Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Mine! You Can't Have It!

There's nothing Phoenix loves more than fetching sticks from the river. 

She liked this one so much that she didn't want to give it back. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Nulo Freestyle, Grain-Free 5 Star Nutrition! #chewyinfluencer

Hi everyone and welcome to our monthly review! is an awesome company that ships all of your favorite pet products right to your door! They have amazing customer service and their shipping is incredibly fast. They are one of our favorite companies! We received our sample of food as part of the blogger program in exchange for an honest review.

Zoe and Phoenix are fed a rotational diet with high quality kibble and some raw. We are always open to trying new high quality food so this month we are reviewing Nulo Freestyle Turkey and Sweet Potato Grain-Free Dog Food. Nulo is a new brand for us and I was happy to see that they received a 5 star rating from Dog Food Advisor.

Key Benefits of Feeding Nulo include:
  • Grain-free adult formula
  • 85% animal-based proteins
  • Vitamin B6 & niacin from turkey supports energy production
  • Low glycemic index ingredients
  • Powered by a pure probiotic strain
  • Wholesome vegetables & fruits to support immune health
  • Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids for brilliant skin & coat
  • Calcium & phosphorus for strong bones
  • Made in the USA

Ingredients Include: Deboned Turkey, Turkey Meal, Salmon Meal, Chickpeas, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols & Citric Acid), Sweet Potato, Yellow Peas, Deboned Trout, Pea Fiber, Natural Flavor, Yeast Culture, Dried Chicory Root, Dried Tomatoes, Dried Carrots, Dried Blueberries, Dried Apples, Salt, Calcium Carbonate, Choline Chloride, Potassium Chloride, Zinc Proteinate, Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), Iron Proteinate, Niacin, Copper Proteinate, Thiamine Mononitrate (source of Vitamin B1), Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Manganous Oxide, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (source of Vitamin B6), Selenium Selenite, Riboflavin, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Biotin, Dried Bacillus coagulans Fermentation Product, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Calcium Iodate, Folic Acid, Rosemary Extract

More, please!

Both of my dogs really enjoyed trying this food and I'm pretty sure we will be adding it to our rotation. Even Zoe, who can be picky, was excited to have this food. The girls did not have any adjustment period to the food and we did not have any tummy upsets. The girls did great on it! I'm really impressed with Nulo Freestyle and I would recommend checking it out!

ZoePhee received a bag of Nulo Freestyle Dog Food in exchange for an honest review. We were not monetarily compensated and all opinions are my own. is not responsible for the content of this blog post. 

Monday, June 27, 2016

Zoe's Vet Adventure! 4th of July Prep!

So last year after we had an absolutely miserable 4th of July, fireworks went off all night long and the dogs were terrified, I swore I would never let my dogs go through another 4th without medication to ease their anxiety. Zoe is extremely noise phobic and I'm pretty sure she thought the sky was falling and the world was ending. With the holiday rapidly approaching and fireworks tents going up all over the place, I knew I had to make an appointment for Zoe to see the vet. She needed go anyways because I was concerned about her back end. She had some weakness in her back legs after a road trip where her sister squashed her against the door of the car for hours on end and then playing on the beach for a few hours. On the way back into town, we made a pit stop and she had a hard time jumping back into the car. She's also been refusing to do her backstall trick.

Going to the vet is always a major ordeal for all of us. I've had some previous negative experiences and I get extremely anxious taking anyone in. I still tend to get really stressed out, even though I used to work at our current vet and know everyone there. Luckily this trip, my husband was available to drive us and help out.

I'm happy to report that her vet visit went really well. We brought her mat and her squeeze tube full of cream cheese. I didn't give her any time to worry about where she was, she just sat on her mat and licked cheese until it was time to see the doc. She was pretty nervous and a little scrambly when she was up on the table but overall she did really well. Our vet was really impressed with how her teeth looked, she's in great shape and she has full range of motion and good muscle in her back legs. He was not concerned about the weakness we saw and he thinks she probably just over did it or tweaked something. We've been taking it easy on the trick training since that beach trip and he thinks we can go back into training and that she's going to be fine. If she shows any signs of weakness again, we can always have x-rays done but at this point we decided not to do them.

So on the meds side of things, I went into the vet office thinking that I wanted to ask for diazepam (valium), I've had several friends who had good luck with it but I was open to suggestions. Our vet recommended trying trazadone which is what we walked out of there with.

A few days after the vet visit, my husband decided to go through a bunch of his stuff (we've moved a lot and when boxes come out it freaks her out), I was doing laundry (our washing machine makes horrible banging noises) and our neighbors were banging around, all of these things make Zoe anxious so it was the perfect time to try out the trazadone. With this specific medication, there's a range to the dosage she can have so I gave her the lowest dose possible. I was pretty happy with the results. The lowest dose did not sedate her but I could definitely see the difference in her. It was like she was wandering around going, "I think I'm supposed to be anxious about this but I'm not!"

For the 4th of July, I am going to have her on the meds for a few days prior to the holiday and a couple of days afterwards as well. On the day of the 4th she will be getting the maximum dose she's allowed to have. My neighbors are awful and last year the celebrations went on for the entire week. I'm really hoping to keep her stress level down.

I know that medication can be controversial but our dogs lives are too short for them to spend them constantly stressed out and if this medication can help her feel safe then I'm all for it.

Have you ever used medication with your dog for the 4th of July? What medication did you use and were you happy with it?

Monday, June 20, 2016

Punishment Creates Conflict and There is Always Fallout

To preface this, I use positive reinforcement to train my dogs. I try not to use punishment and I honestly believe that teaching your dog "what to do" versus using corrections for "what not to do" is the better way to go. That being said, I'm a human and sometimes I screw up.

It was 5:30am on Saturday morning and I woke up in a total snit. It was just one of "those days" where the world was ending and I just didn't want to adult. I was crabby and incredibly tired because I've been having a hard time getting sleep on Friday nights. What can I say? I'm a total baby when I don't sleep well. I had to get up to take my husband to work so that I could have the car, the dogs needed to be worked before I went to work and I had too much stuff to do. I think I was feeling really overwhelmed.

Do we really have to get up? Phoenix is not a morning dog, either.

So I drag myself and my dogs out of bed, we get the husband off to work and we arrive at the school/park that I like to use for training. It's now 6:30am. I let them wander around on leash to take care of potty needs and then we get ready to do some fetch and training. I usually work them off leash, with one relaxing on a mat and one working or playing with me. That way it's super easy to switch back and forth between dogs. This sort of training, we've been doing for nearly 4 years since I got Phoenix. I try to do a balance between training and letting them be dogs so we train for a little while and then they can go play or sniff and then back to training. Since the park is a public space, I try to keep things structured and the dogs semi under control as much as possible. I usually lay my mat down first and have both dogs sit on it before I unclip the leashes, both dogs have had extensive mat work and are generally glued to the mat if it's out. That morning I was so tired and I didn't really know what I was doing, I didn't have the mat ready. I just asked them to sit and unclipped the leashes. As I turned my back on them to get their mat and chuck it off the bench and put their leashes down, they just took off. They decided it was play time and were zooming around, roughhousing with each other.

It was early in the morning and there was no one out there. It honestly did not matter that the dogs were running around being dogs but it irked me because well, let's face it, I was already irked by lack of sleep and other things. I didn't release them to play and I was not okay with the fact that they just took off. I ended up yelling at them and I'm not proud of it. "HEY!!! (EXPLICIT!!!) THIS IS NOT WHAT WE'RE DOING!!!!! (EXPLICIT) GET BACK HERE!!!" (or something like that). I didn't use any of the cues that they know, not a single one and not even their names. Phoenix came back right away. Zoe took longer to convince, she's generally has a lot less impulse control training than Phoenix, she's more of the trouble-maker in the family and she's much more sensitive to my moods. Zoe is the dog that is easily shutdown and tunes me out by tuning into the environment. She drives me crazy when this happens and it's honestly the most frustrating thing about her. Even though I rewarded both dogs when they came back, yelling is very punishing for them and none of us were happy.

So I get Zoe back and settling on the mat and start training with Phoenix. I ask Phoenix if she's ready, she wags her tail at me and I tell her to "GO!" and I chuck the ball. She watches me chuck the ball but she wouldn't go get it. She started out into the field and then just stops and keeps looking at me. Goes a little further, stops and looks at me. Fetch is a game that we've played for years, she's very well versed in the game. She didn't want to fetch the ball because I had just yelled at her for running around on the field. She was extremely conflicted and she wasn't sure if she should go. I had to work really hard to convince her that it was okay and that she could go get her ball. I did eventually get her fetching and we had a  really good training session, too.

When it was Zoe's turn, she did okay for the first 10 minutes but I had a really hard time keeping her attention and she was really distracted. Her head was not in the game, which is not too unusual for Zoe but I'm sure I didn't make it any easier on her by being bitchy. She's an extremely sensitive dog and she picks up on absolutely everything I'm feeling. If I'm pissed off or agitated she knows it and she actively avoids me. Who wants to be around a bitchy person, anyways? I can't really blame her.

I felt SO bad. You guys, I can't even tell you how bad I felt for yelling at them. It really sucked and I was not happy with myself. Especially since I didn't even use any of their known cues or anything. The dogs are never wrong, they were just being dogs and since I didn't put the mat down they thought it was goof off time. My communication with them was not clear and it was totally my fault. It was so dumb to yell at them, especially since there was no one around and there was no harm done by them running around and playing.

Sometimes my expectations for my dogs are just too high and I know that I need to work on my mindset. I don't know why I set such high standards for them but it's definitely so much easier to work with other people's dogs. I have all the patients in the whole world when it comes to working with any dogs other than my own. I think sometimes I just get frustrated because I've been training them for so long that I feel like we should be done with these more basic things and that they should just know what I mean and be able to do it.

I know that I just need to work on these things more. Their implied stay needs work and I need to clearly communicate what I'm wanting without the mat being present. Next time I will definitely end up tethering one dog while the other is loose. Taking them both off leash at the same time is just asking for trouble and impulse control issues. They were likely just confused because when we go to other off leash places, they both come off leash at the same time and there's no mat. They are just free to run around. I'm also finding out that if I want Zoe's attention she can't have doggy time first. It's better to train her from the beginning versus allowing her to goof off because I just can't get her back. She gets way into the environment and she's just not mentally there for me to work with.

Punishment creates so much conflict and there is always fallout as a result from using it. I know it sounds pretty crazy but 10-15 seconds of yelling was all it took to screw everything up. I had to work so much harder with both of my dogs to make up for being punishing to them. Not only did it damage Phoenix's drive to play (something I've worked so hard on getting) and her confidence in me, it also screwed up my recall and both dogs were really hesitant to do anything or try stuff. I could definitely tell that they were unsure of me and worried. I never want them to feel that way, I should always have their backs and they should be able to trust me. Training is supposed to be fun and I blew it. It was definitely not the way I wanted to start my morning or any training sessions. It was such a rooky mistake and I'm so embarrassed that it happened because I definitely know better. I think the next time I wake up feeling crabby, we will skip going to the park or maybe I'll just take Phoenix. That way I set us all up to win instead of failing. At least we ended on a better note than when we started and I did learn from the experience but it's not something I want to repeat.

Have you ever screwed up when trying to train your dogs? What did you do and how did you fix it?

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Wild Dingo!

This wild dingo wishes her mom wold hurry up!

Believe it or not, my most frequently asked question is "Are they wild dingoes?" 

What's the dumbest thing someone has said to you about your pets?

Monday, June 13, 2016

A Change in Perspective (There's Nothing Wrong with Phoenix)

For years I've called Phoenix "my reactive dog", "my challenging dog", "my fearful one", "Zoe's evil twin" and basically insert any other words here that mean "difficult". It's true that Phoenix has been a little more challenging than Zoe because of where she came from and because she experienced trauma. However, after working at my work for a couple of months and having a lot of conversations with the awesome trainers I work with, I've begun to have a massive change in perception about my dog. There is literally nothing wrong with Phoenix. There, I said it. There's nothing wrong with her.

Phoenix can be nervous of other dogs and she would rather large dogs not be in her personal space bubble. She's basically an introvert who loves and trusts her immediate family and friends. Phoenix is a normal dog. Not liking other dogs, that she doesn't know, in her personal space is not abnormal. Her level and intensity of reaction to having a strange dog in her space is also completely normal.

I am nervous of strangers and I don't like them in my personal space. If a strange person ran up to me and threw their arms around me, I'd probably snap at them, too. Just like humans, our dogs should be able to say "no" to other dogs as long as they are appropriate about it.

I think as a society we've decided that any time a dog snarls and snaps that it's "aggression" and then that dog is immediately labeled as a bad dog. We need to immediately "correct this 'aggression'" and dogs are not allowed to show any signs of being anything other than our happy-go-lucky companions.

The reality is that dogs have only so many ways they can communicate that they are unhappy. Their subtle body language cues often go ignored (by people and other dogs) so then they have to escalate to get the message across. People think that dogs are being aggressive when the reality is that they are just displaying agonistic behaviors, social behaviors, that are completely normal. These dogs only want to achieve one thing "give me space". That is not aggression. How else are they supposed to communicate to another dog who isn't listening to back off and that they don't like what that dog is doing?

True aggression is defined as "intent to cause harm" and "inflicting damage on another individual". In all the time that I've had Phoenix (going on 4 years) and in the context of greeting other people's dogs, she's never injured a single one by being snarky. She's never drawn blood and she's never left a single mark on another dog. That is not us getting lucky. If a dog truly wants to do damage or hurt someone, they can and will. Most of the time, dogs know exactly how strong their jaws are and they know exactly where they are placing their mouths. If a dog air snaps and misses you, they meant to miss you. If a dog bites you and gets you, they meant to bite you. By being snarky (and seriously inhibited snarky, at that), all Phoenix wants to achieve is telling the other dog that she needs space or that the way they are interacting with her is inappropriate. (IE: Male dog trying to hump her). Phoenix displays behaviors related to avoidance, behaviors that only mean she wants distance. 9 times out of 10 when we go to the off leash park, she will choose to get away from another dog versus greetings and interactions. Phoenix is not an aggressive dog and she does not have any intention to cause harm or inflict damage. She just wants her personal space bubble respected. We can't blame her for that.

In the past there have been three injuries to other dogs in relation to play, two of them were caused by Zoe and only one might have been caused by Phoenix. Zoe used to get very over-aroused during play and she would play too rough. She caused scratches to two separate dogs, both belonging to friends. Phoenix may have nipped a dog during a game of chase but every dog was chasing the dog that was running and nobody saw which dog nipped her. Unfortunately, these sorts of things can literally happen to anyone who goes to the dog park. Play injuries are more common than anything else. Dogs get banged up playing with each other. It's a thing.

An appropriate, face-to-face greeting.

So what does all of this mean? Am I going to stop training my dog? The short answer is no way! I'm still going to do everything I can to make sure that Phoenix has good interactions with other dogs. Just this past week we went on a nice long walk with my co-worker and her dogs. The dog that a few months ago, Phoenix snapped at. At the beginning of the walk, Phoenix partially displayed her teeth exactly one time. She didn't snark or snap, just lifted her lip and only slighly. By the end of the walk, they were all walking side by side. I'm hoping we can do these sorts of walks on a regular basis because my co-worker's dogs are so calm and they are perfect helper dogs. The more positive interactions Phoenix can have where she doesn't have to display agonistic behaviors the better.

Basically, I am just removing the labels I've put on my dog. I'm not going to stop training. We live in a society where there's a dog and a person around almost every corner. Being prepared and having training to deal with those situations is extremely important.

When I first got Phoenix, I decided and committed to dealing with her and training her as if she was a normal dog. Somewhere along the way, I lost that when I decided to label her as reactive. We could literally label every single dog that has ever lived as reactive. Every dog has at one point or another displayed behavior we could call "reactive". I really want to be done with labels as much as possible. Labels don't describe behaviors. Labels don't train behaviors, either. I've even stopped speculating with people on what breeds my dogs are. I'm just over it.

I've realized that I've become fearful of other dogs and other dog owners because of people marching their "rude" overly enthusiastic "must greet everyone" dogs into her face and her reactions to that. Social pressure made me decide that she wasn't normal and I was scared of what other dog owners would say or think about her. I was scared of confrontation with other dog owners. I've come to realize that my dog is normal and that it's not her fault our society thinks all dogs need to be friendly with each other, that all dogs must greet every single dog they meet.

So what can you do to help other dog owners? My best advice is to give other dogs and owners as much space as possible. Assume all dogs you come across are unfriendly until proven otherwise or the other owner gives you their permission to approach with your dog. Avoid on-leash greetings with other dogs if you can. Leashes make dogs feel trapped and they are more likely to be uncomfortable and display behaviors that mean "give me space". Teach your dog to be neutral to other dogs and to ignore other dogs as they are passing. If you see someone working with their dog alone in a field when there's a dog park 5 minutes down the road, assume that their dog does not want to be friends with your dog. Leave them alone and don't unleash your dog on them or trudge through there. Lastly, never force your dog on other dogs and people. They definitely do not need to meet every single dog or person they see and it's best to start training them for that as soon as you can.

My journey with Phoenix is far from over and we still have a lot of training to do but I really need to celebrate all her successes and how far we've come. She's an awesome little dog, she loves to train and play with me. She's the best snuggler a person could ask for and really she's just a regular dog. She's so fun and happy, she loves belly rubs and a warm blanket just like any other dog. I'm really glad that I have her in my life. 

Disclaimer: I do work for a dog training facility but none of my posts are endorsed by the owners. All opinions and experiences are my own.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Sometimes She Drops Sheets On My Head!

Sorry, Zoe!

Yep, I accidentally dropped this sheet on her head, prior to taking this photo. 

Luckily Zoe is such a super trooper that she can work through it but she wasn't that thrilled at first! 

Saturday, June 4, 2016

It's HOT!!! Candid Caturday

Suddenly, it's too hot to live in Oregon! Nobody in the PNW likes 100 degree days, especially not us!

I think Lilly and I could both use one of Ruby's margarita's right about now!! :D 

Also, sorry we haven't been around much! 
This week has been hectic and it's the Doggy Dad's birthday!