Tag Archives: Recreation

Dog Days of Summer Part II : Pool Safety

Yippee, Pool Party!

Whether your dog loves to swim, or would happily sun bathe instead, if you are around a pool teaching your dog pool safety is a must.  Water safety tips are important because even a dog that doesn’t like to swim can fall into the pool and drown trying to get out.  Also not all dogs are seaworthy, stubby legged, heavy bodied breeds like English Bulldogs and Basset Hounds shouldn’t swim, as buoyancy is near impossible. Dogs, just like people, can panic in the water and try to climb on top of a rescuer, so it is safer to throw them something that floats, like a life preserver on a rope, they can “grab.”Image

Although not all dogs are fond of water, they should be exposed to it for their own safety. With some simple training and safety devices, you can ease your mind and protect your dog this summer.

Some Water Safety Training Tips to Keep in Mind (courtesy of APDT)

  • Give him a gradual introduction into the pool or lake by holding him snugly and slowly walking into the water. Let him get wet a little at a time and eventually let him swim to the exit. Make it a positive experience with lots of encouragement and praise.
  • Teach proper swimming technique. All dogs will instinctively paddle when submerged in water, but as inexperienced swimmers, many dogs try to rely on their front legs and do little with their rear legs. This results in an almost vertical swim technique with lots of splashing. It’s exhausting and very easy for a dog to become over-tired this way. With proper training, the most vertical of swimmers can learn to use their rear legs, evening out their performance and swimming much more effectively and safely. Keep a close eye on your dog – if you see them become over-stimulated or fatigued, it’s time to call them out. If you see your accomplished swimmer dog lowering his rear, this is a sign that he is getting tired.
  • Dogs have poor depth perception so if the pool has steps, mark them with a big potted plant and make sure he associates the plant as the exit marker. If there are no steps, provide a non-slip ramp for getting out. Spend sufficient time training him to go up the ramp if he’s alone.
  • If your dog plays in a lake, make sure to stand at the place on the shore where he can easily walk out.
  • Always use a life jacket on your dog in ponds, lakes, rivers, or the open water. Just like with people, it’s easy for a dog to develop a cramp in a leg, become exhausted too far from shore, or in the case of rivers or oceans, overwhelmed by tides. Life jackets give your dog the extra protection to stay buoyant.
  • Keep safety floatation devices nearby, just in the case of an emergency. If your dog gets into trouble, a life preserver attached to a long line is the best course of action to take. Dogs panic easily in the water when trouble hits, and a panicked, flailing dog can accidentally drown any person trying to assist it. Get the dog to grab out to the preserver first and try to reel it in closer to shore before physically trying to help it out.
  • Training polite pool manners is a must. A big Golden Retriever sailing through the air in her excitement to get in the water is a no-no. Train the canine to “Wait” at pool’s edge or to always use the steps or the ramp.
  • Also teach her that the “Come” command applies to the pool as much as it does to dry land.
  • Be mindful of the specific needs of your dog’s breed. Each dog’s physical structure and body-type will greatly impact his swimming ability. Heavily muscled bully breeds exert more energy while swimming due to their increased body mass. Consider using a lifejacket with such dogs for added protection.
  • Watch your dog’s nails! Dogs can quickly wear their nails down to the point of bleeding as they excitedly race around the pool’s exterior. Keep a watchful eye on the pads of their feet as well. Repeated launching from pool steps can tear up paw pads; especially for dogs who spend most of their time on grass.
  • Unless your pool cover is solid and strong enough to support your weight, do not leave it on when your dog is unattended near the pool. Countless dogs, even accomplished swimmers, have lost their lives following an unexpected tumble into a covered pool. Once they’re in, the cover is disorienting and it’s almost always impossible for a dog to find his way out. If your dog needs to spend time in the yard unsupervised, consider erecting a pool safety fence.
  • Avoid letting your dog drink pool water. Always keep an ample supply of fresh water around so your dog can drink without attempting to drink from the pool. Also make sure you give your dog many opportunities to relieve himself after a swim as he is likely to ingest water from wherever he is swimming (pool, pond, lake or ocean) and may need to urinate more often.
  • Make sure you rinse your dog off after a swim to get chlorine and other pool chemicals, as well as bacteria or dirt he might get on him from a pond or lake. Don’t let your dog sit in a wet collar as hot spots can develop. Be mindful of areas where water can collect, like ears, groin, and armpits, where moisture-induced infections can occur.
  • If your dog is overweight or a senior, check with your veterinarian first before allowing him to swim. This is also important for dogs who are generally sedentary. Dogs, like people, experience muscle soreness and stiffness and they’re counting on us to lookout for their best interests.

Keep in mind all these great tips and you and your dog will have a fun safe summer!!

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The Dog Days of Summer Part 1

The dog days of summer are upon us! It’s the perfect time of year to incorporate some extra activities into your pet’s schedule. The warmer weather and longer daylight hours offer additional time outside. When planning vacations, weekend getaways, or even weeknight outings, now’s a great time to include activities that are pet-friendly. Try these tips and share in an active summer with your four-legged friends.

DOG BEACHES/Water Play
If you’re lucky enough to be traveling to the coastline this summer consider bringing your dog to the beach. Most dogs, particularly outgoing breeds like retrievers and spaniels love to swim in the ocean! If you’re nervous about letting Fido loose in the vast aquatic beyond that surrounds our country, start off with a short leash and let him wade in the baby waves and move slowly on to greater depths.  If you can’t get to the surf, a small plastic kiddie pool can be just as refreshing without the tumult of waves or the mess of sandy fur! Remember though, just because a dog is wet doesn’t mean he still won’t be thirsty. This much activity combined with the heat from the beach will necessitate for him larger amounts of drinking water.

Safety Tips:

  • ALWAYS supervise your dog. You can even find doggie life vests in most pet stores for some extra peace of mind!
  • If you are unsure how your dog will react to the water, make sure to bring him to a controlled environment first. An enclosed pool area can be great, and for smaller dogs, your bath tub can also provide a great training experience.
  • Chemicals and dirt in the water can be harmful to your dog’s coat and health, so you should always give your dog a bath after you return home. If there is a shower facility at the beach, pool or lake, you may even want to give him a good rinse before you leave.
  • Drying your dog’s ears after swimming can help prevent ear infections.

Websites which chronicle lists of many dog-friendly beaches in the US:
General US: http://www.petfriendlytravel.com/dog_beaches
California:  http://www.totalescape.com/active/animals/dogs/beaches.html
Life Jackets, etc. for your dog:  http://www.cabelas.com/vests-boots.shtml

 GO FOR A HIKE:

Getting out in the great outdoors is a thrill for dogs – everywhere they turn, there’s something to sniff, look at or maybe even chase. Hit the trails with him for an active outing that’s refreshing, healthy and fun. It’s important to be well-supplied for hikes. Be sure to bring plenty of water for both you and your canine companion. Hiking can be hard work, so be sure your dog is physically up to the task. If you have any doubts, contact your veterinarian. Remember to build up to long hikes, just like you would for yourself.If you are going on a long hike, you may want to bring a small first aid kit with you, just in case.Be aware that your dog has tender paws, so try to avoid rough terrain, such as sharp rocks or dense underbrush. Be sure to use precautions against ticks and fleas, and check your dog when you get home.Consider inviting other friends and their balanced dogs along. A group hike is safer and more fun!

There are a number of off leash dog parks and hiking areas.  Me and my dog Sam love Runyon Canyon, Fryman Canyon and Tree People for hiking.

Check here for a list of Los Angles off-leash Dog Parks:

TAKE YOUR DOG TO LUNCH OR TO COFFEE:

Explore new neighborhoods. Most people and pets have a well-worn path on their neighborhood walks, so why not switch up the scenery? Stray off the usual route, or drive somewhere different to go for a stroll. Try to find dog-friendly business districts that encourage visitors to bring pets along. Many restaurants and coffee shops with outdoor dining areas will let your dog join you as long as they don’t enter the restaurant and are well-behaved. Bring some treats along, this is a great opportunity to practice your down/stay!

TAKE YOUR DOG ON YOUR FAMILY VACATION:

A great way to include your pooch for a weekend away is to camp. Most campsites allow leashed dogs and just like you, your dog will be delighted and rejuvenated with the new scenery. He’ll want to spend plenty of time sniffing all the new smells around. Take him for a hike or swim during the days to help drain his energy so he’s ready to rest by the fire at night with you. Pack food and water for him to avoid upsetting his stomach or having him drink tainted water. If you have to hike into your camp, you can have him carry in his own supplies in a doggy backpack.

Not the outdoorsy type check out a pet friendly hotel at Pets Welcome.com

SPECIAL DOG EVENTS:

Another idea is to look into venues and events near you that cater to our four-legged companions. Ball fields, movie theaters, museums and other local places will sometimes hold special days they dedicate to allowing dog lovers and their dogs to enjoy the day together. During summer there are usually at least a few dog-related events like fairs or races in most areas.

Burbank for example has a special day when the public pool is open for dogs to swim check it out at : Doggie Splash

Petco Park also has a bring your dog to the game night. Check it out at: Petco Park

OTHER HOT WEATHER SAFETY TIPS:

Never leave a dog in a parked car on a warm day. It’s a simple message that every dog owner should remember. This past weekend a Chocolate Lab passed away after being left alone in a car for over two hours. A sad wake-up call to pet owners everywhere.

It only takes minutes for the temperature in a stationary car to climb above 100ºF  which would be uncomfortable for any human. Since most of us aren’t covered head to toe in fur – imagine yourself wrapped in a sweater, unable to sweat. The heat becomes unbearable.

Dogs don’t have the same temperature control functions that we have. They can’t sweat like we do. They can only alleviate warmth by panting or releasing small amounts of heat through their paws. Without air circulation or water, there’s no way to escape the heat. Again, never leave a dog in a parked car when the weather is warm, if your not sure if it is too warm don’t leave your dog!


To beat the heat, and to prevent distress, PETA has a few pointers:

  • If you see a dog in a car and in distress, take down the car’s color, model, make, and license-plate number, have the owner paged inside nearby stores, and call local humane authorities or police. Have someone keep an eye on the dog. If police are unresponsive or too slow and the dog’s life appears to be in imminent danger, find a witness (or several) who will back your assessment, take steps to remove the suffering animal, and then wait for authorities to arrive.
  • Don’t carry your dog in the bed of a pickup truck. This is always dangerous, but the heat brings the added danger of burning the dog’s feet on the hot metal.
  • Don’t take your dog jogging—except on cool mornings or evenings—and don’t force exercise.
  • On long walks, rest often and take plenty of water. Hot pavement can burn dogs’ paws; choose shady, grassy routes.
  • Trim heavy-coated dogs’ fur, but leave an inch for protection against insects and sunburn. Keep an eye on areas where hair is thin, like eyelids, ears, and nose as they can get sunburned.
  • Keep your dog indoors. If he or she must stay outside for long, avoid the hottest part of the day.
  • Provide shade, water, and a kiddie pool if possible. Keep drinking water in an anchored bucket or a heavy bowl that won’t tip over.
  • Be a watchdog for chained dogs. Make sure that they have food, water, and shelter. If you see a dog in distress, contact humane authorities. Give the dog immediate relief by providing water.

Have a safe and fun summer everyone!!!

“Don’t Leave Me!!!” A Plan for Preventing and Treating Separation Anxiety

Summer time is coming, and that means more outdoor time for you and your dog! It also means lot’s of family activities that your dog may not get to attend. Which means more time alone in the house or yard. Some dogs don’t mind this R & R time, while others get nervous about being separated from their pack. Destruction and barking can be a troublesome side effect.

Remember dogs don’t have a lot of natural hobbies, digging, chewing and alert barking is their way of stress relief.  They don’t do naughty things to punish you or “let you know their upset” as is commonly thought.  They just can’t think of another way to relieve all this pent up nervous energy. Remember dogs are pack animals, they don’t understand why we have to separate they wouldn’t do this under natural circumstances.  Here are some good ways to work on preparing your dog for your separation.

A behavior modification plan:

  • Give your dog a minimum of 30 minutes to 1 hour of aerobic exercise each day. If possible I like to do this before you leave. Remember a tired dog is a good dog!
  • Work on basic obedience commands (come, sit, sit-stay, down, down-stay) for 15 or 20 minutes each day. Use rewards for compliance (praise, a quick pat on the chest, a food treat) rather than reprimands or punishment for lack of compliance. If you need help getting consistent obedience from your dog, work with a professional trainer (like me!).
  • Wean your “Velcro dog” from being attached to you at all times when you’re home. Use a baby gate to barricade her in a separate room for part of the time when you’re home.
  • Provide her with a delicious distraction, such as a Kong (click here to get great recipes and game ideas) toy stuffed with a food treat (peanut butter is a popular Kong stuffer) while she’s by herself. You can also use a “down-stay” or “get in your bed” command to put some distance between you. Also creating a doggie scavenger hunt hiding food-based chewies and things in her area is very helpful.
  • Ignore her for 20 minutes before you leave and 20 minutes after you return. Effusive goodbyes and hellos make a dog with separation anxiety feel worse.
  • When you leave her alone, don’t give her the run of the house or apartment. Instead, use a baby gate to confine her to one room, such as the bedroom, bathroom, or kitchen—wherever she’s least likely to do damage or disturb the neighbors. Leave a radio or TV on very low to provide distracting background noise.
  • Do not leave a dog with separation anxiety in a closed crate unless he/ she is comforted by being in her den. Many dogs with separation anxiety have panic attacks when crated and will injure their mouths or front feet trying to bite or claw their way out of the crate. Test run this before you leave for hours. If the crate is very wet when you return (excessive salivation) this is signs of a panic attack.
  • Don’t use an anti-bark collar. It’s unlikely to work on a dog with separation anxiety.
  • Start a program of desensitization or “flooding.” Flooding for separation anxiety would involve setting aside several hours on a weekend during which you enter and leave your apartment so often that you essentially wear the dog out. Leave the apartment every few minutes, on a varying schedule, for a minute or two at a time then come back. Be sure not to return while your dog is barking or howling, or else you will be rewarding her for that behaviour. If it’s impossible to walk out the door without having your dog bark, you might have a friend remain in the apartment while you go in and out. Desensitization for a dog with separation anxiety involves giving her your customary cues that you’re leaving—such as picking up your car keys or briefcase, opening the coat closet, putting on your “work shoes,” and so on—without actually leaving.
  • A DAP (Doggie Pheromones) diffuser or collar may help calm an anxious dog.
  • An antidepressant may be helpful for a dog with separation anxiety. Clomicalm (clomipramine) is widely used for that purpose. In severe cases and for occasional use, an anti-anxiety medication can also be given one hour before your departure. No drug can extinguish separation anxiety on its own, however. Desensitization is essential.

Excerpted from Hound Health Handbook © 2004, 2009 by Urbanhound, LLC Used by permission of Workman Publishing Co., Inc. New York All Rights Reserved Available wherever books are sold.