We're onto H now, and onto the topic of habit forming behavior. If you haven't been able to read recent posts, I'm doing the A to Z blog challenge in April, where I post using topics inspired by the alphabet almost every day. To stay up to date on the series, subscribe to my blog to have it delivered to your inbox or to your reader.
With people, we talk about our bad habits. Nail biting (guilty), caffeine (guilty), lying (just white ones), etc. By calling them bad habits, in a way we excuse our actions...it's something we slipped into, an accident--one day we bite one nail, then two, then three...and all of the sudden it's a habit.
With dogs, we talk about bad behavior. Your dog barks when someone walks by the door--bad dog. Your dog chews on your stuff--Bad dog. By calling it bad behavior, we imply that the issue is something to do with the dog. We give ourselves excuses, but somewhat blame the dog for their actions in the way we describe these things.
Dog behavior is just your dog developing a habit, bad or good.
I've been thinking about this a lot today, all because of a stupid move on the Internet. I made the mistake of wandering onto Craigslist for furniture, and being the sap that I am, checked the pets section. Being completely masochistic, I searched for "German Shepherd". Sure enough, a list of dogs popped up. Most of these dogs ran along the 1 and a half year mark, the perfect age to stop being a puppy, and, if not raised properly, to start being a really big problem. People give reasons like "the dog is too hyper for us" or mention that this dog, at a year and a half old, "isn't house trained and needs to be an outdoor dog". In other words, their dog has formed bad habits, and they can't deal with it anymore.
Dogs often develop bad habits when they are in search of fulfilling a need that they have. Dogs who are highly energetic breeds, like a Border Collie, German Shepherd, or Jack Russell can develop destructive habits if their energy needs are not met. Intelligent breeds, with several names from the same list I just gave (Shepherds are number 3!), also fall into this category. Dogs are smart. When you don't play games or don't give them toys, they'll make their own. Take this little guy--he taught himself to play fetch!
Arie, when she was about a year old, taught herself one such form of entertainment as a tantrum. Any time you went to the bathroom, Arie would follow you into the room and smack her big face in your lap while you were occupied. After growing up in a family with four people (6 after my sister had kids) and one bathroom, my bathroom time is precious to me. While I love my dog, my time in that room is a private affair, and even she is not invited. We began shutting Arie out of the bathroom and leaving her on the other side of the door, much to her dismay.
At first she whined. Then she barked. And then the crazy girl figured out how to OPEN THE DOOR. This wasn't a jump-and-hit-it-with-your-paw by chance venture either. Arie knew how the handle worked. She used her muzzle to push the lever down while pushing on the bottom of the door with her paw to pop it open.
My dog taught herself a habit as a way to "stick it to the man" for trying to bar her from bathroom time. When we moved to our new apartment, the handles were, thank goodness, round door knobs, so she can no longer practice this feat.
To help Arie avoid learning any other bad habits, I try to do what is required of all pet parents: train, entertain, and occupy.
Train your dog by teaching them good habits. Sit, stay, speak, roll over, lay down, down, crate, etc. By giving your dog a positive task, you create a stronger bond between you and your dog, give them a sense of purpose, and keep their brains busy with good things.
Entertain your dog by giving them the exercise and play time they need. In my last post, I mentioned that I'm upping Arie's walk time to get her energy out. We play catch with her favorite tennis balls and stuffing-less toys, and we always play "tag", another game of Arie's device---Arie will get into her play bow, then bounce toward me, then run away. If I run, she'll chase me and tap me with her nose, then run away, waiting for me to come touch her on the back, then so forth and so forth. I've taught that, even while playing tag, if I call her the game is over to avoid letting this behavior become problematic and instead keeping it fun.
Occupy your dog when you can't be there to train or entertain. For Arie, right now I use puzzle toys and treat hiding toys, like her Kong, while I'm at work. You can also try boarding your dog or taking them to a day camp for dogs, where they can interact with other people and other dogs to have a great time.
What funny or odd habits have your dogs formed? I know that many of you are amazing trainers and great at working with your dogs, so share your secrets to training, entertaining, and occupying your pooch with the rest of us in the comment section. I'd love to hear them for help with Arie! I don't usually post on training or my thoughts on it either, so tell me what you think---Do you agree with the post? Disagree? Love it? Hate it? Weigh in with your thoughts.
Pets become a huge part of your life--as in an overwhelming one. Even when you're dog isn't physically larger than some of your friends, like mine, they still take up a great amount of real estate in your home, your car, your life, and your heart.
Now it's time to make the home part a little more attractive and functional with today's letter b: built-ins.
After developing an amazing addiction to Pinterest (because after all, who hasn't?) I was exposed to some amazingly fabulous pet-friendly built-in ideas, such as this super amazing dog bed tucked within a kitchen island:
To avoid stepping all over copyright, you can see the rest of my pins of fabulous pet-friendly built-ins on my "Life with Arie" pin board, or see this compilation from Pawsh Magazine. Most built-ins focus on setting aside a reserved space for pet beds or bowls, food storage, or even litter box hiding places.
At some point, I would love to add these ideas to a home, and I'm definitely not alone. In fact, this trend has grown astoundingly in popularity in Atlanta itself, the city Arie, the cats and I call home. Ili Nilsson, co-owner of the design-build firm TerraCotta Properties, spoke with AJC Home Finder about pet parents and home design:
"“For every client that has a dog, we do something specific for that dog,” said Nilsson. “You can fit the needs of your pet very easily with good planning.” That includes the clever location of built-ins for pet items or the installation of a hot water faucet outdoors for mess-free dog-washing.
The American Pet Products Association bears Nilsson’s opinion out. The APPA estimates that in 2011, Americans spent $50 billion on their pets." - AJC Home Finder
Design decisions by Atlanta area pet parents range from choosing rugs based on their pet's coat color and shedding to home owners choosing carpet tiles instead of a solid roll so that the squares are easy to replace if chewed or used for an accidental potty break. How far would you go to incorporate your pet into your home design?
Having a large dog is fun. Arie is the same size as some human beings, so she's an expert cuddler. She can keep up on walks and runs. She can actually jump up and look you in the eye. I just love having a large breed dog, especially a White German Shepherd. :) That being said, there is one thing that I miss about tiny dogs--Large dogs are harder to accessorize. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a person who puts my dogs in clothing or gets them a little bling. I do however, like to give them pretty collars, especially when your dog is always assumed to be male instead of the sweet girl that she is.
I have a crafty streak, though I haven't yet found the project style that really fits me. My friend Tori makes amazing jewelry that you can find on Etsy through her store, V. Carol Creations (you can also read her blog, Home Sweet Washington, to get to know the person behind the great earring options.) I cannot make jewelry. My friend Carolyn is an amazing artist, and her husband Daniel is a silversmith (how cool is that?!). You can see Carolyn's work at Carolyn Horne Illustration. I cannot paint or make silver into pretty things.
I am, however, learning to sew, and I love it. Kelly from Sew Alluring and I are learning together, and it's been great fun. For my first project, I picked something very unconventional. I decided to make dog collars! I found these adorable prints in the super cheap fat quarters section at Jo-Ann's. They were just long enough to make Shady (my roommate's dog) a few collars. One was a really cute shamrock print:
I loved the print, and decided that I would try to make Shady a collar by St. Patrick's Day. I haven't had much time to sew, and I'm terrible about reading directions, so on a handful of occasions I was able to sit down and practice making dog collars off the cuff. My attempts weren't always fruitful:
For the hardware, I used some very strong plastic fasteners that I also found at Jo-Ann's, and a metal d-ring I bought there as well. The D-ring did not hold up to Shady's walk, and pulled lose. Ugly first sewing attempt I can deal with---Impractical and unsafe breaking collars? That's not acceptable. For my second attempt, I got the hardware off of an old collar we had hidden away in the closet. It had a different form of buckle, so I had to learn to work with that as well:
This time, I was little more proud of my collar. I'm making them out of recycled materials by lining them with strong denim harvested by old pairs of jeans instead of they typical nylon. I made this collar thicker to be stronger, and also used the stronger hardware from Shady's old collar. This time, I tried a new kind of stitch around the D-Ring and fastener to make it stronger. The end could not be made attractive because I didn't have enough fabric, but I'm working on it for next time. Flaws and all, Shady is set to be styling St. Patrick's Day style as we celebrate all that is Irish.
Are you craft-tastic? Have you tried making anything for your pets? I'm going to continue to try to perfect my collars, and then move on to a nice, big dog bed. I'll keep you posted on my projects--If you have any suggestions for future projects or sewing tips, please let me know!
I'm off to enjoy a few ciders (a great alternative to beer that I learned to love while in Ireland) and the holiday. Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone!
As you know, Life with Arie is a relatively new project of mine, and less than a year old, though it feels like ages since our first post. Arie herself is only two, so as Arie and I get to know each other as she grows up, I'm also getting to know Wordpress, my blog, and the behind the scenes workings of the web as time progresses.
We've recently been making some changes to the layout of the blog, the content of the sidebars, and now to the site itself. Here are just a few of things we've done to alter things:
While these are all simple changes, I hate when people update their sites with no explanation, leaving you to wonder where everything is. While most of these changes don't effect navigation, I wanted to give you a heads up out of courtesy, and to also ask you... What do you think?
Actually, I've never been to the Netherlands. Instead, I chose to go to Yemen (I'm not a terrorist), Ireland, and to Latvia/Lithuania when I traveled abroad while friends went to Mexico and Costa Rica...which made sense, as at the time I was a Spanish major in college. Oh life, you're funny.
My friend Kaitlin, whom I met after moving to Georgia, now lives in the Netherlands. She fell in love with someone and moved to his home country. Though she's across an ocean and a great deal of land, Kaitlin and I use our blogs to keep in touch. She can log on here to see what I'm discussing about Arie, and I can log on her blog, A Georgia Peach Abroad, to check and see how Loek, her husband to be, and their apartment are faring, as well as what Kaitlin has learned recently about her new homeland.
Kaitlin is in the middle of a photo project for the month of March, and today's entry focuses on someone she's spoken with today. We were chatting on Facebook when she was writing and she decided to write about me. I never post pictures of myself on here, mostly because I usually look like a hot mess when I'm photographing Arie, but Kaitlin asked for a photo of me to use in her post (so you can see what my picture looks like in the Netherlands! Love that corny humor, don't you?). Most of the time what you learn about someone is through their About Me page and how they interact on the web. If you want to get me know me a little better, and check out an amazing blog about the Netherlands, read Kaitlin's post to get another person's perspective.
Being able to keep in touch with Kaitlin, as well as the awesome Aussies, Spaniards, Englishman, and more that I've met through Life with Arie via our blogs is wonderful. Who do you keep in touch with from abroad? Share your favorite blogs that aren't from your country in a comment so we can check them out. Happy Sunday, everyone!
These are just two of the things that I have been called today.
In January, I posted about an interaction I had on Facebook with a blogger and her followers, and asked for your feedback. Today that blogger announced that, because of my post, she had cried for half an hour, was emotionally distraught, and planned to delete her blog and Facebook page at 3 PM because of it. Afterwards, comments began pouring in from her followers onto her Facebook page and onto my post. I was at work, so I could not respond or approve the comments yet, but I was well aware of the situation.
At 1 PM, the blogger announced that she did not plan to "give in to cyber bullying" and planned to keep her Facebook and Blog, thanks to the outpouring of support from her followers. I am extremely happy that she made this decision, I just hate that I wasn't able to contact her beforehand. I hate that my post caused so much emotional distress for someone, and would even cause someone to think about deleting their pages. Her blog is loved by many, and she enjoys writing it, so I hope she continues her online presence and that her community grows.
Several of the comments on my blog, as you will see, refer to me as a troll. For those of you not familiar with this term, it's one commonly used to someone who comments on pages, blogs, and discussion boards with the intent of starting a war. My original comment on her Facebook page has been deemed a "troll-esque" comment. I can assure you that this was not my intent behind my comment. SOPA/PIPA are amazingly huge deals in our world, and so I do not consider them a laughing matter. When I saw the comments on the page, I was worried that these commenters may not know about the issue, and so I posted. Looking back, I agree that the language I used does come off rude and assuming, though I can promise, as I stated before, that this was never my intent. Tone is a powerful thing over the web, as it can be interpreted in so many ways, and in this post, I could have controlled it better.
As for my blog post on the matter, I wrote it to reach out the community I know on the web because I trust my readers to be honest and open with me. This post was not written to lay a smack down on the blogger or her readers, but instead to discuss the event, step by step and my reactions to it, as well as the importance of consistency when it comes to page conduct and policies. I asked you for your opinions to see what you thought, not to harass someone via the web or to be a cyber-bully.
While I stand by the fact that sticking to your policies and avoiding group attacks is important, I do hope that you can all understand that I did not intend personal harm to anyone with my posts. I know that the blogger in question, after posting her original comment about leaving the web and her secondary comment about staying, removed said comments because of the cyber-harassment that proceeded in her comments section, and has since posted about "olive branches to everyone". I couldn't agree more.
As for those of you who commented on my post, both good and bad, I thank you for sharing your opinions, as that is exactly what I asked for in the post. I know that many of you thought that I wouldn't post your comments due to the delay in my ability to approve them, but as Internet censorship is such an important issue for me, I have approved every single one, even those that assume I am possessed. I appreciate you sharing your opinions with me, but in the spirit of diplomacy, I will be closing that post to further comments. If you feel the need to respond, feel free to comment here.
You might have noticed in our recent posts that we've discussing more of the act of blogging and a little less of Arie's life; I'm promise we're getting back to the doggie goodness, but as bloggers, we're sure you understand the need to discuss the more logistical aspects as well. Just to give you your "awwwwww!!!" for the day, here's a photo of Arie sleeping on the couch next to me. Home girl flipped the pillow over on her own for a face-shelf.
We have two very simple questions: Have you subscribed to our blog yet, and is it working for you? Don't worry--This isn't a witch hunt for who hasn't subscribed, though we would definitely love to see all of you click that little subscription button. It is, however, my attempt to get to the bottom of a few FeedBurner issues. Here's what we've noticed:
We want to be sure that those who want to have Life with Arie posts delivered to their inbox or reader are able to do so easily and efficiently, so let us know if things are working for you, or if you're having technical difficulties so we can get things fixed!
When I started this in August (was it August?) it was to be my creative outlet away from work. I work in the Social Media industry, and literally spend eight hours each work day looking over blogs, editing and creating content, and helping clients to hone their presence on Facebook and Twitter.
When I went to college, I was an avid reader. When I got out of college, I realized I hadn't read a book for pleasure in four years, thanks to a heavy course load in the history department where each class averaged 3-12 books each semester. I started to see that the same thing was happening to me in my career--I wasn't writing much or spending time on social networks outside of work because I was on them all day already. I didn't want to give up my passion for writing or connecting to others, so Life with Arie was born. I honestly didn't know if I would be writing to just myself or the three to five readers I expected to get; I was pleasantly surprised to discover an amazing network of pet lovers writing regular, well-written, witty and inspiring content, and have loved every minute of getting to know you all. Some of our blogger friends have welcomed us to the fold with kind blogger awards that circulate the blogging community, and we're happy to share them now (sorry for the long delay, lovelies.)
The Kreativ Blogger award was given to us by the other members of what I call the "Life with..." club, Lauren, and, well, Lauren. Lauren from Life with Desmond gave the award to myself and to Lauren with Life with Claire, who then passed the award to me for a second time. The award comes with the following instructions: Share a few things your readers and friends probably don't know about you, and then pass it along to six other blogs! Here it goes:
Now, to pass on the award, I'm *trying* to give the Kreative Blogger award to blogs who may not have received it and to a few new friends I've enjoyed reading.
The other award we received was kindly passed on to us from "Luna, A Dog's Life," by Luna and her amazing two daddies. As instructed, I have copied and pasted the blog award itself and the information that goes with it:
Liebster means “dearest” in German, and the award is intended to help up-and-coming blogs get the attention they deserve. As with any award, there is a bit of ceremony involved. In order to accept the award, we must do the following:
1. Copy and paste the award on our blog.
2. Link back to the blogger who gave us the award.
3. Pick our five favorite blogs with less than 200 followers, and leave a comment on their blog to let them know they have received the award.
4. Hope that the five blogs we chose will keep spreading the love and pass it on to five more blogs.
While I'm not sure how many followers they have, we're passing the award on to a few of our "dearest" friends online, again trying to get the ones who haven't yet received the award. If we overlap, we're sorry!
Thanks everyone for the awards, and please check out these amazing bloggers! We love reading their posts, and we know you will too!
So... "Life with Arie" is looking a little barren. Why? We blame the internet.
Over the past two weeks something has gone terribly awry with our blog, thanks to various issues that decided to all go caput at once. Our host server did something wonky that caused us to be unable to log in to our dashboard. Once that was remedied, we realized that it had de-activated all of our lovely plugins. While reactivating the plugins, Thesis, our Wordpress theme, "took a sh*t and died" as the expression goes, and locked me out of my blog (again) and did a bunch of other things, like delete my header and stylings.
My lovely friend Heather (check out her great radio show, Rubyfruit Radio) is an amazingly tech saavy person, and has been through tears, tirades, and utter confusion with me... with all of those symptoms being my own. Her calm resolve and techie magic have re-enabled my log in and we're working on the cosmetic issues now. The blog still functions completely, so feel free to comment on any posts you wish to, or to connect with us through our social websites.
Please bear with us as the site goes through a case of the uglies! We hope to get our stylish features back soon!
***UPDATE: It lives! We're back to our old selves again, and boy does it feel great. Have you had similar blog issues? How did you handle them? Share your pet blogger (or any kind of blogger) techie woes in a comment!
I've never really been what you would call a "breed enthusiast". I love dogs, all dogs, and pretty much all animals for that matter. Still, as I've mentioned in previous posts, German Shepherds, especially White German Shepherds, have stolen my heart completely.
This infatuation has led me to countless hours of research and plenty of "new car experiences". What is a new car experience? Think of it this way:
When you get a new car or think about buying a certain car, you'll start seeing that car EVERYWHERE. No joke. Next time you're shopping for a car, you'll realize your having the new car experience, as you will notice that car every time it passes it on the interstate, when you pass one in a parking lot, or when one is parked on your street. It's like having a stalker, but with a purchase you're about to make.
I have "new car experiences" with German Shepherds. I've started seeing them everywhere (which makes sense since they're one of the most popular breeds in the country); I've even seen White Shepherds everywhere, and often chase down their owners to chat them up about their dog. Creepy? Maybe a little. I should mention though that it's in acceptable situations...like when they're passing me on the sidewalk with the pup or at the dog park. (I hope that makes it a little more acceptable). Friends are starting to see them everywhere too, apparently. Lauren from Life with Claire even routinely texts me pictures of White German Shepherds she sees around town. Here is one she sent me recently of an adorable puppy:
After my research, numerous new car experiences, and having my heart stolen by these energetic love bugs, I have finally put my obsession with German Shepherds to good use--I'm the Atlanta German Shepherd Examiner!
I was inspired to take on this writing initiative after speaking with our friend Lauren from Life with Desmond, who is the Long Island Dogs Examiner. Check out her stories--they're definitely worth a read.
I'm starting on my content calendar for the Examiner position, and I'd love to hear from you what you think I should talk about. Be sure to leave a few ideas in the comments section here! In addition to your ideas, have you noticed "new car experience" in your own life, or with your pet's breeds/general looks?
PS: If you're thinking about becoming an Examiner, email me or leave a comment for me to get in touch with you. I'd love to talk to you about the experience!