Indoor Activities for your Golden Retriever

“Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor hail shall keep the postmen from their appointed rounds.”  While I admire the U.S. Postal Service, there are times when Mother Nature keeps you and your dog from enjoying that daily walk.  Did you know an adult golden retriever needs at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise plus a good dose of mental stimulation on a daily basis to keep them happy and healthy?  Here are some tips to prevent boredom and exercise the brain. 

#1 – Practice Commands

This is a great time to practice basic or more advanced training.  Keep sessions to 10-15 minutes at a time, depending on your golden’s attention span.  Of course, keep the treats coming when commands are successfully completed!  A great book with tricks that includes photos and training steps is “101 Dog Tricks” by Kyra Sundance.

#2 – Play, Play and More Play

An almost endless amount of fun but still challenging, indoor games exist for you and your pooch to play together.

Fetching, tug of war, running up & down the hallways or stairs (carefully), and “hide and seek” activities provide physical and mental activity.  For hide and seek, you can play with family members or treats.  Your golden retriever can use his nose to find hidden toys, treats or even people.  This can also be a fun activity for bored kids!  Need some ideas? Visit the The Dog Trainer website or read 50 Games to Play with Your Dog to get started.

#3– Shopping

My goldens love to go to the pet store or hardware store.  If the weather is safe to drive in, an outing in the car and walking up and down the store aisles is fun.  Practice training good manners while in the store.  You may also want to pick up one of the interactive toys that challenge your dog’s mind, which is just as important as physical exercise.  Most involve solving a “puzzle” to get a treat or find a scent and are fairly inexpensive. 

#4 – Chew on This

Filling your pooch’s Kong or marrow bone with peanut butter or cheese in a spray can will keep your golden from feeling frustrated.  Our local shelter uses cardboard tubes from paper towel or toilet paper rolls.  Stuff cheese, peanut butter, treats, cut-up hot dogs and kibble inside, fold over the ends, and let your dog tear up the cardboard to find the treats inside.  Of course you will have to pick up the mess, but it will keep your dog occupied and focused.  Most dogs just rip up the cardboard to get at the goodies inside, but you definitely want to avoid the dog swallowing large chunks of paper.  Trade the cardboard for treats. As with all food, supervise your pet.

#5 – Spa Day

Spending an hour grooming your dog is a great way to spend quality time together.  It helps reduce some of the shedding of our golden’s glorious coat.   Simple ideas include:

Brush. Use a soft slicker brush or metal comb. Before bathing, brush your dog’s coat to remove any dead hair and tangles.

Shampoo.  Human shampoos dry out a dog’s coat and skin, so use a brand formulated for pets.  To dry your golden’s hair use a towel, air dry or a hair dryer, if your dog is familiar with it.  Use the dryer with care.  Set the dryer on the lowest possible heat setting.  Keep the nozzle a few inches away from your dog’s fur and the air flow in constant motion to prevent heat from concentrating on any one spot and burning your pet. 

Nail trim. A nail clipper or dremel (a motorized grinder for shortening a pet’s nails) works well. Cut your dog’s nails every three to four weeks, or grind them using a dremel each week.  Forego the nail trim if it makes you feel uncomfortable. 

– Freshening Spray.  Finish with a spray that shines and deodorizes that flowing coat.

– Clean Ears.  Use a canine ear cleaner to gently wash out ears on both the inside flap and inner ear.  Wipe any excess off with a cotton ball and let your pooch give his head a good shake. 

#6 – Indoor Dog Parks

For a fee, your golden can romp with other dogs in a climate-controlled, safe environment.  Most have artificial turf and areas for small or large dogs.  Staff members supervise play time.  This strategy can help socialize your pet while exercising. 

#7 – Downward Dog

Unwind in the afternoon by playing a yoga DVD created for pets and their people.  Doga, as it’s commonly called, has all the same health benefits of yoga: increased flexibility, strength, energy and endurance. You actually share the mat with your pooch.  Expect to help position your pet into poses as well as do your own. Doga DVDs are available for purchase online, and in-person classes are held in dozens of cities nationwide.

Hopefully this is a good start for indoor activities in inclement weather.  If you have other ideas, share them in the comments below.  Stay warm and dry this winter and let’s hope we can get back to walking our goldens soon.

Sources: 

Animal Planet, “Rainy Day DogActivities”http://animal.discovery.com/pets/5-rainy-day-dog-activities.htm

Vet Street, “Is it Safe to Blow Dry my Dog?”http://www.vetstreet.com/dr-marty-becker/is-it-safe-to-blow-dry-my-dog

K9 Nose Work, “Tips for Practicing Nose Work at Home”http://www.funnosework.com/news/tips-practicing-k9-nose-work-home

Dogster, “Rain or Shine: 10 Ways to Engage Your Dog Indoors”http://www.dogster.com/dog-training/engage-dog-indoors

The Humane Society of Indianapolis blog, Connie Swaim, Trainer,”Games When It’s Too Cold to Play Outside” – http://indyhumane.wordpress.com

101 Dog Tricks, paperback book by Kyra Sundance – http://www.amazon.com/101-Dog-Tricks-Chalcy/dp/1592533256

Cesar’s Way – http://www.cesarsway.com/tips/thebasics/indoor-activities#ixzz2pVDAf6mf

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Holiday Pet Photography: Golden Moments

Are you an amateur photographer or do you occasionally get the perfect shot of your dog?  With the holidays approaching opportunities abound to capture this festive season with our goldens.  The tips below will help you make the most of your shots. 

To Pose or Not to Pose

A picture of your dog lounging on a chair makes a great photo.  For a more dramatic shot, try getting down to your golden’s eye level.  If you wait long enough, they will get used to you and your camera. 

A dog playing fetch, chasing leaves, sitting in a field of flowers or romping in snow make interesting scenes.  But catching our pups zooming around the yard is difficult.  To capture them it may take a helper to call for the dog while you concentrate on shooting.   Pre-focusing on a particular spot helps; your dog runs to it and there you are, ready to snap the shot.  Experiment with fast and slow shutter speeds to create blur, which exaggerates movement. 

ImageMarley doing the dog paddle

A couple ideas to lure your dog out for indoor action shots is to find something your dog can’t resist like an open bag of dog food, an open screen door, or looking out the window.  Be creative and incorporate your dog’s personality.  Value the innate character of your pup.

 Fill the frame with your pet’s face and fur; close up shots often make beautiful animal portraits.  Unusual portraits featuring individual parts of your dog you love, i.e. feathered tail, expressive eyes or wet nose, is an option.   Try black-and-white shots.  Shoot a lot of pictures; you can select the best later.

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Eye level picture of Frank – Sadie & Marley’s Cousin

 Timing is Everything

Wait to take a picture of your golden retriever after a walk or romp in the park.  She will be more relaxed and chances are you will get some great pictures of your dog.  At this point, your pup should be panting and looking up at you with that goofy, golden grin. 

Background Light and Color

Jeannine Frest of Frest Photography in San Francisco has experience taking engagement and wedding pictures of couples with their dogs.  She has some important suggestions for proper lighting. “If you are shooting outdoors, light in the early morning, late afternoon or evening is optimal.  The same goes for indoors, especially if you have a dog that likes to sit or rest in front of a window (anxiously awaiting Santa and his reindeer).”  Different rooms in your house get different light at different times. Make sure the room you use as a backdrop is at its brightest. If your kitchen gets bright morning light, capture photos during the breakfast hour. 

 For maximum detail in your pet’s coat, a bright sky when the sun is gently diffused by high clouds can work well. Also consider the background in relation to your dog’s color in order to create contrast.  A “red” golden shows up best against brighter or lighter colors and vice-versa.  Simple and colorful backgrounds bring your golden retriever into focus.  A blank wall, blanket, colorful rugs and toys will brighten up the photo.

To prevent those eerie glowing eyes, try not to use a flash.   Shoot in daylight or use high ISO, sports mode, and any low-light setting if you need to.

Trick or Treat

So you have considered your background, tired your dog out and are ready to take your best shots.  Still, your golden retriever is not cooperative.  Nothing works better than bribery.  Tease your pup first by giving him a few small treats.  Once he knows you have the tasty treats and you’re giving them out, keep them in your hand and near the camera while you start to photograph.  Holding the camera in one hand and the treat in the other requires practice, but bringing the treat from your golden’s eye level and up to the camera keeps them engaged.  Their expressive eyes make a great photo and capture your dog’s soul.  A squeaky toy also captures your dog’s attention. 

Holiday Greetings

 Whether you send out photo cards or just want some fun photos for the holidays, try these tips. 

  • Place your dog by a wrapped gift box or gift bag.  You can put a treat on top or in the box/bag to make the curious dog’s expression engaging.   
  • Have your dog sit or lie down and drape Christmas tree lights around the dog’s feet or neck.  It goes without saying that the lights should be cool to the touch, untangled and removed after the photo session.
  • Pictures with Santa are always fun.  Our two dogs never pose perfectly but the candid, goofy shots with Santa have given us a good laugh. 
  • If there is snow on the ground, make a “snow dog” or snowman and take a picture of your golden next to it.

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Sadie by the Christmas Tree

Bring in the Experts

For times you want a special photograph, consult a professional photographer.  They typically will come to your home or shoot in the studio and are experts at making your dog feel comfortable.  Many donate their time to local humane and rescue groups to promote adoptable pets.   A photographer will capture your golden at a stage of their life that you want to remember and keep forever.  The photographer will work with you to find the ideal location, best time of day, ideal lighting and the ability to capture your pet’s best expressions. 

Now that you have some holiday photography tips, grab that digital camera and start your photo session today.

Happy Holidays from Just Love Goldens!    

References:

Frest Photography:  www.frestphoto.com

Modern Dog:  http://moderndogmagazine.com/articles/dog-photography-101/4343

Petfinder Pro:  http://pro.petfinder.com/photography-tips/

Digital Photography School:  http://digital-photography-school.com/9-pet-photography-tips

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Make Thanksgiving Safe for your Pet

It’s almost Turkey Day and that means family, friends and great food.  No doubt your golden retriever will enjoy the attention also.  Those pleading brown eyes make it tempting for you or your guests to be overly generous sharing Thanksgiving dinner with your furry friend.  Sometimes, however, too many treats can lead to illness or injury for our pets. 

Our friends at the ASPCA, PetMD and North Shore Animal League have some important tips to help keep your golden safe this holiday – and to keep the “Happy” in Thanksgiving!

No-No’s

Bones

Certain bones, particularly poultry bones, can lacerate or obstruct your golden’s insides.  Save the bones for the broth – not your dog.

Grapes and Raisins

Grapes and raisins contain a toxin that can cause kidney damage to both dogs and cats.

Chocolate

Chocolate is a well known off-limits indulgence for pets. During the holidays however, baking chocolate is used in recipes and sometimes forgotten about by the time the dishes hit the table. Make sure this holiday season that your golden does not ingest any kind of chocolate.

Alcohol

Alcohol is definitely a big no for dogs. What we people may consider a small amount can be toxic for a smaller animal. Alcohol poisoning can occur in pets from atypical items like fruit cake (the recipe may have called for rum or other liquor).

Stuffing

Alliums such as sage, garlic, onions, leeks and scallions make your Thanksgiving stuffing taste delicious, but it and many other herbs contain essential oils and resins that can cause gastrointestinal upset and central nervous system depression if eaten in large quantities. Onions will destroy your dog’s red blood cells, which can lead to anemia.

Raw Bread Dough 

According to ASPCA experts, when raw bread dough is ingested, an animal’s body heat causes the dough to rise in his stomach. As it expands, your golden may experience vomiting, severe abdominal pain and bloating, which could become a life-threatening emergency, requiring surgery.

Cake 

If you’re baking up Thanksgiving cakes, be sure your pets keep their noses out of the batter, especially if it includes raw eggs—they could contain salmonella bacteria that may lead to food poisoning.

Xylitol (artificial sweetners)

While you may be making the healthier choice by cooking with artificial sweeteners over the real thing, sweeteners containing Xylitol are poisonous to animals, and potentially deadly to dogs.

Too Much of a Good Thing 

A little cooked turkey, mashed potatoes and fresh green beans are okay.  However, don’t allow your golden retriever to overindulge in fatty, rich or unfamiliar foods, as they could wind up with a case of stomach upset, diarrhea or even worse—an inflammatory condition of the pancreas known as pancreatitis. In fact, it’s best to keep dogs on their regular diets during the holidays.

Food Wrappings

Aluminum foil, wax paper and other food wrappings can cause intestinal obstruction. Make sure to place these items securely in the garbage. Guard against counter surfing, a sport some golden retrievers excel in.

 Now that you know what is harmful, what foods or alternatives are safe? 

Yes!

Turkey

If you decide to feed your pet a little nibble of turkey, make sure it’s boneless and well-cooked. Don’t offer raw or undercooked turkey, which may contain salmonella bacteria.

Cranberry Sauce

Plain cranberry sauce is just fine for pets but watch the amount of sugar in it. It is probably best to only provide a small helping to your pet’s plate.

Mashed or Sweet Potatoes

Plain mashed or sweet potatoes are a great vegetable to share with your pet.  But beware of additional ingredients used to make mashed potatoes.

Fresh Green Beans

Plain green beans are a wonderful treat for pets. If the green beans are included in a casserole, be wary of the other ingredients in it.

A Little Taste

A few small boneless pieces of cooked turkey, a taste of mashed potato or even a lick of pumpkin pie shouldn’t pose a problem. However, don’t allow your pets to overindulge, as they could wind up with a case of stomach upset, diarrhea or even worse—an inflammatory condition of the pancreas known as pancreatitis. In fact, it’s best to keep goldens on their regular diet during the holidays.

A Kong Feast

While the humans are chowing down, give your goldens their own little feast. Offer them Nylabones or made-for-pet chew bones. Or stuff their usual dinner—perhaps with a few added tidbits of turkey, vegetables (try sweet potato or green beans) and dribbles of gravy—inside a Kong toy. They’ll be happily occupied for awhile, working hard to extract their dinner from the toy.

Fresh Water

Make sure your pet always has fresh water. When there are more people in the house, there’s more chance to bump into the water bowl leaving your pet dry.

Quiet Time

Make sure your dog has a quiet retreat should the holiday festivities be too much for him. Watch his behavior to make sure he is not stressed.

Diet and Exercise

Maintain your golden’s regular meal and exercise schedule and avoid too many holiday leftovers. A disruption in his dietary routine can cause stomach upset, diarrhea and/or vomiting.  Go for a walk after dinner; it will help your digestion as well.

May you and your golden have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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Shop Just Love Goldens for Christmas Gifts

Check out our products that are sure to please any golden retriever lover!  Many have our one-of-a-kind Just Love Goldens logo that was designed by the artist Keith Bratton.

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Have a golden Halloween!

Have a golden Halloween!

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USDA Investigating Jerky Treat Deaths

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration is investigating the deaths of dogs due to jerky treats, manufactured in China.  The agency is asking owners and veterinarians to send in information and samples to help track information.  Keep jerky treats that may have affected your pet to send to the USDA.  For more information, check the USDA consumer information portal and this article from USA Today.

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