The gift of positive dog training: kindness

Let’s say you’re at school hanging out on the playground. Another kid has some pieces of candy that you really want. You have two possible courses of action: Shove the kid over and snatch a piece, or ask him nicely if he’d be willing to share. The outcome in both instances is the same. You end up with a piece of candy. But in one, you’re a jerk, and in the other, you’re a friend.

Which one do you want to be?

OK, yes, there’s no question that that scenario is a gross oversimplification, but when you compare modes of dog training… it’s not too far off. I want my dog to sit. I can ask him nicely–through positive training techniques like luring or shaping–or I can shove his butt on the ground. In both cases, he sits. Mission accomplished. But in one, I’m a jerk, and in the other, I’m a friend.

That’s kind of how I think of it, and I’d always rather be a friend.

To me, that’s the gift of positive dog training. You have the opportunity to teach–and, thus, spread–kindness.

(Obvi, this pic is from over the summer. I snapped it after a round of Recall Relay, his favorite backyard training game. He looks so stinking happy in this pic that I thought it was the perfect representation of this topic!)

Cooper is so happy!

For dogs like Cooper, that’s particularly important. He’s a smidge neurotic, and what he’s totally fine with one day (nail clipping is nbd, yo!) he decides is terrifying the next (omg, get those clippers away from me, you devil you!) without warning. I need to work at his pace and accommodate his neuroses, and if I were the jerk, shoving him and pushing him and forcing him to do things that truly terrified him even if they make no sense to me whatsoever, maybe I’d get the same outcome but our relationship would suffer.

I’m not working against him.

I’m not pushing him or forcing him to do anything. With positive training, we work together. We’re building a partnership. He trusts me. He knows that if he’s scared, he can count on me to be there with kindness and, OK maybe not understanding (I mean, we clipped his nails for YEARS with the same clippers and never once cut the quick or anything negative, but now it’s terrifying?! huh?), but at least with gentleness and gratitude for his willingness to work with me.

Yes, sometimes he feels uncomfortable. Once we’re totally comfortable at one step, he has to go to the next step. That’s how it works. But by being kind, by being his friend, he trusts me to guide him to the other side of that discomfort, and he knows that when he gets there, I’m going to throw him one hell of a treat party!

This post in part of the Positive Pet Training blog hop, and this month’s prompt was “the gift of positive training.” Honestly, there are many gifts: that moment when you see the lightbulb flare to life in your pup’s head, that moment when something he was scared of becomes nbd, that moment when your tired-from-working-hard dog crawls onto your lap for a big snuggle. All that, to me, comes from the kindness inherent in positive pet training.

And that’s a gift that Cooper and I can keep on re-gifting to one another for the life of our partnership.

This month, thanks to the generosity of the blog hop hosts, there’s a positive pet training GIVEAWAY! Woop! You can enter to win two puzzle toys, a selection of treats, and a trick training book (it’s the same one Coop and I use).


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Thank you to our hosts, Tenacious Little Terrier and Rubicon Days, for making this possible!

Giving Tuesday and Best Friends: A Match Made in Heaven

Over the last few days, we’ve focused on giving gifts… the fun kind to tuck under the tree. But today is all about a different kind of gift.

Today is Giving Tuesday.

Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday is a global day for giving back. It was created by the 92nd Street Y and United Nations Fund in 2012, with the goal of starting a movement around charitable giving at the beginning of the holiday season. In recent years, it has become one the most important revenue-generating days of the year for Best Friends Animal Society.

How Best Friends is Participating

Giving Tuesday kicks off the annual Best Friends $2 million Holiday Match. (All holiday gifts are matched up to $2 million dollars, thanks to a group of generous donors who create the match fund each fall). Today’s fundraising goal? $500,000!

Maybe that seems audacious…

But Best Friends’s mission is audacious: Save Them All.

I had the distinct pleasure of visiting Best Friends earlier this year. Here’s what I learned: If compassion lives in a place, it lives at Best Friends. There’s nowhere like it. They work harder to truly save them all.

You can read about my adventures here and again here.

You too will feel inspired, and I hope that inspires you to give today when all donations are doubled.

Click here to help save them all.

2016 Holiday Gift Guide: The Best Gifts for Pet Lovers

Cue the music: “These are a few of my favorite things!”

This might just be my very favorite gift guide roundup ever! And I’ve done a lot of these!

We’ve got gifts that gift back, gifts that sparkle, and gifts that are nearly too cute for words! I saved these for the last day becasue they are truly special gifts. These are the ones that you, the dog mama (or papa… but most of these are for mama!) need to put on your list for Santa. Or, heck, I think your sweet pet should buy one for you… after all, you do take such amazing care of your furry ones. You deserve it!

These were at the very tippy-top of my holiday wish list, and I’m thrilled to share them with you!

2016 OMD Holiday Gift Guide | Picks for Pet Lovers

1. RumbaTime Jane Social Tees Watch: I am seriously obsessed with this watch. I can’t stop gazing at the gorgeous silver one they so generiously sent my way. First, it’s beautiful and so charmingly simple. It has a nice, large face, which I adore, and the band is so unique! Sort of like a friendship bracelet, but obviously more durable. PLUS! A portion of proceeds benefit Social Tees Animal Rescue in New York City. Social Tees is a rescue group that saves more than 3000 dogs, cats, birds and exotic animals a year from kill shelters. Social Tees provide them with safe haven and veterinary care before finding them responsible adoptive homes. Their S.T.A.R. program finds homes for sick, injured and senior animals. A beautiful watch that supports rescue?! Yes, please! Available at RumbaTime in Silver or Gold.

2. Triple T Studios Paw Lace Cat Tote: Did I mention I’m obsessed with all these gifts? Because, seriously, you guys… this tote… obsessed. It’s genius. It’s two bags put together with: the outer shell plus a zippered insert. It has a cross-body strap, which I use instead of the handles, and the feet! The feet! I can’t even with the pawprint feet. Seriously, check it out here. Genuis, right?! And it’s vegan leather! I could go on and on about this bag. Anyway, I’m an affiliate for Triple T Studios because I adore their work, and it gives back. This bag is my absolute fave, though I know bags are personal taste! This giveaway is one I’m providing, so whoever wins can choose between a couple different options. Like this one is crazy cute! As is this one (it looks like Newt)! And I really love these gloves (John, if you’re reading, ahem). But this is a gift guarenteed to score you big points for the pet mama in your life!! Available at Triple T Studios.

3. Dazzling Paws Jewelry: This one’s time sensitive! They’ve generously extended their Black Friday sale on these pieces through today, so read quickly then click to check them out! Honestly, what’s better than handmade in the USA? How about handmade with recycled sterling silver! Oh, and supporting a small business! The antique effect goes with anything, and the detail is just gorgeous. Plus, who doesn’t want jewelry for the holidays? These pieces are so unique and are sure to be conversation starters at holiday fetes all season long. These four designs are truly dazzling… I couldn’t pick a favorite! Head over to her site to take advantage of the deals today. Available at Dazzling Paws Jewelry.

4. Marked Moments personalized ornament: To me, personalized keepsakes like these make the best (affordable) gifts for pet lovers. This would be the kindest thing to take to a pet-loving friend’s holiday party, or that distant relative who you don’t know super well, or even your best friend who adores her dog or cat. A personalized gift like this is so touching and sweet! We recommend these gifts to everyone, and at this price, you truly can’t go wrong! Available from Marked Moments.

5. Tiffbits: Have I overused the word obsessed today? If you guys have seen the guide in years past, you know I try to include a piece of stationery just because I adore it so much. You can never have enough, right? Well, this year’s pick is THE pick of the litter! Her work is so squee-worthy! I don’t know how you could choose from her adorable Etsy shop! The ‘Tis the Season card might be my favorite! No, wait! The corgi gift tags! No! The It’s the Most Fluffiest Time of the Year! AH! I want them all! Seriously, go check out her shop, and tell me how you could possibly resist loading up your card with hand-drawn corgi stationery? Available on Etsy.

I honestly don’t think I’ve ever loved a gift guide roundup more than this one! No matter who’s on your list this year, whether naughty or nice, you can’t go wrong with a single item among these five. They’re truly one-of-a-kind gifts that are so fun, cool, and meaningful! What do you think? Which one’s going on your list?

Thanks to the generosity of these brands, one of you can win each of these must-have holiday gifts!

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Did you miss the Black Friday gift guide? Or the Best Books Saturday? There’s still time to enter to win those gift suggestions! 

2016 Holiday Gift Guide: The Top 5 Books for Pet Lovers

Welcome to Day 2 of the 2016 OMD Holiday Gift Guide!

This year, we’ve brought you the best of the best! Today’s guide is all about the best books for pet lovers!

Y’all know I’m book-obsessed. I jump at any opportunity to review books. This year’s book roundup is extra special because two of the books include the herd!!

Let’s dig in:

2016 OMD Holiday Gift Guide | Best Books for Pet Lovers

1. The Shepherd’s View: There’s something so magical about working dogs. The partnership with their person blows me away, and the sheer determination of the dogs to get the job done inspires awe. Here’s the backstory: “Shepherd James Rebanks relies on his two incredibly loyal sheepdogs, Floss and Tan, to help him tend to his sheep every day in the Lake District of England. Now he invites readers onto his farm with stunning photographs of his farm, his flock, and his dogs in his new book.” It mixes stunning, awe-inspiring photography with essays about life with sheep and shepherds. This is a lovely and unexpected gift for dog lovers! Available at Amazon.

2. Cooking for Two: I love, love, love the concept of this book! Brandon Schultz and furry co-author Chase Schultz-Osenlund wrote this cookbook that is full of recipes that are “people food” and also safe for sharing with your pup. Cooking for Two—Your Dog & You! has recipes for every occasion, including holidays, party plates, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and, of course, dessert. This is by far Emmett’s favorite book in this entire collection, and we’re working through the recipes together! Available at Amazon.

3. What to Expect When Adopting a Dog: This book is a must-have for every single dog lover. If you know anyone who’s adding a dog to their family this holiday season, this is the perfect gift!  The book answers questions like whether dog adoption is right for you, how to adopt a dog from a shelter or rescue group, how to prepare your home for a new furry family member, integrating him into your home, family, lifestyle, and so on. I am honored to have been given the opportunity to contribute to this book, too! This is a must for every bookshelf in every dog-loving home! Available at Amazon.

4. Makin’ Biscuits: For the cat lovers among us, this is the perfect gift! And I’m not just saying that because Newt makes a cameo! 🙂 Though, she does! The full title of this gem is Makin’ Biscuits – Weird Cat Habits and the Even Weirder Habits of the Humans Who Love Them. It’s at times funny, at times sweet, and always touching. The things we do for our pets, amiright? I adore this book, and I think it’s the perfect gift for any cat lover. It’s so spot on to all the quirks and love and silliness that comes from caring for our feline friends. Available at Amazon.

5. The Artist’s Way: This may not seem like a pet-lover book, but bear with me.  Twenty-five years ago, Julia Cameron was looking for a way to tackle a moment of personal and professional rejection in her life. The result of that hard time was The Artist’s Way. More than a decade ago, I dug into the book because I was struggling with my creative work. Well, about halfway through the book, I came home to find that young Emmett, new to our family, had pulled it off the shelf and chewed it into a million tiny pieces. At the time, our budget was extremely tight, so instead of buying a replacement, I said to myself… I’ll wait until the time is right to get this book again. Well, as I was preparing this guide, the book’s publicist reached out to say that the 25th Anniversary Edition was coming out and was I interested! Was I!?!? YES! But, since not all readers here are bloggers, writers, or artists–though many are–I felt like it would be disingenuous to accept a review copy. She wrote back and said that, coincidentally, Cameron’s other book about creativity later in life includes an entire section on the importance of pets and their role in the creative process. Can you even?! Anyway, I highly, highly recommend The Artist’s Way for everyone, whether you consider yourself artistic or not. We are all creative, and this book helps explore that! Available at Penguin Random House: the 25th Anniversary edition The Artist’s Way and It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again.

There you have it, friends! Our top 5 picks for pets this holiday season. All of these make great gifts for the furries in your home or to take as hostess gifts as you attend pet-loving holiday parties this year.

And, I was able to either purchase or procure extra copies of each of these books, so YOU have a chance to win one of the five book recommendations!

This is a Rafflecopter giveaway. Sometimes the widget takes a few seconds to load. If you’re reading this via email or in a feed reader, you might have to click the link.

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Did you miss the Black Friday gift guide? There’s still time to enter to win those gift suggestions! Be sure to come back on Monday for even more gift ideas… for YOU, the pet lover! is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to