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In just a few weeks, the eyes of the dog world will be turning to New York for the annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show Presented by Purina® Pro Plan®. Around our house, our dogs are fans of Purina® Pro Plan® Savor® Shredded Blend Chicken & Rice and, in the past, we’ve always enjoyed watching the show with our dogs. This year will be extra special because it’s Barli’s very first time to see the famous dog show. Last year at this time, Barli was in the second month of his three-month-long stay at the shelter.
What a difference a year makes!
After adopting Barli on March 13, an emergency with one of John’s relatives in a South Texas nursing home meant a sudden trip. We didn’t want to leave or board Barli so, with Tiki’s expert guidance, Barli went on his first trip to the nursing home for a visit:
Not only did Barli do good…he did GREAT. He won the title of Best in Show that day as far as we were concerned because Barli seemed to know just how energetically to greet people, all while bringing smiles to John’s bedridden cousin and the nurses who came and went from his room providing care.
In the months following, Barli has made six visits to the home and done so well each time that he’s now taking classes to work toward certification as a nursing home therapy dog. In our eyes, he’s an Everyday Champion, a dog that, regardless of where he started, continues to grow and learn. I’m always surprised by how quickly he learns new skills at class!
After each class, I’m sure to celebrate Barli’s new accomplishments!
6 Tips for Shopping with Your Dog at PetSmart
After each week’s class, I like to take Barli to our local PetSmart for some additional socialization and to work on the skill of walking through crowds without distraction (one of the skills he’ll be tested on). He loves visiting the store, and it’s fun to test his skills in a real world environment outside the classroom, too.
1. Eat before you hit the store!
Just like us, dogs get the munchies when surrounded by temptation in stores. If Barli is going to PetSmart directly from home, I make sure he eats before we go to the store. (If he goes directly from training class, he’s full from an hour of treat rewards!)
2. Keep your dog on a short leash.
Stores are NOT the places for long, retractable leashes. Barli wears a four-foot-long leash in all public places; it helps as he continues to work on his loose leash walk beside me and also prevents him from getting into anything before I can reach him. Your dog will also be safer maneuvering the parking lot on a short leash.
3. Let your dog get accustomed to the cart.
Let’s face it: shopping carts are a little frightening. Practice walking around the store with just your dog on your first visit then work on introducing your dog to the cart gradually, treating as you slowly push the cart with your dog walking alongside. (If you have a small dog and will be putting your dog in the cart, protect his paws from the open grating by carrying a crate mat or blanket to put on the bottom of the cart.)
4. Consider off times.
Barli’s classes are on Sunday afternoons so we generally visit PetSmart then. I like that the store is busy so Barli gets the additional experience of walking among strangers–but when he first started visiting PetSmart, we went on weekday mornings when the store was quieter. PetSmart staff was less busy at this time as well, so Barli got some personalized attention at checkout, helping to reinforce his love of shopping.
5. Walk your dog outside first.
The open area outside PetSmart is a treasure trove of dog smells, a great place to spend a few extra minutes on arrival.
6. Start slowly.
Once in the store, we usually start our visit by practicing walking past the adoptable dogs in front of the store without distraction (on his part or mine!) then we head first to one of the less crowded aisles for a few “laps” to practice walking the aisles without distraction. Once he gets into the swing of it, we head to the dog supplies section, which has a lot to interest him…
Of course, the most stimulating aisles for him are generally the food and treat aisles so we save those for last. It’s convenient for me since I’m able to pick up Purina® Pro Plan® Savor® Shredded Blend Chicken & Rice for Barli while I’m at PetSmart.
Pro Plan® Savor® Shredded Blend Chicken & Rice is just one of the 14 Pro Plan® Savor® dry formulas each with guaranteed live probiotics to support your dog’s digestive health (which, of course, is super important not only for everyday life but for training days and for days when we’re in the car headed three hours south to the nursing home). Each of the formulas is made with real high-quality poultry, meat or fish as the #1 ingredient in the dry formulas. Each formula features advanced nutrition with a great taste (Barli will attest to that), creating a meal that becomes one of the highlights of his day. I also keep a handful of Pro Plan® Savor® in my pocket to use as quick treats throughout the day.
Barli loves the food, a mix of hard kibble and tender, shredded pieces. I love that Purina® was the first dry dog food brand with real meat as the #1 ingredient, and the fact that they have a money-back guarantee. For more details, visit(And PetSmart also had it discounted during my shopping trip…score!)
Little, everyday wins like Barli’s all add up; those everyday victories are Best in Show wins in our home. As we watch the upcoming Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show (where 11 of the last 12 Westminster Best In Show Champions were fueled by Purina® Pro Plan®), I know we’re going to be thinking about all the wins that Barli has made this past year!