How to Make the Most Out of the Daily Dog Walk

dog-on-walkThink you’re a pro dog walker? You just might be. But chances are there are always ways you can improve the daily routine. Today I’ll share my 5 favorites:

Be the Leader

One of the more common instances I see is that the dog owners are being walked, not the dog. I’m talking about dog owners being really walked. As in, being tugged along by their dog. This creates a problem. It leads the dog to believe that they’re the one in charge, and this can create problems around the house or with other dogs.

If this is a problem for you, you’re probably asking yourself, how do you make yourself the leader and your dog the follower? It takes a little time and training. One thing you can do is make sure your dog is the one following you out the door for the walk, and make sure they’re the last one back in the door. You can also try using a shorter leash, which puts you closer to your dog, making it easier to correct their actions. Another thing you can try is quick changes in direction. It’ll throw your dog for a loop.

Walk When There are Fewer Distractions

Do you have a dog that loves to stop and show enthusiasm with every single piece of wildlife? Does your dog love to try and get affection from other humans? While it might seem convenient for you to walk the dog right before or after work, it may be taking twice the time. Try times when there’s not as much going on outside.

As a side note: some younger dogs need to be adjusted to other animals. In this case, walking during off-hours may not be the best option.

Bring the Goods

Ok – it’s simple enough to provide the goodies and water after the walk. No extra stuff to carry. But is it the best option? No.

Be sure to bring water (especially in the hot summer months.) It’s also wise to bring the goodies with you because it can be a good training piece. Trying to teach the dog that you’re the leader, for example? Perfect time to break out the goodies.

Running

While we’re on the topic of training, keep in mind that your dog can be great to do some exercising with. Training for a 5K? Run with the dog. As long as it’s not a puppy, this can be an awesome activity. That is, as long as your dog likes running.

Experience New Areas

It’s obviously important for your dog to experience new smells, new sights, and new people. But it’s important for you as well. Doing the same walk every day can get awfully boring. Go for a change of pace – even make it a “destination” walk, where there’s a dog friendly place you can meet someone (or other dogs) at some point in the journey.

Lisa Podwirny is the owner of Ketchum Mfg. Connect with her on Google+!

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5 Financial Savings Tips for Fido

dog_at_vet

Buying a dog is really, really simple. Perhaps you’re moving into a new place by yourself, and you want a new dog to keep you company. Maybe you already have a pet, and you want it to have a friend. Whatever the case, it’s important that you don’t be short sighted. A pet isn’t a huge expense right off the bat, but when you add additional costs, it is. Today, I’ll share some tips for cutting those costs. Here are five ways you can cut the costs of owning a pet:

Adoption

If you’re serious about keeping costs down, adopting a pet is your best option. I’ll use dogs as an example. It’s very common for people to research dogs online and find the perfect one. And the thought of that perfect dog can be hard to let go. But here’s the truth — if your dog comes from a shelter, it won’t be any less lovable. This article from American Humane describes buying vs. adopting perfectly; you’re giving a dog a second chance at finding a home.

Food

Some dog owners will recommend spending more on the better food. It’ll save you money in the long run since your dog will be healthier.

I disagree. I won’t say your dog should only eat the cheapest food around; it’s important for dogs to eat a balanced diet. However, most exquisite dog food is unnecessary, and almost exactly the same as the cheaper stuff. Most of that flashy packaging is just a marketing tactic. Another tip: buy in bulk. It can save you almost twice as much as buying small packages.

You can cut down on treats specifically made for dogs as well as well, since most dogs will be perfectly happy with something healthier. Read more here.

Grooming

Grooming your dog is essential and obviously needs to be done fairly often. However, purchasing grooming tools and learning to do it yourself will save you a lot of money. Plus, you’ll get the satisfaction.

Health

Pets and healthcare in the same sentence = tricky subject. Initially, pet insurance might seem like a great idea. However, the more prone your dog is to health risks, the more insurance will probably cost. Be sure to mull over all the questions before purchasing insurance. For instance — is the peace of mind worth the extra money? Can you save enough and pay medical bills without insurance?

Always remember to stay up to date with check ups, meds, and vaccines to ensure your pet is as healthy as possible. It’ll save you money in the long run.

Vacationing

I’m assuming there’s at least one time a year that you like to get away and vacation. Leaving a dog at a boarding center is expensive! And even if you leave a dog with a friend, pay is usually involved.

Instead, consider taking your dog to a pet-friendly vacation area. There’s a good chance it won’t even cost more!

Lisa Podwirny is the owner of Ketchum Mfg. Connect with her on Google+!

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Why Your Cat Should Wear a Tag & Collar

cat_tags

According to catcaresociety.org, “most pet owners do not provide their cats with collars and identification tags or microchips.” Many cat owners have this idea that their cat will only stay indoors. And if it should slip out of the house, it’ll easily find its way back home.

If only that was the case. Cats are born with the natural instinct to run around, jump, hide, and hunt. And although your cat may love you, there’s no saying it will ever really come back if it leaves the house unattended.

Using Cat Tags and Collars

One of the most common problems with putting a tag and collar on a cat is that they reject it. That’s why it’s important to ease your cat into the process. Put the collar on and take it off a couple times throughout the day. Once they’re used to the collar, start applying the tags in the same fashion.

Once you have your cat tagged, it opens up the world to their identity. Lets be real – if your cat gets lost in the neighborhood, only few will know who it belongs to. With identification, there’s a much greater chance of your cat being returned home.

So What Should be on the Tag?

While it’s tempting to cram as much information as you can on a tag, it’s truly not necessary. The cat’s name and owner’s phone number is really all you need. A second phone number may be a good idea.

What About Microchips?

A microchip is placed in your pet’s neck to identify it. It’s not a hard thing to implement, and the use of them is quickly becoming a standard routine. But according to the Humane Society, “microchips are not foolproof, and you shouldn’t rely on them exclusively to protect your pet.” It’s always wise to keep a tag and collar on your cat.

Tag Maintenance

Once you buy tags and collars, you can use them forever, right?

Not quite. Pets lose and gain weight fairly easily, so the fit of their collar will need to be changed. Also keep in mind that tags can wear, fade, get scratched, etc. Your phone number or home address could change as well! And if the information on the tags is no longer readable, or incorrect, what’s the point of even having the tags?

Lisa Podwirny is the owner of Ketchum Mfg. Connect with her on Google+!

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5 Tips for Preparing Your Pets for Summer

summerdog

The northeast battled an endless & difficult winter this year.  And then spring came along… kind of.  It was a short season.  And lacking that nice weather, to say the least.

Let’s hope for a nicer summer, shall we? It’s time to head outside with the pets.  Go on a quest.  Head out for a hike.  Go for a swim.  Take a long run.  But before you do any of that, make sure your pets are prepared.

Take It Easy To Start

You know how you walk out of your house on a hot summer day and it feels like you got hit with heat?  Your pet feels the same way.  Don’t rush into an all-out exercise immediately.  Go out for a few minutes one day, a few more the next day, and start exercising after a few days.

On a similar note, having air conditioning in your house is a good idea.  You might be fine with a few fans in the spots you hang out most, but your pet probably isn’t.

Watch for Sunburns

Did you know that pets should have sunblock too? Yes – there is such a thing as pet-safe sunblock! About.com has a great article about pet-sunburn-prevention.  And just like for humans, being out in the sun for too long isn’t always the greatest idea.  Shade is good!

Note: Shaving most of your pet’s hair isn’t always the best idea.  It makes your pet more prone to sunburns.

Get Your Pet the Rabies Shot!

Rabies tags are what we’re most known for, so trust us on this one.  Summer is the time you really want to keep rabies prevention on your mind.  Wildlife that test positive for rabies are out and about, and you certainly want your pet protected.  Once your pet has the rabies shot, they will be given a rabies tag by your vet.

Prevent Fleas & Ticks

Mosquitoes.  Fleas.  Ticks.  They’re buzzing around everywhere all summer.  And you don’t want your pet to be infested.  Make sure your pet is bathed regularly.  Make sure the inside and outside of your house is kept clean.  And discuss flea/tick collars with your veterinarian.

Keep Water Stocked

H20 is your best friend in the summer.  It’s your pets too.  Make sure your pet is properly hydrated and has enough water at all times.

Follow these tips and you should be good to go!

Lisa Podwirny is the owner of Ketchum Mfg. Connect with her on Google+!

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5 Tips for Keeping Your Cat Happy Indoors

cat_inside
Do cats truly enjoy the outdoors? It’s a debatable topic. On one hand, the outdoors are a completely free place to roam around. On the other hand, there are an endless number of dangers; cars, fights for territory, and diseases are just a few. Despite the life of the average outdoor cat being only 2-3 years, the outdoors are what cats are built for. It’s part of their natural instinct to survive outside. But the truth of the matter is that cats are safer and better off inside. They’ll mostly likely live 5 – 10x as long. Here are some tips on how to make an outdoor cat a happy indoor cat:

Exercise:

Most of the time, cats won’t readily exercise when you want them to. But cats need exercise just like most other animals. You don’t need to attach a leash and walk them down the street…you can try a variety of simple exercises, like waving a laser pointer around, tossing some ping pong balls, or giving catnip incentives once in awhile. Or better yet, a cat treadmill!

Getting your cat to exercise is essentially you spending time/playing with your cat, which is very important in itself.

Screened-In Porches:

A screened-in porch is one of the best investments a cat owner can make. Why? It pleases the owner too. Nothing beats relaxing in a screened-in porch during the spring and summer. And cats love them because they enjoy the fresh air and looking out at nature. Just make sure the screens are fully secured so the cat won’t jump out, or be tempted to jolt at wildlife prey.

Quality Cat Food

An outdoor cat is used to eating any junk that will allow them to survive. And if you can feed them better, healthier food, they’ll be happier. A pretty simple concept right? This slideshow from PetMD will help you decide what the best food to feed your cat is.

Allow Climbing

Cats love climbing. It allows them to get a good look at everything. But how do you allow a cat to climb in the house? A cat tower or a cat tree. You can find these at pet stores for under $100, although for nicer ones you can end up spending upwards of $500.

Adding Another Cat

Wait…what? Cats actually like other cats? Most of the time, yes. It might take a little while for the cats to adjust to each other, but if done properly, you can give your cat a friend. A cat of the opposite sex may be the best bet.

And in the chance that your cat does escape its way back to an outdoor lifestyle, a cat tag is always a good idea.

Lisa Podwirny is the owner of Ketchum Mfg. Connect with her on Google+!

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How to Help Your Dog Lose Weight

pictureofbeagle
Although you may not realize it, studies show that around half of American dogs are overweight. It’s actually quite easy to see why — pets want love, and we want to show it to them. That love often comes in the form of dog treats and hearty meals. And if that’s not enough to make a dog overweight, there’s always the fact that most dogs aren’t walked enough.

As humans, it’s very easy to look past the problem of pet obesity. You may think your dog looks cute with a little extra weight. You may think they’re just big boned. Or you may not even realize the extra weight is there! However, obese dogs are prone to suffer many of the same problems as obese humans. Canine diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, and other issues can all be the result of an overweight dog. As a dog owner, it’s your job to prevent those issues to the best of your ability. How can you help your dog lose weight?

Recognize Your Dog Is Obese

Before you can start correcting the problem, you need to acknowledge there really is a problem. You need to know your dog’s current weight in comparison to what it should be. While going to a veterinarian is usually the best answer, you can get a good idea at home. So how does one go about weighing a fidgety dog? Step on the scale while holding your dog, then subtract your weight when done. Your dog’s weight should match up with this chart.

Change The Eating Routine

Changing your dog’s eating routine involves 2 steps – portion control and the removal of treats. Your dog shouldn’t have a bowl of food left out for them during the day. Instead, follow the daily calorie intake depending on the dog you own. Make sure you’re serving healthy foods.

Also note that treats shouldn’t really be a part of your dog’s diet. Like anything in life, a couple treats once in awhile are alright — but don’t go overboard. Remember, treats are calories too. Try replacing treats with healthier foods in small portions.

Exercise Regularly

Just like human weight loss — most is based on what you eat; the rest is based on how much you exercise. The same goes for dogs. Make sure your dog exercises daily – a walk is the best, a good round of fetch is second best. Try not to do too much at once. Your dog could get tired easily, which will cause stress.

So there you have it – helping your dog lose weight is not an incredibly hard task. Dogs eat when they’re fed and exercise when they’re told. In many cases, it’s actually easier for a dog to lose weight than a human. Monitor your dog’s weight weekly to keep their weight at a healthy level!

Lisa Podwirny is the owner of Ketchum Mfg. Connect with her on Google+!

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Recognizing & Caring for a Sick Pet

sick puppy

It doesn’t come as a surprise to any of us when I say that this winter has been brutal. We have faced piercing cold temperatures and have been pounded with snow. We also, have had some surprisingly nice days. It’s always a nice thing when the sun comes out, but its not nice when your head starts to pound and your nose starts to run. As adults, we know our bodies well enough to feel “sickness” approaching. Children are able to voice their concerns when they start feeling ill. But, pets? Do you know your pet well enough to know if something isn’t right? And how are you supposed to care for them when they are feeling under the weather. Check out these tips and be alert of some of the symptoms.

How to Tell if Your Pet is Sick

Vomiting:
Always a clear sign that something is not right with your pet. While it might just be something simple as coughing up that green grass they snuck in at the park, it could also be something a little bit more serious. As unappetizing as it may be, you must investigate the materials. Are there colors? Undigested food? Liquid only? These key observances will help aid your veterinarian into determining the cause. Same goes for diarrhea. As gross as it may be, pay attention.

Change in Appetite:
Whether an overly excited eater is suddenly not interested in dinner, or a super picky eater is suddenly eating everything in sight, a change in eating patterns can pose a serious problem. There could be experiencing a virus or have a digestive problem. Be observant, these poor guys can’t always tell us what they want.

Other Physical and Behavioral Symptoms:

– Watery eyes
– Unease of balance
– Ear discharge
– Irregular or lack there of bowel movements
– Excessive panting
– Coughing

The list is long, and the possibilities of physical and behavioral indications could be anything and may differ per breed/per pet. Trust your gut. If you think something is wrong, go to a vet. It is always better to be safe than sorry.

How to Care for Your Sick Pet

If your little guy or gal is under the weather you might want to make some small changes around the house to help nurse up a speedy recovery. If your vet gave you medications, make sure you know how to distribute them properly.

Quiet Time:
Personally, when I’m sick, all I want to do is bundle up in my coziest PJ’s and snuggle in my bed. Make a similar room for your pup. Clean up their area and fluff up their pet bed with clean, warm, and dry blankets. Make sure there is always fresh water available.

Bath Time:
Splish Splash, let’s take a bath. If your pup is down in the dumps or is not feeling ill, maybe a small sponge bath rinse is just what the doctor ordered.

After your pet heals, they will be full of energy and you can both get back to your daily routines!

Lisa Podwirny is the owner of Ketchum Mfg. Connect with her on Google+

 

(above photo taken from fox news)

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The Importance of a Regular Grooming Routine

grooming your dog

No body wants to be the owner of a smelly dog or kitty. However, bathing your four-legged friend can be both a time consuming and difficult process. With these reasons, many people overlook the chore of daily grooming. I have noticed it is not until extreme odors pop up do pet owners take the responsibility of bathing their pet. I urge you not to wait. Dog grooming can be fun for both owner and pet. Here are some tips to help make it more enjoyable.

Take a Walk

Never try and groom a dog when it has a lot of energy. There is a good chance your dog does not like bath time. If he has a lot of pent up energy, He will wiggle and wobble and run, and be very hard to handle. Take the dog for a walk before hand, or bring it to the local dog park to run around. A tired pup will be more likely to cooperate.

Keep Treats Nearby

Give your dog treats and praise them while you work. By doing this, you will help create a more positive experience. The more enjoyable the activity, the more likely they will be willing to participate in the future!

Brush Before Bathing

Don’t be tempted to skip this step. While daily brushing is important, brushing before a bath is more important. I like to think that when I am brushing out a dog, I am giving it a nice little massage with the bristles of the brush. Depending on your dog breed, certain brushes work better than others. Experiment with the different variations and see what works best for you and pup. A thorough brush out will remove dust, dirt, and will also loosen tangles. If you come across a mat that just cannot be untangled, cut it out! Wet tangles are mush worse to brush out than dry ones. So get them out now while you can! 

Brushing Guide:

Long Haired Dogs: Brushed Daily
Short Haired Dogs: Brushed Weekly

Splish Splash Time For a Bath

Most dogs should be bathed at least once a month. Depending on activity and dirtiness, more bath time would be appropriate. Cover your grounds ahead of time and make sure you are stacked with towels, escape routes have been blocked out, and your are dressed in either a waterproof apron, or raggedy scrap painting-like clothes. When bathing, be sure to use plenty of warm water. Start from top and work your way to the bottom. Massage the soapsuds into the skin and fur.  Pay attention to the neck region where your dog wears his collar. When the water starts running clear, you are nearing the end. Grab one of those towels and blot your pup down to soak in excess water. You may need a couple towels, but regardless of your attempts it is safe to say that epic water shake down will occur. Be ready for it.

It’s up to you whether or not you want to air dry or blow dry your pups fur. If you do choose to blow dry, make sure it is on the lowest or coolest setting. Grooming your pup is more than just a show and smell. A clean dog is a comfortable dog, and comfortable dogs are happier.

Lisa Podwirny is the owner of Ketchum Mfg. Connect with her on Google+

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Homemade Dog Treats for Valentine’s Day

treats

Giving your canine companion a box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day is simply out of the question. How about spoiling your dog with a tasty and healthy homemade treat? Here are five easy recipes made with all-natural ingredients!

Mini Heart Dog Cakes

Show your pup how much you love him or her by making these delicious mini heart cakes!

The Ingredients:
For the cake:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 cup butter (or 1/4 cup vegetable oil)
  • 1/4 cup all-natural peanut butter
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons all-natural honey
  • 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk

For the frosting:

  • 8 ounces of low-fat cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray mini heart cake pan with non-stick cooking spray and set it aside.
  3. Mix the flour and baking soda. Add the peanut butter, vanilla, honey, and oil/butter and stir. Add the buttermilk, 1/4 cup at a time. Stir in carrots.
  4. Spoon the mixture into the mini heart cavities, filling each one about three-quarters full.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes, or until cookies turn golden brown.
  6. While the cakes cook, prepare frosting by beating the cream cheese, vanilla and cinnamon together. Once the cakes have cooled completely, frost.

Tip: Drizzle melted peanut butter on top of mini cakes and add shredded carrots for extra sweetness!

Cinnamon Honey Hearts Dog Biscuits

With a touch of honey and cinnamon, this sweet treat has just the right blend of sugar and spice for your favorite doggy!

The Ingredients:

  • 1/4 Cup Water
  • 1/4 Cup pureed Banana
  • 1/2 Cup plain Yogurt
  • 1 Tablespoon Honey
  • 1 Tablespoon Canola Oil
  • 1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/2 Cup Oat Flour
  • 1/4 Cup Rice Flour
  • 1 Cup Wheat Flour

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Mix the cinnamon, oat flour, rice flour, and ½ cup of wheat flour. In a separate bowl combine water, banana, yogurt, honey, and canola oil with an electric mixer. Add the dry ingredients and mix until well blended.
  3. Place on a floured surface and roll to desired thickness. Use cookie cutters to create shapes from the dough.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes, or until cookies turn golden brown.

Tip: Turn off oven and leave biscuits in for a couple hours to make sure they are completely dry and crunchy.

Carob Doggie Delights

These doggie delights are baked and hand decorated, with love, to ensure a beautiful and delicious snack for your Valentine!

The Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 Cups Wheat Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Rolled Oats
  • 1/4 Cup Carob Powder
  • 1 Tablespoon ground Flax Seed (Optional)
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/2 Cup Water
  • 1 Tablespoon Honey

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Mix the wheat flour, rolled oats, carob, flax seed, and baking powder. In a separate bowl combine egg, water and honey. Add the dry ingredients and mix until well blended, forming a stiff dough.
  3. Place on a floured surface and roll to desired thickness. Use cookie cutters to create shapes from the dough.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes, or until cookies turn golden brown.

Tip: Make this Valentine’s Day extra special by melting carob chips in the microwave or double boiler and drizzling over treats.

Banana Peanut Butter Dog Biscuits

Bananas are packed full of amino acids, electrolytes, vitamins, and minerals, making for a perfectly healthy Valentine’s Day treat!

The Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1-2 mashed bananas
  • 1/2 cup water

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mash bananas and mix in the whole-wheat flour and peanut butter.
  3. Stir in water until the batter is mixed well. The dough should be dense and a little dry. Add extra water or flour as needed.
  4. Place on a floured surface and roll to desired thickness. Use cookie cutters to create shapes from the dough.
  5. Place onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, about 1 inch apart.
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until cookies turn golden brown.

Tip: Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature, or you can freeze extras and defrost them as needed.

Beefy Heart Dog Treats

Your four-legged friend will appreciate the idea of adding a little meat in their cookies!

The Ingredients:

  • Vegetable oil, for cooking
  • 1/2 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup beef stock, tomato juice or water
  • 1/4 cup canola or olive oil, plus extra for cooking
  • 1 large egg

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Add vegetable oil to skillet and cook the beef with garlic over medium heat until no traces of pink remain. Set aside to cool.
  3. Mix together the whole wheat flour and cornmeal. Stir in beef. In a separate bowl, whisk together the beef stock, oil and egg. Add the dry ingredients and mix until well blended.
  4. Place on a floured surface and roll to desired thickness. Use cookie cutters to create shapes from the dough. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet.
  5. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until cookies are springy to touch

Tip: Use unsalted or low sodium beef broth for the healthiest treat for your pet.

Lisa Podwirny is the owner of Ketchum Mfg. Connect with her on Google+

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Health Benefits of Dog Walking

dog walking

We can all agree that it is both important and beneficial to let the little guy out for a stretch and expose them to the fresh air. However, regular dog walking actually holds more health benefits than you might first initially think.

Energy Release:

You might not think about the living constraints of your house from a dog’s point of view. With the set walls, rooms, and furniture mazes… there is very little room for a dog to explore and let loose. A bored dog is more likely to behave poorly than an exercised tired pup. Dealing with a misbehaved dog on a regular basis can be stressful. Up your daily walks and see the transformation.

Exercise:

The most obvious benefit to dog walking is the exercise factor that both owner and pup get to reap. I am sure you have heard it from your doctors before, but daily exercise can help significantly reduce the chances of cancer. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise daily. Not only will exercise help reduce your risks of illness, but they also do the same for your four-legged friend. Walking your dog makes them stronger. Stronger dogs live longer lives. If you look at it that way, it’s a total win-win.

Social Skills:

Socializing is one of the key ingredients to helping your dog develop into a well-rounded pet. Regular exercise and daily walks helps expose them to new people, pooches and surroundings. These new experiences will help them learn and grow. Think about it, if you were locked up in a house all day do you think you would be the person you are today? If walking isn’t your thing, try bringing your pup to a park. Let him run around and interact with other dogs while you interact with other dog owners.

If you can get into a healthy routine, walking your dog won’t be so dreadful. Don’t get me wrong; I know we all have those exhausting days where when we get home the only thing calling your name is the couch. But owning a dog makes being selfish a bit more difficult. try taking it week by week  and set personal goals. Try new trails! Be adventurous! The more fun you have with it the better it will be for both parties.

Lisa Podwirny is the owner of Ketchum Mfg. Connect with her on Google+

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