Friday, July 31, 2015

Fit Dog Friday: Swimming Safety

Today's Fit Dog post is brought to you by Seth who tried to drown today!

The weather has been dreadfully hot lately. I have started swimming the dogs [the boys particularly] when it's super hot out because my dogs [especially Seppel] need an outlet for their energy. When it is really hot out it is hard to give them adequate exercise and is even really too hot to do any training outside.

We go to the same park and there are two places we can go to swim. One part of the park has large river access and they are swimming in fairly deep water, another part I think is actually a creek and not the river and it is far more shallow with swimming access only in the middle.

Seth has had several close calls. The first time he tried to freak me out, he grabbed a large tree in the water and was trying to pull it up to bring it to shore.  The second close call was more recently. He tried to grab who balls in the water [long story about that haha] and he ended up vertical and was struggling to right himself. The big scare came today when he got water in his ear. He was in the middle of the river in the deepest part and was trying to shake the water out of his ear, he went under water 2-3 times and finally righted himself and came back to shore. I almost had a heart attack!

The thing is, I own a dog life jacket. I bought one for Seppel when I was rehabbing him from his FHO surgery. I don't know why I didn't really think about it when I started letting the dogs swim. I guess I thought they were pretty good at it and that nothing would happen. Today was very eye opening for me, a few things crossed my mind. The first thing was, if I had to jump in after him - could I find him? I don't know for sure how deep the river is, but it is pretty dark water and even though I knew the area he was in I really wonder how easily I could find him to drag him out. The second thing I was thinking of was that I am not a great swimmer, I can swim but I am nothing special. What if I drowned in the process of trying to save my dog?

With that in mind, I stopped at petsmart on the way home tonight and bought Seth his own life jacket! Both boys have one now and they will wear them when they go swimming. I think it's better safe than sorry. Seth is a fairly strong swimmer, but he obviously gets a little distracted and isn't super concerned for his well being. Seppel is cautious to begin with and not nearly as good of a swimmer as Seth is, so it's good for him to wear one as well.

I have yet to take LiLo out to see if she is interested in swimming. I will definitely purchase a life jacket for her as well if she really gets into it or put one of theirs on her.

I don't frown upon people who do not make their dogs wear life jackets to swim. I never would have really considered it if I didn't have what I felt were a few close calls with my own dogs. I would just be so heart broken if something happened to one of them.

Here are a few pictures from tonight. I like Seppel's life jacket better than Seth's, I think the design is better. However Seth's is less bulky.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Pacific Northwest Regional Championships 2015

This past weekend a friend and I went out to watch the PacNW Regional Championship in Centralia Washington. To my knowledge and from what we saw this was a German Shepherd event, but don't quote me.

We had a lot of fun watching the obedience and protection routines. It's always interesting to see how other dogs work. It only rained a little bit. Not enough to ruin the day.The lighting was hard to deal with, I only got a few pictures, but it was really fun to go, and fun to go with a friend!

Friday, July 24, 2015

8 Photos of Happiness

I was tagged by ZoePhee to post eight photos of Happiness.Thanks for the tag, I love posting pictures of my crew - they make me the happiest!

Here are the guidelines for this tag:

1. Thank your nominator(s) and link them to your post.
2. Link to the creator of the tag, Ariel's Little Corner of the Internet.
3. Post your eight photos of happiness.
4. Pop in a brief description of the photo, why you chose it, or just let the photo do the talking!
5. Spread the happiness and tag up to 10 other bloggers.

******I Tag anyone reading this post who would like to join!******

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Dogs as Individuals

Something I don't understand are the people who do not allow their dogs to be individuals. These people dress their dogs alike and their dogs do everything together. In some cases the dogs cannot even be separated because their owner has set it up so the dogs are so bonded to each other they cannot be apart. I've also seen a few scenarios where Dog A loves to fetch but Dog B does not, so the dog owner makes it their mission to teach Dog B that fetch is fun.

You can teach a dog a lot of behaviors, but you cannot teach natural drive.

Don't get me wrong, you can build up the drive that the dog already has, but Dog A - who loves to fetch, will always be better/faster/happier at it than Dog B who is doing it because you taught them to/you've given them some type of incentive - not because they inherently have the drive for it.

I think it is a really easy trap to fall into. I have three dogs with varying levels of toy and prey drive. It would be awesome if they would all play with the flirt pole - it's a quick and easy way to wear my dogs out. However, only Seppel and LiLo enjoy the flirt pole. It would be just as awesome if they could all do IPO. However neither Seth nor LiLo have the drive for bite work that Seppel has. While it can make my life difficult in some ways, I am really learning to appreciate each dog as an individual. This became extremely apparent to me after taking Seth and Seppel swimming last night.

Yesterday was super hot. I decided to take Seth and Seppel to a local park to go swimming. I have had it in my head that I would love to try dock diving with Seppel. When we got to the park and started playing I quickly realized that Seth is far more driven in the water than Seppel is.

Seppel has no problems fetching his ball [or a toy] from the water, but he is extremely careful about it. I don't think he dislikes the water - he will gladly go in, but he is cautious. I think he enjoys playing fetch and I think he enjoys going for the ball, but it is not his favorite game - much like dry land fetch is.

Seth on the other hand seems to really enjoy swimming and fetching the ball in the water. He is super fast about it and jumps right in. When we pulled up to the park today Seth was super excited and vocal, he knew what we were going to do and he was ready to go!

It really got me thinking as we headed home last night how different Seth and Seppel are. I had high hopes for Seth to do IPO [before I had Seppel] and because it is something I can do with Seppel I have put a lot of my focus on him. Watching Seth going after the ball in the creek made me really start thinking about his potential for doing dock dogs. It also made me realize that I need to accept that dock dogs is probably something Seppel will ever do. I can probably teach him to jump off of a dock, or build his confidence in the water so he becomes faster - but he simply does not have the drive for it that Seth does. That's perfectly OKAY! It's exciting to me to find something different that Seth can do [and enjoy!].

I really do appreciate the differences between my three dogs. Between the boys I have dogs I can do various sports with, and with LiLo I can rely on her to behave when I take her places - she is a wonderful companion dog. I appreciate that I can take all three of them somewhere and they can run around together and get along, but I am really happy with their individual personalities and individual strengths that they have to do different things. I also appreciate that I can separate them all, and while the dogs who have to stay home might be bummed - they don't completely fall apart and lose it.

In closing, I just think it's important to recognize and appreciate your dogs for who they are. To accept the drive that they have or don't have, to be happy with who each of them are, as individual dogs.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Review: Bully Dog Designs

 This is a review on an item I purchased. I have not been asked to write this review, I'm choosing to write about this product because I was extremely pleased with my purchase.

A few weeks ago I was cruising facebook and I found a link to this website, Bully Dog Designs

Liz, the owner, designs and sells decals for your car/laptop/phone etc. I contacted her right away and asked her if she would design a Schutzhund sticker for me. She took on the challenge and I sent her a few photos to draw from. This is what she came up with:

To say I am over the moon is an understatement! She used a picture I had and totally turned it into a decal!

The thing is, I contacted another person back in April who actually specializes in sport dog decals. He asked me to send him pictures and then never got back to me. I emailed him in May to "check on things" he told me it was still in the works. Here we are into July and I have heard nothing.

I can't say enough good things about Liz and Bully Dog Designs. She was prompt in getting back to me. She was willing to take on the task, she got to work immediately and had my decals in the mail within a couple days after purchase. I liked the decal so much I asked her to make another one of my friend's Doberman. She just started a new job and even though she has been busy she has been in communication with me the whole time. She got to work on the Doberman decal last weekend and it arrived in the mail yesterday!

Here is the etsy listing I purchased from:
Custom Hand Drawn Dog Decal

She charges $25 for a custom decal and she will send you two! She actually sent me two sizes of mine [5" and a 4" one].

I felt for custom artwork that the price was really reasonable, especially for something that is custom and isn't just something the person has in stock. I thought she did a GREAT job. It is so hard to find working Pit Bull items and I have been wanting a sticker for my car for a long, long time.

I highly recommend Bully Dog Designs for anyone looking to purchase custom decals. Liz was absolutely awesome to work with!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Fit Dog Friday: Beach!

Seppel and I haven't gone to training the last two Wednesdays because our trainer's dad is not doing well. This past Wednesday I woke up early and decided it would be a great day to go to the beach. The forecast said it would be in the 70s.

This is the first time I have ever taken all three dogs to the beach by myself. It is also the first time I have ever taken all three of my dogs together to the beach! We went to Astoria. We parked in the parking lot that is designated primarily for horses [but cars can park there too!]. This puts us nearer to the end of the beach and puts us in an area that is generally less busy. Even though it's summer and school is out the beach was pretty empty. We got there around 10am. We encountered a person with a German Shepherd but we kept our distance and I was able to let the dogs off leash.

I've posted about this in the past but Seppel is dog selective and I feel like he would have no qualms about running after small animals/small dogs. When I let him off leash I am super vigilant about our surroundings. If we were to see another person or dog coming our way I would either put Seppel on leash or call all my dogs to me and put them in a sit or down until the people/dog passes us. Seppel is far more reliable off leash compared to when I first got him. I feel a lot better that for the most part he does listen. However, like I said I have to pay attention at all times to things going on around us. That means keeping an eye on what is ahead and checking constantly for what might be behind.

If we aren't able to go train for a while I plan to make a few more beach trips. It's fun for the dogs to be able to run off leash and burn off some energy as well as just get some good exercise! They really enjoy it and I enjoy seeing them have a good time.

Here are a few pictures from the day:

Sunday, July 5, 2015

The 4th of July/Using Acepromazine for Anxiety

I've actually written a post about this before, however, I was attacked on a friend's post on facebook and would like to once again, revist the use of acepromazine in an anxious dog.

If you look up acepromazine and use with anxiety there are a few articles [one written by a veterinarian] who says absolutely do not use acepromazine in a fearful dog. The articles say that because it sedates your dog, it simply renders them immobile and they are able to continue to feel their fear. I don't think this is untrue, but I think it is vastly over-stated.

Acepromazine is a sedative. What is a sedative?
A sedative or tranquilizer is a substance that induces sedation by reducing irritability or excitement. At higher doses it may result in slurred speech, staggering gait, poor judgment, and slow, uncertain reflexes.

Your dog is afraid. They are panting, pacing, they cannot settle. There is absolutely nothing wrong with giving the dog a sedative to make them SLEEP. Thusly, calming the dog in the process.

Now, acepromazine can lower your dog's inhibition to bite. It can actually make them hyper sensitive if their anxiety is very, very bad. [See above description on sedatives!] In a situation where a dog is being dangerous to others and itself due to anxiety the best option would be to give an anti-anxiety medication. Some common medications often prescribed for dogs are Alprazalam and Trazadone. These drugs are meant to lower your dog's anxiety level. However, sometimes even these medications are not enough and they can be coupled with a sedative - like acepromazine. 

I had someone go off on me yesterday because I gave my dog trazadone and acepromazine. I started with the trazadone. The dog in question is Seth. He had a bad experience with fireworks as a young dog and now he is terrified of them. He is a mellow dog in nature and his anxiety manifests this way: he cannot settle, he's constantly wanting to be in my lap, and he will try to hide wherever I am sitting. He also follows me around like a creeper. This year I decided to try anti-anxiety medication because so many people vilify the use of ace. I also was hoping I could use the anti-anxiety medication and not have a super sleepy dog on my hands. Unfortunately the anxiety medication - trazadone, did not help. I gave an adequate dose for a dog of his size, but he still followed me around like a creeper and was sad.

I added on the acepromazine and as soon as it kicked in he was able to sleep. He didn't move from where he was laying on my bed all night. He woke up like normal this morning and it was as if nothing happened.

Here is one anti ace article:
Don't Ace the Fear

While I can agree with this article that acepromazine can make a reactive or fearful dog worse, if given in a proper dose it should make the dog SLEEP. It does not render a dog completely unable to move so they are sitting there, eyes wide listening to all of their fears.Again, we are giving this to our dogs to SEDATE them, not necessarily even treat the fear, just make it so they can get through the day/night whatever it may be.

I would also like to add because I saw someone say "My dogs aren't bad enough to need drugs but..."

My dog doesn't NEED drugs. I could let him work it, he could follow me everywhere, curl up when need be, and overall just have a big sad. However as his owner I have the ability to help him with his anxiety by chemical means. It is not wrong to give your pets medication [under supervision of your veterinarian] to help with some of their anxiety. You are being a good pet owner by not forcing them to 'toughen it out'. I'm not going to feel bad about that. Seth can't help it!

Anyway, rant over. I just really feel like a lot of people say "No ace" when they actually have no experience giving it. If a person is using medications successfully you have no need or right to judge them. We are all just trying to do what is best for our animals.

I hope everyone had a fun and safe 4th of July!