Healthy Happy Hounds

In honor of Responsible Dog Ownership Month (September) and Pet Obesity Awareness Day (October 7th) we thought we would give a few tips and ideas for exercising your dog while being responsible and courteous to others.  After all we live in the U.P. and it’s nice to get out and enjoy the wonderful place we call home.  Taking your dog with is just an added bonus. That being said, ensuring your dog gets the right kinds of exercise will go a long way to keeping your dog healthy.

Just like people, dogs can get too much of a good thing. But too little exercise is a bad thing as well. Your dog is a unique individual and it’s important that you tailor an exercise program that’s suited to him/her. Take into account your dogs condition when starting an exercise program. If your dog is overweight or out of shape, it’s important to begin slow and ease into it gradually.  Having an exam done on your dog is also something you should do before beginning. Your veterinarian could potentially find an issue with your dog that might restrict some of the activities you had planned. During an exam the doctor will listen to their heart and lungs. They will also check your dogs range of motion in their joints to let you know if there is anything out of the ordinary.

Planning ahead is a good idea as well. Your dog will need a few supplies when adventuring outdoors. Whether you’re planning a day at the beach or camping multiple nights in a remote location, remembering to pack for your dog will make your trip that much more enjoyable.

Here is our list of useful things to bring along:

  1. Fresh water and a collapsible bowl
  2. Treats
  3. Current ID tags/microchip – We carry Home Again here at Northern Vet
  4. Sturdy leash, collar and maybe a harness- Keeping your dog leashed is the only way to keep his sense of adventure from getting him into trouble.
  5. Doggie bags for waste- Please pick up after your pet!
  6. First aid kit
  7. Towel to clean your dog
  8. Doggie backpack if your dog is healthy enough to carry some weight
  9. Bed or blanket
  10. Pad protective booties for rocky/rough terrain, snow or ice
  11. Doggy life jacket

If you need help finding any of these items our local pet stores carry many of them and you can always order online from places like Ruff Wear. We at Northern Veterinary are always willing to help you adjust and fit your new gear for your dog as well. Just give us a call. (906)485-6145

Now that you have a list of some safe products to take along, it’s time to pick out what exercises you would like to try with your pooch.

Here are some ideas for exercising your dog:

  1. Walking/ Hiking
  2. Running/ Rollerblading
  3. Backpacking/Camping
  4. Swimming – Make sure to check if the beach is dog friendly ahead of time.
  5. Stand Up Paddle Board/ Kayaking/ Canoeing
  6. Fetch
  7. Agility/ Tracking/ Dock Diving or some other canine sport
  8. Canine Events – We just had  Strut your Mutt September 17th at Lower Harbor. This winter there will be skijor races and next summer there will be the Doggie Dash around July 4th in Marquette.
  9. Training Class- Even if your dog is already well behaved you might be surprised by how much you learn taking a training class. It’s a good bonding experience for both of you. We have our own trainer here, Deb Young, who does one on one training. If you’re looking for a group class we can send you in the right direction. For more information, give us a call at (906)485-6145.

Winter Activities:

  1. Skijoring – Do you enjoy cross country skiing? Why not teach your dog to come along? Make sure to get a proper harness for pulling.
  2. Snowshoeing
  3. Training Class

If you yourself can’t get out and about with your dog, here are some ideas to keep your dog mentally stimulated:

  1. Inside Games
    • Hide and Seek
    • Fetch
    • Indoor Agility- Try setting up a makeshift obstacle course for your dog.
    • Doggy Play Date – Does your dog have a favorite doggy friend? Invite them over for a play date in the back yard.
    • Interactive dog toys and puzzles
  2. Bring your dog on a Doggy Date
    • Pet Store-Just walking the aisles gives your dog lots of scents to smell and people to socialize with.
    • Veterinarian- Stop by anytime, get your dogs weight checked and let your dog visit with the receptionists.
    • Coffee/Dinner at a dog friendly restaurant. Many places have outdoor dining that is pet friendly if your dog is properly behaved.
  3. Consider getting a Dog Walker
  4. Training Class

Planning a proper exercise program for your dog will help ensure a long, happy and healthy life for your pet. We hope you get out and enjoy the great outdoors!