Help Australia and Save the Koalas

Help Australia and Save the Koalas

I’ve never been to Australia, nor do I have any ties to Australia. Truthfully, I think that’s the case for many of us here in the United States impacted by what’s happening in Australia. You don’t have to have been there or have any ties there for their current states of affairs to weigh heavily on you.

 Australia is experiencing literal hell on earth. They are currently experiencing the worst bushfires they’ve seen in decades.

 Here are some of the horrible statistics:

  • Almost 30 people have died, including several volunteer firefighters
  • Over 2,000 homes have been destroyed.
  • In December 2019 in Sydney, the smoke in the air was so bad that it was considered 11 times the hazardous levels.
  • Half a billion animals have been affected, and likely millions are dead.
  • About 1/3 of the koalas in New South Wales have been killed, and 1/3 of their habitat has been destroyed.
  • There will likely be species of birds and frogs become extinct due to this.

 The United States, Canada, and New Zealand have sent in about 2,000 firefighters to help.

 Australia is receiving about $2 billion from the Morrison Administration to help rebuild the infrastructure, and the prime minister has said $4,200 will go to each volunteer firefighter battling for over 10 days. There is some other compensation for them, but let’s just think about that for a minute. They are leaving their country, their family, and their day job that pays the bills to help fight these fires.

 Australia experiences a fire season every year, but these fires are at whole different level. The worst part is – they are likely made worse by humans. New South Wales police have taken legal action against 183 people for arson since November. Then, there’s the destruction that we are all contributing to – climate change. These fires are absolutely made worse from the persistent heat and drought Australia has been experiencing, which is heavily influenced by climate change.

 While all of Australia is suffering – from the tiniest amphibians to entire families – the impact this is having on the koala does stand out. While birds can fly away and kangaroos can hop quickly, koalas are slow, seek height for protection, and thrive on eucalytpus trees. Unfortunately, the eucalyptus trees contain so much oil which can ignite into an explosion – killing the koalas in its wake.

 Organizations like Rescue Craft Co were asking for crafters to make and donate items to help the wildlife – like koala mittens for their burned hands, joey hanging pouches, etc. The good news is most of these organizations have been flooded with these handmade items and are now simply requesting money donations to aid the wildlife, firefighters, and victims.

Many articles point to the fact that the fires will only get worse with the hotter days ahead. Australia’s agriculture and tourism industries have been completely destroyed by these fires, and their economy will likely not be the same.

 

 

SO WHAT’S THIS KOALA BANDANA?

I opened a handmade store!

Something you may not know is that I’ve been wanting to create a homemade, functional dog gear shop for the active yet reactive dog. So what the heck does that mean? Basically – I want to make bandanas and leash wraps (and other things coming in the future) that make traveling and hiking with your reactive dog easier! They will be cute but functional items that have personalization with things like “I Need Space,” “Back Off,” “Ignore Me,” etc. 

I was going to launch this shop with those items, but then news of Australia broke out. I have always been a “tree hugger” or “environmentalist” at heart, plus the world’s bigget animal lover, so this is seriously killing me. I can’t even fathom living there right now. 

So I figured – the best way to launch a new store and a new product is by first helping others. So, I found some adorable koala bandana fabric, and here we are! I’m going to donate 50% of all of my sales to WIRES. You can read more about WIRES here, but they are the largest wildlife rescue organization in Australia. 

All of my bandanas are handmade by me in Winchester, Virginia. These koala bandanas have the koala print on the front with a plain black backing. They slip onto the collar, so they will easily fit any size/any dog. They’re 100% cotton and can be machine washed on cold or hand washed and then lay flat to dry. Shipping is via USPS, so after placing your order, please allow 6-12 days for it to show up at your doorstep. This gives me to time to handmake the item to ensure it’s perfect, and it allows shipping time for USPS. 

If you (or your dog) has a bandana addiction, please consider purchasing this koala dog bandana. Not only are you helping by allowing me to donate to WIRES, but you’re also spreading awareness everytime someone sees your dog in this bandana. 

If you have any questions, feel free to email me at alix@fetchformehuman.com

You can go directly to my Shop and the koala dog bandana by clicking here, or you can click on the Shop button at the top of the page.

I seriously can’t thank you enough – first for taking the time to read this, but secondly, by supporting me as I launch a new store for the reactive dogs of the world and for supporting me in helping a good cause!

Australia needs all the help they can get. Let’s all continue to keep the wildlife, victims, firefighters, and everyone else in our thoughts and #prayforAustralia.

 

Ready, Set, Fetch! – The Podcast for Reactive Dog Owners

Ready, Set, Fetch! – The Podcast for Reactive Dog Owners

So, first off, I just want to thank you so much for listening. Obviously you can tell that this is episode number 1, so this is the first time I’m ever doing a podcast. So I hope you’ll stick with me through all these first episodes as I learn all the quirks and things that you have to do when you are getting my voice into your earbuds. So anyway, today I just want to talk about what this podcast is and set some groundwork and some expectations. So this podcast is going to discuss anything and everything about dogs, but it’s specifically going to talk about reactive dogs. We’ll discuss everything from training dogs to traveling with dogs to topics like general health and wellness and so much more. So while there are some other dog specific podcasts out there, there actually aren’t any solely for reactive dogs and their owners. So that’s why I’m here, and that’s why I’m doing this. I’m here to support and help all the reactive dogs and all the reactive dog owners out there. So whether you’re a reactive dog owner or dog trainer or maybe you have a pretty friendly and stable dog, there’s still going to be something in each episode for everyone to learn from. So what is a reactive dog? A reactive dog is simply one that overreacts to a normal stimuli, but I’m here to tell you how to change that behavior so you feel more confident walking your dog. I’m also here to tell you that everything is going to be okay, I promise. Now, I have a few goals for this podcast. The first one is that I want to empower you to feel more knowledgeable and confident getting outside with your dog. Having a reactive dog is not a death sentence. It doesn’t mean that you need to stay cooped up inside. But, it’s mentally and emotionally tough on the owner, and I get that because I have a reactive dog. There is a struggle. You often feel embarrassed and ashamed, and sometimes you even feel stupid or terrified. I don’t want that for you. We’ve been working and training for over 7 years now, so I want to help you. I want you to feel confident working with your dog, and I want you feel more confident walking your dog. The second goal is that I want to create a supportive and positive reactive dog community, because it’s already a struggle owning a reactive dog. One of the most important things I’ve learned is that you have to find your tribe, and you have to find your people. The third goal is that I want to educate you and spread awareness. Reactive dogs are not bad dogs at all. There’s a famous quote that says, “Your dog isn’t giving you a hard time, he’s having a hard time.” and that is absolutely one thousand percent true. We’ll cover everything from walking your dog without him barking and lunging to trimming his nails to muzzle training to crate training to general traveling tips and tricks and actual dog tricks like high five. And really, just all of the things. So while there are other podcasts geared towards the easier dogs, I’m here for the reactive dogs and the reactive dog owners and the reactive dog trainers. I’m here to spread awareness and education, and most importantly, I’m here to support you. Really. No one is talking about the mental and emotional aspect of owning a reactive dog, and I’m here to help with that. Since this podcast covers anything and everything about having a reactive dog, that includes your end of the leash as well. So I hope you’ll join me in the next episode, and I hope we can navigate this world as reactive dog owners together. Because if there is anything I’ve learned, it’s that reactive dog owners need to find their support system. So I’m here for it, and I’m here for you. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time. Bye guys!

Want to connect and find your tribe? 

Connect with me on Instagram! @fetchformehuman

And, make sure you join my private Facebook community for podcast listeners and other reactive dog owners!

 

 

 

Stop Using Aversives in Dog Training

Stop Using Aversives in Dog Training

Last Wednesday night, my husband and I took the dogs for a walk at our local park. This is a pretty busy little park. There are lots of families with children, the occasional dogs, and the fun part – there are about a million squirrels and geese. Even though it’s so busy, there is plenty of open area to move off to the side to give Buster space, so I actually really like going here to work on training. 

So we did one lap around the trail with zero issues and decided to do a second since the weather was so nice. When we started the second lap, I noticed a man standing with a leash wrapped over his should. I immediately started looking for a dog but didn’t see one. We walked a little bit further, and sure enough – about 30 feet or so away from the man, the Shepherd mix was lying in a down stay. His back was to the owner/trainer’s back. 

I immediately gave plenty of space, and Buster passed him with no issues. As we were passing, I noticed he was wearing a shock collar. Right after we passed him, a squirrel ran out in front of Buster, and a kid nearby happened to scream at the same time too, so Buster let out a little alien scream. I didn’t care. I immediately got his attention back, and we kept on walking with lots of treats and happy talk. 

That’s when I noticed the owner/trainer’s total Judgy McJudgerson look on his face and his little smirk as I was giving Buster treats. 

This annoyed me. Don’t get me wrong – I could not care less what he thinks, but it’s taken me awhile to get to that point. 

The point is – whatever happened to minding your own business? Whatever happened to keeping things to yourself? Whatever happened to just leaving people alone? 

I wonder how often this man sees other people using treats and snickers at them. I wonder if he does it to someone new in their training journey, and I wonder if he makes them feel like crap. 

So, we walked by him, and then noticed him later on the very outside perimeter of the park walking the dog, still off leash. 

I’ll give the owner/trainer kudos – the dog didn’t move while he was in a down stay and we walked past. But – the dog didn’t look happy. He was visibly stressed. His ears were pinned back as far as they could go, and he there were a couple of small whale-eye movements. 

I immerse myself in positive reinforcement based dog training. All of the Facebook groups I partake in are R+. Of course, all of the books I read are R+. Sometimes I get so surrounded by that positive bubble, that I forget that R+ is unfortunately, not that common. There are so many people who have not heard of R+ training yet, and there are even more people who have heard of it, don’t understand it, mock it, and then slap an e-collar on their dog. This makes me sad. 

Admittedly, there are just a small handful of e-collar trainers that I do follow on social media, but only because they are killing it at the social media game. I try to learn from them to see what social media strategies and marketing is working, but that’s the only reason I follow them. And then, there are the occasional things that pop up in my feed because the Google gods think it’s something I want to see. The other day, I came across a Pug wearing a prong collar – A PUG! I felt as if I had just witnessed a car accident with the car going up in flames. Why on earth would anyone ever think it’s a good idea to put a prong collar on a breed that already a) really doesn’t even have a neck and b) already has a compromised respiratory system by design. 

But of course, these trainers are good at social media, and they do post videos. I’ll often see just a few seconds of their videos. Do you know what their videos are always show though? A dog in a down stay, usually on a station/bed/platform. Those videos truthfully make up 95% of their videos. That’s it.

 You guys – there is SO MUCH MORE to dog training than a down stay. Is it important? Yes. Is it the most important thing? Honestly, I don’t think so. I’m also going to insert my totally controversial opinion here – down stays are actually very easy to teach. In my opinion, it’s boring and repetitive, but it’s easy.

So honestly, it breaks my heart a little when I think about how popular e-collar training is, and how those dogs are primarily taught to down stay. Where’s the fun? Where is the relationship? What about the games? A relationship between a dog and their owner is so much more than a fabulous down stay. Sure, with a good down stay, maybe the owner can take the dogs to cafe’s more, but are they really? And then what – the dog just lies there. 

I want to see more interaction between owners and their dogs. You are the only thing your dog has, and your dog wants to interact with you. 

So all in all, we had a great walk with zero issues, but it made me think of these things that made me a little sad. 

I really hope positive reinforcement becomes the norm sooner than later. In fact, let me leave you with just a coupel of fun facts about e-collars to ponder: 

1. They are on their way to being banned throughout all of England. They are already banned in some places, like Whales. 

That should speak volumes to you. If an entire country is banning a device, there is a a valid and good reason. We also know that they are way ahead of the United States in a variety of things, so why can’t we learn from them? 

I mean, to flip the script – I often hear people complain that the United States is stupid for having the legal drinking age set to 21 when it’s 18 in most other places. So, if we wish the United States would follow the lead of those other progressive places on that topic, why can’t we follow the lead with something as simple as dog training? 

2. At my day job, I work with contract workig dogs that serve on government contracts for the federal government. These are Belgian Malinois, Dutch Shepherds, German Shepherds, German Shorthaired Pointers, etc. None of them are trained with e-collars. 

I really wish the United states would ban e-collars, but I’m not sure that will ever happen. I just hope R+ becomes the norm soon enough, and the best way is to lead by example and keep spreading the message!

 

How do you train your dog, and what’s your favorite thing to train? 

5 Tips for Camping with Dogs

5 Tips for Camping with Dogs

We’ve been camping recently, and I’ve fallen back in love with it. There is something pretty magical about just being stuck in the woods in silence for hours on end and camping with dogs. Plus, who doesn’t love a good campfire and s’more?! I’ll admit, at first, I was worried what Buster would do. Was he going to bark at every single sound? If our campsite was next to people, was he going to bark at them nonstop? Oh god, what if they had a dog?

 As per usual, my fears were all for nothing. So, let this be a gentle reminder, stop worrying about things you don’t know or have no control over! Sure, take time to educate and prepare yourself, but stop stressing and worrying! Long story short – Buster loves to camp! We went a few weekends ago and were at a campground with campsites quite close to each other. We had people all around us, and we had a pretty loud dog directly across from us. Buster didn’t care! He seemed so genuinely happy to be camping! He was so relaxed that his usual triggers truly weren’t bothering him.

 Then it occurred to me, I think camping may actually be the best activity for reactive dogs! Think about it – you’re relatively secluded (especially if you follow my tip in #1). You’ve likely been exercising more, because typically when you camp, you are also walking/hiking a good bit, so your dog is likely more tired. Because you’re out in the wide open, while your dog may be interested in all the sights and smells, they may be less apt to react simply due to the fact that they are less on edge from a) being tired from the exercise and b) being out in the great outdoors! There are studies about how being outside is hugely beneficial for people, so I’m pretty sure it’s the same for dogs.

Now that we’ve gone over the fact that camping may actually be the best activity for reactive dogs, here are my tips for camping with your reactive dog. 

 

  1. choose the appropriate location

    There are tons of places you can camp these days. Your options range from national parks to state parks to campgrounds and more! But, they are all set up quite differently. In my experience, national and state forests are the most remote. For example, this weekend we camped at Green Ridge State Forest in Flintstone, MD. At our particular campsite, our closest neighbor was about a mile away. Our campsite was also down a fairly rough road that I’m pretty sure only an SUV or truck could go down, unless you wanted to scrape up the bottom of a car. Of course, this is primitive camping at its best. There are no facilities. The closest store is about 20 minutes away.

    Now, on the other hand, state parks typically tend to be more developed. The campsites are on a true campground. Each venue will differ, but in general, your neighbor is relatively close. Thank god for the trees for privacy right?! While these still may be primitive, there are usually full bathrooms and other facilities (sometimes a lodge with vending machines and sometimes even a restaurant!) somewhere in the state park. There are also usually developed recretion areas – like little lake or river beaches, large playgrounds, and even golf courses or shooting ranges.

     While most venues have their maps online, it can still be challenging to determine the exact distance you are to your neighbor or what the road is like to your campground. I recommend doing a quick Google search and seeing what other reviews say about the place. Other than that, going with the flow and figuring out how to make your campsite work for you is just part of the adventure that is camping with dogs!

     With good management techniques, a reactive dog could easily camp at either kind of venue; however, clearly you are likely to experience more triggers at a more established campground like a state park. I personally prefer camping more remotely. When I’m camping, I don’t really want to see or hear people at all. I just want to be in the woods.

     

  2. exercise your dog

    Part of the fun of camping is that you should be walking and hiking to do some sightseeing! When you’re doing this, make sure you take your dog with you! I know you want to sit down by the campfire eating s’mores, so exercise your dog during the day so that at night he will happily lay by your feet by the fire. Even though this may be a little mini vacation for you, you still need to get your exercise in!

     

  3. bring a dog run

    You’ll need to be able to secure your dog while you’re setting up and tearing down camp, so make sure you have some sort of dog run. It’s a pain in the butt to constantly hold a dog leash, and you’ll likely need to keep the doors of your vehicle open to unload, so you can’t put him there. The dog run also allows him to check out and smell the area safely while you can sit by the fire!

     There are all sorts of ways to use a dog run. I’ve used a long line through a cargo hook on my SUV, and some vehicles even have external hooks you could use. You could also get one of the dog runs that you screw into the ground (although personally, those terrify me, and I’m afraid of the dog pulling them up.) My personal favorite (and maybe even the cheapest) is to buy 50’ of paracord, 2 eye hooks, and a carabiner. Tie the eye hooks on the ends of the paracord. Taughtly string the paracord between 2-3 trees and secure with the hooks. Place the carabiner on the line and hook your dog’s leash handle through the carabiner. Now your dog can effortlessly glide along the run! Dogs tend to get tangled way less using this method since their leash is hanging pretty vertical in a tight manner. Some companies sell readymade dog runs like this, but they can cost upwards of $60!

     

  4. BRING A CHEW TOY

    We’ve been over this time and time again, but chewing helps dogs to release energy, and it makes them calmer. Buster chews on his West Paw Hurley bone every single night, and he has for about 5 years now! (1 bone lasts about 4 months, so yes, every 4 months or so I really do buy a new bone.) I absolutely see a difference in his demeanor before he chews and once he is done. He is much calmer after chewing, even if he’s only chewed for 10-15 minutes. So make sure you bring some sort of chew with you! You could bring a toy they like, or even something like a bully stick.

     

  5. Bring some music!

    I love listening to the sounds of nature, but sometimes, those sounds can be scary for dogs. Reactive dogs that are highly sensitive to the environment and environmental triggers may be more apt to bark at things like limbs falling. Music can cover those subtle sounds, so your dog is less on edge. Plus who doesn’t love good music while eating s’mores?

So now that you’re well prepared with 5 tips for camping with dogs, tell me in the comments – do you take your dog camping? Is your dog reactive? What’s your biggest fear about camping with a reactive dog?

 I really hope you’ll utilize these tips to help you feel better about getting out and about and maybe even trying a one night camping trip with your dog!

7 Reasons to Stop Letting Your Dog Off Leash

7 Reasons to Stop Letting Your Dog Off Leash

Acadia National Park in Maine holds a special place in my heart, as it probably does for anyone that has been there. It is simply one of the most gorgeous places in the US, and it offers something for everyone – from easy to difficult hikes, rocky beaches to sandy beaches, and even a 27 mile scenic loop drive to the summit of Cadillac Mountain for the best pictures.

In the off season, Acadia feels like a secluded getaway, and you maybe run into a handful of people. In prime travel season (the summer months), it is packed, and you can barely stand to get a picture without bumping shoulders with someone. Acadia sees over 3 million visitors per year. 

Dogs are allowed in the park but must be attached on a 6 foot leash. There are some difficult trails and some beaches, along with a few other spots, that do have restrictions and where dogs cannot go. All of those details can be found here. 

However, there have been 3 instances this past week of visitors being bitten by off leash dogs.

While I’ve been lucky enough to not run into that issue at Acadia, I have had many issues with off leash dogs on several hikes around my home. 

Let me be clear – people with off leash dogs are ruining it for everyone. Not only are they ruining the experience for anyone they may directly come in contact with, but they are also potentially ruining it for everyone in the future. Most parks have leash laws. By violating those leash laws, they are risking these places to no longer allow dogs in the future.

 

 

Why Does your dog need to be off leash?

He doesn’t.

  

There are no ifs, ands, or buts. I assure you – your dog DOES NOT have some intrinsic requirement to be off leash. Your dog is not getting some magical benefit of simply being free of a 6 foot leash for a couple hours that is worth breaking the law, ruining the visit for all of the other visitors, and potentially worth getting in an altercation or having a police report filed as a result of said altercation.

The main argument is that the dogs get “so much more exercise off leash,” and that they’re just “so much happier” running off leash. Let me assure you, your dog is getting plenty of exercise on a 6 foot leash. Just because he is attached to a 6 foot leash does not mean he is not getting a cardiovascular workout, because he is.  

7 Reasons to not let your dog off leash

  1. THE LAW
    • MOST places require dogs to be on a 6 foot leash. It is the law. When parks continue to get unhappy visitors due to those breaking the law or continued reports of dog bites from off leash dogs, it is a very real possibility that they will start banning dogs altogether. Then what are you going to do, and where are you going to go?
  2. OTHER dogs, children, people
    • I know we are living in the most self-absorbed and selfish time of history. People care more about themselves than anyone or anything. But, for just a couple of hours, can’t you do better? Can’t you be a better person than the majority of people? Can’t you care just the tiniest bit about others? There may be other dogs on the trail that don’t like dogs. There may be children who have been attacked and are terrified of dogs. There may be people who don’t like dogs, or elderly people who may fall if your dog bumps into them accidentally.
  3. wildlife
    • Wildlife is everywhere. Bears, coyotes, snakes, porcupines, etc. can all do serious damage to your dog if your dog gets into a scuffle. Plus, what about the smaller wildlife – baby birds and rabbits – will your dog leave those alone or will they incite your dog’s prey drive which may result in a dead animal?
  4. unsafe water
    • Most dogs, especially during a long and hot hike, will naturally get into any body of water they see. I’m sure you’ve seen the news stories all over the country recently, but there are serious concerns of blue-green algae in water. It can be in ponds, lakes, and rivers. The water can even look clear, but it unfortunately could still be contaminated. There’s just no way to know. Exposure to this blue-green algae can easily kill your dog in about an hour. In many parts of the country, there are also serious concerns of leptospirosis. This is a bacteria also found in standing water, which can be treatable if treated quickly, but otherwise, it too can be fatal.
  5. does your dog really have a reliable recall?
    • I have come across some parks that have signs stating something to the effect of, “Dogs must be on leash unless under direct voice control at all times.” This essentially means your dog can be off leash, as long as you can recall him. But, can you really recall him? Can you recall him off of a deer, bear, snake, or squirrel? Can you recall him off the family you may be passing that’s all eating delicious smelling beef jerky? Can you recall him off the excitable dog approaching who is on a leash? Most people like to think they their dog has a fabulous recall, but unfortunately, that is not the truth. Just because your dog has a great recall at home does not mean he will have a great recall on the trail with so many more exciting sights and smells.
  6. tick borne diseases
    • If your dog is off leash, he is likely to be traipsing through the tall grasses off the trail. While ticks are naturally a concern anytime you go outdoors, their prime environment is in those tall bushy grasses. So while you may not be seeing any ticks on the well maintained trail, your dog could be picking up tons in those tall grasses. Is a 2 hour off leash walk really worth a lifetime of tick borne disease?
  7. LONG LINES DO EXIST
    • Again, a lot of parks have a very specific “dog must be attached to a 6 foot leash” rule. But, for parks that don’t have that rule, you can always use a long line. You can find long lines that range from 8 feet to 50 feet long! With the use of a long line, your dog has more room to roam, but is still connected to you, so you don’t have to worry about everything else I’ve just listed here. My personal favorite long lines are the brahma long lines from Bold Lead Designs.

If you’ve read this and for some reason, you still think your dog just absolutely needs to be off leash, then you need to find a place that explicitly allows dogs off leash. These places do exist, so do some research! There are many smaller secluded areas in larger parks off of the trails that are explicitly off leash friendly. You could also consider just taking your dog to a local dog park (try going at odd hours to avoid others if you wish).

Do you let your dog off leash? What do you do to ensure you follow the law and don’t bother other visitors? What about those of you who have been rushed by off leash dogs? Tell me about your experience in the comments below!

7 Facts about Veterinary Technicians

7 Facts about Veterinary Technicians

My husband went to the emergency room last week. He was taken in while working for severe dehydration and possible heat stroke. The paramedics took his vitals and administered a bag of fluids and an anti-nausea injection. When he got to the hospital, he sat in a chair for about an hour until a “room becomes of available.” He sat in this chair behind the registration desk for almost an hour with no further monitoring from anyone – a nurse, doctor, or anyone. He naturally has high blood pressure, and his blood pressure upon arrival was 170/80, which is close to a hypertensive crisis. We finally went into a room, where an RN took his medical history and listened to his heart, but that was it. About 45 minutes later, the doctor finally arrived. Twenty minutes or so later, the RN came back for labwork and to run a second bag of fluids. About another hour later toward the end of the second bag of fluids, the doctor came back in to say his labwork looked great, and that she did believe he was just severely dehydrated with a possible heat stroke. The RN then took his vitals again, and we left.

 During this experience, I noticed 2 main things that bothered me. 1) You are surprisingly very alone in a hospital. We even rang the call button once, and it took someone 5-10 minutes to come to the room. 2) Communication is almost nonexistent. The RN started disconnecting his fluid line and getting blood without even saying a word. She didn’t say how long the labwork would take to get back until I asked

Disclaimer: I understand that veterinary technicians are different from human nurses, and I understand there is a huge difference between veterinary medicine and human medicine. This is is based off my experiences and observations.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I absolutely understand human medicine and human hospitals function very differently than veterinary hospitals. I understand there are so many more rules, regulations, and laws to follow. I understand they are governed by insurance companiess and big pharma and lawyers, unlike veterinary hospitals. I truthfully don’t mind the wait time. I understand how triage works, so I am happy to wait while other people more critical are being cared for. I understand that in the grand scheme of things, severe dehydration is not that big of a deal or a life-or-death situation. But still, my husband was sick, and all of the staff is employed to care for the patients – I mean, that’s their job. 

This probably irks me more than most, because even though I haven’t worked in a veterinary hospital setting in some time, I am still through and through a veterinary technician. That was my first real adult job, and it really did shape the way I approach medicine in general. Being a veterinary technician is an incredibly hard and demanding job, and no, we don’t play with puppies and kittens all day. Being overworked, understaffed, underpaid, underappreciated and yelled at on a weekly (if not daily) basis is pretty much par for the course. In case you aren’t sure what exactly entails being a veterinary techinican, keep on reading because I have some interesting facts for you. 

7 Facts about Veterinary Technicians

1.) As a veterinary technician, our job is to ensure your animal does not feel alone.

We understand animals get freaked out by the weird smells and sights at a veterinary hospital, so we check on them constantly to make sure they are doing okay. If I have a spare minute and your pet is friendly? Then yeah for sure, cuddles will happen.

2.) Anytime you drop your pet off for the day, I can assure you that your veterinary technician is setting a timer to make sure that she checks on your pet frequently, and she is likely taking vitals at least 3x during their stay.

If your pet is there for surgery, his vitals are being checked constantly.

3.) Your veterinary techinician is truly looking out for your pet and acting in their best interest.

If you have an experienced veterinary technician, they are well versed in common illnesses and injury and corresponding treatments. Your veterinarian and veterinary techinician truly make up a team often bouncing ideas off of each other. Your veterinary technician is the one that has eyes on your pet more often than not, so if they notice your pet seems painful or in worse condition, they immediately ask the veterinarian about further treatment.

4.) Our communication skills are top notch.

Disclaimer: I know, everyone’s communication skills differ, and typically that is a skill that every single soul on this planet can always improve upon. For the most part, we are good at communicating with other staff and with clients. When performing procedures in the room with a client, we talk you through the procedure before taking action, so that you understand what is happening. This also provides you the opportunity to speak up to let us know if your pet has some sort of special need – for example, let us know if they prefer their blood being drawn from a back leg versus a front leg. I usually also tell clients exactly what tests we’re performing, but if I forget and a client asks, I am more than happy to explain it.

5.) We’ve all gotten in this field because we truly love animals and want to help them.

We all have animals at home. We all try to treat our patients and clients as if it was us in that situation. I do my best to provide great customer service, because that is how I want to be treated when I take my own dog to the vet. If I say I don’t have the answer but promise to get it and call you back, you can expect a phone call usually within an hour or two. If you would prefer to wait in the car or an exam room instead of the lobby, I will do my best to accomodate you so both you and your pet are more comfortable and relaxed. If you are a “frequent flyer” because your pet is seriously sick, I’ll call just to check up and see how your pet is doing.

6.) Your veterinary techinician is performing the job of many. Your veterinary technician acts as a: nurse, phlebotomist, pharmacist, anesthesiologist, x-ray technician, dental hygeniest, and janitor. And, I’m sure you already know this, but in case you don’t, in many states, veterinary technicians barely get paid over minimum wage for all of this.

Veterinary technicians can attend a two year school program to become a credentialed veterinary technician; however, school typically costs anywhere from $5,000 – $18,000, and in some states, it still only results in a minimal pay raise.

7.) The veterinary industry is brutal, and veterinarians have the highest suicide rate of any professional occupation.

We often work long days and almost never leave work on time. We see sadness and death on a daily basis. When you couple this with angry, yelling clients, it can really be rough. In my opinion, there also seems to be more drama and bullying in a typical veterinary hospital than in most normal workplaces.

So next time you take your dog to the vet, please be patient and kind. Please understand that yes – we cannot dispense ear medications from 2 years ago if your dog has not been in since for a physical exam even though he is shaking his head. Please understand that we too have regulations we must follow; they’re just different than human medicine. Please understand that yes – we do need to do biannual bloodwork if your pet is on a longterm medication such as an NSAID or thyroid medication; your pet cannot speak, and we have no other way to make sure that his internal organs are functioning properly. Please understand that we are doing our best to do 20830329 tasks at the same time while upholding quality care so that your pet, and everyone else’s, can all be cared for.

 If you have an awesome veterinary hospital and team, please please please thank them. A simple “thanks so much for everything you do!” DOES go a long way.

 It can be so hard to find a good vet, especially for a reactive dog. Tell me in the comments – how did you find your current vet? What are some things they do that you love?

 

My Reactive Dog Lunges and Barks (and that’s okay)

My Reactive Dog Lunges and Barks (and that’s okay)

Now, don’t get me wrong. Do I want my reactive dog to lunge and bark? Absolutely not. But will there be times in life that he will? Unfortunately, yes. 

Buster is reactive to both people and dogs, but really, our main issue is dogs. When Buster is reacting to someone or something, he typically lunges and barks, as most reactive dogs do. Like I said, don’t get me wrong. My goal as a dog trainer and owner of a reactive dog is to do everything in my power so that we have a nice walk or hike with 0 reactions. I could go into all of the science with you, but long story short, the more that a dog reacts, the more likely he will continue to react in the future. Plus, his reactions would likely escalate and become worse as time went on. Also, if you are actively working on reactivity, a reaction can unfortunately send you backwards in the progress you’ve made. 

The thing is, many people don’t understand reactive dogs. They will say things about how a dog should stay home if he can’t behave nicely in public. Let me just put it to you bluntly – that’s a load of crap.

3 Reasons that Reactive Dogs NEED to get Outside and be Active

 

  1. Reactive dogs require exercise, just like any other dog.
    I would even be happy to argue that reactive dogs require MORE exercise than an average dog. As the old saying goes, a tired dog is a good dog.

  2. In order to do any sort of training, your dog has to get outside.
    How else are you supposed to work on desensitizing your dog to his triggers?

     

  3. Reactive dogs are still good dogs.
    They are still someone’s pet or family. They deserve to get outside into the world and explore new environments and surroundings with their people. Besides, I’m pretty sure we would call animal control if we knew someone was keeping their dog cooped up inside of their four walls all day every day.

When I take Buster out, I employ a lot of strategies so that we’re prepared and hopefully have as few reactions (the goal is always 0) as possible. (And spoiler alert – at this point in the game with all the hard work we’ve put in, Buster is usually the quietest dog around.) It can feel like a lot of work. It can be overwhelming and stressful at times, but that’s the cross I bear to make sure that I have a well-trained dog.

8 Tips for Walking a Reactive Dog so he doesn’t Lunge and Bark 

 

  1. Always carry high value treats on you.
    Leave the kibble and “healthy” treats at home. Bring the good stuff – cheese, freeze dried liver, boiled chicken, etc.
     

     

  2. Walk at “odd” hours.
    You obviously want to beat the crowds to limit your chances of incidents, so usually very early mornings or very late evenings are best.

     

  3. Scope out the area.
    Are there a ton of cars? Does the trail have 500+ reviews on AllTrails? The more people, the more you have to worry. Maybe try to find a quieter place.

     

  4. Stick to trails and parks with wide open spaces.
    This way, even if you do encounter an off leash dog, you’ll have plenty of space to move so there are 0 reactions.

     

  5. Always scan the area.
    You don’t have to look like a scene out of the Exorcism or anything with your neck constantly moving, but beware of the area and the people in it. Are there people coming up behind you? Are there people approaching ahead of you? Do these people have a dog?

     

  6. Teach your dog an emergency U-turn.
    If people are approaching but there is no one behind you, great! Do a U-turn and go back from where you came until the coast is clear.

     

  7. Use proper desensitizing and counter-conditioning techniques.
    Reward your dog for looking at his trigger and not reacting. Always remember to give your dog more space than you think he may need, just to be on the safe side.

     

  8. Lastly, if all else fails, and a reaction is imminent, just hold onto your dog and get him out of there as quick as possible.
    Do not yell at him, because I assure you that will do nothing. Once you’re safely out of the situation, take a few minutes to stop and breathe. Both you and your dog need it!

Unfortunately, there will be times that your dog will react. You’ll be on a narrow path with no where to go. You’ll run across a loose dog that the owner can’t recall (oh how I could go on for DAYS about how much this annoys me). You’ll run across a dog that escaped from his harness. The sad truth is that while you do everything you can in your power to protect your dog, unfortunately, the people you are passing may not know or understand reactive dogs, or worse, they may truly not care.

So I’m here to tell you to get outside with your dog. Do your absolute best to be prepared so your dog doesn’t react. Work with a trainer so you can learn tools and skills to help manage your dog in a bad situation. But, if the unavoidable happens, it’s okay. If he lunges and barks, it will be okay. You will be okay, and your dog will be okay. You did the best you could, and I’m sure that walk or hike that you just get finished was still well worth it for both you and your dog’s health.

Does your dog bark and lunge? What are your best tips for avoiding those incidents? What do you do if you feel like a reaction is unavoidable? Tell me in the comments!

 

7 Tips for Traveling with Your Reactive Dog

7 Tips for Traveling with Your Reactive Dog

Do you have any fun trips planned before summer is officially over? Or maybe you’re like me, and you actually prefer to travel when the weather is cooler in the fall. Either way, these tips will have you covered!

Buster is now 7 years old, and we have traveled together his entire life. In the past few years, we have made it an effort to travel even more than usual! To be honest, I’m mostly a homebody, but I love going on adventures with my dog! 

We also went to Maine for the first time ever back in 2017, and we have been back multiple times since! Maine holds a particularly special place in my heart, and let me tell you, I truly hope to call that state home in the next 1-3 years. But, until then, we will keep traveling there as often as possible!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means that I get a small commission, at no additional cost to you, if you make a qualifying purchase. 

TIPS FOR TRAVELING WITH YOUR REACTIVE DOG

1.) Confine your dog inside of your vehicle.

Don’t let your dog run around loose in your vehicle. This can cause major safety concerns not only for your dog, but also for the driver and any passengers. It’s much safer if your dog is confined while traveling. There are a variety of options – ranging from expensive crash tested crates like this one from Variocage and crash tested seatbelt restraints like this one from Sleepypod. You could even use a normal soft travel crate, or even a regular plastic or metal crate, but just be aware that they might not provide a lot of protection in the event of an accident.

As an added bonus, a lot of reactive dogs actually travel in the car much better when they’re confined in a crate. They can’t see any triggers outside of the window to react to! You could even drape a sheet or towel to cover the crate, which may actually make your dog feel more comfortable and sleep through the entire car ride.

2.) Try to coordinate potty breaks with the food/fuel stops you’ll already be having to make.

If you can, I highly recommend coordinating your dog’s potty breaks with the stops you’ll need to make for fuel and food. I know though – sometimes nature calls! Traveling with a dog can easily add 1-2 hours onto your trip time  when you add up all the potty breaks, so try to coordinate it with the already necessary stops to save some time.

 

3.) Make sure to pack your dog’s normal food, along with his food and water bowls.

Traveling for even the most well-traveled dog can be a little stressful, so make sure you bring all of the normal stuff your dog is already used to, including food. The last thing you want is to have buy a different kind of food on the road because you forgot to pack some! That can result in tummy ups

4.) Make sure to bring at least 1 durable puzzle toy that can be stuffed with food and frozen.

 You could bring something like a Kong Extreme or the West Paw Toppl. These provide entertainment and can help release some energyy. You can simply stuff your dog’s normal food in them, fill with water, and freeze, or you can stuff with something yummier like peanut butter or yogurt.

5.) Always travel with a dog first aid kit.

As the old saying goes – “better safe than sorry.” You should always travel with a first aid kit for your dog, but we’ll hope that you never need to use it! The good news is that a lot of things can do double duty for humans and dogs, so if you get scratched up, you can patch yourself up with items in this kit! If you’re not sure what your dog first aid kit should include, you can download my free checklist here.

I keep a larger first aid kit in a tupperware in my car at all times, and I travel with this much more portable dog first aid kit in my backpack throughout when we go on hikes, etc.

6.) Always travel with your dog’s Rabies certificate, vaccine records, and an In Case of Emergency sheet.

Again – better safe than sorry! This information will be incredibly useful to first responders in the event of an accident.

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7.) Some reactive dogs can benefit from a calming supplement while traveling.

Some reactive dogs have a harder time traveling than others. Buster is quite used to it by now, but I do still ocassionaly use this Richard’s Organics Pet Calm. This is an all-natural product that relieves stress. I notice a huge difference in Buster when I use this! It really seems to take the edge off. Alternatively, you could also try CBD oil.

FREE BONUS!

I’ve created a free resource so that you can stress less and focus your time and energy on having a fun adventure with your dog! Click the image below and you can download my Dog Friendly Travel Checklist & Tips. It also includes a printable In Case of Emergency sheet, so that you’ll have everything you need to travel and have a great time with your dog!

Tell me in the comments below – where are you headed with your dog? I’d love to hear about some of your favorite places to travel to. What are some of your favorite travel tips? 

Easy, Homemade Dog Treats with only 2 Ingredients

Easy, Homemade Dog Treats with only 2 Ingredients

Whether it’s your dog’s birthday, or maybe you just have some extra time on your hands, or maybe you just want to make homemade dog treats instead of buying them from the store, pretty much every dog owner has wanted to make their own dog treats at some point or another.

If you Google, there are literally hundreds of recipes. There are even homemade dog treat kits and electric dog treat baking machines!

Disclaimer: This post contains an affiliate link, which means that I get a small commission, at no additional cost to you, if you make a qualifying purchase. 

If you want quick an easy treats, this is the recipe for you! Bonus – this recipe easily makes about 500 treats! You read that right – 500 treats! In order to make the treats, you will need this silicone baking mat. Using this mat is what allows you to get 500 treats at one time! Now, the cool thing about this mat is that it is actually made to collect grease from meat you cook in the oven. So, it actually serves two purposes! (Just obviously discard the grease if you do choose to use it for cooking your meat and wash it well before making dog treats.) 

Why should you make these treats? 

NO ALLERGENS

Buster is practically allergic ot everything under the sun. Even when I buy dog treats for him at the store, there are only a few different treats that he can have, sadly. These homemade dog treats are made with only two ingredients, so you won’t have to worry about any allergy issues!

QUALITY INGREDIENTS

Even when we buy good dog treats at the store, it can still be hard to tell exactly what is in them or the exact quality of the ingredients. These homemade dog treats only have 2 ingredients, and you can even opt to purchase organic options!

QUANTITY

I don’t even know what else to say here. You get 500 treats for only about 5 minutes worth of work! These treats will keep for several weeks in the fridge, so you don’t have to worry about them going bad. These are perfect to have on hand. Who knows, maybe you’ll feel inspired and motivated to grab a handful and have a training session!

I know your dog will absolutely love these, but if you make them, will ou please do me a favor and leave me a comment below and let me know what you and your dog think? I’d appreciate it!


Easy Homemade Dog Treats with 2 Ingredients

This is a quick and easy recipe for 500 homemade dog treats using only 2 ingredients.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time28 mins

Equipment

  • Pyramid pan

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup coconut flour
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter, creamy
  • 1 1/4 cup water

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • In a large bowl, mix the flour and peanut butter together.
  • Slowly add in the water until you get the consistency of pancake batter. This was about 1 and 1/4 cups of water for me.
  • Spread the batter onto the pyramid pan sheet with a spatula. Gently use the edge of the spatula to ensure there are no airbubbles in the pyramids. You also want to ensure there is as little batter as possible connecting the treats.
  • Bake until done, about 28 minutes.
  • Once cooled, gently shake the pyramid pan onto a cookie sheet. All of your treats should easily fall out!
  • Store leftover treats in the fridge.
    easy homemade dog treats

Notes

The batter in this recipe makes enough to fill the two pyramid pans, which is about 1,000 treats. These will easily keep for 3-4 weeks in the refrigerator, but if you only want to make one pyramid pan's worth of treats, then cut this recipe in half. 

5 Tips to Train Your Puppy

5 Tips to Train Your Puppy

It seems that this general time of year is the puppy time. With the holidays just finishing up and spring on its way, I bet a lot of you have puppies in your lives or are considering getting a puppy. Is a puppy the right answer for you? Puppies are hard work; there is no doubt about that. There are lots of accidents, lots of sleepless nights, lots of bite-y behavior, and lots of rushing outside to potty train in bad weather. But, those negatives can absolutely be outweighed by the joy and satisfaction from training a dog from puppyhood to adulthood, if that’s your thing. If you are seriously interested in dog training, are a dog trainer, want to compete in sports with your pup, then a puppy may be the right answer for you. For most people that just want an excellent family companion that isn’t quite as much work, then likely, adopting a young adult or even a senior dog is probably the better option. Whether you’ve decided to get a puppy or an adult, these 5 training tips will be applicable and help you in your journey with your new dog.

5 TIPS TO TRAIN YOUR PUPPY

#1 – Crate Train

Crate training is essential for any and all dogs. I guarantee you will need to crate your dog at least one time within his life – whether he’s kenneled while you’re on vacation, has to be hospitalized, needs to be contained when you have family or friends over, etc. It is so much easier if you have already exposed and trained your dog to love his crate.

Here are a few general tips to crate train your dog:

  1. Never, ever use the crate as punishment. Do not put shut your dog in the crate after yelling at them for doing something wrong.
  2. Always give your dog some sort of safe chew inside the crate. I recommend the Extreme black Kongs, either Large or XL. You can fill them with some peanut butter, canned food, pumpkin, kibble soaked in water or broth, etc.
  3. When you first introduce the crate, only keep your dog in there for short periods of time with the aforementioned chew. Gradually increase the time the dog is inside the crate over several weeks.
  4. Only open the crate when your dog is being quiet. If your dog is whining or barking, wait for just 1-2 seconds of quiet and then open the crate.

#2 – Muzzle Train

Similar to crate training, it always a good idea to muzzle train all of your dogs. All dogs have teeth, which means that all dogs have the ability and potential to bite. In an event of a true emergency, it is much easier for veterinary staff to administer emergency first aid if your dog is muzzled. Your dog will also be less stressed if they are already familiar with the muzzle.

 Here are some general tips in muzzle training your dog: 

  1. Choose the right muzzle. I recommend a basket style that allows the dog to pant, drink, and take treats.
  2. Start slow. Allow your dog to sniff the muzzle on the ground. Hold the muzzle in your hand, and give your dog a treat for simply sniffing or getting near the muzzle. Eventually, work up to placing the muzzle on their face for 1-2 seconds while treating.
  3. Using spray cheese or a wet food mixture in a squeeze tube may be easier to squeeze through the muzzle instead of trying to shove small pieces of hard treats inside.
  4. Allow your dog to wear the muzzle occasionally in other places outside of the vet or other “scary” situation. For example, allow your dog to wear the muzzle for just 1-2 minutes on a leisurely walk or while inside the house training.

 

#3 – Clicker Train

Clicker training is a beautiful thing! The clicker enables very clearly defined communication between you and your dog. The click should be applied at the exact moment the dog does the behavior you are looking for, and the dog learns exactly that! After you click, you will reward your dog. The dog learns that the click means he did the correct thing. This very clear communication allows other aspects of training to happen quicker and faster.

Here are some general tips for clicker training your dog: 

  1. The mechanics can be challenging, so learn them on your own without your dog. I recommend holding your clicker and treat and demonstrating on yourself. Learn to click at the correct time. For example, go from a standing to seated position on a chair, and learn to click the second your butt hits the chair.
  2. Get used to holding the clicker, leash, and treats without your dog so you are comfortable.
  3. Practice holding the clicker, leash, and treats with your dog inside the house or in your fenced in backyard before you try to go on a walk.
  4. You will need to “load the clicker” with your dog, and teach your dog what the clicker means. Likely, your dog already knows how to sit, so just start using the clicker the moment your dog’s butt hits the ground. Do a few repetitions for a few days, just so you can teach your dog what the clicker means.

#4 – Train a Collar Grab

 There will be times in life that you will need to grab your dog by his collar, likely for his own safety. From a dog’s perspective, this can be a terrifying and threatening thing! They are happily wandering around and all of a sudden a human hoovers over them and applies pressure to their neck. Many dogs will instinctively react negatively to this and could potentially even bite. You want to teach your dog that collar grabs are not scary or threatening, and in fact, mean food is coming!

Here are some tips for teaching a collar grab:

  1. Starting inside in a familiar room, simply extend your hand towards (but do not touch) your dog’s collar, and give your dog a treat. Repeat several times for 1-2 days.
  2. Once your dog is comfortable, extend your hand, lightly touch your dog’s collar, immediately remove your hand, and reward your dog. Repeat several times for 1-2 days.
  3. Once your dog is comfortable, extend your hand, lightly grab your dog’s collar for 1-2 seconds, let go, and reward.
  4. Once your dog is comfortable, grab your dog’s collar lightly and walk 1-2 steps while luring with food, and then reward.

#5 – Train a Recall

If you only teach your dog one thing, let it be a recall! Every dog needs to know a recall, and in some cases, it could actually save his life.

Here are some tips to train a recall:

  1. Pick a word (also known as a cue) that you only use for recall and don’t often use in everyday language. This will maintain clarity for your dog. Many people use the word “come” or the phrase “come here,” and while that may work, I would recommend a unique word if possible.
  2. Train the recall inside your house in a familiar environment before trying it outside. Start small – only call your dog from a few feet away before widening the distance.
  3. Train your recall outside in your back yard from square one from only 1-2 feet away, no matter how well your dog is doing inside.
  4. Make sure you aren’t only using the recall to call your dog to you to end fun behavior. For example, if you allow your dog off leash, don’t only call your dog when you are getting ready to leash him up to put him in the car to go home. Call him to you at least 2-3 times throughout the walk just to give your dog a treat and let him go back off on his merry way again off leash.

Do you have a new puppy or dog? What are you working on? If you follow my tips and start training these five behaviors, let me know how it works out for you!