The Dog Jog

Pet Care & Exercise
The Dog Jog
Harlem & Foster Chicago, IL 60656 US
Phone: 773-407-2391 Website: http://www.thedogjog.us

Click on a photo, then scroll across!

Dog Jogging & Running (or Interval Training for Dogs)
I found another dogjogger... but I had to go to England to do so! His name is Barry and he runs a one-man show at http://www.thedogjogger.co.uk/why.html

I like his site very much, and I really like what he has to say about the reasons we do what we do:

Certain dogs need more than a little stroll or play in the park - some of them simply require the extra physical exertion, some of them need to drain their mental energy just as much in order to make them calmer or generally better-behaved dogs. Running several kilometers helps to achieve all of these and has the added benefit of nurturing a dog’s natural instincts of living - albeit temporarily - as a member of a pack. This latter aspect is particularly helpful in determining the dog’s natural sense of identity as it’s the ultimate source of discipline and order within the canine world. 

Further physiological benefits: 

- Strengthening of muscles, ligaments and bones - in turn reducing the risks of injury 
- Delaying the onset of hip dysplasia and arthritis in breeds susceptible to these conditions (observational studies have suggested that high intensity exercise helps keep muscles and ball joints supple and free of cartilage build up) 
- Encouraging a healthier digestive system 
- Maintaining a healthy heart 

Dog Playing or Dog Fighting?

The other day, a family came to our house to Meet and Greet. While in the backyard, their dogs went at it, growling, baring teeth, standing on their hind legs, chewing on each others’ necks. The parents were apologetic. “They aren’t fighting, you know. That’s just how they play.” We reassured them that we had seen this kind of behavior many, many times, and that it was perfectly normal. A few minutes later, their doggies still at play, they again apologized. “Really, we understand,” we replied.

We began to discuss how people, even dog owners themselves, are put off by play fighting. That’s because, like boxers and wrestlers with sparring partners, dogs – even girl dogs - must train in order to be prepared for the real thing. The difference, albeit sometimes subtle, is that dogs modify their behavior during play fighting so that no one really gets hurt. They will pin each other on the ground, forcing each other into submission, and they will chase, snarl, bare teeth, bark, and even bite (well, nip). 

Have you ever seen a kid who, while playing good guys-bad guys, will pretend to be shot, and melodramatically fall to the ground, gasping, hand clutched to chest? Well, dogs do that, too! The technical term is self-handicapping behavior. During a real fight, a dog would never suddenly stop, roll on the ground, belly up, legs in the air, appearing to smile. Dogs also use signals during play. For example, when playing, they usually display a relaxed open-mouth smile. When they are fighting, there is no trace of a smile whatsoever. Another signal is The Bow: like an actor in a Shakespearean play, the dog will face her partner, grandly bow, butt high in the air, with the tail a’ wagging.  I’ve noticed that when two dogs are play fighting, and the bigger one begins to win,  she will, out of camaraderie, give her opponent a leg up by doing The Stop, Drop, and Roll or The Bow.

Here’s a really good test: If you try to drag one dog away from the other while they are going at it, only for him to get loose of you and run back to his partner, well, he definitely wants to play. If he didn’t, he would whimper, cower behind you or in a corner or behind a door, possibly even tremble.

So, before jumping to conclusions, let’s learn to read signals more carefully. I think it will also help us as humans communicate better with each other!

Embarrassing Behaviors

Humping. Oh, boy. I'm wondering: how do you handle it? Do you yell at your dogs? Do you laugh? Do you separate the dogs? Or do you just ignore it? 

Humping is something no one wants to look at. It can be a "teachable moment" for pre-teens, but more often than not, the pet owners is embarrassed about the behavior.

So, how should we change it? In fact, should we change it? I was suprirsed to learn that pet care professionals say, "Ignore it." Really? Come on... that will just continue the behavior. Well, it can or it can't. Professionals say that you should "Catch 'em being good." So, if they're just sitting there, chillin', give 'em praise! Give 'em a belly rub! Give Give 'em a treat! And we should ignore the unwanted behaviors. We should literally turn our backs on our dogs.

I always ask parents how they wish me to handle unwanted behaviors, and I honor their wishes. But most parents are at a loss as to what to do about it. Here is a great article about the reasons dogs hump: http://dogtrainer.quickanddirtytips.com/humping-mounting.aspx

  • They are Sexually Charged (yes, even spayed or neutered dogs)
  • They are Excited or Anxious
  • They are Bored and Seeking Attention
  • They have Compulsive Disorders and Medical Problems
  • They have Significant Anxiety

Once the cause of the unwanted behavior is identified, we get a leg up (no pun intended) on how to change it. One thing all dog trainers seem to agree on, though, is that getting angry or making a big deal out of it actually reinforces, instead of deters, behavior. But that's counterintuitive to us as parents. Why wouldn't your dog get the message that you are displeased  with him and stop doing whatever he's doing that gets your goat, as my grandfather used to say, but, actually, most dogs I've met are insatiable when it comes to getting attention. Even getting negative attention! I know, I don't get it either. But having raised an almost 21 year old, I can attest: it's true. Sigh.

So, if humping really bothers you enough to the point where something HAS to be done, learn a little about something called behavior modification. Google it. You'll get good results.

Home Boarding May Not Be Your Best Option

We truly want what is best for your dog, so with that in mind, I thought I would outline the three options you should consider when your doggies get a vacay:

In-Home Pet-Sitting

You can either hire a professional sitter or you can get someone you know to provide care for your pets while you are away. Keeping your dog at home while you are away is best if your dog is solitary or dislikes other dogs. This option might also be best if your dog shows a lot of anxiety when he is away from home. If your dog would be fine on his own at home, I strongly suggest you avoid the temptation of asking a friend, neighbor, or relative to provide care for your dog, especially if your dog has any needs requiring special attention (medical, behavioral, emotional). Doing so can unduly stress the relationships you have with those you care for.

Once you choose a pet care provider, you need to decide if that person will drop by a few times a day to walk, feed and play with your pup, or if that person will stay overnight. The biggest drawback to the former is that your pet will be alone most of the time, but if you work outside your home your pet is already used to that. Overnight pet sitters are more expensive, but they are often the best scenario: Your pet stays in the environment he is comfortable and he is not alone at night. 

Informal pet-sitting arrangements can be trickly unless you’re absolutely sure the person you’ve hired is reliable and trustworthy. Should a pet sitter flake, your pet will be in trouble. A casual agreement between friends may mean your sitter isn’t as well-prepared for an emergency as a professional. I’m not saying these arrangements don’t work out — many do — but you will need to be more careful.

Few of us are out of contact for very long, thanks to smartphones and email, so make arrangements to have your sitter check in daily with updates and pictures. They may make you homesick for that fuzzy face, but at least you’ll know he’s just fine while you’re gone.

Kennels
Boarding kennels have been a mainstay of the away-stay business for generations, but if you haven’t looked into them lately, you may be surprised by what you'll find. Though operations with banks of side-by-side chain-link runs still exist — and a lot of dogs are happy with these — other kennels are more like resorts.

In many of today's kennels, your pet can have her own room, group play, daily hikes, a training refresher, massage and swimming, and in some cases can even sleep on a caretaker’s bed at night. Many of these new-style boarding facilities also offer day care, which means your dog could be boarded at a place she already knows.

Visit well in advance — unannounced is best — to see the facilities. Be sure to check references, too, especially veterinary ones. Some facilities have webcams so you can look in online as often as you like. And be sure to ask if the kennel is staffed at night. Most are not, but emergencies can happen after-hours and it's a definite plus if you can find one that is.

In-Home Boarding
Rather than leave your pet home alone or in a kennel, you may be able to find someone to care for him in her home while you are away. As with informal pet-sitting arrangements, you’ll need to be very careful if you’re not dealing with professionals. Many well-meaning friends may not be as prepared to take care of your pet’s needs, such as giving medication, or may not pay close enough attention to prevent escape. Be sure that any sitter who cares for your pet in her own home is ready to take on the responsibility and make your pet safe and comfortable while you're gone.

There is no right or wrong choice overall — only what’s best for your pet. Cats are generally (but not always) happier staying at home, while many (but not all) dogs enjoy the more social atmosphere of boarding. Once you determine where your pet will be happier, check out any pet sitter or boarding facility you’re considering as if your pet’s life depends on it. Because it does.

Some final thoughts: No boarding kennel or pet sitter should overrule your veterinarian’s recommendation for your pet’s preventive care. Talk to your veterinarian about what vaccinations are best for your pet, and at what intervals, before you leave your pet in anyone else’s care. Your veterinarian should be on your emergency contacts list as well, and be sure everyone knows where to reach you for any critical care decisions that may need to be made. All reputable pet-sitting services will find out as much as possible about your pet before you leave and will be prepared for any problem that comes up. For example, see the questionnaire we developed for our client