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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Treat Tuesday: Benni and Penni Duck Jerky Soft Bites

I got some samples of jerky treats from Benni and Penni at SuperZoo. They also had samples of some brand new treats that hadn't hit the store shelves yet. One of them was full of ginger root, and intended to help dogs with motion sickness. Sisci gets carsick occasionally, and I found this concept intriguing. I haven't seen anything like it. Unfortunately, Benni&Penni did not have have samples of the ginger jerky for me to take home to my dogs. They didn't even have packaging for it yet, yet a cookie jar full of jerky for conference attendees to touch and smell. It smelled really good.
soft jerky dog treats

This is a feel-good company founded by someone who made some awesome treats for their pet and wanted to share with the world. The company produces their treats right here in Southern California, and even their packaging is made in the USA. They dehydrate their treats, so the jerky is soft and chewy just like beef jerky for people. I personally refuse to each jerky that crunches.

Good For: Peppy cattledogs that like food. Training treats, the pieces are scored so they're easy to break into the right size. Staying soft even after the bag is opened. Dogs with food allergies to anything but duck or peas.

Not Good For: Picky chihuahuas and border collies.

How Much We Like Them: I need to find a local store that carries these. It really shouldn't be that hard, right?

Monday, September 26, 2016

Book Review: 101 Dog Tricks by Kyra Sundance

Kyra Sundance's 101 Dog Tricks is big, pretty, and filled with photographs. This is a start-anywhere sort of book, its' basically a dictionary of dog tricks. The training methods demonstrated are fun and force-free, and the information is fast and accessible. Suitable for brand new dog owners up through experts, the book can be used as anything from a training bible to a source of ideas.

book of dog tricks and training ideas
Photo by Erin Koski
Kyra Sundance is also the entrepreneur behind Do More With Your Dog, the titling organization for dog tricks. She travels around the country doing demos and classes, and her breed of choice is Weimeraners, oddly enough. Her dogs are prominently featured in the book, but there are many other breeds as well.

This is a 208-page book, and each trick gets at least one page. The tricks start out simple, with groundwork behaviors like 'sit'. Each trick includes step-by-step instructions for teaching it, along with the behaviors your dog needs to know ahead of time, training tips, and troubleshooting help if your team isn't quite getting it.

I find 101 Dog Tricks to be a rather utilitarian book. It has a couple of pages on basic training technique, and tons of pretty pictures, but the trick instructions can be a bit sparse. There's the step-by-step, and usually a troubleshooting tip, but for the most part it reads like "do this, and your dog should do that, if he doesn't, try doing this instead". Sometimes I end up going "Welp, my dog didn't do that, so now what?" My favorite example is attempting to teach Sisci Godzilla to jump over my back by holding up a jump bar. She instantly decided that zooming under the bar was the best thing ever, and it must have been somehow inherently rewarding because she keeps doing it despite my desperate lack of reinforcement. Sometimes it makes agility class very interesting.

That said, it's a fun book. It's a going and doing book, not a sitting and reading book, if that makes sense. You can flip to any page, get an idea, and run off to train your dog. I think that makes it less daunting, there's not a ton of information to absorb. If you and your dog aren't getting one trick, turn the page and try another one. 

I get most of my trick training ideas and tips from various groups online. The entire reason I purchased this book was because I wanted to earn trick dog titles. These can be earned by submitting videos and sending in an application, but the tricks listed on the forms are really quite vague. 101 Dog Tricks acts as a reference so you can figure out what "my dog can count" actually entails.
 Brisbane and Godzilla both got their Novice Trick Dog titles, complete with big fancy certificates and letters after their names. I have everything I need to send in the information for their novice and advanced titles, but I haven't gotten around to it yet. 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Product Review: West Paw Zogoflex Air Wox

The nice people at the West Paw Design booth gave me this Zogoflex Air Wox toy at SuperZoo. It's got a unique texture that is clearly irresistible.  The shape is obviously fun to bite, given how much biting goes on around here. It's also fun to shake and tug. There are two other toys in the Zogoflex Air line, a disc and a ball. All are backed by West Paw's one-time replacement guarantee, and you can get a sturdier toy as a replacement. These are recyclable, dishwasher safe, they float, and they are made in the USA.
Floating durable soft tug toy
Photo by Erin Koski

It don't know what it is about this thing, but Sisci Godzilla feels compelled to hoard it in her crate. She's not gnawing on it in there, she just...likes to take it with her.

I'm pleased with the Wox because it combines several qualities that I don't normally find in the same toy. It floats, and it floats high in the water so that dogs can spot it while they're swimming. It's soft, so if I accidentally bean my dog with it, she'll be ok. We can play tug with it. It's durable and doesn't scream "SHRED ME!!!" like toys with fabric covers or ropes seem to.


Durable floating tug toy
Photo by Erin Koski
The shape of this thing is particularly fun. The legs wobble all over the place, and when the dogs bite or shake it, those legs thwap them in the face. For some reason they LOVE this. Face thwapping seems to be a major perk.

Pros: Durable enough to handle quite a bit of chomping. Guaranteed for a one-time replacement if your dog manages to shred it. As a tug toy, it's easy on both my hands and my dog. Floats high enough for dogs to see even if they are swimming with their eyeballs barely above the waterline. Does not absorb water. No parts to rip or shred. If I set it on its feet on a hard floor and nudge it, I can kinda make it walk.

Cons: Not as durable as some of the original Zogoflex toys, it's an interactive toy and not a let-your-dog-reach-chewing-nirvana toy.

Bottom Line: It's a weird toy made out of a weird material and my dogs LOVE IT.