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Wynston and I travel a lot, and it’s rare that we take a completely flawless trip. Granted, I’ve learned how to adapt to any sort of change in our travel plans, so I’ve become a pro at improvising. However, it can be stressful when something doesn’t go as planned. Whether your flight gets cancelled, it’s raining at a destination where you planned to partake in outdoor activities, or your dog has a medical emergency, I have tips (all from experience) on how to handle the situation.

How to Adapt to Changes in Your Dog-Friendly Travel Plans

Since rescuing Wynston in 2012, we’ve traveled over 40,000 miles together. We’ve stayed at more hotels than I can count, we’ve flown on an airplane several times, and we’ve faced some pretty stressful challenges. All of those experiences have given me the ability to work through drastic changes in my travel plans with very little stress or anxiety. So when you read all of these tips, keep in mind that they came from personal experience!

A Cancelled Flight

Cancelled flights are stressful – especially when it’s 10pm, you have no idea where you are and you don’t have a clue as to what to do next. I’ve experienced several cancelled flights, and a couple of them have happened at the airport. But this was the worst experience:

It was April 2018. I was headed to San Angelo, TX. Wynston and I had a smooth flight into Dallas, where we were to pick up our connecting flight. Well, it was raining and we had to take one of those small commuter planes to San Angelo. So what happened? Our flight was cancelled due to weather, and the next available flight was about 24 hours later. What was I supposed to do? My luggage was ON the airplane. I didn’t have food for Wynston. I didn’t have my laptop charger, and I had to work the next day. That was the first time I had ever truly panicked while traveling.

I ended up taking an UBER to a nearby hotel for the evening, while my friend drove 4 hours from San Angelo to come get me. (No one would rent me a car going one way). Here’s what I learned from this experience:

  1. Always have your dog’s necessities, including food, in your carry on luggage. If you check your luggage and your flight gets delayed or cancelled, you won’t have access to those items.
  2. Have all of your electronic chargers on your person.
  3. Don’t panic. Seriously. It makes everything 10 times worse.
  4. Take advantage of airport accommodations. Many airports have potty areas for dogs, as well as comfortable lounges and restaurants that will welcome you, even if you have your pup.
  5. Use the dedicated customer service phone number for your cancelled flight. If your flight is cancelled and you need to re-book a different flight, there is a priority phone number for you to call. The gate agent will be able to provide that to you. And be kind – I know you’re frustrated about your cancelled flight, and probably upset, but if you’re nice to the customer service agent, I guarantee they will help you out. (Possible seat upgrades, travel vouchers, etc).

I’ve also been stuck in an airport for about 6 hours with Wynston for a delayed flight, and you can use the same above tips to get through it. Often times you can get a sooner flight if there are others going to your destination. Simply CALL customer service, even if you’re at the airport. Another quick story:

I was in Dallas (with Wynston of course) and we were heading back to Phoenix. We had been stuck in the air for a while, so we missed our connecting flight. They automatically put us on a later flight but when I checked the departure screen at the airport, I saw another flight heading to Phoenix that we’d be able to catch. I called American Airlines, and they were able to get us on that sooner flight (which literally took off 30 minutes from that time) AND they put us in business class! Be kind, and proactive!

A Medical Emergency

A lot of you may remember when Wynston broke his foot in 2017. We were traveling at the time, and it was a huge fiasco. We were in our hotel room when Wynston jumped off a chair and completely annihilated two of his foot bones. After getting in at an emergency vet, Wynston had pain meds and a temporary cast to last us a few days until we arrived home. Here’s what I’d suggest to prepare for a medical emergency:

  1. Plan ahead. Whatever your final destination is, do some quick research to look up emergency vets in that area. Have their info handy so it’s ready to go when you need it. It can be upsetting to try and find an emergency vet when you’re already panicking about your dog.
  2. Always pack your dog’s vaccination records, or any other necessary health information. This will be a big help at the vet when you’re traveling.
  3. Pack a first aid kit. If you’re camping or you’ll be in an area far from a veterinarian, pack a first aid kit with essentials. A first aid kit will help get your dog through until you can reach a vet.

In hindsight, it ended up being a blessing that Wynston broke his foot while we were away. At the time I had two other dogs, so being in a hotel alone with him allowed us to rest uninterrupted. Always try to see the beauty in things!

Finding Dog-Friendly Restaurants & Activities

Some cities are incredibly dog-friendly, while others are…not so much. I always suggest doing research on dog-friendly places at your travel destination before even leaving your home. I have tips on how to do that here. Basically it comes down to this:

  1. If you’re staying at a hotel with your dog, the hotel staff will be able to give you dog-friendly recommendations. Otherwise, they will know where you can find out.
  2. Call a local restaurant to see if they are dog-friendly. If not, I bet they will know some places near you that do allow dogs. (You’re definitely the first person who’s asked!)
  3. Food delivery or pick up is always an option. If for some reason there aren’t any dog-friendly restaurants at your destination, you always have the option of getting food delivered to your hotel or residence. Most restaurants also a have a “pick-up” option, so that’s a good choice too! You can also order room service if you’re hotel offers that service. We live in a world of convenience – take advantage!

If you’re driving to your destination, pack plenty of snacks for you and your dog! It will save money and time.

Dealing With Potential Catastrophic Disaster

Sounds bad, right? Anything can happen. Hopefully you don’t have to deal with any true catastrophic disasters, but in the moment it may seem like all hell is going to break loose. Like when you watch a puppy vomit roundworms and your friend refuses to take them to a veterinarian so you have to go get a hotel room to protect your dog…

When you travel, make sure you always have the following items:

  • Your dog’s recent vaccination records or a health certificate
  • Updated ID tags
  • Updated microchip
  • An extra leash
  • Collapsible food and water bowls
  • A carrier
  • Your dog’s medications
  • Extra water

Some potentially disastrous situations could be:

  • Car accident
  • Natural disaster (flooding, tornado, hurricane, earthquake)
  • Car break down
  • Car broken into
  • Stuck in traffic for an extended period of time
  • Having to move hotels or destinations at last minute

Luckily it’s easy to prepare yourself when you travel with your dog, especially if you’re driving. You can throw additional items in your car, such as extra water, canned dog food and more.

If you ever want to travel with your dog, expect some changes in your plans, whether minor or major. Remember to take deep breaths and keep your focus on your dog. They will help you get through anything you’re faced with. I always say that as long as Wynston is healthy and safe, we’ll be fine no matter what situation we face!

Do you have upcoming travel plans with your dog? We have a lot of helpful blog posts for you to enjoy!

The post How to Adapt to Changes in Your Dog-Friendly Travel Plans appeared first on Dog Mom Days.

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You got a new dog from a breeder. You are posting photos all over Facebook. That’s nice – I’m not happy for you.

If you’re happy, cool. You are having a kid? I don’t like kids but I’ll be happy for you! Moving to New Jersey? That sounds terrible but I’ll be happy for you! But you bought a new dog from a breeder, and I just refuse to get behind it. I cannot possibly bring myself to be happy that you bought a dog from a breeder. I just can’t.

This is a struggle for me. A majority of my friends are all about animal rescue, but I do have a few acquaintances who buy dogs from “responsible” breeders. It makes me cringe. As I’m scrolling through Facebook and looking at all of the dogs who are going to be euthanized at the shelter tomorrow, I’m really pissed off at you. How could you possibly spend all that money on a dog, when the amount you spent could probably have saved at least 5 dogs from death at your local kill shelter?

I just can’t be happy for you.

Don’t ask me to celebrate the addition of the new family member that you bought. I won’t. I won’t like your puppy pictures on Facebook. I won’t reply to your Instagram stories. Instead, I will pray that the dogs you didn’t bother to consider at the local animal shelter find homes. I can’t even look at your dog with a “oh she’s so cute!” attitude, because I’m just mad. In fact, I may “unfollow” you.

I just can’t be happy for you.

It makes me ill, really. People want puppies. People want specific breeds. That’s all fine and well. I get it. But did you know that there are PLENTY of puppies in shelters? Pregnant dogs end up at kill shelters and their puppies need homes. Puppies are found abandoned and taken to shelters. They need homes. There are breed specific rescues all over the place. Can’t find one in your state? Transportation is often available, and I guarantee it’ll be cheaper than that breeder dog you bought.

The emotion I’m feeling right now is anger. I can’t bring myself to understand why. Like, are you cool with buying a dog when there are millions of innocent animals dying in shelters each year? How is that okay?

If you have a friend who had an “accidental” litter of puppies and you adopt one, okay. It is what it is. Give the puppy a home and tell your friend to get their dog fixed. But going out of your way to buy a dog from a breeder is inexcusable in my eyes.

And don’t even get me started on the breeding itself. I think the act is sick and disgusting. I can’t imagine forcing dogs to have sex so they can reproduce puppies. Don’t try to put that whole “we need to continue perpetuating the breed standard” crap. I won’t hear a minute of it. Would you want to be forced to have sex to reproduce? Yeah, uh, something tells me no.

I don’t blame your new puppy. I blame you for buying it and making the process look glamorous. Too many dogs are dying, and you are part of the problem.

That is all.

The post I’m Sorry – I Cannot Be Happy That Your New Dog is From a Breeder appeared first on Dog Mom Days.

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This post is sponsored by Mirium, but we only share opinions on products that we use, trust and love.

As you all know, Wynston and I are always on the go. Whether we’re traversing the roads for another adventure or hitting up a local restaurant with friends, we’re constantly out and about. While exploring is fun and outings are a blast, Wynston is always at risk for fleas and ticks like every other dog. It’s my responsibility as a dog mom to make sure Wynston is protected at all times. It’s especially important that I prevent parasites since we travel so frequently. I don’t want to risk him having to deal with fleas and ticks, or spreading them elsewhere.

Last year I discovered PetArmor® Plus, and now it’s our go-to flea and tick treatment and preventative! Thankfully Wynston has never battled fleas or ticks, but I take measures to ensure he stays healthy and safe. PetArmor Plus is the best way to keep your dogs (and cats) protected from pests year round. Allow me to share more detail about why I choose PetArmor Plus for my rescue animals, and I even have a $4 off coupon for you!

PetArmor® Plus

The Convenience of PetArmor Plus

Like I said, Wynston and I are always exploring a new city or state. We like to be on the move, and that requires me to constantly make sure that Wynston is healthy. I choose PetArmor Plus for flea and tick prevention because it’s high-quality and so incredibly convenient to purchase. I don’t think I’ve ever traveled to a place where I couldn’t visit a Walmart within 20 miles or so. Since PetArmor Plus is sold at Walmart, I could easily stop at the store to get the treatment if for some reason Wynston wasn’t already protected. And when it’s time to repurchase a treatment, I simply pick it up while I’m grocery shopping! Can’t beat that convenience, especially as a busy pet parent.

PetArmor Plus is also affordable. With four rescue animals, you can bet I’m on a budget. I’m thankful that I can purchase my animals’ flea and tick preventative at Walmart for a price that won’t break the bank, while getting a veterinary-grade product. What’s even better is that you can get $4 cash back when you purchase PetArmor Plus for dogs or cats at Walmart!

Buying PetArmor Plus at my local Walmart!

PetArmor Plus is available for dogs and cats. There are a variety of options for dogs based on their weight. It’s important that you only administer this product (or any product for that matter) on the appropriate pet with the recommended dosage. Always seek veterinary advice if you have specific questions!

What does PetArmor Plus do?

Okay but really – convenience and expense are important, but let’s talk about our #1 priority as pet parents; our pet’s health! I’m the overprotective mom that wants all of my animals to be in tip top shape no matter what. PetArmor Plus helps protects your dogs and cats from fleas, ticks, flea eggs and chewing lice. The formula kills off the flea eggs and larvae to further prevent infestation, which is a huge benefit. PetArmor Plus stops the cycle of those parasites for up to 30 days.

For dog parents who have a pooch who likes to swim, PetArmor Plus is waterproof! This benefit is fantastic in the summer because fleas and ticks are running rampant with the warm weather, but your dog deserves to enjoy the pool, lake or ocean! PetArmor Plus won’t be washed away no matter how much fun you’re having at the beach. Remember that fleas and ticks can lay dormant on your pet for months before hatching, so it’s important to keep your dog or cat protected year round!

Helpful tip: I administer Wynston’s heart worm preventative and PetArmor Plus at the same time each month so it’s easy to keep track of.

I always encourage fellow dog moms and dads to take preventative measures when it comes to your dog’s health. Preventing illness and infection is much less expensive than having to treat it! PetArmor Plus is an affordable way to do just that.

Need a flea and tick preventative? Does your dog or cat currently have fleas, ticks or lice? PetArmor Plus will help with both! It will protect your pet and prevent parasites, but also treat them if your furry friend happens to fall victim to the nasty pests. If your pup does somehow become affected by fleas or ticks, don’t get too down on yourself. Our pets contracting a parasite is fairly common, and thankfully the condition is incredibly easy to treat with PetArmor Plus! Join over a million pet parents in the fight against fleas and get $4 cash back on your purchase!

Not a fan of going to the store? I don’t blame you! You can also redeem your $4 cash back on PetArmor Plus products at Walmart.com!

The post Protect Your Pet From Fleas & Ticks With $4 Off PetArmor Plus! appeared first on Dog Mom Days.

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When you’re ready to add a new dog to your family, one of the first decisions you’ll need to make is where your new family addition is going to come from.  But before you start looking at local breeders, spare a thought for the thousands of puppies and adult dogs waiting in shelters to be adopted. Once you start looking into what really goes on in dog breeding operations, it becomes hard to overlook the benefits of giving a shelter dog a second chance at a happy life.  Read on for five reasons why rescuing a dog is way better than buying one.

5 Reasons Why Rescuing a Dog is Way Better Than Buying One

Save Money

Purchasing a puppy from a breeder can easily cost several hundreds or even thousands of dollars, depending on the breed.  Rescuing a dog, on the other hand, could be free or cost a couple of hundred dollars at most. At the very least, you’ll know that any money you pay to a dog shelter when rescuing a dog will be put to good use, providing facilities for other dogs in need of a good home.

Cost savings of rescuing a dog rather than buying a new puppy don’t just extend to the initial cost of the dog.  When you bring a new puppy into your home, that’s when the bills start coming in. Puppy vaccinations will see you at your vet’s office on a regular basis while your puppy is little, and your new little addition will also need microchipping as soon as possible, and to be spayed or neutered when they reach the right age.

Rescuing a dog from a shelter is a simple way of saving on those initial expenses that come with a new puppy.  Most shelter dogs will be completely up-to-date with their vaccinations and other veterinary needs, and will already be spayed or neutered and microchipped.  All you’ll need to do is update the microchip details once you bring your new rescue dog home, and then continue with their vaccinations in the future.

Skip the Puppy Stage

For some people, the initial adorable puppy stage is one of the biggest drawcards of bringing a new dog into your home.  However, the adorable faces and cute, chubby paws quickly lose their appeal when your puppy cries through the night, has accidents all over the house, and systematically chews their way through all your shoes and furniture.  The cold reality of life with a brand-new puppy may turn some people off the idea of adding a dog to their family altogether.

The ability to skip the puppy stage altogether is, for some people, one of the biggest questions to consider when deciding whether to choose a dog who has been rescued or bred.

When you rescue a dog, you’ll have your choice of dogs of all ages and at all stages of life.  You don’t have to choose a senior dog if you don’t want to, but you could save yourself the woes of life with a brand-new puppy by rescuing a dog between six months and two years of age.  Dogs of this age are most likely already toilet trained, and even if they aren’t, they’re mature and calm enough to pick up the lessons quickly and easily.

Some shelter dogs will have already been partly trained and be able to walk nicely on a leash, making it much easier for you to bond with your new dog.  If you picture cuddles on the couch, long relaxing walks, and a companion who will easily slot into your existing family routine, adopting a slightly older dog from a shelter could be a much better option than starting from scratch with a brand-new puppy.  

Know What You’re Getting

When you purchase a new puppy, there is no real way of knowing exactly what your dog is going to look like when they’re grown or what their temperament is going to be.  While some of these traits are inherited from their parents and are specific to their breed, each dog is an individual and most litters will produce a dog that is shyer and quieter than the others, and another dog that is a natural-born leader.  When you’re choosing a puppy, you’re really rolling the dice as to what type of temperament you’re getting.

Rescuing a dog from a shelter, however, gives you the opportunity to get to know your dog and understand their personality before committing to adopting them.  Most dogs are fully grown well before they’re a year old, so even if you rescue a relatively young dog you’ll still know exactly what size dog you’re getting.

The staff and volunteers at the shelter will be able to give you a good idea of the dog’s temperament, so you’ll know exactly what you’re dealing with and whether you’re equipped to take on any particular issues that the dog may have.  If you’re happy to welcome a shyer or more timid dog into your home, you can work together to build your dog’s confidence.  But that is a decision that you should be able to make in advance, rather than taking a new puppy and being surprised at an unexpected temperament as the puppy matures.  

The Benefits of Mixed Breeds

While it’s certainly possible to adopt a purebred dog from a shelter, the majority of rescue dogs are mixed breeds.  Unfortunately, for various reasons, purebred dogs tend to be more likely to develop health problems throughout their lives whereas mixed breeds tend to be more resilient and less likely to suffer from health problems.  While this is, of course, a generalization and there is no way of predicting the future healthfulness of your dog, you may be able to save yourself some future heartache (and vet bills) by rescuing a mixed breed rather than purchasing a purebred puppy.

Saving Lives and Giving Second Chances

Nothing can beat the feeling that comes with rescuing a dog from a shelter, knowing that you’re giving an innocent dog a much-needed second chance.  When you choose to adopt, not only are you saving the life of the dog you choose, you’re also potentially saving the life of another unknown dog who can take your dog’s place in the shelter.

It is common knowledge that pets can help us with stress and anxiety, but the feelings you’ll have in knowing that you saved an innocent dog’s life by welcoming them into your family will be unlike any other.

And while any dog will show love and affection to their human family members, rescue dogs will bring a sense of deep gratitude to the relationship that you simply won’t get if you purchase a puppy from a breeder.

Just as no two people are the same, no two rescue dogs will ever be the same.  Some rescue dogs need a new home because of behavioral or socialization problems, and these are the shelter dogs that you’re most likely to hear about from friends or on the news.  But the majority of dogs serving time in a shelter are there through no fault of their own – perhaps because their previous owners were not equipped to deal with the ongoing demands of a pet, their owners moved away, or due to a death or other major event.

These dogs deserve a second chance at a happy and fulfilling life. They certainly don’t deserve to spend the rest of their days waiting patiently to be rescued from a dog shelter. You have an amazing opportunity to do something wonderful for you and your family by rescuing a dog who will undoubtedly bring a lot of joy and happiness to your home.

About Our Guest Author

James Woller is a long-time dog enthusiast, and owner of Release the Hounds and Jet Pet Resort, professional dog walking and boarding companies in Vancouver, Canada. On his days off from running his companies, he enjoys learning and writing about topics that are of interest to caring pet owners.

The post 5 Reasons Why Rescuing a Dog is Way Better Than Buying One appeared first on Dog Mom Days.

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Getting ready for an hour road trip is much different than preparing for a long road trip with your dog. When I say “long” road trip, I mean 6+ hours. In this post I share the ways I ready myself and Wynston for such adventures, and many of these tips can be used for any road trip, despite length. I go through a process to make sure that Wynston and I are prepared for extensive road trips, especially when I know we’ll be in the car for almost 12 hours. I hope this post is helpful for you. Safe and happy travels!

How to Prepare for a Long Road Trip With Your Dog

Make a Checklist in Advance

It’s so important to make a checklist of items you’ll need for your travels. Your list should contain necessities that you’ll need for the car ride itself, and things you will need at your destination. I highly suggest creating the list several days in advance. Sometimes you need a few days to really think about everything you will need. I like making my list at least four days before we leave so I don’t have the chance to forget anything. I have a checklist below to get you started:

Get Your Car Ready

Safety on the road should always be priority. I like to make sure my car is in tip top shape before I head out on any road trip, no matter the length. Things you’ll want to check are tire pressure and oil levels. When’s the last time you had an oil change or filled your tires? These are items you’ll want to consider before hitting the road. It’s also nice to get a car wash before leaving so you can be nice and comfortable in your ride. If you have a spare tire in your car, make sure it’s ready to go in case of an emergency. You will also want to have your insurance info and roadside assistance information available.

Get Your Pooch Ready

Obviously your dog needs to be healthy and in good condition to travel before you take a trip. I like to get Wynston’s nails trimmed and give him a bath before we travel. I also pack vaccination or health records when we go anywhere, just to be safe. Plus, you never know when you’ll need that info. (Remember when Wynston broke his foot when we were on a trip? Yikes).

  • Nail trim
  • Bath (we always use 4-Legger shampoo)
  • Gather vaccination records.
  • Create a list of emergency vets nearby your destination.
  • Remember to pack your dog’s medication, if any.
  • If you aren’t sure if your dog is healthy enough to travel, seek veterinary advice.

Map Out Your Route

I have a thing for paper maps. Growing up, my family used to go on road trips a lot, and my dad taught my sister and I how to read a map at an early age. When Wynston and I travel, I map out our route ahead of time. I check it out a few times on Google maps, then I review it on a paper map. I look into alternate routes just in case, then I take notes as necessary. I want to be absolutely sure I know where I’m going, assuming I have a specific destination in mind.

Check the Forecast

I’m obsessed with checking the weather forecast. This is something my parents also taught me to do at a young age since we traveled a lot. Check the forecast, and often. You want to be prepared for any type of change in the weather. I always bring an umbrella with me wherever I go, and I want to be all set with proper clothing for myself and Wynston. If you can expect rain on your drive, be sure you have working windshield wipers on your vehicle.

Create a Music Playlist

I’ll tell ya what – 13 hours in the car is a long time. You will want to create a fantastic playlist or two for your road trip. If your dog gets nervous in the car consider making a classical music playlist to help keep them calm (although I don’t suggest a long road trip with an overly anxious dog, unless it’s necessary). Another idea is to pick up a few audio books. They can help pass the time quickly.

Plan to Pack Snacks

I always pack snacks and plenty of water when Wynston and I travel. I bring dog-friendly snacks that I can share with Wynston. I also make sure what I bring isn’t too messy. Bring plenty of water for yourself and your dog as well as any other delicious drinks you enjoy.

Know Your Dog’s Limits

If your dog is not accustomed to riding in the car, I would not recommend driving 6+ hours with them without some practice. Be sure that your pup doesn’t get car sick or super stressed out in the car. A sick, anxious dog on a road trip is no fun for anyone. Here are some tips on how to help your anxious dog.

I stop every 2-3 hours with Wynston on road trips so we can stretch our legs and he can go potty. I can always tell when he needs a break from the car, so I stop accordingly. It’s important to know your dog and their limits.

If you’re driving alone with your dog (which is what I most often do), refer to this helpful post on how to survive a solo road trip with your dog. It includes tips on taking restroom breaks and such.

What is the longest road trip you’ve ever been on with your dog? How do you prepare for it?

Check out other travel related posts here.

The post How to Prepare for a Long Road Trip With Your Dog appeared first on Dog Mom Days.

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Lake Havasu City is the first place I’ve ever visited with Wynston where I was overwhelmed by the possibilities. I knew the city was a popular destination for water sports and vacation, but it’s really so much more. Lake Havasu City is a fun place for people of all ages and interests. Whether you want to visit a dog-friendly bar, take a boat excursion or do some seaside shopping, the area has something for you. Our trip to Lake Havasu did not disappoint, and we ended up doing much more than anticipated. In this post not only do I share our experiences, but I also share reviews from all the places we visited. I also have a couple of fun side stories to share. I hope you enjoy our recap!

Lake Havasu City, AZ

Lake Havasu City, AZ has been a popular tourist destination since the inclusion of the London Bridge back in the late 1970s. A community built around innovation and possibility, Lake Havasu City is home to over 60 miles of navigable waterways. The city is host to over 300 events annually, and there’s always a trail, beach or hidden cove that you can discover. Whether you prefer a luxury yacht, kayak or fishing boat, Lake Havasu is an incredible place for you to be.

Lake Havasu is known for it’s clear blue water. Havasu means “blue-green water.”

My stepdad visited Lake Havasu in late January, and that inspired my visit. In the 20 years I’ve lived in AZ, I had never been to the area, despite hearing amazing things about the lake and city. So, me being me, I booked Wynston and I a trip! A HUGE thanks to 4Knines for being our travel sponsor!

Unknowingly, I booked our trip during Arizona’s Spring Break. Luckily the area didn’t seem to be overpopulated or swamped with drunk college students. It was a lot less crazy than I expected it to be, quite honestly. The only time I got that “Oh yeah, it’s Spring break” feeling was during the drive to Lake Havasu. The traffic was frustrating and it slowed us down.

On that note, a funny side story:

I was taking some photos of Wynston next to the London Bridge when an older couple walked up to me. The lady asked, “Would you like me to take a picture of you and your dog?” “Yes, please! That would be very kind of you,” I replied. I picked up Wynston and we posed for the photo below:

Then, the husband asked, “Where do you go to school?”

Confused, I replied with, “I’m sorry?”

“Aren’t you here on Spring break?” he asked. I chuckled. My young looks got me again.

“Oh my goodness, no. I graduated college 8 years ago! I’m almost 31.”

“Oh wow, good for you! You look so young! I’m sorry!”

“I take it as a compliment. Thank you for taking our photo!” We exchanged goodbyes and we were on our way.

Now, let me back track a bit, and start with the night we arrived.

Our Arrival in Lake Havasu City

We arrived in Lake Havasu City around 3:30pm. We had no trouble finding our hotel, which was a Travelodge by Wyndham. I booked the Travelodge because it was close to the London Bridge Visitor’s Center, and that’s what I paid for. Prices were higher than usual because it was Spring Break. I spent $100/night, and let me tell you – it wasn’t worth it. Here’s my overall score out of 5 paws for this hotel:

That’s right – 2/5 paws. Everything about the hotel was mediocre at best. Maybe it’s because we’re used to staying in nice IHG hotels, like Staybridge Suites and Kimpton Resorts. But this stay was absolutely not worth $100 a night.

The employees were mostly friendly, but it wasn’t extraordinary service like we normally receive at other places. (Perhaps my expectations are too high?) Here’s why I gave the Lake Havasu City Travelodge 2 paws:

Breakfast: They say breakfast is included, but it’s not a real breakfast. If you’re lucky you may get a bagel and some cereal. Wynston and I were kicked out of the breakfast area because he’s not a service dog. It was ridiculous because it’s not a restaurant. It’s barely an alcove off the lobby of the hotel. You’ll need to get a hearty breakfast somewhere else.

Internet: Internet was fast enough, but every single time I opened my laptop or got back to my room, I’d have to reconnect to the internet.

Rooms: The beds were cozy but the blankets were super thin. I had to ask for an extra blanket. Two lamps in my room were broken, and the beds were too high for Wynston to jump on.

Outside area: If your dog likes to potty in grass, don’t stay here. The only place for your dog to do their business is in the rocks. There is no designated pet area.

If you just need a place to sleep (which we did) this hotel is fine, but I would not spend $100/night again. It’s maybe worth $75/night, and that’s being generous. If you’re visiting the area, I’d recommend the Holiday Inn Express, which literally sits on the London Bridge at the Visitor’s Center.

That Dane Bar

The highlight of our Wednesday was visiting That Dane Bar. We met Jackie from Go Lake Havasu there to enjoy a beer and talk about the wonderful city and everything it has to offer. That Dane Bar is an indoor dog-friendly bar in Lake Havasu. How cool is that?! Whether you have a dog or not, you can enjoy beer and wine while socializing with doggy locals. Your dogs can hang out with their pals, while you drink with yours! And if you don’t have a dog but need your furry friend fix, you can head to That Dane Bar to get it.

That Dane Bar receives 5/5 paws from us! It’s a super fun atmosphere, the owner is kind and welcoming, and Barktender, Rogue, is very handsome. At the bar you can play billiards and corn hole, watch the big game or just chat with your buddies. I think the concept of an indoor dog park and bar is brilliant, especially for hot summer months. That Dane Bar is a must-visit if you’re in Lake Havasu.

Angelina’s Italian Restaurant

After we left That Dane Bar, I was super hungry. Luckily there was an award-winning Italian restaurant literally 100ft away from our hotel. I walked over there with Wynston to order take out. The restaurant atmosphere looks like a lot of fun, and I’d love to eat there. Since I had Wynston, we had to take our food back to the room. I ordered cheese ravioli and a salad. We also got a side of rosemary bread, which was absolutely delicious. The service was great and the food was better. I would highly recommend this restaurant! They do have a dog-friendly patio, but it was closed because of the wind. 5/5 paws from us!

Makai Cafe

The next morning, Wynston and I drove to the London Bridge so we could seek out Makai Cafe. We were told that this great breakfast spot had amazing views and delicious food. Although it was windy, we sat outside and were not disappointed by the views.

The menu at Makai Cafe has plenty of options. I ordered coffee with a basic breakfast; Makai’s specialty potatoes with eggs over hard, toast and bacon for my boy. Everything was delightful except my eggs. They were definitely not cooked over hard. I let the waitress know, and she offered to switch them out, but I didn’t want to waste anymore food. Unfortunately I was charged for the full meal, even though my eggs weren’t thoroughly cooked. That’s why I gave Makai Cafe 4/5 paws.

The views and patio atmosphere make Makai Cafe worth visiting. It’s so peaceful and relaxing, and you have an incredible view of the London Bridge, which is literally right next to the restaurant. I would visit again to give them another chance.

The London Bridge & Visitor’s Center

After breakfast, Wynston and I took some more photos by the London Bridge on the Makai Cafe side. We headed to the Visitor’s Center area after we scouted out the shore below Makai Cafe.

Although we could have walked over the bridge to the Visitor’s Center, we drove. There seemed to be plenty of parking – and there was! The bridge is only about 1/4 mile long, so it is an easy walk if that’s what you prefer.

I absolutely LOVED the London Bridge Visitor’s Center area. It’s like a boardwalk of shopping, local eats and boat rentals. I’m not one for shopping but I went in all the stores because it’s all local merchandise, brands or water related items. I bought some beachy flip flops, which I’m pretty stoked about. It was a blast to go in the small shops. I felt like I was at a beach side village…because I kinda was!

After we did our shopping, we took some more photos by the London Bridge. One of my bucket list items was to take a photo of Wynston in one of the red phone booths, and we did! Wynston is super tiny but I like how the photo turned out!

I really took my time taking photos of Wynston and enjoying the shopping area. There was music playing, happy people and plenty of dogs. I just felt so happy. The weather was nice and Wynston seemed to be having a good time.

Another item on our to-do list was to go kayaking in Lake Havasu. Unfortunately this couldn’t happen because it was WAY too windy. To give you an idea of how windy it truly was, there were high wind advisories the entire time we were in town. There’s no way we could have had a relaxing time kayaking under those conditions. And it wouldn’t have been safe.

Instead, I went up to one of the boat rental and tour areas, and asked if they had any tours that allowed dogs. They didn’t, but the lady recommended taking a ferry ride. The ferry takes you to the California side of Lake Havasu, and it’s only $2 to ride round trip! The ferry was about to leave at the top of the hour, so we purchased our ticket and were on board within 5 minutes.

We sat on the top of the ferry so we could enjoy the breeze and the sun. There were only a few other people up there with us, as most people sat inside downstairs. We enjoyed spectacular views on the ride, and it was really cool to be in California after a 20 minute ride across the lake! You can choose to get off the ferry, where you can eat at a restaurant or go to the casino, or you can just stay aboard for a round trip. We chose to relax for a round trip ride.

When Wynston and I arrived back at the London Bridge after the ferry ride, we did a little bit more shopping. We also checked out the entrance of the Visitor’s Center, which is very grand and unique. You will definitely want to see it for some good photo opportunities.

Wynston and I spent several hours down by the London Bridge. I knew Wynston was tired, so we went back to the hotel for a few hours so he could take his afternoon nap. I took a shower and did some social media posting while Wynston slept. It was a great time to regain our strength.

It was suggested that Wynston and I visit The Nautical Resort for dinner to eat at The Turtle Grille. Little did I know, we’d have an amazing experience there.

The Nautical Resort & Turtle Grille

Most restaurants in Lake Havasu City have a dog-friendly patio, and The Turtle Grille at The Nautical Resort was no exception. The Nautical is out of the way of the main London Bridge area, so there’s a sense of seclusion. It creates a feeling of peacefulness because from the restaurant all you can see is mountains and lake.

Wynston and I walked in the restaurant and I asked if there was patio seating available for us. The hostesses looked at each other and told me the patio was closed because of the wind. I was extremely disappointed. I stood there for a second, looking down at Wynston.

“Okay, yeah, I understand,” I said.

The hostess looked at me. “You know what?” she asked. “Let’s get you a table for two inside.”

I was shocked. “You can do that?” I asked, with a hint of hope.

She winked at Wynston. “Yes, we can do that.”

The kind woman brought us to a table by a window overlooking the patio. The views were exquisite and I was feeling so grateful. I almost wanted to cry because I was so appreciative of the hostess being accommodating. Needless to say, our dinner was fantastic.

I got Wynston comfortable on his blanket, and he just sat next to me, quiet as can be like a real gentleman. I ordered a margarita and steak dinner for Wynston and I to share. I figured I could spend a little extra money on a fancy meal since Wynston and I were lucky enough to get a table inside.

Wynston received nothing but praise and smiles during our dinner at The Turtle Grille. I kept being told how good of a boy he was. He was very much welcomed. Wyn and I devoured our delicious steak dinner and I left a nice tip for the waiter. I also spoke to the hostess after dinner to thank her again for being so kind. We also had a couple of waiters thank Wynston for being on his best behavior. I’m such a proud mom.

The Turtle Grille gets 5/5 paws from us. Not only because we were accommodated, but also because the service was top notch and so was the food. We will be back!

After dinner, we headed back to our hotel for an early evening. Wynston was still tired, and we had to leave the next day. So we relaxed and I worked a bit.

Heading Home

The next morning we had some interesting encounters. You can hear about them on this

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Stop asking me how old my dog is.

Stop asking me how old my dog is because our perceptions may be different. What’s “old” to you may not be the same for me.

Stop asking me how old my dog is because honestly, as he gets older, I don’t want to think about it.

Stop Asking Me How Old My Dog Is

I’ve sat in tears before, thinking about the fact that Wynston is going on 8 years old this year. For a Great Dane, 8 years old means they are one foot out the door. For a Chihuahua, it means he’d middle-aged, and could have another decade of life left.

So stop asking me hold old my dog is.

Chihuahuas can live up to 20 years of age. The smaller the breed, the longer they live (typically). But Wynston’s at that age where strangers give me the whole “awwwwww” or “oh, he’s an older guy!” No, he’s not. According to YOUR standards or YOUR experience he may seem old. But he’s not. He’s ONLY 8.

Stop asking strangers how old their dogs are if you suspect they are over a few years of age. Recently I saw a beautiful Great Dane when Wynston and I were eating breakfast. (This Dane was clearly not a youngin). A lady asked the dog’s dad, “How old is he?” He replied with, “He’s 7.” The lady’s face immediately changed. It was almost a look of sadness, as if she figured that dog was on his death bed. “Awwwww,” she whispered, as the owner took the dog and turned around. My heart sank for him.

Okay, it can be a conversation starter. I get it. We even ask human parents the same question about their baby, “How old is he/she?” It’s ingrained into our heads. But honestly, it can be a hurtful question. Dog parents don’t want to be reminded that our animals are getting older, no matter how old they currently are. We’re fully aware that they won’t be around forever.

When you ask me how old Wynston is, I become very mindful. I reflect back on the last 7.5 years. I think about all of the amazing things we’ve done. And for a second, I get sad. Yes, he’s getting older. But don’t freaking remind me. We have a lot of life plans left to live out.

So let’s brainstorm. What are some other conversation starters that we can use when talking to someone new about their dog? Here’s a list of ideas (and give me some in the comments that I can add to the list):

General Questions

“Tell me more about him/her!”

“What is their name, and how did you choose it?”

“Does he/she have a favorite toy or game?”

“What sort of activities does your dog like to do?”

“What is their adoption/rescue story?”

“Do you two have plans for the weekend?”

Weather or Outdoor Related

“Does he/she like this kind of weather?”

“What fun outdoor things do you do together?”

“Do you have any favorite outdoor spots you enjoy visiting?”

“Have you visited XYZ dog-friendly place?”

Now, if someone clearly has a small puppy, bringing up age isn’t a big deal. People get excited that they have young puppies. But if it’s an adult, and you aren’t sure, please don’t ask. It can bring up really difficult feelings and emotions.

I know harm is not meant when someone asks how old Wynston is. It’s just a basic, simple question that we’ve learned to ask people, whether we have a human kid or fur kid. But it’s kinda like the question, “What do you do for a living?” Who freaking cares?! I’ve started asking people, “What do you do for fun?” Work with me to start asking questions that perpetuate love, happiness and a sense of joy.

I task you with this: next time you meet someone new with a dog, be mindful. Don’t ask them how old their dog is. Simply ask them the dog’s name or ask them to tell you more about their furry friend. It’s time to start a more joyous conversation.

What are some other conversation starters we can add to the list?

The post Stop Asking Me How Old My Dog Is… appeared first on Dog Mom Days.

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I first learned about the BARK Ranger program from our friends at Go Pet Friendly. I immediately became interested because Arizona has three national parks that participate in the program, and we have a lot of upcoming travel plans. I thought the BARK Ranger program would be a great way to get to know different national parks while being an important part of the experience. Wynston was first sworn in as a BARK Ranger at Montezuma Castle National Monument, and we want to share more about what that means, along with photos from our trip!

Become a BARK Ranger

The BARK Ranger program was created by the National Park Service to spread awareness about the importance of being a responsible pet parent when visiting national parks throughout the US. I think that we can all agree that the preservation of national parks is absolutely imperative in order to help plant and animal life thrive in their natural environments. We are lucky that we can take our dogs along on visits to many national parks, but while we’re there we need to set a good example for others. I definitely don’t want to lose privileges as a dog mom, so the goal is to showcase that pet parents are responsible when visiting national monuments and parks.

The following national parks offer the BARK Ranger program:

So how does your dog get sworn in as a BARK Ranger? It’s easy! Here was the process we went through at Montezuma Castle National Monument:

  1. Upon arrival, we went straight into the visitor’s center.
  2. There were two park rangers at the front desk and I told them I wanted to inquire as to the BARK Ranger program.
  3. The ranger pulled out a brochure and a small certificate. She filled it out with our names.
  4. Then the ranger read the oath to Wynston and I, and we agreed to the terms.
  5. Wynston was then an official BARK Ranger!
  6. We purchased a BARK Ranger collar tag for a separate cost of $5. You don’t need the tag, but why wouldn’t you want one?! They differ from park to park, so they also make a fun collectible.

Montezuma Castle National Monument

Montezuma Castle is located in Camp Verde, AZ. It was about a two hour drive for us, and a beautiful one at that. I visited the monument when I was about 12 years old, but I hardly remember the visit and I did not appreciate it then. Now, however, I was super interested in the history and taking my son there to enjoy the experience with me.

The Montezuma Castle dates back more than 800 years!! It’s been uninhibited for about 600 years. To me, it’s unbelievable to gaze upon a structure that was built and still standing nearly 1,000 years later. It’s hard to fully appreciate the fact that it’s been maintained after all of these years.

The “castle” was really just a sort of apartment building. It housed probably 40-50 rooms, which were home to some of the most prominent people at that time. But…how did people get up there? It’s really all speculation, but the most common theory is that a series of ladders were used to climb to the castle. Pretty fascinating, eh?! It never ceases to amaze me that such historical places still exist, and in pristine condition, all these years later.

Montezuma Well

To be honest, my favorite part of our day trip was to Montezuma Well, which is just six miles up the road from the castle. There are ancient cliff dwellings perched along the waterside, but the most beautiful part is simply the serenity of it all. Montezuma Well is an absolutely tranquil place. Wynston and I walked on a narrow path down to the creek side, and just sat there for a bit to enjoy the sound of rushing water. It felt like we had escaped to a different time period. Wynston thoroughly enjoyed it. He could feel the energy and peace. You won’t want to visit Montezuma Castle National Monument without visiting the well. It’s a must-see!

I highly recommend visiting at least one national park with your dog so they can become a BARK Ranger. It’s such a neat program that promotes education and responsible pet ownership. We plan to visit all three of the listed Arizona national parks this year.

While our visit to Montezuma Castle National Monument was fun, I suggest stopping to visit on your way to Flagstaff, or if you’re traveling elsewhere. There’s not much to do in the area, and the historical sites don’t require much time to fully visit.

Is your dog a BARK Ranger? Which park from the list would you like to visit?

The post The BARK Ranger Program & Our Visit to Montezuma Castle appeared first on Dog Mom Days.

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People often ask me how Wynston has become so confident and well-behaved. I even hear comments from strangers such as, “Wow! Look at him pose for the picture with all these distractions! How do you keep him so focused?” It all comes down to confidence. Wynston went from being a fearful, emaciated puppy to a brave, courageous boy. But how has he come so far? Wynston is so confident that he can fly on an airplane without anxiety, explore new trails without fear and sit in a loud expo hall without freaking out. I’m going to share nine ways to build your dog’s confidence based on our experience and success.

9 Ways to Build Your Dog’s Confidence

Confidence isn’t built over night, for humans or dogs. Building confidence is a constant, daily process. It’s almost like building a muscle – you have to work at it every single day. And just like humans, dogs have off days too, no matter how confident they are. Let’s look at how you can work to build your dog’s confidence.

Daily training.

Yes, that’s correct – daily training. Let me rephrase; you need to work on training with your dog every. single. day. Don’t let the thought overwhelm you. I’m not talking about hour training sessions. Daily training sessions can literally be 2-5 minutes. Dogs don’t have the capacity to focus and learn for long periods of time like humans. They need short, sweet, rewarding sessions.

I’ve been working on basic training skills with Wynston everyday for the last six years. For the most part we stick to the basics – sit, stay, down, etc. Basic obedience training is the basis for building your dog’s confidence. (This is also how I’ve taught him to stay so patiently for photos. A dog can’t be a model without an amazing sit-stay command).

Positive reinforcement.

Always use positive reinforcement when training your dog. I never, ever condone the use of “tools” such as e-collars or prong collars. Even though Wynston is far beyond basic commands, I still treat him during our training sessions. Your dog is never “too smart” or “too trained” to get a treat for sitting and staying. If your dog isn’t food motivated, use praise and their favorite toy. You can also try using high value treats such as chicken, cheese or delicious meats. They may keep your dog’s focus better than regular dog treats.

Socialization.

It’s important to socialize your dog as much as possible as young as possible. A dog is never too old to be socialized properly, but it’s beneficial if you can start them as a puppy. Socialization doesn’t necessarily mean letting your dog loose at the dog park (that can actually be detrimental). Some healthy, safe ways you can socialize your dog are:

  • Take them to play dates with dogs that you know are well-behaved and trustworthy.
  • Join a meetup group for other dog parents.
  • Take them walking at public parks.
  • Enroll in a training class that uses positive reinforcement methods.

When your dog is playing nicely and being brave, reward them for displaying positive behavior. Even though Wynston is 7 years old, I still treat him for being a good boy around his friends and cousins.

Try a dog sport.

Wynston and I started agility in spring 2014. We met some of our greatest friends through agility classes, and the sport allowed us to bond and build confidence as a team. When I think back, I realize that we began training in agility at the most perfect time. Wynston was just starting to come into himself as an adult dog and he needed a push to become more confident. Agility trained us both how to work together in a positive manner. It also helped Wynston with socialization. Overall, the experience was one massive confidence booster for both of us.

Train outside the house.

Every time I take Wynston somewhere, whether it’s to the park, on vacation or to a pet event, I use it as a training session. I always have a pocket full of treats to use as positive reinforcement. We practice our basic commands in areas with commotion in order to work on focusing in times of distraction. People often wonder how Wynston will sit for a photo and look at the camera with so much going on around him – it’s because we constantly train outside the home.

Spend one-on-one time with your dog.

Part of the reason I believe Wynston is so confident is because of the bond we have. Spending one-on-one time with your dog helps the two of you build trust and communication. So put down your phone and spend 15 minutes just sitting on the floor with your dog or playing a game of fetch. Give them attention with no distraction. The stronger your bond becomes, the more confident your pup will end up being. It sounds too simple, but it works.

Take them to dog-friendly stores and restaurants.

When you take Fido to a dog-friendly store or restaurant, they are getting exposed to lots of new sights, smells and sounds. Training your dog in these sorts of environments is imperative for your success. I believe that Wynston has gained much of his confidence this way. I take him everywhere with me. We started by going on rides to the drive-thru, then graduated up to stores, then restaurants, and now traveling around the country. Start small and treat often!

Never scold your dog.

This may seem like a “duh” statement, but you’d be surprised how many pet parents think it’s okay to physically scold their dogs. The only thing you are accomplishing by physically punishing your dog is adding to their lack of confidence. When you inflict pain, your dog will learn fear and distrust. Never, ever, ever, do that to your dog. Ever.

Rinse and repeat.

Building your dog’s confidence is all about repeating and rewarding positive behavior over and over and over again. Just because I took Wynston to a store one time doesn’t mean that’s where our training stops. I’ve been training with Wynston every single day for six years, and that’s why he’s so incredibly confident. Every step you take toward making your dog more confident needs to be repeated and rewarded. Trust me – your efforts will pay off.

Wynston is a PetSmart model. He didn’t make it there being a fearful dog. Believe me when I say that your dog’s confidence is important!

A confident dog is a happy dog, and happy dogs live longer! Well, I don’t know if that’s true, but we’ll go with it.

Is your dog confident or are you working to build confidence? What areas are you struggling with?

The post 9 Ways to Build Your Dog’s Confidence appeared first on Dog Mom Days.

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