Category - Fun

Getting in Shape With Your Dog: 5 Activities for Summer

How long to train a dogThere’s something counterintuitive about leaving your dog at home while you go out for a workout.  Many domestic dogs aren’t getting enough exercise as it is, and we humans could always do with a little more fresh air and a little less Netflix.

Why not combine the two?  Rather than feeling guilty every time you leave your pup at home to head to a stuffy gym, consider ways that you can spend time with your dog and get some much-needed exercise for you both.  Read on for five summertime activities to help you and your dog get in shape while having fun at the same time.

Follow That Dog

Dog walking (or running, depending on the fitness levels of both you and your dog) is the obvious way of getting in shape with your dog.  Unfortunately, dog walks can quickly become a monotonous exercise, where the two of you robotically retrace the same steps and follow the same path day after day.

For a fun and interesting twist give your dog what they’ve always wanted and let them lead – at least part of the way.  Pretend that your dog knows exactly where they want to go, and let them use their inbuilt GPS (a keen sense of smell) to determine your route.  So as to not let your walk get out of hand (you don’t want to find yourself stranded three towns over) work out how long you’d like your walk to take – say, 30 minutes – and then let your dog lead the way for about two thirds of that time (in our example, that would be 20 minutes).  For the remaining time, you can take over the walk again and make a straight line for home.

Remember that part of the activity is to let your dog stop and sniff as much as they choose.  Imagine your dog’s delight!

Hiking

If you are lucky enough to live in an area with – or have easy enough access to – hiking trails, this could be the perfect way to have some outdoor fun in the sun with your dog.  If you’ve never hiked before, try not to be too worried about the equipment or fitness levels required. There’s nothing to say that you have to hike the entire trail each time – just do as much as you and your dog are both comfortable with, before heading back.  Just make sure you’ve got enough water and snacks to sustain you both, and slowly build your way up to longer heights.

Yoga

It may never have crossed your mind to combine yoga and playtime with your dog, but it’s a trend that’s becoming quite popular throughout the US.  Dog yoga, or “doga”, is being offered in some progressive pet-friendly yoga centers, with some even offering mindfulness classes for humans and dogs to take together.  

Even if you don’t have a dog yoga class near you, there are plenty of online videos and other resources that show different ways of practicing yoga with your dog.  Once you’ve mastered a few of the poses, ask someone to take some photos or videos of your efforts: if you’ve ever seen clips of dogs and humans doing yoga together, you’ll agree it’s incredibly clever and cute.

If you do manage to find a dog-friendly yoga class for both of you to attend, check out 5 ways to keep your dog safe at public events.

If yoga is not your thing, look for fitness or Boot Camp classes that include dogs.  We’ve even heard of classes that specialize in helping people in wheelchairs or those with limited mobility to improve their fitness and flexibility while spending valuable time with their dogs.

Water Sports

Summertime is the perfect time of the year to engage in outdoor water sports, and there are plenty of activities that your dog would love to join in.  Stand-up paddleboarding is the perfect example. It’s a good idea to get your dog used to standing on the paddleboard on dry land before venturing out into the water, and if you’re not an experienced paddleboarder yourself, it’s best to organize a lesson for both you and your dog so you’ll both get the most out of the activity.

Most dogs naturally love the water and are confident swimmers, but of course, you want to make sure you have a well fitted and brightly colored lifejacket on your dog just in case.  

Dancing

Dancing would come pretty high on the list of fun things to teach your dog.  It may be hard to believe, but “musical canine freestyle” is a recognized competitive sport that people and their dogs can take pretty seriously.  Involving humans and dogs dancing together to a choreographed routine, participating in events organized by the Musical Dog Sport Association can see dogs and humans earning trophies and training for hours on end.

If you like the idea of enjoying a fun dance workout with your dog but you’re looking for something a little more low-key, try turning on your favorite up-tempo music and using online videos or other guides to teach your dog dance moves, like moving in sync with you, and weaving between your legs.  As long as you’re both having fun and enjoying the music together, you’re sure to burn calories and have a few laughs at the same time.

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The benefits of heading outside with your dog for a mutually beneficial summertime workout are obvious: much-needed fresh air and exercise for both of you, plus a rare chance to spend some relaxing quality time with your dog.

There is an additional benefit of working out with your dog: it feels like fun, not like a workout.  You could probably burn off the same amount of calories in the same amount of time on an elliptical trainer at the gym or by going hiking with your dog.  You could increase your upper body strength by swimming laps at your local aquatic center, or you could take your dog stand-up paddle boarding.

Which would be more enjoyable?  If you had time for just one activity on a sunny Sunday afternoon, which would make you feel like you’ve had a weekend well spent?

About The Author: James Woller is a long-time dog enthusiast, and co-owner of Jet Pet Resort and Release the Hounds, professional dog service companies.

These Five Artists’ Renderings of Dogs Will Make You Want to Hug Your Pup

Man’s best friend— a constant companion at your side and a constant source of inspiration as an artist’s muse. Dogs have been depicted in art for centuries; their loyalty, strength,work ethic and love endless fodder for artists to use as both subject and symbol. Today, artists include our four-legged friends in their painting, photography, sculpture, video and drawings, each with their own voice and understanding of the animal. We’ve complied a list of five of our favorite artists who have put fido front and center in their art.

Photographer Anna Sychowicz’s photos of dogs are super saturated, dreamy portraits that are packed full of emotion. It’s the adoration and sweetness we see every time we look at our own pets, only forever captured through a photographer’s lens. She’s elevated the simple pet portrait to something more dynamic and artistic with her use of color and setting; brown dogs pop off the image against vivid purple and become moody and stoic in a darkened barn.XG3D2067-575079ee3bf69__880

Yet another photographic series comes from Aaron Summerfield with Pet Peeves, albeit with a slightly sillier bent. In the series, you see Summerfield’s Boston Terrier/Frenchie mix Peeve, doing all manner of naughty things in the photographer’s house; all things the mischievous pup had gotten into at one point or another previously. Summerfield so cleverly and sweetly captures the bad behaviors any dog owner knows too well— peeing on the floor, drinking from the toilet, chewing shoes and licking everything in sight.

Summerfield_Pet-Peeves_1

In a slightly creepy but nonetheless fun turn, there are Tom Campbell’s 120 papier-mache dogs. The Irish artist created these doggie sculptures for the Kinsale Arts Festival in County Cork Ireland with the help of a team of volunteers. After creating the pack of dogs, the artist and his team scattered them around the town during the festival, to the delight of locals and tourists alike. The dogs were of all breeds and in all forms— poodles running, labs sleeping and terriers playing. Campbell encouraged the public to interact with the dogs which made for some seriously funny (and weird) formations throughout the entirety of the festival, like the dog pile on the beach or the single line formation down the street.

191c6425385922.5604c23939602Gloria Najecki couldn’t give herself a more fitting moniker with Gloria Paints Dogs— the woman paints a lot of dogs. Her work is straightforward and uncomplicated but with incredible depth and skill. She understands both the physical and emotional complexities of the dogs she paints, from  getting the texture of their fur just right to capturing their personalities with paint.

GloriaDogs5-CI-060915The only thing cuter than a tiny dachshund is a giant dachshund and author Mitch Boyer is capitalizing on this truth in his latest children’s book, Vivian the Dog Moves to Brooklyn. Currently a Kickstarter project, the book is meant to help children deal with change in their own lives, as Vivian navigates the Big Apple after moving there from New Mexico. Vivian and her owner are captures in a series of sweet, fun photos, from taking selfies at the Brooklyn Bridge to cuddling on the couch in a high rise with New York City buildings in the background. Not only is it a engaging, thoughtful way to show kids that change doesn’t have to be bad, it’s also cleverly and artistically shot with Vivian towering over her owner in each photo.

bridge-e1466459591508Don’t hesitate to capture your best friend in your artistic style – and share it, like the people did above, on sites that take art submissions!

My Dog Chews Everything

He licks everything, slobbers on everything, nibbles on everything and chews whatever he can drag away, but I love him, and a lot of the time he’s just being his doggy self.

Does your dog chew things? What is his/her favorite? Have you snapped any guilty-looking, mid-chew pictures? Share them with us!

dog-chewing-shoes

Tips For Travelling With Your Dog

If you ever think you may kennel your dog (meaning at a boarding kennel or even a friend or relative’s house), consider taking your dog there when he is young for a “test run” night or weekend. Ask your friend or the kennel personnel to report on your dog’s behavior. This way, you can get your dog used to the idea of staying someplace different and have an idea how he will react.

Tips for travelling with your dog

If You Go The Kennel Route:

When you take your dog and leave him — DO NOT cry and hug him and tell him how much you will miss him! DO NOT become emotional in front of the dog — NO KIDDING!! Your dog will think: “Why are they SO UPSET?? This must be a bad place!” DO take your dog there with a positive, happy attitude and tell him hat a good time he will have, then give him to the attendant and walk away. You can do your crying in the car (I do!). If you become emotional, you are setting your dog up for fearful and panic-like behavior at the kennel!

When you kennel your dog, it is best that he eat the same thing you feed him at home; that way the stress of the new environment AND new food won’t set him up for vomiting or diarrhea. Make sure your dog is up to date on all vaccinations – this is the simplest and least expensive way to protect your dog against the contagious things we CAN prevent, like Bordatella, Coronavirus, Parvovirus, etc.

I ALWAYS make sure my dog has prevention against Heartworm and especially fleas (and ticks, if necessary) by having them on Sentinel (by Novartis – a veterinary prescription product), and I may even put either FrontLine, Topspot, or Advantage on them. At the very least, it is not a bad idea to have the kennel bathe your dog the day you pick him up. This way, if you request a flea bath, the fleas he may have picked up will be left there and he will be clean from any kennel smell he may have picked up.

If You Take Your Dog Travelling With You:

If you want your dog to behave and be comfortable in the car, then start young, and take him to fun places. Many people don’t understand why their dog doesn’t like car rides, but say they only take him to the vet, kennel, or groomer! Gosh, I wouldn’t have fun either!! When I have a puppy, my puppy goes with me on short trips to the corner store, to the post office, to the park, to the pet store, etc. Trips should be frequent, short and fun to make a good “go Bye Bye” impression on your dog.

Traveling with your dog is safest when the dog is either in a crate (see more on crate training here) or with a seatbelt on. That way quick stops or accidents don’t have to mean injury to your dog. This also keeps busybodies in one place! If you have doubts whether your dog will be carsick, DO NOT feed at least 12 hours before travel.

If you must leave your dog in the car for any length of time, remember that even cloudy, cool days can kill your dog! The heat in your car can become unbearable within minutes. Windows should be more than cracked (I found window guards which allow me to open my windows further without letting would-be thieves get their hands inside), a sunscreen should block the windshield (they make nice reflective ones), and you should park in the shade. Vans or minivans (especially if they have smoke glass side and rear windows) stay much cooler than cars and they have more windows that can be opened. If you are gone any length of time, CHECK on your dog frequently. When you come back, give the dog a drink of water. Don’t let him gorge, just let him drink some and then wait a bit and offer more. Dogs will sometimes vomit if a large amount of water hits their stomach all at once.

Speaking of water, it is a good idea to bring a jug of water from home, both for on the road use and also because some dogs don’t get used to other water easily and can develop vomiting or diarrhea from an unfamiliar water supply.

Some Hotel Hints

When you take your dog to a new place to stay (hotel, cottage, etc.) they may not be on their best behavior. They understand what the routine and rules are at home, but may not understand that those rules pertain no matter where you are! Often the best insurance for that is to bring your dog’s crate along on the trip (you did purchase a fold down suitcase style variety, didn’t you???). This will do two things: it will provide a confinement for your dog and prevent damage that you may have to pay for, and it will be a safe and familiar place for your dog to call his own while you are on the road.

travelling with your dog

If you leave the motel room, I would first try to leave for a short trip (maybe to get some ice) to see how your dog acts in the room. You don’t want your neighbors complaining. Even a dog-friendly hotel won’t hesitate to kick you out if you disturb others! Still, a new traveler will react to passers-by by barking – it is up to you to let him know this is NOT acceptable. If I leave my dogs in the room, I leave the room vent/air conditioner on, and the television on to create some white noise to drown out all the outside noise the dog won’t be used to.

Things To Bring Along

When I travel, I have a bag I pack just for the dogs. In this bag are things I have learned that I may need.

  • A blanket or king sized flat sheet to put over the covers on the bed to keep the dog hair off for subsequent guests.
  • Towels to wipe wet dogs, or dirty ones (I once had to take Cody to a coin operated car wash for a hose down after he had diarrhea in my van! Luckily, I had the seats covered and I just had to throw the cover out, but I did not have towels to dry him off!)
  • First aid kit for dogs
  • Cleaning and deodorizing solution and paper towels
  • Travel bowls for food and water
  • Jug of water from home
  • Travel toys
  • Shampoo – for those emergency baths
  • Flea products
  • Travel leash (your dog should be on a leash at all times – after all, he IS in a strange place) and Flexi-leash for more freedom
  • Identification tags (on the dog!!!)
  • Baggies to clean up the dog poop (you DO clean up after your dog, don’t you???)
  • Large garbage bags for big problems like Cody’s diarrhea incident!
  • Heartworm preventative and flea and tick medication
  • Brush (I once had to pick burrs out of my dog’s coat after a romp in a field)

Problem Cases – How To Desensitize

Dogs who become carsick must be exposed SLOWLY to riding in the car. Each step should take a week, and if the dog gets sick on a step, you need to back off to the previous step until he doesn’t get sick.

Put the dog in the car. Have a toy to keep the dog’s mind off the car, but don’t let him get too rowdy.

  • Dog in the car, car started and running in driveway.
  • Dog in the car, car started. Back down the driveway and then move back up the driveway (IF the dog hasn’t gotten sick on the way down!)
  • Dog in the car, take car around the block (shorten the trip for a week if even that is too much)
  • Dog in the car, take car to local convenience store and back home (or any place close but farther than around the block with a couple of starts and stops along the way).
  • Dog in the car, short trip (you decide the length based on how your dog is responding.

Dogs who get carsick will especially benefit from either a crate (especially the more enclosed plastic crates) or a seatbelt (check your local pet shop for dog seat belts). These will limit unsteady movements. Keep in mind, dogs don’t always vomit when they are carsick. Some may just drool excessively or look wet around the mouth and may have a sick or queasy look in their eyes. Watch your dog for signs of carsickness and work with the steps above to make both of you feel better!

Ask Your Dog Training QuestionsStill Have Questions?

Feel free to contact us with any questions you have – we’ll do our best to answer them pronto!

Checklist For A Well-Behaved Dog

Think you’ve got your hound well-trained? Measure up again our 17-point checklist for well-behaved dogs and let us know how you scored in the comments section below 🙂

  1. Good dog checklistAble to walk on a loose leash without pulling
  2. Able to greet friends and strangers without jumping or shying away
  3. Able to walk without chasing bicycles, children, cars, squirrels, rabbits, balls, other dogs, etc
  4. Can quiet barking on command
  5. Understands nipping and mouthing is not allowed
  6. Able to be left alone at home without destruction, barking or anxiety
  7. Able to play, chew and relax without constant interaction with owner
  8. Able to relinquish food, toys or inappropriate objects at owner’s bidding
  9. Can be groomed or handled without complaint
  10. Is reliable with housebreaking
  11. Veterinarian or groomer can handle dog without a problem
  12. Does not rush through doorways ahead of owner
  13. Interacts appropriately with children
  14. Able to tolerate accidental nudging or grabbing (even when asleep) without snapping
  15. Will move location – even if on furniture or bed – when directed without growling or snapping
  16. Respects leadership of owner
  17. Tolerates at least, and my play or interact appropriately with other dogs

How did you score? Let us know by leaving a comment below!