You Can Speak Dog Too. Here’s How

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Communicating with your dog is a two-way street. While you’re teaching her to understand and accept primate language, you can also learn and use canine body language. This will greatly enhance your relationship and your training program, since your dog can respond very quickly when she realizes you are speaking Dog. It’s also a useful skill to have when you’re meeting or interacting with a strange dog.

The following tips on human’s body language are applicable when interacting with any dog, but are especially important when dealing with a fearful dog, or any dog who appears worried or unsure about an interaction. Adopt mannerisms and teach others who interact with your dog to do so as well.

1. Let the dog come to you. If a dog is frightened, she must be allowed to decide whether or not to approach. It’s never a good idea to restrain a dog and force her to accept contact from others. Remember the “fight or flight” response; if the opportunity for flight is taken away, a dog’s choices are limited.

2. Turn to the Side. Facing a dog directly is more confrontational than keeping your body turned partially or completely to the side; even turning your head to the side will make a frightened or worried dog feel less anxious.

3. No staring, please! A direct stare is a threat in the animal kingdom. It is perfectly fine to look at a dog; just soften your expression and don’t hard stare directly into her eyes. Do not allow children to put their faces near your dog’s face or to stare into her eyes. Adults who insist on direct eye contact with strange dogs also tend to get bitten.

4. Don’t hover. Leaning over a dog can cause the dog to become afraid and possibly defensive. When we bend over dogs to pet them or to cuddle them, we are unwittingly offering a posture of threat and intimidation.

5. Pet appropriately. Approaching dogs by patting them on the head is ill-advised. Envision the interaction from the dog’s point of view; a palm approaching from above can be alarming. It’s not that dogs should never be petted on top of the head, but that head-patting (or petting over the dog’s shoulders, back, or rump) should not be used as an initial approach. It is wiser to make a fist, hold it under the dog’s nose is to allow her to sniff, then pet the dog on the chest, moving gradually to the sides of the face and other body parts, assuming the dog is comfortable. Likewise, a hand moving in quickly to grab for a dog’s collar is more potentially fear-inducing than a hand moving slowly to a dog’s chest, scratching it, then moving up to take hold of the collar.

6. Stoop, don’t swoop. Small dogs in particular are often swooped down upon when people want to pick them up. Fast, direct, overhead movements are much more frightening than slow, indirect ones. To lift a small dog, crouch down, pet the dog for a moment, then gently slip your hands under her belly and chest, and lift.

7. Watch your smile. While humans interpret a smile as friendly, a dog might not be as fond of seeing your pearly whites. A show of teeth is, after all, a threat in the animal kingdom. Smile at dogs with a closed mouth.

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Hidden Health Benefits of Pet Ownership

Dog KissWe’ve all heard that pets are man’s best friend, but did you know that they can also provide health benefits beyond just being your side kick?

The Benefits of Companionship
Pet ownership can be both emotionally and physically rewarding. Emotionally, pets can provide a constant source of unwavering love and nonjudgmental companionship. This devotion has been proven to provide physical benefits to human health. A recent study published in Circulation, an American Heart Association journal, outlined the bevy of health benefits related to owning a pet.

Pet ownership has been shown to help with systemic hypertension. An Australian study noted that pet owners had significantly lower systolic blood pressure and body mass index (BMI) than non-pet owners. A similar study from 2012 showed that married couples with pets had lower diastolic and systolic blood pressure than those without a furry friend in their lives.*

Lower Cholesterol
Being a pet parent can also help to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. It’s been proven that men who own pets are more likely to have lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels than non-pet owners in the same age group. On the other hand, a second study showed that those without dogs were more likely to have elevated serum cholesterol levels and diabetes mellitus than dog owners who regularly participated in physical activity with their pets.

Owning a dog has been shown to increase physical activity levels in owners as well. An Australian study showed that dog owners were 57% more likely to meet the recommended level of physical activity compared to nonowners. A Canadian study showed that dog owners walked an average of 300 minutes per week, as opposed to the 168 minutes walked by nonowners. No significant association of increased physical activity was noted with cat ownership, which isn’t particularly surprising.

Weight Loss and a Healthy Heart
Your faithful companion can also help with weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight. Pet owners who walk their dogs had a lower BMI when compared with dog owners who didn’t walk their pet and non-pet owners. Young children had a lower risk of being overweight or obese if their family had a dog.

People with pets had significantly lower baseline heart rate and blood pressure with small increases associated with stress compared to non-pet owners. Similar cardiovascular reactivity was seen with dog, cat, goat, fish, chimpanzee, and snake ownership.

In the Cardiac Arrhythmia Suppression Trial (CAST), dog ownership was associated with lower mortality in patients with cardiovascular disease when compared with non-owners. Cat ownership did not show a deceased mortality. Also, the potential for one-year survival post myocardial infarction (heart attack) was higher in pet owners than non-pet owners.

While a pet should never be adopted purely for the health benefits they may provide, these benefits can be seen as an added bonus to being a pet parent.

The Dog Nanny Website

Workout with your Dog

Put the Work Into the Workout

Walking is one of the best forms of exercise there is, but for workout walks to be a fitness building experience, you will need to do more than just a regular walk at your regular pace. As with any workout, aiming for a variety of aerobic activity, some strength building, and some flexibility exercises will give you a well-rounded fitness routine.

Keep in mind that most health experts recommend that we exercise at a moderate intensity. What does that mean? For the human half of the team, a good rule of thumb is that if you can talk while you walk, you are moving at about the right pace. However, each of us is an individual, so you may want to talk with your health care provider or fitness trainer to develop your personal goals.

There are several strategies for turning a basic dog walk into a fitness-building workout. A great idea is to vary your approach and try for one or more of the below suggestions on different days of the week.

(1) Step up the pace. Perhaps this is obvious – but it is also one of the best strategies for building fitness. When you head out for a walk, warm up for the first 5 to 10 minutes, and then challenge yourself to move at a quicker pace than you normally would.

(2) Go long. Increasing distance is another great strategy. Make some days your long walk days, and increase your normal distance or time.

(3) Try intervals. Interval training is when you take small chunks of time – say 30 seconds to several minutes – and work out at a higher intensity, followed by a rest cycle. So, for example, on a walk, you could walk fast or even jog for one block getting your heart rate up, and the next two blocks walk at a normal speed to let your heart rate recover (go back to normal).

(4) Climb to new heights. Walking hills (assuming your knees and back can handle it!) are a great way to add difficulty to your workout and also some strength training for your legs.

While out on your walk, at a park or other quiet location, give your dog a sniff break or ask for a stay while you do some calisthenics, stretching or strength building exercises. Try squats, lunges, calf-raises. Add in some vertical pushups off of a building or pole and some leg-lifts and tricep dips on a park bench for a full body workout.

These are tips that will get both you and your dog moving in a fitness direction, but it may not sound like much fun for your canine pal. In order to make it a positive experience for you both, add in some fun time.

Dog Depression: How to Spot it and Treat It

Depression is relatively common in humans, and recent studies have shown that cases of dog depression may be just as frequent. According to Healthline, it is estimated that 17.3 million adults in the United States suffer from depression. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) documents that approximately 9 percent of Americans report that they are depressed at least occasionally, and 3.4 percent suffer from “major depression.” Additionally, approximately 7.1 percent of American adults have at least one major depressive episode in a given year.

Unfortunately, dog depression is harder to spot, despite being just as common.

Signs of Depression in Dogs
Just like with humans, every dog responds differently to stress. For example, a person who loses their job may become depressed, while another person may see opportunity and feel relieved or rejuvenated. One dog being rehomed may be withdrawn, scared, or have a decreased appetite. Another dog, however, may be elated.

What Causes Dog Depression
Just as it is difficult to predict or generalize how people will respond to stress, it is hard to determine or predict what will make a dog depressed.

The most common signs associated with dog depression are:

Illness. Dogs that are sick and don’t feel well may become depressed.
Loss of mobility. Just as illnesses cause depression, so can a loss of mobility. It’s traumatizing for a previously active dog to lose the ability to run, play, walk and exercise and their symptoms may be caused by a back injury, trauma (like a fracture), or from degenerative disease (arthritis) in older dogs.
Loss of routine. Some dogs can become very depressed after a change in their routine. This can occur when the kids go back to school, if an owner takes on a new job, or anything else that leads to a disruption in the dog’s day-to-day rituals.
Loss of an owner or caregiver. A very common cause of depression in dogs is the loss of someone close to them. The loss can be from death, or from someone moving out and leaving the home. The death of an owner, a child leaving for college, or someone leaving due to a divorce can create a void in a dog’s life.
Moving. Moving can be a stressful time for humans and their pets, as they suddenly lose their territory and safety net. Usually, the move is a huge disruption in their routine and environment. Movers, moving boxes, packing, and unpacking can all impact the amount of time spent with their pet parents. This can cause depression in some dogs.
New pet or person. Just as pet loss or human loss can cause depression, some dogs will become depressed when a new pet or person enters their life. This can impact their routine and day-to-day lifestyle, as the new pet may take attention away from them.
What You Can Do to Help Dog Depression
Treatments for dog depression can be categorized into pharmacological (drug) treatments and nonpharmacological treatments.

The best course of action to treat dog depression is the following:

Figure out the cause. Consider why your dog may be depressed. As you consider the possible cause, also consider what your dog’s life is like on a day-to-day basis. Is there stimulation? Playtime? Exercise? Or is it boring and solitary?
Optimize your dog’s quality of life. Make sure your dog has a great routine consisting of plenty of exercise, daily walks, frequent opportunities to go to the bathroom, and predictable meal schedules.
See your vet. Make sure your dog is healthy and that you are not mistaking symptoms of depression for symptoms of illness, as they can seem similar and hard to differentiate. Your vet may want to do a physical examination and run some routine blood work.
Administer Prescriptions. As a last resort, you could work with your veterinarian to try pharmacological treatment for your dog’s depression. Most dogs respond to playtime, exercise, and quality time otherwise.
Give it time. It can take time for the treatments to work. Relax and enjoy being with your dog. On occasion, additional attention will be enough to return them to their normal doggie selves.