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by ARLnow.com Sponsor — March 30, 2015 at 2:30 pm 555 0

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Editor’s Note: The Local Woof is a column that’s sponsored and written by the staff of Woofs! Dog Training Center. Woofs! has full-service dog training, boarding, and daycare facilities, near Shirlington and Ballston.

More than half of the dogs in the U.S. are overweight. Much like with people, it is a result of too much processed food, large portion sizes, and just plain overeating.

What amazes me the most about this epidemic is the number of dog owners who simply do not know that their dog is overweight.  Check out this awesome chart at projectpetslimdown.com.  Once you know your dogs body condition score (BCS) you can make adjustments to their feeding.

The easiest way to tell if your dog is overweight is to feel for their ribs. I recommend placing your thumbs on your dogs back bone and using your fingers to feel for the ribs. You should be able to feel your dogs ribs through no more than about a 1/4 inch of skin, muscle and fat. If you cannot easily feel your dogs ribs, without having to push down, then your dog is likely overweight.

If you do find that your dog is overweight, simply cut down on the amount of food they get per day and increase their exercise. Sound familiar? A great way to supplement your dog’s meal is with green beans. Frozen or canned green beans help your dog feel full without adding too many calories.

Here are some common reasons our dogs end up overweight:

“But my vet says he’s fine”  If I hear this one more time… Please ask your vet for an honest opinion about your dog’s weight. I do not know why veterinarians are so afraid of talking about a dogs weight. I suspect it’s because it can be a touchy subject and they are afraid of losing your business. But in the interest of the health of our dogs (and cats), I implore vets to be more forthcoming and honest about talking about weight issues.

“The bags says to feed 4 cups a day” – I hate dog food bag instructions. The idea that every dog in a certain weight range should eat the same amount of food per day is ludicrous. A 12-year-old dog that weights 35 pounds should be eating nowhere near the same amount as a 35-pound dog who is 2 years old and hikes three times a week. In addition, keep in the mind that the goal of the company is to sell you more food. The faster you feed, the faster you buy another bag. The only measure of how much a dog should eat a day is their body condition. Just like people.

“She’s still just a puppy” — Where puppyhood ends can be debated, but the truth is that most dogs have reached 75 percent of their growth potential by the time they are 6 months old. The exception, of course, is large breeds (German shepherd size and larger), who may take up to 12 months to reach full size. That means that your dog’s growth will start to slow somewhere about 5 months of age. Most puppies start to pack on the pounds around 7 to 8 months of age because they are still being fed the same amount that they were eating when they were 5 months old.

“He’s not fat, it’s just his hair” – Yes, fluffy dogs can hide behind their fur more easily, but please don’t use it as an excuse. By palpating your dogs ribs you can just as easily asses the condition of a heavy-coated dog.

Bottom line, help your dog feel better and live longer by keeping them in shape. They’ll love you for it!

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Local Woof: Out of the Blue

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — March 16, 2015 at 2:30 pm 390 0

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Editor’s Note: The Local Woof is a column that’s sponsored and written by the staff of Woofs! Dog Training Center. Woofs! has full-service dog training, boarding, and daycare facilities, near Shirlington and Ballston.

When it comes to aggression, trainers often hear the same thing.

“Rover bit me out of the blue,” or “Fluffy growled at my son and never gave any other indications he was uncomfortable.”

Both of these situations are highly unlikely since dogs very rarely do things without prior warning signs.

More likely, the dog has been telling you that he or she is uncomfortable. Because we do not speak the same language, we were unable to interpret what they were saying.

Lacking a rich verbal language, dogs rely on body language to communicate. This means that in order to “hear” what they are saying, we need to be watching very closely. We need to be listening with our eyes.

Learning any new language can be challenging. But just like with any new language, the more you practice, the more fluent you become. Phrases that were once hard to hear become easier and easier to interpret. The more time you spend watching your dog and studying dog body language, the better you will become at interpreting how your dog is feeling or what they are trying to tell you.

In those out of the blue incidents, what is often happening is that the dog is giving subtle signs that they are uncomfortable. These signs are either misread or missed altogether. After hours, days or weeks of giving off stress signs that are ignored, the dog finally escalates and growls or snaps. Some commonly missed subtle indicators of stress are yawning, lip licking and eye rolling. These can be easy to miss.

Learning to interpret how your dog is feeling can help avoid those “out of the blue” incidents that are not really out of the blue. They can also help inform a management and training plan to make your dog more comfortable. Not sure what your dog is trying to say? Ask your trainer or register for a seminar on dog body language. The information can be eye opening.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Local Woof: Dog Sports

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — March 2, 2015 at 2:30 pm 301 0

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Editor’s Note: The Local Woof is a column that’s sponsored and written by the staff of Woofs! Dog Training Center. Woofs! has full-service dog training, boarding, and daycare facilities, near Shirlington and Ballston.

Spring is just around the corner. Really. And spring is a great time to get involved in a sport with your dog.

Dog sports continue to grow in popularity for several reasons. First, it’s a great way to advance your dog’s training. No matter what activity you choose, your dog’s training will improve.

Second, dog sports are a great way to burn off both physical and mental energy. They are especially great for young adolescent dogs with lots of extra energy.

Third, doing an activity with your dog is a great way to improve or expand your relationship. Like any team sport, dog sports require you and your dog to work together and can generate a greater understanding between the teammates. Finally, dog sports are fun. It’s fun to see your dog learn a new complex skill, even if you never plan on competing.

The best way to get started is to join a beginner class. Most beginner sport classes require your dog to have had some basic training already, so you might need to start there first. Keep in mind that sport classes are different from basic obedience classes.

Sport classes don’t end, just like training or practicing a sport doesn’t end.  You might take a single class several times before you master the content and move up. Serious competitors are always practicing and training.

One of the best things about sport classes is that it gives you lots of fun tricks to work on with your dog between classes. Even if you never advance or compete, working on tasks steadily and consistently with your dog builds the relationship and strengthens your bond.

The most popular dog sports are: Dog agility, where you navigate your dog through an obstacle course; Rally Obedience, in which you navigate your dog through a series of obedience exercises; Nose work, where you teach your dog to sniff out specific odors, detection dog style; Flyball, a fast and furious combination of steeplechase and fetch; plus freestyle, Frisbee and other options.

So if you are looking for a fun way to continue working with your dog, find a fun sport class and get started.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — January 26, 2015 at 4:05 pm 337 0

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Editor’s Note: The Local Woof is a column that’s sponsored and written by the staff of Woofs! Dog Training Center. Woofs! has full-service dog training, boarding, and daycare facilities, near Shirlington and Ballston.

Much like in humans, your dog will go through an adolescent phase and this period can be fraught with difficulty. Dogs will enter their adolescent period at around 6 months old, and exit between 18 months and 2 years of age. Smaller dogs tend to mature more quickly, larger dogs more slowly.

During this time you may feel like your dog has forgotten everything they learned in puppy class. You are not imagining it. There is physiological evidence that neural synapses are breaking and reforming at a very high rate. Previously attentive pups will start to ignore you and non-chewers will become destructive maniacs.

Fear not, this is normal. Most of what you will experience is a non-emergency and I find myself encouraging puppy owners to double down. Your progress may slow down and your dog’s attention span might shorten but they are still learning. As your dog becomes more independent they are going to push their boundaries and experiment with new things. Just like with human teenagers, it is really important that you remain present to guide your teenage pup into a well-behaved adulthood. Do not let them just figure it out on their own.

One behavior that is an adolescent emergency is if your previously friendly dog begins to show signs of aggression toward people or other dogs. While this is not uncommon, it is not a behavior your dog is just going to “grow out of.” Without intervention, this is likely to become worse and you can end up with a seriously aggressive dog. If your dog starts to growl, bark or lunge at people or other dogs contact your trainer as soon as possible.

Here are a couple of adolescence survival tips:

  1. Take another class: This will help you to continue to work with your dog through their “teenage years.” It keeps the two of you connected and might allow your trainer to identify any serious problems before they get worse. This could be a great time for a low key class like tricks, or a sport like agility or nosework.
  2. Hang onto that crate: Maintain your dog’s crate training well into adulthood. Continuing to crate your dog when you are not home or sleeping can help prevent problem behaviors like chewing or barking at the window from developing in the first place. It can also be a solution if these behaviors show up. If it’s been three months since your dog was crated, the solution may not be so easy.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — January 5, 2015 at 3:45 pm 560 0

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Editor’s Note: The Local Woof is a column that’s sponsored and written by the staff of Woofs! Dog Training Center. Woofs! has full-service dog training, boarding, and daycare facilities, near Shirlington and Ballston.

Whenever someone gets a new puppy or dog, they are often eager to teach “the basics.”  So everyone starts in on the same things; sit, lie down, shake, stay in front of the food bowl, etc. While these are all valuable skills for your new puppy or dog to know, they definitely do not need to be at the top of the list.

Teaching your dogs cues like sit or down, are obedience skills. The premise being that whenever you give a specific cue, your dog responds with the correct position. Responding to cues is important, but what is more important is your dogs general behavior.

Ninety-five percent of your interactions with your dog do not involve giving cues. It just involves being together. What your dog does when not being cued is its general behavior, and that is where you should start.

I don’t care if your 10-week-old puppy can sit. I care if your puppy likes people. Having a pup or dog that is friendly and at ease, is much more important than if they can sit on cue.

So here are the top four things I think you should be working on with your new pup or newly adopted older dog.

  1. House training. The No. 1 reason dogs are given up is going to the bathroom in the house. This is definitely a priority that everyone can agree on.
  2. Socialization. Remember, socialization is not the ability to play with the neighbor dog or being friendly to uncle Ted. Socialization is the ability to easily adapt to new circumstances. The only way to do this is to follow a socialization protocol and get your puppy out.
  3. Relationship. Play with your dog! Spend a few weeks playing, learning what your new dog likes and doesn’t like. Teach them that you are super awesome and relevant to them. In dog training, relationship is everything.
  4. Play and Exercise. Figure out how much exercise your dog really needs and devise some fun ways to meet those needs. Walks are great for socialization but generally do not meet any dog’s exercise needs.

Once you have these four things figured out, you will be ready to dive into training with a strong foundation.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

 

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — December 22, 2014 at 2:30 pm 338 0

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Editor’s Note: The Local Woof is a column that’s sponsored and written by the staff of Woofs! Dog Training Center. Woofs! has full-service dog training, boarding, and daycare facilities, near Shirlington and Ballston.

The Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) is hosting the 5th annual “Train Your Dog Month” in January 2015. The goal is to encourage people to work with their dogs and this years focus is on basic training.

Is there something you never got around to training, like a nice stay at the door? This is the time to get back to it. There will be several free webinars and tips and tricks to help you on your way. You can find all the information here.

Why have a Train Your Dog Month? Well it’s just a fun way to encourage people to reconnect with their dogs. The truth is that training, when done positively and in partnership with your dog, is a great way to have fun and strengthen your bond and your dog might become more obedient as well!

Training is also great exercise for both you and your dog. Having a hard time exercising your dog in the dead of winter? Try a 20-minute training session. The mental energy that your dog expends is as good as or better than a 20-minute walk.

This is also a great opportunity to teach something new. Believe it or not, training tricks is just as valuable as teaching an important cue like sit or stay. What about taking up a sport with your dog? Agility, Flyball and Nosework are all fun ways to train without feeling like you are training!

Ultimately, training is one of the best things you can do with your dog. It doesn’t have to be time consuming or frustrating. Take a one day workshop, watch a webinar, or just try something new at home. WOOFS! will be hosting some Train Your Dog Month events, so come on out and have some fun!

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Local Woof: Boarding Your Dog

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — December 8, 2014 at 2:30 pm 449 0

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Editor’s Note: The Local Woof is a column that’s sponsored and written by the staff of Woofs! Dog Training Center. Woofs! has full-service dog training, boarding, and daycare facilities, near Shirlington and Ballston.

Thanksgiving and Christmas are two of the busiest travel times in the United States, and inevitably people with dogs need to find someone to take care of Fido while they are out of town.

If you can’t take your dog with you, the next best option is to have a family member or friend either take your dog to their house, or come and stay at your house. Being in their own environment, or with someone familiar, is definitely the best option for your dog. But sometimes that isn’t possible and you need to find a boarding facility.

The best boarding option is somewhere that your dog is familiar and comfortable. Most daycare and boarding facilities work well because the dogs who are comfortable coming to daycare usually board without incident. These dogs are already familiar with the staff and often the other dogs that attend regularly. For them it’s like a home away from home. Dogs who attend daycare regularly at WOOFS! are happy and healthy during boarding as well.

What can be very difficult is when a dog needs to be boarded but has never been away from his owners or in a boarding or daycare facility before. In this situation, dogs can be very stressed, and prolonged stress often leads to associated illnesses including gastrointestinal problems, weight loss and upper respiratory infections.

So how can you help your dog survive a week away from home? First, be sure to plan ahead. Take the time to get your dog used to staying at a particular facility. This might mean paying for three or four days of daycare before you eventually drop off for an overnight stay. Trust me, your dog will be so much happier than if you just drop them at a facility and don’t come back for days. The experience of being dropped off and picked up several times can be very helpful in reducing anxiety.

Find the right facility. Daycare is not for all dogs. If your dog is stressed in the presence of other dogs they might do better in a traditional boarding environment where they do not interact with other dogs all day. Every dog is different, and luckily there are many options available in the area. In-home petsitting is a great option for dogs who don’t board well.

Start when your dog is a puppy. Send your puppy to a friend’s for an occasional weekend even if you don’t need to travel. This is an important part of their socialization experiences and should happen two or three times before your pup is 6 months old. Don’t wait for your dog to be 6 years old before you introduce them to spending time away from you.

Happy Holidays!

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — November 10, 2014 at 3:00 pm 306 0

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Editor’s Note: The Local Woof is a column that’s sponsored and written by the staff of Woofs! Dog Training Center. Woofs! has full-service dog training, boarding, and daycare facilities, near Shirlington and Ballston.

The holidays are a great time for feast and family, but we all know sometimes having visitors can be stressful. The last thing you need is conflict between your dogs and your guests. Here are some tips to keep everyone happy.

Exercise: Schedule extra exercise time for the dog BEFORE your guests arrive. A good 30-45 minutes of hard exercise earlier in the day can make for a more pleasant afternoon or evening. For young exuberant dogs, skip the walk and instead play a nice rousing game of fetch, keep away or tug. Walking is inadequate exercise for all but the oldest of dogs. Thirty minutes of running and fetching is much better bang for your buck.

Quiet time: Make sure there is a place in your house where your dog can be comfortably confined when necessary. There is a natural state of high arousal when guests first arrive and your dog is likely to join in and add to the excitement. During arrival time it is a good idea to put the dog away with a nice marrow bone or frozen stuffed kong. After everyone has settled in and is seated is a much better time to introduce the dog to the mix. Dinner is another great time for the dog to take a break.

Leash: When introducing the dog to newcomers, do not be afraid to use a leash. Leashing is a convenient way to control your pup’s exuberance without having to put them away. Stepping on the leash to prevent jumping is a tried and true way to keep your pup off of your guests. After everyone has arrived and settled down, perhaps the leash can come off. A festive new leash can also add to the fun.

Treats: If your guests are dog friendly, ask them to help you encourage good manners. Have a big bowl of delicious and nutritious dog treats. Ask your guests to give the dog a treat every time he approaches and sits or lies down. Before long your dog will be running up to people and sitting automatically in exchange for a treat. You can feed your dog his entire dinner this way.

Sleep over: If you are having guests who really are not that fond of dogs, consider sending your dog to a good friend for a sleepover. For some shy or fearful dogs, being away from the chaos will be the best thing for them. If you have a guest who is afraid of dogs, you might enjoy their visit much more without having to worry about keeping them and the dog separate. A night spent with their doggy best friend might be the best idea.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — October 27, 2014 at 2:30 pm 1,461 0

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Editor’s Note: The Local Woof is a column that’s sponsored and written by the staff of Woofs! Dog Training Center. Woofs! has full-service dog training, boarding, and daycare facilities, near Shirlington and Ballston.

This is the dog article for people who don’t like dogs, or are afraid of dogs, or just don’t want to be bothered by a dog at the moment. If you live in greater Arlington, which is very dog-friendly, navigating a walk to the Metro without coming into contact with a dog can be a challenge.

The most important thing to know if you do not want to interact with a dog is: do not make eye contact with the dog. Eye contact to a well-socialized dog is an invitation to say “Hi.” Looking up and away or past the dog, is your best bet, since that tells the dog, you are not interested in an interaction.  It doesn’t guarantee the dog won’t be interested in you but it sends a clear signal that you are not interested in them.

Another effective way to deal with unwanted interaction is to stand still. This can be especially hard if you are afraid of dogs since yelling and running away are genetically pre-programmed responses to fear.

Unfortunately, yelling and running away is also a great way to get a dog to show extra interest in you. If you are in a situation where a dog is very close, standing still and looking up and away can encourage the dog to move on. Slowly moving away is also a great option.

I would also encourage people who are afraid of dogs to be a strong advocate for themselves. If a dog is approaching, clearly state to the owner of the dog that you are not interested in interacting. This can be a simple as saying, “Excuse, me, I’m afraid of dogs,” or “excuse me, please pull your dog back.” Most dog owners do not want to subject non-dog people to their pups affections either.

It is very easy for dog owners to forget that not everyone loves dogs. Dog owners need to remember that not everyone wants to say hello to your gorgeous pup and to try and remember to respect everyone’s space. Common courtesy and communication can go a long way in making sure that dog and non-dog people can all get along.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

by Ethan Rothstein — September 29, 2014 at 3:30 pm 545 0

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Editor’s Note: The Local Woof is a column that’s sponsored and written by the staff of Woofs! Dog Training Center. Woofs! has full-service dog training, boarding, and daycare facilities, near Shirlington and Ballston.

The dog food market has exploded. There is almost an endless variety of dry dog food options, making it more difficult to determine what the best option is for your dog. Here are some tips to help you make an educated decision.

Bottom line, do what works – If your dog is healthy and fit on whatever food you are feeding him or her, there is probably no need to make a change. A couple of ways to determine if things are going well is to evaluate the results: you need to check the poop. If you dog is pooping more than twice a day, or if your dog is not producing solid formed stool, you may need to reevaluate what you are feeding.

Read the Label – Make sure you recognize the ingredients in the food. The first ingredient should be a whole meat product such as “chicken” or “beef.” Not chicken by-products or chicken meals. If you aren’t sure what a by-product or a meal is, don’t feed it. Look for other whole products like “rice” or “carrots” as well. You want as many whole ingredients as possible.

Choose higher quality, ignore the packaging – Do not be fooled by the packaging. Just because there are fruits and vegetables on the bag, doesn’t mean they’re in the food. Those fancy multicolored kibbles are colored with food dye, not natural ingredients. Pay attention to what is in the food, not what food is on the bag.

Don‘t always follow directions – When determining how much to feed your dog, simply look at your dog. It makes no sense to feed a dog by volume. For example, feeding it two cups, two times per day. Not all 50-pound dogs should be eating the same amount of food each day. Age, energy level, fitness level and body type are all much more important than weight.

Also, keep in mind that the faster you finish a bag of dog food, the faster you go out and buy a new bag. The dog food company has an incentive to encourage you to overfeed. If your dog is fat, feed less. If your dog is skinny, feed more. Adjust as necessary.

There is no doubt that good nutrition leads to healthier lives, so try and choose the best possible option for your pup.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — September 15, 2014 at 2:30 pm 781 0

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Editor’s Note: The Local Woof is a column that’s sponsored and written by the staff of Woofs! Dog Training Center. Woofs! has full-service dog training, boarding, and daycare facilities, near Shirlington and Ballston.

We often here people say, “I NEVER give my dog people food.” This surprises me because I do almost all of my dog training using “people food”as treats. My favorites are hot dogs, string cheese and rotisserie chicken.

So is it ok to give dogs people food? Of course it is! High quality dog foods are made from chicken, beef, sweet potato, etc. Dog foods contains the same ingredients that you and I eat, simply molded into a different form that is convenient to purchase and feed to our dogs.

The bottom line is food is food. The only difference is the shape and quality of the food. People grade chicken in generally much better quality than dog grade chicken, and it tastes better too.

I think where people are getting confused is in the context. You should not feed your dog “people food” that you are eating. Do not feed your dog from the table and do not share your sandwich or pizza crust. Any leftovers that you want to give your dog should be delivered to the dog in their bowl or in a training session. It is feeding from your plate that will teach your dog to beg, not the form of the food.

Context is incredibly important to dogs. They can easily learn the difference between chicken on a plate at the dining room table (not theirs) and chicken in a bait bag for a training session (theirs). In fact, one of the characteristics that helped to domesticate dogs from their wolf-like ancestors was their ability to read the intentions and body language of people. They are masters of contextual cues.

I use human grade food and treats for my dogs for two main reasons. First, my dogs deserve the highest quality food products that I can afford to give them. Many dog foods and treats are made from ingredients that people don’t eat like chicken meal (rather than chicken meat), and contain high amounts of corn and grain, which are nothing but filler.

The second reason is that human-quality food generally tastes better.  When training, I want to be sure to offer the dog a high-value reward in order to get the best possible behavior from them.

So don’t be afraid to share your leftovers. Just make sure you are clear about which food belongs to you and which food belongs to your dog. It’s all made of the same stuff anyhow.

Update at 3:15 p.m. — The point of this article is to highlight human foods that dogs can eat safely. As pointed out by a commenter, there are also certain human foods that dogs should not eat.

 The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — August 4, 2014 at 2:30 pm 703 0

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Editor’s Note: The Local Woof is a column that’s sponsored and written by the staff of Woofs! Dog Training Center. Woofs! has full-service dog training, boarding, and daycare facilities, near Shirlington and Ballston.

Many dog owners want their dogs to go to the dog park or attend daycare. Both are great places for dogs to be social, run and play and expend some of that excess energy. Dog owners are often rewarded within a tired and content dog.

But as the owner of two dog daycares, I can tell you that daycare is not good for all dogs. In addition, just because your dog enjoys daily trips to the dog park, does not mean they will do well in daycare. They are very different environments.

To begin with, visits to the dog park are usually limited to something between 30 minutes and two hours. Daycare is usually upwards of six hours. Dog parks are generally larger with fewer dogs per square foot.  The upside of daycare is that dogs are screened for aggression and are monitored by trained staff.

Daycare is a great environment for young social dogs. I often describe daycare like a frat party or a singles bar. Most people enjoy those venues when they are young, but become less and less tolerant of the “shenanigans” at those events as they become older. A similar thing happens at daycare, and we call that “aging out.”  It simply means that your dog is no longer enjoying the rough and tumble of the daily daycare scene.

Not all dogs love the company of lots of other dogs. Just like people, some dogs are introverts and some are extroverts. Some are rough and tumble types that like body slamming, running and wrestling. Some prefer a controlled game of fetch. Not all dogs like all other dogs, nor should they be expected to. Just like not all people become friends with everyone they meet.

So how do you know if your dog is enjoying daycare? First of all, don’t assume that because your dog is tired, they have had a lovely day of play. Stress is also exhausting. Start by listening to your dog. Are they pulling you up the steps to get in the door? That’s a good sign. Is your dog happy to see the staff? Also a good sign.

If you aren’t sure, ask a manager or supervisor at your daycare. Dogs who are stressed or unhappy are often much harder to care for, and hopefully your daycare manager will tell you honestly how your dog is doing.

Finally, don’t be angry if your daycare hints that your dog may no longer be appropriate for daycare. It is perfectly normal for dogs to age out, or decide they no longer feel like playing all day. Trust me, we want your business. But not at the expense of your dog’s happiness.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

by ARLnow.com — July 21, 2014 at 2:30 pm 346 0

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Editor’s Note: The Local Woof is a column that’s sponsored and written by the staff of Woofs! Dog Training Center. Woofs! has full-service dog training, boarding, and daycare facilities, near Shirlington and Ballston.

Socialization is the process of positively introducing your puppy to new things so that as they grow into adulthood, they are able to adapt to new situations without fear or anxiety.

The most important thing to know is that most puppies are only open to the socialization process between the ages of 3 to 16 weeks. This is called the socialization window. During this time, the pup’s brain and sympathetic nervous system is programmed to accept new experiences with less fear and anxiety than normal. As the pup gets older, their neurobiology changes and it becomes more and more difficult to teach your dog to tolerate new things.

The result is that the first 3 to 16 weeks is the most important time of your dogs life. WOOFS! recommends that families consider this before they get a puppy since they are going to need to dedicate several weeks to puppy socialization.

To socialize your pup, you need to be prepared to take them to meet many people, many other safe and friendly dogs and to visit many new places. During these excursions, you will want to bring lots of treats and make all these experiences fun and positive. Exposing a dog to scary situations is NOT socialization. In order for socialization to be effective, the dog must be happy and relaxed.

Puppy socialization events and puppy classes and great ways to get your pup out and about. On the other hand, dog parks and dog daycares are excellent places to bring already socialized dogs but are not great places for socialization to occur. Proper socialization requires much closer supervision.

So what about the dog who is already older than 16 weeks? Well, the socialization window does not slam shut, but trying to introduce an unsocialized dog over 16 weeks to lots of new people and dogs and experiences is going to be much harder to do than if they were younger. Unfortunately, socialization after a certain age may not even be possible. This of course depends a lot on the dog’s genetic make up as well.

If you need help, we recommend contacting a positive reinforcement training center near you. Operation Socialization is another great resource. It is an organization dedicated to safe early socialization and is a great resource for owners of new pups.

Happy Socializing!

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — July 7, 2014 at 2:30 pm 749 0

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Editor’s Note: The Local Woof is a column that’s sponsored and written by the staff of Woofs! Dog Training Center. Woofs! has full-service dog training, boarding, and daycare facilities, near Shirlington and Ballston.

Yup, it’s hot. What’s a dog owner to do? Here are some suggestions to stay safe and cool for the next few months.

Please tell me you already know not to leave your dog in a hot car? Not with the windows down, not under a tree. The outside temperature should be around 60 degrees before it is safe to leave a dog in the car so we have several months before this is an option again. Leave the dog home, or leave someone in the car with the AC running. No exceptions.

Do not shave your double coated dog. I know it seems like shaving your golden retriever is a good idea in the summer, but it’s not. Double coated dogs use their coat as protection and insulation from the sun as well as the cold. If you shave your dog for the convenience of avoiding shedding be aware that your dog is now more susceptible to over heating.

Watch for signs of over heating such as excessive panting, bright red or purple tongue, confusion, and wobbling when walking. If you notice these signs get your dog indoors immediately and contact your vet. Never bathe an overheated dog in cold water. Cool wet rags on the stomach or inside of the thighs will help to cool them down. If your dog has fallen or seems confused an emergency vet visit is in order.

Play early, late or indoors. Walking your dog in the heat of the day is a really bad idea. Just because you can handle it does not mean your dog can. Humans sweat to cool off. Dogs do not. Dogs on leash will also tend to try and keep up with their owners no matter what, even if their bodies are telling them they should stop. Don’t put your dog in that position.

Trade the midday walk for an indoor game of fetch, tug or a tricks training session (your overheated dog walker will love you for it too). Training a roll over can be as exhausting as a good walk anyhow. Be super careful with brachycephalic dogs like pugs and bulldogs. They cannot handle the heat at all.

Swim. Swimming is some of the best exercise a dog can get and it keeps them cool at the same time. Arlington has two dog parks along Four Mile Run, Shirlington and Glen Carlyn. Both have small beach areas near deeper swimming holes where dogs can wade or swim to keep cool. There are also some private pools that can be rented by the hour for the serious canine athlete. A backyard kiddie pool is also a great idea and a lot of fun.

Have fun, stay cool. Fall will be here soon enough.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor — June 23, 2014 at 2:30 pm 979 0

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Editor’s Note: The Local Woof is a column that’s sponsored and written by the staff of Woofs! Dog Training Center. Woofs! has full-service dog training, boarding, and daycare facilities, near Shirlington and Ballston.

Small dogs are great for urban environments. They are generally easier to exercise than large dogs and take up less space with their small crates and small beds.

Small dogs are just as smart and trainable as large dogs. Small dogs get a bad rap because too often owners find it faster and easier to just pick up the dog rather than train it, something that is not possible with a large dog. It’s not until the dog is older that some owners realize they missed the boat in teaching their small dog manners.

Small dog training tip: As long as it is safe, put your small dog on the ground and let them walk! Just because you can carry your dog, doesn’t mean you should. Small dogs need the same socialization and life experiences as big dogs and they can’t get that being carried around. If you socialize and train your small dog, they can do everything a large dog can and more.

My biggest concern for small dogs is their safety. Small dogs are, well, small. That makes it much easier for them to get hurt in a world that is 10 times their size. And they seem to be getting smaller and smaller. I have recently seen a lot of dogs who are under 5 pounds! Dogs in the under-20-pound range need some extra protection.

Small dogs should not play with large dogs unless you know the larger dog extremely well. Tiny dogs should never go to a dog park unless there is a designated small dog enclosure. The chances that a tiny dog will be hurt or scared by a larger dog is much too high, even if the larger dog did not intend to hurt the small dog.

Have you ever heard of predatory drift? Predatory drift is something all dog owners need to be aware of and most have never heard about. Predatory drift is a situation in which a dog will suddenly view another, usually much smaller, dog as prey. This is often preceded by the small dog running away and/or yipping in a high pitch.

These prey-like behaviors flip a switch in the dogs brain and the larger dog will then attack and bring down the small dog as if it were a prey animal like a squirrel or rabbit. In the best case scenario, the small dog is terrified and traumatized. In the worst case scenario, the small dog does not survive. This happens so much more often than anyone realizes, and it has happened many times in the past few years right here in Northern Virginia.

If you have a very small dog, make sure you go out of your way to arrange safe, similar-sized play groups. If your dog goes to daycare, ask the staff if they know what predatory drift is and make sure that small dogs are put in appropriate play groups.

Small dogs are smart, trainable and fun. A little bit of caution can make sure they live a long happy life.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

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