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Tips and Tricks on How to Train a Dog to Walk on and Off a Leash

Training Your Dog to Walk on and off a Leash

No matter what age, breed, or size, it’s important to teach your dog to walk on a leash. Good leash skills and mastery of basic commands are vital for your dog’s safety and your own.

First, the only real distinctions between teaching a puppy or an adult dog to walk on a leash are shorter training sessions for puppy attention spans, and the time it takes for them to get used to the leash, collar and even a harness. Once they’re used to the gear equipment, you can begin to leash train your dog. Puppy training sessions should be conducted in three- to five-minute training sessions a few times each day, and most adult dogs can handle training for 10 minutes, anywhere from two-to-four times a day.

Before You Begin to Train a Dog to Walk on a Leash

Make sure your puppy or dog has an appropriate collar or harness that fits properly to prevent them from slipping out, as well as a suitable leash. A great way to help your pup get used to wearing a collar/harness and leash is to put both on for short periods of time in the house and during playtime. During this exercise, give him/her small treats and praise so he/she learns to love collar-and-leash time since it’s now associated with food and fun. Another thing to determine prior to training is your marker for good behavior. Here are the most common options:

● Get a training clicker so the dog learns to associate the sound with a reward
● Training treats are tiny tidbits to keep your pup interested in earning a reward
● Positive Verbal Reinforcement
.
Your pup dog wants to please you, so consistency in your training commands can help your furry friend quickly understand what you want him to do.

Whichever reward you use, the method can produce the same result. It’s recommended to conduct your first leash training session in a quiet place indoors that’s free of distractions. One of the best exercises to start with is “Sit-Stay-Come” training while still wearing their leash and collar. Even though you are not actually holding the leash and walking your pup just yet, it’s a great first step that allows dogs to associate the reward with wearing the collar and leash, making it more likely for them to listen to these commands while on a walk.

Start out by making the marker sound or offering a training treat, and as soon as your puppy dog
reacts by turning towards you or looking at you, reward him. Trust us, it won’t be
long before they understand the new game!

Keep this exercise going and continue backing away from your pup, make him come to you, then reward him. You can gradually increase the distance, and once he’s mastered coming to you, you can now actually pick up the leash and walk together for a bit before he gets the reward. Remember, puppies have a short attention span, so keep your training sessions short.

Tips & Training Guidelines to Teach Your Dog to Walk on a Leash

Now that your dog has collar-and-leash walking mastered indoors, it’s time to introduce a few more distractions by going outdoors. You can expect challenges and a few mistakes because all the sounds, smells, and sights will be intriguing and new to him. You want him to learn to walk on a leash nicely by your side, without pulling or lunging. Always remember that you are in control. Do not yank or jerk the leash in an attempt for control or drag your dog along with you.

● Be patient and keep your first walks together short. Keep your eyes on your dog so you can anticipate any behavior issues such as lunging at something.

● Use your marker sound to redirect his attention whenever he’s distracted or drifting too far away from the task at hand. Reward him with a treat for following you.

When walking outside with your pup, being proactive and trying to avoid distractions like bicyclists, skateboarders, other dogs, and cars is very important. If you see some improvement , you can increase the distance between you, your dog and whatever is distracting him. If your dog starts lunging at something or pulling in the other direction, stop in your tracks, stand very still and refuse to move until your dog comes back to you. Once he does, make your marker sound again and reward
him.

If barking while distracted is a problem, use the same process as you would if your dog is lunging or pulling — create distance and offer treats before he begins barking. Be consistent, and eventually every time he sees a dog he will know to turn his attention back towards you.

Tips & Training Guidelines to Teach Your Dog to Walk Off-Leash

Let’s say that your dog has mastered walking on the leash. He’s healthy, even-
tempered and non-aggressive. You can trust him to come to you on command. Is it
enough for you to trust him to walk off-leash? The safety of you, your pet, and
others around you is always important to keep in mind, and that’s why we don’t
recommend off-leash walks with your pup. However, there are a few environments
distinctly designed for some off-leash fun in a fenced and controlled area. Working
with your dog to help prepare for these types of environments to ensure your pup
still follows your commands is a great idea. Here are some ways to safely work on off-leash training!

If you decide to begin off-leash training, know it is going to take firm, consistent training and lots of
positive behavior reinforcement. Your dog must stay right by your side or under your
voice control at all times when it is off the leash, even when distractions are
everywhere. Make sure your dog is micro-chipped and ID tags are current. If your dog gets away from you, ID tags and microchips will be your best bet at reunification.

If your dog is ready, the dog park can be an option as a place to practice being off-leash. You can test your voice control commands and his/her response, as well as see how your dog behaves when distractions are everywhere. Your dog should always follow your direction no matter the situation or distraction. If your pup is not responding well and does not maneuver around the dog park by your side while obeying commands, it may be beneficial to practice those commands some more at home on a leash with fewer distractions. If your pup does well at listening to commands at the dog park while sticking by your side, you can allow them to begin exploring interesting smells, running freely, and playing with other dogs in ways they can’t at home or while on-leash, and generally have some fun!

The best part? Your dog can develop more confidence while earning your trust. If you feel it’s appropriate, you can tackle more challenging situations each time, until you’re able to trust your dog and his behavior virtually anywhere it’s appropriate for him to be. Remember, consistent, positive reinforcement punctuated with random treats helps promote good behavior, build skills and good canine citizens.

Finally, if you’re worried about your dog’s weight or fear spoiling him with too many treats, enthusiastic praise (i.e. “Yes!”) is another type of reward for good behavior. You can mix it up so he never knows which he’ll get – food or praise. Both feel good to him because he’s pleasing you, and you are rewarding his good behavior.

We hope this gives you what you need to help begin leash training your furry family member! Happy walking!

Dog Park Etiquette

Proper ways to run, play, and behave at your local dog parks

 

With temperatures cooling down, now is the best time to take your dog to the dog park. While rough-and-tumble is generally accepted between dogs, there are a few things that owners should still keep in mind. Here are a few tips to ensure the dog park is a fun and enjoyable place for dogs to roam freely.

Follow the Rules

Maricopa County requires that all dogs be licensed and that any dog over 4 months of age is current on their shots. Before venturing out to play, it’s essential to make sure your dog’s license and vaccinations are up-to-date. Contact your veterinarian to schedule an annual exam and ensure your dog’s license is renewed.

Any dog over the age of 3 months is additionally required to wear a collar or harness with a valid license tag. Tags help identify your four-legged friend in case they wander off during playtime or get lost.

Many designated off-leash dog parks have their own rules, but some general rules apply to every park. Arizona State law requires all dogs to be on a leash until they’re inside a park’s off-leash area, and the gates are completely closed. It’s recommended to first familiarize your dog with other dogs while on a leash before letting your pet run freely.

Keep it Clean

Making a visit to your area park (or neighborhood sidewalk) shows us that some people need to be reminded to clean up after their pets! Always bring a waste bag with you as a backup in case the park doesn’t supply bags (or they’ve run out for the day). In addition to being courteous, cleaning up decreases the spread of water contamination and infectious diseases.

Some cities have even taken matters into their own hands to make owners responsible for cleaning up after their pets. Mesa, for instance, enacted a city ordinance requiring owners to pick up dog waste and subjecting violators to fines. Regardless of your city, be courteous of parks and others – always scoop the poop.

Stay Alert

We’ve all seen it: the owners who are so immersed in texting, reading, or a phone call while their dog is doing something wildly inappropriate. at the dog park. We all don’t want to be that person!

Visits to the dog park are a great way to meet fellow pet owners and make new furry friends. When mingling, it’s important to stay alert and not get too caught up in those distractions. As a pet owner, you are personally liable for your pet’s conduct at all times and can be responsible for any damages or injuries caused if your dog harms another dog or person. It only takes a minute for a fun, playful scene to turn awry, so always be on the lookout for those behaviors!

Behave Politely

Even as a regular visitor to the dog park, you never know what to expect from other dogs and their owners. Overeager playmates. Bullies and ball hogs. With so many individuals and dogs sharing space, there’s always the potential for conflict. It’s essential to train your dog to respond to commands, even in a distracting situation. This training can help quickly defuse potential conflicts. Teach your dog to sit or stand still when meeting new people and dogs.

If you witness your dog being territorial, marking excessively, stealing toys, ganging up on or rushing other dogs, put a stop to their behavior immediately. Leashing up and leaving the park is an excellent way to make sure things don’t escalate while teaching your pet that bad behavior has consequences.

Contact your veterinarian for recommendations on trainers and resources to work through aggressive and antisocial behaviors.

Phoenix Dog Parks 

Now that you’ve reviewed the dog park etiquette rules let’s get out and play. Need suggestions on a dog park in your area? Check out our list of Phoenix dog parks below:

  • RJ Dog Park at Pecos Park on 48th Street and Pecos Parkway is named after RJ, a police service dog killed in duty. Two acres of grass are divided to provide areas for small and large dogs. Fully fenced and ADA accessible, owners give this park high reviews for cleanliness, ample shaded seating, and friendliness of other patrons.
  • Steele Indian School Dog Park is open from 6 AM-10 PM every day at 300 East Indian School Road in Phoenix. The park includes paw-shaped pathways, chilled drinking fountains, waste bag dispensers, and ADA-compliant double-gated entrances. As with other Phoenix dog parks, they may close to allow turf to dry appropriately after heavy rainfall.
  • Cesar Chavez Dog Park is located in South Mountain. The park is open from 5:30 a.m. to 11:45 p.m., giving you plenty of time to take your dog out before or after working hours. If you’re wanting to take your dog for a scenic walk, the Alvord Lake Path located next to the park is a great place to stretch your legs.
  • Margaret Hance dog park, located in the northwest section of Margaret T. Hance Park between 3rd and 5th Avenue prioritizes your dog’s safety. That’s why this unique park separates its playing area into two regions: one for smaller dogs and one for bigger dogs.
  • Paradise Valley Dog Park is the perfect place for family and dogs alike to get outside and play. Featuring 2.4 acres of grass and 2 shade ramadas, owners can watch as their furry pals bound across the gated fields. Another perk? There are benches, tables, and drinking fountains.

Have you been to the dog park lately? If so, what tips can you share about local parks and park etiquette? We look forward to your comments!

Benefits of Acupuncture for Pets and What It Treats

Acupuncture therapy for pets: What does it treat?

Acupuncture has been steadily gaining popularity among individuals seeking alternative treatment for various medical issues, including pain, headaches, and blood pressure problems. The ancient Chinese practice utilizes needles to stimulate specific points of the body, which increases blood flow in those target areas; triggering the body’s natural painkillers.

Now, as more pet owners search for holistic methods to lessen their furry friends’ ailments, many are turning to pet acupuncture to ease pain and discomfort. It’s all about giving pets the tools to live happier and fuller lives!

What are the benefits of acupuncture for pets? 

Proper acupuncture that’s performed by a certified veterinary acupuncturist can provide numerous health benefits for your beloved pet. You may want to consider this form of natural treatment if your furry friend is suffering from discomfort, whether it’s musculoskeletal, respiratory, skin, or gastrointestinal.

In veterinary medicine, acupuncture has been successfully used as a complementary treatment for the following medical problems:

  • Arthritis or degenerative joint disease
  • Allergic dermatitis and other skin disorders
  • Respiratory disease
  • Pain control
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Neurological diseases such as paresis, paralysis, or back issues
  • Behavioral problems
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Reducing pain after surgery

Will my pet be uncomfortable?

It’s easy to assume that acupuncture can be an uncomfortable or even painful experience for your pet. Acupuncture utilizes thin and lightweight needles, so it’s unlikely your pet will feel much during the treatment, which lasts between 5 and 30 minutes. While many pets require gentle restraint during a session, as the patient adapts to the treatment, less restraint may be necessary. Some pet owners have found that their pup or feline have even fallen asleep during the treatment!

Although pet acupuncture is not meant as a replacement for general veterinary medicine or other medical procedures, acupuncture may be an ideal complement to your pet’s treatments and medicines. With pet acupuncture, it’s important to be patient as it’s not a ‘one size fits all’ approach. The goal is for your pet to remain symptom-free between each session.

The number of acupuncture sessions recommended by your veterinarian will vary depending on the condition being treated. It may take several pet acupuncture sessions before you notice a significant change in your pet’s demeanor or apparent pain level. Most patients will see a positive response after 4 to 8 treatments. Others with conditions like arthritis may require regular sessions year-round to maintain the positive results. However, each case is unique to a pet and their specific needs. Talk with your veterinarian to determine what to expect from acupuncture treatments.

Are you interested in trying acupuncture for your beloved pet? Find a location near you and set up an appointment for a consultation!

Disclaimer: Not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding the medical condition of your pet. If you think your pet has a medical emergency, call or visit your veterinarian or your local veterinary emergency hospital immediately. 

Most Common Age-Related Diseases in Senior Pets

Who has heard the saying “Aging is a Disease”? We definitely have! Aging is a natural process that happens to all of us, but that doesn’t mean aging itself is a disease. What’s true is that senior pets are more susceptible to specific health conditions as a result of aging. Thanks to the advancements in veterinary medicine, our fur babies can live longer and happier lives – with some extra TLC! Here are some of the most common age-related diseases, symptoms to look for, and how they can affect your pets. 

  • Arthritis: We know how much dogs love to take walks, and cats love to jump onto their perch. If your pet begins limping on those walks or is hesitating to run and jump on their perch, they may be showing early signs of arthritis. Arthritis is a common disease amongst senior pets, where one or more of the joints are inflamed, resulting in continuous pain and muscle stiffness. Some large breed dogs such as German Shepards, Labrador, and Golden Retrievers have a genetic predisposition to develop the disease in their elbows and hips. The best way to help prevent your pet from developing arthritis is weight management, which can help decrease the stress put on certain joints. In some cases, we can prescribe medication to help reduce swelling and pain. If you are noticing any changes in your pet’s physical abilities, please contact us immediately so we can discuss the options available to keep your pets feeling their best.
  • Vision Loss: Just as our vision can become impaired with age, so can our pets! The most common diseases that cause vision loss in pets are diabetes, glaucoma, and cataracts.  Vision loss can be hard to detect in pets because they often adapt by compensating with their other senses. Depending on the cause of vision loss, it can make it more challenging to prevent. Some common symptoms of vision loss include bumping into objects, cloudy, discolored or inflamed eyes, and even clumsiness and disorientation. 
  • Dental Disease:  Did you know that dental disease is the number one medical problem in dogs and cats? Yes, you read that, right! Dental disease (also known as periodontal disease) is an inflammatory disease from leftover bacteria in the mouth, causing symptoms such as bad breath, problems eating, red gums and bleeding, and in severe cases, loss of teeth. If dental disease is left untreated, it can have adverse effects on the large organs in the body – including the heart, liver, and kidneys. To help fight dental disease, annual dental cleanings, and daily home care are highly recommended. Talk with us at your next appointment about preventative care and treatment options. 
  • Cognitive Dysfunction: You may notice that your pet is beginning to have more of those “senior moments.” It may be that your pet is moving slower than usual, appearing to be more anxious or even seems disoriented and confused in familiar spaces. These behaviors can be the beginning signs of cognitive dysfunction – very similar to dementia and Alzheimer’s. Cognitive dysfunction is a neurological disease related to the aging of the mind, that can slow down all mental and motor functions as well as trained behaviors. The symptoms are typically mild and come on gradually, making it difficult to initially detect. If you suspect your pet is developing any of these symptoms or notice changes in their behavior, contact us right away.
  • Heart and Kidney Disease: With age, many of the large organs in the body are known to slow down. Heart and kidney disease are similar in that they both consist of progressive loss of the organ function. Some common symptoms of heart disease are lethargy, coughing, and rapid breathing. Similarly, common symptoms of kidney disease include lethargy, decreased appetite, and increased urination and thirst. Both of these diseases are tricky to detect because the symptoms can either appear gradually or very suddenly. While both can be preventable, treatment may consist of oral medication and changes to their diet.

Ultimately, you cannot stop the aging of your pups and kitties; but what we can do is work together in an effort to detect these disease symptoms sooner rather than later. As your trusted partner in pet health care, we want to help ensure your pet leads the healthiest and happiest life possible!

Building or Renovating a Dog House to Improve Ventilation for Hot Weather

How to build a dog house fit for hot weather
AZPV - Doghouse

Summer is finally coming to an end; however, the temperatures in Arizona will continue to stay high despite the transition into the fall months. If you already have a dog house or are planning to build a dog house, now is a great time to renovate or create a safe space for your pup during the “cooler” months. The goal is to create a backyard escape from the desert heat in the fall and spring seasons, and other weather extremes.

Before grabbing your hammer and nails, there are various factors to consider seriously. Taking these aspects under consideration will ensure you create a safe, effective, and reliable dog house that’s built for hot weather. Best of all? Your furry friend will be sure to love their own space! Here’s what you need to know to build a well-equipped dog house for your furry family member:

Consider city requirements 

If you are building a dog house or a dog run, check your city’s requirements, codes, and specifications for permanent or semi-permanent structures. Before you begin renovating or building a dog house, double-check any building codes and processes that might have been put in place by your HOA.

Amenities and features

In addition to double-checking city and HOA requirements, there are some necessary features to consider when creating the blueprints to your beloved pet’s dog house.

  • Ventilation – Having adequate dog house ventilation is an essential part of designing a great dog house as the fresh air flowing freely in and out of the structure helps keep it nice and cool. Since Phoenix regularly gets excessive heat warnings, poor ventilation could very quickly turn into a dangerous situation. If your pup is trying to escape the sun in the dog house, but not getting any fresh air, the house will quickly feel like an oven. When building a dog house, be sure to add an exit and entrance, plus other features that allow for air to circulate, such as windows. With these additions, your pup will be able to be comfortable when going inside their very own sanctuary.
  • Shade – Make sure there’s a solid roof on the dog house. This provides a source of shade — a welcome escape from the heat and direct sunlight.
  • Water – If the dog house or dog run is outside, be sure the pet has a way to access water. Even if you are leaving your pup inside, be sure to include a source of fresh, clean water. The water can be accessible inside the dog house, or you can make sure there’s a way for your pup to get out and get a drink quickly.
  • Cleanliness – Along with its heat, Arizona is also famous for its critters. This includes tarantulas, scorpions, and other creepy crawlers. These pests could attempt to co-habitat your pup’s outdoor dog house. Be sure you clean it out frequently to ensure they are not being exposed to an excess of pests that are also trying to find a cool place to rest from the heat.

For us Arizonans, we don’t really have the luxury of a long, comfortable fall season. Since the Summer heat likes to drag through September and well into October, outdoor temperatures can still reach heights that are dangerous for your pet. Never leave a pet alone outside for long periods. During the summer months when our highs reach 100+, keep your dog in the A/C comfort of your house, not their dog house. Take the opportunity to prepare for the fall, winter, and beyond, and build a dream dog house for your furry friend to provide an escape from the heat while keeping your furry sidekick safe and sound!