Back To School! Dog Classes to Take This Fall

Within the next few weeks, sleepy-eyed children will begin lining up at bus stops with shiny new backpacks and freshly sharpened pencils, ready for the start of a new school year. It’s an exciting time, but if you have kids and a dog, it can also be a confusing time for your four-legged friend.

Many dogs suffer from separation anxiety when their favorite playmates are suddenly missing every day, and you might notice some moping behavior. One way to get your dog back in good spirits? Sign them up for school, too! Dog classes not only offer mental and physical stimulation, they also teach important skills and provide an opportunity for socialization.

Here are three dog classes to consider for your pup this fall.

Basic Obedience Dog Classes

When it comes to dog classes, basic obedience is a must-do. In most classes, dogs learn important everyday commands like “sit,”“stay,”“down,” and “come” as well as loose-leash walking (“heel”) and impulse control. Many basic obedience classes also introduce ways to problem solve common issues, like chewing or jumping. Whatever basic obedience class you choose, just make sure that the trainers are certified and use a positive approach (versus one based on punishment). You may want to ask friends or family for recommendations, or check out your local AKC dog club.

RELATED STORY: 5 Steps to Dog Obedience Training

Canine Good Citizen Dog Classes

Have you ever thought that your dog might make a good therapy dog? Or perhaps you just want your dog to have good manners in your home, out in public, around other people, and other dogs? Then consider signing up for a Canine Good Citizen training class that will prepare you for the Canine Good Citizen test. The Canine Good Citizen test is a certification program through the AKC that evaluates dogs to determine if they are reliable family and community members. Each dog must pass a series of tests, including greeting a stranger, moving politely through a crowd, sitting politely for petting, being left with a stranger, and more. Once your dog passes, they will receive a certificate from the American Kennel Club. To find training classes in your area, visit the AKC’s Canine Good Citizen Training/Testing page.

RELATED STORY: The Top 10 Dog Training Tips

Agility Training Dog Classes

You might be looking at your wrinkly Bulldog thinking, “agility training? Perhaps not…” But the truth is that any dog can take part in agility training, so long as they are healthy and the course and obstacles are appropriate for your dog’s size. Agility training is an active sport in which your dog follows your cues to move through an obstacle course of tunnels, poles, jumps, and more. It’s loads of fun, and great exercise too. To get started, find a local agility training group. To learn more, visit the AKC’s Agility Homepage.

Will you be signing up for any dog classes this fall? Leave a comment and let us know! And to have more money in your pocket to spend on classes, sign up for PetPlusPetPlus is a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding, and more. Learn more at PetPlus.com.

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5 Fun Ways To Get Active With Your Dog

According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than one-third of American adults are obese. But humans aren’t the only ones putting on the pounds; The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention indicates that more than 50% of cats and dogs in the U.S. are overweight, too. Obesity can lead to some serious health conditions in both humans and animals — including heart disease and diabetes — so there’s no time like the present to start eating right and exercising.

Many people avoid exercise because it feels like a chore, or simply because they aren’t motivated. This is what makes exercising with your dog so great. Not only will be it more fun, you’ll also stay on track knowing that your pal is depending on you to get them out and active.

Just remember to consult your veterinarian before starting any new exercise routine with your pup; every dog is different, and not every dog is cut out for every activity.

1. Take A Hike

While walks around the neighborhood and games of fetch in the yard are great, repeating the same routine every day can get boring for both you and your dog. Hikes are an excellent alternative not only because they get you moving, but also because they offer an opportunity to explore new locations and terrains. Just be sure to find a trail that is dog-friendly, and prepare your dog by building up to longer walks, making sure that their vaccinations are current, and protecting them from fleas and ticks. You will also want to bring water and first-aid supplies, as well as food for your dog if you’ll be on a longer trek.

2. Agility Training

Many people think that agility training is only for super athletic or naturally agile dogs, but the truth is that any breed can take part in the sport as long as the size of the obstacles are appropriate for your dog’s size. So just what is agility training? It’s an active sport in which your dog follows your cues to move through an obstacle course of jumps, poles, tunnels, and other objects. Your dog will be running, and you will too! To get started in agility training, the AKC recommends joining a local agility training group. Eventually, you and your dog will be able to sign up for agility trials. To learn more, visit the AKC’s Agility Homepage.

RELATED STORY: Try An Indoor Training Class With Your Dog

3. Swim n’ Slim

Swimming works the heart, lungs, and entire muscular structure without putting stress on the hips or other joints, which makes it a great workout for dogs with arthritis or hip dysplasia. When summer rolls around, or if you live in a climate that stays warm all year (lucky you!), consider taking a dip with your four-legged friend.

Before letting your dog in the water, remember that not all dogs are natural swimmers, and some dogs (like bulldogs) may not be able to swim at all without a floatation device. Start your dog out in shallow water and use a leash or floatation device if you need to. Support your dog’s belly and front section to encourage them to use all four paws. Go slow, be patient, and look for any signs of struggle. Don’t force your dog to swim; some pups just aren’t cut out for splish-splashing. However if your dog does take to the water, just remember never to leave them unattended, and don’t let your dog drink from lakes, streams, or other open bodies of water as they can contain parasites and harmful bacteria.

RELATED STORYA Joint Health Exercise Routine For Dogs

4. Doga

Dog + yoga = doga. That’s right, yoga for dogs. Doga is a lot like regular yoga but has slight modifications so that your dog can participate along with you. While doga does sometimes include physical exercises for your dog (like stretching or standing on hind legs), it’s pretty low-impact, and has more to do with bonding. Dogs who are hyper, young, or weirded out by new situations might not be well-suited to doga, but if you have a well-socialized dog who enjoys trying new things, why not give it a shot?

5. Canine Freestyle Dancing

It’s an intriguing name, isn’t it? Canine freestyle dancing combines music, dancing, obedience training, and tricks for one pup-tastic choreographed performance. The sport has gained such popularity that there are now competitions held in several countries around the world. Canine freestyle is not only an opportunity for your dog to learn commands and for the both of you to get some exercise, it’s also a heck of a lot of fun. Visit the World Canine Freestyle Organization and or the Canine Freestyle Federation to find classes, and check out this video of a canine freestyle dancing competition.

Exercise helps to promote good overall health in your dog by keeping them limber, agile, and at an appropriate weight. Another way to care for your pet’s health? Sign up for PetPlus and save up to 75% on your pet’s medications plus discounts on boarding, supplies, and more. 

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