Hurricane Florence: Dog Momma Storm Prep

A storm is brewing. Hurricane Florence is set to impact several states in the coming days. Here are some of the ways we have been preparing:

Assemble a disaster kit

Our family disaster kit includes essential human and dog supplies. We actually keep some of these disaster kit supplies on hand at all times. A few years back, we started keeping gallons of drinking water in storage. The hubs also bought us a dehydrated meal kit, in case of emergencies. About once a year I print updated photos of us in color. Just in case we ever need paper copies. Stashing supplies ahead of time makes disaster prep less stressful.

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Follow the news and weather

I actively avoid watching the news. There always seems to be far more dread and doom than I can stomach on a regular basis. I’d much rather browse my Instagram feed for updates from my favorite dogs. In times of pending disaster, I make an exception. After all, we would want to be the first to know if we were ever ordered to evacuate.

Business as usual

As a dog mom, my fur-girl’s emotional well-being is a priority. That’s why I try to keep everything as normal as possible, even during disaster prep. An abrupt change or lots of little changes to our daily routine could lead to behavior changes in my dog. Problems – like a break in housetraining or destructiveness – are the last thing any dog parent wants to deal with when anticipating a storm. Keeping our routine normal helps our dog cope with storm prep.

Facebook/Dimitri the Shar Pei

Remember to self care

All the talk of disaster this week has kicked my anxiety up a notch. If I start to freak out, my dog will feed off my anxious vibes. To help keep us all calm, we have been investing in self care. Spending time with my dog has helped lower my blood pressure. Tonight, we bonded with a clicker while learning a new trick. She also made the hubs crack up over a game of fetch with obstacles. For my dog, it’s just another normal day with the pawrents.

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Instagram/Hopeincharlotte

How is your storm prep going? We hope you and your dogs stay safe!

Moving with Dog

We recently moved! A couple of months ago, we stumbled across our dream home. Within days we were buying a new home while preparing to sell our old home. Lucky for us, the buying and selling went off without a hitch. Moving was a different story.

If you’ve moved as much as I have, you’ve learned to plan for the unplanned. This is especially true when moving with dogs. Moving is hard on us but it’s also hard on our four-legged pals.

If I think about it from my dog Hope’s perspective, moving probably felt a little like being abducted. But with all her stuff. One night she’s asleep in her usual place with the usual smells and sounds. And the next night, BAM! She’s in a completely unfamiliar place with unfamiliar smells and sounds. But she’s also surrounded by all her familiar stuff!

Hope has vacationed with us in cabins before but I could tell this felt different. The cabins are filled with new-to-her stuff that provide endless sniffing opportunities. There is something novel and temporary about cabins. I’m guessing our new home felt novel but not temporary.

We are seven weeks into the new home and Hope has settled in. I can’t say the same for all the boxes I tucked away in vacant rooms that I have yet to unpack. Hope has found her favorite sunbathing spots. She’s also begun exploring the cacophony of smells in our wooded few acres.

Sure, there were some annoying setbacks with our move. Those will make good stories for another post. Overall, I’d say this has been my best move with a dog yet. Here are some of the things that helped make this move with dog as smooth as possible:

  • Consistent schedules: we kept Hope’s schedule as consistent as possible before and after the move.
  • By appointment-only: we allowed house showings by appointment only AND made sure to take the pup with us instead of leave her behind with strangers.
  • Plan ahead of time: we arranged for Hope to stay at her usual boarding place during the actual move. This required booking the dates ahead of time.
  • Board the dog during the chaos: we made sure Hope stayed away at boarding the day of our big move and the day after. We wanted to make sure we were done running back and forth between both houses before we picked her up.
  • Invest in baby gates: I relied on baby gates to keep Hope out of rooms I didn’t want her in. Pro tip: buy them cheap & buy more than you think you need. You can always return the ones you don’t use later!
  • Create consistency from day 1: we made sure that Hope’s eating, sleeping and play places were all predetermined and easy for her to understand in the new house.
  • New house, old rules: we stuck to the same rules as we had in the old house, because… consistency!
  • Remain flexible & patient: when an old behavior problem started up again and when a new nuisance behavior arose, we remembered that it’s not because she’s a bad dog or plotting to take over! Setbacks were bound to happen and that’s okay! (We’ll talk about this in a future post)
  • Go back to basics: we stuck to our positive reinforcement (R+) guns and went back to basics when necessary. Proactive management of problem behavior and lots of click/treats for replacement/desirable behavior.

What are some of the things that help you manage big transitions and changes in your dog’s life?

My Pup’s First Halloween: training, management, and choice

I had such great plans for coordinating costumes this year. But Halloween came and went without getting that awesome family picture I envisioned. The hubs and I were both sick over the weekend, so we didn’t get to dress up as Russell and Carl from the movie Up! like I’d hoped.

I think this worked out for our dog, Hope. Originally, I wanted to paint her brown like Dug from the movie. But I settled on letting her be a barely-recognizable version of Kevin the bird. In the end, she spent two minutes in a rainbow-glitter tutu the week before Halloween while I took pics. Then on the big night, I posted this honest confession to my instagram account.

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Halloween just isn’t as magical now that we’re in our thirties. I found joy the past few years by dressing up my pups in ridiculous get-ups. I even made my old dog Lucy sit outside with us as we handed out candy one year. She hated kids. Despite her wobbly knees, she’d hobble all the way up the drive way in order to get as far away as possible from the little creatures roaming our cul de sac.

After Lucy’s last – notably anxious – Halloween, I decided Hope would get to choose how she wanted to celebrate. She wasn’t a fan of that tutu, as you can see from her expression. And two seconds after I got my pics, she went right into tearing it of like a cardboard box meant for shredding.

Needless to say, I knew she had no desire to sit out front with us and hand out candy. Hope is what you would label a reactive dog. She’s not a huge fan of breaks in her routine. And her routine has never included tiny monsters running up our driveway with sticky fingers flying at her face. So, for Halloween, Hope got to Netflix-and-chill in the guest bedroom (the room furthest from the front drive) with some tasty goodies.

The hubs and I sat out front eating our to-go dinner in between tending to the kiddos. Our visitors got a chance to pet our more tolerant, kid-friendly dog “Bones.” One of the moms told me I should have fed her more.

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Earlier that day, some folks asked me if I’d be seizing the opportunity to train my dog during the trick or treating shenanigans. No, thank you! Here’s why I didn’t use it as a training op: Training or teaching a dog new skills is a lot like playing a sport. You go to “practice” and learn new skills and get to try them out in scrimmages. All in preparation of the real deal on Friday night. A lot is riding on those big games.

Halloween is like the big game. It’s real life. There’s little I can control about the environment and other variables. The size, shape, sounds of the people. The distance they keep, the speed at which they move, etc. All those things impact Hope’s reactions to them. Since I haven’t spent a lot of time “practicing,” I saw no use in sending her to the big game. It was going to be too overwhelming and she’d likely end up fumbling or failing.

Funny thing is, Hope didn’t feel left out at all. When we retrieved her from the guest bedroom she was happy as a clam. She brought her Kong downstairs and proceeded to dig the end bits out while the hubs and I snuggled up for a Halloween movie. She couldn’t have been more relaxed. For the dog who barks and protests at every visitor to our door, this was a huge win!

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So, in the case of Halloween, we didn’t train. Instead, we managed. (More in our next post about how/when we train.) What about you and your pup? How did you choose to celebrate Halloween?