Productive Weekend

PupsWell, even though I didn’t get a lot of down time this weekend, I had a blast! I hired my friend’s son to come out and help with some yard work, had some adult drinks, and had plenty of puppy play time on Saturday and Sunday!

Raven

Friday, after I came home from training, I got all caught up on paperwork, brushed the kitties, and then headed to bed early. I had an early start the next day. Even though there was no social class on Saturday, I had a ton of yard work to do. Winter cleanup always hits me hard, and I just can’t seem to catch up. So, I hired a teenager to come do the dirty work. My friend brought her 2 furkids over to play with Napoleon, and we ended up helping and digging out a dead pine tree out of my yard. We were fabulous!

PlaydateWe worked for four and a ½ hours, and ended the day getting about 75% of the yard done, a nice sunburn, and some tired pooches. I was really happy to make a new friend, and get to know her and her son a little better. We’ll have to have a BBQ or go up to the creek to have the dogs play a bit sometime. It was really fun.

On Sunday, they came back to help me finish the yard, and have our furkids play again. I had another friend come over with her Newfie puppy and it was like a small dog park in my yard for about an hour. Well, as I have mentioned previously, I have a problem with my dog mounting. Saturday, we pretty much took care of the problem, but Sunday – he started mounting the puppy in full force.

NapoleonBeau

I try to catch this before it happens, but sometimes, he is pretty quick. I can catch it about 80-90% of the time before he actually does the mount. When he does successfully jump on the other dog, I have tried saying his name sternly/loudly to get his attention, spray bottle/vinegar to the face, pet convincer, pulling him off and then tethering him for ‘calm down’ time, tethering him to me, and completely separating him from the other dog (having him kenneled or put somewhere else – out of eyesight. I have started kneeing him hard in the chest when I catch up right before he mounts. All of these things sometimes work, but are not 100% reliable. If he is really adrenalized, he stares at me and does it anyway. I don’t feel this is a leadership issue, as we don’t have any of the other problems with challenging, pulling on the leash, not listening, jumping, etc. He is a high energy, over-adrenalized dog. I can put all of this problems into that one category, and I have enlisted the help of another trainer on this problem, as what I know isn’t working. We start an obedience course that will also cover this problem on Saturday.

Playdate2I think my last option to handle this behavior is an eCollar. We have tried everything else, and this is one behavior I have yet to be able to curb. So, we’ll be working on this in full force. I will be purchasing a Tri Tronic bark collar  soon.  I will need to speak to my local trainer about which one is right for my needs with Napoleon, but I’m excited to try a new approach with him. I will need to learn more about the eCollar in the meantime. As soon as I take my Certification program from K9 Lifeline, I will be Certified in eTouch (using eCollars and the like). I don’t feel comfortable teaching this to clients until then. I want to make sure I know what I’m talking about before I go and introduce a new tool.

Anyway, we finished up the lawn, had a great weekend with some puppies, and at the end of the day on Sunday, I finished it off by watching some Scrubs. My second favorite show. My first favorite is Grey’s Anatomy.

How did you spend your weekend?Chaco

Dog Parks

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What are dog parks for? Well, for exercise, of course! Some people believe dog parks are good for socialization as well. This is not a good reason to take your dog to a dog park. I understand that your pup may be good with other dogs. What about everyone else’s dogs? What about that one time when your dog wasn’t good with other dogs. Can you pick up on every single cue your dog is giving you when they are in distress, scared, or starting to be aggressive? Is every person who goes to a dog park educated in canine behavior and psychology?

Unfortunately, the ‘average’ dog owner cannot identify these signals, nor have they studied the basics of canine psychology. They also do not take the time to actually become the pack leader, and instead think their dog is just ‘out of control’. So, taking the dog to a dog park will ‘get rid of that excess energy’, right? Wrong. It will make it worse, and this puts the dog, along with any others at the park in a very bad situation.

Also, when dogs are let off leash, and no ‘leader’ is established between the dogs since the human is no longer there, the dogs naturally try to establish rank. This can eventually lead to a fight. This entire situation should never take place, and no dog should be put in a position where they need to fight between themselves to establish rank. You should be the leader, and putting them in this position is forcing them to try to be the leader.

Being a pack leader, the human needs to be assertive in making the decisions, controlling resources, and also protecting their dog(s). When a dog feels threatened by another dog or person, the dog will run behind their ‘leader’ (usually the human)

Germs, Parasites, and Illnesses/Diseases

These are all a risk if you take your dog to a dog park. Can you be certain that all worms, parasites, or nasty diseases like parvo have never been present at this location? Most worms contaminate soil through feces or fleas, so even if a previous owner picked up after their dog, can you guarantee this dog didn’t carry anything that can make your dog sick? Eggs in certain types of parasites can live for years in the soil. What about vaccinations? Can you guarantee every dog your dog has played with was vaccinated for parvo, distemperment, and/or rabies? Here is an article about potential risks of illnesses your dog can get at a dog park.

Unaltered dogs

Obviously, you shouldn’t bring a female in heat to a dog park. Unfortunately, people do. There is the obvious risk of unwanted pregnancy (this only takes a few moments after insertion) and sexually transmitted diseases. Yes, canines can get these as well. Unaltered females also can cause unnecessary attention for males, and end up causing a fight due all the ‘fighting over her’. An unaltered male dog can cause unwanted attention as well. High testosterone levels can make him a target for harassment or aggression from other male dogs. They tend to ‘zone in’ on unaltered males.

Fights

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The average dog owner has no idea how to break up a dog fight. Thus, resulting in injury. This could be the person breaking it up, or one of the dogs.  Why not check out a free social class in your area? This is free, supervised, and your dog gets to actually learn while in class. I go every Saturday to a social called Pack to Basics. There are 2 facilities in my area who offer this course, and many more around the United States.

Now, if you have already been going, or continue to go (which I don’t recommend), here are some tips.

1-Notice the signs of a tense, uneasy, possibly aggressive dog: Stiffness, tail will be straight up, or straight back (depending on breed), dogs will stand tall with their head up, ears perked or back, possibly lip licking or panting heavily, and hackles raised. These are some very basic things to look out for anytime you are around dogs. You can also look out for this on ‘play dates’ or just when you are observing more than one dog at at time. If you have multiple dogs at home, use these tools to help prevent a fight as well. ‘Out of the blue’ attacks are not out of the blue, and there is always a reason. If you can pick up on the signs before a fight happens, you can learn to prevent fights altogether.

On this same note, notice signs of a fearful dog: Head will be low, tail low or in between its legs, dog seems to be trying to get away or to hide. Fear also presents itself sometimes with lip raising while cowering, snarling/growling while shrinking into the ground, running (usually a dog is chasing) in a manner that says the dog is not comfortable.

2 – If you notice any of these signals, tell the owner to get control of their dog.  If this doesn’t work, or the owner refuses, it is time for you to leave. If there was severe aggression, you may want to file a police report or file a complaint. Make sure to mention you were concerned for your safety as well as your dog’s safety. Obviously, don’t call the police if ‘that dog looked scary’. Severe aggression can be anything from lunging at a person with an intent to bite, a dog biting a person, a dog fight where there were wounds on the underbelly, chest, or neck, and/or the wounds were deeper than 3″ deep. Scratches and bites on the face, legs, feet or ears are minor, and usually mean the dog was ‘warning’ the other dog to back off. Even if a dog bit a human, and the bite was on the hand, arms, legs, or face – this is less serious than if the dog went after the stomach, sides, or neck.

*Obviously: Always report if a dog bites a human, and go to the hospital (or Instacare).

3 – If the situation has escalated and the dog is now ‘bullying’ your dog, you need to take things into your own hands. This is usually where the dogs are ‘getting physical’ and it is not play. (signs include: Ears back, hackles raised, jumping or mounting on each other, etc. This is never acceptable.) Verbally, in a serious deep voice, tell the aggressor to back off or get out of there. If the aggressor stops and walks/runs away, determine if the situation will escalate again. If so, error on the side of safety and leave.

4-ALWAYS carry a SprayShield citronella spray or a walking stick to a dog park to defend yourself or your dog if there is a fight. The walking stick is not meant to beat a dog at all – just to get something in between you and the dog, or to distract the dog while attacking another dog or a person. 

5-Never get in the middle of a fight if you do not have the experience to break it up. Someone will get hurt, and often the dogs are fueled to fight harder if someone is not experienced/strong enough to break it up. Prevent the fight from happening before this happens. Bites that are inflicted on humans when breaking up a fight are usually because the human who got involved lacked experience and tried to break it up the wrong way.

NOTE: Handling an aggressive dog is never something to be taken lightly, and usually if the dog feels it is ok to be aggressive, there are other problems going on as well. Dominance, leadership, and complete lack of respect are some to list here. Hire a professional who specialize in aggressive dogs. Correcting a dog who has aggression is not fun to watch, and not everyone is cut out for it. However, it is necessary to correct the dog with enough meaning that they will think twice if they choose to do it again. There are at least 2 local training facilities in my area who specialize in aggression. I’m sure there are a few in your area. Check out the IACP website to locate a trainer in your area if you have a dog with dominance problems or aggression.

dogpark2

Now, obviously, I just touched on a few different aspects of dog parks, and there are many more. I hope this helps and educates. However, I am all for socialization and think this is one of the most important things you can do to help your dog. Check out the Pack To Basics program to see if there is a training facility near you who teaches this class, or any other supervised social class where you and your dog can go have fun safely! What’s nice about these classes, is that you know you and your dog are completely safe, and you don’t have to worry about a thing. If your dog is ‘questionable’ around people or other dogs, or considered ‘out of control’, talk to the trainer first to have your dog evaluated. Keep in mind if the trainer says your dog is fine to start off leash – trust them. They know what they are doing, and would not jeopardize the class for the other people or dogs in the class. If necessary, your dog will start out on leash or on a muzzle, if aggressive. If you want to know more about dangers of dog parks, check out the below articles. I go to K9 Lifeline and Wasatch Canine Camp’s socials, as a reference, and you can check out their websites for info on their facilities. I have been going for 8 months, and I have seen 3 fights total. All lasted below 10 seconds, and in all cases, no one was hurt. It was all controlled, and safety was the trainer’s first priority. Never once, was I worried that it was too much for the trainers. One fight involved 2 pitbulls and a cocker spaniel.  Another fight included a St. Bernard and a Bernese Mountain Dog. No fight is too much for these trainers, they are the best.

Some day, I will be one of those trainers… some day.

Light reading:

http://leerburg.com/dogparks.htm
https://www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Documents/disease_risks_dogs.pdf
http://pets.webmd.com/dogs/guide/dog-park-behavior-know-risks-rewards
http://speakingforspot.com/blog/2012/06/24/dog-park-play-the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly/

Self Inflicted Torture

I have hit the wall this week. After going 7 months of having 2 jobs, working 60-100hr workweeks, and all the doggy-sitting I have been doing, my brain is finally done.

I ‘crashed’ on Tuesday. I finally was just physically and emotionally exhausted. I needed a recharge. I had some down with some sort of stomach bug, or maybe I was just exhausted, I don’t know. Either way, I stayed home. I should have used this day to rest, but instead, I was too busy worrying about all the work I was missing.

businessnewdaily.com_I feel I do this to myself. I say ‘Yes’ to everything. I want to babysit, I want to foster, I want to train, and sign up for classes and go to socials every Saturday. Rarely do I actually not work when I am home. This past weekend, I had a friend come, and I specifically didn’t work. I didn’t schedule training, and it was really fun. We did all kinds of things. Went to social, watched a movie, ate sushi, saw my parents (while I was playing with my 3 year old niece). Then, the Pittie I’m babysitting was dropped off a few hours after I got back from dropping my friend off at the airport.

I have signed up for an obedience course with Napoleon, a therapy-team course so he can be a registered therapy dog, and a canine theriogenology course. I’m excited for all of them, but I have also registered for a 4 day workshop regarding difficult dogs later in the summer. And I also plan to get my Dog Training Certification this year (was July, but it has been postponed since I registered for this other workshop).

I want to relax, I want to be able to STOP. But, it seems my brain keeps going, even when it is exhausted. So, I’m writing my blog, while listening to calming music on Spotify. It is helping, but my brain is still working. It never stops.

This week, I have broken down and cried 3 times, including today. This is normal for me when I ‘hit the wall’. But, in public, no one will ever know this side of me. I put on a smiling mask when I walk out the door and I’m a happy person.

This.Is.Exhausting. Pretending all the time. But, if I act the way I feel, people will feel pity and sorrow, and I will be judged and talked about, and then receive the unwanted type of attention.

Tuesday, I saw a few clients I really like. The family, and the dogs, that is. Both dogs are showing improvement, though one is more of a project. Normally, I would be excited to see both of these clients. When I don’t want to work, this is a pretty big red flag for me. I came home, and sat in my bed, and just turned my phone on and off for a few hours, then went to sleep.

I turn my phone on and off repeatedly for some reason. I don’t know. It just feels like every time the screen is black, I might miss a notification or an email. And I can’t do that, no-I can’t unplug for a few hours after I get home. I know-it sounds crazy. Maybe I’m crazy? But, I can’t unplug.

OVERWORK

If my husband takes my phone, and the power is out.. it feels like I am trapped, and then I have a panic attack. It has happened in the past, and I don’t want that to happen again.

It feels like I’m torturing myself on purpose. Am I? Sometimes, it’s easy to be comforted by the familiar feelings of solitude while you are depressed.

I’m just.. on the verge of tears a lot these days.. More so than this time last year, I can be sure of. But.. I can’t stop. Because I have clients counting on me, I have work that needs to be done, animals who need feeding, and a husband who is trying with all his might to help me through this. I can’t stop because of all of that. So, I pick myself up, and start it all over the next day.

Ups and Downs

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Just a cute picture of Max, cuddling with me

On any given day, I have ups and downs. The ups are where I’m flying and I can take on any challenge presented to me. My downs make me want to die. I just get overwhelmed and any decision at this point derails me and makes me want to break down and cry.

This is a normal day for me. Is this normal for a person who has bipolar disorder? I know that the ups are UP and the downs are death, but every day being a massive roller coaster ride of mixed emotions? It’s exhausting! I can’t catch up, I can’t keep the rhythm, and it changes so quickly.

I am seeing my therapist again on Friday. I have 2 weeks of data collected so we can find out what exactly is going on with me. She gave me a few assignments.

1)      Monitor my sleep. Don’t change it, just mark how many hours I get every day.

2)      Count my positive and negative thoughts every day. Ok, I haven’t been so good on this one, I don’t have an exact number. I’ll have to crack down on this one next week.

3)      Monitor my overall mood every day (agitated, anxious, happy, etc.) and if I was able to get some work done through these feelings or not.

4)      Be aware of thinking patterns. Don’t change them, just be aware of them. Also identify other people’s thinking patterns.

I have followed all these things, except counting my thoughts… I mean, I know a general ratio, as my negative thoughts are generally more than my positive ones. But I also like to think that 1 positive thought = 10 negative thoughts.

So, I’m excited to see what my therapist has to say about my data I collected, and I will work more on ‘counting’ my good/bad thoughts.

On another note, we are babysitting ‘Pittie’ again, and I just love him. He remembers our house rules, does awesome on the eCollar around our cats (I haven’t had to use it very much). He is such an awesome dog, and does wonderful things for Napoleon.

I’ll have to share our adventures next week.

Wonderful Weekend

What an awesome weekend! My best friend flew into town, and we packed in as many cool things as we could. I haven’t seen her since my wedding in 2010, so this was a really big deal.

Her flight was delayed, and didn’t get in until almost 1 in the morning. I had physical pain waiting for her to show up at my house. The anticipation was killing me. And what was worse, I couldn’t tell my husband about it all. It was a surprise. KEEP CALM and CARRY ON.

See, I couldn’t tell my husband about it because it was his birthday, and this was part of the surprise. My parents, his parents, and my friend all pitched him to get him a GoPro camera, as well. He had a good birthday!

While she was here, we had an awesome time, and did all the things we used to do when she used to live closer. We went to sushi, saw a movie (Oblivion), and then watched League of Legend games.

Then, on Saturday, I took her to my Pack to Basics class, and I was dying to have her come. I introduced her to some of my clients/neighbors and their dogs. Afterwards, we went to our local street fair. It would have been more awesome if there were more tables to visit (we have a small town), or if it didn’t rain. It was freezing!

Later, we drove to my parents’ house, and my niece was there. She’s 3, and just loves my husband. She sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to him, and played and played until she was too tired to play anymore. We played Mario, watched her play doctor with her dolls, ate chile, and my mom made my husband a special chocolate cake.

PittieOverall, it was a wonderful weekend. However, Sunday came around, and I had to take my friend to the airport. Sad day. We didn’t want her to leave. It felt so normal having her stay with us. It’s like all that time we haven’t spent together in the last 3 years didn’t pass at all. We just picked up where we left off. It just wasn’t long enough. It wasn’t enough time.

So, we have decided our next meeting will be to go on a cruise. We will also invite another friend from college. We call ourselves the ‘Quad’. It’s actually a pretty awesome story. Our best man and Maid of Honor are my best friends. I knew them before I met my husband. Well, turns out, they were also my husband’s friends too! So, when I introduced him to get approval of who I was seeing, I found out they were friends too! So, all was well, and nothing in our ‘click’ changed because now we were all just hanging out together.

As a close to the weekend, a trainer friend needed a doggy-sitter while she is out of town, and I get to watch ‘Pittie’ again! I have him for a week this time! He is such a good dog, I’m happy to be able to watch him again! The best part – he wasn’t so good with our cats last time, so my friend had him come with his eCollar, and he is doing much better. Here’s a picture of Max actually approaching him, and not fixating at all. Notice, I’m right there, just in case.

Anyway, Sunday was a pretty emotional day. Hopefully it will get better throughout the week.

Pittie and Kitty

Lithium

AmyLeeIn light of my recent discovery that I might be bipolar, I did research, and found out the ‘first line of defense’ is a drug called lithium.

This reminded me of Evanescence’s ‘Lithium’  because I love that song, but I never understood what lithium was until now.

So, in light of this recent discovery, I have posted the lyrics to this song along with the music video. And here’s some history (and this one too) on why she wrote this particular song.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Lithium, don’t wanna lock me up inside
Lithium, don’t wanna forget how it feels without
Lithium, I wanna stay in love with my sorrow
Oh, but God I wanna let it go

Come to bed, don’t make me sleep alone
Couldn’t hide the emptiness, you let it show
Never wanted it to be so cold
Just didn’t drink enough to say you love me

I can’t hold on to me
Wonder what’s wrong with me?

Lithium, don’t wanna lock me up inside
Lithium, don’t wanna forget how it feels without
Lithium, I wanna stay in love with my sorrow

Don’t wanna let it lay me down this time
Drown my will to fly
Here in the darkness I know myself
Can’t break free until I let it go, let me go

Darling, I forgive you after all
Anything is better than to be alone
And in the end I guess I had to fall
Always find my place among the ashes

I can’t hold on to me
Wonder what’s wrong with me?

Lithium, don’t wanna lock me up inside
Lithium, don’t wanna forget how it feels without
Lithium, stay in love with mmm
I’m gonna let it go

Training Doubts

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Picture of the blonde after I’m all ‘done up’.

Feeling actually pretty good today. Excited for a super awesome break coming up this weekend. I’ll tell you all about it next week. It is the hubby’s birthday on Friday, and I got him something cool. I also realized it is our ‘dating anniversary’ tomorrow. We went on our first ever date tomorrow, 6 years ago.

Our date was incredibly awesome. We went bowling really late at night, and then went to Denny’s afterwards. He invited me to his 21st birthday party, which I politely declined, as I wasn’t into the drinking scene… then. Anyway, we had a wonderful time, with lots of random jokes, and awkward feelings. I didn’t know it was a date, I thought we were just hanging out as friends. He didn’t feel that way, apparently. Haha, aw man – those were the days. J

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Good picture of the way it looks after I shaved the sides and back. 🙂

On another note, I shaved the back and sides of my head (not all the way down, but it’s cute!) and also dyed it platinum blonde.  Spontaneity – go go! I LOVE IT!!

______________________

Today was another ‘I can take on the world and then regret it later’ day. Keep thinking about how I might be bipolar. Is this something bipolar folks do? Think they can do everything, and then … crash? I don’t know a lot about it yet, but I do know I just want answers.

I also registered for my therapy-team handler’s course today. Napoleon and I are registered and I will take the non-dog section on the 11th of May. I’m excited, but nervous that Napoleon might fail. He has a thing about food. Very motivated, and I lose all his attention if I’m not the one holding the food.

We registered for an obedience course with another trainer, and I think that will help. She is an awesome trainer, and I can learn a lot from her. I really like this trainer. She is honest and up front, but respectful of your feelings and what you have been taught previously. She knows I am a new trainer, and has been where I am now. She knows the daily struggles I face [with training] and wants me to succeed. I recommend her a lot in my area for aggression and cases that are too advanced for me right now.

photo (1)I still have a lot to learn, and I know that. I’m a newbie trainer, but I do know a lot about different aspects of canine behavior, training, and leadership training. I want to advance what I know, and help in more ways than what I am doing now. I also registered for another course with a different training facility about working with difficult dogs. I wanted to go last year, but I couldn’t afford it, and I didn’t have the time off to put towards it. I have to use 3 days of my PTO to do this course, so it will take me 3 months to get back this time. I needed this time to do my certification program in July, and it looks like it will be post-poned until October-November. That’s ok, I have an opportunity to take this course now, and I don’t know if I will later. So, I’m doing it!

I know I’m not a bad trainer, because I have a lot of happy clients, who keep coming back. Referrals, and people who write testimonials for me. But I can do better. I can learn more, I can work with Napoleon more, and I can keep training. I won’t give up. No matter if people say things that hurt my feelings, I have my clients who appreciate what I do. That gives me hope in believing that I am doing something right. I can’t be failing that bad if I have people who say I’m great… right? Or are they just saying that to be nice? I hope not.. I want honest feedback, and I want to honestly help people with their dogs. I look back at where I was a year ago… and I smile. I have come so far, and I know so much more!

I keep looking forward. Where will I be a year from now? Will I double my knowledge? Will I work with difficult dogs, or aggression? Not that I’m excited to work with dogs like that, but at the same time – I want to handle anything a canine can throw at me. I want to know everything.

Ah, see? Here I go – taking on the world again.. *sigh*… I’m taking my therapy course, my obedience course, the difficult dog workshop, and I also signed up for a Canine Theriology course… May is going to be one busy month.  Too late to back down now…

Took this while I was at the salon.

Took this while I was at the salon.