Thursday, July 20, 2017

Snacks Made for Sharing from Chewy.com

From the moment our #ChewyInfluencer package arrived this month, Rye was trying to sink her teeth into it. She was not amused when I told her that we had to take some pictures before she could try them.


This month, our friends at Chewy.com sent us a bag of Caru Soft 'n Tasty Baked Bites in their duck recipe. The girls knew right away that these were going to be tasty and based on the packaging, I was sure the girls would love them, too, because according to the description on the back Caru means "to love" in Welsh.

The treats are small squares and are made of high quality ingredients like duck, cranberries, and blueberries. 



Each square contains 14 calories, but they easily break up into smaller pieces, which makes them perfect for training. I was able to break them into at least 4 pieces and even had some luck breaking a few squares into 6 (with two dogs, you always have to have even numbers!).

Rye was so excited to dive in that her tail kept making the curtains move.

The treats were a little dryer than I expected from the word soft in their name, so there was a definite snapping sound when I broke them up, but they weren't crumbly at all. I stuck a few squares in my pocket before we headed out for our walk and there were no crumbs in my pocket when we got home.

Another great feature of the Caru Soft 'n Tasty treats is that in addition to the duck recipe, there are several other proteins available, including rabbit, wild boar, and alligator, so there's something for every dog!

Barley and Rye think these treats are the perfect treats for sisters to share--but they'd probably both prefer to keep the whole bag to themselves. These treats will definitely be finding their way into our future Chewy.com orders!

Disclaimer: We were provided one page of Caru Soft 'n Tasty treats in the duck recipe in exchange for our honest review as part of the #ChewyInfluencer program.





Monday, July 10, 2017

The Importance of Failure

This month as part of the Positive Pet Training Blog Hop, we're sharing our best kept training secrets. Our secret is failure.

I'm sure I've shared the story of when Barley's first agility trainer stopped me and said, "In agility, you will fail more times than you will succeed" (this was possibly said on the same night Barley chose to jump on the cart used to move the tunnel's sandbags and skateboarded across the room instead of going over the jump I asked her to go over). That was a lightbulb moment for me.

Failure is not easy for me to embrace. Growing up, when I brought up a quiz with a 95 on it, I'd hear "Uh oh. What happened?" until about the time I got to Algebra 2 and WWIII almost broke out each night when I sat down to do my homework. With the exception of math, school always came easy to me and I expected perfection. Nothing made me crazier than when my 10th grade English teacher told us that she never gave a 100% on an essay because there was always room for improvement.


When our trainer told me that failure was expected in agility, things changed for Barley and me. We'd gotten to the point where we weren't having as much fun with agility because I was getting frustrated and then she'd get crazier and I'd get more frustrated. Once we had permission to fail, we learned a lot more.

Barley's current trainer stresses the importance of failure in learning. If a dog does something perfect the first time and gets a treat when they're done, they don't necessarily know why they got that treat. Similarly, if my students write an essay with every comma in the correct spot and get full credit for the grammar and mechanics part of their grade, they don't necessarily know why the commas they used were correct. However, if a dog gets something wrong and doesn't get a treat and hears a quick "Nope. Try again" or a student sees a comma circled and a comment about comma splices, they learn something.

Most recently, we put this into use when Rye and I were doing some agility in the backyard. I set up a line of three jumps and I wanted to be able to lead out past the third jump before Rye went over all three (because let's be honest, the only way I'll ever be able to keep up with her on a course is if I can get a big head start). I set her up in front of the first jump and she held her stay beautifully--but when I asked her to jump she skipped the middle jump.


We tried again and it happened again, so I learned a couple things from that failure:

  • Rye didn't know what I wanted. She's only had 8 weeks of agility class, so she's still learning how to read lines. If the jumps had been set up directly in front of each other, she would have had no problem jumping all three, but since they were set up on a diagonal line, she was unsure. 
  • I didn't set her up at the best angle. Even though it seemed obvious to me that there were three jumps, the first spot I set her put her at an angle where she saw the first and third jump clearly, but the second jump wasn't quite in her direct line of sight.
Because we hadn't quite done it right the first two times, I knew what we needed to do to fix it. First, I had to set her at a better angle so she could see all three jumps more clearly. That involved a lot of squatting down to be at her level and testing out different views before I set her up. Then we had to shape the behavior I wanted by breaking things down a bit. I set her up in the right spot and then went out to the second jump. I made sure to stop and treat her after the second jump every time so that she knew taking that jump after the first jump was exactly what she was supposed to do. Once we had that down, we did the first few jumps and then I ran with her to the third jump. Finally, I set her up and l walked out past the third jump--when she got the second jump, I made sure to give her an enthusiastic "yes" before saying jump a third time. When she got it all right, she got showered with treats after the third jump. 

If we wouldn't have failed the first time, neither one of us would have learned as much. Failure can teach us just as much with our other training, too. If one of the dogs has a bad reaction to another dog on our walk, I ask myself questions to try to understand why that happened and what I can do to prevent it from happening in the future. If every walk goes perfectly smoothly, we get too comfortable and our training suffers from that. 

"You mean it's ok that I didn't hold my stay because we can learn from this? Oh boy!"
Be sure to check out all of the other great blogs linking up with us--including our co-hosts Wag 'n Woof Pets and Tenacious Little Terrier--for the Positive Pet Training Blog Hop that (usually) starts on the first Monday of the month and lasts all week.


Friday, July 7, 2017

When Rye Grows Up

Our friend Jodi over at Heart Like a Dog had a cute post a couple weeks ago about her response to the question "If your pet had a job, what would it be?" A few years ago, I sent my sister's kindergarten class a book called Calico Dorsey about a real-life border collie who helped deliver the mail. The kids wrote Barley adorable letters about what they wanted to be when they grew up--everything ranging from teachers to ninjas to hamster trainers--and then asked Barley what job she would like to have.


The obvious answer would be a model. (Although in the letter she wrote back to the kids that was the one job she said she wouldn't want.) This dog lives for being in front of the camera. In fact, a few weeks ago, we were out walking by the lake and saw a young man taking pictures of his girlfriend. The girlfriend asked if she could say hi to Barley, who immediately locked onto the man's camera, and the man started taking pictures of the woman and Barley together. 


One of the many jobs Barley said she'd like to have is a P.E. teacher since she loves to spend time at the gym. I know from personal experience that she's a good personal trainer--she doesn't put up with any excuses for not moving! 

Would you say no to something this face told you to do in gym?

When I read Jodi's post, I started wondering what job my little Rye would have. It didn't take long for me to realize that Rye wouldn't just want a specific career, she'd want to be a specific person--Chip Gaines from HGTV's Fixer Upper.

This puppy lives for DEMO DAY! And in Rye's world, every day is demo day.



She will do anything for attention, no matter how goofy she looks. (She'd probably also be willing to eat cockroaches and other bugs found while showing a house to people.)


Landscaping? No problem. She loves to help in the yard.




She also loves home improvement projects. She motivated me to finally remove the last of the wallpaper in our house by grabbing a tiny part that had been peeling off before we moved in.

She was very proud of the corner she peeled off above the vent.

She was obsessed with my painter's tape when I was preparing to paint the walls.


And she couldn't believe that I finally told her it was ok to pull the tape off the baseboards. 



So, move over Chip and Jo--Rye's ready to take over the next season of Fixer Upper

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Adventures with Rye

When Rye and I were in a Saturday morning obedience class, we went on an adventure every week after class unless it was cold and rainy. Rye is not very confident in nature unless Barley is with her--and even then, she's not very sure she likes it--but we did find one park in our post-obedience adventures that Rye loves. Now that we're in a late-night agility class, we haven't had any solo adventures in almost 2 months! 

Rye and I have gone on some solo neighborhood walks, but we hadn't been anywhere fun since obedience class ended. For my mileage goal of 1000 miles for the year, only walks with Barley count so between rain and warmer weather, it can be hard to find the extra time to get Rye out by herself for a good adventure.

On Tuesday morning, I woke up and it was in the 50s (is it really July today?). When I checked the forecast, it wasn't supposed to get out of the 60s all day, so I decided it was the perfect day for Rye and I to adventure.

Rye was so happy as soon as we pulled into the parking lot at her park. 

Look at that loose leash!

This park has a sculpture garden, so we spent a little time reviewing sit-stays and working on some balance work in the sculpture garden.


Why does my puppy have such a disproportionately long tongue? 

She's getting better at this modeling thing.




My original plan was to take Rye down to the beach to let her play a little bit. The lake is a lot higher than usual, so when we got to the stairs to the beach it was clear there wasn't much beach to play on. Since it was chilly, I was wearing jeans and spending the rest of the afternoon in wet jeans didn't sound like a good plan to me, so we settled for just watching the waves for a few minutes. 



Barley and I used to visit this park a lot, but it wasn't until Rye and I went that we discovered a little nook with a cool curved bench and a little stream. It's green and shady and cool, so we took a little break there. 



On our way back to the car, we even found a couple treasures and they were painted as dogs, so it was perfect! 



Our fun adventures didn't stop there. We stopped by a new pet store that opened in town where Rye got to pick out a new toy and a new toy for Barley and for Soth. They had a few kittens up for adoption and Rye wasn't sure what to make of them. I don't know if it was because she'd never seen a cat that small or if it was because they weren't her cat, but she couldn't decide if she should hide from them or growl at them. She settled for a combination of both.

We ended our adventure with a stop at Tractor Supply Company where Rye made a new friend.


It was so fun to have a few hours of fun with my sweet potato Rye. She's really come a long way with  her obedience, focus, and confidence when she's out on her own and I'm so enjoying her company.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Summer Smiles and Adventures with Pet Treater

If it were possible to capture summer in a box, Pet Treater would have done that with our June box. As usual, the girls were excited and couldn't wait to open our box.


We couldn't believe all of the great stuff that Pet Treater sent us this month. This box was overflowing.


My favorite item in the box was a monkey by Grriggles. Pet Treater often includes Grriggles toys and they are always super cute. This monkey is no different. He has velcro hands, so you can hang him on things--like Rye. Rye loves to run around with really big toys and this monkey is almost as long a she is, so she couldn't wait to get her paws on him. 


Rye's love for the monkey stopped there. After I took a picture of Rye with the monkey, I took him to clip the tag off and noticed a little patch shown onto his chest instructing me to squeeze there. I felt a sound box before I'd even squeezed and I knew I was going to love whatever sound this monkey made. When I squeezed it, I was not disappointed--he makes monkey noises! Rye, however, thought this monkey needed to be taken out. 



She growled, she ran away and then charged at him, she growled some more. We eventually went down to get the girls their dinner and left the monkey upstairs in the library. After we ate, Rye ran upstairs into the dark and started bouncing and barking at the monkey again. The monkey spent the rest of the night in the closet. Rye has made peace with the monkey and doesn't bark at him anymore, but she is not interested in going anywhere near him. Barley has embraced having one toy in the house that Rye won't destroy and he spends a lot of time in her crate.

In addition to the smiles the monkey brought, we got a bag of strawberry flavored Exclusively Dog Lickorish Chews. These smell a little like fruity medicine to me, so I try not to get them too close to my nose when I give them to the girls, but the girls really enjoy them. They're a little bigger than treats I usually give the girls and I haven't been able to break them in half, so the girls think that's a good thing, too. 


As usual, we got a seasonally themed cookie from Emmy's Treats. Summer wouldn't be summer without ice cream cones, so this treat was perfect for our summery box! 


Pet Treater also prepared us for adventure with an Outward Hound backpack. Since our Pet Treater is filled for Barley-sized dogs, this backpack is way too big for Rye. Barley is way too dignified to wear a little monster pack--and she would probably plant her butt on the trail and refuse to move if I put it on her anyway--but I've wanted to get a little pack for Rye. I'm hoping that when we visit Rye's grandma, she might be able to help us take in the straps enough that it fits Rye because she looks so cute in this pack!


Pet Treater even prepared me for adventure with a wrist wallet that can hold money, ID, and a few other little things. I've already got some wacky tan lines from my FitBit, my Garmin GPS watch, and the leashes, so I won't be trying this out over the summer, but I think it will be perfect when it gets cool enough that I don't bring a backpack full of water, snacks, and other things to the arboretum with us. 

And Pet Treater didn't stop there! We also got some Arm & Hammer finger toothbrushes that I should really try out on Rye soon. We got a lamb-flavored meal replacement bar from Out Bar that seems like one really big piece of kibble that was really hard to break up and not something that I really wanted to replace the girls full meal with, but the girls thought they chunks I broke off for them were tasty. Barley is waiting for Rye's next play date so she can have the Himalayan chew, which is something she has loved for a long time. We also got too more toys--a Smart Paw Honeycomb Big Bone and a FouFit popsicle toy. It took Rye about 3 seconds to get the toys I stuffed in the honeycomb bone out, but she has enjoyed chewing on it without treats, too, although she has gnawed off a few chunks despite the packaging advertising "super strong honeycomb construction" "for dogs that love to chew." The popsicle can float and it can be frozen after it's wet to make it a crunchy, icy toy. It's still in the 50s here this morning, so our popsicle will be in the freezer a little longer, but I'm curious to see what the girls think of a frozen toy when it warms up outside again. 


We're feeling extra spoiled and ready to tackle the rest of summer after diving into our June Pet Treater box. If you want to try Pet Treater, they have plans starting at $24.99 per month and you can use code PT-5OFF to get $5 off your first box.

Disclaimer: We were sent a Pet Treater box in exchange for our honest review. All opinions are our own and we were not compensated in any other way.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Catching Sothlice with his Paw in the PetSafe Fishbowl

Sothlice has been feeling a little neglected this summer. Rye's been having regular playdates with her friends and Barley's been getting some solo adventures, but Soth hasn't had anything special lately. He expressed his need for excitement when he escaped from our yard a couple weeks ago and I spent 30 minutes searching for him before I found him in our neighbor's yard. 

Thankfully, our friends at Chewy.com gave us the chance to try out the PetSafe Fishbowl Cat Feeder Toy. The fishbowl is a bowl with a weighted bottom and a rim around the edge. The cat needs to reach in and "fish" for pieces of kibble. I use puzzle feeders with the girls when they've been cooped up too much and need a little extra enrichment, so I thought Soth should have a chance for some extra enrichment, too.

The fishbowl arrived with Rye's Nerf toy, so Rye thought it was definitely for her. Once I wrestled it away from her, though, I was excited to fill it up and see what Soth thought.

The fishbowl comes in an easy to open package--but not so easy that Rye could figure it out.

I put some of Soth's kibbles inside the fishbowl and set it on the table so his nosy sisters wouldn't bother him. He sniffed at it and then walked away.


The fishbowl came with some training instructions and it suggested letting the cat get used to the fishbowl by placing food around it. We've used similar training techniques with the girls, so I thought if I put some kibbles on the rim, maybe Soth would grab those and then want to investigate the kibbles inside the bowl.


I thought wrong. 


The instructions also suggested setting the fishbowl in the cat's regular bowl. When Barley and I left for agility, I decided to try that. By the time we'd gotten home, the fishbowl had been knocked off Soth's feeding table and was upside down on the kitchen floor with the kibbles trapped beneath it. I guess my hangry guy was not amused at having to work for his dinner.

Eventually, Soth got the hang of the fishbowl and occasionally I'd hear the sound of his paw rooting around in the fishbowl. As soon as I got the camera out, though, he'd stop. I had to be extra sneaky to get some footage of his using the fishbowl. After several days of trying, I was doing dishes and heard Soth fishing for kibbles. I grabbed the phone and zoomed in, so the video quality isn't great, but you can't be picky when your subject is so elusive. 

video

Since then, I've filled the fishbowl with Soth's kibbles and he's emptied it--but never when I'm watching. I can't decide if Soth actually likes the fishbowl or if he's just using it because he wants food. 

Here are some things that I like about the fishbowl, though: 
  • It stands up to the chaos of our house. Even after its 3-ft+  drop from the top of Soth's feeding table, there isn't a single crack in it. Rye has also picked it up a few times and there are a few discolored spots where she left little teeth marks in the rim, but nothing terrible.
  • It makes Soth work for food. Weight has always been a struggle for Soth. He lives to eat. He gets destructive when he sees his bowl is empty and I don't fill it up quickly enough. This slows him down a bit so that we don't have to argue about whether he really needs more food and so I don't have to explain to him that I cannot reward him for knocking a jar of peanut butter off the counter by refilling his bowl. 
Sometimes I forget that Soth could use some enrichment in his life, too, especially since Rye requires so much attention right now. Soth might not be happy that we tried out the Fishbowl Cat Feeder toy, but I think it's a great product that makes mealtime a little more interactive than just filling up the bowl and walking away.

Disclaimer: We were sent one PetSafe Fishbowl Cat Feeder from Chewy.com in exchange for our honest opinion as part of the #ChewyInfluencer program. 




Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Taking Advantage of Summer with Nerf Dog

When summer vacation rolls around, I relish the days of spending as much time with Barley and Rye as I want. Summer is all about fun and adventure with my girls (and napping with Soth while I prepare for more fun).

Summer days involve time with Rye's new pool.


We also enjoy relaxing with a good book and a good beer.



No summer day is complete without a ball game, though. When our friends at Chewy.com gave us a chance to review the Nerf Dog Tennis Ball Blaster, we knew it would be the perfect way to round out our summer plans.


Rye was excited about the blaster from the moment I got it out of the box. She danced around while I cut it out of the packaging. She continued her dance while I read the directions on the back of the packaging. 

The blaster comes with a tennis ball, but it works with any standard sized tennis ball. It can launch the ball up to 50 feet, but you can adjust how far you shoot it easily. You can also load it putting the ball in by hand or you can stick the blaster over the ball on the ground and avoid having to pick up a slimy tennis ball.

I was sure that Rye would love this toy. She gets so excited about playing fetch and she was already so excited about the blaster before I got it out of the packaging that I was sure she'd take off after it the first time I shot the blaster. If you follow us on Facebook, then you know this isn't what happened. 

Rye was still really excited about the blaster, but she didn't even register that the ball had gone flying. I was a little worried she'd be scared by the noise the blaster made, so I gave her a treat when she came up to me after I shot it. We tried 5 times, but she still just bounced around me and couldn't figure out why I wasn't throwing the ball. The next day, we tried again. I acted like I was throwing while I shot the blaster with the other hand--and Rye got it!

video

Barley had absolutely no interest in the blaster, but Rye thinks it's a lot of fun now that she's learned how to use it.



We found the Nerf Dog Tennis Ball Blaster easy to use and a lot of fun to play with. It does make some noise when you shoot it, so it wouldn't be the best toy of a noise-sensitive dog, but for dogs like Rye, it's a great way to change up your typical game of fetch. 

Disclaimer: We were given a Nerf Dog Tennis Ball Blaster from Chewy.com as part of the #ChewyInfluencer program in exchange for our honest review.