Black Brussels Griffon dog play-bowing to illustrate Throw Your Dog Away

Throw your dog away & other games

Did you ever throw your dog away? No? Why not? Dogs love playing this game and you don’t need anything but you and your dog to play. And it gets your dog to run toward you. A “Come!” without training!

We have a feeling that people don’t know how to play with their dogs without “stuff.” We see it in our training classes, particularly puppy class, all the time. It’s probably because nobody’s advertising the fun you can have with your dog without toys, props, or equipment. As dogs are accepted as members of the family, they’re also targets of merchandising.

Don’t get us wrong. We’re just as likely to check out the latest innovations in dog toys as anybody. Probably more so, since we’re always looking for really unique, well-made items for our shop. But we also know that you don’t actually need anything to play with your dog.

Throw your dog away

The absolute, sure-fire, fun game almost every puppy and dog on the planet love is “Throw your dog away.” With your palm, you just gently shove your dog in the chest to move him/her back an inch or two. At first, most dogs seem a little surprised. But they quickly get into the game. Especially if you’re teasing them: “I don’t want you.” “Get away, silly beastie!” “What are you doing here? Didn’t I throw you away?”

Black Brussels Griffon dog play-bowing to illustrate Throw Your Dog Away

Almost 100 percent of dogs will crouch back on their haunches, then stick their butts in the air in a classic play-bow, and come bounding back to you for more. They love this game. And it’s fun to see the dogs, and their people, grinning as they learn the game and love playing it. Just this week we got to see the biggest grin on the face of both owner and dog and a year-old Standard Poodle got “thrown away” and learned his mom is actually fun!

Playing tug

Another great game with minimal stuff is tug. A few years ago there were all kinds of experts telling people not to play tug with their dogs. It went along with making sure you go through a door first, or not letting dogs on furniture. All nonsense, to us. Tug is a great game. When we hear people say “my dog won’t tug,” we show them how. Slowly drag your tug object back and forth in front of your dog’s paws. If your dog is just staring at it, make sure you drag it across their paws. Be annoying and engage your dog’s prey drive. It’s the same thing puppies do to get older dogs to play with them – be annoying. 

We particularly like tug because it’s a workout for your dog’s core and legs, and they can’t play it alone. Simon tries – stepping on the tug toy and reaching back as far as his neck will go. But it doesn’t work too well – he’d rather play with his mom.

Boop your dog

Another silly little game we play with our dogs is “nose button.” It doesn’t really have a name, but it’s fun and engaging and makes us and our dogs happy. When we touch (boop) our dog’s noses, they lick. So we call it the nose button game. When they don’t lick, we make a whole production out of their button being busted. And push it some more to “fix” it.

The point of all of this is to have more fun with your dog. Henry Ward Beecher’s quote “The dog is the god of frolic.” We have no idea who he was, or what he was famous for, but he was right about this. You got a dog for fun and companionship. Have more fun with your dog!

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Picture of a brindle French Bulldog to illustrate Covid brain is a thing

Covid brain is a thing

We’re on the mend – tested negative and tiptoe-ing back into life. Unfortunately, we have discovered that Covid brain is real. There’s been a lot of backwards-typing. Not as bad as the days of “white-out” – but not the most productive.

The hardest thing is finding out that “Covid Brain” is a real thing and that we’ve got it. Bad. It resembles all the funny memes you see about what happens to you as you age – except it happened within the last week.

We walk into rooms and forgot why we’re there. We have the “answering the phone” script typed out in front of us (Hi, this is Hope at Golly Gear! How may I help you?). I’ve been saying the same thing whenever I answer the phone for 15 years. 

And Fran, who is an actual accountant (CPA and everything), is triple-checking her figures on everything, especially before she hits “Send.” 

It’s been weird.

It only lasts a moment

Picture of a brindle French Bulldog to illustrate Covid brain is a thing

We know that as we recuperate, the effects will diminish and disappear. In the meantime, we know we’re having to concentrate as hard as we ever have. And not make any quick decisions. If you can’t wait for me to think about it, right now the answer’s got to be “No.”

If you follow Golly Gear on Facebook, we’ve been having some fun with it. Apparently the “younger generation” (our dogs) have staged a takeover of the company and are running it. Talk about taking over the asylum…

Please stay tuned

We apologize for not having anything particularly useful this week. Thank goodness for our dogs. They’ve been wonderful companions, cuddlers, and comfort-givers over the last week. Now if we could only get them to use the toilet. And flush when they’re done.

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Picture of a brindle french bulldog to illustrate Caught by Coronavirus

Caught by Corona Virus

This week we did something we’ve never, ever done before. Both of us tested positive for Covid 19.We’ve been caught by the corona virus. Gotta say that we’re not really enjoying the experience. And there have been some unexpected symptoms. We expected stuffy nose, fever, chills. After all, that’s also how the vaccines took us. The real surprise is the incredibly painful sore throat. Every single time you swallow. Fran said “I’m getting tired of bracing myself every time I swallow.” I get it. It’s gotten old really fast.

Aside from feeling totally crappy, and in pain, we can’t help but feel we’re letting down our dogs. In case you didn’t know, we play training games with them every day. Until this week. We just don’t have the energy. 

They’re all holding up like troopers! When we head for the computer instead of the training area, they’re totally okay with it. I think it speaks to how attuned our dogs are to us, all of us. Our dogs seem to know when we don’t feel good. And they’re the best little care-givers around. 

Protocols in place

It’s kind of odd – we put coronavirus protocols in place at the shop years ago when it first raised its ugly head. We just dusted them off and we were all ready to go. Masking in the shop, Gloves when packing orders. It may be a little extreme, but just in case a customer is immune-compromised, we’d rather be too safe.

We’re very grateful that dogs don’t seem to get sick with Covid 19. If they did, ours would all have it simultaneously now. Because our little care-givers don’t want to leave our sides for even a moment.

Picture of a brindle french bulldog to illustrate Caught by Coronavirus

Does your dog play “nursemaid,” too? Hope’s Torque is the most obvious culprit. He lies down across Hope’s legs and doesn’t move. Until her knees fall asleep and she makes him shift over.

How do your dogs take care of you when you’re sick? Do they hover, or do they get scared? Hope’s Brussels Griffon boy Roc was appalled when Hope’s “face made noise.” Sneezes were the worst, but he wasn’t fond of coughing, either. During allergy season, his look of outrage was almost constant.

Appealing to your experience

We know this post isn’t really all that useful for other people, but we’d like to make it helpful for us. Have you had Covid 19? How long did it last? What was the worst of your symptoms? And can you please make it go away…

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Picture of two Boston Terriers to illustrate Socializing Your dog

Socializing dogs isn’t what people think

Our obedience club is about to start another session and, as registrars for the club, we’re the gatekeepers. The word we keep hearing from dog owners isn’t “obedience,” it’s “socializing.”

It’s a trend we’ve noticed in recent years – people want their dogs to live their best lives. As far as we’re concerned, that’s great!

But what most people mean by “socialized” isn’t what dog trainers, behaviorists, and performance people mean. Socializing your dog doesn’t mean he’s incredibly well-behaved at doggy daycare, wants to play with every dog he meets, and happily gets along with every dog and person. 

That’s not socialized. That’s a stuffed animal. No intellligent creature is going to be happy all the time, love everyone, and never have an “off” day.

What it really means

Picture of two Boston Terriers to illustrate Socializing Your dog
The only dogs your dog has to be friends with are the ones in your house.

Our definition of “socialization” is that your dog is comfortable in public situations and can pay attention to you no matter where you are. 

The only other dogs most dogs have to get along with are the ones in your own circle of family, friends, and neighbors. And sometimes that takes a while. Booker and Simon (Boston Terriers) are best buddies now, but it wasn’t love at first sight.

Your dog doesn’t have to love every person who crosses your path. It’s perfectly okay to not let people near your dog. You wouldn’t let strangers handle your wallet, phone, or keys. It’s okay to say “No” when they ask to pet your dog.

Non-dog people intrude

The myth about “socialization” has taken hold in public perception. Non-dog people seem to think that if a dog is in a public space, it’s available to be handled. When you say “no!” these strangers may comment that your dog isn’t well socialized. They’re the ones who are wrong – not you.

If your dog can be calm in public, listen to you, walk with you, and not cause any problems, that’s well-socialized. If your dog happens to like attention from other people, you can certainly allow it, as long as you stay in control and watch your dog for stress.

Stress signals include ears going back or flat, side-eye looks, panting, scratching, tail down, rolling over, and of course, looking to escape or even hide behind you. If your dog exhibits any signs of stress, it’s time to stop whatever’s happening and give your dog some space.

Watch for signs

Many reports of dog bites mention that the dog gave no signs. Maybe. Or maybe the people involved weren’t aware of all the signs the dog was showing. A growl or baring teeth are the last line of defense before a bite happens. They are probably just the last in a long series of signals that somebody ignored.

If you want your dog to be well socialized, learn your dog’s signs of anxiety and stress. Keep below your dog’s threshold, and remove the dog from situations that threaten to send them over. In time, your dog’s tolerance will broaden as you shield them from over-threshold stress. 

And if you’re not “nice” for not letting strangers do what they want with your dog, so be it. If you need something to say to explain it to them, ask them how they’d like to be hugged by every stranger they pass. Most people will cringe at the thought. 

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