Category Archives: Exercise

  • -

Canine Fitness Month

Ah, spring is in the air, and at this time of year many of us begin, return to, or intensify our fitness routines. As we evaluate our own physical shape after a long, often lazy winter, we should check our pets to see if they, too, need a little fitness boost.  Glancing down at your standing canine, hopefully you will see a gentle indentation in the loin area. The loin is the section between your dog’s last rib and the beginning of the pelvic bone.  If this area is slightly concave, your pet’s weight is probably normal.  If this area is convex or rounded out, your pet is most likely overweight.  After consulting with your veterinarian, you may decide to make some diet and exercise changes for a healthier summer of fun.

And although April is “canine fitness month” let’s not forget about our feline friends. You can judge your cat’s weight in the same manner as noted in the paragraph above, or simply run your hands over your cat’s ribs, feeling for a thin or thick layer of fat. While your cat’s ribs should not be visible (indicating underweight) a layer of fat indicates excess weight. The ultimate feeding plan for cats and dogs is a raw meat diet for cats and a raw meat diet with small amounts of vegetables and fruits for dogs. These species appropriate meals are very low in carbohydrates, making them ideal for normalizing weight.  Since you control what goes into your pet’s bowl this transition is a simple one. The Northwest Naturals website has specific instructions on the correct way to switch your pet onto a raw, weight-normalizing diet.

The topic of weight loss through exercise may be a bit more complicated. Many doctors and weight loss experts suggest that while exercise has many proven health benefits, eating a correct diet in correct amounts is the most efficient way to lose weight. So why not do both? There are unlimited sports and games we can incorporate into our dog’s lives to increase their activity, many we can enjoy right beside them. Cats may be more difficult, but extra play along with a raw food diet can work wonders. We love our pets and want them in our lives as long as possible. By putting them on a nutrient rich raw food diet and increasing their exercise we definitely improve the likelihood of lengthening their lives.

Fitness is defined as the condition of being physically fit and healthy.  It is a superb goal for all of our families, including our pets!

  • -
Yellow lab high fiving girl who is holding a red leash, sitting on the road

Fun with Fido & Felix

These days when we think of playing games we usually think of phone apps, video games, and other online options; and while our devices are engaging and convenient, these ways of playing are not how our pets view playtime. Dogs and cats are physical creatures that inhabit their bodies in carefree ways, most of the time, which many of us humans have forgotten about or rarely experienced.

Healthy dogs and cats need and want to move. We have all seen photos of dogs and cats confined in small cages and kennels for years, deprived of healthy exercise, with a look of misery in their eyes – and it is heartbreaking.

Naturally, we know that exercise feels good and provides many benefits, such as:

  •   Deeper and more refreshing sleep
  •   Mental stimulation
  •   Optimal digestion
  •   Increased muscle tone & agility
  •   Reduced problematic behaviors (often)
  •   A sturdy musculoskeletal system
  •   Increased confidence
  •   An enhanced life

Creating opportunities for our pets to take advantage of these exercise benefits is essential for their health and longevity, VCA Animal Hospitals and the American Kennel Club expand on this. So how do our four-footed friends attain meaningful results while playing?

How to Play with Your Pet

Planned vs Spontaneous Play

Playtime and games can be spontaneous or planned, but depending on sporadic games won’t contribute as much to the benefits listed above, with how infrequent they can be. Additionally, you don’t want your dog to fall into the health traps that “weekend warriors” face who overexert and suffer from injuries, playing hard just on Saturday and Sunday. Planned activities, on the other hand, typically provide the greatest long-term benefits as most of us tend to stick to a schedule – and let’s face it, in this busy, high-stress world, most of us tend to be over-booked, and tired by the end of the day.

What should Scheduled Playtime Involve?

Dog Exercise

Having a schedule can help regulate your pet’s exercise, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. Planned exercise can be as simple as taking your dog for an after-breakfast and after-dinner 20-minute fast walk – the benefit comes from making it regular and intentional – but if you have more time, don’t stop there. You can make exercise more elaborate and engaging by signing up for dog classes, learning and teaching new skills, and entering competitions. Dogs are highly social animals, and interacting with their families and other group classes or activities is highly pleasurable for them.

Dog Games

Dog games can be very easy to think of for certain breeds, and it’s especially easy for those with retrievers. Retriever exercise can easily be a game of fetch with balls of different sizes, flashing balls, balls that make noise, and balls of different textures. All of these prove delightful for your pet. Alternatively, digging dogs will go crazy over the addition of a sandbox in their backyard or involving them in Barn Hunt Trials. Herding breeds can participate in Herding Trials, and Sight Hounds are a natural at Lure Coursing, but don’t let your dog’s breed limit their options. Step out of your comfort zone and see if your Bullmastiff enjoys obedience work or if your Rat Terrier is a fiend for Dock Diving. All of these games and sports are wonderful opportunities for your pet’s physical and mental stimulation.

Cat Exercise

Cats on the other hand are more solitary pets, but they were born to move and do so beautifully. In the wild, cats climb trees, leaping and pulling themselves up with their claws. These excellent exercise movements can be duplicated in play by providing scratching post towers and cat furniture of different heights, even shelves on the wall for your feline friend to climb on. Being superb hunters, cats also love to squeeze into small, hidden spaces and dash out to capture prey or, in our case most of the time, a toy. You can make wand toys and small balls, fake mice, or feather toys that mimic a cat’s prey, providing great excitement and exercise.

How to Get Your Cat in the Sun

One often overlooked problem with home-confined city cats is their lack of sunshine exposure. Training your cat to walk comfortably on a leash can solve that, but another solution is to install a screened window extension where your cat can sit or lay and bask in the sun’s rays, or go one step further and build a catio.

Catios (cat patios) are fully screened enclosures attached to and accessible from your home where cats can roam naturally and be safe from predators or other city dangers. Safe outdoor playtime with your cats in a catio is priceless in terms of providing exactly the type of exercise our cats desire.

Cat Games

In nature, cats are considered nocturnal, although most have adjusted to their owner’s diurnal schedules. Still, the nocturnal instinct runs deep. Have you ever considered playing a game of chase or hide and seek with your cat in a darkened room? Some cats find that thrilling. Or have you taken your cat out fishing? Place a shallow pan, like a pie pan, half filled with water, and set it on a towel on the kitchen floor. Get a few freeze-dried minnow treats and float them in the water. Show this to your cat or let her discover it for herself and see what happens. Unfetter your imagination when dreaming up games for your cats; they are wild and playful pets who enjoy new challenges.

Treats & Games

And don’t forget the goodies! Treats can be an important part of our pet’s games. Obviously, we need to factor in a certain number of rewards into their daily caloric intake so they don’t gain weight, but a tasty treat given at an appropriate moment can be a great stimulus during playtime.

Northwest Naturals Raw Rewards are single-ingredient, pure protein freeze-dried treats that are low calorie and can be fed to both cats and dogs since both species are carnivorous. There aren’t any other ingredients in the treats except the sourced protein.

At this time we have:

  • Beef Liver
  • Bison Liver
  • Chicken Breast
  • Chicken Liver
  • Green Mussels
  • Lamb Liver
  • Minnows
  • Pork Liver
  • Salmon
  • Shrimp
  • Whitefish.

We all need to spend more quality time playing with our pets, letting minds and bodies float into their fun zone. This healthy recreation will do wonders for our pet’s health and happiness and for ours too!

 By Carol Kendig



  • -
golden retriever dog walking with a striped leash and his owner

January is National Walk Your Dog Month!

January is Walk Your Dog Month and as you look at those frosty temperatures it might be hard to fathom bundling up and walking when the fireplace feels so nice. That’s the point behind January’s designation as Walk Your Dog Month. When it is cold and there are limited hours of sunlight, we all need a little extra motivation.

Your Dog is Your Best Exercise Partner

Did you make a New Year’s resolution to get more active and lose some weight in 2023? Lots of us did, and while our intentions are strong most of us have a nagging doubt that we’ll stick to our program. I have a helpful suggestion: how about tackling your workouts with a buddy? Research has shown that people who have an exercise partner tend to continue with their exercise routines much longer than people who try to go it alone. Now, I can hear you grumbling that having an exercise partner is not convenient: arranging schedules, extra driving, they are crabby in the morning, you’re too tired at night, etc. Yes, all of this may be true, but do you know you may already have the perfect exercise partner right under your own roof? Who is that you ask? Your dog, of course!

No arranging schedules or extra driving. He’s right there, probably holding his leash and begging to go out on an adventure with you. Never crabby in the morning, at noon, or at night, your dog longs to explore new avenues with you. Keywords – with you. Dogs are pack animals and crave the attention of their pack leader, you, so you have a built-in exercise partner sitting beside you right now eager to begin.

How to Know if Your Dog is Healthy Enough

If your dog is older or has medical issues his exercise options may be limited. Always consult your vet before making any activity changes in a dog with physical problems. But if your dog is fit or only a little overweight, he should be able to join you in your exercise program without any problems, especially if you start slowly and increase distances gradually. Remember to factor in your dog’s age. If you have a puppy, short walks will be the rule until his joints are fully mature. A general rule is the larger the dog the longer it takes for his joints to develop. Dogs over 100 pounds are not fully grown until around 18 months, smaller dogs range from around 9 months to 15 months depending on size. Once your dog is full-grown, walks can increase in length and intensity.

Where Should You Walk Your Dog

If your day is going to be super busy or you aren’t feeling motivated, speed-walk your dog around your neighborhood, but for more interesting walks you might try visiting local parks, wildlife areas (always leashed, of course), and other open environments. Since this is a mutually beneficial exercise program and you may be working toward cardio goals for yourself, be sure to allow some warm-up and cool-off times for your dog to enjoy some good sniffing.

Your Dogs Goals in a Walk

Remember that while you have walking goals, i.e., increased heart rate, weight loss, etc., your dog has goals, too. His dominant sense is olfactory so sniffing new smells is how he gathers information about his world. This is prime mental stimulation for your four-footed friend which is as beneficial as the physical exercise itself. So be sure to give your dog some opportunities for sniffing during your walks.

Start the New Year out right with the healthy goal of a walk a day with your dog and moving forward aim to make every month Walk Your Dog Month. It will be an engaging experience for both of you.

By Carol Kendig

  • -
Athletic dog jumping over pole

How to Introduce Athletic Activities to Your Canine

By Carol Kendig

Pampered Pooch or Canine Athlete?

Some pets are pampered couch-potatoes, happy with two meals and two rambling walks a day. But there is a growing segment of people who are involving their pets in competitive canine sports and activities. These elite canine athletes, like their human counterparts, have special needs that must be met for their well-being.

Optimize Their Performance

Breed Matters

When choosing a sport consider your dog’s breed or combination of breeds. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, but your Bullmastiff might do better at Rally and Nose Work rather than Dock Diving. Your Ibizan Hound might prefer Lure Coursing, your German Shepherd would excel at Parkour, a Labrador makes an excellent service dog, and an Australian Shepherd is born to Herd. But you don’t need to limit your ideas to the obvious. Often individual dogs in a breed and especially mixed breeds will surprise us with their versatility. Know your dog, investigate various sports, and choose a few that you and your dog might enjoy.  


Before leaping into a vigorous sport with your dog, you and your pet may need to do some pre-conditioning. Check with your local canine fitness instructors for classes or seminars. These experts can advise you on sports that may be appropriate for your dog and direct you with the appropriate conditioning. You will learn a lot from these experts and have fun developing skills that will enhance your dog’s performance.


Along with a training routine, optimal nutrition is a must. Canine parents need to be aware that selection of foods and fluids, timing of intake, and supplement choices will influence their dog’s performance.  Energy and macronutrient needs, (carbohydrates, fats, and proteins), must be met during times of high physical activity to maintain body weight, replenish glycogen stores, and provide adequate fuel to build and repair tissue.

In raw fed dogs, fat is the primary energy source. Kibble fed dogs mainly use carbohydrates for energy which is less effectively metabolized by the canine digestive system. Fat intake is also important for essential fatty acids, fat-soluble vitamins, and for weight maintenance, all important elements for your athlete. And if your dog’s food contains appropriate animal fats, it is also quite tasty to him. Many parents of top canine athletes are feeding a raw food diet to their dogs, finding increased energy, weight normalization, and joint support among the numerous benefits.  

A Balanced Diet and Body Weight

Although exercise performance can be affected by body weight and composition, these physical measurements should not be a criterion for sports performance and daily weigh-ins are discouraged. Vitamin and mineral supplements are not needed if they consume a variety of foods which provide adequate energy to maintain desired body weight. However, if you are restricting your dog’s diet, eliminating one or more food groups, or feeding an unbalanced diet with low micronutrient density, your dog may need added supplementation. Finding a holistic veterinarian with experience in canine nutrition will be a worthwhile addition to your team.

Treat-ment of Your Canine Athlete

Warm-up and cool-down activities are important for your dog and helpful exercises can be suggested by your canine fitness instructor. Be aware that hydration and treat rewards should be carefully monitored before and after vigorous sports. Each type of sport has different requirements. For example, sprinting athletes do better with a treat after exercise while endurance athletes need higher nutrition prior to events. Most of our dogs fall into the intermediate athlete range and treats can be fed more liberally. And always consider the possibility of bloat which is more common but not limited to the deep chested breeds. Heed your vet’s advice on avoiding this deadly condition. 

Fun Activity or Competition – It’s All Good

If you like the idea of participating in canine sports and activities; if you think your dog might be a candidate for one of the multitudes of choices; go for it! Working together to perfect techniques and enjoying an exciting day of competition will only strengthen and deepen the bond you already have with your dog. Whether leaping high off the dock or burrowing underground after prey, your dog’s enthusiastic joy will gladden your heart. And at the end of an active day, two tired best buddies will be ready to go home and begin again tomorrow.

Carol Kendig, Patti Salladay 2020

  • -
Dog swimming in a pool carrying a toy in the summer

Dog Days of Summer – Protect Your Pet in the Heat

Tips for Pet Pawrents

Heat wave! This summer has been no joke. The temperatures have soared, and it looks like they’re stuck up there. With this increased heat and sun exposure, your pets are likely feeling the effects. But what are we to do?  Dogs need to go outside to do their business, love to sunbathe, and need their exercise. In this post we’ve pulled together some tips and some products that can help you protect your dog from the high temperatures and safely get their vitamin D.

Damage Caused by the Heat

First, before we get into how to protect your pet this summer let’s look at some of the conditions caused by overexposure to heat and sun. It’s helpful after all, to know what you are protecting them from. Knowing these conditions will help you to watch for signs and symptoms so that you can keep them cool and healthy.

Hot Spots:

Either caused by overheating or bacterial infection, hot spots are areas of inflamed skin. These start developing as a small red spot, which can often be mistaken for a bug bite. While they start small, these spots can grow rapidly and eventually turn into a painful lesion.  You can find various over the counter treatments for hot spots but it’s best to consult your vet.


Increased respiration, and heart rate, and panting are the most obvious signs of your dog overheating. Dogs who are suffering from overheating or heat stroke will also appear a bit weak, out of sorts or in a stupor. Your dog may collapse, have a seizure, vomit, or have bloody diarrhea as well.  You can also check for an elevated body temperature.

If you have a flat-faced brachycephalic pet, either cat or dog, they are more susceptible to overheating as they have more difficulty breathing. Since respiration helps regulate body temperatures these pets are heat intolerant and should be monitored carefully in hot weather.

Burned or Blistered Pads/Paws:

If your pet stays on hot pavement or asphalt for too long, the pads of their paws will burn.  Similar to the way our skin burns these can range from red and sore to blistered paws. Before walking your pet on these surfaces check the heat with your hand. You can use pet booties to help keep your pet’s paws safe but avoiding these hot surfaces is the best way to keep them safe.


Excessive panting is the obvious sign of being hot and getting dehydrated. Watch for bloodshot eyes or pale or light-colored gums are another sign. You can also do a gentle pinch test: take some of your dog’s skin between your fingers and lift it up, when they are dehydrated it takes longer to go back into place.

Keeping your Dog Safe from the Heat

Take Advantage of Cooler Parts of the Day

Generally, the mornings and evenings are cooler as you are avoiding the blazing afternoon sun. You can help protect your pet by taking your walks or playing outside earlier or later in the day. This will allow your pet to get their exercise without the risk of overheating, dehydrating, etc.

Walking or Playing on the Grass

Grass generally stays cooler than concrete or asphalt. These harder surfaces absorb the heat and can get really hot. Even your deck or patio can get overly hot if it’s in direct sunlight for any length of time. Much like our feet, our dogs paw pads can burn or blister on hot surfaces. When we don our tennis shoes for a walk, we can forget how hot these surfaces can get as our feet aren’t directly touching them. Use your hand to feel the sidewalk or street and if it’s too hot, try walking your pet on the grass.

Cool Off in the Shade

Find shady spots to play as they are cooler both in ambient temperature and the ground temperature. Laying on cool grass can help dogs lower their body temperature. Playing in the shade is a bonus.

Consider giving your buddy a break on digging holes. Digging down into the dirt is a dog’s natural way of cooling off. The dirt underneath will be cooler than the grass on top of the ground.

Splash Around

Offering a pool is a great way for your pet to cool off, provides a creative space for your pet to play, and gives your pet a drink whenever they want or need it. Just be careful to empty the water when you are done playing and refill for the next use. This will help to cut down parasites like heart-worms.

Products that Help Your Pet Stay Safe in the Sun

There is a wide range of products available to pet owners that help keep your fur baby safe on hot days. It is important to remember however, that these are not 100% effective or effective for long periods of time. You should always keep an eye on your pets and give them breaks indoors as relief from the sun and the high temperatures.

Cooling Pads or Blankets

If you don’t have shade or want to make a cool spot for your pet to lounge, there are pads and blankets that help create a cool spot. Some of these products simply do not retain heat, while others can actually be placed in the refrigerator to be physically cool to the touch. There’s nothing like a cool place to rest for your pet on a hot day.

Cooling Jackets and Vests

If you have a more active pet and are worried about them playing at the park or in your yard, you can find jackets or vests that help reflect the sun and/or keep your pet cool. These are similar to the cooling pads you lay on the ground, only these are fitted to your dog.


While we typically think of booties as winter boots or rain boots for our pets, you can find variants that are designed for higher temperatures in the summer sun. Follow the sizing guides to get the appropriate fit which will enable your dog to maintain their footing on walks and in the park.

Salves and Ointments

From hot spots, to burned pads, to dry skin and noses, there are now many products both natural and medicated, to treat your pup’s skin. Consult your veterinarian for trusted brands or recommended products.

Sunscreen for Pups

Similar to the products designed for humans, there is now spray sunscreen available for pets. Follow the directions on the packaging for a bit of safe sun. This is great for pets with short hair, bald spots, scars, etc.

Hot Weather Eating Tips

Some dogs develop a picky appetite when it gets hot. Freeze bone broth in an ice cube tray and add a cube or two to their meals. Summer is definitely the season for feeding frozen raw bones. Dogs love holding the cold bone in their mouths until it warms enough for them to begin serious gnawing. If you are giving your pets raw frozen dog food or cat food and normally letting it thaw before feeding, try feeding it straight from the freezer. A quarter section of a NWN dinner bar fed frozen may perk up a languid appetite. And sometimes smaller more frequent meals help break up the monotony of those dog days of summer.

Things to Absolutely  Avoid

Do Not Shave Your Pet

If your pet has long hair, they can most certainly go for a trim. But pets should not be shaved down. While we might think that this will help keep them cool, their fur actually helps regulate their body temperature and protect them from sunburn. Instead, consider brushing your pet more frequently. This will help to excrete and spread their fur’s natural oils which can help to hydrate skin and protect it from heat and sun exposure.

Do Not Leave Your Dog in the Car

We’ve heard the warnings, but the consequences are dire. Left in a hot car, your pet can go from fine to in danger or dead quickly. It’s best to leave your companion home on hot days, even if you are just running a quick errand.  This has become such a problem that now in some states it is legal for strangers to break the windows of a car to rescue an overheating pet. Other states have made it legal for law enforcement or first responders to break the windows of a vehicle. If you see a dog that is suffering in a vehicle, first call and report the incident. Find more information on the American Veterinary Medical Association website.


Be smart, be safe and sound, and have a wonderful Summer!

  • -
Bulldog laying down on kitchen rug looking mopey

Make a Happy Home for Your Pets – Returning to Work

Adjusting to Life on Their Own at Home – After COVID

After months of being at home all day every day with your best friend, your pet’s state of bliss may be about to come to an end. Sheltering in place might have been frustrating for us humans, but our pets thought it was just about a dream come true. Yes, for many dogs it meant less trips to the park, but that was made up for with all the walks they could handle. We’re fairly certain that most dogs think that they finally convinced us to quit our jobs and stay home with them…however the jury is still out on whether cats enjoyed their serfs being in their presence for hours and days at a time. Who knows what birds, reptiles, and other pets thought?

Many states across the country are preparing to re-open, which means a return to work for many pet parents. Dogs, some cats, and other pets who have grown used to our company will be once again left on their own for a large portion of the day. Simply returning to work after weeks if not months of being at home can cause some major anxiety and depression for pets. If you are getting ready to go back to work, take the time to prepare your pet as well. In this post, we’ll look at some tips and suggestions from the experts on how to smoothly adjust your dog, cat, or other pets to being alone for hours at a time.

How Do I Prepare My Dog for Hours of Alone Time?

Get Back to a Routine

Meals, walks, treats, and play time might have shifted or become more frequent during our social distancing and self-quarantine. The first step in preparing to go back to work for humans and pets alike, is to get back into a routine. The closer you can get to your actual work routine the better. Pets thrive on schedules. Have you ever noticed how accurate their body clocks are? They can sense mealtime down to the minute! Routine becomes an important part of their mental health. It gives them upsides to look forward to and prepares them for the downsides, like when you leave for work.

Start by waking up or getting your pet up at the same time every day and feeding them at the same time. If you typically walk them before leaving for work, re-institute this morning walk rather than your more random COVID-19 rambles.

Create a Safe and Comfortable Space for Them

Creating a space either in their favorite room or by making their crate cozy can help to mitigate the stress of you returning to your pre-quarantine routine. Leave an item that smells like you such as a t-shirt you’ve worn or a blanket that you both snuggle. Put a few of their toys here as well. This will give them some additional comfort when you do start to leave them.

Start to Leave Them on Their Own Incrementally

Reestablishing their routine may take a bit of time. Throwing them back into their previous routine all at once can be like ripping off a band aide: at best it’s uncomfortable and at worst it’s downright painful. So before you go back to work it’s a good idea to start leaving your pet for short lengths of time and then increasing the amount of time that you are away little by little. Your pets will start to pick up on signals that you are getting ready to leave the house – noticing a change in clothing, you showering at a certain time of the day. These cues plus leaving them for lengthening periods of time will help get them back onto your “normal schedule”.

It can be tempting to bring them along for car rides while you run errands, or if you’re eating out on a restaurant’s patio, but try to resist those sad begging eyes. This second step is truly important.

Provide Distractions

Keeping pet safety in mind, you may want to find toys that stimulate and engage your pet while you are gone. Some pet parents find that puzzle toys are a great way to break up the boredom. Other pets love when their parents leave the TV on for them. Just be cognizant of the dangers that some potential toys may have. Soft toys that can be eaten should be left for supervised play.

What If Your Return to Work is Sudden?

Not everyone will have the luxury of a planned return to the office or place of employment. Some of us will only receive a few days’ notice to report for work. If this is the case, try not to panic. Most pets are resilient and while yours might experience some anxiety, they will quickly adjust to the new routine.

If you have a friend or family member who can check on your pet, having them do so is a great idea. Hiring a dog walker is another means of breaking up the long day away from you. For your dog who might be used to potty breaks on demand, this can help prevent accidents as you re-train their bladder. In terms of socialization it can help break up the monotony or boredom until you return home from work. You could even start with two visits per day and slowly taper them off.

How to Spot Stress:

Despite our best intentions and efforts our pets might still become stressed out. With dogs, excessive barking can be a sign of stress. Couple this with pawing at doors or windows (as if trying to remove the thing that is separating them from you) and you have other good indicators of stress. If this is typical behavior when you leave the house, try to gauge whether this behavior now is prolonged or exacerbated.

Being destructive is another potential sign of stress, especially in dogs. Now we know that some dogs just play rough and like to tear apart their toys, but when it comes to stress they’ll typically turn this destructive habit on things that they don’t typically destroy: Chewing doors, furniture, cabinets, shoes, etc. This can also be a sign of boredom, so if your pet starts to exhibit this behavior try playing with them to wear them out before leaving the house. If the behavior persists it is likely stress.

Pay Attention to Your Own Emotions

Pets are really in tune with our emotions. They can pick up on our stress and anxiety often better than we can ourselves. When you get ready to leave for work in the morning try to remain calm. Refrain from raising your voice or rushing. These behaviors can increase our pet’s anxiety.

How to Reduce Stress:

Exercise and playtime are great ways to help mitigate stress and prevent it. Build time to interact with your pet into your morning routine and take time to do so again when you return home from work.

If your pet is still exhibiting stress there are aids that can help alleviate some of this stress, such as snug fitting vests or shirts. The downside to using these items is that you will potentially be leaving your pet in this clothing all day so consider your schedule with using these items.

And don’t forget about Animal Behaviorists. These skillful workers are trained observers and can have insightful suggestions about preventing problems when you return to work or solving problems later. An in-home consultation with an Animal Behaviorist is usually an enlightening and highly rewarding experience for both you and your pet. However, if the mental and/or physical problems persist, you may ultimately have to consult with your vet.

Following the hints mentioned in this article will definitely help normal pet anxiety about changes to their routines. As we begin returning to the 9 to 5 world let’s be extra aware of the needs of our furry and feathery best friends and do whatever we can to make the transition a happy one!

  • -
stranger danger and dogs; people safety with dogs

Stranger Danger and Dogs

Stranger Danger and Dogs

How to Help Minimize Frightening Situations for Your Pet.

There’s good news and bad news if your pet is nervous around strangers.  The good news is that the general public is gaining more knowledge about safe ways to interact (or not) with strange dogs and their owners.  More and more people are learning to ask, “is your dog friendly?” or “can I pet him?” before reaching out their hands or telling their kids to “go say hi!”.  The bad news is that there is still a portion of the public that does not have this knowledge.

Whether your dog is a working dog and should not be distracted, gets nervous with strangers or close proximity to them, or is a rescue and growing used to their new environment there are steps that you can take to help reduce their interactions with kids and strangers.  Training, and desensitization, and avoiding situations that can be frightening are the first step, but there are some additional steps you can take to avoid these encounters.  We’ll take a look at some of them in this article.

Yellow Is a No Go

Thanks to the yellow leash project, the significance of yellow leashes and collars is making the rounds.  Yellow has become the color that signifies a dog is nervous, working, or for some other reason should not be pet.

Red Means Stop

In addition to yellow leashes and collars, some pet owners will use a red leash or collar to ward off people and children who might otherwise approach their pet.  Opt for Bright shades of red that will catch people’s attention and hopefully give them pause when approaching.

There are a few downsides with these color choices.  Some people simply like the color or like the way the color looks on their dog.  Other nondog owners might now be aware of the significance of the colors.

Spell It Out

In combination with the yellow or red options, or even on other harnesses, it’s a good idea to also spell out “No Pet” so that people clearly get the message.  These options are available both online and in certain pet stores.  Bandanas are another option for displaying the “I’m nervous” or “do not pet me” message to strangers who might assume otherwise.

Other Alternatives:


While it might seem mean or extreme to muzzle your dog, it can help send the message that children or untrained adults should not approach you.  Muzzles can also help to reduce bites or the perceived threat of a dog bit if the situation does progress too far.

Staying Calm

Dogs take their cues from their humans.  If you’re nervous, anxious, or even fearful of a situation and its potential outcome, your dog is going to pick up on that energy.  When you see a group of people approaching, the best, and first thing you can do for your dog is to take a deep breath and form a plan. In doing so, you now have the ability to reassure your dog that he/she is okay.

Moving to Avoid Confrontation

If you’re out for a walk or taking a hike and see people approaching, you have the time to maneuver your dog to the side or off the trail.  Another helpful move is to place your body between the dog and the source of his/her fear.  This body language can be a signal to other people that your dog is not friendly and should not be approached.


Whether it’s talking to the approaching people, or your dog, communication can be key in getting through the situation without any altercation or confrontation.  Talking out loud to your dog in a calming and reassuring tone, but loud enough for the people to hear you can be a non-confrontational way of informing the people that your dog is not one for socialization.  Making eye contact and saying hi to the oncoming people, gets their attention.  And if they’re in the middle of telling their kids or approaching your dog themselves, it gives you the ability to simply apologize and explain that your dog doesn’t do well in social situations.


Check out our blog post on more daily actives you and your can enjoy!

  • -
seniors man and woman walking side by side outdoors with man walking dog

Pets & Senior Citizens


Popular culture and media show us that people of all ages benefit from pets. Seniors especially benefit from this type of relationship. Pets not only enhance seniors’ lives but also improve their health. There are many amazing benefits that pets can bring into an elderly person’s life.

Pets provide a comfort system and help to increase the production of the feel-good hormone, serotonin. They have also been shown to reduce blood pressure and stress levels in humans and can help lower cholesterol, fight depression, and help protect against heart conditions. All great reasons for seniors to have a pet!

Pets & Loneliness

Recent studies have proven that pets can cheer up lonely seniors and enhance their quality of life. One of the most challenging aspects of aging is isolation and loss of social interaction. Many senior citizens may begin to feel cut off from the outside world and struggle with depression. Those feelings of loneliness can lead to stress, anxiety, and medical complications.

If you know an elderly person living alone and struggling to find the motivation to get out, ask them to pet-sit for you. See if they’d be interested in fostering a homeless pet. Or offer to come to visit them with your four-legged companion, especially those with no family near-by.

Pets in Senior Living Communities

Many senior living communities do have Pet Coordinators to help care for the animals to assure they are getting proper activity, food, medication, and love. These pet-friendly communities are thriving as pets have become community mascots and give residents reasons for social calls; all great for seniors’ stimulation.

Finding the Right Pet-Friendly Community

It’s important to do your research when choosing a pet friendly community as some communities offer dog grooming and dog walking services for many sizes and breeds, while others only allow small pets with a weight restriction (usually under 20 pounds) — limiting the pets to small birds, cats, dogs, fish or rabbits. Some communities only allow pets on a case-by-case basis. So, make sure to contact your communities of choice and ask about their pet policy.

Caring for an animal stimulates physical activity and gives many people a feeling of purpose. This is very important for seniors to incorporate into their everyday lives. Pets need exercise too! This companionship often promotes the purpose and healthy living, the relationship is not one-sided; the benefits are reciprocal to both parties.

Many times, the best prescription for healthier living comes with four legs and fur. If laughter is the best medicine, then pets must be the best cure!

  • -
black and white border collie playing with toy on grass. - pet care

Daily Activity for Dogs

How Much Activity Does My Dog Need?

This is a complicated question. The amount of daily activity for dogs will differ depending on the breed, age, and health of your dog. In this post, we’ll dive into some recommendations. Ultimately, this is a great topic to discuss with your veterinarian, since you both have an understanding of your pet’s total well-being. Dogs need two different types of activity: exercise and mental stimulation.

When dogs lack either of these, they tend to get into trouble, acting out behaviorally and destroying items they shouldn’t. Proper nutrition, exercise and mental stimulation can be achieved in a variety of different ways and can be great fun for both you and your dog. Pet health experts recommend that depending on the size of the breed, the age of the dog, and the dog’s overall health, anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours of activity is recommended per day.

Photo courtesy of  Well Pet Coach

Toy or Small Dog Breeds

The smaller the breed the less exercise will be required and the exercise should be appropriate for the build of the breed. This means we wouldn’t take a French bulldog for a three-mile trail run. Chasing a toy, indoors or outdoors, or frolicking around the yard, can achieve the 30 minutes of healthy activity in a smaller breed needs. More than this may cause respiratory problems or other injuries. Be sure to consult with an expert about your specific breed and dog.

Terrier or Medium Sized Dog Breeds

These breeds are built to work and will require more exercise and mental stimulation than their smaller, more delicate cousins. Terriers were bred to hunt or chase down a certain type of prey, from foxes to rats, and as such have more energy and durability. This results in the need for a higher amount of exercise and stimulation to keep them healthy and out of trouble. Depending on your breed you could be looking at closer to an hour or two of activity per day.

Retrievers and Large Breed Dogs

These are dogs that mature to weigh between 45 and 99 pounds. Like Terriers, Labradors, Retrievers, Huskies, Shepherds and Poodles were bred to work as well as to be companion animals. These dogs are smart and have a high level of energy, requiring between 60 to 90 minutes (sometimes more) of exercise per day. As these dogs start to age, their level of physical activity will diminish and pet owners should watch for signs of hip injuries or conditions like dysplasia. Talk to your vet about your specific breed and which types of exercise and stimulation are best for your dog.

Extra Large Dog Breeds

Extra large dogs are breeds that weigh in excess of 100 pounds at maturity. These dogs will typically require between 30 to 60 minutes of exercise per day depending on their age, weight and health.  Your Mastiffs, Great Danes and other large breed dogs will have a lower energy level than their large dog breed cousins. You should talk to your vet regarding your specific breed and dog to avoid injury and ensure the best quality of life for your XL fur baby.


From fetch, to tug, and wrestling to playing with other dogs, there are a number of different ways to exercise your dog. If you live by a local dog park, off-leash play provides both exercise and  socialization (which is a form of mental stimulation that we’ll talk about later).


While your Fido might love to chase a good stick, there are a few dangers when using objects that can break. We prefer to a good ball, rubber disk, stick alternative, or even a partially deflated soccer ball.

Walking or Hiking

Get outside and enjoy some quality time with your pet by walking or hiking. Take in the views while your pup takes in the scents, and raise your heart rate together.  Depending on the area and ownership of the land, you may be required to keep your dog on a leash or lead. If your dog tends to be nervous or should not be approached, visit our post on how to help minimize frightening situations for your pet.


When both you and your dog can use a bit of exercise, running is a great option. Running can also help keep your pets nails trimmed, but be sure to keep an eye on the pads and nails to avoid injury. Pavement can heat up in the sun causing burns in the summer, and salt from winter road maintenance can burn as well. When jogging or running with your pet, we recommend a comfortable and snug fitting harness, with a non-extendable, durable leash.


Whether it’s in your backyard, at daycare or the local dog park, romping and wrestling with other dogs is a total body workout for your fur baby. Dogs jump, run, and get a myriad of exercise when playing with other dogs. And, you get to stand by and enjoy their happy antics! Remember it’s a good idea to engage with other dog owners before allowing your dog to play, and staying engaged to make sure play doesn’t get too rough.

Mental Stimulation

Dogs are intelligent and sentient creatures, and just like humans, they can get bored. As they look for means to entertain themselves, it is helpful to have a variety of toys on hand so that your dog opts for something of their own rather than your shoe.


Terriers and hunting dogs have an inherent prey drive. They were bred to hunt.  Now that many of us don’t hunt they need another way to occupy their time. Toys, especially ones that make noise are a great option. You can find an array of different priced options in various sizes.


A number of different retailers now offer puzzles for your pet. You load them with treats and give to your pet for mental stimulation. The puzzles make the dog work to find the treats, providing an entertaining and rewarding challenge. There are also some great ways to make your own dog puzzles on sites like Pinterest.

Hide and Go Seek

Not all stimulation requires you to shell out cash. Some dogs can learn and love to play hide and go seek. The downside is that you are the one that always ends up hiding. This provides a bit of exercise as well, as they run around trying to find their favorite human who has magically disappeared.


Check in your area for canine classes – The sport of dogs has grown in the last few years. Along with Obedience classes, there are Nose work classes, Fit paws – Fun and Fitness Classes for your K-9 friend, Agility, Rally, Trick Dog, and Canine Good Citizen. All of these will stimulate your pet and you to be active, spend time together, and grow.

Activity is a great way to bond with your dog and create a beautiful, lifelong friendship. Your dog will be more healthy, content, and less mischievous, and so will you! 😊