Dog Park Safety

I forgot what it’s like to take it all in. Every smell, every sound and really notice the people and animals around me. In a busy city it’s easy to forget to slow down to appreciate nature, but at the dog park, the little things are hard to ignore. Sitting on a park bench, typing this article, I’ve already been greeted by two boxers and watched as a mutt found a crunchy leaf more entertaining than the few strangers watching him.

These places make you pretty grateful as a dog owner. Your dog will have a great time while reminding you to stop and smell, well, everything—once in a while. A dog park is paradise for a pooch. It gives them a place to run and be a dog. Sniff anything and everything they want, run off-leash and socialize with other dogs that are just as playful as they are.

Although these parks may induce utter bliss for some dogs, it can be a nightmare for timid or untrained dogs. If you are new to dog parks, and are thinking about planning a visit for you and your pooch, here are five tips to make this new experience a walk in the park.

1. Know the rules

To all those people who try to build IKEA furniture before reading the instructions, I’m talking to you. Check out the park’s rules before bringing your pup into the facility. Some parks may be against bringing toys and/or treats into the park, as it can incite fighting amongst dogs. So take the extra five minutes and get up to speed with the rules.

2. Maintain proper etiquette

Dogs will be dogs—sure, but that doesn’t mean you can throw proper etiquette out the window. Be sure to pick up after your pooch and fill up any water bowls that your dog emptied. Dog parks thrive on people and dogs working together so do your part. Also do no give commands or treats to other dogs. We know it’s not right to parent other people’s children, and the same rings true for dogs. If one dog seems to be getting out of hand, alert the owner or someone who works for the dog park.

3. Socialize your dog before letting him run free

If you have been your dog’s one and only and he hasn’t had a lot of interaction with other animals, this place can be terrifying. It’s best to visit the park before bringing your dog and to get a feel for the landscape. After seeing how many dogs are typically there on any given day, you can prepare your pooch before arriving. Bring your dog around other dogs in your neighborhood to make sure he feels comfortable and can safely play with other dogs. Make sure your dog is trained to know basic commands. Stop, sit, quiet and answers to his name are just a few commands than can help get your dog out of an altercation at the dog park. If your pooch seems to be too timid, it’s a good idea to consult your veterinarian and or a professional dog trainer. This is not an over-night process and could take some time socializing your pooch.

4. Always pay attention

It’s hard to believe some people don’t love dogs as much as we do, but in some cases, a park can be filled with hidden dangers. Whether the rumors of nail-spiked cheese in dog parks were true or not, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Pay attention to where your dog is at all times and what and who he plays with. Not only will this guard your dog from these hidden dangers but it will also make the park a safer place.

5. Keep your dog healthy and happy

Before placing one paw into the dog park, make sure your dog is up-to-date with all vaccinations and is healthy to be around other dogs. Once your dog is healthy, he will be able to have a good time and make some new furry friends.

For more information on dog park safety and to follow-up with a dog park checklist, check out this article by Yahoo Pets.

Have you and your pooch ever visited a dog park? Do you have any advice for a dog-park newbies? Post your thoughts on our Facebook Page!

The Walk – Walking a Dog


The proper way to walk your dog on a leash – Pack Walks

The Walk - Walking a Dog The Walk - Walking a Dog.

Walk your dog, do not let your dog walk you. If you allow your dog to walk in front of you while on a lead you are reinforcing in the dog’s mind that the dog is alpha over you. Leader goes first. This can lead to many behavioral issues that some regard as a “Breed Trait” or “Personality” when actually it is just your dog in charge of its humans. A dog walking in front does not drain their mental energy. They are not relaxed and following, as they have a big responsibility to be leading the pack. This mental anguish can build up inside of a dog. When a dog is hyper or high strung it means the dog is not getting the proper amount and or type of exercise. If your dog runs laps around your yard or house it is an indication that they are not getting enough exercise.

If you take your dog for long walks daily and they are still hyper ask yourself, when we left for the walk who led the way out the door / gate? Who leads on the walk? Was the dog following you, watching you for direction or were you following the dog? Was the dog smelling where they pleased when they pleased? If you answered “yes” to these questions you are walking your dog while they are in an excited state of mind. They are worried about leading which does not calm the mind. If you answered “no” to the questions than you just may have one of those super high energy dogs who needs even more exercise. It is not a natural state of mind for a canine animal to be so hyper.

Keep in mind it is not solely the act of heeling, but also that you as the human are making the decision for the dog to heel. How often do you walk? Do you MAKE your dog heel or does the dog heel when it pleases just because it gets tired. Just because a dog walks well on a lead, not pulling and for most of the walk walks beside the humans does not mean the humans are being pack leaders. It really is about who is making the decisions. Was your dog calm and in a submissive state of mind when you snapped on their lead? When you left your home who went out the doorway and/or gate first? You or the dog? Is the dog deciding to heel when it wishes, but pulling to the side to sniff or walk out in front when it pleases? Or is the human consciously making the dog heel? If the humans allow the dog to decide because after all he walks “pretty good”, then the dog is making the calls and that is allowing your dog to be your leader. If it is all about who is making the decisions, can I decide to let my dog walk in front? No, since instinct tells a dog the leader leads the way, your decision to allow your dog to walk in front will be communicating to your dog that you are allowing him to be your leader.

A pack walk is also the best way to introduce new dogs to one another or to get dogs who already do not like one another to accept each other. Any unwanted reactions from one dog to another should be immediately corrected. By the end of your walk they will feel like they are one pack. It is important that the dogs who are out on the walk are all heeling beside the person holding the leash. Any dog who is walking out in front of their humans will begin to regard himself as the alpha of the group. By making the dogs heel beside or behind the person holding the lead, you are communicating to the dogs that the humans are above them in the pecking order and that the dogs are on the same follower level. Remember, it only takes one alpha dog to set off any other dogs around. If you are walking multiple dogs that usually fight you may need more than one human to walk the dogs. Make sure all human walkers are making the dog they are holding heel and that they are correcting any signs of aggression towards the other dogs. You may allow the dogs to smell one another’s back end, but make sure you keep walking in the process. The key is to keep moving forward. Keep the dogs walking and remain confident. The dogs will feel your authority or your weakness. Stay strong.

“The Boxer on the right used to get into awful bloody fights with the two white Great Pyrenees that were very difficult to break up. We began to correct the dogs using Cesar’s Way. The results were amazing. After 6 years of fighting it only took a day to communicate this was not acceptable and they never fought again. We still had to watch them for signs and correct them at the right moments. However as soon as we started walking the Boxer with the Great Pys all signs of the desire to fight between any of the dogs vanished. Here she is walking right next to them.”

All dogs, regardless of size or breed, need to be taken on daily walks, jogs, runs, bike rides, rollerblading, any means you have to get your dog moving. Taking your dog for a walk is an important ritual in keeping your dog mentally stable. A dog, as an animal, is a walker/traveler by instinct. Packs of dogs get up in the morning and walk. Simply having a large back yard or taking your dog to the dog park is not going to satisfy this instinct in your dog. As Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer says,“To your dog, your back yard is like a large fish bowl in which they are trapped inside. Fish swim, birds fly and dogs walk. Having a dog should not be about only fulfilling our human needs, we owe it to our dogs, to give them what THEY instinctually need.”

For a dog to be mentally stable, you as an owner must take your dog for daily walks to release mental and physical energy. The proper way to walk a dog is the dog walking either beside you, or behind you, never in front of you. This may seem petty in a human’s mind, however it means a lot in a dogs mind. When a human allows a dog to walk in front of them, they are sending signals to the dog that he is leading the human. Instinct tells a dog that the leader goes first. A lack of exercise, allowing the build up of the mental energy which a proper walk releases, and permitting a dog to be pack leader can cause many behavioral problems in a dog — such as, but not limited to, hyper activity, neurotic, and/or obsessive compulsive behaviors, which are signs of a dog who is not mentally stable. An unstable dog is not a happy dog. Excitement in a dog is NOT a sign of happiness. Dogs who act very excitedly when their humans come home are showing signs of a lack of exercise and or leadership. For a dog, excitement does not indicate happiness. In most cases it is a sign of a dog who is not mentally stable. When you come home after being gone, avoid speaking to your dog in an excited manner for a few minutes. Go and do something else first. If we see dogs has human, the thought of a dog’s excitement not being a sign of happiness, does not make sense, however, we must remember dogs are canines, not humans.

I have heard many people state that making a dog walk beside or behind them is mean. Those who actually believe this are seeing the dog as having human traits. It is actually more cruel to assume your dog is just like you in his feelings and instincts and not see him as the canine animal that he is. Think outside the box and accept that your dog is an animal with different needs than a human.

Many people take their dogs out for a walk daily, however, the dog is walking in front of them. Getting a dog to walk properly on a lead is not as hard as it may seem, yes, even your dog(s). (You can walk more than one dog properly on a lead.)

When getting ready to walk your dog, call the dog to you, do not go to the dog to put the lead on. After the dog comes to you make him or her sit calmly before snapping on the lead or slipping on the collar. Retractable leashes are not recommended, as they give the handler less control. The way you leave your house and property is also important. Your dog has to go out the door after you. If you put the leash on the dog and or leave the house while the dog is excited and leading you, you will be setting the mood for the rest of the walk to an excited state.

Take your dog to the front door and open the door. Make the dog sit quietly, do not allow the dog to bolt out the door. The dog needs to see you are the one deciding when it’s time to leave.

As soon as your dog is sitting quietly at the exit it’s time to leave. Be sure you exit the house before the dog, even if it’s just a step before the dog.

The collar should be far up on the neck, giving you more control over the dog. A body harness is not recommended for walking dogs. Harnesses were designed for pulling. Weight pulling, sled pulling etc.. The harness goes around the strongest point on the dogs body making it difficult to control the dog. Keeping the lead high up on the neck the same way they do in dog shows gives you more control with less effort. A great tool for keeping the collar high up on the neck is the Illusion Collar. There should be no tension in the lead. Do not allow the dog to pull and don’t constantly pull on your dog. Relax.

The lead should be short and hang loose. If the dog starts to pull, snap (tug) the lead up and to the side throwing him off balance, then hold the lead loosely again (a very quick tug). If the dog starts getting too excited and you’re not keeping him beside or behind you, stop and make the dog sit. Wait until he is calm than start again. Do not call to the dog when you start walking again, just start walking. Pack leaders do not call the pack to come with them, the pack instinctually follows. The dog needs to learn he is following you, and tune into the person walking the dog. Do not praise your dog for walking calmly. This only creates excitement and you are more likely to pull your dog out of his calm, submissive mind.

The dog is not to sniff the ground and relieve themselves where they please; they are to concentrate on following their handler while walking. The person walking the dog decides when the dog is allowed to sniff or pee, not the dog. It is ok to allow your dog to sniff around and do his business, however, only when you decide it is ok. The dog needs to see you are leading him, he is not leading you.

If you pass a barking dog or other distraction, keep moving forward. If your dog averts its attention to the distraction, give a tug on the lead to avert the attention back to the walk at hand. If the tug does not work you can also use your foot, not to kick the dog, but to touch him enough to snap his attention back on you. If you find the dog pulling, stop and make the dog sit. Correct any excited behavior over the distraction with a tug, and if that does not work you can also use a firm touch to the neck using your hand as a claw. Do this as soon as you see the dog starting to avert his gaze toward the distraction, or as soon as you see a look in your dog’s eyes that tells you he is going to begin barking or growling. Timing is everything. This must be done right before the behavior happens or at the exact moment it starts. You do not want to wait until it escalates. If you wait too long before correcting a dog (were talking seconds), the dog may not even hear you; he will be too focused on the distraction. When correcting your dog, match your dogs intensity.

Walk at a good pace, keeping your shoulders held high. Dogs can sense tension or lack of confidence. Walk proud, like you are a strong leader. A dog will respond to this, they will sense it. Notice how there is no tension on the lead and the collar is up high on the neck.


I like to have my dog sit when I stop at crosswalks, etc… Sitting down is not necessary, however, the dog remaining calm is necessary. This dog decides to lie down while his owner stops to talk.


Incorrect way to walk your dogs.

Correct way to walk your dogs.

Hunting, Hiking and Heartworm

By Stacey Oke, DVM, MSc

Although heartworm prevention techniques, including mosquito avoidance and drugs that kill heartworm larvae, have been recommended for years, the number of dogs diagnosed with heartworm continues to increase. One factor that contributes to the persistence of this preventable disease is “prophylactic failure,” which means that animals develop the disease even though they received a prophylactic drug to prevent heartworm for at least 1 year or season.

Other Insect-Borne Diseases to ConsiderAccording to the Canine Vector-Borne Diseases website (, insects are a growing concern. Other insects, such as fleas and ticks, spread diseases like tapeworm and Lyme disease, respectively. Discuss ways to “Fight the Bite” with your veterinarian and ensure your pet is adequately protected.

Hunting, Hiking and Heartworm
Heartworm is caused by the parasite Dirofilaria immitis. When a mosquito feeds on a dog that is infected with female heartworms, the “baby” worms, microfilariae, are taken in with the blood meal and grow to become infective in the mosquito’s mouthparts. The next time that mosquito bites a dog, the infective heartworm larvae enter its bloodstream and grow into adult heartworms. The adult female heartworms produce additional microfilariae, which are spread to more dogs and sometimes cats.

A recent study published in the May/June 2011 edition of the Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association (JAAHA) looked at the occurrence of prophylactic failure in hunting dogs.

“Of the 708 dog owners who participated in the study, 9% reported failure of prophylaxis. The dogs tested positive for heartworm even though a heartworm prophylaxis had been administered,” stated lead author Barton Rohrbach, VMD, MPH, Dipl. ACVPM (Epidemiology) from the University of Tennessee’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

According to Dr. Rohrbach, many of the dogs were not treated or tested for heartworm appropriately:

  • Dogs were treated using an estimated rather than actual body weight (and therefore could have been administered too little of the drug).
  • Owners did not record the date the drug was administered and relied on memory to treat their dog each month (resulting in missed doses).
  • 13% of owners observed their pet spit the pills out (many owners may not notice this, resulting in more missed doses).
  • Only 79% of owners tested their dog every year for heartworm (recommended by the American Heartworm Society). Testing was frequently performed at the incorrect time of the year; therefore, infections may have been missed.
  • Newly acquired dogs were frequently not tested prior to or at the time of acquisition.

Study participants also reported a failure to practice mosquito avoidance techniques, such as remaining indoors at dusk and dawn.

“Imperfect” Cats

For once, it is a benefit to be imperfect. Cats are susceptible but are imperfect hosts to the worm, making cats more resistant to infection with adult Dirofilaria immitis than dogs. Be aware, however, that many experts believe feline heartworm occurs more frequently than we think.

“This study suggests that simple steps, such as weighing the dog to determine the correct dose of preventive, watching to ensure oral medications are retained, and recording the actual date the medication is administered each month, are not being followed by many dog owners. These may be important factors leading to prophylaxis failure,” added Dr. Rohrbach.

A single missed dose of a heartworm preventive puts dogs and cats at increased risk to acquire heartworm, particularly animals that spend a lot of time outdoors.

For more information on preventing heartworm, visit the American Heartworm Society ( and the Companion Animal Parasite Council (

Dog Walking May Lead to Big Health Benefits


6/11/10 A new study has quantified the health benefits of dog walking, and they’re surprisingly substantial, including a lower risk of high blood pressure, a trimmer waistline and fewer chronic conditions.

“The big one is that people who did not own dogs had over three times the odds of being treated for diabetes than those who walked their dogs,” says study author Cindy Lentino, an exercise scientist at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services in Washington, D.C.

For her study, Lentino looked at the general health of 916 middle-aged adults who fell into three categories – those who did not own dogs, those who owned dogs but didn’t walk them and dog owners who regularly walked their pets.

She found that regular dog walkers had a lower body mass index (BMI) and fewer chronic conditions and depressive symptoms than their counterparts. They also sat less every day, used less tobacco and had more social support.

The study was presented at the Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine, in Baltimore.

Lentino says her results indicate dog walking is something medical and health professionals should include when talking about activities that promote a healthy and active lifestyle.

“There’s definitely something special about dogs. They are inherently active animals,” Lentino says. “Dogs give owners a sense of purpose in that they need to be walked and humans need exercise, so I think that is the key. “

Other experts agree.

“I think it makes sense because you are doing more activity. You will be healthier and leaner,” says Bashir Zikria MD, assistant professor in the Department of Orthopaedics at Johns Hopkins Medical Institution in Baltimore. “You are getting upper body work by holding the dog and a lower body workout by walking, and best of all you get social interaction. “

Dr. Zikria says dog walking also solves one of the most difficult parts of an exercise plan – starting it.

“The hardest thing about working out is often getting that set schedule. You can easily say I’m not doing it today,” Dr. Zikria says. “But when you have a dog, you know you have to walk them. It gives you a set schedule. You can’t give excuses because you can’t let the dog down. It’s an obligation.”




02 Sep 2010, 14:27
Brisk dog-walking has helped me get into the routine of exercise; however, my dog pulls like a truck which has resulted in lower back pain. I wonder how I can continue dog-walking while avoiding lower back pain? (Same idea as a water skier in my case.)


Benefits of Mid-day Dog Walks

Puppies: (under 1 year) – Daily mid-day visits help establish and maintain a housebreaking schedule. Proper house breaking requires a consistent schedule of bathroom breaks for your puppy. Crate trained puppies need to get out every 3 – 4 hours for proper training and socialization. Your doggie walker makes daily visits while you are at work. Not only is your puppy’s schedule kept consistent, but he/she will also be socialized with someone other than the owner. Note: We schedule walks for puppies within a one-hour window.


Adult Dogs: Adult dogs need regular exercise to ensure good physical and mental health. Loving owners who work long hours can depend on The Doggie Walkers to walk their dogs during the week when their time is the most limited. Crated dogs are in particular need of a mid-day break. Over-crating and under exercising can result in a hyperactive, under-socialized dog who is harder to live with and train. The Doggie Walkers often works with clients in weaning dogs from their crate. Note: We schedule walks for healthy adult dogs within a 2 hour window.


Elderly Dogs: The elderly dog often needs more frequent bathroom breaks than he/she needed as a younger dog. When older dogs have accidents they often become stressed because they have been trained to go outside but just can not “hold it” anymore. In addition, a frustrated owner may end up confining the older dog. The Doggie Walkers can make daily, afternoon visits to give the elderly dog his/her much needed bathroom break. This keeps both dog and owner happy! Note: We schedule walks for elderly dogs within 1 – 2 hour window, depending on your dog’s needs.