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The Chew: A Training Must-Have For Your Dog’s Playtime

The following bi-weekly column is written and sponsored by Bark & Boarding, which provides a heart-centered and safe environment for your pets. Conveniently located at 5818-C Seminary Road in Bailey’s Crossroads, Bark & Boarding offers doggy daycare, boarding, grooming, walking and training services, plus in-home pet care.

By Rae Patterson, Writer and Animal Enthusiast

Dog training can be time-consuming and frustrating on your own, but it can also be as simple as letting your pet play. At Bark & Boarding, we take pet playtime seriously. Why? Just imagine: You’re finally home after a long day. You open the door to see your cozy living room destroyed. All because your dog just needed playtime.

In a 2014 study, researchers at Bristol University proved that dogs need to play for the sake of both their physical and mental health. Pet playtime and good behavior are directly related.  Our pets retain natural instincts that drive them to chew, chase, catch, and shake. These are all behaviors that a wild dog would need to survive, and our cuddly pets are still Nature’s animals.

Most people expect notoriously active breeds like Boxers or Rat Terriers to need extensive exercise. However, “non-athletic” breeds need it too. Veterinarians agree that all dogs need at least 30 minutes of exercise daily.

According to dog behavior psychologist, Lizi Angel, just as exercise also benefits mental health in humans, “daily physical activity directly and beneficially affects [a] dog’s brain chemistry,” making your dog less stressed and generally happier.

There are many options that are enjoyable for both you and your dog: taking your dog on brisk walks, hikes, swims, or trips to the dog park are essential for any dog to get regular exercise.

Careful though, as Angel points out, “A dog’s main form of exercise shouldn’t be aimed at tiring the dog out so that it has no energy left to ‘misbehave’; it should primarily be about changing the dog’s mood for the better.”

Play, in general, is mainly about your dog’s mind. The Bristol University study revealed that dogs also need interactive and mentally stimulating games. In fact, they attribute up to 22 common behavioral issues, including anxiety, aggression, pulling on the leash, whining and not coming when called, to dogs who don’t get enough play time.

Games such as fetch, tug-of-war, and practicing tricks are beneficial for stimulating and bonding with your dog. When you’re away from home, try providing your dog with tasty or interactive chew toys both a non-destructive and instinct-satisfying way for your dog to occupy the time.

Bark & Boarding’s dog daycare program creates opportunities for exercise and mentally stimulating play time with humans, toys and other dogs throughout the day so that your dog remains your best friend in the end! Learn more at Barkandboarding.com

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In our practice, cognitive behavioral therapy (or CBT) is an important tool we use to provide effective relief for those facing anxiety and depression. We believe that cognitive change can be used to improve behaviors and emotions, thus allowing you to achieve mental wellness. By understanding the cognitive distortions that lead to negative thought patterns, we are able to create interventions tailored to each of our clients. This empowering approach can help you gain control of how your own thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors impact your experience. With CBT, our service provides an effective treatment that can bring long-term change and mental stability.

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St. Charles offers a play-based curriculum in a welcoming, Christ-centered environment.

Our program focuses on socio-emotional development and kindergarten readiness through hands-on and engaging activities. Our programs offer different schedules ranging from 7:30 am-5:30 pm for students, ages 2-5. We feature a full-day Jr. kindergarten class for older 4’s/5’s. Our facility includes a full-sized gymnasium, school chapel, and library. All of our students enjoy music and physical education weekly. Children have an opportunity to participate in enrichment classes such as soccer, basketball, ballet, and science.

We offer Summer Camp with weekly themes and twice a week water play, including Fun Friday moon bounce. Please join us for our Open House Feb. 3 at 9:30 am and 11:00 am. Click here to sign-up.

For more information or to schedule a tour, visit us at www.stcharlesarlington.org or call (703) 527-0608.

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