My 3rd Bullet Journal

My bullet journal has been keeping my life together for the past 2 years. It keeps track of every meeting, session, and event, as well as every little task that I need to get done each day. It also tracks my goals, my progress, my social media growth, and all the special memories I want to save each month.

It is essentially my brain in a notebook.

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I've been obsessed with notebooks for my whole life, I'm pretty sure. They're just so beautiful and full of potential. A gorgeous new notebook is full of so many possibilities. Where will my life take me while I use this notebook? What will my life look like when I come to the end of this notebook? How will it have changed my life?

But that was apparently too much pressure, so I would either not start writing in the notebook at all (nothing I had to write would be worthy of those pages!) or I would write in it for a bit with a certain goal/project in mind, but then fall off the wagon.

So when I found out about bullet journaling, I hoped I had finally found a way to USE my beautiful notebooks every day and be productive about it. And it was true! This has been a life saver. I'm now on my 3rd notebook, having completely filled my first two. I use it every day, and it is so satisfying to look through my completed notebooks! Not to mention how accountable and productive it keeps me every day. Which is really the important part.

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So here's how I use my bullet journal! You can find the full details of this system (in all its simplistic glory) here: www.bulletjournal.com

- an index page so that I can enter pages in there as they are created, and find anything I need at a later date.

- a future log that shows 6 months at a glance. I can enter meetings/sessions/events as they are scheduled, and I know that they won't be forgotten or misplaced.

- a monthly view that I set up a few days before that month starts. Just one month at a time (the future log keeps track of the rest, until the next month needs to be set up). It shows the month in a traditional grid-style and I refer to my future log to enter all the important appointments for the month. I also use the extra space on this page to write monthly goals.

- a weekly view that I set up on the weekend, in preparation for the upcoming week. I just take one week at a time, which alleviates stress about future tasks and allows me to just focus on what needs to be done now. Each morning I write out my list of tasks that need to get done (editing, emailing clients, blog writing, networking, etc) and check them off when they're complete. I refer to the previous day's list of tasks to see what didn't get done yesterday, and add those to today's list. The more times I have to write out a task because I didn't do it, the more I want to get it done so I can stop re-writing it. It works!

- a page of memories for the month, which currently I do as doodles. If I was published in a magazine, or went out to a new restaurant, or had a session in an exciting new location, I'll do a little doodle and jot down what it was. It's fun to look back at that page and see a little snapshot of my month and the fun I had.

- lists or "collections" of things. Anything, really. At any time if I need to make a list of things to remember (movies to watch, groceries to buy, party supplies to find, products to bring to the Doggie Expo) I just turn to the next blank page and make my list. I then add that to my index page so I can find it easily. It doesn't matter if it's in the middle of a month. That's the beauty of a bullet journal - it's evolving and you just go with the flow. Everything is indexed so that the "disorganization" isn't actually disorganized. Instead of having Post-It notes littered around your desk/home/work... you can keep every list in one notebook and never lose them.

- very minimal doodling with markers, just to make the pages nice to look at. I'm not artistic in this sense, so I get a lot of inspiration from other more talented bullet journalers. I don't need mine to be fancy, or to have the decorating take too much time (but if that's your thing and you enjoy it, there is nothing wrong with spending lots of time making yours look beautiful - don't let anyone tell you otherwise). For mine I just need it to be cute enough that it makes me happy to look at it, and excited to use my bullet journal every day. And so far it's working fantastically!

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Below is the weekly layout that I've been using for about a year now. It's very minimal and gives me lots of space to write out my tasks each day. I've tried many different layouts during my 2 years of using a bullet journal. It's fun to change it up and try something new when you get bored! That's another awesome bonus of this system versus a pre-made planner where you're stuck with the same layout all year, even if you discover it's not working for you.

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With a bullet journal you can change things at any time. If you decide you need a space in your weekly layout to plan your meals, next week you can rearrange it to fit that! Or maybe you need somewhere to track things like water intake and exercise, or books you've read. Whatever you need space for, whatever your life includes, you can create a page that works for you (or look up inspiration from others who are talented in that department, and shamelessly add that to your bullet journal).

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So if you've seen photos or videos about bullet journaling before and thought it seemed like way too much work (or creativity) for you, and it just wasn't your cup of tea, I hope that this has perhaps given you a different perspective on it. The point of this system is actually minimalism. The point is to keep you efficient and productive in your life. Since everyone's life is different, the system is extremely flexible so you can adapt it to yours.

That's why I love my bullet journal more than a store-bought planner. Because I love to change it up when I'm bored with one layout, I love to add some colour and feel proud of myself (even for the tiniest bits of creativity - I'm like, "I did that!!"), and I love knowing that my life is in order, my tasks are under control, and I'm not forgetting something important even though my mind is running a mile a minute.

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Have you ever considered bullet journaling?

What do you think of the system?

Featured Product: Framed Canvas

At Wet Nose Images you are treated to the ultimate experience.

Not only am I beside you for every step of the process, from our very first meeting right up to your product delivery... but you also have the very best products available to choose from!

I have carefully sourced every product I offer, based on top quality, on where they're produced, and how ethical they are. For example, most of my products are made here in Canada, and the covers on my coffee table albums are leatherette, not leather (no other animals are hurt in order for you to enjoy these images of your pups).

I don't want you to go home with only a USB of pictures that will get lost in your junk drawer or buried on Facebook the day after they're posted. I want you to have so much more than that. When you decide to book your pup's session with me, you are making the decision to celebrate the amazing journey you share with your dog, and to feel that excitement again every single day. Your absolute favourite image(s) will be on your wall for you to see each morning, and each evening when you return from a long day at work. You'll walk by that gorgeous canvas with the happiest face you've ever seen, and think, "Man... I friggin' love that dog!"

Today's feature is my top-of-the-line stunning Framed Canvas. Take a look at this beauty! The details of this product are what drew me to it. It is way beyond any canvas I've seen before. Only the very best for my clients!

 

How to Choose a Photographer (For Any Occasion)

Choosing a photographer is tough.

Whether you need someone to photograph your wedding, your baby, or your dog, there are often lots of choices in your area and as a client it can be hard to know which one is going to be the best fit for you. What is the difference between all of these options? How do you make sure you're picking the right one?

The good news is that there is no ONE right answer that fits everyone. Each photographer is different, they offer a different experience, and create different work. But there is a right photographer for you! And I will help you find them.

Here are some important things to keep in mind and help you find the right match for YOU:

 

1) The look or style of the images.

Do you love the colors in that photographer's portfolio? Can you imagine yourself (or your dog) in those images? Do you love bold colours or something more pastel? Or maybe you're looking for a more moody vibe? Find a photographer whose work you love to look at.

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2) The location or setting of the images.

Does this photographer primarily use a studio or an outdoor location? Which one excites you the most for your own photos? What are you envisioning for your session?

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3) Their reputation.

Do you know a friend who has used this photographer before? If not, can you look at some reviews and see if they resonate with you and make you feel excited about working with this person? Reading what other clients have to say is really helpful. How much did they love their experience? Are they giving details about it that help you imagine yourself in the same scenario? You can find reviews on Google, on Facebook, or even on the photographer's website.

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4) Their specialty.

I think this is most important part. What is this photographer known for? What type of photography do they show the most in their portfolio/website? If they're showing weddings but you need photos of your baby, they might not be the best fit. It's just not what they seem to do the most. And you want someone with experience. Every type of photography is very different and requires different skill sets.
But if their entire website is dedicated to dogs and that's exactly what you're looking for... then you're on the right track.

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In the end, you want to take the information available to you and decide on a few really great choices to contact for more information. You can meet up with them in person prior to booking and make sure you get along well and you feel comfortable with them. This initial meeting is great for both the client and the photographer! It gets your journey off to a wonderful start.

 

There is a perfect photographer out there for you, and now you have these tools at your disposal to find them!

10,000 Carrots Rabbit Rescue - Pet Photography

Did you know that February is Adopt a Rescued Rabbit Month?

And did you know that you can do just that, here in Halifax and HRM? We have a wonderful rabbit rescue called 10,000 Carrots and they take such good care of the sweet bunnies who need their help. They have foster homes who take care of bunnies while they wait to be adopted, and there are also a number of adoption events coming up in March if you want to get out and meet some of the organizers and rabbits!

I met up with 6 rabbits who were rescues (3 are adopted by this family and 3 are fosters) and it was so much fun to meet these unique pets and learn more about them. It was a great opportunity to flex my pet photography skills and see what it's like to photograph other animals beyond the dogs I'm typically working with.

Here are some of my very favourite bunny photos from that day!

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Leashes Be Gone!

I know what you're thinking.

You've been following Wet Nose Images for a while, enjoying the cute pups, but all the while thinking, "Those dogs aren't on leashes and they're standing perfectly still. They must be professional models! My dog could never do that.. so I won't be able to get professional photos."

But I'm here to (gleefully) tell you that you're wrong!

Yep. In fact, 90% of the dogs I photograph are actually on leash during the session. This can be for a variety of reasons:

  1. The dog doesn't have reliable recall so the leash is for their safety
  2. The location we've chosen requires it by law
  3. The dog is so excited to be there that we just need the leash to keep them close by and focused on us instead of all the other dogs, all the smells, all the water they could jump into, etc.

So for those main reasons (and any others that may come up) I encourage most clients to keep their dogs on leash during their session. This is the most common scenario, so you're not in the minority if your dog needs to be leashed!

But in the final images, that leash can be distracting. Our eye wants to follow it instinctively and see where it leads (which is away from the pup's face). So I remove the leash during editing to keep the image strong and focused on your dog.

I did a little time-lapse video of me doing a fairly simple leash removal in Photoshop, and I've included the Before and After images below!

Speedy quick!

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AFTER

You can see how much nicer the edited image looks, once we take away the distracting leash. Norah looks freer, and we can now concentrate on her beautiful eyes and golden, sunlit fur!

Here is another example with London and Cooper from Madison's 2 Paws Up Dog Treats:

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AFTER

That one was trickier, due to all the poles and boats in the background. But I really wanted to get a sweet photo of these two on the bridge, so we made it happen!

So if your pup has lots of energy or still has lots of work to do on their recall... please don't worry one bit. Your dog can absolutely have a magical session just like the ones you've been seeing here.

Send me a message and we'll start planning your spring or summer session (which gives you something wonderful to look forward to, during the chilly Nova Scotian winter)!

Brain Games for dogs!

Nourishing and exercising our dogs' minds is just as important as nourishing and exercising their bodies. Tiring them out mentally is equally as wonderful for them as tiring them out physically. Just doing one without the other isn't likely to keep them as happy and well-rounded as they deserve.

So how can we exercise their minds? And when should we do it?

The "when" is an easy one... whenever you can! On a rainy day when your pup isn't in the mood for a walk (just gets their business done and zooms back inside), that's a perfect opportunity to work on some brain games. Or instead of watching a half-hour sitcom, practice some mental exercises instead (and then you can both relax on the couch for the rest of the Netflix marathon together). Or if you work from home or are doing some other tasks around the house, you might be able to multitask and keep your dog busy and out from underfoot while you work!

 Check out 2 Paws Up dog treats by Madison  here .

Check out 2 Paws Up dog treats by Madison here.

Now for the fun stuff... how to do it!

There are so many different ways you can help keep your dog's mind working and learning. And they can vary in terms of how active you need to be during the game (some of them will allow you to multitask if necessary).

First off, Ruby's favourite thing is to work for treats - specifically hotdog pieces! She has learned so many tricks and commands because of how badly she wants that hotdog. That's how I taught her to be such a patient model when I photograph her, how to run to me and get in the "heel" position, to back away from me, play dead, spin, sit pretty, weave through my legs, etc. So getting some yummy treats (or you can use toys as a reward if that's more motivational for your pup) and working on tricks is a great way to get them thinking and learning. As always, start small/basic with the tricks and build on them once you've repeated them enough to get reliable results. If your pup is getting confused or frustrated and isn't understanding, try disecting the trick a little and see if you can teach a simpler version of it first. It's no fun for your pup if they can't understand what you want and they can't earn that treat. Set them up for success by ensuring that they can understand what you want.

The moment they do the correct behaviour, you're going to "mark" it. This can be done verbally with a "yes!" or a "good!" or you can use a clicker instead. And then treat them! If you and your dog really love working on tricks together, you can even work up to earning your Trick Dog Certifications (you can check that out here).

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Another game Ruby loves to play is Find It, which is basically Hide'n'Seek but with treats. Your pup will need to know the Stay command for this one while you hide the treat. Or I suppose if the room has a door you could close it and leave them outside the room until you're ready to let them in. Our version goes like this: I bring Ruby to the mat by our front door and ask her to sit and wait. I go into the living room (which is out of her eyesight) and hide one piece of hotdog somewhere. Then I shout "Find it!" and she comes charging in and has to search for the treat. As soon as she's found it, I say "good!" and then bring her back to the mat to wait while I hide another. This game helps her practice her nosework and learn to find things by scent and not just look for the treat with her eyes. You could build on this after a while by requiring her to come back to you and sit after she finds the treat, or maybe even go all the way back to the mat! The more you rehearse what you want them to do, the more they'll catch on and probably try to do it on their own before you ask.

Ruby also has a wooden toy that she enjoys, but she's too smart for it already. It's a flat rectangle with 8 sliding covers that conceal hollow compartments beneath. So I can hide treats in some of those compartments and then she has to use her nose or paws to slide the compartments open and find the treats inside. The compartments do have a peg that sticks up to move the cover easier. But when you first introduce this game, the dog doesn't even know that there are compartments, or how to access them, or which direction the covers might move. It looks easy to humans, but it's fun to watch them try out different strategies until they discover the secret!

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You can make your own variations of that type of game - you can put treats inside an empty 2L bottle and have your pup roll it around the house until they figure out how to get the treats out. I've seen some people take 3 or 4 of those bottles and cut a hole on either side so that they can slide a wooden dowel through all of them (almost like you stabbed all 4 with one sword!)... then they attach that piece of wood to something more sturdy that holds it in place. Now the bottles can swivel on that dowel and the dog needs to get them upside down in order for the treats to fall out! You can see a picture here. There's also a "snuffle mat" that I've seen people make, where it's a little rug with ruffles all over it, and you can drop treats into it so they're hidden and they have to be sniffed out and retrieved!

I would recommend joining the Facebook group "Brain Games for Dogs" for more great ideas from other pup parents!

What games does your dog love to play? And what treats or toys get them most excited to work with you? These kinds of games are a great way to bond with your dog while also exercising that awesome brain of theirs!

How to Teach Tricks

So you have a new dog and you want to teach them some commands. Or maybe you recently adopted an older dog and need to work on training. Or maybe you've had your dog for a while but haven't put in the time to really work on commands and now you're ready to get to work. No matter the reason, every dog benefits from learning new behaviours, bonding with their person, and learning the power of positive reinforcement!

 
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Ruby's favourite thing is to work for treats - specifically hotdog pieces! She has learned so many tricks and commands because of how badly she wants that hotdog. That's how I taught her to be such a patient model when I photograph her, how to run to me and get in the "heel" position, how to back away from me, play dead, spin, sit pretty, weave through my legs, etc. So getting some yummy treats (or you can use toys as a reward if that's more motivational for your pup) and working on tricks is a great way to get them thinking and learning. For every trick or command you will want to start small/basic with the tricks and build on them once you've repeated them enough to get reliable results. If your pup is getting confused or frustrated and isn't understanding, try dissecting the trick a little and see if you can teach a simpler version of it first. It's no fun for your pup if they can't understand what you want and they can't earn that treat you're holding. Just think how frustrating it would be for you if you couldn't understand the language someone was speaking and couldn't get what you wanted. Set them up for success by ensuring that they can understand what you want from them.

Since they can't speak English, we need to learn to speak (and think) Dog instead. Learn how to read your dog's body language to understand their moods and when they're happy or frustrated or nervous. Learning to think like them means that we need to see things from their perspective and understand the stepping stones that might be required to build up to a trick or command. It may seem like an easy trick to us, but your dog has no idea what you're asking, so you need to break down the trick into steps and start at the very beginning. You also want to get the dog to do the movement themselves instead of you using your hands on them.

 
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For example, to teach "sit", you don't want to just push their bum down (even gently) because they didn't do the work. They didn't get to feel their muscles move and put their bum on the floor, and they didn't get the benefit of the thinking process that gets them there. What you want to do instead is lure them into the position with the treat so that they end up doing what you wanted (even though they didn't know it at first). So you want to hold the treat in front of them and then move it upwards and back over their head towards their tail. If they follow the treat with their nose, they'll end up leaning backwards and sitting. It may not happen on the first try - they might try other ways to get the treat, like turning sideways, or pawing at it. But just say "nope" and start over.

The moment they do the correct behaviour, you want to "mark" it. This can be done verbally with a "yes!" or a "good!", or you can use a clicker instead. You want them to know exactly which thing they did was the good one. So if you're teaching "sit"... the moment their bum touches the floor, mark it and then treat. Through repetition they will recognize that moment as being the goal, and they'll be able to get there quicker.

Still using the example of "sit", you want to use the lure technique for a while at the beginning but don't use the word "sit" yet. Just lure, mark the good behaviour, and treat. Once the behaviour is consistent and they start sitting right away when you move the treat up, then you can start giving the behaviour a name. So you want to say the name while luring, then mark the right moment, and treat. This period may last several days or training sessions (you also want to keep each session short and sweet - don't overdo it, and always end with success). Continue the luring and using the command name for a while and then try just the command name without the lure. If they don't get it yet, continue with the previous phase until they make the connection and you don't need to lure them anymore.

Once you can phase out the luring, you want to also avoid bribing. When your pup knows the command name, you don't need to dangle a treat as a bribe. Teach them that they should do the command even if they can't see a treat waiting... and as soon as they do it, the treat appears! Because eventually, you want the command to be reliable enough that they'll do it for praise if you don't have treats handy. Their reward can be a pat on the head sometimes, once they're very consistent with the command.

 
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Other things that you can build on are duration and new locations. Dogs aren't very good at generalizing, or understanding that something in one specific scenario is the same even if it happens in a different scenario. For example, let's say your dog knows how to follow the "sit" command when you're in your living room and standing facing each other. But if you were to go outside for a walk and ask them to do the same thing on the sidewalk, or when you're standing side by side... they might act totally confused. They don't seem to understand that it's the same thing as before because it all looks so different. So once you get consistent success with a command, you want to start practicing it in other places so that they understand "sit" can happen anywhere.

You can also work on duration, as I mentioned. So asking for a "sit", marking the behaviour the moment it happens, but then waiting 1-2 seconds before giving the treat. Then tomorrow maybe you wait 3 seconds before giving the treat. The marker is still happening at the right time to confirm they did it correctly (very important), but they have to be a tiny bit patient for the reward. You can build this into a longer stay, or you can practice moving around or walking away, etc. But remember, if your dog gets frustrated, you may have rushed and done too much too soon. Back up a step and go back to where they were having success. Then move forward in tiny steps when they're ready.


I hope this was helpful in getting started, and learning how to think more like a dog when training them!