Improving the quality of life for dogs and their owners.

The Dog Daily delivers useful and relevant information about improving the quality of life for dogs and their owners. The site is the trusted source for practical, innovative and human solutions for today’s busy dog owners and their canine companions. Readers of The Dog Daily cherish their pets as the family members they are.

Dogs and the Workplace

The sad eyes. The droopy face. The moping. Let’s face it -- you probably hate leaving your dog in the morning to go to work just as much as he hates being left.

What if you could avoid all that, and instead bring your dog along with you when you head to the office?

Bringing your dog with you to work isn’t just about the fun of having him with you throughout the day - the benefits to having a dog in the workplace have been scientifically proven. For example, a study by Central Michigan University found that when dogs are present in a group, employees are more likely to trust each other and collaborate more effectively in the office. Dogs can also help break the ice when it comes to communication between co-workers.

Greg Kleva, a celebrity dog behavioral therapist/master trainer for Bark Busters Home Dog Training in New Jersey, explains how mood-boosting chemicals increase when dogs are around.  “Interactions with dogs have been proven to increase levels of oxytocin, often referred to as the ‘feel good’ hormone,” Kleva said. “Studies have shown that the presence of dogs in the workplace may also reduce stress hormone (cortisol) levels for their owners. These same studies indicate that cortisol levels for workers who didn't bring their dogs to work were drastically higher by the end of the working day.”

In fact, many places have been using canine companions to provide therapeutic relief for years now. “Look no further than your local rest home, hospital, library, elementary school, etc to see dogs being utilized for their therapeutic value,” Kleva says. “Dogs are also often seen in disaster zones and courtrooms to help calm those in traumatizing situations.”

For employers, the fact that having canine companions around increases productivity makes it a plus for them as well. “Dogs have the ability to break down the barriers that keep humans from interacting with one another,” explains Kleva. “We find it much easier to chat with someone we don’t know quite as well if we approach them to meet their dog.”

Of course there will be some prep involved if you’re thinking of bringing your dog with you to work. “Start by training your dog to greet people appropriately by teaching him to sit while greeting, rather than jumping up,” suggests Kleva. Other basic commands like ‘come’, ‘stay’, ‘leave it’, and ‘go to bed’ should be mastered as well, and you’ll need to make sure he can ignore distractions. You can practice by bringing him to the park, where there are a lot of distractions, and making him pay attention to your commands.

It’s also important to make sure your dog is both physically and mentally stimulated to keep him calm and to reduce boredom prior to entering your workspace. This will make the experience better for your dog and everyone in the office.

Be sure to have the right supplies on hand if you’re bringing your dog along with you to the office, as well. A leash is the most important thing to have, as it can be used for walks, as well as keeping him under your control. “Since bringing your dog to the office can be a stressful experience for your dog and cause him apprehension, bring your dog’s pillow or blanket from home so he has something familiar to comfort him,” says Kleva. “Also help your dog stay entertained by bringing along dog puzzle toys that make him work to earn a treat. Bring food or treats and a water bowl so your dog can stay well hydrated, too.”

There may be some drawbacks that come with bringing your dog to the office, too. The most obvious is that a co-worker may be allergic. Be sure to check with everyone in the office before you bring your dog in and put someone’s health in danger.

You should also be on the lookout for accidents, and it will be your responsibility to ensure your dog does not ruin any equipment in the office.  Barking or aggression can be off-putting to office mates, as well, and the additional time added to an already hectic work schedule to tend to your dog’s needs throughout the day may upset coworkers. Trying your dog out at the office for a half day may a good way to determine if it’s a good fit for your dog’s personality, as well as for everyone else in the office.

Doga: Yoga Your Dog Will Love

In yoga, the salutation “Namaste” means “The spirit in me respects the spirit in you.” What better way to show your dog that you respect his inner and outer happiness than to include him in your yoga practice?

Doga is a new way to partner with your pet to experience the physical (and humans say spiritual too) benefits of yoga. All people and dogs can practice doga -- fit or fat, large or small, young or old. Poses can be modified for all sizes, shapes and abilities, just like in regular yoga classes.

Yoga for Dogs: A Bonding Experience
Doga combines massage and meditation with gentle stretching for dogs and their humans. Although it might seem unusual, dogs generally dig doga because, like yoga, doga emphasizes the union and connection with other beings, and there’s no being your dog would rather be connected with than you.

“Doga is all about bonding with your dog,” says Suzi Teitelman, a nationally televised doga instructor who teaches in Jacksonville, Fla. “It’s much like doing yoga with an infant. You move and stretch them. You help them extend their limbs. You balance them on your body and you move over and around them.” And much like an infant, your dog will love the touching, massaging and relaxation time with his human parent, even if he doesn’t understand exactly what doga is.

“People are often concerned that their dog isn’t mellow enough for doga, but I encourage them to give it a try. I’ve had many skeptics come to class and leave happy with the results,” says Brenda Bryan, author of the book Barking Buddha: Simple Soul Stretches for Yogi and Dogi, and a doga teacher near Seattle, Wash.

Finding a doga teacher or class is not always easy because the practice is still relatively new, but more and more instructors and practitioners are popping up around the country. “Dog parents can definitely practice doga on their own, especially if they already know yoga, but it’s best to take a class or two or watch a DVD or read a doga manual to learn techniques that are safe and healthy to do with their pet,” says Teitelman.

Doga Poses

Bryan calls her doga poses whimsical names such as Woofing Warrior, Camel Rides Dog, and Muttley Mudras.

“These poses incorporate your dog fully into your yoga practice. They’re a bit nontraditional in practice but quite traditional in theory,” says Bryan.

Ready to embark on some beginner doga poses? Try one of these:

  • Super Dog: Kneel and squat, balanced on your toes. With your dog facing away from you, gently and slowly encourage him to stand on his hind legs with you supporting his weight under his front armpits. This pose stretches your dog’s abdominal muscles and front legs and strengthens the back leg joints.
  • Forward Bend: Stand with both feet under your hips. Roll and bend forward, hanging from your waist, with your hands and head low. Scoop up your dog to add his weight to your bend. This increases your stretch. And while your dog is “weightless,” you can give his limbs a good stretch too.
  • Wheelbarrow: Stand behind your dog and lean slightly forward. Gently pick his back legs up, supporting his hip joints with both hands, and slowly encourage him to stretch and flex his torso. This pose stretches his abdominal muscles, loosens the hips and strengthens the front leg joints.

Doga Gear
Humans should wear comfortable, stretchy clothes, just like you’d wear for any yoga practice. Dogs need no special gear, although both human and dog should practice on a mat that provides some cushioning and traction. Keep cool water on hand for both of you to stay hydrated, and take breaks as needed.

Like yoga, doga is a journey, not a destination. The joy is in the practice. It’s something you can try for both the sheer fun of it and the deepening of the bond between you and your best friend.

Exercise and the small dog

Just like you, your small dog needs exercise to stay healthy and happy. Small dogs are defined as those that weigh less than 22 pounds and who are shorter than 16 inches. “Exercise helps to keep your pet physically fit, mentally secure, socially engaged and emotionally happy,” says Lori Morton-Feazell, Director of Animal Care and Education for Petco. “It also reduces stress and deters negative behaviors such as chewing, digging and barking.”

If you are considering an exercise plan because you believe your pooch is overweight, your veterinarian can examine your dog and let you know if he needs to lose a few pounds. If your dog has difficulty walking or playing, he could be overweight, and it will be important to start any exercise regime slowly to build up endurance and lung capacity. 

Even if your small dog is the proper weight and is healthy, it is still important to check with your veterinarian to learn about any specific precautions you may need to be aware about for your dog’s breed, like breathing problems. Additionally, if it has been a while since your dog has exercised, start slow with short walks and play sessions. Always take your dog’s age, breed and health into account when starting any exercise routine.  “Begin with a 15-minute walk each day, and after the first week increase it by 5 minutes,” Morton-Feazell recommends. “Watch your dog for signs of [exhaustion] like heavy panting or their tongue hanging out, and remember if it is a long walk, take water to give to your dog. If your dog is used to exercise, a 30-60 minute walk daily is enough to keep him physically fit and emotionally happy.”

Keep in mind that the amount of exercise your dog needs is not equivalent to his size, but rather to his breed. For example, a small Jack Russell Terrier requires more exercise than the much larger Great Dane. Oppositely, a Labrador Retriever is a very active dog and would need more exercise than a tea cup Poodle. Ask your vet about how much exercise your particular breed of dog should be getting.

Of course going on walks isn’t the only way to exercise your pup. Other options for include obedience training and agility training.  “Try teaching him a new trick,” says Morton-Feazell. “Some simple ideas are give paw, high five, sit and stay.  This can help keep your dog emotionally happy and social.”

As far as agility training goes, many small breeds are very agile, and doing agility training through simple obstacles is a great way to experience the human/animal bond with your dog, in addition to providing exercise.

The key to getting the most out of an exercise program is getting your dog’s heart rate up, which will cause her to have a good pant. “Be careful not to over-exercise your dog and cause heavy panting or heavy breathing,” explains Morton-Feazell. “Give your dog breaks to catch his or her breath and get a drink of water.”

The best way to encourage your small dog to exercise is by incorporating toys into the workout.  Puppies, particularly, love to chase toys and put them in their mouths. Some options for older small dogs are balls, frisbees, Kongs or other toys that can be thrown for your dog to retrieve.  Morton-Feazell advises that you pick the right size toy for your dog. Don’t give your small dog a large toy as they may not want to play with it. You also want to make sure that the toy is large enough to not get stuck in the dog’s throat and cause an injury.

Keep in mind that all small dogs are different and will receive the most benefit from different types of exercises. There are no exercises that are off limits for your small dog, although some modifications can be made to accommodate their size. While playing, walking or training your dog, notice if he is tired, panting excessively or thirsty. These are signs that you may be pushing him too hard and that he needs a break and/or water.

Bark Management 101

Dogs bark. That’s how they communicate. But what if your dog barks incessantly? What if your dog is waking the baby up all the time or driving the neighbors crazy? Don’t call the doggie psychologist quite yet. Sometimes, you simply need to correctly diagnose the problem, and then teach your dog to stop the behavior. Here are some strategies:

Figure out What Your Dog Needs
Your dog barks because it wants your attention. Instead of ignoring the barks or hushing your dog, step back and try to figure out what your pal is trying to tell you. Ask yourself: Is your dog bored? Sad? Anxious? Afraid? Lonely? Most of these conditions can be fixed by spending more productive time together. Here’s what you can do to help:

Engage your dog. Instead of sitting on your patio and reading a book with your dog nearby, play a game of fetch or teach a new command         

Burn energy. Your dog might need more stimulation in the way of longer walks or jogs to feel part of the greater world. Moreover, exercise will zap excess energy that your dog will otherwise burn by barking.

Hire help. If you find you’re short on time, hire a dog walker or neighborhood kid who can entertain your pooch.

Be good company. Keep your dog inside with you, if possible, so that your best friend can at least feel your presence.

Behavior Modification
If you know your dog is perfectly self-actualized, perhaps you’ve unknowingly taught your dog to bark. For example, the owner who opens the door when the dog “speaks” reinforces the dog’s notion that you will respond to vocal commands. If this is the case, you’ll have to try behavior modification.

Teach your dog the command “Be quiet”: First, ask your dog to bark. Then, hold a treat in front of your dog’s nose. Your dog will immediately stop barking to sniff, at which point you say, “Be quiet.” When your dog complies, reward it with verbal encouragement and strokes. After three seconds of quiet, give your dog a treat. If your dog makes a mistake (and your pal will), clap your hands to provide a distraction and repeat the exercise.

Dogs With Barking in the DNA
Several breeds are known for barking, and unless you aim to purchase a watchdog, you may want to take this into consideration when you select a dog. These breeds include:

  • Chihuahua
  • Cairn Terrier
  • German Shepherd
  • Miniature Schnauzer
  • Scottish Terrier
  • Rottweiler
  • West Highland White Terrier
  • Yorkshire Terrier

Dogs that bark too much can be completely irritating. Make sure your pet minds its manners and barks only when necessary -- such as when your football team scores a touchdown.


Photo: @iStockphoto.com/WilleeCole