Sunday, February 27, 2011

All Tuckered Out

We took Oscar to the dog park again today. We met up with our friends, the owners of his cockapoo friend, Mia. We were out for over an hour. Then we took him to PetSmart to get a new clicker, which was required because of our little training setback. He was tired enough from the dog park that he actually sat quietly (more or less) while he waited for us to finish paying, even though there was another dog right next to us.

When we got home, we let him warm up, and then it was bath time. He's gotten pretty good during baths, and generally sits still while I bathe him, and even when I clean his eyes. He's usually a nut when he gets out though, and today was no exception. After he dried out a bit, he was calm and actually let me brush him pretty thoroughly. He did try to eat the brush (as usual), but other than that, he was quite well behaved. It was the longest brushing session we've had yet! Yay! Now he's napping. A busy day means a tired dog, which means a happy owner!

All cleaned up, with a nice fluffy coat!
He may need a haircut soon though...

Pure Chewing Joy

For once, the thing that Oscar's happily chewing is one of his toys! Now that's progress.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Clicker Training: A Progress Report

I think it's pretty safe to say that clicker training at our house has taken a few (some might say crucial) steps back. But on a brighter note, if I ever get sick of giving Oscar his normal treats, apparently I could just start feeding him clickers.

Happy blog hopping!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Fibre: A Dog's Friend...Maybe?

So this may be a bit of an icky subject, but we took Oscar to the vet recently to get his anal glands expressed. That's right, dogs have anal glands, and if they fill up, they need to be emptied. Gross, huh? I definitely didn't read about this before I got a dog! If you notice your dog sniffing at his backside or scooting along the floor, it's possible that his anal glands are the reason he's doing that. Soft stools contribute to the problem, because then the glands don't empty on their own as they would with bulkier stools. We asked our vet what we could do about it, since it would be better not to have to head to the vet for that too often. First off, she said that we could do it on our own, but I am definitely not that desperate to save the money that it takes to get it done! She then also recommended getting treats that have fruits or veggies in them, or adding a spoonful of Metamucil to his food to increase his fibre intake and bulk up his stool.

I did some more reading about this. There are some good articles here and here about anal gland issues. I'm a bit confused now, though, because this whole time I've been reading about what kind of dog food is good for dogs, and the ones with less grains are the better quality ones. The general rule is to look at the first five ingredients, and the more meat there is in those ingredients, the better. But now I'm hearing that adding fibre might be better for Oscar...but doesn't fibre generally mean non-meat products, like grains? This is getting complicated. I think for now, I'll stick to fruits and veggies in his treats and keep avoiding grains. I've also started feeding him carrots and bananas as treats, and will be adding apples and green beans to the menu too. Hopefully these little changes will keep us from having to head to the vet too often...and I'm sure Oscar would appreciate that too, since I'm sure the process isn't pleasant!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

An Award - How Nice!

I've had so much fun with this blog since I started blogging in December. It's been great discovering new pet blogs, and pet bloggers are some of the nicest people out there! Since I still consider myself a new kid on the blogging block, it was so lovely to hear that Santa, Minnie and Christmas passed on the Stylish Blogger Award to me! Thanks so much! Thanks also to Farley, who also kindly passed the award on to me a while back, except I was a bit slow on the draw when it came to figuring out the protocol for how the award got passed on, so I didn't pass it along like I was supposed to!

The rules for accepting the award are to thank the person (or pups!) who gave you the award, share 7 things about yourself, link to 15 recently discovered bloggers, and contact them to tell them about the award.

Since this blog isn't really about me, I'll share a mix of things about myself and about Oscar.

  1. I am a first time dog owner. That's why I love going through other blogs to learn as much as I can, and sharing what I've learned.
  2. I'm slightly addicted to buying dog toys and supplies. I could spend hours in PetSmart! I think it's fun trying to find toys that will hold Oscar's interest and looking for healthy treats that he'll enjoy.
  3. I'm hoping to start making some homemade treats for Oscar. I figure that it will let me keep a closer eye on what he's eating and that it will save me some money too! I'll let you know how those culinary experiments go.
  4. We have an exercise pen for Oscar, which is hooked up to his crate and the baby gate. He has discovered numerous ways to escape his exercise pen, so we've had to come up with increasingly elaborate ways to keep the pen together to make sure he's confined during the day so that he doesn't escape and chew up our entire house. I can't imagine the trouble he could get into if he was loose in our house for a whole day! He's a clever little escape artist.
  5. Oscar greets other dogs and people quite nicely...unless they are on the other side of a fence. Then he's a barking machine! He's got a low bark, where he sounds bigger than he is, and then he's got his yappy, ear-splitting puppy bark. You can probably guess which one I prefer.
  6. Oscar hasn't learned yet that it's easiest to get around in a car when he's sitting or lying down. He gets so excited during car rides that he stands the whole time, running around from window to window or trying to jump into the front with us. We bought a harness for him that we're going to try to use, and I've also been trying to lure him into staying down by holding a treat near his nose the whole ride. It hasn't quite worked yet...
  7. We aren't the most organized of people, so our countertops and tables are a bit cluttered. Sadly for us, Oscar has now learned how to climb onto tables (opening up a whole new world of things that he shouldn't be chewing), so we'll have to learn how to keep the surfaces in our house clutter-free. It's so much easier to just leave things lying around! It's kind of startling to walk into the room and see the dog standing on the dining room table, staring at me.
Now I'd like to pass on the award to other very stylish blogs that I have a lot of fun reading. I wouldn't be surprised if some of these blogs have already received this award!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Sleepy Dog

Oscar's usually a bit of a crazy dog, but as a puppy, he's also very good at napping. Sometimes he's almost as entertaining asleep as he is when he's awake.

On his back.

This looks terribly uncomfortable!

Half on his side, half on his back.

I love the little paw sticking through the crate.

I read that dogs sometimes sleep on their backs because there is less fur on their tummies so when they're hot, they turn over. Cute!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A Treacherous Afternoon at the Dog Park

It was absolutely beautiful here on Friday. It was 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit) and sunny. Of course, that lasted all day while I was indoors at work, and by the time I left for the day, it had gotten dark and cold. It's been freezing ever since. We thought it would be relatively warm today so we brought Oscar to the dog park, but it was -10 degrees (14 Fahrenheit) with a windchill of -17 (1 Fahrenheit) so we didn't stay as long as we usually do.

Since it was so insanely warm on Friday, a ton of snow melted. You could actually see grass! But when it got cold again, that meant the big puddles from the melted snow froze over. The dog park looked like a skating rink, and the paths were pretty much all ice. It was a little dangerous!

We spent most of the time at the park trying not to slip.

It looks like we're on the shore of a pond!

Oscar didn't have too much trouble getting around, though he slipped once and a bigger dog knocked him over another time while playing a little too enthusiastically. I had a mishap of my own, when a mid-sized dog knocked me over while running around, even though it was on a leash. The owner didn't even apologize...probably because she was busy talking on her cell phone. Sigh. Not impressed!

All is well though, and Oscar had a good (though cold) day of exercise and socialization at the dog park. When we got home, I threw one of his favourite squeaky toys for him to fetch and he just stood there looking at it from across the room. Now he's snuggled up in his crate and can't be bothered to move from there. Smart dog.

Notice the open door...
but Oscar's only interested in sleeping!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Back to Basics: Clicker Training

When we took Oscar to puppy class, our trainer gave us a clicker. The clicker wasn't really the focus of the class, though. While the class was based on positive reinforcement, it was more about using treats alone than pairing treats with the clicker. I've tried to use the clicker on my own, but I'm a bit ashamed to say that using the clicker has been sporadic at best. Plus, I was never taught how to do it, so I've just looked it up online and done what I thought was best, meaning I'm probably making some rookie mistakes.

Oscar went through a bit of a stubborn phase where he seemed to forget commands that he knew, like Sit or Come (especially Come). It's a bit better now, but he's still not consistent with his commands. I'd also like to work on his manners, since he still jumps up on us, nips our hands when he thinks we're holding treats, and walks over us when we're sitting on the couch. I noticed when I did use the clicker that it seemed to work a bit better than just using treats. The clicker helps me to mark the correct behaviour more effectively than praising. (This is especially important for Oscar because he often does something mischievous right after doing something right - like dropping a dishtowel or something else he's not supposed to eat, and then as soon as I praise, picking it right back up again before I can get my hands on it. I definitely don't want to accidentally praise the act of him picking the item back up!) The clicking also gets his attention in a way that our voices just don't seem to do. It gets the result that I'm looking for more consistently, more quickly. I'm hoping that consistent use of clicker training will help me teach Oscar to be a better-behaved puppy!

I've read that you shouldn't treat every time you click, because then the dog won't perform the behaviour if the food is not present. Instead, other reinforcements should be used. I assume that this means that praise should be alternated with treats. That's what I've been doing, not just to ensure that I get the behaviour I want, but also because I don't want Oscar getting too chubby. I'll probably reduce the amount of food that he gets to make up for the clicking and treating.

The only downsides so far are that I have to be careful to be really consistent, and I'm probably not as good as this as I could be. I'm working on it! I have to make sure that I've got the clicker with me at all times so that I can "catch" him doing the right thing. I don't want to miss an opportunity to praise! The other issue is that he seems to think that the clicker is the treat, and sometimes tries to eat it. That would be a problem.

Are there any clicker trainers out there with any advice for an amateur like me?  I'll be sure to let you know how training progresses!

A clicker and my treat/kibble mix. Hopefully
they're the key to good behaviour!

Keeping the Chompers Healthy

I have to say that I've been a bit lax in my grand plan to get Oscar used to having his teeth brushed. While he's pretty comfortable with us touching his ears and his tail, he's pretty finicky with us touching his paws and really hates when we try to look in his mouth. It's therefore a bit of a struggle (to say the least) to get him to let me look in his mouth.

Having said that, I haven't given up on good dental care for Oscar. Our vet told us when we first brought Oscar in to see her that small dogs can be especially susceptible to bad teeth. I'm not really sure why their teeth get worse in comparison to big dogs, but I'll trust the expert on that one. I also found out that teeth cleaning for dogs can cost hundreds of dollars, so it kind of goes without saying that I'd like to keep his teeth in good shape.

It's Pet Dental Month, as you may know since a lot of pet bloggers have been talking about it. The pet stores have had some dental products on sale because of that. I saw this TropiClean water additive on sale last week, which is supposed to freshen breach and reduce plaque and tartar, so I figured I'd give it a try. I've been adding a little to Oscar's water each day. My plan is to use a water additive to help keep his teeth clean (or at least cleaner) until we get to the point where he lets me brush his teeth. Has anyone else tried this or something like it? I'm not sure if it's doing much, since Oscar won't really let me get a good look at his teeth. His front teeth look shiny and white, but I can't really see much past that without him nipping at me.

When I first started looking into how to care for Oscar's teeth, I came across the Veterinary Oral Health Council site. The VOHC is made up of a group of vets, and it reviews pet dental products which are submitted by companies that want their products to receive the VOHC seal of acceptance. The seal is given to dog and cat products that, according to the standards of the VOHC, reduce plaque and tartar. Right after I bought the water additive, I remembered the site and went back to check if it the TropiClean additive was on the list of products that have received the seal. While the TropiClean one isn't, there is a Healthymouth water additive that has been added to the list. The ingredient lists are quite different, so I'll do some more reading about this to try to educate myself a bit more about what would be best to use.

While I was doing a bit more reading about VOHC, I came across the website for the Hale Veterinary Clinic, a dental-only veterinary clinic. He has talked about the VOHC seal in an article on his site. He also has a useful guide to pet dental care here. The tip about using a washcloth before trying to use a toothbrush sounds like a good one!

Now that it's Pet Dental Month, Greenies (a product that is on the VOHC list) is involved in an initiative to donate money to the American Animal Hospital Association's Helping Pets Fund. For each blog post about the VOHC seal, Greenies will donate $25, for each use of #VOHC on Twitter, they'll donate $1, and for each Like of the Greenies Facebook page, they'll donate $1. It sounds like a decent cause to me, and since I was planning on blogging about this water additive anyway because of Pet Dental Month, it's perfect timing! If you'd like, spread the word!

Happy blog hopping!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Chewing Costs Money. Really.

Oscar, as a typical miniature schnauzer, loves chewing things. He's chewed a ton of things that he's not supposed to, like gloves, shoes and even a couple of doors. Tonight, we got a good idea of exactly how much his chewing habit costs us.

I realize that it's our fault for leaving it where he could get to it. However, in fairness to us, it was on the back of the countertop, way out of his reach. We thought it was safe and meant to put it away later. He just managed to pull down a towel or something when we weren't looking, which I guess took the money down with it. Unfortunately it looks like a chunk of the bill is sitting in his belly. I did some looking around online and there's some talk that a bank will take a bill that's damaged as long as you have over 50% of the bill, so I'm hoping that's true and that he didn't just eat $20. Figuratively and literally.

Sigh. That little troublemaker. He's lucky that he's so cute. You just can't stay mad at that little face.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Thanks, Deer

I have heard that deer antlers can be a good chew for dogs. It kind of sounds strange, but what do I know? After all, we do give him bull pizzles, and dogs chew on all sorts of other weird things, like pig's ears and hooves and things. I don't buy pig's ears because they are high in fat, and I don't buy hooves because the idea of having hooves lying around my house weirds me out a little. He doesn't get rawhides anymore, pressed or otherwise, because of the choking risk and because rawhides aren't easily digestible.

When we were in Pet Valu the other day, we saw some naturally-shed deer antlers that were cut into smaller pieces and thought we'd give them a try. The texture of the antlers is more like bone. He tends to chew on the inside of the antler, which is a bit softer. I figure if dogs can chew bones, then antlers should be all right too. I've done some reading and people seem to like them. We were told that the feedback on them at the store has been very good, as they are very long lasting. It doesn't smell at all, and apparently does not splinter or stain. Maybe I'll stick with them since he seems to like them, but my biggest worry is how hard they are, since I wouldn't want him damaging his teeth on them. Has anyone tried these and have any advice about them?

I know I've been doing quite a few toy and product-related posts lately. For the record, none of the products I discuss are sponsored or anything. I don't run a fancy enough shop for that! I just like sharing what works for us and and what doesn't, and like to hear back about your experiences as well. Since I've got a puppy with a short attention span, knowing what he likes and what keeps him busy is helpful! If I can give others recommendations or feedback, then all the better!

The antler, after a little chewing.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Get to Know Us a Little Better!

AJ and Jack have set up a blog hop in order to help us pet bloggers get to know each other better. AJ is apparently a relatively new blogger, as am I. I have discovered a lot of great blogs through blog hops, so I think this is a great idea!

Name: Oscar
Humans: There's me, the mysterious OscarBlogger, and my husband. Unlike many other pet blogs, I am the blogger, not Oscar the Pooch.
Website/Blog: Oscar the Pooch
Age: A little over 8 months
Location: Ontario, Canada
Breed: Miniature schnauzer, though lately my husband and I have started to think that there might be something else in him as well, since he's quite a lot bigger than most minis we see. He's at the very top of the weight range...but maybe he's just a big boy!
How We Met: My husband and I made the decision to get a puppy last summer. I did a ton of reading about breeds, and we eliminated a lot of options before deciding that we'd like either a miniature schnauzer or a soft-coated wheaten terrier. It was really a matter of timing. We found a nearby breeder with a litter of four new minis - three black female pups and a salt-and-pepper male. We knew we wanted a salt-and-pepper puppy and figured that we'd probably prefer a male over a female, so we made the call. We visited them, played with the pups for a while, and decided Oscar was the one we wanted. We brought him home at 8 weeks old.
Best Trick: Leave It. We can put a tempting treat right on his paw when he downs and he'll stare at it until he's allowed to take it. He's got a few more, like Roll Over, Wait, and Shake a Paw, but Leave It is by far the one he has had the most practice with.
Favourite Toy: A Kong filled with peanut butter. Anything food-filled is good, but that's the one that keeps him the quietest. He also seems to enjoy our socks, gloves and towels, but since they're not supposed to be toys, I'm not counting them.
Best Friend: He has a cockapoo friend named Mia - they are good pals. He also likes anyone who will give him a treat or a belly rub.
Worst Enemy: He has several, but the top of the list would probably either be the vacuum cleaner or the shovel. The broom would be a very close third. He'll chase and bark at all of them, and no amount of treats or training has been able to quiet him down much yet. He'll get so excited that he'll jump right out of his exercise pen when we're shoveling near his window. He's just trying to keep the house safe!

Update: I got the linky fixed, thanks to a tip from Debby and Kirby over at Kirby the Dorkie! They're a part of the blog hop too, so head on over and visit them, along with the other bloggers!

The Mystery of the Disappearing Toy

One of my favourite treat dispensing toys is the Busy Buddy Twist N' Treat.  It is basically two plastic halves that screw together and hold treats.  There are openings that let treats fall out.

Ours is missing.  Well, half of it is missing.  The last time I saw it, I had put a few liver treats inside to keep Oscar busy.  Now, all we have left is this:

That's right. Oscar somehow managed to unscrew the toy - I have no idea how - and has apparently stashed the other half somewhere. Now that's skill.

It's been weeks, and we can't figure out where it has gone. We have looked under every couch and in every possible place where he could have nudged it into, but alas, it has disappeared. I have lost all hope of finding the other half, so I'll probably end up buying another one. The one we had was small, from when he was a baby, so I'll probably upsize to the medium one so that we could maybe feed him some kibble from it. The nice thing, though, is that he chews the remaining half on its own. I guess he just likes how it feels, even though he's usually not interested in rubber toys. He never used to do that with the whole toy before. Interesting.

Happy blog hopping!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Planet Dog

I was in Pet Valu the other day and came across an interesting-looking toy.  The brand is Planet Dog, and the toy is called the Orbo. They also make balls, chewy bones, and other toys. The Orbo looks like a Kong but the material is much softer and bouncier (and apparently buoyant, for those of you with pools). It looks like a little planet Earth (well, two planet Earths fused together, I guess). I was reading more about them last night and decided to get one. They are mint-scented/flavoured to keep the dog interested. I would love to be able to find a rubber toy that Oscar likes to chew on that doesn't have to be stuffed with treats. He seems to like chewing on my husband's rubber Nike sandals every night, but ignores dog toys that we actually buy for him to play with. He seems to like it so far, but only time will tell if he will just ignore it like the others. It does have a place to stuff treats though, so if he won't play with it just on its own, then I'll have to give in and put treats in there to tempt him. I'll report back!


Stuffable...though the opening is smaller than
the Kong so I'll probably only put small treats
 in it, rather than filling it with peanut butter.

Waiting so patiently to play with the toy!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Proud Mama

Oscar went to his second session of day camp today. Sounds like his socialization skills are developing nicely.  He apparently made lots of friends this time, when the first time he went he was more of a one-on-one play kind of pup. They said he didn't nap a lot this time either. Word on the street is that he made himself a new "girlfriend" too. What a little flirt we're raising! Now that he's home, he's been very busy, as you can see from the pictures.

Hurrah for puppy day camp!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Bath Time!

After our trip to the dog park, Oscar was pretty muddy, which meant that it was bath time for the little guy. He is relatively well-behaved at bath time, though he usually tries to jump out of the tub at least once or twice during each bath. I keep meaning to get a mat for the tub, because it gets a little slippery and he gets nervous when he loses his footing. I brush him before I bathe him, because if there are any mats or tangles in his fur, they will get worse after they get wet. I used a hair dryer to dry him off the very first time I gave him a bath, but it scared him and I also read that you can accidentally burn a dog when using a hair dryer without realizing it, so since then I have just towel-dried him.  I think I may have to look into getting a different shampoo, because Oscar always rubs his face like crazy on the rug after he takes a bath. I think his eyes get itchy, even though we use a tearless puppy shampoo. Bath time was a success, and now he smells good and his fur is nice and soft.

He hopped into the tub without me even asking!

Having a drink...

Okay, let's get this over with.

Looking a bit like a drowned rat. Poor little guy... 

Now it's time to air-dry.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

A Tired Dog is a Good Dog

Today was a beautiful winter day (and as someone who is too lazy to get out there and partake in winter activities, I don't say this very often). It was mild and sunny out, so we figured it would be a great day to take Oscar to the dog park. We wanted to get him out there last weekend, but he was under the weather so we thought we'd let him rest up and get better.

Since it was so gorgeous out, there were tons of people and dogs at the park. We were out there for over an hour and walked around the whole park. Oscar was so excited to be out of the house that he was literally quivering with excitement in the car. In fact, he was a bit overexcited at the start, and chased a dog who was leaving right out into the parking lot. We had thought that we were far enough into the park that it was safe to let him off leash...we were wrong. While the park is fenced, the entrance to the park is just a break in the fence, which is not the most secure setup. He's a speedy little guy, so he darted away and the Come command didn't do a heck of a lot in the moment. We ran after him (which was a little embarrassing), put the leash back on him, took him further into the park, then set him loose again to play with all of the other dogs. 

We ran into lots of dogs on our walk around the park, including a bunch of other schnauzers. At one point, Oscar and two other schnauzers were hanging out. It was a little schnauzer convention! They were all different colours too - the salt-and-pepper Oscar, a black and silver one, and a white and gray one. So cute! 

Other than the parking lot mishap, Oscar did great. He stayed close to us for the most part and played well with the other pups. He also did pretty well with his recall, too. All in all, a very good day of socialization and exercise - and I got to try out my new camera! Fun all around!

Plenty of room to run around and play!


Oscar perks right up when he sees other dogs.

One of the times that "Come" worked. Doggy lightning!

Oscar got wet after running around in the parking lot.

Snow in the paws...what a hassle!

Heading home.

The snow in his paws melted into pools of muddy
water in the car.  The waterproof car seat cover
came in very, very handy!

Crate Redecorating

Oscar loves pawing around in his crate and yanking his blankets and towels around. The blue crate pad in the picture was originally under the yellow sheet, but then Oscar pulled it out from under the sheet, out of the crate, and then ran around the room chewing on it. Then he changed his mind and decided he'd like it back in the crate after all, but got tired before he could get the job done. Apparently it makes a good pillow!

Happy blog hopping!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Puppy Personality Testing

Right now I'm reading Jennifer Arnold's Through a Dog's Eyes. It's a very interesting book which discusses all sorts of aspects of dog behaviour and biology and how they affect the relationship between dogs and their people. I'll probably talk about some of the issues it raises in more detail once I've finished it, because the book contains many intriguing facts as well stories about special dogs that amazed me. I'd highly recommend it. It's a very good read!

One intriguing part of the book was the discussion of dogs and whether or not they have personalities. According to Ms. Arnold, they do, and I agree. I'd really be interested to know how many dog owners out there don't believe that their dogs have unique personalities! Anyway, there is a dog personality test that Ms. Arnold discusses which is online here. Apparently it can help to determine your dog's personality out of 12 possible distinct personalities, based on three aspects:

  • Environmental: whether your dog is organized or spontaneous;
  • Social: whether your dog is an alpha (a leader), a beta (a "social climber" who challenges where he stands in the social order), or a gamma (a follower); and
  • Energy: high or medium (I'm not sure why there isn't a "low").

I tried the test and Oscar came out an Adventurer - a spontaneous, beta and high energy dog. Sounds about right! What's yours?

The very image of an Adventurer -
he's almost too fast to take a picture of!
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