Sunday, December 31, 2017

What to do with an Anxious Dog

About two weeks ago, I adopted a miniature schnauzer/poodle mix (schnoodle) named Daisy. I'm a brand new dog owner, so I'm pretty in over my head. (Brand new as in, I didn't even have a dog growing up.) Keep in mind that I'm not crazy experienced, but that my fresh eyes will hopefully provide you with solutions you otherwise wouldn't have thought of.

My dog manifested her anxiety as hyperactivity. She was all over the place, all the time. If I let her wander my apartment she'd walk in circles through the living room and kitchen, whining all the while. Even after hours (!) of walks she wouldn't lay down and if we got her calm and resting, you could see that her mind was still going a million miles an hour. Some of it is likely due to the fact that I was her fourth household in a month, and some if it is possibly just her nature. Here's what I've discovered helps. (Discovered with the help of my vet, my friends, and trial-and-error.)

1. Go to the vet
The first day I had Daisy I took her to the vet. I didn't know that her behavior was abnormal for a dog, but within a couple of minutes the vet technician asked me about her behavior at home and suggested putting her on anti-anxiety medications. Daisy was prescribed a long-term anti-anxiety medication (that even humans take) and a short-term medication to take until the long-term one kicked in.

After a couple of days of taking the medication we could see improvement but tell that she was still super on-edge. (I didn't make this determination on my own - my dog-experienced friend helped because she had a better idea of what was normal for a dog.) With the permission of the vet we doubled her Xanax and voila! a dog that had a normal energy level and attention span for a teenaged dog. (Two human years, teenage in terms of dog development.)

I do want to emphasize that her energy wasn't a healthy, doggy energy or even a super excited puppy like energy. It was an unhealthy I-can't-slow-down-or-focus-or-relax sort of energy. I understand that dogs have a lot of needs that can help with hyperactivity in non-anxious dogs. Some of these are even listed below. :)

2. Wear them out
Dogs need a lot of time walking and spending their energy. I spend about an hour a day walking Daisy. She'd be happy to go for hours and hours and hours, but unfortunately her human isn't quite in shape enough for that. :) To help, she also wears a (slightly weighted) backpack while we're on our walks. This helps her focus since dogs are meant to have jobs. It also helps wear her out a little faster so she's doesn't have a lot of excess energy.

3. Set boundaries
As I mentioned above, when I first got her I let her have almost free reign of the apartment. And she would just cruise around in circles, from room to room, whining. She struggled a lot with all the stimulation around her. When my dog-experienced friend came over to help she noticed this and hooked Daisy's leash to my coffee table, within reach of water, Daisy's crate, a pet bed, and dog toys. Suddenly Daisy had access to everything she could need, but only a limited range of motion. This helped her calm down a lot! It also helped her understand that the humans set the rules - which I believe took that uncertainty off her mind. (This was only while someone was home and she was under supervision - we wouldn't want her leash to get caught!)

No, I don't plan to keep her on the leash by the coffee table forever. Once she has proved she is comfortable with that space and is able to calm down and obey within it, I will slowly open up the apartment to her. It's just going to take some time.

4. Find their trigger areas
Every time my dog got on the couch she thought it was playtime. Not nice, cuddly, tug-of-war playtime, but jumping, lunging, mouthing playtime. Suddenly she owned that space and humans better be out of her way! Not petting her? She'll lunge towards your face or climb behind you on the couch or mouth your arm. (She wasn't agressive, just chose to communicate with her teeth.) For a while I tried teaching her to behave, but nothing worked. (I should also mention that due to her anxiety, she had very little interest in any toys I would bring out to distract her.) Until I spoke with my friend, it never occured to me to just ban the couch from Daisy's allowed perimeter. And man, what a difference that made! Just by eliminating the area where Daisy freaked out the most, her behavior improved quite a bit.

5. Training
Although Daisy was houstrained and crate trained (yay!) she didn't seem to have much in the ways of basic training like HEEL, SIT, STAY, etc. For the first week or so, every time she'd get anxious we would pull her aside and train for a while. We used a clicker and treats, and just the mental excersize helped her a lot. We used HEEL and COME a lot - my friend would take Daisy on a leash around the apartment. Every time Daisy pulled on the leash, my friend would turn a different direction and say COME. When Daisy did, she'd get a click and a treat. We made eventually made this more complicated by opening the front and patio doors - she wanted to pull toward them but had to quickly learn to ignore them.

I now spend 30 minutes or so a day training Daisy on new skills or reinforcing old ones. These two 15-minutes sessions were easy to add in to our day, and helps with her anxiety quite a bit.

6. Toys
My vet pointed out that Daisy needed things to occupy her mind. She suggested puzzle toys - usually toys that dispense treats if a dog takes the time to work them out. My dog seems to be more occupied by bones and chews than by puzzle toys, so I use a lot of these as well. Listed below are the toys I've tried and had at least some success with, in order from most effective to least effective. Most effective would be the toy/treat that occupied Daisy the longest.
- Kneecaps
- Bullsticks
- Rawhide stick
- Kong filled with peanut butter
- Treat dispensing puzzle shaped like a drumstick

7. Patience
Have lots and lots of patience! Keep up with your boundaries and training and your dog will soon learn them! (And learn that they can't outlast you.) Keeping a calm voice will help them be calm - being anxious yourself doesn't help their anxiety! Anger doesn't help either.

8. Set a schedule and stick to it
Try to set a schedule and stick to it. This will help them learn the pattern of their new life and take away just one more uncertainty. Try to schedule walks, feeding time, training, play time, and bedtime. Of course it's not going to be perfect, especially with our human schedules being so inconsistent, but try to keep it the same as much as you can.

9. Get a bark collar
The bark collar I have just beeps if Daisy makes a noise - the beep gets longer if she barks too many times in succession. This helps so much! Before the collar, Daisy would just keep working herself up, getting caught in a spiral of low whining then desperate whining and then barking. Even if I ignored her, she wouldn't pull out of it. This collar is great because the simple beep draws her attention away from her distress and snaps her out of her mood. (It's also great because I don't have to worry about bothering my neighbors while I'm not home!)

10. Keep learning
I've beeing doing a lot of reading, a lot of YouTube video watching, and a lot of talking with those who are experienced with dogs. The more I learn, the better things are getting for both Daisy and I - which is great!

What about you? Any tips/tricks for helping an anxious dog?

Monday, December 25, 2017

My Favorite Christmas Songs

These songs are my favorite Christmas songs, at least at the moment. Some of them just never fail to put me in the Christmas spirit, while others touch my heart with their musicality.

O Mangum Mysterium

Breath of Heaven by Amy Grant

Bells of Christmas by Loreena McKennitt

Sleigh Ride

Carol of the Bells

The Christmas Can-Can by Straight No Chaser

Wana Baraka

The First Noel by Josh Groban

While You Were Sleeping by Casting Crowns

One Small Child by Justin Unger

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Newest Christmas Song Finds

I don't have any Christmas songs that start with X, so here are the ten newest songs on my Christmas playlist:

O Come, O Come Emmanuel by King and Country

Deck the Halls by Pentatonix

When I Think Upon Christmas by Hillsong Worship

He Shall Reign Forevermore by Chris Tomlin

The Bells of Christmas by Loreena McKennitt

Santa Tell Me by Ariana Grande

Joy to the World/For Unto Us a Child is Born by Amy Grant

Away in a Manger by Pentatonix

Ho Ho Ho by Sia

Noel by Chris Tomlin

Christmas Songs That Start With Y

You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch (and reprise)

Friday, December 22, 2017

Christmas Songs That Start With W

Waltz of the Snowflakes from Nutcracker

Wana Baraka

We Are Santa's Elves from Rudolph

We Need a Little Christmas

We Three Kings by The Piano Guys

We Wish You a Merry Christmas

We Wish You a Merry Little Christmas

Welcome Christmas from the Grinch

We're a Couple of Misfits from Rudolph

Wexford Carol

What a Glorious Night by Sidewalk Profits

What Child is This?

When I Think Upon Christmas by Hillsong Worship

When Santa Claus Get's Your Letter from Rudolph

When You Believe

While You Were Sleeping by Casting Crowns

White Christmas

White Winter Hymnal by Pentatonix

Winter Wonderland

Wizards in Winter by Trans-Siberian Orchestra

***Bonus Song for New Year's Eve***

What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?

Introducing the Master List of Christmas Songs

I don't have any Christmas songs that start with V, so here's the link to my newly created Master List of Christmas Songs! Now I can keep updating it year after year, and you always have a reference of the Christmas songs that are out there.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Christmas Songs That Start With U

Underneath the Tree by Kelly Clarkson

Up On the Housetop

Christmas Songs That Start With T


That's Christmas to Me by Pentatonix

There's Always Tomorrow from Rudolph

There's No Business Like Snow Business

This Christmas

This Christmas Love by Justin Unger

Tomorrow Is Christmas, It's Practically Here from The Grinch

Trim Up the Tree from the Grinch

'Twas in the Moon of Wintertime

12 Days of Christmas by Relient K

12 Days of Christmas by Straight No Chaser

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Christmas Songs That Start With S

Santa Claus is Coming To Town

Santa Claus is Thumbing To Town by Relient K

Santa Tell Me by Ariana Grande

Shake Up Christmas by Train

Silent Night by Casting Crowns

Silver and Gold from Rudolph

Silver Bells

Sleigh Ride

Snow Miser by FM Static

Softly, Little Child

Still, Still, Still

A Strange Way to Save the World by Rascal Flats

Sweet Little Jesus Boy by Casting Crowns

Christmas Songs That Start With R

Ring the Bells on Christmas Day!

Riu, Riu, Chiu

Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reineer from Rudolph

Run Run Rudolph

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Christmas Songs That Start With Q

Quarter of Dawn from the Grinch

Christmas Songs That Start With P

Panis Angelicus by Josh Groban

Petit Papa Noel by Josh Groban

Please Come Home for Christmas by the Eagles

Monday, December 18, 2017

Christmas Songs That Start With O

O Come All Ye Faithful by Josh Groban and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir

O Come O Come Emmanuel by Casting Crowns

O Come O Come Emmanuel by Piano Guys

O Holy Night

O Mangum Mysterium

Oh Christmas Tree

Oh Come All Ye Faithful by Casting Crowns

Oh Little Town of Bethlehem

Opening from the Grinch

One Small Child by Justin Unger

Over the River and Through the Woods

Christmas Songs That Start With N

Noel by Chris Tomlin

Noel as performed by NAU Choral Union

Noel Nouvelet

Nowell Fantasy

Nuttin' for Christmas by Stan Freberg

Nutracker Suite

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Christmas Songs That Start With M

(Everybody's Waitin' For) The Man With The Bag

March from the Nutcracker

Mary, Did You Know by Danny Gokey

Mary, Did You Know by Pentatonix

Mary, Did You Know by Clay Aiken

Mary's Boy Child

Meditation on a Theme of Peace

Merry Christmas Everyone by Rend Collective

Merry Christmas With Love by Clay Aiken

Merry Christmas, Here's To Many More by Relient K

Merry Merry Christmas from Rudolph

Most Wonderful Day of the Year from Rudolph

Christmas Songs That Start With L

Let it Go from Frozen

Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!

Let There Be Peace on Earth

Little Drummer Boy

Little Saint Nick

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Christmas Songs That Missed Their Day

I couldn't find any Christmas songs that start with K. :( So I'm going to give you some Christmas songs that I either forgot about or discovered after their daily post. (You'll notice a lot of them start with the letter "A"...)

Away in a Manger by Pentatonix

Angels in the Realm of Glory by Piano Guys

Angel Gabriel

All I Want for Christmas (is my two front teeth)

All is Well by Michael W. Smith

Bell Carol Fantasy

Celtic Silent Night

Danse Russe Trepak

Christmas Songs That Start with J

Jesus Is Alive by Josh Wilson

Jing-a-Ling, Jing-a-Ling

Jingle Bell Rock

Jingle Bells

Jingle Jingle Jingle from Rudolph

Jolly Old Saint Nicholas

Joy to the World by Casting Crowns

Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Christmas Songs That Start With I

I Celebrate the Day

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day from Rudolph

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day by Casting Crowns

I Like a Sleigh Ride (Jingle Bells)

I Must Stop Christmas from the Grinch

I Saw Three Ships

I Tan't Wait Till Quithmuth Day

I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas

I'll Be Home for Christmas by Josh Groban

I'm Getting Nuttin' For Christmas

In Like a Lion (Always Winter) by Relient K

In the Bleak Midwinter by Loreena McKennitt

Indiana Christmas by Straight No Chaser

Infant Holy, Infant Lowly

It Came Upon a Midnight Clear by MercyMe

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Christmas Songs That Start With H

Hallelujah [Light Has Come] by Barlowgirl

Handel's Messiah

The Happy Reindeer

Hark the Herald Angels Sing by Matt Maher

Hark the Herald Angels Sing by Pentatonix

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

He Has Come for Us by Meredith Andrews

He Shall Reign Forevermore by Chris Tomlin

Here Come's Santa Claus

Here We Come A-wassailing

Holly Jolly Christmas from Rudolph

Holly and the Ivy

Home for the Holidays

Monday, December 11, 2017

Christmas Songs That Start With G


The Gift by Aselin Debison

Go Tell It on the Mountain

God Is With Us by Casting Crowns

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen by Pentatonix

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings by Barenaked Ladies

Good King Wenceslas


Grown-up Christmas List

Christmas Songs That Start With F


Feliz Navidad

Finale from the Grinch

The First Noel

Frosty the Snowman

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Awesome Christmas Albums

So... I don't have any Christmas songs that start with E. So here are some of my favorite Christmas albums. You've probably already seen their songs on my list already!

(Images below are affiliate links)

Adore by Chris Tomlin

This is a newer find. The music is slower and, in my opinion, beautiful. However, if you're more a fan of peppy Christmas songs, you may not enjoy this one as much.

Christmas Cheers by Straight No Chaser

This is an acapella group. They have some new, unique Christmas songs, as well as twists on old Christmas classics. This album always makes me smile.

Let It Snow Baby... Let it Reindeer by Relient K

This is Christmas music with a bit of an edge. For example, they have a song called "Santa Claus is Thumbin' to Town" where everything goes wrong at the north pole and he has to hitchhike to get his presents delivered.

Merry Christmas with Love by Clay Aiken

All the classics. Before there was Michael Buble, there was Clay Aiken. You can't beat this CD if you just want good old fashioned Christmas music.

Noel by Josh Groban

I'm a huge fan of Josh Groban's music, and his Christmas CD is one of my favorites. I remember listening to it and singing along as a friend and I drove home for the holidays.

Peace on Earth by Casting Crowns

I want to learn piano just so I can play this music! Seriously, some of them are so beautiful they bring me to tears. *sigh*

A Pentatonix Christmas by Pentatonix

An acappella Christmas CD by the ever talented group, Pentatonix.

That's Christmas to Me by Pentatonix

Can you tell that I like Pentatonix' Christmas music? (According to the fourth graders I teach every week, Pentatonix and Michael Buble make the best Christmas music, if that tells you anything :))

Let me know which Christmas albums are your favorite!

Christmas Songs That Start With D

Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy

Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy by Pentatonix

Deck the Halls

Deep Peace

Ding Dong Merrily On High

Do They Know It's Christmas

Do You Hear What I Hear

Don't Save It All For Christmas Day by Clay Aiken

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Christmas Songs That Start With C

Candelight Carol

Carol of the Bells by Pentatonix

Carol of the Bells by Straight No Chaser

Carol of the Bells/God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen by Piano Guys

Charlie Brown

Chipmunk Song by the Chipmunks

Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) by Straight No Chaser

Christmas Bells by NAU Choral Union

Christmas Bells

Christmas Can Can by Straight No Chaser

Christmas Canon by Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Christmas Offering by Casting Crowns

Chrismtas/Sarajevo 12/24 by Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Christmas Song by Josh Groban

Christmas Song by Straight No Chaser

Christmas Song by Clay Aiken

Christmas Song by Nat King Cole

Christmas Wish by Straight No Chaser

Christmas Songs That Start With B

Sorry about the gap in posts! I'll catch up, I promise! Life just gets a little crazy around the holidays. :)

Look, here's me playing bells at the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix :)
And now for the songs!

Bells of Christmas by Loreen McKennitt

Bethlehem arranged by J Edmund Hughes

Born in Bethlehem by Third Day

Breath of Heaven by Amy Grant

***Bonus! Boxing Day Song***

Boxing Day by Relient K

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Christmas Songs That Start With A

Welcome to the first day of 26 Days of Christmas Music! Today I'm featuring songs that start with the letter A.

Some of these are classics that will hopefully jog your memory that they exist. If I list an artist it is either the artist who I consider has the "classic" version of the song OR a song/version that I absolutely love. You'll see a couple of repeating artists throughout the days, just because I love their Christmas CDs so much

Adestes Fideles

All I Want for Christmas (Is My Two Front Teeth) by Nat King Cole

Angels We Have Heard on High by Josh Groban Feat Brian McKnight

Angels We Have Heard on High by Relient K

Ave Maria by Josh Groban

Away in a Manger by Casting Crowns

Ave Maria by Josh Groban

Away in a Manger by Casting Crowns

**Bonus! New Year's Song**
Auld Lang Syne by Straight No Chaser

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

26 Days of Christmas Music

I love Christmas music! But my local radio station plays the same songs over and over and over again, and that gets old pretty fast. So this year, I want to share with you a variety of my favorite Christmas songs. I'm going to aim for a letter a day for twenty six days - so songs that start with A for the first day, start with B for the second day, and so on. Some of the days might not have songs, so I'll just do a special music-related post on those days. I hope you enjoy!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Welcome to Schnoodle Sunday!

Hello! And welcome to Schnoodle Sunday! Moving forward I want to try to post about doggie-related adventures on random Sundays. Today I'm going to introduce you to  my dog, Daisy.

She looks angry, but she's really not. :)

Daisy is almost two years old and is 75% miniature schnauzer and 25% poodle. (Therefore, she's a schnoodle. 😊) She looks mostly schnauzer, but has lots of curly hair like a poodle. Just look at her eyebrows! Her favorite thing do to is chew (dog toys, fortunately) and she has a tooon of energy. She's a sweetheart and learns very quickly, but she doesn't have a lot of training, so we're starting with the basics.

My friends took this picture. Isn't she just the cutest?

I'm a brand new dog owner, so I don't know much about having a dog - Daisy and I are learning together. :)

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Playing Pokemon Go in Arizona (Part 1)

It's unfortunate, but it seems like Pokemon Go releases their coolest updates in the summertime. Great for all the snowy areas, but not so great for Arizona. (For those of you who don't live here, our high in Phoenix this week was 120 degrees Fahrenheit!)

This post, part 1, is going to go over some tips and tricks if you decide you want to Pokemon Go outside in the summer heat. The next post, part 2, will go over ways to play Pokemon Go without having to brave the triple-digit temperatures.

  • Plan your route so that you are able to stop into a cooler place every once in a while. Downtowns and universities are great choices for this. (Even if you don't need to stop and cool off, your phone likely does. Last time I went Pokemon-Going outside in the summer, two out of three of our phones shut off due to overheating.)
  • Dress appropriately. Light clothes with short sleeves are usually best.
  • Prepare for the sun. Sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, etc.
  • Choose a good day to go. Sometimes, it's just not worth it. Check for heat advisories or warnings.
  • Bring water!
  • Bring a portable charger, if you have one.
What other tips do you have? Keep an eye out for my second post, so you can avoid the heat entirely.

Monday, August 7, 2017

9 Band Teacher-isms

If you don't know me (first of all, welcome!) I'm a band geek. I still play in a community band over the summer even though I'm not in school any more. Below are eight phrases/words of wisdom I learned from my band teachers throughout the years. Some of them are applicable to everybody, and some will only apply to those in music arts. Regardless, I hope you enjoy them!

  1. Don't be stupid
    This one is pretty self explanatory. It's an important piece of advice for junior high and high school students. :)
  2. Don't miss the bus
    This is a music specific one. If you were trying to catch a moving bus or train, you'd start to jog along side it before you leapt for the door. Similarly, if you're coming into a musical phrase after a rest, you better mentally be at the same tempo as the rest of the band.
  3. Don't drop the baby
    Another music specific one. Often in a piece of music a phrase is passed from one instrument or section to another. And just like a baby passed from one relative to another, you want to make sure that nothing is dropped!
  4. Long notes and repeated phrases...
    "Go somewhere!" Our band teacher would say the beginning part of the phrase, we would say the rest. For anyone in music, this is HUGE. If you want to take a song from robotic to musical, take long notes and repeated phrases somewhere with their dynamics.
  5. Who loves band?
    "I love band!" This is another call and response. It was often used to boost our energy after a long marching practice or to get us pumped right before a big competition. And this phrase really resonated with me... after all, I'm still in band!
  6. Don't say sorry, fix it!
    This one sounds harsh, but it emphasized that action means more than words.
  7. Don't go riding any llamas
    This stemmed from what was either an actual story or maybe just an urban legend among the band. Apparently on the day before a big competition, one of the soloists decided it would be a great idea to ride a llama - and subsequently broke his arm. Needless to say, it's pretty difficult to play an instrument with a broken arm. So this cautionary phrase was given to us before any big band trip.
  8. Crescendo means...Start softer. Which is a lot harder than it sounds, apparently. :P
  9. Potential is like fertilizer...
    It's capable of growing beautiful plants and flowers, but until you do something with it, it just sits there and stinks.
So what do you think? Did your band teacher (or orchestra teacher, or anyone really) have any sayings?

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

I Have a Book Blog!

I decided that I like writing about books so much that I wanted to have an entire blog dedicated to it! From here on forward you can find my book reviews (and so much more) at my new site,

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