Category Archives: Exercise

Want To Calm That Hyper Dog Down , Here Are Some Suggestions

By: Pat Miller

Boy, do I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say their dog was “hyperactive” or “ADHD” – I’d be a wealthy woman. In fact, those are clinical terms referring to very specific behavioral disorders (canine and human) that are relatively uncommon in dogs. In reality, most “hyper” dogs are just under-exercised. A couple of days hiking at the Peaceable Paws farm and you’d hardly know them.

Like many young dogs of active breeds, Squid needs a lot of intense exercise in order to be capable of focus and participation in training. Walking around the block doesn’t cut it for dogs like this.

Not every dog owner has access to large tracts of acreage upon which to exercise their unruly canines, and in any case, “wild child canine syndrome” (WCCS) is more than just lack of exercise; it’s also lack of appropriate reinforcement for calm behavior – i.e., training. Unfortunately, all too often a dog loses his happy home – maybe even his life, as a result of his high-energy behavior.

We’ve seen several of these WCCS dogs at the training center in recent weeks. One private client decided to return her Shar-Pei-mix to the rescue from whence the pup came. Despite her best intentions and efforts, the client had mobility challenges that made it impossible for her to provide the pup with the exercise and management she needed. As painful as it was for the owner, returning the pup was the right decision.

WCCS dogs often include inappropriate biting in their repertoire of undesirable behaviors. We currently have a temporary foster resident at the training center: a 13-week-old high-energy Jack Russell Terrier who failed his assessment at the shelter for using his mouth in protest when restrained. Little Squid is a perfect example of the kind of dog who needs to learn self-control and the art of being calm.

A successful WCCS behavior modification program contains three elements: physical exercise, management, and training. While any one of these alone can make your high-energy dog easier to live with, apply all three for maximum success. Let’s look at each of these elements in greater detail.

Physical Exercise

Squid’s day begins with an hour of barn-play while we do chores. He delights in harassing our dogs (and our pig). He gets at least one long hike around the farm per day, preferably two, or even three. He also gets one or more sessions of ball/toy fetch in the training center, and some puppy socialization/play time when there’s a class going on. Finally, he wraps up his day with evening barn chores. Does it tire him out? No. I have yet to see him tired. But it does take the edge off, so that when I work with him to teach calm he is able to focus and participate in the training. The physical exercise sets him up for training success.

The Manners Minder enables you to dispense a treat to your dog some distance away from you.

Not everyone has an 80-acre farm to play on. If you’re farm-deprived, there are other ways to provide exercise for your WCCS dog. A placid walk or three around the block won’t do it. Nor will leaving him on his own in your fenced backyard. He needs to be actively engaged.

Outings to your local well-run dog park can be a good exercise option. If you don’t have one in your area, invite compatible canines over to play in your dog’s fenced yard. If you don’t have one, invite yourself and your dog over to your dog-friend’s fenced yard for play dates.

Absent any access to a dog-friendly fenced yard, play with your dog on a long line. A 50-foot line gives him a 100-foot stretch to run back and forth and work his jollies off.

Caution: Work up to 50 feet gradually, so he learns where the end of the line is. You don’t want him to blast full-speed to the end of his long line and hurt himself. Also, wear long pants. A high-speed long-line wrapped around bare legs can give you a nasty rope burn.

If none of those work for you, having him wear a pack when you walk him, or even better, pull a cart (which takes significant training), or exercising him (safely) from a bicycle may be options for using up excess energy. If outside exercise is simply out of the question, here are some indoor activities that can help take the edge off:

-Find it. Most dogs love to use their noses. Take advantage of this natural talent by teaching yours the “Find It!” game:

1. Start with a handful of pea-sized tasty treats. Toss one to your left and say “Find it!” Then toss one to your other side and say “Find it!” Do this back and forth a half-dozen times.

2. Then have your dog sit and wait or stay, or have someone hold his leash. Walk 10 to 15 feet away and let him see you place a treat on the floor. Walk back to his side, pause, and say “Find it!” encouraging him to go get the treat. Repeat a half-dozen times.

3. Next, have your dog sit and wait or stay, or have someone hold his leash and let him see you “hide” the treat in an easy hiding place: behind a chair leg, under the coffee table, next to the plant stand. Walk back to his side, pause, and say “Find it!” encouraging him to go get the treat. Repeat a half-dozen times.

4. Again, have your dog sit and wait. This time hide several treats in easy places while he’s watching. Return to his side, pause, and say “Find it!” Be sure not to help him out if he doesn’t find them right away.

You can repeat the “find it” cue, and indicate the general area, but don’t show him where it is; you want him to have to work to find it.

The “find it!” game can be played indoors or outside. Nose work is surprisingly tiring for dogs.

5. Hide the treats in harder and harder places so he really has to look for them: surfaces off the ground; underneath things; and in containers he can easily open.

6. Finally, put him in another room while you hide treats. Bring him back into the room and tell him to “Find it!” and enjoy watching him work his powerful nose to find the goodies. Once you’ve taught him this step of the game you can use it to exercise him by hiding treats in safe places all over the house, and then telling him to “Find it!” Nose work is surprisingly tiring.

If you prefer something less challenging, just go back to Step 1 and feed your dog his entire meal by tossing pieces or kibble from one side to the other, farther and farther, with a “Find it!” each time. He’ll get a bunch of exercise just chasing after his dinner!

-Hide And Seek. This is a fun variation of the “Find it” game. Have your dog sit and wait (or have someone hold him) while you go hide yourself in another room of the house. When you’re hidden, call your dog’s name and say “Find me!” Make it easy at first so he can find you quickly and succeed. Reinforce him with whatever he loves best – treats, a game of “tug,” petting and praise, a tossed ball – or a combination of these. Then hide again. As he learns the game, make your hiding places harder and harder, so he has to really search. A trainer friend tells me she has hidden in bathtubs and closets, under beds, and even inside a cedar chest.

-Manners Minder. If you are into higher-tech exercise, use a treat dispenser called the Manners Minder that spits out treats when you push a button on the remote control. A Maryland trainer friend, Elizabeth Adamec of Sweet Wag Dog Training, shared her exercise secret with me for her high-energy adolescent Golden Retriever, Truman. This one is especially useful if you don’t feel like exercising along with your canine pal or can’t, due to physical restrictions of your own:

Teach your dog to use the Manners Minder, by showing him several times that when he hears the beep, a treats fall out of the machine. You can use his own dog food, if he really likes his food.

1. Set the machine a few feet away and have your dog sit next to you. Push the button, and let him go eat the treats. Repeat several times, encouraging him, if necessary, to go get the treats when he hears the beep.

2. Put the machine across the room, and have your dog sit next to you. Push the button, and watch him run over and eat the treats. If he’s not doing this with great enthusiasm, repeat Steps 1 and 2 several more times with higher value treats, until he really gets excited about the treats when he hears the beep.

3. Set the machine in the next room, and repeat the exercise several times. Call him back to you each time, so he runs to the Manners Minder when he hears the beep, eats the treat, and runs back to you to wait for the next beep. Gradually move the treat dispenser into rooms farther and farther away from you, until your dog has to run all the way across the house, or even upstairs, when he hears the beep. Now you can sit back with the TV remote in one hand, your dog’s remote in the other, and enjoy your favorite show while canine pal gets exercise and dinner, all at the same time.

There are tons of other ways to provide your dog with indoor exercise. Play tug. Teach him to bowl. Teach him to catch, then repeatedly toss him his ball 10 feet away and have him bring it back to you. Some trainers use treadmills and canine exercise wheels to exercise their dogs. (These must be carefully trained and supervised.) Get creative. Get busy. Have fun. Let the indoor games begin.

Management

Successful positive training, especially for high-energy dogs, relies on the appropriate use of management tools to prevent the dog from practicing – and being reinforced for – undesirable behaviors. In between his many daily exercise and training sessions, Squid is either parked in an exercise pen in the barn tack room (with plenty of bathroom breaks outside), or in an outdoor kennel off the side of the training center.

Squid has learned a modicum of calm behavior, and now offers a calm sit or down when he wants something, such as the opportunity to go outside. This is quite a contrast to his previous behavior of frustrated jumping and mouthing.

Here are examples of when to use various management tools for your wild child dog:

Crates and Pens. Use crates and exercise pens when you can’t directly supervise his energy to consistently reinforce appropriate behaviors and prevent reinforcement for inappropriate ones. The best times for the appropriate use of crates and exercise pens include:

When you can provide adequate exercise and social time in addition to his time in the crate or pen.

When your dog has been properly introduced to the crate or pen and accepts it as a good place to be. Note: Dogs who suffer from isolation or separation distress or anxiety often do not crate or pen well.

When you know you’ll be home in a reasonable period of time so you don’t force your dog to soil his den – no longer than one hour more than your pup’s age in months, no more than an outside maximum of eight to nine hours for adult dogs.

Leashes and Tethers. Leashes and tethers are useful for the “umbilical cord” technique of preventing your wild child from being reinforced for unwanted behaviors. With your dog near or attached to you, you can provide constant supervision. Also, with your dog tethered to your side, you should have many opportunities to reinforce him for appropriate behavior.

The leash can be hooked to waist belts that are designed for that purpose, or clipped to your belt or belt-loop with a carabineer. Your WCCS dog can’t zoom around the house if he’s glued to your side.

If inappropriate mouthing behavior is included in his high-energy repertoire, however, this may not be the best choice. Tethers are better for keeping this dog in view, with easy access for reinforcement of calm behavior, while keeping his teeth from your clothing or skin. Appropriate situations for the use of leashes and tethers include:

For dogs who get into trouble when they are unsupervised.

-Leashed when your activities don’t preclude having a dog connected to you – okay for working on the computer; not okay for working out.

-Tethered when you want to keep your dog near but not directly connected to you, to teach good manners and/or prevent inappropriate behaviors.

Baby Gates and Doors. Baby gates and doors prevent your dog’s access to vulnerable areas when he’s in wild child mode. A baby gate across the nursery door keeps him safely on the other side while you’re changing diapers, but still lets him be part of the “baby experience.” Not to worry if the older kids left their stuffed toys strewn across the bedroom floor; just close the bedroom door when your dog is in a “grab toy and run” mood. The most appropriate uses of baby gates and doors include:

To prevent your dog’s temporary access to areas during activities you don’t want him to participate in.

To prevent your dog’s access to areas when you can’t supervise closely enough, to prevent inappropriate behaviors such as counter surfing or getting on forbidden furniture.

Training

The final element of your WCCS behavior modification program is training. The more training you do the easier it is to communicate with your dog. The better he understands you, the more easily he can follow your instructions and requests. With a high-energy dog, in addition to basic good manners training, invest a lot of training time in impulse-control behaviors.

-Click for Calm. Start by simply clicking your dog for calm behavior, beginning with clicks and treats for any pause in the action. One challenge with a high-energy dog is that the instant you try to praise or reward, he’s bouncing off the walls again. With the clicker, an instant of calm elicits a “click” during the calm behavior. Even if the delivery of the treat causes excitement, your dog still understands it was calm that caused the click-and-treat to happen. An added advantage of the clicker: when they hear the click, most dogs pause in anticipation of the coming morsel, drawing out the brief period of relatively calm behavior even longer.

The goal of clicker training is to get your dog to understand that he can make the click happen by offering certain behaviors – in this case, calm. At first you won’t get long, leisurely stretches of calm behavior to click. Begin by giving your dog a click and treat just because all four feet are on the floor at the same instant. Be quick! You want him to understand the behavior he got rewarded for was pausing with all four feet on the floor, so the click needs to happen the instant all four feet are down. If you click late, you may reinforce him for bouncing around – the exact opposite of what you want!

If your timing is good and you click for four-on-the-floor several times in a row he’ll start to stand still deliberately to make the clicker go off. This is one of the most exciting moments in dog training –when your dog realizes he can control the clicker. Your clicker is now a powerful tool; you can reinforce any behavior you want, any time it happens, and your dog will quickly start repeating that behavior for you.

Make sure your dog’s crate is comfortable and equip him with a nice chew or food-stuffed Kong.

How does “pausing briefly on all four feet” translate into calm? Very gradually. You will “shape” the pause into longer periods of stillness, by extending the time, in milliseconds at first, that he stands still before you click and treat. As he gets better at being calm for longer periods, be sure to reinforce randomly – sometimes for shorter pauses, sometimes longer. Do the same thing with “sit” and “down.” Down is my favorite calm position: the very act of lying down evokes relaxation.

Do several short training sessions every day. You’ll have the most success if you practice “clicking for calm” right after one of your dog’s exercise sessions when he’s tired anyway. When he understands that “calm” is a very rewardable behavior, it will work even when he has more energy.

When your dog will remain still for several seconds at a time, add the verbal cue of your choice, like “Chill out,” that will eventually cue him into calmness. Over time you can phase out the click and treat for calm behavior and use other rewards such as calm praise, a gentle massage, or an invitation to lie quietly next to you on the sofa.

-“Sit” As Default Behavior. “Sit” is one of the first behaviors we teach. Even after the dog knows it well we reinforce “sit” so heavily that it becomes his “default behavior” – what he does when he doesn’t know what else to do. Teach your dog to sit by holding a treat at the end of his nose and moving it slowly back a few inches, clicking and treating when his bottom touches ground.

Alternatively, shape it by clicking and treating for slightly lowered hind end until touchdown, and/or click for offered sits. Then shape longer sits. If he already knows sit, start reinforcing it every time he does it until he sits for anything and nothing. When you have installed “sit” as his default, things like the “Wait” exercises (below) and “Go wild and freeze” (See “More Steps to a Calm Dog,” page 19) happen very easily.

-Wait. “Wait” is especially useful for dogs who are short on impulse control. I teach it using food bowls and doorways. “Wait” then easily generalizes to other situations.

-Wait for Food: With your dog sitting at your side, tell him to “Wait.” Hold his bowl (with food in it, topped with tasty treats) chest-high, then move it toward the floor 4 to 6 inches. If your dog stays sitting, click and feed him a treat from the bowl as you raise it back up to your chest. If your dog gets up, say “Oops!” and ask him to sit again. If he gets up several times in a row, you’re asking for too much too soon; lower the bowl in smaller increments.

If he remains sitting, lower the bowl 4 to 6 inches again, and click and treat for his continued sitting. Repeat several times until he consistently remains sitting as you lower the bowl. Gradually move the bowl closer to the floor with succeeding repetitions until you can place it on the floor without your dog getting up. Finally, place the bowl on the floor and tell him to eat. After he’s had a few bites, lift the bowl up and try again. Repeat these steps until you can easily place the bowl on the floor and he doesn’t move until you give him permission.

Caution: If your dog guards resources such as his food bowl, consult with a qualified positive behavior professional before trying this exercise.

-Wait at the Door: With your dog sitting at your side, tell him to “wait.” Reach for the doorknob. If he doesn’t move, click and treat. Repeat this step several times. Then jiggle the doorknob. Click and reward him for not moving. Repeat this step several times. Slowly open the door a crack. Again, click and treat if he doesn’t move, and repeat. Gradually open the door farther, an inch or two at a time. Do several repetitions at each step, with clicks and treats each time.

Eventually you’ll walk all the way through the door, stop, and face your dog, without having him move. Wait a few seconds, click, then return and give him a tasty treat. Of course, occasionally you’ll actually give him permission to go out the door!

Squid does a variation of “Wait at the door” in his pen and kennel. With the dog on the inside and human on the outside, I reach for the latch. If he jumps up, I pull my hand away. If he sits, I continue with the gate-opening process. Each time he jumps up, the process stops. If he exercises self-control the gate opens and he earns his freedom.

A Happy Future

Using a combination of exercise, training, and management, I am wildly optimistic that I can help Squid chill out, pass his shelter assessment, and find his forever home. If, after reading all this you still think your dog suffers from clinical hyperactivity or ADHD, then it’s time to visit a qualified behavior professional for help. More likely though, using the same combination of exercise, training, and management, you can ensure your own dog’s calm and happy future in your family.



Advertisements

Choosing A Pet Sitter

 

image

Choosing a Pet Sitter

Pet sitters do much more than provide your pet with food and water while you’re away

Pet sitters do much more than provide a pet with food and water while their guardian is away from home.

A good pet sitter also spends quality time with the animal, gives him exercise and knows how to tell if he needs veterinary attention. What’s more, pet sitters typically offer additional services, such as taking in mail and newspapers and watering plants.
But just because someone calls herself a pet sitter doesn’t mean she’s qualified to do the job.

Why hire a pet sitter?

A pet sitter—a professional, qualified individual paid to care for your pet—offers both you and your pet many benefits.

Your pet gets:

The environment he knows best.
His regular diet and routine.
Relief from traveling to and staying in an unfamiliar place with other animals (such as a boarding kennel).
Attention while you’re away.

You get:

Happier friends and neighbors, who aren’t burdened with caring for your pet.
The peace of mind that comes from knowing that your pet is being cared for by a professional.
Someone to bring in your newspaper and mail so potential burglars don’t know you’re away.
Someone who will come to your home so you don’t have to drive your pet to a boarding kennel.
Other services provided by most pet sitters, such as plant watering and pet grooming.

Where do I find a pet sitter?

Start with a recommendation from a friend, neighbor, veterinarian, humane society or dog trainer. Check online or in the Yellow Pages under “Pet Sitting Services.” You can also contact the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (856-439-0324) or Pet Sitters International (336-983-9222).

What should I look for?

It’s important to learn all you can about a prospective pet sitters’ qualifications and services. Before selecting a pet sitter, interview the candidates over the phone or at your home. Find out the following:
Can the pet sitter provide written proof that she has commercial liability insurance (to cover accidents and negligence) and is bonded (to protect against theft by a pet sitter or her employees)?
What training has the pet sitter completed?
Will the pet sitter record notes about your pet—such as his likes, dislikes, fears, habits, medical conditions, medications, and routines?
Is the pet sitter associated with a veterinarian who can provide emergency services?
What will happen if the pet sitter experiences car trouble or becomes ill? Does she have a backup?
Will the pet sitter provide related services such as in-home grooming, dog walking, dog training and play time?
Will the pet sitter provide a written service contract spelling out services and fees?
If the pet sitter provides live-in services, what are the specific times she agrees to be with your pet? Is this detailed in the contract?
How does your pet sitter make sure that you have returned home?
Will the pet sitter provide you with the phone numbers of other clients who have agreed to serve as references?
Even if you like what you hear from the pet sitter and from her references, it’s important to have the prospective pet sitter come to your home to meet your pet before actually hiring her for a pet-sitting job. Watch how she interacts with your pet—does your pet seem comfortable with the person? If this visit goes well, start by hiring the pet sitter to care for your pet during a short trip, such as a weekend excursion. That way, you can work out any problems before leaving your beloved pet in the pet sitter’s care for longer periods.

Helping the pet sitter and your pet

Of course, even the most trustworthy, experienced pet sitter will have trouble if you haven’t also kept your end of the bargain. Here are your responsibilities:
Make reservations with your pet sitter early, especially during holidays.
Ensure your pet is well socialized and allows strangers to handle him.
Affix current identification tags to your pet’s collar.
Maintain current vaccinations for your pet.
Leave clear instructions detailing specific pet-care responsibilities and emergency contact information, including how to reach you and your veterinarian.
Leave pet food and supplies in one place.
Buy extra pet supplies in case you’re away longer than planned.
Leave a key with a trustworthy neighbor as a backup, and give him and your pet sitter each other’s phone numbers. Be sure those extra keys work before giving them out.
Show the pet sitter your home’s important safety features such as the circuit breaker and security system.

Finally, have a safe and fun trip. And remember to bring your pet sitter’s phone number in case your plans change—or you just want to find out how Fluffy and Fido are doing.

Winter Boredom? Fun Exercises To Keep Your Dog Active & Fit During The Cold Season

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

2015/01/img_0577.jpg

I posted the picture above to represent the winter season. In reality, I live in the South but this picture symbolizes how we deal with the cold season. There are many pet parents like myself that feel guilty when our active life with our pets decreases. Our pets get lazy, a little overweight and bored. Well, I want to help all of us out of our runt. No matter what’s going on in any of our lives, let’s make sure one of our priorities is keeping our pets happy through vested activities.
The winter season puts our dogs at risk for many illnesses. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention estimates over half of all dogs in the United States are overweight or obese and have an increased risk of injury, disease and shortened life expectancy. Yes FiFi looks cute and cozy in their pet beds or your bed but believe me having some exercise with their favorite person will make them come alive. It will also prolong their health and lives. So what are these activities you say. I have 6 great activities you and your fur baby will enjoy.

Six Exercises Your Dog Will Love

1. Treadmills

Dog or human treadmills work well to exercise your dog. Start slowly with your dog on a leash and use high-value treats as motivation. After your dog is comfortable walking slowly, gradually increase the speed to a trot. Always stay with your dog to watch him closely. Never tether your dog to a treadmill or force him to stay on it. If your dog doesn’t seem to enjoy the treadmill, find another form of exercise.

2. Stair Climbing

If your dog is young, healthy and not prone to hip problems, throw a ball or toy up to the top of carpeted stairs for an aerobic game of fetch. Just be careful not to overdo exercising on the stairs. Stair climbing is also a quick way to develop your leg muscles quickly.

3. Train with Tricks

Try some new training techniques or reinforce any existing commands or training that need more work. Teach your dog some tricks. If your dog already knows the basic tricks, try teaching him something to help out around the house, such as picking up his toys and putting them in a basket. Most dogs like to learn something new and it’s a great way to bond with your dog.

4.Doggie Gyms

These gyms are popping up all over the country and if there’s one close to you, they offer various ways to exercise your dog. Some even have swimming pools and indoor dog parks.

5. Dog Walkers

If you really hate walking outside in the winter or don’t have enough time to exercise your dog, hire a recommended and reliable dog walker. Make sure they are from a formal company. And also make sure they are insured and bonded. Check out the services we offer : HWHD Services & Fees. This will give you an idea of what activities you would want no matter what part of the country reside.

6. Play Dates

Get together with friends who have dogs that want to exercise, play and socialize. Better yet, host a play date in your home and make some homemade dog treats for your dog to share with his friends.

Bonus:  More Winter Season Activities

Anyone live up north, the Midwest or Canada. Here are some other Great Ideas!

1. Snow Hikes

Head out for a hike in a wooded area after a fresh snowfall. It’s beautiful and serene since most people don’t take advantage of hiking trails in the winter. It’s also the perfect time to use off-leash areas where your dog can have more freedom without running into too many other dogs or people.

2. Sledding and Snowball Fights

Have your dog join you for some childhood fun in the snow.

3. Dog Parks
If your dog gets overwhelmed by crowded dog parks, try visiting in the winter when there are fewer people and dogs at the park. Hint: Pro Petsitters love an afternoon in dog parks.

4. Snowshoeing or Cross-Country Skiing

Enjoy these sports if you have a snow-loving dog.

5. Skijoring

Have you ever heard of Skijoring? Skijoring is having your dog pull you through the snow while you’re wearing skis. It sounds like a lot of fun if you have a snow-loving dog that can safely pull you.

Winter Advice To Keep Your Dog Safe During The Cold

Short-haired, small or elderly dogs may need a water-repellent coat to help keep them warm.

Trim the hair between your dog’s toes to reduce snow and ice buildup.

Dog booties can keep paws dry and free from ice, salt or de-icing chemicals

If your dog hates booties, apply Musher’s Secret wax to his paws before going outside to prevent painful ice balls from forming between his toes. Musher’s Secret also protects paws from hot pavement or beach sand in the summer.

If you don’t use booties, clean your pup’s paws with a warm wet cloth when you return home to remove any salt, de-icing chemicals or ice balls. Also wipe down their legs and belly.

Use reflective wear or clip-on LED collar lights if you walk outside after dark.

Consult with your vet if you have any concerns about exercising your dog outside when it’s cold.

Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions For Your Pet [ Oh, and For You Too :- ) ]

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/993/42021946/files/2015/01/img_0378.jpg

Goals Aren’t Just for People

The start of a new year can signal a fresh start for pets needing a change in their routine. For example, with over 50 percent of pets in the U.S. classified as overweight, there’s no better time for owners to commit to a new diet and exercise regimen for their pets. Need more ideas? Here are ten resolutions to make this year your pet’s healthiest year yet!

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/993/42021946/files/2015/01/img_0377.jpg

#10 Measure Your Pet’s Food – Every Time!

Many owners “eyeball” their pet’s daily intake and pour that into a bowl, usually resulting in overfeeding and weight gain. It’s important to use an 8-ounce measuring cup to ensure your pet isn’t taking in more calories than they need. The recommended feeding guidelines on the bag are good place to start to figure out how much food Fido (or Kitty) really needs. Older pets and those who have been neutered usually have lower energy needs than young, intact animals.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/993/42021946/files/2015/01/img_0379.jpg

#9 Choose an Age-Appropriate Diet

Growing pets have very specific nutrient requirements to ensure their bodies grow healthy and strong. For example, some senior pets may have lower energy requirements, but have other medical issues like degenerative joint disease that may be helped with the appropriate diet. Choosing a diet specifically tailored to your pet’s life stage is a great way to keep them in optimal health.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/993/42021946/files/2015/01/img_0380.jpg

#8 Try a New Activity with Your Pet

From doga to hiking, skijoring to kayaking, it’s easier than ever for people to incorporate their pet into a new exercise routine. It’s a great way to bond, it’ll get you both out of the house, and both owner and pet will reap the rewards of a healthy physical activity. Meet-up groups are a great way to find like-minded pet owners to join you in your exercise, too!

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/993/42021946/files/2015/01/img_0381.jpg

#7 Incorporate (More) Playtime into Your Routine

Cats love the thrill of chasing a laser toy; just don’t tell them it’s exercise! Toys that trigger a cat’s predatory instinct are a great way to get them off the couch and engaged in a little aerobic activity. Experiment to see what really gets your cat going — in addition to lasers, catnip toys, crinkly balls, and climbable cat trees are perennial feline favorites. Even a cardboard box can become a cat cave that satisfies a cat’s desire for a hiding place.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/993/42021946/files/2015/01/img_0382.jpg

#6 Make a Date with Your Vet

Yearly examinations by the veterinarian are a key component of good preventive care. Many medical conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, or obesity are common in aging pets and much easier to manage when detected in the early stages of the disease process. Veterinary visits are also the perfect time to ask for advice, update your pet’s food, or get an expert opinion on any behavioral issues that may be affecting your bonding with your pet.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/993/42021946/files/2015/01/img_0383.jpg

#5 Groom Your Pet Daily

Brushing your pet serves many purposes. It removes excess fur from the coat, reducing the amount you find on your clothes and furniture. It helps distribute oils from the skin to the fur, keeping the coat shiny and healthy. Lastly, daily grooming is a bonding activity that demonstrates to your pet how much you love them by taking care of them in a very soothing manner.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/993/42021946/files/2015/01/img_0384.jpg

#4 Practice Good Oral Hygiene Habits with Your Pet

Daily toothbrushing is the best way to keep tartar and plaque at bay — just be sure to use a toothpaste meant for dogs and cats. Water additives, dental diets, and treats designed to reduce tartar can also be a helpful tool in keeping teeth clean. And even with all of these tricks, regular cleanings by a licensed veterinarian are the best way to keep those pearly whites in tip top shape long into your pet’s senior years.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/993/42021946/files/2015/01/img_0385.jpg

#3 Teach an Old Dog a New Trick

Studies show that mental stimulation can help reduce cognitive deterioration in aging animals. In other words, keeping your senior pet’s brain active can actually make it healthier! Teaching your pet new tricks and practicing those they already know are a great way to keep those neurons firing. Puzzle feeders, which force a pet to think through a task in order to be rewarded with a treat, are also an excellent way to keep a pet’s mind engaged.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/993/42021946/files/2015/01/img_0386.jpg

#2 Update Pet ID Info

Over the course of a year, a lot can change — people move, get new phone numbers, and forget to update their pet’s tags. Often they only remember once the pet is lost. If any of your contact information has changed in 2012, don’t wait — update their tags and microchip information today! It’s the best way to ensure a lost pet makes their way safely home.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/993/42021946/files/2015/01/img_0387.jpg

#1 Consider Fostering

You think you want a new pet, but you’re not 100 percent sure it’s right for you? Try fostering. Many animal shelters and rescues need loving homes to provide safe and temporary living arrangements for pets. It’s the perfect way to test the waters of pet ownership without the lifelong commitment, since you are simply hosting a pet while they wait for their forever home. Who knows? That home just might end up being yours.

10 Reasons Your Children Should Own Pets

 

 

image

Decade after decade, the debate continues – is it good for children to grow up with pets? There are many positive reasons why children should own pets. Not only do pets teach children many life skills, they are also wonderful friends. Check out 10 reasons why your child should have a pet.

1. Responsibility

Children with pets develop a sense of responsibility and care for others early on in life. Pets need care and attention all the time. They depend on their humans to feed, entertain, and exercise them. Children who are active in raising their pets usually learn how to be empathetic and compassionate. Learning how to be responsible for another creature will allow the youngsters to better take care of themselves as well.

It is important for pet owners to help their children take care of the pets, gradually releasing responsibility to them over time. When they are young, children can help their parents fill the water or food bowls. As they get older, the assistance can gradually increase.

2. Self Confidence

Along with responsibility for a pet comes the building of self-confidence. When children are successful at raising their pets, they feel good about themselves. In turn, their self-esteem increases and they carry a confident air about them. They are, in a sense, proud of their accomplishments.

3. Less Prone to Allergy & Asthma

Multiple studies over the years have shown that children who grow up with pets are less prone to develop allergies and asthma. When exposed to pet dander and other allergens before the age of one, children tend to develop stronger immune systems. Results published inClinical and Experimental Allergy state that boys who grew up with indoor pets were half as likely to develop severe allergies later on in life

4. Exercise and Play

Pets, especially dogs, need exercise and play. The activities that children participate in with their pets are usually physical. This allows boys and girls to stay fit. In general, families spend more time outside when they have pets. The sunshine and fresh air are good for everyone. Learning about the need for exercise for pets to stay healthy helps children apply the same concepts to their own wellbeing.

5.Calm

Pets tend to bring about a sense of calm for children. Some youngsters are more relaxed around their pets than other humans. Like adults, children turn to their pets when they are feeling sad, angry, or otherwise upset. Magically, pets will bring peace to the situation and provide their humans with unconditional love.

6. Relieve Stress

Along the same lines of keeping children calm, dogs are also great to have around as stress relievers. Being around dogs can be extremely therapeutic for the entire family. Just cuddling with the family pooch can bring about a sense of safety and security for children, let alone the rest of the family. Often, people turn to their dogs for comfort. They make good sounding boards as they are good listeners and never talk back. They never try to give advice when it is not wanted. They are simply there as calming influences for people who are flustered and stressed out.

Although cats are not as compassionate, as pets, they can still help relieve undue stress. There is something to be said when cats cuddle up. Their soft coats and purring can help their owners feels a sense of calm. There are gentle sides to cats – they just don’t like to show it very often.

7. Improve Reading Skills

Many children are more comfortable reading aloud to pets than they are other humans. Perhaps it is because pets do not judge – pets do not correct the children and make them reread. The bottom line to improving reading skills is to practice it repeatedly. The more children read, the better they get at it. At younger ages, it is best for children to read aloud so that they can hear themselves.

When pets are used to help children read, they essentially support the improvement of fluency. The oral practice children experience when reading to their pets helps them become fluent readers, resulting in better comprehension of what they are reading.

8. Learn About Consequences

Caring for pets can teach children a great deal about consequences. When pets are not cared for properly, the results are real and easy for children to grasp. If fish are not fed, they die. If dogs don’t exercise, they get agitated. When cats are ignored, they will seek revenge and do something mean. If a gerbil or hamster’s cage does not get cleaned out, it will start to really smell bad.

9. Learn About Commitment

Growing up with a pet is a huge commitment on the part of the human. Pets are not things children can just put on shelves when they get tired of taking care of them. They need to be fed, cleaned, exercised, played with, and otherwise loved every single day. Having a pet is a total commitment and cannot ever be treated as a part-time job. This teaches children to commit and follow through with the task.

10. Discipline

When growing up with a pet, children learn a great deal about discipline. If they have a dog at home, they learn to train it and teach it how to listen. It’s been scientifically proven that having a dog helps children learn about discipline. Some would argue that cats discipline their owners naturally.

There are many sound reasons why children benefit from owning pets. There are many life skills they learn as a result of caring for another being and committing to the responsibility. As an added bonus, children would be able to share their youths with automatic best friends.

 

What Does Your Dog’s Emotions Go Through When You Are Not Home

ImageI had to write this blog because lately my male shih-tzu, Toby, has been going through quite of bit of separation anxiety lately .  Now, Toby, has always needed my attention as so do I, but lately he never lets me out his sight or does not to be home without touching. He follows me foot by foot and when I sit down, he insists on laying on my shoulder, my abs, my legs. He is constantly kissing me. I can’t figure out why he has all of sudden became so needy. I wondered what feelings is he going through when I am not home.

There are series of emotions that your dog go through when you are there.

Dogs are very social animals, and they would like nothing more than to be by your side 24/7. But we know , we can’t be there 24/7 because we owe to ourselves to have a happy balanced life.

1st Emotion:  Denial

anxiousdog

Here is what is going through their mind.

“I’m okay, I’m fine, this is all right. Mommy  will be right back. I’ll just sit right here by the door waiting for her … she’s probably just right outside. This is fine. I am okay.”

We might imagine our dogs gleefully doing the Tom Cruise Risky Business slide when we shut the door behind us in the morning, but the more likely scenario is that the dog is experiencing some level of separation anxiety. This separation anxiety might manifest itself as anything from nuisance barking or whining (unpleasant for the neighbors) to stinky surprises left for you when you return home (unpleasant for you). If your dog is one to chew his feelings, you may also find some prized possessions or furniture vandalized during your absence.

 

2. Anger Erupts

Image

3. Rationalizing and Bargaining

“If I balance all these treats, will Mommy  come home? I promise to never tear up another cushion again … you’re going to have to buy new cushions first, but I promise I won’t tear them up when you do, if you only come home like, now.”

20130315-dogs-stages-of-grief-5

Separation anxiety is a serious condition. Dogs suffering from the more severe forms may salivate, pace, bark, howl, and/or urinate and defecate in panic. They can destroy cars, homes, and possessions at an incredible rate, and dig and chew their way out of windows and doors. They sometimes resort to self-mutilation when left alone. Just think about how intensely frightened you’d have to be to lose the contents of your bowels when left alone, or to rip out the walls of a room to escape. These dogs are suffering immensely and miserably. They need help from a patient and understanding owner – and the owner needs professional guidance from an experienced, educated trainer who understands the behavior and the necessary steps to overcome it. In order to help a dog triumph over a severe manifestation of this condition, extraordinary support for his owner is absolutely crucial.

dogspavelove

4. Depression Sets In

“Oh mighty wolf gods, Mommy is never coming back, is she? She’s gone. She’s gone. I think I am dying. I am going to die without the two-legger. My heart is breaking. I am going to lie here and never move again.”

Image

5. Acceptance

” I acccept my new life as a lone wolf devoid of my Mommy. I accept this the way I accept trips to the vet and the cone around my neck. I accept it the way I accepted the new cat you brought home from the pound. Who will feed me now?”

Your dog is starting to accept how things are at the moment. But do we really want our babies to suffer through these stages. Our parental instincts kicks in when we see our babies suffering emotionally.

If you want a calm dog or transition your pet more smoothly , it doesn’t get any calmer than sleep. Before you leave the house, make sure you schedule time for a brisk walk or a vigorous game of fetch in the backyard or nearby dog park. Having an anxious dog home alone is bad enough. Having a dog that is anxious and hyper is a recipe for disaster. Exercise helps calm your dog down in two ways. Physically, it tires your dog out, so he might be up for a nap while you’re away; and emotionally, exercise can level out your dog’s brain chemistry in the same way a good workout can leave humans exhilarated. This is another great benefit of hiring a Professional Pet Sitter.

The best-case scenario is you can come home for lunch and spend a little quality time to break up your dog’s day. But if your schedule or commute doesn’t always allow that, it may take a village.Hiring a Professional Pet Sitter is priceless in this situation. There are other options like family or a neighbor but a more upscale option is to hire a Professional Pet Sitter to come by and provide a professional field trip.

6. Euphoria YaY! She’s home!

“What’s that? Is that the four-wheel monster I hear in the driveway? Is it — wait — let me sniff … yes! It’s mommy’s  smell! SHE’S BACK OH WOLF GODS I AM SO EXCITED I WILL PEE MY PANTS.”

Separation Anxiety is a serious issues that needs to be addressed. Its best to consider some solutions to help your dog’s quality of life.

Your own behavior and feelings could be a big trigger to your dog’s separation anxiety, therefore you must make sure you are sending the right message, helping your dog to stay calm, instead of adding anxiety and overexcitement in to the mix.

Here are a few reminders of how you can help your dog by changing your own behavior:

– Don’t feel bad or sad about leaving your dog alone, your dog will feel your bad energy and associate it to being left alone.

– Avoid having any kind of interaction with your dog before you leave, no talking, hugging or petting to comfort your dog, all that adds to the anxiety levels and sets your dog for failure, just get ready and go, like it’s an absolutely irrelevant event.

– Same thing as you come back home, don’t pay attention to your dog until he has almost forgotten about you again.

– Remember excessive attention and affection is the main reason why dogs develop separation anxiety, it is not healthy for your dog, so please control yourself, and help your dog become more independent and confident.Image

 

Hyper Dogs: Tips on Handling

20130224-223823.jpg

As a Petsitter , no two days are ever the same when caring for pets. For that matter, no two pet clients are the same. We love our furry companions and the different personalities we see everyday.

One side of a dog’s personality that can be a challenge to owners is the hyper dog. Many times, pet sitters are hired because the pet parent doesn’t know how to handle a hyper dog.

Happy Walk Happy Dog have several techniques that we use in the handling of hyper dogs. We are going to share them with you.

First if you want solutions to this challenge , the main thing you must do is assess your interaction with the dog and the type of activity the dog is getting everyday. Remember a dog ‘s hyper personality comes from boredom and no active stimulation. So these tips should help.

Ignore The Hyper Behavior

I know it’s difficult to ignore our pet babies . It sounds as if we are being cruel to them when all they want is our attention. The key is the more you pay attention to it, the more you are reinforcing the behavior. You don’t want to reinforce bad behavior. Only good behavior. So next time your dog is jumping or nipping at you in an overexcited way, give it a try — no touch, no talk, no eye contact — and see how you fare. You might be surprised how quickly the dog settles down.

Put The Dog To Work

Yes that’s right. Give your dog a job . It’s rewarding to him. A task helps your dog to focus. Hyperactivity in dogs comes from a psychological need as easily as it comes from physical need. By giving your dog a job to do, you are removing his hyperactive dog behavior and are redirecting his energy elsewhere. For instance, teaching him to catch a frisbee, will keep his attention on the frisbee instead of chasing the squirrel.

Exercise with Your Dog

One of the best ways to burn off energy is running. And if you don’t like running, walking will suffice.

What’s Your Energy Like?

Has anyone ever told you, after years of caring for your pet that the two of you look alike? There is truth to that. Dogs mirror their owners in so many ways. Energy is one of them. Are you in a calm assertive state of mind? Are you projecting a confident pack leader energy? Are you stressing out over an argument? Nervous or anxious moods can translate into nervous or anxious body language or tones of voice, and can affect the energy of your dog. So be the pack leader and stay in tune with your energy.

Aromatherapy: Smell Your Way To Peace

One of Happy Walk Happy Dog’s favorite ways to relax every night is burning a lavender candle. My pets and pets I care for overnight love it too. It always amazes me how one moment they are playing with each other to being relaxed and sleeping. Remember most of what a dog experiences is through smell. If you want to learn more on aroma therapy, consult your Holistic Veterinarian or another Holistic Professional.

If any of these tips work for you or if you have more alternatives. Please respond or shoot me an email and tell us your story.