Time to get outside: Spring activities for you and your dog

  • Play games with your dog outside, advises columnist Diana Stoll. A game of fetch or tug of war is not only a great way to get some exercise, it's also a fun way to create a stronger bond with your buddy.

    Play games with your dog outside, advises columnist Diana Stoll. A game of fetch or tug of war is not only a great way to get some exercise, it's also a fun way to create a stronger bond with your buddy. Associated Press

 
By Diana Stoll
On Pets
Posted5/1/2022 7:00 AM

Finally, spring seems to have taken hold. If you and your dog have been hibernating the past few months, it's time to shake off the winter cobwebs and get outside.

But before heading out to enjoy the spring air, make sure Fido is up to date on his vaccinations. You will most likely be meeting other dogs or wildlife on your adventures, so it's important that his vaccinations -- at the very least rabies, distemper and parvo -- are up to date to protect him for potentially deadly diseases.

 

If you have a puppy, make sure he is getting all his booster shots on the time table given by your veterinarian.

Heartworm and flea/tick preventions should be given year-round, but if you took the winter off from preventions, start giving them again now. Mosquitoes, fleas and ticks are just waiting for your pet to come outside to play.

Get in shape for summer.

If you go hiking with your dog, start building up his endurance by adding 10 to 15 minutes to daily walks. If your strolls can take you up and down hills and on different surfaces, that's even better.

Play games with your dog outside. A game of fetch or tug of war is not only a great way to get some exercise, it's also a fun way to create a stronger bond with your buddy.

Why not sign up for a class to teach your dog something new? All puppies should learn the basics, like sit, stay and lie down. As puppies get older, add roll over, fetch, play dead, and other fun tricks to their repertoire.

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Some dogs love agility training and obstacle courses. Take a class or create your own obstacle course at home with hula hoops, broomsticks, and children's play tunnels.

Help your dog make new friends.

As long as your dog is socialized and gets along well with other dogs, schedule a play date with another dog in the neighborhood. Take a walk together or let them play in a fenced backyard.

Or head to your local dog park for him to make friends on his own. Always keep a close eye on him when he is with unfamiliar dogs and watch for signs of stress -- tucked back ears, tail tucked between legs, yawning or panting, lip-licking, cowering, and, of course, growling and snapping -- and be ready to intervene quickly.

Ongoing socialization is important for dogs, but don't force friendship. You are not friends with everyone you meet, and your dog may feel the same way.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Do some seasonal cleaning and shopping.

On a rainy day, do some spring cleaning. Launder your dog's bedding and wash his food and water bowls. Go through your dog's toy basket and get rid of toys that have seen better days.

And then head to the pet store for some new toys -- balls that squeak when you catch them, soft flying discs that are easy on a dog's teeth, and knotted ropes for tug of war are always favorites.

Then take a few of those new toys to the backyard and have some springtime fun with your dog.

• Diana Stoll is the Practice Manager at Red Barn Animal Hospital with locations in Hampshire, (847) 683-4788, and Gilberts, (847) 426-1000. See redbarnpetvet.com.

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