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The Chew: Protect Your Pet From These Three Risks This Summer

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.

For many pets and their owners, summertime offers a chance to be outdoors, spend more time playing and enjoying the great weather.

Unfortunately, there are also several dangers that summer can bring with it. With some preparation and knowledge you can keep your pet safe and make sure summer stays fun. To help you, we’ve gathered the top three risks that face your pet and how you can prevent and recognize them.

  1. Ticks

One of the top concerns as pets spend more time outside is tick-borne diseases. While outdoors avoid places ticks hide, such as long grass and thick underbrush. Once inside check your dog for ticks and remove any that you see. Your dog should also be on flea and tick preventative to kill anything they may pick up.

Lyme disease is transmitted through deer ticks. While it is more prevalent in the New England area, it can be found all over.

Symptoms: Joint pain, lethargy, decreased appetite and fever. Typically takes several months for symptoms to appear.

Ehrlichiosis is one of the most common tick-borne diseases.

Symptoms: Fever, decreased appetite and weight loss, depression, runny nose, watery eyes, frequent bloody noses and enlarged lymph nodes or limbs. Takes several months for symptoms to appear.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, despite its name, this disease is not restricted to the Rocky Mountain area but can be found throughout North and South America.

Symptoms: Fever, joint or muscle pain, anemia, skin lesions, and vomiting. Signs typically appear within a few days.

  1. Dehydration and heatstroke

With higher temperatures comes an increased risk of dehydration and heatstroke. Short-nosed breeds are especially prone to heatstroke, as are animals that are overweight or have thick coats.

Bring water with you when you go on walks and stay in the shade as much as possible. If you’re walking in a paved area, be aware of how much hotter concrete and asphalt can be for your dog. If it is too hot for you, it’s too hot for your pet.

Instead try a grassy area for a walk or purchase a set of booties or paw protection wax to protect their feet. Try to take your walks in the morning or in the evening to avoid the hottest hours of the day. You can also take advantage of an air-conditioned dog daycare during those extremely hot days of summer.

Symptoms: Excessive lethargy, decreased urination, dry gums, refusing to eat and sunken eyes.

  1. Common infections

Infections, particularly those caused by parasites, tend to increase in the summer as the temperatures allow them to thrive and your pup spends more time outdoors.

Coccidiosis

Cause: Coccidiosis can be found in cats and dogs, and is typically transmitted through infected feces, or through consuming a smaller animal that carries it, such as a mouse, rabbit or bird.

Symptoms: watery, mucus-like diarrhea which can progress to bloody diarrhea.

Giardia

Cause: The Giardia infection can be contracted by playing in or ingesting contaminated soil or water. Remove any standing water in your backyard and keep your dog from drinking from unknown water sources.

Symptoms: Diarrhea, gas, abdominal discomfort, dehydration, listlessness and a poor-looking coat.

While summer can be a time of great fun for pets and owners alike, it is important to know the dangers so that you can protect your pet. By arming yourself with this knowledge, summer can stay fun for you and your furry friend.

Looking for more tips, interested in adorable pet pics or just want to get more information on what we do? Stay connected with Bark + Boarding on FacebookInstagram and our website!

Click here to check out our short video about this article!

Mention this article for a FREE evaluation and click here to sign up for one today. If you have a question about your pet, feel free to come in, or email [email protected] any time.

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The Chew: Training Your Dog

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 Chelsea Pennington, Bark + Boarding Writer and Animal Enthusiast

Having a dog can be a fun and rewarding experience, but without proper training, any dog can be a handful. Taking your dog to a training class and reinforcing these lessons at home is a key part of making sure your dog stays safe and you both stay happy!

Not all types of training are created equal. Rather than using fear and domination to punish unwanted behaviors, training with positive reinforcement gives your dog positive motivation to repeat desired behaviors and results in a stronger bond based on trust between dog and owner.

Sometimes called reward-based training, this style focuses on rewarding behaviors you want your dog to have, like sitting and fetching, and ignoring and withholding rewards for unwanted behaviors, like jumping on people. Rewards typically take the form of a small treat, verbal praise or even a favorite toy.

There are several things to know about training with positive reinforcement. The first is that timing is key. The reward must occur immediately after the desired behavior, within a few seconds, or the dog won’t associate it with the behavior.

Second, keep your commands short and clear. Saying something like “Max, be a good boy and sit down for me” won’t make any sense to your dog. Instead, use one to two words commands like “stay” or “leave it.” Being consistent in what commands you use is also important.

Make sure everyone who will be frequently interacting with the dog, such as other family members or a dog walker, know which commands to use and to always reward good behavior while ignoring bad behavior.

When training your dog, don’t spend long stretches of time working on it. Spend ten to fifteen minute bursts working on a command, otherwise your dog will get bored or tired and not respond as well.

One of the most important things to realize about positive reinforcement is that it can happen accidentally — and not in a good way. If your dog barks at noises in the backyard and you always let him out, you’re training him that barking gives him a reward.

Even what you might consider negative attention can have unintended results. Yelling and pushing at your dog when she jumps up on you seems like a clear “no” to you, but she might still perceive it as attention, and therefore continue to do it.

Instead, don’t reward these behaviors. Ignore your dog barking, and when your dog jumps up, simply turn around and act as if they aren’t there. When they calm down and greet you in the way you want, then you can pet them and give them your attention as a reward.

Another important but often forgotten aspect of training is crate training. Sometimes dismissed as cruel, crate training your dog has numerous benefits for both you and your pet.

If your dog is trained to stay in a crate without being disruptive or destructive, it gives you peace of mind while away, makes it easier to house-train your dog, and ensures that your pet has a safe place to go when they need to be out of the way, such as when a repairman is needed or guests are over.

For your dog, having a crate means they have a safe den to retreat to when they’re feeling tired, scared or sick. It also allows them to still be a part of the family even when they can’t be out wandering the house.

Dogs are social animals, and so keeping them outside by themselves for long stretches of time will cause them stress and often result in unwanted behaviors such as digging, barking and chewing.

Crates also make traveling easier. A crated dog in a car has a much better chance at surviving a car crash, and having a familiar space even when staying in a hotel or elsewhere will help reduce anxiety your pet may have from traveling.

Properly training your dog can be a big task, and so attending a class with your new dog can be a great way to make sure they get the training they need while strengthening your bond as you learn together. Attending a class ensures that you aren’t making any mistakes without realizing it, provides accountability so that you stay consistent with your training and gives your new pup the opportunity to socialize with other dogs and humans.

Bark+ Boarding offers three levels of classes based on age and skill level so that whatever your dog needs, we can help. And of course, all our classes use positive reinforcement so dogs and their owners have the best experience possible.

Looking for more tips, interested in adorable pet pics or just want to get more information on what we do? Stay connected with Bark + Boarding on FacebookInstagram and our website!

Click here to check out our short video about this article!

Mention this article for a FREE evaluation and click here to sign up for one today. If you have a question about your pet, feel free to come in, or email [email protected] any time.

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The Chew: 3 Principles for Preventing Dog-Related Disasters

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.

Written by Tyler Evans, Animal Enthusiast from dogzasters.com

If you have a dog, you know that accidents are bound to happen. From torn-up furniture to potty accidents, these are a part of owning a dog that we could all live without. Prevention is always the best medicine, especially when it comes to a canine’s behavior.

Luckily, there are a number of ways you can avoid these unpleasant situations and clean-ups. To prevent your pooch from misbehaving, follow these three prevention principles.

Activity

Activity is a necessity of all dogs, no matter their age or breed. Some dogs though, do need more exercise than others. According to the Business Insider, the Belgian Malinois and German Pointer are the most active dogs in the world, needing over an hour and a half of intense exercise every day.

While most dogs do not need this much exercise, they still do need to get out and be active. Dogs who do not burn off their energy can easily become bored, which may cause them to turn their eyes towards a destructive game.

One of the easiest ways you can prevent doggie disasters is by providing your canine with a constructive, appropriate way to burn off their energy. The easiest way to do this is by taking them on frequent walks, preferably a couple of times a day.

For most people, this can be done before and after work. If you’re very busy, however, it might be in your best interest to hire a dog walker or a dog sitter to stop by once or twice a day to take your pooch on a walk. Though this service does cost money, it is a far better alternative than coming home to a ruined house.

Training

The second most common reason dogs misbehave is simply because they don’t know any better. If your dog has an accident on your carpet, it might not be that they were misbehaving just because they could, but that they didn’t know they weren’t supposed to.

We recommend training your pooch early and often. House training is essential to keeping your pooch in your house, but other types of training can be extremely useful too. For example, if your dog barks consistently, you can train them to not bark.

If you have a puppy, we highly recommend that you get them enrolled in a doggie training class. Puppy training classes are just as useful for you as they are your dog. Even if you’ve previously owned a puppy, each dog breed is different and responds to training techniques differently.

Attending one of these classes can inform you on what techniques would work best for your puppy. Furthermore, puppy training classes also socialize your dog with other people and canines. According to the AKC, proper socialization is a great way to prevent unnecessary aggression and fear as your dog gets older.

Enrichment

Another common reason dogs misbehave is because they’re bored.

While activity can go a long way to curb this boredom, for some dogs it is not enough, especially if they are a member of an intelligent breed. For many dogs, their minds need to be exercised just like their bodies.

This can be done easily through play if you are at home and have the time. If not, you can purchase your canine a couple of puzzle toys to leave around the house while you’re gone. This will give your pooch something to do while you’re gone and prevent them from getting into things in an attempt to find their fun.

If that doesn’t work, doggy daycare is always a great alternative to get your pup out of house and enjoy play time and enrichment with other dogs in a safe and supervised environment.

Doggie disasters are an inevitable part of owning a canine. However, by following these three principles, you can prevent many of these disasters from occurring.

At Bark + Boarding, we offer a unique boarding structure that gives your pet their own room for their bedding and toys, supervised play and regular meals and bathroom breaks in our outdoor run. This means less stress for your pet, and for you!

Looking for more tips, interested in adorable pet pics or just want to get more information on what we do? Stay connected with Bark + Boarding on FacebookInstagram and our website!

Click here to check out our short video about this article!

Mention this article for a FREE evaluation and click here to sign up for one today. If you have a question about your pet, feel free to come in, or email [email protected] any time.

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The Chew: Tips for Summer Travel with Pets

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 Chelsea Pennington, Bark + Boarding Writer and Animal Enthusiast

Summertime means vacations, and many of us want don’t want our pets to miss out on the fun! If you’re planning on traveling with your pet or looking for pet-friendly destination, we’ve got you covered.

Road Trips

When bringing your pet on a car ride, it’s important to make sure you’re prepared so that you and your pet have the best experience.

Before you leave for the trip, make sure your pet is familiar with riding in a car by taking them on drives, slowly building up the amount of time they stay in the car and rewarding them with treats.

When it’s time to leave for your trip, be sure to secure your pet. They may seem completely comfortable roaming free in the car, but you never know how they might react to the many loud noises that can happen on the road, and securing your pet will make sure they aren’t injured in case of any sudden stops.

Preferably, use a crate that the animal is able to sit, stand up, and lie down in and secure the crate within the car. If you decide not to use a crate for your dog, there are “doggy seatbelts” available, which are typically harnesses that can buckle into a seatbelt.

Be sure to bring lots of water and food for your pet, even more than you might think you’ll need, since traffic, car troubles or any other unexpected delays may extend your travel time. Make regular stops to let your dog use the bathroom or to clean out kitty litter, and ensure they are drinking enough water.

Never leave your pet unattended in the car, even if you have the windows rolled down or A/C running.

Air Travel

Flying with your pet may seem like a stressful situation, but with preparation and diligence it doesn’t have to be.

If possible, book a direct flight to your destination to minimize travel time for the pet and decrease chances of them having to sit out on the tarmac while luggage is relocated.

Buy a USDA-approved crate big enough for your pet to sit, stand and lie down comfortably in, and line it with bedding such as shredded towels that can absorb any accidents.

You can tape a small pouch of food on the outside of the crate for the airline staff to feed your pet if the travel time increases unexpectedly. For water, fill a bowl that can attach to the crate door and freeze it the night before. This way, it won’t spill during loading but will melt for your pet to drink as they get thirsty.

Be sure your pet has proper identification, and consider having your pet microchipped for extra security. Mark the crate with “Live Animal” and include your name, cell phone and destination number, and a photo of your pet, just in case they escape. You should also keep a photo of your pet on your person.

Don’t be afraid to be assertive when it comes to your pet’s well-being. Tell airline employees you talk to, whether on the ground or in the air, that you are traveling with a pet in the cargo hold, so that if there is a delay they’re aware and you can decide the best course of action, even if that means removing your pet from the cargo hold and deplaning.

If your dog meets certain size and weight requirements you may be lucky enough to bring your pet into the cabin of the plane with you! Check with your airline first and always be sure you have an airline approved travel bag where your pet can rest comfortably under the seat in front of you.

Before traveling whether by car or by plane, check with your vet first. Make sure your pet is in good health and up to date on their shots. If you’re concerned, you can ask about ways to relax your pet. Don’t try to sedate your pet without consulting with your vet first.

Now that you know how you’re getting there, where are some of the best places to visit with your pet?

Pet Friendly Destinations

Many cities across the U.S. know that pet owners don’t want to leave their furry friends behind on vacation, so they’ve become pet-friendly travel spots.

Visit the Red Bud Isle peninsula in Austin, Texas for lots of off-leash adventures and water to play in, and even pick up some doggy treats at the Groovy Dog Bakery.

Asheville, North Carolina boasts 220 acres of pet-friendly grounds at the Biltmore Estate, as well as the French Broad River Dog Park with a fenced-off, wood-chipped acre for pups to play in and a river to splash around in, too.

Keywest, Florida is always a popular vacation spot, and now your dog can join in on the fun, whether it’s running around on the Key West Dog Beach or getting out on the water with Lazy Dog Kayak.

If you’re looking for a more unique destination, check out Dog Bark Park Inn in Cottonwood, Idaho. A local couple who have spent decades as woodworking artists built the bed and breakfast to look like a giant beagle, which sleeps four people plus any furry companions!

If your dog loves socializing, check out Woofstock in Toronto. The largest outdoor festival for dogs in North America, Woofstock attracts hundreds of thousands of dogs and their owners each year to celebrate dogs and participate in wacky events, such as dog speed dating, Mr. and Mrs. Canine Canada, and the Running of the Pugs.

If traveling with your pets isn’t an option, boarding them is a great way to make sure they receive the care and love they deserve while you’re out of town.

At Bark + Boarding, we offer a unique boarding structure that gives your pet their own room for their bedding and toys, supervised play and regular meals and bathroom breaks in our outdoor run. This means less stress for your pet, and for you!

Looking for more tips, interested in adorable pet pics or just want to get more information on what we do? Stay connected with Bark + Boarding on FacebookInstagram and our website!

Click here to check out our short video about this article!

Mention this article for a FREE evaluation and click here to sign up for one today. If you have a question about your pet, feel free to come in, or email [email protected] any time.

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The Chew: Hot Weather Safety Tips for Pets

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 Chelsea Pennington, Writer and Animal Enthusiast

Summer weather can be great for swimming, hikes, and other outdoor adventures, but the heat can be especially hard on pets, so make sure you know the best way to keep your furry friend safe this season.

Overheating is the biggest danger in warm weather, so it is important to know the signs and keep an eye on your pet when they’re outdoors or in any warm location.

Symptoms include excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased respiratory or heart rate, drooling more than usual, mild weakness, lethargy or even collapsing. More severe reactions can occur when a pet’s body temperature reaches over 104 degrees, such as seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomiting.

Pets that are very young, very old, overweight, not used to prolonged exercise or have previous heart or respiratory disease are more susceptible to overheating. Certain breeds are also more prone, especially flat-faced animals such as pugs and Persian cats, since they have trouble releasing heat by panting.

If your pet does become overheated, knowing what to do and acting quickly can prevent it from getting any worse. Move your pet into shade or an air-conditioned area if possible. Apply ice packs or cold towels to their head, neck and chest, or run cool (not cold) water over them.

Drinking too much water at this point could be dangerous, so allow them to drink small amounts of water or lick ice cubes. If you suspect your pet may be overheating it’s always a good idea to call your veterinarian or take them in to be seen.

Of course, the best way to deal with heatstroke is to prevent it! One of the most important and easiest things you can do is make sure your pet is hydrated. Always keep a bowl of fresh, clean water available for your pets indoors and outdoors. When they’re outside, make sure they have access to shade.

A dog house is not a good solution since it doesn’t allow air flow; instead, rely on a tree or set up a tarp or tent to provide shade.

Take your dog on walks in the morning or evening when it’s cooler outside, and avoid having your dog walk on asphalt for extended periods. Asphalt can get very hot and potentially burn your pup’s paws, and since they’re closer to the ground the heat radiating off the surface can cause them to warm up even more quickly.

Bring water on walks to keep your dog hydrated, and consider investing in a cooling mat or vest that you can bring along to lower your dog’s body temperature.

Some solutions that seem like they would help humans in the heat can be unhelpful or even harmful to pets.

While it’s okay to shave down some dogs, many breeds should never be shaved. Many double-coated dogs, like Huskies, have a special coat that keeps them both cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

For cats, brushing more frequently than usual can help prevent problems caused by heat. If you decide to use sunscreen or insect repellant for your pet, be sure to use a product labeled specifically for use on animals, not just the bottle of sunscreen you have lying around from last summer.

One of the most important things to remember in hot weather is to never leave your pet unattended in the car. Temperatures inside a car can rise to dangerous levels within minutes, even when the windows are left cracked.

For example, on an 85-degree day, the temperature inside a car with cracked windows can reach 102 degrees in ten minutes, and after thirty minutes it can climb to 120 degrees. Your pet can suffer from irreversible organ damage, or even die.

Leaving a pet unattended in a car is illegal in many states, and be sure to know what your state’s policy is so you know how to react if you see a pet left in a car.

If it’s just too hot outside for exercise but your dog needs to burn some energy, Bark + Boarding’s Doggie Daycare is a great option. They are able divide their play space into different sized play zones that can be joined or separated to accommodate dogs in need of a calm break or those who require some extra enrichment activities.

Your dog will receive outdoor playtime and bathroom breaks and constant, professional supervision while they play. Just because it’s heating up outside doesn’t mean your dog can’t have fun!

Looking for more tips, interested in adorable pet pics or just want to get more information on what we do? Stay connected with Bark + Boarding on FacebookInstagram and our website!

Click here to check out our short video about this article!

Mention this article for a FREE evaluation and click here to sign up for one today. If you have a question about your pet, feel free to come in, or email [email protected] any time.

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The Chew: How to Make Your Dog a Better Neighbor

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.

Article provided by Tamara Gilmore at pupjobs.com

You adore your dog, but how do your neighbors feel about your pet?

If you’re not practicing good pet-owner etiquette, you could be unwittingly making enemies of your neighbors. For a more harmonious relationship between canines and humans, follow these dog etiquette tips.

At Home

Your house is your dog’s home too, but that doesn’t mean giving your pet free reign is always the appropriate choice.

When hosting guests, consider their comfort level around dogs. It’s good etiquette to let first-time guests know you have a dog before they come over. Ask if guests prefer that you close your dog in a room before their visit; Fido won’t mind a couple hours of solitude and it could do wonders to comfort a dog-fearing guest.

If your dog tends to jump on visitors, leash him before they arrive. That way, you can control the introductions and let your dog off leash once the initial excitement has waned.

If at any time your dog appears anxious or overstimulated while you’re hosting guests, shut your pet in a quiet room. Just because your dog is sweet and gentle with you doesn’t mean it will behave the same way around small children, big bearded men or another type of person it’s unfamiliar with.

If you’re unsure how to tell if your dog is feeling anxious, refer to this list from Doggone Safe. You can also use daycare as a great alternative to tire your dog out before guests arrive or boarding to keep your pup out of the home during extended visits.

In the Yard

A fence is essential for good canine-neighbor relations. A good fence not only keeps your dog contained, it also stops your dog from barking at passersby and keeps children and other animals out of your yard.

While chain link fencing may be economical, it’s not the most aesthetically pleasing choice. In addition, some dogs can climb the links to escape. Consider a wood fence instead.

While it’s more costly — Arlington, VA, homeowners pay an average of $1,700 to $3,833 to install a wood fence — it’s an attractive solution that will last for years to come. Wood fences are also easier to modify than other styles, so you can add a peekaboo window or other fence features that ease anxiety and reduce escape attempts.

While a fence is important, it doesn’t give homeowners carte blanche to leave their pets unattended in the yard.

A bored dog in the backyard is prone to tear up your landscaping, bark for no reason and experiment with new methods for escape. Keep an eye on your pet when it’s outside and always bring dogs in when they start to bark.

On the Go

Walks around the neighborhood are a great opportunity for your pup to mingle with the neighborhood dogs and make a good impression on their owners. But if it goes poorly, it could leave your neighbors crossing the street when you approach.

Maintain your neighborly etiquette on the go by always following local leash laws and picking up your dog’s waste on walks. Try not to let your dog urinate on neighbor’s yards. Instead, aim for parks and strips of grass between the sidewalk and road.

Always ask before letting your pet approach another dog. Even if your dog is the friendliest canine on the planet, other dogs may have aggression or anxiety issues. Asking first keeps everyone safe and prevents unnecessary stress.

If you have a dog who needs space while on walks you should consider joining The Yellow Dog Project.

The local dog park is a great place to let your pet romp with other dogs. However, dog parks aren’t suitable for dogs in heat, sick dogs or dogs who play rough with others.

While it’s fun to chat with other dog owners at the park, ensure you’re always keeping watch over your dog. If your pet is exhibiting bullying behavior or being bothered by another dog, leave and try again another day. The Atlanta Humane Society offers helpful tips for identifying and correcting bullying behavior in dogs.

If you’ve followed this advice and your pet is still causing problems with the neighbors, it’s time to seek professional solutions. Your dog may benefit from obedience training or working with a canine behaviorist, or he may simply need a dog walker to increase his daily exercise.

By finding the right solutions for your pet, you can enjoy a happier dog, happier neighbors and a happier you.

Looking for more tips, interested in adorable pet pics or just want to get more information on what we do? Stay connected with Bark + Boarding on FacebookInstagram and our website!

Click here to check out our short video about this article!

Mention this article for a FREE evaluation and click here to sign up for one today. If you have a question about your pet, feel free to come in, or email [email protected] any time.

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The Chew: Dog Friendly Spots Around Town

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 Chelsea Pennington, Writer and Animal Enthusiast

As the days get longer, we’re not the only ones who want to get out and have fun — our dogs want to come too!

Luckily, the Arlington and D.C. areas are full of parks, restaurants and businesses that love your dog almost as much as you do. We’ve rounded up some of the most popular so you’ll have plenty of adventures to choose from this spring.

Tucked away into a wooded area in Arlington, Glencarlyn Park offers access to nature for dogs and owners alike.

Dogs are free to go off leash, although it’s not fenced in so make sure your pup is well-trained. The area includes access to a small creek shallow enough for even small dogs to splash in without worry. The surrounding trees also provide shade for owners while their dogs play, as well as some paved trails you and your pup can spend time drying off on before heading back to the car.

A hidden gem right outside of D.C., Theodore Roosevelt Island provides amazing views of the surrounding areas as well as a network of trails criss-crossing the island.

Try the Woods trail that leads to the Memorial Plaza, featuring a statue of the island’s namesake, or the Upland trail that covers the length of the island and connects to many of the other trails if you feel like extending your walk.

Perhaps best of all is that both access to the island and parking are free. The parking lot is relatively small, however, so be sure to go at off hours or arrive early to get a spot.

If you need a fenced-in area for your dog to enjoy, check out Shirlington Dog Park.

There are separate areas for small and big dogs with plenty of room for running. There is a river nearby, although be careful about letting your dog swim in it as there is a potential for debris at the bottom of the river or bacteria in the water.

If your dog gets messy, there’s even a dog washing station near the middle of the park available for a small fee. It’s a well-kept area popular among nearby dog owners.

If you’re looking to grab a bite to eat but don’t want to leave your dog behind, consider visiting Texas Jack’s Barbeque on Washington Blvd in Arlington.

With a menu that boasts beef brisket, beef short ribs, charro sausage and fried chicken or pulled pork sandwiches plus a spacious patio where dogs are welcome, this is a great spot to hang out with friends, both human and canine.

Want to give your dog a chance to get outdoors, but still need to get work done? Grab some coffee and pastries at The Java Shack in Arlington.

Their outdoor patio welcomes dogs, and also has electrical outlets and free wifi so you can stay as long as you need. The staff is happy to bring out water bowls for dogs, and it’s even located next door to a pet shop if you want to pick up a treat for your pup while you enjoy your coffee.

On the first Monday of every month, bring your pooch and enjoy Yappy Hour at Tysons Biergarten.

Tysons Biergarten carries some of Germany and Belgium’s finest beers plus American craft beers and a menu with the perfect pairing for any drink you choose. The pub also offers a variety of games from Connect4 to cornhole.

Dogs are welcome anytime, but once a month Ambassador Pit Bull Alliance hosts Yappy Hour to bring in adoptable dogs and offer doggie treats for all pups.

If you’re looking for a calm indoor place to hang out with your dog, try East City Bookshop near Capitol Hill.

In this two-story independent bookstore, dogs are welcome to come hang out as you browse the shelves or cuddle up with a good book. The staff loves dogs and your dog is sure to love all the attention!

If you’re too busy with work or school but your pup still needs to burn some energy, Bark + Boarding is a great alternative to let your dog get some exercise and socialization.

At our doggie daycare, we consider your pup a part of our family, and do everything to ensure they have a fun and safe time. We have distinct play zones that allow for spaces to give dogs a calm break or give special attention to dogs with extra wiggles. Your dog will receive outside playtime and potty breaks in our outdoor run, constant professional supervision, as well as feedings and medication given at no additional charge.

No matter what works for you and your pup, be sure to take advantage of the sunshine and nice weather after a long winter!

Looking for more tips, interested in adorable pet pics or just want to get more information on what we do? Stay connected with Bark + Boarding on FacebookInstagram and our website!

Click here to check out our short video about this article!

Mention this article for a FREE evaluation and click here to sign up for one today. If you have a question about your pet, feel free to come in, or email [email protected] any time.

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The Chew: Seasonal Allergies for Pets


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 Chelsea Pennington, Writer and Animal Enthusiast

While springtime can mean warmer weather and outdoor adventures, for many humans it has them reaching for the allergy meds and tissues. Just like us, our pets can also suffer from seasonal allergies. If not treated, they can make life miserable for your furry friend.

We’ve collected some tips for determining if your pet has seasonal allergies, and how to help them.

Signs Your Pet May Have Seasonal Allergies

For humans, allergies commonly manifest as respiratory issues — sneezing, runny nose, etc. For pets, allergies take the form of a condition called allergic dermatitis. What this means is that if your pet has seasonal allergies, it will result in skin irritation or even inflammation.

Due to this, one of the most common signs of allergies is excessive scratching. In some cases, the animal might even bite at their own skin to relieve the itchiness. This can lead to sensitive, inflamed skin that only hurts more, and may even develop into hot spots, an infected area that will be bright red and may bleed. Hot spots are more common in dogs, but not unheard of for cats.

Another symptom that your pet might be suffering from allergies is obsessive licking of paws, face and other areas. This is related to the fact that histamines, triggered by the allergies, are pushed to the extremities in dogs and cats, and so these areas become the most irritated. Licking is one way your pet is trying to relieve the irritation at these areas, along with rubbing their face with their paws or scooting their rear end along the ground.

If your pet is shedding or dealing with dandruff more than normal, this may be a sign they are dealing with allergies. The allergies make their skin dry, resulting in dandruff. Excessive shedding could be a result of your pet over-grooming as they try to relieve themselves from the irritation.

If your pet seems like they have allergies year-round, or have digestive issues like diarrhea or vomiting, it may be a food allergy rather than seasonal, so you should check with your vet if you think that is a possibility.

For specific animals and breeds, other signs of allergies may be present. For dogs with long ears, such as hounds and cocker spaniels, ear infections are common and often associated with allergies. If your dog keeps shaking its head or its ears are red and waxy, they likely have an ear infection and will need to be taken to the vet for treatment.

In cats, feline asthma can be caused by allergies. These symptoms are similar to human reactions to allergies: wheezing, difficulty breathing, coughing. Feline asthma can become dangerous very quickly and so you should see your vet if you think your cat may have it.

What You Can Do About It

None of us like seeing our pets uncomfortable or in pain! Thankfully, there are some easy at-home remedies to help relieve your pet’s allergies.

Frequent baths help relieve itchy skin, as well as wash away allergens that may be clinging to your dog’s coat and making their allergies worse. When you don’t have time for a full bath, wiping their paws when they come in from outside is an easy and quick way to prevent them from tracking allergens throughout the house, which may help any owners with allergies also. Vacuuming and dusting regularly will also help to remove allergy-inducing particles.

To help soothe irritated skin, there are several options available. Try cleaning your pet’s skin with witch hazel, which is soothing and drying, moisturizing dry areas with coconut oil, or applying cool green or black tea bags to the skin. There are also some great, all natural products from EarthBath and kin+kind that offer relief.

In some cases, going to the vet may be necessary. If hot spots appear or the skin looks like it might be infected, causing a bad odor or lethargy in the pet, or if irritation doesn’t clear up in 48 hours, you should take your pet to the vet to seek treatment.

In the case of severe, chronic allergies, your vet may decide to test your pet for specific allergies and potentially develop an allergy shot that can help relieve the worst of their symptoms.

We all want our pets to be able to enjoy the outdoors just as much as we do, and being able to identify and treat seasonal allergies will help ensure they’re able to!

Looking for more tips, interested in adorable pet pics or just want to get more information on what we do? Stay connected with Bark + Boarding on FacebookInstagram and our website!

Click here to check out our short (approx 60 second) video about this article

Mention this article for a FREE evaluation and click here to sign up for one today. If you have a question about your pet, feel free to come in, or email [email protected] any time.

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The Chew: Flea and Tick Control for Springtime


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 Chelsea Pennington, Writer and Animal Enthusiast

As the weather warms up, no one may be more excited than our pets.

Spring and summer mean long walks, exploring nature and maybe even a hike through the woods. Unfortunately, these places are also common hiding spots for fleas and ticks. Whether you have an adventurous pup or an indoor cat, these pests can cause major problems.

To prevent fleas and ticks from bothering your pets and make sure they can enjoy the outdoors as much as possible, try following these tips.

Be on the lookout for pests

Whenever your dog comes in from the outdoors, especially if they’ve been near tall grass or wooded areas, inspect them for fleas and ticks. Fleas are usually too small to see, so look for “flea dirt,” or feces, which look like tiny dark clumps caught in your pet’s fur. Especially look for them in areas where the coat is thin, such as the belly, inner side of the hind legs and armpits.

If you see this telltale sign of fleas, you’ll need to bring you pet to your veterinarian for treatment. Ticks, however, can often be handled at home. Inspect for ticks, paying careful attention to your pet’s feet (including in between toes), on lips, around eyes and ears (including inside ears) and under the tail.

Use your hand to feel for small bumps in your pet’s fur — these could be ticks.

If you do find one, you might be able to remove it yourself. Using tweezers, grip the tick as close to the pet’s skin as possible. Pull the tick from the skin with gentle, steady pressure, being sure not to twist or crush it. Make sure you remove all parts of the tick, and if you think the head might still be lodged in the skin, take your pet to the vet for proper removal.

While the timely removal of ticks can help prevent secondary illnesses that can result from a tick bite, if you don’t feel comfortable doing it on your own, bringing your pet to the vet is the safer choice.

If you do remove it, you can either dispose of it by wrapping it in tape and putting it in an outside trash can, or you may want to keep it in a container to show your vet so they can know what kind of tick it was.

Maintain the environment

While it’s not possible to keep every single flea and tick out of your yard, there are some simple methods to decrease how many find their way in.

Keep your grass mowed short and keep shrubbery around your house well-trimmed. Remove any piles of leaves that accumulated over the cold months, as well as any fallen logs that may provide a good home to rodents, which are often the hosts of fleas and ticks.

If you want to be extra careful, consider having your lawn treated with flea and tick pesticides, a service offered by most yard care companies. Just be sure to keep your pets off the grass for a few days after the treatment is applied!

Taking care of your indoor space can also help prevent pests. Vacuum carpeted areas regularly, especially places where your pet likes to hang out, and empty the bag outside, not into your trashcan where the pests might still escape.

Cleaning or vacuuming your pet’s bed or sleeping area is also helpful to make sure it’s pest-free. If you do have a flea or tick infestation, it’s usually best to buy an entirely new bed, just to be sure.

Find a medicine that works for you and your pet

There are a variety of oral and topical medicines on the market, and many of them are very effective against fleas and ticks. Oral medicines kill pests after they bite the animal, while topicals aim to kill them just by contact. For this reason, topicals can be especially helpful for a pet that might have a fleabite allergy.

You should treat all of your pets, even if some of them never go outside. Fleas and ticks can be carried indoors on other pets, or even on shoes and clothes.

That being said, examining your pet’s lifestyle can help you decide which type of medicine to use. Cats who stay indoors need less aggressive treatments than a dog who is out playing in the woods and long grass. Talk with your vet before choosing any medicine to make sure it’s the best fit for your pet.

Also, it is critical to follow the labels of any medicine — if it is labeled for use on a dog, do not use it on a cat, and vice versa. If you have both and you’re looking to save money, choose a medicine that is labeled for both cat and dog use.

If you’d prefer to avoid the chemicals and use a natural remedy, Bark + Boarding’s shop carries several options.

One popular treatment is from Kin + Kind and comes in a shampoo formula for both cats and dogs, or a spray for dogs that you can apply as needed, such as before a long hike where pests are likely to be present. Since it’s made with all-natural and organic ingredients, you can also reapply it once you’re home without having to worry about introducing chemicals into your house or harming your dog by using too much.

Bark + Boarding shops also carry a peppermint-scented natural spray from Wondercide that can be used on pets as well as inside your house to treat interior spaces. It’s a great option for protecting a pet’s bed if the material can’t be put through the washing machine. Natural solutions such as these can be a good choice if you have small children around and want to be extra careful with what you bring into your house.

By following these steps, you can ensure you and your pets are able to fully enjoy the warm weather and sunshine!

Looking for more tips, interested in adorable pet pics or just want to get more information on what we do? Stay connected with Bark + Boarding on FacebookInstagram, and our website!

Click here to check out our short (approx 60 second) video about this article

Mention this article for a FREE evaluation and click here to sign up for one today. If you have a question about your pet, feel free to come in, or email [email protected] any time.

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The Chew: Make Your Home Safe with These Puppy Prepping Projects


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.

The day’s finally arrived to bring home your precious bundle of joy.

You’ve patiently researched and waited to adopt the perfect furry canine friend. You shopped for the cutest matching collar and leash. You bought the monogrammed doggy bowl. You studied which food would be the most nutritious. You even remembered to order their customized ID tag.

But did you remember that the plant in your backyard might be poisonous or that the medication on your bathroom counter is also a hazard? What about those piles of Legos in junior’s room, or grandpa’s old coin collection in the study?

Clean Up Toxic Substances

Go room to room to look for harmful substances that would be easily accessible. Where possible, switch to a pet-friendly product. If you need the item, say medicine for example, make sure to store it in a secure location. In particular, look for these ten items that were the most commonly ingested toxins in 2016, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

  • Garden Products — Fertilizer is particularly irresistible to pets.
  • Plants — Check all plants ahead of time to make sure your indoor and outdoor plants are safe. And if you get that special anniversary bouquet, make sure to check it too.
  • Rodenticides — Remember, mice and rat poisoning are meant to kill.
  • Insecticides — If you use these in the yard, store them where they can’t be accessed.
  • Chocolate — Keep this out of reach at all time.
  • Household Items — Tens of thousands of pets are poisoned by paint, glue and cleaning supplies each year.
  • Veterinary products — Even if you have a prescription for your pet, make sure they can’t access it outside of regular dosing times.
  • Food — Onions, garlic, grapes, raisins, alcohol and other human foods can pose serious threats to your dog. The best thing you can do is train your dog early to stay out of the kitchen.
  • Over-the-counter products — Ibuprofen is the number one reported OTC toxin.
  • Human Prescription Medications — The largest percentage of pet poisoning cases were due to the ingestion of owner’s medication.

Keep Bathrooms Safe

Bathrooms might seem like smaller areas that pose little risk, but they can lead to some serious accidents. Many dogs love the taste of fresh, cool toilet water.

You might think, “ewww,” but while it’s gross to you and me, it’s an enticing drowning risk to your new pup. Keep the toilet bowl lid in the down position. Similarly, if you fill the bathtub or the sink, make sure to empty them.

Prepare Electrical Cords

Another common household item that poses a serious risk to your new friend is an electrical cord. Puppies are known to chew on them, and this can cause burns, electrical shocks and even electrocution. Purchase and install spiral cable wraps or cord concealers to keep your pup safe.

Eliminate Suffocation Risks

Let’s get back to that pile of Legos and that coin collection. Many items found in your home can pose suffocations risks. Make sure to keep small items tidied up and away from your dog. It’s also important to pick the right size ball and chew toys. Selecting something too small could obstruct the airway if accidently swallowed.

Check your yard

Take a look at your fence line to see if there’s any way your new pup can escape. If there are small spaces big enough for your pooch to fit through, chances are he’ll make a run for it just because it’s fun. Also, are there tools or items that could be tempting for little puppy jaws?

Take stock of what could get your dog’s attention if you have to leave it outside alone.

Puppy-proofing may seem like a daunting task; there are so many things to consider. But making your new pup safe is worth the time and the little bit of money you may spend. By taking it slow and being prepared, you’ll be enjoying fetch, long walks, and cuddles in no time.

Remember, your friends at Bark + Boarding are always ready to answer any questions you may have when bringing a new puppy home. Bark + Boarding also has New Puppy Adoption Packages to set you up with everything your new furry family member may need!

Click here to check out our short (approx 60 second) video about this article

Mention this article for a FREE evaluation and click here to sign up for one today. If you have a question about your pet, feel free to come in, or email [email protected] any time!

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The Chew: Want to Include Rover in Your Wedding? Consider These Tips!


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.

Wedding season is fast approaching and many couples want their beloved four-legged companions to be part of the festivities.

Planning ahead is the key to incorporating your canine in the celebration and will help preclude any mishaps on your big day. Take into account the following factors when deciding if their presence will be a help or hinderance for either you or your pet.

Consider hiring a dog handler. If you’re concerned about the logistics of having your dog at your wedding, let Bark + Boarding be your dog’s personal assistant for the day!

Miranda Namrow of Arlington hired Bark + Boarding to dress, transport and handle her dogs Boz and Kobe at her October wedding to husband Mitch.

“Wedding planning is stressful, but having our pups with us on our wedding day was super important to us! It was such a relief to know our pups were not only in good hands, but would be dressed and delivered in time for our post-ceremony photos. They even helped get them to sit and settle down for the photographer!”

Will your dog be comfortable? Big gatherings such as weddings can be scary and overwhelming for a dog that does not adapt well to new environments or is uncomfortable around strangers. If your dog is fearful or shy around people, it’s best to leave her at home where she’ll be able to relax in the comfort of familiar surroundings.

In addition to Boz and Kobe, the Namrows have two other dogs, Barry and Jaxon, who did not attend the festivities. “Barry is a flight risk and Jaxon is not comfortable around new people, so there was no question that we would leave them at home” notes Miranda. “Their comfort level and safety were paramount.”

Check the location. Does your wedding venue allow dogs? Be sure to ask if your dog will be allowed in all areas or if there are certain areas that will be off-limits. Imagine the stress and disappointment if you’ve planned on having your dog walk the rings down the aisle only to discover ten minutes beforehand that she’s not allowed in the ceremony area.

The Namrows were married in a church in Old Town Alexandria, that did not permit dogs inside. They opted instead to include Boz and Kobe in several wedding photos taken on the grounds of the church.

Let everyone know. Inform your wedding party, guests and photographer well in advance of the event that your dog will be present. Not only is this common courtesy, but you want to provide people with pet allergies ample opportunity to prepare.

Practice makes perfect. Rehearse as much as you can with your dog before the big day and allow extra time to practice during the rehearsal so that she knows exactly what to do and when to do it.

Ensure that your dog is well-controlled around your guests. If your dog has a tendency to jump on people, teach her an alternative behavior such as greeting a person by sitting and offering her paw.

Most importantly, enjoy your big day and have fun!

Click here to check out our short (approx 60 second) video about this article!

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The Chew: Grain Vs. Grain-Free Pet Food

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 Chelsea Pennington

What your pet eats is vital to its health, so making the best choice regarding their food is important.

Since nearly every pet owner has an opinion on grain-free food and whether you should feed it to your pet, how can you know for sure what you should do for your furry friend? Bark + Boarding is here to help you sort through the information.

Is Grain-Free Best?

The primary argument supporters of grain-free food make is that the ancestors of modern-day animals were carnivores, and so it is more natural for our pets to eat meat.

Until the 1940s, dog and cat food was primarily moist and packaged in cans. As World War II began, the pet food industry switched to dry food, since it included less meat and could be packaged in bags rather than metal cans, which were also affected by rationing. While these dry pellets contained the necessary nutrition, they included more grain than found in previous products.

Grain-free foods also tend to have higher quality ingredients, such as real chicken, beef, salmon, eggs and other whole protein sources, which are generally better for your pet than the byproducts that are found in lower quality brands.

Because it is typically made of these healthier ingredients, grain-free food keeps animals fuller for a longer amount of time. Even though it is more expensive up front, the food should last longer and end up costing less in the long run.

A common belief is that switching to grain-free food can help alleviate food allergies. Although there is no solid scientific evidence to support this, it’s worth consulting your veterinarian about switching if you suspect your dog may have allergies caused by food.

What About Food Containing Grain?

While it’s true that the ancestors of dogs were carnivores, studies have shown that since dogs began living with humans, they have evolved genes for digesting grain and starches that wolves don’t have. This means that food with grain isn’t destroying your dog’s digestive system.

The grain-free movement in animal food didn’t develop until gluten-free and Paleo diets became popular among humans. Pet food marketers suspected that if humans considered certain elements as unhealthy in their own diets, they would believe they were unhealthy in their pets’ diets as well and began creating food to capitalize on this belief.

Low quality brands often rely too much on meat byproducts and starches such as potatoes to act as fillers in their foods. While this may not be detrimental to your pet’s health, it does mean you’re giving them food that in large part has no nutritional value and is simply meant to fill them up quickly.

However, if you buy high quality brands that are comprised of whole protein ingredients, these will likely be as healthy for your dog as the grain-free options.

Ultimately, it depends on each individual pet if grain-free is best for them. Consulting your vet is an important part of deciding whether to switch to grain-free food. Remember that it is important to introduce any new food slowly, replacing about 10 percent of their current food with the new brand each day.

Whether grain-free or not, you should look for food that has protein sources listed as the first ingredient and doesn’t rely heavily on additives and unnecessary fillers like low-quality meat byproducts and starches.

Bark + Boarding sells a variety of high quality grain-free and grain food and treats from which to choose. Being smart and attentive to your pet’s diet is the best way to ensure they are receiving the proper nutrition they need to stay healthy and thrive.

Click here to check out our short (approx 60 second) video about this article!

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The Chew: Proper Puppy Socialization and the Well-Balanced Dog

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 Lisa Stolaruk, Writer and Animal Enthusiast

Daisy, my childhood companion and protector, was a sweet and loving Maltese/Wire-Haired Terrier blend who was the absolute light of my young life.

She was my “velcro dog” whose sole purpose of existence was to ensure that I was always safe and happy. Yet, life with Daisy was not without its challenges, particularly when friends prepared to leave the house. At the first sign of departure, which was usually marked by rising from their seated position, Daisy would begin barking aggressively, charging toward them and retreating and guarding the front door.

She never barked when people came into the house, but her aggressive behavior when they tried to leave was not only frightening but baffling.

Why and how did Daisy develop this odd behavior? No one will ever know for sure, but it’s safe to assume that the lack of proper socialization as a young pup somehow provided the foundation for the problem.

Three weeks to three months of age is the optimal time for a pup to bond to other animals and individuals, to learn that objects, people and environments are safe, and to recognize the meaning of body cues and signals from others. Puppies who are not adequately socialized during this period may become fearful of unfamiliar people, dogs, sounds, objects and/or environments.

Why Socialize your Puppy?

Your pup’s entire environment is new, strange and unusual, so consider everything he encounters as an opportunity to make a positive association.

Try to come up with as many different types of people, places and noises as you can and slowly expose your puppy to them. If possible, have him walk on carpet, hardwood, tile and linoleum floors. Have him meet an older person, a child or teenager, a person wearing sunglasses, a man with a beard or wearing a hat, a person using crutches. Expose him to vacuums and brooms, cars, buses and trucks.

Be creative and make each experience positive. Always reward your pup with plenty of praise and treats when he reacts to new situations in a calm and curious manner.

Start Small  

Try not to overwhelm your pup; too much too soon can be counterproductive. If you observe your pup’s tail tucked, his scruff raised or his body rigid, step into a safe zone and let your pup decompress.

If you want your puppy to get accustomed to being handled by multiple people he doesn’t know, start with a few family members and slowly integrate one stranger, then two and so on. Taking your puppy to a party or a very busy urban area can result in a negative reaction to groups of strangers in the future.

If you are a single adult, a couple without children or a senior citizen, introducing your puppy to children of all ages will reap incredible benefits as your pup ages. Invite neighbors or relatives with children into your home for supervised play with your pup but be sure to coach the young ones first in gentle and respectful puppy handling.

Take Advantage of Free Supervised Puppy Socials

After all that hard work, make sure your pup is afforded plenty of opportunity to play! Bark + Boarding offers free puppy socials every Saturday from 10:30 a.m. till noon. There’s no need to reserve in advance; just bring your pup and we’ll take care of the rest! Proof of vaccines required; call 703.931.5057 for more information.

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The Chew: Playing it Safe — Fun Feline Toys and Tools

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 Lisa Stolaruk, Writer and Animal Enthusiast

Enhancing for your cat’s mental well-being is just as critical as providing for its physical welfare. Ensuring your cat’s mental and emotional needs are met helps to promote a more fulfilling life, fewer behavioral issues and encourages the two of you to forge a stronger bond.

Safe Play is Fun Play

Whatever types of enrichment you choose for your cat, make sure your cat plays safely. It’s well known that cats love strings. Yarn, ribbon, tinsel, thread, twine, shoelaces, rubber bands, hair ties and cords are all prime targets for a cat’s stalking, pouncing and thrashing instincts. Unfortunately, these are all very dangerous items for your cat to play with.

If you’ve ever had a cat lick you, you’re aware of how rough the feline tongue feels. The reason for this is that a cat’s tongue is covered with backwards-facing barbs. These barbs are useful when cats groom themselves, because they make pulling out loose fur much easier. In the wild, the barbs would also help pull meat from bones.

Due to the direction they face, the barbs on a cat’s tongue do not allow a cat to spit anything out once it is caught on the tongue. Items such as yarn or string are easily snagged on the barbs, and quickly swallowed. The result? A possible intestinal blockage requiring emergency surgery.

Self-Play Toys

Self-play toys are those that your cat can play with on their own. Toys that encourage chasing and pouncing are typically the most enjoyable for cats. Some simple and inexpensive options are cardboard boxes, large paper bags (with the handles removed for safety) and crumpled-up pieces of paper.

Other commercial items to consider are Savvy Tabby Wild Time Catnip Mouse toys and Kong Incline Scratchers which are both sold at Bark + Boarding. Remember to observe your cat after you give it a new toy to make sure your cat is playing in a safe manner.

Interactive Toys

Interactive toys help strengthen the bond between you and your cat by letting you share fun and positive experiences. Both you and your cat can have a great time playing with wand-type toys with strings, feathers or fabric strips attached. A variety of wand toys are sold at Bark + Boarding including Neko Flies Wands and Savvy Tabby Tickle Teaser Wands.

Food Puzzles

Foraging toys (also called food puzzles, puzzle feeders and treat dispensers) help satisfy a cat’s instinct to search for food. A foraging toy is also a wonderful tool to use if your cat eats too quickly. You fill the toy with dry kibble or treats and the cat quickly learns to manipulate the toy to release the food, which slows the eating process.

You can also make your own food puzzles. There are numerous videos and articles on the internet which demonstrate how to make cat toys or puzzle toys. One of the easiest options is to “scatter feed”: simply toss your cat’s kibble on the floor and let it find and eat all the pieces. To provide more of a challenge, hide small piles of kibble around the house and let your cat search and “forage” for its meal.

Remember, safe play is fun play, and providing appropriate mental and physical stimulation for your cat will reward you both for many years to come.

Mention this article for a FREE evaluation and click here to sign up for one today! If you have a question about your pet, feel free to come in, or email [email protected].

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The Chew: Proposed Legislation Restricts Dog Playgroups

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.

Click here to check out our short (approx 60 second) video about this article!

By Lisa Stolaruk, Writer and Animal Enthusiast

I remember vividly the first time I dropped my dog off for daycare at Bark + Boarding in Baileys Crossroads, VA. While aware that every dog undergoes a thorough and comprehensive evaluation process whereby trained daycare staff gauge their reaction to other dogs of various sizes, breeds and temperaments, I was admittedly a nervous “dog mom.”

Imagine my delight as I spied her romping and playing enthusiastically with a Vizsla easily twice her size and a small Bichon Frise trying to join in the action! It was also comforting to see two daycare attendants weaving in and out of the playgroups, ever watchful and ready to intervene the moment a dog gets a bit rowdy or overly excited.

The owners, managers and staff of daycare facilities such as Bark + Boarding understand the importance of integrating dogs of all shapes and sizes and have implemented safeguards to ensure that all dogs under their care experience an enjoyable and secure environment. Legislation introduced by Virginia Delegate David Yancey (R-Newport News) would undermine these efforts if signed into law.

House Bill 79 requires that an employee be present when one dog has physical contact with another dog and imposes weight restrictions and limits on the number of dogs in playgroups. For example, the proposed bill stipulates that there can be no more than five dogs in a group of dogs that weigh between 15 and 29 pounds, and no more than two dogs in a group of dogs that weigh more than 75 pounds. In all, the bill would require a minimum of five separate playgroups, with each group being supervised by a staff member.

“There is no evidence that combining dogs of different sizes is unsafe or puts the dogs at risk. In fact, we found the opposite to be true,” says Ryan Fochler, owner of Bark + Boarding. When Fochler first added dog daycare to his business, he segregated the dogs into three distinct playgroups based on size. “Altercations were quite common, particularly among the small dog group.” Fochler sensed there was a better way and began slowly integrating the groups. It worked.

“Dogs that are of similar temperament and personality is what’s important, not size. Creating an environment that minimizes risks and making sure the dogs feel secure, unthreatened and comfortable in that environment” is the key to success, according to Fochler.

If passed, the legislation would have a profound impact on daycare companies in Virginia and potentially animal rescues as well. The cost of renovating existing facilities and hiring and training additional daycare staff to supervise multiple playgroups would be prohibitive to small business owners, clients and rescues. “We’d be forced to close our doors,” says Fochler. “The real losers would be the dogs who would no longer benefit from the social, emotional and physical benefits that supervised group play and interaction provide.”

Pet service companies, rescues and interested citizens are encouraged to contact Bark + Boarding at 703.931.5057 or [email protected] for additional information and guidance on opposing the legislation.

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