Friday, February 28, 2014

Off to the races! Dog sled races.

Dog sled racing a fantastic winter dog sport.  

The fantastic view at the Soda Springs dog race.

Sleepy puppy after his run.

     I have really enjoyed getting to experience so much of dog sledding this winter.  We have gone to two races this year and get to attend a third this weekend. It has been a blast. I also have gotten to help with a dog sled team as they prepare to run in races. A few times during practice I have gotten to drive the team and it is such a rush. The dogs love to run and are so excited they just get you all excited along with them.

Husky peaking out the a dog box.
Izzy rocking the sled dog look

     This has been a great experience to get to learn from the mushers. I hope that next winter Sadie, Simon and I can try our hand at learning to skijor. Skijoring is similar to dog sledding only you are on cross country skis with the dogs connected to you via a lap belt. The benefit is you can do it with fewer dogs and less equipment. I am really looking forward to trying it out. Simon comes from a line of sled dogs his grandfather has championed at weight pull and his father was on a dog sled team so I hope he will enjoy it. I honestly don't know what Sadie will enjoy it we are going to need to to get her  coat that she can use while in a harness and some booties to protect her feet.

A fantastic dog box at the Ashton race.
Simon at the Ashton race on the dog truck like a sled dog.

     On the plus side you can skijor with one dog so if Sadie decides winter sports are not for her then Simon and I can still hit the trails. I really hope they enjoy skijoring it would be a great way to spend time with my dogs in the winter.

The dog team I help with.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Help my puppy is destroying everything! Some tips for puppy chewing.

 How to: Puppy chewing.

        Puppies are adventurous and want to explore everything. They explore the world with their mouths so it's natural for them to want to chew on things. It's difficult, if not almost impossible, to stop them chewing; so instead give them things that are designed for puppy teeth. Another good idea is to keep an assortment of toys, some dogs would rather have a rope to chew on whereas others would rather have a Nylabone or something harder. Simon is a fan of switching it up, so having a lot of options is good for him.

You can chew this.

   Puppies go through a teething phase where they chew because their teeth hurt. They need things to chew on to satisfy the teething urge. 

Or you can chew that.

  • Stuffed Kongs are a good way to get your puppy interested in chewing as well as a way to keep him occupied when you need him to have something productive to do. 
  • If you take a rope; get it damp and freeze it.  This gives the puppy something cold to chew on when they are teething, which many puppies really like.
  • Having a few chews in the rooms that you and your puppy hang out in gives them the chance to make a good choice of something to chew on when they get the urge

Kong recipes:

The Simple:  Just put some of the puppy's kibble in the Kong. This gets them interested in the Kong while making it easy enough to hold their interest in the beginning. I made the mistake with Simon of going too difficult too fast, and when he couldn't get the treats out easily he gave up. Start out simple get them excited for the Kong.

Two-Step:  Fill most of the Kong with kibble and then cover the top with peanut butter, yogurt, or pumpkin. Freeze for a few hours. It is still pretty easy for them to work through the top bit and get to their food, but now it has an extra treat and takes a little bit longer to get through.

A Fall Treat:  Combine equal parts yogurt and pumpkin, mix in some dog food and fill the Kong. Freeze over night. Now you have a treat that is tasty and a bit of a challenge to get through.

Heat It Up:  Take mostly kibble and a few bits of cheese and microwave as necessary to melt the cheese. Don't give to your dog until is has cooled down, so they wont burn their mouth.

Feel free to mix it up. Any healthy treat can make a great Kong stuffer. One word of caution at the end of the snack; pick it up and wash it out. You do not want to see what will happen to the bits left inside if you forget about them.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Valentines Day guest post.

           Happy Valentines Day from Playing with the Big Dogs!

               I spent the 14th and the 15th at a dog sled race in Ashton enjoying Idaho in the winter. We also used it as a way to get Simon out in a new situation meeting new people.  To celebrate the holiday I have a guest post written by the boyfriend as a class assignment. I really enjoyed it and I hope you  do too.

            You are the most incredible surprise in my life.  When you were first born I wasn’t in a place to take a dog.  Because I could not take you in, my brother found you a home with an owner who loved you.  Unfortunately, he had life catch up with him in a terrible way and you were returned to my brother.  He called me that afternoon and told me, not asked, to take you in.  After Lawst died, I had worried I would never love another dog again.  I worried that any other animal I brought into my life would be a pale shadow.
            I could not have imagined how wrong I was.
            I remember vividly the first day I brought you home.  You were so sweet when you came off the plane.  With your beautiful blue eyes and that loving temperament, even the airline workers had fallen in love with you.  I knew then, seeing you there, that you were something special.  The car ride was not the most favorable of conditions for us to really meet.  You had to be safe in the back, and had just been on what I am sure was the worst trip of your life.  The four hour drive home felt like an eternity.
            I knew you were ready to be home as soon as you came through the front door for the first time.  You happily explored the house, took stock of the toys and treats I had purchased for you, and became acquainted with your new yard.  To me, the most special moment of all was when you finally let the exhaustion catch up with you and curled up in my lap on the floor and fell asleep, your head resting across my leg.  It was at that moment that every previous fear I had passed and every worry and concern that I would always consider you second in my heart melted away.  That is the exact moment that you became my dog, and I became your boy.
            I love when you decide to cuddle up with me.  It always fills me with joy when you curl up against me in your own special way.  Too often you smother me, laying your entire head against my neck.  Regardless of how intrusive you decide to be, it is always touching to me that you want to be close.  These moments provide a constant reminder of how important I am to you.
            Because of you I have experienced the same joys and fears that any parent has for their child.  Even now, as I look at you lazily trying to take a nap, I cannot help but smile.  You mean the world to me.  You are beyond special, and my love for you is deeper than I ever thought I could feel again.  Thank you for everything, my wonderful little girl.
All the love I have and more,

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

How to potty train a puppy.

Let's tackle the big one: Potty training a puppy.

I feel like this is one of the most difficult things with training a puppy. It's difficult to take a puppy somewhere if your worried if he will go in someone's house. So what can you do?  Accidents are gross, messy, and avoidable. Some things to keep in mind.

The plastic thing in the background is a baby gate.
  • Have a good cleaner. I like to use Nature's Miracle, puppies really cue off of smell and having an enzymatic cleaner helps stops that.  Having a good cleaner really helps stop repeat accidents it also helps your house not suffer to badly or leave lingering reminders of puppy mistakes.
  • Take your puppy out often, if you are struggling I would suggest taking him our every hour. Now I was lucky and Simon slept through the night from day one, but some puppies have a hard time holding it for eight hours, so they might need a middle of the night break. 
  • Confinement. We keep Simon either in his crate, in an enclosed area like an x-pen, or in one room with the careful use of baby gates.
  • Go outside with him and reward heavily when he does go outside. Find what works with your dog. Simon figured out that going the bathroom outside got him a treat and is always super excited to go outside and go potty. He clearly does not yet get the don't go the bathroom in the house, but he loves to go the bathroom outside.
Simon say's "Mom I went potty where is my treat."

Another tip I would suggest is if you can't keep him contained having him on long leash. Simon is doing pretty well, but we don't trust him on his own so we are still keep a really close eye on him. He has really been progressing and I am so proud of him, but I also know he is just three months old and we have to keep it up because it could be a number of months before he is 100%.

Long leash on in the house.

Things to avoid:
  • Rubbing their nose in it. This doesn't help, and all it does it freak your puppy out.
  • Yelling at them after the fact. Dogs don't put together things they did in the past. So all you do is make them nervous around you.
  • Screaming at them if they go the bathroom in front of you. You can accidentally teach a puppy to be scared to go the bathroom in front of you and can make the puppy more difficult to potty train.