Dog Walking Tools

Walking into any dog guardian’s home, I’m always excited to get a peak into the ‘doggy closet’. Looking through an array of training tools is like a toy chest for me. There are tools for walking, barking, jumping up, digging, aggression, – you name it! The list goes on. I understand most guardians don’t really have the need or budget for tools they might use or use only occasionally. I wouldn’t be nearly as successful working with dogs without employing the right equipment, which makes me eager to find more.

To help my layman dog-lovers find a tool that works for you & your dog without doing too much toy chest digging, I figured I’d start reviewing tools for one of the most common dog-human activities: leash walks! Here are some dog walking tools I recommend to make your dog walks more enjoyable. All of these tools are gentle & humane in nature, however, if your dog thinks its the pits, then guess what: IT IS THE PITS. It doesn’t matter if the trainer you’re working with, the industry, your veterinarian, or any other person in you’re life insists that the tool is humane. Perception is a lot! If your dog cowers, nips, runs away, hides, etc. when you bring out a tool then your dog perceives it as punishment. And it’s punishment EVERY. TIME. YOU. PUT. IT. ON. This means your dog is likely starting his walk under stress, which probably isn’t the best way to start something together. So, with this in mind, don’t be afraid to try many tools. Many pet stores will allow for a trial period so that you can return an item if it isn’t working for you.

**When working on any behavior, treat your dogs as an individual; one with likes & dislikes, a history, and a personality. Because of this, there just isn’t one tool that fits all. I encourage you to find a tool that works for both of you.**

Harnesses:

Freedom Harness

This thing is just an all around awesome harness. The freedom harness is a helpful tool when working with STRONG dogs. If you have a puller or leash reactive dog, who jumps, lunges, and tries to pull away from you when a trigger is present, the Freedom Harness offers extra control with 2 points of contact: one D-ring on the chest & one D-ring the back. This allows you to have more leverage over the dog if she pulls & allows you to hold the whole front of her body securely if she pulls away from you strongly. The freedom harness also has a martingale attached at the dog’s back, which tightens to help prevent the dog from slipping free. You can clip the leash onto just one D-ring, if you prefer.

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Pros:

– great for strong dogs – pullers or leash reactive dogs

– doesn’t damage the esophagus

– 2 points of contact

– fits most dogs

– well made & reliable, nylon

– heavy duty

– sold in a variety of colors

Cons:

– very heavy duty & can chafe underarms (not that comfortable)

– the double leash can be annoying & get twisted when moving side to side

– not sold in any local stores (that I’ve found) & must be purchased on-line

 

Wonder Walker

The Wonder Walker is the best of both worlds. It is a very clever & simple design that fits most dogs. Similiar to the Freedom Harness, the Wonder Walker allows for 2 points of contact. It can be clipped to the front, back, or both D-rings, for extra control. The nylon straps are a little less heavy duty than the Freedom Harness (they are narrow), which does seem to limit chafing but is not quite as sturdy as the FH. There is no martingale but you can attach the dog at 2 points (chest & back) similarly to the FH.

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Pros:

– great for strong dogs – pullers or leash reactive dogs

– doesn’t damage the esophagus

– 2 points of contact

– fits most dogs

– well made & reliable nylon

– heavy duty

– sold in a variety of colors

– sold in many local stores

Cons:

– very heavy duty & can chafe underarms (not that comfortable)

– the double leash can be annoying & get twisted when moving side to side

EasyWalk

The EasyWalk was designed by PetSafe, a well-known big brand company in the pet industry. They have many products on the market. The EasyWalk is one of the original front clip harnesses, designed to deter dogs who pull on lead. The harness offers one D-ring attached to the chest strap. This strap also has a martingale, so that if the dog pulls, the strap tightens across her chest. The harness functions in a way so that if your dog pulls on the lead, the harness naturally redirects her toward you (in theory). Periwinkle has an EasyWalk & it is just fine for her. I even strap it on backward to use as her car harness (though please note it is not intended to be used this way).

EasyWalk

Pros:

– simple, sturdy design

– very affordable

– doesn’t damage the esophagus

– basic & a good intro to front clip harnesses

– nice martingale feature where the D-ring is attached

– well made & reliable

– fits most dogs

– sold in most local stores

– sold in a variety of colors

Cons:

– need to be adjusted or refit regularly

– only one point of contact

– can take time to fit

– can chafe dogs underarms or chest

EzyDog

The Ezy Dog QuickFit Dog Harness is one of my recent favorites. This harness is a little different: it’s a back clip harness. The EZY Dog Harness is a comfy harness of simple design, that dogs seem to really like! I’ve met many dogs with a harness aversion but because of it’s soft neoprene shell and light straps, it seems this harness is accepted by many dogs nicely.

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Pros:

– simple design, simple to fit & put on

– doesn’t damage the esophagus

– high quality fabrics and comfortable for dogs

– well made & reliable

– fits most dogs

– sold in some local stores

– sold in a variety of colors

Cons:

– D-Ring can slips side to side since it isn’t secured to the main part of the harness

– harness isn’t technically reversible

Head Collars:

Halti

The Halti is one of the most popular types of head collars. You can easily find these in most pet stores. The Halti fits dogs with shorter noses or boxier faces (they can also be used for narrow muzzled dogs, however, I find them better fit for dogs with wider snouts.) One great feature of the Halti, is that some come with a little extra padding on the nose strap. While the Halti is an excellent tool to deter pulling & keep your dog’s focus on you, it can take dogs some getting used to.

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Pros:

– very effective with strong pullers

– keeps your dog’s focus on you

– doesn’t damage the esophagus

– high quality fabrics

– fits most dogs

– sold in most local stores

– sold in a variety of colors

– comes with instructions for fitting

– has a 2nd clip to attach Halti to flat collar for extra safety

Cons

– takes some desensitization

– dogs may reject entirely as it isn’t generally comfortable

– small parts can break or fail

– can be tricky to put on and fit correctly

Gentle Leader

The Gentle Leader is a head collar competing with Halti. It is another popular head collar that you can easily find in most pet stores. It is great for strong pullers as it gives you more control over the dog’s head, & therefore, body. The GL fits all types of dogs – those with boxier faces, longer snouts – but the strap can fall down over a dog’s nose & some dogs will quickly learn that they can easily paw the strap off their nose. It is a little tricky to put on & can really take some desensitization when introduced to your dog. Additionally, the narrow strap can almost be cutting to some dogs’ noses if they pull through the gentle leader excessively.

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Pros:

– very effective with strong pullers

– keeps your dog focused on you

– doesn’t damage the esophagus

– high quality fabrics

– fits most dogs

– sold in most local stores

– sold in a variety of colors

– comes with instructions for fitting

– has a 2nd clip to attach Halti to flat collar for extra safety

Cons

– takes some desensitization

– dogs may reject entirely as it isn’t generally comfortable

– dogs can learn to remove it

– can be tricky to put on and fit correctly

Regular Collars

Flat Collar

The traditional flat collar is typically made of leather, nylon, or cloth, & is a great tool to keep ID on our dogs when outdoors. For many dogs, walking on a flat collar is just fine. When dogs pull, though, any excessive pressure on their throat and neck can cause damage to the espophagus and the spine. So, for dogs who pull, small dogs who are more likely to suffer from trachea issues, and for long dogs who suffer from spinal chord issues, you should forgo a flat collar and use a harness. Some great local collars I like are Wool Dog PDX & Cycle Dog.Wool Dog PDX offers a variety of classy, beautiful collars made from Pendleton wool fabric. Cycle Dog offers a variety of collars, some of which are made from recycled bike tires, are anti-microbial, & come with a built in bottle opener. I love both!

CYCLE DOG:

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WOOL DOG PDX:785EEEE2-CBBE-40FA-89FE-9E6515A1FD0A-892-000001522F06762B Bully WDPDX

Martingale Collar

For dogs who seem to be able to slip out of anything – harness, head collar, regular collar, etc., the martingale collar is your go-to. They’re also great for skinny head dogs, like greyhounds & Dobermans. This collar is excellent when used as a ‘back-up’ collar of sorts. For example, you might have your dog wearing a harness attached to a leash but the harness is attached to the martingale. This allows for a second item to be attached to your dog if she gets out of the harness. The martingale allows for a limited amount of tightening around a dog’s neck & resists if a dog tries to back out of the collar. We use martingale collars as our back-up collar for slippery dogs who are on Ruff Mutt’s dog walking schedule.

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Martingale Ridgebacks

Below, you’ll see a great video I found on YouTube demonstrating how to use the harness & martingale congruently. But, I don’t recommend getting a martingale that has a chain because the tightening of the chain can actually cause some neck irritation when pulling hair our or rubbing against the skin. I would recommend getting a nylon or fabric martingale collar.

 

And there you have it! I hope you find this info helpful & that you enjoy your dog walk today!

Whole Dog Academy Summer Fundraiser 2016

Hello friends!

Tomorrow, Whole Dog Academy will host it’s first BIG fundraiser event of 2016. I am very proud to be a part of such a wonderful, local non-profit that is so dedicated to improving the lives of our canine friends & their people. If you don’t know much about what we do, here’s the low-down (in other words, mission statement) from our board of directors:

“Our mission is to improve canine-human relationships through educational outreach. We strive to inspire and work towards an increase in successful and mutually beneficial canine-human relationships through educational services and the promotion of a holistic and positive training methodology.And what better way to kick off fall then a party with dogs, dog trainers, free beer & snacks, a doggie photo booth, & more at Portland’s favorite First Thursday! You will be able to find us at UMPQUA Bank in the Pearl District. Please check out our flyer for more details.”

Pleas check out more about us here: http://www.wholedogacademy.com/.

We hope to see your beautiful faces  & your mutt’s mug there!

Rae

WDA Fundraiser Party!

Ruff Mutts Foster Puppy up for Adoption!!!

Hey there!

 

Boy has it been a while. If you didn’t notice, I’ve been swamped with some new things, like rebuilding the website, Whole Dog Academy board meetings & getting ready to teach classes for their dog trainer school, & running a little ol’ dog training, dog walking, & pet sitting business called Ruff Mutts. But, I MUST make some time to introduce the world to the sweetest little guy & our first official foster dog! We are very pleased for you all to meet……… Little Dude (at least for now).

handsome fella

Little Dude is an approximately 3 week old lab / border collie mix who & is up for adoption as early as 8 weeks. We are currently making sure he gets the essential socialization & medical care he needs to make sure he’s ready for his new forever home.

feetsies

His personality is just starting to show & we will be learning a lot about him over the next few months! Please let us know if you’re interested or if you know someone who is!

Charlie, Winksy, & LD

Is he your furry soulmate?

Is he your furry soulmate?

 

 

Happy New Year!!!

We had some amazing company over the holidays, including my sister, Henry, a feisty french bulldog, Tyson a  young pit pup, Mia a beautiful chocolate pit mix, Sophie a sweet mini doxie, and T-Bone, our big love-lug buddy! Thank you so much to all of our clients, new & old, for sharing your loving and sweet babies over the holidays. We had a full house that made our Christmas and New Years full of life, love, and fun! What an awesome way to start the new year. For those of you who missed out, here are some fun photos and videos.

2011 Holidays at Ruff Mutts

Ruff Mutts 2011

Sam

Ruff Mutts Family

Henry

Sophie

Henry, T-Bone, & Periwinkle

Holiday Gifts for Your Pet (& You!)

It’s that ‘giving’ time of year where we think of our closest friends & family. Of course, for those pet lovers & pet guardians out there, our lists include our fur babies, too. So here’s a guide to the gifts your pets will love that you will love, too!

The Kong OFF/On Squeaker

This genius toy was built with both pet & pet parent in mind: it has all the durability & fun that dogs love in their Kong toys with the option to turn the squeaker off when you’re done. This is not for tough chewers.

Ruff Wear’s Approach Dog Hiking Pack

Dog pack’s are a great investment for those outdoorsy dog lovers. You’ll never have to leave your dog out from that backpacking trip if he can bring his own supplies. And on those shorter day hikes, take advantage of that extra help on your adventure to make it special. Have your dog pack a picnic for you!

Ruffwear Approach Pack

Ruffwear Approach Pack

 

Chuckit! Kick Fetch Soccer Toy

For all you Portland Timbers fans who are jonesing to play a game of footie with your poochie after that awesome MLS Cup Win, Chuckit!’s Kick-Fetch Dog Toy is for you. The ball’s a great size & weight for kicking about yet soft with flexible grooves that make it easy for your dog to pick up & toss around. The durable canvas cover prevents immediate tearing but take note this is an interactive toy & not a chew toy so should not be left with your pup unsupervised.

 

A Dog Friendly Getaway at Adrift Hotel

If you haven’t been yet, you must treat yourself & your dog to a get-away at Adrift Hotel! This place is hip, clean, & uber dog friendly! Within a 3 hour drive from Portland, it’s an easy & affordable weekend getaway full of fun activities for you & your dog.

An Exterior Shot of the Adrift Hotel

An Exterior Shot of the Adrift Hotel

The peninsula has everything you & your dog need to have a great weekend. Don’t miss the long bike ride along the Discovery Trail with Adrift’s complimentary beach cruisers. Enjoy the trail as it winds through the beach’s beautiful dunes, the Washington rain forest, & finally ends at the Long Beach light house. Our dog happily pranced along our side the whole adventure. On the way home, make time to romp & play in the waves with your new Chuckit! Kick Fetch at the hotel’s beachfront. Take a drive across the 101 bridge from Long Beach to Astoria for some on-leash exploring in the adorable downtown antique district, a perfect place to grab some lunch. If you have to leave your dog at your hotel home, no worries! Adrift will take your number & call you if your dog is unsettled (I highly recommend you bring a crate if your dog is crate trained). Back at the hotel, enjoy dinner, drinks, & live music at the lovely Pickled Fish.

Just chillin'.

Just chillin’.

How To Get the Most Out of Pet Sitting Services

Ernesto relaxes

Ernesto relaxes on his couch after playtime at his neighborhood park.

While professional pet sitters are great resources to provide excellent in-home care, there are many things you can do to ensure services are what you want & what your pet needs. The good news is, there are a plethora of pet sitting services available & any of them can be wonderful! Today, I want to offer you a few tips to help you find that perfect service for you & your furry family.

Find the Right Service for Your Pet

Ruff Mutts provides 2 different pet sitting services, the Vacation Service & the Overnight Vacation Service, giving our clients a couple of choices that can fit different pet needs & different pet parent budgets. The Vacation Service is designed for mature, well balanced dogs used to a routine based around a 9 to 5 job. The dogs have 2 long visits, one in the mornings & another in the evenings, & a quick potty break & tuck-in before bed. At only $45 per day, it’s an affordable option for keeping your dog in-home & on their regular schedule. The Overnight Service is fitting for puppies, dogs who are accustomed to having humans around many hours of the day, & dogs who suffer from some light separation anxiety. The service includes a minimum of 10 hours of service over a 24 hour period. That means our walkers are cuddling the pups overnight during a sleep over, enjoying them in the mornings & evenings with exercise, feedings, & play time, & visiting them midday for a walk or potty break. While pricier at $75 per 24 hour period, it certainly is the option that pulls out all the stops. Both services allow pets to stay in-home & connected to their regular routine. Many pet parents find this very important! While these are the 2 services that we provide, there are many more out there. You might find a variation of the services above, or maybe a sitter who offers boarding in their home, or maybe a doggie daycare facility with boarding is the best option for dogs who relish doggie play dates!

Don’t Assume Your First Choice is the Best Choice

If you’re in the market for a new sitter, do a trial run with a short trip to make sure the team & service is the right fit. Don’t try to find a brand new sitter right before a big trip – this is a good way to set up all parties to fail. Leaving your dog with new people for an extended time might not work out regardless of the quality of care. Even if great care is provided, your dog might feel anxious about your absence or the service might not be what your dog needs. Picking a weekend to do a trial run will give you & the pet sitter a good idea of whether or not you are a good fit.

Pick It & Stick With It

Consistency can really help pets when their parents are out of town. Once you find the right fit, pick a team & service you really like & stick with it. Your pets will have a repoire with the team just like you will. And, the pet sitters will learn more about your pets every time they care for them. Their bond will grow deeper. Instead of your pet being worried when you leave, he’ll be excited to jump into his usual vacation routine with his personal BFFs.

Rae & Bella cuddle up.

Rae & Bella cuddle up.

Set Your Pet & Pet Sitter Up for Success

Make sure that your pet sitter is prepared with all the details they need about your pet’s routine, exercise needs, attention needs, behavior, likes, dislikes, & basic needs. If you have a dog who is leash reactive, make sure your pet sitter knows to avoid distractions or hang on tight to the leash. If your cat has tummy issues, ask your pet sitter to keep an eye out for signs. Make sure your pet sitter has access to your home. It’s always a good idea to leave 2 keys in case something happens! Human error will be rare if you have a reliable sitter, but it’s always possible! Leave extra food, doggie bags, treats, long lasting treats, new toys, & the proper tools for your pet sitter to continue familiar care. Leave exercise toys and special treats like wet food, peanut butter, yogurt, & smelly treats that your animals can work on during those alone times. Here are some suggestions for food toys:

Kong Brand – Classic & Wobbler

Busy Buddy Brand – Tug-a-Jug & Twist-n-Treat

Cycle Dog – Turtle Toy

Jolly Pets – Monster Ball & Jolly Critter

StarMark – Everlasting Groovy Ball

Hopefully these tips will set you off to finding the pet sitter of your doggie’s dreams!