Busy Bee

Avery in the sunThings have been a little crazy on this end and that’s why I haven’t had much of a chance to update.

I’ve picked up two part time jobs and both of them are doggie related!

I’m now working part time at a pet supply store that sells great holistic foods for dogs and cats.

I’m also working part time at the shelter where I was volunteering!

Coordinating both of these jobs along with making sure I have plenty of downtime to spend at home with my boys is a bit of a challenge.  However I think that I’ll be able to get a routine down soon and it will all work out.

Scott and I have also started looking for a house to buy.  Yikes!  Scary and fun at the same time!

So yeah, life is a little crazy right now.

This past weekend was great though, it was sunny and warm!  We made sure to get plenty of outside time in and Avery loved hanging out in the yard.

We’re hoping that the warm weather is here to stay.  No more snow!

Has spring sprung where you are?


No Days Off

Avery and Scott practicing loose leash walkingWhen you have a dog who has some reactivity issues, you cannot take a day off or slack in training.

And there will be days that you want to.

“Gosh I’m tired. Do we really have to go on a walk?”

The answer is, yes, yes you do.

Because if you slack in training then there’s the possibly that your dog will backslide.  One step forward, two steps back kind of deal.

Currently the only times Avery doesn’t get a walk is if the weather is really bad outside.  Snowing, raining (rare), or really cold.

He doesn’t enjoy the super cold weather so I don’t walk him in it.  Even though all of our walks are training walks, I want them to be enjoyable for him.

Fort Collins doesn’t see a lot of bad weather so we are out almost everyday for our walks.  Sometimes they are short and sometimes they are a bit longer.  But each day we are outside and doing something.

The more routine it becomes and the more we expose Avery to different things, the more comfortable he becomes and that’s our main goal.

How about you, do you go on walks everyday?

Bro Weekend

Horses at Kindness RanchAvery and Scott had a nice bro weekend while I was away with some friends.

I went with a group of ladies to no-where Wyoming to visit a ranch that specializes in rehabbing animals used in research facilities.

All of us are workers or volunteers with Animal House and so we thought that it would be fun to get away for the weekend to visit with others who are also in the animal rescue world.

It was a pretty amazing weekend and I’ll share more about my experience later this week.

This was the first time I left Avery and left Scott fully in charge of taking care of him.  Both did really well!  Our previous dog would pout and mope if I left him.  Avery did great and acted like it was totally normal for mama to leave for days at a time.

Since the location of the ranch was pretty remote, I didn’t have cell phone service (only folks with Verizon got service) which was good because that meant I couldn’t be obsessive with checking in on them.

It was a good experience for Avery because not only was I gone but he also was crated while Scott went out with friends.  That may not sound like a big deal, but Avery doesn’t generalize at all.  We have to treat every new situation as just that, NEW.

Mama gone + being crated = new situation

He did well! The first time he did pull a sheet into his crate but he didn’t chew it or pee on it.  I don’t know what he did with it actually.  The second night he didn’t touch the sheet, which means the second time went better than the first.  Whoo!

It was a great weekend for everyone and boy was I glad to see this goofball when I got home!

Avery being silly


Avery’s Swim Session

Avery in a lifevestAvery had his big swim session last Friday.  He seems curious about water and he doesn’t hate getting baths so I was really interested to see if he’d be a swimmer.

Our previous guy hated water so having a dog that might turn out to be a swimmer would be a totally new experience for us.

I’ll give you a heads up and tell you right now that Avery is most definitely not a swimmer.

Nope. Not one bit.

But he tried and did everything we asked of him which is all that we can really expect.  For that I am most proud of him!

Now for how it all went down!

I took Avery to Advanced Animal Care for his swim session.  When you sign up for the orientation, you also schedule a 15 minute appointment with their rehabilitation doctor.  The doctor gives the once over on the dog just to make sure there isn’t anything going on physically that would become worse or aggravated with a swim session.

Once you get clearance, you sign up for an orientation time.

At orientation the dog is fitted with a life vest as a backup because if the dog can’t swim or panics the life vest is there to help them stay afloat.

Avery swimmingThe dog is then taken into the water, right down the steps and in, with the orientation instructor.  I wasn’t a huge fan of Avery just being dragged into the pool right away.  I like to have dogs gently introduced to new things.  But in he went and he splashed around and definitely showed that he was not cut out for swimming.

The instructor had a hold of his vest and was guiding him around and gently talking with him to keep him calm.

Avery swimming

Avery wasn’t having it and wanted out.  Poor guy was so confused on what just happened.

Avery getting a treatOnce he was out of the pool he got lots of loving and treats for being such a good boy.  Then we tried a gentler approach and introduced him to the steps so he could get in and out on his own.

Avery at the poolThe steps are very hard to see and I completely understand a dog not really wanting to step down on them.  We tried to coax him in with treats and I could tell he wanted to step down but was nervous.

Me putting on waddersSo that meant I got suited up and got in the water with him to help show him it was okay.

Avery and I on the pool stepsI had treats and would place my hand on the step so that he could see something was there to step on.  It took some time but he got his paws on the first step.  Then it was time to get him on the second step.

Avery and I on the pool stepsHe got his front paws on the second step but that was about it.  The second step was a big drop from the first one and that made him concerned about what was happening.

I wanted to end the experience on a positive note so at that point I called it a day for him.

Avery in a lifevestHe was such a great boy during the whole experience!  The swimming part freaked him out but I think that’s because he’s never swam before.  That was completely clear the moment he hit the water.

I fully believe that he would enjoy swimming if he could ease into it, like maybe at a lake or something where he could gradually go into the water on his own terms.  And I definitely think it would be beneficial for him to have a swim buddy because that would keep him calmer.

I would always have him in a life vest though if we were to be around water.  I wouldn’t take any chances on him sinking or getting too scared to swim.

If you are local, the check up with the rehab doctor and the first swim orientation are completely free.  Yes, that’s right.  It’s a free service that this clinic does.  The pool is heated, four feet deep and is a salt water pool.

Just make note that the pool is right next to the entrance/exit for doggie day care.  So you will hear dogs in the background and it’s possible that people will be in and out to drop off or pick up their dogs.  This can be a little distracting to the dogs. The pool is fenced so you don’t have to worry about dogs coming into the area while you are having a session.

That’s our experience with swimming!  Does your dog swim?

Social Life

Avery in a life vestAvery is starting to get a pretty busy social life and I love it.  I’m pretty sure he’s even busier than we are!

Avery had his first swimming lesson on Friday.  It was crazy, hilarious, and had several “awww” moments.  More on that later this week!

We’ve also been taking him to doggie daycare on Saturdays.  The staff loves him and since it’s a weekend there are fewer dogs there so the atmosphere is a lot more chill.

It provides us with the perfect opportunity to explore Fort Collins and the surrounding areas.  Since we’re new and just moved here last August, we’re still discovering what all Northern Colorado has to offer.

He has his obedience class on Sunday evenings and yesterday was class #2.  The first class he was really reactive with the dogs in the class.  Being whiny and pulling on the leash to meet them.  This class he was way more mellow.  He reacted at first and then he calmed down and pretty much ignored them unless a dog came too close.

He’s doing so well and with our walking group getting started next month, I think we will be able to get his reactivity under control and easily managed.  The more he’s exposed to dogs and understands he needs to remain calm, the better he will get.

Avery is off to doggie daycare again today!  I want him to get some great outside time before it rains and snows again this week.  Blech.

How was your weekend?



Social Tails Dog Walking Group

Avery walkingHaving a dog who is reactive comes along with many challenges. Because of this, it’s important to me to surround myself with people who understand where I’m coming from and understand the training that Avery and I need to do.

I’ve been reading Two Pitties In The City for a while now and one of the things that I loved about the blog was the walking group they created it.

The walking group, Socia-bulls, is a no-greet dog walking group.  These means the dogs do no greet each other while on leash and they walk in a pack like system.

Not only does this get the dogs used to walking around other dogs and learn that they are a part of the environment, it provides a great learning experience for the dogs as a whole.  They welcome dogs who may have issues, like reactivity, shyness, and fearful dogs.  It is a safe spot for dogs and their owners to walk together and find support from other owners.

I knew that this was the kind of community that I wanted to be a part of someday.  Even more so after adopting Avery.  He needs to be around other dogs and learn his manners while on leash.

I had been chatting with our trainer (now great friend) about my desire to belong to a walking group like Socia-Bulls.  She had been wanting to create a walking group for a while and since Fort Collins doesn’t currently have a walking group that fits our needs, we decided to create one.

I am happy to introduce to you our new walking group, Social Tails!

The website is still being worked on but it is up and running and so are we!  Cathie and I will be having our first group walk next month!

If you are local to Fort Collins or Loveland, and you would like to be part of our group, please either email me or Cathie about joining the group.  We will email you back with information about the walk.

All dogs are welcome and we would love for you to come and walk with us!


Teaching “Touch”

Avery sitting pretty One of the “tricks” that I wanted to teach Avery was the “touch” command.  There are many reasons for this but the biggest two are:

1. Avery is a boxer and like most boxers, he uses his paws. A lot.  He thinks all problems can be solved if he just smacks it enough.  I want him to learn how to think and to realize he can solve problems using other methods.

2. It’s a great distraction, especially if you have a reactive dog or a shy dog.  This gives them a job to do so it helps them refocus (back on to you and off of a stimulus) while also working out either their anxiety or pent up energy.

Plus it’s just plain fun once they get the concept down!

The idea is that when I say, “Touch”, the response that I’m looking for from Avery is for him to bop something with his nose.

This is highly challenging for him! With Avery, I have to show him the behavior I want first and then ask him to preform it.  This takes some time but is the training method that works best for him.

Because Avery knows “high five” and he is comfortable using his paws to solve problems, his first instinct is to give me his paw.

Which I counter with an “huh-uh” noise basically to let him know that was not what I wanted.  He knows “huh-uh” because this is what we use to indicate he made the wrong choice (like say, he jumped up on someone).  We do not ever say, “NO” to him because it’s a little negative and “huh-uh”, I feel, is easier for dogs to grasp right away.

I started off with the basics where I just held out my hand and if he even just barely smelled my hand, I immediately clicked and treated for that.

He wasn’t really picking up on what I wanted him to do.  He would occasionally touch my hand with his nose but I could tell he didn’t realize that’s what I was looking for.

Training should never be frustrating for you or for your dog.  It should always be fun and a good time! After about 10 minutes when I noticed that Avery wasn’t really getting what I was asking of him, I knew it was time to take a break.

We stopped and did some fun stuff that he knows like “crawl” and “find it”.  This keeps things fun and also restores confidence because Avery knows how to do those things.

After a bit we came back to learning “Touch” and he started to pick it up a lot quicker.  He doesn’t have it down 100% yet but he’s getting there!  Taking that break and doing other fun things really helped him with his training.  He was refocused and open to learning something new.

We took another break and then played for a bit.  I always try to end training sessions on a happy fun note that way Avery always looks forward to training time!

Does your dog know “touch” or any other sort of tricks?

Let’s Whine About It

Avery on the couchAvery has turned into a bit of a whiner.  He’s not a very vocal dog unless it comes to whining and then he pretty much is a rockstar at it.

When we first adopted him, he would whine a little bit if he wanted to do something but wasn’t sure if he could.  Like we knew he wanted to go lay on the couch but he didn’t want to leave our side so he would do a low whine instead.

Not for long, maybe for about a minute or two, then he would give up and lay down.

I can handle that.

But after living with us for a few months I think he’s gotten more comfortable with his surroundings and he’s testing out the waters with what he can get away with.

Because when he wants to do something, like go lay outside in the sun, he’ll just whine and whine and whine.  Or if he thinks it’s time for his walk, he will pout and whine, flopping around like an angsty teen.

We ignore him of course because we don’t to reward that kind of behavior. I admit that I hope this phase doesn’t last long because there are times when I want to tell him to stop with the dramatics.

Do you have a whiney dog?  How do you handle it?

Snow Paths

Avery in the snowThe beginning of this week we were blessed with more snow.  I think the estimation was that we were to get 8 inches of snow this go around, but thankfully we only ended up with about 6 inches.

One of the things that we make sure to do is create shoveled paths in the backyard for Avery.

This gives him space to wander around the backyard and have a cleared area where he can go potty.

It helps a lot because it means that Avery isn’t walking around in a bunch of snow just to use the bathroom.  And he’s not soaked through when he comes back in the house.

Personally, I feel it would be unfair of us to ask him to have to go to the bathroom out in a bunch of snow.

The previous snowfall, dumped 22 inches of the white stuff in our backyard. I wouldn’t want to have to walk out and stick my bum in that much snow just to use the bathroom.

Would you?

Older dogs and puppies benefit from shoveled paths as well.  Older dogs don’t move around as easily and having to walk through a bunch of snow can be difficult for them and hard on their joints.  Puppies are small and sometimes can’t manage going through a bunch of snow.

For little dogs, it should be a given.  Clear out areas where they can go to the bathroom so they don’t have to submerge their whole body into a snow pile.

My husband will shovel multiple paths around the backyard so that Avery can walk backyard and explore.  The area where Avery likes to go potty has the biggest clearing.  Our backyard isn’t huge so shoveling the paths doesn’t take a large amount of time.

The paths can usually be cleared in the time it takes Avery to go out and do his business.

It took only a short time before Avery picked up the concept of the paths and used those to walk around the backyard instead of trying to plow through everything.  Shoveled paths makes the snow and cold weather a little more tolerable. I can tell Avery appreciates the effort because it shows on his face as he prances back up to the house using one of the paths.

So if you live in an area where it snows, take a moment to clear some paths for your dog so they have room to go potty.  Your dog will love you for it.

Worn Out

Avery SleepingLast week was a pretty big one for Avery!  Last weekend he went to his first doggie daycare session and it was a great success.

He was a little confused at first but once he realized that he was there to play and socialize with other dogs, he got right down to business.

This past Friday he was seen by a rehabilitation doctor just to have a brief checkup to see if he would be able to take swimming lessons.

Yes that’s right, I’m taking Avery swimming!  He seems fascinated by water and so I want to see if swimming would be something he actually enjoys.  I found a place here in Fort Collins for swim lessons and I’ll give you all the details next week.  He has his first lesson this coming Friday and we’re all pretty excited about it!

So that means he did pass his assessment and has been cleared to swim.  However during his check-up it was brought to our attention that he is having some pain and discomfort from his arthritis.  And that’s he’s already compensating for it.

This bummed me out.  Our vet had noticed some arthritis starting to develop in his lower back but we were under the impression that it was very early stages.  His checkup with the rehab specialist showed us that it’s a little farther along than we thought.  She also asked if he had been confined for long periods of time.  I don’t know since he’s a rescue but I am assuming that he has.

That very brief 15 minute checkup wore him out for the rest of the day.  I could tell he didn’t feel good and when we got home, he slept on the couch for the remainder of the day.

My poor mushface.

Swimming isn’t supposed to tax him or aggravate his arthritis but I will definitely keep a close eye on him during and afterwards.

He’s already on fish oil but I’m going to add some other supplements in as well to promote joint health.  I’m also researching rehab places around town so that we can help him work through it and get his back muscles strong again.  I may also look into some massage to see if that will help release some tension in his back.

In good news, Avery had his first group obedience class last night!  He did amazing!  Yes he was whiney and wanted to see the other dogs so he was reacting a bit.  However it wasn’t extreme, we were able to get him to focus on us and listen to commands.  He did so well and this is such a great experience for him.  He’s learning his manners and that he can’t always go see other dogs.

It’s really mentally challenging for him to remember to stay calm and be cool which is exactly what he needs right now.  Both of us were worn out after class and crashed on the couch!

So lots of great things happening in Avery’s life right now! Some good and some not so good but we are taking it in stride and doing the best we can with the situation we are in.