Dogs make us healthier

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Contributed by Amber Drake

There’s no surprise here that animals have long been our support when handling medical problems. They’re able to help someone with limited vision make their way through the store safely. They can help reduce the anxiety of someone who suffers from panic attacks. And, they help us, as humans, be more social.

They do it all! They’re part of the key to our happiness in life… don’t you agree? Let’s talk about some of the benefits of having a dog in your life in further detail.

DOGGIES HELP LOWER OUR BLOOD PRESSURE

If you’ve been watching the news, you have probably heard that dogs can help reduce our blood pressure. How can this possibly be true?

The term used at this point has been coined the ‘pet effect.’ There have been several studies conducted; however, a study conducted by the University of Maryland Hospital requested 60 participants. This study found simply by petting a dog, the average person’s blood pressure drops over ten percent!

THEY INCREASE SOCIAL CONNECTION

Dogs can help us feel more comfortable in ‘mingling’ type situations. Most people don’t want to go to the park, to a local BBQ, or anywhere else there will be ‘strangers.’ Dogs help in these types of situations. And, they’re a great way to break the ice.

Most people love dogs. Take your dog for a walk around and you’ll probably have people approaching you asking if they can pet her.

If you have some type of condition like PTSD or social anxiety, this adds to the level of difficulty when approaching an unknown situation. Dogs help people with these conditions feel more secure in public.

Those with PTSD can also rest assured their dog is watching their back. Our dogs have sharper senses than we do. They can hear a noise before we do. They can hear noises we can’t. They can ‘smell danger.’ Having a dog to ensure you’re safe can help tremendously.

THEY PROVIDE COMPANIONSHIP

If you have ever visited a nursing home, or worked in one, you may have noticed there are dogs who come and visit the elderly. The companionship dogs offer, even if just for an hour, is unparalleled.

Dogs offer everyone unconditional love. They love you no matter what. Regardless of what you look like, what you sound like, what condition you have. They love you flaws and all.

They’re also great for those who don’t have human companionship. They’re your best friend.

Dogs give a sense of purpose

Dogs can also provide you with a sense of purpose. And, you provide them with a sense of purpose too.

Many times, people who are suffering from depression, severe anxiety, and/or PTSD may feel as if their life lacks purpose.

Parents who have ‘empty nest’ syndrome can also benefit from a dog’s companionship. A dog can help to feel the void you feel when your kids go off to college. You’ve cared for your child for 18+ years. Now what? A dog can keep your mind busy and you can take care of one another.

THE BOTTOM LINE ON HEALTH AND DOGS

If you’re considering adopting a puppy into your family, understanding all of the health benefits in addition to their pure love, is important to understand and appreciate. Your dog could be one of the best things to ever happen to you.

If you have never had a dog before, you’re in for a real treat. You will find out your dog has a soul unlike any other. He loves you more than life itself. That kind of love is near impossible to find.

And, if you’re experiencing any type of health condition, adopting a dog could be just what the doctor ordered.

 

Potential Hazardous Household Items

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Submitted by Amberly from Bones and Blogs

Within the past few weeks I have found that I have come across a number of articles/blogs with titles along the lines of “I didn’t know this common household item would be harmful to my dog”. And out of the articles I have read- I didn’t know these items were damaging either, I even personally own some of the things on the list.

With this brought to light, I wondered “what other potential hazards are lying in wait around my home?”

Here are a few of the findings that I didn’t know were potentially harmful to my dogs.

- Essential oils – essentials oils are a new trend in the holistic wellness community. They are known for their variety of benefits as well as the many ways it can be used i.e. absorbed through the skin, water soluble, ingested, diffused into air/water vapor etc. While these are currently some of the most “natural” holistic remedies on the market- some are still harmful to dogs. For example Tea Tree Oil can be absorbed orally or through the skin. While .1% of tea tree oil is tolerated and safe for pets, larger increments can cause visual skin irritation and rashes as well as other ailments or illnesses… and this is one of the most commonly used essential oils in homes today. You can put a few drops of Tea Tree oil in your diffuser every day and be unknowingly poisoning your pet.

- Xylitol – a common substitute for sugar and other sweeteners. Xylitol can cause low blood sugar inducing seizures, liver failure, or even death in dogs. Other miscellaneous items that may contain Xylitol gum, toothpaste, mouth wash, lotions and deodorants. Even foods stating “sugar-free” can still contain Xylitol.

- Tulips – Tomatoes, lilies, tulips and other plants and flowers are considered to be in the Nightshade family, and can be toxic to dogs. Remember this the next time your significant other surprises you with a just because bouquet!

- Heavy Metals – It should probably go without saying that heavy metals aren’t the best chew toy for a dog. But when you break it down to paint chips from an old piece of furniture or pennies forgotten in the couch cushions, it seems much more plausible, right? These metals contain toxic variables such as led.

- Fabric Softener Sheets – Yes we all love that fresh + clean new sheet smell – but certain fragrant chemicals within fabric softeners can be harmful when directly put into contact with your dog. Here are some dog safe laundry brands for those of you who aren’t willing to compromise those sweet smelling sheets!

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Stay safe!

Amberly of Bones and Blogs

4 Steps to Successful Leash-Walking

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Contributed by Amber Drake

There’s a common misconception that dogs automatically understand how to walk on a leash. But, this is a skill that needs to be learned by your dog. Dogs are not ‘natural leash walkers.’ Fortunately, this is a simple skill to teach in most cases.

The most effective way to train your dog to walk on a leash is step-by-step. Take small steps to acclimate your dog to this ‘unnatural’ behavior.

Step 1: Introducing the Collar and Leash

You should begin this process by allowing your dog to become familiar with the collar/harness and the leash. Place the collar or harness on your dog, then clip the leash to your dog’s collar, but don’t hold onto the leash.

Allow your dog to wear the collar and leash throughout the house while giving her treats. Using this step, your dog will associate the collar and leash with treats and happiness.

Step 2: Understanding the ‘Come’ Command

The next step is teaching the ‘come’ command. If he already knows the ‘come’ command, that’s perfect. We’re ahead of the game. If not, this is a skill that must be taught prior to walking on a leash outside (for safety precautions).

In this scenario, let’s say your dog already knows the command. Say ‘come’ and then reward your dog with a treat (with the collar and leash on).

While he’s still heading your way, begin walking backwards and provide the reward (treat, kibble) when he gets to you. If you have a puppy, this process will take more patience. Puppies have very short attention spans. But remember, patience is key.

Step 3: Practice Leash-Walking Inside

At this point in the process, your dog should understand how to come to you… and feel comfortable with the leash and collar on (from Steps 1 and 2). You can now practice walking on the leash in your home.

While you’re walking on the leash, reward your dog often. You may want to provide kibble in this step, so your dog doesn’t go over her treat limit. If you feed your dog too many treats, she could easily become obese. And, that leads to a range of other problems we simply don’t want.

Step 4: Let’s Go Outside

If your dog did well with steps 1-3, you can now go for a leash walk outside and test out her freshly-learned skills.

Don’t get upset if your dog struggles on her first few walks outside. Even though your dog has mastered steps 1-3, you may still face challenges in this step.

There will be all kinds of sounds, sights, and smells your dog may have never smelled before (especially if you have a puppy). And, if you have an adult dog, they may still smell, see, or hear things they haven’t heard before and want to explore just as much as a puppy.

At first, keep the walks short.

We know you want to go on long walks, but this takes time to master.

If your puppy or dog becomes distracted on your walk, re-direct his attention to you and continue walking.

What Should I Do?

There could be a few problems you run into. Don’t worry. Problems with leash-walking are common, and they’re generally easy to fix.

The first problem… what if my dog pulls on the leash? If your dog starts pulling, you should stand completely still and refuse to move until your dog comes back to you. You should never jerk the leash, or drag your dog, as these actions could severely hurt your dog.

Another note to add, if your dog is a puller, a front-hook harness or head halter is recommended as these are designed for dogs who pull on the leash.

The next common problem… what if she won’t stop barking? Some dogs have a barking issue when they’re going on their first walks. They aren’t sure what’s going on in the world surrounding them and may feel compelled to bark at the unknown (strangers, cats, other dogs, etc.). You can reduce this behavior by exercising with your dog before their walk.

Then, there’s the constant sniffing. Dogs want to smell everything. If your dog wants to stop at every step, you might be giving them ‘too much leash.’ Retractable leashes are not recommended for this reason… especially while training. Of course, there are times when it’s okay for your dog to sniff and explore. And, as your walk with your dog, she will learn when it’s appropriate and when it’s not.

The Bottom Line on Leash Walking

The most important thing to take out of this article is… be patient and understanding. Learning how to walk on a leash is a process for your dog. And, it’s not a natural behavior. Just like going ‘potty outside’ must be learned, leash walking is a process that we desire as humans that must be learned.

If you’re having a hard time getting your dog to walk on a leash properly, you should consult a Canine Behaviorist or Dog Trainer for additional tips.