Thursday, May 21, 2015

Handi-Treads Review with Discount Code

I was recently contacted by Handi-Treads and asked if I would like to review their Puppy Treads product for my readers. I was enthusiastic about doing so, but the Puppy Treads are best designed for indoor use, and the stairs I needed traction on are outdoors. The company agreed to let me review their outdoor-use stair treads instead.

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You need an electric drill as well as the stair treads and screws that are sent to you.
The steps in question here are on the house I grew up in. With years of experience living in this house, I know that not only have I ended up in Urgent Care after slipping on these steps on the way to school one morning, but that my sister and my mom have as well, not to mention any number of more minor injuries from slipping. We ended up attaching shingles to the steps with screws to stop the slip, but they weren't ideal. They trapped water, making the boards of the steps rot, they looked pretty terrible, and they kind of shed sand onto your shoes sometimes. But they stopped people from slipping on the stairs for the most part.

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We laid out the treads along the walking path on the stairs to get an idea of about where we wanted them to be attached.
The first impression of these Handi-Treads is that they are pretty heavy duty. They have an industrial look that doesn't quite go with the overall front of the house, but then, they look better than old shingles on the steps.

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We measured where the treads were that we liked, and then used those measurements to get all of the treads consistent on the stairs.
The round bumps on the treads have a hole in the middle of them, which is what provides the traction. They do have all smooth edges, so I have no worries that they will cut the dogs going up and down the stairs, or my own bare feet in the summer. Though being metal, I have a feeling they may get hot in full sun. In our case, the treads are just on one half of the staircase next to the handrail, so if they do get hot in the summer and we are barefoot, we can always just use the other side of the stairs, or step onto the wood in front of the treads.

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Then we started screwing them on. Each tread is attached with eight screws, so it certainly isn't going anywhere.
As we were installing these, we were noticing the traction they provide. It was almost impossible to slide over to to the screws on the other half of the tread, you had to lift yourself up and set yourself down, because the already installed treads on the lower stairs provided so much traction. Also, we (meaning me) mismeasured two of the treads, meaning we had to take it off and put it back on again, an inch over from the first place it was attached. But it was pretty fast and easy to do. You absolutely need an electric drill for this job, though, as I can't see it being possible with just a handheld screwdriver. And though there were no instructions included in the package, it was pretty self explanatory, and other than the measuring issue, we didn't have any problems.There is an installation guide available online, though, if you want to check it out. Including taking pictures, these were all installed in about 30 minutes.

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Lots of screws, like I said. Two on each side, two in the middle, and then one halfway between the end and the middle on each side. But even with this many screws, a single charge of the drill battery got us through all of them, even with our not-so-reliable battery.
Once we had the stair treads all installed, we started having a little fun trying to get pictures of the dogs going up and down the stairs. I know for a fact the dogs have slipped on these stairs in the past, as well as all of us humans. Especially because the dogs, of course, take the stairs at a run.

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Going up!
We basically sent the dogs up and down the stairs over and over to get some good photos. It seemed like they actually were deliberately using the treads after a few passes, though I could have imagined that.

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Going down!
I didn't see the dogs slip at all while doing this, though later in the day when we got home from a trip to the beach, Koira missed the treads and slipped while running up to get into the house. I think the design here works well for dog feet getting traction as well as human feet and shoes.

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Pallo always had to put some flair into it by launching off from a few stairs up.
As we were installing these, it was obvious that they are going to work well. The real test, of course, will be when it rains, and next winter, when the steps get icy. But I really don't think it is going to be a problem. And while I was sent this product for free in exchange for my review, my review is honest, and completely my true opinion of the product. If these had come out of the box and they were horrible, I would be telling you that. But they seem to be great, and I absolutely would consider they for any slippery steps, pathways, or decks that were an issue.

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My feet, going up.
And of course, if you have indoor stairs that are an issue for you or your pets, or that might become an issue as your pets age, the Puppy Treads are a great option. I haven't seen them in person, but if this product is an indication, I wouldn't hesitate to purchase this company's other products.

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Going up!
We actually sort of had fun testing these out. And they installed fast enough and easily enough that we had time to get two more projects done before we headed out to the beach- post about the beach trip to follow soon, when I finish up with the 400+ photos I took while there.

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Going up, followed by dog.
If you would like to get some stair treads of your own, either Handi-Treads for outdoor use or Puppy Treads for indoor non-slip stairs, here is a discount code for 10% off: BLOG2015

If you know of a place where slipping is an issue, you can enter "Stop the Slip" which is a contest where HandiRamp will fix a problematic public access area for free. Out of a pool of contestants they will pick a problem location 4 times a year and fix it for free. It seems like a pretty neat deal if you know of somewhere in your town, at a park you visit, etc, that could use the help.

Disclosure: I was sent these Handi-Treads for free in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated in any other way, and the opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

WW: Cave Bed

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Koira loves relaxing in her cave bed

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And she didn't really appreciate being disturbed. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Tasty Tuesday: Lamb Lung Bites

For the month of May, sent us a new product from Natural Balance. The Wild Pursuit line from Natural Balance is high protein and grain free. We received the Lamb Lung Bites treats to review. The rest of the line includes three flavors each of dry kibble and canned food.

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Lamb Lung Bites

The Lamb Lung Bites are 100% New Zealand lamb lung, making them great for dogs with pretty much any allergy, as well as dogs who simply enjoy treats.

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Much concentration is required.
The treats themselves are on the large size. In my opinion, they are too large to use as training treats unless you use one as a jackpot at the end of a session. They take a while for a dog to crunch up and are too large to just go down the hatch. I also found them really difficult to break into smaller pieces, so wouldn't recommend them for super small dogs.

That said, these are a high value treat for my dogs. They are large enough to be easy to find if dropped into grass. And they do make a great jackpot reward for after a great training session. I've also found myself using them as a treat when the dogs crate up before I leave the house. In the end, it's not like every treat needs to be a tiny, easily eaten training treat. And at just $7.49 for a bag (with a good number of treats), I would use them again in the future.

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And catch.

At the end of the day, these are a good, enjoyable treat for the dogs, with a great short ingredient list that gives some peace of mind.

Disclaimer: We were sent these treats for free to review. The opinions expressed here are entirely our own, and we did not receive any additional compensation outside of the bag of treats. 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Flyball Classes

I am really excited that this has finally happening. I am going to be teaching a beginner flyball class in Corvallis. A newly opened dog daycare and boarding facility in town, Downtown Hound, is willing to have me teach classes there in the evenings.

The class itself starts June 12th at 7pm and runs through July 31st. I tried to make it so that college students will be done with finals when we start the class. Since this is a college town, I have a feeling at least a few people interested are going to be college students or new graduates. I'm also hoping interested people might come up from Eugene to class as well, since there is no closer flyball and it isn't too much of a drive, and Eugene is also a college town. Which isn't to say non-students aren't welcome, because they certainly are.

The class is going to cover flyball basics. Dogs will work on learning a box turn, working around and eventually passing other dogs, and retrieving a ball to their handler. Handlers will learn about flyball in general, about working as a team, and about how to train your dog at home to further the results of your training in class. They will also have a chance to attend a flyball tournament in Salem in July, about halfway through the class, to help out Animal House's team there and learn what flyball tournaments are all about.

At the end of this class series, there are a few options. I will reevaluate with the facility about if we want to start another series and when to do so. Handlers and dogs who are far enough along will be able to join the Animal House team and come to our practices in Salem on Thursday evenings. Or, I would be happy to help a Corvallis-based team form.

For all of this, there is going to be a free information meeting and demo at Downtown Hound on May 29th at 7pm. People interested in joining the class are invited to attend to see some mini-demos of flyball, see some videos of tournament racing, and meet a few members of the Animal House team in addition to myself. While some of the Animal House people will have dogs for the demo portion, I am asking that others who attend leave their dogs at home for this information session. And while the info session isn't required to attend the class starting in June, I do encourage those who are interested and able to attend. You'll have the chance to sign up for the class at the info session or at a later date, until the class fills or until the first night of class.

I know I have some local readers, and I would encourage you to come check out the class if you are even slightly interested in flyball. It is a really fun, and addictive, sport!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Fit Friday: Ultra Balance

I know some people were saying they can't imagine their dog balancing like Pallo did in a few of my earlier posts. Lets just say, we've been working on this for a while. Pallo has a really great, strong core. I have been working with him for years on balancing on objects. Sometimes the objects are slightly wobbly, sometimes they have very little space for feet, etc.

I help Pallo a lot when I am getting him up onto a new object for balancing. Generally, my goal is a cute picture, not a core workout. That doesn't mean that Pallo doesn't need an amazing core, or that he doesn't get a core workout by doing the balancing. It does mean that I probably do fewer reps, and that I help him more than you might if your goal is a workout.

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On the fence and fence post, giving his feet a little more room.
I started out having Pallo balance completely just on the fence rail. He wasn't able to hold that, though, likely because the rail was rounded and he just didn't have the strength or confidence to make it happen. So instead, I switched him to having his front feet on the post and back feet on the fence post. He hopped up onto the fence himself on cue, but I was right there to catch and stabilize him so that he wouldn't slip or fall. Keeping his confidence up that he is safe when we do this is absolutely the most important thing. I always make sure he is stable by slowly lessening the amount of help I am giving him and backing up a little bit. I make sure to be ready to catch him if he starts to lose his balance until I am sure he is stable, then I step back and take the picture.

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Fully balanced
After he did the front feet on the post and back feet on the rail and I snapped a couple pictures, we upped the game here. I helped him position his rear feet forward onto the fence post along with his front feet. He has pretty massive feet, short legs, and a long back, but he does really well with this kind of thing anyway. Again, I spent time with my hands on him, making sure he was stable, adjusting him a little bit here and there, before I stepped back. And when I first step back, I don't go all the way back for a picture, I step just a little back to see if he is stable on his own, then, if he is, I step back farther for the picture.

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Balancing away
Once Pallo is stable and balanced, he tends to be able to stay there just as long as I ask him to. I will snap a few pictures from different angles, but don't have him stay balanced for any longer than needed for the photos.

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Close up. You can see how his feet are positioned.
 Right after I grabbed this close up, which I also shared on Wednesday, I stepped forward and picked him up and set him back on firm ground.

If you were doing this as a workout, rather than with the goal of cute photos, you might do things a little different. You might train him to find the post with his back feet without your physical help to do it. You might train him from the ground onto a post like this, so he can do it without your help to stabilize or catch him. Then you might slowly make the bar higher so he has to jump up to it and still maintain balance and catch himself. Or, you might slowly make the bar smaller and smaller, or less stable, until he is able to step up onto and balance on a tightrope.

Think that is impossible? Think again.

Hydro after two weeks of foundation training on the balance beam/tight rope system! Incredible core work and mental stimulation for the dog. Available now!!!
Posted by KBC Dog Sports on Friday, April 24, 2015

Now, neither of my dogs can do this. And it isn't even something we are working towards. As I stated, our goal is cute pictures. But some amazing core work and amazing balancing work can really go a long way to making an amazingly fit, and super cute for pictures, dog.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Take Pictures With Your Dogs

Take pictures with your dogs, not just of your dogs.

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You never know when something will happen. And when you look back, you will want pictures of you together.

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You might not like how you look- your hair is messy, you want to lose some weight, you aren't wearing the best clothes, you don't like your smile, or whatever it is. You might just hate getting your picture taken. But get over it, and take pictures with your dog.

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I had just finished a two hour hike with lots of elevation gain when we took these photos. My jeans are stained on the knees, I'm wearing just another t-shirt, my hair is in a messy ponytail, etc. Pick it apart all you want. But even though I don't really like posing for photos, I made a point of asking my mom to take my camera and get some photos of me with my dogs. Because a friend of mine lost one of her dogs last week and will be forever grateful for the photos her husband took of her with her dog before he was put down.

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So take pictures with your dogs. You might not get a do over. 

And check out this blog post, because I could never say it better.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Fit Friday: Hiking

Earlier this week, I met up with my mom and went for a hike with her and the dogs. I am working all day on Mother's Day this weekend, so it was kind of our mother's day get together.

We went to Beazell Memorial Forest, which is between Wren and Kings Valley here in Oregon. It isn't too long of a drive, and the trails there are beautiful. I had forgotten how much elevation gain there is though.

After our hike, I took a few minutes to get some pictures of the dogs. There is a big barn that gets rented out for weddings and other events, and I thought it was a really nice backdrop along with the wood fence to get a few pictures.

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I even had Pallo do some balance/core work on the fence. Koira was uncomfortable with doing that due to the traffic we could hear on the road, so I didn't even try with her.

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I did talk her into posing with Pallo for one good picture though. They are both looking at someone who just pulled into the parking lot.

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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Post Racing Photos

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Pallo won Best of Opposite Sex in his group.

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Koira came in a solid second every time, but didn't earn a ribbon

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Straight Racing

I think I've kept you all in suspense long enough.

Sunday, I posted a preview photo and asked if you could guess what we were doing on Saturday. What happened is that we had a great chance to take some dogs straight racing with a local club, so made an almost-2-hour drive down to Cottage Grove to spend the day racing dogs with friends.

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An Italian Greyhound at racing

Now, since I was there just to have fun and run my dogs and spend time with friends doing something fun, I didn't get a ton of pictures. I spent most of my time running dogs and volunteering. But I couldn't resist getting a few pictures, and asking someone else to get some of my dogs when they were running.

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Two Silken Windhounds running

The local racing club, SORCA (Southern Oregon Racing and Coursing Association) put on a LGRA (Large Gazehound Racing Association) and IWRA (Independent Whippet Racing Association) race meet. What is extra awesome is that SORCA not only allows non-sighthounds to race, but they offer club titles for non-sighthounds as well. All non-sighthounds are affectionately referred to at racing as "nose hounds" which is kind of cute.

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A program of three Silken Windhounds breaking from the starting box

Racing is different than lure coursing in a few ways. First, racing is either straight racing (what we did) or oval racing. There isn't a course full of zigs and zags for the dogs to follow the lure over. Also, since the course is pretty straight forward, unless there is a foul, the dog who crosses the line first (by the tip of the muzzle) wins the race. There isn't any grading of how well the hound did in agility, endurance, etc. Also, a start box is used, like the photo above. It gives a more fair start than hand slipping the dogs since the doors all open at exactly the same time. The start box was actually busted when we started racing for the day, but got fixed part way through. Most people ended up hand slipping the dogs all day, though a few did use the start box.

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The small size "nose hounds" on their final run of the day

The nose hounds were broken up into two different groups, with the large dogs (a lab, a staghound/border collie mix, a smooth collie, and a dutch shepherd) competing against each other, and the small dogs (Koira, Pallo, and a border collie) competing against each other. Poor Pallo didn't have any chance of winning being up against dogs with so much longer legs, but he went out, ran great, and crossed the line strong each time. The whole course here was a 200 yard straight sprint.The fourth dog you see in the photos of my dogs is a mini Aussie, who only ran in the third of three programs as a "ghost dog" (for no placement or points) in order to give Pallo someone to race against, which I really appreciated.

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You can see that Jazz and Koira are pretty evenly matched, as are Pallo and the mini Aussie

The dogs run three times over the course of the day. Up to four dogs run at the same time. Each dog is assigned a blanket number/color to wear during the race. All dogs are required to be muzzled, both for safety of the dogs and to prevent the lure from being damaged. The lure is something that looks like a dead racoon and squawks when it bounces across the ground, as well as a white plastic bag, and it can get damaged pretty easily if the dogs aren't muzzled. And it isn't cheap to replace. When muzzled, though, you can let your dog attack the lure at the end a little. I really encouraged Pallo to do that, since he was so soundly beat by the other dogs I didn't want to discourage him. So he got to punch the lure and make it squeak with his muzzle at the end of each run.

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Even a little blurry, I have to love this picture of Koira. I was at the end to catch her, so this picture was taken by someone who was totally new to handling my camera, and I am super grateful that they were able to do so and get some fun pictures of my dogs. 

Overall, we all had an awesome time. SORCA is made up of some great people. Everyone was nice, willing to teach us newbies what to do, and help us out when needed. Everyone stepped up to fill the volunteer positions needed to make racing happen.

Afterwards, we had to get a picture of the "nose hounds" all together. I put this group together pretty last minute, only a few days before the event, with everyone except the Dutch shepherd being on my flyball team. The Dutchie's owner is a facebook friend and lives pretty local to the trial location, and wanted to come. We were glad to include her. The lab that ran isn't included in this photo as they had already left at this point. She wasn't someone we knew, but I think was related to the person who owns the field. Her dog ran great, and got second.

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All of the Nose Hounds posing in racing blankets and muzzles with their ribbons. That is the starting box that we are all posed around. You can see how it opens in the picture above of the silken windhounds breaking from the box. 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Friday, May 1, 2015

Training Treats

For the month of April, I got to review Zuke's Mini Naturals Wild Rabbit Recipe Training Treats from

I've used Zuke's training treats in the past, but never the wild rabbit flavor. My past experience with their treats has always been good, and this flavor was the same. Basically, dogs love Zuke's training treats. I love Zuke's training treats.

The big pluses for me are that these training treats are small, but not too small. I don't feel the need to break them into smaller pieces like I do with most treats. But, they are big enough that if you toss one on the ground for a specific reward placement during training, the dog can see it easily enough as long as you are on flat hard ground, like indoors or on concrete. The one pound bag of these treats is huge, and gives you a ton of training material. I generally just grab handfuls of the treats and stick them in my pockets or a ziplock bag or other container to use during training. Also, the big bag of these is both big, and affordable- less than ten dollars per bag-, so you don't feel the need to skimp on treats during training (which is never a good idea!). The more treats you give, the faster the dog learns, and with affordable treats, you will give them out more often.

This is Lola. Forgive the picture quality, this was taken with my Kindle Fire while we were training in the back aisles at Home Depot.
A couple weeks ago, I started doing some training with Lola. She isn't my dog, I'm just working with her on some things, but she is a serious sweetheart. She is super food motivated, loves to tug, and learns quickly. We are mainly working on getting a solid recall, learning to reliably retrieve a ball, and not jump up on strangers to greet them. While a tug toy is a great motivator for her, sometime it makes her too excited to actually think. In those cases, I will use treats with her. I've been testing out these Zuke's treats on her as well as my own dogs. All three dogs give them a big thumbs up.

As usual, we received these treats for free in exchange for posting a review on this blog, but all opinions expressed here are entirely our own, and completely honest.