Laugh and Learn About All Things Dog With Us
Welcome to the new and improved Doggie Bloggie, where GRDA will share personal stories, fun facts and helpful tips for all you dog-lovers out there.
What is Your Dog’s Play Style?
by GR Dog Adventures guest blogger, Kristie Swan- CPDT- Head Trainer at Whisker’s University
Does your dog play great with some dogs and not get along with others? Have you ever wondered why? We asked Kristie Swan (CPDT- Head Trainer at Whisker’s University) for some insight in to your dog’s “Play Style” and here’s what she had to say:
When it comes to play it is important to make sure dogs are well suited to each other. Many are aware that boxers like to use their paws and bat at other dogs during play. Other boxers get that! More reserved breeds and mixes may find that weird while others may think “Have you lost your mind? We’re dogs we use our mouths for everything!” Husky to husky play may involve a lot of neck grabbing, while a Beagle may run for cover thinking “OMG, he’s trying to kill me! Can’t we all just sniff around?”
There is more to it, though, than simple breed dispositions. Individual preferences matter a lot. When you look at your dog’s play style pay attention to all she has to say. Watch for cues of discomfort like lip licking, body curving and lowering (trying to be small), belly showing, these are a dog’s way of asking to be left alone. There are more serious signs like stiffening, leaning forward or up on toes, mouth closed tightly, lowering the head while eyes show whites under or to the side and more that can say “I don’t like what you are doing and I’m getting ready to show you”. Not all bows are invitations to play, some are meant as a break or a show of discomfort.
This subject is actually quite in depth. This is a way of giving a brief overview and expressing that all play is not equal. If you have questions regarding your dog’s comfort level during play, you’re seeing something that you aren’t quite sure about, ask a professional for help. Err on the side of caution rather than trying to ignore that little twinge that says you may be seeing something your dog is uneasy with.
Look for give and take in play. If your dog starts to look uncomfortable does the other dog notice and act accordingly? Good play partners notice when they are getting too rough with a friend and take a break. Dogs that like to chase often stop if they catch another and wait for them to go running again. Dogs that like to be chased will usually slow down and stat flirting if the chaser begins to lose interest. The wrestling type should involve a rotation of who is on top and who is on bottom. Always interrupt what you are not comfortable with and remember that dogs are not always the best decision makers.
Finally, know that not all dogs really want to play with other dogs and that is just fine! Dogs have centuries of breeding geared toward becoming “man’s best friend”. Some only care to play with their people or close friends and there is nothing wrong with that. The term socialization is a buzz word that gets misconstrued. It means your dog handles a lot of different situations well, it doesn’t mean your dog wants to play with every other dog on the planet. Just like people, some are the life of the party and some only want a few close (human) friends.
Bring Out The Hero In Your Dog
by GR Dog Adventures guest blogger, Susan TeBos
War dogs, rescue dogs, guide and service dogs- dogs have a long history as heroes. Take Cairo, a Belgian Malinois, used by the Navy Seals in Operation Neptune Spear or Chips the most decorated hero dog of WWII. But how does your dog become a hero? Storm and Stanley, two Australian Shepherds, recently became heroes when they and their owners signed up for the Virtual IronDog Team, a charity event that raises money to help families adopt special needs orphans and sibling groups from around the world. Rebecca Cruttenden, Storm’s mom, knows what it’s like. She and her husband, Tom, adopted a sibling group of three and received a grant to help defer the financial cost. In return, Rebecca started fundraising for Team Orphans five years ago to raise money and pay it forward to other families in need.
It began with one mom and two dogs and they did the unthinkable. They trained for the 140.6 mile Ironman, an extreme triathlon for elite athletes that includes a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run. A former fan of chips and cookies, Rebecca was far from an extreme athlete when she began. She couldn’t even run 5 miles and didn’t have a bike. Determined, she not only learned to run marathons and bike hundreds of miles, but she recruited others to exercise along with her, dogs included. “That’s what a team is all about”, says Rebecca. “I can’t do this alone.” Rebecca has finished 5 ironman competitions, raising $10,000- $20,000 each year for Team Orphans. She also began recruiting runners, bikers, and dog walkers to join her team. While Rebecca trains for five months, her Virtual Ironman team all over the country trains too, only they choose their own exercise and log their miles every week based on their personal goals. The Vitual IronDog is a 140.6 mile challenge or the DoubleDog is a 280 mile challenge. All of the team members, people and dogs, have from April 1- September 11 to finish their miles. “Many dogs already walk or run 6-12 miles each week depending on their owners. These same dogs can now walk or run to help orphans find forever families,” says Rebecca.
Team Orphans just celebrated its 5th anniversary, having raised almost $150,000 dollars to help bring home children like Clara, who adores her new family, especially her dogs, Sammy and Bax. These kids wouldn’t have homes without heroes like Storm and Stanley and you.
Get your dog on the hero roll:
- Choose Your Challenge –Choose the IronDog 140.6 mile distance (5-6 miles per week) or the DoubleDog 280 mile distance (10-12 miles per week). You have from April 1 – September 30 to walk or run your miles.
- Commit- Sign up at teamorphans.com/virtualiron
and make a donation to get on the team.
- Log Your Miles- Log your dog’s miles every week until he completes his challenge. The great part is that you’ll get the exercise too!
- Celebrate Your Victory- When your dog has completed his hero challenge, Rebecca will send him a Victory Medal and a delicious bone. And best of all, you and your dog will be featured in her DogBlog of Champions!
Your dog doesn’t have to go off to war to be a hero. He can be a home grown hero, digging in the dirt, chasing squirrels and walking to save lives.
Susan TeBos is a writer and the adoptive mom of three beautiful children and two friendly short haired collies, Griffen and Riley. She is the author of Before You Were Mine: Discovering Your Adopted Child’s Life Story. She writes for important causes that make a difference.
Obviously, I’m biased. I spend a LOT of hours every week running, walking and hiking with dogs. Our whole team does, and yes, we’re beyond lucky!!! Because of this, we get to know, love and appreciate each of our fur-friends for their unique personalities, temperaments, physical talents and crazy quirks…though I’m not sure who’s quirkier- us or the dogs??
I often get asked what it’s like running with dogs every day, so here you go!
6 ways being a dog runner beats running alone:
- Our furry friends are always ready to go for a run! Unlike our human running partners who are too cold, too hot, hungover, ate the wrong breakfast and would rather be in the bathroom, too tired, too depressed…and on and on. It’s a mystery how a dog can be snoozing away and the second they hear the key in the lock or the running leash come out, they go insane- from zero to completely out of their mind ecstatic in a split second. Why can’t I do that?!
- The dogs don’t take one second for granted. They’re not making a mental to-do list, focused on their GPS or recording memos in to their phone as they run. Every sight, smell and sound along the way is the best sight, smell and sound they’ve ever EVER encountered! Their enthusiasm never wavers and their loyalty to the cause is never in question. If I ever start feeling tired or out of it for whatever reason, I’m quickly reminded of how much fun I should be having…and as a result, I actually DO have that much fun;).
- We form a very special bond as running paw-tners;). I look forward to their happy, tail-wagging, slobbery wet greetings and look forward to working with each one for different reasons. They all bring their own challenges and delights to my job and I wouldn’t change it for anything. Some have weight-loss goals, some are tightly wound balls of energy that needs an outlet, some are hyper, anxious or reactive and need focused daily exercise to calm them, some are very old and trying to keep the arthritis pain at bay and some just need a little TLC to break up their day. They’re all beyond happy to see youJ.
- You are bettering their lives in measurable ways! Going off their anti-anxiety meds, losing weight, becoming calmer and easier to live with at home are all huge rewards to us as their exercise partners. Knowing I had a part in these changes is a great feeling! Running for your own health seems like drudgery some days, but running for the health and happiness of my four-legged friends is fun and purposeful.
- You get to explore the beautiful trails, paths and parks that are all over Grand Rapids. I thought I knew where most of these were before starting this business, but I was wrong! I still discover new hidden trails on a regular basis and it always makes my day when I do. Plus, I usually grab some great pictures of my fur-friend exploring the new trail.
- You become part of that secret “Dog Runner Club” that makes you instant comrades with every other dog runner out thereJ. You may have nothing else in common, but you love running and you love the outdoors and you love dogs…what else do you need?
So there you have it- a glimpse in to the world of dog running- why I do it and why it beats running alone!
How much exercise does my dog really need?
The “myth of the backyard” is so wide-spread that many people think that what dogs need first and foremost is a fenced backyard. I hear quite often that “I would love to have a dog, but we don’t have enough space for him. It wouldn’t be fair.”
Most people I know want to do what’s best for a dog, realizing how important it is to his overall health and happiness that he gets enough exercise. They feel like they can’t be great pet parents without a ton of space, inside and out, for their pup to run around in and explore.
A surprising number of people think that if a dog has a yard, the dog doesn’t need to be walked or otherwise exercised. They think that a backyard will magically exercise and entertain their dog.
Conversely, many people think it’s cruel to keep a dog in a small apartment or other type of dwelling that doesn’t have a backyard. This myth is so pervasive that many “dog breed reviews” will declare that only certain low-energy breeds or tiny dogs are good for apartment living, but all other dogs need their yards. I don’t agree!
Myth of the backyard
The myth, of course, is a myth. Dogs do enjoy having access to a backyard, and having a fenced yard can make life a lot easier for a dog owner because of the ease of potty breaks, but dogs don’t need backyards. Nor do they self-exercise in backyards!
Several groups have studied how dogs behave in their own backyards. They put up video cameras or attached GPS units to the dogs, put them out in the yard as normal, and monitored their activity. Most dogs barely move in their yards. Mostly, they give the impression of waiting around for their owners to show up.
Well then, what would motivate a dog?
Some examples are: hunting or retrieving, agility work, and running, walking, hiking or playing fetch with his owner. Most dogs will happily exercise when there’s a purpose to it!
Even better, give them a job to do and they can and will go all day- happily!
After all, working dog breeds like collies, retrievers, setters and terriers, were bred to work and they will find a job to do one way or the other;).
Can I really live in an apartment with a Border Collie?
Based on the dogs that were studied, almost all of their daily exercise occurred in the company of their owner (or an owner stand-in such as a dog walker). Therefore, I believe even high-energy dogs can live in apartments just as well as in places with yards, assuming their owner makes sure they get plenty of exercise each day.
In fact, apartment-dwelling dogs often get far more exercise than “yard dogs” or even “farm dogs.” The apartment-dweller is fully aware that her dog’s exercise depends on her and is careful to walk the dog or arrange for other forms of exercise for her pup.
But some of us have to work!
Instead of being alarmed at these facts, consider instead what they really mean. If you hate yard-work, don’t want to commute to your job from the suburbs, have no interest in buying a farm just for the dog, or just need to spend time a lot of time at work, you can still be an ideal dog-owner.
Have no fear- there are many ways to get your dog the exercise he needs! If you’re active yourself, bring him along with you! If you go to the gym to run on a treadmill, head out for a run with your buddy in the fresh air instead- he will thank you for it!
There are also plenty of dog sports and activities you can enjoy with your dog, agility being the most well-known and a great physical and mental workout for your pup. Field trials, Rally and Flyball are also popular with high-energy breeds. Here’s a more comprehensive list: Dog Sports
Finally, if you’re looking to save time and enjoy coming home to a well-exercised dog, you can hire a dog-walker (or runner, depending on your dog), and presto, a happier, healthier dog.
If you’re interested in bringing a dog in to your life, but are unsure of whether it makes sense, please don’t hesitate to send us an email or give us a call. We can walk you through the decision and even help you choose a dog that would fit in to your world perfectly!
Don’t hesitate to contact us if you are interested in our services.
Oh, there are so many stories to tell! Some are funny. A lot are beyond sweet. Some are really disgusting! Most of them revolve around the fun, and sometimes gross, day to day moments of being a dog runner, walker and hiker. ALL of them include great people and even better fur-friends.
Our team is made up of quirky, crazy, awesome people who have plenty of their own stories to share with you, and hopefully, this blog will make them feel pressured and guilted in to doing so;).
Our senior-est pup, Moguls, inspired this first post. Unfortunately, this one is going to fall in to the disgusting category, but as pet-parents yourself, it’s probably status quo for you!
I mention a lot on social media that I LOVE senior pets! Their gentleness and kind spirits make me want to bring them all home and pile them in my lap for a big snuggle fest. However, we already have three dogs- two VERY senior dogs at 15 and 16 and a 4 year old, so we have our hands full for now. Oh yeah, and a few human boys running around here as well;).
As I was thinking about what to write about this morning for our first post on our newly launched Doggie Bloggie, I heard Moguls (16yo Beagle/Jack Russell mix) hacking under the table, which has become a daily morning thing of his. He’s got a lot of “things” these days.
When I looked down to pet him, I saw him in that awkwardly embarrassing poop pose that dogs do. He has been having accidents for the last year, especially as his doggie dementia has worsened, so I wasn’t too alarmed. But… today was different.
After he finished, he turned around and ate it! Yep. You read that correctly. I’ve heard of other dogs doing this and I’ve witnessed many dogs trying to dine on various varieties of poop- deer, rabbit, dog, goose. However, I’ve never gotten a front row seat like this before.
You may be thinking that you could have gone your whole life without hearing that, but how could I deprive all of you of that morsel of information? That nugget of entertainment? There are so many great subjects or stories I could have written about as we pioneer the blogosphere, but I thought it was so fitting that I kick it off by setting just the right tone. That way, you won’t expect too much from us in the future;).
Just kidding! We will do our best to make you laugh and bring you great information as we tell stories, bring on guests and open our hearts to you through our new Doggie Bloggie!
AND…you’ll know we won’t hold any of the juicy details back! Maybe, we’ll even give you an explanation someday as to why dogs eat poop.