Monday, August 31, 2015

Professional Dog Models!

My dogs are complete professionals when it comes to photo shoots! They are so well behaved!

Phoenix would never think of dive bombing her sister during a shoot!

They are so professional that they would never wrestle or mess up the sheet!

...and Zoe would never bite her sisters neck off or show her butt to the camera! 

Phoenix would never dream of making any funny faces!

Nope! No funny faces here!

They are total professionals!

Just another boring day in front of the camera!

 If you know anyone who needs very professional dog models, tell them to email us! 

There's no mischief going on here!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Backlit! B&W Sunday

Here's my attempt at backlighting! Phoenix is so good about posing for me! Backlighting is when your light source is behind the subject.

Happy B&W Sunday everyone!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Parkour Dogs

Phoenix in a tree at Thousand Acres.

This week I got a lot of questions and some concerns regarding my Monday Mischief post: To Catch a Squirrel... if you didn't see it just click the link. I decided to make a post about it so I can clear the air. There was NO squirrel in the tree where I was photographing the dogs. It was a joke.

Phoenix posing on the fence at Thousand Acres.

What is Parkour? (AKA: Free Running) From Wikipedia: Pakour is a training discipline using movement that developed from military obstacle course training. Practitioners aim to get from one point to another in a complex environment, without assistive equipment and in the fastest and most efficient way possible. Parkour includes running, climbing, swinging, vaulting, jumping, rolling, quadrupedal movement, and other movements as deemed most suitable for the situation.

It's basically like agility but we use whatever obstacles we find! The dogs are trained to balance on fence posts, climb trees, jump over things. Everything I do with my dogs is completely controlled and trained.

Zoe on the giant rock at the south end Cannon Beach.

Zoe on the giant rock at the south end Cannon Beach.

If you look up "parkour dogs" on youtube you will find some pretty extreme videos. We don't do any of that extreme stuff at all. I don't allow them to jump down from places that are too high, especially if the landing will be on cement and we are very careful about the things we do. I would never allow them to do this sort of thing when they were overstimulated and chasing a critter.

Zoe posing on a pillar!
Phoenix learning parkour.

So the tree they were in was a tree that had been split and half of it was on the ground, they were able to hop up on a low branch and climb up into the tree. As you can see, Zoe is making her descent. She's focused on the branch of the tree and is very careful where she's placing her paws. We've done a ton of rear end awareness training. She knows exactly where her front and rear paws are. 

In 4 years of doing this we have never had an injury. 

Parkour can be great exercise and there's a ton of variety with it. It's jumping, it's running, it's balancing. My dogs really enjoy it. However, with any sort of sport like this, your dog needs to be physically fit. I would not recommend doing this if your dog is overweight. If you're interested in parkour and never done any sort of obstacle training, I would recommend finding an agility class and doing that first with a qualified instructor. I used to take agility classes with my family dogs and it was so much fun. I learned a lot. I would also recommend doing rear end awareness exercises and starting on really low and wide objects that are easy for your dog to negotiate while they are learning.

Happy Fit Dog Friday everyone! 

Do you do any sort of obstacle training with your dog? Tell me about it in the comments!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Zoe's First Hike! Throwback Thursday

This was four years ago! We took Zoe on her first hike and we did the tourist thing! We hiked Multnomah Falls.

She didn't really know us very well yet and she wasn't that thrilled about me picking her up but this was us at the very top of the falls! This hike had a gain of 620 feet and my husband and I were not regular hikers. We were dying by the time we got to the top but I was really happy we made it.

It was really fun but I will admit that we haven't hiked it again, except for the lower portion to the first bridge. It's packed with tourists and is way too busy. It's a beautiful spot, though and if you're visiting the Portland area, I would recommend stopping by and checking it out.

Sorry for the quality of these photos, back then I didn't have a decent camera. :)

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Merrick "Jerky Chips" Review

Hi everyone! I hope you are all having an awesome day! It's time for our monthly review! If you didn't know, is an amazing company that ships your favorite pet products right to your door! They have amazing customer service and their shipping is incredibly fast. We are frequent customers! Today we are reviewing Merrick "Jerky Chip Treats" and we got the Salmon and Potato Recipe. If salmon is not your dog's favorite, they have a bunch of different protein options, like chicken and beef, too! 

About Jerky Chip Treats:
Merrick Jerky Chip Treats are oven-baked, all-natural dog cookie treats filled with protein-packed jerky chips as the first ingredient, made from real deboned chicken, beef, lamb, or salmon. Unlike many dog treats, Merrick Jerky Chip Treats are grain-free and gluten-free with no corn, soy or wheat. And, like all Merrick food and treats, Merrick Jerky Chip Treats are made in the USA with no ingredients from China. 

Ingredients: Deboned Salmon, Deboned Beef, Dried Potatoes, Peas, Garbanzo Beans, Tapioca Starch, Pea Fiber, Olive Oil, Dried Carrots, Brown Sugar, Whey Protein Concentrate, Dried Apples, Caramel Color, Gelatin, Yogurt Powder, Salt, Dried Lemon Peel, Cultured Skim Milk Powder, Mixed Tocopherols (a preservative). 

These treats are a biscuit like consistency. They sort of reminded me of chocolate chip cookies. They have an interesting odor, they sort of smell like potato chips. Since they are a biscuit, they do crumble a little bit when they are broken apart. Luckily, I have two helpers who are very eager to clean up the crumbs. They break apart easily, which is great because these treats are huge! The girls really liked them!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Happy Face! B&W Sunday

I love it when I can get photos of Zoe where she doesn't look annoyed with me! 
Here she is doing her favorite thing! Running! 

Happy Sunday everyone!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Boundary Trail!


Happy Fit Dog Friday everyone! This week you might have read about how I took a little spill. Well as soon as I was able to I got them right back out to the park and we spent a lot of time on the Boundary Trail. The Boundary Trail is just what it sounds like. It's the outer trail at the park. It's pretty over grown in a lot of the spots which makes for interesting photos!


This is also pretty much the only area of the park where the grass is still green. The rest of the park has been fried by the ridiculously hot summer we are dealing with!

Phoenix & Zoe

The girls got a lot of good running in and they had a lot of fun, too! I'm hoping the weather will cool off soon so we can play in the water again. With it being so hot I'm still concerned about algae blooms so we've been avoiding the river.

I hope everyone has an awesome weekend!

What have you been up to lately?

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Why Managing & Training Your Reactive Dog is So Important!

Phoenix wearing her Gentle Leader Head Collar

Hi everyone! I hope you are all doing well! Today I wanted to talk to you about dog reactivity. I was just reminded of an incident that recently happened at my apartment complex that I'm going to share with you. We were not involved in the initial incident but the fallout from the incident happened to us.

I'm going to start this off with a question for everyone to ponder. Do you want to be the owner of a dog who traumatizes another dog for life?

Okay, okay.. I know.. I went dark, right? But it's an important thing to think about. No matter what size of dog you have, management is huge. Every single dog who has teeth in his or her mouth could potentially do damage to another dog or human. Every dog. It's an even more important thing to think about if your dog is reactive. People say, "Oh my dog is all bark. If he got off his leash he wouldn't know what to do.. He would never actually bite anyone." Those people are WRONG. So wrong. I've personally had this happen to me with Zoe and a small dog. The small dog reacted at her for months, one day the owner got complacent and just opened their door and the dog came charging out and attacked Zoe. I had to pick Zoe up and the dog was still jumping and biting at us. It was awful.

If your dog could potentially get away from you while they are reacting and harm another dog, you need to re-evaluate what you're doing. If your dog is going to turn around and come up the leash on you and bite you because they are reacting and frustrated that they can't get the "thing", you have another problem to deal with. What if your dog goes up the leash, bites you and you drop the leash? Now your dog is loose, you're potentially hurt and the thing they were reacting at is now at risk for being harmed, too. This is where the management comes into play. I know muzzles are wildly unpopular but when they are conditioned properly, most dogs are fine. If your dog redirects on you, I would highly recommend seeking professional help for them. (For links to professional organizations scroll down)

Keeping our reactive dogs under control is so important. You may need to teach them to wear a basket muzzle (Muzzle Training Tutorial) or you need to teach them to wear a head collar. Maybe you have a double leash attached to multiple points on the dog but if you're taking your reactive dog off your property or you live in an apartment complex, you need to make sure that you have that dog under control. You can't fail your dog because it could literally mean life or death.

Zoe showing off her multi leash attachments!

In addition to the management, I would also highly recommend working with a qualified Positive Reinforcement trainer. Training is just as important as management. There are things you can do to make your dog feel better about other dogs and the environment in general. There are also some super fun impulse control games you can play with your dog to help them, too. You can find trainers in your area by going here: PPG or here: CCPDT

If you're just starting your "reactive journey" I would recommend that you do as much research as possible on the subject of reactive dogs. A great website to start at would be: There are also several support groups on facebook you can join.

There's an amazing training book called "Fired Up, Frantic and Freaked Out" by  Laura VanArendonk Baugh that I would recommend checking out. I really liked the book and the training plan is very easy to understand.

I would also recommend watching Kris Willson's series on her dog Luna's emotional recovery from being attacked: Behavior Modification Training with Luna Session 1 There's some great body language from Luna in these videos and Kris explains them in great detail. Dogs can be really subtle and she does a fantastic job explaining everything the dog is doing.

These are training tutorials by Emily Larlham: How to stop your dog lunging and barking- Train 'Let's Go!'- shy reactive dogs & Giving into leash pressure- for shy reactive dogs In the videos, Emily shows you how to train your dog to move with you and to turn away from scary things. The second video shows you how to teach your dog to recognize and give in to leash pressure. They are both excellent. 

You can also rent dvd seminars of trainers doing presentations on reactivity by joining Tawzer Dog

Depending on the severity of the reactivity, you might need to go to a Vet Behaviorist. You may need to get your dog a prescription for anti-anxiety medication. That's up to you and your vet to decide but please don't discount medication and think of it as a last resort. Medication has been shown to be extremely beneficial in helping dogs to feel better about the world. You can also request that your own vet consult with a behaviorist over the phone. If you need help finding a Behavioral Consultant please go here:

Your dog might just need a smaller world. Which means instead of walking during high traffic times with other dog owners around, you play fetch in your yard or play other indoor games, like trick training. You might need to save the walking for early in the morning or later at night when there are less people around. Maybe you need to turn down that super fun invite to meet up with other dog owners for a romp on the beach. You have to do whatever is right for your dog and if that means staying at home then that's okay.

It is always okay to advocate for your dog, even if it means disappointing someone.

We stayed home today.

Now onto the incident at my apartment complex. About a month ago, my neighbor's young dog was attacked by our resident angry German Shepherd. This GSD is constantly going after people's dogs. To the point where I now peek around every corner before committing to walking around them.  The other day I saw him and ended up having to walk about a quarter of a mile in the other direction to get back to my apartment without us crossing paths. This dog weighs more than his owners and they can't control him at all. They also use aversive punishment which is making his reactivity worse. As soon as they begin correcting him, he turns around on them. It's really sad.

On the day of the incident, my other neighbor was walking his young dog and the GSD happened to be out and he began reacting. The GSD ended up getting away from his owners and he attacked the dog. He completely flattened her on the ground. It was awful. We were inside and we could hear the screaming. The young dog ended up being physically okay but the psychological damage was done.

My neighbor's young dog is now reactive and on Tuesday evening, she went after me and my dogs as we were passing her. The dog was barely under her owner's control. She almost got away from him. Luckily, I was far enough away from her that we were able to get away and she didn't get us but she is at least twice the size of my dogs and could potentially do damage, not to mention my dogs would defend themselves. This could of been a really ugly situation but I'm glad we came out of it okay. What makes me really sad is that neither of these two dogs are getting the help they need. Their owners are ignoring the problem or worse using punishment.

So if you have a reactive dog, please, make sure your dog is under control. Get help from a professional if you need it! Don't wait around and hope the reactivity gets better on it's own. It won't! There is no shame in using a basket muzzle. There is no shame in using a head collar for better control. If you're not comfortable with a head collar, then at least a double clipping harness that clips to the front. Maybe your dog just needs that smaller world and that's okay too! Not every dog is capable of being out in the environment or in crowded places. If your dog is happier at home then that's fine!

I know I am mostly talking about big dogs here but trust me when I say that all of these same things apply to people with little dogs. Little dogs with reactivity are not cute, either! Yes, they could potentially do less physical damage than their larger cousins but they can still emotionally damage another dog. Remember the little dog that went after Zoe in the beginning of my post? That dog was only 10lbs and Zoe was always scared to walk past their place after the dog attacked her. Also, little dogs can get hurt very easily (bigger dog goes to defend itself or won't put up with being bullied by a small one) so it's really important to keep them from going after other dogs.

I'm just going to throw this in right here: NO Flexi leashes!!! 

If your dog is reactive the last thing they need is to be on a flexi leash! Those things break all the time, not to mention the damage the cords can do. They are dangerous with even the most friendliest of dogs. The only time I would ever say a flexi leash is okay is if you are in a wide open space, you're alone, you have 100% visibility and your dog is very well trained.

Long Lines attached to the harnesses at the beach.
 Long Lines can be a great alternative to using a flexi lead.

Now lets talk about Phoenix. I usually call Phoenix my "highly functional" reactive dog. She is able to go out in public and she is generally not leash reactive (she's triggered by dogs being excited or playing roughly, she will want to chase and nip at their butts). Unless a large dog happens to get into her face and scares her, then she might think she needs to defend herself. 95% of the time she will avoid interactions with other dogs if she is given the choice. Even with that being the case, I've conditioned her to wearing a muzzle (both kinds, soft and basket) and I've also conditioned her to wearing a gentle leader head collar. We don't need these tools very often but it's good to have them available and she's already used to wearing something on her face if she needs it (ie: vet visit).

I'm hyper vigilant when she is out in public. That means that I am never on my cell phone, I never use headphones with music. I don't allow other dog owners to distract me and I give my dogs my full attention. Complacency is a killer. You cannot afford to be complacent when you have a reactive dog. I am always on the look out for trouble and planning our escape if we need to. Even with all of this, we've had our share of mess ups. Off leash dogs have run up on us, owners have let their dogs drag them into my dog's faces, excited dogs have accidentally run into us. Phoenix has occasionally threatened to snap at those dogs. Luckily everything turned out okay but I would never want my dog to traumatize another dog so I am constantly working with her.

I really feel that it's important to protect other people's dogs from our reactive dogs, if at all possible. No one is perfect and sometimes stuff happens but being proactive is so important. We can't be normal dog owners, as sad as that is. We have to better than everyone else.

What do you do to manage your reactive dog? Comment below!

I have additional training resources on my training page so be sure to check that out! 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Zoe's Gotcha Day Feast!

If you missed it, yesterday was Zoe's 4th Gotcha Day

Unfortunately, I had an accident on Sunday. I fell down this hill at my apartment complex and got pretty banged up Apparently it was really slippery there! Yikes.

I had so many plans to celebrate Zoe's day but I was too sore to actually do any of them. I was going to take her hiking and then shopping to get a bunch of goodies. Once I'm able to move again, we'll celebrate. I was feeling really bad about not having anything for her so my husband and I made them Pupcakes with peanut butter as the frosting. To say the Pupcakes were a hit would be a massive understatement. They were so excited about them that they were pretty much gone as quickly as we set them down! Luckily I managed to get a few hilarious photos!


The girls were really happy with Zoe's Gotcha Day Feast! It was super fun and easy to make. We used whole grain pancake mix and cooked it with their coconut oil. Probably not the healthiest snack ever but it was fun and it's only one day!

Happy Tasty Tuesday everyone!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Happy 4th Gotcha Day to Zoe!

I still can't believe it's been four years since I brought this girl home! I know I said that last year, too! It's just so unbelievable how fast time flies!

Here's Zoe's 4th Gotcha Day video!

If you'd like to read more about Zoe and how she came into my life click here: Zoe's Page!

She's an amazing girl and I am very lucky to have her!

 Happy 4th Gotcha Day to Zoe! 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Fetch and Hiking with Blog Friends!

Hi everyone! Happy Fit Dog Friday! Yesterday we had a fantastic day hiking with our friends: Lia, Elli and Riko from Identity V+E! If you have not visited Lia's blog I would highly recommend it. Her blog is wonderful! It was so fun meeting them in person! Elli and Riko are SO cute! I just loved them!

Before we met up, I decided to play fetch with my dogs in the field across from the forest. I wanted to get some of that excess energy out so they would be on their best behavior for our meet up. This area is a designated off leash area and I wasn't sure how Phoenix would do. She has never successfully played fetch in a dog park situation before. I was hopeful but kept my expectations low. She did great! She retrieved every ball I threw! She only dropped one ball because another dog ran up to her and she got nervous but once that dog went away she picked her ball up and came right to me. It was amazing.

Zoe got into the fetch action as well!  I was shocked that she actually wanted to play! She brought back all but one of the balls I threw! She was so into the game and it was so fun. I wish I got to see this dog more often. Usually she doesn't want to play my games!

After all the fetch, we met up with Lia, Riko and Elli and went for our hike. The trail at this park was pretty short but the crazy hills made up for it! Unfortunately, I forgot my camera in the car for the hike part of our day. We got the camera and took an "after" photo, though!

Photo Credit: Identity V+E

After our hike, we went to a food cart type place and then we went for another walk! We all had so much fun! These dogs did so well together! Both Phoenix and Riko are reactive but they are so well managed that they were fine! With proper introductions the dogs were at ease with each other. I could not have asked for a better day. I hope we can do this again some time and I really wish we lived closer to each other!

Have a great weekend everyone!