Category: “Fitness”

How to Teach Your Dog to Fetch

How to Teach Your Dog to Fetch
Fetch is excellent exercise for your dog, but what if it doesn’t come naturally? Here’s how to teach this fun-filled game.

I have three dogs. One of them, a big mixed breed named Monster, loves to fetch. I didn’t even have to teach him — the first time he saw a ball, he put it in his mouth, then dropped it at my feet. I picked it up, threw it, and he enthusiastically fetched it and brought it right back. He will fetch anywhere and all day long.

I also have two very serious working Border Collies, Echo and Radar, who were rescued from a neglectful situation as 8-week-old puppies. They’re shy — until you get them around sheep. They’re 11 years old now and help me on our Colorado farm.

However, they’ve never fetched a ball in their lives. It’s not that I haven’t tried to teach them; they just see no rational reason to fetch a ball and bring it back to me only to have me throw it again.

I’m OK with them being uninterested in fetching; we have lots of land for them to run on. But many dog owners live in cities and want their dogs to fetch — it’s a great way to get exercise, and it can be done safely in your own backyard.

I don’t advocate making dogs do something they find uninteresting (I’m not talking about obedience and good manners, of course). But a game of fetch isn’t a bad thing to want to teach your dog.

Here’s how I taught Echo to enjoy fetching:

1. I found a cat toy that had feathers attached to the end of a thin, springy pole. I showed it to Echo and made a huge deal about the feathers. First, I put the toy on the ground and let Echo sniff and explore it. I picked it up and put it back down, but this time I put small pieces of cooked chicken under the feathers. Echo can be shy with new objects, so I wanted her to feel confident in exploring and seeking the chicken under the feathers. It worked!

2. Next, I put down a second feather stick and put chicken under that one, too. Echo felt braver and went to explore it. As she did, I ran to the other feather stick and placed chicken under that one. She began to get the idea and started trotting back and forth between them.

3. I began to verbally encourage Echo to really run between the two sticks. Once I had that motion from her, I surprised her and picked up the stick I ran toward and called her to keep running after the stick I was dragging. She did! I did these three steps in short sessions for a few days in a row. Her eyes got wide, and her body language expressed delight just at seeing the feather sticks.

4. It’s hard to toss a slim stick with fake feathers at the end of it — and it would be awkward for a dog to pick up and carry — so I slowly made a switch after Echo was really excited about the feather stick. I glued string onto a tennis ball and began the process anew, although I placed the ball next to the feather stick on the ground with some chicken under it. I ran across the room to a second tennis ball I had placed with chicken also under and next to a feather stick. Echo followed me at a trot, went to the ball, pushed it aside, and gobbled up the chicken.

5. After I got Echo used to the tennis ball, I got her revved up to run back and forth between each ball on the ground and then, just as I did before with the feather stick, I tugged on the tennis ball via the string I had glued to it. Echo followed it! When she picked it up in her mouth, I praised her. Then I ran away from her, hoping she’d still hold the ball in her mouth. She didn’t. She kept dropping it, although she enthusiastically ran after me. I tried to get her to put the ball in her mouth and carry it, then decided to switch to a squeaky, soft, smaller squirrel-shaped toy I had seen her carry in her mouth. That did the trick! She was happy to put that in her mouth and chase after me.

6. From there, it was easy to get her to chase me with the squeaky toy in her mouth. When I stopped running, she did, too, and simply spit out the toy. I praised her, then picked it up and teased her with it, tossing it a few feet away. I did go back to pulling the toy along with the string a few times, but she didn’t need much remedial work. Of course, I can’t throw a small stuffed toy as far as I can a solid tennis ball, but that’s OK for Echo and me. I’m just thrilled that she gets excited over, fetches, and returns to me with this toy in her mouth.

If you have a dog who isn’t interested in fetching, first look at your own reasons why you want this from your dog. If there are solid reasons (like a safe way to get some exercise in), try these tips, and soon enough you’ll have a fetching Fido!

Originally posted on Dogster.com by Annie Phenix, CPDT-KA  on 09/01/2016.

9 Surprisingly Dangerous Snacks for Dogs

9 Surprisingly Dangerous Snacks for Dogs

Originally Posted on Daily Treat by Elisabeth Geier

I’m not gonna lie: sometimes, I feed my dogs people food. A cheesy cracker here, a piece of popcorn there. Certain days, I even let them lick the yogurt cup or peanut butter jar clean. For the most part, if your dog doesn’t suffer from allergies, these occasional bites are harmless. It turns out, however, that certain human snacks are dangerous for dogs.

We all know not to slip our dog a chicken wing (seriously, never slip your dog a chicken wing), but you may be surprised to learn which other popular people-snacks can pose a health hazard to your beloved pet.

Guacamole: Avocados may be a delicious miracle food for humans, but unfortunately, they can be problematic for dogs. That’s mostly due to the potential presence of a toxin called persin, which can cause stomach upset. It’s worse with certain varieties, and most present in the peel. Still, better to be safe than sorry.

Guacamole also contains garlic and onions, which can cause anemia and gastrointestinal distress. If you must give your dog a treat from the fiesta table, stick to one or two plain tortilla chips (but not more than that—too much salt is another no-no).

Mixed nuts: Almonds are too rough to be digested properly and can damage your dog’s esophagus and stomach; pecans left out too long may mold and develop a dangerous toxin; and macadamia nuts are downright poisonous. Mixed nuts are a nice snack to keep around the house, but keep them away from your dog.

Raisins: Raisins are a sweet addition to your bowl of cereal, but they’re toxic to your best friend. Grapes and grape products are among the most dangerous foods for dogs, and consumption can lead to kidney failure and even death. Keep raisins, grapes, grape juice, and anything containing them far away from your pet.

Ice cream: It’s tempting to give your dog a lick of your cone on a hot day, and chances are, a little won’t hurt. But ice cream in large quantities is a no-no for dogs. The dairy content can cause gastrointestinal trouble (i.e., diarrhea), and the sugar content is way too high for them. Also, commercially-produced ice cream can contain nut traces, chocolate, and other substances that are dangerous for your dog. Thankfully, there are plenty of dog-friendly frozen treats available!

Beer and other alcohol: This one should be a no-brainer, but some people think it’s funny to offer their dog a sip of beer. Alcohol in any quantity can be dangerous for animals; it has the same effect on their brain and liver as it does on humans, but it takes a lot less to do a lot more damage in dogs. According to WebMD, even a small amount of alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhea, coordination issues, difficulty breathing, and worse. Keep your dog out of the cooler at your next tailgate.

Snack mix: Cereal snack mix is one of my favorite treats, and I know how tempting it is to throw a handful to the dog. But commercial snack treats often contain onion and garlic powder, both of which can cause tummy troubles. Snack mix is also high in sodium, and too much salt can cause excessive thirst and urination.

Leftover ribs (and other meat scraps and bones): Dogs and bones go together like peanut butter and jelly, but only some bones are safe for your pooch. Cooked bones leftover from your barbecue may splinter and cause an obstruction or injury to your dog’s digestive system, and fatty meat scraps can lead to pancreatitis. Dispose of bones and meat scraps in an area your dog can’t reach, and if you must give them a bone, offer a whole raw bone (with supervised chew-time) or a safe chewable instead.

French fries: Confession: French fries are my favorite food, and I love to share them with my dog. But fries are high in fat and sodium, and overindulgence can lead to dehydration and an upset tummy for us both. Salty snacks in general are a bad idea for dogs; too much salt can even lead to ion poisoning. So it’s safe to toss your dog one or two fries at the drive-through, but don’t super-size their serving.

Candy and gum: Chances are you’re not letting your dog go wild in the candy aisle, but accidental ingestion of candy or gum can cause serious damage. Aside from the choking hazard posed by small, sticky treats, many sugar-free gums and candies contain xylitol, a popular sugar substitute that can be lethal to dogs. Stick to candy-shaped toys, and keep the real deal out of reach!

Table foods dogs can eat: In case you’re worried you can never safely sneak your dog a treat from your own bowl of snacks, here are a few human foods that are okay in small amounts:

  • Unsalted, raw or roasted peanuts removed from their shell
  • Unsalted pretzels
  • Plain, cooked chicken
  • White rice and pasta
  • Low-fat cheese, as long as you know your dog doesn’t have a lactose intolerance
  • Raw, unsalted peanut butter (check the label and avoid brands sweetened with xylitol)
  • Small amounts of plain bread

It’s only natural to want to treat your dog, and if she doesn’t have allergies or a particularly sensitive stomach, a morsel of human food here or there won’t hurt. But avoid the dangerous foods listed above, and remember: moderation is key. Most of your dog’s food should be, well, dog food. Happy snacking to you and your pooch!