January 27, 2015

How to give your dog mental exercise

Mental exercise can save your couch cushions, your shoes, and can alleviate your dog’s anxiety when you leave home (it can also replace physical exercise when the weather doesn’t cooperate). The good news is that mental exercise is relatively easy, and doesn’t require a ton of effort on your part!

Stuff a Kong. This is a good one for when your dog goes into his crate, or when you are leaving the house, and is probably the easiest one to do. Get a Kong, put some treats or kibble in it, seal it with peanut butter, and put it in the freezer until you need it. If you only have one dog, you can give it to her before you leave in the morning, and she can eat through the peanut butter to her breakfast! This is not a good idea if you have two dogs, no matter how well they share and get along when you are there. All bets are off with a high value treat like a peanut butter Kong!

Puzzle toys. Ranging from somewhat easy to difficult, the nice thing about Kyjen puzzle toys is that you can modify them to first train your dog how to use them, and then make it more challenging once your dog gets the hang of it.

“Find it.” Hide your dog’s favorite toys or bone around the house and tell them to “find it.” You might have to help them out at first. You can also play “find it” with people – have one person hide and then have your dog find the person. This is also great practice for the command “come”.

K9 Nose work. K9 Nose Work is a newer craze for the companion dogs, and it basically a modified version of scent training that police dogs and rescue dogs go through. Visit the K9 Nose Work website to search for trainers in your area that might be offering classes, but the beginning stages are pretty easy to do!

Have you tried any of these with your dog before? How did it go?

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January 22, 2015

5 Ways to exercise your dog

Exercise is not only good for your dog's physical health, but mental health as well (and it's a good thing for humans, too!). While playing in the yard can be great exercise, most dogs benefit from a more focused form of exercise. Here are 5 ideas to get moving with your pooch!

Morning or Evening Walks. This one may seem obvious, but it’s the easiest way to incorporate exercise into your daily routine. Even 15-20 minutes before or after work can do the trick, and with the sun coming up sooner and going down later, you have some extra time in the daylight! The dogs at the Amazon CARES Peru shelter love their regular walks with our dedicated volunteers.

Once you have built up a steady walking schedule of 30 minutes or more, you can add jogging if you would like. Start with intervals of running and walking (such as 2 minutes of running and 1 minute of walking) and see how that goes, gradually increasing the running interval.

Obstacle Course. You can set up something in your back yard with a hula hoop, ball, ramp, jump rope, and doing puppy push-ups (ask your dog to lay down, then sit, then lay down, then sit). You can also create your own obstacle course at a park by going over and under benches, around trees, through a lake/pond, over fallen tree logs, etc. Sign up your dog for an agility class if you don’t want to create an obstacle course on your own!

Dancing. Freestyle doggie dancing is becoming quite popular, so you might want to check it out. You teach your dog to follow your lead and do certain tricks at certain times during a song. Check out this video, and there’s also a World Canine Freestyle Organization with some good resources.

Treibball. Similar to soccer, treibball is great for herding type dogs, or any dog that might enjoy pushing a ball into a net with his or her nose. Check out this beginner how-to video, and the American Treibball Association.

Swimming. Some dogs love it, some dogs hate it. The dogs at the Amazon CARES Peru shelter love to swim in the Itaya River, which is a "black water" (unpolluted) tributary of the Amazon. If it isn’t coming naturally to your dog, gradually introduce him or her to it with treats and toys. If your dog still isn’t taking to it, just choose a different activity! As with everything, take it easy when you’re first starting and pay attention to your dog. If he or she is panting excessively or slowing down, take a break, turn around, or call it quits for the day.

What's your favorite activity to do with your dog?

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January 20, 2015

What's your pet resolution this year?

Over the last year, "dog shaming" has become a popular thing around the internet. For those who haven't heard of it, it involves taking a picture of a dog looking "guilty" with a sign in front of them detailing their dirty deed!

This year, positive reinforcement dog trainer Victoria Stilwell came up with the idea of pet resolutions, highlighting what our dogs (and their parents!) might strive to do better in 2015. There are quite a few submissions in the Positively community, and we thought it would be a cute idea to do with our wonderful Amazon CARES supporters and adopters!

What does your pup need to work on? Manners? Coming when called? Reducing counter surfing? Post below - we want to see it! And who knows, your #petresolution might be featured in an upcoming blog post!

Photo Credit: Positively community