selfishness vs selflessness- is there a difference?

I recently posted a blog post about my scary experience in the water. I was asked the question, “Was your husband ok with your decision?” I sat with it a couple days and I couldn’t let it go. Was my husband ok with my decision to jump in the water and save Pax. At first I was extremely taken back and went all feminist rant in my head. I asked the woman what she meant by it…a mom of 4 kids and a dog shared with me how selfless it was to jump in the water and save my dog. Am I not getting something? Am I not understanding the gravity of my situation? Why does it feel like it was literally a no brainer to jump in and DO something. It’s confusing but it’s also eye opening. We all share different perspectives. I am grateful to that reader for speaking up and sharing hers. We live in a world today that a lot of people who weren’t sharing their truth before are coming forward. What a powerful place to be in, to actually be able to SHARE what’s on your mind. If only we could also live in a world that was receptive to our thoughts and feelings.  I decided to ask the woman more questions and appreciate where she came from. And no, I didn’t ask Jarrod and I still haven’t asked Jarrod how he felt about me making the decision. Did he feel that I was impulsive? Reckless? Did he feel burdened by the amount of caregiving that he would have to embark on for the days to come? We all live in our own worlds, own head, own lives…even when we share our life with another person we are still on our solo journey. What an interesting concept, to need to check in with a partner about a decision being made. Part of me feels that it’s ridiculous to ask someone else (my spouse) “is it ok to jump in the water to save Pax and even if I die or get injured is it ok with you?” and at the same time is it a selfish decision to do that? Then it makes me think about selfishness and selflessness. My action to the dog was selfless but was it selfish to not think of others in my life? 

 When you put a blog post out there and you write from your soul- you only think about your own story. I think that’s a good thing because if you were thinking about all 500+ people who I saw read it that day- I probably wouldn’t have had the guts to post it. Now that I’ve received an alternative question about my decision making it has made me think much deeper about how we are all different yet beautiful beings. My hope from posting this is to shed light on our perspectives. How we are all human and this makes us unique. We go through different life experiences all the way starting from our entrance here on earth. Why do we question other people’s stories? How come we battle one another in politics, ideas, and even one’s own personal experience? I realize that as this account grows more and more personalities fall into the mix. I realize that by putting myself out there I allow for more push back and alternative perspective to land in my lap. Now, those are NOT things that I can control. What I can control is my action. My action to everything. To jumping off a moving boat to save my dog, to responding to my husband when he asks me to pick up after myself in the house. My responses to situations are what define my life- not the actual event. The events will constantly happen but my responses will change based off my experience. Does that make sense? They play off one another. What I know about jumping off a moving boat is different than it was before because it had never happened before.  How have you handled critical events in your past? Looking back would you change how you reacted? What have you learned from your experiences that have now evolved your perspective. 

So in the end, is there a difference between selfishness and selflessness? Because if we make one decision it impacts something else. Are our so-called selfless actions truly selfish- even when they feel good and fill us up?

By the way- I spoke with Jarrod before posting this and he called me, “brave” and was “proud to have a wife that would have jumped in the water to save our dog”… still it was a great conversation piece and perspective to have gained!

I am so grateful for all of your responses and questions about my recovery! If you are currently or have in the past experienced trauma or crisis and need some support or resources please contact me at nikki@leaderofthepax.com.

The day that changed my life forever. #yakima67

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Yakima SixtySeven

Our story & dog boat safety

 It’s not easy to write this. I’ve tried 4 different times to write down the story and each time I get stuck at the same place. But last night, at 2am I was able to get it all out on paper.  So here it goes. My husband and I met on a Duffy electric boat, we got engaged on one, and we had one of the scariest experiences of our lives on one as well. On September 1st, 2018, we started out in Bay with another couple and all was well. As soon as we got on the boat I placed Pax’s life jacket on him and for some reason we decided to keep the leash on thinking that he probably wanted to go swimming but we had control of him… He decided to sit on the back area of the boat right behind Jarrod. About 5 minutes in the ride he slipped/ we think he jumped off the back right corner of the boat since he loves to swim. Jarrod said, “he’s in, babe he’s in” I jumped up and looked behind, Pax was on the corner of the boat paddling away with his life jacket keeping him afloat - this wouldn’t have been a problem except for the fact that his leash was caught and he was being pulled by the boat. Without thinking I dove straight in the water when I popped up I saw the boat was away from me and swam towards it. Jarrod was reaching down to grab the handle of Pax’s jacket and I was getting closer to the boat.

Once I was right behind the boat I kicked away as it was too close and they were able to grab Pax. My legs hit the boat propellers and I knew immediately something was wrong as it was a sharp immediate pain but also a state of calmness over my body. Fight or flight went into action and the adrenaline of everything just kicked in. I started to yell help, help me and my husband looked over at me like what? … I lifted my leg up out of the water and saw my skin flapped open on the top side of my foot. It looked different than other scratches and cuts I have had, I knew it was serious. My husband pulled me straight out from the water and that wasn’t easy. The length from water to the top of the boat was a large gap. They tied Pax’s leash around my right leg to create a truncate and called 911. The harbor police game and then the ambulance. We drove a million miles an hour to the hospital where I asked the EMT workers, “will I lose my leg?” …No response. I asked again and all I heard was the pain medicine they were administering and asking if I had any allergies. I sometimes wonder why ER people ask that because if you’ve never taken specific medication how are you supposed to know what you’re allergic to! Here’s to hoping! I don’t completely remember being pulled into the trauma center but was told we were heading there.  I learned that the difference between a trauma center and an emergency room is that is equipped to treat the highest risk injuries- think gunshot wounds, car accidents, major burns, boating accidents in this case. Trauma centers offer more extensive care than the ER. 

 I don’t remember being wheeled in but I do remember laying down staring at a bright white light with a million nurses and doctors zipping around my bed. The shock lasted for hours until I went into my first surgery. I ended up staying in the hospital for 10 days with 3 different surgeries. The surgeries consisted of sewing up some major lacerations on the right side and one laceration on the left ankle. The right leg had much more damage such as toe fractures & cutting the tendons that flex my toes and ankle. I sliced my right calf in half and have a total of 6 gashes between the two legs. They found a foreign object in my leg that wasn’t a boat propeller, maybe it was a fish – who knows? :)

Interestingly enough, when I was admitted into the trauma center on that fateful day I was given an alternative name by the team. They do this with all patients entering the wing as some patients come in unconscious or unable to speak or have any of their identifications. The name I was given was, Yakima Sixty-seven. When I googled what, it’s meaning was my mouth dropped wide open.

“You have a strong need for freedom - physical, mental and spiritual. You hate bondage in any form. You have love of beauty and philosophy, and you desire achievement. You are willing to take spiritual matters on faith instead of subjecting them to mental analysis. You are inventive, intuitive and extremely methodical. Since your will is so strong, you are hard to convince.” When I looked up the numbers 67 I found that 67 is described as a sign from angels which are here to help you realize your higher purpose in life!! Furthermore, in numerology the number 67 represents the idea of family first and keeping them secure.  

Ha! If you know me on a personal level this sounds quite fitting don’t ya think? In the end my accident resulted in 6 lacerations, 2 fractured toes, and 2 right foot tendons severed. I am off my right foot for 6 weeks and will wear a boot for 8-10 of those weeks. I’ve started physical therapy with going up and down my staircase and little walking but won’t really know the state of my functionality until later this year. 

It could have been so much worse. That same day, someone was rushed to the hospital to treat the same type of incident and they lost their life. Another young woman lost her entire leg. This is temporary & I know that. It’s SO fascinating how and when things like this happen in your life. What do they teach us? What do they result in being for us? I don’t know the outcome of this but I do know that it’s given me a lot of time to think about what I want out of life and who I am as a person. I use to (and still do) come down on myself so hard. Whether it was my body and weight or something about my career or that I wasn’t doing enough. Now, just doing one thing a day is something to be grateful for. I speak kindly to my legs and send positivy and kisses to them multiple times a day. What an adventure life puts us on. This has defiantly prepared me for more challenging experiences to come…I am ready for them.  

During this time, I’ve been able to truly focus on Pax’s instagram and Leader of the Pax. The stories that that people have shared and the well wishes I have received have been priceless. Gratitude for my life has been my motivator through the recovery process. The first thing people say to me when they learn about the injury is, “I’m so sorry you’re going through this and you’re just so strong- hang in there!” The funny thing is, I’m not sorry. I’m not sorry at all that this happened to me. The perspective I’ve gained is unlike any other.  Living in a hospital for going on 10 days is quite fascinating and you really learn a lot about yourself AND you have to let go of control. I’m so grateful for this experience no matter how painful it is because I’ve been able to see people, things, and my body at its most basic level. I’m a go go go person and FINALLY the universe said stop. So, while I was there I got to chat with my family and be present with them. I got to walk around the entire nurses’ station with the staff cheering me on and got to truly FEEL the accomplishment. I got to feel the swelling of my toes and the aftermath of walking. We go through life clicking likes and scrolling through pages without feeling each moment. The biggest lesson I’ve learned so far is to be vulnerable enough to *feel* the core of each experience in order to grow. I know much more than I did before this experience happened and I know that I will triumph forward. 

Hopefully, you will never have to go through what I have experienced but just in case, here are some boat safety tips I have put together:  

Dog Boat Safety Tips: 

  1. Plan on what you will do in case of an emergency - such as your dog going overboard. 

  2. Practice the plan… I know this sounds ridiculous but it’s super important to know a few options you could do. Of course, in the event of the accident, it’s not going to go totally to plan so at least talk with those you are on the boat with what you would do. Ex: if someone jumps in make sure the boat is off. 

  3. Craft a doggy first aid kit… any medications your dog is on, Dramamine in case of sea sickness (make sure to ask your vet!)

  4. Make sure your pup is in a life jacket- even great swimmers can easily drown in rough waters. I swear that having Pax in a life jacket helped him stay above water and paddle! Also, most dog life jackets have a handle which helps you grab the handle and pull them back to safety (that is how my husband got him out of the water) 

  5. Did you know dogs need sunscreen too? Look for a dog friendly brand. 

  6. Plenty of water- especially if they go swimming. Dogs can become dehydrated on a hot sunny boat. 

  7. I wish we had better commands for being on the boat so he was trained to stay out of the water while the boat was moving…things like “on boat” or “off boat” — make sure to brush up on your basic commands like sit, stay, lie down, and leave it. 

  8. If you own a boat or your renting, try a non-slip pad for the bottom of your boat and let your pup try it out

  9. Additionally, let your pup check out the boat before you leave the dock to get comfortable. 

  10. Dogs are naturally curious and if they are not secure they can fall in. I’ve researched mixed results about the leash. Some of the articles I’ve read say keep the dog secure with a leash without much give another say have the dog free so if they fall in at least they are away from the boat or propellers. I would check with your vet and do some research on what you feel you’re more comfortable with. I also think that the leash should be attached to the boat not in your hand- that is personal preference based off my experience. 

 

 

Links: 

https://www.chewy.com/petcentral/basic-boat-safety-tips-for-dogs/

https://www.sailmagazine.com/cruising/dog-boating-safety-tips

https://www.banfield.com/pet-healthcare/additional-resources/article-library/safety-tips/boating-with-your-pet

 

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REAL TALK – Your Friends Aren’t Into Your Dog

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It can be tough to have a dog and a social life. It can be even tougher when a friend isn't a dog person or struggles to understand your need to buy 1000 bandanas for your dog and make sure it only eats my ollie out of the fridge. There is NOTHING wrong with being a little pooch obsessed. People are obsessed with shoes, their children, home decor, watermelon, and exercise so who cares! Erin Marquez submitted a piece on how to find balance as a dog mom when you're friends aren't as obsessed with your dog as you are! Read below! 

 Submission by Erin Marquez - Mom of @zaratheminidoodle

Hi, hello, hey you! Does a (large) portion of your paycheck go toward making sure your fur baby has the tastiest, high-quality food? This season’s latest and greatest toys? A fancy little bandana or bowtie for every day of the week? Does your dog have their own Insta, with more followers than you do on your personal account? Do you alter your daily schedule to make sure they are happy, exhausted, and feel included? Cool, me too! Welcome to the “I’m obsessed with my dog” club, population: 99.9% of dog parents.

This is a great club to be a part of until it’s not, and it’s definitely not when your friends, family, and/or acquaintances aren’t as enthusiastic about your pup as you are. This could be for a variety of reasons: maybe they’re allergic; maybe they think dogs are perpetually dirty; maybe they just don’t like animals. The easy solution to this issue is to say “you don’t like my dog, I don’t like you” – but life isn’t easy. Human relationships are complicated, and as much as you might want to ignore or cut someone out for not liking your dog, it likely won’t be that simple. 

Having dealt with this issue on a few different occasions here are my tips for handling it like pro, if and/or when it happens to you: 

1. Recognize it.When my husband and I finally decided we were ready to bring our little pup home, we quickly realized not everyone in our life was as excited as we were. I find it common that a lot of pet parents are blind to this, which I can 110% understand – I mean, how can anyone NOT love a five pound ball of fluff with a pink little belly and poor balance?As hard as it may be to take a step back, I would urge to you pay close attention to a person’s mood, body language, and verbal cues when you bring your dog around and/or talk about them. Does the person seem disinterested? Annoyed? Maybe they try to change the subject all together or disengage? These are obvious signs that someone isn’t into your dog. If you can recognize this, you’re on the right track.

2.    Accept it.It’s taken me a long time to be ok with the fact that not everyone is going to like my dog. I might not be able to relate to or understand it completely, but I can radically accept it, and you can, too!It’s similar with humans: not everyone is going to like you and you’re probably not going to like everyone. This doesn’t diminish your value or worth. Sometimes you just don’t mesh – there’s no click or spark; you have nothingin common. I hope by this point in your life, you’ve realized it’s not the end of the world if you’re not liked by everyone you meet, and I promise it won’t be if someone doesn’t like your dog, either. 

3. Respect it.If you can accept it, you can, and should, respect it. If you know your friends or family aren’t quite on board with your dog, give them a break from him. I’m the first to admit I want to do everythingwith my dog, but I can also admit that I enjoy having a meal without having to share it or having a conversation with someone without worrying if my pup needs to go potty.Always be sure to ask before you assume your dog is invited to something, and try not to take offense when they’re not. Being a respectful dog owner makes you a good dog owner, and may even be the reason your dog-neutral or dog-disliking friends and family start to (eventually, hopefully) warm up to your pooch.

Bringing home a puppy can be one of the most challenging, yet rewarding things you do. Your dog can quickly become the center of your world and teach you a lot about yourself and others. The simple, albeit harsh, truth is that no matter how much you love your fur baby, not everyone is going to. Recognize it, accept it, and respect it. In the end, it just means more puppy snugs and kisses for you, right?

Hi, My name is leave it!

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Pax's middle name should be leave it or drop it or NO and  I've heard from so many other  puppy parents that they have the same challenges. I have also received many questions in relationship to puppy training which I am not adequate to answer since I am not trained in dog behavior....only human :)

I feel so fortunate to have connected with Nicole Parayano with PupScouts Dog Training to answer some of your most frequently asked questions! Now, there are MANY MANY MANY different types of dog training out there and some techniques work better for different dogs so just know that when working with your pup!

Here are Nicole's answers to your questions: 

1) Should my puppy go to dog training? Absolutely! There are so many options that you can look into! You may find a great trainer in your area that can give you awesome one-on-one guidance with you and your puppy, or you can enroll your dog in group training sessions which tend to be a great opportunity for your pups to socialize! Some families might choose to self-train, while others might opt for sending their pups off to a board and train program. Regardless of which way you go, training your pup is essential! A tired pup is a happy pup, and by training with your dog, you are stimulating their brain, and get them physically AND mentally tired! Training helps build a firm foundation and a positive relationship between you and your pup, and who doesn't want that?! By training basic obedience commands, socializing, exercising, and understanding your dog's needs, you will likely avoid problem behaviors that many families run into.

2) How young should i take them? Training begins the moment they come home. My beloved Cookie, who passed away last year, entered my life at 8 weeks old, and the moment I took her home, we worked on potty pad training and responding to her name. The very next day Cookie adjusted to wearing a collar. Little things that might seem meaningless all serve a purpose! Every interaction with family in the home was made a positive one. You might not know it, but your dog is watching you and they are learning that the things that they do cause you to react in a certain way. Puppies have a short attention span, so depending on their age, you're lucky if you can get 5 minutes in! Of course, when you get a new dog they have to adjust to their new life in their new home. After all, we've just flipped their lives upside down! They've been taken from their littermates and their momma, and now here they are, with new sights, new sounds, and new smells! Try not to overwhelm them and go at your own pup's pace :) It's never too late to start training with your pup, however, the earlier that you can start, the better!

3) How does training help? Training builds trust and it also creates mutual respect. Training is also a great solution for energetic dogs! You stimulate the brain and make them think. By using all that mental energy, they'll be pooped in no time! Training may also save your dog's life. For example, someone leaves the front door open, and Fido bolts out the door! A quick, "Fido, come!" would make him turn around and head safely into your arms. Another reason why training your dog helps is because fewer trained dogs end up in a shelter when families invest some time and effort every day to commit to training with their dog. 

4) Which parent is the alpha? Anyone can be a leader in your dog's eyes if you have a history of reinforcement with them. The respect is earned, not given and I don't believe that there has to be ONE leader. Your dog will interact and work with both parents, in their own way. However there might be times when you are both together, and Fido seems to gravitate toward mom more than dad. For example, Cookie, my previous pup was phenomenal with all of her basic obedience commands, her tricks, and her ability to distinguish a specific scent. She listened perfectly with me, and she also performed just as well with my partner. But put us both in the same room with her and she'd likely choose me (almost) every time. The respect is there, but because I spent the most time with her, fed her the most, trained with her the most, etc., I had a slightly stronger bond with her. If you want your pup to listen to you equally, then you both need to put the same amount of work and effort into training with your pup.   

5) How can i get my dog to listen to me? When your dog doesn't listen to you or your commands, it can definitely feel quite frustrating. What I find helpful is allowing my dog some exercise before training. If they've got pent up energy, how can they focus on you when all they want to do is GO, GO, GO? Allow them some time to release that energy and then work on training. It's also important that you remain consistent with training. Sit down with each member in your household to ensure that all the verbal commands, hand signals, rules, and boundaries are all the same among everyone. If one person lets Fido on the couch and you keep telling him to get off, he's receiving mixed signals! Another thing to keep in check is your energy. Dogs will listen to and respect someone who is calm and assertive. Dogs feed off your energy and your body language and if you are nervous, unsure, or angry, you're giving off the vibe that you aren't in control. Lastly, if your dog isn't listening to you, maybe it's because they don't actually understand what you're trying to relay to them, so go back to the basics and work on whatever it is that you're doing needs to work on. Training takes a lot of time, and hundreds of repetition and reinforcement for the dog to perform the way you want them to. 

6) My dog pulls on their leash, how can I get my pup to stop!? This can depend on how old your dog is. As a puppy, it's normal for the dogs to pull back and "halt". Puppies are likely to refuse to move forward, chew on the leash, pancake to the floor, or pull back because wearing a collar and a leash is totally foreign to them. However, if your dog is older, they're likely pulling, instead of anchoring themselves to the ground. When walking with your dog, sometimes a quick "U-turn" helps. A "U-turn" is when you're walking forward, notice them pulling, and you quickly walk in the opposite direction. This requires a lot of patience, time, and treats. I always carry treats on me, and you can also try a luring method. What you can do is take a treat, keep it close to your dog's nose, and begin walking with them. When they are at a pace and placement that you like, you can release the treat to your dog, followed by verbal praise, and the command that you choose to call it ie: "heel". Begin walking forward again with another treat luring your dog to match your pace and stay in a position that you approve, and then release the treat! In order to have a harmonious walk, you need to practice, practice, practice! Some trainers find that standing still until the leash relaxes works, and that is definitely something that you can try doing as well.  Reward FREQUENTLY, walk ROUTINELY and remember to keep your energy in check. The more frustrated you are with the situation, the less likely your dog will want to focus on learning with you. I like to practice leash walking skills in the home first, so your dog is free of any distractions, and then you can eventually begin the same practice outside. 

7) How much food should I reward my dog with? It depends on your dog's age. If you are using treats to reward your dog, good for you! But make sure that you are using low-calorie training treats that are small and chewy because with training and treat rewards, you're likely going to be giving them a ton of treats! Bigger treats that take time to chew on take time away from training because you're spending several seconds waiting for your dog to finish just that first treat! Some younger pups can use their kibble for training in the beginning. You can use their whole cup of breakfast/dinner, or half of their breakfast/dinner for training if you feel so inclined. Keep in mind though, that you want to gradually wean off treat rewards. Once your dog has mastered the given verbal command and/or hand signal, you can replace a treat with a pet on the head, a belly rub, verbal praise, etc. But the goal is to eventually remove treats from the equation. If your dog is given treats every time for the same command, they will likely lose interest and no longer perform the command as consistently if you stop the treats cold turkey.

8) My dog has a social anxiety problem, how can I help him? It's so important to socialize your puppy at a young age to avoid having social anxiety. However if it seems like your dog already is socially anxious, you should start slow with public interactions. See what exactly makes your dog anxious or fearful; is it another dog? A specific person or type of person? Is it the sounds of cars passing by? Figure out what exactly makes your dog anxious and work your way toward desensitizing and normalizing those things to your dog. Desensitizing your fearful or anxious dog requires a lot of time, patience, and positivity! Take it slow. It's important that you don't cuddle them or try to comfort them when they are in their fearful mode, as this reinforces the scared behavior and teaches the dog that it's okay to be afraid because they will be rewarded with hugs. Make every outing fun. The process of socializing your dog and desensitizing your dog can vary depends on how badly they react to whatever it is that is scaring them.

9) Every time I leave my pup at home they are crying for me.  Sounds like your pup is anxious! Or bored. Your dog probably isn't used to being along or having their own separate downtime, away from you. This could be a small form of separation anxiety, and it's definitely something that you want to take care of ASAP. First and foremost, I like to use a crate for my dogs while I'm away. I can leave my dogs in their crates for short amounts of time with a toy and that way they aren't having any accidents while I'm away or destroying everything around them in a panic frenzy. Whenever your dog is crying, whatever you do... DO NOT give in and return to your dog. This will teach your dog that if they cry, mom or dad will always come back, and this allows them to control the relationship. You need to desensitize your dog to you leaving them alone. Start small and give them short amounts of downtime to themselves while you're home. Leave them alone and stay just outside the door, quietly. Eventually, distance yourself further and further, and increase the length of time in which you are away from your dog. When they're quiet, you can come back to them and calmly let them out (feel free to give them a treat too!). But you just don't want to let them out until they are quiet. It's also helpful if you leave them after they've exhausted their energy! A good way to exercise them is taking them out for a walk before leaving, having some playtime, etc. It's best not to leave your dog home alone or away from you while their energy is off the charts! Leave them when they are calm, do not make a big deal out of you leaving or coming home, and set a daily routine! I like to calmly acknowledge my dogs after about 5 minutes of coming home when they're also calm(er). Another thing you can try doing is leaving them alone with a puzzle toy or Kong toy stuffed with PB! Give them something tasty to focus on instead of you leaving. 

10) To crate train or not to crate train? I love crate training. A crate or kennel serves many purposes! If you haven't been reading this in order, I've mentioned the positives of using a crate quite a few times :) Just a few of the positives about crate training: - It's the quickest way to potty train! - Provides a safe space for your pup and keeps them from getting into anything harmful while you're away. - Creates a den and their own "safe space".

11) How to stop puppy nipping and redirect?  As a puppy, it's completely natural for them to want to chew on things. They are exploring the world around them and are unaware that their teeth are razor sharp. Your puppy also doesn't realize how much is too much when using their mouth. There are a few things you can try doing. 1) I like to yelp really loudly or loudly say, "OW!!!" and ignore my dog for several seconds after they've chomped a little too hard. Gradually by continuously "removing" playtime and yelping loudly, your dog will learn that biting too hard takes away the fun time. 2) When your pup bites too hard, yelp loudly, wait until they've stopped, and then try giving them a treat that they CAN chew on in place of your hands. 3) Keep tons of great chewing toys available for your dog to play with and chew on. Some toys are interactive and are only fun to your dog when you're playing with them, so if they go for your hands, immediately redirect them to chewing on the toy instead! Remember, your puppy is probably teething right now and needs lots of things to chew on. They will soon begin losing their teeth and it's not very comfortable for them. As they lose their teeth, you can also try soothing them by giving them frozen or cold toys to chew on, it helps with numbing their gums a bit. Eventually, their razor little teeth will turn into adult teeth.

12) How do I know what aggressive play is between puppies? Dogs use signals to communicate with one another. You can tell a dog is trying to play when they "play bow". A "play bow" looks like your dog's rear end is up in the air while his front half is down. This is displayed just before a dog begins to play with another dog. Another way you can tell that a dog is playing is when your dog looks like they're panting, but their mouths are open wider than normal; you can just see in their faces that they are happy, bouncing around, and having fun. I recommend you look into pictures and videos of what aggressive and play body language truly look like to get a sense of what your dog is trying to communicate with the other dog. If things begin to get too heated, separate the two dogs for "time out" several minutes before beginning to play again. This will take time, but eventually, the "aggressor" will learn that this behavior takes away the reward (playing) and they will learn not to behave that way. Keep an eye on the pups, notice the signs, and interrupt their playtime before it gets too crazy. Playing with other dogs is healthy and a great way to not only burn off extra energy, but it's also a fun way to socialize.

13) How much exercise does my dog need? The amount of exercise your dog needs is dependent on 1) the breed type 2) their size 3) their age 4) their health. For example, a Yorkie will not need as much exercise as a German Shepherd. A 12-year-old dog will not require as much exercise as a 6-month-old puppy. While most families simply take their dogs out for walks or to play fetch, there are various ways to exercise your pup! - Training and having them work for treats (Remember that training and teaching your dog new tasks or commands, or simply reinforcing old ones helps to exercise the brain!) -Setting up small (or large) obstacle courses - Scenting/tracking and using their noses and brains - If you have multiple dogs, let them play together and tucker themselves out. Figure out what works best for your dog :) 

14) How to stop digging holes? Digging is a natural behavior in dogs. Your dog could be digging for various reasons: - They're bored and they find that digging at the moment relieves them of their boredom 2) They're trying to escape (anxiety due to separation, something that is scaring them such as thunderstorms, etc) -They smell something or hear something that is enticing to them in the ground 3) They are digging to create a hole to cool down in and escape the heat 4) They're trying to hide their toys/treats. So if you're trying to stop your dog from digging holes in your backyard, you need to figure out the "why". Why are they doing it? And go from there. If they are chewing to get away from the heat, provide them some more shade in the backyard or somewhere to cool down or bring them in.. If they are digging due to boredom, give them toys that they can play with. If they are digging because they're afraid of a thunderstorm, bring them in. If they are digging because of a smell or something in the ground, get rid of rodents that are enticing them and look into finding some sort of digging deterrent. -Make sure they get enough exercise before leaving them out by themselves as well. If you catch them in the act, stop them as they're doing it with a loud "UH UH!!" or whatever "negative" marker word you have for your dog. 

15) Does my dog know how to swim? A dog will naturally begin "doggy paddling" when they're in the water, but that doesn't mean they're capable of actually staying afloat. Some dogs might even be quite fearful of water! You can deduce what the case may be for your pup, but I highly recommend purchasing a floaty vest for your pooch to wear when in the pool regardless! Better safe than sorry!

Nicole is a professional dog trainer in Las Vegas, Nevada. She has been training for several years and has excellent reviews from her clients. For more information about her training services please check out @PupScoutsDogTraining  and at https://m.facebook.com/PupScoutsDogTraining/?ref=page_internal

 

Can I bring my dog?

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I get this question multiple times a day when I post about taking Pax to different places. So how do I know where to bring him and where I can’t? First off, I just take him. If I’m not allowed in the store, it’s probably better for my bank account and respect the wishes of the store no problem. I’ve been bringing Pax to various locations since he was 8 weeks old and attached to my hip in his sling. To me this was an essential part of his development because he was socialized with sounds, smells, small children, the elderly, men, women, other dogs, birds, cats, and most importantly Nordstrom’s- duh. Now here’s the thing, when your male pup is going through its puberty stage it might want to mark a lot of , so it’s probably not the best time to take your puppy to Bloomingdales. Also- self-check time; is your dog polite in public? Is it well trained to not bark, bite, jump, or run from you? Think about how hard that will be on YOU to take your pup with you. Although, it seems like the best fantasy of having your furry bestie with you while at ALDO looking at shoes… it’s A LOT. You guys, dogs don’t speak English (WAH!!), and they have leaf ADD where they see one flying by and they are distracted immediately! One time Pax was so over shopping at Forever21 he saw a bird outside, somehow wiggled the leash out of my hands (that were full of clothing), ran out the door, I followed him with ALL THE CLOTHES and the alarms went bonkers!! I dropped all the clothes on the ground, chased my dog, and had to come back in and tell them I wasn’t stealing anything and my dog just felt I didn’t need to tell me I didn’t need another romper. Have you ever been in a store and your dog had to poop in an aisle? Can you imagine being in IKEA lost in the maze of kitchen sets looking for a poop bag? Truly, truly, truly ask yourself, is this worth it? It can be exhausting to bring Pax out sometimes. Sometimes I feel like I’m more on guard than when he’s not there, and I’m checking the video feed every 5 minutes. Luckily, Pax is very well behaved. He sleeps under my desk at work, lays down while I’m getting my hair done at my salon, and stays right by me in the store. This took training, dedication, and trust between us! Look into a local trainer to get some tips about choosing to take your pup in public places! 

Also, before you head out, google the stores or even call and ask can I bring my dog? Every store, city, state will have their own rules that regard dogs in the store. Additionally, many stores leave it up to the manager to decide to allow dogs or not. Some restaurants will be ok with it as long as you are sitting outside and some places will have a dog-friendly menu! It will ultimately depend on the owner and rules of that specific place. San Diego is exceptionally dog-friendly; we are fortunate. At one of the most beautiful malls in the region, they have dog water bowls outside almost every store. Restaurants have dog-friendly menus; you can bring your dog to many different bars and even take them to the movies! So you’ve thought about it, and your pup is well behaved, doesn’t need to pee on everything, and you want to go to the mall… 

Here are some ways you can find out about dog-friendly places in your area: 

1.     Bring Fido- this app tells you local spaces and places that allow dogs
2.    Google – this platform can tell you just about everything about everything

Here are some US National dog-friendly places (again, these may differ in your local area!)


1.  Nordstrom
2. Home Goods
3. TJ Maxx
4. Lowe’s (Depends) 
5. Home Depot
6. Forever 21
7.  Pottery Barn
8.  Macy’s
9.  Bass Pro Shops
10. Barnes and Noble
11.  LUSH Cosmetics
12. H & M
13. Anthropologie
14. Gap
15. Party City
16. Bloomingdales
17.  Urban Outfitters
18.  Free People
19.  Petco
20. Petsmart
21.  Tuesday Morning
22.  Hobby Lobby
23.  Ross
24.  Bed, Bath, & Beyond
25.  Footlocker
26.  Sephora
27.  Ann Taylor/Ann Taylor Loft
28.  Tiffany & Co. 
29.  Bath & Body Works
30.  Hallmark
31.   Bebe
32.  Old Navy
33.  The Apple Store
34.  Warby Parker
35.  Saks Fifth Avenue
36.  Tractor Supply Co. 
37.   Some IKEAs
38.  CVS

Do you have any to add to this list?! Write in the comments if you know of additional places! 

References:   Bark Post- Dog Friendly Stores

 

Roadtrippin' with Brittany & Layla!

Recently, I went to Italy and wasn't able to bring Pax with me. The worst. Most of you know already what happened during Pax's rover stay and it got me thinking about how cool it would be to take Pax on vacation so I could 1) never worry 2) be a complete control freak 3) watch him see things for the first time 4) Bring more smiles and belly rubs to him!  Good reasons right? We do have some trips coming up and we plan on taking him. Luckily, this community is so global and incredible he will have playmates all over the country as we explore around. SO HOOMANS make sure you holler at me once I let you know our upcoming destinations! 

Puppy mama, Brittany, must have been on the same wave length as I have been because she emailed me about her upcoming road trip with her pup Layla. She has FANTASTIC tips on how to prepare for a journey like this with your pup and I'm so excited for you all to read about it. Make sure you follow their journey when they hit the road on June 30th-July 8th by following Layla's instagram @layla.doodlebug for pics and videos! Brittany is also looking for dog friendly recommendations in Nashville and Atlanta so if you have any make sure you DM her!

Here is Brittany & Layla's Story (including awesome tips!)

This is my 10 month old doodle, Layla Bug. From day one I have taken her with me as often as I could whenever I went to dog-friendly places. We started training rather early and will have 25 weeks of classes under our belt by the end of summer. Layla is a great dog, don’t get me wrong, but I never want people to get the impression that she was just “naturally” social, obedient and a good car rider. I’ve raised her that way! I exposed her to a lot of car rides, smells, sounds and people as often as I could. 

I’ve been taking Layla to the dog park and working with her in training with hopes to be able to trust her in any setting and be confident in her obedience. We have finally gotten to a place where I know for certain that she will listen and I don’t have to worry about her putting us or others in danger due to lack of obedience. 

With all of that, I’m planning a road trip! Just Layla and myself. We live in St. Louis and our last stop is Atlanta. We are making stops to hike and stay in Nashville. It’s been so cool to see more and more places accommodate our pups! As I’m sure you can imagine, this takes a little bit of extra planning. On a regular road trip, you get hungry and you stop. With a dog, you have to consider them too! It’s never okay to leave her in the car alone and another advantage of stopping (for me, anyway) is to take a break and stretch my legs. Our pooches need that too! I’ve been tracking the route I’ll likely take so that I can plan those stops with dog-friendly places. I also know myself, I don’t want a super specific plan. So instead of having a super specific route, I’m just going to have a few options for stops. That way we can stop when we need it. 

Layla and I have traveled a lot together but this will be our biggest adventure to date! So I’ve listed a few tips that have helped us be a great travel team. Note that each dog has their own needs and personality—not everything will work for you. And you may have tips that don’t work for us. And that’s cool! 

  • Tip 1: know your pup! If they are super unpredictable, it may be good to wait a little longer for an extended trip. For me, I want to know that she will be good in the car and good out in public. This means no jumping and minimal barking.

  • Tip 2: start small! We’ve done a handful of just hour long trips. My mom lives about a half hour away, so that helped us build up to an hour. If I’m running errands, I try to go to dog friendly places so that she can come with me...even if it means an extra trip. I’ll go get groceries, come home and then grab Layla to go get dog food at Petsmart.

  • Tip 3: go to a training class! And it’s not necessarily because your dog doesn’t know “sit” and “down”. It’s actually a great way to socialize your pup with all types of dogs and people under a watchful professional. That can build more confidence for those times you are eating out on the patio next to other people and dogs that walk by.

  • Tip 4: pack accordingly! Just like a kid, your dog needs special things packed too. Toys, bowls, water (and lots of it!), leash, poop bags, any harness that helps, treats etc. I plan to pack food only for the days that we are on the road. I know we can buy food when we get there and that’s one less thing taking up room in my car. I’d also add wet wipes for potential muddy paws.

  • Tip 5: be flexible! Don’t make a plan that doesn’t leave room for flexibility. There may be more or less stops than expected. You may find a city or park you and your pal really like and decide to stay longer.

I’m excited to see how this trip goes. I’m sure I’ll learn more things along the way and I’m sure I’ll have a few plans that fall through. And I’m fine with that. If all goes well, road trips may be a more frequent thing for us! 

<3 

Make sure to follow Layla's journey! One thing I would add to your upcoming journey humans is to do your homework! Reach out to your Instagram community in different cities and ask about dog friendly places so you have ideas on where to go! If you don't have it already "Bring Fido" app talks about dog friendly places around the country! 

Do you have travel tips that you would like to share! Make sure you join the tribe and send in your story!! 

When Rover Goes Wrong. A Dog Mom’s Truth.

Getting a text message from your rover sitter at 4am that your dog is pooping on the carpet, stealing food from the other small well behaved pup, and running around like a banshee is kinda comical slash a complete SH*T moment. It is so hard being in another country on a different time zone and praying your dog is being the perfect angel you claim he is! Basically, Pax is pushing all the boundaries and likes to be the boss. He’s not alpha but he sure does like attention. He’s not taking no for answer and decides if he doesn’t get what he wants he poops on the rug. #SMH....Their dog is 7 years old and the size of Pax’s face- ehhh probably not the best match. Pax keeps trying to play and the dog is just not into it...He even snaps at Pax to get him to go away. I know this is the truth because our 8 year old family dog does the same thing to him.

So how do I stay semi calm while my dog is at home running a muck. First is to not freak. Recognize there is not much I can do and be ok with not being in control. Looking at what I can control is step one. The next step is to not take it out on the rover sitter and think it’s her fault. Through instagram Pax looks perfect but I hate to break it to you...Pax isn’t perfect. SHOCKER! So, I called the babysitter, and was a complete betch to start with because I want to instantly blame someone else for the fact that he’s going bonkers and after hearing her voice and how sweet, kind, compassionate she is about the entire situation it instantly shot me back into reality. Man, It’s gotta be really hard for her to tell me things are not going well while we are abroad and she’s worried about her dog and pax getting along. 

I wonder what it’s like to be a dog in a new space. Does it feel like you’ve been abandoned so you poop on the rug? Do you feel constant anxiety waiting for your parents come back? If there is another dog do you have to become the alpha to let them know who’s boss but it’s really just due to your anxiety? 

As a dog Mom it’s challenging not knowing what he is thinking or feeling. I also wonder if I think too deep into all this and need to recognize that he’s a pup NOT a human haha. Being a psychologist I am fascinated by human behavior and in this case, dog emotion and behavior. It’s such a blessing to be tuned into these things...anddddd it’s a curse to be so tuned in as well.

Thank goodness for the dog Mom community- I am grateful. I am grateful for those who can relate, offer advice, laugh it off with me. I am grateful for the other dog mom’s, like my friend, Raechel, who went to pick him up and is with him now. 

Learning lesson here: When you interview dog babysitters- make sure that you are HONEST about your dog. Make sure that their dog and your dog are compatible. Make sure that you explain the needs of you dog clearly. Example: a walk around the block might tucker out one dog where another dog needs to scale a mountain. Most importantly you need to self-check and own your dog’s faults, be authentic, and over communicate your needs. 

That’s all for now... the truth is out there! 

Nikki

Going on vacation without your fur child? Check out these tips!

Leaving your furball for the first time, second time, or thirteenth time never gets easier. Whether you are leaving for a couple hours or several weeks it never feels good to know your pup is at home away from you. It’s challenging to head off to your vacation knowing that you’re pup will be in the hands of someone else. We all have a special way of taking care of our special family members. I spend more time with Pax than anyone else and understand his mannerisms, when he needs to be brushed, how to calm him down, when he’s hungry, and when it’s time to go potty . Leaving him is extremely uncomfortable for me for many reasons. First, I feel a lot of guilt. I feel that I shouldn’t be leaving him and that concerns me for when I become a human mom because I know how important it is for me to do my own thing. I think the other challenging thing is that Pax doesn’t speak English so he doesn’t understand when I say I’ll be back buddy. Next, I worry that someone else is not going to treat him like I would. 

We have used rover 3 different times. The first time we used rover we had a terrible experience with the couple watching him.  So, how did we make sure that didn’t happen again? We have interviewed about 20 people since that time. People often ask me if they can help out or watch him but we like paying for a service for those who work from home or that this is their full time work. I want Pax to be their main priority. I am an over communicator and as you know I love photos. The next two people we have used on rover have been fantastic. Sending multiple photos every couple hours, constantly checking in and putting me at ease. They have brushed him out knowing the importance for keeping his fur untangled, giving him kisses and belly rubs, listening to all of my instructions and asking more questions if they are confused. These are SO appreciated by a traveling mama. 

So, I bet you’re wondering what you need to do to prepare in leaving so here are some tips to check out before you leave your fur baby for vacation: 

  1. Figure out if you want a family member, friend, or service to watch your pup.

  2. If you have a family or friend - talk with them about payment and their schedule up front.

  3. Recognize you’re expectations about dog sitting and what you truly need from someone.

  4. If you’re going outside of family or friends- interview multiple people or canine services.

    1. Questions to ask:

      1. How long have you been doing this?

      2. How do you discipline dogs?

      3. What is the dog pees in the house?

      4. Do you have a dog?

      5. How many dogs do you watch at time?

      6. What type of exercise/activities do you do?

      7. What is your typical schedule when you are watching dogs?

      8. What do you do with the dogs if you need to leave the house?

      9. Where will my dog sleep?

      10. What information do you need from me?

  5. Write down all parts of your dog’s schedule including the food they eat and how much.

    1. What to write:

      1. Your name, phone number to reach you at, vet contact information

      2. Emergency contact information, any dietary restrictions or allergies

      3. What to feed your pup and how much/times of day

      4. What type of exercise your baby needs and how much

      5. Sleeping habits

      6. Bathroom habits

      7. Bathing needs/grooming needs

  6. Set up an interview - bring your pup to meet all the people you are interviewing. Watch the interaction both between you and the potential sitter and your pup and the sitter.

  7. Trust your intuition and never be uncomfortable to ask for what you need and what your expectations of the individual or service. Remember it is always better to be transparent and upfront in the beginning rather than be reactive later on.

Additional questions? Email me!

xoxo 

nikki

Puppy pals!

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Watching your pup play with another pup is a proud parent moment. The first place to learn about compatible playmates is at puppy kindergarten. When you take your puppy to a safe place like that, you learn about what is aggressive play and what is just playful roughhousing. This is very important for when you take your pup out to the dog park or in real life experiences because then you know how to react when it’s happening. Once he felt comfortable playing in settings like kindergarten (took a few weeks for him to settle in completely) he started playing with lots of puppies both his size and a little smaller. It was apparent who was a good fit for him because he didn’t want to stop playing around. His tail would be wagging, and they would take breaks when they needed to. Many parents get nervous when dogs are vocal (barking, whining, making sounds) while they are playing and the majority of the time this is nothing to worry about. Pax does not bark unless he’s amped up or a little frustrated! It is also important to interact with the owner. If an owner is not paying attention to their dog or doesn’t seem to care what their dog does really and that is opposite of you the match might not be as good as you’d hope. Dogs take after their owner’s personality, demeanor, and emotions so if you are a chill, go with the flow, and patient owner your dog will respond very much in those ways as well. Puppies play great together especially if they are of similar age. It is fascinating to watch nonverbal communication between two dogs because they instantly know if they want to play together or not. Puppies can smell each other out from a mile away! They play almost the same and can typically be a great match as older dogs may be annoyed with the puppy energy and playfulness. However, older and more prominent dogs may also be compatible matches for your dog. Just notice how they interact, is the bigger dog laying on it’s back letting your pup jump all over him? Is the other dog wagging its tail and posing in a down dog fashion? Those movements are signs that the dog wants to play and does not view the other dog as a threat. 

Building your tribe!

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When you go to the park and all you wanna do is take cute pics of your pup, it helps to have someone who just gets you. Dog mom's just understand when you are making silly noises, waving toys above your head, teasing your pup with treats in order for them to smile and look at the camera. These people are called your tribe, your squad, your betches, your pod, your crew. I've had the pleasure of meeting more people especially women over the past 6 months than I have in the 5 years I have lived in San Diego. Having a dog is like being in college and you have automatic friends. I have had the fortune to connect with women around the world through instagram and here locally in San Diego. To get more involved with doodle pods on instagram start an engagement group! Find other pups that you feel you relate to (by their content, pics, breed, etc) and send a direct message! Ask them if they would want to join an engagement group...what is an engagement group? These groups can consist of 16 people max and the common goal of the group is to comment and like in order to gain more following on one's instagram page. Instagram works off an algorithm that is based on engagement...so the more activity on your post, the more your picture will be seen. So once you've reached out to as many other accounts as you like (0-16) set some ground rules. Some groups will be more loose with no deadline on needing to like and comment or others will say must comment and like within 24-48 hours, etc. Each group can come up with their own rules! Hopefully, the group will become more than just an engagement pod. Use it to ask questions, lean on your peers, get advice about posts, etc. 

Building a squad outside of the internet takes effort! But you gotta dog so you have to put the effort in anyways. Join local and national doodle (or your breed) Facebook groups. They should have dates of doodle romps or dog play dates. Exchange numbers, set up playdates, and push yourself out of your comfort zone. We take Pax to a local park every single day. The same people are there and our conversations started with hey how are ya what's your dog's name to what's your number let's grab a glass of rose! It's so easy to make friends with other dog parents because they care about their pup's well being just as much as you do about yours! Break the ice, ask a question about their pup (people love to talk about themselves!) and start to build a conversation. Here are some ice breaker tips: 

  • Oh you're pup is so cute, what is his or her name?

  • Hey I feel like I've seen you here before and no this is not a pick up line :)

  • Our dogs play so well together how old are they?

  • What kind of dog do you have?

  • Bring up something you are struggling with and ask another parent if they have ever experienced the same.

  • Ask about dog friendly bars/restaurants in the area and if they have any recommendations.

Check out the following:

  • Meetup.com

  • Petco (They have open puppy classes on the weekend)

  • Facebook groups (local and national doodle or your breed groups)

Remember building relationships take time and connecting to people who are in the same place in life as you are and that you can relate to is very valuable!