What You Talkin’ Bout Human?

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When you bring home your first Pup you do whatever you can to set him up for success: spoil him with toys & treats, get him the best dog food on the market, and help him learn basic commands so you can show him off to the world! The toys, treats, and food you pick are all very important to your Pup’s health and well being, and we all know training is essential! The words you use to train your Pup are very important, regardless of your training techniques. Dogs love consistency and ease, so it is important to be on a routine and to be direct with your pooch. It’s a neat party trick to train your dog commands in German when it’s not your native tongue, but what happens when you leave your Pup with a babysitter and they have no clue how to sprechen sie Deutsch? It’s nice to have a dog to chat with while you’re out on a trail, but once you start gabbin’ your Pup starts to tune you out, then when you need him to pay attention he’s already started ignoring you. The easiest way to train your Pup is to find a balance between the words you would normally say and words that are universal in the dog training world. Below are some examples of verbal cues Adventure Pups use in the day to day.

  • “Here”- come here
  • “Sit”- sit
  • “Stay”- stay
  • “Free” or “Ok”- to release from a sit or stay
  • “Down”- lay down
  • “Off”- don’t jump up
  • “Leave it”- walk away from what you’re doing
  • “No bite”- do not bite
  • “Gentle”- play more gently
  • “Easy”- play more gently
  • “Hey”- heel
  • “Yes” or “Good”- to mark desired behavior
  • “Ah Ah”- do not do that
  • “Load up”- get into the car
  • We try to save the word “No” for extreme circumstances when other verbal cues don’t work, such as preventing a fight, eating something they really shouldn’t, or approaching something dangerous.

We’re pretty straight forward in our verbal cues, but we have made some adjustments in order to better fit with our natural vernacular. I have personally never used the word “heel” in my natural speech. What are some of the verbal cues you share with your Pup?

Buckle Up!

As a child of the 80’s, strapping your Pup into a car with a seatbelt was never something I considered… until I got a precious Pup of my own. If you know anything about me it’s that I love my dog more than anything. I try to keep him safe wherever he goes, including in the car. During one of Link’s first car rides, I noticed how he would walk across the back seat, from window to window. It drove me nuts! I just wanted him to grasp the seriousness of being in a car, and how dangerous backseat surfing can be! But alas, he is a dog and doesn’t understand this concept. So I decided to help him by getting him properly set up for car rides!

Note- some dogs may not be able to be restrained in a car for a variety of reasons, just do your best and drive safe 🙂

  • Seatbelt– There are a few variations of seatbelts. Some have a loop where the seatbelt goes through and then clicks in, like it would for a human. Some have a buckle that clicks directly into the seatbelt of your car. And some are simple tethers that can clip into a harness much like a leash, and then attach to the seatbelt or can be attached to a removable headrest. Make sure you have a durable, padded, fitted,  comfortable harness. You want something that would supply even support in the event of a crash. I got a brand new Kurgo harness and seat belt from the Humane Society Thrift for $5. The harness has a chest plate to distribute weight evenly, and he can comfortably wear it outside of the car as well. Personally I don’t like the direct to belt buckle style restraint and I prefer to attach his tether to the headrest. It’s just less likely he will tangle himself if the tether is above his back rather than by his legs.
  • Hammock– Car hammocks are a great way to keep your dog from flying into the front seat in the event of a crash. It cradles them, much like a normal outdoor hammock does to a human. The combination of the seatbelt and hammock keep your dog in one place throughout your drive. Hammocks are also great in the event your dog gets car sick… trust me.
  • Crate– This is the best way to keep your Pup safe in the car. Crates should be kept in the trunk area when available (not in a closed trunk of a sedan! but in a trunk of a hatchback or suv!) Crates should be strapped down securely to prevent them from moving around too much, and in the event of an accident the car will be secure and not tumbling around the car with your dog tumbling around inside. Impact Dog Crates make awesome crates for your car and truck beds! If you drive a hatchback and have a Malamute, a crate might not work for you.
  • No Dogs in Laps– It is so dangerous! Hawaii is the only state that has outlawed this activity, but most states (including Oregon) have laws against distracted driving, which includes your dog riding on your lap. Also, if you’re in an accident, your dog will be smashed between your body and the steering wheel or airbag! Eeek!
  • No Dogs in Front Seats– Much like sitting on your lap, your dog could be smashed by the airbag when sitting shotgun. If you don’t have an airbag, your dog could then be slammed into the dash, or even worse, thrown through the window. If they must sit shotgun, make sure they are securely and properly restrained. 
  • Loose in the Bed of a Truck– Please, please, please restrain your dog when letting them ride in the back of your truck! You don’t even have to get in an accident for your dog to be hurt. If someone cuts you off and you slam on the brakes, what do you think will happen to your dog? If you hit a pothole (all of Oregon is a pothole) your dog could slam into the truck or fall out the back. Crates are the best, and in my opinion the only way to transport a dog in the bed of a truck. But in all honesty I’d rather have you let your German Shepherd ride on your lap than in the back of your truck.
  • Head out the Window– Warning, this is a rule I can’t follow. Sticking your head out the window isn’t very safe. Rocks and debris hit your windshield all the time, imagine if something hit you in the face going 60mph. It would have the same effect if it hit your dog in the face. They could get cut and scraped, or worse they could get an eye injury. I can’t follow this rule because I know how fun it is to stick your head out the window! To me it’s the same risk as riding a rollercoaster, and I can’t deprive my dog of that fun, but I do roll windows up when we drive faster than 40mph, or when we’re off-roading.
  • No Unattended Dog– I talk about this so often. Don’t leave your Pup in the car. Hot and cold weather drastically effects the temperatures inside a car. All the windows down could result in your dog leaping out a window to chase a squirrel. Just try your best not to do it, and if you must leave your dog in the car, please be safe about it!

 

I am going to share a story that happened to me recently just to give you an idea of how important car safety is for your dog. Don’t worry, it’s not one of the many horror stories I have from working in vet clinics. No one was hurt during this very lucky event.

Last week Link and I took a road trip to Southern Oregon. We drove 3.5 hours south and  all around Southern Oregon without any incidents. We drove the almost 3.5 hours home before exiting the highway at Knott Road. We were driving along Knott, which is single lane both ways, with a double yellow in the middle and a bike lane in both directions. The road curves, but isn’t necessarily windy. There’s high desert landscape on either side. It’s peaceful, and much more enjoyable than the busy main road through town. I was  listening to a crime podcast and Link was snoring in the backseat. I drive a 4Runner, and he usually rides in the very back, but I wanted him closer to me, so I could talk to him as I drove. We were going the speed limit, and I was looking ahead of me as we approached a curve in the road. Traffic was coming in the opposite direction, and cars were driving in front and behind me. Suddenly I see a small Honda Civic coming into my lane from the other direction. I assume he’s just an impatient driver trying to zoom around the person in front of him, but then I noticed he wasn’t trying to swerve out of my way. He was coming directly at me, aiming for a head on collision. I slammed on my brakes, saw he wasn’t swerving, and then I swerved at the very last moment. I braced myself for a collision, but it never came. He narrowly missed us. I swerved right off the road, into the bike lane, and down an embankment, praying to Dog the 4Runner didn’t flip (as 4Runners are specifically designed to flip). All I could think about was my dog, my best friend, and how I needed to get the car to safety. Somehow luck was on our side. We didn’t flip. Instead we sank into the soft dirt of the embankment and stopped. I turned and checked Link over. He was shaken up, but his seatbelt and harness kept him safe and in one spot. He didn’t slide across the seat and hit the door. He didn’t slam into the back of my seat. He was locked in. I can’t explain how relieved I was. I didn’t care about anything else. I didn’t care about the car being stuck, or how my hands wouldn’t stop shaking, or how incredibly hot and thirsty I had suddenly become. All I cared about was that Link was ok. It turns out the Honda Civic belonged to a young man that had worked very long hours that day and he had fallen asleep at the wheel. He drifted into my lane, passing the woman in front of him and smashing off both her and his own side mirrors. I’m assuming that’s what woke him up in time to swerve out of the way of hitting the driver’s side of my car. I am fairly certain to this day he has no idea how close he was to losing his life. I think the only words I said to him were “Are you ok? You ran us off the road, that’s my car with my dog inside. Don’t worry he’s ok.” I am not by any means a great driver. I try to do my best, but I’m not rally racer. I truly believe if I didn’t have Link in my car my reactions wouldn’t have been that fast. I also believe if he didn’t have his seatbelt on, my life would be very different right now. We were very lucky that day. Always buckle up, no matter what kind of mammal, fish, or bird you are. (THANK YOU SO MUCH TO THOSE 3 PEOPLE WHO STAYED WITH ME UNTIL I GOT MY CAR OUT!)

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Feeling Cheated?

Summer in Oregon is amazing, right? The sun is shining, the rivers are glistening, and the cheatgrass is blooming.

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Oh cheatgrass… the bane of my summer existence. But it doesn’t have to be so bad. Below are some tips to help avoid getting cheated, but first let me explain what cheatgrass actually is, for those new to Central Oregon.

Cheatgrass’ entire purpose, much like any living thing on the planet, is to reproduce. It can become a nuisance to pups once the plant dries out and drops its tiny barbed seed pods, which can get into paws, eyes, nostrils, and burrow its way into fur or skin. Cheatgrass usually reaches its prime in summer and early fall and it is quite invasive. They contain teeny tiny barbs that enable the seed to work its way deep into skin and fur, and even into mucus membranes. The barbs are one-way, similar to porcupine quills, causing them to be near impossible to get out.

  • familiarize yourself with cheatgrass and know what it looks like, in all stages of its life. take note of what trails you see it on and where you don’t.
  • check your pet after every outing. you should check your pup’s entire body over, paying extra close attention to ears, eyes, nose, mouth, under the collar or harness, between toes, and paw pads. yea, everywhere.
  • haircuts and grooming. keep those coats trimmed and brushed to limit the amount of fluff for cheat to grasp onto. keep the hair between the toes nice and short, as this is the most common place for cheat to hide in.
  • have a second set of eyes check your pup.
  • make sure your pup isn’t munchin’ on cheat. most dogs enjoy a nibble of grass here and there, but double check to they aren’t ingesting cheat as it can get into the lungs and abdomen and cause serious infections.
  • keep your dog on leash in areas with a lot of cheat, just to keep them from venturing into it.

If your pup has been attacked by cheatgrass, look for signs of infection such as fatigue, loss of appetite, and swelling. If you notice your pup sneezing, shaking its head, scratching its ears a lot, excessively licking, specifically on paws and in between toes, you may want to swing by the vet clinic. Look for any redness, swelling, or drainage. You can remove cheatgrass yourself if it hasn’t gone too deep, but some cases require the barbs to be surgically removed.

Certain dog breeds are more susceptible to cheat than others. Long hair can hide cheat very easily, make sure your pup is free of dreadlocks to avoid cheat burrowing into them. Curly hair seems to just suck up cheat, doodles are an excellent target. Wire hair is thick and hides cheat well.

 

Summer is Coming

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For many of us the summer sun is already upon us! Here are some easy tips on keeping your Pup safe from the heat this summer:

In the Car

The temperature inside your vehicle can rise almost 20º F in just 10 minutes. In 60 minutes, the temperature in your vehicle can be more than 40 degrees higher than the outside temperature. On a 70-degree day, that’s 110 degrees inside your vehicle. Try sitting in your car and see how quickly it becomes uncomfortable.

  • If at all possible, avoid leaving your pup in the car. No matter how fast you will be, the car gets hot real quick and dogs can die of heat stroke in a hot car.
  • Leaving the windows cracked doesn’t actually help too much. A car with cracked windows can heat up just as quickly as a completely sealed car. Leaving the windows all the way down helps with air flow, but make sure your dog cannot jump out, and bring your valuables with you. The car still heats up with all the windows down.
  • Leave the air conditioner running. It’s always best if you have another human in the car that can wait with the Pups.
  • Park in the shade.
  • Leave them water!

On a Walk

  • Put a human paw to the ground to check its temperature. If it’s uncomfortable for you, chances are it’s uncomfortable for your Pup.
  • Walk on the grass rather than sun-cooked dirt or pavement.
  • Those winter boots can be used in the summer too.
  • Go on outings earlier in the morning and later in the evening to avoid the hottest parts of the day.
  • If going on a longer walk than a jaunt around the block bring some water for your pup. I carry a Gulpy because it’s easy and I can also drink from it.
  • Walking near a water source is a good idea. Either a clean stream or water fountains. A place where your Pup can take a dip or at least wet their paws is ideal.
  • A wet bandana helps keep your Pup cool. Dumping water onto their necks is also quite refreshing.

In the House

  • Always make sure there’s fresh water available. Adding a second water bowl to the house (or third) is helpful.
  • Ice cubes are great to add to water bowls.
  • Frozen treats are a great… treat. Peanut Butter in a Kong in the freezer is simple. Mixing plain yogurt with dog friendly fruits, berries, and veggies into an ice tray is a step up.
  • Air conditioner or fans and open windows are necessary for a dog an inside dog. A cool surface to lie on is appreciated.
  • If your Pup has to be outdoors make sure they have a covered shelter and access to plenty of cool water. Water left in a metal bowl in the sun gets very hot.
  • A kiddie pool is a fun addition, and you can benefit from it too.

Pampering

  • Coconut oil and Musher’s Secret are great relief for cracked or burned paws.
  • A well groomed coat helps to release heat. Matted and knotted hair keeps the heat in.
  • Shaving the coat is very helpful, but some breeds should NOT be shaved so do a little research before taking out the shears.

Fur Coat Being Bogged Down by Snowballs?

Winter finally arrived in Central Oregon and there are a lot of Pups that are new to the snow and are unsure of how to react to it!

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Yes, snow is fun. Most of us turn into little puppies when winter hits. But what happens when our fluffy side kick pops out of the frozen ground and is covered in tiny snowballs? You can pick them out with your fingers, but after a couple minutes of this activity your fingers go numb and your efforts are fruitless. If you ignore them until later they can twist further into the fur and cause painful dreadlocks.

How can you eliminate these snowballs? And more importantly how can you prevent them from ever appearing in your dog’s fluff? Here on a few tips I know of…

Snowballs can be avoided by:

  • Trimming your Pup’s fluff– trimming down their toe hair so they are more tame or even bare knuckled is an easy way to avoid snow clumps. This of course causes your Pup’s toes to be more exposed to the cold, so be careful on certain breeds and on those that rarely spend time in the cold. Some dog coats are not meant to be shaved so make sure you speak to a professional first!
  • Boots are another great way to keep paws safe from frost. I have yet to meet a dog that enjoys wearing shoes, but if you can get your Pup to use them it’s an awesome way to keep their paws and paw pads protected! I have found the best way to get my Pup excited about stuff is to wrap it like a gift! I wrapped up his boots and got very excited about them, using my best Minnie Mouse voice. I let him open them and sniff them and then gave him treats while I put on his new boots. He walked around like a baby deer stuck in tar, but then I took him outside and we played a game of soccer and he was forced to adjust to them! It’s still difficult to convince him to wear them on hikes, but treats and reassurance help him to forget about them! Ruffwear makes a lot of different kinds, so you can find the best fit for your Pup!
  • The best kept secret to avoid snow balls is… Musher’s Secret! It’s a protective wax you apply to your Pup’s pads and fur and it helps prevent snow and ice from attaching to them! You can find it at your local pet store, or on the World Wide Web!

You can remove snowballs by:

  • Brushing them out! I find slicker brushes are the best to use on snowballs. Make sure to get to the skin, as some snowballs can twist themselves up into the fur.
  • Rinsing in warm water! Make sure the water isn’t too warm, but warm enough to melt the snow. You should still brush the fur after rinsing, just in case some stubborn snow is hiding.

If you have any tips on how to remove snow and protect those precious potatoes, or know of any good dog boots let me know!

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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.