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

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).


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

Disaster Preparedness: Prepare a Pet Disaster Kit

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Pets are family – do you have a plan for your pet in an emergency? Including pets in emergency plans helps your family’s ability to respond to an emergency. Be prepared: make a plan and prepare a disaster kit for your pet.


Leaving pets out of evacuation plans can put pets, pet owners, and first responders in danger. Even if you try to create a safe place for them, pets left behind during a disaster are likely to be injured, lost, or worse. Before a disaster strikes, find out what type of shelters and assistance are available in your area to accommodate pets and include pets in your family disaster plan to keep them safe during an emergency.


Don’t wait until it’s too late. Start today by including your pet in your family’s preparedness plans to protect the health of yourself, your family, and your pet.


Make a Plan

To get started, familiarize yourself with the types of disasters that could affect your area and consider your options for providing care for your pet(s).


Disasters can happen without warning, so be prepared:

  • Make sure your pet(s) wear collars and tags with up-to-date contact information and other identification.

  • Microchip your pet(s) – this is one of the best ways to ensure that you and your pet are reunited if you are separated. Always be sure to register the microchip with the manufacturer and keep your contact information up to date with the microchip company.

  • Purchase a pet carrier for each of your pets (write your pet’s name, your name, and contact information on each carrier).

  • Familiarize your pet with its carrier before a crisis.

  • Practice transporting your pet by taking them for rides in a vehicle similar to one you would be evacuating in.

  • Practice catching your pet, if needed.

  • Keep a leash and/or carrier near the exit.

  • Make sure you have proper equipment for pets to ride in the car (carriers, harnesses, pet seatbelts).

  • If you do not have a car, make arrangements with neighbors, family, and friends. You can also contact your local government to learn about transportation options during a disaster.

Sheltering in Place

When sheltering at home with your pet, make sure the room chosen is pet-friendly in the following ways:

  • Select a safe room, preferably an interior room with no (or few) windows.

  • Remove any toxic chemicals or plants.

  • Close off small areas where frightened cats could get stuck (such as vents or beneath heavy furniture).


Sheltering During an Evacuation

Contact your local emergency management office and ask if they offer accommodations for owners and their pets.

If accommodations are needed for your pet(s):

  • Contact local veterinary clinics, boarding facilities, and local animal shelters. Visit the Humane Society website to find a shelter in your area.

  • Contact family or friends outside the evacuation area.

  • Contact a pet-friendly hotel, particularly along evacuation routes.

  • Remember to take your pet’s emergency kit with you.

  • Make plans before disaster strikes for where you and your pets will go. Be aware that pets may not be allowed in local human shelters, unless they are service animals.

  • Check with:

    • Family or friends outside the evacuation area.

    • Pet-friendly hotels

      • bringfido.com or call 877-411-FIDO

      • dogfriendly.com or call 888-281-5170

      • doginmysuitcase.com or call 8880254-0637

      • pet-friendly-hotels.net or call 866-966-3046

      • pets-allowed-hotels.com or call 800-250-1625

      • petswelcome.com

      • tripswithpets.com


Prepare a Pet Disaster Kit

Prepare a disaster kit for your pet(s) so evacuation will go smoothly. Ask your veterinarian for help putting it together. Some examples of what to include are listed below; when making the kit, think about your pet’s basic needs, prescriptions, and paperwork.

Pet Disaster Kit Checklist for Dogs

Pet Disaster Kit Checklist for Dogs

Pet Disaster Kit Checklist for Cats

Pet Disaster Kit Checklist for Cats

Disaster Supplies for Pets

  • Leash, collar with ID, and harness

  • Appropriate-sized pet carriers with bedding and toys

  • Food (in airtight waterproof containers or cans) and water for at least 2 weeks for each pet

  • Food and water bowls and a manual can opener

  • Plastic bags for dog poop and a litter box and litter for cats

  • Cleaning supplies for accidents (paper towels, plastic bags, disinfectant)

  • Medications for at least 2 weeks, instructions and treats used to give the medications, and a pharmacy contact for refills

  • Flea and tick medication and heartworm preventative for 1 month

  • Documents

  • Photocopied veterinary records (rabies certificate, vaccinations, recent FeLV/FIV test results for cats, prescriptions, etc.)

  • Registration information

  • Recent photos of your pet

  • Contact information for you and friends or relatives

  • Boarding instructions, such as feeding schedule, medications, and any known allergies and behavior problems

  • Microchip information

  • A pet first aid book and first aid kit

  • Documents, medications, and food should be stored in waterproof containers


Protect Yourself from Injury and Illness

Emergencies can put stress on both people and animals, and natural disasters can contribute to the spread of some diseases. Exposure to inclement weather conditions, stagnant water, wildlife or unfamiliar animals, and overcrowding can put both you and your pet at risk for getting sick. Some diseases can be spread between animals and people, such as rabies, ringworm, leptospirosis, and diseases spread by mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks like West Nile and Lyme disease.

Knowing some practical skills ahead of time will help you be prepared to prevent illness and injury during a disaster.

How to Keep Yourself and Your Pets Healthy During a Disaster

  • Wash your hands after handling your pet, its food, or its waste.

  • Do not let your pet lick your face or hands.

  • Keep your pet up-to-date on all vaccinations and heartworm, flea, and tick preventatives.

  • Practice safe handling of your pet, because your pet may behave differently during a stressful situation.

  • Keep your pet in a carrier or on a leash.

  • Do not allow your pet to interact with other animals, especially wildlife and stray animals.

  • Report any bite wounds to medical personnel immediately.

  • Properly clean and disinfect cages and litterboxes. Wash your pet’s bedding regularly.

  • Avoid stagnant water, especially after flooding occurring after natural disasters.

  • Don’t allow pets to play in or drink contaminated water.


What To Do if You Are Separated from Your Pet

Make sure that your family is in a safe location before you begin your search.

If you are in a shelter that houses pets, inform one of the pet caretakers. Give the pet caretaker your pre-made missing pet handout.

Once you have been cleared to leave the shelter and return home, contact animal control about your lost pet.

Last, call or log into the microchip company to make sure all the information about you and your pet is updated and current.


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

How to help turtles cross the road safely

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As the weather gets warmer, turtles are more likely to be seen trying to cross roads. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has tips for helping turtles cross roads.

  • Keep your own safety in mind – be aware of traffic. Signal properly when pulling over.

  • Be careful when handling an animal – an animal crossing the street may be injured or apt to bite. The USFWS says that there are times when just standing by as an animal crosses the street may be the best way to help.

  • A car mat can be helpful – by sliding a car mat under the turtle or animal, you can help without having to actually pick it up. Also make sure to put the animal on the side of the direction it was traveling.

  • Do not try to pick up an animal by the tail – check out this video on how to help a turtle. The USFWS also recommends holding a turtle by the base of the shell and not the side.

  • Get help for injured turtles – Contact your veterinarian or a wildlife rehabilitation center if you find an injured animal.


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Related: We have more information under our client care + small animal care categories.