Keeping your hot dog cool

Copper was diagnosed with laryngeal paralysis about a year or so ago. It means that he can’t breathe as easily as he used to, he’s also at higher risk of aspiration. The big fallout, from our competition perspective, is that his temperature regulation sucks. Yes, he gets hot, mouth breathes a whole bunch and when he’s panting his scenting goes to hell. Not a good situation for a Nose Work dog.

I wanted to share some things that I’m learning about keeping our competition dogs cool.

If you think that your dog is starting to get a bit warm, you should have started cooling them down two hours ago. Taking your warm dog into a search area and asking them to scent is going to heat them up faster than an A-bomb going off. It’s too late. If you have other searches to do, later in the day, you may be able to save them, but it’s too late for this search.

Copper historically had pretty decent heat tolerance. Now, if I ask him to search outside – and it’s above 45 degrees – he’s going to heat up fast.

I was recently at the Rocky Mount, MO trial and the high of the day got up to 65 degrees. The weather was spectacular. I wanted to share these videos. When you watch them, look at how far open his mouth is from his first search of the day (the outside patio) to the second search of the day (the inside gym). Neither were overly warm, but I SHOULD have immediately implemented cooling strategies the moment we returned to the car from the Patio search. My mistake, and an expensive one points-wise.

Patio search – https://youtu.be/U0luoZxU2Us
Gym search – https://youtu.be/xDbWiosAX4w

After we’d crashed and burned on the gym search (we’d been given a range of 3-8 and we’d only found two) I implemented our cooling strategies. Here’s what I did:

  • Put a fan on him. These Ryobi fans are the fans of choice. Expensive, but worth it. Get the bigger batteries for it too, as they last a LOT longer. https://www.ryobitools.com/products/details/18v-one-plus-hybrid-fan
  • Pulled out his cooling coat (essentially a huge chamois soaked in water) and put it on him. I’ve had his cooling coat so long that I don’t remember exactly where I bought it. It’s a bit oversized, but that worked just fine for us. Do a Google search and you’ll find a few different types.
  • Pulled his thick foamy bedding out of his crate and had him lying on a yoga mat – not as cushiony, and also increases the risk of stiffness, but he’d be a LOT cooler. There are cooling beds available for purchase online too
  • Made sure that he had fresh water and put a few ice cubes in the bowl. Copper is fussy about weird things and won’t eat ice cubes, and I constantly have to nag him to drink. So this time I had pieces of watermelon for him and that worked like a charm. Hydrating him but cooling him.
  • Ensure that there was LOTS of ventilation to his crate. If it’s too hot, you may just have to turn on the car and kick on the A/C. Just make sure that you don’t gas out your neighbor with the exhaust fumes. Also check with your auto mechanic about what this might do to your car, just idling with the A/C running for hours.
  • Put a shade cloth over the vehicle, and the windshield cover in place. Aluminet is the way to go. You can buy it at Clean Run or really big ones here: http://www.greenhousemegastore.com/product/70-percent-aluminet-shade-curtain/shade-material.  Also, you can buy a WeatherTech windshield sun shade and it works great for the big minivans.

Additional items for you to consider:

If you’re in the market for a new car and know that you’re going to compete, get a white car with beige upholstery. It’s cooler. Full stop. I traded in my dark blue Grand Caravan with black upholstery to my white Grand Caravan with beige upholstery and the difference in interior temperature is unbelievable.

Also think about when are you going to potty your dog. I’m fortunate that Copper is pretty well regulated and is generally not a leg hiker. Though I recommend Pee-Search-Pee, I can get away without doing it with Copper because when he pees, he empties his bladder completely. So when I potty him at a trial site, I do NOT potty him right before our run because I need to keep him cool until the last second. I’ll potty him about 4-5 dogs prior, then cool him back down again.

The last thing that I did was make sure that Copper was wearing his cooling coat until the last possible minute. This helped a lot when a dog puked in a search area right before our turn and we were left in the heat for an extra 2-3 minutes longer than anticipated.

Here was the next search. As you can see, his temperature was back under control. https://youtu.be/QuzKliZ350M

Letting go of the guilt

Brain in the Game

Mental Management training is as much a part of everyday life, as it is sports.

Some local K9 Nose Work folks have recently gotten into Mental Management training, and I can see why — in all other dog sports, you can normally see the mistakes as they’re happening; however, in the upper levels of K9 Nose Work, you’ll spend the entire day agonizing over whether you or your dog screwed up in some way (btw, the dog never screws up). Often, you’ll know — you’ll hear the dreaded “No”, from the Judge, signaling that you won’t title (and get your shiny ribbon); but, sometimes you don’t know if something was missed, so you sweat A LOT.

Unfortunately, with my busy schedule, I haven’t had a chance to fit in one of Nancy Reyes’ (our local guru in Chicago) seminars, so I’ve largely been on my own. I did download this book and listen to it on Audible:  The Art of Mental Training by DC Gonzalez

While it’s certainly no replacement to a day or two with Nancy, it has helped give me some insight that I’ve been able to apply, immediately, to all of my clients (whether a “Nose Work” team, or an “At Home” pet).

Letting go of the guilt

One of the reasons I got into dog training was because of bad advice — some trainers thought that dogs “needed a heavier hand”.

Now, I’m not saying that it’s all their fault — we didn’t sufficiently socialize our dog, which led to some problems (he’ll always be territorial of our house, but we have a crate for that).  If we had regular visitors, then I might be able to work on that; but, we don’t — so, it’s not a big issue.  With age, and long term exposure, a certain amount of mellowness has come.  He’s more forgiving of ‘stuff’ than he’s ever been.

For a long time, I was hung up on how we had failed our dogs, in one sense or another. There’s always a better way to train a behavior, or handle a situation.  The problem is that when you’re “in the thick of it”, you don’t always make the best decisions.  Things will spiral out of control — and, the next thing you know, you’ve got a ‘situation’ on your hands.

This is where the book helped me.

I realized that guilt was hampering my forward motion: I would often get stuck in it, and the assorted nasty mental states that come with it.  We’ve all made mistakes, but the best we can do for ourselves (and, more importantly, our dogs) is to learn, and MOVE ON!

Yes, we screw up. We’re human!

Though the book was very much about “staying in the moment”, and “keeping a positive mental outlook”, it also talked about how to deal with events when they go wrong — we will frequently get sucked into the awful vortex of utter crappiness, and NO GOOD can come, from that!

I’m not talking about forgetting that the events ever occurred, but resolving to do better next time. I can honestly tell you that every mistake that we made with our next dog was a completely different mistake (I know, “not a great testimonial”, but it’s true)!

I continue to learn, grow and expand my knowledge base, so that I can help my students and the people who call me, distraught, over the events that somehow unfolded without / beyond their control.

To you, all of you, I’m telling you to “let go of the guilt”.

You’ll be able to move forward.

I’m not promising that it will instantly be better (it may get worse before it gets better) — but, you’ll grow through it, and LEARN!

K9 Nose Work Supplies – What to buy and where to buy it?

Since we’ve been teaching K9 Nose Work classes, we’ve had a lot of students ask us what equipment they need. Well, we mentioned in an earlier blog post, we’re big fans of having a specific Nose Work harness or collar.  This doesn’t have to be a particular brand or manufacturer – it just needs to be a piece of clothing that your dog only wears when they are doing Nose Work searches.

Here are some examples of harnesses to check out – A quick Google search should pull them right up:

Copper doing K9 Nose Work on an RV

Copper doing K9 Nose Work on an RV

Brilliant K9

Julius K9

Comfort Flex

Balance Harness

Kong Harness

Shop around, and ask questions (of other classmates, or staff) – find the harness that is the easiest for you to use and the best fit for your dog!

When we introduce ‘Odor’, you’re going to need an Odor Kit. In our classes we use the scents used by NACSW as the target odor:

Birch (“Sweet Birch” aka Betula Lenta)

Anise (“Aniseed” aka Pimpinella Anisum variety – NOT Star Anise, Illicium Verum)

Clove (“Clove Bud” aka Eugenia Caryophylatta or Syzgium Aromaticum)

Be VERY CAREFUL, when shopping, to make sure you get the right kind of scent!

For convenience sake, you may just want to purchase an ‘Odor Kit’. There are a number of places that you can buy your odor kits from, but here are a few for you to check out:

www.allgooddogs.biz

www.thek9nose.com

www.k9nwsource.com

www.paws4fun.net

Keep in mind – read the descriptions of the product, to make sure odor is included (unless you WANT to buy your odor, separately!)

Happy sniffing!