One of the best privileges of pet blogging is meeting and interacting with other pet bloggers. They are such a brilliant, creative, and fun bunch of fellow pet lovers.

Jen deHaan is an animal advocate, rescue volunteer, dog blogger, graphic designer, and pet parent. Jen writes for her blog, DOGthusiast, and covers tips for dog training, behavior, and health. She shares what she learns from courses and research, which helps make my life a little easier!

Jen also designs and creates dog collars, coats, and accessories plus a few human only items over at Stylish Canine, her small business.

As a pet parent, Jen has rescued two wonderful dogs with completely opposite personalities. Mort is a 3 year old Australian Kelpie mix, who is full of energy and lives to play flyball, disc dog, or with any other kind of toy. Tig is an almost 5 year old English Shepherd, who enjoys a couch potato lifestyle and smelling the roses unless, of course, a rodent happens to run by.

Mort and Tig from DOGthusiast - Photo Courtesy of Jen deHaan

Mort and Tig from DOGthusiast – Photo Courtesy of Jen deHaan

To learn even more about Jen, DOGthusiast, and Stylish Canine, I asked her a few questions. Here are her responses:

How long have you been blogging on DOGthusiast? How did you start blogging on DOGthusiast?
I started dog blogging in early 2010 not long after adopting Mikey and becoming active as a shelter volunteer, but had a long hiatus due to a crazy job situation. Late last year I decided to start blogging again and do so on a regular basis. The original purpose of the blog was to talk about sheltering, rescue, and related advocacy, and I still write about those topics from time to time. My focus has shifted to training and behavior mostly because I’ve taken a number of courses on the subject, read a lot about behavior, and don’t really get to use much of what I’ve learnt. I traveled all the way to India for a month-long course on it, and took some local courses too all from well-known published trainers, so I want to use the things I’ve learned from this and the books somehow! I decided to share what I have learnt and continue to learn on the blog, so hopefully some of it might be useful to someone out there!

What is one piece of advice you would give to a new pet parent?
You do not need to be an expert to handle a difficult situation with your companion, you only need to have the patience and motivation to problem solve, and figure out a solution. These things can go a long way, even with a difficult situation.

What is one piece of advice you would give someone who is looking for a new dog?
First and foremost, before looking at available dogs, figure out the right temperament of dog for your household. Your activity level and the personality of the humans is what matters here (not a yard or the size of the house – anyone can make what they have work with some effort). Figure out if you want a working dog, a couch potato, or something in between! Figure out how much work you’re willing to put in on a daily basis, and how much training or activity you want to do with your dog. Some dogs require a little, others a lot. Some humans want a dog who requires a lot of work, because that’s fun for them! After you figure that out, on to the fun part.

What steps would you recommend to someone who is interested in getting more involved in pet rescue, but doesn’t know where to start?
This can be a tough one, because it varies so greatly on where you live and there are so many different ways to help with rescue. First I would consider what kind of work you want to do, because there are options from photography and online work (where location doesn’t matter) to cleaning shelter runs, or assisting in dog training classes and running events or fundraisers. Think about what you want to do, what is fun or motivating. Especially consider what you feel will make a difference or be a challenge as these are the things that will keep you volunteering even when things get difficult.

Mort from DOGthusiast loves playing ball! - Photo Courtesy of Jen deHaan

Mort from DOGthusiast loves playing ball! – Photo Courtesy of Jen deHaan

How did you know that two dogs would be right for your family?
After deciding to adopt my first dog, Mort, was an obvious choice for dog number 2 because so much enjoyment was based in spending time with our dog. I was also dying to adopt a second dog because I had, by then, studied dog behavior including a lot about multi-dog households and we recently moved into a townhouse that allowed two dogs. I knew it threw a whole new dynamic into having dogs, and a whole new potential for behavior issues to crop up and solve. I’m a dog nerd, the challenge would be fun. Of course, it hasn’t been much of a challenge as the two dogs are well matched, but I have a blast watching how they interact.

What resources and advice would you recommend for someone new to dog training?
To learn specifics about training, I always recommend a good “positive reward-based” training class (find one through recommendation or online reviews). They’re training you to train your dog. If your dog is toy-motivated, dog sports like agility, flyball, lure-course, sprinting, and disc dog (frisbee) can be a lot of fun and a great way to learn a lot about training. Most of all: have fun, and develop a great relationship with your dog!

When did you start Stylish Canine? What was your inspiration?
I started sewing in 2012 and Stylish Canine in early 2013, and it was inspired mostly by doing something different in my life. I didn’t want to return to the corporate jobs I had in the past, and I wanted to also do something that wasn’t sitting in front of a computer all day long. My background was in design and art, and I loved fabric, so I decided I wanted to learn how to sew. I found a name that was available as a .com, and also on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Etsy. And that was the start of Stylish Canine.

Bold star design from Stylish Canine - Photo Courtesy of Jen deHaan

Bold star design from Stylish Canine – Photo Courtesy of Jen deHaan

Do you have a favorite product or pattern?
I love bold star designs – things that are sporty and bold (like this). I have a ton of the blue and white star ribbon used on that collar, too. It was on closeout after being discontinued, so I bought a massive roll because I liked it so much! I’d expect to see a few more products featuring that particular design.

I am also a complete sucker for shiny, crazy, over-the-top fabric. One day I will have fun and make a dog outfit that most people will think is insane and a cry for help. And Mort will be the poor dog that has to model it.

Have you learned any new skills for Stylish Canine? What were you most excited and proud about learning?
Most of everything to do with Stylish Canine has involved learning a new skill. It has been incredibly surprising just how much knowledge a person needs to run a small business, and I’m taking certain things on a day-by-day basis. There was a lot to learn just to open a shop, both on the business side and just figuring out what kind of shop to use for my personal site, and how to take payments safely and securely. It’s exhausting, but the challenge is exhilarating too.

Additionally, I didn’t know how to sew not long before I opened the store. So I took several courses in that, and just spent a ton of time practicing. What I love is that you never stop learning, there is always something new to try and sew or a new type of material to try and work with. I adore the challenge!

Is there anything you plan on adding to Stylish Canine in the future?
A relatively new addition has been decals and t-shirts. I am working to add a bunch of these new designs to the store over time. The designs are drawn by hand in Illustrator, so there isn’t a limit to what I can put in the store – which I like.

I also plan to focus more on clothing items, such as coats and vests, poop bag holders, and fabric collars. At any rate, I have a lot of fabric on hand that I need to start working through and a lot of products that are just waiting to be put online!

Tig models a bold star patterned collar from Stylish Canine - Photo Courtesy of Jen deHaan

Tig models a bold star patterned collar from Stylish Canine – Photo Courtesy of Jen deHaan

Is Mort a natural model or does it take a bit of work to get the perfect photo?
It depends! He has a pretty solid “wait”, he’s OK with being dressed up, and action shots are fairly easy to take because he’ll go wherever the ball or disc does. However, I recently tried to take a photo of him wearing a pair of shoes (for a #dogshoeing thread on Facebook), but he insisted the shoes were something to play with and kept slapping them, and it was too much work, so I had to switch to Tig. Sometimes the toys (or what he thinks are toys) fries his brain too much… and the photo becomes a lot of work.

What else should I know about you, DOGthusiast, and Stylish Canine?
Probably that I love ideas for what to post about, and things to make! I have a Dog Training Q&A form up on DOGthusiast where folks can add questions they’d like to see answered on a Training Tip Tuesday blog post. I don’t have all the answers of course, but I’ll try to answer as much as possible or at least provide a few tips or ideas to aid in the research. And on Stylish Canine, I’d love to hear about any products people are looking for, such as a breed or type of image they would want on a t-shirt or decal. I’m drawing as many breeds as possible, so now is a great time to help me prioritize!

If you have ideas for Jen, DOGthusiast, and Stylish Canine, you can reach out via email or any of the social networks below:
DOGthusiastFacebook, Twitter, Google+
Stylish Canine – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+

In honor of our Blogiversary and Birthday Celebration, Jen has graciously offered to give away TWO Stylish Canine products. One winner will receive a Luna inspired Beagle t-shirt and a decal!

Jen and Stylish Canine have made the prize so customizable for the winner!

Stylish Canine's Luna inspired t-shirt and decal - Photo Courtesy of Jen deHaan.

Stylish Canine’s Luna inspired t-shirt and decal – Photos Courtesy of Jen deHaan.

The winner will be able to select between three different designs of t-shirts, as well as an option between men’s or women’s. I think the one with the little red bow tie is my personal favorite!

The winner will also be able to choose from three different colors and three different sizes of decals!

I just know you can’t wait to wear Luna’s face on a t-shirt, so enter now!

Residents of the USA may enter. All giveaways will end at 11:59 PM EST on Friday, 3/28/14. Come back every day to enter!

Enter below with the Rafflecopter.

Be sure to enter all the Blogiversary and Birthday Celebration Giveaways during our week long celebration!
Day 1 – Petco Easter Costumes
Day 2 – mobiPET Tags
Day 3 – Stylish Canine Luna Inspired Beagle T-shirt and Decal
Day 4 – Wishes from The Honest Kitchen
Day 5 – Win a Kurgo Skybox Booster Seat
Day 6 – A Year’s Supply of Treats from Blue Dog Bakery
Day 7 – Three Dog Bakery Party Platter and Favors

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: I received no compensation or additional benefits for mentioning the person or products in this post. The opinions and ideas in this post are my own and are uninfluenced by any other person or business. Jen and Stylish Canine are responsible for all giveaway prizes including shipping.

Jessica Shipman
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