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!


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.

Noticable Changes On Real Foods Diet

Avery in the backyardI talked previously about switching Avery over from a kibble based diet to a real foods diet.  Our previous dog, Rocky, I switched over to real foods within the first couple months that we adopted him.

He then was on this diet the rest of his life so it’s been awhile since I’ve been with a dog who was on kibble.  The two things I noticed right away with Avery was gosh he pooped a lot.  I mean a lot.  Upwards of 7 times a day and the stools were gigantic!  And this was when he was eating “good quality” kibble.

He also drank a great deal which when you’re trying to teach a dog bladder control, trust me when I say that huge water intake doesn’t help with training.

Once I made the switch those two things decreased dramatically.

He probably has a bowel movement twice to three times a day which is completely normal on a real foods diet.  And the stools are small and don’t usually have too much of an odor to them.  I say “usually” because if a dog is anxious or nervous about anything, chances are that’s going to reflect in their stools, causing them to have more odor.

When dogs are on a real foods diet, they are able to absorb and utilize the nutrients much easier and efficiently, resulting in the body producing less waste.

If you saw how small his stools are, you probably wouldn’t believe me when I told you they came from a boxer.

His water intake is also down because his food now contains a lot of moisture.  He only drinks if he’s been playing hard, he was out in the sun, or when he gets out of his crate.

It’s not unusual for him to not need a drink all day.  I realize that probably doesn’t sound like it’s okay but I promise you that is totally normal for a dog on a real foods based diet.

His coat is also very smooth and shiny.  Dogs with a dry brittle coat aren’t getting enough good nutrients in their diet nor are they getting enough good fat.  With a real foods diet, he benefits from better absorption of nutrients along with getting healthy fats.

This is reflected in his shiny soft coat.

Avery also doesn’t have an “odor” or smell “like a dog”.  In fact, Avery doesn’t smell at all.  He’s able to go months without needing a bath.  Dogs who smell or need baths often, their skin and coat is exhibiting distress.  This can be greatly reduced once a dog is switched over to a real foods based diet.

This might come as a shocker to you, but Avery also doesn’t pass gas.  Oh sure, on occasion he’ll toot or if he needs to go out to the bathroom he might toot but for the most part, no gas.

Even on good quality kibble he had gas.  Boxers are said to be notorious for stomach problems and issues with gas.

Dogs shouldn’t have gas all the time.  And they certainly shouldn’t be “clearing a room” or “causing tears” because their gas is so strong.  That’s a problem and means that they are not digesting the food they are given very well.

Real foods diet ended the issue of passing gas and tummy gurgles.

Avery mid-run

A couple of other things I noticed were that Avery has more energy now and he’s also mellowed out a great deal.  He’s not as anxious in the house any longer.  Oh, I’m sure some of that has to do with him getting more comfortable living here and more comfortable with us, but I also think it has a lot to do with him being more satisfied with his meals and his body responding to them in a positive way.

I highly recommend at least providing your dog with some fresh fruits and vegetables so that they are getting some fresh whole foods in their diet.  Even if you just give them some apple slices on occasion and some veggie mix in with their kibble.

I have a Resources page that can help you get started with your nutrition research.

I know that a real foods diet can be intimidating at first!  But if you are at all interested in it, I highly suggest talking with someone who feeds their dogs that way and ask as many questions as you can.  Always research as much as possible to make the right decision for you and your dog.


I Have A Reactive Dog

Avery laying in the sunAvery is on-leash-reactive.  He can be reactive to dogs, sometimes people if they catch him off guard, and reactive to new things like fabric blowing in the breeze.

On-leash-reactive means that when the dog is leashed, it may bark, growl, lung, or even whine at some sort of stimulus.

That stimulus can be anything from another dog to men in hats to a trash bag. Literally anything.

While the behavior might look mean or aggressive, that is not always the case.

Avery is not an aggressive dog.

He is not aggressive towards people, he loves meeting people.

He is not aggressive towards dogs, he loves meeting dogs.

There’s a big misconception out there about reactive dogs.  Most people assume that a dog who is reacting to something by growling and pulling on their leash is aggressive.

While it can look that way, the two do not go hand-in-hand.

Some dogs who are aggressive are also reactive while on leash.  But not all dogs who are reactive while on leash are aggressive.

My dog is reactive because he loves dogs and people so much that he immediately wants to go see them.  His previous owner probably let him.  He was a stray for a while and had the ability to do whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted to.  Now all of the sudden I’m telling him he can’t AND he’s being restrained by the leash.

This leads to frustration which leads to reaction.

Again, reaction doesn’t mean aggression.  Reaction is a response to a stimulus.

Part of the reason I started this blog was to discuss training with Avery and how we are dealing with some of his issues.  One of the main things we are working on is his on-leash-reactivity towards things.

We are doing this by exposing him to a lot of new to him situations and helping him understand that life occurs around us at all times.  And that life includes many things like dogs, and bikes, and people.

We are actively training him on every single walk we take.  Through constant training we are at a point where sometimes Avery reacts and sometimes he does not.  This is a very positive step!  It takes a while to get there though and we are working at it every day.

I bring this up because having a reactive dog means that I get a lot of disgusted glances from strangers when Avery is reacting to something.  A lot of unpleasant looks and sometimes mutterings of “train your dog” and “that dog is mean”.

I am training my dog.

And my dog has made great improvements because of it.

In order for Avery to learn his manners, we have to do things like go to the park and go shopping.  We need to be where the action is because the more we expose him to those situations, the more comfortable he becomes as he realizes this is just normal everyday life.

Avery is a rescue.  He came to us with these issues and it’s up to Scott and I to help him through it and learn to have manners.  Manners that he was never taught before.

We are doing as much as we can to help him.

By sharing my experience with owning a reactive dog, I hope to create more awareness and tolerance about reactive dogs.

So the next time you are out and you encounter someone with a dog who is having a reaction to something, don’t judge or condemn that person and their dog.  Instead take a moment to consider the situation. Perhaps, that person is just like me, having adopted a rescue who needs love, patience, guidance, and support.

For more information about dog reactivity, check out Paws Abilities post!

Play Dates

Avery and Clover in the backyardAfter having Avery tested and knowing for certain he is awesome around other dogs, I’m interested in finding him some buddies for a playgroup session.

Avery loves other dogs so much and he would greatly benefit from having some doggie pals of his own.

I’ve researched some daycare options here and found one that I think will suit him.

However I would like him to have some friends that we could host or maybe rotate hosting spots for little play sessions.

Most boxers like to wrestle, body slam, and of course box.  Avery is no exception, but he does a really great job of reading other dog’s body language and figuring out their play style.  If they don’t want to wrestle, he doesn’t force the issue and he’ll gladly play their way.

This is exciting because it means that Avery has the chance of making a wide variety of friends and get to experience playing in different ways.

Avery and Clover in the snowNow how to go about finding folks interested in a playgroup?  Do I put up a personal ad?

Mature Male Brindle Boxer

Seeking male or female companionship

Must be willing to share water bowls and not be afraid to romp on the first date.

Contact my mom to set up a time for us to meet.

If you and your dog participate in small playgroups, how did you go about finding them?


This post is part of FitDog Friday!

Run Fur Fun 5K

Run Fur Fun 5KAnimal House, the shelter where I do volunteer work, is hosting a 5K next month!

It will be their first 5K and it’s a pretty exciting event!

There will be a kids race before the 5K starts.  Participants can bring their dogs and the dogs can run the race as well.  There will be bandanas for the dogs to wear and special bandanas for Animal House Alums!

Adoptable dogs from Animal House will also be at the event participating in the race and also hanging out in the adoption area so folks can meet with them.

Water and snacks at the finish!  Participants will receive a race tee-shirt as well!

The 5K will be on Sunday, May 19th, at 8am.  Race Day packet pickup and registration will be from 6:30 to 7:30am.

The kid’s race starts at 7:30am and the 5K starts at 8am.

Right now there is early bird pricing for the race and registration is only $25!

Early packet pickup will be on Friday, May 17th from 4pm to 6pm and on Saturday, May 18th, from Noon to 4pm.

Click Here To Register!

All proceeds go to support Animal House and their Canine Coaches program.  The Canine Coaches program trains volunteers how to work with the animals at the shelter teaching them basic manners and obedience.  When a dog knows how to be polite and walk on leash this helps them get adopted more quickly.  Because of the Canine Coaches program, Animal House is able to find forever homes for their dogs more easily and efficiently.  Everybody benefits from this program!

This race will be fun for the whole family and a great way to spend a Sunday morning!

Please signup to run or walk and bring your best buddy with you!  It will definitely be a great time for everyone involved!

You can register here!

Playgroup Testing

Avery at Longmont PlaygroupYesterday was a big day for our Avery! We got up bright and early to make the trip down to Longmont Humane Society for a playgroup testing session.

Longmont Humane Society is a large shelter just outside of Denver. They have an amazing behavioral department filled with skilled workers and handlers.  They will work with you to help you figure out what kinds of situations your dog can handle and what they possibly cannot.

We wanted to test Avery out with multiple dogs in a playgroup type setting to see how he would do.

He’s already had success with meeting and playing with another dog.  But a playgroup setting is different and can be overstimulating for a dog.  We wanted to see how well he would handle himself and to make 100% sure that he doesn’t have issues with dogs and that his on-leash reactivity is all frustration at wanting to play vs. aggression.

Setting him in a controlled environment with skilled trainers was the best way for us to do that.

Avery at Longmont Play Group

Avery did amazing and was a total rockstar yesterday! He handled all the dogs really well and if they didn’t want to play, he didn’t force the issue.

He was tested with females, young males, just neutered males, and also little dogs.  He loved them all and didn’t have issues with any of them.

He backed off if the dogs didn’t seem to want to interact and he took appropriate play breaks as well.

There was a little chihuahua that when he first entered the room was a little overwhelmed and barked his fool head off right in Avery’s face.  Barking, air snapping, the whole big-man routine.   Avery just looked at him and then walked away.

Avery at Longmont playgroupWe’re so proud of Avery! And now we are starting the research of finding a great daycare around town that we can take him to a couple of times a week.

Hooray Avery!

Fun With Bowls

Avery waiting to get his treatAnother game that Avery and I played inside while it was snowing and blowing outside was “find the treat” or “fun with bowls”.

Avery had to use his thinker with this game and one thing that I really enjoy about this game is that you have the ability to make it as hard or as easy as you want depending on your dog’s skill level.

I started off easy with Avery and then we progressed to slightly more challenging.

I used three disposable bowls because that’s what I had on hand.  You could use plastic cups too if you happen to have some.

I put the three bowls down on the ground and had Avery look at them.  Then I placed him in a sit/stay and he watched me put a treat under one of the bowls.

I released him and told him to “go get it”.

Since he saw where I put the treat, this wasn’t too difficult for him to figure out but he did have the challenge of figuring out how to move the bowl so he could get the treat.

We did that for a few times and then I upped the difficulty.

Avery and the bowl game

I put Avery in another room and again put him in a sit/stay.  I placed a treat under one of the bowls but this time he couldn’t see which bowl it was under.

I released him and told him to “go get it”.  This time he had to use his sniffer and his thinker to get the treat.  He had to figure out which bowl had the treat and then figure out how to get the treat.

Because the bowls were disposable, it didn’t matter what he did to them to get the treat.  If they got damaged, no biggie.

Mostly he just moved them around with his nose until the treat was exposed.

He liked this game but just like the last game, he’s got his limits.

Avery and the bowl gameIt wasn’t long before he was done and wondering what else we were going to do.

This was a pretty fun game to play with him!  It gave us a chance to work on sit/stay in a fun setting and finding treats is always a good time.

I’ll probably bust out these games from time to time so he can keep working his thinker.  I may purchase some puzzles for him as well.  Any recommendations for some great puzzles?


Avery Is Pretty In Blue

Avery in the snowWe adopted Avery right in the middle of winter and I didn’t have much in the house for him except a few bowls and some towels.  I was in the process of purchasing items but some things I couldn’t get until we got him home and I knew his measurements.

When Rocky passed we donated all of his stuff to shelters and rescues.  That’s 11 years worth of dog stuff!  Fortunately for us and Avery, one of the items that didn’t get donated was Rocky’s old jacket.  It got packed up with the winter stuff in prep for our move and that stuff got packed up before he passed away.

It was bittersweet pulling it out again because it brought back a lot of memories but I was thankful to have it because Avery needed it.  Not long after we brought him home, we got hit with some cold weather.  Since he was underweight and is also a short haired dog, he needs some protection from the cold.

I wasn’t sure if it would work but it fits him like a glove!

One of my favorite companies for dog gear is RuffWear.  This jacket is a Ruff Wear jacket, it’s an older model of this jacket.  Their stuff lasts a long time and is very durable!

Rocky had this jacket for about 7 years and it’s seen a lot of weather plus has been washed many times.  You can see it still looks brand new.

Avery in his jacket

The jacket is easy to get on and off, no fussing with arm holes or anything like that.  Just over the head and then buckle close.  It is great for keeping the dog warm and is super water resistant and has reflective piping for nighttime or early morning walks.  And you can just toss it in the washer when it needs freshening up.

I’ll be getting Avery a new jacket to call his own but for now this is working for us.

Avery in his jacket

RuffWear makes a lot of gear that I adore and I’ll be sharing more about those items as well!

Does your dog wear a jacket? What do you do to help protect them from cold weather?


Disclaimer: This was purchased by me and this is not a sponsored post. RuffWear has no idea who I am. I just happen to be a huge fan of their products.