In this episode we discuss:
- Why everything is hard (just kidding, no answers here. Why IS everything so hard?)
- Behaviors, routines, and material acquisitions that are helping take the edge off
- Behaviors that reduce my daily annoyance level and make it easier to enjoy my dogs
- Stationing/crating from a distance
- Putting their own collars on
- Picking up my ear buds when they fall, especially under furniture
- Front and back paw targets
- Nail trimmers on same hook as leashes
- Feeding out of slow feeders
- Zoom training meetups
- Material acquisitions
- Dry erase sleeves
- Pony jet
- Bissel machine
- Slime flat tire machine
This podcast is supported by: Karen Pryor Clicker Training’s Brand-New On Cue! Training Treats
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Hannah: [00:00:00] And in Rugby’s case, he takes it a step further in that he puts his paws up on my knee so that I can hold out the collar and he can reach it and he puts his head in and I just snap it. It makes getting out the door easier, makes me bending over less, because I also usually have a backpack on and bending over to reach a short dog when you have a backpack on is like how you can like crack yourself in the back of the head. I’ve heard. I’ve not done that repeatedly to myself all of the time. All the time. So those are some really useful behaviors that I have found super helpful to train.
Hey there, fellow training nerds! You’re listening to Drinking from the Toilet. If you like to geek out about combining the science of behavior with positive reinforcement philosophy in real life, you’ve come [00:01:00] to the right place. And I’m your host, Hannah Branigan: teacher, trainer, podcaster, and author of the book Awesome Obedience. (I almost said Exhausted Obedience! What a Freudian Slip that would be!) Awesome Obedience and its companion, Awesome Obedience: The Field Guide. I hope I said it right that time. But no matter how tired you are, you can navigate your browser right over to clickertraining.com and pick up both of those. I understand they make great Christmas gifts. Whether or not the people on your list are into dogs or training or obedience, there’s so many uses for them.
Okay, so this week, we are talking about things that are saving my life right now. And maybe I mean that figuratively and maybe I mean that literally. I guess you can decide that for yourself. It probably depends on the day.
But either way, this episode is brought to you by On Cue! Training Treats from Karen Pryor Clicker Training and some truly amazing [00:02:00] folks who support this podcast on Patreon. So this week, I wanna send out special thanks to Shelly P, Shelly L, and Sage G for bringing some really interesting and thought-provoking questions to this month’s Q&A. We talked way over time about things like growling in a crate, exercises to keep our dogs fit over the winter and what it would look like to design a training session from the perspective that our dogs are always training us. I couldn’t pick a favorite. They were all really interesting and I’m sure we went way deeper and farther than the questions were originally intended to be asking. But I had a good time. Hopefully other folks did too! And I also want to shout out Cat B for writing in to send me some more really interesting and excellent questions about breaking complex behaviors into smaller pieces and about the practical use of classical conditioning in our training, which I’m gonna use to build some podcast episodes around. So stay tuned for those.
If you’d like to support the podcast, get your own questions [00:03:00] answered, and get access to our super-secret extra podcast episodes, you can go to patreon.com/DFTT or go to the show notes and you can click the link there and go directly to the page to sign up.
So, a really long time ago – time is a construct, so it doesn’t really matter – I was listening to another podcast that I enjoy, the Lazy Genius, which has nothing to do with dog training at all, but I like it. And she did an episode on things that were saving her life. And I was like, “Oh my gosh, that’s such a good idea.”
And as I was rummaging around trying to think of what I wanted to write– record a podcast episode about this week, I was like “You know what? There are periods of my life where honestly my life has needed saving more than others.” What are some of the things that I’ve got right now that are making my life a little bit easier, letting me go from one day to the next without– [00:04:00] well, I still do a fair amount of screaming into the void, sounding my barbaric yawp. Anyways.
But what are some of the things in my life that I am feeling a lot of gratitude towards? This is not a Thanksgiving episode at all and and it’s not really a holiday wishlist episode, though I am going to include as one category on here some like actual material possessions, things that you can purchase, things you can throw money at, and if they solve a problem in your life, then that’s awesome because they’ve absolutely solved a problem in mine.
But that’s only part of it. So I thought of three different categories.
- There’s some behaviors that I’m getting a lot of mileage out of right now that I’m really glad that I am working on or have worked on.
- I have some– On my outline here, I call them “routine elements.” Just stuff that I’m doing with like kind of my daily practices that are keeping things from going totally off the rails. Like it’s close, but you know, [00:05:00] it’s helping.
- And then there are actual objects which you can purchase that might help you.
So I’m gonna talk about all those things, but this is a dog training podcast, so let’s start with talking about behaviors!
So I don’t think I could talk about behaviors that are saving my life without putting plug in for stationing, and I’m gonna include both stationing and crating as like the same general behavioral category. I consider crates to be, for the most part, just like really specific stations. But the ability to specifically send my dogs to a known location, a trained and conditioned location that’s part of the structured environment. In this case, I’m thinking both as part of my routine– Oh gosh. So I really could have double-counted this with the routine elements. Well, you know what? Outlines are meant to be deviated from, right? Anyways, being able to [00:06:00] send from a distance and incorporating those behaviors into our routine, making it part of it. So cues that are part of the routine, oh my gosh, that makes such a difference.
Two examples here. So one, I do absolutely have– this is a high value behavior for me. So I train it. I put effort into training this much like loose leash walking. These are behaviors that matter a lot to me. They may matter not as much to you. They matter a ton to me, and for me, it makes my life better.
Okay. So I do train my dogs to go to stations and their crates in each room. They only have crates in– actually, that’s not true. I have crates in two rooms right now. That’s a long story. We’ll get into that later. But in the rooms in my house where I spend time, I usually have some combination of cratesand stations or dog beds. When I say “stations,” to differentiate them from the crates, I mean they’re just dog beds. Sometimes they’re squishy dog beds that are flat on the floor. Sometimes they are elevated dog beds or cots, but they’re all gonna be [00:07:00] stations for the purposes of this conversation that I’m having with myself and people that I can’t see out there in the internet.
But anyways, two primary examples that are very– no, I can think of three. Ooh! I’m gonna add this to the outline later. Because again, outlines are meant to be broken, deviated from.
Alright. So I’m just gonna go in order of events of my day.
So mornings around here can be a little bit hectic. And yes, I know I could solve probably all of my personal problems if I just set my alarm for an hour earlier every morning so that I could get up before my child wakes up and you know, like exercise and meditate and write in my journal and have like lunches and breakfast made and everything. But let’s own the fact that that’s not happening now and it’s unlikely to happen in the near future. So I’m just gonna say like, “Hey, you know what? Mornings are hectic and what are the things that I could do that don’t involve setting my alarm an hour earlier that make them more survivable – not particularly less [00:08:00] hectic, just more survivable.”
When I go to take my child to school in the mornings, part of our routine is that after she– She has her own checklist and she’s working through a checklist with some supervision and some nudging. But for the most part we’re working the checklist together. And one of the last things that she does is that she puts her lunch and her water bottle in her backpack, and she makes sure that she has anything she needs to take to school for there. Then, after she packs her backpack, she puts the dogs in the dog room and puts them in their crates and gives them chewies.
And what’s really awesome about that is, one, she likes doing that it and honestly I originally had her doing that as a way to keep her busy so that I could have just 30 seconds to kind of gather my thoughts before I had to get in the car and drive and possibly put on pants and things like that. So it was really mostly keeping her busy. None of the dogs here right now necessarily need to be crated. Rugby is typically crated when we leave [00:09:00] the house. It’s because he’s the most likely one to find ways to entertain himself that I don’t approve of if he were to decide that I’m never coming back, which I think he would decide rather quickly. But probably even he doesn’t need it at this point. But you know what, that’s just part of our routine.
And what I love is that when the dogs see her starting to pack her backpack because cue transfer has happened, the whole new cue/old cue situation has occurred enough times that they see her packing their backpack and they immediately run into the dog room and put themselves in their crates and they just stand there wagging. They’ll come back and check on her backpack and they’ll go back to the dog room and they’ll get in the crates. It’s really reinforcing for her. Obviously it’s reinforcing for them – they get chewies and they love that. Everybody’s out of my hair again for those critical 30 seconds that I need to get myself together in order to get in the car and drive safely and legally. That’s really, really cool and I love how that has played out. It has really [00:10:00] improved that last little section of our routine before we get in the car and leave.
Two other places that I can think of off the top of my head. The other one – I think I’ve probably talked about this one on the podcast before – when we come into the living room where the TV is in the evening to sit and watch tv. Sometimes we watch a show, maybe watch a movie on Friday night. Friday nights are movie nights here. Everybody distributes themselves onto their dog beds in that room.
That’s really helpful because I like to snack while I watch TV or a movie. Like that’s part of what makes life worth living for me is that I like to watch a movie and eat snacks. Crunchy snacks. I actually like to have, in the ideal world, I have a salty/crunchy snack, but then also something sweet. So, y’know, popcorn, maybe ice cream as well. French fries and a Frosty. If you enjoy that, then you’re my people. And I like to do that [00:11:00] without being harassed. And then I can call them up onto the couch if I want them to join me. And I do; I do want them to join me on the couch because the other thing that makes life worth living for me is the snuggling. But having some control over how exactly that goes down is so helpful. And being able to send the dogs to the beds on verbal if I wanted to. But even more importantly, I don’t have to do that, because at that time of day, me walking into the living room holding the ball– the bowl of popcorn (I don’t do popcorn balls; that’s too many steps for me) or a bag of popcorn if that’s the kind of day that I’m having, turning on the TV… Like all of those are cues and they’re all cues for the dogs to get on their stations.
The other place that my dog station – I can’t believe I didn’t think about this one – is when I’m getting their meals ready. I have a separate set of stations immediately outside the kitchen door. They can see me preparing the food; that’s important for them and I respect that, but they’re not [00:12:00] messing with each other or getting into my space. It just keeps everything smoother. And so again, I can cue it if I need to, but I really don’t.
And I was kind of laughing about this the other day because I had changed the way that I was doing something because of the hound (and hopefully getting her ready to go to a forever home) and I had moved where and how I was feeding Rugby to the other side of the room. I couldn’t figure out why he wasn’t going to where he was eating and it was because he was stationing himself and he was like, just really like “What we do now is we station.” And I hadn’t told him to station, but I had initiated the meal prep procedures, which are his cues to station. And so I had to verbally say, “Buddy, you can come eat here.” And he was stationing so hard. Oh my gosh. You would’ve been so proud of him. He was stationing the hardest that any dog had ever stationed. I mean, his whole body, his ears were stationing. It was the cutest thing [00:13:00] that I’ve ever seen.
So I had to think about that one a little bit and make that a little bit smoother for him which is still a work in progress. And you know what? That’s okay because life is a work in progress, right? Hopefully it is.
So stationing, oof. Especially at the end of the day like that, when I am really out, like my tank has been empty for quite some time, being able to have a clear “to do” behavior for my dogs– What I mean by that is that is the time of day that my patience is very thin, having nothing to do with dogs, but just because I’ve been awake for a very long time and I have used up all of my resources and I don’t have a lot of ability to frame things positively at that point. that is when it is easiest for me to focus on what I want them not to do and hardest for me to focus on what I want them to do. Having that stationing available and then already built into the routine as a to-do [00:14:00] behavior is– I think it really saves our relationships, let alone my life. And honestly, that’s kind of the same thing. Those are my babies.
Alright, so that’s just kind of one big category of stuff. Here’s another little category. For whatever reason (I dunno, maybe my warranty’s up), I have reached the point in my life where, putting on a sports bra without a lot of planning can result in severe injuries. I don’t mean that it’s like because I’m particularly well-endowed, I’m not, but just like putting my arms in at the wrong angle seems to be crippling easily. It’s like, “Oh, I yawned in the shower” is another way. So I’ve had a series of aggravated minor back injuries on top of like preexisting chronic back stuff that have just– It’s the sort of thing where you’re just like, “Oh my gosh, really? I don’t have time for this.”
And bending over to do things like [00:15:00] put on my dog’s collars (because most of the time, they don’t wear collars in the house) or put their leashes on or pick up a leash if I’ve dropped it or here’s the new one that I have recently added and I am really patting myself on my very sore back right now for this one: I have taught Rugby to retrieve my earbud for me when it falls out of my ear and particularly when it in inevitably bounces underneath some piece of furniture. I can’t believe I didn’t think of doing this before.
I wear earbuds of some kind most of the time, most days. I’m very sound sensitive and one of the things that I’ve noticed about myself is that if I can reduce just the amount of input that goes into my system throughout the day, I have more resources for longer towards the end of the day, so wearing earbuds most of the time, either kind of sound filtering earbuds, earplugs [00:16:00] (not like straight-up earplugs, but the sound filtering kind) or my air pods with or without any kind of music or noise canceling – this just really helps. Even for stuff like grocery shopping, it can be really helpful. But of course every time I bend over, which is already hard under the current circumstances, it’s easy for them to fall out or one of them to fall out. And of course, when it does fall out, those things can bounce like crazy on a hard surface and they always go underneath the most inconvenient piece of furniture.
So if you haven’t already taught your dogs to retrieve their own leashes to you if it falls outta your hand–. And I know you’ll love this. I wanna say Kiki, but I could be totally off here, mentioned teaching dogs to recall when you drop their leash, like the sensation, the inputs of the leash dropping functions as a recall cue. For my guys, what I have them do is [00:17:00] on top of that, if the leash has dropped, “Oh, let me hand that to you, mama. Oh, you dropped that. Here you go.” And I’ve used the, “Oh, I dropped that” as a cue for a long time with multiple generations of dogs. It’s so helpful. You drop a hairbrush, you drop an air pod, a leash– And so if the leash hits the ground, it’s an opportunity to retrieve, not an opportunity to take off and seek reinforcement elsewhere in the environment, in other counties, usually for small furry animals. I love having a dog that retrieves their leash back to me on that cue. And I love having a dog who hears the earbud hit the ground no matter where he is in the room and “Oh, mama, let me get that for you!” And he can find it. He’ll go underneath the sofa, because he’s the only dog that I have that’ll fit under that space. And this is the sort of thing where I would have to get down on my belly usually, and they’re always just outta reach of my actual arm too, so I have to go get the broom and like try to knock it to where I can reach it with my hands. And then I notice all the other crap that’s under the sofa, which I really don’t want to notice. I prefer to not know that it’s there, [00:18:00] especially like dead spiders and dust bunnies and balls of dog hair and stuff.
So handing me the leash when I drop it, going after my earbud and bringing it back. And yes, it’s small, it’s potential choking hazard and I’m aware of that. And you’re probably thinking, “Of your dogs, you feel like Rugby’s the right one for this job?” I do actually in this case because he fits under the underneath more furniture than any anybody else. So that works out really, really well.
And then putting their own collars on. This I think is a useful cooperative care behavior anyways. But also if bending over is hard or your hands are full, being able to hold out a collar and have– I just realized I should clarify. “Putting their own collars on” in that I hold out the collar and they stick their head through it, and then I can just snap it or tighten it, depending on how it adjusts. They’re not like getting them off the hooks and dressing themselves like it’s a jacket. But sticking their heads through it. [00:19:00]
But that really does help, and in Rugby’s case, he takes it a step further in that he puts his paws up on my knee so that I can hold out the collar and he can reach it and he puts his head in and then I just snap it. That makes getting out the door easier, makes me bending over less, because I also usually have a backpack on and bending over to reach a short dog when you have a backpack is like how you can like crack yourself in the back of the head. I’ve heard. I’ve not done that repeatedly to myself all of the time. All the time.
So those are some really useful behaviors that I have found super helpful to train.
And just because you’re probably curious, “How did you train the earbud behavior?” Well, my dogs do have a basic retrieve and I love training a retrieved-to-hand with back chaining. I usually build it off of a chin rest or a nose target. The game is: something in your mouth, I hold out my hand, you push your face into that hand and then it becomes pushing the thing [00:20:00] into my hand. That actually doesn’t matter at all for competition obedience where it’s a dumbbell, which is very easy for me to pick up from my dog’s mouth. It matters a great deal for an earbud, which is very small. It’s mostly like in his mouth. Clickers are also a really helpful thing to automatically retrieve when they hit the ground, because when your hand gets slippery with dog drool and treat juice, those things will just squirt right outta your hand and fly across the room. And having a dog that’ll bring it to you is really helpful.
Anyways, that was a sidetrack, not on the outline at all. None of this is on the outline at this point. No, some of it is, a great deal of it is, 80% of what I’ve– No, that’s not fair. 60% of what I’ve said so far is on the outline.
Alright, so teaching it as a nose targeting exercise and then combining put it in your mouth and nose target. Put it in your mouth/nose target. I love to teach retrieving small things with stuff like clothespins or just found objects around the house. And [00:21:00] then one of my favorite tricks used to teach my dog to retrieve a dime off the floor because that was just so fancy and it’s such a great party trick. But it’s the same principle.
A clothespin, a hairbrush is another one that I use a lot and teaching them to put it in my hand. I can’t remember what I used as an intermediate step from there to earbud, but I definitely did not go straight to my earbud because I wanted to make sure I was going to get it in a usable intact status when I received it, so I did do something else. I can’t think what it was. Then to the earbud and then the cue transfer of the sound of it hitting happened just really very naturally. I didn’t have to do any actual training for that other than knock my own earbud out of my ear, it hit the ground, I told him to bring it, but he already was looking for ways to earn reinforcement. He’s like, “Oh, lemme get that for you.” And he brings it. “Great. Let me give you a piece of the popcorn that I was [00:22:00] eating.” I’m usually snacking, not just when I’m watching TV, to be completely honest.
Okay. So that’s been really, really helpful. I’m very pleased. Still tightening that one up a little bit, but honestly it’s beyond functional and I’m very happy with that. So very useful behavior to have on board.
And then two other behaviors that I use for keeping my dogs physically fit, but also just that crossover between physically fit and mentally engaged when it’s getting dark earlier and earlier and I don’t always feel like doing much in the way of training. And that is trotting over cavaletti and working with front and back paw targets.
So, cavaletti. This is more of an outdoor activity, so it doesn’t work well here where it has been raining for seven years. It didn’t rain at all for like six months and now it has rained continuously for like the entire month of December. And probably part of [00:23:00] November. Time is a construct; I don’t know.
But trotting over cavaletti. You can get DIY versions, which I did for a very long time. Now I do have commercially produced cavalettis. I get them from Affordable Agility because they’re all one piece and I really like that.
I have them lined up and I just do it super simple. I set them out a little bit further apart than my dog is tall at the shoulder and I have them trot across the cavaletti, go around a cone, trot across the cavaletti, go around a cone, and I usually have everybody outside and we just rotate through until everyone gets two or three turns, depending on how much time and energy I have, and then we go inside.
And I have to say, that’s one of the physical exercises that gives me the most bang for my buck in terms of keeping especially my older dogs comfortable and mobile and for my younger dogs, it both kind of hits the physical [00:24:00] exercise with enough mental exercise so it’s not just running them through the woods. I feel like that’s a different need. So if I can only do one thing, that’s often one of my go-to things. And if I’m coming back after we’ve not been able to do training or exercise because of life for a few weeks or longer, then that’s one of the first things that I add in.
And the other one is working with front and back paw targets. Now I demonstrated this on the Q&A, but I’ll try to describe it to you.
To do this, I teach my dogs to be able to stand with their front feet on a target or a small platform and I teach them to stand with their back feet on a small platform. And then I love to combine those and have them stand with their front feet on one small platform and their back feet on a different small platform. And sometimes I’ll use balance pads for this, and more often I’ll use a piece of 2×4. Usually I have a piece of yoga mat glued to that 2×4, but it’s a piece of 2×4. It’s not fancy or expensive. Scrap of wood. [00:25:00] Sometimes I use sofa cushions for this if I want something a little bit squishier.
But the idea here is I can set them up in kind of a healthy posture and work on just really simple balancing tasks. So I’ll have them target to the right and to the left, feed in the center. Target up, target down, feed in the center. And again, if I do nothing else, I think it’s helping them– between these two exercises, they are going through full range of motion and practicing healthy posture and balance. Those are things that don’t automatically get practice or reinforced in just their daily lives moving around through the house and in other kinds of training.
So those are kind of my go-to behaviors that– they’re kind of saving like my dog’s lives or saving their soundness? But that is kind of directly or in directly contributing to my life, because one of the things that I stress about the [00:26:00] most is “Am I doing a good enough job taking care of the animals that are my responsibility?” Looking after their physical and mental health and wellness is a big part of that. If I’m making sure that I’m getting a couple of these things done, then I feel better. Like, “Okay, I am not the worst dog owner in the world.” I might be top three, but I’m not the worst, because I got at least these things done.
And in fact, that’s a good stepping off point to go to the next kind of category here, which is a guilt problem.
It is around like these elements that I’ve incorporated into my routine. So I was talking with those other examples, about ways that having the behaviors cued off of our daily routine to make sure that those happen and how that was really helpful. Now this is more me applying it to my routine.
This episode is sponsored by On Cue! Training Treats from Karen Pryor. Clicker Training. I’m always on the lookout for a shelf stable treat to keep in my training bag in my car over the [00:27:00] weekend that occupies that magical slice of the Vinn diagram between treats that my dogs will work for and treats that are easy for me to handle and treats that are healthy enough that I don’t feel bad feeding my dog’s mass quantities of them. I do train a lot with food, so particularly with a small dog like Rugby, the treats he consumes in training can end up making up a really big proportion of his total daily calories. So I wanna make sure that those treats are made from stuff that I feel good about. Obviously I have higher nutritional standards for my dogs than I do for myself.
So I was really curious to try out the On Cue! treats after I read the ingredients and see how they measured on those other two variables too.
So my dogs, even the border collie, were definitely fans, so you get a check there.
And from my perspective, what I really liked about the handleability of these treats was the weight and the shape of them. They’re flattish, not round like a ping-pong ball, but they’re also thick enough and heavy enough so that they have really decent throwability and for the most part, stay where they land without bouncing all [00:28:00] over or crumbling into a million pieces. I throw a lot of food. So those are really important factors to me.
And yes, I did do my personal litmus test of leaving them in my treat pouch in my car over the weekend, totally on purpose, and the results were very boring, which is exactly what I want.
You can check them out yourself. Go to clickertraining.com/treats, or you can follow the link in the show notes.
So I usually do best with stuff that is not super-reinforcing to do, like those recurring laundry types of tasks, if they are built into a routine. And I have historically handled it very poorly when my routine is disrupted. The whole– I mean, it’s kind of embarrassing to even use it as an explanation now, but the whole situation with the pandemic and everything that transpired since then, all of my routines have just gone to crap and everything that was kind of built into and around those routines was lost. And feeling [00:29:00] guilty about it has not helped at all.
So one of the routine elements that I pretty much felt like I had under control was around keeping my dog’s nails trimmed. And the routine that I had was on Sunday mornings, I would obviously set my alarm an hour earlier, and between exercising and journaling and meditating, I would trim their nails– But no, really, Sunday mornings were nail trim day. I would sit on the floor as one of the first things in the morning and trim everyone’s nails. I had a whole little sequence. It was a routine, it was a ritual and everyone’s nails stayed pretty much on track. Even if I was out of town one weekend, the next Sunday I would be in town cause I never traveled two weekends in a row for seminars or shows or whatever. And trimming every other week is usually pretty decent for nail maintenance. [00:30:00] And then everything just kind of fell apart because reasons.
And once I started– I know this happens to other people. There’s at least two or three of you listening that are gonna recognize this pattern. Once I got off the routine of trimming their nails weekly or every other week, their nails started to get long, and once their nails started to get long, I started to feel bad because I was failing as a dog owner. And once I start feeling bad about the failing, it makes it harder to trim the nails at all. And the more badder I feel about it, the harder it gets to trim them, the longer the nails would get. And yeah. It becomes this really terrible cycle. This is not limited to nail trimming. I do this with a lot of things in my life, but definitely it came up with the nail trimming. I would go, “Okay. You’re a grown person. You can do this. You have [00:31:00] a job, you have a driver’s license. You can address this. Just power through.” And so I would do that a little bit, but doesn’t actually solve the problem because the problem wasn’t the nails specifically, it was that I didn’t have the routine anymore.
Okay. So after suffering with this for a while, I finally landed on something that has been working pretty well, knock on wood. It’s around this idea that I really need to put any tools that I’m gonna be using– I need to have those at the point of performance and I need to anchor that behavior, the cues for that, into something that is already happening.
So one thing that I do that I haven’t really – knock on wood – lost yet, is that I do still go out for– we’re gonna call them running, okay? And I want you all to think that I am running while also at the same time, I should be transparent that there’s a lot more walking than running happening. But I like to call them “going out for [00:32:00] runs.” And so I am going out for a “run” with my dogs. But getting out with the dogs and going for those runs, one, it makes me like more mentally stable and a better person. And it keeps me from getting arrested for doing crimes and it’s good for the dogs, it’s good for everybody. So this is something that is important to me and I keep it up and it is something that I know from experience I really have to prioritize. So I’ve done a good job maintaining that. So that’s something that’s gonna happen all the time.
So what I have done is that I have been hanging the nail trimmers– I’m not even gonna worry about dremeling or not dremeling. Simplify, get one thing done. I’ve been hanging the trimmers on the hook where I hang the leashes that I use for running right there by the door.
And so in order to get the leashes down to put them on the dogs to go out for their run, I have to move the nail trimmers while they’re right there and so just [00:33:00] trimming like one or two nails per dog per run, I get through all of the nails over the course of the week and now we’re back to the same week.
And so that has been holding steady and hopefully it will at least get me through to the next phase where that routine breaks down and I have to come with yet another routine, because that is going to happen and I accept that and I’m just gonna work with that. That is working quite well.
It works well from a behavioral standpoint because normally when I’m sitting on the ground, I have their treats, I usually have to put Rugby on station or sometimes even crate him because he loves having his nails trimmed so much. All of that husbandry and cooperative care work kind of backfired, but not in a bad way.
But trimming the nail and then heading right out the door for the run is functioning in a very similar way. It’s reinforcing enough for the dogs. The food doesn’t matter as much and I do love having multiple reinforcers for [00:34:00] similar overlapping behaviors. I think that that’s a good thing in general, makes for strong behaviors. So that’s something that’s been working really well for me.
And from here I wanna jump into what I like to think of the “let’s throw money at it” section of the podcast, which is the material objects, things that you can buy from your phone at one o’clock in the morning when you can’t sleep, that may or may not pay off to making your life better, because I have a few items on here.
And while none of these particular products are like amazing if you– I mean, I think they’re amazing because each of these in small or large ways has reduced my actual daily stress level in some way, which has made my overall quality of life improved.
Okay, so I wanna start with one [00:35:00] that I used very recently and that is the flat tire machine from slime. I think it’s actually called the Slime Smart Spair Emergency Tire Repair Kit. What this thing is– It’s a little tiny air pump that you can plug into your– do they call it a cigarette lighter anymore? I don’t know. In your car. And it has a little can of the slime goo, which is this green tire sealant stuff. And it’s got a little gauge on it. And so you play it into your cigarette lighter, you attach the tube to the tire which is giving you grief in that moment, and you cut it on and it will blow the slime into the tire and reinflate it. And you can drive away. It takes like fifteen minutes. I think the advertisement for it says it [00:36:00] takes seven minutes, but that is not accounting for the amount of fumbling that I’m doing as I’m like wigging out. Because if you are like me and wherever you are driving, it’s usually not anywhere where it’s easy to access help. Usually you have a car full of dogs and/or children. And while I love my AAA membership and I absolutely have gotten my money’s worth out of that over the years, this has been even better. I have run over nails. I ran over a bolt, like a full-on bolt. And I thought, “There’s no way this is gonna work. But I know AAA is gonna take a minimum of 45 minutes to get here and so I’ll invest seven to fifteen minutes and see if it’s even gonna work.” And it did and I was shocked.
And it’s enough– It’s like putting a spare tire on your car in that it gives you like a good 30 miles to get somewhere safer, to get to tire repair shop. And I have been using– I’m on my second one [00:37:00] now. I’ve been using these for several years and I have used it, gosh, at least five or six times, including on the way home from Maryland after Thanksgiving, when I ran over some kind of something in the road and got a flat tire with a car full of dogs and children and whatnot, but was able to really quickly plug that sucker in, pump us up, and actually got the rest of the way home. Then Monday morning took the car up to the closest tire repair shop, which they’re amazing. Patched the tire, good to go. I’ve used it a bunch of times. This is something like if I could give everybody on this list a gift, every listener a gift, it would be something like this. Because these things only happen after dark at night when you’re traveling, mostly alone except for the car full of dogs. And it [00:38:00] has been so amazing. I love it.
They do not sponsor this podcast, but Slime, if you’re listening, if you’d like to sponsor the podcast, please feel free to reach out. I’m here, available. So really, really handy and I’m gonna link to this stuff in the notes. If you are looking for a ways to throw money at stuff, please feel free to use those links.
Here’s another one along the same lines: The little spot machine from Bissell. You probably already have one, but if you own dogs and you don’t have one, or kids and you don’t have one (if you’re listening to this, you should own some kind of animal), and you probably want to have one.
Now, I thought they were stupid for a very long time because I use a lot of Nature’s Miracle or whatever my favorite enzymatic cleaner is. It doesn’t matter how good you are with your dogs: dogs get sick. Dogs– Who am I kidding? I am harder on my carpets than any of [00:39:00] my dogs are, but because I’m clumsy primarily. But dogs get sick, dogs throw up dogs or you nick your dog’s toenail and they track blood all over, or you (and by “you,” I mean me) step on the one dog turd in a three acre field and then track it through every room in your house before you realize something’s on your shoe. I know taking your shoes off is a way to solve that problem and sometimes I do that and sometimes I’m in a hurry and I don’t, because I just want that one thing and it happens to be in the kitchen and I have to walk all the way through the house to get there.
Anyways, the little Bissell spot machine, I think is actually called the Bissell SpotClean. I have the one that’s marketed for pets. I don’t think it makes a difference.
It’s got a tank where you put water and a little bit of the shampoo stuff and then a tank to suck it up and you spray it on. It’s got a hose that comes out with a little sprayer and you spray on whatever it is that you’re trying to [00:40:00] clean up, and then you suck the stuff you sprayed up with that same wand and it goes into the second tank.
And I have used that recently. I have had a dog with a very unfortunate diarrhea situation that of course we have to hit not one, not two, but three rooms in the house while I was gone. I wasn’t even gone that long. I think I was gone 20 minutes. But yeah, three rooms in the house and of those, the two rugs that are not machine washable.
But that machine– Because I came home, it is of course quite late, all I really wanted to do was feed everyone, wash my face, brush my teeth and go to bed, but no, I’m cleaning up dog diarrhea. Yes, of course I am. Thank heavens, because one of the rooms that was treated with the diarrhea treatment was the bedroom. So there’s no going to bed until that has been removed from the airspace. Cleaned up the solid material as it was, [00:41:00] sprayed it with the stuff, and then came through and sprayed and sucked. You get the picture here. Sprayed it and sucked it up and I was able to sleep in that same room. Totally worth it. Absolutely worth it. Cannot believe I waited as long as I did to get it. It wasn’t even a pandemic purchase. I mean, are we done with the pandemic? I don’t know. But it was not purchased in the middle of it.
I did purchase a robot vacuum early in like what absolutely everyone would agree was during the pandemic and that was a hundred percent worth it and still every single day. I probably should have put, put that on this list because I absolutely a hundred percent love that robot vacuum.
But this sucker – hah, “sucker,” see what I did there? that was totally in by accident too – But anyways, the Bissell SpotClean sucker has been really, really helpful in a way that you would absolutely not want [00:42:00] that robot vacuum involved in. So that’s really useful. Totally a big fan of that.
And then I have two more for you here. While we’re on the subject of cleaning stuff and poop, this is a little bit of a confession. I did purchase something off of TikTok from a TikTok ad, and it was called the Pony Jet. I am sure, I’m positive– In fact, actually I know because I did a quick Amazon search before I hit record on this one, there are a lot of similar products that are less expensive, but you know what? I don’t care because I’m happy with what I have and it was worth what I paid for it.
So it’s called the Pony Jet. I bought it off of a TikTok ad, and what it is is a hose attachment that has a little chamber that you put shampoo in and then it has an adjustable sprayer. It has two adjusters on it. The kind of spray that comes out: Is it the full pressure jet, is it like the [00:43:00] shower, is it the, I don’t know, different shapes of sprays. I don’t know how to describe it, but it’s like every other garden sprayer that I’ve used. A very similar kind of range of sprays. And then there’s a dial on the soap chamber where you can dispense a little soap, a lot of soap or just plain water, which is a lot like most of the garden sprayers that I’ve used if you’re using a hose and sprayer of any kind. I like this one, okay? I don’t care if you’re judging me. I like this one. I like it different than the garden sprayers that I’ve used to put seaweed emulsion and stuff onto my garden, for this purpose. I don’t use these for seaweed emulsion because– Oh my gosh, this has been so helpful.
If you have a dog that likes to roll in in shit– this show is marked explicit, so let’s go ahead and say it, because when this happens at 10 o’clock at night, there is only one word for it. And it’s not “feces” or anything like that. No, it is shit. And when your white and merle dog grinds his [00:44:00] ear fluff and neck hair into shit right before you wanna go to bed, the last thing you really wanna do is bathe that dog. But then he either has to become an outside dog, which is not something that I am– it’s not how I choose to live with my dogs, and I have to remind myself of that. Or he has to be bathed. I would be lying if I did not say that I did not struggle with that decision on more than one occasion. But so far he is still an inside dog, even on those nights, and he has been bathed.
What I love about this thing– And I now use it to bathe all of my dogs. I do use to bathe the horses as well, which is what it’s marketed to do. But I use it to bathe the dogs and I’ve also used it to rinse the throw rugs that I think are machine washable. I’ve used it for a lot of things. I’ve used it for a lot of things where I wanna use soap or shampoo.
And so taking that dog outside, filling that little chamber with the deodorizing [00:45:00] shampoo that I prefer, under these circumstances, it has reduced the struggle and hassle of bathing a dog in a way that I would not have predicted. I can put it in there– And I know there are lots of different kind of systems that mix shampoo and water, but the something about the one handedness of turning that dial on, spraying him down with the soapy shampoo/water mixture, turning the dial back and then rinsing it without having to physically come in contact, not scrubbing it, not having to mix it, and of course, because the water’s already mixed into the shampoo, there’s less shampoo in his coat, so it rinses faster.
It’s just been really, really handy. I have more than gotten my money’s worth out of that product and I felt like it absolutely deserved to make this list here so I’m gonna link to a similar– I couldn’t find the thing that I had originally gotten, but I am linking a lookalike in the show notes if you would also like to [00:46:00] enrich your life with this.
And then the last one, I mentioned this one in a training tip over on the Patreon page earlier, I don’t know, “recently.” And it is not related to cleaning dirty dogs or dirty carpet. It is these dry erase sleeves, which I feel like everyone else already knew about. I did not know about them. I’ve discovered them. They have changed my life. I now have, I think I counted, I have six or seven in daily use in my life.
It’s these plastic sleeves. Where I recognize them from is, when you do take your car– this is not a coincidence – when you do take your car in to have the tire repaired and you tell them what’s going on and you give them your keys, you may have seen them like print out a form and drop it into a plastic sleeve and throw your key in there with that form, and then hang it on a hook for the mechanic. Yeah, it’s like that. I think they’re actually called like ticket holders or ticket sleeves. [00:47:00] You can write on them with a dry erase marker. You can also get them– I’m gonna link to a version similar to what I have, which are actually called dry erase sleeves. You can get different sizes. The ones that I have hold just a regular old 8.5 x 11” piece of paper and you can write on them with dry erase markers and you can erase them.
Because you know I love whiteboards. I love whiteboards more than anyone should, like more than would be healthy. I have in this room one, two, three, four whiteboards that I can see just sitting here. And there are other whiteboards other places in this house. And there’s still not enough. It’s never enough. But whiteboards are expensive and these dry erase sleeves are cheap!
And so what I can do is I go into my word processor and I type out whatever it is that I want to be on the dry erase aspect, the un-erasable part of the dry erase board. So my dogs’ names, I’ve been using them for training [00:48:00] plans, I’ve been using them for feeding routines, I have one hanging in the barn where I’m preparing the horses’ food so I have all of their various supplements and how much they eat morning and evening and what color buckets and whatnot. So it’s easy to go down through there. I have one by the dog’s food. Same problem. I don’t take supplements, but all my animals do. Makes it very easy. I use one for a checklist for my child. I think I even mentioned the checklist earlier here in this episode. And she uses that with the little dryer erase marker to go through her checklist. I use them for my own checklist. I use them for training plans because I can clip them to a clipboard. Anything that I wanna track. I’m using ’em all the over place all. All the places that I would use whiteboards, I’m using these little dry erase sleeves right now and I love it because I can just print out a different paper and drop it in if I wanna make changes to whatever it is that I am dry eraser-ing and it’s really cool.
[00:49:00] So I’m gonna link to all of those things.
So those are some of the things that are holding my life together right now, allowing me to be here with you. I feel very grateful that these things exist in whatever form that they exist, and I feel grateful for you and that you exist.
So, if you’re interested in any of these things, I am gonna include them in the show notes. And I’m also really interested to hear from you and what are the things that are saving your life right now? Because I mean, whose life couldn’t be better? Mine absolutely have lots of room for improvement. And if you have a behavior or a practice, please absolutely tell me anything that I can just like throw some money at that might solve a problem. That is by far my favorite. The third category is absolutely my favorite. If you have something like that that [00:50:00] is currently saving your life, I wanna hear about it.
So please do find the post for this episode on social media, Instagram or Facebook, or if you are a patron, find it on the Patreon page, and let me know what’s saving your life, because maybe it will save mine too or somebody else.
Thanks for listening. If you like this episode, well, you have good taste and I hope you’ll hit the subscribe button on your podcast app to make sure you don’t miss the next episode. It might be even better than this one. If you are already subscribed, well, thank you. I really appreciate it, and there are still some ways that you could reinforce me if you were so inclined. You could always leave me a five star review on iTunes or Stitcher or wherever you happen to be listening to this podcast. And you can also check out and support the sponsors, because they help make the podcast possible. You can find links and information about them and the other things that we’ve talked about in this episode by going to the show notes, which can be found at www.wonderpupstraining.com/podcast.[00:51:00] And while you’re there, you could also pick up a free PDF training template to help you plan your training sessions. There’s also some other articles and previous podcasts and that sort of thing which you could always find if you were interested. So until next time, happy training!