Dog walking is one of the absolute best past times. Engaging the mind, body, and soul, endlessly enriching and fun, every moment walking a dog is one to appreciate. Here are a few reasons why:
We pull out the leash and the excitement begins. With play bows, wiggles, howls, smiles, and kisses, each dog expresses their anticipation uniquely and genuinely. Dogs are an incessant motivator to get us moving! A 30-60 minute walk, run or hike is always more fun and engaging when joined by a pup, exercise naturally built into time spent together.
The moments we spend walking with our dogs are some of the most special. Whether we explore a neighborhood, adventure a park, or hike a trail, walking together allows us to share beautiful, invigorating, feel-good experiences. Often beginning and ending with kisses, affection, appreciative eyes and happy faces dogs clearly express their gratitude for walks, developing lasting bonds with us in the process.
An Experience of Everything
We all know those moments, ears up, noses pulsating, dogs sense things during walks that we would never notice without them. That squirrel in the branches, rabbit in the bushes, blooming flowers in a nearby garden, or an unexpected blue jay nest at the top of a tree, dogs draw our attention to the most stunning wonders of nature.
Open, uninhibited, playful, loving, and kind- if people were more like dogs the world would clearly be a better place. Every walk with a dog is an adventure, meeting countless new people and other pups along the way.
(Photo 1: OJ, Photo 2: Millie, Photo 3: Panda, Photo 4: Betty, Photo 5: Mia and Roscoe)
Summer days, often hot and uncomfortable for us, are even more so for our furry loved ones. With just a little extra effort, even the most sweltering days can be full of exercise, great activities, and fun.
Here are a few tips:
1. ENJOY YOUR WALKS WET
Gently spray your dog with a hose before and after walks using the mist option if possible. Focus on places where they get especially hot, including their paws, belly and under their legs. You can also find a place to swim. Dogs are typically cooler and happier when walking wet!
Pet shops have great doggie water bottles. People water bottles work too. On very hot days give your dog a few sips every 10-15 minutes from a dish or water bottle during outdoor activity to keep
Photo 1: Bodie (left) and Roscoe (right) share some water during a play group.
Photo 2: Bodie (front), Cooper (behind) and Betty (back left) drink water and rest in the shade.
3. BABY POOLS ARE FOR DOGS TOO!
Dogs can play, wade, run, and frolic in a baby pool right in your back yard. Extra "cool" outdoor fun!
Many dogs love to dig and then lie in a cool patch of dirt on hot days. This activity gives dogs exercise, a sense of accomplishment, and a cool shady place to rest.
Photo 1: OJ works hard digging to find the wet earth.
Photo 2: Then he chills in his cool spot with his good friend Millie!
5. Frozen Treats
Frozen peanut butter filled kongs, ice cubes, and other cold treats are a delicious, fun way to cool down after a hot summer outing!
6. Indoor Play Time
On the hottest days enjoy a short walk followed by some playtime in the air conditioning or near a fan in your home. Hide and go seek, fetch, tug of war and other games can be played inside, providing a more safe and comfortable means to get exercise, bond, and have fun!
Tug of war is a doggie favorite that can easily be played indoors. In the above photos Betty (first photo) and Mia (second photo) show us what they got!
Both puppies and full grown dogs naturally use their mouths to play, express affection, and communicate. Games of fetch and tug of war are some of the ways our dogs bond with us, enhancing the moments we enjoy together. Nevertheless, puppies that nip at skin and clothing may become dogs who bite or use their teeth inappropriately- no fun for children or adults. By consistently letting puppies know when it is acceptable, and not acceptable, to use their teeth, we can teach them to play and share their love in safe and appropriate ways.
Encouraging a game of tug of war between dogs allows them to release energy, bond and appropriately use their teeth. In the above photos Janet initiates play between Cooper and Beau.
In an online video, located at https://positively.com/dog-behavior/puppy-knowledge/teething-mouthing/, Victoria Stillwell demonstrates ways to encourage safe and appropriate puppy play while discouraging nipping and inappropriate biting. Play between Stillwell’s hands and her puppy Winston’s mouth clearly inspires fun, excitement, and bonding. Stillwell will allow Winston’s teeth to touch her hands, but as soon as Winston bites down, Stillwell will make a yelping sound, similar to the speech puppies use when one is accidentally bit too hard in the litter. This clearly expresses to Winston that the bite was unpleasant for her. At the same time Stillwell immediately stands up and walks away. By consistently refusing to play or offer attention when her hand, skin, or clothing is clasped by Winston’s teeth, Stillwell teaches Winston over time that it is okay to use his mouth to play, but not to bite, nip or chew on her or her belongings.
In her video, Stillwell also stresses the importance of redirecting puppies to toys when they begin to mouth. Janet and I have found that surrounding puppies with objects that they are allowed to chew on, in their homes and crate, such as toys, old blankets, and peanut butter filled kongs, is comforting, fun, and relaxing for them. Toys provide puppies not only with safe objects to chew on, but also a means to engage in tug-of-war and other games with you, through which you and your puppy can safely connect, bond, and have fun.
To find out more about Victoria Stillwell’s “puppy mouthing” video and accompanying “teething/mouthing” blog, go to https://positively.com/dog-behavior/puppy-knowledge/teething-mouthing/. For other Victoria Stillwell training tips click on http://www.positively.com.
Like humans, canines require more than their basic necessities to live well. Affection, companionship, various forms of fulfillment and fun are just as necessary to dogs as they are to people. Just like people, dogs feel better, and as a result, behave better when all of their needs are met including those that stimulate their bodies, minds, and hearts.
Renowned celebrity trainer, author, and founder of "the loved dog" training method," Tamar Geller, in a video entitled "Your Dog's Seven Basic Needs," discusses the ways that meeting a dog's needs can improve not only their behavior, but also the quality of their life. This and other informative and insightful videos on the PETA website (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), introduces Geller's "Loved Dog" approach to training and can be found at http://www.peta.org/features/dog-training-tips-tamar-geller/.
According to Tamar Geller, dogs have a “mental capacity similar to that of an 18-month-old toddler.” Like children, dogs need to be engaged as much as possible and to be fulfilled physically, mentally, and emotionally. In her video, Tamar Geller details the seven basic needs of dogs, which include a "sense of security," (involving "consistency") "active companionship," "understanding the hierarchy," (involving clear "guidance"), "engagement and play", "excitement and surprises", "physical stimulation", "mental stimulation" and last but not least- "love and connection". A key component of training, or in Tamar Geller’s terms “coaching” dogs, involves tapping into and meeting their seven basic needs.
Janet and Cooper sharing some love after games of fetch and tug of war with a frisby!
One reason why a dog may exhibit an unwanted behavior is to express a need. Tamar Geller stresses the importance of communicating with dogs in order to determine what they are telling us when they act out. More exercise, time to socialize, or a game of tug of war with you may be the best means to redirect, calm, and reassure your dog at the same time eliminating an unwanted behavior. Tamar Geller’s approach combines these ideas with uses of positive reinforcement in order, not only teach dogs to be “well mannered,” but also to enhance the bonds and relationships that we share with them.
For more information about Tamar Geller, her book and philosophy “The Loved Dog,” visit http://theloveddog.com/. To view her training tip videos visit http://www.peta.org/features/dog-training-tips-tamar-geller/.
OJ always seems to find himself in the midst of excitement, this time with Layla, a suspicious feline, and a group of Harvard students. It all began with one beautiful yet curious cat. OJ and Layla led Janet and I excitedly toward this tiny, frightened feline. It was immediately clear that this was a kitty who was up to something. Suddenly and unexpectedly the kitty unleashed a very tiny bird that had been sitting in her grasp for many minutes. The cat ran away but the bird, after landing on a bench, didn’t fly.
Appearing wounded we contemplated calling the Animal Rescue League. Janet placed the bird in her empty coffee cup, which caused a few students to jump as they passed us! Two Harvard students at a picnic table expressed their concern for this very scared and possibly wounded feathered creature. Then, suddenly, just as one of the students began to search the internet for the Animal Rescue League’s contact number, Janet nudged the bird out of the cup and the bird flew away, perching herself in a nearby tree, saying ‘thank you… I’m doing just fine!’”
(Above photograph: from left to right)
OJ, Janet, and Layla
The excitement of a dog at the start of a walk is contagious. Pet lovers are greeted by their pups with howls, wiggles, play bows, doggy style dances, kisses and more. In the initial moment, that first step into the great outdoors (or the Cambridge Common for some!), feelings that include joy, stimulation, freedom, curiosity emanate from our canine comrades. Ready to have some fun many dogs begin to run even when their human companion is not! Hence dogs pull. Makes sense. Dogs are clearly not meant to be on leashes. If we could let our dogs run free the moment we leave home we would, yet reality and common sense remind us quickly that this is not possible, especially in chaotic cities and bustling towns. Although there are many fantastic dog parks and fields where we take our dogs to run and play off leash, a walk is often required to get us there. So the challenge, at times then is to make a leash driven walk one that is safe and fun for everyone, humans and canines alike.
Internationally renowned trainer Victoria Stilwell illustrates a few basic, yet clearly effective, strategies that prevent pulling in her recent article and video entitled “Loose Leash Walking” (which can be found on her website (https://positively.com/dog-behavior/basic-cues/loose-leash-walking). Stilwell demonstrates that, by simply not allowing dogs to pull, insisting consistently on walking only when the leash is loose, many to most dogs can learn to coordinate their walking speed to match that of their human companion.
Both Stilwell's "stop and be still" and "reverse direction" techniques are powerful methods to teach your dog to be mindful of your needs just as you are steadfastly mindful theirs. With the “stop and be still” technique, pet owners and caregivers simply refuse to walk when their dog is pulling. Then the “reverse direction” technique, as is also illustrated by Stilwell in her video, seems to serve as a reminder to dogs that they must be just as in tune with the speed, direction, and body movements of their owners, as we are with theirs.
During a training session Stillwell will change direction repeatedly in a short span of time, reinforcing to her canine trainees that they will need to follow her body, without pulling the leash, in order to get where they want to go. Rewards for following her lead, which may include praise, toys, or treats vary, depending on each dog’s unique interests. You can view this fantastic video and article, along with other useful pieces on Victoria Stilwell’s website (https://positively.com).