Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Finding a boarder

We are off to Mexico in a couple days and we've had a bit of a trouble finding a place to keep Whiskey while we are gone, probably because I'm very picky and only want the best for her. Our main concerns were that she would have off leash walks at least once a day, that she would be closely monitored on the small chance that her first heat might start early (very tricky!), and that she would get lots of cuddles and human attention. Honestly I wouldn't have booked the vacation had I known we were getting a puppy but the vacation was pre-paid, no refunds before we knew about Whiskey.

There are so many choices in Vancouver for boarding and we visited 4 locations before making our choice. We considered her staying with her walkers, daycare locations, some excellent "getaways for dogs" and kennels. In the end we were recommended a professional home boarder that doesn't work and stays home with her child. I'll update you when we come back on how it all works out! Here's a compilation of choices we had:

positives: One of the best case scenarios is that you have family willing to take in your dog while you're gone.  It's free (hopefully!) and they have more invested because they know you.  Also they will know your dog, their issues, and wouldn't be a stranger.
negatives: If your dog needs lots of exercise, depending on whom takes care of them, they may not be able to let them out as much.  Then again the opposite could happen where they have more free time to take your dog out. A well meaning family member could be "softer" on the rules then you and encourage bad behaviour.

eg a Dogs Life
positives: if your dog has dog aggression issues, this will ensure he has his own space.  Some kennels are very clean and have runs attached to them.  They are usually temperature controlled, have beds and you can easily separate sick dogs. Usually cheaper than a "dog getaway".

negatives: They look like prisons and dogs don't usually get natural grassy areas to run and socialize with other humans and dogs. The quality of kennels can range and you have ensure your dog will have enough human interaction. Walks may not always be included.

professional home boarding
eg Deepcove dog, Mountain and Wave
positives: More one on one human time.  Sleeping in a homey environment.  Less noise, less stress and faster feedback on issues. There will most likely be times your dog will be left alone (not a huge staff).  Hopefully the boarder is not a stranger, and most likely you will meet up first and see how the dog is reacting and the space they will stay.  Professionals should be insured, bonded and have first aid training. Most of the time a regular amount of walks are included.

negatives: hugely dependent on the person boarding the dog, make sure they have had Vizsla experience or are happy to learn about the breed ahead of time (no punishments or harsh "training" methods)

daycare boarding/ location getaways
eg Outward Hound, Ruff Stuff, Bowen Island Ranch
positives: Lots of playing time during the day with loads of other dogs.  Exercise will most likely not be a problem. Usually cheaper than other options. These are professionals so they tend to upload pictures and have reviews that you can read with ratings.

negatives: not as much human attention and contact, more potential to get sick and pick up bad behaviour. Not as well monitored since there are usually lots of dogs to person ratio. The staff may be students or not trained specifically with dogs. They may rely on dog playing for exercise so the dogs may not necessarily be walked on trails.

positives:  Usually cheaper with more personal time.  The dog gets a home style environment and you'll probably get a better idea of how they're doing.  You can give more one-on-one instructions and most likely it's in a quieter environment than with lots of dogs. Usually a petsitter won't take many dogs at once.

negatives: If you're not going through a company like dogvacay, your petsitter could be uninsured and won't be covering any accidents that occur during their stay. This person may not have the expertise to take care of tricky situations or dogs with issues.  They may also not reinforce all the training you've worked so hard on.  It's so easy for a dog to learn bad behaviour that you may spend months having to retrain them.  They could be a stranger and you would really need to trust them.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Sniff training outside

It's funny how the basic commands can also be the hardest. We sometimes have problems getting Whiskey to "lie down", or "sit" quickly but as soon as we say "find it!" or "where's daddy?" she immediately stops what she's doing and starts looking.

I've started introducing a chain of commands now with her sniff training since she loves it so much. First, she's told to "come here", "sit" and "stay", sometimes on an unstable platform. I'll let her sniff the item I'm hiding, then I walk around, up to 5 meters away and drop snacks (lamb lung) in high and low places. I'll then walk back and tell her to "find it" and after each find I'll praise her and repeat "find it" until she gets them all. Now, as soon as I say "find it" she starts sniffing with her nose. When she's found all the treats I then throw a party and tell her "that's all!" and she knows the game is over. (hint: only as many treats as you can remember where they are)

Do you want to work?
SIT STAY and then I bobble the springs so she needs to keep her balance
staying while I position the treats
sniffing them out (she never remembers where i put them even if she is watching)
there's one in the slide!
I like using the playground because it also becomes and agility work too
At first I would wander around the area where the treat was dropped as a hint to search more in a specific place. It was challenging to keep her in a stay while I walked around at first. If she broke her "stay", I would try to get her to go back to her "stay" place and so it's easier if the spot is in a defined area. She's learned over time to search both high and low areas and it's so much fun to watch. On the downside, she's gotten extremely good at sniffing out food people have left in the parks. Did I mention sniff work is pretty tiring for dogs? Great for rainy days!

another sniff location
use locations that have a visual boundary
she will ignore people and dogs while she is "working"
searching high and low places
she loves this game!
At home we do this in a larger and larger area. It's harder though, because we have a hungry cat and we don't want them both competing for food. While Whiskey won't jump up on the counter and steal food from a ziplock in my purse, Moo won't let any barrier stop her! (Moo just stole a sausage from a pan as I typed this)

We've had to get another coat to keep up with her growth

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Whistler Weekend

We were off to Whistler last weekend and though forecast was bleak, we had really good luck with the timing of rain. Because we both work full time, sometimes our lives seem nothing more than walk the dog, eat, work, walk the dog, eat, laundry, sleep. On the weekends however, we try our best to roll out of bed at a decent time and go on an adventure. Sometimes we go alone in the rain (since it's hard to find rainy hikers), but this time we were lucky enough to have a great group with us. Whistler is about 2 hours away and we had chill time eating, hot-tubbing and chatting along some nice walks.

On a side note, since we were staying in a new place, Whiskey has started to bark when she hears something different or sees people jogging past the house. It's surprising us and we're wondering if she picked it up from the Aussie Shepherd last week.
Just outside our accommodations
A Canadian scene
Whiskey loves to walk along logs and stand there for a photo
A little sun among the rain
We even found a local ghost town called Parkhurst that was initially a logging town abandoned in the 1930s and then again in the 1960s. There were remnants of a bed, stove, house, and even a logging tractor

Scrambling around rocks for fun
discovering an abandoned house
the logging tractor
A dog can go where no human can
a nice weekend out
Whiskey will see you next week!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Thanksgiving in style

We were lucky enough to spend Thanksgiving up on Sunshine Coast with new friends this year. There were a couple knitters in the group who helped me finish my first little project: a snood/neck-warmer for Whiskey. I just ordered some knitting needles so I can learn over the winter.
Whiskey modelling my incomplete project

We had a great time outdoors and Whiskey made a new friend: Sam, the Australian Shepherd. The two spent the weekend chasing each other and guarding the cabin. There were a couple of hikes we fit in before it got too rainy. Afterwards, we set to work creating Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings.
heading over on the ferry
sunset at Kent beach
with Sam the Australian Shepherd
ripping up the beach with fun
more new friends

someone is getting real heavy!

Sunshine Coast has beautiful trails
lots of bridges here
off leash for the weekend

we saw a bunch of bears fishing salmon (dogs were in the car)

someone thinks she's a person

The rains started the last day and poor Whiskey gets so cold that I'm going to have to get her (or knit her) a nice winter jacket soon.

Whiskey is shivering after a wet walk

Saturday, October 4, 2014

A puppy and a ball

Whiskey makes us happy. Pure and simple.

Today while we were at the park, Whiskey found a deflated ball and had a blast tossing it up and chasing it around. Puppies teach us to be happy with anything. They're not afraid of being silly, of showing how much they love you, and will do anything for roast lamb. This is Whiskey with her found flattened ball.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Daycare options

Over the last couple weeks we've been trying different options for when we're both working during the day.  We both work from 9-6 and bike to work so it's actually 8:45-6:20 we are out of the house.  At first I thought it was really expensive for dog services but over time I'm seeing how much it makes sense and how much happier Whiskey is if she gets the exercise.  For all the options we still walk her in the morning for 30-45mins (with most of it off leash) and also another walk as soon as we come home.  This is our experience so far:

Dog hiking (1.5 hours hiking, 3 hours out) $22
  • It's actually difficult to find a very good company with openings because they're usually scheduled with regulars so we've had to use two different companies so far.  We give them the key and they come at around 12-12:30 and bring her back around 3-3:30.  I found some "hikes" were actually to a beach and park so we prefer the one company that actually hikes.  All hikes are off-leash and regulated to max 6 dogs.  Both companies have reported that Whiskey has been great and has really good recall.  She's been "one of the easiest puppies" which is great to hear!  The downside is she's locked in her crate the rest of the day.

sample picture of usual hikes with company #1
of course she's on a log!
At the park (not always a hike with company#2)
Daycare $22 +($25 in car rental)
  • We've only tried this twice and it was the most difficult because we need to grab a Car2go each time (we are working on buying a car soon).  Driving in rush hour traffic to drop her off and pick her up is also frustrating.  Mix that with potential carsickness, parking, and the daycare closes at 6:30- it became our last option.  The daycare itself was great though and she was happy to lie down when she came home.
    Whiskey with "Bruce Wayne"

    someone is a tired puppy

    rubber floors so they don't slip and hurt joints

Petsitting $35
  • We found someone on Dogvacay (think AirBnB but for dogs) who lives pretty close so we've been dropping her off once a week there.  It's more expensive but it means no crate time, one on one attention, petting, and a home environment.  She gets to sleep in the bed and go out for a long walk to the park.

Coming home at lunchtime $0
  • Cheapest option but much more work! We need to bike home at lunch and because the biking takes up half our lunch, we tag-team taking Whiskey to the park and getting her some outside time. It's great to spend more time with her and she's always so happy! It's much harder on rainy days though, and we live in Vancouver (Raincouver)
Our current schedule is
Monday: hike Tuesday: hike Wednesday: petsitting Thursday: hike Friday: come home

I think in the end I would like to leave Whiskey in the bedroom (we only have 2 rooms in our loft) and have her hike everyday.