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How Much Exercise Does Your Dog Need?

Dog lifting weights wearing blue hat, blue shorts and gold chain

How much exercise your dog needs depends on several factors.

Owning a dog carries a lot of responsibility, food, water, veterinary care, love, and exercise. But how much exercise does your dog need? Generally, dogs need between 30 minutes and 2 hours of exercise per day. How do you know where your dog falls on that timeline though?

Dogs need to get out and explore their world so daily walks are important for not only their physical health but also their mental health. Walking, however, is not always enough. Here are some things to consider when thinking about how much exercise your dog should get and what type of exercise is right for them.

Health Advantages

Just as exercise is good for your waistline, exercise is also good for your dog’s waistline. Exercise will help keep the weight off, keep muscles toned and help extend the life of your dog. Exercise is also good for the mind. If you have ever experienced a bored dog, you know they can become destructive as a way to burn off excess energy.

Age

No matter whether your dog is young or old, they need exercise. But the age of your dog will be one of the determining factors in how much exercise your dog needs. Age is also a factor in what kind of exercise your dog should be getting.

We all slow down as we get older. While our senior dog will always enjoy getting out to sniff and stretch their legs, take your dog’s advancing age into consideration before setting out on a long, strenuous hike. Old creaky bones are not going to enjoy a high impact run through the neighborhood either.

Dog’s under one year of age should also avoid high impact exercise as their bones are not fully developed. Young puppies will not have the stamina to go very far either.

Breed

Some breeds are higher energy than others and require more physical exercise. Other breeds are much lower energy and require much less exercise. So, while some breeds will only require 30 minutes of exercise per day, others will require 2 hours of exercise per day.

A word of warning for owners of brachycephalic dogs such as Pugs, Bulldogs, Rottweilers, Boxers, Boston Terriers, etc.: These dogs are prone to heat stroke, so use caution when exercising your flat-faced breed.

Types of Exercise for Your Dog

While walking is a great way to exercise your dog, it is not the only way.

Letting your dog out into your yard to exercise himself will usually not work. Running along the fence line barking at the neighbor’s dog may get some of his physical energy out, but it is most likely not good for his mental health. And expecting him to run around by himself is something most dogs don’t do. If you have more than one dog and they are close in size and age, then you usually have a built-in dog park. Dog play can be a great way to expend energy, but keep in mind it is difficult to know how much exercise your dogs are really getting, so it is best not to count this as the main way they are getting a workout.

If your dog likes to retrieve, then playing ball can be a great way to get some of that pent-up energy out.

Training your dog is the perfect way to exercise your dog’s body and mind. A few short training sessions a day will not only improve your dog’s health but will improve your bond together.

Before Getting Started

Before you start an exercise program with your dog it is a good idea to talk to your vet. Your veterinarian will tell you whether your dog is ready and how much exercise you should begin with.

How Can Dances with Dogs Help?

Our dog walking service can get your dog out when you are working long hours, not physically able to get your dog out for a walk or you just don’t have enough hours in the day. Our training program is perfect for people who want a better-behaved dog, have limited time but can squeeze in a few short training sessions a day, and want to further strengthen their bond with their dog. Contact us if you would like to learn more.

Destructive Behavior in Dogs: Causes and Solutions

Golden retriever ripping up bed

Destructive behavior comes in many forms.

Chewing, digging and playing are all very normal behaviors for dogs, but sometimes they can get out of hand and become destructive behaviors. One of our dogs destroyed two sofas in a day. Any destructive behavior can be very frustrating, but there are things you can do to help your dog and correct these behaviors.

Why is your dog destructive?

There are several causes for destructive behavior. Here are a few of the more common ones.

  • Separation anxiety – This cause deserves to be at the top of the list as it probably the most common reason a dog exhibits destructive behavior. Dogs with separation anxiety can exhibit behaviors such as tearing through walls, urinating and defecating in the house, excessive vocalizing, and other destructive behaviors. These dogs are so attached to their families that they frantically greet their owners when they return home and may follow their owners from room to room. There are a lot of reasons for a dog having separation anxiety from a death in the family (human or another pet) to a move to a new home. 
  • Boredom – if your dog is not getting enough social interaction or exercise her or she may expend that excess energy on your furniture.
  • Teething – If your puppy is chewing on things it shouldn’t be, it may be because they are teething and their gums are painful. Chewing can relieve the discomfort.
  • Attention-getting – Sometimes negative attention is better than no attention. If you are not reinforcing your dog for being good, but reprimanding your dog for being bad, your dog may be being destructive just to get attention from you.
  • Fear – If your dog is afraid of loud noises such as fireworks or thunderstorms your dog may be trying to escape which can be destructive. Besides your doors, walls, windows and door frames being damaged this can be particularly dangerous for your dog. A panicked dog that is trying to escape can be severely injured.
  • Barrier frustration – Some dogs, like some people, don’t like to be confined to small spaces. So, if you are confining your dog to a crate, bathroom or laundry room they may be destroying things because of being confined in such a small space. Dogs with separation anxiety are prone to dislike being confined.
  • Investigating – Dogs investigate by using their mouths and paws. Your dog’s destructive behavior may be caused by him or her checking out something new or unfamiliar to them.
  • Playing – Your dog’s normal play behavior may result in damaging objects. Dogs love to dig, chew, run, shred, but they may be shredding your sofa, chewing your shoes, or digging up your garden.
  • Hungry – If you are inconsistent in feeding your dog you may have a dog who is destroying things because they are hungry and in the search for food.
  • Not feeling well – Just as with teething puppies an adult dog with gum issues may take to chewing to alleviate the discomfort. Dogs with pica will eat non-food items. Make sure to talk to your veterinarian. 

What you can do to help curb your dog’s destructive behavior:

For dogs who are bored or left alone for long periods of time you can hire a dog walker to come in while you are away. A professional dog walker knows how to alleviate the boredom and give your dog some much-needed exercise and mental stimulation.

If your dog is destructive because they are not getting enough exercise, get out there and walk or play with your dog. If you don’t have the time you can hire a professional dog walker or pet sitter to come in and tire your dog out. A tired dog is a better-behaved dog.

Keep your dog on a regular feeding schedule to help prevent him or her trying to make their own meals.

If you have a teething puppy make sure you are providing enough appropriate things for them to chew on.

For more serious issues such as separation anxiety, fears or phobias please consult with an animal behaviorist.

And if you suspect your dog’s destructive behavior is caused by a medical issue please consult your veterinarian.

Does your dog exhibit destructive behavior? Contact us for more information on our dog and puppy training as well as our dog exercise programs.

When You Can’t Play Outside: 6 Indoor Activities for Dogs

English bulldog lying down white background

Is your dog bored? These fun indoor activities for dogs should brighten their day.

Getting our dogs enough exercise can sometimes be a challenge when you are both stuck inside. It may too hot during the summer months and the summer thunderstorms can certainly hamper outdoor activities. But our dogs need to be engaged both physically and mentally. Here are six indoor activities for dogs that will certainly keep them entertained.

Golden retriever playing tug with rope toy

Playing tug is one of the great indoor activities for dogs.

Tug of War

A good game of tug can be played just about anywhere and is a great way to tire your dog out. There are several tugs toys on the markets. Try to get a tug toy with a handle and that is long enough to keep your hands safely away from enthusiastic teeth.

Dog sniffing wooden box

Find it is a great indoor activity

Find It!

Hide your dog’s favorite treats around the house. Make sure your dog doesn’t see your hiding palaces and keep the treats small to avoid having your dog eat too much. You can also do this with your dog’s food. This is a great way to keep your dog’s mind engaged and satisfy his natural instinct to forage for food.

Dog with paws over eyes

Hide and Seek is fun and a great training game too!

Hide and Seek

You read that right. Hide and seek is a fun way to play with your dog indoors while letting them use their nose to find you. It is also a great way to strengthen their come when called. How to play: Put your dog in a wait and then go hide. Get creative hide behind doors or furniture, in closets or bathrooms. Call your dog’s name once and have him come to find you. Reward him mightily when he finds you and you will be reinforcing him for coming when called. Hide and Seek is a perfect way to train your dog while having fun.

Blue treat dispensing dog toy

Using an interactive treat dispensing toy can be used to feed your dog their meal too.

Interactive Toys

There are many interactive toys on the market. These toys can be stuffed with treats or your dog’s food and your dog must figure out how to get the food out. Some of these toys can be filled with fresh fruit, canned pumpkin, yogurt, canned dog food, peanut butter, etc., frozen and then given to your dog. These frozen treats will keep your dog busy for quite some time.

Small dog with yellow ball in mouth

Playing ball indoors can expend some of your dog’s pent-up energy.

Let’s Play Ball!

Ball? In the house? Yes! All you need is a hallway or an open area and a ball. Toss the ball down the hall for your dog to retrieve.

Westie up on hind legs with girl

Learning new tricks is fun for your dog.

Teach Them A New Trick

Learning never stops for us or our dogs, so take this time to teach your dog a new trick or use this time to freshen up already learned behaviors. Either way, your dog will be working their body and brain.

These are great indoor activities for dogs that will keep your dog entertained inside when you can’t play outside.

What are your favorite indoor activities for dogs?

How to Train Your Dog to Sit

English bulldog sitting next to a person looking up at them.

Sit can be the basis of other behaviors you can train your dog to do.

Whether it is your new puppy or older dog, teaching them the sit command is an important lesson for them to learn. It is also, usually, one of the easiest commands to teach. Here is an easy way to train your dog to sit.

Having your dog sit when asked can come in handy in a variety of situations from sitting before going out of a doorway, sitting at the veterinarian’s office, sitting for a nail trim, to sitting beside you at an outdoor café. The sit command is a versatile command and will serve you and your dog well throughout your years together.

What is the Best Training Method?

Here at Dances with Dogs, we only use positive reinforcement training. What does that mean? We only use treats, toys, and praise. We ignore bad behavior and reward good behavior. Wouldn’t you work harder if you knew that every time you got it right something great was going to happen? How hard would you work if you knew that if every time you got it wrong something bad was going to happen?

Why Should You Train Your Dog to Sit?

Having your dog learn the sit command is essential, so this is one of the first commands they should learn. It is also the base for other behaviors they should learn, so learning the sit command is the start of great learning experiences for your dog and great training experiences for you.

How Long Will It Take?

Each dog learns at a different pace just like people, so be patient. Learning sit is a fairly easy command for dogs to learn, so it shouldn’t take too long. It also depends on how much time you invest in the process. You want training to be fun, so it is important to keep your training sessions to about 10 minutes in length. If you try to train your dog for longer periods of time you run the risk of him/her getting frustrated, distracted, bored or just tired.

How to Train Your Dog to Sit 

Before you get started, you need lots of yummy treats. These treats should be small (pea sized) and something your dog finds incredibly delicious. Some things that work well are small pieces of cheese, cooked chicken, dried liver, a dog food roll cut into small pieces, cut up hot dogs, etc. You want something that really keeps their attention and doesn’t take too long for them to eat. If your dog is not motivated by food try using their favorite toy or praise. 

Step 1 

Hold a small piece of treat in your hand, so that your dog can smell it and then slowly raise your hand up and back over their head so that they have to look up. This should cause them to have to sit down. If your dog tries to jump up to get the treat your hand may be too high above their head. Lower your hand a bit and try again. 

Black and tan puppy lifting his head up and beginning to it.

When starting to train your dog to sit, hold the treat just above his head so that he must lift his head. This should cause him to sit.

Step 2

Just as your dog sits say “yes!” or “good” or whatever word works best for you and pop the treat in their mouth.

Step 3

Once your dog is consistently sitting 5 times in a row during your practice sessions you can then put a command word to it. So, say “sit” as you raise your hand above their head and as soon as their rear end hits the ground reward and praise.

Step 4

Once your dog has the behavior down, you can phase out your treats by only giving them occasionally. Mix it up. Sometimes give your dog a treat every three sits, then every 5 sits, then every two sits. Keep them guessing, that is part of the fun.

Step 5

Always have fun and end on a high note. Always try to end your training sessions when your dog has done the behavior correctly. Even if your dog is having a great training session don’t be tempted to push it. You want every session to be fun.

Things You Should Never Do

Never push on your dog’s back end to get them to sit. You could do physical harm to your dog and it does not help your dog to learn to sit.

Never repeat your command. In other words, ask your dog to “sit”, but never say “sit, sit, sit,” if your dog doesn’t sit after the first request.

Never yell or shout at your dog. If you are getting frustrated it is time to call it a day. Try to end your training session on a positive note even if that means asking your dog to do something they already know like fetch a ball or give kisses. But, if you are finding yourself raising your voice it is time to take a break.

Papillon surrounded by dog toys

When you train your dog to sit you may find that toys motivate your dog more than food does.

Troubleshooting

If your dog just won’t sit there could be several reasons. Make sure it is not medical. Does your dog sit on her/his own when not being asked? If not, a trip to the vet may be in order. Are your treats yummy enough? Make sure you are using very high-value treats when teaching a new behavior. If your dog still isn’t interested in treat maybe food isn’t his/her thing. Try using a ball, toy or praise as a reward instead. Are there too many distractions? If there is a lot going on when you are trying to train it might be a good idea to move to a quieter area.

If You Would Like to Learn More About How to Train Your Dog, Please Contact Us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Much Does It Cost to Own a Dog?

So, you have decided you would like to add a dog to your family. Wonderful! Dogs are great for getting you out of the house for some exercise, they are therapeutic and lots of fun. But how much does it cost to own a dog? 

Puppy in lap

Should you purchase a dog or adopt one? Weigh the cost.

Before adding a dog or any pet to your household it is important to determine how much your dog is going to cost you on a yearly basis. Not just how much it will cost to purchase or adopt your new pal, but how much it will cost for food, training, veterinary bills and more.

Let’s look at some of the costs you will incur.

Purchase or adoption

If you are set on a pure breed puppy your purchase price could be as much as $5,000 if you get your puppy from a reputable breeder. Shelters and rescue organizations also have purebred dogs up for adoption, but you may not get that cute 8-week old puppy (see our blog on the pros and cons of getting a puppy). If you have your heart set on a particular breed there is a rescue group for every breed out there. Shelter adoption fees can range from $35-$75, and usually include vaccinations and spay/neuter and microchip. If you decide to adopt from a rescue organization, adoption fees can be anywhere from $200-$700 depending on the breed and the rescue’s expenses. These dogs too are vaccinated, spayed/neutered and microchipped.  

You can save quite a lot of money if you are willing to adopt a puppy and even more money if you adopt an adult dog.

Veterinary Care

Just ordinary annual vet care is going to cost somewhere between $100 to $400. This does not include possible emergencies which can run into the thousands of dollars. While pet insurance can help with some emergency expenses, most companies do not cover annual vaccinations. If you insure your pet, which we think is a great idea, you will usually have to put out the initial expense of emergency or extraordinary veterinary care. You then get reimbursed for a portion of that care. In the long run, pet insurance can save you a considerable amount of money.

You will save a good amount of money if you adopt from your local shelter or rescue as these dogs are already spayed/neutered, which is a big expense. Rescue dogs are also vaccinated, so you could have as much as an entire year before your new dog needs to be vaccinated again.

Heartworm, Flea and Tick Control

Heartworm can cost as much as $300 per year depending on the size of your dog. Flea and tick control will run anywhere from $50-$250 per year.

Dog balancing cookie on nose

The cost of food will depend on the quality.

Food and Treats

If you want to feed your dog nothing but the best, it can cost you as much as $600 per year depending on the size of your dog. If you are not picky about what your dog eats you can most budget for about $150 per year, but you may spend more on vet bills.

Bowls, Beds, Toys, Leashes, and Collars

This is an area where your personal style and tastes can affect your monetary output. If you are looking for designer items, you will usually spend more than if you are shopping at your local dollar store.

You might be able to find some great items at your local garage sales or local buy, sell trade groups.

Training

Yes, your new dog is going to need training. Group classes usually start at around $125 for a six-week class, but if your new buddy needs more personalized private training you could spend anywhere from $60-$100 per hour depending on where you live and the experience of your trainer.

Grooming

Dog grooming can be very expensive depending on your dog’s breed and coat length. You also must take into consideration how often you want your dog bathed and how much effort you are willing to put into the process. Are you comfortable trimming your dog’s nails and expressing their anal glands? If this gives you pause, then your grooming bill will be more. In other words, your short-haired Labrador that you are willing to bathe, and trim nails is going to cost considerably less than your Goldendoodle that needs monthly professional grooming. So, if you are willing to get a little wet and have the patience to trim your dog’s nails and such you could be looking at grooming costs as low as $30 per year, but if you have a higher maintenance dog and/or if you are using a mobile groomer, your grooming bills could run as much as $1,500 a year or more.

Dog getting a bath

The cost of grooming will depend on how much effort you are willing to put in.

Other Considerations

If you live in a house will you need a fence to keep your new companion contained? What about taking your dog out for a car ride? You will then need a crate or other restraint. And what about if you want to or need to go out of town? You will then need someone to care for your dog.

Having a dog is a lifelong commitment and being aware of the possible costs of dog ownership can give you a good idea if you are ready to make that commitment. We hope the answer is a resounding yes! Dogs are a wonderful family addition.

Would you like to learn more about caring for your new dog? Contact us.

Running With Your Dog

Jogger running with two dogs

Running with your dog can be fun for both of you.

If you want to run with your dog you should take a few precautions before you get started:

Before You Start

1. Before you start a running program with your dog, make sure he or she is healthy enough for the endeavor. A trip to the vet should be first on your list before starting.
2. Once your pooch is cleared to start running, don’t take off on a 10-mile run. Just like people, dogs need to be conditioned. Start slow and build up your dog’s endurance.
3. Training is important. Your dog needs to learn how to run alongside you so that you can both enjoy the time together.
4. Not all dogs are meant to be runners. If your dog is older, short-snouted, or just too small to keep up, leave them at home when you go for your jog.
5. DO NOT run your dog if it’s hot outside. Dogs do not disburse heat the way we humans do. Keep some of these things in mind: [Read more…]