Good Dogs, Unleashed!


Adventures in Seafood
May 14, 2012, 6:50 pm
Filed under: Chomper, Miscellaneous, Petey

Disclaimer: There is little to nothing interesting about this post.

We went to the beach this weekend again. It’s all of our favorite place. We checked out low tide and found a bunch of sea creatures stuck in the tide pools. Chomper was, as usual, most interested in seagulls. In fact, the first thing she did was bully a sea bird out of it’s meal. Here she is eating a freshly stolen mussel, shell and all.

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The most delicious food is stolen food.

Petey has almost no interest in the birds, but lots of interest in things to eat. He loves digging in the dry sand. I have no idea what he’s eating down there, he always gets to it before I see it. He seems to think that the best way to dig is to lay on his side with his head against the sand, digging sideways. It’s absolutely hilarious. Of course, we didn’t bring the camera then, so we have no proof of this, but trust me, it’s cute.

We found dozens of little crabs that had gotten stuck in the tide pools. Most of them were dead, but we did find a few live ones. We tried to get some pictures, but the dogs kept nudging my hand around trying to see what kind of squirmy toy I had picked up.

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Food?

Eventually, Petey decided he had better uses for a live crab than we did.

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FOOD!

As he does with everything, he ate it. Alive. Shell and all.

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Delicious.

We decided he was right, so we got ourselves some crab cake sandwiches and beer and had lunch on the beach. Without the fur monsters. 



Wilmington’s mayor looking to repeal ridiculous pit bull laws!
May 3, 2012, 3:41 pm
Filed under: News | Tags:

Wilmington’s Mayor Baker is looking to FINALLY repeal the ridiculous breed specific legislation that’s been on the books for almost 12 years. The law in Wilmington requires all pit bulls to get special registration through the Delaware Humane Association ($30 for life)  be spayed or neutered (GOOD) and prohibits any breeding. These rules aren’t that terrible, and aren’t a bad idea for all dogs. The bad part? Pit bulls are not allowed to be off leash (even in designated off-leash dog parks) and are required to be muzzled when in city parks.

Cities across the country with pit bull specific legislation have shown no decrease in dog bites after laws have been enacted. Miami-Dade County has had one of the most brutal pit bull laws in the country, banning the breed all together, and residents will be voting to repeal that law in August, citing no change in their bite statistics over the past twenty years. In fact, large cities across the country have seen reductions in dog bites by about 90% over the past 35 years, while Miami-Dade has only seen an 80% decrease, most of which (43%) occurred before the pit bull ban in 1989. Miami-Dade is the only Florida county to ban pit-bulls, yet their residents accounted for 16% of the states reported dog bites in 2007, despite the fact that the county only holds 13% of the state’s total population.

Countless cities across the country have breed specific legislation on the books, but many are realizing that they are useless if not detrimental. Delaware is currently looking for a new animal-control contractor to replace the Delaware SPCA when their contract expires this summer, and they are unlikely to find someone willing to take the job with this law being enforced. The Kent County SPCA who currently handles most animal control issues for the state has a strong stance against breed specific legislation and has not publicly commented on whether or not they will be bidding on the contract.

Regardless of the law, if you take a drive through the city of Wilmington, you will no doubt see many pit bulls who are not following the rules. I saw unneutered and off leash pits constantly while living in the city and was subject to plenty of advertisements for “prohibited” litters of puppies for sale. That being said, the good pit bull owners are sure to be happy to have these laws off the books, if only to show momentum toward the elimination of breed bias by lawmakers and animal control officials across the country. Hopefully we’ll see this repeal happen sooner rather than later.

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Piper, an adoptable pit mix at the Delaware Humane Association, via Petfinder.com.



We’re hosting Obedience Lessons!
May 3, 2012, 3:08 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

We’ve been approved to host obedience lessons in Paper Mill Park on Tuesdays from 7-8, starting May 8th!  All breeds and ages are welcome, but all dogs must be vaccinated. We’ll be covering sit, down, stay, come, drop it, leave it, good leash walking, polite greetings and common behavior problem solutions. Clicker training will be offered but is not required. Contact us to register!



Easter Beach Trip
April 9, 2012, 8:42 pm
Filed under: Chomper, Miscellaneous, Petey | Tags:

We decided to skip out on the family Easter mania this weekend in favor of a trip to the beach. This was an excellent decision, even if we barely left the house except to take the dogs on the beach and watch the Flyers lose to the Penguins. The dogs had a great time and Chomper got to accompany us when we went out for water ice. She wore her new Baskerville Ultra Muzzle, which fits her much better than her old one, and while she was super reactive, it was a tough situation for her (two golden retrievers with a family full of people) and she did eventually settle down. Petey of course, had a lovely time and made friends with a beagley mix he met on the beach while ignoring us.

Our last walk out, the tide was out and there were lots of small tide pools for the two fur idiots to get soaked and sandy in. We stupidly neglected to bring the camera, but on their trip they chased dozens of seagulls (mostly Chomper) and Petey met a real live crab which he tried to eat while I explained to him what claws do. Luckily, he was much more interested in running around, so his nose stayed un-pinched. Unfortunately for all those involved (or maybe just us humans), the pet store where we like to stop for baths on the way home closed early for the holiday, so I still have two sandy dogs as I sit here. This will be rectified at our local store some time this week.

As for us, I ended up with a nice April sunburn from enjoying the weather a bit too much, and boyfriend got to drink margaritas and relax and take naps, which he never gets to do. I plan to spend the day drinking water and applying aloe lotion while the dogs continue sleeping off the weekend. So far, so good. Overall, excellent weekend had by all, now I just need to convince boyfriend that we should go back again THIS weekend.

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How to Pick a Great Doggy Day Care
April 5, 2012, 5:25 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: ,

Doggy day cares are a great option for people who work a lot or can’t give their dogs the exercise they need. For dogs who love other dogs, it’s a great way to work off energy, play, make friends and just have a general good time. Now, day care isn’t for everyone, mostly due to the fact that it’s EXPENSIVE. Many of the places in our are are $20-30 a day and most of us aren’t able to drop that kind of money more than maybe once a week. For those of us who can, finding a day care worth your money is important, so here are some tips as to how to pick one.

  • Access to the outdoors- Many doggy day cares are just a giant warehouse with no windows and no where for the dogs to go outside. That sucks. A doggy day care with a fenced in outdoor area is ideal. Not only does this give your dog all of the obvious benefits to being outside (smells, sounds, fresh air, things to roll in..) it also helps to decrease the amount of accidents that are being had inside the building. If you don’t have any day cares with outdoor areas, make sure that every dog is taken on a leashed walk to go to the bathroom every few hours, and that they’re not expected to just eliminate inside whenever the need to go. Which leads us to the next point:
  • Cleanliness- When you go to inspect the day care, take into account how clean the place is. Obviously if you’ve got 20 dogs running around, the place is going to have fur and mud and the occasional accident, but it should generally be clean. This means no half dry puddles or piles sitting on the floor, no mop bucket full of cloudy brown water, no trashcans full of accident clean up. It also means that water bowls are cleaned often and fresh water is always available. The building shouldn’t smell like a latrine, but it also shouldn’t smell like the inside of a bleach bottle. While cleanliness is important, your dog shouldn’t be inhaling chemical fumes all day, especially in a building with little ventilation.
  • Dog to person ratio- Watching a large amount of dogs can be fun, but it can also be difficult. Scrums happen and there should be enough staff to monitor the dogs closely while also interacting with the dogs by playing tug, tossing a tennis ball or frisbee and giving out belly rubs. A 10:1 dog to human ratio is ideal and a 20:1 ratio is unacceptable. Also, it’s generally better to have 2 staff members available at all time in case something does go wrong.
  • Staff training- How well trained is the staff? Are they taught to recognize canine body language, how to identify and separate dogs who look like they may be getting too intense, how to break up a fight if one were to occur? What about first aid training? Do the employees know what to do if a dog is injured? Ask the manager or owner these questions and then, if you can, talk to the employees themselves about their experiences. Make sure that none of the employees are ever allowed to dole out physical punishments.
  • Veterinary partnership- A doggy day care that’s part of an animal hospital would be perfect, but since most aren’t, ask if they have a veterinarian who they have a relationship with in case of emergency. If an animal is seriously injured, where will they take the dog and what type of medical care are they willing to provide? In addition, make sure that they have basic dog first aid kits in the facility for minor injuries and that staff are trained in how to handle those injuries.
  • Separation of large and small dogs- This is a personal decision, there’s no reason that large and small dogs can’t play and interact with each other in a safe way, however it can lead to unintentional injuries. A pomeranian can easily be squashed or trampled by two fat labs tearing from one end of the building to the other. If you have a particularly small dog that you’re concerned may get hurt while playing with large dogs, find a day care that has separate areas for different sized dogs.
  • Application process- Anyone looking to bring their dog to a day care should be required to provide proof of spaying/neutering and vaccinations (rabies, distemper, bordetella [kennel cough] and canine influenza). Questions on the application should address the dog’s experience with people and other dogs, it’s overall health, any allergies or medications and any behavioral problems that may be an issue in a day care setting. After an application is approved, a dog interview should be held before your dog is introduced to the entire group. During this interview process, two staff members introduce your dog to other dogs one at a time and monitor your dog’s interactions. Your dog should only be allowed to join the day care program if she does well with small groups of dogs first. Dogs who show aggression or fear should not be accepted.
  • Webcams- Many doggy day cares now offer webcam service so that you can check in on your dog while he’s playing. This is great because it helps you keep an eye on what type of interactions your dog is having with other dogs and the staff. Is he hiding in a corner all day sleeping? Maybe day care isn’t the right choice for him. Are the staff members actually interacting with the dogs or are they suspiciously absent or distracted playing cell phone games or reading a book? If your day care doesn’t offer webcams, make it a point to drop by unannounced to make sure that everything is going smoothly for your dog.

Besides these few guidelines, your best bet is to ask around for recommendations. Ask your veterinarian, groomer or trainer who they recommend. Ask your friends if their dogs attend a day care in the area and if they’re happy with their experience. Once you find a day care you like, stick with it and try to bring your dog on the same day(s) each week so that she can form relationships with dogs she sees regularly. Good luck!



Spring is Here!
April 5, 2012, 4:38 pm
Filed under: Chomper, Miscellaneous, Training | Tags: , ,

Considering the last post I made was in September, I’m going to go with the excuse of “I was hibernating.” By hibernating I mean snuggling the dogs and my Kindle while drinking wine in front of the fireplace. Although realistically, it’s just me taking dozens of photos of the endlessly handsome Petesworth while Chomper hides under the bed. Her noise phobia gets the best of her and it’s difficult to desensitize her against the unpredictable popping of wood. Petey on the other hand, cannot get enough.

Petey enjoys his fireplace photoshoots almost as much as the fire itself.

The winter was super mild this year though, so we didn’t spend the whole time inside. Boyfriend and I got into geocaching in the fall and spent a good deal of time traipsing through the woods with one or both dogs in tow. For those who aren’t familiar, Geocaching is sort of like a world wide scavenger hunt where people hide small containers and everyone else looks for them. Containers always hold a log book for everyone to sign when they find the cache, but many are large enough to leave other little objects as calling cards or for trading. It’s easy and free and all you need is a hand held GPS unit or a smart phone. You can find way more info at Geocaching.com. One of the best parts about geocaching is that it has introduced us to all sorts of parks and other natural areas we had no idea were there. We spent the week between Christmas and New Years at the beach and found quite a few small, beautiful parks. It’s a really fun thing for us and the dogs get to go exploring in new places too, so they’re big fans.

 

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A gorgeous park near Ocean City, Maryland.

We also moved into a new place and that was a huge pain, but it’s turning out to be a great training opportunity for Chomper. She’s been a neurotic mess since the day I got her and I’ve tried a million different training methods to work with her fear and anxiety. I have half a dozen different books on the subject, but none of the classic counter-conditioning or desensitization has ever worked for her. In the fall I purchased yet another book, Behavioral Adjustment Training (BAT) for Fear, Frustration and Aggression in Dogs. This book is in the process of changing Chomper’s life. Detailing exactly what BAT is will come in a later post, but for Chomper, BAT is rewarding her bravest behavior by increasing the distance between her an the thing she is afraid of. So, Chomper is afraid of children. When we’re on a walk and she notices a child, she has to make a decision between getting upset and ignoring the child. Normally, Chomper’s first reaction is to stiffen her entire body, raise her tail and freeze in place before lunging forward and whining then spinning around and repeating the lunge and whine. She’s doing this so that the child will go away. Normally, either the child gets totally freaked out and runs away, or I drag Chomper off in the other direction. Either way, Chomper is getting what she wants (distance from something scary) for doing a behavior that I don’t want (being fearful and defensive). WIth BAT, I wait for Chomper to notice her trigger (people, cats, dogs…) and wait for her to give any type of displacement behavior (relaxing her body language, turning away, sniffing the ground…). The second she provides a displacement behavior, I click and turn around and walk away from the trigger, thereby giving Chomper the distance that she wants, while slowly showing her what good behaviors she can offer to earn that distance. Like I said, it’s kind of a complicated idea to explain in a short paragraph, but the point is, it’s working fantastically.

We’ve only been trying the BAT for a little while now, but Chomper is finally starting to show some improvement with her behavior. In order to keep track of her positive strides and to help keep my moral up when things aren’t going well, I’ve decided to keep a list of things Chomper has not reacted to. So, yesterday, Chomper walked past the following things without reacting in a negative way:

  1. An elementary-aged kid tossing a baseball in the air about 20 yards away
  2. An older man sitting on his front porch with a yappy dog (I don’t think Chomp saw the dog but she definitely heard it) about 10 feet away
  3. Three teenagers tossing a football back and forth about 20 yards away
  4. Four elementary-aged kids coming directly toward us from about 20 feet away-this one was super hard for her, she still whined, but she also still turned away, so it counts
  5. A man sitting on the curb talking on the phone from about 15 yards away-this was another tough one, she tends to do worse with men than women

As you can see, I’m trying to be as specific as possible so that I can keep track of what is more difficult for her so that I can be prepared when those situations present themselves. So far so good. We’re even making progress with not reacting to everyone that passes by when Chomp is on the deck. Unless it’s a cat, in which case you can forget about it. I’ll do my best to keep updating the list of things she’s doing well with. Having a reactive dog is hard as hell, but seeing a positive change in her behavior feels amazing.



Sneaky Pete Beer!
September 5, 2011, 7:46 pm
Filed under: Cool Stuff | Tags: ,

We were at a local liquor store the other day, and look what we found!

It's Petey!

Sneaky Pete Imperial Ale. I probably haven’t mentioned that we’re what some might call “beer snobs.” We generally drink Dogfish Head’s 60 minute IPA as our every day beer (although it’s Punkin Ale all the way right now, and I will probably drink it all before it’s even technically fall-just like I have every year), and try to pick up other craft brews when we can. I am thrilled to report that, not only is Sneaky Pete named after Petey AND have him on the front, but it is delicious. We saved the packaging to frame the front square, and we saved a bottle of the beer as well. We attempted to take pictures of Petey with the bottle. This did not go well:

My beer?

Apparently, my camera has difficulty auto focusing on a moving puppy and a beer bottle at the same time.

Stupid shiny label.

 

It doesn’t help that boyfriend has taught Petey to ask for beer.

WANT.

You can find more about Sneaky Pete IPA here.