Outdoor With Your Dog
By Mike Steele
The outdoors provides a fresh and interesting environment to keep your pet’s mind active, alert, and off of behavior you’d rather not see. We know that spending time with our pets outdoors is important for dogs, but who doesn’t need a little extra exercise ourselves? Here’s a few ideas for stimulating activities you can share with your canine companion:
â€¢ Take a Walk – This is a great, low impact way to enjoy some time outside with your dog. In fact, daily walks are recommended for most dogs as a minimum element of their exercise routine (and people too). Walks give your pup a chance to meet new friends in the neighborhood, stimulate her senses, and relieve herself. Any time you take your dog outside the yard, remember to use a lead or leash, and make sure she is wearing a comfortable collar with name & ID tag.
It’s common courtesy to clean up after your dog, especially during walks around the neighborhood. Waste cleanup doesn’t have to be a dirty job anymore. In addition to the scoopers and rakes you may use to clean up your yard, there are a variety of biodegradable scoop bags you can use to neatly pick up and dispose of dog mess.
â€¢ Backyard/Park Fetch – Whether you play in your yard, or take your dog to a local park, there’s nothing more fun than a good old game of fetch. It taps into their instinct to hunt and retrieve, and they look forward to the reward of returning to a happy owner again and again. There’s a whole variety of fetch toys available to replace the soggy tennis ball many of us remember. Another spin on the old favorite is Air Dog Toys, made of durable tennis ball material but shaped like bones, donuts, and sticks on a rope. For dogs that love to leap and snatch toys right out of the air.
â€¢ Soft Bite Floppy Discs, Gumabone Discs, and Nylabone Frisbees make great flyers.
â€¢ Hiking Adventure – If your dog likes a little cross country action, take him on a nature hike. Like any walk, we recommend bringing along a leash or retractable grip lead to ensure he doesn’t stray too far. Hiking through wooded trails or tall grass exposes them to a few more dangers than a stroll down a sidewalk – fleas & ticks, sharp rocks and twigs, the unexpected downpour – but there are several products designed to protect your dog from these outdoor elements. Before hiking in the woods, consider getting your canine a flea & tick collar or using a long-acting repellent treatment like FrontlineÂ®, which our veterinarians consider one of the most convenient methods of flea & tick control.
Just as we slip on our hiking shoes and jacket before heading out, dogs too, need to protect themselves from the elements. You never know if the trail has sharp rocks, sun-hot asphalt, or the occasional shard of broken glass, but luckily there are dog boots available for almost any size or breed. They slip on comfortably right over all four paws and Velcro securely in place. Be sure to clip your dog’s nails before a hike to protect them from getting caught in boots.
For long hikes on hot days, keep in mind that dogs and puppies need plenty of water to prevent heat exhaustion and dehydration. Be sure to keep a water source handy, such as a collapsible bowl or water bottle with folding reservoir.
â€¢ Water Sports, Anyone? Those of us who own a retriever or labrador know that on a hot day, it’s hard to keep them out of that nearby pond, lake, or stream. No matter what the breed, water sports are a great way to cool down your dog as the temperature heats up, and now it’s safer than ever to let your pooch go for a swim. Many of the fetch toys mentioned earlier also come in waterproof, buoyant models, such as the Floatable Gumabone Disc, or Neoprene Water Toys, available in an assortment of shapes like rings, barbells, and footballs.
Just as you would with any member of your family, consider water safety if you like to take your best friend out boating with you. While many dogs are natural swimmers, you may still want to bring along a coast-guard approved pet life preserver to keep your dog’s head above water without restricting his movement or breathing.
â€¢ Dog Agility Parks/Trails – More and more communities are offering dog agility parks and trails, which feature various courses specifically designed to give your dog a fun and challenging workout. Canines leap hurdles, climb ramps, balance narrow bridges, and navigate their way through various obstacles. Many parks also offer classes for beginners to acclimate both dog and owners to the equipment. This is a growing new sport recommended for the active and fearless dog in your life.
With the warm days of summer upon us, we encourage you to provide your pet with more outdoor time and exercise during the coming months. Exercise is critical to your pet’s physical health, and the stimulation from the sights and sounds of the outdoors is excellent for your pet’s mental health.
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