If you have been reading these training articles, you have assuredly seen a theme of exercising with your pup. After all, nothing says ‘responsible dog owner’ as much as going for the obligatory daily walk.  Not only are daily walks needed, but they are fun!  We encourage all dog owners to walk their dogs each day, starting from a young age.  Going on a walk is good exercise, it helps with socialization, and it provides tons of mental stimulation!

Many dogs do not receive enough exercise, and this often leads to obesity and other health problems.  Daily walks can help prevent these issues since they are a safe form of exercise that a dog can enjoy throughout their entire life.  Young puppies aren't ready for intense exercise yet due to their rapidly developing bodies, but short walks are great! If you are worried about their joints walking on hard surfaces like concrete or asphalt, let them walk on the grass next to the sidewalk. Ten minutes is a great starting place with a young puppy, and you can increase the length of the walk the older the dog gets. These daily walks are not only great exercise for your dog but you as well. Throughout the years, there have been many studies showing that dog owners are healthier than non-dog owners. They play a large role in both the mental and physical health of the owner and the dog. 

Walks also help to socialize your pup. Socialization is so important that we have dedicated multiple full articles on it. If you have not read them, you should go back and do so. While out on your daily walks, your pup will see people, dogs, other animals, trucks, cars, and countless other things they will encounter throughout their lives. Seeing these things during a puppy's Critical Socialization Period is incredibly important! As your dog ages, continuing to see these things will help ensure your dog remains well socialized for life.

Your dog will get a ton of mental stimulation from their daily walk and is very important for their long-term well-being. Dogs need a chance to see new things, hear new things, and smell new things! Dogs live for adventure, and being cooped up all day in the house is not enough for them to live their best life. A simple daily walk adds so much stimulation to their day and does make a difference.

We cannot forget the last reason daily walks are essential. They are fun!!!!!  Walks are such a great time to bond with your pup and spend time together. There is no greater joy than exploring the great outdoors with your little buddy!

There are many different training options available to you as a dog owner. The three most popular are Group Classes, Private In-Home training and the last is boarding your dog and having them trained, this is sometimes referred to as a Boot Camp or Board and Train.  Picking a training route for your dog should be based on four variables; Your budget, your goals, your schedule, and what is best for your dog. In this article we will explore the different options, the costs and the advantages/disadvantages of each option.

Obedience Classes

Classes are a great way to either fully train your dog or advance some obedience skills that your dog already has. For young dogs, class is a great option to work on socialization as your pup will be around new dogs, people and places. Obedience classes are generally the least expensive dog training option. The cost of the trainer’s time is spread out over multiple clients. This also leads us to some of the drawbacks of classes. In class settings the trainer's time is divided amongst all the clients and their dogs, if your dog needs special attention or you are struggling it might be hard to get the advice you need. Another drawback of group classes is scheduling. Group classes are usually set at the same time each week at a specific location and are not flexible. If you have a busy schedule it might be difficult to get to the class and you might miss out on important training advice.

Doggie Boot Camp/Board and Train

Dog boot camp is generally the most expensive dog training option. This is mainly because you are paying for the care of your dog or a boarding fee in addition to paying for training. A board and train is best for owners that are extremely busy or happen to be going on a trip and will need to board their dog anyway. This will help defer some of the costs as you would have needed to pay for boarding anyway. During a board and train most trainers will teach your dog all of your obedience commands and work on other things that you request, this makes it great for just about any dog. You should know that most trainers/kennels have a minimum age for taking dogs, so plan accordingly if you have a young pup. A board and train will also help with socialization as your dog will be around other dogs and people in a very public setting. Board and Trains differ in terms of length and it is important to talk with your trainer about what is reasonable to accomplish given the length of your program. The largest drawback to a board and train is that you are not present for the training. To ensure the training that has been done is transferred over to you, make sure that your board and train comes with follow up from the trainer. 

Private In-Home Lessons

Private lessons that take place in your home are a great option to get you involved in the training, keep costs moderate, and have the one on one attention you require. Private lessons cost more than classes, but significantly less than a board and train program. One lesson usually costs less than a six week group class and you get the sole attention of your dog trainer. Private lessons allow the trainer to give you direct guidance for your dog in the place that you want them trained; your home! The largest drawback of private lessons involves a lack of socialization as a direct part of the training. To ensure proper socialization ensure you work with your trainer to develop a plan to get your dog around as many dogs, places and people as possible.

As you can see, each training option has it's advantages and disadvantages. While making the choice might seem difficult, know that any training that you do will be beneficial for your pup! The ideal solution for you might even be combining multiple options.

Hide and seek is a great game to play with your dog.  Not only is it fun for both of you, but it is great exercise and gives your pup a lot of mental stimulation!  Hide and seek requires your dog to use their brain in a way that they don’t often do.  They have to think critically and also learn to use their nose.  This helps tire them out on a day to day basis and also helps with their development as they grow.

Let’s get started with the rules of the game and how to play! It is just like the game you played as a child. You are going to hide from your dog and have them find you. Of course your dog can’t count out loud to 30, so you are going to have to tell them when they can come and find you. The game can be played with one or multiple dogs. Unlike traditional Hide and Seek if there are multiple dogs, there will be multiple seekers, not hiders.

To start playing with a pup that has never played before you will either need to teach your pup a rock solid sit stay or have a helper hold them while you hide.  Either option is fine and it really just depends where you are with your training efforts.  If you try the stay method and the dog keeps getting up and coming to you before you hide you can keep training on the stay or simply switch and have someone hold them.

It is important to start easy so that the dog can build up their confidence and excitement toward the game.  I would recommend starting the game inside of your home. Start by going one room away and standing in the middle of the room.  When ready simply encourage your dog to find you by saying a phrase that you will repeat each time you play.  We like to say the dog’s name and then “come and get me”! There are a million different options you can choose from, another great one is “Where is daddy/mommy?”.  When they find you shower them with praise for a job well done.  This will keep them excited about playing the game going forward.

Each time you play you can hide in a harder and harder place. Pretty soon you will be hiding on a different floor of the house in some pretty sneaky places.  Some of our favorites are closets and showers with the curtains shut.  Another really fun option is laying under a blanket on the floor or a couch where a blanket would normally be. This usually gets the dogs really worked up and excited when they realize you are under it!  

Anytime your dog seems to be stumped while playing the game you should call out their name along with the phrase that you chose to start the game.  This will keep the game moving and the dog’s interest heightened.  As you increase the challenge your pup will start to use their nose more and more which is great for building brain power. Just like with hiding locations, the better your dog gets at the game, the more silent you can be. We like to stop reusing the “Come and get me” phrase and switch to just making a light tapping noise or something else that will keep the dog interested, but not fully give away your great hiding spot. 

If you master this game in your home you can even start to play in the yard or at the dog park.  This is one of our favorite games to play with puppies and we hope that you enjoy it too!

For many people finding the right vet involves pulling up Google Maps and choosing the vet’s office that is the closest to their home. While 20 years ago proximity might have been the most important factor, times have certainly changed! It is important to choose the correct vet for the development and long term health of your pet. In this article, we will explore what the differences are between vet offices and try to help you find the right vet for your pet and your family.

One of the largest factors in veterinary medicine these days is choosing a methodology. Some vets practice traditional medicine and others take a holistic approach to healing. Traditional medicine would remind you of going to the doctor and typically involves vaccines and surgeries to deal with health issues that arise. Holistic healing generally focuses on natural treatments and lifelong nutritional choices that prevent medical issues before they start. The vet you choose should utilize a methodology that you believe in and should likely mirror your beliefs on medicine utilized for humans. In addition to the two extremes of these approaches, I have found a large number of vets that are open-minded to both approaches. In my opinion, this gives you as the pet’s owner the most amount of information to digest and choose between in the care of your four-legged companions. 

The second largest factor is the size of the vet practice. Let's focus on the two extremes that I see the most often, single veterinary practices compared to large multi-vet clinics. At a single veterinary practice you have the advantage of knowing the vet you are dealing with and most of the time - you’ll also know all of the employees at the practice as well. It gives you that personalized feel. Large multi-vet clinics generally do not have this feel and you likely won’t know the front desk staff and might not even know the vet that you are working with. Large vet offices do however have a leg up in the fact that the different vets can provide their experiences to each other and provide an overall more comprehensive experience. Many of these practices have more equipment and offer extended hours and possibly even emergency care. When done well, a large vet practice with multiple vets can provide more support for your pet. A good middle ground that I have experienced is a single veterinarian who will recommend a larger or educational vet (an educational facility generally has students, multiple instructors and tend to have leading edge research and equipment) when they experience issues that need a second opinion or equipment that they don’t have. 

After making your decision on those two topics, you should have enough information to look at the vet offices around you and begin to do your research. Look up vets that fit your requirements in your area. Look at online reviews as they will tell you a lot about the practice and how they do business. It is important to look at how they handle any bad reviews that they have online, there should be a response and it should show if they handle difficult situations in a reasonable manner. 

Now that you have a short list of vets that meet your criteria, I would suggest to set up a first time appointment and conduct it much like an interview. Rate your experiences with each vet from the booking experience through how they handle their waiting room. You’d be amazed at the different booking technologies and waiting room experiences I have seen. I’ve even visited a vet that has free beer and live music inside of their waiting room. Ask the vets questions that you are concerned about and see what their answers are. Here is a list of questions that you can utilize:

  • How frequently do you want to see my pet?
  • What tests do you recommend that my pet have to ensure they are healthy?
  • Which vaccinations do you recommend?
  • Which foods/treats do you recommend for dogs?
  • What exercise do you recommend for my dog?
  • What is your thought on a holistic healing approach?
  • What is your thought on the use of CBD oil for dogs?
  • Should I purchase pet insurance?
  • Which Flea and Tick medication do you recommend?
  • Do you perform surgeries or do you recommend a veterinary hospital that does?

Asking multiple vets these questions will give you a wealth of knowledge about the health of your pet, but in addition should give you a great insight on the vet’s beliefs and their practice. You are looking for a vet that is knowledgeable on all of these topics, aligns with your views, and takes their time to discuss the topics with you. Remember that looking for a vet is a process to ensure that your pet is healthy and lives the longest life possible!

Our opinion is that tug of war can be good or bad depending on how you play.  If you play in the wrong manner it can create behavioral issues in your dog, but played in the right way it can help you raise a friendly well adjusted dog with great manners.  We have created the following 5 tips to ensure tug of war is a good experience for both of you:

Play Gently!  This is especially true if you are playing with a puppy. Puppy teeth can easily be damaged or even pulled out, so it is important to play at an appropriate level.  You should never pull harder than the puppy does and you should never pull the toy away from them. Keep in mind that sharp little puppy teeth often get caught in things and care needs to be taken when removing the toy from their mouth. With an adult dog they will likely pull far harder than the puppy and it is okay to match their level, but you should still avoid pulling harder than they do to avoid injury.

Only use one toy for tug or war.  The reason for this tip is that it teaches your dog that you don’t play tug of war with everything they find.  They will learn that you only tug on one toy and that nothing else is used for tug. You don’t want to be playing tug of war when they find a dead bird or one of your socks! 

Keep the toy put up when not is use.  This tip goes hand in hand with the previous one.  You don’t want your dog learning that they can engage you in tug of war constantly.  This is a game that should be played in moderation at a time of your choosing! It is a good idea to follow this rule if you have multiple dogs inside of your home and they play tug with each other. Having the single toy that they play with and only giving it to them at certain times will make them less likely to start playing tug of war with your couch cushions!

Teach a “drop it” command!  One advantage to playing tug of war is that it is a great time to teach your pup how to drop objects on command.   Once they learn how to drop a toy during a spirited game of tug of war they are way more likely to drop objects in other situations.

Don’t allow “regripping”!  Regripping is when your dog lets go of the toy and then jumps to bite and grab it again.  Many people are accidentally bit when a dog tries to regrip the toy. Stop this behavior each time you see it!  This helps keep your pup from getting overly excited when playing tug and can also help your pup learn to control themselves in other exciting situations.   

Tug of war can be a great game for your dog to burn off some steam and have some fun at the same time! It also can help them learn some valuable lessons that can be used outside of tug time, like drop it and general manners. Following these tips should set you up for success.

There you have it!  5 quick tips for playing tug of war with your pup! 

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