The walks on a leash are definitely the most popular summer and winter exercise. Sunshine or rain, your dog needs to go out daily. However, walking become very unpleasant when your dog pulls on a leash excessively. Here’s what you need to know to make walking time more enjoyable.
Why do dogs pull on a leash?
Very simple, because they have 4 legs and you only have two! Fundamentally, your dog does not pull on a leash, but he walks faster than you. It is important to adapt your requirements, when you go out, according to the animal next to you.
Some breeds or dog sizes make pulling a second nature. Also your dog’s personality can influence his tendency to pull, to smell or play with a nearby dog.
The right tools
A leash and a harness is all you need. Simplicity and versatility should be the two key words. If it’s too complicated, it’s not worth it.
Using a harness is much more comfortable for your dog and more enjoyable for your arm when holding the leash. However, the harness alone is not enough to improve your walks. You need a harness that allows you to tie your dog at the chest. Thus, the front shoulders will be blocked when he tries to pull forward. It will also be easier for you to change direction with your dog.
As for the leash, it is important to adapt a length of 4 to 6 feet to allow a little space to your dog, while respecting a good distance from other people around you. A leash that can offer several possibilities such as a shoulder or waist strap and that offers a comfortable handle is ideal.
Good reflexes during a walk
- Stop moving forward when your dog pulls! If you continue to advance when he drags you, you are conditioning him to do so because it works.
- Do not give a reward because your dog came back to you! Reward him, when he is walking beside you.
- Use a treat pouch to allow you to quickly reward your dog’s good deeds.
- Respect your dog’s skills. If you cannot take a walk on the street, use your backyard or parking to help your dog to learn.
- Keep calm, your dog doesn’t have to walk behind you. He can walk beside you and at a good distance, it is your choice! The goal is simply to have a relaxed leash that creates a “u”.
Encourage your dog to make eye contact with you when you go out. Just make a small sound or say the name of your dog to get his attention and, as soon as he looks at you, say the word of your choice and reward your dog. Your companion will develop the reflex to look at you often and at the same time, slow down his pace.
Exercise: “go smell”
Your dog pulls to sniff every tree? Rather than zigzagging, set up important places for your dog in advance, and when you ask him to sit down and then point the space, saying “smell”. So your dog will have the reflex to sit down before going to sniff and he will wait for you to tell him to do it.
Remember that your dog needs to move every day. If you neglect your outings, your dog will deal with other activities such as barking and destruction. If you run out of time, find alternatives such as daycare or canine walks.
Visite our walking tips page !
Vacations are a time of relaxation and fun for all the family. I think that your dog can easily be your best travel companion if you take the following precautions into consideration.
– Plan a visit to your vet to update, if necessary, the vaccination of your pet. If you cross the US border you will need a proof of an up-to-date vaccination against rabies and proof of good health signed by your vet. It is also recommended to give your dog preventive treatment against external and internal parasites during the summer.
– Just like you, your dog needs a suitcase or a travel bag. Bring everything that your dog might need for his wellbeing, care and fun.
– Make sure you have a sturdy collar with an updated identification tag. At the same time, take the opportunity to install a microchip at the vet.
– Bring a sufficient amount of food and make sure it is easily accessible at your destination.
During the travel
– If you travelling by car, take breaks to let your dog poop, eat, drink and stretch his legs.
– A reminder: never let your dog unattended in your vehicle to avoid heat strokes, which are dangerous and potentially fatal for your pet.
– Attaching your dog in a car is a provincial law for the safety of your dog and yourself. You can find a harness, a fence or a cage suitable for transport in stores or at your veterinarian.
– If your dog is anxious during travel, do not hesitate to ask your vet for medication against anxiety. Dogs can also have motion sickness and your veterinarian can offer you an effective treatment.
During your vacation
– Provide your activities in advance to avoid having to leave your dog behind.
– Plan a day care or pension if you cannot bring your dog with you everywhere so your dog will be safe and will have fun too.
– Several national parks, reserves and centers allow dogs on leashes. Inquire at the site of www.sepac.com.
– Many hotels, campings and green spaces allow you to bring your pet. Make sure however that your dog is sociable and it will not be a nuisance.
Finally, vacations can also be in the comfort of your home. Why not take the opportunity to make the lives of your dog more rewarding?
A common question is whether or not we should let our cats go outside. There is a difference between Europe and North America regarding this question. We asked our expert and contributor on behaviors, Daniel Filion Cat Educator, to advise us.
It’s all about the overpopulation in a given territory. Depend of the countries in Europe, the population problem is more or less important. There are exceptions such as Turkey and Greece who are struggling with this problem. In general, European countries such as France, England and Germany do not have this problem if we compare there situation to the north America. Also, said Daniel, cat owners habits are different. In Europe, cats can go out when they want by a pet door or a window whitout mosquito net. In north America, cat has to wait until the owner is home to go out. By being free, cats will establish a territorial routine allowing them to avoid each other. There is very little agonistic encounters between cats and dangers are limited to cars and natural predators.
In North America, most cities has between 300 to 900 cats per square kilometer. Cats are unable to go outside when they want because of the climate and windows usually have mosquito nets. These two factors are the reason cat are unable to know when and where the neighbor’s cat will be. When a cat goes outside, he will meet another cat, and will probably have to defend his territory.
The Cat Educator did a study with 4 cats. He installed a GPS and a small camera in there neck, which allowed us to see that in Montreal, cats are less than 30 meters from the house, 90% of the time (see the picture above). They travel more than 3 kilometers a day within that area. One theory of the study is that this whole operation will allow the cat to avoid confrontations with other cats and protect his territory. It is easy to imagine the tension and the stress for cats. We hear so often the owners say their cat request out but as soon as he is out, he wants to get in! This kind of behavior can be explained by a stressfull experience. It is therefore caught between two instincts: to go outside to protect its territory and to stay inside away from the stress, explains the Cat Educhator.
Mr.Filion added; “In our practice, it is not uncommon for a cat between 7 to 8 years start making urine marking in the windows or the door to protect his territory. In our study 3 cats were crossing a busy boulevard more than 7 times a day. That does increase the chance of injuries and diseases. That is why we are tempted to advise people to keep their cat indoors.”
If you live in the countryside or in an no cats environment, stress out is limited to environmental hazards. Remember that the lifetime of an outdoor cat is 3 to 5 years compare to 10 to 12 years for a indoor cat. In addition, you triple your vet bill letting your cat go outside, being more exposed to injury and disease.
If you decide to keep your cat inside, you must ABSOLUTELY overcome this lack of activities by enriching his environment. You can use interactive food bowls (that require the cat to work to eat as he would outside), height and toys. The most important thing for your cat is to play with you two or three times a day, with a minimum of 10 minutes each time. The cat is a sprinter rather than a marathon runner and does not require long periods of hunting.
Remember that cats aren’t doing anything 70% of the time, says Mr.Filion. Our study clearly demonstrated that fact. There are even two of the four cats that came and settled under the stairs to spend 90% of their time. So between spending 90% of his time under the balcony with stress to push other cats or spend 90% of their time in the house, in a rich and stimulating environment in which the owner must ensure that the remaining 10% is filled with stimulating activities? For us the choice is clear when we are in town.
That been said, not all cats will easily adapt to an indoor cat lives. In our 10 years professional expertise we did recommend to let the cats go outside only three times. For them, the inside life was more stressful than the opportunity to meet cats outside.
In summary, it is up to you to evaluate the advantage and the downside depending where you live. But remember that it can sometimes be difficult to assess the needs of your cats without anthropomorphism. Consult a feline behavior to assist you in your decision process.
Holiday seasons are scary times of year for many furry friends with the noise of fireworks exploding in the sky. For some dogs, fireworks and thunder are the worst thing in the world and send them into a total tail spin. Some even try climbing their humans for a little comfort.
If you plan to be out New Year’s Eve, and know your dog is afraid of fireworks, maybe reconsider and celebrate at home to support your family member through a fear you cannot understand. There is a lot you can do to help your dog with their fear. Here are some tips to help you through.
Wear your dog out
During the day of the evening of fireworks displays, exercise your dog so it is tired and sleepy. An exhausted dog will not be so worried about loud noises, and hopefully sleep through all the noise.
Keep them safe
Keep frightened dogs indoors to keep them from running in fear. Some dogs do well in small spaces so pop them into a crate with a favourite toy, a treat and some water. Close the windows and curtains to minimize the light and noise to help them calm down. Cover the crate so it becomes a den where your dog can safely stay while its humans enjoy the New Year celebrations.
Aromatherapy is another good tool to help your pet cope with nervous situations. Use it on its own or in combination with other methods. Take one or two drops of lavender oil and rub it into your hands then softly apply to the fur at the back of the neck and rub a little into the bedding to promote a sense of wellbeing. It is best to use a small amount the first time you try this to ensure there is no allergic reaction. Also, always use top quality grade oils to avoid adverse sensitivity.
Pressure point coats
There are different types of coats on the market that work by putting constant, gentle pressure on a dog’s pressure points. It gives them a feeling similar to being held in your arms. This promotes a sense of calm and comfort for some dogs in nervous situations.
Play soothing music. Research by concert pianist Lisa Spector found that certain types of music, especially classical, can help your dog calm down when stressed. Start it playing before the fireworks start and it may even be your dog enjoys the music so much it forgets the noise of explosions overhead.
If all else fails
If all else fails, work with a trainer to desensitize your dog to the loud noises that frighten them into a frenzy. Sometimes you may have to try a combination of these methods to get good results if one or the other does not work. Just stay committed to helping your dog and you will eventually get it right.
Happy New Year’s to all of you!
While we humans prepare excitedly for Christmas, this is a disruptive time to your pet’s routine. Christmas decorations present many hazards with so many things to excite their senses. It is a time of year fraught with hazards, but keep a few simple things in mind, use a little care and you can get through the holidays without emergency vet visits.
Hazardous Christmas trees
A Christmas tree is a playground of delight to your furry friend. It has invaded its space and is covered in bright shiny balls, ribbons and coloured flashing lights. Something some pets just cannot resist. Not to mention how a tree crashes to the ground when your pet takes that flying leap chasing a Christmas tree delight. With a little planning and forethought you can keep your pets safe:
- Anchor the tree to the ceiling so it cannot topple over.
- Avoid using tinsel. Its glitter is tempting particularly to kitty and if ingested can cause all sorts of problems like an obstructed bowel.
- Use plastic or unbreakable ornaments at heights your pet can reach.
- Ensure light cords are concealed away from temptation; biting into them can be disastrous.
- Keep fallen pine needles from live trees swept up because ingesting them can cause internal punctures and a trip to the vet.
- Keep the prying noses of curious furry friends away from unopened presents containing food, or they may just be ripped apart and eaten if left under the Christmas tree.
Dangers of holiday food
The extra tempting smells Christmas brings into your home can mean giving in to your pet’s begging eyes, but dangers lurk everywhere in the food we love when you do not understand why:
- Avoid giving in to those cute, puppy dog eyes begging for the leftovers from your plate. Too much human, cooked, spicy food is not so great for your pet’s digestion and may make your furry friend sick.
- Avoid allowing your pets to consume sweets, especially avoid chocolate. It is toxic and a build-up in a dog’s system can cause a poisonous reaction.
- Fill your pet’s stocking with durable, fun filled toys rather than a whole lot of commercial treats top enjoy healthy fun together.
- Never give cooked bones. The risk is they splinter and cause internal damage. Instead, give raw meaty bones appropriate to the size of your pet.
Pet friendly gatherings
At Christmas we are preoccupied with welcoming people into our homes. For our pets, dogs in particular, it is an exciting, stressful time greeting and socializing with so many people. Have a separate, safe space where your pet can escape to relax. Use a spare room or a crate and pop in their bed, favourite toy, and plenty of water and they can stay there safely relaxing when they need to escape the excitement.
And, if fireworks are part of your celebrations, remember the noise may be very scary for your pets. Ensure they are safely contained in an escape-proof area. If you can, play music in the area to help to mask the noise of a scary, exploding sky above them.