stops

We only stayed for one night, and headed home that afternoon. We had the most beautiful weather imaginable while we were there, with clear, bright blue skies and great visibility. We could see all the way to Mt. Shasta in the south and the three Sisters in the north. Because we had such great weather, we got to see the incredibly unique, clear blue color that Crater Lake is when the sun is shining.

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Taken on the Sun Notch hike, this view almost straight down showed the brilliant blue colors of the lake.
Overall, Crater Lake was amazing. Despite living in Oregon my entire life, with Crater Lake only a 3 hour drive away, I had never been before. You do have to pay a park use fee ($10 for seven days), camping or hotel fees, and food (which isn't exactly cheap on the top of a mountain). And most of the areas are not pet friendly, so it isn't ideal as a destination while traveling with dogs. Despite all of that, I think it is a must-see if you live in or travel through Oregon. I certainly plan to return in the future.

*A note, since I know people will be wondering- Koira stayed with my mom while we were on this trip. I have a disability and Pallo is being trained as my service dog, and performs vital tasks that allow me to function. That is why Pallo accompanied me on this trip and is wearing a service dog vest. 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Tasty Tuesday: I and Love and You

At BlogPaws in Las Vegas this year, I met a ton of different people, including bloggers and company representatives. One of the booths that my dogs wouldn't stay away from was the I and Love and You booth, so when I was contacted and asked if I wanted to do a review, of course my answer was yes.

I was sent two products to try. The first one was a bag of their dehydrated raw food.

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One pound of this dehydrated food equals ten pounds of prepared food. When trying this food out, Koira got a little more than one cup of the dry food, with water added to fill her bowl. She was seriously a huge fan. She would do a little tap dancing routine while I prepared the food, and seemed heartbroken when I left the food to sit for a little bit and absorb some of the water (though I also fed it immediately a few times with no ill effects). Actually, when I left the food to sit for a few minutes, I would often have to go chase the cats away from it, because both Martha and Theodore Trex apparently loved this food as well.

Overall, I was really pleased with the food, and would certainly use it again. It would be a great food for a raw feeder to use while traveling (way easier than packing frozen meat, since it doesn't require a cooler or anything). And, since this food is available not just online and in high end pet stores, but also at Kroger's stores, it is easy to find and pick up when needed. No need to wait for your online order to ship out to you for your trip. Locally, Kroger's is Fred Meyer, and the store in my town carries a variety of I and Love and You products.

The other product I was sent to try was a Boost-a-Pest flea and tick tag.

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The tag has no chemicals and is supposed to work with the dog's natural energy to help repel fleas and ticks. I had Pallo try it out, since it does use a jump ring to attach to a collar, and Koira can't have metal jump rings. The tag itself is small enough that I think it would work just fine on pretty much any size of dog, even really small ones. If I'm being honest, I was skeptical of this tag working, since it seems like some kind of voodoo magic that makes it work. That said, this has been a really bad flea year, and Pallo has always been one of those dogs that seems to get fleas all the time. Go to the park, come home with a flea infestation. Every time. And that hasn't happened recently. It seems like fleas really are staying away from him. And the tag is supposed to work for a full year. Let me tell you, I plan on getting another one in a year, since I really do think it is helping, and seriously, we need whatever help we can get around here during a bad flea year.

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Pallo is wearing his flea repelling tag in this photo. It looks just like a standard small tag.
Overall, I am just a big fan of I and Love and You. While they did send me these products for free to try out, all opinions posted here are mine alone, and totally truthful. I highly recommend this company and their products.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Flyball Turns

Last night at practice, and at practice last week, I spent time concentrating on Koira's turn. I have a feeling I will have to spend time working on her turn regularly for the rest of her life.

The last tournament we were at was two weeks ago, and by the end of the weekend, Koira's turn was back to being almost non-existent. I think a big factor in that is that we had been missing a number of practices and running in line ups at the practices we did make it to, often with no prop due to not having enough people available to place a prop. Combined, all of that caused Koira's turn to degrade before we even made it to the tournament, and the tournament just crushed her turn the rest of the way.

I have no photos of Koira doing box work recently, or of her at the recent tournament. But this is a photo I took at our last tournament.

Last week, I tried out a new prop in front of the box. It is a clear plexiglass prop that fits right up close to the box really nicely, and is really hard to see even knowing it is there. I combined that one with another plexiglass prop that is set next to the box on the side she turns toward, to help keep her turn fast and tight. I worked her up close quite a bit, doing snap-offs without the props, then with the props. Then I moved back one jump at a time, giving her more speed going into the box, this time with the prop in place the entire time.

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Again, a photo of a dog at our last tournament. This one is Shadow, and this run gave her the points needed to complete her Iron Dog, meaning she has been successfully running flyball for ten consecutive years.

This week, I started off the same, doing snap-offs with no props. Then I added the props and had someone else hold Koira back behind the first jump and release, so I could still reward right after the box turn. That worked well, so I had them hold Koira back before the start line and release her. I didn't have time to get to the other side to reward like I do for snap-offs, but while standing on the side toward which Koira turns, I tossed her tug down and over for her if her turn was reward worthy. It seemed to work out well. One of her turns was horrible and exploded the props, but the next two were nice, so I had them take the prop out from in front of the box (leaving in the one to the side) and her turn was nice. We put the prop back in, did one run with a really nice turn, then took the prop back out for the next repeat. We ended on that next one, which was an absolutely gorgeous, fast turn.

I am hoping that by doing some heavy box work in the next few weeks that Koira's turn will hold up at least somewhat during the tournament in the middle of next month. If only we were allowed to run with props, her turn would be awesome! Of course, that is the challenge.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Hiking at Walton Lake

To see the rest of our trip posts, check out Paddleboarding at Walton Lake and Camping at Walton Lake.

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At the trailhead (photo taken with my point and shoot camera)

We only stayed at Walton Lake for two nights, but went on a few different hikes in that time. The one we did multiple times was the path around the lake itself. It was a mostly gravel path that stayed close to the water and followed the edge of the lake all the way around. Near the day use area on the opposite side from where we were camping, the path is actually paved for a short ways for wheelchair access. The entire path around the lake was probably just under a mile long by my best guess, and we did it multiple times each day there.

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Taking a water break

On Thursday and Friday we also did one longer hike as well as the lake path and spending time on the water. We chose different paths each time, but both were similar terrain through the woods on narrow but well worn paths. Being so close to a campground, I am sure those paths get plenty of traffic (and we picked up a good deal of garbage left behind by other hikers while we were hiking ourselves).

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Showing off their boots on a log

Since the area we were in can have bad cheat grass and lava rock, I had the dogs wear their boots on our Thursday hike, and had Koira wear hers while on the lake path some of the time, since it was gravel and she is pretty tender footed. Luckily, I saw no sign of cheat grass even away from camp, so for our Friday hike the dogs got to leave their boots back at base.

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Dog boots back at camp, between hikes.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Paddleboarding at Walton Lake

The whole point of staying at a campground at Walton Lake was so we could go paddleboarding and kayaking while we were there. Originally, we were going to go to Green Peter, which is closer to home. But Green Peter has speed boats, which means wakes and possible danger of being hit if you are in the water. Since a friend of my mom was staying at Walton Lake for the week, we decided to go there instead, and avoid the potential danger involved elsewhere.

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Kayak and paddleboard, with lifejackets, sat waiting at the lake's edge below our campsite.

Since we just have the one paddleboard, we also brought along my kayak to use as well. I like the paddleboard better, both because it is easier to load and carry on my car by myself, and because it is better for doing with the dogs. I can really only fit a single dog in the kayak with me, and it's kind of cramped.

Of course, the most important thing before getting into the water is making sure everyone is safe. I always wear my lifejacket when I am kayaking or paddleboarding. The law says I have to have one on the watercraft with me- I know, however, that if I need a lifejacket, unless I am already wearing it, chances are I won't have enough time to get it on. Same goes for the dogs. All of us always wear our lifejackets. Period.

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Adorable in her blue lifejacket. 

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Pallo wears the older orange lifejacket. It still works well for keeping the dog buoyant in the water, but the handle isn't as reliable on it. Since Koira is more likely to need to be hauled back up out of the water, she wears the one with the better handle.

While I can and have put both dogs on the paddleboard with me, I wanted to spend some time with each of them individually. We all have the basics down of paddleboarding, so now it was time to reinforce the desirable behaviors and work on getting rid of the undesirable for Pallo, this means no whining, not standing at the very tip of the board, and not moving from the front to the back of the board over and over.

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Pallo standing in the right place, back from the nose of the board and on the anti-slip matting.

For Koira, this means no barking and no jumping off the board without specific permission to do so. She has upset the board a few times previously, knocking both me and Pallo into the water. She gets so over the top excited about being on the water, just like she does at dock diving, that her brain kind of checks out a little bit. And since she does dock diving as well, she has no hesitation at leaping off into the water. For her safety and my own, I needed to get that behavior to stop.

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Koira, sitting where I want her, calm, no whining, no jumping off, no chasing ducks. 

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I used the treat pouch at my waist to reinforce the desired behaviors, and stopped regularly to reward.

Overall, everyone made some great progress. Attaching a treat pouch to myself really made both of the dogs check in. I was able to reinforce desirable positioning and behaviors for both dogs, which resulted in calmer, more enjoyable trips on the lake. Now to see if we keep that when I add both dogs.

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Koira, sitting centered, attention on me, no whining, no jumping. She is hoping for treats.