Sunday, November 22, 2015

Ruffwear Front Range Harness Review

I recently purchased two Front Range harnesses from Ruffwear, a dog gear company known for quality products for active lifestyles.  The quality of the harnesses is excellent, but I have a few issues with them -the biggest being they are too thick for wearing in a hot climate -fall and winter they are great though.  There are some Pro's and Con's to consider.  If you want to see them in action, check out my video below! Indie is wearing the size Small and Tulsi has the Extra Small. She got big enough that I think she could wear a small now as she weighs more than Indie! (Because she eats his food!).





PROS:
1. Two clipping locations! Perhaps my favorite feature about these is that there are two sturdy leash attachment points: one on the top and one in front (which is great for pulling).

2. Ergonomically designed for movement.  One of the main things that attracted me to these harnesses was the openness and minimalism of the design. It was easy to put on and contained large spaces for their legs to move around.

3. Reflective and bright colors. On top of having reflective strips (not that that does much good on a super fluffy dog), the colors are quite nice and help them to be seen.

CONS:
1. Harness is too thick for hot days/climates. The harness is high quality. Unfortunately it's SO high quality it's quite thick. Even though the harness is not very large in terms of surface area it covers, it's large enough. Pretty much I can't use these in the South for the whole summer and early fall.  For cooler temps, your dogs should be fine and can even hike while wearing the harness.

2. Awkward fit. These just don't seem to fit well up front. I tried tightening them and they still seemed to ride up some and not sit as well as I wanted them too.

3. Twist around when using front attachment point. I don't think this a design flaw. If you use the front attachment point and your dog is actually pulling, it pulls the whole harness around.

4. Hard to clip a smaller leash to the front attachment point. So, I think they just the attachment point for bigger dogs and used it on the small dog harness. I can barely clip my leash onto it and I am not even using the smallest leashes out there!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Gear Review: Chaco Dog Collar & Boomerang CollerTags

In preparation for hiking and river adventures, I recently ordered Chaco dog collars and these flat ID tags from Boomerang Pets called "CollarTags". Both products have performed great during our recent adventuring and I highly recommend them!




First, the Chaco dog collars:
They are both the size small (11-16" adjustable length) and are the same webbing as the sandals. These collars look like they would be heavy, but they are surprisingly light, yet strong.  The main thing I like about them is that they don't get loose when wet and do not retain water and get soggy. They are also reflective, even though you can't tell here, but you can kind of tell in the photo below on Tulsi.  They only come in 1" width, which is fine for Indie and a tad too big for Tulsi, but still works fine for her. You can't tell in the photo, but Indie is actually wearing his collar! That's the trouble with fluffy Aussies, ha ha!

Stats (for fit comparison):
Indie: 22 lbs, Height: 15", Neck 12"
Tulsi: 18 lbs, Height: 13", Neck 12"


Boomerang CollarTags:
These collar tags are flat. I purchased these for our adventures because they won't get caught or snag on anything when the pups are running through the forest or swimming in a creek (in case there are sticks/debris in the creek).  The tags came quickly and contain a lot of information in a legible font -which I can't show you since it's my personal info. I will tell you it fits: dog's name, your name, phone number, and address. The tag is secure and comfortable for both dogs.

I am so glad I purchased these items for hiking and adventures! The reflective part of the collar is a plus!


Saturday, May 16, 2015

BEST Toys for mini and toy aussie puppies!

I'll never forget the feeling when everything was said and done and I knew in a few short weeks I would be bringing home my mini aussie puppy. I immediately ran to the pet store, excited to fill my cart with all kinds of goodies for him. But when I got there, I was actually overwhelmed. I didn't want to waste my money and the toy and treat options were endless! What would he like? I had no idea.

Now I am raising my second Aussie puppy and it seems that there is definitely a trend to what kinds of toys Aussies love (at least mine). They love a couple of things: variety of textures, chasing, squeakie noises, rolling balls, things made with fabric, plush things, and things with hairs or strings or things sticking off they systematically destroy. Here's the thing about Aussies, they are not "chewers" or "chompers," destroyers by means of all out crushing. No, unlike labs and pit bulls who just indiscriminately chomp, Aussies are more calculated, precision destroyers. They will find the weak point of the fabric and chew on just that. Then pull all the stuffing out leaving a perfectly intact toy behind that can still be used once you (the human) pulls out the dangerous stuffing. Some of my dog's favorite toys are the limp remnants of ratty fabric of once-been toys.

Here is what I consider a great selection of toys you can buy to have on hand when you first bring your mini or toy aussie home:


As you can see there is a nice variety here of textures and activities. You can throw or bounce the balls, the un-stuffed racoon (far left) is great for dragging on  the ground to simulate hunting, the big blue alligator (far right) is one giant squeaker, so it has a nice low sound, and it's great for pouncing on and chewing. The little ropes have nice stringies for them to shred up (instead of your shoe laces!). You get the idea. What you want with toys is lots of options. You want thing that make noise, things you can drag on the ground for them to chase and tough things they chew on for a long time, like Kong Wubbas (pink toy, bottom left).

Here is a video that shows how I play with each one:


Hope this helps you or gives you some ideas of what you can get and do for your puppy or even full grown  mini or toy Aussie. Here's to many happy, energetic play sessions y'all!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Potty Training a Mini Aussie: Two Approaches & Dealing with Bad Weather

Here are my thoughts and experience with potty training. We are now potty training our second puppy and a lot has changed! We live in a different state (so different weather) and we are more advanced in our careers so we have less time and are more tied to a work schedule. 

With Indie, we worked less and were home more and lived in CA where the weather was always good so we were able to take him out all the time, even throughout the night, so he was potty trained by 4 months old. We never used pee pads and we used a crate system.

With Tulsi, our new girl, I am gone more for work, I am tired from work, and in Arkansas we have the most f*ed up weather ever so there have been floods, tornadoes, and snow/hail/ice to deal with. Sometimes, it was not possible to go outside.  For those reasons, I use a play pen & pee pad system with her which is explained in detail below. 

Basically, using pee pads will slow down the whole process (as opposed to just taking her outside constantly so that she never goes inside), but, it is what it is and that's life. I need the convenience of it right now.

Potty Training in General:
My experience so far is that potty training depends entirely on you, your work schedule, your vigilance, and your house set up. Do you live in a house with an easily accessible yard space? Or an apartment building where you'll have to walk down stairs/ and or have a slightly longer walk to a grassy area? Depending on these factors you will have to make adjustments to how long you can wait before taking them out.

Potty training is an exhausting process of carefully observing your puppy, trying to keep them on a regular feeding schedule, developing a sense of how long after they eat/drink they usually need to go, learning their signs of when they are about to go, and being ready to jump up and bring them outside at a moments notice for about 2-3 months.  I highly recommend having a pair of slide on shoes that are easy to put on and investing in a play pen (pictures below) so you always have a place you can put puppy that will keep them out of trouble and provide them a place to go in case they need to that is easier for you to clean up. It's such a lifesaver! Confinement is the KEY to effective potty training. Puppies should not have free roam of the house unless you are watching them every step of the way.

Potty Training: Week 1-2 (The most intensive weeks)
Typically, during the first and second weeks is when you need to be the most vigilant. They are most taxing, but the most important. Their bladders are so tiny and they need to go all the time. You pretty much want to take them out all the time, like every 30 to 45 minutes and about 5 minutes after they eat of drink, to ensure they always go potty outside and not inside. Sometimes they won't have to go, that's okay. Take them out let them sniff around for 5 minutes, then you can head back in. Sometimes, frustratingly, they will wait until they get back in and then suddenly have to go. So, it's back outside again even though you were just there and/or you got a little messy to clean up. It's a lot of work to just constantly take them ou, but it tips the odds that they will go only outside in your favor and will decrease the chances of accidents in the house. Let me tell you, it happens SO FAST. They will suddenly just pop a squat to pee and then it's too late and you have a messy to clean up. Never ever get mad about this. If they pee or poo in the house (which will probably happen at least once or twice even with extreme vigilance) it is your fault, not theirs, for not taking them out. Punishment or being mad will only worsen things. But hey, if they go in the house it happens, we are only humans, never beat yourself up or worry that they will never be potty trained -it happens to everyone. Puppies are just messy. Invest in some Resolve Pet carpet cleaner and get a big stack of paper towels on hand.

Some of the signs they need go are: they start really sniffing around and walking in circles, or you see them arching their back, you know they are looking for a place to go. They sniff the ground because they are looking for the scent of their pee which triggers them on where to go. Once you see them sniffing, run them outside.

My Potty Training Set up with dog #2: For dealing with Bad Weather & Busy Work Schedule




The set up I use involves: 
  1. a cheap blanket (in this case a synthetic walmart quilt $20 -I have two so I can rotate them as I need to wash them), 
  2. a cheap play pen I bought off of Amazon.com, 
  3. her crate with the door off of it and a towel over the top, 
  4. two or three pee pads to create a nice big area, 
  5. and her water dish. 
I set it up so that the pee pads are toward the back because if you put them toward the front and they poop on them, they will step in the poop as they excitedly come up to the front of the pen to greet you! Then you have poopy feet to clean -not fun.

I also will move this whole set up into my bedroom at night. With Indie, I simply locked him in his crate at night and every time he whined, I took him out to potty (about every 2-3 hours -like having a newborn!). It was tedious and tiring, but keeping them in a crate is best way to potty train because then they never learn to pee in the house. But, like I said, I need sleep too much right now to keep getting up at all hours to take Tulsi out. Plus, we have had horrendous weather here in Arkansas since I got her and often, it has been raining too hard or it's been too cold to take her out during the night. So we needed to pee pad train her regardless of my energy/time. Puppies just have to go too often and they can't hold it until the weather gets better, they have to go when they have to go. I tried so hard to keep vigilant throughout the night, but it was just too hard for me so I gave up and just try my best now and do it when I can and if she pees on the pee pads sometimes, so be it. I know it is slowing down her potty training, but I am willing to deal with that. With this set up, if I am not able to jump right up and take her out, she is able to go at least on pee pads and then shuffle back to her crate and I can get precious sleep for work.
Indie was pretty much potty trained by 4 months, meaning we could trust him 100% inside the house for the most part, but our lives were different then. We worked less and were home more and we were able to take him out all the time. With Tulsi it has been different. We both are more advanced in our careers now and we work about 50 hours per week, plus have a lit of events to attend for our college.

Indie was not big on eating or drinking a lot so he didn't have to go as often as our new puppy. Tulsi drinks a lot of water because her and Indie are always playing. I never used a single pee pad with Indie. In fact, he would just tear them up! He maybe had two or three pee accidents in the house and those were because I knew he needed to go out, but thought I could wait another 30 seconds; for example, while I did a quick brush on my hair (he wound up popping a squat and peeing on the bathroom mat as I was rushing to get ready -lesson learned there: when then have to go, get them out quickly don't try to look purdy, ha ha).  I began trusting him to be alone in the house completely around 5 months (which is almost unheard of for any puppy, but Indie was not and still is not a big pee-er or pooper and he had learned not to chew on our possessions).

With Tulsi I use this play pen set up a lot and especially while I'm at work so she can go to the bathroom in between when I am able to get home for lunch and then after work.  Most people lock their dogs in a crate so they HAVE to hold it, but I just can't do that to a dog. I am willing to accept a longer potty training period rather than lock a puppy up for 4 hours at a time. Their little bladders just can't handle this.

As you can see below, Indie was such a wild monkey that he would make a mess of the whole play pen. Tulsi is a gentle little soul and such a good girl -she's is a dream and is totally fine to be in her little home. Conversely, I had to get a special water dish for Indie that wouldn't tip or spill and he would shred any pee pad I put in his play pen, so I couldn't even use them with him. I just used the play pen as a place to dump him into on as needed basis and then would put him into the crate with the door shut for his naps and to potty train him.


Every dog is different. Every life and schedule is different -even within one household! Don't beat yourself up. Do your best and for gosh sake, stock up on carpet cleaner! :P

The experience of getting a second Aussie

I finally took the plunge and got a second Aussie! After much thought, I decided I really wanted Indie to have a playmate and I was ready to have another little personality and fluffernutter to love. I mean, c'mon, what could be better to come home to than TWO excited wiggle-butts!? I felt ready to train another dog and see what it was like to have two, and to experience a new personality. 


I'm very happy to introduce you to this little boo: Tulsi Lulu Moonbeam (LuLu was her litter name). I've had her for about a month as of the writing of this post, so she's currently 3 months old. Tulsi is named after the holy basil of India and she is a large-toy, black tri austrailan shepherd. We are expecting her to mature somewhere between 14-17 lbs. Because Indie, our first Mini Aussie, is on the smaller side (21.5 lbs) and is already hard to tire out and can handle our adventures, we decided we definitely didn't want anything bigger than him! We absolutely love his perfect little size. I finally found a breeder who did large-toys (as I feel a regular toy size would be a little two small for us). Tulsi is just perfect!!




It has been wonderful to add another personality into our mix and it has been a joy (and also a trial) watching our dogs bond and play together.  Indie is not fond of sharing, but he has learned quickly to do so! Tulsi is sweet, mellow, and just takes in the world by watching and tilting her little head. Indie is sweet, but intense, displaying that full Aussie drive 100%! He's ready for action and a fearless investigator of anything and everything. They are completely different, yet they are both Aussies.




Full disclosure: I totally got a second dog so that our first dog would have a friend and also in the hopes that it would free me up some because Indie (dog #1) would have someone else to pester and rely on for entertainment besides me. Despite the fact that everything you read on the internet says not to get another dog for those reasons, I did it anyways so far, it has worked out splendidly!



It's been great to get another one of the same breed because no one plays quite like an Aussie! Watching them together you can tell they love to play the same way. Lots of wrestling and using their shoulders and butts to muscle each other around. Mouthing each others necks and nipping at each others heels and haunches. Lots of play bows and chasing. It's super fun!



















Look, having a puppy and an older dog who needs a lot of attention has been tiring and challenging so far, I will not lie to you, but it gets easier every day as Tulsi gets older and seeing them play and have fun and be tired is the most rewarding thing in the world. I will say this: I am SO GLAD...so so so so so glad....that I waited until my first dog was very well trained and behaved before getting a second. It is (or at least seems to a mere mortal such as myself) to be impossible to train two dogs at once. And can we talk about bonding? I can't imagine trying to bond with two at the same time. I am glad I have had a nice, long few years to spend with just my Indie.


The most challenging part right now is dealing with potty training and the fact that baby puppy's needs and abilities are so different from the older one. Indie is used to long walks, lots of intense ball throwing and generally zooming around the yard like a wild monkey-horse.  It's hard to balance playing with Indie and also interacting with Tulsi as she is just exploring slowly and wanting to walk around everywhere and look for things to put in her mouth! I want to be spending time with her, making sure she doesn't eat anything bad, encouraging her, and going at her pace, but then I have this other crazy dog that's like "Mom, mom...throw this ball, throw this frisbee. Who CARES about that other boring, annoying dog!!" What I have been having to do for the first month is have them both (or just puppy for some one on one time) out and about for 45 minutes. Then puppy needs a 1.5 hour nap, so it's back inside for her and then I try to use that time to go back out and play with Indie. Then, come back inside and get her out and play with her for another 45 minutes to an hour, and so on. It's exhausting because I'm pretty much always doing something, not resting!

At first, Tulsi was very interested in toys and liked to play with them. The first few days I had her, I tried to keep the dogs mostly separate as she was adjusting to her new space. I would take her to my craft room, close Indie out, and just let her explore around and play with toys and try to get her interested in toys.



But soon, she knew Indie was there, somewhere, and she just wanted to play with him. She lost interest in toys, unless Indie had a toy, then she just wanted that toy. To take it and scamper off with it, or try and chew on it while it was still in Indie's mouth. This led to a lot of growling on Indie's part (he does not like to share), but nothing violent. Just understandable warnings.


At that point, I kind of gave up trying to keep them separate a lot.  She wants to be around him and that is kind of why I got her, so I am allowing it and I monitor them. Indie, however, does not always want to play with her. He still wants me to just do tug and to throw balls and to take all the toys I bought for her and claim them. I basically just ignore him and then he plays with her. And once they get going, they GO! It's so cute and so fun. Indie has been the most tolerant and gentle big brother. 



The older little boo gets, the easier. Now she is 3 months old and we are able to take her on some mini adventures. She watched brother Indie fetching in the lake at our college and explore the grounds there:



I am so glad I got a second Aussie! I definitely think you need to be prepared for it, financially and mentally, but it is very rewarding in the end.  There are definitely days where I wish it was still just me and Indie, but I know that he enjoys having a friend -especially while we're gone at work- and it is enriching all of our lives (well, maybe not the cat, she's not that stoked LOL).

Hope this helps you make a decision if you're thinking about getting another one (or not)!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

8 weeks Work Day Daily Puppy Schedule

This is what works for me and it is generally what has been my experience. Of course, this gets shifted on daily basis depending on when I get home and what else is going on. Hope this helps serve as a good baseline/general idea!

Things to remember:
  1. Puppies need LOTS of sleep so don't feel bad that you are gone at work -it's good for their health and growth!
  2. A play pen with puppy bed and pee pads is your best friend! I think crating the dog for long hours is cruel, but that is just my opinion.  I like that my puppy can get up and move around and even pee on the pee pads while I'm gone.
Here's the daily schedule I follow when I'm working. I live about 15 minutes from work. If you have a long commute, you should not get a puppy!!

Work Day Daily Puppy Schedule
  1.  5:00 am 
    • Get up to potty, if restless play for 10 minutes and then back in the crate to sleep until 6:00 or 6:30am -whatever you can  get
  2. 6:00 or 6:30 am 
    • Wake up, go outside immediately for potty break
    • Offer them some breakfast, might not eat it all
  3. 6:30-6:45am
    • Play inside or outside for a few minutes...toss around toys, play some tug, let them explore
  4. 6:45 am
    • Go outside to potty. 
    • If your dog starts sniffing around on the ground or walking in circles, take them out immediately!
  5. 6:45-7:00ish
    • Vigorous play, walk around outside, maybe give them a few treats and ask for some sits
  6. 7:00 am
    • Put puppy in play pen with whatever they did not eat of their breakfast and water and pee pads and get yourself ready for work
  7. 7:30am
    • Take puppy out one last time
    • Play with them a little more or let them mill around while you finish getting ready
  8. 7:45 am
    • Put on some relaxing music softly (I recommend Krishna Das Pandora radio station -no sudden loud sounds come on that one)
  9. 7:45-12:00 pm--PUPPY NAP TIME
    • Leave your office when you have to to make it home by noon
  10. 12:00-12:45
    • Take puppy outside immediately
    • Offer them some lunch
    • Play inside or outside (if playing inside, take them out about 10 minutes after they ate)
    • After playing a good 15 mins or so and they have gone potty, let them mill around and make yourself some lunch. Maybe give them a treat bone or put some toys in the kitchen
    • Potty one more time, then back in the play pen with more relaxing music, some toys, and back to work you go.
  11. 12:00-5:00 pm-- PUPPY NAP TIME
  12. 5:00-6:00pm
    • Take puppy outside when you get home
    • Offer them some dinner
    • Play for about 5-10 minutes, then potty break outside
    • More vigorous playing, a walkabout outside, or maybe let them play with your other dog if you have one
    • Another potty break then put them in their playpen with whatever is left of dinner while you make yours
    • Alternative: let them mill around in the kitchen while you make food if you trust them
  13. 6:00-7:00-- PUPPY NAP/PLAYPEN TIME
    • Make yourself some food and settle in for some netflix or TV to relax. The sound of the TV will relax the puppy
    • Puppy can also sit with you while you watch something if they are still pretty awake
  14.  7:00-8:30 pm
    • Potty break
    • Puppy out and about, playing, milling around -maybe you can cordon off your living room so you can read a book, watch TV and still supervise and play intermittently
  15. 8:30-9:00pm --PUPPY in playpen while you shower, do dishes, whatever
  16. 9:00-9:30pm
    • Potty break then play with them some more to be tired for bed
    • When it gets close to bedtime (either for you or for them, if you can tell they are tired) start calming down: turn down lights, do some relaxed breathing, no intense play or tug.
    • You can even let the puppy naturally fall asleep next to you and then move them to their bed or crate
  17. 12 am & 2am --Potty Breaks (First three-four days)
    • Pick the puppy up. Don't talk to it.  Walk straight outside to the pee/poop spot and wait around for 5-10 minutes--LITERALLY--5-10 mins.  They need time to smell and hang out until they go to the bathroom. If they go, do lots of praise! Then back inside for bed again.
    • Once you get to know your dog you can probably skip getting up at midnight and just do 2 am.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Mini Aussie in a Wedding & More Updates!

Indie, ready to join the action!
Hi everyone!

After a brief hiatus, we are back in action!

Sorry for our long absence.


I took a break to marry my best friend and sweetest bear and do some work on our new house.

I painted so many walls because everything in our house was BROWN! I am a lover of light and cheerful, yet grounded colors.  It took me forever because I did so many rooms and used lots of different colors. The little table I refinished (below) was made using some of my samples -so you can really see I went nuts! The yoga room is a sage green and I love the rainwater blue and buckwheat in the laundry room.

Bonus points if you can spot Indie butt in the pic on the right!!





During this time I also started an intense new job as a Director and my old mac laptop died on me. So yeah, like I said, a hiatus was in order (ha ha)  o_O



 And now for some sweet wedding pics...


Lets travel back in time...to our May wedding! We had a blast down in Austin, TX with family and friends on a beautiful Sunday morning out in the country. But more importantly, I made Indie an awesome bow-tie for the affair.  Yes, his bow-tie was in our wedding color (lavender). And yes, we hula-hooped :) Our little guy is never far from our sides and it was so special to have him be a part of our day.  It's also a testament to our training efforts and what is possible with this amazing breed.  They want to be involved in everything you do and with proper training and socialization, they can be! We were out in the country, no fences, and I never had to worry. He just hung out and was never far from us our whole wedding!

I'll let the pics do the talkin' ...

Gettin' ready for the weddin'

Look how good this boy is, love him!



Our wedding aisle with local, organic Texas wildflowers

Indie trying to foil Joe's hooping during our hula competition muah ha ha!
Our cute mini vegan cupcakes and bride & groom cake!





Thanks for stopping by again. I have more updates about canoeing with Indie and other fun things! More to come!!