Recreation Archives - K9 Fit Club

September 5, 2013

dog-at-parkDogs are naturally social animals that benefit greatly from the opportunity to interact and romp with fellow canines. To meet this need, especially in urban areas, going to the dog park has become a regular activity for many dog owners. Here are some tips for keeping these outings enjoyable for everyone.

DO be selective of the dog parks you use. Dr. Kandi Norrell, a primary care veterinarian at the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Urbana, recommends “Choose a park that requires a membership.” To join such parks, owners must supply proof of vaccinations such as rabies and distemper. Dr. Norrell also suggests using “a park that is gated, has separate large and small dog areas, and has some form of shelter like trees or other shade.”

DON’T let your small dog play with the big dogs. “Even if you know your little dog is comfortable around large dogs, you can’t know how all the large dogs will be with small dogs,” cautions Dr. Norrell. “There may be a larger dog with a high prey drive that will go after a little dog.” There is no guarantee how well-trained or aggressive the other dogs may be.

DO keep your dog’s health in mind. Dr. Norrell notes: “Make sure your dog’s vaccinations are current, though not all vaccinations are 100 percent effective.” Even if your dog is up-to-date on vaccinations, it is still a good idea to take precautions, for example, not letting it drink from communal water sources. Also, to protect other dogs, do not bring yours to the park if they are coughing, vomiting, or having diarrhea.

DON’T bring puppies to the park until at least two weeks after their final set of puppy vaccinations. Dr. Norrell explains, “It takes at least two weeks for puppies to reach full immunity after the final puppy vaccinations at 16 weeks of age, though peak socialization for puppies occurs at 9 weeks old.” Rather than risk your puppy contracting parvovirus, viral enteritis, or an-other disease at the park, socialize younger pups in a more controlled set-ting, such as a puppy training class.

Dog Park_2009-02-28_IMG_2421.JPG
(Photo credit: Jim’s Photos1)

DO constantly supervise your dog, from the time you leave your car to the time you return to it. Dr. Norrell says, “Keep your dog on a leash between the park and the car. Many people assume that their dog will run from the park right into the car, just like at home, but that is how many dogs are lost.” When you first arrive at the park, keep your dog on the leash until you assess the atmosphere inside the park. “If there is an aggressive dog,” points out Dr. Norrell, “just come back another day.” Once your dog is offleash, always watch so you know what she is doing, where she is, and that she is not getting overheated.

DON’T ignore body language. If the ears are pinned, the tail is between the legs, or the hair on the back is raised, aggressive behavior could soon follow. Once a fight has broken out, it is difficult to safely separate fighting dogs, explains Dr. Norrell, especially if neither pet is leashed. People attempting to separate them are frequently injured. Safer options for separating fighting dogs include spraying them with water, distraction (although difficult) such as with loud noises (pennies shaken in a can), or snaring one or both dogs with a leash while keeping a safe distance, which is difficult without professional help and a rabies pole (a special leash used by animal control to safely leash an aggressive dog).

DO have a good time! Dog parks offer many benefits like socialization and a good place for dogs to exercise, though it is important to always keep safety in mind.

If you have any questions on safe dog park practices, contact your local veterinarian.

Anne Rivas
Information Specialist
University of Illinois, College of Veterinary Medicine

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September 2, 2013

Summer is ending soon and it will be a very busy period in people’s lives. Parents will be busy preparing children’s snacks and kids will spend more time in school. Dogs are going to face their “back to school blues” alone. There will be less playtime, dog exercise and bonding time for pooches. It will be difficult for them, especially when they are so attached to their owners. Dogs are loyal pets that need much attention like children who seek affection from their parents. Abrupt changes in daily routines may result to great amount of stress for dogs.

dog-boy-readingSuch doggie dilemma may lead to different behavior problems. Dogs will not only be the ones that will be affected by these changes but also pet owners. Dog behavior problems such as soiling in the house, chewing, clawing furniture and excessive barking with other dogs are not only annoying to owners, but also dangerous to dogs that may suffer from serious health problems. Along with depression, a variety of health-related issues may be associated with those Back to School Blues. Dogs may lose appetite or overeat and depression may also weaken the dog’s immune system that may increase risks of heart disease, arthritis or even cancers.

Like people, dogs can cope to adjustments and life changes, but it must be taken slowly over a period of time. It is best to apply changes little by little in the dog’s daily activities. Slowly lessen the dog’s playtime or walking time without leaving it feeling left behind. When it comes to food, be careful in making changes with the dog’s diet. It is important to consult the Veterinarian before changing the dog’s feeding time. The end of summer signals the start of this pet dilemma, so to avoid such dog depression; here are some ways to help them cope easily with their “back to school blues”:

1. Provide a dog toy

Dog toys, such as Kong, will keep them occupied for hours and forget about being left alone. But leaving dog toys is not as simple as giving whatever may fit into the dog’s mouth. Be cautious in leaving dog toys to your pooch. Dog toys come in different chew types, formulations and sizes depending on the age, chewing style, breed and weight of the pet. For dogs in between sizes, larger size chew items are appropriate. If you have a strong chewer, it’s better to get a larger chew item to give challenge to your pal. Consider the largest and strongest chewer if you have more than one dog in your house.

2. Apply Aromatherapy

Like humans, dogs feel relaxed with the scent of flowers. Toxins are also big problems for pets. Aromatherapy is very helpful to keep them relaxed and suit their selves. This is a natural way to ease stress and solve behavioral problems. Certain essential oils can make them feel relaxed, focused and free of anxiety. Lavender essential oil is a powerful calming and soothing substance for rattled and stressed dogs.

3. Music

You know that your dog’s hearing is very sensitive, but did you know that you can create an environment of sound to improve the health and wellbeing of your canine companion? Companies, such as Through a Dog’s Ear, uses the latest science on how dogs hear and react to sound, providing a treasury of fresh insight on the inner auditory life of our best friends. Calming music uses sounds and music as a tool to help alleviate separation anxiety, excitement with visitors, thunderstorm panic, and other behavior challenges.

4. Let them feel school too

Let dogs feel they are also going to be busy like you in the end of summer. Enroll them in doggie daycare or other related activities. This will help your dog to meet new pooches and learn new skills. There are also boot camps that provide exercise for dogs and people. You can workout with your pal while aiming for your fitness goals. You can put this schedule during weekends or after kids have gone to school.

Dogs never forget their loyalty to you, so be loyal to them. There’s always a way to sort things out and balance your time between work and family. Dogs are members of our families, so take time for them too! Though summer is coming to its end, your time for your best friend shouldn’t end with the season. Make sure they are always active, happy and healthy.

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August 29, 2013

dog-travelThat last strain of summer sometimes means the last family vacation for the summer. For many of us, taking a vacation just wouldn’t be a vacation without our four-legged members of the family!

There are many considerations when adding the family dog to the trip. So before you pack up the car, the kids and the dog, the following are some things to remember when bringing Spot on vacation.

Crates, Cars, Planes & Dogs

Crates

A crate is an excellent way to keep your dog safe in the car, and is required for airline travel. It can also keep your pet from getting into trouble in a hotel or at your host’s home. Crates are available from most pet supply stores. Look for these features when purchasing:

  • Large enough to allow the dog to stand, turn and lie down.
  • Strong, with handles and grips, and free of interior protrusions.
  • Leak-proof bottom covered with absorbent material.
  • Ventilation on opposing sides, with exterior rims or knobs to prevent blocked airflow.
  • “Live Animal” label, arrows upright, with owner’s name, address and phone number.
  • Stock the crate with a comfortable mat, your dog’s favorite toy, and a water bottle, and your dog is ready to go.

Traveling by Car

  • If you are driving longer distances with your dog, consider him one of your kids (you probably already do).  Remember to provide food and water, stop every couple of hours for potty breaks and look into purchasing a pet harness to keep him secure in the car.
  • Avoid car sickness by letting your dog travel on an empty stomach. However, make sure he has plenty of water at all times.
  • Keep the car well-ventilated. If the dog is in a crate, make sure that fresh air can flow into the crate.
  • Do not let your dog ride with his head sticking out of an open window. This can lead to eye injuries.
  • Stop frequently for exercise and potty breaks. Be sure to clean up after your dog.
  • Teasing is not fun for anyone, including our dogs. If you are traveling with both the dogs and children, give simple instructions not to tease or annoy the dog in the car.
  • Never, ever leave your dog unattended in a closed vehicle, particularly in the summer. If you must leave the car, designate a member of the family to stay with the dog.

By Plane

  • Each airline has its own set of rules for canine air travel. You should call for information and make arrangements well in advance of your trip.
  • All airlines require health certifications and proof of vaccinations.
  • Some airlines will not transport animals when it is extremely hot or cold.
  • Dogs must be in an airline-approved crate when transported as cargo. Small dogs may ride under the seat in a crate or carrier. 

Doggie Docs

  • Bring along a current photo of your pet. Should he or she get lost during the trip, a photograph may be useful.
  • If your pet is not flying with you in the cabin, remember to remove his/her leash and place it in your carry-on. This will help reduce the risk of accidental choking during the flight. 

If you know you want to bring Fido and don’t know where to go, the Fido Friendly people at Bring Fido help you decide. Bring Fido’s dog friendly city guides rank more than 10,000 cities worldwide for their popularity among dog owners and general “dog friendliness.” They also dig in to see the most popular destinations worldwide, or in your own neck of the woods.

Once you’ve narrowed it down to a particular city, make sure to visit a K9 Fit Club in the area, even while on vacation, you still keep the schedule and fun of working out with your best friend!

 

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July 9, 2013

2-dogs-runningPlay Tag!

Step 1:
Start by getting your dog’s attention.

Step 2:
Walk forward, keeping your dog in the heel position, with your dog’s ear next to your leg. If your dog wants to pull forward, say, “Heel!” and turn to the right, and continue walking in the new direction.

Step 3:
When you reach a designated spot (cone, tree, end of the room), have your dog turn and face you as you say “Come!” and jog backward to starting point. Your dog should follow directly in front of you (facing each other) and shouldn’t pass you. This helps your dog work on staying engaged and keeping eye contact with you.

Step 4:
Once at the start point again, repeat.

*Remember, “Heel” is only used when you want your dog to move beside you in heel position, with your dog’s ear next to your leg. Use “Come” in any other position, so your dog knows to follow you instead of standing next to you.

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