Welcome to Summer!
In this edition...
- 5 Tips for Walks with Your Dog.
- Do All Dogs Swim?
- Saying Goodbye.
Puppy Socialization is every Thursday at 6:15pm at the Wesbrook Community Centre. This is a fun weekly event that includes puppy play and learning for pups 18 weeks and under.
The next cohort of Puppy Preschool classes in Richmond at the Cambie Community Centre (for pups 18 weeks and under) starts on Saturday, August 6th. Visit our website for details. Basic Manners classes for dogs 5 months and older will start in September.
5 Tips for Walks with Your Dog
1. Always take lots of high value treats with you on every walk. Use them to intermittently reward your dog for the behavior that you like, such giving you their attention when you ask for a cue such as ‘look at me’ or ‘focus’.
2. Our dogs don’t need to meet every other dog they see on the street. It’s perfectly fine to cross the street to avoid other dogs if you want to. If for no other reason, this can teach your dog that they can happily carry on without greeting all the dogs in the neighborhood.
3. If your dog is super rambunctious on walks, let them expend some energy in the house or yard before going out on a leash walk. Throw a ball for 10 minutes or play some tug.
4. Do let your dog stop and smell the roses. Dogs have a sense of smell that is approximately 10,000 times greater than a human. We can’t imagine the amazing information they gather with their noses. Sniffing is extremely enriching for them. Carve out some extra time each day to let your dog enjoy some sniff time. We humans are often guilty of being in a hurry.
5. Teach your dog loose leash walking skills. Dogs walk faster than us, and they are also excited to go and smell all of the incredible scents in their environment. There are several techniques that you can use to teach your dog including direction changes and rewarding them when they are walking nicely by your side. You can also try a front clip harness which will help you manage the pulling. I know of many people who have simply stopped walking their dogs because the pulling is so unpleasant. Reach out to a local positive trainer if you need help.
Do All Dogs Swim?
Not all dogs love swimming and not all dogs are naturally good at it. Brachycephalic breeds (i.e. pugs, bulldogs) short-muzzled dogs, or those with shorter legs, may not be great at swimming. However, you can definitely help your dog to enjoy the water if they don’t already. If you don’t have a beach nearby, you can always start your dog out in a backyard kids pool to get them excited about water.
The secret is to start out slowly with those dogs who are a bit fearful or uncertain. Make the introduction to water fun and rewarding (a few treats won't hurt either). Never force your dog or throw them into the water presuming that they will automatically start swimming. A negative experience could turn them off water for life. Dog lifejackets are a great way to give you and your dog some peace of mind. You can also attach a long-line to your dog (or their life jacket) so that you can reel them in from the water if you ever need to.
Be cautious about your pup ingesting too much salt or fresh water on your summer outings. Excessive water consumption (fresh or salt) can disrupt electrolyte balance, disrupt organ function or reduce sodium levels and cause illness. Watch out for blue-green algae blooms in lakes or ponds which may contain cyanobacteria, a toxin that can cause severe illness in pets.
If you have a pool in your backyard that your dog swims in, ensure that you show your dog how to get out of the pool via the stairs or a ramp. Rinse your dog off after a dip in a pool to remove chlorine. If you have an outdoor garden hose in your yard, always run the water for a few minutes first before using the hose on (or near) your dog. This will flush out the very hot water that can build up in a hose that has been sitting out in the hot sun.
Whatever your summer brings, go and enjoy, and have fun with your pooch!
Very recently, I had to say a heartbreaking and difficult goodbye to my 13-year-old dog Sadie. Sadie was my friend and companion for the past 9 years. She was the sweetest, happiest, and most patient dog.
She was about 5 years old when I brought her home from a rescue in Washington. She endured my hateful Chihuahua for many years and always approached his ire with a wagging tail and happy face. She loved car rides and she nearly lost her mind with excitement every day when she knew we were going for a walk.
She became sick quite suddenly and within a month of my veterinarian confirming through bloodwork that she was very ill, she crossed over the rainbow bridge. I’m so grateful that I had that month to spend every minute we could together, and to tell her how much I loved her each day. The sorrow that comes when you’ve lost a pet is real and tangible. Unless you’ve deeply loved a pet, and have felt this loss yourself, it can be hard to fully understand.
All this to say, if you might be facing the prospect of having to make a difficult decision about a sick or elderly pet, please get support from people or organizations who understand. Connect with your veterinarian, with friends and family, and try not to let fear, guilt or confusion direct you. Don’t feel pressured to make any decisions. Take the time that you need to do your research, and make sure that you are comfortable with all of your decisions regarding your pet’s health. And deep down in your soul…find peace.