Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Tasty Tuesday: Kong Wobbler Treat and Food Dispenser

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This month, I was lucky enough to do a review of the Kong Wobbler for Chewy.com. (We were given the Kong Wobbler for free in exchange for our honest review, but we were not compensated in any other way.)

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I like finding ways to feed kibble that take longer and require more thinking than just tossing it into a bowl. Raw meals here normally take at least five minutes, and sometimes a lot longer. So when we feed kibble, I like to do what I can to make it take a lot longer than ten seconds.

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With the Kong Wobbler, you unscrew the top and bottom portions (great for cleaning too!) and scoop in as much kibble as you want. The small size wobbler is what we used, and it fits almost exactly two cups of kibble, but you can put less in of course so it is the amount you want your dog to have for their meal.

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Then, just screw the parts back together and set it down for the dog. Ptera didn't take long to figure it out at all.

The dog can nudge it with their nose, paw at it, or even just generally accidentally knock into it. Ptera switches between her nose and her paw. Koira is all paw, all the time.

Overall, I love the Kong Wobbler. The small is the perfect size for my dogs. I would say if your dog is more than 50 lbs, or eats more than two cups of kibble in one meal, go for the large.

Chewy February-3829

Monday, February 27, 2017

Waterproof Collar Review

Oregon is wet. As I type this, I can hear the rain outside. It has been raining every day for weeks at this point, I believe. The past few days, snow has been mixed in with the rain. But wet weather can't keep us from having some fun, or else we would never leave the house.

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Chewy.com offered us the opportunity to review the Red Dingo PVC Dog Collar this month, and we jumped on it. This is a completely waterproof collar meant for the kind of weather we go through here, or for playing in the water in the summer. Or for dogs who roll in things (you can wash the collar off in the sink with soap, rather than running it through the laundry), or uncoordinated owners who spill things on their dogs (like coffee, which I spilled all over all of the dog gear at our last flyball tournament).

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So, first, I have had Biothane collars before. Biothane is a specific brand of coated nylon that is used for horse and dog gear, among other things. This PVC collar is similar, but not the same. It feels less like leather and more like plastic than biothane, though it is just as waterproof and I do think it looks good. The colors are more vivid with these PVC collars than on any biothane one I've seen, with blue, hot pink, orange, purple, and lime green available. These photos were taken after almost a full month of Ptera wearing this collar every day, so you can see it holds up well. The bright color isn't faded at all.

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When picking a size, the collar was very true to size. You can see that Ptera wears it on about the middle hole, and it fits her great. I just used the neck size I have measured with a fabric tape measure.

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Overall, I think this collar is a very affordable option for anyone who wants a waterproof/odorproof collar, but isn't looking for the leather-like feel that comes from biothane.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Fit Friday

I wear a FitBit daily, and I love the feedback it gives me. I enjoy doing challenges with friends to see who can get the most steps in a day, a weekend, or during the workweek. I also find some of my own trends pretty funny. (I paid for my own FitBit, and get absolutely nothing by talking about it on my blog.)

This past weekend, one of the flyball clubs I belong to (I am a member of two clubs) hosted a tournament. My other club ran two teams on Saturday, and one on Sunday. I helped with set up on Friday, ran Koira and Ptera both on Saturday on two different teams, and then worked a tournament job on Sunday. This is my FitBit chart for Fri-Mon.

Flyball Steps
Can you guess what I did on Monday?

I will just say that I hurt a lot by Sunday evening. I was actually in two Weekend Warrior challenges. I won one of them, came in third on the other. Had Friday counted, I would have won both of them hands down. Had Monday counted, I would have crashed and burned on both!

I took Monday as a total rest day, and was back at it on Tuesday for my weekly flyball class that I teach, as well as working my regular job. It has been a busy week, and feels all the busier for how much I did over the weekend.

Are you a total "weekend warrior" or do you manage to balance your exercise out better than this? Most of my weeks aren't quite this bad, but I do tend to do a lot on my days off, and not much on days I have to work.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Veteran Flyball

I put together a Vets team for Saturday at the tournament. Vets is a division specifically for dogs 7 or older, and there are a few allowances that make the game easier, such as jumping 7 inches regardless of having a height dog or not, and not rerunning false starts. I wanted to have a chance to run Koira and she how she would do. She ended up having a great time, and running in the low 5s the entire time.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Flyball Ho!

We're off for a flyball tournament in Salem this weekend. All week we have been getting ready, yesterday set up lasted 12 hours, and this morning, we are headed in to start racing bright and early. Everyone have a great weekend!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Training Tuesday: Muzzle Training

So many people asked about the muzzle we posted about last week in our round up of some of our current training equipment, so I decided to make a short video showing my approach to muzzle training in a positive way. If you go through muzzle training correctly, your dog won't fight having the muzzle on, and can safely be muzzled for a huge variety of circumstances.

Chilling in the house with her muzzle on

Wondering why I'm taking her picture

Please feel free to ask questions if something isn't clear, or share your reasons for using or wanting to use a muzzle with your dog.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Saturday Selfie

For my birthday last weekend, I headed out to the beach with some friends and their dogs. So we took a super awkward selfie with us in the absurdly strong wind.

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Birthday Beach-3476

Friday, February 10, 2017

Fit Friday: Food

Disclaimer: We were given this kibble to try in exchange for our honest review. We were not compensated in any other way. Links in this blog are not affiliate links, and we get nothing by you clicking on them.

Koira chilling on the bed with Theodore Trex cleaning a paw in the foreground

This month, Chewy.com offered us the opportunity to do a month-long review of Rachael Ray's new dog food, Peak. After checking out the ingredients to make sure it is something I am comfortable feeding my dogs, I enthusiastically agreed. I firmly believe that variety is the spice of life, and that that applies to dog food as much as to anything else. I like to switch up what food my dogs eat both to give them different tastes and textures to experience and to make sure they are getting a good long term balance of nutrients. Plus, it gives me the opportunity to take advantage of sales when available for the various foods that we feed.


Peak is currently available in two flavors, Open Range (beef/venison/lamb) and Woodlands (turkey/duck/quail). We chose to try out the Open Range recipe, mostly because I tend towards red meats for my dogs when the option is there. In raw feeding, red meat is important, so I have the tendency to bring that mindset to choosing a kibble as well. The two flavors are the same price for Peak so that doesn't factor into it, though with some other kibbles I've noticed that beef, pork, and lamb tend to cost less than the poultry options.

Peak kibbles with a one-cup red scoop in the bag

Our first impressions on opening up the Peak bag were overall good. The kibble has a light smell, not at all overwhelming. It doesn't smell greasy or rancid (some foods seem to smell rancid even if they are within date- I obviously avoid any food that smells like that). The kibble size is pretty standard for a higher end food- not tiny, not huge.


Trying Peak for the first time, Ptera was excited and interested. She is such a food hound, though, there are few foods she isn't like that with (such a difference from when I first brought her home!). She was willing to work for the kibbles by themselves, or using a food toy to eat. At 10 lbs, she is likely on the smaller end of dogs who would be comfortable eating this food just due to the kibble size. She has to crunch up each kibble, but is able to eat it easily enough. Some smaller dogs may not care for it, though, if they have trouble with medium kibble sizes. Other 10 lb or so dogs would likely do fine.


Koira was also enthusiastic on trying Peak for the first time. She happily worked through a food toy for it, and did tricks in exchange for single kibbles. At 40 lbs, the kibble size is a non-factor for her.

We've just started out trying the Peak, so these really are our first thoughts on it. So far, so good. We'll update again after a few weeks, and again at the end of our month-long trial. 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Pet Photography Challenge

I don't keep up with challenges and year long projects very well. A good part of it is that I don't like being told what to do, or having to do something, so once there are rules in place, I tend to back off.

I did, at the beginning of this year, join a Facebook group for pet photography. Pet Photography Challenge issues a new challenge (or theme) each week. You take a photo that fits the challenge/theme, and post it into that week's album. The world doesn't end if you don't get around to it that week. You can use an old photo if you want (I personally consider that cheating for myself, but it is totally allowed in the group).

And bonus, at the end of each week, group members "vote" for their favorite of the photos with facebook likes. The "winning" photo gets used for the next week as the banner/header photo for the group. It is a bit of R+ training for everyone, a bit of a reward.

So far, I've gotten two photos chosen at the end of a challenge and used as the group's header.

Week 3 Depth of Field challenge winner

Week 5 Bokeh Winner

I will admit that I haven't gotten a photo posted for every challenge. A few weeks, the motivation just wasn't there. On others, the end of the week arrived way before I was ready for it, and it just didn't happen. I did Week 1, backlighting, but with a photo I wasn't totally thrilled about. I missed Week 2, Rule of Thirds, because I just didn't get motivated. Week 4's challenge was From A Lower Perspective, and I had a perfect idea and awesome plan, and I just didn't get it done. It just didn't happen. But honestly, it is fine, because no one scolds you for not participating.

I am enjoying the group a lot. Even the weeks where I don't get a picture up, I am finding the prompts fun, something that gives me different ideas about what to try and what to work on with my photography.

This week (Week 6), the challenge is Window To the Soul. This is the picture I submitted:

Koira is super soulful.

Everyone is welcome to join the group. Even if your only camera is a phone, you can get some decent pictures and work on ways to improve your technique. The camera doesn't make the photographer (though it helps in some situations). Knowing good technique, good framing, good composition, all of that helps more than any camera possibly can. Many horrible photos have been taken with thousand+ dollar cameras!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Training Tuesday: Training Tools

Dog training tools abound. There are literally hundreds, or thousands, of tools to use when training your dog. The Positive Pet Training blog hop this month is focusing on sharing a few training tools, but it is so hard to choose what to share.

I'm going to share potentially the most controversial tool first: a muzzle.

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Ptera wearing Koira's muzzle as a full-face-mask.

A lot of people don't think muzzles have any place in positive training. Others think that only "bad dogs" wear muzzles. And neither of those things are true. Muzzles can certainly be used wrong, but there is nothing about them that is inherently against positive training. Properly introducing a dog to wearing a muzzle, being mindful of the situations in which they are asked to wear the muzzle, and making sure to be your dog's advocate can make muzzles a super positive experience. The number one thing that I like the most about using a muzzle is that other people tend to give more space to a muzzled dog, more so even than when you as the handler tell them your dog needs space, or any color of leash or ribbon tied to the leash. Part of this is taking advantage of the above preconception that "bad dogs" wear muzzles, so people try to avoid those "bad dogs" and part is that people see a dog wearing a muzzle as serious, while an owner saying their dog needs space doesn't appear as important. If my dog can comfortably wear a muzzle, and by doing so, she gains the space she needs to feel comfortable while out on walks, then that is what we will use a muzzle for. Of course, muzzles are useful in many other ways as well. I could do an entire post about it. Lets just say that muzzles are awesome and leave it at that.

The other training tools we are using right now are for an online class we are taking.

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Two platforms and a gate

The class is to teach dogs positions (front, heel, offside heel, behind, etc), and it uses a few tools to help explain the criteria to the dog along the way.

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Our platforms are super ugly, but they totally work

The platforms are made of foam and taped together into a height of about 2-3 inches or so. Mine are homemade and ugly because I am cheap, but they work just fine. The platform is not the position the dog is supposed to take. Rather, the dog learns that whenever the platform is on the ground, they should go stand on it. Placing it in relation to the human so that the dog is in "front" or "heel" gets the dog used to the picture of where they are going to be. The cue is introduced and solidified by switching between multiple platforms before the platforms are ever faded away.

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Ptera standing awkwardly on a platform with the gate around her- just for fun

The gate is used both with and without the platforms as a non-aversive pressure to help the dog understand proper positioning. An example would be using it alongside the handler, far enough away for the dog to comfortably be next to the handler, to help the dog understand how to stand straight when coming into heel, rather than swinging their butt wide.

Along with these tools, we use two of the most important tools a trainer can have- a good working relationship with your dog, and plenty of rewards. I develop a relationship with my dogs by asking them to work, and by making work fun. My dogs respond by enthusiastically working with me, asking for more when we are done, and having fun with me. If either of us isn't having fun, that is when we need to stop and take a break (or, well, it is one step past where we should have taken a break!). Rewards for my dogs include a lot of things: treats of all kinds; tug toys; throwing a ball or toy; wrestling/personal play; and praise. Each of those has a long history of reinforcement as a reward.

Muzzles, gates, and platforms are just a few of the tools I use when training specific things. Rewards and a personal relationship are things that I use every time I train my dogs.

What kinds of things do you use while training? What tools do you think are the most essential?

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Selfie Saturday

Beach sunsets are just one of the awesome things about Oregon.

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Both of us look strange in this picture, but people were approaching with an off leash dog and I gave up on getting a better shot.

This is part of my effort to make sure I am getting in the picture with my dogs. I ask people to take pictures of me with them when I have the chance, but I realized I am missing out on having pictures of me with them whenever we are out and about by ourselves, so I wanted to make an effort to change that.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Happy 9th Gotcha Day Koira!

For those who are newer to the blog- I got Koira as a free puppy off of Craigslist. I saw her picture and decided I just had to bring her home. It was my 21st birthday the following day, and this dog had the perfect martini glass shape on her face.

Her picture on Craigslist

The ad actually kept getting deleted, but after working like hell to reply faster than people could flag it, I managed to get in touch with the family.

Little one and sibling
Koira with a sibling

She was 8 weeks old, and tiny. Super tiny, and super adorable. It was a litter of 6, and two of the pups were tri color. The other tri was a male, and I was super tempted by him. But ended up sticking with my original plan, and brought home the little tri girl.

Our first photo together, within minutes of meeting

Man, things have changed in so many ways since then. Koira was my birthday present to myself for my 21st birthday. She's been in my life for 9 years. And while she is getting older, she is and always be my baby girl.

Snuggled up tight in her first little sweater

Adorable pink spotted nose.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

WW: Fitton Green

Just a few photos from our recent hike up a new-to-us hiking trail called Fitton Green.

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Alternate title: My Dog In Trees