How to Get your Dog to Love Wearing a Cone

There are definitely a few things we haven’t been so successful with when it comes to raising our puppy Penny. Even though we touched her teeth and gums since she was a little puppy, she still refuses to let me brush her teeth with a toothbrush. And even though we’ve had a lot of improvements with loose leash walking, it is still a learning process for all of us. However, one thing we’ve had a lot of success with is training Penny to love wearing her cone. Since she had her spay surgery on Tuesday, and has been spending a lot of time wearing her cone, we’re so glad we spent the time getting her used to it before she ever actually needed to wear it.

wearing her cone pre-surgery

wearing her cone pre-surgery

The concept of training a dog to like wearing their cone was taught to us by Rob at Super Nova Dog Training Academy, where we took Penny for puppy kindergarten back when she was only 12 weeks old (which already seems so long ago). The theory is that if a dog is introduced to the cone when they’re healthy, and are rewarded for wearing the cone, soon they’ll learn that the cone is a good thing and not something that only comes out when they’re sick or recovering from surgery.

We purchased a ProCone soft recovery collar for Penny from PetLand, but you can also find them on amazon. We bought her a size large, which still seems a little bit big for her right now, but we figured she would outgrow a size medium, and didn’t want to have to get her another cone down the line. The thing I like about this cone is that it’s soft and flexible and not at all stiff like the plastic ones provided by vets. However, these cones aren’t clear so they definitely limit a dogs vision, which may be frustrating for some dogs. I also love that there is a reflective strip on the edge of the cone, just in case we ever have to take Penny out for a walk while she’s wearing it at night.

the morning after her spay surgery

the morning after her spay surgery

When we first bought the cone, we just put it on Penny’s bed with her blanket so she could check it out, smell it, and get used to it being around. We opened the cone up several times so she could get used to the sound of the velco. A couple of days later, we started putting treats on top of the cone, which was on the ground, and let her eat the treats. Once she got used to that, we would sit on the couch, with the open cone in our lap, place treats on top of it, and encourage Penny to come over and eat these treats. Without even realizing it, she was lining herself up so that all we had to do was wrap the cone around her neck while she was eating the treats. At first we would just close the cone for a second, give her some yummy treats, then take it right back off. We slowly increased the amount of time we would leave the cone on before taking it off. She never once had a “freakout” with the cone on, and we actually noticed that whenever we would pull the cone out of the drawer she would come running over expecting treats. This was awesome since she had clearly made the association that the cone meant good things for her.  The important thing is to not rush through these steps too quickly.  The whole process should take a couple of weeks, but could probably be done in as little as a week if need be.

Three days ago Penny had her spay surgery, and although the vet told us she would not need to wear a cone unless she started licking, she’s been spending a lot of time in her “cone of shame”. I remember reading somewhere that vizslas are almost cat like in the way that they groom themselves, and this is totally the case with Penny. I hardly have to bathe her because every time she gets dirty, she will literally lick herself clean. So, of course she’s been trying to lick her incision whenever I’m not looking. She’s actually quick sneaky about it. Whenever I’m watching she’ll just lick her legs or her bum, and then as soon as I turn away she starts licking her stomach. Needless to say I definitely think it was worth the time and effort getting her used to wearing her cone just based on the amount of time she’s been wearing it in the last three days alone!

day two of recovery.  watching tv in her cone.

day two of recovery. watching tv in her cone.

Have any questions about how we got our girl Penny to love wearing her cone, leave me a comment below!

Things People do at the Dog Park that Drive me Crazy

1.  Throw their cigarette butts on the ground. I think cigarette butts should be considered littering anyways, but especially at the dog park. The amount of times I’ve seen Penny chewing on something, pry it out of her mouth, and find out it’s a butt is disgusting. A few weeks ago, Penny got really sick one afternoon. She couldn’t keep any food down, and she actually peed the bed in her sleep (something she’s NEVER done before), and whenever she would stand up, she looked all lopsided like she didn’t know which way was up. She seemed like she was drunk and had the spins. After calling the vet clinic, and talking to the receptionist, we figured it may have been from ingesting a cigarette and the nicotine was causing all these issues. Luckily it didn’t get bad enough that we needed to take Penny to the emergency vet clinic, but it was still scary.

2.  Bring toys to the dog park when their dog is aggressive with toys. I know you’re not supposed to bring toys or balls to the dog park in general, because even if your dog is okay with sharing their toys, you never know how other dogs who are there will react. However, last week while at the park, a lady was throwing a ball for her lab. Penny ran over to say hi, like she does to everyone, and the lab snapped at her. I walked over there to retrieve Penny, and heard to lady telling Penny, “You need to leave my dog alone while she has a ball”. It took all my energy to not say to the lady she shouldn’t be bringing a ball to the park if her dog is aggressive about balls. Instead, I just collected Penny and left.

3.  Bring their small children. Personally, I don’t think an off-leash dog park is the place for small children. I realize a lot of parents have a dog that needs exercise and kids that need to get out and have some fresh air, but I’m not sure if taking toddlers to the dog park is the right solution. I honestly don’t know what the right solution is. All I know that that when my 4 month old puppy jumps up to lick your 2 year olds face, knocks her over, and makes her cry, and you get mad, all I want to say to you is that you’re lucky it was a 20-lb puppy trying to give your daughter kisses and not a full grown 120-lb dog who has issues with little kids and attacked her. You’re not even supposed leave your kids and dogs together at home unsupervised, because you never know how a dog will react to a kid pulling their ears or petting them when they have a toy. Why would you risk bringing your child around unfamiliar dogs at a park?

4.  Keep walking away when other dogs are following them. One of the dog parks I take Penny too quite often (because it is the closest one to our house) is quite large and has a lot of great trails in the wooded areas in the back. In the front part of the dog park is a big field, where most people hang out with their dogs and let them run around and play. That’s usually what I’ll do when I’m there with Penny, but if there aren’t enough dogs around to play with, or if Penny seems more interested in eating sticks and leaves off the ground, I’ll head with her into the trails so we can go for a walk together. Sometimes someone else’s dog will try to follow us into the woods, and I ALWAYS make sure the dog goes back to their owner before I’m in the woods. I’ll stop and let the owner come over, or I’ll encourage the dog to run back into the field by telling it “go find your mom”, etc. What I really hate is when Penny is following someone else into the woods, and they just keep walking. Like yesterday, when a young lady was out for a run with her dog, and Penny and her dog were playing, and she just kept jogging. She ran all the way to the back of the park with Penny following her before I was able to catch up to them! Drove me crazy.

Campbell Valley Park Adventure

Today Kurt and I took Penny to the seasonal dog off-leash area at Campbell Valley Park in Langley.  Penny had a blast running around in the tall grass and sniffing out birds.  As I watched her run in this huge field, I couldn’t help but think that this is what she is supposed to be doing.  She looked so natural as she weaved in and out of the grass and leaped over the small creek.  She was definitely in her element, and this was by far my favourite outing we have taken Penny on so far.

I tried to take some pictures, but she runs so fast it was hard to get a good action shot!

a brief pause, just long enough for me to get a picture

a brief pause, just long enough for me to get a picture

Kurt practicing some recall work with Penny

Kurt practicing some recall work with Penny

hiding in the grass

hiding in the grass

showing me her cute vizsla bum!

showing me her cute vizsla bum!

Here she is modelling her new Ruffwear Headwater collar that she got for Christmas.  We ordered a size medium for her, and it is still a little bit big, but I’m sure she will grow into it soon.  I’m really loving how easy it is to clean, and the fact that it doesn’t get stinky (especially since every time I take Penny to the dog park she comes home covered in mud).  The collar also has a nice reflective pattern on it, which is great when I walk Penny at night.

she sits so beautifully

she sits so beautifully

Velcro Dog Indeed

I knew that the nickname given to vizslas is the “velcro dog”.. but I really had no idea just how velcro-y vizslas are until we got our Penny.  Here are just a few examples of the ways in which Penny truly lives up to being a velcro dog.

she always prefers to use her humans as pillows rather than actual pillows.

she always prefers to use her humans as pillows rather than actual pillows.

one of my favourite Penny cuddles-- when she uses my face/neck as a pillow

one of my favourite Penny cuddles– when she uses my face/neck as a pillow

the regular spoon

the regular spoon

another one of her favourites-- laying on your chest and wrapping her legs around your neck

another one of her favourites– laying on your chest and wrapping her legs around your neck

Loose Leash Walking – The Struggle is Real

It’s been a while since I’ve written about our Princess Penny.  She is now almost 4 months old, and is growing like a weed!  She is becoming a beautiful, smart, fun, and (sometimes) stubborn girl.  Every time I take her for a walk, at least one person stops and asks me about her breed and compliments me on what a gorgeous dog I have.  She has now learned a handful of commands, including sit, stay, down, wait, and leave it.  However, if there is one thing that her and I have been struggling with more than anything else, it is loose leash walking.

Penny out for a walk with her cousin and best friend, Gage the Frenchie

Penny out for a walk with her cousin and best friend, Gage the Frenchie

Now, don’t get me wrong, there are certain circumstances where Penny is an excellent loose leash walker.  In our puppy class, when we practice loose leash walking in circles around the room, Penny does better than all the other dogs (she even won a prize last week for this).  She also excels when I practice loose leash walking with her around the house, in the back yard, and sometimes even when we’re walking down the street.  If I am carrying “ammo” in the form of high quality treats, even in an environment with high distractions such as on a busy street, Penny will continue to keep eye contact and walk by my side.

Penny definitely has the "sit" command down.

Penny definitely has the “sit” command down.

However, once those treats are gone, or Penny catches the smell of something particularly interesting, or for whatever reason she gets distracted, all hell breaks loose and it is extremely difficult to get her focused on walking nicely again.  Even during times when she’s exhausted, like after spending an hour at the dog park chasing around another vizsla, and she should be (in theory) less likely to pull on the leash, she still pulls.  Actually, she almost pulls worse and it seems like she’s on a mission to get home or something!

IMG_1284

Penny sticks her tongue out like this when she’s sleepy. Too cute!

I know that a lot of the issue is that I haven’t been totally consistent with our loose leash walking.  I try to be, but there are instances when we have somewhere to be, or we’re in a situation where I can’t use treats to bribe her, when I’ve let her get away with pulling.  I really wish I wouldn’t have, but it is the reality of the situation.

At least I know I’m not the only one out there struggling with my vizsla and loose leash walking.  Hopefully in the future I can learn to be more consistent and do a better job of showing Penny exactly what it is I expect from her when she’s on leash.

All about Penny

As some of you may know (due to the incessant facebook and instragram posts lately), Kurt and I recently got ourselves a Vizsla puppy. For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted a Vizsla. I honestly don’t know how I was originally introduced to the breed, and I didn’t actually meet a Vizsla in person until very recently (this July when I was in Iceland). But I’ve always told people how one day I would have a Vizlsa. Well, that day ended up being September 15, 2014

Kisses from Penny moments after she arrived at YVR.

Kisses from Penny moments after she arrived at YVR.

Back in August, I was googling “Vizsla puppies Canada”, or something along those lines. I’ve checked out a lot of Canadian Vizsla breeders websites in the past, but it seems like Vizslas just aren’t that easy to come by, and usually you have to be on a wait list for quite a while before you can get one. So I was really surprised when I saw an add on kijiji for Vizsla puppies. It seemed too good to be true. Certainly it was scam? Vizsla puppies are so rare, how could there possibly be any available? Not wanting to miss a perfect opportunity, I emailed the breeders to ask if it was even possible for them to ship a puppy to BC (they’re located in Ontario). I was impressed by how quickly the breeders got back to me, and how helpful and sincere they seemed. Maybe it wasn’t a scam.

After discussing the idea of getting a puppy with Kurt for a couple days, we decided to go ahead and send a deposit to secure ourselves one of these gorgeous puppies. I’m always skeptical about buying things online, and buying a puppy online was a whole different story. Since we weren’t able to actually meet the puppies in person to pick one out, we had to put a lot of trust in the breeders that they would pick us a good one. We told them which qualities we were looking for in a dog (I want a companion, while Kurt wants a hunting dog), and they basically decided which one they would send us, and if we weren’t completely satisfied we could send it back. We didn’t even know the sex of our puppy until about a week before she was sent here.

tag 5

The picture we received from the breeders once they determined which puppy was ours.

What a perfect little puppy she turned out to be. We decided to name her Penny (short for Money Penny), and being the beautiful red Vizsla colour, I think the name suits her perfectly. I think we seriously lucked out with her and the breeders (Russett Harmony Vizslas – I highly recommend anyone in Canada looking for a Vizsla contacts them. You can email them at russett.harmony@gmail.com). Here are a few reasons why we’re totally in love and so impressed with our princess Penny:

  1. Potty training was a nonissue. Although the breeders had told us she was essentially house trained before we got her, I was still mentally preparing myself for the process of potty training a puppy. She had one accident in the house when we first brought her home (she didn’t go in her crate the entire journey all the way from Ontario), and has had maybe 3 or 4 since then. Pretty impressive.
  2. She is great at riding in the car. She just sits on the back seat and falls asleep as soon as the car starts moving.
  3. Crate training hasn’t been a total nightmare. I was really worried that after being in her crate during her flight here, she’d be totally freaked out and never want to go in it ever again. But I was surprised at how comfortable she seemed with it. However, she recently grew out of the crate she arrived in, so Kurt and I purchased a soft-crate for her.. which she is taking some time adjusting to. She doesn’t seem too happy to go in it at the moment, so we’re working on it.
  4. She is smart. A couple days after we go her, she had already learned how to sit and lay down. She’s now getting pretty good at “stay” and “come”. She’s still not the greatest at walking on a leash, unless food is involved (she’s highly motivated by food).
  5. She truly is a velcro dog. If she’s not running around like a crazy puppy, she is curled up in your lap.
Penny learned how to "sit" on command the day after we got her.

Penny learned how to “sit” on command the day after we got her.

If you have any questions about being a new puppy mom, leave me a comment below!