Doggy tips for beating the summer heat!

It’s that time of the year again here in Northern Ireland where we get a few scorching days then back to the usual. Although the good weather may be fleeting it’s important to keep our doggies safe in this heat so here’s my top tips for beating the summer heat!

Be very careful and considerate with the following  dogs that are prone to struggling more in this type of weather;

  • Young puppies
  • Elderly dogs
  • Brachycephalic dogs – flat faced dogs such as pugs etc
  • Thick coated dogs

 

Keeping them cool

Why you shouldn’t shave a double coated dog
  • Do not shave a double coated dog – make sure to brush regularly to get rid of dead coat
  • Cooling products such as cooling mats, cooling vests/harnesses, and bandannas soaked in water are great to help keep dogs cool – DIY options such as damp towels are also a good option

 

  • Give your dog some cooling treats – some ideas for frozen goodies are;
    • frozen kongs
    • homemade ice treats using low sodium broth, yoghurt, peanut butter, coconut oil, fish oil etc.
    • frozzys instead of human ice cream as it’s healthier for them
    • frozen fruits like berries, watermelon, banana
  • Always have water on outings, when at the beach make sure to provide lots of fresh water to help prevent them from drinking the salt water as it will dehydrate them
  • Ice cubes can be put into their water bowl to keep water cool and refresh the supply as it melts

 

Protection from the sun

  • Special dog sun cream should be used on dogs with short or sparse hair such as dogs with short white hair and exposed pink skin
  • If you must absolutely walk your dog on pavement then use booties or pad wax to protect their feet
  • Walk in shaded areas or if you’re hanging out in the sun bring a pop up tent or a wind break that can provide shade for the dog to escape the direct sun
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Choose wooded areas for walks rather than walking in the direct sun

 

Avoid heat exhaustion

  • Walk early in the morning and later in the evening- avoid midday when the sun is strongest
  • Be careful when playing fetch or anything high energy as dogs can easily overdo it when they are having fun
  • Avoid any forced jogging or running on leash – let the dog decide when enough is enough
  • If there are any bodies of water nearby let them have a dip before or during their walk so the dampness will keep them cool
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A little paddle in water will help keep them cool

 

Take care travelling

  • Goes without saying do not leave a dog unattended in a car
  • Make sure to cool down the car with the AC 5-10 minutes before letting the dog into the car as we know how stiflingly hot cars can get by just sitting in the sun
  • Use a non spill travel bowl to make sure they have access to water while travelling or provide a frozen kong to cool them down
  • Provide a cooling mat or dampened towel that they can choose to lie on if it gets too hot
  • If putting down the window in the car make sure the dog is secured and can’t jump out, also considering using a mesh window guard to prevent injuries to your dog if it likes to stick it’s head out the window, as debris from the road can get kicked up into their face

 

Do you have any top tips for beating the summer heat? We usually play a lot of fun games, mental stimulation and training inside when it’s too hot for outings.

 


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2017 is here!

Hope you all had a lovely holiday period and we wish you and your family all the best in 2017.

We had a peaceful and quiet break which we mostly spent catching up on bits around the house and taking it easy. Bonnie enjoyed the fuss of Christmas presents as well as walkies, treats and naps!

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The snake was a clear winner from her gifts
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Hazelbank at the shore
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Fun and games at Hazelbank
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Our feathered friend
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Brown’s bay beach

Even the degus joined in on the festivities and had their Christmas hazelnut treat!

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For the new year I’m not one to make resolutions but I do like to set some general goals and also find it fun to look back on what I thought my priorities were in previous years and see how that has changed or if it has stayed relevant. So in no particular order here are my goals for 2017;

  • Continue training and socialisation with Bonnie
  • Continue learning about dog behaviour and training through self learning and possibly attend any local lectures, seminars etc
  • Add a pup to our family and raise it to the best of our ability
  • Be more adventurous – visit new places, try new foods, recipes and restaurants rather than sticking to old familiar, try new things in general
  • Live a healthier life – more water, veg, fruit and exercise, less processed and junk food

Do you have any goals or ambitions for this year? No matter what hope 2017 treats you well!

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Bonnie preparing herself for the adventure filled year ahead!

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Week in review – nearly 2 years!

Tomorrow, on Halloween day, will mark 2 years since we first brought Bonnie home! It’s unbelievable to think how this little collie has changed and influenced my life ❤

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This week was fairly uneventful except for the many fireworks let off! Thankfully Bonnie was not bothered by 95% of them and only barked at the loudest ones after being bombarded by them most of Saturday evening.

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Not amused after having a bath – she was covered head to toe in mud but we didn’t get a before photo!
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Make sure you haven’t missed any spots!

On Wednesday we were disappointed in the result of the Great British Bake Off final as we were rooting for Andrew – he’s from Northern Ireland too and such a fab baker.

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Bonnie was prepared for the bake off final – well as chief crumb cleaner at least!

With the fireworks and general festivities this week we didn’t have too many exciting walks to avoid putting Bonnie into any situations she couldn’t cope with but we did manage to get a nice trip out to Hazelbank park today for a good run around!

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It’s such a beautiful park especially with all the autumn foliage but it is slightly ruined by out of control off-lead dogs. I wish their owners would respect others’ space, I just don’t understand how they can’t see that their dog is a problem when it won’t recall – if you don’t have a good recall use a long line! I used to be afraid of dogs and remember the feeling so well that I would never want anyone to be afraid or wary of my dog’s actions whether they are an adult, child, runner, cyclist, a reactive dog owner etc.

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Off lead fun – dragging a long line just in case
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Lift off!
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Incoming!
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We love practising recalls 😀

We tried being artsy and getting some photos of Bonnie on this fallen tree trunk but it didn’t work out so well and I somehow ended up standing in poo of god knows what type of animal xD
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I spent another Saturday with the dog trainer and really enjoyed it again – I’m learning so much! I also had my first experience of holding onto a large breed while it tried pulling and lunging – thankfully I was able to hold my ground! I’ve only ever walked small – medium dogs before so I was very proud of myself xD

I’ll end this post with a very typical looking nail cutting scenario – note the packet of ham, phone used as a torch (black nails are the worst!) and plenty of belly rubs along the way!

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Hurry up and give me the ham!

I hope you all had a safe Halloween weekend and that your pets weren’t too disturbed by all the commotion.


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Week in review – Busy, tired but content

These weeks just seem to getting more and more busy which has left me a bit exhausted but I’m learning to cope and I’m very happy with how things are going. I have a week long holiday in a few weeks time though so I’m really looking forward to that although we still have a few things we need to buy before we go away. Anyway onto what happened this week!

On Monday I attended the 2nd class of my dog behaviour course. I’m still getting used to Monday routines as it means a full day of work, having dinner in the office, travelling to class then getting home around 9.30 and by that time I’m ready for my bed! In case anyone is worried Bonnie is catered for as we have a dog walker at lunchtime and my partner arrives home at the normal time.

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How we feel about Monday mornings!

On Tuesday we worked from home and at lunchtime we took Bonnie into town with us to get some milkshakes as a treat (this may be becoming an awful habit xD). She wore her “Do not disturb” vest and it seemed to make some people aware. She was on her best behaviour and as we were heading back to the car we came across a westie that was barking and lunging at Bonnie while tied outside a shop. Bonnie startled a bit but kept her cool and walked beside me calmly then.

Then at the top of the street there was a woman with three dogs – one terrier type was again barking and lunging, but Bonnie still kept her cool. The woman seemed to purposely avoid coming near us so hopefully the vest is working! It was quite funny as some elderly women nearby seemed to be commenting on how well behaved Bonnie was in comparison to the two shrieking dogs xD Tuesday was a long work day and I didn’t get finished work until well after dinner time so I didn’t have any energy to do a blog post or progress on my assignments.

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Tuesday not much better!

Wednesday was a fairly normal work day for us and I was finally able to do the blog post on the class and made some more progress on my assignment.

On Thursday I worked from home and had planned to go out for drinks with co-workers after work but that didn’t quite work out! At lunchtime I took Bonnie out for a walk but we had a bit of an incident with a wasp which was just inside the front door of our house. As you might know Bonnie got stung 7(!) times in total a while back now and clearly is still terrified of them.

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Don’t jump Bonnie! – there’s a stream lower down over this wall and I’m waiting for the day I need to pull her out of it!

We did a normal walk and when we came back to the house Bonnie wouldn’t go through the front door. I eventually managed to get her in but she went out to the kitchen and lay down for a few hours totally avoiding the living room and front of the house. Needless to say I wasn’t going to go out and leave her alone and terrified in the house so I sat with her to make sure she was okay and she eventually came around. Later that night I collected my partner from the night out and by the time we went to bed it was well after midnight!

Friday was a normal work day and I was pleased that I had finally got a project sorted which I’d been working on for some time. But with how busy we had been this week when we came back from work we pretty much feel asleep without even having dinner. Thankfully we had the animals fed and sorted and Bonnie was very accommodating and just snoozed with us!

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That was a tough work week!

Saturday was a very exciting day for me! Earlier in the week I had contacted one of the trainers who runs the dog behaviour course asking if I could help out or observe at any of his classes and events to gain more practical experience. He very kindly offered me the opportunity to come along to his classes on Saturday morning and also that I was welcome to attend his behavioural home visits afterwards. I couldn’t believe my luck! I set out to met at his house for 9am and we travelled down to the location for the classes together.

The first class was a puppy class and the puppies were absolutely lovely and the owners were really keen and did a brilliant job. We had a Newfoundland, a Chihuahua, an Akita, a Cocker Poodle cross and a Cocker Spaniel so was a good mix! A Mini Schnauzer didn’t turn up so maybe we will see them next week. The second class was for adult dogs and it was great to see the owners try their best especially as some of them were rescue dogs.
Then we went on to do three home visits which was really interesting to see different behavioural issues and solutions for those. All the owners seemed really keen and committed which I was really impressed with.I finally got back home before dinner time so was almost like another work day this week! I am welcome to come back again next week so we shall see if I can hack it!

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Bonnie’s crisis – why does mum smell like so many other dogs

Finally today on Sunday we travelled to Pet Warehouse again to stock up on Bonnie’s raw food and also some treats for her Birthday coming up on Halloween day! Then afterwards we went out on a lovely walk in a local park. It felt very autumnal and we had a blast with the frisbee – Bonnie is starting to get the fun of the game!

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Feeling like Autumn now!
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Wee poser!
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Look at her go!
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Both ears up!
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Ahh so exciting! I love the frisbee now!
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Throw it that way!

Needless to say we are taking it easy the rest of today! Hope you guys had a great weekend and are re-energised for the week ahead!



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Week in review – new phone & slow mo videos

This week I felt pretty tired, unmotivated and like I hadn’t achieved much but now looking back it was actually a pretty busy and productive week, funny how that happens! This time last week I got a new phone and I have been really enjoying using all the new functions and the camera on it, it’s definitely a big upgrade from my previous 3 year old phone and it’s nice to not have to always be bugging my partner to take photos or borrow his phone haha.

For this week’s walks we did a mixture of walking around our neighbourhood, into town, along the seafront and also to our favourite park Hazelbank to take final advantage of the summer opening hours as it now closes early at 8pm 😦 As always we are continuing our loose lead training, general focus outside and muzzle training.

Nothing too out of the ordinary happened this week on walks except 1. A small grumbly match between her and an off-lead lab but it wasn’t really anything to worry about and she came away easily 2. In Hazelbank while me and Bonnie were playing off-lead another off-lead dog came out of nowhere with owners halfway across the park and started a chase game with Bonnie. Thankfully since Bonnie was already in a playful mood from playing about with me she didn’t take offence and just had a bit of fun with it, but it was really difficult to get them to stop and the other dog’s owners didn’t attempt to call it back or even walk closer to help out.

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Carrickfergus castle
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Posing outside Shake Shack – we have become slightly obsessed with their milkshakes!
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Muzzle training on our walks – not paying attention at all as there is a bird over there xD

I have been having a lot of fun with recording videos especially slow motion as it’s so fascinating to watch things slowed down! The first video is after a few attempts at learning a switch sides cue while walking. And the other two are just fun slow motion videos 🙂

We bought a frisbee this week to see how Bonnie would react and if she would like to chase it as when we first got her she didn’t really know how to play at all. As you can see below she didn’t quite get the appeal!

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After so much muzzle training recently this is what she came up with haha

Our office took part in the Macmillan Cancer coffee morning on Friday and we baked some chocolate brownies to contribute. Bonnie tried her best to convince me that she deserved a brownie too – sorry Bonnie but not a chance!

We went back to Pet Warehouse NI to buy more Nutriment as she is really getting on fab with it. We have had no upset stomachs yet since switching her over so fingers crossed! She did great in the store but we got ambushed by a man who encouraged her excitement and when we said sorry please ignore her we are training rather than him acknowledging that and backing off, he instead encouraged her jumping, petted her and asked what she was training for and asking us to clarify multiple times. God I was so mad as both me and my partner tried to make it clear that we didn’t want to be disturbed but anymore we are just going to walk the other way than try to explain ourselves. When we came home we ordered a slip lead and customised vest/jacket thing to hopefully get the message across to ignore us as her little training bandanna is quite hard to notice so we will do a post on those items when they arrive.

Later that night I had a little chilled out grooming session with Bonnie (cutting her nails, trimming her hairy feet, brushing) and I thought it was adorable that she feel asleep between my legs afterwards although my legs were starting to go numb hanging off the sofa as I didn’t want to disturb her haha

Today we don’t have anything too exciting planned – we are going to have a relaxing day since tomorrow I will be starting my dog behaviour course(!) which means I have a 14hr day ahead so think I’ll need the energy for then! Hope you guys all had a great weekend and are refreshed for the week ahead!

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Looking super fit at the minute 🙂 not that you can see much because of the long fur!

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Valley & Hazelbank Park Visit

Last Tuesday on our time off we went on a little trip to the Valley park during the day. The last time we had visited here it was super busy as we went during the weekend so this visit was much more peaceful and relaxing.

We had a dander around the pond, checked out the little monuments around the park and just had a chilled out walk with no rushing.

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Lovely little duck pond – Bonnie is still trying her best to learn to be okay around ducks
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There were ducks, swans, a goose or two and even a heron
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Plodding along – her loose lead walking is coming along great
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Some more feathered friends along the walk
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Bonnie looking tiny in the giant chair
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I’m glad you guys weren’t here to see the state of me trying to clamber up onto it!
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I think she was checking out a bird here xD
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Bonnie checking out our reflections
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Bonnie was a bit disappointed when she found out that a zebra crossing had nothing to do with animals xD

When we got back to the car we still had plenty of treats in our treat bag, water for us and Bonnie and we had packed some sandwiches so we thought while we’re out why not stop along at Hazelbank park to have a walk and a picnic as we had nowhere to be or no errands to run!

We love Hazelbank park, it’s situated on the banks of Belfast lough and has lovely views. It’s quickly becoming one of our favourite spots and Bonnie is getting pretty used to it so can go off lead in certain spots which is great. We had a walk around the park, met another collie and it’s owner then settled back in beside the car park to have our little picnic. After we ate I did some trick training and just playing around with Bonnie which was a blast (You can see the video over on this post).

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Plodding along again – it’s very difficult for her near water so she done great with her walking
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We met this lovely collie and his owner- he trots alongside the bike and didn’t bother Bonnie at all – they went on to play fetch in the water and it was so lovely to watch
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Bonnie sampling some water from this running water feature, although I had to hold it for her otherwise she wasn’t interested – spoilt dog xD
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Practising her settle while we eat – even then she was focusing on me through the gaps in the table!
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Doing some body awareness exercises
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She’s looking so fit these days – I need to weigh her again to see if she’s lost her extra weight!

It was such a nice outing and we really enjoyed ourselves just living in the moment and not having to worry about rushing back home to get errands or work done. We ended up being out around 3 or so hours and I was so impressed with Bonnie – she really did behave brilliantly and she had a load of fun sniffing about, exploring, training and playing. We also made sure that she had some downtime while we ate and had plenty of water but she handled it like a champ!


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Week in review – we love holidays!

We have been off work most of this week and we have had such a blast! I wont be able to fit in all the pictures and everything that I want to include in this post but I thought I would briefly cover what adventures we had!

On Monday we didn’t do anything too special as I was still in work. On Tuesday we decided to go back to the Valley park and afterwards went to Hazelbank park which is quickly becoming one of our favourite spots! Here’s our full post on this day out.

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Duckies
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Met this lovely collie and owner

Also on Tuesday morning I had received an email from Louis at Select Portraits (Facebook page here) asking if I would like a portrait of Bonnie which was so lovely for him to offer. I was more than thrilled to accept the offer and the finished piece is absolutely amazing – I am always in awe of artist’s skills I just can’t comprehend the time and talent that goes into such wonderful art. I will be collecting the piece tomorrow so I can’t wait to show you guys! Find the post here.

On Wednesday we decided to pay another visit to Pet & Country Dog Friendly Café and Pet Shop. Afterwards we went into Portrush to have a dander about and get some fish and chips to eat at the seafront – it was total bliss until Bonnie decided it was a bit too peaceful for her liking! Again I’ll be doing a separate post because there’s too many photos to include here!

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Chilling at the café
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Feeling the sand between our toes!

On Thursday me and my partner went to visit my mum for half of the day (she lives 90 minutes drive away) and Bonnie got a walk with her usual walker while we were out. When we came back I fancied buying a game so we took Bonnie into Belfast city centre with us – she was fab!

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So hard to get action shots that aren’t blurry! She’s turning into a proper city dog though!

On Friday we didn’t do anything special. We all had a bit of a chill out day as we were a bit tired from all our travelling which I think Bonnie appreciated as she was so sleepy and snugly all day.

On Saturday we spent a bit of time in the garden in the afternoon and finally got around to cutting the grass – this warm and wet weather means it was turning into a bit of a jungle! We even found a little frog which we transported over the wall just in case Bonnie thought about eating it!

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Sorry for destroying your home!

In the evening we took Bonnie to Loughshore park and let her have a bit of fun in the shallows on her long line. We tried throwing her ball to see if she would fetch it as she had learned to do it at our visit to the hydrotherapy pool but she just chased it and then immediately dropped it! Fortunately the tide eventually brought it close enough so we could grab it but it left both me and my partner soaked! It was a really mild night though and Bonnie was having so much fun that we couldn’t take it seriously and just had a laugh 🙂

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Belfast city in the background

Today we haven’t made any plans yet because we are getting ready to go back to work – laundry, tidying etc. But I think a nice walk with Bonnie and chilling with some takeaway for dinner will be the perfect Sunday and the perfect end to a great week!


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Week in review – Why’d the geese cross the road?

We finally got a calmer week after the excitement of the past while and even better we are off work from tomorrow until the end of the week so good times ahead! We don’t have too much planned but we’ll be sure to get out on some nice adventures with Bonnie 🙂

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Bonnie is glad of the restful week

At the doggy event we went to last week  we got Bonnie a teddy bear from the teddy tombola at the event for only 50p! Total bargain and as you can see below it has been a huge hit – total devastation to the poor bear.

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The after math – guts everywhere
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The innocent victim

To the frustration of Bonnie I have re-stuffed it and I’m even considering sewing up the holes to make it last that bit longer since she seems to enjoy it so much! Talking about sewing I have a sewing project inbound – I’m just waiting on a delivery of a quilting ruler before I can start properly as apparently I do not have a straight eye in my body! Anyone want to take a guess at what I’ll be making?

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Guess what I’ll be? Hopefully it will be completed sometime this week!

We didn’t get up to much out of the ordinary this week but on Sunday we went to the Valley leisure park for a visit with Bonnie (we were on the hunt for Kabutos in Pokemon Go but no luck unfortunately!). We had a fun time walking around and building up Bonnie’s endurance with her backpack as well as doing some off lead time and practising tricks.

She was fab walking past adults and children but we had to retreat back to the car when a woman with a small dog on a retractable leash and who would not stop squeaking a squeaker toy near us caused Bonnie to become really frustrated, so we had to quickly leave the area. We had a bit of fun with tricks at the car park to calm her down and hopefully not leave any bad impressions of the place but she recovered really quickly the little star!

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Learning to chill
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Love her tail and butt wiggle in this – her enthusiasm is infectious ❤
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Something we always did as kids – walking along the walls
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Some tricks in the car park
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“This is so much fun!”

After we left there was a bit of a delay in our journey – some geese decided to cross the road! Thankfully all the drivers were very respectful and gave them plenty of time to get past.

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So why’d the geese cross the road?
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To immediately turn and cross the road back to the original side apparently!
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Needless to say they really caught Bonnie’s eye!

We have also been trying out some new tricks this week but since this is getting so long already I think I’ll do a separate post with our training updates! We found this photo from the event last week so I thought I would share it. I’m so proud of her being able to be this calm so close to other dogs considering we had to drop our training classes earlier this year because she wasn’t able to cope. She continually impresses us with her improvements ❤

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Ballybolley Forest Hike

Back at the beginning of this blog Bonnie and I went for the first time to Ballybolley forest with the Pack of Paws Belfast Dog Walking Club (post here). As it’s fairly close by we decided another visit was long overdue!

It was a lovely walk as the weather was perfect, it was really quiet and the views are gorgeous.

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Bonnie’s favourite way to start a hike – some treats (they’re for the energy right?!)
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Struggling to untangle the long line as always!
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What next?

I wore the Hurtta Hiker belt and used both the Hurtta training leash (reviewed here) and a cheap 10m long line. Bonnie wore her Palisades harness without the saddlebags as it would’ve been a bit too far as we are still building up endurance on shorter walks. I also made sure to pack water (for all of us) and her water bowl for breaks as we walked.

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Me and my best buddy ❤ can see a bit of the scenery here but we didn't do it justice!
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Overturned tree roots

The forest had changed a lot since I last visited – it was very overgrown, there weren’t really any streams like last time and so many trees and their roots had been overturned from the wind but it’s still a beautiful forest and it was lovely to amble about and soak it all in. She got to have plenty of time “off leash” aka dragging the long line which let us capture what I think is one of Bonnie’s best photos of her recalling xD

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Looks pretty normal right?
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Think again – crazy border collie coming right for you!
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And in motion!

Hehe what a little goofball! Needless to say we were all tired out from our fun adventure and maybe next time we won’t leave it for so long!


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Week in review – wasps, Pokémon & ducks Pt 2

So after the eventful start to our week we had a quiet Friday then yesterday we had a little outing to Wallace Park which we had never been to before. We didn’t have an idea of what to expect but we went with the intention of playing Pokémon Go as we walked around with Bonnie as we had heard it was a Growlithe nest! As you can see below Bonnie wasn’t the biggest fan haha

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If I don’t look at it maybe it will go away!

It was a lovely little park and we had no bad incidences with other dogs or their owners or children so it was quite a pleasant walk. There was a little event on and there was a small petting farm set up which had the loveliest little donkey – Bonnie was okay until she was about 5 metres away then she seen it walk and look towards her so she got a little spooked, but she recovered quickly bless her.

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Practising jumps with a split tree
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A wee bit unsure but doing great
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The petting farm at the event
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I’ll stay over here away from the donkey thank you!

There was a small pond at the park and as we all know Bonnie is not a fan of birds of any type and would chase them all day long if we let her so we decided to do a bit of training around them. She did great and was able to disengage on her own even only 2 metres or so away from the ducks but I accidentally let her get too close and she stuck her head through the bars of the fence to try to get at them the cheeky little monkey!

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I guess they’re not so bad from this distance
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Snuffling for treats in the long grass
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I guess they’re not so bad from here either as long as they don’t flap about or make too much noise
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See I’m still a good girl!
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Sorry mum but the temptation was too much! Silly mummy letting me get too close!
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Chilled out ducks paying no attention to the silly doggy

Afterwards we stopped off at Pets at Home (yes that dreaded place I said I didn’t want to support any more) as I wanted to buy a new antler for Bonnie and I don’t know anywhere else around us that stock them. Bonnie was fixated on the animals in their enclosures as usual but was very good around the other shoppers which there was quite a few of even though we specifically went near closing time to avoid others.

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Bonnie’s nose pretty much doesn’t lift from the ground when we visit here
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Forging ahead – she get’s so excited in here but to be fair to her we don’t come here often and I never specifically train her in these type of environments

Needless to say she was pooped the rest of Saturday. Today we didn’t do much out of the ordinary except I started doing some mat (tea towel actually xD) training with Bonnie. I started just by reinforcing settled behaviour on the mat such as slow breaths, leg kicked out to the side, laying on her side and resting her chin on the ground. Then I started adding small distractions like crossing my legs, drinking water, playing with my camera etc with the aim of eventually being able to use the mat in higher distraction levels such as sitting at a dog friendly café. So there we go that was our week, hopefully next week won’t be as chaotic!

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So if I understand this right I get treats for doing nothing?!

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