Monday, March 31, 2014

Monday Mischief: Cheating at Dog School

A few months ago, I stumbled across the website for a new dog school on Long Island called Martial Arfs. They combine some principles of martial arts with dog training to provide fun mental and physical activity for you and your dog. They offer a variety of classes, such as obedience, agility, and disc dog. Instead of belts, the dogs get colored bandanas to mark their progress.

I was SUPER excited to take Chewy to Martial Arfs, even though my dad thought it sounded too gimmicky. Chewy has more energy than I know what to do with, and it would be good for him to learn some discipline. But then I broke my finger and that plan was put on the back burner.

Since my finger has now almost reached its normal range of motion, I took Chewy for his behavior assessment at Martial Arfs yesterday. And he was a BIG FAT CHEATER!

First up was a series of inflated balance discs set up like wobbly stairs. The goal was to get Chewy to put his front paws on one disc and his back paws on another. Kibbles were used to lure him up the steps, but instead of getting on them, he would just run around to the side and try to steal the kibbles (sometimes successfully)! Eventually he did get two paws on the bottom step, and when it was time to lure him onto the middle step, he would either stretch as far as he could to reach the kibbles, or get off and run to the side again.

Super stretch mode

He got a little frustrated that he wasn't getting kibbles with his cheating methods, so he decided to go off and explore. Being the mischievous dog that he is, he almost collided with some giant balance balls in the back and scared himself silly.


After a few more tries on the steps, he managed to put one front paw on the middle disc. Then we moved on to a "balance beam" supported by balance discs on both ends. Chewy was very hesitant about getting on the board, and again decided running around to the side of the board was the best way to get the kibbles. Eventually we got all four of his paws on the board, and he shook SO hard. His tail was still up, so I assume he wasn't too scared, just very physically challenged. I guess his core strength is not as good as I thought it was. (He can stand up on his hind legs for minutes without holding onto anything!) He was not willing to take any steps forward on the board, and I had to sit on the floor and promise snuggles to entice him to jump off the side.

Why is the kibble so far away?!?

We moved back to the wobbly stairs, and this time Chewy got his front legs on the middle disc and his back legs on the lower disc with ease. I guess he gained some new perspective on the balance beam and decided this was a piece of cake. The photographer (my dad) was slacking a bit in his duties, so I don't have pictures of Chewy's accomplishments.

Chewy passed his assessment, and we will start taking classes next week! He was pretty tired when we got home, but after a power nap, he was back to his old hyper self. I don't know if we'll ever burn through all his energy!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Monday, March 24, 2014

Chewy Meets Chewy

I took Chewy to our neighborhood dog park today, but it was empty when we arrived. I tried to get him to chase me, but after a minute of that he just sniffed around for pee and then stood by the gate. [As I was typing this, Chewy sounded his intruder alert. I ran over to check and saw nothing. Maybe he saw a cat?]

Somedoggy peed here...

Some other doggy peed here...

I am done. Can we go?

Since Chewy was bored, I decided we could go explore the nature trail that runs alongside the dog run. I believe the trail makes a loop, but once we hit a road, it was not clear which way we were supposed to go. So, I led Chewy back towards the dog run in the hope that other dogs had arrived. As we got closer to the fence, Chewy just knew that something exciting was over there. As I opened the first gate to the dog run, I heard someone say "Chewy, come here!" IT WAS ANOTHER CHEWY IN THE DOG RUN!

Chewy and Chewy got along pretty well. They chased each other and boxed with their paws. My Chewy proved to be really good at ducking from punches. The other Chewy got pawed once or twice. Communication was a little bit confusing for them, as they would both come if someone called their name. I hope the other Chewy didn't think I was yelling at him when I scolded my Chewy! Unfortunately, I didn't get any good pictures of them playing together, but this is what the other Chewy looked like:

Hey Chewy, wutcha sniffing?

Then, a truck came to drop off some tree trunks behind the dog run. There's a big stack of logs back there that I assume is used to make the mulch. My Chewy was like, "AAAAAAAHHHH GET ME OUTTA HERE!" He tried to jump the picket fence, but he's not a good jumper. (He can't even get into the back of our SUV without a boost or a really good running start.)

Must keep eyes on the big rolly beast!

He looked very uneasy, so we left to go home. He probably would have gone full speed all the way to the car if I wasn't weighing him down at the other end of the leash.

Chewy has met another Chewy before, too. There must be a lot of Chewys out there!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Chewy's Hotel Stay

I took Chewy to Boston over the weekend to visit our big sister. It was a 4 1/2 hour car ride.

Are we there yet?

We stayed at the Hotel Marlowe, a Kimpton hotel. Kimpton hotels are super pet friendly, with no pet fee and no restrictions. I did have to sign a form saying I would cover any damages. It was written from a dog's perspective, and there was even a paw print in the signature area.

Chewy kept checking himself out in the elevator mirror. He probably thought a dog was stuck in there.


There was an entire floor of pet-friendly rooms, so sometimes we would trigger a lot of barking when walking through the hallways. We got a room with 2 double beds for the whole family, and Chewy fit perfectly in the middle.

He checked under the furniture for monsters. Or treasure.

And he enjoyed looking out the floor-to-ceiling windows.

They had fruit-infused water in the lounge area, which Chewy loved. I tried to administer a taste test and see which flavor he liked better, but he went for them equally.

Mmmm strawberry water!

Chewy had no interest in the loaner bed the hotel provided. He probably smelled all the other doggies that used it and reasoned that it wasn't his. But he DID enjoy the big jar of cookies in the lobby. There was also a bowl of cookies outside the entrance, and he was very disappointed each time I pulled him away. He would have cleaned out the entire bowl if left to his own devices!

When we were checking out, there was a dog being babysat behind the counter, and they both jumped up and furiously wagged their tails, trying to touch noses across the counter. Too bad they couldn't just romp around the lobby!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Chewy's Toy Box: Elk Antlers

I first heard of antlers as dog chews from our puppy school teacher. Chewy was 5 months old at the time, so she suggested a puppy split elk antler. Antler splits are cut open so the yummy marrow-y center part is exposed- great for beginning antler chewers. The second she offered it to Chewy, he took it in his mouth and would not let it go. He didn't even chew it; he just held it. He walked around the store with it while we finished our shopping. Good thing the barcode sticker was coated in plastic, or it would have been a soggy mess!

Chewy's first antler

Sometimes he fell asleep from chewing so much

Chewy loved his antler, and would chew on it for long periods of time. He also liked to fling it around and chase it. It kept him pretty entertained. Eventually he chewed off all of the marrow and started working on the harder outer shell. Soon his antler got pretty small and I threw it out so it wouldn't be a choking hazard. Chewy was quite bummed...until he forgot about it a minute later.

For his half birthday, I got him a new antler. This time it was a whole piece instead of a split so he would be more challenged. He started at the ends and worked his way in.

Crazy eyes going for the munch!

One day's progress Three weeks' progress

Since then, Chewy's gone through a few antlers. We also tried a deer antler, but Chewy went through it VERY quickly. He was able to bite off somewhat large pieces and then crunch and eat them, instead of scraping off little bits like he does with elk antlers. Antlers are hard and could potentially break teeth, so crunching on them is not good!

I used to only give Chewy his antler for a few hours a day because otherwise he would chew through it too quickly, but now that he's past the crazy puppy chewing stage, I just leave them out and he chews them when he wants to. Sometimes he will hold two at once and alternate his chewing. He typically props his antler on something so it doesn't slide away while he's chewing, like his bed, a stuffie, or someone's foot. He likes to chew under the table while we eat dinner, so he usually goes for my dad's feet or slippers at the head of the table.

Antler chewing can get a little messy because of the bits that get scraped off, so Chewy isn't allowed to have them on the couch. Sometimes he brings them on the couch when he thinks I'm not looking, and then when I walk towards him, he bolts off. The good news is the antler shavings come right out of his bedding in the washing machine. Also, Chewy seems to be leaving fewer antler shavings now. Maybe because he is past his frenzied puppy chewing stage. Or maybe he has become a neater eater?

Benefits of elk antler chews:
-Contain calcium and phosphorus (and other nutrients) for healthy bones and teeth
-Help clean teeth: The textured surface of the antler scrapes gunk off teeth
-Virtually odorless to people: After chewing, they just smell like dog spit to me
-Do not splinter: No need to worry about splinters piercing internal organs
-Renewable resource: Elk grow and shed their antlers every year
-Come in various shapes and sizes: You can find one to complement your dog's chewing habits, and each antler is completely different so they don't get bored
-Keeps chewers occupied: Expends energy and satisfies their need to chew

Tips for buying elk antler chews:
-The more brown on the outside, the fresher the antler: Antlers that have been lying outside for a long time get bleached by the sun and get chalky
-Splits are great for beginners to get acquainted with antlers: Make sure your dog is whittling away at the antler, not biting it
-Whole antler pieces are more challenging because they have to chew through the outer part to get to the marrow
-Make sure the antler is large enough so it does not present a choking hazard

Excuse me, I'm busy.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Best Day Ever!

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I always imagine that everything makes Chewy think, "BEST DAY EVER!" For example:

Got a new toy! BEST DAY EVER!

Got another new toy! BEST DAY EVER!
Marked the park! BEST DAY EVER!

Ate fro-yo from my Kong! BEST DAY EVER!

Found a stick! BEST DAY EVER!

Rode the car! BEST DAY EVER!

Ran across the beach! BEST DAY EVER!

Ran across the snow! BEST DAY EVER!

Was presented with an entire chicken! BEST DAY EVER!

I think it's because he has no idea what's coming 90% of the time. Also, everything is exciting to a Chewy (except baths. And butt thermometers). But I guess if people got awesome surprises all the time, they would be pretty excited, too!