Clicker Training with a Box

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The first time we posted for the Positive Pet Training Blog Hop, I shared with you my goals of working with Scooter on clicker training. Things have gone very well! He’s so smart, and took to the clicker immediately. The hardest part of working with him is finding the right treat that will keep him motivated.


Scooters favorite trick that he’s learned since we’ve begun clicker training is ‘touch‘ and he’s progressed with it far enough that he can touch and target a very small item now. We started with HUGE things, like some of Bears big toys, or a pillow, and have since refined his skills quite quickly. He always feels so proud of himself and the clicker seems to motivate him to work harder.


This month’s theme for the blog hop was ‘101 Things to Do with a Box‘. Of course, Karen Prior has a training guide entitled just that which is a fun launching point if you’re in need of ideas where to start.

So what are Scooter’s favorite things to do with a box??

box1 Pose inside of them!


And perch atop them, like King of the Castle!

He can’t jump in and out of most boxes due to his leg issues, but we find plenty of fun ways to train with a simple box none the less.

Have you and your pup been training together recently? What are you working on? 


Halti Optifit Headcollar

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What does your dog wear for a walk? Does he wear a standard collar, a martingale, a harness, or a headcollar? 

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In my house, it both depends on the dog, and where we’re going. Scooter generally walks with a standard rolled leather collar (so it doesn’t pull his hair) or a breathable mesh harness. Bear’s gear can be a little more complicated. For day wear- he’s typically in his martingale collar- this works for potty breaks, car ride, hiking, and going to the dog park. If we’re going on more of an urban walk, to a popular park, or walking around in the city we need something with a bit more control.

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I was first introduced to headcollars about 10 years ago, after adopting Bear. Believe it or not, my old boy used to slip out of everything we’d put on him! We tried buckle collars, clip collars, and harnesses, all of which he could easily wriggle out of if the moment felt right. It came to the point where walking him was just downright un-enjoyable- and became more of a worry than anything. Our trainer suggested a headcollar to maintain some control over Bear and to help keep him focused. It took a bit of training him to get used to the headcollar, but once we did, it worked beautifully!


Bear eventually learned to walk well on a leash, no matter what he was ‘wearing’, but the headcollar was a true break through moment in his training. His original halti brand collar was lost somewhere along the way and we hadn’t used one for several years. On days after we’d had a less than stellar walk my mind would creep back to the headcollar, wishing we had it once more. Bear’s the type of dog who sorta needs a constant general reminder of the rules, so his walking manners have slipped in the absence of his headcollar, and we’ve been feeling ready to get him back into a manner filled walking regime.


Halti, a trademark of In the Company of Animals (the makers of the awesome AnxietyWrap), has come out with a new and improved head collar that I’d like to share with you today. Called the Halti OptiFit headcollar, this is the best one yet. I had two minor complaints about the original headcollar that have been completely addressed in this new OptiFit model.

1. The nose band is softer, for a more comfortable wear. Bear often used to find his itchy after wearing it for any duration of time

2. The OptiFit headcollar has a separate clip to attach to your dogs regular collar. It’s like a backup in case they slip the nose band off- and I love that.

Image copyright Robert Hooper Photography:

One of the best things about this product is the company’s evident dedication to the success of the owners and dogs who use their products. Each Halti Optifit headcollar comes with a small instructional booklet and DVD to fully guide you on your headcollar journey. I personally found the booklet to include all the right info- pictures as well, but the DVD is great for those who need additional help or just like to see things in action. There are even videos and further instructions available online as well as an email address you can contact with questions or concerns to ensured success.


The Halti OptiFit headcollar is easy to use, just as fast as putting a collar on your dog, and affords you a higher level of control than any other type of dog accessory I’ve encountered. The concept of controlling large animals by using headcollars is as old as the domestication of farm animals. Halti headcollars operate under the assumption that ‘when you guide the dog’s head, his body must surely follow’ and they couldn’t be more spot-on in my opinion. This is a gentle method that I firmly believe is the easiest way to teach your dog to walk nicely and confidently on the leash. If it can work for my bull headed Bear-boy, then it can work for you too! I’ve added the Halti OptiFit headcollar to our amazon store for your easy reference.

 So now I’d love to know- what does your dog wear for a walk? 

Disclaimer: In The Company of Animals provided SheSpeaksBark with a Halti OptiFit headcollar to try out for this review. SheSpeaksBark was not compensated in any way to write this post. All thoughts and opinions are exclusively my own, and we only share products and services on SheSpeaksBark that we feel are relevant to our readers. As always, thank you for supporting brands that make SheSpeaksBark possible!

Our Favorite Tricks

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We’re joining in on the June edition of the Positive Pet Training Blog Hop. Today’s topic is ‘Our favorite tricks’


Bear’s favorite tricks really include anything that earns him a treat- that boy is a food hound! I can say though, now that he’s older, he doesn’t do so much jumping and bouncing around in excitement as he used to in his younger years. He used to run through an entire repertoire of tricks, hoping, begging, pleading for a treat. Not realizing if he’d just slow down and listen….

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One of the hardest things about having two dogs is managing training sessions. It’s extremely hard for me to try to train Scooter if Bear is constantly bumping around and trying to push his way in. Scooter is too small to really interfere with Bear’s training sessions, so the reverse hasn’t really been a problem. They often compete for attention and it’s hard to pay either of them the 100% focus they deserve. Instead of kenneling Bear away for awhile and taking the opportunity to work with Scooter, I’ve often just given up, which really isn’t fair to Scooter at all. Bear had many years (pre-Scooter) where the focus was soley on him, but Scooter has never had that same training opportunity.

Here’s the thing too- it’s always amazing to me how smart Scooter is. He’s clearly smarter than Bear (ssshh! don’t tell Bear I said that) and has stronger problem solving skills. I know if Scooter was a larger dog he would have received the continued and constant training that Bear has had. Being small, and very easy to control, he’s gotten off easy. Scooter knows the basics (sit, lay down, come, and stay (sort of) ) plus a few fun tricks. He’s capable of so much more though! So I’ve decided this month to put forth the extra effort and set aside time to train Scooter alone.


Scooter is actually fond of the clicker, something Bear has always been hit or miss with, so that will make my life easier. Now that we’ve finally found a treat that Scooter reliably will work for (besides leftover meat) I feel we’re on a roll. I got a new training book in the mail yesterday (I’ve read it before, needed my own copy to mark up etc) and plan to dedicate time toward re-reading & then training with Scooter alone- he’s going to love the new challenge!

Right now, my favorite trick with Scooter is when we ask him to ‘stretch’ and he sits back and puts both paws up on our extended hand:


It’s cute- gets me every time! I’m excited to see what sorts of new tricks he can learn :D

{First Aid Essentials} Specific to the Pacific North West

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I dunno about you, but Bear and Scooter are pretty interested in our meat-related leftovers, and that includes fish (and some cooked veggies too)


When we moved to Portland, we were excited about the opportunity to relish in the fresh seafood, in fact, a dinner at a nice seafood dinner was how we spent our first night in town! One thing I didn’t realize until taking the pet first aid course though, is that there’s actually a salmon-related disease that we need to be aware of in our dogs here.

Two fresh salmon steaks

Called Salmon Poisoning, this is a disease that is specific to those of us who live in the Pacific North West (apparently one of the few downsides though!) Raw fish in the PNW can carry an infectious organism that causes illness in pets.


Signs of salmon poisoning include:



*bloody stool

 One thing to be aware of is the fact that this disease is slow to develop, symptoms often showing 5-7 days after ingestion. Your previous weeks’ hike or adventure may be long out of your mind by the time your dog could show symptoms of the bad fish he’s ingested.

To ensure this isn’t an issue if you live in or visit the Pacific North West, simply avoiding feeding your pets raw salmon and don’t allow dogs in the PNW to forage along the creek, river, or lakeside when you’re out adventuring together.


If you believe your dog has ingested raw fish-seek veterinary advice immediately.

Disclaimer: None of this advice is intended to be anything other than helpful guidance. I am not a vet, and you should not be using any information found online in place of taking your pet into a vets office to be seen if they are sick or injured.

This post is part of a series called ‘First Aid Essentials’ that I started after becoming certified in pet first aid and CPR last year.


So far I’ve posted on: Approaching an Injured animalFirst Aid Kits & Emergency Phone #’s, Normal Vital Signs, and Symptoms of Poisoning if you’d like to catch up.

{First Aid Essentials} Normal Vital Signs

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Another installment in my First Aid Essentials series today! You can still read up on parts one, and two if you missed them.Sometimes it’s good to know what the ‘norm’ is for your dog, to help determine if something is wrong with them. Of course, none of this knowledge is a replacement for simply knowing your dog, their routine, and what is typically normal for them. If you’ve noticed some behaviors are off, that’s a clue to look deeper.


Here, as much for your reference as mine, are the normal vital signs of our canine companions:


100.5-102.5 degrees

Resting Pulse:

80-120 beats per minute (can be higher in puppies and small dogs)

Respiratory Rate:

18-24 breaths per minute

Gum Color:



Skin at the nape of neck should snap back into place in 1 second

Have any of you ever taken an animal first aid/CPR course? Did you get as much out of it as I did? I’ve recently been invited to another, thinking of going back again if my schedule allows, just ’cause. We’ll see ;)

Disclaimer: Again, none of this advice is intended to be anything other than helpful guidance. I am not a vet, and you should not be using any information found online in place of taking your pet into a vets office to be seen if they are sick or injured.

{First Aid Essentials} Approaching an injured animal

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Back in August, I attended a free conference on Pet First Aid through my dog walking/pet sitting job. We listened to presentations, watched a video, and had several hands on labs before receiving our certifications at the end.


I was recently looking back on that weekend, and decided that it would be a great thing if I could share some of that useful knowledge with all of you here. Of course, please know that I am not a vet, and you should never use any of these tips or advice in place of seeking medical treatment or care for an animal.

Today, for the first installment of the First Aid Essentials series on SheSpeaksBark, I’d like to touch lightly on the topic of dealing with an approaching injured animals.

1. Ensure you are physically protected. Don long sleeves, and gloves if possible. Injured animals are often defensive and may act out aggressively while trying to protect themselves. If you get inured yourself, you are much less able to help out the injured animal.

2. Approach the animal slowly. Don’t make any quick movements, and use a low, gentle voice.

3. Always muzzle an injured animal (unless it’s having trouble breathing!) even if it’s your own pet. A spare leash, long sock, piece of gauze, or pair of nylons can stand in for lack of a true muzzle. Cats can often be safely wrapped in towel or blanket before being transported to a veterinarian for care.

Have any of you had to aid an injured animal before? 

Disclaimer: Again, none of this advice is intended to be anything other than helpful guidance. I am not a vet, and you should not be using any information found online in place of taking your pet into a vets office to be seen if they are sick or injured.

SleepyPod Mini

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As far as we’re concerned, the Sleepypod is a ‘must have’ for any small dog or cat owner. Scooter included a sleepypod on his Christmas Gift Guide for the little dogs this year-boy does he have good taste ;) As many of you know, I’m a huge fan of multi-use products. Space is always an issue in our apartment, and if I can get one thing that covers multiple tasks & works well- I’m a fan. The sleepypod is just that: a dog bed, a carrier, and a car seat! We have the original sleepypod which is, you guessed it, pod shaped. There are two other models though: the atom and the air. Our friend Mr. N the tenacious terrier has the sleepypod air so we can vouch that it’s also very nice and somewhat easier to carry than our ‘pod’ due to its slimmer profile. We still <3 our pod- though it was a very tough choice!


The Sleepypod equates to some serious animal luxury. It is so well made, with fine quality materials and zippers that appear to be around for the long haul. Our sleepypod is still very new, and being ‘broken in’ if you will, but you can just tell this thing is durable! We used the sleepypod for a car seat and carrier a month back, when we took a trip to the coast. It worked so well for us on all accounts, and Scooter liked having something familiar, a homebase, in our rental house.


We followed the instructions and let Scooter use his sleepypod with the top off, just as a bed for several weeks before moving forward. He is quite picky about beds, but actually took to it immediately, really loving the lined interior. I’ve since donated two of his other small beds that were left quite unused around our house.


Now that he’s got his sleepypod, Scooter’s always ready to go! :D


It can be really hard to say ‘no’ to that face too, I assure you!


We’ve connected with Sleepypod on facebooktwitter, and pinterest to ensure we stay tuned with their latest news. I hope you’ve enjoyed our sleepypod mini review- we highly suggest other small dog owners look into the sleepypod line of carriers!

Do your dogs have a car seat, or seat belts that they use to travel safely? 

Disclosure: We were provided our Sleepypod free of charge in exchange for a review on our blog. All opinions are our own- and this is truly a product we use daily and love! I can attest that the customer service through Sleepypod has been nothing short of astounding as well.