dog training tips

Why Walking Your Dog is Vital to Their Health

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Walking your dog is about much more than just potty breaks. Walking your dog provides them mental stimulation, physical exercise, socialization, and opportunities for behavioral training. Moreover, it gets both of you out and about all while helping to grow the bond you have with your dog.

Walking Provides Exercise and Mental Stimulation

Walking your dog regularly provides a basic foundation for physical and mental health. Like a child, your dog wants to know and explore the world. If they are confined to the house for too long, your dog will get bored, and boredom can lead to destructive behavior. Your dog is dependent on you to take them out to explore the sights, smells, and sounds of the world. This is why it’s also good to vary the places you take your dog as much as possible. You’ve probably noticed how busy (and excited) your dog gets when they are walking, so let them enjoy every opportunity to discover.

Walking is Good for Your Dog’s Health

A sedentary life for a dog can quickly lead to an overweight dog, which brings potential health problems with it. Even if your dog is active inside the home, they still need another outlet to expel their energy. You’ll benefit from having a well-exercised dog, as tired dogs tend to behave better. You will also help your pet avoid unnecessary weight gain, thus the health issues that come with it.

Walking Helps with Your Dog’s Socialization Skills

While you are out and about on your walks, your dog is likely to run into fellow canines. This is a great opportunity to help your dog learn acceptable ways of socially interacting with new animals. It will also help build your dog's confidence so your pet will be less afraid to make new friends. However, if your dog does show fear, try taking them to a training class to resolve that anxiety in a more controlled environment. Well-socialized dogs still like a bit of rough-and-tumble play with other dogs when out for a walk, but they’ll know when to stop and will come away without any battle scars. Walking your dog and exposing them to different dogs, people, and situations is a win for everyone.

Walking Your Dog is a Training Opportunity

When walking your dog, consider it a training opportunity. Dogs aren’t born knowing how to walk on a leash, so you’ll have to teach your dog how to follow your lead. While they are on the move, dogs are more inclined to be more receptive to learning. On these walks, you can begin teaching commands like, “sit,” “stay,” and “heel,” especially if you take treats along to use during the process.

Walking Your Dog May Not be Enough

Exercise needs are based on your dog's age, breed, size, and overall health, but a good rule of thumb is you should spend at least 30 minutes every day on an activity with your dog. Younger dogs and dogs bred for sports or herding activities may need much more.

If your dog has a yard to play in, walking isn’t the only form of exercise available. However, don’t expect your dog to create their own exercise routine just because you’ve put them outside. Dogs don’t self-entertain, so if you want to tire your pet out, play catch or fetch!

If you’re at work all day, consider taking your dog to a doggie daycare, hiring a dog walker, or asking a friend to take your dog out during those hours. Your pet will enjoy the company, and you’ll come home to a happier dog waiting to greet you.

Ready to get out of the house with your pup? With this insight, you’ll never look at a walk with your dog the same way again! Don’t have a dog of your own to walk? Volunteer with your local humane society or shelter and help enrich the lives of shelter pups.


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Tips for Training a Deaf Dog

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Even though they aren't able to hear commands, deaf dogs can be trained to obey their owners and commands. The process comes with its own set of challenges, requiring a bit of extra patience, but isn't outside the capability of most dog owners.

Some dogs are more prone to deafness than others: Dalmatians, Whippets, English Setters, and Jack Russell Terriers seem to have the highest instances of congenital deafness. But as dogs age, just like people, their sense of hearing often worsens over time.

For puppies who don't (yet) have hearing problems, consider incorporating hand gestures with voice commands when you train them. That way, if your dog loses its hearing as it ages, it is already familiar with the signs for the various commands.

Getting the Attention of a Deaf Dog

Before you can ask a dog to do anything, you must first have its attention.

There are a few things you can do to get a deaf dog to look at you, such as stamping your foot on the floor. Sometimes the vibrations coming through the floor are enough to turn your dog's attention in your direction.

Use a Flashlight

Some owners of deaf dogs use a flashlight to signal to their dog. You can train a dog to look at you by turning a flashlight on and off. Continue to do so until your dog turns to see where the light is coming from. As soon as the dog looks at you, reward it with a treat. The dog will soon learn that a flash of light means that it needs to look at you.

Use a Vibrating Collar

These electronic collars are different from those that give shocks to aid in training (which you want to avoid because they provide negative reinforcement to the dog). These simply vibrate when you press a button on a remote.

You can train a dog to look at you by pressing the button to make the collar vibrate, and continue doing so until your dog looks at you. As soon as the dog turns its attention to you, stop the vibrations and offer a treat.

Try Hand Signals

Many people train dogs by using hand signals for basic obedience commands. There is a standard hand signal most dog trainers use to teach each command, but you can also create your own hand signals.

Instead of giving a solely spoken command, you start off by making sure your dog's attention is on you, and then give the hand signal. You then train the dog to perform the command just as you would any other dog.

Use Sign Language

Most people communicate with their dogs for more than the basic commands, learning from the repeated connection between the words and the actions. You can communicate in a similar way with a deaf dog, but rather than using spoken words, you can use sign language.

Many owners of deaf dogs find it useful to learn a few simple words in American Sign Language and use them when doing everyday tasks with their dogs. You can also create your own signs for different words. As long as you and your dog know what the sign means, you should be able to communicate easily.


Reward Good Behavior

While many dogs find it rewarding to get verbal praise from their owners, this won’t be ideal for deaf dogs. Keep some small treats on hand to give your deaf dog positive reinforcement when it obeys a command correctly.

Once your dog has a good understanding of each command, you can use treats less frequently. Be sure in the early days of training when you're using a lot of treats that you cut back on your dog's meals accordingly.

Common Problems and Avoiding Them

Initially, deaf dogs may be startled by a person unexpectedly touching them to gain their attention, especially if they are touched while sleeping. Startling a dog can lead to it snarling or snapping out of fear, much in the same way a person might yell out if someone sneaks up and startles them.

Practice touching your dog very gently on its shoulder and back. Give it treats immediately following the touch. Try to do this often throughout the day, and soon your dog will learn that having someone touch them from behind means good things are about to happen.

A common mistake many new owners of deaf dogs make is not talking while they give their non-verbal commands. Just because the dog can't hear you doesn't mean you should remain silent; often your body language can appear unnatural if you give a command silently.

To ensure the visual commands come naturally to you and translate easily to your dog, go ahead and speak the words of a command as you perform the action.


Meet our featured deaf dog, Tater

The sweetest face!

The sweetest face!

Tater loves his owner, Amanda (who also is our office manager and technician).

Tater loves his owner, Amanda (who also is our office manager and technician).


Hear From Us Again

Don't forget to subscribe to our email newsletter for more recipes, articles, and clinic updates delivered to your inbox (here). Or, you can keep up to date by liking and following our Facebook page (here).

Related: We have more information under our dog health + client care tags.