The Adventure Pup Experience

Lately people have been asking me what I do for work, and when I say “I run a hiking service for dogs” I get the same reaction, “Oh fun! What a great thing!” And yes, they’re correct to say that, it is amazing and I love doing it, but after some more conversation I come to realize a lot of people see me as either a boarding facility, jam packed with dogs (they’re only half listening to what I’m saying), or that 9 year old neighbor you have that always wants to be around your dog and will always jump at the opportunity to watch them when you leave town (yes I was that 9 year old some time ago), but my job is so much more than that, so I thought I would explain what makes Adventure Pup a different experience.

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  • I truly love your dog (or cat, or iguana, or fish, or rat) as much as I did when I was a kid hopping your fence to lay in your yard with them. I know your pup’s hobbies and pet peeves, I can pick them out of a line-up of dogs that other people would assume are clones, and I will remember them until I am old and senile. They will get excited when they run into me in public, and you might not even recognize me. I will have photos of them forever on my computer, and sometimes (currently) pinned to my wall above my desk, to brighten my day when I need it. I will constantly talk about them to my human friends.
  • On that note, I have more dog friends than human friends. I just prefer the company of non-human animals. It makes me a little awkward to talk to, but also great with your pups.
  • I see dogs as individuals. I don’t do the same activity for every dog. I know who likes doing what and I know what activities to avoid with certain dogs. Everyone is different and unique, and I set up my day to day with that in mind.
  • Packs are kept small and intimate, not only so I am able to physically control everyone on leash at once, but also so that all dogs enjoy the outing. Small packs help keep the excitement level down, which results in less anxiety and a more connected pack. Pups are also matched based on energy level and individual personalities so every member of the pack enjoys their Adventure.
  • Every outing involves both physical and mental stimulation. Pups are given gentle guidance and work on basic commands while out on Adventures, nose work is done with dogs that do better with a job, and tTouch is done with all Adventure Pups to help create a stronger bond, alleviate stiff joints, or release some anxious energy. After a dog has been with me for a length of time I have to use very little voice control and most pups will follow my energy. May sound a bit flower-power to some, but it works for me.
  • Different techniques are used for different dogs to help them grow and learn at their own pace. I use a variety of training techniques and exercises (basically anything except old school/negative reinforcement training) and I am always continuing my education by attending different animal classes and holding side jobs in various animal industries (retail, nutrition, medical, daycare, training, shelters, etc.)
  • I follow dog rules: off-leash in certain areas and not in others, picking up poop and taking them with me, only allowing dog/people friendly dogs off leash, bringing no more than 3 dogs to a dog park. I’m a pretty big square and love a good set of rules.
  • I am prepared for each outing with a car stocked with dog necessities & emergency kits and also carry a pouch with me on every hike carrying smaller versions of necessities & emergency kits (I made a post about that a little while back if you’re curious). I also prepare myself by knowing where I am going ahead of time and familiarizing myself with the trail before bringing Adventure Pups along (my dog Link is a huge help in these tests).

If you have a dog walker or pet sitter they should posses these qualities. I form very deep bonds with animals, even if I know them briefly, but I have worked with some people who do not actually care for the animal they’re watching & out of all the “animal people” I know there are only a select few I would trust with my own dog.

The Off-Leash Epidemic

Oh Bend, the most amazing Dog Town this side of the Mississippi. How I love your glorious dog parks, your extensive hiking trails, and all your refreshing swimming holes. And apparently, so does everyone else and their mother… and their dog!

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If you live in Bend (or anywhere else where dogs and humans coexist) you’ll run into the issue of dogs freely roaming the outdoors, not a care in the world and not a leash in site. You’ll be walking along a peaceful trail, listening to the birds and the distant river, looking up at the tall pines, keeping your best friend close-by and safe with a six foot nylon leash. Suddenly you look at the trail ahead and you see an adorable little Aussie, just standing about ten feet in front of you, still as a statue, and you begin your internal dialogue, “Is this dog with a human? Should I turn the other way? Or head off trail? Is it going to approach?” Meanwhile, that best friend you keep next to you on lead is beginning to whine and tug and stress. Suddenly another human appears, and casually yells to you, “Oh it’s ok he’s friendly!” And you uncomfortably chuckle, “Ok great, mine is not!”

This is a daily occurrence. Bend is a pretty dog friendly town, and people seem to take that and run with it… off leash. There are numerous off leash dog parks and trails in town, but the majority of hiking, walking, & biking paths are leashed areas. This means your dog MUST be on leash… not if they’re cool they can hang… they MUST BE ON LEASH. This is not because the city loves power and wants to control your rights, this is for the safety of you, your dog, and everyone around you. I know, other people, what a weird concept, but a lot of people do not like dogs. A lot of dogs do not like dogs. Allowing your dog to run off leash is much easier for you and much more enjoyable for your pup, but some dogs become incredibly anxious when approached by an off-leash dog, and your dog could get hurt if it sniffs the wrong dog. Or even worse a human could get hurt.

When you are in off-leash areas, please make sure your pup is well behaved. Dogs are technically only to be off leash when they have excellent recall and are under your control. There have been instances where well trained dogs have wandered from their owners, bothering a non-dog loving human, and let me tell you, people who do not have dogs love telling you that your dog is terrible, and they love reporting you for going against the rules.

Here’s a true story from the Sydney Morning Herald: Neil McMahon had brought his dog to an off-leash dog beach. He allowed the dog to wander and enjoy itself. The dog approached a baby laying on a blanket in the sand and decided to give that baby a lick on the face. (don’t ask me what a baby was doing laying in the sand of a dog beach) The child’s mother accused the dog of attacking the baby and called the police. Neil was fined $238 because the dog was not under his control.

“‘Effective control’ is defined as follows. It means your dog will return to you upon command (fair enough, though I don’t know a dog owner who has a 100 per cent success rate on that front). It means that you “retain a clear and unobstructed view of the dog” in the off-leash area at all times (fair enough, and usually not a problem unless the whirling dervish of romping dogs gets too big or they head off into the shrubbery in pursuit of a tennis ball). But here’s the kicker that got me in trouble: ‘effective control’ means your dog ‘does not bother, attack, worry or interfere with other people or animals’.” -Neil

So if you aren’t worried about other dogs or people, at least worry about your bank account. Or being an adult and being scolded by a police officer or park ranger, cuz that would be embarrassing.

Be courteous and cautious. Be mindful of your dog and others. Be a standup, law abiding citizen. If you need help finding an off-leash area or need to become better acquainted with your areas leash laws, Google is great at looking things up! If you live in Bend the Dog PAC is an excellent resource for dog parks, summer and winter trails, and upcoming dog events! Dogster Magazine and Zuke’s have some great tips on Adventuring with your pup off leash!

*this has been on my mind lately because of how many people have been complaining of off-leash dogs in an area they thought safe to bring their dog-reactive-dog for a walk*

 

Is a Tired Dog a Happy Dog?

You might be familiar with the phrase “a tired dog is a happy/good dog”, but what does that really mean? If you have a dog it’s pretty obvious, exercising a dog leads to them sleep which causes bad behaviors to happen less frequently. But if your dog is passed out and too tired to do anything, does that make them a happy dog? Does it make them a good dog? Or does it just make them an exhausted dog? 

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Physical exercise is very important for dogs, and the activity you choose is equally as important. A dog running on a treadmill is getting plenty of exercise, but a dog who gets to go on a run with his human is getting a little more from the activity. Participating in exercise with your dog presents an opportunity for bonding, and your dog will be much happier working out with you than alone. It’s important to set time aside in your day specifically for your dog.

You can take your dog to the dog park to exercise and socialize, but if you are staring at your cell phone the entire time it effects the outing for the dog and they may not be as happy or well exercised as you’d hoped (they may also get into some trouble without you even knowing). Try bringing a ball or favorite toy to the park, and rather than checking pointless emails, take the time to connect with your pup through a game they love. My dog happens to be weird and not care much for toys, so rather than play fetch, we play hide and seek at the park. I will hide and he will use his nose to seek me out, once he finds me he gets a reward. It’s essentially nose work, but rather than searching for treats he’s searching for me! This gives him both mental and physical exercise!

Mental stimulation is equally as important as physical, and can have better results in less time. Nicole Ellis is a dog trainer who found that her own dog was, “more tired after 15 minutes of scent games than after a 30-minute walk around the neighborhood.” Dogs are smart, and most of them want jobs to do, so giving them some brain activities will help give them peace of mind.

Please keep in mind that all dogs are different and require different amounts of physical exercise. Old dogs require lessexercise than 8 month old puppies. A Newfoundland requires less exercise than an Australian Shepherd. Dogs with injuries require special workouts. Your dog will normally let you know their limits, but don’t always rely on that, and maybe run it by your vet. 

This is a great guide on how much exercise your dog may need depending on breed, age, and size. But like I said, every dog is different and no one knows your dog better than you.

Here are some great articles on physical and mental stimulation:

“A Mentally Stimulated Dog is a Happy Dog” by Nicole Ellis

“Is a Tired Dog a Good Dog? (Or a Happy Dog?)” by Dan Estep & Suzanne Hetts of Animal Behavior Associates

And some ideas on how to give your dog mental stimulation:

Prevent Boredom

Brain Games

 

 

 

Tools of the Trade

When it comes to the right collar, leash, and harness things get kind of overwhelming. There are so many options, styles, shapes, colors, clips, ahhhh! But have no fear, here is a list of standard collars, harnesses, and leads for your guidance knowledge!

Collars

  • Standard Flat Collar– This is your basic collar that you can find in grocery store. They are usually made of a nylon or leather, but can come in various fabrics. These collars can be used with easy, loose leash walkin’ pups. They shouldn’t be used for sighthounds as they can easily slip over their heads. You can get these collars with a belt buckle style, a fastening clip, or a break away version. If you plan to leave the collar on while your pup is unsupervised, I suggest a breakaway collar so they can’t get snagged on something and strangle themselves.

standardflatclip     standardflatbuckle      breakaway

  • Martingale– This collar is a great substitution for the ol’ choke chain (see below). It consists of two loops, the larger going around the dog’s neck and the smaller clips to the leash. The larger loop is made of a nylon fabric, while the smaller loop is either nylon or chain. When the dog pulls, the smaller loop tightens. These collars are perfect for sighthounds with necks the same size as their heads, because they cannot slip out of them. Never allow the metal pieces of the larger loop to touch!

   martingalefabric     how-martingale-works-340     martingalechain

  • Head Halter– The most popular of these is a Gentle Leader made by PetSafe. It slips over the dog’s muzzle, but is not restrictive to their normal movements (they are able to pant, drink, and eat… they can give kisses too!) These collars keep the dog from dragging their nose along the ground and keeps them focused on you by turning their head anytime they pull. This collar is meant to be used for leash training and can be swapped out after you achieve loose leash behavior. It can be difficult for dogs to get used to this so be sure to have treats and patience with you!

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*Collars should fit so you are able to comfortably fit two fingers underneath.

Aversive Collars

  • Choke Chain– This is basically just what it sounds like. It’s a chain that tightens around your dog’s neck as they pull. These should only be used with guidance of a professional trainer, as they can often cause tracheal damage when improperly used. They should never be left on an unsupervised pup. Martingale collars are great alternatives to these. Never use on short nose dogs!

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  • Prong Collar– These collars are made of linked steel prongs that go into a dog’s neck when they pull. These are only used for dogs that are difficult to control and dogs that are aggressive. Again, these should only be used with guidance of a professional trainer. If you chose to use this collar, be sure to give you pup some naked time without it.

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Harnesses

  • Back-Clip Harness– This is a harness that attaches to the… back! This is great for loose leash walkin’ pups, but not the best for dogs that tend to pull. When you pull, they pull. This harness is great for short nose dogs!

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  • Front-Clip Harness– This clips in the front! Having the leash clipped to the chest of your pup causes them to turn toward you when they pull. With proper guidance, they will get bored of being turned sideways and this can lead to a loose leash walking dog! Some of these harnesses also allow for you to clip to the front and back.

frontcliponly    frontandbackclip

*There are so many style and fit options when it comes to harnesses that I can’t cover them all… it’s always best to get what suits your pup!

Leashes

  • Standard Leash– This comes in many fabrics, styles, and lengths. You can even get leashes that change length with the help of an extra clip! Again you should find a leash that is best for you and your pup. We have several options for different activities.

   ropelease      reflectiveleash      doubleclip

  • Slip Lead– These are usually flat nylon or a braided rope. They simply slip over the dog’s head and like a martingale collar, tightens as the dog pulls. Be sure to use these with proper knowledge as they can cause damage if used inappropriately on a pulling pup.

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  • Retractable Leash– These are the leashes that retract into a handle! Let me just biased-ly say, these are a big pet peeve for me. They offer little to no guidance from the human and allow the dog to control the walk. Normally when I see these used in the world they are used very carelessly and have left a bad taste in my mouth.

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This list was put together with years of frustration, pointless purchases, and victories. For more guidance ask your trainer, veterinarian, or check out the AKC website.

 

*Keep in mind that humans have a tendency to judge your dog’s behavior on their collar. Choke chains and prong collars often lead people to believe your dog is aggressive or difficult to manage. Standard collars cause people to see a friendly happy dog, even if they are not. Though we try to avoid stereotypes, our brains cannot escape it as often as we’d like to think.