It’s been said that dogs are part of family and the Christmas holiday season shows this quite strongly. Our small dogs Meetup group went to one of our local leash free dog parks in Mississauga to get photos taken with Santa again this year. You figure that if us dog owners bother to take the time to get out there to have their pets get pictures with Santa, you can certainly tell that we consider our dogs to be just like our kids who deserve time with Santa much like human kids do.
And just like human kids, our dogs do not always cooperate with Santa! My lhasa apso dog Chester is a great example. Although we got a great shot of him and his sister with Santa last year, we were actually very lucky since seconds later, he decided he had enough and pushed off Santa’s lap. So this year I decided to switch their places and have his sister Roxie sit on Santa’s lap instead. I placed Chester on the bench beside Santa and this time he fully cooperated by actually staying put until I told him it was okay to jump down. You can see our shot above.
Other Dogs As Family Members
Here are some of our other members of our small dogs group with their dogs who are all Chester and Roxie’s friends. Again you can see the strong feeling of our members considering their dogs as part of their families.
Of course one of the requirements of having our dogs as family members is that they are trained well enough to be fairly respectable of our homes without destroying them or contents of our homes. This is where a basic level of general dog obedience comes in. Our free dog obedience training video starring Chester and Roxie is available through the links below as well as on the left side of this blog page.
Enjoy your Christmas holiday season with your dogs and families.
Happiness is getting ten of our small dogs together and that’s exactly what we did just this past weekend. This is an awesome example of dog socialization as you will see in the video below. Our Small Dogs Meetup group is winding down our fall season of weekend outings which are usually two hour hikes at nature trails.
This past weekend we went to 16 Mile Creek in Oakville, Ontario. We do a nice loop which starts at a free parking lot with the trail that has several parts where we climb up and down through a valley. So it’s a good hike for both humans and dogs but since it’s in a valley that can trap hot air, we recommend that this destination be hiked during spring and fall seasons rather than the summer when things can get too hot in the valley.
We shot video footage of our small dogs outing and all ten of our dogs here have met each other at least a few times already since they are our regular members of our Meetup group. You can see that they socialize and run around with each other with a high level of comfort. This is in contrast to those poor dogs out there that have not been socialized.
I’m sure that we have all seen dogs that get nervous with all other dogs in sight and/or bark at any dogs that come within a certain distance. These dogs unfortunately have lives without the company of other dogs simply because their owners never gave them enough opportunities to meet and learn to socialize with other dogs.
This is really too bad because dogs are naturally social creatures that enjoy being in packs but if dog owners shield them away from other dogs especially during puppyhood, this natural instinct is disrupted and the only pack they will accept is their human family.
These days, dog socialization is encouraged as early as possible with puppy socialization classes sometimes referred to as puppy kindergarten. My Lhasa Apso dogs Chester and Roxie took puppy kindergarten and one series of dog obedience training classes but never really got involved much with other organized dog groups until we started our own.
Small Dogs Meetup Group
We did make friends with some neighbours who had small dogs so for a few years, their social lives were with a few neighbourhood dogs which was great. This maintained their dog socialization through their early years and when we started our Small Dogs Outings Meetup group, things really took off as Chester and Roxie gained quite a few more regular doggie friends they see quite often.
You can see from the video below just how comfortable and happy all the dogs are. Sometimes they run around with each other and sometimes they can be seen all checking out various interesting things they find on the nature trails. The breaks we take during our dog outings are like small dog parties.
This type of environment is totally possible for your dog too if you take the efforts to introduce your pet to a social atmosphere. Just think of how much more enriched their lives will be if they had a regular group of doggie friends to enjoy the outdoors with. For Chester and Roxie, I want to give them all the opportunities to be with their friends on a regular basis since I know just how much value they get from a healthy dog social life.
If you are not looking forward to having to take your new puppy dog outside during cold winters for him or her to do their business, think about indoor dog housetraining. With use of an indoor dog litterbox, there’s no need for dogs to freeze during winter.
You can of course take your dog outside during winter when it’s not too freezing cold to have some fun and exercise since many dogs do like to play in the snow. But when it’s crazy cold outside, being indoor housetrained has its huge benefits when neither you nor your dog need to have to go outside.
But like many winter things, it’s best to start indoor dog housetraining now rather than in the middle of the winter when ideally your dog should already be trained to go to the indoor dog litterbox as needed. If you and your puppy dog already had to suffer through a winter already last year, it’s not too late to indoor housetrain your pet and don’t worry about them losing their ‘outdoor’ potty skills since dogs who are trained indoors know where to go when indoors as well as outdoors.
My two Lhasa Apso dogs Chester and Roxie are great examples. When they are inside and need to go, they simply go to their dog room where their indoor dog litterbox is located. And when they are outside during a walk, they go just like other dogs. It’s like dual training which teaches them to go to appropriate locations depending whether they are indoors or outdoors.
If you have been a dog owner for quite some time, you have probably seen your dog dreaming and sometimes you just know that the dreams he or she is having are not really pleasant ones. Your dog’s body might be twitching and he or she might be making some mini yelping vocalizations during sleep. These sounds might seem a bit cute but you could probably assume that your dog is having a nightmare of some kind.
Lately, both of my Lhasa Apso dogs Chester and Roxie have experienced a very different kind of dream that I never saw them have when they were younger. They sometimes have this type of dream both while inside their crates as well as when they are just sleeping on the floor.
In this latest type of dog dreams, neither Chester nor Roxie would be making any type of vocalizations and their bodies would not be twitching at all. Instead, they would be lying on their sides and their legs would be moving back and forth as if they were walking. I notice this type of dog dream more when they are having it while inside their crates because their paws often slide up against the sides of their crates while they are moving their legs back and forth. So I hear the sound this makes even though it doesn’t seem to wake them.
Since forming our Small Dogs Outings Meetup group which is focused on hikes at nature trails with our group of small dogs (25 pounds and under), my Lhasa Apsos have been having these types of walking dreams. And since many of these dreams are often shortly after their weekend hikes with their doggie friends which usually last for one to two hours on the trails, I can only conclude that these are most likely dreams about their recent outings. I don’t think these are merely coincidences. I think there is a direct connection.
And since they are not making any vocalizations and just moving their legs back and forth, I can also assume that Chester and Roxie are having quite pleasant and enjoyable dreams of their time out there on the trails with their doggie friends.
So I figure that one way to ensure that your dog gets more of these types of pleasant dreams rather than the yelping, twitching nightmares they sometimes have, is to take them on longer dog walks at interesting places like nature trails and with doggie friends if possible.
This year on most of our longer weekend outings, our dogs who come out also get to have treats during our rest breaks on the trails which they clearly enjoy. So in addition to being with their doggie friends, they get treats as well as explore interesting nature out there. This all equates to great fun times they experience each weekend which I know at least for Chester and Roxie, has continued into their dog dreams.
I knew that by starting out our Small Dogs Outings group, our dogs would have a better social life and keep in better health. But I never would have predicted that they would have nicer dog dreams either. So I would highly recommend taking your dog out for regular hikes at interesting places like nature trails with some friendly doggie friends if possible. This would enhance both their time while awake and during sleep when they have good dog dreams.
Of course if you are going to take your dogs out there on nature trails, make sure they have at least a minimum level of basic dog obedience first. You want them to behave well when on the trails. My Lhasa Apso dogs Chester and Roxie demonstrate our training drills quite nicely in our free dog training video – see the details at the side of this blog page or at the bottom for access if you have not seen it yet.
And on a final side note for those who you who have puppies, these long outdoor hikes do not mess up any indoor potty training for dogs. My two dogs know the difference between indoors and outdoors. When they are outdoors, they do their business just like other dogs and when they are indoors, they go to their dog litterbox at home. Many other dogs who have been successfully trained this way do the same.
You might have heard that pets have the ability to bring us health benefits like lowering our blood pressure. I thought about this as I was hanging out at home with my two Lhasa Apso dogs Chester and Roxie. Although us dog owners have to do things like pick up dog poo, clean up dog barf and care for our dogs when they get sick or hurt, overall dog ownership is still very much a simple life.
On a regular basis at home, I’ll be watching TV while one of my dogs is either sitting on my lap or next to me on the couch. Sometimes both are on the couch with me. That’s Roxie by the way pictured above with me. This is a relaxing quality time.
We go out on our daily walks and especially when we are in the woods or nature trails, I feel it’s a really blessed and uncomplicated life! While other people are fighting commuter traffic or something, my dogs and I are simply out on a stroll enjoying nature. We are not thinking about big life issues like expenses or business. We are just walking through the trees. Again, it’s a simple life when I’m with my dogs.
At home, I feed them, I groom them but these are things that have become very routine as my Lhasa Apsos expect these every day. So none of these are considered stressful tasks since Chester and Roxie have learned to fully cooperate even with things like nails clipping. Even these dog care tasks like grooming represents quality time with my dogs so it doesn’t feel like hard work.
But of course, the simple dog ownership life can only result if our dogs are well trained from puppyhood. If they are not well behaved and obedient or if the dog owner is irresponsible in doing the tasks which should be done on a regular basis, then dog ownership becomes a chore and too often dogs are given up which is a real shame.
All new and prospective dog owners should therefore do a lot of research and get trained themselves on how to train and care for their dogs. A good start is our free basic dog obedience training video at our website – see links on this webpage below and on the right side of this blog.
I can honestly say that as a single person, I never feel lonely at home when I have my dogs with me. Sometimes I feel I don’t even need anybody else around when my dogs and I are content to just hang out together whether at home or outside somewhere. Of course we always appreciate the company of others especially during our outings with other dogs and dog owners through our small dogs outings group. But we can be equally happy just on our own too.
Bringing Chester and Roxie home when they were 11 weeks old is one of the best decisions I ever made since they have brought a peaceful, uncomplicated and simple home life to me. This is exactly the way we like it at home.
Here’s an interesting question — do you set goals for your dog? I do. I’m a big believer in goal setting for myself but I’ve extended this practice to my Lhasa Apso dogs Chester and Roxie as well and I believe there are huge benefits.
Like with my own goals, I set specific ones for my dogs in different areas. Here are some of the dog goals we have.
Dog Health Goals
This is one of the key areas especially now that my dogs are older at 12 years of age. I want them to be as healthy and fit as possible. So one important goal that we can actually measure (since goals are always better when you can measure them), is their body weight.
In the past, Chester and Roxie have gained a bit of weight over the cold season due to lower levels of activity during our cold Canadian winters. So the past few years as with this past one, we set a goal in maintaining their body weights over the winter. We did this by continuing with exercise if not outdoors, then indoors running up and down our house stairs. Also, I watched what they ate. No junky treats, just healthy and low calorie ones were allowed. And with my girl Roxie especially, since she was the one more prone to weight gain, I limited the amount of food during meals.
I’m happy to report that they did not gain weight over the winter and both are weighed each month to monitor their levels regularly. For Chester since he has EPI or exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, he is actually prone to loss of weight so I made sure that he maintain adequate body weight by adjusting food as well.
Both Chester and Roxie did quite well from a fitness point of view this past spring season with 1.5 to 2 hour hikes at conservation areas with our small dogs group.
Dog Grooming Goals
We don’t like the idea of paying hundreds of dollars to have our vets clean Chester and Roxie’s teeth so we set another goal of keeping their teeth as clean as possible with home teeth brushing as well as applications of gel like Petzlife. So far we have been successful at this as their teeth are not bad enough that the vet needs to do teeth cleaning at the clinic. If you missed our dog teeth brushing video, just click on the link.
Dog hair tangles and mats are a big problem with Lhasa Apsos so although they were tangled up during the winter since the air was so dry indoors and they needed their coats for winter warmth, we are now getting hair trimmed each month at home over the summer season with our electric clippers. We are also clipping their nails each month too as well as cleaning ears – see our dog nails clipping video.
As a goal, if we could reduce the number of ear infections that my girl gets, that would be great. She use to routinely get an ear infection every other month almost on cue but so far this year she’s had only one.
As a goal for next winter, we would like to minimize all tangles and mats while leaving a longer coat for winter warmth if possible. I’ll just have to be better at daily hair grooming for my dogs.
Dog Social & Mental Fitness Goals
This is an area that unfortunately many dog owners out there don’t bother with. I want Chester and Roxie to have decent dog social lives and we do this by going out regularly with our small dogs outings Meetup group. Although each winter our group activity was low since many dog owners just wanted to hibernate, as soon as spring came, we were right back on schedule with two outings each week and this past spring season was great with many of Chester and Roxie’s doggie friends returning as well as many new doggie friends successfully integrated with our group.
For mental fitness, my dogs and I still go through our basic obedience drills almost daily. They earn apple pieces during these drills since I have an apple after lunch each day. These drills keep my dogs mentally sharp. And when we get to one particular local dog park that has an agility ramp and hurdle jumps, we do those too. If you missed that fun dog agility video, just click on that link.
New Interesting Experiences As Goals
I also want to expose my Lhasa Apso dogs to new interesting experiences that they will enjoy. This is set as yet another one of our goals. So just recently, I brought them along to a fishing day at a Island Lake Conservation Area near Orangeville, Ontario where they got close up to a real live fish for the very first time in their lives. Here’s a short video clip of that experience which shows Chester particularly interested in the little fish caught.
Overall Benefit Of Setting Dog Goals
So as you can see, these goals are meant to keep my dogs as healthy and happy as possible. I want to give them the best life I could and by actually setting goals for my dogs, it makes me much more committed to making sure that these goals are achieved each year. This would be the overall benefit in setting goals for my dogs, ie., it makes me totally committed to my dogs to ensure they have the best life possible.
I can’t believe sometimes but my Lhasa Apso dogs Chester and Roxie both turned twelve years old last week. As I look back, what a fantastic 12 years we’ve been together so far. But of course as any pet owner can related to, I also feel a bit sad knowing that my dogs are getting older and will not be with me forever.
Fortunately, both Chester and Roxie are still in pretty good health despite Chester’s EPI (exocrine pancreatic insufficiency) which is now under control through lifelong medication. Their body weights usually increase over the winter because of less activity but this past winter, their weights have been pretty stable as I was careful not to overfeed them and keep them pretty active.
Small Dogs Group Active Again
As with all winters here, our small dogs group is much less active since members don’t seem to want to come out but now that spring is here, quite a few small dogs and their owners, both new as well as returning members, are starting to come out with us on walks. So we have resumed both our longer weekend outings as well as our shorter midweek dog walks as everyone seems eager to get their dogs out again.
It’s interesting to watch how the younger dogs all seem to find each other as they run around with each other while the older dogs like my Chester and Roxie prefer to just walk a nice pace. The younger dogs seem to respect the older ones by not getting into their faces much. Of course if a younger dog did get into Chester or Roxie’s faces, they will instantly be reprimanded by them!
My Continued Commitment To My Older Dogs
As my Lhasa Apsos get older, I continue my commitment to them. My continued commitment to Chester and Roxie can be summarized in a few general statements as follows;
I will commit to keeping them as healthy as possible by monitoring their body weight and getting them medical attention quickly as needed. I’ll keep them active by daily walks outside or running stairs indoors during bad weather days. Their eyes, teeth, ears and hair will be cared for on a regular basis.
I will commit to keeping them mentally healthy by taking them to interesting places like nature trails each week with continued social opportunities with their doggie friends through our small dogs group.
I will commit to spending lots of quality time together when we are at home as well as outside when we are not with our small dogs group. Our home will continue to be very clean and comfortable for them and that includes keeping their indoor dog litterbox clean as well.
The photo above was an example of quality time together as we did a road trip out to the Hamilton area to scout out some potential new trails with waterfalls for our small dogs group. As you can see, both Chester and Roxie were taking it all in with such interesting surroundings like Tiffany Falls shown in the photo.
You can bet that both my dogs and I look forward to each of our outings every single week throughout this spring season.
Every now and then, I come across a dog video that really moves me and this is one beautiful clip I really want to share. It reminds us as dog owners what our responsibilities are for the entire lives of our pets.
For me, it also made me a bit emotional inside because the messages in the video were so strong that they also reminded me of my only regrets in life which was my own dog ownership experience with my first to Lhasa Apso dogs Pepper and Max. Unfortunately at that time so long ago now, I was not as good dog owner to them as I should have been and this video reminded me of that.
Without getting into details, I was able to learn from my experience with Pepper and Max which definitely resulted in how I am as a dog owner these days with my current Lhasa Apsos Chester and Roxie. The video reinforces my commitment to keep my dogs healthy and have interesting experiences outside with their doggie friends on a regular basis. It also reminds me to keep a clean and safe home for them including a convenient dog room where they can access water and their indoor dog litterbox anytime.
If I could only turn back time, I would do many things with Pepper and Max differently compared to how I do them now with Chester and Roxie. I only hope that someday when we reunite in the afterlife, Pepper and Max will forgive me for my faults when they were with me.
Reminder Of Our Dog Owner Responsibilities
I obviously want to share this dog video so that all dog owners out there will learn from the powerful messages contained in it so that their pets can have the best life with their humans.
Here is the video and I sincerely hope that you will not only enjoy it but also be reminded of your obligations to your pet.
We had one of our final weekend outings with our small dogs outings Meetup group this past weekend and all of the eight little dogs who came out have been on other dog walks with us before. It was interesting to see how some of the more timid ones were starting to show increased comfort in mingling with other dogs now that they have seen some of the same ones over time.
In addition to taking photos, I shot video footage to try out a new camcorder I bought several weeks ago. The edited video is really fun as it shows our dogs on the trails at Forks of the Credit provincial park this time. Check it out here.
Toronto Mississauga Small Dogs Meetup Group
The Forks of the Credit outing was the final official weekend one but if the weather cooperates for this coming weekend, we will do a bonus outing back to Robert Edmondson Conservation Area. More repeated outings especially for the timid dog members of our group will just help them out as they will realize that many of the regular dogs are their friends. This is awesome dog socialization at its best. Maybe we’ll shoot more footage for another extra small dogs video.
As for general dog obedience, don’t forget that my Lhasa Apso dogs Chester and Roxie, star in a free video demonstrating many of the general obedience training drills that we do. Just click on the graphic below or at the blog sidebar on the left for access to this dog training video.
Ever wonder what really happens in leash free dog parks? Some of our members from our small dogs outings Meetup group attends our events at dog parks while other members just come to our trail walks. Several dogs from our group attend both types of outings.
My two Lhasa Apso dogs Chester and Roxie (shown above with two of their friends) have been going out to our local leash free dog parks in Mississauga for quite some time well before our small dogs group was even formed. They appreciate being able to roam free although my boy Chester doesn’t like any of the bigger dogs. He still does okay since most of the big dogs simply walk away when they quickly realize that Chester doesn’t want to socialize with them.
When our small dogs get together at these dog parks, they go around in a little pack which is always nice to see. They feel like a nice little group and check out other dogs together as a group, ie., strength in numbers.
Recently, I came across a hilarious video of humans portraying various dog behaviours in dog parks and I must say they are pretty accurate! Both dog owners and non-dog people alike will find this clip very entertaining but those of us who have dogs who go to dog parks will especially laugh at the accuracy of these portrayals. Get ready to be entertained here.
Hope you liked the video as much as I did. If you have not brought your dog to a leash free dog park yet, try it out. It might open up a new horizon for you and your dog.
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