So you’re self-quarantined, you’re out of Netflix shows you “want” to watch, you don’t want to go to the dog park, your dog has the zoomies and they have destroyed all the new toys… what to do? Here’s some games you can play with your best friend to get off the couch and get some of that great puppy bonding time!
Hide and Seek This game may start with teaching your dog how to sit and stay. Start by having him sit and stay while you place a favorite toy (squeaky ones are a favorite in our house) where he can see it, but away from him (like across the room). Use your release word (ours is “OK”) and let him go fetch the toy, making sure to allow enough time to celebrate the reward of waiting patiently, by dancing around with his toy in his mouth. You can make this game more and more complicated, incrementally, by moving further and further away with the toy, around a corner, to another room, up a flight of stairs and eventually by hiding the toy in places where your dog could eventually find it. When hiding the toy, think about a child’s Easter egg hunt. Don’t make it too hard, you do want your dog to be successful, eventually!
Keep Away There are many variations on this game. With two people, you can simply toss a toy or ball back and forth to each other, letting your dog chase it in each direction. We’ve even gone as far as to use tennis rackets and a tennis ball in the garage, for greater distance. Be sure to “accidentally” drop the ball once in a while, to keep your dog a part of the game.
Agility Training You can get very creative at home with simple props, like a hula hoop. Start by using a piece of kibble to coax your dog to walk through the hoop, as it rests on the floor. Once your dog is used to walking through the hoop on ground level, lift it off the ground one inch at time. By the end of a very rainy week, you might have your pal leaping through the hoop a couple of feet off the ground!
Puzzles and Toys There are many treat-dispensing and puzzle toys on the market for dogs now. These toys are mentally challenging, requiring your dogs to ‘figure out’ how to get the treat out from it’s hiding spot. Look for sturdy toys that will withstand heavy chewing.
Fetch A hallway with doors closed makes for a perfect runway for a game of fetch. A straight stairwell does, too. Use a plush ball or toy to avoid the ball going in all directions and to get the most distance out of running to fetch.
Mental and physical exercise are both an important part of your’s and your dog’s health. It’s fun, relieves boredom, and can be extremely bonding for the both of you!
In order to be healthy, whether human or canine, one must do regular grooming. Dogs, not unlike teenagers, may need a little gentle coaxing, but will benefit greatly from simple at-home regular grooming. The more often you groom, the more conditioned they get to the treatment (literally and figuratively!), so start early and lather, rinse and repeat often.
Brush your dog’s fur.
This seems like a simple step, but it’s important. Many dogs simply love the attention that regular gentle brushing gives them. Dogs with undercoats benefit greatly by regular brushing, especially in the spring and summer when they are shedding their winter fur. Brushing a dog is not unlike brushing your own head, in that it helps spread natural oils and loosens up dirt or debris. This is also a great time to check for fleas/ticks and to see if your dog has any tender areas that may need to be checked out by a vet.
Bathe them regularly.
Scrub-a-dub-dub and get the dog in the tub! Dogs roll in the grass and dirt, play in the bushes, dig in the mud and lay on the ground. All that dirty play has an effect on your dog’s coat. Fur is like a sponge and regular bathing can keep dirt from building up, which might lead to irritated skin and excessive scratching. Make sure the water is lukewarm and always use a gentle hypo-allergenic natural dog wash. Dogs have varying levels of enthusiasm for bath time, so you might want to do tip #3 (trim your dog’s nails) before hopping into the tub.
Trim your dog’s nails.
Long nails on dogs can cause them unnecessary pain. A good pair of nail trimmers with a safety guard can help you feel confident that you won’t accidentally cut into their quick (a vein that runs partially into the nail) and regular leg massages will keep them relaxed when you handle their feet. If you’ve never trimmed a dog’s nails, have your vet show you the safe and easy way, because your gentle confidence will make the experience smooth and fast for your dog as well.
Brush your dog’s teeth.
Yuck mouth doesn’t just stink, it’s unhealthy! You can use a gentle children’s toothbrush or a special brush designed for a dog. Brushing at least 2 times a week will keep periodontal disease at bay, which in turn will keep your dog around longer. Just don’t try to achieve that Colgate smile and avoid using human toothpaste. There are many affordable dog dental products on the market that are safe to swallow, and taste good too!
Clean your dog’s ears.
Ears are a fantastic environment for bacteria to breed. They are cavernous, dark and often moist. It’s important to check your dog’s ears regularly to see that they are dry and clean and not irritated. After bathing or swimming, gently but thoroughly dry the inside of your dog’s ears to make sure no moisture is left. Diluted apple cider vinegar applied to a cotton ball is an easy weekly maintenance cleaning and works as a natural antiseptic. Dogs with big floppy ears are especially prone to ear mites and bacteria growth, so be sure to check them out frequently.
Grooming your dog at home is a great way to bond with your pooch. They love the personal attention and adding one or two things a week will take you no time at all. A clean dog is a healthy dog and is much more likely to get hugs and kisses than a stinky dog. If all else fails, there are plenty of professionals who groom dogs for a living and you can find one at: https://www.doggeek.com/dog-groomers/ where you can make regular spa appointments if you need a little help. Remember, cleanliness is next to Dogliness!
Well, it’s no surprise that running a dog rescue is an enormous task. It makes sense that rescues can always use volunteer help with cleaning, feeding, bathing, walking, and caring for the dogs who reside there. But there are also unlimited possibilities for alternative volunteer support that you may not have thought about when the desire to help overcomes you. Here are a few ways you might be able to help, which may utilize your talents or professional qualifications, along with a few that take no time at all!
Make a Cash Donation
This is often the most overlooked and fully appreciated area that dog rescues could use more help in. If you think that donating money seems impersonal, you are wrong! Organizing fundraising events is time consuming and laborious, which takes away time that could be spent directly with the dogs. If you want to get creative, call a shelter and offer to pay their electric bill for the month. Or, make a donation in the name of a friend (human or canine) for a holiday or birthday. Set up a payment plan that you can afford, and skip 1 latte a week to donate your coffee fund.
Picking up a bag of dog food for your pooches? Pick up another for a local shelter. Have too many blankets and towels in cupboards all over the house? Red Rover, Red Rover, send them right over! Did you get a new computer, printer, digital camera, or (fill-in the blank)? Maybe your local shelter has that on the top of their wish list. In most cases, cash and items donated to a non-profit shelter are also a tax write-off for you. Woohoo!
Share Your Talents
If you’ve ever taken a photography course or tinkered around with taking photos for fun, you’ve probably got services that would be appreciated at the shelter. It’s hard to get a headshot of a dog who wiggles, pants, and thinks that “CHEESE” means it’s treat time. The better the photo of the dog needing a home, the more likely he is to get adopted. What do you love to do? Now ask how that can be a service to the rescue.
Use Your Professional Qualifications
Whether your profession is Web Marketing or Event Planning, there’s a need at the shelter! After all, you have to remember, a dog rescue is a business with a heart. Running a business requires an administrative department, volunteer coordinating, a marketing team, a legal team, and much more to keep going. Donating a few hours of time sharing your expertise goes a long way for many of the rescues running on a skeleton crew.
Obviously, fostering a dog and sharing photos of adoptable dogs on your Facebook page are awesome ways to help. But the need to help doesn’t stop there. Get creative and realistic about what you have to offer, and go for it! Heck, you might just be asked to dress up like Santa Claus for a holiday photo fundraising event. Now that sounds like fun!
It’s the end of the year and that means it’s unfortunately time to think about tax donations. What better way to save on your taxes than to make a donation to an animal shelter or dog rescue and save lives. Here’s a few things to remember before you right your check:
Make sure the animal shelter/rescue is a 501(c)(3) charity. This is a charity that has been given tax-exempt status by the IRS. They have an ID number assigned and any donations are tax deductible. When making a cash/check donation, be sure to get a receipt from the charity.
Donations other than cash/check are tax deductible also. Remember to itemized receipt for proof. It is also good to get a receipt of items given from the shelter just to back up the fact that you gave to them. May shelters have a list on their website of items that they need.
Adoption fees are not tax deductible. Only donations which do not receive anything in return are tax deductible.
Did you foster this year? All items purchased for the foster are considered donations and are tax deductible just like donations to the shelter.
Did you volunteer? Mileage can also be written off. Check with your accountant for the amounts.
Be sure to always check with your accountant on what is and is not deductible where you live and how much you should claim.
You don’t have to adopt/foster all the animals, have a lot of money or be a petexpert to help your local animal shelter out, there are pleanty of other ways. Below is a list of things that you can do at almost any shelter that we can guarantee they would be thankful for.
Volunteer. Whether or not you can afford to donate cash or items, you can always donate time to volunteer! Ask your local shelter how you can help. They always need people to help walk and wash dogs, assist visitors, volunteer at adoption events and more. Not only do these things help the shelter keep costs down, they help pets get socialized so it’s a win-win.
Donate supplies. Almost every shelter has a list of supplies that they are always in need of normally containing blankets, chew toys, leashes, collars, paper towels, cleaning supplies and more. If there is not a list online, call or drop by. Make sure you do contact them though to ensure that you are getting the brand they need. Some cleaners are harmful to pets. Some shelters need items like computers, cameras, printers, etc… next time you upgrade, don’t just throw your old one out or let it sit collecting dust, donate it.
Marketing. We all can’t be marketing and ad people like of Mad Men, but we can help spread the word! Take time to repost things on Facebook or reTweet on Twitter posts from your favorite organization to help raise awareness. If the organization you are volunteering for doesn’t have a Facebook or Twitter page, ask them if you can create one. Positive talk and word-of-mouth does a lot and will help them.
Take photos. Most shelters at least have a presence on PetFinder.com (if not, you can help them out there) and it really helps dogs get adopted if they have a photo. Grab your camera and take some photos.
Make some phone calls. Most shelters have a wait list of people who are looking for a certain type of dog. The problem is that the staff does not have time to call people on the list when the dogs come in. Take time to help out and call potential adoptors when there is a match and help them find a forever home.
Events. Every shelter does events to help raise funds and awareness. Volunteer your time to help recruit sponsors (even ask the company you work for), find vendors and at the very least, support the event by coming and telling all your friends to come.
Got more ideas? Help spread the word below. Don’t know of an animal shelter near you to volunteer with?