Common Sence Rules For Walking Your Dog

No matter whether you walk your dog yourself or you have someone else do it for you, there are a few basic rules you need to follow. Most of these are “Common Sence”  but sometimes it help to be reminded of them.

First things first. When you are in public with your dog, make sure that your dog is always on a leash. Most communities require and enforce leash laws. If your dog happens to injure some one, or causes damage to someone’s property, and your dog is not on a leash, you can and often will be held responsible.

Next, when walking your dog, you should always carry a baggie with you so that you can pick up any droppings your dog may leave behind. No matter how kind and loving you dog may be, he/she will never be able to grasp the concept behind the art of landscaping. Homeowners spend thousands of dollars each year in an effort to make their front lawns and landscaping look nice. It is rude and downright irresponsible of you if you allow your dog to urinate or defecate on their lawn, mailbox or in their landscaping. If there is any question in your mind, you may want to choose to walk your dog in the street.

Some neighborhoods have a designated area that can be used as a “break area” where it is acceptable to allow your dog to relieve itself. But remember, it is still inappropriate to allow your dog to do so, and then not pick up after it when it finishes. We’ve all seen those people who pull out a baggie when they see neighbors looking, only to stuff it back in their pocket once the “coast is clear,” and end up leaving the pile behind. Don’t be “one of those.” You just give all of us dog owners a bad name. 

Next, it is important to realize that not everyone is a dog lover. You should never assume that everyone you meet wants to pet your dog. If they want to meet you and your dog you’ll be able to tell it. As they approach you, if they want to interact, they will say something.

Some people are afraid of dogs. They also just might not be in the mood to visit with you and your dog. They may have a limited amount of time, or be out for a jog and prefer not to stop. Either way it should be their choice to greet or not greet. If they do want to stop, never allow your dog to pull you over to them. If your dog is excitable it may try to jump up on the person. Instead, keep your dog calm and make your dog sit while the person approaches.

The same thing goes for other dogs and dog walkers too. Most dog owners are interested in allowing their pet to socialize with other dogs, but some are not. But be sure to gauge their interest before approaching. And make sure you read the body language of both your dog and the other walker’s dog. Avoid contact if either dog shows any sign of fear, anxiety, animosity, or sends out any other warning signs.

That’s about it! The above rules of dog walking etiquette don’t just apply to your neighborhood. The also apply to local parks, shopping centers, the vet’s office or any other place you and your dog visit. Being a responsible pet owner can help keep our neighborhoods and recreational areas a fun place to hang out and it will also allow our local leaders to keep their focus on more important things.

Taking Your Dog for a Walk – How Much is Enough?

How much exercise should your dog get?

The requirements vary based on the breed and with each individual dog.

Some breeds have lower physical demands and remember size doesn’t determine that. Breeds like Pointers, Retrevers, Border Collies and Jack Russells are extremely high-energy dogs. They may require several hours of excersize and stimulation every day.   

This doesn’t mean that you have to walk them for two hours, it just means that they need something to do (a job if you will) that will keep them busy for at least two hours per day.

If your dog runs with you or plays with other dogs, chases a ball or frisbee every day, or has an outlet to burn off his energy and have fun then walks are not as big ofa deal. But this is still not a replacement for walking! Your dog still needs to go for walks in order to interact (socialize) with his environment, other humans and other dogs.

As I mentioned in yesterdays blog, walking helps to provide mental stimulation and the exposure to new people, animals and situations helps to build it’s confidence. Learning to deal with different circumstances is part of socialization. A well socialized dog is more predictable and better rounded. It makes it much more fun to be around, and is much less likely to destroy your home and property.

Walking is also a great way to bond with your dog, and don’t forget all the health benefits for yourself.

OK, now that you are ready to walk and interact with your dog everyday, here’s a good rule of thumb to go by.

All dogs need your complete attention for at least one hour per day. Larger dog add ½ hour. Extreamly large dogs – add 1 hour.

You can divide this time up how every you wish. I divide my time into 15 min pieces. We play with toys twice a day for 15 mins each, we go out and play with the neighbor dogs for about ½ hour per day, and then we walk for about ½ hour.  

If you plan to JUST walk your dog, Small Dogs, (those who are under 15 pounds), need to walk at least a half mile per day. Medium dogs – 1 mile, Large dogs – 1.5 miles, and Very Large dogs – 2 miles or more per day. These numbers should keep your dog at a fairly calm level. Bur remember, a tired dog is a happy dog. And a happy dog doesn’t get into trouble.

Just remember to factor in to this, the natural energy level of your dog. If you have a hyper active dog you could about double these numbers. Subtract the energy level of an older or more calm breed and you can reduce these numbers a bit.

Tomorrow: Rules For Dog Walkers

“If I Let My Dog Out for Walks, He’ll Want to Run Away”

As the owner of two different dog based websites (abetterdog4u.com and iowadogtrust.org), I receive quite a few emails asking about dogs and their behavior.

One person recently told me that she never takes her dog out of the back yard (it is fenced in) because “if it gets used to going for walks, it will jump the fence and run away. Then it will never come back”.

Another person told me that they don’t walk their little dog because, “it’s a small dog and it doesn’t need to go for walks”. They continued with, “It get enough exercise running in the back yard.” They also went on to say, “We’re also afraid that she might get hurt if she steps on something in the street.”

Wow, what can I say? I’ll start with:

Dogs need to be walked on a regular basis. It’s not only necessarily for the exercise, they also need it for their mental well-being. It serves as a great way to provide a dog with mental stimulation. On the walk, dogs get to see things that they don’t see during their normal day. They also come across different people, pets, critters and smells. It’s not unlike we humans traveling to a new place, going to a new restaurant or seeing a new movie. It’s part of the learning process.

Most dog owners live in an urban environment. Their lifestyles don’t often include any active outdoor time with their dogs. Outside time is often only a matter of letting the dog out to do it’s business and then it’s back into the house or apartment. And if the dog owners do have the space, leaving the dog in the yard by herself isn’t enough stimulation and that’s why they end up getting in trouble. In some cases this leads to the dog being given away, or worse, taken to a shelter.

I actually had someone email me and tell me that they couldn’t understand why their dog “all of the sudden” started digging holes, eating the flowers, trying to get out of the fenced yard. Then the were upset when the dog finally escaped and it cost them $75 to get it back!  

After explaining that her dog was just bored out of it’s mind and looking for their own entertainment, the penny finally dropped! Although she had some physical problems, she had someone come in to help her walk the dog for 30 minutes every day. Within a week the issues had mostly resolved themselves. She says the dog is much happier and things like barking have been reduced to very tolerable level.

Tomorrow: Part 2 – Taking Your Dog for a Walk – How Much is Enough?

Mental Health Days With Your Dog

The hustle and bustle of life can really twist you up and wear you down. Stress is a killer, and is one of the major causes for illness and poor health in adults today.

It is a fact that when you have daily interaction with your pet it offers a lot of calming, mood-enhancing benefits. A recent study found that people with serious illnesses were less likely to suffer from depression if they owned a pet.

Yes, it’s possible for me to used ACE inhibiting drugs to reduce my blood pressure. But they aren’t as effective on controlling spikes in blood pressure due to stress and tension. And besides that, I don’t role that way!

In a recent study, a group of hyper-tense New York stockbrokers who got dogs or cats were found to have lower blood pressure and heart rates than those who didn’t have pets. When they heard of the results, most of those in the non-pet group went out and got pets!

Now I’m no rocket scientist, but this should tell us ALL something! And it shouldn’t take a Mack Truck hitting us to get our attention.

I have personally found that it’s completely impossible to stay in a bad mood when a pair of loving puppy’s eyes are looking into mine. When I get home in the evening it doesn’t matter how bad my day has been. When I walk through that door my focus changes completely. But sometimes it just isn’t enough.

For over 15 years I have been taking one day per month, and used it as something I like to call a “Mental Health Day” … By that I mean: I Unplug, Turn Off, Shut Down, Get Out, and Get Away with my dogs.

This past Sunday was one of those days.

After “sleeping in” for an extra hour or so, I got up. I let the dog out to do “her thing” and announced to the neighborhood that she was out and on-guard. About an hour later I met some friends for a nice leisurely brunch at a nearby restaurant.

Afterward it was back home to relax and unwind for the day. I opened the door, grabbed the leash and we were off for a nice long walk. On our walk we ran into several dogs and their owners. On a few occasions we stopped to chat and swap a few stories. Then we were back on the walk.

At the end of the walk we stopped to visit my next door neighbor who was busy working in his yard. While we talked, we turned our dogs loose to run around the yard and play. We had a blast watching them, and they were having a lot more fun than we were.

Before I realized it, most of the afternoon had passed. But I wasn’t surprised … or upset. I was however, completely relaxed.

After returning home, we went inside. I joined the dog on the living room floor and we played with her toys for awhile. When she had gotten enough playtime she went out to the kitchen for a drink of water. Then she settled down on her doggie bed and closed her eyes.

I made a quick bite to eat and settled into my recliner. I turned on the TV and promptly fell asleep. After a few hours, I got up and went to bed!!!

What a GREAT DAY!!!

 

NOTE: It is important to note that owning a pet isn’t for everyone. Pets require additional work and responsibility, which can bring its own kind of stress. However, for most, the benefits of having a pet outweigh this extra work. Having a cuddly best friend can reduce stress in your life and bring you support when times are tough.

Death Row Dogs

I was going to write an article about the things my dog and I did this past weekend … and we had a great weekend!!! That is, until I read an alarming article about the amount of dogs and other family pets being euthinized across the county each and every day.

I can not stress strong enough, how very important it is, that when you begin the search for a dog, that you choose the correct dog for your lifestyle and skill level.

8,767 dogs and cats died TODAY in shelters across the land. This isn’t an isolated incident, this happens EVERY DAY. This works out to 3.2 million pets every year or one every 10 seconds. 1 dog and 1 cat have died since you have read this far into this article. And they were killed ONLY because they didn’t have a home to go to.

Most all of these great pets were dumped by the side of the road and captured by local animal control officers, or turned in to a shelter by owners who were overwhelmed or unable to correct a variety of behaivor issues. On the other hand, some owners just got tired of them and were simply unwilling to take care of them any more.

Would they still be in a home if they hadn’t chewed on a shoe? They didn’t know what it was, but it was leather, and it was on the floor. They were just playing and no one told taught them not to chew on it. Someone just yelled at them in a language they didn’t understand. The real problem was that someone forgot to buy a few puppy toys and then teach the dog not to play with certain thing. Or better yet, keep the items out of the dog’s reach so it couldn’t even get near them.

Would they still be at home if they had been housebroken properly? Rubbing the dog’s nose in what it did only made the dog afraid and ashamed that it had to go potty in the first place. There are some really good books, videos and obedience trainers that would have been able to teach that wonderful dog how to go to the door.

Would these dogs still be at home if they didn’t bring fleas into the house? Without anti-flea medicine, they couldn’t get them off of themselves after the owner had left them in the unmowed yard for days on end.

Would they still be at home if they hadn’t continuely barked for hours? It really wasn’t the dogs falt! They were only saying, “Help, I’m scared, Hey, I’m lonely, I’m here, I’m here! I want to be your best friend, come out and play with me.”

Would they still be at home if they would have tried harder to make their owners happy? Hitting them and throwing things at them didn’t make them learn.

Would they still be at home if their owner would have taken a few minute everyday to care for them, play with them and to teach them a few social skills and manners?

After a few weeks, the newness wore off. So they stopped paying any attention to them. But it wasn’t because the dog didn’t try!  They spent all day, every day waiting for their owners to love them again. But it didn’t happen … now,

Dear Human,
“I died today”.

Love Always,
    Your Puppy …

How Smart is Yor Dog: IQ Testing for Your Dog

There are many ways to define intelligence. Webster’s Dictionary says that intelligence is the ability to learn or understand, or to deal with new or trying situations.- To reason: the skilled use of reasoning. – The ability to apply knowledge to a given situation or problem.

Therefore your dog’s problem-solving abilities are perhaps one of the best ways to determine how mentally adept they really are. Your dog may not know how to fetch a ball, catch a frisbee, sniff out drugs or open a car door but that desn’t mean your dog isn’t smart. After all they automatically know that you are leaving the house whenever they hears your keys rattle. This shows a kind of intelligence, too.

Intelligence in dogs is measured differently by different people. If you ask 50 people to describe what an intelligent dog is, you will probably get 50 different answers. My dog does several dificult behaviors and my friends say: “Wow, your dog is really smart!” A friend of mine has a dog that can pick up several different toys by name when asked. Maybe your dog has figured out how to open the back door and let itself out to go potty, like one of my neighbor’s dogs has.

Intelligence is not determined by how fast a dog solves a problem either. Like humans, it may take some time to solve a problem at first. Persistence is an important part of problem solving. More intelligent dogs can also be more difficult to train because they tend to question why they need to do some behaviors. Just like some humans do.

There are two different kinds of intelligence: Instinctive and adaptive intelligence. Instinctive intelligence is part of breeding. Dog’s are bred to do different jobs. Certain dogs and breeds have inherent differences in natural ability. Some dogs are bred to track, some to retrieve, others to search for scent and still others are used herd other animals. So IQ tests must take this into consideration.  

Adaptive intelligence is the ability to learn a task or skill based on training or outside input. This includes environmental learning, social learning, language comprehension, and task learning. This is similar to some humans being better at math or being able to learn new skills in order to work at a new job. 

Standard Tests
Here are a few basic tests that you can do with your dog. Use the scoring system to gauge your dog’s intelligence. Don’t try to do all of these tests in one day. It could stress or overwhelmed your dog. Stay calm and don’t correct or yell at your dog during this series of tests. You MUST make these tests fun for your dog. Treat them like games!  And above all, no matter how high or low the scores are, give them lots of love and positive attention afterwards.

There are more tests available based on your dog’s breed that test your dog’s Instinctive intelligence, but these will give you a good base.

Towel test:
Take a large towel or blanket and gently place it over your dog’s head. Time him to see how long it takes him to remove the towel or blanket. If he does it in less than 15 seconds, give him 3 points. If it takes 15-30 seconds, 2 points.  Longer than 30 seconds earns 1 point.

Covered Treat test:
With you dog in a sit, show your dog a treat and let him sniff it. While the dog is watching, cover the treat with the towel. Tell the dog “OK” or encourage your dog to get the treat and start timing. If your dog get the treat in 15 seconds or less give 3 points, 15 to 30 seconds 2 points, 30 to 60 seconds or more 1 point.

Smile test:
With your dog sitting about 10 feet way, (The dog must not have been told to stay or sit.)
Stare intently into your dogs eyes – when your dog makes eye contact, count silently to 3 seconds and then smile broadly. If your dog comes to you with tail waging give him 3 points. If your dog stands or rises but does not move toward you give 2 points. If your dog moves away from you or  pays no attention to you give 1 point

Bucket test:
Place a dog treat or your dog’s favorite toy under one of three buckets placed next to each other on the floor. Let the dog watch which bucket the treat is under. Remove the dog from the area for one minute. Then, let him go back to the buckets to find the treat. If he immediately goes to the correct bucket give him 3 points.  If he takes two attempts, score 2 points.  If your dog looks under the other two buckets first, score 1 point.

Favorite spot:
With your dog out of the room, rearrange the furniture completely. When he re-enters the room, if he goes directly to his favorite spot give him 3 points. If he investigates the room before he finds his spot, give him 2 points. If he decides on a new area completely, score 1 point.

Chair puzzle:
Place a treat under a low platform that is low enough so your dog can only fit his paw under it. If your dog figures how to reach the treat within one minute, score 3 points. If he uses his paws and nose, score 2 points. If your dog gives up, score 1 point.

Go for a walk!
On a day or time you normally don’t walk your dog, quietly pick up your keys and your dog’s leash while he’s watching you. If he gets excited immediately, score 3 points. If you have to walk to the door before he knows it’s time to go out, score 2 points.  If he sits and just looks confused give him 1 point.

Barrier test:
Build a cardboard wall that is 5 feet wide and taller than your dog is when he’s up on two legs.  Build it so that it is free standing.  In the center of the cardboard, cut a 3 inch-wide rectangular slot that runs from about 4 inches from the top to about 4 inches from the bottom. (This is so your dog can see through the wall but cannot physically get through.) Toss a toy or treat to the other side of the wall, or have someone stand on the other side. If your dog walks around the wall within 30 seconds, give him 3 points.  If he goes around the wall in 30 seconds to one minute, give 2 points.  If he gets his head stuck in the slot trying to get through, give 1 point for effort!

Scoring and results
19 points or higher – Brilliant!
15 to 18 points – Well above average
14 to twelve points – Average
8 to 13 points – Below average
1 to 7 points – Not the brightest kibble in the bag, but we still love ’em!

This testing can give you a general idea about your dog’s intelligence. Your dog may not get first place at a dog obediance trial and may lose his favorite ball from time to time. But you must agree that when it comes to making us happy, our favorite pets are all brilliant!