5 Tips for Hiking With Your Dog

Outdoor activities increase when the weather warms up. If you and your furry best friend love going for hikes, make sure both of you are prepped and ready for the mileage.

5 Tips for Hiking With Your Dog

  1. Check that the trail is pet-friendly. Some parks allow dogs on trails and others do not.
  2. If you haven’t been on the trail before, take a day to check it out before your bring your dog. It might be really rocky, muddy, steep, and have some obstacles that your dog might have problems traversing.
  3. Hiking in a high altitude place? Take a minute and think if your dog can handle the conditions. Thinner air, smushed noses, and cardio could mean problems.
  4. Stick to wider trail to avoid poison ivy, ticks, and other problems. Don’t let your dog venture into the grass and shady rocky areas where snakes may hide out.
  5. Take breaks! Your dog may need a drink of water, a rest, and a few minutes here and there to relax before hiking back to the car.

Image from The Sonoran Concervancy of Fountain Hills

How To Help Your Dog Adjust To A Divorce

Sometimes relationships don’t work out and it is best for everyone to split. Just as you, your ex, and (if you have some) the children are affected by the energy and emotional vibes, your pet is affected. She’s used to everyone and may still be extremely bonded to both adults.

Moving to a new place, leaving part of the “pack” behind, and having new routines can be very confusing to your dog. If you are adjusting to a new chapter of life with your pup and need some help, try these tips.

4 Tips to Help Your Dog Adjust To A Divorce

  1. When it’s time to leave the house, don’t make a big deal about it. Hopefully, you’ve never made a big deal about it because dogs can get very worked up. Simply saying, “bye, buddy” and closing the door is enough. This will help your dog remember and know that separation is not something to be anxious about.
  2. Keep your dog on a schedule that is fairly consistent. Routines ease anxiety in pets and also helps your manage time better. Take your dog to the dog park like you always did. Ask your dog to sit and stay like you always have.
  3. If you share custody of the dog, keep a schedule that works for both of you, and try to stick with it as best as possible. When meeting and departing, keep it calm to not have your dog anxious over one of you going the other way. This can be tough to do on a regular basis and can bring up a lot of tension between you and your ex but take deep breaths. It’s only a few minutes of interaction and your dog is grateful.
  4. If your pet seems bored or needs more exercise and play than you’re able to do, consider enrolling her in doggie daycare. It will change the routine if she’s never done it before, but it may change it for the better. Your dog can spend the day playing, socializing, and be in good spirits.

Divorce is a tough transition. Hopefully you and your furry buddy remember to keep having fun no matter what.

Image from David Feldman

Daylight Savings and Your Dog’s Internal Clock

Ok, losing an hour may mess you up for a day or two but did you know your dog might have a harder time adjusting? Just because the clocks changed doesn’t mean your dog’s internal clock changed.

Your dog may be trying to sleep now when it’s time for the morning walk or not quite ready to eat breakfast an hour earlier than before. If you’re lucky maybe you dog doesn’t seem too frazzled. But if you notice that your pup is dragging in the mornings and is operating off the new adjusted schedule there are a few things that you can try to make the adjustment not as shocking.

Feed your dog at the same “time” as before and slowly change to the new hour. So, if you fed your pup at 7am before daylight savings and you don’t have to run out the door to work, feed her at 8am then 7:45, then 7:30 and so on. Same for dinner if you are able to. Try the same with the walking schedule if possible and if not, then do the best you can. We know what it’s like to want to make sure our pets are ok and get to work, balance the two when they don’t sync, and try to stay sane at the same time.

Watch for signs of stress, no matter what, such as scratching, excessive licking, pacing, etc. Make sure to make those play times special and now that the weather is starting to warm up a little, maybe make that evening walk a little longer. You know that old saying, “A tired dog is a happy dog.”

Does your dog have a hard time adjusting to Daylight Savings Time? What do you do to alleviate the problem? Share it with us!

Image from Pedigree

It’s Spring! 5 Tips for Dog Owners

Spring has arrived! If you’re like me you’re loving the sunnier days but also sneezing your brains out.

Now is the time to clean that overcrowded garage, get the gardening tools out, and make more time for playing outside with your dog.

5 Tips for Spring

  1. Schedule a vet check – With longer days, more sun, and playtime outside, your dog needs to start up the flea and tick preventatives and heart worm medication if you haven’t kept her on it through the winter. A spring time vet check is a great way to see how your dog is doing and if she needs a new diet, some more exercise, or if she’s doing fine.
  2. Grooming – Shedding increases as weather warms up. Dogs lose their winter coat and regular brushing will keep shedding under control. Make sure to brush all the way down to the skin to remove dead hair and debris. If your dog is overdue for a haircut, make an appt with your groomer. Your cat will also need more brushing and a good nail trim.
  3. Increase workouts slowly – Take advantage of sunny mornings, late day sunsets, and warmer weather by walking and playing with your dog outside more. Play a few games of fetch or frisbee in the yard or at the dog park. Take it slow if your dog hasn’t had too much exercise during the winter. Spring is a great time to go for extra long walks and burn off those few pounds that your dog (and maybe you) have gained this past winter.
  4. Keep the feet clean – As spring rolls in so does rain. Muddy feet after playtime can make a mess of your house. When playtime is over, wipe your dog’s feet and make sure to get in between the toes. Mud can cause fur to tangle up.
  5. Wash bedding – As your dog’s shedding increases make sure to keep the bedding clean. This will cut down on the amount of fur and dirt in your house and keep everything clean. Remove excess hair before washing it so your washing machine doesn’t get clogged with loose fur. Use a gentle detergent without fabric softener in case your dog has sensitivities to perfumes and dyes.

Image from Petsfoto.com

Ever Wonder Why Dogs Spin Around Before Doing Their “Business?”

For those of us who own dogs, did you ever wonder why they spin, turn, and need to find that “perfect” spot before squatting to do their business? I always figured it’s just one of those things dogs do, like how some will paw at the bed before they settle down or others will circle before laying down to nap. But researchers have found there is a reason for all this circling.

A new study published in the Frontiers in Zoology journal suggests that dogs spin and turn before they go to the bathroom because they are aligning themselves up with the Earth’s magnetic field. In the course of a two year study, scientists observed groups of dogs and over 30 breeds and measured the direction of the body alignment during the thousands upon thousands times they watched dogs go to the bathroom.

The conclusion is that dogs prefer to align themselves in a north-south direction and tend to avoid east-west alignment. The findings were reliable when the magnetic field was relatively calm. We’ve heard about how dogs can tell there’s storms coming and may react to the changes in electro-magnetic pulses as well as stories of dogs finding their way back home over 100s of miles. So this new study solidifies the notion that dogs are attuned to the earth, more than we are.

To read the complete article, go to Frontiers in Zoology’s page.

Image from King West Vets

What is does it mean for your dog to be a Canine Good Citizen?

As we become smarter with ways to raise our pets, foods to feed them, and how to communicate with them, many of us may find our pets becoming these model citizens in the community. Some of us may even end up working with our pets to become therapy pets. While the rest of us may opt to not have our pets certified for pet therapy, we could work on getting our dogs certified to be Canine Good Citizens.

What is Canine Good Citizen?

Canine Good Citizen is one of the first steps owners will take when training their dogs to be therapy dogs. You don’t have to have that as your final goal, though, so don’t worry. The program has been in existence since 1989, and is part of the American Kennel Club. It is designed to award dogs who have good manners in the home and out and about.

Many people will certify their dogs as CGC because they may want to have their dog become a agility dog, show dog, therapy dog, etc. While others may simply want to train their dogs to be the best little canine they can be. Training dogs can be a great way to bond with your pet, help you become a better owner, and create a level of communication that paves a path for many years of great companionship.

Training and Testing

Before taking the test to receive a CGC certificate, you’ll be asked to sign a Responsible Dog Owners Pledge. The pledge is an agreement that you will take care of your dog’s health needs, safety, and overall quality of life. You also agree to show responsibility in your community by doing small things like cleaning up after your pet and never letting your dog create a nuisance or infringe upon the rights of others.

After signing this contractual agreement, you are then ready to take the test!

Canine Good Citizen Test

The CGC tests the following:

  1. Accepting a friendly stranger – your dog is not afraid nor shows any sign of aggression as a stranger talks to you. Your dog must show no signs of resentment or shyness.
  2. Sitting politely for attention – imagine a vet, friend, or stranger coming up to your dog to pet him/her. Your dog must not only tolerate being pet but may also be brushed and handled a little. It’s not necessary for the dog to remain seated for the whole process but must be patient and tolerant.
  3. Walking on a loose leash – this can be tough for some dogs. The excitement of going for walks, exploring, and just being outside means a lot of dogs tug on the leash. This can be the most challenging for owners.
  4. Walking through a crowd – there are many variables that you may encounter with your dog, crowded streets being one of them. Your dog needs to display calmness and be desensitized to the pedestrian traffic. The dog can’t jump up on people, put on the brakes and refuse to walk, or pull you through the crowd.
  5. Sit, Down, and Stay – your dog has to know these commands and stay in a sit or down without a leash but a long lead just in case. Your dog must stay and you be able to walk a few feet away (maybe up to 20 feet) without your dog following you or leaving.
  6. Coming when called – your dog’s recall is incredibly important. Your dog must be attentive enough to come to you when you call his/her name. It is important to have this command down especially as the test goes on.
  7. Reaction to another dog and distractions – this part tests if your dog can politely behave around other dogs. Can your dog walk by another dog and show interest but not go nuts? What about distractions like a jogger?
  8. Supervised separation – this test is to see if your dog can be left with a trusted person and will maintain manners and training when you are not the one asking your dog to sit, stay, or come. For about 3 minutes, the owner leaves the room and evaluations are done to see how your dog acts.

It sounds intimidating but when you think about it – these are nothing more than a formalized way of compiling the things you’d love your dog to know and do.

Anyone have a CGC dog? If so, let us know and tell us your experiences!

Image from Aislinge Labradors

4 Tricks Every Dog Should Know

Life sometimes gets in the way of the fun things we want to do. Heck, it even gets in the way of our day to day. Sometimes you find yourself awake at 3am on a workday doing dishes or up at 7am on a Saturday so you can finish up some report due on Monday. Aside from our own life getting out of control, it can ripple out and we may unintentionally neglect our other responsibilities – from a pile of laundry, sink of dishes, and a dog that may not have had a trip the dog park in 2 weeks. Guess what can also get forgotten? Reinforcing commands and tricks.

Yup, you know how it goes. We get into an auto-pilot mode where we open the backdoor and let the dog out, make coffee, let the dog in, feed the pup, and go about our day. The quality time gets shortened, walks become faster and sometimes more agitated, and everyone is stressed. Our dogs may start reacting or acting out and forget to sit at the door before going for walk. They may pull on the leash to sniff that tree and not stay when we need them to. Forgetting commands can make living with your dog frustrating. There is a solution: Consistency.

Yes, it’s tough. Yes, it isn’t always convenient. Yes, our dogs should know their commands. We are the common denominator. We are their pack leader. It’s up to us to retain a routine and make time to remind them of good behaviors and correct bad ones. It’s up to us to manage time and make time for those we like… if we like our dogs, we will make time to show we like them or at least try our best to keep a steady and stable lifestyle for them.

If you feel your pup is starting to forget commands or hasn’t had them reinforced lately, keep it simple and remind your dog the most basic commands.

4 Tricks Every Dog Should Know

  • Sit – the staple trick, the first trick. And probably the best trick to teach a dog. Dogs know how to sit, they do it on their own. Remember to reward them, ask them to sit, reinforce the times when to sit – at thresholds, corners on the sidewalk, putting on a leash… etc
  • Stay – this is the second command that reminds your dog to not sit, get up, and walk away. Teaching a dog to stay reinforces the control you have and decreases their chances of getting into trouble. The combo of sit and stay can make for a very pleasant walk, answering the front door, and getting their food ready without them bowling you over to get to the bowl.
  • Come – good recall is essential if you take your out to the park or in the backyard. Making sure they come back is a great way to cut down on a game of “chase.” Make sure you have some amazing treats for this trick.
  • Down/Off – this is two tricks to be honest. I use down to ask dogs to lay down on the ground. It’s important like stay. Down is asking the dog to calm down… lay down… relax and just be. Off, on the other hand, is the command I use to tell them to “get off.” Like off the couch or when they jump up on someone saying “off!” and nudging them back on all fours. Off is great to let them know what is and isn’t appropriate for them to trample, jump, and put their paws on.

What other commands are in your toolbox?

Image from How Stuff Works

5 Reasons You Should Get Your Dog In Shape

Obesity is no longer an epidemic that only affects humans – it has now spread to their animal counterparts. Our pets are becoming overweight and obese at an alarming rate. We have a small problem where we overfeed our pets, overtreat them, and sometimes let them indulge in too many lazy days in the house.

At PetsWelcome, we want you and your pet to have many many years together. Part of that means having a healthy and happy life, which includes a good diet, good love, and exercise! If you’re not sure why your dog needs to get fit, if the chub isn’t too bad, and if you think he’ll slim down with reduced food, think again. Your dog needs more.

Here are 5 reasons to get your dog slim, fit, and trim

  1. It makes them feel better! If you’ve ever had a few extra pounds on you, you know just how tiring it can be. You feel a little more sluggish and walking up stairs or hills takes more wind out of you. It’s no different for our dogs. Losing weight can give them back the energy they’ve been missing.
  2. It make them cuter! Pets who lose a few pounds may have a nicer shape to their body and their fur and skin improves when they are in good shape.
  3. Pets who are fit live longer. Dogs have an average lifespan of 12 years, but research shows that fit pets live approximately 15% longer than overweight pets.
  4. It can save you money. Overweight or obese dogs can have a myriad of health issues due to their extra weight such as high blood pressure, special dietary changes, arthritis, and heart disease. Some dogs require medication as they get older and if they are heavy. A dog that is in an ideal weight for its breed, height, and build tends to cost less in the long run.
  5. You’ll have a workout buddy! Working out alone can get pretty old, pretty quick. Your dog can make a great exercise partner! They can keep you company while you jog … and best of all, it’s a great way for you BOTH to be healthy!

There is no time like the present to get your pet on the road to being healthy.

Image from Nexercise.com

5 Tips For Running With Your Dog

It’s getting warmer and warmer, summer is here and that means that it’s becoming great weather for exercising outside. I tend to let my gym membership lapse in the summer because I take up running, swimming, and other outdoor activities instead of being in a gym for a few hours a week. I used to dog walk for a few years and nice weather like spring and summer were great times to jog the dogs, but there were some that I wasn’t able to do that with.

If you want to turn your dog into your new running partner, it can take some time and retraining for your pup and you. Dogs will run and pace but they may pace faster than you, get easily distracted, and have to stop to pee. This can mean that your run isn’t smooth, your form gets a bit muddled, or you end up hurting yourself from abrupt yanks on the leash. Before embarking on a run, it would be best to make sure you and your pup are on the same page.

5 Tips To A Better Run With Your Dog

  1. Keep it light. For the same reasons that you keep your own running gear to a minimum, keep your dog’s as simple as possible as well. The less equipment your pet wears, the more naturally you will both move. Don’t use retractable leashes, a 6 ft leash that you hold in one hand or clip to your waist gives you control and lets your dog know the pace.
  2. Most runners follow some sort of training program, if your dog is new to this routine, start slow and keep runs short. Your dog needs to build endurance and you both need to make sure the run will be safe. A walk that involves a few blocks of jogging is a great way to start. It also helps to reinforce the commands of sitting, staying, and walking with you. Your dog’s body needs to adjust to the new routine so take it slow and give it a week before adding a little more time or distance or speed. Pay attention to your dog’s reaction to runs, just because you feel great doesn’t mean your dog does after 5 miles.
  3. Teaching or remind your dog the basic commands such as wait, slow, and heel. Once your dog has these commands down, introduce the command, “Turn.” This is a cue that you are changing the path to a new direction and cuts down on the chances of you tripping over your pup. Start wiuth walks to introduce “Turn” and try a few small jogs. It informs your dog that a change of pace is coming and to follow your lead.
  4. Make sure your pup is well-socialized. You’ll be eventually running by other people, dogs, and may run in a marathon or doggie dash one day. It’s important to know that your dog can focus on the run and not want to engage in any behaviors that are annoying to other dogs and owners. If needed, think about enrolling in a positive reinforcement class, working on being in crowded areas, and helping your dog gain experience with situations before taking on that 5K.
  5. Learn to read your dog’s body language. Canines heat up fast and will often keep going even if they’re hot or exhausted. Dogs only sweat through their paws, not their skin, and mainly release heat through panting; in addition, your dog is wearing a fur coat, making him less adept at running in the heat. Your dog can also get aches and injuries, have equipment rubbing or just become too exhausted to keep going. Think about running in early mornings or late evenings when the temperature hasn’t reach it highest point.

Good luck and have fun with your new exercise partner!
Image from The Jogging Dog

What To Do If Your Pet Is Sick or Injured While Traveling

Taking the entire family on vacation can be awesome but it also takes a lot of planning.

Planning and prepping can help a lot and keep rough or scary situations within a realm of being ok. As you check to make sure you have your AAA card, phone numbers of your doctors and kid’s doctors, don’t forget your pet. Accidents can happen anywhere and it’s good to know what to do to so you’re not freaking out… too much.

  1. Schedule a pre-vacation check-up with your veterinarian to make sure your pet is healthy for travel and is up to date on vaccines. If you are planning to fly with your pet, this is imperative, as most airlines require a health certificate issued within 10 days of your flight. If your pet does not already have a microchip, this is the time to get one.
  2. Put together a folder of important information about your pet to bring with you in case you need to visit the vet on vacation. Even better, if you can, load the pdfs or documents onto your phone too. In case you can’t get back to the paperwork, you can email/fax it to the emergency vet.
  3. Check that the microchip information is updated with the current vaccine information, the name and phone number of your home veterinarian, your pet health insurance information, and any other important information.
  4. Research your veterinary options at your destination before you leave home. Look at vets who have daytime hours, night time, and the emergency vets. The last thing you want to do is end up lost and unsure.
  5. Don’t forget to pack a first aid kid for your pet as well as yourself. Small injuries can be bandaged and cleaned up if you can’t get to the vet immediately. It also cuts down on your pet’s pain and your anxiety.

Once you get to your destination, relax and have fun. If your pet is injured or becomes ill while on vacation, you’ll be prepared and able to handle the situation with a calmer mind. Having phone numbers and information about the local vets in the place you’re staying, paperwork of your pet’s health history, and a first aid kit will empower you. It’ll keep you level-headed and your pet will thank you for it.