Category Archives: exercise

Popular Myths About Dogs: DEBUNKED!

Dogs are fascinating creatures. They are loyal, adventurous, curious, able to work dozens of different jobs and be our most loving companion. But there are many things we don’t know and understand about our four legged friends, and as it often happens, misunderstanding breeds misinformation. The dog world is filled with misconceptions and myths about dogs, from behavior to getting rid of worms.

Here is a list of some common dog misconceptions, a little insight into what’s actually going on:

Myth #1: Dogs only see in Black and White:

Some Russian scientists took this popular myth and turned it on it’s head. Research has proven that dogs actually see in shades of blues and yellows, but can’t see shades of red. Who knew?! Check out this link to read more.

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I love that blue shirt you’re wearing!

Myth #2: If you put garlic on your dog’s food, will it help get rid of his worms?

You’ve clearly never read my post about human foods dogs should avoid. Forget you ever heard this one. Garlic can actually be very harmful to a dog’s health, so just stick to putting garlic in your spaghetti sauces.

Myth #3: You can calculate a dog’s age by multiplying it’s human years by seven:

Research has actually shown this method to be outdated. By the time your dog reaches one year, they’ve already become a talking-back teenager, and the way they age varies from as they get older. Check this chart for exact conversions.

Myth #4: A cracked window is enough on a hot day:

Not even going there. Just read this

Myth #5: You can’t teach an old dog new tricks:

I can attest that this couldn’t be further from the truth. Sure, older dogs may suffer from hearing or vision loss, but that doesn’t mean they lose their ability to learn. This myth seems more like a human insult than a dog one.

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I may be old, but I can still learn!

One of the first lessons I teach parents about puppies is how to reduce biting. Simply give them a treat, and if their teeth touch your fingers too aggressively, pull the treat back and make a loud pitched noise. The dog will know to slow down in order to finally get the treat. I have used this trick on much older (8, 9, even 13 year old) dogs and it works great! They’ve learned a simple, new trick, and I get to keep all my fingers!

Still don’t believe me? Check out this video of MythBusters putting it to the test.

Myth #6: A dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s mouth:

Back story: Dog saliva was once believed to be antiseptic, and some people still believe it has healing properties. No one knows how that belief came to be, but it is still a common myth today. Trust me, a dog’s mouth is not “cleaner” than a person’s mouth. Dog saliva is capable of fighting off some bacteria, but carries it’s own army of bacteria and infectious organisms. The types of bacteria carried by humans and dogs is different, mostly because of the differences in diet. There is a reason for the term, “dog breath.”

Myth #7: Sex, litters and fixing your dog:

While compiling this post, I was surprised to see that lots of people wait before getting their dog neutered or spayed because they believe letting their dog have sex is a good thing, or that they need to have one litter  of puppies “for the experience.”

But that’s simply not true. Sex results in puppies without homes or a good support system. Female dogs will not miss “the experience” of having a litter. There remains some controversy as to how early you should have a dog fixed, not fixing your dog leads to further animal population and control issues.

Myth #8: A fenced yard should be entertaining enough:

How would you liked being locked up in one space for long periods of time? The world is full of smells, sounds, animals to socialize with and trees to pee on. It’s important that a dog is exposed to all these things, not only for their socialization, but so they have the mental and physical stimulation to keep them from becoming destructive.

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Sometimes adventure lies outside the backyard!

Myth #9: My dog should tolerate anything my children do:

This is a good way for your child to get a nasty bite wound. Children are terrible with boundaries, and they need to be taught to respect their doggie companions. Allowing a child to sit, tug on or tease a dog is disrespectful. Dogs are living animals that should be cared for, not tormented.

Myth #10: My dog understands me when I talk to him:

Even I fall into the trap of thinking I can “talk” to my dog. While dogs can understand about 500 words and a very talented Border Collie named Chaser can understand thousands, when we talk to our dogs they focus in on a few words, our tone of voice, facial expressions, and our body language.

Myth #11: Dogs wag their tail when they are happy:

A dog trainer I worked with actually debunked this for me. Dogs wag their tail for many reasons, but typically it’s because they are either happy or nervous. The important thing here is that you learn to read a dog’s body language. A stiff, rigid appearance is a good sign that your dog is nervous, even if their tail is wagging. Being able to read a dogs signals will go a long way to building strong relationships with them.

Who knew the dog world was filled with so many myths?

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New Year’s Resolutions

That time has come again for everyone to make resolutions and give themselves two weeks of new hope to start the new year.

I for one am going to start running more, drink less, and get back to doing hot yoga. I have all these plans to eat better, read more, watch less Netflix and expand my business.

Seriously, I’m going to do all of these things!

You see, I have a secret weapon this year. Her name is Pickle, my sweet, hyper, lovable puppy that has entered into her “I’m going to drive you crazy with all my energy and newly found sense of adventure” phase. Over the past week or so it has become painfully apparent that the one hour walk each day won’t be enough to make Pickle nap during the day. It’ll take more than 20 minutes of food games and fetch down the hallway. So clearly we’re going to have to start running or else I’m going to go bananas trying to keep Pickle busy. Our 6am potty breaks mean not going back to bed, but instead getting up, running, doing my pushups and chin ups, and mixing up a protein shake. I’ll feel so good about myself I won’t feel like a fourth beer or a Big Mac (okay, maybe I’ll run that extra mile instead).

Physical resolution: Check.

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With all of the physical demands that come from Pickle becoming more of a brat, and with the need to expand my knowledge as my dog walking business grows, I’ll be forced to read more articles and books related to dog behavior and training. Say adios to all those status updates and tweets. I won’t have time to watch as much TV or as many episodes on Netflix, and my brain won’t feel like mush at the end of everyday.

Educational resolution: Check.

I’ll be the first to mention that training Pickle has been fairly easy, but there have been some low points. She has been so great with her potty training and commands that we forget sometimes that she’s a puppy, so when she gets distracted by an off leash dog or a squirrel, I sometimes lose my patience. Then those sweet eyes pull me back in and I can’t help but want to get on my knees and apologize to her. But as we progress with our training, and as we figure out ways to wear her out, I can take the time to take a deep breath and help her calmly and with patience. Then maybe I won’t get so easily overwhelmed by my day full of puppy play and training. It’s so hard being me!

Emotional resolution: Check.

Okay, here’s a tip for any inspiring business person. If you want to get the word out quick about your business, rent a puppy. Seriously, there are services for that. Anyway, I’m not exactly a social butterfly, so openly talking about my business is tough, no matter how excited I am about it. Pickle has given me the best ice breaker into building a client base and talking about my walking services. I want to become more vocal about all the excitement in my life, and I resolve to exploit Pickle’s cuteness to do so. I want to expand my business and become more financially stable. It’s been too long since I’ve been able to say that, it’s about time I take the plunge and start networking!

Business resolution: Check.

Every year I make small promises to myself to get a ripped set of abs, earn more money and spend less time playing with social media. This year, I am writing it all down to stay accountable. Feel free to call me out on it, and I can do the same for you! Luckily I have the power of a rambunctious puppy to keep me on track. Hopefully this year will be my year!

I’ll check back in with you on December 31.

Entertaining your Puppy on the Cheap

Puppies are expensive. Often times there are adoption fees, vaccinations, vet bills, food, snacks, bedding, training, and so much more, and those are just the essentials! It’s easy to suffer from a little sticker shock when you start adding up the dollars necessary for raising a puppy (but they are so worth it!).

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When it comes to entertaining your dog with toys and games, it’s easy for that dollar amount to skyrocket. A quick search on PetCO.com revealed toys as expensive as $41.24 (that’s after a 25% discount!), and toys on average sit between $10-15. So stockpiling your dogs toy bin can be quite difficult.

Luckily, there are alternatives! With Pickle, we’ve made some great discoveries about ways to keep her entertained and ways to stimulate her body and her mind. Here are a couple tips and hints about entertaining your puppy on the cheap:

Where to Shop:

Skip the big name stores and go to second-hand stores. Store’s like Marshal’s and Ross are great places to pick up the same puppy toys as Pet Co, but at half the cost (not to mention dishes, leashes, etc)! The fun part is a store like Ross does not track their inventory from store to store, so shopping in their stores is like a scavenger hunt for new goods! Fun for your inner shopper, and a huge payoff to your pup (and your wallet!).

For a little more adventure, we’ve gone toy shopping in Goodwill and thrift stores all across Seattle. Goodwill has a great pet section, sure, but the pay off is finding a fun stuffed animal from the kid’s toy aisle. Kira came back with a stuffed horse and a mopey Eeyore that drove Pickle nuts! I think the smells from these toys cannot be replicated, so it puts her on sensory overload when we play with them. For an added bit of fun, we bought a giant stuffed bear (for $6) that Pickle wrestles with and uses as a dog bed. We ran it through the dryer on high to kill any possible bugs, just in case.

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Make sure if you are purchasing none dog approved toys from thrift stores that you remove any hard plastic eyes or attachments so your pup doesn’t choke. Also make sure they don’t eat any of the stuffing from inside as it could cause blockage issues. There’s a little extra work needed, but worth it!

In your Home:

Believe it or not, your home is already a great resource for dog toys (if your pup chews on everything, maybe it’s not a surprise). The crunching and texture of a plastic soda bottle mimics the same crunchy texture inside loads of existing dog toys. Before Pickle’s jaws were strong enough to cause problems, we would give her glass bottles that she could nose around the floor (she tried and tried to get the sugary drink from inside the bottle). Any old or torn shirts can be balled and knotted up to create toy ropes. It’s recycling for your dog!

Pro tip: At the bottom of any treat bag is a pile of crumbs. Don’t through them away! I mixed mine with some water and pumpkin puree, and then froze it in an ice-cube tray. Now, whenever Pickle is bothering me in the kitchen, I can toss her a cube and it’ll keep her busy for a couple minutes. Long enough for me to finish cooking dinner.

Mind Games:

We’ve covered toys, what about games? A dogs easily exhausted if they are mentally stimulated, and simple scavenging games can exhaust your pup while buying you a couple minutes to breathe. Our game is quite simple, and quite effective. The set up is simple. Lay some of your pups favorite treats on the ground, then cover it with a blanket. Lay some more treats, add some toys, fold over the blanket, and repeat (as many times as you can). Your dog will have to dig through all the blankets and queue into their scavenging instincts, exerting both physical and mental energy.

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Your dogs are precious members of the family, and as owners we want to give them everything to ensure they have a happy life. Unfortunately the bill can get out of control before we have time to realize. Luckily, there are simple ways to give your dog lots of joy and entertainment, all it takes is a little creativity in your day. So get out there and spoil your pups!

Have any insider tips on puppy entertainment? Share them on Facebook, Twitter and show off on Instagram!

Why I Love Being a Dog Walker

I consider myself a lucky man. Everyday, get to earn my living doing the things that I love, how many people can say that?

In the evenings, I am a math tutor, enriching the lives of young students and helping them to unravel the intricacies of numbers and equations. I get to be a mentor and an educator, not only helping kids to navigate the windy roads of the classroom, but also the roller coaster they call life.

But during the day, I get to do something else that I truly love: walk dogs. Now that may cause some to question my background and my goals (not to mention my sanity). So let me lay it out for you: I am a college grad, where I double majored in mathematics and business economics. My father always pushed me to be a teacher, yet I graduated more trained to work as a bank teller, able to work money and do all kinds of calculations. My path was leading me to a career behind a desk. Yet, something about that wasn’t very appealing. Why would I want to sit at a desk, cooped up and isolated from the wonderful things that this city has to offer?

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Well, I didn’t want to. Then I walked into a job as a kennel assistant, handling 30+ dogs everyday and interacting with their owners, building relationships with the two-legged and four-legged friends. I built a love for obedience training and the commonalities that existed between working with dogs and kids. Especially the light bulb that hits them when a lesson finally hits home. Every time it happened, it was a new reason to pursue a job I loved.

So now, instead of showing up and facing coworkers shut up in windowless offices and choking on a necktie, I am welcomed into every home by a loving four-legged friend who only wants to attack me with kisses and love. How would you feel if you were welcomed into your job everyday by someone who expressed unconditional happiness and appreciation to see you? I wish all my math students felt that way.

How could that not rub off on me? It’s impossible to spend my day upset and to let anything stress me out. Do the dogs push my buttons sometimes? Sure. But a wag of their tail or a glance from their pouty eyes melts my heart, and any anger slips away, forgotten.

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Furthermore, Seattle is an amazing place to explore, with all its nooks and crannies and mazes of parks and side streets. Dog walking has given me an opportunity to discover the nuances of neighborhoods that would have otherwise gone unexplored. Everyday, I find a new little library, a piece of street art, or even poem benches.

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With every new neighborhood comes a new population of people to meet and have conversations with. Dog owners tend to be really social, and lots of people love to stop and chat about their dogs (and mine). Not only do I have the privilege to see the attractions in each neighborhood, but I get to meet the people who live and raise families there. Dog walking is like one big networking opportunity!

I know, your gut reaction is to say there is no way that a person can make a living doing this. But trust me, Seattle is a city booming with dog owners, and is a place in great need of decent dog walkers and sitters who can give their dogs dependable care. And I would be lying if I said it was easy (I still tutor for a reason). Besides, getting paid to be a pooper-scooper and running the potential of getting caught in the cold and wet weather makes me question my job choice.

But if I have to risk the one day every week that I may get caught in the rain, it is worth it to spend hours in the wonderful parks Seattle has to offer, meeting her residents and learning about her neighborhoods. The result was Paw Prints Seattle, my ticket to running my own business (thus justifying all those accounting and management classes I took in college) and going to work everyday with a smile on my face.

What’s not to love?