6 Signs Your Dog Needs More Exercise


We all know the benefits of exercise for humans, but did you know that exercise has just as many benefits for your dog? Getting enough exercise is important to maintaining a healthy pooch. Luckily, your dog has many ways of telling you he needs more exercise. Look for these signs when gauging how much exercise your dog needs.

1.     Destructive Behavior

Dogs like to chew and dig. Often, they engage in these activities out of boredom because they have no other way to focus their extra energy. If your dog is chewing, digging or scratching, it’s likely not getting the level of activity it needs. Unfortunately, many owners think just a quick trip outside for the dogs to relieve themselves and maybe a quick walk after work is enough, but dogs have a lot of natural energy. Depending on your breed, that energy level can increase exponentially.

More activity gives your dog an opportunity to refocus that pent up energy in a positive way. As your pet gets used to a new, more active schedule, its behaviors will be curbed, knowing that playtime is never that far away.

2.     Digestive or Urinary Problems

Constipation and urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common problems in pets, but they can easily be remedied, in part, by a more active lifestyle. The more active your pet is, the more water they’ll drink, which increases urination and the elimination of bacteria. Just as with humans, walking after meal time aids in proper digestion to prevent constipation or chronic stomach problems.

3.     Hyperactivity

Similar to destructive behavior, your pet just can’t seem to calm down despite your best efforts. They pace, jump on guests, and knock over furniture. They seem antsy or perhaps even stressed. They might even try to rough house your cat or other dogs. Discipline is not an effective solution. Going outside for a game of fetch or taking a walk around the block will stimulate your pet and tire them out.

If your dog just won’t leave you alone, it’s also a sign that he craves more quality time with you. Going for a walk is a great way to spend time one-on-one with your pet.

4.     Insomnia

Insomnia is an often misdiagnosed behavior. Frequently, pet owners try to remedy with expensive calming diffusers, a change in diet, or through the use of medication. In reality, the solution is often much simpler: your dog just hasn’t been tired out. By increasing your pet’s activity level, he’ll be tuckered out by bedtime—letting both of you sleep through the night.

5.     Timid or Fearful

Does your dog go catatonic or shiver in new places? Does it whimper and hide when another dog approaches? Being outside amongst the strange noises, peculiar scents and new people allows your furry friend to build confidence and trust. Through more and more exposure to the larger world, your dog will learn to be comfortable in new surroundings and adapt to changes more quickly.

6.     Weight Gain

Just like us humans, when your doggy is gaining weight, adding more exercise is a key component to any weight loss regimen. But weight gain in pets is often misunderstood. An extra pound or two doesn’t seem like a lot in human world, but for your dog, it increases stress on their hips and joints, making activity harder and your pet more likely to gain even more weight. Overweight dogs are more prone to preventable diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis, which can be costly to owners and make life less enjoyable for your pet.

It’s recommended that most breeds receive 2 to 3 walks per day or at least an hour of activity.

Luckily, there’s a number of ways you can exercise your dog: jogging, walking, swimming or playing fetch. For those who either don’t have the time for an extra play session or who own a breed with heightened exercise needs, hiring a dog walking or doggie adventure service can help. It’s a cost-effective way to provide extra activity when you can’t.



7 Tips for Planning a Dog Friendly Vacation

Nelson and Arrow enjoying a camping trip in Western Maine

Nelson and Arrow enjoying a camping trip in Western Maine

With summer here and many getaways in your future, you’re likely thinking about whether or not to bring your dog with you. For many pet owners, leaving your dog behind while you go on vacation is just not an option. It’s a family trip and they’re part of the family! 

Many wonder if a pet-friendly vacation is feasible. While bringing your dog on your trip does require some extra organization and planning, it’s certainly not impossible. Check out our tips for planning your pet-friendly vacation.


1. Consider Your Dog’s Personality

Make sure that the trip you’re planning matches your dog’s personality. If you’re going to be driving for 8 hours a day but your dog doesn’t ride well, this might not be the trip for him. Consider hiring an overnight pet sitter or reputable boarding kennel instead. The last thing you want is for your dog to be miserable the whole time or spend most of its day doped up on Dramamine to prevent motion sickness.

It’s important to make sure that your trip not only accommodates you and your budget, but that your furry friend will also enjoy his time away from the house.


2. Traveling with Your Pet

There are two main ways we travel on vacation: by car and by airplane. With each, there are points to consider when bringing your dog.

Some airlines are more pet-friendly than others. For instance, JetBlue is a pet-friendly airline, having won several awards for their JetPaws service. They even allow small dogs and cats to fly in the cabin for a fee each way. If you can afford it, PetAirways offers the best service with its pets-only flying in the main cabin and attendants who take your pet out during the flight for bathroom breaks. Continental Airlines and Delta Airlines have the worst reputations for pet travel. 

Due to reports of kennel cough, heat exhaustion, lost pets, and stressful below cabin environments, many pet owners fret while in the air about how their pooch is doing. One way to set your mind at ease is by doing a little research, finding testimonials, and reading a couple of consumer reports to find the airline that you’re most comfortable entrusting with your pet’s travel. 

Driving to your vacation destination is common and a great alternative for those who can’t decide on a pet-friendly airline. While the highway may be the most direct route, taking some back roads may be the most enjoyable for your pet. Fiddo will have to make frequent stops to go to the bathroom, stretch, and exercise. Map out your route and note any rest stops, parks, or woody areas along the way. If there doesn’t seem to be a lot of options, find an alternate route. 


3. Finding Pet-Friendly Accommodations

You can’t just roll up to a motel and hope they’ll let you stay with your dog. While many resorts and hotels are making the switch to being pet-friendly, this can mean different things to different establishments. For some, pet-friendly simply means you’re allowed to have a pet. To others, it means they provide a walking trail or allow dogs to be left alone during the day. They might even have services where staff members will check in on your dog while you’re grabbing dinner.  

Always call and have the reservations clerk send you a copy of their pet policy along with a list of any extra pet accommodations to make sure where you stay fits your dog’s behaviors and your plans. 

Cabins and campgrounds typically offer the best, no-fuss accommodations for dogs. There’s plenty of grass and their pet policies tend to be far more lenient.  You can pretty much go about your normal routine. You don’t have to worry as much about disturbing your neighbors and many allow you to keep your pets in the camper or cabin so long as they don’t bark or whine excessively. 


4. Other Pet-Friendly Accommodations

Finding a pet-friendly hotel is an obvious starting point, but you also have to consider what you’ll be doing for meals, day adventures, and evening entertainment. If your hotel is truly pet-friendly, speak with the concierge who will likely have a variety of packages coordinated with local pet-friendly businesses and restaurants. It’s a good starting point and limits the amount of research you have to do on your own.

Instead of spending the day at a local theme park, your daytime fun might include street fairs, concerts in the park, hiking or other public activities where dogs are allowed. Check out town event schedules through the recreation department to see what’s happening in the places you’ll be visiting and plan accordingly.

Not only are active vacations more cost-effective, but they mean your pooch will be too tuckered out to engage in chewing the hotel’s furniture or late-night barking, which can increase your room charges and disturb other guests.

5. Pack Carefully

Once you’ve got your itinerary set and you know your key stops, you have to pack. Packing for your dog is really no different than packing for yourself, except that if you forget something, it can be harder to replace it while on the road. The local QuikStop is unlikely to carry that brand of specialized kibble.  

Your pet’s travel bag should include the essentials:
Enough food for the duration of the trip
Bottled water (more than you think you’ll need) 
Medications (and a way to properly store them if they need refrigeration)
A couple of toys

But you also need to plan for emergencies:
A jump drive or copies of medical records and vaccinations
Printed photo of your dog in case he gets lost
Collar tag with updated information (side note: your ID tag should have your cell phone number, not your landline)
First aid kit with antiseptic, bandages, motion sickness tabs, and tweezers or other tick removing tool

Also consider extras specific to your trip. If it’s hunting season, make sure to include a brightly colored jacket or vest. If you’re planning on doing a lot of hiking, include remedies like paw butter to help ease sore paws or cracked pads. Plan to do some boating? Bring along a doggy life jacket in case they don’t have one on hand. It’s also not a bad idea to bring along an extra leash or harness, just in case. 


6. Consider Micro Chipping

Dogs get lost on vacation more frequently than you may think. While tags can help, collars can breakaway or fall off, making that ID useless. Micro chipping adds an extra sense of security. It’s standard protocol now for animal control and animal shelters to scan found animals for microchips that provide contact information for owners. 


7. Keep Your Pet-Friendly Manners in Check

While you’re excited to have Rover accompany you on vacation, not everyone is as excited. Not only do you not want to spoil someone else’s vacation, but you and your dog should set a positive example for why more and more establishments should welcome pets. (The more businesses embrace pet-friendly vacations, the cheaper and easier your vacation planning will be in the future.)

Some basics to keep in mind are: 

Keep your dog on a leash. Even if your dog has good recall and off leash behaviors, he’s in a new place and the likelihood of your dog running off or running into danger is increased. Also, some towns may have leash policies you’re unaware of. You don’t want to incur a fine while visiting.

Pick up their messes. Even though you might be in the great outdoors, keep in mind that no one wants to accidentally step in your dog’s ‘business”. Bring along some baggies and dispose of them properly. Many state and national parks provide stations now for this type of waste. 

Give others some space. When picnicking in a park or catching some sun at the beach, make sure you give others around you some space. Anticipate that your dog will want to run around, bark, and drag driftwood back from the water. 

Call ahead or double check that pets are allowed. We think we’ve covered this already, but it’s a good point to stress. Some beaches and public parks don’t allow dogs. Some businesses may not have a sign in the window prohibiting dogs, but that doesn’t mean dogs are necessarily allowed. Politely ask if your dog can come inside with you. 

While planning a pet-friendly vacation takes a little extra effort and time, bringing your dog on vacation creates unique and lasting memories. It also allows you to enjoy your vacation more rather than needlessly fretting over what your dog is doing without you. 


Stephanie Libby is a freelance writer and blogger living in New Hampshire. Her work as appeared online at www.inkandcoda.com and www.sherambler.com. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College. A list of her freelance services can be found at www.libbywritingservices.com.

Four Legged Fuel

     Between socializing Nelson and running our dog walking business we sure do go through a lot of treats! Arrow, our setter mix, is a treat snob so we have tried everything on the market. He knows what he likes and anything else he lets bounce off his nose rather than catch them on his sophisticated tongue. Nelson on the other hand is a treat maniac. It took a ten minute training session for him to realize sit means “I would like a treat please.” Having seen him go from a wild man with no manners to an adorable puppy trying to communicate with us we can’t help but chuckle every time he sits with his ears perked and his giant tail sweeping the floor.

     On the Bark Bus we only use treats and toys made in the USA. We decided to make our own Bark Bus Biscuits because we couldn't find local Maine made treats that Arrow liked. We didn't want to use store bought treats that were salty or too high in protein for our Bark Bus dogs, but something palatable and easy on sensitive stomachs.

     We decided to use grain free buckwheat flour as the base of our treats since a lot of our furry clients are allergic to gluten. So far Arrow has approved of two flavors: Red Potato Parmesan and Carrot Ginger. We had a great time Saturday morning at the Farmers Market in Deering Oaks getting some Maine Potatoes and fresh Parsley for a new batch. Every time I am there I am blown away by what a beautiful setting the park is for the market. Surrounded by trees, bright bouquets, and farm fresh produce, it is easy to forget you’re in a city. It’s also a great place to see some of our furry pals and remember how great it is to be part of such a cheerful community.


     Nelson would love it if we found him a chef’s hat and let him help out with the baking. So, to keep him out of trouble and out of the kitchen we stuff his Planet Dog Orbee Tuff Carrot with a few treats. I recommend also having people cookies on hand so that they stay away from the dog’s treats!  

Here is a list of ingredients for our Grain Free Bark Bus Biscuits:

Potato Parmesan: Buckwheat Flour, Maine Potatoes, Milled Flax Seed, Parmesan Cheese, Olive Oil, Local Honey, Parsley.

Carrot Ginger: Buckwheat Flour, Local Carrots, Local Ginger Powder, Milled Flax Seed, Olive Oil, Local Honey. 

Until next time, Stay Doggie!


A New Leash On Life

     Nelson, aka Slinky, is the pointer cross we adopted in April. We are his fifth owners after just two years of life. As a sled dog that lived outdoors, Nelson probably didn't see many opportunities for human interaction. When we first started working with him his lack of social skills was painfully obvious. His tail was always tightly tucked, and he crouched so far to the ground when he walked he looked like a sad Komodo dragon. We knew we had our work cut out for us with this furry puddle of anxiety.

      Nelson slowly began to realize that love was the only thing we were asking of him. We were relieved when his tail started to come out from between his legs, and ecstatic when it began to wag. We couldn't contain ourselves when it began to curl over his back with confidence. We learned that Nelson had a very good sense of humor. He loved nibbling on ears, sleeping in beds, and giving long hugs. He also had a heartbreaking cry when separated from his pack. Nelson had finally come out of his shell- so we thought.

     Although Nelson trusts and loves us, he has not forgotten his fear of strangers. When friends or family come over he runs to the edge of the property, as flighty as a wild animal. Living in the country makes it a lot easier to have an under socialized dog, but it also makes it easier to avoid addressing training issues. We don't want Nelson to miss out on activities that our other dog, Arrow enjoys. With this in mind we have started to work with him more, bringing him to public places, armed with hotdogs. It has been a challenge seeing our Nelson revert to that scared dog again, but we know with practice he will gain confidence.

We recently bought Nelson a Mudproof Martingale Collar from Planet Dog. We love that it is made by the lovely local company, Classic Hound, of South Portland.  Like his greyhound relatives, Nelson's head is smaller than his neck, and a regular collar could slip off if he "put on the brakes." As a serious flight risk, Nelson is much safer in a martingale which tightens with tension in order to prevent him from getting out of his collar. Matched with a Weiss Walkie this is the perfect walking collar for our Nelson. We chose the Mudproof design because it holds up in all weather, and the adorable bicycle pattern in hopes that Nelson will enjoy bikjoring in the fall after working through his fear of people.  Visit classichound.com to see more martingale styles and stay tuned for Nelson's progress as we sign him up for a training class!

Until next time, stay doggie!