Category Archives: dog sports

How Much Exercise Do Dogs Need Each Day?

By Linda Cole

We know it’s important to make sure our dogs get proper exercise to help maintain their weight and overall health, and provide mental stimulation. Every dog, regardless of size, needs a chance to stretch their legs every day, but how much exercise is enough? Breed does make a difference in the amount of exercise needed, and a dog that isn’t given a chance to get rid of pent up energy can develop bad behaviors.

Before beginning any strenuous activities, you should have your vet give your dog a checkup to make sure he’s up to a more physical workout. Each dog is an individual and it’s important to create an exercise routine that takes into account breed, age and physical condition. Old or current injuries, weather conditions and the amount of exercise needed should also be considered when it comes to daily exercise.

You can encourage your dog to play with other dogs at the dog park, or learn how to do agility or other dog sports, but you should never force him to do something he isn’t interested in doing. The amount of daily exercise should be based on what a dog was bred to do. That’s one reason why it’s helpful having a general idea of which breeds make up your mixed breed dog.

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Why Do Guardian Dogs Excel at Schutzhund?

By Linda Cole

Schutzhund is a competitive dog sport that started in Germany at the turn of the 20th century. It was designed to evaluate a dog’s mental stability, courage and protective instinct as well as the ability to scent, willingness to do his job, and the ability to be trained.

The events in Schutzhund (tracking, protection and obedience) were developed by Max von Stephanitz, the German breeder responsible for creating the German Shepherd Dog. By the time the GSD had been developed, the job the breed was originally bred to do – herding – was on the decline in Germany. The German Shepherd has always been a versatile dog capable of doing far more than just herding, and von Stephanitz developed Schutzhund as a sport to maintain the working ability of the breed.

The German Shepherd Dog Club refined the sport in the 1920s to continue the quality of the breed. Other guardian breeds also excel in this intense competition, although most can’t meet the intense training and challenges of Schutzhund.

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An Interview with Hallie, the Blind Dog that Paints

Hallie 3By Langley Cornwell

I am a big fan of Hallie, the blind dog that paints, and so delighted she agreed to an interview. I am certain you’ll enjoy getting to know this very special (and talented!) little dog.

How did you meet your mom?

One night when I was about 10 months old, my people took me and my sister and brother to an animal shelter and locked us in the night drop-off kennel. We were scared in there. One of the shelter employees called my soon-to-be Mom because she had lost her other longhaired dachshund girl four years earlier and was still so broken hearted she didn’t have another dog-child. They asked her if she would foster the three of us so we wouldn’t have to stay in the shelter while we waited for new homes. So she did and she found homes for us (because she was still vowing to not get a dog again herself) but after she took my brother and sister to their new homes, she just couldn’t let me go, so she kept me.  And the funny thing is, I knew from the second we laid eyes on each other that I would be staying with her. And on some level, I think she knew it too. I promised her I’d take good care of her, and I have ever since.

What got you interested in painting?

My Mom and I always did fun things and we trained all the time. To me it was a big game and I loved it. I won obedience titles and learned a lot of tricks. When I was 10 years old, I had earned most of my titles so we didn’t go to shows as often. Mom taught me more tricks so I would still have something fun to learn. She is an artist also (I think she gets it from me) so one winter day when it was cold out and I was bored, she got the idea to see if I wanted to learn how to paint too. I surprised her by learning very fast and doing my first painting within a few weeks. I really got into it! And the better the treat involved…the faster I painted!

Do you have a favorite painting?

I am most proud of my first painting. My Mom has it framed on the wall. She has a video of me painting it. My style was different then, when I could still see. You can watch the video here.
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Simple Mistakes We Make When Exercising a Dog

By Linda Cole

We know it’s important to keep our dogs active to help prevent obesity and keep them healthy in body and spirit. Most dogs are willing partners when you want to go hiking, biking, jogging or walking, or participate in a fun sport like dock diving, Disc Dog, agility or flyball. The last thing any responsible pet owner wants to do is put their dog at risk for injury, but without realizing it we can be guilty of doing just that.

Too much exercise with no conditioning 

Most dogs have an athletic side. They love to run, play, jump and race around as fast as they can. Because they want to be with us, preferably everywhere we go, we can easily forget that a dog may not be ready for a five mile run or an afternoon of hiking. Like us, dogs need conditioning and time to build up muscles and stamina. They are as susceptible to soft tissue injuries as we are, and can pull a tendon or get a sprain. Many dogs do enjoy sports, but just like any human athlete-in-training, it’s important to start slow and take the time needed to gradually get into shape for any physical activity.

Make sure your dog can keep up with you, and you can keep up with him. A Chihuahua isn’t a good running partner, and a Greyhound may leave you in his dust. If your dog isn’t on equal terms with you as far as his fitness goes, a walk around the block may be enough exercise for him. If your dog has more energy than you do, play with him in the backyard, then take him for a walk or run.

Forgetting how weather can affect a dog 

The pads of a dog’s feet act like shock absorbers to cushion the feet and protect them when walking on hot and cold surfaces. But the pads can be burned by walking on a hot surface like asphalt, concrete or metal. Check your pet’s paw pads for cuts, puncture wounds, burrs or small rocks, and keep their pads healthy by making sure they are free of injuries.

Know the signs of heat stroke, hyperthermia and hypothermia, and pay attention to how well your dog tolerates different weather conditions. Hydration is important for both of you – always have fresh water available for you and your dog when exercising. Don’t force your pet to continue exercising if he’s showing signs of fatigue. You may be ready to go another mile, but your dog may not be.

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Have You Tried Dog Scootering?

By Tamara McRill

Dog scootering could be the perfect canine sport for those of us who are envious of the athletic coolness of mushing, but just aren’t down with playing outdoors in frigid temps.

Not being the most graceful individual on the planet, I was a little leery of flying behind my chocolate Labrador, Wuppy, on some sort of tiny Razor scooter. Besides that, not many people over the age of nine look too hip on one of those contraptions. Turns out that’s not the type of scooter used at all! What is used is a more sturdy, unmotorized scooter with mountain bike-like tires, brakes and sometimes front shocks.

Now that’s the kind of quasi-retro conveyance I can dig. It’s also the one I’m the least likely to go careening off of, potentially injuring both myself and my precious dog.

The sport of dog scootering does use some of the same equipment as dog sledding, namely the harness. A gangline attaches the harness to the scooter. You can even use more than one dog, which is actually recommended if your pooch weighs less than 30 pounds.

You can teach your dog the same commands used in mushing, but I probably won’t. I have the utmost confidence in my dog’s ability to learn those, but not so much in myself. If I’m about to slam into a building or ongoing traffic, I know it’s going to be English directions tumbling out of my mouth. Of course we’ll have all common commands, like “whoa” and “leave it” down first.

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Canicross – Head Cross Country with Man’s Best Friend!

By Suzanne Alicie

I know that our lovely editor Julia only assigned this title to me because I’m known to want to try the things I write about. Well, surprise! I’m not giving Canicross a shot… although for an athletic person and a well behaved dog it could be a fun activity. My dog Bear has ‘ADD of the nose’ and just a normal walk around the block means me racing along behind her frantically as she runs back and forth following scents. Harness or not, I definitely won’t be trying Canicross with her!

Canicross is the sport of harnessing your dog and running or walking cross country. It’s similar to the sport of Skijoring which I’ve thoroughly explored here before. How is Canicross different, you may wonder, from simply taking a walk? Consider the actual idea of cross country walking or running – it’s a test of your endurance and stamina, strength and coordination to be able to travel long distances. Now think about heading up a large hill while you’re walking or running cross country. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a partner harnessed in front of you to give you a little bit of a pull?

Harnessing your dog for Canicross is much like harnessing him to a sled for pulling power. When you run or walk cross country with your dog you have a partner, a bit of extra strength. It also strengthens your bond with your dog to learn to work together as a team to get where you are going. Canicross does require that your dog learns to keep tension on the line while traveling at a speed that is comfortable for you. Your dog needs to be accustomed to a halter and to having some weight on the harness in order to learn the restraint and pace of Canicross.

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