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!