By Ketan Panchal
HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT LEASH FOR YOUR DOG?
Whether you’re buying your new dog a leash for the first time or replacing an older one with something more up to date, the options can seem overwhelming. There are different types of leashes available in the market, many of which claim to deal with specific issues or situations. So how do you know which leash is best for your dog?
A fixed-length leash should be your dog’s go-to leash for outings. Fixed-length leashes vary on average from four to eight feet in length. A fixed-length leash gives you the option to pull your dog closer or steer him in a different direction, and the loop handle makes it possible to hook the leash over your wrist while juggling another task.
A traffic leash has a second handle set closer to the dog’s neck, typically six to twelve inches from the leash’s attachment clip. Traffic leashes increase your ability to control your dog’s movements in crowded or high-distraction spaces such as elevators. A short traffic leash is not appropriate for walks, though, as it may restrict your dog’s airway and impede his ability to explore. Instead, opt for a longer leash with a built-in traffic handle and use it only when absolutely necessary.
A double dog walking leash is designed to assist with walking multiple dogs at the same time. It is made up of two leashes with one shared handle. Choose one with a rotating attachment that helps prevent the leashes from tangling.
A waist-clip leash has a mechanism that can secure it around your waist instead of holding it in your hand. This frees your hands, which can be useful if you’re pushing a stroller or carrying packages, or if you are a runner who trains with your dog. A waist-clip leash can also be helpful for training, as it allows you to focus on proper timing and treat delivery without having to juggle the leash and the treat pouch. However, this type of leash does create the potential for injury. If your dog tends to zigzag in front of you or changes sides while walking, you may be at risk for tripping and falling. Make sure that the waist-clip leash you select has a quick release mechanism as this can save your pooch from injuries in case of accidents or emergencies.
A long line leash can be beneficial for training or for dogs who do not have access to a fenced yard. The leash’s longer length, which can vary from 8 to 10 feet or upward of 15 to 30 feet, allows dogs to practice commands, like come when called, or just explore safely.
A chain leash may be effective for dogs who are inclined to chew and tug. The metal links discourage chewing and tugging. However, a chain leash can pinch hands and skin if grabbed. Chain leashes are also heavy, loud and more difficult to manage than leather or nylon equivalents.
HOW TO CHOOSE RIGHT TOYS FOR YOUR DOG?
Playing and chewing are natural canine behaviours. Though some dogs will play or chew more than others, dog toys are essential items for all dogs. In fact, behaviour problems can develop when canines do not have the proper outlets to follow their instincts.
Dog toy options are nearly endless, so choosing toys for your dog can be overwhelming. Some owners end up with a heap of toys gathering dust because the toys they chose simply do not interest their dogs. How do you choose toys that your dog will actually like?
If you seem to end up with too many toys, try putting several of them away for a while, then reintroduce them in the future. Months later, your dog will think they are brand new.
A ball is a must-have toy for any dog that loves to play fetch. Ball toys for dogs come in many varieties, from the basic tennis ball or rubber ball to glow-in-the-dark and flashing-light balls. Many balls contain squeakers. Others have openings to fill with treats. Some balls are basic bouncers meant for retrieving.
2. PLUSH TOYS
Many dogs adore plush toys. They will carry them around like babies or tear them apart like prey. Stuffed dog toys usually contain squeakers and some kind of stuffing. Dogs often rip into them and the stuffing goes everywhere. Supervise your dog when playing with plush toys to keep him from swallowing the stuffing or squeakers, which can lead to gastrointestinal or bowel obstruction. Plush toys will not last long with aggressive chewers, but can still be plenty of fun (with supervision).
Squeaky toys come in many shapes and sizes. Typically, they are made out of vinyl, rubber, or plastic. Durability varies, so choose wisely according to your dog’s chewing habits. In general, thick rubber is best for aggressive chewers. Thinner vinyl or plastic toys are better for
mild chewers or if you will be supervising play at all times. The benefit of thinner squeaky toys is that they are often very inexpensive. The downside is that they don’t usually last very long.
4. TUG TOYS
Many dogs enjoy playing tug-of-war. It’s a healthy display of a dog’s predatory nature, plus it’s great mental and physical exercise. There are many varieties of tug toys available in the market in various shapes, sizes, and materials. Often seen are tug toys made of rope and/or rubber. Choose a tug toy that is comfortable for you to hold in your hand and pull on, as well as easy for your dog to bite and drag. In addition, tug toys should be durable enough to hold up to the strength of your dog’s tugging. Replace worn or fraying tug toys so they do not break in the middle of a game of tug-of-war and hurt someone.
5. FOOD DISPENSING & PUZZLE TOYS
Food and treat dispensing dog toys should be in every canine’s household. They offer fun with mental stimulation, and are a great way for dogs to funnel their excess energy. Food dispensing dog toys come in diverse shapes and sizes and are usually made of rubber or plastic. Perhaps the most popular of all food dispensing dog toys is the Kong, which can be filled with treats, kibble, peanut butter, and other foods. These toys can provide hours of fun for your best friend.
Interactive dog toys and puzzles are a great way to keep your dog mentally stimulated and to teach him some cognitive skills. The built-in reward system of puzzles really makes learning fun and easy.
HOW TO USE TREATS IN YOUR DOG’S DAILY ROUTINE?
Some dog owners are unsure about whether to use dog treats when training a dog to learn a new trick or behaviour. But treats simply help you to get the behaviour you want from your dog, and then let your dog know that it performed the behaviour correctly. Dogs tend to learn faster and have more fun when they get rewarded for good behaviour.
Dog treats are also a great way to reward your dog to recognise it has done something right. If you lure your dog into a sit, give it the treat the second its rear end hits the floor. This works for all behaviours: you have to give the treat immediately so your dog associates the action with the reward. You can encourage your dog to repeat behaviours you like, such as lying quietly on the floor during dinner or sitting when guests enter through the door, by rewarding it with a treat to reinforce the desired behaviour.
Treat is a reward not a bribe.
* Author is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer and Behaviourist (CPDT) USA. You can connect with him on Instagram @k9certifiedtrainer.