Is Your Dog Bored?

Many of the annoying habits dogs display are due to boredom. Chewing, barking, improper elimination, jumping, and even aggression can be traced to a lack of mental stimulation. This often happens when owners leave their pets home all day by themselves. If dogs have nothing with which to occupy their time, they become bored, and look for alternative ways to entertain themselves. This can lead to a host of behavioral problems.

The key is to prevent your canine from becoming bored in the first place. We’ll offer a few suggestions in this article. The following tips will not only curb your pet’s boredom, but will also make him a more pleasant companion.

Provide Plenty Of Stimulating Toys

Toys give your pet something with which to play while he’s alone. There are many different types of dog toys, and they serve different purposes. For example, chew toys are designed to withstand vigorous chewing, which dogs find stimulating. Other toys offer puzzles for dogs to solve, forcing them to use their minds. Still others combine puzzles with treats; if your pet is able to solve the puzzle, the toy will release a small treat as a reward.

These toys stimulate your dog’s mind. In doing so, they give him something on which to focus his attention, and thus help him stave off boredom.

Teach Him New Commands

When you teach your dog to respond to new commands, you’re engaging his mind. He’s forced to focus and learn something that is new to him. He needs to think ahead to respond quickly and appropriately. Many dogs consider this a welcome challenge, and will strive to respond in the way their owners desire. If you provide your pet’s favorite treats as a reward, he’ll be engaged in multiple ways.

You can also enroll him into professional obedience classes, or specific training courses. Most obedience classes will include activities that work your canine’s body and brain. Training courses can vary from therapy training, dog agility classes, and Search and Rescue (SAR) classes. These, too, stimulate your dog’s mind as well as his body.

Give Him Exercise

One of the best ways to stop your pet’s boredom is to provide him an outlet for exercise each day. A daily 20-minute walk is helpful. Two daily walks is better. The benefit of exercise is that it gives your canine an opportunity to expend the energy that builds within him. It also engages his mind since he’ll be able to enjoy the sights, sounds, and scents of his neighborhood.

Some of us do not always have the time to take our dog for a walk. Sometimes, the weather does not allow us to go out with our dog. In these situations, what can you do? Believe it or not, dog treadmills have become very popular with a lot of dog owners. Treadmills are especially popular with urban pet owners and people with very hectic schedules.

The amount of exercise your dog needs depends largely on his normal activity level. He may be content to sit around the house all day. Or, if he is naturally energetic, he may need more daily activity to keep the boredom away.

Provide Opportunities To Socialize

Owners often forget that dogs enjoy the company of their own kind. Interacting and playing with other digs is both fun and stimulating for them. For this reason, consider meeting other owners to schedule play dates for your respective pets. You can also visit dog parks where your pet can socialize and play with others while you mingle with the other owners.

If you’re away during the day, and unable to provide an outlet for socialization, dog daycare may be a good solution. It works in the same manner as daycare for young kids. You can drop your pooch off on the way to the office, and pick him up on the way home. He’ll have a chance to interact with other canines while you’re at work.

There are plenty of ways you can help your dog keep boredom at bay. The suggestions above will engage his mind, and prevent many of the most common behavioral problems from emerging.

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Driving With Your Dog

For some dogs, a car ride is one of life’s happy experiences–almost as good as a roll in dead squirrel. For others, it’s a nerve-wracking experience that leaves them shivering and tense. What makes the difference?

Let’s put it this way: If the destination is always the vet’s office, he’s probably not going to enjoy whatever gets him there. But if the car also takes him to parks, beaches, and on shopping expeditions, well, then, cars rock.

Here are some other suggestions for making a drive fun–and safe–for your dog.

What to pack

Tips for a pleasant trip

The most important pointer is to make driving in a car a pleasant experience, from the moment you start spending time together. Many vets recommend you drive your new pet home, rather than pack him in a crate and fly him there, because it’s far less stressful on your dog.

If you’re just bringing him home for the first time, ask a friend or family member to come along so he or she can sit next to your puppy or dog, cuddle him, and offer reassurance that he’ll survive this first trip.

Within the first days of being home, take him somewhere fun in the car–to a park, or a beach–so he starts associating it immediately with good things. Make sure you make each trip pleasant–don’t play the music too loudly, talk to him if he seems nervous, make sure he’s comfortablely settled.

Other tips for a smooth ride:

Treat car sickness. If simple motion sickness is the cause, ask your vet about anti-nausea medications. If nervousness at being in the car is the culprit, try having your dog sit in the car without going anywhere, providing plenty of praise and treats; then practice taking short trips that end someplace fun.

Bring your dog’s usual food. A sudden switch can upset your dog’s stomach–so not what you want when you’re stuck in the car together.

Try not to feed your dog right before you leave or when you’re on the road. A dog with a full tummy and a car in motion can be a bad combination. Aim for a mealtime three to four hours before you leave, and if you need to feed him on the road, make a pit stop.

Take along a dog bed and toys from home for longer trips. They can comfort your dog when his usual routine is disrupted.

How to avoid an accident

Use a safety harness, barrier, or crate to restrain your dog. If you use a crate, secure it so it doesn’t slide around the car.

Some people think this is a bit obsessive, but think about what happens if you brake suddenly or crash. A restraint will:

  • Protect your dog, by keeping him from hitting the windshield or flying out of the car
  • Protect you and your passengers from being hit by a flying dog
  • Prevent the pile-up that could ensue if your dog flies out of the car and on to the road

At the very least, keep dogs out of the front seat, and definitely out of your lap. Not only can they distract you and cause an accident, small pups can be killed by a deployed air bag.

Don’t leave your dog in the car alone on cold or hot (or even just warm) days. On an 85-degree day, the temperature inside a car hits 102 degrees within 10 minutes, even with the windows cracked open. Just 15 minutes in a hot car can lead to brain damage. And dogs can, and do, freeze to death when left alone in cars in winter.

Don’t let your dog ride in the back of an open truck or hang his head out the window. It’s too easy for a dog to jump or fall out of a truck bed. And even sniffing the breeze from an open window can lead to a vet visit if a pebble or something from the road is kicked up into your dog’s eye.

Bottom line: Cars are one of the best ways to hit the road with your dog. With a few safety precautions and some advance preparation to prevent car ride anxiety and stomach upset, you’ll both be much more likely to enjoy the ride.

Slowing Down Speed Eaters

Studies show that bloat is a leading cause of death in dogs. Teach your dog to eat correctly with the Stainless Steel Portion Pacers.

The Omega Paw Portion Pacer lets you control how fast your dog eats to prevent choking, gulping, vomiting, and bloat. Just place the Portion Pacer into any food or water bowl. It trains your dog to eat and drink properly – up to 8 times slower than before.

It’s easy to use, sanitary, and works with any breed, size, or age of dog. The durable stainless steel Portion Pacer washes easily in your dishwasher. Available in two Sizes: Small – 2.9″ Diameter and Large – 3.5″ Diameter.

Dog Park Etiquette

Before you take your pup there next, review these tips to help you brush up on your dog park etiquette.

1. Some essential items to bring with you include a leash, poop bags and water.

2. Make sure your pup is up-to-date on shots.

3. Consider your dog’s temperament with other animals and kids. If your pooch is overly aggressive or if you don’t feel confident that you can control him, he may not be well-suited to run free with other dogs.

4. Keep the gate securely closed to ensure all the dogs remain safely inside.

5. Always supervise your pup. Keep Fido and children within sight and hearing distance. 6. Keep food, treats and toys out of sight to avoid conflicts or territorial behavior.

Prevent Canine Dental Disease

Canines in the wild keep teeth healthy by gnawing on natural bones and abrasive tissue and fiber. A domestic pooch does not have this same advantage but teeth can be kept healthy through brushing, gnawing and specially-designed dental chews. Never use human toothpaste, as it is dangerous to dogs.

When brushing, use this opportunity to inspect your dog’s teeth and gums for decay, injury and plaque buildup.