Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Five Fun Activities to Try With Your Dog

Photo from Jordene Gates
One key aspect to keeping your dog healthy, both physically and mentally, is to provide adequate daily exercise and physical activity. Although dogs love routine, it is important to try new things once and awhile to keep them mentally sharp. Taking a walk in a new place or getting new toys are great,  but if you are looking for some completely NEW fun activities to try with your dog, here are five exciting adventures to explore.

  1. Visit a Nursing Home-If you have an older dog that is very calm and loves people, consider visiting a nursing home. Many nursing homes will allow pet visitors so call ahead to your local home and see about scheduling a visit. You can also look into visiting mentally ill children and adults as well. Patients with severe depression and anxiety sometimes find petting a dog soothing and relaxing. Again, this activity is best for older and very calm dogs. I have taken my 6 year old Lab/Collie mix as well as my 2 year old Lab/Collie mix to do these types of activities, although both listen to commands very well, my younger dog gets times where he starts to want to run around or at least move around the room and doesn't like to sit completely still for over 30 minutes. (NOTE: Taking your dog for a walk before doing the visit will also help them be calmer while visiting).
  2. Participate in a Pet Parade- Many parades allow pet participants, and some of the best ones are Halloween and St. Patty's Day Parades where you can dress your dog up. Whether you buy a costume or make one, you and your pet are sure to enjoy this fun activity!
  3. Go Camping With Your Dog-The first time you try this it may be best to do just one night and then the next time try two or three, until you can build up to a week. Try to camp at a location that has easy access to clean water and plenty of shade. While camping, take your dog with you on hikes, share some grilled chicken from your evening campfire, and even go for a swim in a lake. Just be sure to have identification on your dog just in case he gets loose!
  4. Attend a Doga Session Together-Learn how to exercise and relax with your dog through Doga or Doggie Yoga. Although yoga with your pets can be done at home, it really is fun to try this in a class setting so your dog can meet new people and dogs. Check out the Yoga With Your Pets post for information on starting this at home and progressing to a class. 
  5. Have a Birthday Party for Your Dog- Although other dog owners may be taken by surprise when they receive an invitation to a dog birthday party, this fun activity to try with your dog is getting more and more popular with pet owners. Be sure to have dog treats, water bowls, and plenty of toys all around for the dogs. Serve people food that is also safe for dogs, just in case the dogs get into the people area. You can also bake a dog birthday cake....there are lots of dog birthday cake recipes online; but skip the candle blowing!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Seven People Foods that are Safe and Healthy for Your Dog

There are a few things that dog owners are divided on; things like dogs sleeping in beds, allowing them on the furniture, and my dogs people food. I have to be honest and confess, I do all of the above. Our dogs are part of our family, and they likely think they are human at times, (considering I have found them sitting on my deck chairs). Although some foods can be deadly for canines, there are many people foods that are safe and healthy for dogs. So, if you are considering letting your dog have people food, or have been unsure about foods that are safe for your dogs, here is the Pupcycled list of seven great foods to share with your dog.

  1. Apple Chunks- Diced or sliced, apples are a nice crunchy treat for your dog. Try different varieties and see what he likes best.
  2. Bananas- Next time you eat a banana, give the two ends to your dog, or mix it with a little peanut butter and plain yogurt and put into ice cube trays in the freezer for a frozen treat during the dog days of summer! (Full recipe HERE).
  3. Peanut Butter-This can be added to bananas and apples, served plain, or mixed into homemade dog treats. (See the recipe section of this blog for more ideas).
  4. Popcorn- My dogs can hear a popcorn bag a mile away and this is absolutely their favorite people food snack! Try to stick with air popped or the healthiest microwave version you can find. Excessive butter and salt is just as dangerous for dogs as it is for humans. 
  5. Carrots-I usually feed my dogs baby carrots, but larger dogs may enjoy chewing on a full size carrot as well. You can also shred carrots and put over dog food or into homemade dog treats.
  6. Chicken-Make sure if you give your dogs chicken, it is thoroughly cooked and does not have any marinade or sauce on it. I also serve my chicken to the dogs in bite size pieces.
  7. Dinner on the deck anyone?
  8. Pretzels- The mini unsalted pretzels are perfect people food treats to take on the go. When I run out of homemade treats, pretzels are my back up training treat as well.
The next time you are enjoying one of these all-natural healthy human foods, feel free to give your dog a bite as well. All of these treats also work well added to dog food at meal time, or used in place of store-bought dog treats!