Dog Days of Summer: Ocean City, MD

Nugget and I have had a lot of fun taking mini road trips to the beach together. I am lucky enough to have a family home to stay in right outside of Ocean City, so bringing my pup along for vacation is easy. I have been able to find some really fun, dog-friendly spots to hang out if you are vacationing on the eastern shore.

1) Assateague Island: Unfortunately, dogs are not allowed on the Ocean City beach or boardwalk during the summer season. Thank God for Assateague Island! Dogs are welcome here which makes beach days a lot more fun. There is an entrance fee, but I always just get an annual pass for $40. It’s well worth it. Nugget and I have spent many summer days enjoying the various activities the island has to offer. If it’s a particularly hot day, I like to throw on Nugget’s life jacket and take him to the bay side of the island to swim. The bay is perfect for us because the water is very calm and shallow, but still a perfect place to cool off on a hot day. We swim together, and Nugget chases his tennis ball in the water. The area is also equipped with grills, bathrooms, and kayak/SUP rentals. Additionally, the beach area is lined with trees which many people use to hang hammocks on.  

There are also various short hiking trails throughout the island. This is a great opportunity to do some sightseeing and let Nugget expel some energy. Nugget and I have been hiking, running, and biking together on the island and we always come back tired and content.  

2) Ayer’s Creek: I’m a huge fan of kayaking, and I frequented Ayer’s Creek even before I had Nugget. They have very affordable kayak and SUP rentals, and dogs are welcome! I took Nugget along on our most recent excursion, and it was a blast. Nugget took a bit to get adjusted to the kayak, but he did great. I can’t wait to try it again.

3) Burley Oak Brewing Company: Beer and dogs are two of my favorite things so obviously Burley Oak made my list. Burley Oak is located in Berlin, and you can enjoy some unique craft beers with your dog by your side. I usually take my dog in the early afternoon because the building is small and can get crowded later in the evening. It’s my go-to spot if we are stuck inside because of a rainy beach day. 

4) Berlin in general is a great place to take your dog when they have events. There are often events on the weekends that take place right on the main street, and some stores even put water and dog treats on the sidewalk for the dogs to enjoy. Berlin also has Stephen Decatur Park which has a track to run on, tennis courts, pavilion, grills, and a playground. Nugget and I often go there to run or relax. 

5) Although dogs are not allowed on the boardwalk during the summer, there technically is an area they are allowed. At the very beginning of the boardwalk on the inlet side is the Inlet Village which is a paved area with stores and restaurants. There is a pretty large dog boutique in there that has dog and beach themed treats, accessories, and souvenirs. It’s really awesome, and they have a lot of unique things. I really liked that they had a large variety of breed-oriented accessories. I can never find anything that is for Puggles, and this store has a lot! Additionally, there is a little restaurant that overlooks the water called the Frog Bar. It has cheap, good food, and you can bring your dog to sit on the deck. 

Unfortunately, I have been unable to find any quality places to put Nugget in daycare in the Ocean City area. I have tried a couple of dog facilities in the area when I wanted to let Nugget play while I had visitors in town, and they were very unprofessional and careless with the care of my dog. I would only use them in a real pinch in the future. 
Thankfully, Nugget and I have overall had great experiences on the eastern shore. Are there any other places you can add to the list?  


Nugget, CGC

Nugget and I arrived to take our CGC test on June 5th. I was very nervous, but excited to get it over with! It was more challenging than expected due to unforeseen obstacles. 

Right when we were about to start the test, a little child walked by squeezing a squeaky toy that sounded like a duck. Nugget had never heard that noise before and obviously became distracted and eager to find the toy. Luckily, this was before the test began so I was able to give him a moment to calm down and redirect him.  

Later in the test, we turned a corner and there was dog food spilled all over the floor! It was a major distraction, but the trainer quickly led us over the area into a clearing for us to continue our testing. 

Overall, Nugget did great, and he passed his test. Nugget now is officially “Nugget, CGC”. I am very proud of him and cannot wait to frame his certificate.

Training Updates

It has been about a month since I have updated! I apologize, but Nugget and I have been very busy (in a good way). 

Nugget and I completed our Reactive Rover training with flying colors. In our last class, he walked right with the trainer dog but consistently looked back to me for direction. Additionally, he was exposed to all different types of dogs throughout the training. After the class was over, the trainer even asked us if we would like to volunteer as a helper dog in future classes. How exciting!

We had our last Canine Good Citizen training on Monday, so we are ready to take the test on June 5th! The last couple of classes we have practiced each step of the CGC, and Nugget is doing so well. He is listening quickly and consistently without the need for treats. Not only is he completing the test steps in training, but he is also using what he has learned in everyday situations! It has been really amazing to see him mature. I have taken him to a couple crowded events recently. First, we went to a Farmer’s Market that was filled with people and dogs. Nugget calmly walked by my side and through the crowds. He also politely greeted both people and dogs. He only became excited when interacting with one bouncy dog who was ready to play. Last weekend, I took him on a walk through town during a car show. He adjusted quickly to loud noises and a lot of people. Several people stopped to pet him, and he even sat patiently by my side while a man got a cup of water for him. We are so ready for the test!

Nugget and Maggie at the Farmer’s Market

Nugget and I started a new basic training class on Tuesday. Although Nugget and I have been in training for months, all of our training has pretty much been one-on-one with a trainer. I wanted him to practice his skills in the presence of other dogs so he could learn to more intently focus on me with distractions around. The class we are taking uses “clicker training”, which I have not experienced before. After our first class, I can say I think the clicker is very effective. In our first class we practiced sitting in front of me and by my left side, responding to his name, touch, and loose leash walking. Loose leash walking takes a lot of training and time, and Nugget seems to finally be understanding the concept. I was very impressed with the progress he made in class. 

I can loose-leash walk!

Lastly, Nugget is involved in Day-N-Train at his daycare on Fridays. Basically, he gets a break from playtime to have one hour of training with his trainer. At the end of the day, his trainer sends me pictures and an in-depth report card of everything they worked on. It’s really cool, and I think it is beneficial for him to practice in a highly exciting environment. 

Nugget loves Day-n-Train!

Practicing “leave it”


In a few weeks, Nugget will start a Therapy Training class where he will specifically work on skills needed to pass a therapy dog test. We are getting closer to our goal, and the July therapy dog test is quickly approaching! I cannot wait to start this class and incorporate real-life scenarios into our training. 

Yes, we are training crazy right now, but we both enjoy it a lot! I even had a meeting with the local courthouse, and they are very interested in having Nugget (and several other dogs) available to comfort victims during emotional trials.  

We will have a lot of training to finish, but I am thrilled to think about our future endeavors. 

The Wonderful World of Dog Accessories 

One of the really fun parts about owning a small, cute dog is the accessories you can buy! Although I think a lot of the accessories are really cute, they also serve a purpose in bettering my dogs quality of life.  

1) Winter Coats. Thankfully, we had a very mild winter. However, when we had some days below twenty degrees, Nugget was not happy. After a brief walk outside, he would start whining and shivering. I invested in several warm coats for him that seem to help a lot! They have a fleecy lining inside and a waterproof exterior that is good for snowy and rainy weather. 

2) Winter Boots. When Nugget had to endure icy or snowy weather, he would not last long before he was jumping up for me to hold him. His little paws started to hurt on the freezing, wet ground. I invested in a pair of boots that only cost about $10. They are easy to slip on and Velcro into place, and they have little pads on the bottom to keep him from slipping. It was definitely a smart purchase for us and allowed Nugget to happily play in the snow.

3) Dog Hat. Okay, this one is more for my amusement, but I did purchase a little winter hat for Nugget. It slips on his head with elastic under his chin and even has openings for his ears to poke through. I usually do not keep it on him long because he tends to take it off himself, but it is very cute!

4) Doggles. Dog goggles. Nugget loves to stick his head out of the car window for the entire car ride. It’s adorable, and he is always so excited to be in the car. However, I always worry about his little bulging eyes getting injured from flying debris. I purchased a pair of dog goggles on Amazon! They easily fit on his head and protect him from any debris. They also provide UV protection. 

5) Bandana. This is an accessory that is solely for fashion purposes, but it has been fun to try out different bandanas. I have even created a couple of my own bandanas for Nugget to model! I plan on making more in the future. Let me know if you want to try one out!

6) Pajamas. Okay, this is definitely not Nugget’s favorite thing in the world, but the five minutes of fun we have together in pajamas are totally worth it. Local Baltimore store, Dogma, carries a lot of various dog outfits including all sorts of pajamas. It is so much fun to look through their selection!

7) Shirts/Sweaters. Shirts and sweaters are an easy way to make a fun statement with your dog. So many shirts have cute sayings or pictures on them! Additionally, my mother knitted a sweater for Nugget that buttons underneath him. It’s very easy to put on and it’s lighter than a winter coat.

These are some of the accessories that I have tried so far. Have you tried any of these with your dogs? Have you tried anything different that was helpful? 

A Chance Encounter

As we round the bend on the path, we come across a small, shaggy brown dog bounding toward us off his leash. Nugget braces himself with excitement, and suddenly I find myself struggling to hold him in place as he fights to free himself from the leash. “Sammy, come!”, the brown dog’s owner orders. Amazed, I watch as the dog immediately stops in his tracks and turns away from the temptation of playing with Nugget. As Sammy trots back toward his owner, Nugget settles into the grass by my side. Nugget and I both momentarily take a break from our walk to watch Sammy interact with his owner. I have never seen a dog so in tune with his owner, and I begin to feel frustrated with my training progress with Nugget as I watch the two play with each other. The owner throws the ball in the grass, and Sammy gleefully runs off leash to grab it and return to his owner’s side immediately. No matter how many dogs pass by and bark at Sammy, he consistently looks to his owner for his next cue. “This is the kind of relationship I want to have with my dog”, I thought. As the two pass by us, Nugget quietly watches his new friend fade off into the distance while I start brainstorming how to train my dog to be like Sammy. 

We continue our walk and are approached by a small, black dog. I decide to put Nugget in a down stay until they pass for him to practice being polite. Nugget and I watch as the little black dog begins to pull, jump, and bark at the sight of my puggle lying in the grass. The owner hurriedly pulls her dog past us and scolds him for his misbehavior. Nugget and I lock eyes, and in that moment I realize I should never compare our training journey with anyone else’s. I need to focus on how far we have come as a team and appreciate how much my dog loves me no matter what. We still have a lot of training to complete, but I am so proud of the dog Nugget has become so far. As I put Nugget back in the car to head home, he gives me a big lick on the face. “I love you too, Nugget”, I say. We could really learn a thing or two about unconditional love and acceptance from our pets. 

Spring in Baltimore

Now that the weather is beautiful, Nugget and I have been trying to find some good springtime activities to do together. I have been doing research about dog friendly activities in the Baltimore area. Some of these places I have visited, and the rest I plan on visiting this spring! Let me know if you have any other great ideas. 

1) Have a picnic on Federal Hill. Sit on top of Federal Hill for a great view of the city with your pup! I have been to Federal Hill many times for different activities including sledding and strolling. For a relaxing, cheap afternoon you can pack some food from home and take in the view with your best friend.

Our view from Federal Hill

2) Smell the flowers at Cylburn Arboretum. This is a beautiful city park with tons of walking trails and gardens to explore. It’s very dog friendly, and they even have dog posts with doggie poo bags provided. This is a great place to have a picnic, hike, or view some beautiful spring flowers.

Nugget smiling for the camera

3) Relax on the patio of Belvedere Square. Sip on some wine or eat some delicious food on the patio! This an indoor marketplace with a lot of different delicious options. You can have a sandwich, ramen, smoothie, or dessert in addition to so much more! If you’re looking for some drinks, there are plenty of options including wine, sake, and beer. With ample outdoor seating, this is an awesome place to chill with your dog on a warm spring evening. 

Enjoying a glass of wine at Belvedere Square

Patio at Belvedere Square

4) Bengie’s Drive-In Theatre. We have not done this one yet, but I definitely want to enjoy a drive-in movie with my pup. Make sure to follow the rules listed on the website to keep the experience enjoyable for everyone there.

5) Take a boat ride with Cruises on the Bay. Departing from both Baltimore and Annapolis, Cruises on the Bay allows friendly, leashed dogs for free! I cannot wait to try this one out!

6) Check out a local brewery that allows dogs. A lot of the breweries that do not serve food allow dogs to join you for a beer. I know there are several around, but one I have been wanting to check out is Diamonback Brewing Company in McHenry Row. 

I’m very excited that the weather is warm, and Nugget can join me on more activities. Do you have any cool ideas to add to the list? 

The Training Continues

Nugget’s training on both Sunday and Monday focused on his interactions with other dogs and people. Because he still has some puppy excitability, these tests are going to be the most difficult obstacles for him.

On Sunday mornings, Nugget attends a dog reactivity class. We currently have three other dogs in the class, and on this most recent Sunday we also had three training dogs in class. The training dogs so far have been calm and quiet, which Nugget has no reaction to. The trainer said he seemed very comfortable around the dogs because he would sit with his back to them and even lie in the grass with his eyes fixated on me. He is doing very well on this portion of the training. However, he has not had any interaction with other excited dogs yet, and that seems to be when he has trouble staying calm. We will be working up to that level, and I can’t wait to see Nugget’s progress!

We also have training together on Monday nights preparing for his Canine Good Citizen test. This week we really focused on his behavior when interacting with other people and dogs. The first test we worked on was accepting a friendly stranger. We practiced this with my trainer. Nugget is obviously familiar with his trainer, but it was good practice. Nugget did listen well to me. I walked Nugget around, and as the trainer approached me I told Nugget to sit. While I shook hands with my trainer and introduced myself, Nugget sat quietly by my side! I was very impressed that he was so polite because he gets very excited around his trainer. He is quickly maturing. 

Next we practiced having Nugget sit while a stranger pets him. We walked around and asked strangers who looked interested in my dog if they would like to help with our training. People are always so eager to help when it involves petting a cute dog! As we approached people, I again would tell Nugget to sit and ask the people not to pet him until he sat politely. Sometimes it took a few moments for him to realize what he needed to do, but he successfully sat for petting every time. 

Lastly, we practiced supervised separation. I would tell Nugget to wait and I would leave the training area for three minutes. He successfully stayed there without panicking for over three minutes with his trainer while I was gone. We practiced this several times, and he did well every time. Now I am just trying to teach him to be separated from me without anyone else around. He still has a lot of trouble being left home alone, and I am slowly teaching him to be in my room alone. It is a long process!

I am very proud of Nugget. We have been working so hard. Even though we have a lot more work to do, he is progressing quickly.