Miscellaneous Updates

Hello to any who might still be checking this blog!  I know I’ve been quite lax in posting new blogs, and I apologize for that.  This posting is going to be a hodge-podge of random updates, so bear with me!

First of all, I’d like to say that the Bumi toy I posted about in my last update is still very much alive and kicking.  There is not a blemish on it and Inara still loves playing with it.  That toy is going to remain a definite recommendation for people with destructive dogs.  Thank you West Paw Design for making such a great toy!

Secondly, Brad of ST Leathercraft once again hooked up me with another quality piece of equipment.  You all remember Inara’s oxblood leather collar I posted about ( https://inaradog.wordpress.com/2009/06/20/new-collar-time/ ), well, I finally got around to ordering a matching leash and backup connector for safety (had little hardware malfunction at a VERY inopportune time – fortunately I have ninja-like skills and disaster was averted).  Being who he is (a perfectionist when it comes to his work), Brad did a lovely job.  The leash is supple yet strong, with a smaller handle than “normal” leashes to fit my smaller hands.  He special-ordered a locking clasp for me.  And the connector is small yet strong, basic yet very pretty.  He shaped the leather a bit to round the edges some so it had some style.  And of course it was all dyed to match Inara’s collar perfectly.  Here’s a pic of the leash and backup connector:

Lovely oxblood equipment!!!

Nice, right?  I can’t stress it enough – if you need/want strong yet stylish leather equipment for your dog, please consider ST Leathercraft.

Inara and I have started a new class.  It’s called “Relax Class” and it’s for dogs that have a tendency to over-react to other dogs, whether it’s aggression or hypermotivation to meet the other dog.  There are only 4 dogs permitted in the class, which is awesome.  Tomorrow will be our 3rd week and I’m pretty excited.  The first class was pretty rough, with Inara acting like a total ass with no manners whatsoever.  The second class she had vastly improved – still a little barking but much better able to focus on me.  We’re working a lot on getting Inara to stop being so hypervigilant, and she’s on a new supplement called l-theanine that is supposed to help her with that, along with the behavior mod.  She’s only been on it for a week though, and it takes 2-4 to kick in so no results yet!  We’re attending class at a local place called Fortunate Fido.  The instructor, Ginger, is phenomenal and I just wish I’d found her sooner.

I’ve begun volunteering at a local animal shelter.  I think it’s the only one in the county that actually adopts out pit bulls, so that’s why I chose it.  It’s small, but very clean and the animals are well-cared for.  All the volunteer staff I’ve met so far are fantastic.  I really like it there.  🙂

I think that’s about it.  Thanks for sticking around if you’ve been here before, and thanks for stopping by if this is your first visit!  And to end on a good note, Inara:

Ahhh, the rough life she leads!
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New collar time!

We got our collar this week from Brad at ST Leathercraft (http://smalltownamericanbulldogs.com/STleather.html). It’s gorgeous!!! The leather is very flexible yet solid. And it’s silly, but I love the keeper that holds the excess down – it’s just nice and thick and looks sharp. So here’s pics!

DSC00760
1 1/2" Oxblood leather with the d-ring in the back!

Weaning off head halter

I am officially sick and tired of using the Gentle Leader and/or Halti on Inara. It’s time she (and I) wean ourselves off of it. She is 3 1/2 years old now and fully capable of having manners on a flat collar. Right? Right!

We’ve been working on loose leash walking plus a more formal attention heel, all on flat collar, in the yard and driveway. She’s doing fantastically, though I’m still using a crapload of treats as she’s still learning. The second I step onto the street though, she forgets I’m there. I mean as soon as all four feet are on the street (inches away from the driveway that she pays attention in!) she totally disconnects from me.

I’ve been continuing to do most of our training in the yard/driveway because I know it’s a good idea to get a task solid in one place before moving on, but I do have a question. Should I suck it up and put the GL back on her for some long walks, or are the shorter training sessions with lots of mental stimulation enough? She’s tired after our training sessions, but I feel bad that she’s seeing the exact same scenery every day. However, I don’t want to set back our training by allowing poor leash behavior on the GL just so we get a longer walk. Does that make sense?

The only reason I’m hesitating is because she’s begun acting like an ass even on the GL – pulling like crazy and just annoying the crap out of me. From this point on I don’t ever want her to think she can pull on leash. 

So, cliffs notes version (since I write too much!): short training sessions so she is set up to succeed, or put on the GL and suffer through longer walks so she gets a change of scenery?

P.S. Is it wrong of me to be highly entertained that my neighbors’ Yorkies freak out and shriek and yap the entire time I’m working with Inara outside? Inara ignores them completely. I hear the neighbors getting pissed at the Yorkies.

P.P.S. Check out Brad’s website – he’s getting his leatherwork business up and running.  I ordered a collar from him and will let you know as soon as I get it!

Dirty dog after rolling in, well, I don't want to know what it was!
Dirty dog after rolling in, well, I don't want to know what it was!

Total Brag

Well, it only took 3 1/2 years, but we have done it – we took a 20 minute walk…wait for it….

ON ONLY INARA’S FLAT COLLAR!!! No training collar of any kind – just her flat collar! I only had to use the leash once to restrain her and that’s because a squirrel darted in front of us about 15′ away, and then dashed up a tree and sat on a low branch talking smack to Inara. She wanted that squirrel, but I convinced her to sit and look at me instead. 

We stayed in the comfort zone of our street, and all the dogs/kids/people that were out and about were a good distance away. But you know what? I don’t care! We took a walk with just a regular collar!  I am totally doing the happy dance right now!

 

Puppy Lip!
Puppy Lip!

Let’s talk collars

Hey all!  I am so sorry it’s been so long since I’ve posted.  I seem to have miraculously developed a social life as well as a fondness for going to the gym.  It’s crazy.  I feel like I’ve entered the Twilight Zone, LOL.  

Inara got a new collar in the mail today, so I wanted to spend some time talking about the various collar options you have for your dogs, both training and regular collars.  First though, a picture of Inara in her new collar:

 

Turquoise lizard-print leather with hot pink suede lining, from www.collarmania.com
Turquoise lizard-print leather with hot pink suede lining, from http://www.collarmania.com

Every pit bull needs to have on them at all times a well-fitting, strong collar with ID tags. I’m a collar snob and only get my collars from Collarmania.  Each collar is custom-made for your dog, and the materials that Lisa uses are extremely high-quality.  I never worry about one of her collars breaking no matter how hard Inara may lunge.  The majority of collars you find at pet stores have those cheap plastic clasps.  Please don’t trust those to hold if your dog decides it wants to be elsewhere.  Width-wise, I prefer a one and a half inch collar for Inara.  Again, it just makes me feel more secure that it will hold, no matter what.

The types of collars I want to discuss today are flat collars (nylon or leather), martingales/limited slip collars, prong collars, choke collars, remote training collars and head collars.  I will not go into training methods with each of them – I may do so in a later post, though.  For now, I simply want to make sure everybody knows their options.

  • Flat collars – these are basic buckle collars.  These can be bare bones or very glamourous.  Generally your dog’s ID tags should be hooked to one of these. Whether it’s fancy-schmancy embroidered leather or a simple nylon collar, I cannot emphasize enough that it should be strong to keep your dog safely contained, and fitted snugly enough (though not tightly!) that your dog cannot back out of it.
  • Martingale/limited slip collars – These are collars that have an extra loop that gently snugs up around your dog’s neck when you pull on it.  They can only tighten so much though, hence the name limited slip collars.  These are great for dogs who are able to easily back out of regular flat collars.  
  • Prong collars – Prongs are another form of limited slip collar, though they look very different and are used only for training.  They are metal collars with inward-facing prongs that rest against the dog’s neck.  When the leash is pulled the collar pinches the dog’s neck.  These are not collars your dog should wear around the house.  
  • Choke chains – Choke collars can come in chain, nylon or leather form.  These collars can tighten all the way so caution must be used with them.  Frighteningly, too often you see dogs just wearing these around the house, possibly with their ID tags attached.  This is dangerous.  Like the prong collar, these should only be used for training purposes.
  • Remote training collars – Also known as electric collars and “shock” collars, these are placed snugly on the dog’s neck and come with a remote control to trigger a vibration or electrical stimulation against the dog’s neck.  They have varying levels of stimulation.  Again, this is not a “wear around the house” collar, it is a training collar.
  • Head collars – These are based on a horse’s halter.  They are fitted snugly up at the very top of the neck and have a loop that goes over the dog’s nose.  They provide a great deal of control over the dog’s head because if the dog pulls the head collar turns his/her head around so they are facing back at you.  This is another collar that is put on only for training purposes.

You need to decide for yourself which collar is most appropriate for your dog.  This may change depending upon the situation you and your dog are going to be in.

To end this post, I want to post a picture of Inara doing her damnedest to guilt me into feeding her dinner early.  If she thinks it’s time for dinner, she’ll go sit in her crate and just stare at me with these big mournful eyes.  She’s pitiful!

 

The mistress of the guilt trip
The mistress of the guilt trip

The Well-Dressed Dog

Let me begin this by saying that I am not one to dress my dog for the sheer point of dressing my dog.  Inara wears a coat and possibly booties when the weather/ground conditions outside warrant it.  I do not subject her to t-shirts in the summer to be fashionable.  She doesn’t like it, I don’t want to torture her.  It kind of creeps me out when people spend more money on their dog’s wardrobe than their own.  Or when they have matching outfits with their dog.  Or if the dog can’t leave the house without a dress or something on.  Just not my style.  That being said, I wanted to take you through Inara’s winter wardrobe.  Red is my favorite color, and since Inara is white, red looks smashing against her coat.

So we have to begin this ensemble with the most critical part of her “going outside” attire – her collar with tags.  As Inara has the strength of a Mack truck, I get her collars custom-made from Collarmania.  Lisa caters to those of us with bully breeds or other ridiculously strong dogs that would snap a little 1/2″ collar with a plastic snap in about 2 milliseconds.  Her work is outstanding and if you can think of it, she can design it. Inara has 5 Collarmania collars, all 1 1/2″ thick: a no-buckle slide collar, 2 leather buckle collars, a martingale and a plain nylon buckle collar.  Excellent quality, highly recommend her work.

Next is the leash.  Again, this needs to be a well-made piece of equipment to keep Inara where she belongs.  I prefer a 6′ leather leash in black. Simple and classic, but most importantly, strong.  

Inara is currently being worked on a Halti while we work through her dog-reactivity issues.  Originally the only Halti I could find in stores was black, so I had to use that for a while.  Everybody always thought she was a boy though, and quite frankly, I wasn’t happy with black on her face.  So a fantastic person sent me a red Halti that she no longer used (thanks, Erin!!!).  Whew – I could finally relax as Inara could continue with her red theme.

Next up is the coat.  It gets a tit bit nipply *giggle* here in NE Ohio and Inara has no body fat and a short coat.  Another fantastic person (I know lots of them!) sent Inara a beautiful red quilted coat, lined with black fleece (thanks Diana!!!).  It looks fabulous on her and, well, it’s red!

Finally are the booties.  Mock me if you will, but the ice here seems to freeze not flat, but in sharp little ridges that quickly cause Inara to limp.  So I ordered her some fleece booties that keep her feet warm and dry even when playing in the snow.  These are actual sled dog booties so they even stay on in deeper snow.  And they were cheap, always a plus.

So there we have it – red collar, Halti, coat and booties with a black leash.  She does get compliments when we go out, but most importantly she can stay warm.

 

Please excuse the red leash - I was going for the true overkill affect with it!
Please excuse the red leash - I was going for the true overkill effect with it!