This, the penultimate post of 2023, is all about my favorite things, both professional and personal.
Long lines are one of my favorite tools because they have many uses. They give dogs more freedom to move on sniffy walks in parks or to explore on hikes. Using one while you practice recall will keep your dog safe in places without fences or with lots of distractions. Portland-based company Trailblazing Tails makes great long lines that are waterproof and easy to clean and come in a wide range of sizes, including lighter ones for small dogs. Handling a long line can be challenging, but Brie Blakeman of Noble Woof offers an excellent video tutorial. For more information about long line safety, read veterinary behaviorist Dr. Katie Friel-Russell's post on the Positive Pet Training website.
How to relax on a mat is one of my favorite training protocols because, like long lines, a mat has many uses. For example, when dogs who follow their humans everywhere learn to feel safe on their mats, they also feel better about letting their people take a shower alone. For dogs who enjoy going out into the world, a mat can make a comfortable and comforting resting spot. Bathmats work well because they have a sticky bottom and cushy top and tend to be less expensive than mats from a pet store. But a towel or a yoga mat can also work. No matter which kind of mat you use, you should be able to roll it up and store it between training sessions or take it with you easily. My husband and I tried a water-proof travel mat that folds into its own carrying case for our dog—it was great once or twice, but Ralphie prefers something with a bit more cushion.
You can turn your dog's meals into easy sniffing and foraging opportunities with one of my favorite enrichment toys: the snuffle mat. Though they come in different shapes and sizes, all snuffle mats allow you to hide kibble or small treats for your dog. You can improvise the same experience by laying out a towel, sprinkling a little kibble on it, rolling it up a bit, and repeating. But for some dogs (like Ralphie) once the treats are gone, a snuffle mat is fun to shred, so supervise your dog while he uses it and put it away when he finishes.
As you can tell from the photos, TV shows are among my favorite things--when I have time, I love to knit and watch TV. My favorite shows (in alphabetical order) are:
Buffy The Vampire Slayer starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, Alyson Hannigan, and Anthony Stewart Head: a drama with a lot of comic bits about a girl who slays vampires and other demons with her friends
Heartstopper starring Joe Locke, Kit Connor, and Olivia Colman: a love story about queer British teenagers based on the graphic novels of the same name by writer and illustrator Alice Oseman
Parks and Recreation starring Amy Poehler, Rashida Jones, and Nick Offerman: a comedy about government employees (and a nurse)
The Good Place starring Kristen Bell, Jameela Jamil, and Ted Danson: a comedy with some dramatic bits about the afterlife
Lately I've been rewatching the Gilmore Girls while I work on a baby blanket for my niece, and my husband and I are watching Slow Horses.
Next week I'll reflect on 2023 and give you a sneak peak into 2024.