Thursday, April 12, 2018

A PetTreater Surprise

At the end of last year, we resigned from our role as PetTreater ambassadors. We still loved the company and the different items we got in our box each month, but I just couldn't commit to getting reviews written within a week of receiving the box. I was also running out of creative ways to say that the girls loved the treats and the toys and I was impressed by the number and variety of items we got. With a new semester and new schedule starting, I was relieved not to have an additional responsibility, but the girls always like coming home from a walk to find the brightly colored package on the front steps. The pups were not pleased that I made the decision to resign without any input from them!

Imagine our surprise with I got home one day last month to find that familiar green package waiting by the front door!

After contacting PetTreater, I found out they'd had a glitch in their system that sent out packages to people who used to be on the mailing list. The girls were happy to do a spontaneous review as soon as I got a chance to sit down and write it.

As always, the PetTreater box was filled with a ton of goodies! We got some Pur Luv dental chews and some Give Pet breakfast flavored treats--bacon, egg, and orange--that were in cute little heart shapes. The girls were thrilled to get the Give Pet treats every time they went in their crate.

Rye's favorite item was this shaggy rope ball that reminded me of the yarn balls Rye keeps trying to steal from my while I crochet. It hasn't stopped her from stealing my yarn, but she does like to play with this toy.

As always, Barley's favorite item was the Emmy's Treats seasonal snack; for March, it was a shamrock. 

We also got several other goodies in the March box. We got a cute little octopus toy made out of several different types of materials, so he's excellent for stretching, shaking, tugging, and tossing. There was also a treat gun for shooting treats into the air for your pups. We have enough chaos when treats come out that I'll be passing that on to the shelter, but it's really fun item to include in the box! We got a Lucky Dog bandana and an odor absorber, too. Since Rye's been taking regular mud baths in the yard, the odor absorber will be a great addition to our house! We might pass on the bandana to my sister since she works with the Lucky Dog rescue and it might be cute on one of their pups (or my nephew who can definitely rock a bandana). 

We were all thrilled to see what was inside our surprise PetTreater box! They have never disappointed us. If you'd like to get your own PetTreater box, you can get 20% off your first box with the code PT-20. (And they have boxes for cats, too!)

Disclaimer: We were provided a PetTreater box in exchange for our honest review.

Monday, April 2, 2018

The Vanilla Ice Method of Dealing with Training Frustration

I'm pretty lucky that I have two smart dogs that are eager to please and willing to work, so I rarely feel frustrated when we're training. Most of our activities are things we do just for fun, so I don't see much point in getting frustrated during agility, noseworks, or barn hunt.

But I also have a young, active, intelligent dog who is very sensitive to her environment, and especially the way her sister reacts to the environment, so it's important to have a plan in place to deal with training frustration before it gets out of hand.

Good idea, Bar, we should definitely make sure nobody's coming down the trail before posing for a picture. 
Or we could both take opposite directions to patrol.

When I feel my frustration rising, I try to remember the wise words of Vanilla Ice from "Ice Ice Baby": "Stop, Collaborate, and Listen."

There's no point in continuing training if you're frustrated. Rye picks up on frustration and she shuts down as soon as she senses me getting frustrated--and that means that she stops listening to me and does her own thing. That's not behavior we want to keep practicing, so the first step I take is to stop. That might be for 30 seconds or it might be for the rest of the day--it all depends on the situation.

Rye's become pretty reactive in certain circumstances on walks. There's one house right around the corner from us with a miniature pinscher who lounges in the window and barks at us as we walk by and Rye starts lunging towards the house and barking almost as soon as we turn the corner if I don't manage her. She melts down if she sees Jeep Wranglers, mail trucks, or UPS trucks. If a person walks by, looks at her, and says, "Hi, Puppy," she darts behind my legs and starts to bark at them.

If I'm being honest, it's exhausting. Most of the time, I can manage the min pin and the people with a lot of treats. The vehicles aren't always as easy to spot before she does. Sometimes even if I know there's a trigger coming up, we run out of treats, or gloves keeps me from doling out treats in a timely manner, or Barley wants a treat and almost trips me trying to get it from Rye. That's when frustration starts to rear its ugly head.

So we stop. If Rye's barking and lunging, I plant my feet and ask for a sit. Agility's made Rye really attuned to my motion, so the lack of motion is a signal to her that something's happening. That quick signal redirects her attention for a minute. If that doesn't work, we go home and try different exercise or we try another walk later in the day.

Even when I'm not frustrated, stopping is a good way to regroup. If you followed our first agility journey, you know that Rye went rogue on her second run. She was having fun, so I wasn't frustrated, but I did need to get her back on track so we could get off the course. After she started pouncing on me and playing with the cone, we took a quick time out with a down and regrouped before finishing the last few jumps.

Good training only happens when you and your dog are on the same page. After we've taken a few seconds to regroup, I have to figure out how to get us communicating with each other again. Sometimes that's reloading my hand with treats so that I can give her one after the other until we're past the trigger. Other times, it's changing direction and walking a different way to put space between us and the trigger. If we're working in a lower stress situation, we'll do some push ups with a down, sit, down or we'll do a couple hand touches to reconnect.

The most important part is listening to your dog. When Rye's behaving in a way that's frustrating to me, she's trying to tell me something. On walks, it might be that she's scared or she's excited or she's frustrated about not being able to get to something she wants. At the agility trial, she was telling me that she was wound up from being in her crate too long and she was excited about getting to do her favorite thing. When she's getting into everything at home while I'm trying to grade papers, she's telling me she's bored. She's not being naughty just for fun. She's always telling me that she needs something: more space, more mental exercise, more attention. Most of the time, she's telling me that she needs more training. Barley got 6 years of solo training to work on her reactivity. I have to remember that Rye doesn't know everything Barley knows and a lot of the time she's telling me she's confused and she needs more practice.

When we stop, collaborate, and listen, we can get back to productive training where we're all happy and focused.

And when we get in good training sessions, I have two tired dogs and having two tired dogs means that I don't get frustrated.

This month our theme for the Positive Pet Training Blog Hop is Frustration: how do you deal with frustration when training? what do you do to keep training positive when you're feeling frustrated? We welcome all positive training posts, though, so be sure to join us, Wag 'N Woof Pets, and Tenacious Little Terrier each month and check out all of the great bloggers sharing their positive pet training ideas starting the first Monday of the month and lasting all week.

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