BarkBox – November 2013

So Ranger got his first Barkbox delivery last week and I think I was more excited than he was. Well, he did come to the door with me every day to check the mail.

Barkbox is the monthly subscription that we get in the hopes it will curtail the amount of frivolous doggy spending I do each month. I haven’t bought a new pair of pants in months, but the amount of dog toys that have appeared in the six months we’ve had Ranger would boggle your mind.

You can sign up by the month, 3 month, or 6 month package. Obviously the more you get, the cheaper each month. I did the six month package and remember that they renew automatically. Plus, each month there are different codes you can put in to get a cheaper deal.

This month use code BBSTAFF9BXC9 to get $12 off a 6-month subscription. That’s only $17.00 per month!! Just go to http://www.barkbox.com 

The goodies:

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Item: Bocce’s Bakery Truffle Mac and Cheese (value: $9.50)

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These treats smelled delicious when I opened them and I love the fact there are only 4 ingredients. How cool is that? I don’t even cook with truffle oil *grumble* Ranger and Poppy (it arrived on doggy date day) both ate them without complaint, but Poppy actually followed me around looking for more.

Secret? I snapped off a piece to try too. They were sort of like wheat thins with a cheesy undertone. Not too bad, but a little dry for my taste.

Definitely a treat I would feed them again.

Item 2: Twistix Vanilla Mint Flavour Dental Chews (value $7.50)

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Ranger has great teeth, but his breath can be a little doggy. When I opened the package it smelled like the dentist. Both Ranger and Poppy took one each and settled in to chew. It took them both much longer than most chewable dental sticks and afterwards I let Ranger lick my face (which NEVER happens, I know what he does with that mouth) and it was a pleasant minty scent. Definitely favourite dental chew I have tried.

Item 3: Nootie Yumzies Duck Jerky Chews (value: $15.50)

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These chews are made from American sourced duck and contain no wheat, corn, or soy. They are soft enough to divide into different sizes (they split easily into three and can be broken down from there). Both dogs ate their trial piece, but neither were crazy interested. Slim the cat really liked them though and kept trying to get another piece.

Item 4: Baker’s Best Autumn Harvest Goat Liver Recipe Dog Treats (unknown value)

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These treats seem to be made from simply ingredients and are produced by Feelgood Treats Company in Delta, BC (Buy Canadian!) They are hard, but thin enough to snap into smaller pieces. Ranger and Poppy both took them willingly and crunched them up.

Item 5: PetSafe Pogo Plush Dog Toy (value: $12.50)

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Ranger hasn’t been able to try this out yet as it is being saved for Christmas. This toy is neat because it contains no stuffing with free floating squeaker. The ‘frame’ of the toy has a bounce to it that allows for give while chewing. I think he’ll really like this toy, but with a more destructive dog I would be concerned for the arms.

Approximate total value: $45.00 plus Baker’s Best treats.

This was our first try at Barkbox and we were VERY happy with what came. All of the treats seemed well made and well received. I had been putting off getting treats for a week waiting so the fact it was mostly treats was great for us this month.

Now the waiting begins all over again!

Epilogue: Apparently Ranger thought this month’s barkbox was too good to ration. Our usually well behaved dog that wouldn’t touch a bowl of chips left on the table decided to devour EVERY bag of treats that were in the box. Luckily I had given some of each to my brother and had left the Baker’s Best on the counter; otherwise I can’t imagine how he would have felt.

Of course, Ranger didn’t even get a tummy ache and all that remained was a smug look of self satisfaction.

I’ll know for next month.

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Intro to Mushing clinic

Today Ranger and I (followed by a couple of friends who seem to like coming to these sort of things….for comedic value I believe) headed out to the clinic we’ve been waiting for, Intro to Mushing. 

The clinic was put on by the local mushing club in the area. The club is simply a group of like minded individuals who enjoy dog powered sports; especially dog sledding. Today’s class was the intro so you could get a grasp on the basics of what it is, and what you do. 

Ranger did really well surrounded by all the dogs and did try to play with a few of them. The noise was outrageous in the arena as I’m sure you could imagine with 20 dogs most of which there is no denying their northern dog breed heritage. I kept him quiet when they were talking/explaining, but they actually encourage the barking, whining, and excitement as that is what they are looking to channel into pulling. 

Ranger didn’t mind his harness at all and when he was hooked up to the scooter for a little pull (while being led by one of the members since there was no way I could handle anywhere near the speed he wanted) he did well. The way out involved some weird bunny hopping type jumps, but he pulled very straight back toward me. 

At the end they brought in their established dog pack which are used on the sled while teaching the newbie dogs how to be part of a team. When Ranger was introduced to the two lead dogs they got along really well. Ranger was his usual rambunctious self (which I deem rude), but as the guy said “huskies only know how to play hard” and they behaved well. They got along so well that when we go out in a couple months’ time, he is going to hook Ranger up with her for a little spin and see how he does. 

We’re home and Ranger is knackered. He ate his meal and crashed hard on the kitchen dog bed. I guess all that barking and excitement wore him right out. 

Today we got his new harness too 🙂 YAY, I am so excited about it. I’ll post a picture later on once he’s up…this was a big day. 

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Progress in Reverse…and other steps

This week I have been working on moving through our goals for backing up. We’ve had a couple short sessions and I’m pleased with how he is doing. We have been able to combine it with a the word “back” to receive up to three steps at a time before clicking and rewarding. 

We have been using the hallway to practice since it is a narrower spot than anywhere in the house, but it doesn’t move into open spaces yet. He tends to want to spin or turn around instead of backing when the space is available….means we have more work ahead!

Note: Have been using the treats to transport him from the back position up to near me again for the next command. It really seems to help since his mind is either thinking “back” or “treat” with no forward noticed motion between commands. 

Goals for BACK:

  • Have Ranger produce set of three steps with reward after each
  • Have Ranger produce set of three steps with reward after full set
  • Have Ranger produce set of three steps to voice command 
  • Have Ranger produce set of three steps, different command such as spin, produce additional set of three steps.
  • *new* Have Ranger perform the command in a wider space.
  • *new* Have Ranger perform command with increased DDD (distance, distraction, duration). 

This week Ranger had Poppy come over for a day of play, and we popped back to Sandy Beach Park for a run yesterday. He didn’t zoom around as much as usual, but there were three of us there and his attention had to be split. 

Since I switched his food to the grain containing Kirkland brand (don’t worry, there is no corn or wheat…yuck) from the grain-free I have seen a big difference in his coat. It is much softer and shinier now. I would think that maybe it had something to do with the brushing, time of year, or add-ons I have been giving him lately, but Poppy switched foods about a week after Ranger to the same brand and her coat is softer too!

Heading out this afternoon for our mushing clinic. I’ll let you know if we survive. 

Back it up, back it up all right….

With no training classes for two weeks I’m ashamed to admit that the home schooling sessions have been satisfactory at best. Sure, his regular day to day manners were enforced and before treats we’d cycle through a few of his already solid commands (as solid as possible for a dog I suppose) but there have been no new skills for a while. 

Once I got the treat bag and clicker, Ranger started offering any behaviour he could think of hoping one would be the magic key. I dabbled with AROUND using a roll of paper towel, but it was hit and miss whether he would go around or try smashing it to the ground. Once he settled we had a pretty good AROUND but only clockwise. I’ve noticed that he seems to be one-sided and I have to remember to work both. Of course on top of that, I need to remember that counter-clockwise is different for him and the same standards do not apply. 

We took a break (with a game of tug) and then starting working on BACK. It’s something I’ve wanted him to know and is more specific than the usual “excuse me” which sends him out from underfoot (and occasionally a “jesus christ, if you kill me no one will feed you!!!” – usually related to stairs and laundry). 

Ranger’s go to behaviour when I am standing there waiting for behaviours is to sit while debating what to do (if he isn’t offering a million and one behaviours). It’s hard to reward movement in the right direction when they is NEVER any movement in that direction. I could see him losing interested after a bit so decided a little body language on my part might get the ball rolling. 

Leaning ever so slightly towards Ranger (to start it was just the energy/pressure that I was going to start leaning, then increasing by minute increments) which caused him to pop his bum up from the sit and shift backward. The minute he started shifting back I treated and released the pressure I was applying. 

After a few back ups, we ended on a good note and released from the exercise. He seemed happy, but it definitely used his brain. I love seeing him concentrating and panting. His panting and giddiness starts the moment he sees the treat bag. 

Tonight we did another session to use up the rest of the cut up hotdog and it seemed like he’d forgotten most of the backing up. It only took one lean toward him for it to come back and we managed to work up to three steps back with me moving in only to treat after each step. 

I used a new technique this time of transporting him between each set of three. The final reward included a couple pieces that were delivered from my palm while he was walking up to the start line. This meant that each movement he was completing in the session was in reverse. I felt this worked better than allowing him to walk up on his own with direction because his mind was all in back up = treat. 

Tomorrow I’d like to work on it a bit more, but Wednesday is doggy date day and of course the car has an appointment. Maybe tomorrow for wrestling and Thursday we will start back up with the sessions. 

Goals for BACK:

  • Have Ranger produce set of three steps with reward after each
  • Have Ranger produce set of three steps with reward after full set
  • Have Ranger produce set of three steps to voice command 
  • Have Ranger produce set of three steps, different command such as spin, produce additional set of three steps. 

While the first goal has been reached, I want to make sure it’s good and solid before moving onto the next step. This will give us something to do and will be a great step in creating better rear end awareness (allowing us to work on hind feet targeting for agility)

Remembrance Day Outing

This year I decided to go to the Remembrance Day ceremony that was being held close to home. I’ve been telling myself for weeks (ok, maybe they would be better classified as months) that I need to start bringing Ranger out in public more for training with groups of people. In an ideal world, I would have him trained well enough to follow me in an off leash heel throughout busy city streets without a worry that a distraction could ruin our day….well, I better start somewhere. 

We parked up a couple blocks so that Ranger could have a pee and a smell on the way down. He wore his collar for ID tags, but for today the easy walk harness was my tool of choice. When we got to the ceremony, I was shocked. I come from a small town and while our Remembrance Day ceremonies are well attended, I guess I am still not used to the city because while it wasn’t the only ceremony in the city, it was PACKED. 

My friend, Ranger and I found a spot on the grass that while surrounded by people wasn’t crowded. He had some trouble settling down at first, but I kept him attention with treats and simple commands. I’ve found ‘touch’ is a very easy and inconspicuous command that can be implemented close to the body, but keeps him focused.

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The marching band and speakers were taken in pretty well and he settled on the grass while the prayers were read. The only thing he didn’t like was the crowd clapping. I had noticed the past two weeks that he seemed a little more sound sensitive to things in the kitchen (pot clanging, bag being shook out) and to have this huge crowd surrounding you with the roar of applause could be a little much. I think I popped half a bag of treats into him, but  he didn’t panic and more importantly (for the immediate moment) he didn’t bark!

When the wreath laying commenced, he was getting fidgety so we moved out of the crowd (he stuck close and I held him by his collar, no nosing the other people though 🙂 ) Outside the crowd he sniffed around, whined at some other dogs, but was very good. The end involved some jumping up on me which I think was just boredom at the situation….and who could blame him after almost an hour with no fun time. 

Luckily on the way out I caught up with my brother so headed to his place to have a quick run in the backyard with Poppy. I think it was the best stress reliever and energy expenditure I could have hoped for after the parade. 

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I am so proud of my big black dog and how he handled the ceremony. I am thinking of bringing him to the Christmas Parade (or what the politically correctly call “Parade of Lights” being held this weekend on Saturday at 6pm. It would be downtown in Halifax and hugely packed. If I can manage to figure out a game plan that doesn’t involve us being stuck in Christmas traffic, not having to walk too far to the car and the ability to leave if it is too much for him then we will head over.