Saturday, 2 February 2013

Biothane Leashes

Puppy really has no thoughts on her leashes, so I'll be doing this review.

Since getting Puppy, I've tried nylon leashes, biothane leashes, and leather leashes. My absolute favourite are my custom-made biothane leashes from I don't have a base to compare biothane leashes across different vendors and brands as I've never tried any other vendors. To date, I've made and received three orders from Bud at, and have loved every single one. The ordering process was straight forward, and the customization options are endless. Bud makes and sends his leashes very quickly. Shipping is usually the longest part of my wait. Thanks for the leashes, Bud!

Why Biothane?
  • Pliable and bendy like leather
  • Not as porous as leather and nylon, so easier to clean
  • Cheaper than leather
  • Many customization options

My Leashes

Here's a sample of some of the biothane leashes I have.

The leash at the top is a waist leash with three loops sewn in along the leash and bolt clips at both ends. I wear this leash when I go jogging or training with Puppy. The three loops allow me turn the leash into a regular leash with a handle, or a cross-body leash very easily. I absolutely cannot live without the waist leash, and this would be the leash I would choose if I could only use one leash for the rest of my life. It's also recommended by professionals like Dr. Sophia Yin  for a few reasons.
  • Keeps both hands free during training to dispense treats and fumble with clickers
  • Helps with training a loose-leash walk since the waist leash allows you to anchor your entire weight against the dog's pull
  • Prevents the owner from communicating inappropriate emotions through the leash in tense situations. For example, some owners grip and tighten their leashes when they see other dogs approaching. This in turn increases our dogs' anxiety and stress when other dogs appear.
The second leash is a 15 feet long line. I ordered this when I lived in an apartment, and used it to give Puppy more room to run when I take her to public parks where she must stay on leash. I use it now on leashed hikes, and for recall training.

The third is a 6 feet walking leash. I find the length great for hiking, but a little too long for regular city walks. I constantly have a bit of leash gripped in my hand to shorter the length of the leash. I had a 4 feet one made, and use that as my primary walking leash. I love the handle and the little loop in the handle. The loop allows me to strap the leash across my body if I don't need it while outside with Puppy. 

The lash leash pictured is a 1 foot long traffic lead. I use it when I want to keep Puppy very close to me. I sometimes also use it to attach a flimsier training collar (like the head halter) to my main collar and leash clip to provide added security. 

The Good
  • Longer lasting than nylon leashes. The nylon leashes I've used got fuzzy with time.
  • Great material and very well-made leashes. The leashes only need replacing when I've been a clutz and left them in Puppy's cage for her to gnaw on
  • Many customization options available
The Not-So-Good

With my second batch of leashes, I had problems with the biothane sometimes leaving cuts in my finger if Puppy tugged too hard while on the leash. I think this is a common problem with biothane leashes. My friend reported improvements after rubbing sand paper along the edges of the leash.

Conclusion: Love! Will buy again!

Friday, 1 February 2013

The Jolly Egg Ball Review

Before I brought Puppy home, I had heard of horror stories on the interwebs of de-stuffed toys, swallowed balls, and other toy-related tragedies. I knew I was getting a strong, working-breed dog, and wanted to make sure the toys in my house are as sturdy as possible. I had heard many great things about the Jolly Egg Ball, but wasn't able to locate one in Canada until Pup was around 8 months old.

The Jolly Egg ball is designed to be a ball that is very difficult (not IMPOSSIBLE) for dogs to pick up. Puppy (60lb adult) plays with the larger ball size. When Puppy tries to bite the ball, the ball will move away from her. This makes her frustrated, and even more eager to continue pursuing and biting the ball.

Image from

The Good:

I love this toy for so many reasons!

I like to prep my walks with Puppy by having her do some intense running and chasing to take the edge off of her. This ball is great since it does engage her in fairly heavy exercise. Usually, we play with it together by having us both chase it down and see who can kick/bite it away faster. I can start our routine with 20 minutes of Jolly ball and have a calmer dog during my walks. On rainy days, I usually extend this play session to 30 minutes and add training in there to shorten our walks outside into potty breaks.

I also love the fact that it can keep her occupied for a good 30 minutes without my participation if I need to quickly get something else done.

The Not-So-Good:

With time and some practice, Pup was able to balance the ball under her belly, gain a grip on the ball and gnaw on the thinner tip of the Jolly ball. Though this hasn't affected her love for it, the ball now picks up dust and hair during play. I've attached a video of Puppy playing with the Jolly Ball for you to see her pick it up towards the end. Please excuse the messy house and the blurry iphone video

I find this to be an indoor toy only. On grass, it doesn't move around with the same speed that makes it thrilling for Pup to chase. I imagine cement will scratch up the ball and make it easier for Puppy to grip as well.

Overall, I am very happy with the quality and design of the toy. When the thin end gets gnawed on even more, I will replace the ball with a new one.

Conclusion: Dog and human both love. Will buy again if replacements needed!

Saturday, 5 January 2013

One Year with Puppy

It's been one year since Puppy bounded out of the airline crate and into my family, and I could not imagine life without her. As is appropriate for an end-of-year recap, I thought I'd do a top five reasons of why Puppy has weaseled herself into my heart, despite our journey being full of tears and frustration on both ends. As always, many thanks to Robin and Carlos at Team Huerta Hof for giving me this special girl.

5. Allows me to fulfill my shopping needs without guilt. 

Really, how can anyone say no to buying more treats, toys, leashes, beds, toys, leashes, treats and other goodies to this pretty face?!?

4. What a hot dog!

3. Natural comedic relief. 

Inching for Attention
2. Great with the family.

Cuddling with the human children.
1. Always there. 

Like seriously. I am super afraid of using the rolly chairs when I study now, because last time I almost rolled over her paws.

Saturday, 31 March 2012

Concluding Thoughts on Beginner's Agility and Other Updates

This coming Monday will be our last Introductory Agility class. I have mixed feelings about this session of dog lessons. For one, Puppy was less "behaved" in this class than in her Puppy class. She stayed on the Gentle Leader for all 4 classes thus far to manage her effectively in close proximity to other dogs. In our Puppy Obedience class, she was able to work off the Gentle Leader for durations. I think this might be the closer proximity of the equipment and other dogs.

That said, I am really happy with the socialization she received with SO many dogs in close proximity, and the progress she's made in class.

Some particularly proud moments:

1. Puppy demonstrated that she is ALWAYS willing to try something for the first time with me. We were introduced to a mini dog walk. This one was about a meter off the ground, and 30 CM thick(?). The first time we were introduced, Puppy walked without hesitation while I clutched nervously at her collar and got off without incident.

2. Puppy overcame hesitation and fears. So after our glorious first go on the dog walk, Puppy decided that she really wasn't too thrilled about walking 1 meter off the ground with her slightly uncoordinated hind legs and a jittery handler. She went into a down when I got near the ramp, and decided to stay there. That's okay, I don't blame her, I wouldn't be thrilled to repeat the experience again. To overcome this, I put a few treats on the ramp leading up to encourage her to get on. She took the treats, and when the treats weren't there anymore, she offered to get on the dog walk herself to earn some more treats. This took less than 10 treats. She walked straight off, more coordinated than she had ever been, and even was able to hold a "wait" in the ramp coming off. She now readily goes on the dog walk when I go near it, and has no hesitation left whatsoever. I won't be overconfident and mislabel this as her trust in my handling, but I am still very proud of her for overcoming her own hesitations and fears.

Not so good moments:

1. There's a little dog in my class that is a bit shy and fearful. She recently started barking at Puppy. Puppy became more reactive to her after she started barking. I've began to manage the situation as soon as I noticed it, and now she and Puppy stay on opposite sides of the room. Last class, while she was near Puppy and barking, I was able to call off Puppy's focus on her with an "OFF" command. 

2. I think I was very reliant on the Gentle Leader this class. My instructor's thoughts are the Gentle Leader will help refocus Puppy and prevent her from making jumping at other dogs a habitual behavior. I wish I didn't keep it on during all of the classes, and tested her more often without it. I guess I am still susceptible to the peer pressure and judgement of the instructor and of the strangers in the class. I realize this is incredibly stupid of me, and vow to improve for our next session.

Next week is her last class, and I'm not sure if I want to continue on with the next round of agility. The instructor mentioned that the next round includes off-leash work in class. I am hesitant because there are other reactive dogs in class that I don't 100% trust in case Puppy runs off and goes into their space. I KNOW Puppy will run off at least a few times, her recall is not there yet. But at the same time, I think this off-leash time will be a great chance for her to learn to focus on me even with the freedom. The other option would be to do a weekend class in Toronto with another school. I was thinking of When Hounds Fly.
Opinions and thoughts on this is greatly appreciated.

Outside of class, we've been working on Sophia Yin's Say Yes by Sitting, and house manners. Puppy is GREAT with offering auto sits in the house during training sessions, but not quite there yet when she wants something dearly. We're continuing to work on offering sits in the house, and upping distraction for formalized training sessions. We can successfully train right outside our apartment, in the relatively secluded parking lot. We have now moved onto the side walk near where she potties. This is proving to be a bit of a challenge, but I am confident that we'll be able to manage well. Her other obedience has been great. Her "down" while I continue moving is greatly improved, and can down at a distance as well. We stopped practicing "heel" as I wasn't sure about my methods and her positioning. "Stay" is great in the house and in quiet areas while waiting for toy release.

In terms of house manners, she is being tethered to my furniture on a long line for a few hours each day to just learn to calm herself down in my room while not in the crate. In the beginning of this week, she was so excited while in my room that she could not stop moving and just walked around non-stop. She passed out within a minute of being put into her crate. Yesterday, with her dinner, I got her to offer me a default down. I fed her dinner at increasing durations between each kibble drop while she held her down for over 10 minutes. She now offers the down more readily when in my room. I prefer this to the non-stop pacing.

I continue to not know if we have a bond, since I don't really know what I'm looking for. I know that she recognizes me and is at least somewhat fond of me since she chose me over a raw bone last weekend. I know I am already very attached and in love with her. I am disappointed that she is reactive to dogs, especially since I really wanted her to be my go-anywhere dog. But she is still young, so I am very optimistic that with continued training and exposure, and continued improvement in my handling skills, we will reach my goal.

Some pictures:

Puppy with a new toy. She likes the rope part much more than the ball part. I think I'll just stick to ropes and plushes from now on.

I don't understand this body language, but thought it was hilarious. Puppy looking at me while I nap.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Of Ears!

Took off the last of her ear form from her floppy ear today, and both ears are standing great. Going to continue with the gelatine for the rest of the week since there is no harm done. After this, will be working on lots of handling practice with her ears, since I've only really touched them to put glue on, drop cleaning supplies in, and peel glue off. She is okay with me petting them, but a bit leery if I reach over with both hands purposefully. I know I would be too after all I've done to her! 

The one on the left is her today. The one on the right is her 2 months ago, at 5 months old. Is she aging? 

She had quite an exciting day of eating today. Ate pizza crust from the sidewalk, shards of a beer bottle, 4 slices of bread to cushion the shard, and some ice cream while I struggled with her ears. Luckily, girly was still attacking her kibble with fervor at the end of the day.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Some pictures

This was literally a week ago. Us at the big park next to the dog park, learning to make an non-event of dogs. She is PERFECT at ignoring dogs behind the fence about 50 meters away. Seeing a dog move about outside is another story. But the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step, so I am patient, and I am willing to continue working. 

This was also last week, our first warm day after winter I think. We were playing at the closest patch of green grass outside a really nice row of townhouses. She is strung onto all the leashes I own to give her the closest experience to "off leash" so she could play with her ball and be a dog on a thin THIN patch of grass. There were lots of people passing by 10 meters away, so that adds a bit more value to our time as well.


Her sleeping pose hasn't changed much from her first day home. They're all sprawled out and unlady-like. I love them. :D 
This was from 2 days ago. It's a 10 minute brisk walk each way from my house to this field. We took some time to just relax here so she can look at the people. Puppy gets excited when joggers are near by, so I thought seeing masses of people practicing on sports teams can make jogging less exciting for her. She's looks so different in these pictures...kinda buttheaded, kinda silly, but much older. Her usual picture-taking pose is a sad, soulful look. My trainer says she knows how to play the game well to illicit sympathy, extra treats, and untimely petting. :D