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. 

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. 

Doggy Bucket List

Sometimes it’s good to take a break from training and do some fun activities with your dog. It strengthens the bond with your dog and takes the pressure off training. I’ve been thinking about all of the fun things I want to do with Nugget, so I decided to make a “Doggy Bucket List”. This is what I have so far:

1) Run a dog friendly 5K. I really enjoy running, and I’ve done a ton of various runs. I have never done a race with my dog though! Nugget and I go running together a lot, so I would love to bring him along with me for a race. I will be on the look out for any future doggy races. 

2) Hike on the Appalachian Trail. I love this trail, and I have hiked on all different parts of it in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia. It’s time to take Nugget along to check it out! He loves hiking with me, and I’m sure this trail will be an adventure for him.

3) Kayak. Kayaking is one of my absolute favorite activities. I travel to the beach a lot in the summer, and there is a dog-friendly place nearby to rent a kayak. I can’t want to get Nuggy a life-vest and take him out to sea. 😉 

4) Paddleboard. This is another fun one to try while at the beach. It’s a lot easier to fall into the water on a paddleboard as opposed to a kayak, so I will see how Nugget feels on the kayak first.

5) Bake dog treats at home. I have found so many doggy treat recipes on Pinterest! I plan on baking some yummy home-made treats and snuggling up with Nugget for a movie night.

6) Wear matching Halloween costumes. Yes, I am totally that person. I have never been able to convince a boyfriend to do a couple costume with me, so Nugget gets to be the one to match me! 

7) Beach day. The beach is my favorite place in the whole world. I plan on taking Nugget on a lot of beach trips. It will be so fun to see him play and dig in the sand and frolic in the waves. I’m sure he will LOVE it.

8) Road trip. I would love to do a mini road trip somewhere and stop at a bunch of places to explore. My best friend just moved to North Carolina, so it would be great to travel to see her and stop for hikes along the way! 

9) Camping. I’m not sure what Nugget would think of camping, but I’d love to try it. I’m sure he would love to be out in nature, but he may be too stimulated by all of the noises at night to relax. I guess the only way to find out is to go for it!

10) Swimming. I think Nugget is still getting used to the idea of swimming. He has slowly become more comfortable wading in streams, but initially he did not want to go in at all. I’m obviously not going to force him to do anything he does not want to, but I think he will love it once the hot days of summer roll around! He has a lake at his dog park, so hopefully he will enjoy a quick dip with his doggy pals.

11) Photoshoot. I’m going to have someone take professional pictures of me and Nugget outdoors. I really don’t have many pictures of us together, and the ones I do have are “selfies” from an awkward angle or using a timer. Nugget is my family, so we need family photos 🙂

12) Get a tattoo. (sorry mom) I have 7 tattoos now, and I plan on adding a tattoo in honor of Nugget. If the tattoo idea doesn’t work, a t-shirt or a piece of jewelry to honor Nugget could work too!

I’m sure we will experience many adventures together, but this list is a good starting place for us! Now we are so ready for summer.

The Ins And Outs of Therapy Dog Testing

Our dream is becoming reality! Nugget and I are signed up for therapy dog testing and basic training in July. I am very excited about this process, but I realize that this is only the beginning of a very long journey. Nugget has come very far in his training, but from now on I will have to eat, sleep, and breathe training to get him prepared for our testing. (We will have fun times too) 🐶😬

In addition to Nugget’s two training classes per week, I am working diligently on training him at home. I have integrated a “Nothing in life is free” approach in our house. This is a good way for us to constantly incorporate training into daily life. Basically, anything Nugget wants he has to earn. If he wants to go out the front door, he has to wait patiently until I signal to him that it’s okay for him to cross the threshold. When I return home from work, I wait until he calms down and sits before I pet him. This one is so hard because he is so happy to see me! But I do give him lots of loving once he calms himself. Additionally, we are working very hard on our loose leash walking. He generally does well loose leash walking with his harness. However, I am also working on training him just using a collar. It takes a lot of patience. Every time he runs forward and starts pulling, I have to stop in place until he turns around and comes back to a heel position. Currently, I am bribing him with some good treats when needed. Fortunately, Canine Good Citizen and Therapy Dog testing now allows the use of most harnesses.

Loose leash walking!

The therapy dog testing requires Nugget to perform tasks that are very similar to the Canine Good Citizen test. To be able to start visiting approved facilities, Nugget will have to at least pass the basic level of testing. This means he passes all of the requirements, but he may need some assistance. He can be given a command up to three times. To be able to visit facilities with children, Nugget will have to pass the Advanced level of testing. This requires him to carry out every behavior on the first command.

For the first part of the therapy dog assessment, Nugget will have to do the following:

1) Accept a friendly stranger

2) Accept a stranger staring at him without showing anxiety or aggression

3) Sit at my side for a stranger to pet him

3) Have his ears, eyes, breath, and feet checked and be brushed

4) Walk on a loose leash (straight, right turn, left turn, about face, and stop)

5) Sit, down, and stay as I walk 20 feet away and back

6) Come when called from 10 feet away

7) Approach another pet team without Nugget engaging with them. He must sit by my side, and I am allowed to command him to sit before I greet the other team.

8) Leave a treat on the ground that I drop in front of him

9) Gently accept a treat from a stranger

The second part of the therapy dog assessment will test Nugget’s reaction to people in a crowd. He will have to do the following:

1) Accept someone staggering toward him. I am allowed to reassure and pet him during this.

2) Accept a loud, angry person. I am allowed to reassure and pet him during this.

3) Accept someone touching him from behind. I am allowed to reassure and pet him during this.

4) React to loud metal noise without showing fear or stress (He can be startled)

5) I have to act as an advocate for my pet and work to encourage him throughout this part of the testing.

6) Nugget is allowed to be startled during any part of this, but he has to be able to recover.

Lastly, Nugget and I will have to perform a 3 minute practice visit. I will have to be friendly and knowledgeable about the organization. Nugget will have to accept petting from multiple people and awkward handling. Nugget should be comfortable and interested in the client. Additionally, I always need to be an advocate for Nugget including foreseeing potential problem areas (another dog in the room, a vacuum cleaner, etc.). I can help him through the difficulty or remove him from the room if needed.

We definitely have our work cut out for us, but I feel very passionately about helping Nugget succeed. We have three months to work toward our goal! Wish us luck 🙂

Dog Friendly Baltimore: Exploring the Suburbs 

Another spot I like to visit with Nugget is Bel Air which is about 45 minutes northeast of Baltimore. It’s easy to spend a whole day on Main Street with your pup!
You can start your morning with breakfast at Sunny Day Cafe, where you can sit outside with your dog. Many mornings I drive by and see a handful of dogs sitting outside as people enjoy a beautiful morning eating delicious food. They also provide your doggy with a water bowl to keep them hydrated! Enjoy a yummy crepe, omelette, or breakfast sandwich with a cup of hot coffee.


After breakfast, head about a mile down Main Street to the Ma and Pa Trail. This is a wide paved walking trail, and they are currently working to expand the trail to 8 miles in length. There is even a dog park right off the trail that is open to the public. It is located about 2 miles from the trail head off Main Street in Heavenly Waters Park and has separate areas for large and small dogs. If you choose to venture further on the trail, there is a pet memorial where people go to remember their beloved pets.

After a trail hike, head on back toward Main Street and check out Independent Brewing Company. There are a ton of various craft beers to check out, and dogs are allowed both inside the building and on the patio. They provide water bowls and even sell beer-shaped dog treats! If you worked up an appetite from your hike, there are various food trucks on site which serve absolutely delicious food! Just check the calendar on the website before you go.

Lastly, I walk back up Main Street and take Nugget to the pet boutique To Wag For. We browse the items in the store, and then I buy Nugget a tasty treat such as The Bear and the Rat dog ice cream. He loves it!


It’s always fun to get out of our normal routine and check out a new town. There are so many dog-friendly places to visit. You just have to explore!

From Reactive to Relaxed: Taming My Dog’s Greeting Behavior

Nugget loves other dogs. He loves them so much that he wants to run up to every dog and give them a big sniff and play bow the second he sees them. The problem is he is tethered to me via his collar and leash, and this is frustrating for him. What happens when Nugget is frustrated? He barks and squeals and lunges and pulls.

Nugget found a puppy!

I have been working so hard to train Nugget the difference between appropriate play time with dogs and inappropriate behavior on the leash. If we are at day care or the dog park Nugget is free to run, jump, and tumble with other dogs. Walking on a leash through Petco, he is not. He is slowly starting to understand the connection, but it has not been easy. In the beginning, I dreaded taking Nugget anywhere. It was so embarrassing to have an out-of-control dog barking and pulling me down the street. People glared at me or quickly pulled their dogs in the other direction. “I’m sorry!”, I would yell at them from afar. “He is a puppy in training!”

Nugget stares at the dreaded leash

I would sneak out of my apartment during the wee hours of the morning to let Nugget use the bathroom before the swarm of dogs came out around 7:30 AM. If I saw a dog coming toward us in the distance, I would quickly change our route and run down another street or pathway. This worked in the short-term, but I realized if I didn’t really work on this problem, Nugget would never be able to stroll through the park with me in the middle of the day. He would never be able to lie by my feet while I had brunch outside at a restaurant with friends. He would never be able to go anywhere with me. I love Nugget, and I want to share as much of my life with him as I can.

Nugget is now able to sit at a restaurant with me!

The first thing I did was buy the book, Feisty Fido. It is a great place to start. After reading the book, I incorporated the training tips by sucking it up and taking Nugget to places where he would encounter dogs. We would go to a crowded park, and I would be armed with a bag full of chicken or cheese. I worked hard on his training. He is now able to walk by most dogs or sniff them and keep going. However, there are certain dogs that still trigger his excitability. I knew that this would be his biggest obstacle when it comes to Canine Good Citizen and Therapy Dog testing. I had to step up my training. When I found a class called “Reactive Rover” at the MDSPCA, I knew I had to sign him up. It consists of six 90 minute sessions working with a small class of reactive dogs. We had our first class this week, and Nugget did great. He did not react at all, and was able to get fairly close to the trainer dog. However, from my experience Nugget seems to only react to other excitable dogs. I am excited to see how our training goes as he interacts with other reactive dogs in our class. The trainer gave us very positive feedback and stated Nugget should be able to easily walk side by side with dogs at the end of training with no reaction. I sure hope so! We are now only six weeks away from our CGC test, and it is starting to become real!

If you have a reactive dog, I would definitely suggest reading some helpful books and investing in a trainer that specializes in reactivity. It is SO worth it!