Holiday Gift Wrapping With Dogs + a Giveaway

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Four years ago, this was Casa de Kolchak, trying to wrap gifts on Christmas Eve.

koly in the ribbon

He thought he was helping.

SPOILER ALERT: He totally wasn’t. Has anyone else out there ever tried to wrap gifts with 25 lbs of puggle standing right in the middle of the paper? Has anyone mastered the art of using tape once it’s covered in a thick layer of puggle hair? (Seriously, why is he so hairy?!)

I don’t know what it is about holiday wrapping, but the ribbons, bows and fancy paper brings out the playful puppy side in both my dogs.

As woofing adorable as Roly rollin’ in the ribbons is… I knew there had to be a better way.

I decided to teach Koly a “go to bed” command.

This command has a ton of great applications. I use it in the craft room, when I’m working with fabric and stick pins to make sure the dogs don’t inadvertently get hurt. I use it in the kitchen to prevent my dogs from getting underfoot and being tripped over (it also gives us an extra buffer in case I drop something not so dog friendly.) We use it in the living room when the boys get a stuffed Kong, a bully stick or a meaty chew from Jones Natural. (Seriously, who wants that stank all up on their couch? Not this girl.)

The “go to bed” or “go to your mat” command is also perfect for holiday gift wrapping.

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Fe waits patiently on his P.L.A.Y. Greenery bed for a Kong

One simple command and both my dogs curl up on their bed, leaving me to wrap in peace. *cue Holiday Angel Chorus* I can lay out my paper, measure out my tape and make my DIY Gift Tags for Dog Lovers with no fuss & no muss. It’s wonderful.

The command is really easy to shape. Koly picked it up in a just a couple quick training sessions. Dog Trainer, Laurie Luck from Smart Dog University has the scoop on how to teach your dog to settle on their bed or mat.


It really is as easy as Laurie makes it look. Well, almost as easy. Laurie looks perfectly composed and patient, where I’m pretty sure my own lack of patience manifested itself as steam pouring out my ears. Still, if you’re patient, your dog will pick this up in a snap. If it’s a trick FELIX can learn, anyone can learn it. (He’s that old dog they wrote the “new tricks” joke about.)

It helps that Koly & Felix are totally in love with their dog beds.

A while back I wrote about how the Casa de Kolchak dogs were asking for, nay demanding, new luxury dogs beds. Our old floor cushion were breaking down, the fabric was getting misshapen, and the foam was crumbling. They weren’t washable, so they were really really grubby. I never buried my head in one, but I’m going to assume they had “dog smell”. Most telling of all was that Koly preferred laying on our fabulous P.L.A.Y. outdoor dog bed to laying on any of the indoor ones.

If we were getting new dog beds, I was determined to do it right this time. My criteria was simple, but non negotiable: removeable, washable covers, a thick, plush bed (no mats or chintzy looking beds) and I wanted to find a design that complimented the grey decor in our living room & craft room.

I hit the jackpot with beds from P.L.A.Y. Pet Lifestyle and You.

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The thing that always strikes me about the P.L.A.Y. products is how “non-doggy” their products feel. They have a fabulous selection of designer prints, most of which don’t scream “dog bed”. The pattern I chose, “Greenery” is the perfect fit for our living room, dark grey with hits of my two favourite colours: turquoise and lime. The fabric is soft and cozy, but strong enough to stand up to dog nails. The finishing work is always really nicely done and I’m always confident that a P.L.A.Y. product will be a quality product.

It’s the holidays and no holiday would be complete without a taste of Gingerbread! While I wrap, I love to settle Koly and Fe on their beds with a gingerbread flavoured Kong (You can get the recipe here). I have beige carpets and so I used to worry about giving the dogs pumpkin or peanut butter or anything coloured in their Kongs, in case they made a mess. I love that the covers of their P.L.A.Y. beds easily pull off and go in the washing machine. And since the covers are removeable, it means they’re also replaceable. If my dogs make a mess of these (or, the far more likely option, if I redecorate and want new ones) another cover can be ordered with just a click of the button.

And holy woof! Are these beds ever comfy.

I have dogs who think they are people. My dogs are allowed to climb on the furniture, they’re welcome to cuddle in bed with me, so when they choose a dog bed over all their options, I know it’s something they love.

He is totally calfed out. He loves his bed.

He is totally calfed out. He loves his bed.

I didn’t just take their word for it though. Last week, I put out my back and spent three days hanging around on our living room floor because the couch was just too soft to sit on. I cozied up to Koly’s bed, lounged on it watching TV and slept using it as a pillow. No wonder the dogs love these beds – they’re super cozy and comfy.

I can’t wait to really make our new beds a part of the decor. Koly has requested some throw pillows for his. (I absolutely love that P.L.A.Y. now offers pillows in the same patterns as their beds! I feel like they “get me”. I was just talking about how cool this would be!) Fe wants me to find a way to make his bed a part of the couch. We’ve got some big things planned for these.

Koly says every dog should put a P.L.A.Y. Bed on their Christmas list.

 

Welcome to Day 11 of the #Advent4Dogs Giveaway!

With the help of our festive co-hosts Dogthusiast, Heart Like a Dog, NEPA PetsWag’n’Woof Pets and Dizzy, the Kol’s Notes elf, we’re counting down to the holidays, sharing our tips and trick to survive ‘em in crazy dog lady style and putting the wag in “swag” with 24 awesome giveaways and one Grand Prize package worth more than $1000 that will knock your stockings off.

Today’s #Advent4Dogs giveaway is sponsored by P.L.A.Y. Pet Lifestyle and You

Today’s winner will receive an XS Big Foot Paw Bed & Fleece Pillow, plus a 3 toys from the super adorable Garden Fresh and Under the Sea Toy Collections.

We’re also adding a a Big Foot Paw Bed and aP.L.A.Y. toys to our Grand Prize package, along with $100 Gift Certificate to theArtofAJ.com, a silicone bone baking tray & Chilly Mat from Hugs Pet Products, a recycled glass pet bowl from PawNosh, a dog Spinny Puzzle from Nina Ottosan, a Blue Laamb Charm Bangle, a Treat & Train Remote Treat Dispenser, a pet portrait embroidery hoop, the Dieting With My Dog book series, a prize pack of Cloud Star Buddy Biscuits, and a leather, laser engraved dog collar

To enter, leave a blog comment telling us if your dog knows the “go to bed”? What do you think it would be most useful for? Then complete the Giveaway Tools entry form.

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Have you missed any of our #Adventfor Dogs Giveaways? Click here to visit the Advent4Dogs giveaway page, check out any giveaways you might have missed and to check out all the sponsors for this great giveaway event.

Breaking the Barking Habit + A Giveaway

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Apartment life with a noise reactive dog can be tough.

Just over a year ago, we moved into an apartment and from the get go, I knew this would be a challenge for Felix. No matter how quiet your building is, people make noise. Visitors park in the spaces below our deck. People bring home groceries and much to Felix’s chagrin, those people often have jingley, jangley keys. It was enough to drive a nervous dog crazy.

I knew that I would have to work with him on his fears, not just because a barking dog would drive my neighbours crazy, but because a dog that is distressed by every sound, by every person walking by, by the mailman, and by everything, is not living a good life.

We decided to start with the most pressing issue: noise in the hallways.

A lot of the traditional training advice just didn’t work when it came to Fe. Teaching him to bark on command and then stop didn’t help. He did it very reliably, as a trick, but in the moment of barking at the door, my command to ‘HUSH’ fell on fluffy, deaf ears. Ignoring the barking was ludicrous. My neighbours patience would have worn quite thin – and fast. I couldn’t remove the problem, so I was left with just one option: teach him to love the noise.

There was just one problem. Felix is WAY faster than I am .

Every single time, without a fail, the keys would jingle in the hallway or Fe would hear a voice, he would launch himself off the couch like a missile and run to the door at break neck speed. There was no way to stop him. No way to catch him. No way to keep him from barking at the door.

Crystal, from So Fly! gave me the idea to use a Treat & Train and holy woof, I could not be more grateful. Fast forward eight months or so and Felix rarely barks anymore. These days a woof from Felix mean “give me the darn cook, woman” or “you’re late for my walk”.

If you’ve never heard of a Treat & Train, they’re basically a magic treat dispenser.

 

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You fill the dispenser with treats and then, when the time is right, you trigger their release with a remote control. The great thing about it is that I could put the dispenser by the door, but keep the remote in my hand, so when Felix launched himself off the couch, by the time he got to the door, I could trigger a BEEP and a treat. The beep would catch his attention and the treat would catch his fancy. FACT: You can’t bark when you’re chewing.

I also loved that the dispenser caught the treats. We have beige carpets, yo. The idea of snacks all up in the fibres gives me hives. As Felix became used to keys/voices = treats, I started moving the dispenser further away from the door and closer to the couch.  Every few days, I would move it a little further. It became a game to see how quickly I could stop him. Eventually, the dispenser was right next to the couch. Fe would hear a noise, I would immediately trigger the BEEP and the treat and Fe would collect his prize, then get back up into his sleeping spot. No barking. No fuss. It was a Treat & Train Miracle!

I started to think of other ways I could help Fe using the Treat & Train.

I really wanted to help him learn to love the crate, but I just couldn’t figure out HOW. I mean, I guess I could have put the dispenser IN the kennel with him, but I wan’t fond of that idea. I started to wonder if I could McGuyver up a way to sit the Treat & Train on TOP of the kennel. SPOILER ALERT: This doesn’t work. That’s when I learned about the Train ‘n’ Praise from PetSafe.

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The Train ‘n’ Praise is the same idea, a treat dispenser with a remote, but with a bit different design. Since there’s no tray on the Train & Praise, you can the dispenser on top of a kennel or a mantle and the treats will fall below. It’s also great for dogs who are maybe too treat obsessed, as it can be kept up off the floor.

Both are great tool that work great. I’m honestly hard pressed to decide which treat dispenser I like better. We’ve had great success with the Train & Praise and I love the target stick that it comes with. I can definitely see Koly and I having some fun with it. On the other hand, I like the versatility of the Train ‘n’ Praise and how I can use it in places the Treat & Train isn’t practical. I’m really lucky that we have both.

Do you have a training problem that a treat dispenser could help solve?

Welcome to Day 6 of the #Advent4Dogs Giveaway!

With the help of our festive co-hosts Dogthusiast, Heart Like a Dog, NEPA PetsWag’n’Woof Pets and Dizzy, the Kol’s Notes elf, we’re counting down to the holidays, sharing our tips and trick to survive ‘em in crazy dog lady style and putting the wag in “swag” with 24 awesome giveaways and one Grand Prize package worth more than $1000 that will knock your stockings off.

Today’s #Advent4Dogs giveaway is sponsored by PetSafe.

Today’s winner will receive their choice of a Train ‘n’Praise or Treat & Train Treat Dispenser.

We’re also adding one to our  Grand Prize package, along with $100 Gift Certificate to theArtofAJ.com, a silicone bone baking tray & Chilly Mat from Hugs Pet Products, a recycled glass pet bowl from PawNosh, a dog Spinny Puzzle from Nina Ottosan and a Blue Laamb Charm Bangle.

To enter, complete the Giveaway Tools entry form and leave a comment telling us what training problem you would like to solve and which remote treat dispenser could help you do it. Open to Canadian/US readers only.

Don’t forget to share!

You can earn a bonus entry into this giveaway (and the Grand Prize draw) for every person that enters using your referral link.

 

 

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Have you missed any of our #Adventfor Dogs Giveaways? Click here to visit the Advent4Dogs giveaway page, check out any giveaways you might have missed and to check out all the sponsors for this great giveaway event.
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Puzzles for Pooches and Other Boredom Busters + A Giveaway

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According to the Weather Network, it’s time for us Vancouverites to settle in for a nice long bout of rain.

 

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I know we’re not the only ones. Some places have been facing the rain for weeks already. Some of you are under a fat coating of snow.  I know, we’ve had a super lovely Fall/Winter so far, so apparently, I’m not allowed to be upset. (HA! Like that is going to stop me.) The weather has been beautiful, so Koly, Fe and I have been able to stay really active.

When the weather is bad, it’s harder to get out and have fun.

mix max puzzles for dogs

Living in a notoriously rainy climate, we’ve come up with some surefire ways to help keep the dogs active, busy and entertained when we can’t go out and play.

  1. Tug  and Flirt Pole… on the Bed
    Kolchak absolutely loves a game of tug and he thinks the flirt pole is so much fun, but we’ve always limited these activities to outdoor. After all, we do live in an apartment and I’m pretty sure it sounds like a herd of baby elephants when he jumps. Then, last year, Pamela from Something Wagging rocked my world and suggested that we play these games on the bed. She is brilliant. Koly, Fe and I love it.”No jumping on the bed!” HA! Those are words you’ll never hear at Casa de Kolchak.
  2. Trick Training
    One of the best ways to keep Koly busy and happy is to work on learning new tricks & behaviours. He loves to work and learn. A half hour of working on something new makes him almost as sleepy as a walk. Right now, we’re working on a special trick for our Christmas photos and practicing is the highlight of his day. Every night, after dinner, he comes and sits in front of me, waiting.Trying challenging yourself to teach your dog a new trick or learn a variation on an old favourite when the weather is bad.
  3. Food Puzzles
    I’ve saved the best (or Koly’s favourite) for last. Food puzzles are my savings grace in the Winter. There is nothing that grabs my dog’s attention like a puzzle toy crammed with something tasty. If your dog eats kibble, you can serve their dinner in a puzzle.For raw feeders, like us, it can be a bit more difficult. We’ve always fill our treat puzzles with chopped carrots, small treats, a small (snack sized) amount of grain free kibble. Then we learned something really cool: The Nina Ottosan puzzles from The Company of Animals are great for raw feeders. The plastic puzzles are dishwasher safe, meaning that I can put our ground raw meat mix in these puzzles and sanitize them after. This has totally changed meal times at Casa de Kolchak.I also love that there as so many puzzles for dogs in varying levels of difficulty. Kolchak is very food motivated. A few years ago, we bought him a Dog Casino and oh.my.woof. he loves it. This is one of the most difficult puzzles out there and he rocks it. Fe on the other hand, will work for his supper, but if the puzzle is too hard, he’ll resort to chewing on the plastic. The Mix Max puzzles are a perfect “starter” puzzle. Each puzzle piece fits together to make the puzzle more challenging the more pieces you use.Solving a food puzzle is also a great mental work out and it can help you busy dog busy.

Spinny Dog Puzzle

Welcome to Day 4 of the #Advent4Dogs Giveaway!

With the help of our festive co-hosts Dogthusiast, Heart Like a Dog, NEPA PetsWag’n’Woof Pets and Dizzy, the Kol’s Notes elf, we’re counting down to the holidays, sharing our tips and trick to survive ‘em in crazy dog lady style and putting the wag in “swag” with 24 awesome giveaways and one Grand Prize package worth more than $1000 that will knock your stockings off.

Today’s #Advent4Dogs giveaway is sponsored by the Company of Animals.

Our winner will receive a two of the Mix Max Dog toys.

To enter, complete the Giveaway Tools entry form and leave a comment telling us if you use food puzzles with your dog and if so, what kind of treats you put in them.

Don’t forget to share!

You can earn a bonus entry into this giveaway (and the Grand Prize draw) for every person that enters using your referral link.

 

 

Have you missed any of our #Adventfor Dogs Giveaways? Click here to visit the Advent4Dogs giveaway page, check out any giveaways you might have missed and to check out all the sponsors for this great giveaway event.

Elevator Etiquette for Dogs

So we’ve been living in our apartment for a while now and we love it.

Koly and Fe have adjusted better than I ever could have hoped. There was a time when I would have thought that these two nutballs could never have hacked it as apartment dogs, but they’re proving me wrong every single day. That’s not to say there aren’t challenges though.

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OPEN THE DOORS!

For example, after all these months, getting on and off the elevator is still an issue.

For serious, you guys. My apartment neighbours had better watch out or these two will trample them. As soon as the elevator doors open, both dogs are throwing themselves, pulling on the leash and ready to go. Most of the time, other than annoying the everliving woof out of me, it’s not a terrible problem, but sometimes, it’s really, really embarrassing.

Picture this:

You’ve just been grocery shopping. Your arms are full and you’re trying to juggle for your keys. You press the elevator button with your elbow. The bell dings. The door opens and WHAM! A Herd of elephants ambushes you.

Ok, ok, so Koly and Fe are just two small dogs, not an entire herd of elephants. I may have been hyperbolizing. Whatevs. My point is that it’s SUPER RUDE for my dogs to assume that they are the most important folk getting on or off the elevator every single time. I am so lucky to live in a great pet friendly building, but I’m a big believer that if we want to keep having pet friendly housing, if we want more pet friendly housing, we have to be respectful of this privilege.

I want my dogs to be ambassadors. I want to have them sit while I ask anyone on the elevator if we can join them. I want them to refrain from sniffing other people’s groceries. I want Felix, that hussy, to quit rolling over and asking everyone in the building to rub his woofing belly.

I decided it was time to do something about it.

Uh oh. She looks like she means business.

Uh oh. She looks like she means business.

It was time to learn some elevator etiquette for dogs.

Step One:  Learning to sit nicely before entering the elevator. 

I’ve decided that I want the boys to sit nicely before the elevator is even called. We’re staying a respectful distance from the door, leaving plenty of room for people to exit, if needed. While both my dogs sit on command, it’s not something we’ve widely practiced outside our home. Distractions are…challenging. We’re working on them remaining seated when they hear a noise and especially working on remaining seated when the elevator doors open. This is my everest.

Step Two: Get on the elevator without pulling. 

WITHOUT PULLING, I SAID KOLCHAK. He gets so excited to go anywhere and sometimes, this can mean pulling. I would like to eliminate that.

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Are you saying I pull? ME?

Step Three: Step to one side and sit. 

Once we’re on the elevator, I want them to move to one side and sit. Not smell every square inch of the floor. Not try to wrap my ankles in their leashes so I trip. Just sit still. I’m not asking too much…am I?

Step Four: Stay seated when the doors open.

Just like I don’t want them rushing onto the elevator when it arrives, I don’t want them rushing off when it’s time to leave. I want them to stay seated until the doors are fully open and I release them.

Step Five: Exit the elevator without pulling, trying not to fly at anyone waiting to get on the elevator. 

 

Well, crud. This sucks.

Well, crud. This sucks.

“And I think to myself…What a wonderful world”

Do you have any tips for me? Do you have an elevator pet peeve I’ve over looked? I need all the help I can get here!

Dog Friendly Fun: the Drive In & Movies in the Park

When you have a puppy or a dog with separation anxiety, getting out of the house for a bit of fun of your own can be tough. Maybe your dog is happy to stay home, but you just want to include Fido in your weekend plans. No matter the reason, with a little training and planning, the drive in or movies in the park can be dog friendly fun that anyone can enjoy.

Chilling out at the drive in with my two favourite guys.

Chilling out at the drive in with my two favourite guys.

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