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Episode 811 – The New Normal: Distance Learning & Telecommuting

Victoria and Aly talk about how to be more effective when learning and working from home. Social distancing is the thing these days, but how do we keep from going nuts and what are the best practices to stay productive and efficient when working or learning from home. Dealing with the social aspect of isolation. Aly shares some top tips for how to be productive while staying home, including staying engaged and avoiding passivity. The use of rituals of physical, technical and mental preparation in staying efficient at home.

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CBD Oil for Dogs with Arthritis

Golden Retriever

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common ailment in dogs, affecting as many as 25 percent of all canines over the course of their lives. If your pooch has lost some of the spring in her step, seems to have more stiffness after regular activity or shows a reluctance to do things she used to enjoy, OA may be the cause.

Unfortunately, osteoarthritis—aka arthritis—is a progressive disease, and it is important to have a veterinarian assess your dog at the first signs of pain or changes in mobility. Developing an early treatment plan is critical to doing all you can to slow the damage this degenerative condition can do to your dog’s joints as she ages.

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Three Secrets to Safe & Effective Exercise for Your Dog

It’s no secret that exercising your dog can lead to a happier and healthier pup – not to mention a quieter house and a happier you. The complication is that exercising your dog takes time and sometimes we struggle to find time to exercise ourselves. However, without safe and effective exercise, your dog can gain weight, risk costly injury, and tear apart the house in response to pent up energy. Consider how you exercise your dog now: perhaps you play tug with your Chihuahua in the living room, jog or play fetch with your active retriever, or ask your senior mixed breed to sit in the kitchen — all of these activities can exercise your dog both physically and mentally. Let’s further explore how you can make the most of your time with your dog while safely and effectively gaining the benefits of exercise.

Here are three secrets to safely and effectively exercising your dog through activities and games that you probably already play.

1. Discuss with your veterinarian

Before beginning any exercise (even training class!), it’s important to get a full health check with your local veterinarian. Let your vet know which activities you are thinking about pursuing, and ask which activities would be most appropriate for your dog’s age, musculoskeletal structure, and preferences. Remember, just like with children, jumping from high places or playing on hard surfaces can be detrimental to joints. Be sure to ask how long the activities should last, how intense they should be, and about any necessary equipment or weather precautions. Just because your dog wants to fetch constantly, doesn’t necessarily mean that this high impact, sustained exercise is healthy. Describe the activity and environment to your vet in detail, and be sure to get clearance before enjoying with your pup.

2. Explore variation

After speaking with your veterinarian about appropriate activities for your dog, plan to vary the types of activities each day. If your veterinarian approved some shorter distance jogs for your pup, perhaps the next day you could spread his food in the backyard as a scavenger hunt. Varying high intensity with low intensity workouts is just as stimulating for your pup, and the variation will keep him engaged. You can also vary exercises within the activity itself. For example, if you frequently throw a ball or disc for your dog until she lies down and pants, consider asking for tricks between different types of throws. By varying distances and body movements you can help your dog regulate her arousal and stay safe.

3. Remember warms up & cool down

Before beginning any activity, it’s important to set up your dog for success. Dogs have the same basic musculoskeletal components as people, and therefore they can sustain similar injuries from rigorous use or clumsy accidents. However, dogs are more athletic compared to humans (even your couch potato probably has a higher VO2max than you!), and they can exert a lot of energy at playtime. It’s important to warm up and cool down your dog’s muscles before use. Consider the type of exercise and what body parts are involved, and plan for a warm up. For example, if you’re about to open the back door for your dog to dash out with his powerful hind legs, take a couple walking laps around the living room first. Ask for a few repetitions of sit and put a treat in front of his nose to lure him in a few circles before opening the door. Much like a short jog, squats, and plyometrics before a sprint, these exercises can help protect your dog’s soft tissue before dashing off. The easiest part is that the same exercises can be performed in reverse for a quick cool down.

Using these three secrets, you can safely and effectively exercise your dog in the same amount of time and help you and your pup enjoy the benefits. Through warms ups/cool downs and varying your dog’s activities you can tire your pup out in no time at all. Talking to your veterinarian about the type, duration, and intensity of activity can also tailor the exercise to your dog and avoid costly injury. 

Many caretakers believe that their dog needs to sprint in order to get tired, when in reality sniffing, training, or a combination can be just as taxing. Check out the table below for more ideas! Challenge yourself this week to change one thing about your dog’s exercise routine, and see if you enjoy a calmer, healthier dog!

 

Activity

Variation

Warm up/cool down

Hide a treat/toy in the house

High/low places, obstacles, multiple rooms

Walk laps, sits, crawls

Sniffy walk

Hide treats, change route

Walk laps, sits

Tug

Side to side, stop/go, 2 tugs

Jog laps, play bow, weight shift

Fetch

Short/long distances, walking breaks, sit/down/spin/beg/back

Jog laps, downs, circles

Jog

Walk/run, canicross, sniff breaks

Sniff, walk laps, sits

 

 

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An Update on Foster Puppy Coco

If only it was summer. I have been so eager for the end of the hot, dry weather that characterizes every summer in my area is famous for – but now that I’m fostering a dog who would really benefit from swimming, I’m reneging on all my wishes for rain and lower temperatures. 

Coco is the little dog I first wrote about here. She’s an estimated six months old (this has been revised upward, given better exams of her teeth, which we can now examine at will). She can’t walk or trot like a normal dog, due to an as-yet undiagnosed problem with her hind legs, which only move together like a bunny or a kangaroo. (Speaking of kangaroos, a friend who is a regular volunteer at a zoo tells me that kangaroos can’t use their hind legs individually, either; they, too, apparently can *only * hop. Huh!)

For the past two weeks, I’ve been waiting for an appointment with a veterinarian who could actually see Coco move, to get a better idea of what’s going on with her. In the meantime, I’ve been working with Coco daily, doing some physical therapy exercises I found online for dogs who are recovering from injuries or surgery (this site has great descriptions and videos; here’s another video that shows a hind leg range-of-motion exercise I’ve been doing with her).

Based on my understanding of physical therapy, I’ve been speculating that whatever the cause of Coco’s condition may be, her brain is unaccustomed to exercising the nerves that trigger a normal movement pattern, so any exercise that send signals to the brain regarding new, better (more normal) movement options would be beneficial. To that end, swimming is often considered as one of the best therapies for issues like Coco’s. It’s non-weight-bearing and completely novel, which may be enough to help initiate the brain’s signals to kick her legs in the normal way for a swimming dog.

There is a river and several large lake-like reservoirs locally where I can take Coco and my other dogs to swim – but the water is FREEZING cold. I know that seems weird, given the hot weather. But the river and the reservoirs where I can take the dogs are downstream from the Oroville Dam – the tallest earthen dam in North America. This means that the water that comes out of the bottom of that dam is coming from a very deep, cold place. The water is super cold, which is a delight in super hot weather – but not great when the ambient temperatures drop, and not great for physical therapy-type swimming (which is typically conducted in warm pools, which keep the muscles loose and relaxed).

The lake behind the dam is warmer, at least at the kind of shallow depths that dogs swim in. But it’s been accessible only for the past week or so; miles and miles of its shoreline and tens of thousands of acres around it were burning until very recently. But finally, the other day, the planets lined up and I had a day off when it was hot and I got to take the dogs swimming.

Woody came along to the vet with us; his friendly, steady bulk makes Coco feel more confident in every new situation. When we first entered the vet’s exam room, Woody went right for one of the client chairs – and Coco jumped right up to sit with him. (Yes, the hospital has several “clinic cats”.)

Alas, we swam enough that I could see that Coco quickly started swimming in the same way that she runs: “dog paddling” with both front legs normally, and stroking both hind legs at the same time – essentially bunny-hopping in the water, too. It wasn’t a wasted trip by any means, though; Coco had fun in the water and running (hopping) along the shore with Woody, and the extra swimming time (and a life jacket) made her that much more comfortable in the water than she had been the first time I took her swimming. At the very least, I’m hoping that when I am able to find a pool or underwater treadmill for more therapy, she’ll be more comfortable and happy in the water. If this warm weather persists, we’ll go back to the lake for more non-weight-bearing exercise. It absolutely can’t hurt. 

Until today (as I write this) Coco hadn’t been seen by a veterinarian who had seen her move; she was still frozen with fear of people and the novel situations she had been thrust into when the North Complex Fire prompted area-wide evacuations. Today was a breakthrough for several reasons: A veterinarian finally saw her move! The clinic I took her to, in order to see this specific veterinarian, is back to allowing clients to come inside the clinic again – so I was able to go inside and discuss Coco’s history with the veterinarian, in person! We waited for out appointment outside, we wore masks, we paid for the visit and scheduled another while in the exam room, among other COVID-era accommodations – but at least I could go inside with Coco! And the vet was able to touch Coco without any party experiencing any fear – Coco is now experienced enough with humans that she allowed the vet to pet and massage her body and flex her joints, and the vet was without fear that Coco might bite her in fear! I could have cried!

After the vet examined Coco, the little dog felt comfortable enough to sit in her own chair in the exam room.

I was, at a minimum, hoping for a referral to a veterinary neurologist at the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (VMTH) at the University of California – Davis. But the vet who examined Coco thinks that her issues are not necessarily the result of some exotic neurological condition; she thinks that it’s likely that Coco was injured as a very tiny puppy, possibly even as she was born, and that the neurological “wiring” for a normal gait might still be sparked into action through physical therapy and exercises targeted to build her hind-limb muscles. In addition to practicing conventional veterinary medicine, this veterinarian also uses complementary therapies including acupuncture and chiropractic, and she suggested that Coco could really benefit from both continued physical therapy exercises and some acupuncture and laser therapy treatments. Excellent! We made another appointment for next week.

My most dog-crazy friend, Leonora, lives about a mile away from me. She is the owner of Samson, Woody’s tiny little buddy since they were puppies. Like me, Leonora fosters for our local shelter, and she was fostering a litter of six tiny puppies who were the exact same age as the litter of nine big puppies I was fostering five years ago. We both, without consulting the other, ended up keeping a puppy from our respective foster litters. She kept the tiniest pup, Samson; I kept the largest pup, Woody. We (all four of us) attended the same “puppy kindergarten” classes (Puppy 1 and 2) and Samson and Woody often play and hang out with each other, best of buddies in spite of their 65-pound size difference.

Despite the 65-pound difference in size, these two have been best friends forever.

Anyway, Leonora recently had to say goodbye to her senior dog, and no doubt because her house seems empty with just one tiny dog in it, she volunteered to have Coco stay at her house when I’ve had to pull a volunteer shift or even just go to town for errands. Having Coco spend time (and some nights) at Leonora’s house has given Coco experience with more humans and dogs, Samson someone to play with, and Woody gets a break from the constant attention he gets from Coco otherwise. (She’s sort of smitten with him, and who could blame her!) Leonora also helps with Coco’s PT exercises and she’s falling for the goofy little dog, I can tell.

That said, we’re not talking about permanent placement anywhere yet. We won’t be looking for a permanent home for Coco until we know that we’ve done everything we can to get her to move more comfortably and confidently through the world, so those wonky back legs have the best chance of remaining problem-free and arthritis-free as long as possible.

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Meet Amos

Amos loves to play tug-of-war and take long walks with his people. When it gets chilly, he will crawl under the covers to get warm

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Understanding Your Dog Better

Learn to read canine body language
Lili Chin and 16-year-old Boogie

If you’ve seen an illustrated canine-body-language chart, odds are Lili Chin did the artwork. Shelters, veterinarians, law-enforcement training programs, the World Health Organization, the Dog Decoder mobile app and even the Swiss Fire Brigade have used her work to help people understand what dogs are telling them so that everyone remains safe. Now, she’s captured a decade’s worth of experience with this important subject in her new book, Doggie Language. In this Q&A, we dig into the details.

 

Bark: Why is it important for people to be able to understand and speak “dog”?

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Dog Zoomies with GoPro in Amazing Video

This silly video made us laugh out loud. Bonnie, a rescue Pit Bull, plays a game of chase with a GoPro in tow as her owners trail behind her. The GoPro, attached to a ping pong paddle, gives us the most amusing perspective on Bonnie’s antics including her adorable flapping ears.

One reddit user comments “The best part is when she stops, then goes again when she sees the guy chasing her. She’s absolutely having a blast and deliberately staying just out of reach, so she gets chased. It’s a game to her and she’s so excited to win.”

Watch Bonnie hilariously romp around her yard evading her owners and the other dogs in the yard then read up on seven fun games you can play with your dog and see more dog zoomies.

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16 Pounds of Fury and Love

Convincing my partner to adopt a dog took years.
Lounging Dog

Once the seed for a dog has been planted, it grows until the desire is unbearable. I found myself wandering through Central Park pointing out every single—and I mean every single—person with a dog, asking, “Why does she get a dog and I don’t?” This started as a joke, but after our wedding, it turned into a serious question. The question became harder and harder for him to answer.

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Three Secrets to Safe & Effective Exercise for Your Dog

It’s no secret that exercising your dog can lead to a happier and healthier pup – not to mention a quieter house and a happier you. The complication is that exercising your dog takes time and sometimes we struggle to find time to exercise ourselves. However, without safe and effective exercise, your dog can gain weight, risk costly injury, and tear apart the house in response to pent up energy. Consider how you exercise your dog now: perhaps you play tug with your Chihuahua in the living room, jog or play fetch with your active retriever, or ask your senior mixed breed to sit in the kitchen — all of these activities can exercise your dog both physically and mentally. Let’s further explore how you can make the most of your time with your dog while safely and effectively gaining the benefits of exercise.

Here are three secrets to safely and effectively exercising your dog through activities and games that you probably already play.

1. Discuss with your veterinarian

Before beginning any exercise (even training class!), it’s important to get a full health check with your local veterinarian. Let your vet know which activities you are thinking about pursuing, and ask which activities would be most appropriate for your dog’s age, musculoskeletal structure, and preferences. Remember, just like with children, jumping from high places or playing on hard surfaces can be detrimental to joints. Be sure to ask how long the activities should last, how intense they should be, and about any necessary equipment or weather precautions. Just because your dog wants to fetch constantly, doesn’t necessarily mean that this high impact, sustained exercise is healthy. Describe the activity and environment to your vet in detail, and be sure to get clearance before enjoying with your pup.

2. Explore variation

After speaking with your veterinarian about appropriate activities for your dog, plan to vary the types of activities each day. If your veterinarian approved some shorter distance jogs for your pup, perhaps the next day you could spread his food in the backyard as a scavenger hunt. Varying high intensity with low intensity workouts is just as stimulating for your pup, and the variation will keep him engaged. You can also vary exercises within the activity itself. For example, if you frequently throw a ball or disc for your dog until she lies down and pants, consider asking for tricks between different types of throws. By varying distances and body movements you can help your dog regulate her arousal and stay safe.

3. Remember warms up & cool down

Before beginning any activity, it’s important to set up your dog for success. Dogs have the same basic musculoskeletal components as people, and therefore they can sustain similar injuries from rigorous use or clumsy accidents. However, dogs are more athletic compared to humans (even your couch potato probably has a higher VO2max than you!), and they can exert a lot of energy at playtime. It’s important to warm up and cool down your dog’s muscles before use. Consider the type of exercise and what body parts are involved, and plan for a warm up. For example, if you’re about to open the back door for your dog to dash out with his powerful hind legs, take a couple walking laps around the living room first. Ask for a few repetitions of sit and put a treat in front of his nose to lure him in a few circles before opening the door. Much like a short jog, squats, and plyometrics before a sprint, these exercises can help protect your dog’s soft tissue before dashing off. The easiest part is that the same exercises can be performed in reverse for a quick cool down.

Using these three secrets, you can safely and effectively exercise your dog in the same amount of time and help you and your pup enjoy the benefits. Through warms ups/cool downs and varying your dog’s activities you can tire your pup out in no time at all. Talking to your veterinarian about the type, duration, and intensity of activity can also tailor the exercise to your dog and avoid costly injury. 

Many caretakers believe that their dog needs to sprint in order to get tired, when in reality sniffing, training, or a combination can be just as taxing. Check out the table below for more ideas! Challenge yourself this week to change one thing about your dog’s exercise routine, and see if you enjoy a calmer, healthier dog!

 

Activity

Variation

Warm up/cool down

Hide a treat/toy in the house

High/low places, obstacles, multiple rooms

Walk laps, sits, crawls

Sniffy walk

Hide treats, change route

Walk laps, sits

Tug

Side to side, stop/go, 2 tugs

Jog laps, play bow, weight shift

Fetch

Short/long distances, walking breaks, sit/down/spin/beg/back

Jog laps, downs, circles

Jog

Walk/run, canicross, sniff breaks

Sniff, walk laps, sits

 

 

The post Three Secrets to Safe & Effective Exercise for Your Dog first appeared on Victoria Stilwell Positively.

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Three Secrets to Safe & Effective Exercise for Your Dog

It’s no secret that exercising your dog can lead to a happier and healthier pup – not to mention a quieter house and a happier you. The complication is that exercising your dog takes time and sometimes we struggle to find time to exercise ourselves. However, without safe and effective exercise, your dog can gain weight, risk costly injury, and tear apart the house in response to pent up energy. Consider how you exercise your dog now: perhaps you play tug with your Chihuahua in the living room, jog or play fetch with your active retriever, or ask your senior mixed breed to sit in the kitchen — all of these activities can exercise your dog both physically and mentally. Let’s further explore how you can make the most of your time with your dog while safely and effectively gaining the benefits of exercise.

Here are three secrets to safely and effectively exercising your dog through activities and games that you probably already play.

1. Discuss with your veterinarian

Before beginning any exercise (even training class!), it’s important to get a full health check with your local veterinarian. Let your vet know which activities you are thinking about pursuing, and ask which activities would be most appropriate for your dog’s age, musculoskeletal structure, and preferences. Remember, just like with children, jumping from high places or playing on hard surfaces can be detrimental to joints. Be sure to ask how long the activities should last, how intense they should be, and about any necessary equipment or weather precautions. Just because your dog wants to fetch constantly, doesn’t necessarily mean that this high impact, sustained exercise is healthy. Describe the activity and environment to your vet in detail, and be sure to get clearance before enjoying with your pup.

2. Explore variation

After speaking with your veterinarian about appropriate activities for your dog, plan to vary the types of activities each day. If your veterinarian approved some shorter distance jogs for your pup, perhaps the next day you could spread his food in the backyard as a scavenger hunt. Varying high intensity with low intensity workouts is just as stimulating for your pup, and the variation will keep him engaged. You can also vary exercises within the activity itself. For example, if you frequently throw a ball or disc for your dog until she lies down and pants, consider asking for tricks between different types of throws. By varying distances and body movements you can help your dog regulate her arousal and stay safe.

3. Remember warms up & cool down

Before beginning any activity, it’s important to set up your dog for success. Dogs have the same basic musculoskeletal components as people, and therefore they can sustain similar injuries from rigorous use or clumsy accidents. However, dogs are more athletic compared to humans (even your couch potato probably has a higher VO2max than you!), and they can exert a lot of energy at playtime. It’s important to warm up and cool down your dog’s muscles before use. Consider the type of exercise and what body parts are involved, and plan for a warm up. For example, if you’re about to open the back door for your dog to dash out with his powerful hind legs, take a couple walking laps around the living room first. Ask for a few repetitions of sit and put a treat in front of his nose to lure him in a few circles before opening the door. Much like a short jog, squats, and plyometrics before a sprint, these exercises can help protect your dog’s soft tissue before dashing off. The easiest part is that the same exercises can be performed in reverse for a quick cool down.

Using these three secrets, you can safely and effectively exercise your dog in the same amount of time and help you and your pup enjoy the benefits. Through warms ups/cool downs and varying your dog’s activities you can tire your pup out in no time at all. Talking to your veterinarian about the type, duration, and intensity of activity can also tailor the exercise to your dog and avoid costly injury. 

Many caretakers believe that their dog needs to sprint in order to get tired, when in reality sniffing, training, or a combination can be just as taxing. Check out the table below for more ideas! Challenge yourself this week to change one thing about your dog’s exercise routine, and see if you enjoy a calmer, healthier dog!

 

Activity

Variation

Warm up/cool down

Hide a treat/toy in the house

High/low places, obstacles, multiple rooms

Walk laps, sits, crawls

Sniffy walk

Hide treats, change route

Walk laps, sits

Tug

Side to side, stop/go, 2 tugs

Jog laps, play bow, weight shift

Fetch

Short/long distances, walking breaks, sit/down/spin/beg/back

Jog laps, downs, circles

Jog

Walk/run, canicross, sniff breaks

Sniff, walk laps, sits

 

 

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