How to Begin Clicker Training With Your Dog

Anyone with a new dog in their home, and even some on a quest to train an older dog, ask themselves “How am I going to train my dog?”  One very effective method used for training is the clicker method. It is a method that uses positive reinforcement for good behavior, which can lead to a well trained and happy dog. The clicker method uses a plastic clicker to make a noise at the moment your dog performs a behavior, followed by the use of treats to cement the behavior in your dog’s mind.

Of course, studies have been done on the click training method versus the verbal training method and found that dogs respond equally well to both training methods when they are used in conjunction with the rewards system. That simply means that if your dog is one of the few doesn’t respond well to the clicker, such as shying away or being afraid of the clicker, you can try the verbal command method instead.

Positive Reinforcement vs. Negative Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement means that when you present a desirable stimulus (such as a treat) as a consequence of a behavior, the behavior increases. For example, when your dog sits on command, you give him a treat, and the dog learns the behavior because he expects he will be rewarded for it. This is a highly effective method for training your dog, and the method most often used by professional trainers.

Negative reinforcement is when the rate of a behavior increases because you removed an aversive or unpleasant stimuli, or prevented it from occurring. For example, you verbally reprimand your dog for peeing on the rug, but you do not reprimand him when your dog goes out in the yard. The dog then learns to use the bathroom in the right place through negative reinforcement. While not the best method of training your dog, it can be effective at times.

Reward vs. Punishment

Rewarding your dog for a job well done is certainly preferable to punishing your dog for a behavior you don’t want them to engage in. Punishment has been shown to be less effective in dog training than the reward system. Punishing your dog happens sometimes, but it shouldn’t be your go-to for training your dog. They’ll learn more quickly, and have better retention, if you use a clicker or verbal cues to train them.

By rewarding your dog with a treat after each click, you associate the behavior (such as sitting) with a sound (the click) and a treat (the reward). This helps to cement the action or behavior in the dog’s mind, and helps him to repeat the expected behavior on command.

What Does Clicker Training Mean?

The clicker method is force free, positive reinforcement training. You can think of this method as the easiest way to successfully communicate with your dog. When the dog hears the clicker, they know a reward is coming if they complete the action you’re asking of them. The clicker is both a conditioned reinforcer and an event maker, helping you to mark desired behaviors. The treats you give your dog serve as a primary reinforcer, which generally increases the good behavior.

What Will You Need?

To train your dog with a clicker, you’ll need:

  • A clicker (which can be purchased at most local pet stores)
  • Small treats or pieces of kibble
  • Leash or long lead
  • No-pull harness/gentle leader (Please do not use choke or prong training collars)

What Does Clicker Training Consist Of?

As with any training regime, you have to remember that you are being trained at the same time as your dog. You are both learning new behaviors, but you want to make sure that you learn them in the setting that suits your dog best. There are many ways to create a training regime that will work best for your dog, including in home training, small group, and large group training.

In Home Training

Private, in home training is one of the best ways to train your dog in the clicker method. This method particularly suits nervous or excitable dogs, allowing them to learn the new behaviors without triggering bad behaviors as well. A trainer comes to your house to work one on one with you and your dog, teaching both of you how to react with the clicker. You want your dog to perform a task, but then you have to know when to click the clicker, and when to give out the treat for your dog to be well trained. Training works both ways!

Mackenzie Gardner is Off Road Paw’s clicker trainer. Her training certificate is specifically in Clicker Training Basics. Mackenzie will come to your home with a tailored program for your dog’s needs! Individual sessions are great because you and your dog get 100% of her attention. Individual sessions are also great for dogs that are highly distractible. Starting at home where they are comfortable and familiar with the environment is ideal for these types of dogs.

Small and Large Group Training

Small group training consists of a group of dogs and their owners all learning the same tricks at the same time. These classes are great for dogs who are more socialized, and who have good focus even in a distracting setting. It can be a great step up from training at home, to make sure the behaviors you want repeated can be done even in while in a distracted setting.

Large group training helps your dog to retain the behaviors you have taught him while in a highly distracting social setting. Because the group is large, there is not as much focus on each individual dog. Instead the idea is to make sure your dog performs the expected behaviors even in the large group setting.

Off Road Paws offers clicker training for your dog starting at $40 for an individual session with Mackenzie Gardener. Contact Off Road Paws now to get started training your dog to be a super star!

 

Keeping Your Dog Entertained and Exercised in Winter

In the dead of winter here in Colorado, it can be hard to keep up with your dog’s daily walk. Between the snow, frigid temperatures and the blustery wind, the idea of going outside is generally daunting. It’s important to make sure you don’t let the icy temperatures outside turn your physically fit dog into a roly poly pup.

Why is obesity in dogs bad?

First, let’s talk about why it’s not great to let your dog get pudgy. According to the AKC, “A dog is considered overweight when their weight is 15% or more above the ideal. Dogs are obese when their weight is 30% or more above the ideal weight for that animal.” Much like in humans, obesity can exacerbate or cause other health issues, including high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, heart disease, diabetes, respiratory issues, and orthopedic problems. Your dog will generally be happier and have better quality of life if they are kept healthy and not allowed to roll from room to room.

How much exercise does a dog need?

To determine how much exercise your dog should be getting, the first thing you should do is talk to your vet, who can tell you if your dog is looking healthy and suggest changes if needed. If your dog is healthy but needs some other ways to exercise besides walks during winter, skip this section and jump to where we list some ideas. While no two dogs are exactly the same in terms of what they need to live a happy healthy life, there are some basic things you can keep in mind when planning how much activity to keep your dog entertained. If your dog is a working breed (like a German Shepherd, Collie, or Doberman Pinscher) they will need a ton more exercise than a more laid back breed like a basset hound or bulldog. Most dogs will be happy with something between thirty minutes and two hours of walking – you can judge if your walk has been successful by watching your dog after- do they still get the zoomies? Are they still chewing your shoes? You may want a longer walk!

What are some indoor activities I can do to tire my dog out?

If the thought of walking in this weather makes you shiver, or storms/conditions do not permit, there are plenty of indoor options to keep your pet mentally stimulated. If your dog has to think, that can tire them out just as well! Of course you should try and play fetch or tug of war inside for a few minutes to make sure your dog is moving around during the day, but you can tire them out without going outside with a few fun puzzles! (As with all toys, make sure you supervise your dog when they are using them just in case!)

DIY Spinning Bottle Dog Puzzle

Here is a super cute way to recycle old bottles and create a fun (and hilarious) game for your dog to play indoors!

Instructions to make your own are available here: https://jaxdogmom.blogspot.ro/2014/07/jedi-plays-spin-bottle.html

Flirt Pole

Does your dog often act like a cat? Why not get them a giant cat toy? Flirt poles are a great way to tire out your dog without tiring yourself out. It’s also a fun way to train your dog in impulse control and work on “get it”, “leave it” commands.

You can find a great guide on using a flirt pole for fun and training here: https://notesfromadogwalker.com/2012/04/24/flirt-pole/

Learn a New Trick

Even old dogs can learn new tricks, and learning new tricks is just as exhausting for a dog as it is for you to learn a new language. There are tons of creative tricks you can work on with your dog if you’ve already got all the basics down, such as sniper crawling, high five, play dead, and dozens others! Here are some ideas for tricks and how to teach your dog to master them:

Getting out and about when possible

With these puzzle games you can reduce your dogs energy at the end of the day and be entertained yourself! Your dog will still need to go out and run around as much as possible, and that’s when local dog walkers and runners are the most helpful!

If you are not feeling the winter weather and want to make sure your dog is getting adequate exercise, call Kira of Off Road Paws at 303-818-0708 and set up a time for your dog to go on an adventure! We’re happy to help!

Holiday Dangers for Dogs and Cats

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Sadly, it is also the time when vet visits and bills skyrocket – right when we’d rather be spending our money on cute holiday plates and wrapping and gifts little fluffy timmy needs a hospital visit. It’s not a fun time for anyone involved, so here are some ways you can keep your holidays bright and your dog or cat out of holiday trouble.

Dogs and cats have unique things they like to get into during the holiday season, so we will start with dogs. If you don’t have a dog, jump to our cat section!

Holiday Dog Dangers

Ice Melts/Street Salt

Do you love salt? Your dog does too – and every year they cover the streets and sidewalks with it so we can drive and not slip. Unfortunately while too much sodium on its own is quite bad for dogs, “salt” when used to describe the stuff they put on the roads is being used in its scientific definition as any chemical compound formed from the reaction of an acid and a base. Table salt is Sodium Chloride (NaCl), but salt used on streets can be Potassium chloride, Magnesium Chloride, Calcium Carbonate, or Calcium Magnesium Acetate. These can all make your pet feel pretty queasy if they lick it up. “A dog that ingests 4g (less than 1 oz.) of sodium chloride per 1kg (2.3 lbs.) of body weight could die. That would mean a dog that weighs only 4 lbs. would only need to eat about 2 ounces of ice melt containing sodium chloride before resulting in death.” (Accuweather.com) Especially dangerous are ice melts where the chemicals can be concentrated from melting snow. If that wasn’t enough, the salt is also very rough on your pups little toe beans. Much like you should rinse out the undercarriage of your car after winter driving you should clean your dog’s feet after they are out walking on salted streets or get them little booties to wear (plus the videos of dogs adjusting to wearing boots are hilarious).

Chocolate

Dogs love to find chocolate that isn’t meant for them and chow down. Most dog owners already know that chocolate is toxic to dogs, but that doesn’t mean that boxes of chocolate never get left under the tree or in a stocking that can be pulled off the mantle. Make sure any chocolate meant as a gift stays on a countertop your dog cannot reach or the fridge or freezer.

Cooked Bones

Do you have a family member that likes to sneak table scraps to your dog? If yes, (and you know they will never stop…) you should definitely make sure they know they are responsible for any stomach upsets they cause and to never give your dog bones from their meals! All tough treats like yak milk blocks, marrow bones, etc should be given under direct supervision, but dogs should really never have cooked bones. Cooked bones are likely to splinter and get stuck in your dog’s throat or in their digestive tract. It would be an extremely unpleasant dessert to have to go to an emergency vet after Christmas dinner.

Holiday Meals

Dog’s should not be eating human foods for the most part, especially not as a meal. It is extremely tempting to give them a slice of Christmas ham or turkey, but unless you want to spend the holiday season cleaning up puppy poops, you should keep your dog on it’s standard diet, and maybe give one or two extra treats for a special holiday surprise. High fat and sugary foods can make your dogs stomach very upset, and may even lead to pancreatitis which can lead to hospitalization.

Stuffed Dog Toys (Dog depending)

This caution is mainly for larger dogs – if you have a 5-10 lb dog, you may not have to worry quite so much about your dog even getting to the stuffing of its new toy, let alone eating it. If your dog likes to rip the heads off it’s bears, it’s not only a huge mess you’ll need to clean later, but can be dangerous if your dog thinks that stuffing is tasty (and we don’t mean the kind that goes in a turkey). Fluffy stuffing isn’t digestible and may lead to intestinal obstructions. There are all kinds of awesome dog toys that are stuffing free just for this purpose- and they tend to last a lot longer so you’ll save money too!

If you’re getting a child or a loved one a new stuffed animal, make sure they keep it away from the dog if your dog is prone to chewing. Standards for human toys and dog toys are a little different, and the last thing you want is a sad kid and a sick dog.

Rawhide

Similar to bones, cheap rawhide can splinter or your dog can get overly excited and try to swallow large pieces whole and choke. All hard chews given to your dog should be done under supervision. A great alternative to rawhide is yak milk chews, available now at most pet stores – when the treat gets small, you can even pop it in the microwave to poof it up like popcorn and get even more chew time out of it for your dog.

Mistletoe/Holly

Holly, or mistletoe as it is called for 2 months of the year, is both very sharp and full of toxins. If your dog eats any of this yuletide decoration, they may smack their lips, drool, shake the heard a lot, vomit, lose their appetite or have diarrhea. If you suspect your pet has eaten any holly, call your vet for advisement. If you are going to hang mistletoe, do it in a room where your dog cannot get access in case it falls to the floor.

Christmas Tree Preservative

In an effort to make money off of people wanting their Christmas tree to look greener longer, a market for Christmas Tree preservatives has sprung up, selling families chemicals to pour into their Christmas tree stands. These chemicals are toxic to pets and humans – and have very little effect on preserving your tree, according to Penn State. Skip the Christmas Tree preservative, make sure your tree has lots of water in its stand, and rest easy knowing there isn’t a bowl of poison in your living room.

Christmas-time Cat Cautions

Tinsel and Ribbons

Is it stringy and sparkly? Yes? Obviously tinsel is going to attract cats like it’s covered in catnip. It is extremely dangerous for cats to ingest strings, ribbons and tinsel – especially the latter two since they tend to be sharp on the edges. Ribbons and tinsel can get wrapped around something in your cat, and literally cut up your cat’s stomach and intestines as they attempt to move the object through the body. Ribbon and tinsel can also cause the intestine to become bunched up and lead to a blockage which will require a medical procedure to clear. If you have a cat, you may want to remove your tinsel and wrap your presents with premade bows or very wide fabric ribbon that your cat is not interested in. If your cat is determined, skip the ribbon and tinsel all together.

Poinsettias

This popular holiday plant is poisonous to both cats and dogs. Dogs mostly aren’t interested in eating them, but cats do tend to like to nibble on them. The Pet Poison Hotline says “when ingested, mild signs of vomiting, drooling, or rarely, diarrhea may be seen. If the milky sap is exposed to skin, dermal irritation (including redness, swelling, and itchiness) may develop.” Luckily, while eating a poinsettia will lead to an unpleasant holiday for your kitty, ingesting a poinsettia almost never requires medical treatment unless the symptoms are severe.

Mistletoe/Holly

Holly, or mistletoe as it is called for 2 months of the year, is both very sharp and full of toxins. If your cat eats any of this yuletide decoration, they may smack their lips, drool, shake the heard a lot, vomit, lose their appetite or have diarrhea. If you suspect your pet has eaten any holly, call your vet for advisement. If you are going to hang mistletoe, do it in a room where your cat cannot get access in case it falls to the floor.

Lilies

Lilies are certainly beautiful to us humans but they are incredibly dangerous for cats. Ingesting any part of a lily could result in catastrophic kidney failure. If your cat eats part of a lily plant and does not receive treatment within 3 days, they could die. If you notice parts of your lily plants missing, and suspect your cat of having eaten them, or see your cat drooling (almost always a sign of poisoning), vomiting (especially with bits of plant in it), increased urination and then no urination after a day or two), call your vet right away. The scariest lilies are those from the genuses Lilium and Hemerocallis which includes Easter lilies, Tiger lilies and Asiatic lilies and Day lilies. If you have lilies as an indoor plant, you may want to consider moving them outside where your curious cat can’t munch on them.

Christmas Light Wires

If your cat loves to chew your laptop charger or phone cable, you may want to keep your cat away from your tree if you’re going to put lights on it. Your cat could get a great shock and/or even start a fire if it decides to chow down on your lights. If your cat starts chewing and stops before getting a shock, exposed wires could bump and set fire to your tree. It’s not worth it to risk, so keep your cat in a separate christmas-free part of your home.

Christmas Tree Preservative

In an effort to make money off of people wanting their Christmas tree to look greener longer, a market for Christmas Tree preservatives has sprung up, selling families chemicals to pour into their Christmas tree stands. These chemicals are toxic to pets and humans – and have very little effect on preserving your tree, according to Penn State. Skip the Christmas Tree preservative, make sure your tree has lots of water in its stand, and rest easy knowing there isn’t a bowl of poison in your living room.

Both dogs and cats both don’t like loud noises or lots of commotion. Try to keep their environment happy and loving and what they are used to as much as possible, for them to have the best holiday experience possible.

If you are going out of town for the holiday season and need someone to watch your pets or want to make sure your dog is getting adequate exercise even while family is in town, call Kira of Off Road Paws at 303-818-0708 and set up a time for your dog to go on an adventure, set up pet-sitting or one of our other service options. We’re happy to help!

Dog-friendly Parks and Hikes in Lafayette, Colorado

We spend a lot of time in Lafayette, here are some of the best places to go adventuring with your dog. If you want your dog to get outside but don’t have the time or energy to adventure with them, Off Road Paws is happy to help! We have a variety of dog walking, dog running, on-leash and off-leash options so you can come home to cuddle with your tired, happy and healthy pup.

Lafayette Dog Parks

Want to take your dog out for some social time with other dogs? Brush up on your dog park etiquette, get your leash and load up your dog to visit the Great Bark Dog Park in Lafayette. The Great Bark Dog Park is the only off-leash public park in Lafayette, but don’t discount it.

This park features 6.1 acres of amazing fun for your dog to run and chase toys. If you have a small or shy dog, there is an area just for you where our more delicate furry friends can play safely.

If you want to see a bit of nature before getting to the park, the park is accessible via the Dog Park Trail (listed below) where your dog is welcome as long as it’s on-leash.

Lafayette Dog Friendly Trails and Parks

All trails in Lafayette allow for dogs on-leash, and provide pet pick-up stations in case you run short on bags. If you plan on taking your dog out to a trail/hike, in addition to your leash, collar and dog tag, make sure you pack water for both you and your dog, and treats (in case you need to bribe your dog to do something).

Since your dog can’t tell you it’s thirsty, make sure you watch out for signs of dehydration such as “panting, sunken, dry looking eyes, dry nose and gums, loss of skin elasticity, or lethargy” (akc.org). If you’re concerned about your dog not drinking enough, try giving them ice cubes to trick them into hydrating. Some dogs like crunching or playing with them more than just drinking water.

Autumn Ash Park
Address: 401 Lucerne Dr. Lafayette, CO 80026
Hours: 6am – 10pm
Link to City of Lafayette Page

This main feature of this park is a hill that is great for sledding in winter. There are also grills, a play area and picnic tables for a nice day out. This park is an open field where you can explore with your on-leash dog.

Bullhead Gulch Open Space
Address: 1501 Arapahoe Rd. Lafayette CO 80026
Hours: 4am – 10pm
Link to City of Lafayette Page

This grassy area between neighborhoods is a great place to go for a run or a bike ride. Water may be flowing in the gulch, particularly in the summer.

Coal Creek Trail System
Address: Coal Creek/Rock Creek Regional Trail System
120th St. Lafayette, CO 80026
Link to City of Lafayette Page

For over 20 years, the City of Lafayette, the City of Louisville and Boulder County have united efforts to construct this regional trail which spans over 14 miles through the three locales. The mostly soft-surface trails parallel the two creeks for which they are named and give a variety of trail experiences and community access users enjoy. 3.3 miles in Lafayette (10.1 miles total) – a soft-surface trail that parallels Coal Creek from 66th Street in Superior to Vista Parkway in Erie.

Cherrywood Park
Address: 2333 Autumn Ridge Blvd. Lafayette CO 80026
Hours: 6am – 10pm
Link to City of Lafayette Page

Another great location to check out with the kids, this park features a playground, picnic tables and benches. Paved paths are available if off-road walking isn’t for you.

City Park
Address: 450 N. 111th St. Lafayette, CO 80026
Hours: 6am – 10pm
Link to City of Lafayette Page

If your kids are skaters, baseball, soccer or softball players you may already be familiar with this park. Next time you have to go to a game, bring your dog for some social time. You’ll be the star of the show!

Cottonwood Park
Address: 1102 East Centaur Cir. Lafayette Co 80026
Hours: 6am – 10pm
Link to City of Lafayette Page

Besides being on the coolest street name ever, Cottonwood Park features a playground and access to the Centaur Village South subdivision.

Cross Ridge Park
Address: 2710 Prairie Ridge Dr. Lafayette, CO 80026
Hours: 6am – 10pm
Link to City of Lafayette Page

Paved paths for your pleasure, in addition to a playground and open grassy space for on-leash dog walks!

Dog Park Trail
Address: 119th St. Lafayette, CO 80026
Hours: 4am – 10pm
Link to City of Lafayette Page

Dog Park Trail links up to the Great Bark Dog Park for some off-leash fun for you and your dog!

Heron Lake Open Space
Address: 2520 Lake Meadow Dr. Lafayette, CO 80026
Hours: 4am – 10pm

John Breaux Park
Address: 746 Barberry Cir. Lafayette, CO 80026
Hours: 6am – 10pm
Link to City of Lafayette Page

This is a great little park if you are in search of a flat, paved easy trail. There is a playground for kids and the trail is a great place for beginning bikers.

Kneebone Open Space
Address: 11218 Arapahoe Rd. Lafayette CO 80026
Hours: 4am – 10pm
Link to City of Lafayette Page

Searching for wide open fields? Kneebone Open Space is a wild-life corridor that features sprawling grass meadows, and paved paths.

Lindenwood Park
Address: 800 Glenwood Dr. Lafayette, CO 80026
Hours: 6am – 10pm
Link to City of Lafayette Page

A great place for a picnic, this park features a playground, benches and a covered picnic area.

Public Road Trailhead
Address: 1881 S. Public Road
Hours: 4am – 10pm
Link to City of Lafayette Page

This trailhead leads to a number of other trails through Louisville, Superior and Boulder.

Red Oak Park
Address: 1602 Centaur Circle Lafayette, CO 80026
Hours: 6am – 10pm
Link to City of Lafayette Page

Another park off of Centaur Circle. This park features a playground and a sand volleyball court – a great place to bring your dog for a change of scenery.

Rock Creek West Open Space
Address: 2001 S. 120th St. Exempla Circle Lafayette, CO 80026
Hours: 4am – 10pm
Link to City of Lafayette Page

If you are looking for a place where you may see some wildlife, Rock Creek West Open Space may be a good place – for large dogs. Coyotes may be found in this area as well as prairie dogs, raccoons, reptiles and birds of prey.

Romero Park
Address: 201 S Bermont St. Lafayette, CO 80026
Hours: 6am – 10pm
Link to City of Lafayette Page

Romero Park features some amazing sculptures and art built to help get people interested in STEM courses. If you love math and the outdoors, this park is a great place to explore.

Rothman Open Space
Address: 311 E. Lucerne Dr. Lafayette, CO 80026
Hours: 4am -10pm
Link to City of Lafayette Page

Another park for wilderness buffs and their dogs, Rothman Open Space is home to native plants and animals, including prairie dogs, foxes, hawks, harriers and bald eagles. Owners of small dogs may want to skip this one as well as coyotes may be present in the park.

Simpson Mine Park
Address: 700 E. Simpson Street Lafayette, CO 80026
Hours: 6am – 10pm
Link to City of Lafayette Page

Simpson Mine Park won the American Society of Landscape Architecture in 2009 President’s Award. This park has many opportunities to learn about Lafayette’s mining history, in addition to a picnic area, playground and benches to take a break.

If you want your dog to experience the beauty of Colorado but don’t always have the ability to go adventuring with them, we would love to take your dog out to play! We have a variety of dog walking, dog running, on-leash and off-leash options so you can come home to cuddle with your tired, happy and healthy pup.

How to have a Pet Safe Halloween

Stop! Look to your left. Look to your right. Look at your pet. If they are a dog or a cat, are they wearing a tag with their name, and your address and phone number on it? Before we get any closer to Halloween, if your pet doesn’t have an ID tag, go get one right now. You can likely find a collar and individually engraved tag for less than $10 total at your local pet store. If you are more tech inclined, you can get a GPS enabled collar for between $70 and $200. PC Mag has assembled a list of the best trackers and their pros and cons to help get you started on making a decision for your pet. Why do you need an ID tag? Here are some very important statistics: “1 in 3 pets will become lost in their lifetime, less than 2 percent of lost cats and only 15 to 20 percent of lost dogs make it back home to their families (per the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy), and most pets who do get home are wearing an ID tag or are microchipped or tattooed” (Healthypets.mercola.com). Halloween involves a lot of factors that may cause your pet stress, and generally lots of door opening and closing. IDing your pet gives them a better chance of getting back to you if they are able to “trick” you into letting them out.

Now that you’re back from getting your pet a collar and tag, here are 5 more tips to keep your pet safe on the spookiest of holidays – Halloween!

Make a designated place for candy out of reach of your pet

Do you have kids or a spouse who likes to leave food out? Use this opportunity to establish where Halloween candy will go in the house, out of the reach of your pet. We are partial to the fridge or freezer – who doesn’t love cold chocolate? If you don’t have room or prefer room-temperature candy (we won’t judge), consider a drawer your pet can’t get into in a pantry or similar safe space.

Chocolate is one of the most well known toxic human food substances for dogs, but it’s not the only candy type you should worry about. Xylitol, a sugar substitute, can cause catastrophically low blood sugar levels in dogs and other pets. Luckily xylitol isn’t typically found in your standard Halloween haul, but it is important to look out for as it is an ingredient in many chewing gums.

What do you do if your pet gets into some Halloween treats? Try to make a note of what kind of chocolate and how much. AKC.org recommends doing the following: “If you believe your dog ate chocolate, call your veterinarian immediately and/or call the Pet Poison Helpline (855-213-6680) for advice. Based on your dog’s size and the amount and type of chocolate consumed, your veterinarian may recommend that you simply monitor him for the clinical signs listed above and call back if his condition worsens.”

Go easy on the costumes

Let’s face it, your pet has no idea it’s Halloween. They don’t know why you’re squeezing them into a devil costume (even if it is their alternate persona), and it probably feels pretty weird to deal with sleeves. Since you have no way of explaining to them that once a year we put on silly outfits and it is in-fact not forever, make sure you are patient with your pet if you want to get them into a costume, and consider you may need to scale back your plans or change them into a studded collar or a cute pumpkin themed harness. Before committing to any pet costume, “make sure it fits properly and is comfortable, doesn’t have any pieces that can easily be chewed off, and doesn’t interfere with your pet’s sight, hearing, breathing, opening its mouth, or moving. Take time to get your pet accustomed to the costume before Halloween, and never leave your pet unsupervised while he/she is wearing a costume” (AVMA.org).

If you get started now, you may be able to train your pet to tolerate their Halloween costume with some positive reinforcement, much praise, and a bag full of treats. Here are some general tips on how to train your dog that can be used to get them accustomed to their costume.

Watch out for tasty and wobbly decor

If you bust out the Jack-o-lanterns and spooky ghost decorations in force every year, be aware of tasty tidbits your cat or dog may chew when you’re looking the other way. Once you get a decoration that will be in your house put up, watch your dog or cat around it for a few hours. That’s usually enough time to see if they will be terribly frightened of it, or think it looks like a tasty lunch.

If you have Jack-o-Lanterns, consider fake candles or glowsticks to achieve a creepy look – the ASPCA points out “While a carved jack-o-lantern certainly is festive, pets can easily knock over a lit pumpkin and start a fire. Curious kittens are especially at risk of getting burned or singed by candle flame.” Don’t let curiosity get your cat this Halloween season!

Make a plan for Trick-or-Treaters and don’t be afraid of signage

Are you going to be handing out candy? Hosting a party? Watching a scary movie and scowling at the kids running amok? Whatever your plan, have a plan for doorbells! If your dog is like almost every other dog that has somehow been taught what a doorbell is from birth, be ready for the ringing (and barking)!

If you will be giving out candy, turn on your porchlight and sit on the porch so costumed kiddos don’t ring the bell. Make sure your dog has done it’s business before the evening falls, and consider setting up a room with their bed/blanket, and favorite toys. If you want to get really fancy, there are some soothing dog music playlists on youtube.

If free candy isn’t your jam, remember to turn your outside lights off to let trick-or-treaters know your home isn’t participating in sugarpalooza, and consider putting a sign over the doorbell to discourage people who don’t know the rules from pressing it.

Keep your pet away from the door

This one is kind of obvious, but don’t risk your pets escaping and make sure to keep them away from your door. If you can section off your house so your pet stays away, that is ideal. Baby gates are awesome for dogs. Cats are a little slipperier, and tend to ignore any barricades you’ve put in place, so it may be best to keep them locked in one room for the evening (with their litter box, bed, and other items they have deemed theirs). Always check to make sure you know where your pet is before opening the door so you don’t get any escapees.

With these 6 tips, you and your pet can have an awesome halloween that’s scary because of ghosts and ghouls, not because of something happening to your pet. If you need someone experienced and careful to help your dog burn off some excess energy while you decorate for the holidays or to watch your pets during your Halloween preparations, Off Road Paws has a variety of options that may be right for you. Contact us today!

A Quick Guide to Foods your Dog Can(t) Eat

You may occasionally want to see how your dog reacts to new flavors, or just want to mix up their diet a bit, whatever the reason, most of us find ourselves googling if our dog can eat x-“human food” or y-“whatever-dog-scarfed-out-of-the-trash”. While not completely expansive, here is a list of some of the common foods you can and cannot share with your fluffy buddy. There are also some treats, bones, etc. listed that should be given to your dog with caution and under supervision!

As with people, some dogs have food sensitivities or food allergies and they can’t tolerate certain food choices.  This can result in an upset tummy with diarrhea and vomiting up to severe anaphylactic allergic reactions, like you think of with people and peanut butter.  It is always a good idea and highly recommended that you consult with your veterinarian or an animal nutrition expert about food choices  and dog treats (bones, rawhide, etc) for your dog before giving them something new.

Great Foods to Share with Your Dog!

Here are some of the common foods you probably have in your fridge that your dog will love you for sharing (and are nutritionally beneficial to them too!)

  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Seaweed
  • Melons
  • Pumpkin
  • Rice
  • Apples (no seeds)
  • Oranges (no rind)
  • Peanut Butter
  • Bananas
  • Coconut
  • Corn (no cob)
  • Cooked Eggs
  • Honey (small amount)
  • Quinoa
  • Fish
  • Plain Yogurt

Give to your Dog with Caution:

The following items CAN be shared with your dog but in VERY small quantities or under direct supervision. Marrow bones can splinter and cause significant medical issues including upset stomach, broken teeth and full GI obstructions. Marrow bones should only be given in the appropriate size relative to the dog and with minimal extra dried skin/grease on them.  Avoid the large knuckle bones with lots of additional skin left on them. They can break apart and dogs can eat pieces of bone that they can’t digest.  The greasy part can cause an upset stomach. Rawhide should only be given if it is compressed, meaning it has been broken into very small pieces and compressed back together. Ask you pet store for compressed only.  Dogs can get large pieces of raw hide broken off and swallow them.  These pieces are not digested well and can actually cause an obstruction (blockage) in the digestive system that can lead to surgery!

Some dogs are lactose intolerant or have sensitive stomachs, so cheese may cause an upset tummy – it is highly recommended you try very small tastes of these.

  • Raw Hide- ONLY compressed
  • Marrow Bones ( DIRECT SUPERVISION AT ALL TIMES)
  • Deer antlers (very hard to break off pieces, BETTER THAN BONE, but still supervise)
  • Cheese

Foods and Items you Should NEVER Give your Dog!

  • Grapes/Raisins
  • Avocados
  • Chicken Bones or any Bones from Home Cooking
  • Chocolate
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Nuts (particularly Macadamias, Walnuts, pecans)
  • Raw Eggs
  • Anything with Xylitol (sugar substitute found in gum, candy and even some sugar free peanut butter)
  • Human medications (common medications to be avoided- aspirin, Tylenol, Advil, Aleve,etc)  ALWAYS CONSULT VETERINARIAN BEFORE GIVING ANY MEDICATIONS TO DOGS!!!
  • Alcohol

11 Tips to have Pawsitively Perfect Dog Park Etiquette

Dog parks are fantastic places to get your dog some exercise and fun play time with other dogs! They are also a wonderful place to get involved in your community – you have a great conversation starter (your dog!), a common interest, and a place to gather. Many long lasting friendships for both people and dogs have begun in a dog park.

In order to get the most out of a dog park, be a constructive citizen, there are some rules and common courtesies you should be aware of, and they aren’t always explicitly listed out. We’re here to help with a quick guide of how to get along with other dogs and humans during your dog park visit.

In most cases, you can treat going to the dog park like bringing a toddler to a playdate. “Dog park etiquette has more to do with safety than friendliness” (San Diego Tribune). Regardless of your personal opinion of dogs, many people do consider their dogs to be like their children, and you should be respectful of this. Here are 11 tips to fit in at the dog park

  1. Before even deciding to go to a dog park, get to know your dog. You should not go to the dog park after just adopting a new dog, no matter how sweet they are with you. See how they behave around other dogs, food, and small animals. If your dog isn’t cool with other dogs (whether they are frightened or aggressive), work with a trainer on getting them socialized. Most dogs can be conditioned to enjoy the presence of other dogs, but there is the occasional exception. If your dog doesn’t like hanging out with other dogs, you should not force them to go to the dog park. “If you can be honest about your dog and his individual quirks, then you can avoid bad situations.” (theweek.com)
  2. Make sure your dog is up to date on its vaccinations. While all dogs in the U.S. MUST have their rabies vaccine, there are several vaccines your dog should not go without if you want your dog to live to see old age, including canine parvovirus, distemper virus, adenovirus type 2 and hepatitis. The AKC has a full schedule of the recommended listing of dog vaccines. Vaccinating your dog protects your dog and the other dogs in the park. Do NOT go to a dog park without being up to date on your dog’s vaccines.

All right! Now you know your dog likes dogs, and they have all their shots, let’s check out some dog parks (without your furry friend for now)

  1. Check out the dog park before bringing your dog. Get a sense for what kind of dogs and the owners come to the park. Are there bags for poop? Trash cans? Is the park clean and well maintained? Do the dogs seem to be playing nicely together or is there roughhousing? Do the owners seem engaged with the dogs, or are they all on their phones? A good community at the dog parks helps maintain standards – responsible dog owners will often work together to maintain their park, and this will create a safer environment for your pup. You can even look a dog park up on Yelp and see what other owners have to say! You may have to check out a few parks before finding one you are comfortable with.
  2. If you have a small dog, look for parks that have separate areas for big dogs and small dogs. Until you know the community very well, you will minimize the risk of a big dog mistaking your small dog for a cat, or your small dog with big dog syndrome barking at a dog 5 times its size.

It’s just about time to bring your dog to the dog park! Let’s get ready!

  1. If your dog seems to be showing any unusual signs, such as being lethargic, having diarrhea, (unusual) coughing or sneezing, do NOT bring them to a dog park. Get them checked out by a vet before bringing them to play with other dogs.
  2. If you bring toys, be prepared to lose them. Don’t bring your dogs favorite stuffed dragon. Bring only dog safe toys.
  3. Bring water and a dish for your dog! It gets hot – don’t let your dog overheat. If you can avoid letting your dog drink from a community bowl, that is also ideal, as there may be communicable diseases they could catch.
  4. Don’t bring food or treats for your dog (or yourself) to the park. If you want to give your dog treats, leave them in your car. You don’t know how the other dogs will react to food, whether it’s begging or aggression, so you shouldn’t risk it. You should also never feed anyone else’s dog anything unless you have express permission – many dogs have allergies or dietary restrictions, and that’s not even considering the stomach distress surprise new foods may cause a perfectly healthy dog.

Time to go outside! Rules for being with your dog at the dog park!

  1. Keep an eye on your dog. Just like you wouldn’t take your kid to the park and walk away (we hope!), you shouldn’t leave your dog by itself! Watch out for signs of aggression both to and from your dog. Stay off your phone. Enjoy the outside with your dog.
  2. Pick up after your dog. It takes a village to keep a dog park clean. You should always have bags on hand when your dog is outside, but just in case you run out, most dog parks have bags available for owners to pick up poop.
  3. Follow all posted rules at the park. This rule is obvious, but many people don’t take the 30 seconds needed to read.

By following these rules, you and your dog can have a fun, safe time at a dog park! If you would prefer to have an experienced vet who cares about your dog supervise them at the park, Off Road Paws offers 30 minute on-leash walks and visits to local dog parks for just $20. Contact Kira today to book your dog’s adventure!

Pack Mentality – Adding a new dog to your pack

Having a dog in your life is one of the greatest joys for dog people. You always know they are there waiting for you at home, they have heaps of unconditional love and joy just by being in your presence. And generally, adding a second dog to your family pack makes life even better! Here are some benefits of living in a multi-dog household.

Benefits of Adding a New Dog to your Home

Dogs Learn from Each Other

It has been shown in studies that puppies learn basic commands, potty training, and dog etiquette much faster if they are able to learn from an older dog. You can see a pretty cool example of a puppy learning that stairs are safe from it’s older companion below:

Living with Multiple Pets may Reduce Allergies

According to Petfinder.com “Pets are great for kids in so many ways, and as the National Institutes of Health states, children raised in multi-pet households are less likely to develop allergic conditions. As reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, kids living with more than one cat or dog are at reduced risk for hypersensitivities to common allergens, such as animals, grass, ragweed and dust mites.”

Dogs Entertain Each Other

Much like how the imagination of two children is infinitely more entertaining than a kid playing alone, dogs can entertain each other during the day as well. They always have a companion to play with when you’re out and about, and can get way more exercise than if they were alone and lazed about all day.

Some Things to Consider When Adding a New Dog to your Home

Alright! You’re thinking that a new dog is right for you and your current dog! Don’t rush out to the shelter before you read this next section (but please do after, shelter dogs are awesome!). Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing your new dog.

Dog Compatibility

Not every dog will be friends right away. Some dogs are solitary souls, and may not want some young upstart in their space. If your dog has been properly socialized and hasn’t shown any signs of aggression towards other dogs on walks, in parks, or on play dates, keep reading. If they have shown signs of leash reactivity, have had previous spats with other dogs, consider finding a local dog training class (we prefer positive reinforcement training) and make sure your dog is okay with other dogs before considering bringing another dog into the home.

Dog Introductions

Doing a proper introduction between the dog you bring home and your current dog is not only polite, but can help ease stress and negate some of the negative possibilities of bringing a new dog into the home. You wouldn’t want to come home one day to find a new stranger living in your house, eating your food and leaving their weird smell on everything, and your dog doesn’t want this either.

Introduce the dogs on neutral territory – say a nearby dog park. Bring a friend and keep both dogs leashed. Stay in wide open areas – try to not to let the dogs get boxed in in entry ways or corners. Check out this article from the Humane Society that gives a great list of ways to introduce your dogs in different environments.

Keeping Two Dogs Busy

Large breeds need a job and constant stimulation. Even small dogs benefit immensely from a good romp around the wilderness. Tuckered out dogs are happier, healthier, and tend to have less behavioral problems (most people report that a routine exercise schedule cuts back on destructive chewing, jumping, and scratching). Trying to tire out one dog is a big job for anyone, especially if they need to work or attend school during the day. Getting multiple dogs enough stimulation is almost impossible unless you keep a daily running regimen (sometimes multiple times a day!).

Just for you, we have expanded our dog hiking offerings to include multiple dog packages. Your dogs can stay together, and get out of the house for a few hours.

At Off Road Paws, we are well experienced in making sure your dog comes home tired, happy, and ready for cuddles. You don’t need to worry about your dog’s sensitive pads on hot concrete in the summer – we always go off road. Mountains, creeks, snow, sun; Your dogs will enjoy the natural scents and sights of Colorado, and you’ll enjoy a happier pup. All options can be tailored to individual pet(s) needs. 2 hour minimum including travel. Contact Us today to book your dog’s group hike!

Off Road Paws Offering Group Dog Hiking in Boulder, Louisville, Lafayette and Broomfield, Colorado

Tell us your dog’s favorite trail or we can pick one for them and get them out for exercise and playtime!!! Off-leash options available under certain guidelines. We can’t wait to hit the trails with your furry family members. Contact us with any questions and to schedule a doggie hike!! Visit offroadpaws.com to learn more about hiking options and pricing! See info from flyer below also!!

Specializing in fitness programs for your dog…with LOVE.

Off Road Paws is a local, veterinarian owned business that offers dog fitness options for your furry family members. We can get dogs of any sizes, age, medical or behavioral issues out for runs, hikes or walks at whatever pace and amount of time that is best for them!

 NOW OFFERING INDIVIDUAL AND GROUP HIKING OPTIONS!!

                                                             

INDIVIDUAL DOG HIKES: (2 hour minimum)

$25/HOUR

ADDITIONAL DOG (SAME HOUSEHOLD)- $5

 

GROUP HIKES: (2 hour minimum)

2 DOGS- $17.50/HOUR PER DOG

3 DOGS- $15.00/HOUR PER DOG

 WE WILL PICK UP YOUR DOG(S) AND TAKE THEM TO A LOCAL TRAIL FOR A FUN ADVENTURE!!

*First 5 minutes of travel free both ways and not part of hour hike charge.

 Contact us with any questions and to schedule a hike!!

Email: info@offroadpaws.com

Phone: 303-818-0708

Website: offroadpaws.com