Tag Archives: exercise

Teaching Your Dog To Swim in a Pool Safely

BeauBy: Beau

As the weather is heating up around the country, don’t forget that we four-legged family members need to stay cool too. And not only is lots of water good for drinking at this time of year—many of us would love to swim in it as well! Swimming is a great form of exercise and will help to keep us from overheating; however, be aware that many dogs drown each year from pool accidents that could have been avoided.

The key is to make sure your dog knows how to get out of the pool safely. When we fall into a river or lake, oftentimes our doggy instincts tell us to turn around and try to get out from the point at which we fell in. While this usually works well in a natural body of water, it can cause problems for first-timers in suburban swimming pools. Therefore it is important to teach your dog where and how to get out of the pool, regardless of where he goes in.

To teach your dog how to exit a pool, first attach a recall (extra long) leash to his collar. Gently place your dog into the pool from the steps. He will instinctively turn around and get out from the point of entry—the steps. Place your dog in the pool from the steps several times. Once he realizes that he can scramble out using the steps, move to the other sides of the pool and again gently place your dog into the pool. Use the leash to guide your dog to the step area, giving him only the help he needs. Practice makes perfect, especially for pups, but make sure your dog doesn’t get too worn out. Three or four entries and exits is about all you should attempt at one time.

Speaking of exhaustion, it is also important to keep an eye on your dog while he’s in the pool—swimming can be very tiring for us! Just like lots of dogs will chase a ball or Frisbee again and again until they nearly collapse, many of us will continue swimming without realizing how tired we actually are. And unlike chasing a ball on land, we have no solid ground to rest on.

If your dog has year-round access to the pool area, you should remember pool safety in all weather, hot and cold. Try to keep the pool’s water level as full as possible, as your dog has a much greater chance of being able to get out the closer the water level is to dry land.

If you don’t have access to a pool that allows dogs but still want to take your dog swimming, nature offers other enjoyable options. However, be aware of the surrounding area if you take your dog to the beach, lake or pond. Watch for trouble and make sure your dog will come to you as soon as you call.

Remember that not all dogs like or know how to swim! If your dog seems eager to give it a try, let him get used to the water gradually and have good first experiences. Don’t throw a nervous or inexperienced swimmer into the water.

Outdoor Games & Activities for You & Your Dog!

BeauBy: Beau

Your dog loves fresh air and sunshine as much as you do—not to mention all the new and interesting sights and smells the outdoors brings. As the weather warms up, try some of these outside games and activities; a few would be perfect for including the whole neighborhood’s dogs in your Memorial Day weekend plans!

You can change these games depending on how your dog is best motivated: praise/belly rubs, favorite toys, items to fetch, or treats. If you do use treats, one way to keep your dog from gaining weight from too many snacks is to use some of his mealtime kibble to play the games. As with any activity, keep each session short and fun! It’s better to end the game before your dog gets bored or overly excited.

If you have a body of water available that your dog is allowed to play in—such as a lake or pool—it can be a great way to take fetch to another level and cool off! Take a couple of balls or toys that will float to the water’s edge and throw them in for your dog to swim after! If your dog hasn’t had much experience in the water, start by tossing the object just at the edge of the water, so all he has to do is get his feet wet, and slowly throw it farther. Remember that not all dogs like to swim—don’t push your dog to go in deeper than he is ready to. Also, our instinct is to try to get out where we went in, so first make sure to teach your dog where he can safely and easily exit the water.

Take your dog to a large open area or yard and have him follow you around as you deliver commands: SIT, DOWN, STAY, COME, etc. Give lots of praise when your dog completes the correct action. You can then move on to more advanced commands, teaching your dog to BACK UP, JUMP over something, CIRCLE around, etc. Continue walking around the area; this forces us to focus our attention on you!

For a twist on traditional fetch, grab a Wiffle bat and a dog-safe ball to hit across the yard or a park and have your dog play outfielder—no glove required! Try not to hit another ball until your dog has brought the first all the way back to you; this teaches us that we have to return the ball for the game to continue.

Wonder just how much your dog has picked up from watching all those agility shows on TV? Get him off the couch (come on, it’s like reality TV for dogs, you know how addicting that stuff is) by setting up your own obstacle course. Try including a tube (such as an agility tunnel/chute, available at most pet retailers) for your dog to run through, a pause table, a ladder, weaving sticks, poles to jump over, etc.—you can be creative with everyday items already in your yard, like sticks or Hula-Hoops. Start with your dog on a leash, and walk him through the course in the order you want him to complete the obstacles. Give him lots of praise when he gets it right, and recruit friends, family and neighbors to serve as judges—or to bring their own dogs to compete!

You can use a Popsicle mold or just an ice cube tray to freeze yummy, refreshing treats for your dog. Get creative by tossing ingredients such as yogurt, bananas, peanut butter, and carrots into a blender with a little water or, for picky pooches, chicken or beef broth (all-natural or low sodium versions are best). If your dog is a dedicated chewer, try stuffing a KONG® with your concoction and putting it in the freezer. I’m drooling just thinking about it!

While not all dogs will take to scenting and tracking, it’s a fun experiment to try! Go somewhere that your scent isn’t already scattered—or use a strong- and unique-scented piece of leather—and shuffle your feet or rub the leather in a distinct but straightforward pattern. Have someone else stay with your dog indoors or out of sight. Then, have your dog sniff you and your feet (or the leather) and lead him along the path you created; it helps if you encourage us to sniff along the way. If he seems to be getting it, try it again, somewhere you haven’t been, and increase the complexity of your trail.

Fill up a kiddie pool with water and encourage your dog to splash around. For even more fun, grab a hose and have your dog chase the stream of water in and out of the pool. Add some dog-safe shampoo to fool your dog into a bath—don’t tell him it was my idea, but he’ll be having so much fun he’ll hardly notice.

Start with your dog in a SIT/STAY, allowing him to smell a treat, then hide it somewhere in the yard. Release your dog from the SIT and watch him explore with unbridled enthusiasm to find it! As your dog masters the game, add a degree of difficulty by hiding a number of treats in advance. You can also try scatter-feeding your dog his kibble at mealtimes (throwing it all around the yard)—I spend hours hunting for every last bit.

In addition to being great exercise for you and your dog, walking is an activity almost anyone can participate in and a great way to get to know your neighbors! Organize a monthly, weekly, or even daily walking group for your neighborhood or apartment building. Keep it interesting by choosing different destinations (like dog parks or dog-friendly stores and cafes), or up the intensity by choosing portions to pick up the pace.

Once your dog has a firm grasp on basic obedience and on-leash manners, consider bringing him along on your bike rides! There are a variety of devices and special harnesses that are specifically made for this sport—called “bikejoring”—that attach your dog safely to a bicycle. Never attempt this by just holding your dog’s normal leash in your hand while steering. Start slowly, guiding your dog along at a steady pace, and keep rides short. Gradually build speed and distance. You can also check for canine biking classes in your area.

Dog Training BookIn addition to the activities above, Training Dogs the Aussie Way by Bark Busters founders Danny and Sylvia Wilson contains about 20 pages of tricks to work on with your dog (available at BarkBustersBoutique.com, Amazon.com, or from your local Bark Busters trainer). Remember that basic obedience is the foundation for having fun with your dog—games and activities should be a fun and rewarding bonding experience, not a stressful time, for you and your dog.

Dozer the Dog Runs Away From Home to Join Half Marathon in Maryland

LilyBy: Lily

Now I’m all for us dogs getting our exercise, and obviously I keep this little body in great shape—but for me, a little impromptu yoga stretching after a nap and a daily stroll to the pet store or groomer is sufficient. Apparently Dozer, a 3-year-old goldendoodle from Fulton, Maryland, doesn’t agree.

On Sunday, Dozer escaped his yard to join the Maryland Half Marathon, about 5 miles late. The ambitious pooch enjoyed lapping water at various rest stations, and no one realized he was running without a human companion until after he crossed the finish line at 2:14:24. Not too bad for a first-timer. Watch his photo finish below:

After a precautionary vet visit, Dozer returned home and has since been inspired to join the cause supported by the Maryland Half—cancer research—by accepting donations for his run. In his own words:

Wow…I just finished my very first Half Marathon! I was sitting in front of my house on Sunday morning when a bunch of runners came running by. They looked like they were having such fun so i decided to join them. I forgot to tell my Mom that I was leaving and she was really upset! Everyone was really nice to me so I just kept running passing first a sign that said Mile 3 then Mile 4 and so on until I saw this big sign that said Finish and everyone stopped running. Along the way i heard people talking about raising money for Cancer Research and I heard stories about people’s loved ones. I was moved to take action so I set up this page to help out.

Dozer was awarded a medal by race organizers today. You know, if shiny jewelry’s involved, running marathons just may be my thing after all

Spring Care & Safety Tips for Your Dog—From Fleas & Ticks to Poisonous Plants & Allergies and

BeauBy: Beau

The first day of spring—March 20—is just around the corner! I know I’m excited to get outside and enjoy the warmer weather, but there are some things we furry quadrupeds have to watch out for during the spring season:

Poisonous plants
Inquisitive dogs who don’t know as well as I do may see fragrant spring blooms as a tasty snack, but dogs can become extremely ill or even die from eating poisonous plants. Ask your vet for a list of poisonous plants you’ll want to avoid having in your garden. Quick tip: Watching my owners while they gardened used to make me think it must be OK for me to dig and tear up plants too! Avoid this confusion by making sure your dog is not present while you are gardening and pulling weeds.

Fleas and ticks
Fleas and ticks can cause lots of problems, from flea allergy dermatitis to Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever—trust me, no fun! A number of flea and tick prevention options are available today, but I’ve found monthly spot-on topicals and oral tablets to be convenient, painless and effective.

Lawn hazards
If a lawn—yours or another’s—has been treated with fertilizers, herbicides or insecticides, do not let your dog walk on it! Remember that we’re not wearing shoes, and keep us off until these potentially dangerous treatments have dried completely.

Spring allergies
As much as I love running through and sniffing all the blooming plants, grasses and flowers, they can trigger atopy, an allergy similar to hay fever. But you won’t catch me sneezing! Dogs typically develop itchy skin and will persistently scratch, lick and bite to get relief. If you suspect that your pooch may be suffering from seasonal allergies, visit your veterinarian for recommended allergy treatments.

Enjoy the Outdoors and Reinforce Training!
Do your dog and yourself a favor and take advantage of the longer days and warmer temperatures to refresh your training skills and build your relationship! We all tend to hibernate a little over the winter, and spring is a great time to get back into a more active lifestyle. But after the long winter, your dog may have forgotten his manners about walking properly on leash. (Hey—it happens to the best of us!) Start out slowly and reestablish proper leash rules for you and your dog’s safety. You may feel like you’re being overly strict with your dog by making him work on walking to heel, coming when called and gate manners—but the truth is that we enjoy these training basics that help us strengthen our relationship with you. And if better manners means that walks are more enjoyable for our owners and we get to go out more often as a result, well—I know I’m all for it!

February Dog Stop Radio Show—Dog Sports, from the Iditarod in Alaska to Skijoring in Your Hometown!

Dog Stop Radio ShowThis month’s Dog Stop was dedicated to two popular dog sports—dog-sledding and skijoring! Click below to listen as Chas St. George, Director of PR for the Iditarod, gives us a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to organize and compete in the Last Great Race on Earth. Then, Kristine Zellmer, SkijorNow skijoring instructor and competitor, tells you how you can get out in the snow with your household pet! As always, you can find past episodes in the archives or on iTunes.

Segment 1—Dog Sports: Learn About the Iditarod Dog-Sledding Race 2011 Iditarod Logo
Ever wonder how the Iditarod got started, how long the race is, what the Iditarod route is like, or how many volunteers it takes to make this Alaskan dog sledding race possible? Chas St. George, director of PR for the Iditarod, has your answers, and much more information about The Last Great Race on Earth.

Segment 2—Dog Sports: Racing the Iditarod, From Mushers to Sled Dogs
Iditarod Musher and DogsIditarod Director of PR Chas St. George tells us about how sled dogs train for the Iditarod, how Iditarod mushers get ready for the race, and the strategies behind racing the Iditarod. Tune in for more behind-the-scenes details about the equipment used, sled dog breeding, and logistical planning for the Iditarod.

Segment 3—Dog Sports: What is Skijoring? With SkijorNow
Skijoring is a recreational and competitive dog sport Skijor Now Logothat is sweeping the nation! Learn about the history of skijoring, basic skijoring equipment and techniques, and competitive skijoring races from Kristine Zellmer, a SkijorNow skijoring instructor who placed third for females at the 2011 National Skijoring Championship.

Segment 4—Dog Sports: How to Skijor with Your Pet Dog, with SkijorNow
Woman Skijoring with DogKristine Zellmer, SkijorNow skijoring instructor and competitive skijor racer, tells you how you can get started skijoring with your own pet dog—no matter what his breed or size! From the necessary equipment and skijoring training tips to safety issues and teaching your dog skijoring commands, find out how and where you can get started skijoring with your dog today. (Photo Credit Joy Green.)

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