Tag Archives: play

Dog Walking Etiquette

Have you ever considered there is a certain way you, as a pup parent, should behave when walking your furry child? Often, a heavy focus is placed on the way a pooch behaves (or should behave when properly trained). However, with something like dog-walking which requires two to tango, there is a certain etiquette that the puppy parent should follow as well. Here’s a helpful list of do’s and don’ts to help you master dog-walking, prevent potential problems with other dogs and people you encounter on your walks, and make it an overall enjoyable experience for both you and your pup!


Always make sure you have bags with you to pick up after your dog. It’s impolite to leave your dog’s waste somewhere that others might step in it, not to mention it’s unsightly and doesn’t exactly smell pleasant! Always pick up after your dog and dispose of his poop in a public trash can or your own. Every time.

  • Use a leash. Even if you believe your dog will listen to you and immediately return to your side when you call, you can’t always predict what you might encounter on your walks. A squirrel, cat or another dog might catch your dog’s attention and distract him from your commands, a car could come around the corner suddenly, or your dog might startle someone else as he bounds up to greet them. Keep your dog safely by your side so you can control his movements, and potentially remove him from any dangers that come his way.
  • Respect other pedestrians. And remember, not everyone loves your dog as much as you do! Although you might be used to certain behaviors of your pooch at home, everyone raises their puppies differently, and may not approve of your dog’s behavior. For example, even if you allow jumping up at home, others you encounter may not want your dog jumping on them. Even the biggest dog lover may take issue with your pup charging, jumping or slobbering all over them. The strangers you encounter probably have no idea what your dog is like, so respect them by keeping your pup on a close leash.
  • Change course when necessary. Keep an eye on other dog walkers and assess if they have control of their dogs. Is that dog walking politely beside his owner, or is he dragging his owner down the street, ignoring all commands? Or, do you see another potential source of trouble up ahead? Sometimes you might see something you’d rather avoid. Use your best judgment and remove yourself and your dog from a potentially dangerous situation when you feel it’s necessary by crossing the street or making a turn. It’s also a good idea to explain yourself if you get close enough to another person you’re trying to avoid. Simply smile and say “He’s jumpy with other dogs,” or, “She gets loud when she meets new pups.” With open communication, the other party should understand kindly.


  •  Escalate a situation if one arises. Dogs will naturally sense your mood and anxiety level, so stay calm and lead by example. If an encounter with another person or dog starts to go south, the best idea is to pull your dog away and walk in the opposite direction. Getting involved in a heated argument with someone will only serve to rile up your dog and make things worse.
  • Be careless when holding your dog’s leash. Simply having your dog on a leash isn’t always enough; controlling the leash and using it to lead the way can prove to be crucial. Take a break from texting or being glued to your phone as awareness of your surroundings, including people, dogs, cars and anything else in your vicinity is paramount to you and your dog’s safety. The last thing you want is for your dog to wrap his leash around someone’s legs, or for him to get tangled up with another dog’s leash (especially if that other dog isn’t very keen on sharing his personal space). Keep your dog’s leash short when in a busy area to give you more control and to keep him out of trouble.
  • Punish your dog. Stay in control of your dog and you likely won’t have to discipline him. Even when you are changing course or preventing your dog from doing something wrong, a simple firm grip on the leash will do. By staying calm with a firm tone, you will communicate successfully with your dog and lead him in another direction.

Remember, being consistent is the best way to master any training-required skill, including dog walking. Start leash training your dog at a young age so that they have these skills down pat by the time they are ready to go on adventures with you! Following these tips will ensure that you and your pooch stay safe and have fun.

Teaching Your Dog to Fetch

As simple as it may seem, teaching your pooch to retrieve can be quite a challenge! Depending on the breed and personality of your dog, it might be a skill they learn quickly, or the game could take some serious practice. Some dogs might enjoy chasing after a toy or item, but don’t understand the concept of bringing it back to you, while others will chase and come back to you, but not release the item from their mouths. Start with the basics, and you’ll have your pup fetching in no time!

Before You Start
It’s a good idea to master basic commands before working on more advanced tricks. Establishing a foundation of obedience is essential to your dog becoming successful at learning more difficult commands. Also, make sure you know what motivates your dog. Does he work for treats, affection, or play? Many dogs are treat-motivated, but if affection or a favorite toy is enough of a reward for your dog, consider those alternatives. It’s possible that if your dog knows you have treats, he won’t leave your side to actually fetch anything! Lastly, make sure you are teaching your dog to fetch something he is actually interested in. Whether it be a stick, favorite ball, or Frisbee, use something that will get your pup excited.

Chasing the Object
First, you want your dog to go after the toy you chose. (For some dogs, this might be the easy part!) Toss the item, verbally encourage your pup to go after it, and reward him with praise as soon as he picks it up. Take the object away and repeat this process several times until your dog is consistently chasing after the item. If your dog isn’t interested, take a step back and first reward him for touching the toy when it is in front of him. Gradually, he will figure out that he must touch the toy to be rewarded.

Bring it Back!
The next step is to get your dog to actually bring the toy back to you (usually the harder part!). Try calling your dog once he is holding the object. If he comes back and drops the object, reward him. If not, coax your dog to come back to you with your voice, a treat or another toy. You might also need to tug firmly on the item in his mouth to encourage your pup to drop it. If he won’t drop it, show him a treat or toy as motivation. He will likely drop the first toy to go after whatever new item you’re holding. Reward your pup as soon as he drops the item you tossed. Repeat this process several times, rewarding your dog immediately each time he comes back and drops the item in front of you. The repetition and consistency will encourage your dog to make a clear connection between dropping the item and receiving a reward.

Change the Variables
As your dog gets better at fetching, start switching things up by increasing the distance you toss the item. The game then becomes more challenging, as your dog has more time to get distracted on the way to retrieving. You can also start alternating the item you toss, whether it be a ball, toy, stick, Frisbee, etc. While you change each individual variable, make sure to keep yourself in the same position and practice in the same area so it’s not too many changes at once. Small steps will give your dog a chance to master each new aspect of the trick.

Be Patient
Don’t get frustrated with your dog if he doesn’t catch on right away, especially if he is young! Be patient and clear about which behaviors get rewarded. Practice for a small period of time up to several times a day, making sure to give your pooch plenty of time to relax and have fun in the process. Patience and positive reinforcement are the best ways to get your dog fetching like a pro in no time. And remember, in the grand scheme of training priorities, fetch is pretty low. Laugh through the process and have fun!

Can You Read Your Dog’s Body Language?

Every pup parent wishes their dog could talk and wonders what their dog would say if she could. Humans are verbal creatures and it can be frustrating to communicate with non-verbal animals. The good news however is that your dog DOES communicate. You just need to understand how to interpret her non-verbal signs.

Just as some words can mean different things in different contexts, dog body language can vary from animal to animal and it takes a perceptive pup parent to get the right “feel” for how your dog communicates. Yet, to get a general sense of what your dog is trying to tell you, here are some common body language signs and their corresponding meanings. Take each with a grain of salt!

Language Signaling Nervousness or Anxiety

Wide eyes: Your dog is afraid or uncomfortable. Try to remove her from the situation she’s currently in as soon as possible.

Ears pulled back: This is a sign of nervousness or anxiety.

Bristled fur: A sign of aggression.

Yawning: Many believe this to mean a dog is tired; however it can also signal that your dog is overwhelmed or anxious. Consider the situation when deciding what your dog’s yawn means.

Rolling onto her back: She may be asking for belly rubs because she’s feeling playful, or she could be nervous and looking for comfort. In general, if she’s more stiff, she’s more likely to be anxious than happy.

Wagging tail: Tail wagging is a frequently misinterpreted sign. Most people believe a wagging tail only means a dog is happy, which of course is often true, but some dogs also wag their tails when aroused, overstimulated and frustrated. You can usually tell the difference by looking at what the rest of the body is doing.

Raising one front paw: Your pup is telling you she’s feeling uncertain. Some do this when they need more time in the backyard to go potty, too.

Bared teeth: Paired with other signs of nervousness, a dog showing her teeth is acting aggressively. Some dogs can show teeth when they are hot or happy though, as well. You can tell the difference if the rest of the dog’s signals are relaxed.

Lack of eye contact: If a dog refuses to look at something, chances are it’s frightening her. It’s pretty easy to tell when a dog is just scoping out the scene versus pointedly trying not to look at something. As you get to know your dog better, you’ll be able to tell the difference.

Sitting: If you didn’t ask your dog to sit, and she sits down in a hurry, she may be tense, especially if she freezes and shows other nervous signs, like staring straight ahead or lifting a paw.

Shaking: Is your dog cold? If not, she’s probably scared. If you’ve noticed your dog shaking during a thunderstorm or fireworks for example, you’ll be able to associate the sign with frightening situations.

Signs of Curiosity or Anticipation

Head cocked: When a dog cocks its head to one side or the other, they’re assessing the situation to better understand their surroundings and gain a sense of security.

Front paw lifted: Your dog is anticipating what will happen next and preparing her reaction.

Mouth closed: Similar to the front paw lifted, your dog is sizing up the situation to determine her next move.

Language Showing Relaxed Demeanor

A proud pup parent knows the true signs of a happy pooch, but here are a few reminders if for nothing else than a prime photo opp:

Mouth slightly open: Especially if the dog’s tongue is relaxed and lolling to one side, consider this a state of euphoric contentment.

Small body freezes during play: Your pooch is excited and joyful from the social interaction.

Turning over, inviting belly rub: This move demonstrates trust and the desire for affection.

Tail wagging fast: Depending on the length and look of the tail, some people call this move “helicopter tail,” which is a true sign of happiness

Squinty or blinking eyes: You may notice this expression when you’re giving your dog a head massage or back rub – it’s almost as if she could nod off at any moment – the true look of relaxation!

7 Pups Who Want to Show You Their Toys

Every pup parent knows a busy pup is not only a happy pup, but also less destructive. Not to mention, puppies happen to look “doggone” adorable with a toy in tow. So, we put together a compilation of pups playing with their favorite stuffy and chew toys for your viewing pleasure.


This pup’s lamby may be almost as big as she is, but that’s not stopping her from taking a bite out of her furry friend.




wooden-toy-thumbnailThis puppy is into the simpler things in life, like a wooden toy train.





whale-thumbnailThis white ball of floof is ready for you to reach for her whale, but at the last second she’ll scoop it up and run away.




loot-thumbnailOkay, this is more of a treat than a toy, but this puppy is still proud to show off his loot.





foxy-thumbnailThis pup is feeling foxy and isn’t afraid to show it.





mickey-thumbnailThis pup just got back from Disneyland and won’t put down his new friend Mickey.





toys-thumbnailThis little guy has all the toys and refuses to share any of them with you.






Scoping out the Dog Park: A Checklist

Discovering and participating in new activities with your pup can be one of the most fun and gratifying parts of being a pooch parent. One such popular activity is bringing your furry child (once he’s received all of the required vaccinations and has been cleared by your veterinarian to be in close contact with other dogs) to the dog park. While some feel there’s nothing better than watching your dog play, run free and interact with his adorable peers, many dog owners dislike the idea of the dog park due to valid concerns such as cleanliness and/or potential dangers. Thus, to find out whether the dog park is right for you and your dog, and if it is, to find one that’s safe and comfortable for you and your pet, it’s important to do your research in advance. Start by answering these questions to first find out if your pup is ready for the dog park and if so, how to find that “pawfect park.”

  1. Is your dog’s personality a fit for a highly socialized environment?

If your dog is extremely anxious, shy or aggressive, you may need to undergo some socialization training prior to bringing your dog to a dog park. Be honest with yourself (and your pooch) and be patient if he’s not ready yet. The park isn’t going anywhere, so there is plenty of time to bring him once he’s better trained. You should also make sure your dog is spayed or neutered before taking him to a park – dogs who aren’t fixed can be disruptive and potentially dangerous amongst other dogs in a group setting.

  1. How much exercise does your dog regularly receive?

thumbnail-scoping-dog-parkIn order to make sure your dog is a good candidate for the dog park, make sure you’re not relying on the park as his sole form of exercise. Otherwise, dogs can become overly stimulated and excited by all the new dogs and smells. Among other dangers, this pent-up energy can lead to aggression and dog fighting. Make sure your dog is getting ample opportunity for walks outside and runs in the backyard so that he arrives at the park with a healthy, but curbed amount of energy.

  1. What’s the best way to find a good park?

Ask for recommendations! The best people to ask will be your neighbors as well as pet service providers such as your veterinarian, trainer or groomer. Trusted reviews are crucial to finding a safe park in your area visited by well-mannered pooches and courteous pet parents. Once you have a recommendation, look up the park’s hours and rules.

  1. What are the must-have amenities in a dog park?

Make sure the dog park has all of the necessary conveniences including a clean water source that’s available and/or large enough to accommodate many dogs at once, several easily accessible garbage cans as well as doggy bags for waste disposal, and benches or comfortable seating in a shaded area for pet parents to congregate and watch their pooches frolic.

  1. What safety measures are crucial to check for?

When visiting the dog park, make sure all enclosures are free of sharp points which could cause injury. The barricades should also be tall enough to prevent larger dogs from jumping over them. On the flip side, look out for any holes or gaps in fencing that smaller dogs could squeeze through. Most dog parks will have two separate sides – one for larger dogs and one for smaller dogs as an extra safety precaution. Size does matter in this case – pay attention to the weight limits or breed rules. Clearly mixing a Chihuahua and a German Shepherd is a bad idea.

  1. Is the park up to your cleanliness standards?

While all dog parks require owners to clean up after their pets, not all do unfortunately. Watch for piles of fecal matter to not only avoid stepping in them yourself, but avoid your dog getting dirty or worse, ingesting and getting sick. The best ground cover for dog parks is grass or gravel. The ground should be free of burrs or sharp debris that could get stuck in your dog’s coat or injure his paws.

  1. How do the other owners interact at the park?

When you arrive at the dog park, pay attention to the other puppy parents and see if they’re showing awareness and taking control of their pups. Oblivious or careless owners can make the dog park a dangerous place. And once there, if you’re ever worried about the other owners’ level of responsibility, don’t hesitate to leave. In an ideal dog park environment, the owners are interacting with the dogs, following and calling them when necessary. If you see a group of owners clumped around a bunch of picnic tables engrossed in conversation with no idea what their dog(s) are doing, it’s a bad sign.

Now that you’ve done your due diligence and know what to look out for in a dog park, you can let your pooch off-leash with confidence.  Be sure to capture those woofs, wags and games of fetch on video!  Oh, and be prepared for your pooch to take a long snooze after the experience. Playing and running around with other pups can be tiring!