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Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Treibball
Dogs herd balls in a new sport from Germany

I've always wanted to try herding with my Shelties, but it’s not easy to find sheep in the New York City area! Nemo is also a little impulsive, so his interaction with a sheep or duck seems like a big wild card to me. I guess I’m a little worried he’d pounce on a duck or get run over by a sheep, though admittedly I know nothing about herding.

This week, I discovered a sport that could let us try herding without having to drive out to a farm. In Treibball, German for driving ball, dogs are directed by their human handlers to herd eight balls (which sort of look like exercise balls) into a net.

The sport originated in Germany in 2003 and competitions have been held since 2008.  Even if you have no interest in ever getting that serious, Treibball looks like a lot of fun.

Treibball has only recently come over to the United States. Some training schools have Treibball classes, but if you don’t have any in your area, there’s a Treibball book available so you can train at home.  You can also join the American Treibball Association Facebook group to meet other enthusiasts.

I know a lot of people who are always looking for activities to do with working breeds, but access to sheep is limiting. Treibball is a fun sport that is accessible to all families with dogs. With the winter coming up, I’m thinking it would be fun to set up a modified version of this game indoors with smaller playground balls.

Check out this video to see what Treibball is all about.

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Dog Walkers With Multiple Dogs
How many is too many?

There are so many ways to get people who care about dogs to voice strong opinions, and one hot topic lately relates to dog walkers who walk many dogs all at once. Many people have questions and concerns about this, and I am no exception.

  It worries me when I see a person walking more than four or so dogs, which is a very challenging thing to do. Many people who walk dogs are very knowledgeable about canine behavior and do what it takes to keep it safe and fun for all the dogs under their care. That includes walking dogs who are compatible with each other, keeping the number of dogs walked simultaneously at no more than four, and preferably even fewer most of the time, and constantly monitoring the dogs for any behavior that could lead to trouble between the dogs, including signs of stress. It takes a lot of education and experience to be able to handle this, and that’s why the best dog walkers are more than worth their fees.   Regrettably, not everyone who walks dogs is up to this standard of care. Many people seem to feel that just loving dogs is enough of a qualification to take large numbers of them on a walk, whether the dogs are familiar with each other or not. Still other dog walkers may be putting profits over safety. Obviously with more dogs being walked at once, more money can be made.   This raises many questions, especially in situations where a single person is walking many dogs on leashes at the same time. Can one person watch so many dogs at once in order to monitor their behavior? What if the dogs react to each other or to another dog? How could one person manage such a situation? Are these dog walkers picking up all the poop from so many dogs?   Many other dogs are uncomfortable around such large groups of dogs and become intimidated. This is especially relevant at dog parks, and many people worry about taking their dogs to places where such large groups of dogs are present.   Some places limit dog walkers to four dogs, though it is common in other places to see dog walkers with 8, 10, or even more dogs all at once. Should there be limits on the number of dogs that can be walked by a single person simultaneously in places such as dog parks and other public areas? I think that these kind of limits could help prevent problems, and help keep the dog walkers who truly are responsible from being outcompeted by people who are charging less but perhaps putting dogs at risk. What do you think? How many dogs is too many?

 

News: Guest Posts
A Day at the Beach
Sunshine, Frisbee and a few surprises

With Labor Day barely in the rearview mirror, it’s time to say goodbye to white pants and sunshine. For me and my dogs, it means packing as much outdoor fun as humanly possible into the few weeks we have left before the rainy season. And what better place to spend the waning days of summer than at the beach?

  There is no place on earth my dogs love more than the beach. It is the place they can truly be themselves: Skipper becomes braver and more adventurous and Leo becomes … well, more of a creepster. I say this about Leo because, frankly, if he were a human, you wouldn’t want to hang out with him. He follows me to the bathroom. He steals “personal garments” from the laundry. He stares at you for longer than I’ve ever seen a dog (or human!) stare. He’s just a little different than other dogs I’ve known. It shouldn’t have surprised me when Leo immediately drifted towards a very special (and previously unknown to me) stretch of sand—a nude beach.   Initially, I didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary because I was too busy trying to keep Skipper from being pinched by a crab he had been following. It wasn’t until I spied Leo poking his nose into a picnic basket that ran over and stop him. Leo then moved to “greet” the owner of the picnic basket: A reclining gentleman in his 50s who was entirely nude, save for sunglasses and a hat. I yelled, “LEO, NO!” Luckily, he came running (thank god, we’ve been practicing his recall abilities), weaving through a number of nude sunbathers (adult agility?), as I held my breath waiting to see if he accidentally stepped on anyone. He didn’t. As soon as he returned, I put him back on leash: I didn’t want to think about what else Leo could discover.   Meanwhile, Skipper is generally well behaved at the beach, but for some reason it is the only place he’ll play fetch. He won’t play it at home or the dog park, only at the beach. He even showed off his incredible beach-fetching abilities by joining in (aka, “ruining”) some strangers’ game of Frisbee. By the time the sun was setting, the dogs and I (lightly sunburned) were ready to go home. As we drove away, I glanced at my sound-asleep companions and realized that even with unexpected nudity and ruined Frisbee, our day at the beach was a perfect way to end the summer.   Did you do anything special to celebrate the end of summer?

 

News: Guest Posts
Dog Date
At the drive-in

My boyfriend Jason often accuses me of trying to shoehorn the dogs into activities he feels aren’t an ideal fit: birthday parties, beach trips, Saturday morning brunches. Now, we have one more activity we can add to the list: Friday date nights.

  When Friday rolls around, I’m ready for fun with Jason but feel terrible if it means leaving the dogs home. What makes it worse are the hopeful looks on the dogs’ faces. Oh hey, you’re home! Yeah, change out of those work clothes... Hmm, those don’t look like hiking shoes... You’re going to be a little cold in that dress... Hey wait, where are you going? You forgot our leashes … and us! It’s enough guilt to ruin a date.   Recently, thanks to Bark’s articles about summer fun with your dog (see “Outward Hound” in Summer 2010 issue), I discovered the perfect dog + date night solution: the drive-in theater! The only question: Is my local drive-in dog-friendly? While I lived the majority of my teen years by the adage, it’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission, I’ve grown less adventurous with age, particularly in this case because I didn’t want to drive 40 minutes only to be turned away.   I tried contacting the theater with no luck. When I asked friends and family if they had brought their dogs to the drive-in before, a few had, but they snuck them in under blankets. Others said they remembered seeing a “NO DOGS” sign a few years back. Jason said he didn’t want to smuggle the dogs into the theater because he’d be too stressed out about the whole ordeal, plus the dogs wouldn’t likely cooperate. It seemed like I only had one option: Lie to Jason and just go for it.   As we approached the drive-in, I pulled over for a second and told Jason I had forgotten something. Then I pulled out a large blanket from the backseat and threw it on his lap. “What’s this for?” he asked.   “So it turns out they might not be dog-friendly here, and I just didn’t want to tell you because I really wanted to go!”   “What? This is insane.”   “I know, but just put this blanket over Skipper on your lap, and they won’t notice Leo because he’s asleep and since he’s black and he’ll blend in.”   Jason rolled his eyes and begrudgingly accepted the blanket.   We pulled up to the ticket-booth and I calmly addressed the teenage cashier, “Two for The Other Guys at 10:15?”   So far so good. I handed the cashier a twenty. He returned my change. “Thank you, turn your radio to 93.6 FM.” Suddenly, both dogs leaped up and barked. Skipper practically jumped out the window. I smiled nervously as the teenager looked at me and said, “Enjoy your show.”   I honestly don’t know if the drive-in had a dog-friendly policy, or if the teenagers running the joint just didn’t care. Either way, Jason and I had a great date with the dogs. We can’t wait to go back.

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Joyful Experiences with Dogs
Can you beat running on the beach?

I took this photo of Caity running with her dog Maggie while I was vacationing with my extended family in Cannon Beach, Ore. I had never met either one of them until that day, but when they zoomed by together, I just had to capture the moment.

  I am an obsessive beach and ocean lover, running is my favorite sport, and I hope it goes without saying that I’m a dog person, so for me, all of them together are about as good as it gets. Of course, if I could eat chocolate at the same time without choking, that would probably increase my enjoyment of the experience slightly, but that’s only theoretical since I’ve never tried it.   What I want to know from you is what experiences with your dog give you the greatest happiness? What are la crème de la crème of all the joyful, fulfilling moments you spend with your dog?

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Baseball Breed Ban
Petco Park event bans German Shepherds and other breeds

As a dog lover and a baseball fan, I always look forward to the New York Mets’ Bark in the Park every summer. At the annual event, canine fans are invited to CitiField to watch the game alongside their humans. “Dog days” have become popular promotions at baseball stadiums around the country and, as you can imagine, the Padres’ Petco Park is one of them.

Unfortunately, not everyone will be able to enjoy this Friday’s event in San Diego. Padres fan, Ted Lew, couldn’t wait to attend the Dog Days of Summer event with his German Shepherd, Joey, so he signed up as soon as tickets were made available earlier this year. However, just weeks before the game, Lew received a letter stating that the event had sold out.

After many inquiring phone calls, Lew found out that the real reason he couldn’t attend the event with Joey was because of a breed ban that included German Shepherds. According to the Padres, the breed ban is in effect for safety reasons but they are unable to disclose the exact breeds that are banned, only that the number is between 10 and 15.

I’m guessing insurance may have a part in the Padres’ decision, though many other ballparks offer this promotion without a breed ban. However, the Padres have made this situation even worse by not making the ban explicit, seemingly turning dogs away at random. 

If the Padres must have the breed ban, couldn’t they work with their insurance company to allow exceptions for dogs with therapy or Canine Good Citizen certifications? And at the very least, they should make their decision public instead of hiding behind the excuse of having “limited space” at the event.

How do you think the Padres should’ve handled this situation?

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Restaurant Etiquette
Ensure that your pup will be invited back

Last year I wrote about my love of dining out with my pups. Fortunately in New York, most restaurants with outdoor seating allow dogs, so finding one is as easy as taking a walk around the neighborhood. Even if I don’t have my canine crew with me, I like to support pet friendly establishments. Recently, I discovered a website dedicated to dog friendly reviews, PetFriendlyRestaurants.com.

  The website uses a bone rating system from one bone, awarded to restaurants that simply allow pets, to three bones, bestowed on restaurants that go out of their way to welcome dogs with water bowls and treats.   A lot of the places I frequent, such the Boat Basin Café in New York, are on the website with numerous multi-bone reviews. As I browsed through the listings, I was sad to see that many local favorites no longer welcome dogs.    Some are unavoidable, such as George Keeley’s, which was forced to stop letting dogs inside the bar after one too many health code fines. But others may have been preventable, such as Grey Dog’s Coffee, which banned animals after a dog bit a child. Unfortunately, Grey Dog’s Coffee isn’t the first to do so. I’ve heard about numerous other restaurants that have had to stop allowing pets after patrons failed to pick up after their dogs or let unruly pups disturb other customers.   It’s too bad that everyone has to suffer because of a few irresponsible people. This problem could be eliminated if people had the common sense to bring only well-behaved pets and to be vigilant about monitoring behavior. Even the most well trained dog can have a bad day. If I’m going to a restaurant, I always bring a chew toy to keep Nemo occupied and tie his leash to my chair, just in case. When Nemo was a puppy, if he got antsy, we would walk him around the block in between dishes.    For more tips, check out DogsLifeKC.com’s Dog Restaurant Etiquette to keep your pup on his best behavior!

 

Dog's Life: Lifestyle
Swimming at the Local Pool
Dogs welcomed this week

Many dogs love to swim, and so do many people. Being able to do it together makes it even much better for many pairs. For residents of Charleston, West Virginia, this week provides a special opportunity. At the end of the season, one pool is open to dogs. In the week before season’s end, dogs are allowed to come in and have a good time in the water. Soon after, the pool is drained for the winter.

  I’ve never heard of pools that welcome dogs. Do any in your area allow dogs?

 

News: Guest Posts
Every Dog Has His Day
A birthday bash for Leo

It’s August, and that means one thing around here: Leo’s birthday is coming up. Maybe it’s because I like to throw parties or I’m obsessed with my dogs (or both), but it’s a priority for me to acknowledge my dogs’ birthdays. Leo’s big day is the day before my best friend Carrie’s, which means a dual birthday party to ensure a better turnout. (For some reason, Carrie is more popular than Leo; she always draws a crowd.) Last year’s celebration combined their interests: Carrie’s abiding love of Elton John and my dog’s passion for dancing. We picked a perfect party playlist, invited all of our friends (both human and canine), and baked two cakes, one for dogs and one for humans.

  I should mention to those of you who are rolling your eyes at me as you’re reading this, I know throwing a birthday party for your dog is borderline ridiculous. But here’s my rationale:
  • I love parties: I’m not talking about the kind of parties where someone brings an plastic jug of Montezuma Gold tequila and you end up with 10 people passed out in your living room, or awkwardly poking your friend awake and asking them to remove their head from the kennel so you can hose it out before putting the dogs to bed. That kind of fun isn’t fair to the dogs or to my post-party cleanup efforts.
  • Parties at home mean I don’t get home late for the dogs. As a dog parent, I can tell you that every party is less enjoyable on some level if I’m sitting in a corner looking at my watch, wondering how much longer I can afford to stay without the dogs wondering if I’ll ever come home. A party at home means I can see that my friends and my dogs are all having a great time: Everyone wins.
  • The dogs can be where they’re comfortable—in the spotlight. If you were to use one word to describe my dogs and me, it would be gregarious. Two words: attention hounds. My dogs’ favorite thing about parties is the abundance of laps to sit in and pant legs to sniff. We appreciate a captive audience for our hilarious party tricks (guests who come over all know about the incredible Hula-hoop of Fire….don’t worry, it’s actually just a Hula-hoop with orange streamers attached!). Best of all, the dogs can let me know when they’ve had enough fun and want to be put to bed, even if the party is still going (although Leo usually manages to stay awake longer than even me).
  • Using a dog’s birthday as an excuse to throw a party might be seen as ridiculous to some, but to me it’s a great for our social life. Plus dog poop is easier to clean up than vomit.   What about you, thinking of throwing a dog party?  

     

    Dog's Life: Lifestyle
    Too Much of a Good Thing
    Water intoxication strikes active dogs in the summer

    During the summer months, a big concern is placed on preventing dogs from overheating. I’ve been doing a lot of running with my pups lately, so I’ve been very careful about keeping them hydrated. 

    When I ran the race earlier this month, I made sure that we took plenty of water breaks. I even used a flavored canine sports drink to encourage Nemo to drink liquids. Having previously suffered from heat exhaustion and dehydration myself, I’m careful to not let anything happen to my dogs.

    So you can imagine my shock when I recently learned that excessive amounts of water can actually be deadly. When too much water is consumed in a short period of time (especially if the dog isn’t urinating or throwing up any of the water), the balance of electrolytes in the body is disrupted, which can cause a disturbance in brain function. Water intoxication can lead to brain damage, heart failure, and death.

    Fortunately water poisoning isn’t common, but it’s important to be aware of the danger. The most frequent cases involve swimming dogs that ingest too much water or exercising or playing dogs that drink too many fluids. 

    Symptoms include lethargy, nausea, a bloated appearance, vomiting, dilated pupils, glazed eyes, lack of coordination, light gum color, and excessive salivation. Symptoms can progress quickly to difficulty breathing, collapsing, loss of consciousness, and seizures.

    Because water intoxication can progress so quickly, time is critical. If your dog exhibits these symptoms, get to a vet immediately to run blood work. A low level of electrolytes will confirm the condition. Treatment includes fluids, to put electrolytes back in the system, and sometimes a diuretic.

     

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