Now I have proof that ace bandage wrapping can calm your dog

A couple of years ago I wrapped Phoebe in an ace bandage to keep her calm during the Fourth of July fireworks season. She stayed calm, but I didn’t have anything to compare her before and after behavior to. She was calm when I put it on, calm when wearing it and calm afterwards.

Someone in the neighborhood has been setting off fireworks every single night for the past few weeks. It is really getting annoying and Phoebe is really getting stressed.  She took to squeezing herself under the an end table in the living room to hide.

When she wasn’t hiding, she was walking around the house whining and lost. As the days went by she started to act stressed out during day too. For several days she would curl up in her chair and give me the stink eye all day or just hide out in my room when I wasn’t in it.

At first I did not put two and two together and I was beginning to think she may have been ill. I was talking to my doggie mentor about Phoebe’s day time behavior. Since it had been going on for some time, we thought that a vet visit might be in order. Then I explained Phoebe’s nightly fireworks fright and asked if it could carry over into the day. Doggie mentor said it could be a possibility, especially since Phoebe gets frightened easily.

That jogged my memory. I remembered other times where Phoebe had lingering fear. Like the time she was afraid of the lawn, and afraid of a bicycle. Phoebe is a special little snowflake that could feasibly get scared of her own shadow. I had nothing to lose by waiting a day and seeing if trying to alleviate the stress would improve her well being. If not, I could fall back on the vet.

Anyway, when the fireworks started popping the following evening Phoebe went running for cover. I rooted around and found the ace bandage and then coaxed her out of her self-made cave. I wrapped her in the ace bandage and it was like magic. She sat my feet for a few minutes and then laid down and then fell asleep.


Cruising in the ace bandage wrap. She wears it so well.

The fireworks started popping off again about an hour later and it did not seem to phase her. She was wandering around the house, sprawled on the floor and life was good.

This makes me very happy. As I mentioned, the first time I experimented with the ace bandage wrap I did not have a before and after scenario. Now I do. There was a huge difference in Phoebe’s stress level that night and it has trickled down to her day time behavior. She has stopped hiding during the day, doesn’t give me the stink eye, and is back to being herself.

What about a Thunder Shirt?

Sometime last year I bought a Thunder Shirt and wound up taking it back to the store. It had nothing to do with the whether it worked or not (I never got that far). It just did not suit our needs.

With the Thunder Shirt you need to expose your dog to it before a stressful event. One you do that, you start putting it on your dog when you know they are going to be exposed to something stressful (going to the vet, loud noises, or whatever). You cannot keep the Thunder Shirt on your dog 24 x 7.  Other than the obvious, I have no clue when Phoebe is going to get stressed so a preventative approach just doesn’t work.

Another thing that made me shy away was fabric. It is like a little spandex t-shirt. Of course the whole idea is to provide consistent, gentle pressure like when you wrap a baby up like burritos to make them feel safe. That sounds grand when it is cold outside. However when it is hot, is seems like it would be the same as me walking around in a body-shaper in 90 degree weather. No thanks!

An ace bandage wrap is dual purpose

The good thing about the ace bandage wrap is that when it is really hot, you can dampen it and it does double duty as a doggie-cooler-downer. It’s a winner.




I tried the ThunderLeash and, well…

It wasn’t great, but wasn’t awful.

It was expensive ($29.95).

All-in-all Phoebe is pretty good when we go on walks, or shall I say she is good when I take her for a walk. She isn’t as well behaved when others in the house take her out (she is a Mama’s girl).

Last year – or maybe the year before – I didn’t like pulling because it didn’t jive with doggie training. Now it bothers me because when Phoebe wants something, like a squirrel, there is not a harness or collar in the world that will stop her from pulling or lunging. Without a harness, I see her collar moving up and down her throat and I am afraid she will break her trachea or something.

With that in mind I have been using harnesses, but have yet to get one that fits properly. When Phoebe realizes that a walk is imminent she goes spastic, hopping and twirling in circles. Putting a harness on a moving target is challenging enough, let alone trying to adjust it to the perfect fit. So when I saw the commercial for the ThunderLeash I ran out and bought one.

The ThunderLeash is supposedly the “no pull” answer. Their big claim is that pulling is “often cause by over excitement.” When using the ThunderLeash, if your dog pulls, “gentle pressure is applied” and the result is no pulling.  I hate to say it, but Phoebe proved their theory wrong in a heartbeat.

The amount of pressure applied is in direct proportion to how hard your dog is pulling and how well you can stand your ground.

Even though this leash did not produce the miracle I sought, I decided to keep it anyway. It is a nice replacement for, albeit no better than, a harness. I like the fact that it takes the pressure off Phoebe’s collar when she pulls so I don’t have to worry about her breaking her neck and I must admit that it is very simple to put on.

How to Use It

The core of this thing is the clasp. You hook the leash to your dog’s collar as you would any other leash. In fact, you can use it as a plain ol’ leash if you want.  After the leash is connected to the regular collar, you wrap it under and around your dog’s belly and then slip it into the special “no-pull”clasp.

I tried to provide a dog-free example, but Phoebe walked in and busted me (see her little paws in the pic). The good news is I now have a real dog model and a little unexpected bit of walk time.


See how it hooks onto the collar and wraps around? It moves freely in the “no-pull” slot. Similar to the way a choke collar tightens and loosens.

There is one think you do need to be aware of. You have to make sure you snug the leash around the upper torso and then hold the leash up so it stays in place. If you allow too much slack it will slip and end up near the lower end of the ribs, which is an accident just waiting to happen. DO NOT HEAD OUT THE DOOR WITH THE LEASH SLACKING AROUND THE BELLY! (that’s my big bold stuff. It’s not in the instructions, but it should be).  One big lunge will results in one big squeeze on the ribs and internal organs.

Does it stop pulling?


She can still pull, but it does not choke her throat. You can also see how it starts to tighten around her body. It’s dog-pull-pressure, not “gentle no-pull” pressure


The bottom line? It is not something I would rush out and buy again.

If you are using a harness and it does not stop the pulling, this won’t do any better. Admittedly, it will make easier to get all cinched up at walk time, but that is about it.

shadowI was thinking this might be something worth trying as a precursor to a choke a collar for pups in training that only need a gentle reminders now and then. Just a thought.

The ThunderLeash is not a bad product (I can’t think of anything truly negative to say about it). It is just not the miracle cure that the company claims it is.

If you have one and it has made a change in your dog, please let me know. I would be interested in knowing if it the leash or the dog that is preventing the miracle from occurring.


2015 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog. I would have never thought the top seller would be pictures of dog poop.

All in all it was not a bad year for this little blog. I certainly need to push myself to get through my pile of back logs. I think I only tackled one or two in the past six months. Maybe I will have better luck in the upcoming months.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,700 times in 2015. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Phoebe trashed my tree

I should have known that putting candy canes on the tree would be a very big mistake. I walked into the living room and what did I see? The Christmas tree knocked over, lights tangled and ornaments strewn about

The good news in this whole thing is that all the candy canes were accounted for. At least I won’t have a dog on a sugar high flying through the house.

She is obviously in the Christmas spirit, but knew better than to hang around. I found her in another room just looking out the window as if nothing had happened.


My dog likes to play with cat toys nowadays

Phoebe acts like a senior dog. She just lies around sleeping all day, takes her sweet time walking around and basically acts like anything but the high energy dog she is. Maybe months of crate rest and limited activity has left her perfectly content to be a lazy bones.

I know she has some pent up energy inside her. She still jumps like a crazy dog when preparing to go for a walk and chasing squirrels. It’s amazing how she can smell those things when she isn’t even near the yard. One second she is lying around, then she is up and running before I can blink. She makes a precision jump through the doggie door, basically flies across the yard and jumps a good four feet, all in an attempt to catch her nemesis before it scurries away. Yep. Physically she is capable of running and playing. Mentally, she just doesn’t want to.

I keep trying to get her to play, trying something new ever few weeks, but she wants nothing to do with it. She stubbornly sits there staring at me. If I try to coax her she turns her away. I can take a hint. Game over before it even started.

I was hopeful when she showed some interest in a bright green thing that sails like a frisbee. The only problem is that all she would do is walk over to it touch it land trot back for a treat. “Fetch” and “Go get it” forgotten (or ignored). Over and over, I would toss, she would go touch it and come back wanting a treat. Its like who was doing the exercising? It seemed to me. She certainly was not going to bring it back,, so I had to keep walking over to get it only to repeat the ‘touch the toy get a treat game’. That was a total bust.

I have tried bouncy balls, frisbees,  tug toys, a variety of “go fetch it stuff,” her used-to-be-favorite skunk and a variety of other things. She just grabs them and walks away treating it like a chew toy.

Recently, I got her to use the jump bar off her agility set. It required a lot of food, which seems to contradict the benefit of exercise. Nonetheless, she was doing something active. Actually, I am quite surprised how high she can jump from a sitting position. It did wear her out, but that got kind of old after a while.

The other day I went to the pet store to get some back-up food – I used to keep a few cans of Merrick on hand, but there is no way I am keeping a Purina product on my shelf. I promised myself that I would not waste any more money on dog toys. I kept my promise. I did not by a dog toy; I bought a cat toy

For some reason I was not surprised that the moment Phoebe saw it she wanted it. She wanted it real bad. That was as good sign. Still the cat toy is not exactly dog-chewing-friendly. I had to figure out a way to play and not let her catch it (she would have chomped it down in a second).

We went outside and she was crazy over it. She chased it all over the yard with the same fervor she used to show when chasing her skunk toy. My only fear was that if she would never be allowed to catch it, she might lose interest. Isn’t catching the prize part of what makes it fun when a dog plays? If I feared that if I never let her catch it, she would bore quickly, so I tossed her favorite thing of all time into the mix: food.

Every time she got close enough to catch, hitting it with her nose or something, I would give her a tidbit of a treat. That was enough to keep her motivated. I ran her into the ground with that thing.

I am hoping that once Phoebe gets her butt moving on a regular basis that she will start finding interest in the other types of play. I would like to see her acting like a 2 1/2 year old dog versus lying around as if she is in retirement. I can’t believe that  a $2.99 cat toy was all she needed to get moving again.



My favorite dog food sold out to crappy Purina

Where have I been? Obviously, not scouring dog food rating sites.

I usually make Phoebe’s dog food, but there are times when I want to give her a little diversity or run out of her home made food. I used to use Merrick grain free as the back up and felt secure in my choice (past tense emphasized).

This evening, I was contemplating switching Phoebe from a homemade diet to commercial dry or canned food. In the past she didn’t do too well, but it never hurts to try every so often. Part of my decision-making process includes going to the good ol’ standby for nutritional and quality reviews (  What I learned on this research adventure shocked me.

Merrick’s sold out to Purina in July of this year (4 months ago +/-)

Naturally, Merrick and Purina promise up and down that nothing will change. Unbelievable promises that Merrick’s will maintain its quality. Come on folks! Purina is the parent company. Is there a single reason to believe any word coming from Purina?

As if selling out to Purina isn’t bad enough, Merrick sold out while Purina was embroiled in a lawsuit. Several dog owners had already filed suit claiming that Purina’s Beneful dog food was killing dogs. In fact, the law suit was amended in June 2015 to include owners in 15 states. Yet, Merrick still went through with the merger/sale the following month anyway. There is absolutely no way that Merrick could not have known about this lawsuit, which leaves me wondering about Merrick’s dedication to quality in the first place.

If I owned a brand that prided itself on quality, I certainly would not sell it off to a company with such a poor reputation that also happened to be in litigation.

Any way you slice it, it is wrong.

It is wrong, wrong, wrong!

I wonder when Dog Food Advisor will take Merrick off the 5-star list. My guess is that they cannot make an arbitrary change and have to wait for quality to go downhill. In the meantime, I will give it my own rating.  Merrick’s just went from a 5-star food to a 1/99th of a star food in my book.

I guess I have to delve and figure out who the parent company is when I research dog food. It sucks.



She smiled at me and I did not like it

The other day I looked over at Phoebe and she was standing there grinning at me. I’m not talking about the typical little doggie grin where they show their teeth and it looks cute.  This was a cat-that-ate-the-bird type of grin. A little too non-doggish for me.

She stopped and then smiled again. It made me feel uncomfortable when she did it about nine or ten times. Then she stopped and sneezed. In reality it looked like she had some kind of muscle spasm that just so happened to make it look like she was smiling.

I have not seen her do it since, but would kind of like to get to the bottom of it. 

Has anyone else ever seen this happen?