Friday, September 23, 2016

Perfect Pumpkin Drop Biscuits for Poodles and Pups Alike

If you're like me, then you've already encountered at least a half-dozen different pumpkin themed dog cookie recipes online so far and it's only September. So forgive me as I jump on that bandwagon and share a rather 'rustic' version of these seasonal delights that I made for the poodles. I ate one myself and it wasn't so bad...could have used a little sugar though!

  • 1.5 cups of instant oats (more as needed to thicken the dough)
  • 1/2 of a large can (29oz) of pureed pumpkin (approx 14.5oz)
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup of peanut butter. Make sure it is the real stuff, no added sugars or xyitol!
This poodle approves!
  1. Open the fridge and realize you don't have any eggs in the house. Go out to the chicken yard and collect some.
  2. Combine quick oats, eggs, pureed pumpkin and peanut butter in a bowl. Stir until fully combined. The consistency should be akin to very wet, sticky play-dough.
  3. Using a small spoon, drop small portions of the dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (or a silicone pad). 
  4. Bake at 375F for approximately 55 minutes, or until fully dried out.
  5. Let cool and serve as reward for good behavior!


I recommend saving the leftovers in the freezer or fridge, just to be on the safe side.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Leaps and Bounds with Luna

This month's positive training blog hop is directed at what brought us to use the positive training method. I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to give you an update on Luna as it ties in nicely with why I use positive training with the poodles. Thank you to Rubicon Days for inviting me to join the hop!

Luna has been with the family for two full months now. From day one it was evident that it would take some time to allow her the freedom to roam our yard off-leash. For starters, we have a large area that the poodles have full access to, so a certain level of trust is required as I can't always watch them at all times. Secondly, the chicken yard neighbors this area and Luna proved to be a keen enthusiast of poultry!

The three poodles enjoying the sun together.

Over the last two months we've slowly worked on being around the chicken yard without being obsessed with the chickens. Every time Luna gives me attention over the chickens, she receives high praise. No longer does she obsessively pace at their fence line and if she does go over to say hello, she comes back when I call her. Success!

During this same time, she's been weaned off the leash. She still goes out for morning and evening potty breaks on leash because it's dark out and the bunnies and deer are often out too. I don't fancy starting my day chasing a poodle, who's chasing a rabbit, through the forest in my bath robe. But we'll work on that level of trust too, and I'm sure we'll get there eventually.

I let the poodles outside and when I came back to check on them, this is what I found. Relaxing in the sun!

During daylight hours, however, she is allowed out (leash-free) to run and play and sunbathe with Teddy and D'Art. It feels so rewarding when I call her and she joyfully comes inside with everyone else.

Is she perfect and trustworthy 100% of the time? Nope! Do we still have work to do? Absolutely! Luna is a living, thinking being and her personality will always shine through. That's what makes her, her, and that's one of the reasons I love her.
Teddy and Luna just came in from a fun play session outside.

My journey to positive training has largely been the learn-as-you go method. I've made mistakes along the way, and I'm sure I still will. Thankfully dogs are the most forgiving of all species on this earth and we can always brush ourselves off and try again. Each of the three poodles have very different personalities, but positive training always proves successful with each of them, despite their differences. A combination of treats, praise and patience works wonders.  

Luna is a perfect example of how a timid, chicken-crazed poodle can go from life in an overcrowded shelter to a happy and well-adjusted life with a family (living harmoniously with chickens no-less) over the course of a mere two months!

What is your experience with positive training?

Friday, September 9, 2016

Is Your Dog Left or Right Handed?

When someone reaches out to shake your hand you instinctively offer your dominant hand. When you go to write a note, you use your dominant hand to pick up the pen. Humans know if they are right handed or left handed, but have you ever noticed whether your dog has a dominant paw? The poodles each have a tendency to use one paw primarily over the other, which got me thinking about whether dogs can in fact have a dominant paw. Studies show that they can indeed! Unlike humans who tend to be 90% right handed and only 10% left handed, dogs are much closer to an even 50/50 split. A small  number are ambidextrous. The results for cats are similar too. To learn more, check out This Washington Post Article or This Mental Floss Article. There are many other resources on the web as well if you're interested.

So, how do you tell whether your dog is a lefty or a righty? Do they "shake" a paw, if so which paw do they use? When trying to maneuver a toy on the floor, which paw do they use? If your dog has an itchy eye, which paw do they use to wipe their face?

Here are the results from this household...

D'Art is a lefty. He shakes with his left paw exclusively.

Teddy is right handed, but occasionally he reaches for a toy with his he may be ambidextrous (or perhaps he's just lazy and uses whichever paw is closer to the toy!)

Like D'Art, Luna is left handed too! She recently learned "shake" and chooses her left paw every time. This goes to show that her right handed humans didn't influence her at all!

How about your pup, which dominant paw do they use?

Friday, September 2, 2016

Autumn's Breath

Autumn's breath is here. It's that chillier breeze in the evenings as the air moves from the mountains and heads out to the ocean for the night.

Follow the leader!

It's the crunch you hear under paw and foot on your evening walk. Unless it's been raining and then it sounds more like a 'slosh'.

Pretty Luna.

Autumn is the perfect blend of colorful summery flowers and crisp, cozy nights. 

Luna, Teddy and a crop of wildflowers.
Autumn's breath also tells the wildlife that it is time to store nuts and find reliable food. The coyotes and bears leave signs of their being in the neighborhood. They eat from local orchards and gorge on blackberries.

Spot the scat.
  It's the sounds of other animals as they make their way across the forest floor.

Did you hear that?
Walks at dusk capture a unique mood in the trees and the air.

Big leaf maple.

It's my favorite time of year for evening walks with the poodles. How about you? What do you like about autumn?