Tips for Exercising with Your Dog

Photo: Richmond SPCA

Exercising with your dog is a great time-saver and not to mention stellar for you and your best friend's health. But before you tie up those laces or take your dog on that bike ride, check out this list of tips to ensure that you and your pooch are getting the most out of your exercise together in a safe and healthy way.

Consult the Vet
Just because your dog seems healthy doesn't mean there isn't a health concern beneath the surface that could be preventing her from performing vigorous exercise. Before you and your best friend head out on that road to running a 5K together, make sure you check with your vet to see if your dog has any health or breed-specific limitations that may hinder her physical activity.

Build a Base
Just because you can run a mile effortlessly doesn't necessarily mean your pooch can. Unless you've been exercising regularly with your dog since he was a puppy, make sure to start slow and build a solid base with your pooch. Even the most basic things such as the pads on his paws will need toughening up before he can go long distances.

To the Left, to the Left (or to the Right)
Make sure you train your dog to stay on one side of you while you're exercising with her. Constantly switching sides is bad for her neck and presents the possibility of choking, not to mention could catch you off-balance. Keep your dog to one side of you at all times and if she tries to switch, correct her immediately.

Keep Hydrated
This applies to both you and your pooch! Make sure you bring enough water for both you and your dog—be diligent in keeping an eye out for signs of dehydration in your dog. If he starts excessively panting or slowing down in pace, immediately stop for a water break.

Post-Workout Checkup
Make sure you check your buddy for any cuts, scrapes, or sharp objects that may have become lodged in her paws. Check her for any ticks, burrs, or other foreign objects, and don't forget to rehydrate her fully after the workout. And don't fail to schedule in rest days—even your workout buddy needs to take a break!

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Teaching Your Dog How to Swim

Photo: Jim Whimpey

Contrary to popular belief, dogs aren't born knowing how to swim. However, the task comes pretty naturally to dogs (especially if your dog is already curious about water and likes being around it) and is actually easier to teach than training your dog how to roll over! Check out our steps below on how to effectively teach your dog how to swim.

Choose a Small, Calm Body of Water
Salt-water swimming pools are best (but how rare are those, right?), but if you don't have access to this, small, shallow swimming holes or small streams with grassy or sandy banks are also fine. The key is to pick a body of water that has no currents or waves, and is shallow enough and surrounded by enough easily accessible land so that your pup feels safe.

Bring the Correct Gear
A life jacket is a must! Put a life jacket on your dog just like you would on a baby when you teach her to swim for the first time. Bring along your dog's highest-value treat or toy. If your dog is more food motivated, bring along her favorite small treats (pieces of chicken and liver work really well). If you have a dog who's not that interested in food, bring her favorite toy along with you.

Dog, Meet Water
Without introducing the treat or toy just yet, slowly back into the body of water. Call your dog toward the water and allow him to approach the water slowly, sniffing it and slowly getting acquainted if he needs to. Give him ample time to do this and restrain any urge you feel to hurry him into the water!

Slowly Lure Him In
Stand about 2-3 steps away from the edge in the water and offer the treat or toy to your dog, encouraging him to get his front paws wet. Keep repeating this step slowly until all of his paws are in the water. Once he's comfortable in the water (if he keeps running back, just repeat the steps until he can stand comfortably in the water without retreating), take several big steps away from him and then call him toward you, offering him the treat or toy.

Lift Those Legs!
Once your dog has walked all the way to you in the water, lower yourself to your dog's level and gently guide her deeper into the water, guiding her with treats or the toy if necessary. When the water reaches your dog's chest level, place your hand on her belly at the base of her ribcage and gently lift her a little bit so she'll naturally start kicking (swimming!) with her hind legs. Use your other hand to help keep her head and neck lifted above water, and walk alongside her as she progresses. Keep supporting her until her body relaxes and she's no longer stiff. When this happens, you can slowly let go of her and encourage her to swim toward you with treats or toys.

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Homemade Peanut Butter Recipe for Dogs

Dogs love peanut butter and while store bought peanut butter is easy, most recipes made at home are almost always healthier and free of preservatives. This peanut butter recipe is incredibly easy to make, and you can make sure it’s salt-free and organic for your pup. While sodium isn’t beneficial for dogs, your pooch can easily digest honey and it’s actually incredibly antioxidant for canines. Try out this delicious and healthy peanut butter recipe for your pup!

2 cups peanuts
1 ½ teaspoons honey
1 ½ peanut oil

Place all the peanuts and honey into a food processor and blend until they are well mixed. Scrape down the sides and add in the oil, blending until the peanut butter is creamy and smooth in consistency. Keep your peanut butter in an airtight container or freeze some in a kong as a frozen treat for your dog!

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Retired Blind Guide Dog Gets Own Guide Dog

This is an oldie-but-goodie type of story, and seriously, it gets us a little sniffly every time we hear it. Graham Waspe's guide dog, Edward, had given 6 years of wonderful and loyal service to his legally blind owner when the dog, an eight-year-old Labrador, contract a rare form of Glaucoma and was left blind himself. Though Waspe and his wife were devastated at first, their grief quickly turned to joy when Edward's replacement guide dog, Opal, turned out to be a guide superdog.

Not only is Opal capable of carrying out Edward's former tasks, she's also able to help Edward get around and has become a close canine companion for him. Upon becoming fast friends, Edward now follows Opal closely and listens to her foot-fall to help guide him around.

Edward lives with the Waspes as a retired guide dog and family pet nowadays, and he and Opal make school presentations together where Edward gets to enjoy his favorite activity—getting lots of love, attention, and belly rubs from the kids at school.


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3 Ways to Get Your Dog to Take Medication

Photo: Eric Lubbers

Giving your dog medication can be stressful for both you and your pup, but with these three tricks, getting your pooch to take her medication should be a little easier.

Use Food
This is probably the easiest method to giving dogs their medication. Double-check with your vet to make sure your pooch can take the medicine with food, and if she says it's fine, you should definitely try this method first. The best way is to add the liquid medication to peanut butter or cream cheese, or crush the pill up and mix it in with the small bit of food to ensure that your dog won't eat around the pill.

Use a Pill Dropper or Syringe
A pill dropper is pretty similar to a syringe for liquid medication, only in this case it drops a pill into the dog's mouth. With this method, gently guide the dropper or syringe about two-thirds into your dog's mouth, then drop the pill or squeeze out the liquid. Rub your pup's neck immediately to encourage her to swallow.

Use Your Hands
This method is the most difficult, but a good one to master in case you need to give your dog emergency pills without equipment. Hold your dog's jaws open, slightly tilting back his head, and then drop the pill into his mouth. You want to then hold his jaws together with his head still tilted and rub his neck at the same time with your other hand. When you see him lick his nose, you'll know he has swallowed the pill.

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