Thursday, April 17, 2014

Recent dog events

I've been a bit busy with dog events lately! 

A couple of weeks ago, I had Dot in Open A at a trial in Indiana.  When scheduling trials, I always forget that Indiana is 1 hour ahead (unless it's an IN town near Chicago)  and therefore I have to get up an hour earlier, which is exhausting.  I have erased the next few Indiana trials off the calendar for this reason!  Anyway, I was happy with Dot's performance even though no dogs in Open A qualified.  (At least we weren't alone!)  She went around the high jump on the way back and then went down in the long sit.  It was a good effort from her considering she has not been in the ring much at all .  Our last Open attempt was last November.

This past weekend, I Chaired my very first dog event!  I was Secretary/Chair of our club's VST test this year.  It was an awesome event.  Saturday we had fantastic weather for plotting the tracks, sunny and a bit breezy but nice and warm!  Sunday was overcast and we had sprinkles here and there but it did NOT pour on us or lightening while we were out there so I am calling it a huge win!  Of 7 dogs, we had no one pass but that is not unusual.  We still enjoyed a day full of donuts, fun with our dogs, mexican food and camaraderie.  Now to mail all the paperwork off to the AKC and claim myself a successful Chair!

Dot moved up from Agility Prep to Agility 1 and is still loving it!  Our 2x2 weaves have progressed to weaving 4 poles, she loves the dogwalk, aced the tire and is getting plenty of friendly experiences on the baby teeter.

Taco started his very first class ever!  He is in our club's Sub-Novice class, which is the per-requisute for most other classes.  We skipped Home Companion since he already has his CGC.  Our club has a red bandanna program, dogs that need extra space wear a red bandanna and I put one on Taco.  I struggled with whether I wanted him labeled as an "aggressive pit" when that is really the farthest from the truth.  Taco has shown some signs of leash frustration and has lashed out a couple of times when he got overstimulated and was not able to get to another dog to PLAY.  He wants to play so badly, and when he's not allowed to it turns into frustration and comes out looking like a snarling and growling aggressive pit.  So I went with the bandanna, only so that people give us a little space and he doesn't get super-stimulated wanting to play nearby dogs.

One of our regional Brittany Clubs (we have three within driving distance!) hosted the Central Futurity at our club's building so I got to be one of the club-rep welcomers and see all the adorable Brittanys.  I was a little shocked at how much grooming was going on!  I think of the Brittany as a wash and wear dog but there was a LOT of clipping, trimming and thinning going on.  No wonder Dot doesn't look anything like those dogs, she needs a few sessions with a pro!

This will be week 4 of 4-H class and all is going as planned.  A few advanced students are starting retrieves, while others are working on mainly on the basics.  Our beginner class has a "silver lab", a Weimaraner and what they list as a Mastiff mix that all look remarkable similar. Add to that an Aussie, a toy poodle, a yellow lab and an Airedale, we have quite the variety!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Evo Wild Cravings review thanks to (with giveaway) again gave us the chance to review some new-to-us treats!  Evo Wild Cravings Red Meat Formula Dog Treats are really unique in that they are a dry treat that is completely grain free and made with a high level of quality meat.  And boy do they smell (and taste) like it!  At least I assume they taste like it because the dogs were as interested in these DRY treats as they are in string cheese and hot dogs.
I like that the treats are easy to break into smaller pieces which makes them work well for training.  Usually a dry treat would not be enticing enough to keep Taco focused during a group class but these worked really well at Sub-Novice class last night.  I alternated between these and string cheese and did not notice a drop in focus when using these.

I also used these to reward Dot after putting on her ointment (she had an infected whisker follicle that needs 10 days of ointment.  It's always SOMETHING!)  and she LOVED them.  She hates the ointment on her lip and would melt and hide under the table but show her one of these and she'll stay in the kitchen for her treatment!

For the chance to win some credit at to spend on whatever you want (but these are highly recommended by our two chow hounds!), enter the giveaway below.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

2014 4-H Dog Training

Last week our spring 4-H dog training classes started!  I think I say this every year but what a GREAT bunch we got this year!  My co-leader was on vacation so I got to substitute teach the beginners and wow!  They were stupendous!  My advanced class, a wonderful group of returning students, has quite a variety of training levels.  Some are just out of the beginner class and some have been training for several years and are ready for more advanced exercises like retrieving, broad jump and drop on recall.  It can be hard  to teach such a diverse group but there is no reason the whole class can't work on every exercise at their own level.  Just because some may not need to know retrieve for a couple of years doesn't mean they shouldn't start training it now!
I wanted to share some pictures from last fall's dog workshop day.  We had several guests come to present different topics and the 4-Hers also got to each give a demo about training techniques. 
 A local groomer came and showed us a TON about grooming.  Dot helped out by letting 4-Hers practice their dremeling skills on her nails.
 We made fleece tug toys to take home.  (In 4-H colors!)
 We had guests from the ASPCA Poison Control Center speak about health topics.  Here they are demonstrating safe ways to pick up an injured dog.
 An APDT trainer came and showed us games we could play with our dogs, like this hunting and sniffing game!
 This poster shows some (not all) of our fantastic sponsors.  I have had the greatest experiences soliciting donations from dog product companies.  Most are so receptive and generous in wanting to help out young people to learn responsible ownership and training!  And we owe a huge thank you to the Illinois 4-H Foundation for a grant to buy this awesome Dog Learning Lab Kit which will get a ton of use in our classes and events!

This workshop day was all day and included lunch.  I was inspired by several state 4-H programs that offer workshops and camps at the state level for those in the dog project.  Illinois does not offer anything like that but our county-level event was well-received.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Drill Team routine Spring 2014

Previously I wrote a post about our Obedience Drill Team starting up and posted some videos of other teams.  Now here is one of our OWN team!  Sadly the Freestyle Match we were going to attend was canceled due to bad weather so we only got to perform it for an audience at our Fun Night.

We also learned a shorter routine that we had hoped to perform at our Home Companion Orientation to welcome the new students to our Dog Training Club but not enough of us were available.  I'm hoping this summer our numbers will grow so that we can perform at a few more events.  :)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Petbrosia review

 Petbrosia bills itself as a natural dog food blend that is matched to your pet based on their breed, age, weight, food allergies, activity level, and other needs.  I took this to mean that the formulas were customized for your specific pet, but I was mistaken.  They have several base formulas and the one that best fits your pet is chosen, but ingredients may not be added or removed for your pet's specific diet.

To see how their formulas differ, I created  several pet profiles:  an older, overweight dog, an active puppy, Taco (an active young adult) and Dot (a dog with dietary restrictions).  Formulas selected for all profiles use the same ingredients list, just in slightly different order.

The old, overweight dog gets slightly less protein and fat and slightly more fiber, standard for a weight-control dog food.
nutritionals for old, overweight dog
The puppy under 1 year gets slightly more protein and fat, standard for a puppy food.
nutritionals for puppy under 1 year old

Taco. The only difference between his and the puppy's is chicken fat and sweet potato are reverse in the order of ingredients.  Taco's food has amounts that are standard for an adult food and calorie count is nearly identical to his current food.
nutritionals for Taco's food

But it became obvious that the formulas are not customizable.  When I made a test pet with all allergies marked (Chicken, Corn, Wheat, the formula given still contained Chicken and Potato.   The website says "An expert will review your pet's allergies before finalizing your order. Petbrosia does not contain corn, soy, or wheat."  But had I not read that small print, I could easily have assumed that the formula the website produced was right for my pet and was instantly given the option to order it.  When I contacted Petbrosia about this I was told that every order is reviewed by an expert pet nutritionist before processing and if they are unable to remove or adjust to what the consumer request they email or call the customer to let them know.

In the case of Dot who cannot have fish oil or fish ingredients, I was told that Petbrosia is "unable to remove the fish oil. As this is an ingredient that can not be taken out as by removing fish oil would change the omega-3 to omega-6 profile and would not be beneficial to the pet."  The formulas they offer are equivalent to standard dog food and not truly customizable and that's a shame.  I thought this would be a great option for those of us who have pets dealing with food sensitivities.  But it sounds like that is not what Petbrosia is for.

So I went ahead and ordered a blend for Taco, who has no diet restrictions.   He ate the food, as he would any food you put in front of him.  One thing I noticed was that the recommended serving for him was 2 1/2 to 3 cups per day.  I had been feeding him almost 4 cups of his previous food, but the calorie content was about the same.  He had not been getting fat previously but he HAD been super active, sometimes with excess energy he didn't know what to do with.  The feeding guidelines for Petbrosia reminded me that I could probably just feed him less food and bring that energy down to a manageable level, and that is exactly what happened.

One neat thing I do think they have going for them is that the website will track your pet's changes and the algorithms will adjust based on the information provide; therefore, the blend will adjust to your pet as your pet ages.  Without even having to think about it, Petbrosia will start to send you adult food when your puppy becomes a full grown dog and then as it grows older, the formula will adjust to senior formula.
Disclosure: Petbrosia provided me with one 3-pound box of dog food to review.  I was not compensated in any other way and the opinions are all mine and the dogs.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Obedience Club Fun Night

Me as Master of Ceremonies
The dog training club I belong to wanted to start doing Fun Nights again after a long hiatus.  I volunteered to organize since they!  The first one was in February and went off without a hitch.

The objective of this first event was to get people who had never trialed a dog, those from our puppy elementary, puppy kindergarten, Home Companion and sub-Novice classes to try out obedience and rally.  We offered Beginner Novice and Novice Obedience and Beginner Rally run-throughs.  Where is the fun, you ask?  We started out with a few rounds of musical chairs!

My version of musical chairs for people and dogs goes something like this:  Arrange chairs in a circle facing out with lots of space in between.  In front of each chair place a hula-hoop.  When the music plays, dogs and handlers walk the big circle around the outside hula-hoop circle.  When the music stops, handlers get their dogs into a hula-hoop and they must sit-stay while the person sits in the chair.
Musical Chairs and Hoops
We did have some new faces show up and try their hand at something new to them.  But for the most part it was familiar faces from the club, which is fine.  We all had fun.  It can be hard to get beginners to join something as regimented and formal as obedience.  It is an intimidating sport but I hope these fun nights (with candy and prizes as incentive) will bring out more and more to see that we all mess up and we were all beginners once.

What does your club do to encourage newbies to try out dog sports?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

DIY Agility Jumps

Jumps are the most basic of agility equipment, definitely something you can make and use at home for training.  Here are some of the best tutorials I've found online to help you make functional, durable and pretty at-home agility jumps!
Ammo the Dachshund has some great agility tutorials!  Easy to follow, with lots of pictures, the jump tutorial tells you what to buy and how to put it together

If you're more of a video watcher, this guy's series of videos goes through the step-by-step process of jump making.  INCLUDING making your own jump cups. 

Jump cups are probably the most complicated part of assembling jumps.  There are several methods but I  like this guy's the best because it uses an EASY TO FIND coupling. (His jump-making method however uses the exceedingly more hard-to-find 4-way connector that you can usually only buy online.)
If you can find the components, there is also this option for making jump cups from a saddle piece used in irrigation systems. I could not find this anywhere but online. Instant Agility has a post about other alternatives for jump cups so you're bound to find a method that works for you!
How about adding some wings to those jumps!  This great tutorial from Camp Bandy is for free-standing wings so they can be used with any jump!
Want to make a tire jump?  There are a couple of different options.  Tell me this isn't just a hulahoop inside of a jump standard.  Easy peasy!  If you want to get a little more fancy, Camp bandy again has a great tutorial for a more involved PVC and drainage pipe version.
And who wants plain old white jumps?  This tutorial from Make Magazine shows you how to dye PVC pipe ANY color you can think of!  Although I might steer you toward colors that contrast with your training area and that dogs can see accurately.  Here's a great article on canine color vision and how it impacts agility equipment.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

WinsDay #11-Review of BowWowFlix and Dog Exercise/Conditioning DVD

As I've said before, I love to learn new things and DVDs are a great way to learn at your own pace.  BowWowFlix is a service, like Netflix, that allows you to rent dog-related DVDs.  I signed up for the 1 DVD at a time -UNLIMITED DVDs per month plan, which is $11.95 each month.  You can cancel at any time and there is no additional sign-up fee so you can pay for the service the months you think you'll have time to watch DVDs (winter) and cancel it when you're too busy (summer).

I found that my first DVD arrived quickly but when I shipped it back, in the prepaid mailer, it seemed to take quite a while to be removed from my account, which is when a new DVD will be sent out.  This happened each time I returned a DVD and I wondered how long they sat around at the facility, waiting for someone to switch them out for a new DVD.  Also, popular titles like Crate Games are seemingly always checked out.  The way your queue works is that they send out the next title on your list that is available so if you really wanted a certain DVD, you would have to have ONLY that title in your queue, otherwise you would most likely get other DVDs that are available instead of the one you really want.  This wastes your subscription by having periods when no DVD is sent out.

Despite the flaws, I did get to watch some really great DVDs without having to buy each and every one!  And if you're willing to pay for the 2, 3 or 4 DVD per month subscriptions, you could get a lot more watching in since there are not times when you have no DVDs.  There is another similar service called TawzerDog, I'd be interested to hear if anyone has experience with their rental program.  I went with BowWowFlix because it seemed to have more titles that I wanted at the time.
One of the first DVDs I rented was Building the Canine Athlete: Strength, Stretch, Endurance and Body Awareness Exercises.  I rented this DVD because I wanted to create a warm-up routine for Dot and a core and hind leg strengthening program.   Dot is very straight in the stifle and I want to keep her hind strong in order to prevent cruciate ligaments injury.  I've learned it's important to warm-up and cool-down before doing any sort of jumping, quick turns, etc.  You know, dog sports stuff! 

I really liked that I could click to each individual exercise and not have to watch the whole DVD to get to the ones I wanted to see.  The exercises included are divided up into four categories: Strength, Body Awareness (Proprioception), Strength and Endurance.

For Dot's core and hind end program, I chose:
* Roll Over-This is great for the core as it takes the dog twisting and contracting all their torso muscles to get all the way over.  Be sure and do it both ways.

* Beg-Stand-Beg -Strengthener for rear limbs and abs/spinal muscles.  Dot had to work up to a begging position by first sitting up while I steadied her with my leg on her back.  Then she needed only a light hand touch to keep her upright.  Going from a stand to a beg instead of a sit takes a huge amount of core strength and Dot is still working on this.  I am not pushing her because it also puts a lot of pressure on her folded hind limbs.

* Crawl- A whole-body workout in one exercise, crawling takes almost every muscle in the dog's body!


* Step Through Ladder -Dot needed this skill for agility prep anyway so we started it.  It takes her some thought to get all her feet where she wants them.

* Spins- Dot loves to spin!  Practice spins on a surface with good traction, you do NOT want a slip and fall while rotating.  Also practice on hills to get a variety of muscles involved.


* Play Bow- A really good stretch to do before more active exercises, this one gets the spine and legs loosened up.

* Passive Range of Motion -These are stretches done to the dog by the handler, while the dog is either standing or lying on it's side.  Really well explained in the DVD, you first flex, then straighten each joint, rotate the shoulder and hip, compress and rotate the ankles and hocks in order to move fluid into the joint and pull the limbs to traction.


* Trot on Leash- Which we amended to walk on leash because I don't want really long stretches of trotting which is high-impact.

But these are just a few of the exercises from this great DVD!  Does your dog have a "problem area"?
WinsDay is not just the place to show
off ribbons.  Maybe you learned something new about a breed or dog sport
 that you'd like to share or maybe you have a doggy giveaway going on at your blog and would like to give us all a chance to win!
 Maybe your dog earned its CGC or you started working on a new level of
obedience or agility.  Maybe you mastered doorway manners or housebroke
your new puppy.  These are all wins, celebrate them with us!


Friday, February 21, 2014

K9 Kamp-Snow Search

We are stuck here in the snow and yuck so to bust out of our cabin fever we decided to participate in K9 Kamp this time around. It's being hosted by Peggy's Place, Slimdoggy and To Dog with Love and the theme this time around was Hide and Seek. We got out of the house to play a little game of Snow Search. First I threw a treat down where I knew she'd see it and told Dot to look for it. Then I started to throw down more than one at a time so it was more of a search mission. Dot really seemed to get into it once she knew there were treats under the snow! It was a lot of fun to watch her dig and hunt. And judging by the nub waggles, Dot had fun too!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

WinsDay #10 Dot learns to speak

Dot is our barky dog.  She's always barked at the mailman/Schwan's man/UPS man/etc.  I never really did much to stop it other than occasionally holler at her from the back of the house, which does nothing because she has never been taught that it means anything.  It just makes me feel better!  But since Taco came into the family, she has gotten worse.  Taco makes almost no noise at all.  Ever.  So I hope he doesn't pick up this habit of hers.

In order to start to curtail the outbursts, I decided to train Dot to bark on command.  In theory, you can then teach the dog a shush command which will carry over into everyday use.  Here is a video that outlines the process.  But Dot is not as easily fooled as that demo dog.  After one, maybe two coerced barks she realized it's just me knocking or ringing the doorbell and stopped barking.  So I had to really get her hopped up and excited, then try and get her to bark by going crazy with the knocking and pointing out the window and saying "who's here, who is that?"  It worked!  She learned the command for bark after about two weeks of very short training sessions about every other day.
In this video, she barks on command a few times, getting treats for doing so. Then she barks on command and is rewarded for NOT barking when I give the Shhhhh command. (Also note the Taco head peeking out, waiting on the couch. When we train in the living room, this is our waiting spot for the dog not working.

WinsDay is not just the place to show off ribbons.  Maybe you learned something new about a breed or dog sport that you'd like to share or maybe you have a doggy giveaway going on at your blog and would like to give us all a chance to win!  Maybe your dog earned its CGC or you started working on a new level of obedience or agility.  Maybe you mastered doorway manners or housebroke your new puppy.  These are all wins, celebrate them with us!