Monday, June 27, 2011

Naps are the Best

I think Oscar would agree with me. That's him sleeping in his favourite spot - on top of the back of the couch.  It's flattened out now because he lies on it so much. I think he likes it there because that's where my husband lies down to watch TV, so he can be close without having to snuggle. Oscar is not much of a snuggler.

He naps a lot more now than when he was little. I still remember the first time he got tired early and napped - I thought there was something wrong with him since all I had seen of him before that was him being crazily rambunctious unless he was in his crate. As much as he is still an energetic pup, he has calmed down significantly since then, which is a relief. I probably wouldn't be able to keep up otherwise - I don't have nearly that much energy!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Great Corn Debate

I didn't actually know there really was a debate until today, when we brought Oscar to the vet for his check-up. I thought corn was no good, full stop, and that was pretty widely accepted. Tonight, we saw a vet that we had not seen before. As part of Oscar's check-up, the vet asked what food he was on. I told her that he was on Blue Buffalo. She said that she wasn't that fond of Blue Buffalo, that she had heard of dogs who had problems on Blue Buffalo, and that there had been a recall of Blue Buffalo last year, which made her a bit wary about it. She then said that miniature schnauzers are prone to health issues like pancreatitis, diabetes, and bladder stones. She recommended that we put him on a low-fat diet, as high fat levels can contribute to problems like pancreatitis and diabetes (though not the bladder stones). 

She recommended a few brands: Light Science DietRoyal Canin, or Purina Pro Plan (but not normal Purina, which she didn't recommend). I asked her more about this, because I said I had looked into Science Diet and Royal Canin and remembered at least one of them having corn as the first ingredient, which I didn't think was very good. The vet said that corn and by-products have gotten a bad rap, and that they are not actually as bad as people say they are. She said corn has some protein in it, which is good. She also said that good quality by-products can be better than bad quality meats, so dog foods with these ingredients can be trusted, if they are good quality brands. (I feel like that's not good logic - doesn't quality depend on the ingredients themselves?)

Now, I am not a vet. The extent of my scientific training is a couple of biology and chemistry classes in undergrad (biology was fun, chemistry was blech, and so I switched into Arts), and the extent of my work with dogs is restricted to my experience with Oscar. However, I have done a lot of reading about dog food. Everything I had read said that corn was not good for dogs, that is is cheap filler, and that it can cause allergies and digestion problems. I have also read about by-products in dog food, and read that by-products should be avoided. It made sense to me - by-product meal is essentially made up of parts of the carcass (besides the meat) which are ground up. Could this be wrong? Can corn and by-product meals be good for dogs, as long as they are high quality?

I did some reading, and tried to stay away from forums where average Joes like me would congregate to talk about food, since most of those places have people who are very vocal about how terrible corn and by-products are for dogs, but most of those people probably don't have any more training or experience than me. I couldn't find much, but before I gave up clicking through random Google results, I found a couple of articles by vets here and here (or at least people who claim to be vets - after all, it is the Internet and I suppose I can't be 100% sure). The argument for corn is that there is apparently not much proof that corn is linked to allergies, that it is highly digestible, and that it contains proteins and other things that are good for dogs.

It seems that there is a bit of a debate, though I think it's safe to say the pro-corn side is losing. So what am I supposed to do with this? On one hand, I've done a ton of reading, looked at a lot of ingredient lists, and picked a food that is high in protein and grain-free. Oscar hasn't had any trouble whatsoever with Blue Buffalo, either on his puppy formula or the salmon recipe adult food he's on now. However, I also recognize that I have no training in animal care, and our vet told us tonight that she was not crazy about Blue Buffalo and that we should switch him to one of the three brands she recommended. So should I listen to her, or chalk this all up to an economic conspiracy? I couldn't help but notice the Science Diet and Royal Canin on the vet's shelves, though I suppose the food could be on the shelf not because the food companies sponsor it or provide it cheaply or something, but because the vets there truly believe the food is good for dogs. I figured I should at least take another look at these foods, so I checked out the ingredient lists. Here are the first ten ingredients for Science Diet and Royal Canin, for the type that I would buy for Oscar. Purina Pro Plan didn't have their ingredient lists online, which makes me a bit grumpy - isn't that the most important information about dog food?

Science Diet Adult Small & Toy Breed Light: Whole Grain Corn, Soybean Mill Run, Chicken By-Product Meal, Powdered Cellulose, Corn Gluten Meal, Soybean Meal, Chicken Liver Flavor, Soybean Oil, Lactic Acid, vitamins (L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement).

Royal Canin Miniature Schnauzer 25Chicken, brown rice, rice, chicken meal, oatmeal, corn gluten meal, chicken fat, barley, natural chicken flavor, wheat gluten meal.

The top-ten (if you will) list for Blue Buffalo Wilderness Salmon Recipe is: Deboned SalmonMenhaden Fish Meal (natural source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids)Chicken MealPotato StarchPeasChicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid), PotatoesTomato Pomace (source of Lycopene), Natural Chicken FlavorFlaxseed.

I have to say, no matter what the vet tells me, I don't think there's any way I can in good conscience feed Oscar Science Diet. There is only one meat ingredient in the top ten, and it's chicken by-product meal. I don't care how "good quality" the by-product meal is, it's still by-product meal. If you asked me if I'd rather have chicken meat, or ground up chicken parts not including the meat, I don't think you could persuade me to take the chicken parts over the meat, even if they were "good quality" parts. Their second ingredient is "soybean mill run." I didn't even know what that was, and had to look it up. The definition I found was basically that soybean mill run consists of soybean hulls, and whatever soybean "meat" remains on the hulls after the soybeans are milled. Seriously? Soybean hulls, not even the bean itself? I'd be feeding my dog a bowl of corn, soybean hulls, and chicken parts (but not the meat). I don't think so. The Royal Canin doesn't look nearly as bad, but there sure is a lot of grain in the top ten, which I'm not crazy about.

Maybe I've been brainwashed by the big corn and by-product "conspiracy," but I feel like the commonsense conclusion in all this is: the more natural the food is, the better it would be for my dog. I also ask myself, out of these ingredients, what is a dog more likely to eat in the wild? Also, what would I myself be more inclined to eat? I have to say, the Blue Buffalo, with the three meat ingredients in the top five and no weird stuff like soybean hulls, sounds better to me. Even though I don't know what "natural chicken flavor" is, it sounds like something that I'd find in my canned food or something, and I definitely find it less off-putting than "powdered cellulose."  (Update: I looked closer at the ingredient list on Blue Buffalo's site, and they actually define each of their ingredients. Natural chicken flavor is liquefied or dried chicken tissue that is used as a flavor enhancer. Not too delicious-sounding, but at least it's actually chicken, and not some weird chemical.)

Given my remaining (and strong) doubts about corn and other grains and by-product meals, I don't think I'll be switching to the brands the vet recommended. Blue Buffalo does have a Wilderness Healthy Weight Chicken Recipe. Since it's a Wilderness recipe, it's still high in protein and grain-free, but it's a recipe targeted to help dogs stay at a healthy weight. The top ten list is: Deboned ChickenChicken MealTurkey MealPotato StarchPotatoesPeasFlaxseed (source of Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids), Tomato Pomace (source of Lycopene), Natural Chicken Flavor, Alfalfa Meal.

The list looks decent - the first three ingredients are meat. I think I'll stop by PetSmart and see if they carry it in-store, and maybe when Oscar makes a dent in the giant bag of food we bought him, we'll consider switching him over. Part of me doesn't want to switch him if he's doing well on the food he's on now, but since I know that weight issues can be problematic for schnauzers, I don't want to wait until something is wrong to do something about it.

Please don't get me wrong - I'm not unquestioningly pro-Blue Buffalo. There are certain foods by the line that I'm not a big fan of, which is why I switched Oscar to a Wilderness food as opposed to one of their Life Protection Formula adult foods (he was on a Life Protection Formula puppy food). There are adult foods in the Life Protection Formula line with oatmeal or barley high in list of the first five ingredients. Even if a meat is listed first (meaning that it is the single biggest ingredient), the next two ingredients combined could make up a bigger proportion of the food in total than the first ingredient. That means if the first ingredient is a meat, but the next two are grains, it could mean that there is more grain in the food than meat. I would therefore rather get a food that clearly has more meat than grain (like one with meat as the first three ingredients) rather than one that is more questionable (like one with meat as only one of the first three ingredients, and another meat later down in the line after a bunch of grain ingredients). For me, it's not the brand that makes or breaks a food - it's the ingredient list.

Whether we decide to switch Oscar to the Blue Buffalo weight-control food or not, I just don't buy the other side of this debate and will not switch him to the other brands. I don't think I'll be feeding my dog corn or by-products if I can help it. What about you? Where do you fall in this debate?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Oscar's Annual Check-Up

Oscar had to go to the vet today for his first annual check-up. He had to get a few vaccines (bordetella, leptospira and rabies) and was examined by the vet. I'm proud to report that everything came back normal! The vet said he is at a healthy weight, though at 20.4 lbs., he's pretty big for a miniature schnauzer. I really think there must be a little bit of some other breed in him too. Even though we've never cleaned or plucked his ears, the vet said that they look good, and recommended that we not do anything to his ears unless we notice a problem, like if he starts scratching at it or we notice an odor. He also has very good teeth, especially for a schnauzer. I guess all of that chewing is good for something! The rest of him checked out okay too. The vet did talk to me about his food, and told me something that really shocked me, so I'll blog about that separately in more detail later this weekend. The vet said that Oscar might be quiet tonight and for the next day or two because of his vaccines, but he hasn't showed any signs of slowing down yet - typical Oscar. It's so good to know that our little guy is doing well!

That's one healthy pup!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Working on Patience

The biggest goal for me with Oscar's training is to work on reining in his natural excitable tendencies. We make him wait for things in order to teach him patience and control. He has to sit and wait before he gets breakfast, before he's allowed to go through doors, and before he goes up and down stairs. We also work on his Leave It command, which comes in particularly handy on walks because he loves eating random garbage on the street, and is lightning fast about it - which is funny because when we give him fruits or vegetables he hasn't tried yet, he'll put it in his mouth and then spit it out a bunch of times before he decides that it's okay to eat. Silly dog.

Here we are working on his patience by practicing Leave It. I was also trying to keep him occupied by stuffing treats inside his Hol-EE Roller. It's one of my favourites because it's so durable and because we can stuff treats in it, which is crucial for keeping our little Oscar's interest in a toy for more than a couple of minutes. He also likes it when it's empty though, because when we throw it to play fetch with him, it's really bouncy! I found some Blue Buffalo Wilderness treats today at PetSmart, which I thought would be great to get for him because he eats Blue Buffalo kibble and seems to really like it. I also liked that the treats are grain-free, and that the first two ingredients are duck and chicken. Nice! I put the treat inside the toy for him to play with.

"I really want to eat that."

Look how cute these treats are!

Putting the treat inside the toy slows
him down for about two seconds.

"Now can I eat that?"

Sunday, June 19, 2011

What a Wonderful Weekend!

This has probably been the nicest weekend we've had so far this summer. It's been sunny and hot, but not too humid. In other words, it's been perfect! Yesterday, we were out all day playing golf and having a barbecue. It was my first round of golf (nine holes only) but it was a lot of fun because it was best ball so I didn't really need to worry too much about how I was doing. It was a work event, so Oscar got to stay with his friend Mia and her parents, who took the pups on a long walk.

Today, I stopped by the farmer's market to pick up some vegetables to put in our garden. We are a few weeks later with the vegetable garden than we wanted to be, but hopefully if we have a good summer with lots of warmth and sunshine, the plants will grow well anyway. Oscar did some running around out in the yard while we prepped the garden and planted. He didn't help much though, unless you count running away with one of my husband's gardening gloves and refusing to bring it back. Typical!

At least he's not eating our plants!

Tomatoes and cucumbers from the farmer's market.

Green beans from the farmer's market.

Our blank canvas.

Basil plants!

Our garden after some elbow grease!

Oscar running away with his prize.

That thing is too big to be called a stick!

Now, maybe some of you gardening-whiz readers out there can help me with something. I was sent out to buy tomatoes, cucumber, zucchini and green beans for the garden. I got everything but zucchini from the farmer's market. I went to Home Depot's garden centre and they had some veggies for sale, so I took a look around. I saw two little containers of what I thought might be zucchini, but there was no label, and the little plant tag was missing, so as an amateur gardener, I was a little lost. I was pretty sure it was zucchini because of the leaves and the little curlicues (that's the scientific name, isn't it?) that the plant sends out to anchor itself to things. My husband teased me when I got home for buying something I wasn't sure was zucchini, but what can I say, there were no people in the garden centre to ask and it was inexpensive! I figured, worst case scenario, I'd have something new in the garden. What do you think this is? Did I buy something I didn't want?


See the "curlicue" in the middle of the picture?

A close-up of the leaves for plant identification.

This weekend was a lot of fun, and I managed to get myself a pretty good tan. Now it's time for some relaxation on the couch in front of the TV. I hope you all had a good weekend too!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

More Award Love!

It's been an exciting few days here at Oscar the Pooch! I have been awarded the Versatile Blogger Award by Pauline at Oscah Baby, and the Stylish Blogger Award and the Inspiration Award by Sawyer's mom. Thanks so much to both of you for thinking of me, little Oscar and our blog! While I enjoy blogging to keep a journal of sorts about our life with Oscar, and to play around with blog design, I obviously also blog to share my stories and learning experiences, so it means so much to know that other bloggers enjoy reading my blog - especially when they are bloggers that I admire as well!

Since I just recently blogged about the blogs that inspire me, I'll limit this post to the rules for accepting the Versatile Blogger Award. Those rules are to share seven facts about us, and to pass the award on to 15 new or newly discovered bloggers. Fun! I love that these awards get bloggers to share more about themselves so that we can learn more about each other. If I run out of interesting things to share about myself, I'll share a few tidbits about Oscar.
  1. I am nuts about hockey (watching, not playing). I am Canadian, after all. My favourite team is the Edmonton Oilers, because Edmonton is my hometown. It's been a dreary few years for my beloved Oilers, but hopefully with a couple of years of high draft picks, they may make a comeback!
  2. I'm a huge bookworm. I read mostly fiction, though I am eagerly awaiting a couple of dog training books from Amazon. I recently bought a Kobo digital reader. I wasn't sure how much I would like it, since I couldn't imagine not reading from a real book (no pages to would that work?), but I actually love it. It's light, convenient, and it holds a ton of books, which is so handy for when I travel. No more lugging two or three books in my purse on the plane! Not to mention e-books are much cheaper than real books.
  3. I am an amateur gardener, and I like it a lot, though I sometimes get lazy with it. We moved into our house just over a year ago. The homeowners before us had a pretty big garden, so I thought it would be nice to build on it. It was a bit tough though - as a newbie gardener, I couldn't really tell the weeds apart from the "good" plants. I've probably left a few weeds that I should have pulled, and pulled a few plants that I should have kept, but the garden is slowly filling up. We have started late on our vegetable garden this year - hopefully not too late! That's the plan for this weekend. It's so nice having fresh produce in your own backyard!
  4. I used to want to open a bookstore/coffee shop, but realized that there's no way I could ever compete with the Chapters/Starbucks superteam. My new dream is of opening a coffee/pet shop. I went to one in town and thought it was the cutest thing ever! I used to work as a barista, so remain confident that I could still make a good cup of coffee (or a latte or cappuccino). If I could do that in a place where I could also sell dog food, treats and toys, that would be so much fun! 
  5. Now for a few facts about Oscar. I think Oscar is a lefty. Our puppy class trainer said you could tell whether a dog was a lefty or a righty by seeing which paw they instinctively bring up first when you teach them to shake a paw. Oscar pretty much consistently uses his left paw.
  6. Oscar was the odd pup out in his litter - in a good way. We were pretty sure that we wanted a male puppy, because they are more playful. We also liked the look of a salt and pepper schnauzer. He was the only salt and pepper male in a litter of four. He has three sisters, and all three of them are all black. 
  7. We have finally found a toy that Oscar will play with which has nothing to do with food. Shocking, I know. The miracle invention is the Jolly Ball Teaser Ball, which is essentially a plastic ball with holes cut out of it, with a smaller ball inside that's just too big to actually fall out of the holes. Oscar tries (without success) to get the little ball out of the big ball. He chases it around almost every day and hasn't gotten sick of it yet. I love this thing!

Here are 15 blogs that are either new, or (relatively) new to me, that I really enjoy following. Please stop by and check them out!

4.  Kol's Notes  
14.  Betsy Boo

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

You Don't Look Like a Schnauzer...

I was looking through old pictures of Oscar today and getting nostalgic about his shaggier days. The groomer groomed the schnauzer out of my schnauzer! It's very sad. I am waiting for his little muzzle to grow out and for him to get shaggy again.

Here are a couple of before and after pictures. I miss that cute little schnauzer face! Not that he's not cute now, but there's something about the schnauzer muzzle, his old-man eyebrows and his flopsy little ears that just makes my heart melt.

Someone was snuffling in the snow!

Our skinny-faced schnauzer getting a chin
scratch and looking a little angry and/or sinister.

I'll have to bring a picture next time we go to the groomer's, because apparently my descriptive skills are sorely lacking. I don't want his cuteness getting shaved away again!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Inspirational Blogs

I was very excited and honoured to hear that Hawk, over at browndog cbr, awarded me with the Inspiration Award. Hawk's blog is one that I love to read. He's always got so many beautiful pictures that highlight his life and the scenery in the southeastern U.S., and also has helpful posts about his training. It's therefore a great honour for me to receive this award from him. Thank you so much, Hawk!

The rules for accepting the award are:
  1. Thank and link back to the person who awarded this to you.
  2. Link posts by you and ten fellow bloggers that you find inspirational.
  3. Forward the award to those ten fellow bloggers.
As someone who is still relatively new to dog ownership and to blogging, I gain so much inspiration and knowledge from my fellow pet bloggers. You have been there with encouraging words when I go through frustrations with raising a stubborn puppy, like when he eats everything in sight (and I mean everything), pulls on his leash, or barks like crazy. You are quick to provide advice and guidance to a newbie dog owner/blogger like me, like when I run into training difficulties. You appreciate my random stories (like my first and second dog-sitting adventures) and my cute pictures of little Oscar. In short, you have made blogging a great learning experience and a lot of fun. I hope that my blog has provided you with inspiration, entertainment, or knowledge in return.

There are a lot of blogs that I love to read, and they are inspiring in their own ways. They motivate me to work harder at my training, to take better pictures, to teach Oscar new things and take him to new places, to make better treats, or to be a better blogger. I'm more than happy to pass the award on to ten of these wonderful blogs. While the rule is to link to posts that are inspiring, I'd rather link to the blogs themselves and talk about why I find them inspiring, since what I love about these blogs can't really be summed up in just one of their blog posts. Here goes, in no particular order!

Just a Pup is Catalina's blog about an absolutely adorable Tibetan Terrier pup named Tibby. I am always impressed by Catalina's dedication to Tibby's training. She also blogs about Tibby's adventures, whether it's walks or visits to doggy day care. Last but not least, I love her pictures of Tibby!

This is Elizabeth's blog about her Cardigan Welsh Corgis, Jon Farleigh and Dewi, and her cats! I love Elizabeth's blog because it's always so entertaining. Her pictures and captions never fail to crack me up, and her pups have so much personality.

Honey's blog is fantastic. Her owner, Hsin-Yi, has posted many fantastic training tips and videos on her website. Hsin-Yi's dedication to training shows in Honey, who looks like a sweet and very well-behaved Great Dane, and I really admire her dedication to helping other dog owners like me work on their training.

I enjoy reading about other miniature schnauzers, but Rubie's blog is one of my favourites. I love reading about Rubie's many adventures, which she often shares with her miniature schnauzer cousins, Scarlet and Zoe. Rubie's mom posts delicious-sounding treat recipes and pictures of Rubie's amazing-looking training classes.

Reading Wyatt and Stanzie's blog is always a lot of fun. They are very charming Airedale Terriers who help their humans out in the garden. The pictures of Wyatt and Stanzie are always cute and entertaining, but I also love the gardening pictures and tips. I am an amateur gardener, so tips and new ideas are always appreciated!

Dex and Louis are handsome miniature schnauzers who live in England. I like reading about their adventures and I am always amazed at the beautiful places they get to romp through. It makes our local dog park look a little boring in comparison!

If you're a pet blogger, you probably already know about PBU. I'm very impressed by Oskar (a miniature schnauzer who has his own blog, The Daily Oskar) and his mom-person Pam creating a place where pet bloggers can find other pet blogs, and being so great with encouraging pet bloggers to go visit other blogs. They were the first ones to link back to Oscar the Pooch when I first started the blog, and they're great about visiting other pet blogs and leaving comments. I think that they are a big part of the pet blogging community, no question about it!

This is a blog about Sadie, an English Springer Spaniel puppy. I love reading about Sadie, because it reminds me of my early days with Oscar. The puppy days go by so quickly! The posts cover a range of topics, from training to treats to general puppy adventures. I also think Sadie is adorable, so I love the cute pictures of her.

AJ's blog is about more than her dog, Jack. AJ blogs about positive reinforcement training, her experiences in raising Jack, and about adoptable dogs. PupLove offers a lot to read and learn about, which is one of the things I like best about it.

This blog is about Santa, Minnie, Christmas, Jingle Bell, Happy, Pinky, and Beckham. It's great to see them all interact with each other in the many pictures and videos in the blog, and they always get such interesting and delicious-looking treats!

If you haven't visited these blogs before, I'd encourage you to, and I hope you find them as inspiring as I have.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Reality TV

I have to admit, I have a shameful weakness for reality television. I'm a bit embarrassed by my enjoyment of certain shows - like Jersey Shore - but others are a bit more respectable. One of my favourite shows is So You Think You Can Dance. The people on that show are so amazing, and I love the routines. Usually Oscar doesn't even notice the TV, but when I was watching the show the other night, it apparently caught his eye.

He was pretty intrigued. The only other time he's ever even looked at the TV was when we were watching some nature show about foxes hunting little baby birds. (I think he was trying to pick up tips - he chases birds around the yard and hasn't learned yet that there's pretty much no chance that he'll catch one.) Apparently So You Think You Can Dance is a crowd pleaser!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Walking in the Heat

We've been walking Oscar as often as possible, even in this crazy heat wave that we've had over the last few days. We've been working on his loose leash walking, so there's been a lot of starting and stopping. We've just been using My Mighty Wolf treats, as opposed to the peanut butter on a wooden spoon, mostly because I keep forgetting to freeze the peanut butter on a wooden spoon (I don't think warm peanut butter works very well, and it's also messy). Oscar's been getting better, and is watching us more often while he walks, but he's still quite the leash-puller. Hopefully we'll get there soon, because even short walks get pretty long when you can only take two steps before stopping! We decided to hold off on getting a new EasyWalk harness for now because we don't want to rely on that for loose leash walking until he's a bit better on his own. We'll definitely go back to it though, because it's great, especially at the dog park, or at PetSmart when he's really excited and pulls like a maniac. Maybe one day I'll get a video of him there - his feet slide like crazy all over the linoleum, but he doesn't actually get anywhere because he's on a leash. Silly pup.

Pulling again...

Yoo hoo...I've got a treat for you -
look at that loose leash!

Now he sees it.

"Forget the treats. I smell
something interesting over there!"

We say "Back" when we want him to
return to our side...but sometimes we
just get this instead. Not quite, Oscar...

That's a warm (and happy) puppy!

Oscar enjoying his Water Rover.

I like this thing - we can carry water
along with us and it pours into the little
cup. When you tip it back up, the extra
water just pours back into the container.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Feeding Our Dog and Saving a Buck...

We recently switched Oscar over from his puppy food to his adult food, Blue Wilderness Salmon Recipe. It's a more expensive food than his puppy formula, so we bought a giant bag of it. That way, even though it's more expensive overall, the unit price is cheaper. Since there's so much of it and Oscar's so small (even though he could probably devour it if we let him), we got one of those food sealer machines so that we could keep the rest of it fresh after opening the bag.

The machine came with a few bags.

You fill up the bag and the machine
vacuum-seals it up. Easy!

Ta-da!  Tons of (fresh) kibble!

Monday, June 6, 2011

That is a LOT of Food...

I'm sure if Oscar had his way, he'd eat it all in one sitting. I love how he looks like he's touching noses with the wolf on the front of the package. Cute!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A Walk in the Park

We went to the dog park yesterday. It was sunny out, but not too hot - great weather for walking around. The last time we went to the park, the leaves hadn't fully grown in on the trees yet. This time, in certain parts of the park, it was like we were walking around in the middle of a forest. It was lovely! We've gone with our friends and their cockapoo the last couple of times, which is nice not just because we get to spend time together, but also because their pup is much better at staying close by than Oscar is.  When she stays close, Oscar tends to stay near her, rather than run off to visit other dogs or smell whatever it is he likes to smell.

This time, we went on our own. I was a little worried that Oscar would run off, like the first time we took him, when he bolted and we had to full out chase him (we didn't stand a chance - good thing he decided to stop and let us catch up with him). The park is huge so it's a real worry for me that Oscar will bolt and we will lose sight of him or won't be able to catch him. We've actually seen a couple of people in the park who had lost track of their dogs and were wandering around, calling for them. How sad would it be to lose your pup at a dog park? I couldn't imagine it.

He was pretty good yesterday, though, and stayed close for the most part. He did have fun sniffing around and socializing with other dogs. Now that summer is in full swing, I think the smells are even stronger than they used to be, because he had his nose to the ground a lot, though I suppose that is typical schnauzer behaviour. Afterwards, he was pretty relaxed in the car and took a long nap when he got home, which is exactly what we wanted. Good dog!

I hope you all enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Saturday, June 4, 2011


Who needs dog toys when you've got an umbrella? Or at least what used to be an umbrella. We need to remember not to leave chewable things near his e-pen during the day. You will be missed, umbrella.

Happy Saturday blog hopping, everyone!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Still Working on Loose Leash Walking...

Oscar is still not very good at loose leash walking. We've been using the EasyWalk harness for a while now, and it works pretty well, but he gnawed through it recently (typical - and yes, we did Bitter Yuck it) so we had to buy a new one. We were using a size small for him, but it seemed a little snug, so we tried to find a small/medium, since EasyWalk makes in-between sizes. PetSmart didn't have any of the in-between sizes, so we tried a medium, and it was way too big on him. We had to try! We haven't had a chance to try to exchange the harness yet, so lately, we've been using the simple leash and collar. I forgot how much Oscar pulls! He's only around 18 lbs, but he's strong! When we took Oscar for a walk this evening, I figured I'd test out a trick I read about ages ago but never tried - peanut butter on a wooden spoon to help keep Oscar next to us, rather than pulling ahead.

The secret weapon!

He seems interested...

...but only for a while.

It wasn't too long before he lost interest and
pulled ahead while I stumbled behind him,
waving the peanut butter-covered wooden spoon.

It did help him focus on Sit, which
was helpful when cars passed by.

There are apparently far more interesting
things than peanut butter.  Who knew?

While this experiment wasn't exactly a rousing success, it did help keep him close to us more often than normal. I just put peanut butter on the spoon right before our walk, so he licked it off pretty easily and soon lost interest - I figure maybe because he had so much peanut butter that he just didn't want any more. I'm going to try freezing the peanut butter on the spoon the next time. Not only will it last longer, but maybe if he can't lick so much off all at once, he won't lose interest as quickly.

I have to say, we must have looked pretty odd, walking around the neighbourhood waving a wooden spoon at our dog. Either that, or it probably looked like we were going to discipline him with it, but I hope not! We're hoping to get the EasyWalk exchanged soon, but I will probably keep up with this wooden spoon thing, just to teach him to stay near us when he walks. Normal treats - even good ones like liver - just don't do the trick. The spoon is convenient because if he loses interest, it's easier for me to wave the peanut butter spoon at his nose from further away, as opposed to trying to catch up to him to wave a treat under his nose to distract him from whatever it is he's fixated on. Hopefully if he gets used to walking near us, it will become habitual and it won't take as much effort to keep him close. I don't want him to be a good loose leash walker only when he's got the harness on, only to turn back into a little monster when he's got just the collar on. I hope PetSmart stocks the in-between sizes soon!
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