5 Fun Games to Play With Your Dog

Tug of war with dog

Looking for ways to entertain your pup? It’s important — for both physical and mental health — to play with your dog. But let’s be honest: sometimes the endless rounds of fetch can get a bit tedious, for you and your dog alike. Shake things up with one of these five entertaining games.

RELATED STORY: The Benefits of an Active Dog

Hide and Seek

When the weather’s less than ideal, hide and seek is a great indoor activity. As a bonus, hide and seek is a great way to perfect your dog’s patience with the commands to “come” and “stay”; the game can also help anxious dogs get more comfortable with being left alone.

Here’s how to play: Tell dogs to stay. Hide yourself in your home — you might want to start with a fairly easy-to-find spot, so your dog won’t become frustrated. Once you’re hidden away, tell your dog to come. Once the dog has found you, lavish them with praise, toys, or treats.

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Scavenger Hunt

Sick of hiding around the house yourself? Try hiding things that your dog loves around your home — or outside in your yard — and watch your dog hunt them down. When you first start playing, lots of hints may be necessary, like pointing or using encouraging words as your dog closes in on  the objects or treats. Think of it as a canine version of “hot or cold.” Eventually, your dog should improve, and not need as much paw-holding to play.

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Obstacle Course

If you’re playing inside, you can use chairs, couch cushions, or tables to set up a small obstacle course for your dog to navigate. Playing outside? You can use anything that you have around, from an old tire to a kiddie pool, to test your pup’s agility. Or you can go the elaborate route with purchases from the toy or hardware store to really beef up your obstacle course game.

Tug of war

A classic! Tug of war can be played with ropes or toys, and is often a dog’s favorite activity. Play tug or war inside or outside — just make sure it’s clear that dogs should never have their teeth on your skin or cause you any harm. And never forget that you are playing this game on your terms. If the play seems to be getting out of hand (i.e., grabbing at the toy before you are ready, refusing to let go, aggressive snarling), calmly take the toy away and try another game. Remember — even though it is a game, your dog might not see it that way. Tug of war (like all games) should be fun!

SHOP: Rope, Tug, and Interactive Toys


Much like fetch, chase is a dog classic. All you need to do is provide your dog with a toy on a pole. You can purchase something, or just rig something up with duct tape and a stick. Like cats, dogs will enjoy plenty of time spent going after the toy, whether you move it quickly or slowly. Just be safe when swinging the stick around.

PetPlus offers a budget-friendly way board your pets while you’re out of town. Find out if PetPlus is right for you, and get more information on the members-only benefits, which include discounts on food and vet visits, as well as boarding discounts.


3 Tips for Biking With Your Dog

There’s nothing quite like a leisurely cruise on a bike. And if you own a dog, you might like to take them along for the ride. It’s not as easy, however, as simply tying your dog’s leash to your handlebars and peddling off (in fact, don’t do that!) Biking with your dog requires preparation and an awareness of potential safety hazards.

So how can you get your dog ready to ride? Here are 3 tips for biking with your dog.

1. Know Your Dog Before Biking With Your Dog

Not all dogs are cut out for running alongside a bike. Older dogs, dogs with health conditions, dogs with short legs, and brachycephalic breeds might not be as capable as young, healthy dogs who have speed and stamina. Take your dog out for a cruise around the block and see how they do, and keep an eye on them the following day. If your dog can’t keep up or seems particularly wiped out, they might not be built for biking. When in doubt, check with your veterinarian.

RELATED STORY: The Benefits of an Active Dog

2. Gear Up for Biking With Your Dog

If your dog takes to biking, it’s time to gear up. What will you need?

  • A body harness instead of a collar

Attaching a leash to a neck collar can be extremely dangerous for a dog running alongside a bike, and you should especially avoid using tightening collars like prongs or martingales. Instead, use a padded body harness that will evenly distribute pressure around their body.

  • A Springer leash attachment

Many people use their dog’s regular leash and simply tie it to their seat post (note: you should never tie the lead to your handlebars as it can throw off your balance). However, you may also want to consider purchasing a Springer attachment. The Springer is a steel device that connects your dog’s leash to your bike and has a special coil spring that absorbs tugs and lunges.

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  • Dog booties

Running can be hard on your pal’s paw pads, so consider protecting them with dog booties. Dog booties not only offer your dog support as they run, they also protect your dog’s feet from cuts, scratches, and foreign objects stuck between the toes. Some dogs take to dog booties well while others are less easily convinced. Before heading out for a ride, have your dog wear the booties around the house, on short walks, etc., to build up their comfort level. And don’t skimp on the treats.

  • Water

Take frequent breaks to offer your dog fresh water, especially when it’s warm out. You shouldn’t let your dog drink from rivers, lakes, ponds, or other natural sources of water as they could contain harmful parasites.

3. Build Up to Biking With Your Dog

A dog running steadily alongside you on a bike won’t happen overnight, especially if the dog isn’t used to running at all. Before biking with your dog, get them in good shape with regular walks and runs (if your vet says it’s OK). Then, you can slowly introduce your dog to the bike. Start with short trips around the neighborhood then build up to longer outings. Use treats at first to keep your dog motivated and away from distractions. Eventually, you should be able to phase out treats and look down to see your dog trotting safely by your side.

Do you bike with your dog? Leave a comment and tell us about it, and consider signing up for PetPlus. PetPlus 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.


Tips for Camping With a Dog


Summer is the perfect time to dust off your camping gear and explore the great outdoors. And if you have a furry friend, you might be thinking about taking them along. Camping can be a great experience for many dogs, with lots of new sights, sounds, smells, and adventures. However, bringing a dog on a camping trip requires some preparation and understanding of potential hazards. Read on to learn how to safely enjoy Mother Nature with your best friend.

Before You Go Camping With Your Dog

If you’re planning to take your dog on a camping trip, there are certain things you will need to do before you can pitch a tent.

Pre-Camping Check-Up

Take your dog to the veterinarian for a check-up to ensure that they are both physically and behaviorally prepared for a camping trip. Camping can be physically taxing, especially if you plan on hiking or being in hot weather, and certain dogs (like senior dogs or those with ailments) may not be up for it.

In addition, you should consider your dog’s behavior. Will they be barking excessively while you and other campers are trying to sleep? Do they become aggressive or fearful in new situations? If you aren’t sure if your dog will have a good time while camping, it may be better to leave them behind.

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Vaccinations and Parasite Protection

Make sure that your dog is up to date on all of their vaccinations. Tell your veterinarian where you and your dog will be going so that they can recommend any additional vaccines that may be useful. For example, if you’ll be camping in the desert, your vet may recommend the rattlesnake vaccine.

Your dog should also be protected from fleas and ticks, as these pests can be found in abundance in certain camp areas and may carry life-threatening diseases.

ID Tag and Microchip

Your dog should wear a collar with an ID tag at all times, and if your dog has a microchip, check to make sure that their contact info is up to date before you leave for your trip. Also bring a recent photo of your dog that you can show to other campers or a park ranger if your pal wanders off.

Prepare a Pet First-Aid Kit

Having a pet first-aid kit on hand can help you treat superficial wounds while you’re off the grid. You may also want to consider taking a pet first-aid class such as the one offered by the American Red Cross.

Pack Your Pet’s Supplies

What will your dog need while camping? Everything they need at home, plus some. This includes a leash, food, fresh water (never let your dog drink from lakes, rivers, or ponds), bowls, poop bags, a bed or blanket, a brush or comb (so you can check for ticks), any medications they might need, and if you’ll be in the sun, pet sunscreen and a place for your dog to find shade (such as a large umbrella or a covered crate).

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Locate the Nearest Veterinarian

Before leaving civilization, locate the nearest vet to your campground and write down their address and telephone number. In case of an emergency, you’ll know where to go right away.

While Camping With Your Dog

Your dog passed their physical with flying colors, they have their vaccinations and flea and tick protection, their ID tag and microchip are up to date, and their supplies are packed. You’re ready to start your adventure! So how can you keep your dog safe once you reach the campsite?

Never Leave Your Dog Alone, and Use a Leash When Necessary

Leaving your dog alone in nature puts them at risk for injury or getting lost. Keep an eye on your dog at all times, and if you’re near other campers or in an area with less-than-friendly wildlife, keep them on a leash.

Check For Ticks

Ticks abound in forest areas and tall grass. Check your dog at least once a day. If you find a tick, remove it with tweezers or a tick removal device. Never attempt to “drown” the tick with dish soap or burn it with a match; these homespun methods can actually increase the likelihood of infection.

RELATED STORY: Types of Ticks in the US

Offer Exercise Breaks

Camping often involves hiking or long walks. Give your dog plenty of breaks to avoid straining their muscles and joints, and if the weather is hot, take steps to prevent heat stroke. Find shady areas to rest and keep fresh water on you at all times. If your dog is showing signs of exhaustion, let them sit out activities for the remainder of the day.

Try Dog Boots

Consider outfitting your dog with a pair of dog boots. Dog boots protect your dog’s paws from cuts, scrapes, and foreign objects between the toes. They also keep feet warmer in cold weather and cool when the weather heats up. Most dogs aren’t too fond of dog boots the first time they wear them, so practice with your pal before you go camping.

Do you take your dog camping? Leave us a comment and let us know how you keep your pup safe. Another way to protect your pet? Sign up for PetPlus, 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.


Teach Your Cat to Walk on a Leash


Yes, you read that right. Cats… walking… on leashes! While it might sound funny, the truth is that taking your cat out for a stroll around the yard or neighborhood can be a great way to get them some exercise, stave off obesity, and reduce boredom.

But how can you get your cat comfortable walking on a leash? Follow these steps.

1. Vaccinate and Protect Your Cat

If you plan to be taking your cat outside for walks, make sure they are up to date on their vaccinations and protected from fleas and ticks.

2. Purchase a Harness and Leash

When it comes to walking a cat, a harness is the most popular choice. Harnesses are comfortable, secure, and give you control without putting pressure on your cat’s throat or neck. As for a leash, any type will do, but consider getting one that keeps your cat within 6 feet of you.

3. Familiarize Your Cat With the Harness

Leave the harness on your cat’s bed or near their food for several days. Hold the harness and let your cat sniff it, and offer them a treat when they do. Touch your cat’s back with the harness or gently drape it over their neck and shoulders, then offer a treat.

RELATED STORY: How to Train a Cat

4. Fit the Harness

After several days of familiarization, you can try putting the harness on your cat while offering treats and praise. You should be able to fit two fingers (no more, no less) between your cat’s body and the harness. Leave the harness on for only a few minutes at a time, continuing to offer praise and treats. Repeat this training daily for several days. If your cat stays relaxed with the harness on, increase the time that they wear it. If the cat ever gets upset, remove the harness right away and try again later.

5. Attach the Leash

Once your cat is relaxed wearing the harness, you can attach the leash. Let your cat drag it around while you offer treats and praise. Keep an eye on your cat to make sure that the leash doesn’t get stuck or tangled. Repeat this for several days.

6. Walk Around Inside

Once your cat is comfortable dragging around the leash, pick it up and offer a treat. Let your cat guide you around, going wherever they please. Keep the leash loose and offer praise and treats. Practice this for a few days.

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7. Encourage Your Cat to Follow You

This one takes patience, but it will be worth it once you’re outside and your cat is cruising confidently by your side.

  • Encourage your cat to go where you go by using a calm, positive voice.
  • Apply gentle pressure to the leash, but never tug or yank. If and when the cat turns in your direction or follows you, offer treats and praise.
  • Drop a treat on the ground and let your cat eat it, then return to the far end of the leash. When the cat comes to where you are, offer another treat and praise. Repeat this as many times as it takes.

8. Head Outside

You’ve put the work in, and now it’s time to head outside. Always attach the harness and leash before you walk through the door; this will prevent your cat from running away. Start in a quiet spot and let your cat explore with you following behind them. Once your cat seems relaxed, you can start guiding them where you want to go.

9. Regular Walks

Once your cat gets used to walking, chances are they will love it and want to go as often as possible. To avoid your cat pestering you to go outside, walk them at the same time every day, and never take your cat out if they are crying or bothering you. Instead, wait for your cat to quiet down and then take them outside. Your cat will soon learn that being quiet, calm, and patient will earn them a trip to the great outdoors.

Do you walk your cat? Leave a comment and tell us about it, and sign up for PetPlus, 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.


How to Exercise Your Dog When You’re Sick


Waking up with a headache, sore throat, and stuffy nose is no fun, and the last thing most people want to do when they’re feeling under the weather is take their dog out for some exercise. But your dog depends on you to provide them with mental and physical stimulation as well as bathroom breaks (unless you have a doggie door), and it’s up to you to find a way to give your dog those things even when you’re unwell. Here we’ll present some alternative ways to exercise your dog when you’re sick.

Note: Remember that forcing yourself to take your dog out for their regular exercise could make your illness worse. Consult your doctor if you are feeling out of sorts and you’re not sure how much activity is appropriate.

Indoor Games

Indoor games are a great way to get your dog active when you’re feeling sick. Many games can even be played right from the comfort of your own bed. Here are some examples:

Laser Pointer Chase: Buy an inexpensive laser pointer and shine it back and forth across the floor. Your dog will delight in chasing the moving light, and will wear themselves out in the process. Remember not to shine the laser pointer into your dogs eyes as it could damage their retinas. Read these other tips for playing laser pointer chase for your dog without driving them crazy.

Indoor Fetch: If you have a long hallway or other large indoor space, you can play fetch indoors. You may even be able to play it from the sofa or your bed.

Tug-of-War: Another stimulating game that you can play while laid up is tug-of-war. Many dogs love to play this game with a rope toy, but remember that it can bring out your dog’s competitive side, and you should make sure that you have a solid relationship in which you are the pack leader before engaging in this type of game. Many trainers also recommend ending games of tug-of-war with you successfully winning the toy.

Puzzle Toys: Puzzle toys require your dog to problem solve in order to release food or treats that you stuff inside. There are many different types of puzzle and food-dispensing toys, and a variety could occupy your dog for hours while you get some rest.

RELATED STORY: The Benefits of an Active Dog

Low-Impact Outdoor Exercises

If you’re feeling well enough to go outside but still not 100%, you can engage in some outdoor activities while still taking it easy.

Cut Your Walk in Half: If you usually take your dog for a half-hour walk, take them for a 15 minute walk instead. Choose an area with easy terrain (no hiking!) and a time of day when the weather won’t be unpleasant (e.g., in the summer, walk in the early morning or late evening to avoid high heat). Then, give your dog the rest of their exercise by playing some indoor games or offering them a puzzle toy.

Yard Fetch: Take your dog out to the yard and throw a ball or frisbee. If you’re tired, you could even play fetch while sitting in a lawn chair or reclining in a hammock. Ensure that your yard is secure and all gates are closed and locked so that you won’t have to worry about chasing after your dog when you’re feeling low.

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Ask For Help

If you’re really ill, you may not be able to exercise your dog at all. If this is the case, consider taking your dog to dog day care or a boarding facility while you recover. Alternatively, you could hire a dog walker to stop by once or twice a day to relieve you from your duties.

How do you exercise your dog when you’re sick? Leave a comment and let us know. And to keep your dog healthy, consider signing up for PetPlus. PetPlus 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.


How Your Dog Can Help You Slim Down This Summer


As the first brave flowers of spring emerge, and the memory of a seemingly endless winter begins to fade away, your thoughts may be turning to exercise and weight loss. After all, it’s likely been a while since you contemplated wearing shorts and bathing suits. Having a dog can be a great first step to getting in shape: already, Fido helps ensure that you’re getting outside on a daily basis for walks. Find out some ideas for ways that you can work exercise into your daily or weekly routine with your dog — and keep in mind, your workout will do wonders for your dog’s health, as well as your own.

RELATED STORY: The Benefits of an Active Dog

Take a Longer Walk

When it’s cold outside, it’s easy to fall into the habit of walking your dog just far enough that he relieves himself. Take advantage of the nicer weather, and extend how far you go on each day’s walk. Bored with the usual walking path? Vary your route near your home (turn left from your front door, instead of your usual right). Or try going to a new neighborhood or hiking nearby trails. Even a few blocks more on your daily walk, especially if you’re walking briskly, can help you get back in shape.

RELATED STORY: Safety Tips for Walking Dogs at Night

Play Frisbee or Catch

Are you thinking that it’s your dog that does all the leaping, running, and bounding when you play fetch, frisbee, or catch? No way! Those trips to the park involve a ton of exercise for you, too, as you play along with your pup and run after the balls your dog fails to catch. Make your dog’s weekend: spend next Saturday in a nearby park throwing around a tennis ball.

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Go for a Jog

Depending on your dog’s size, training, and health, she may be a great running partner for you. Before you take up jogging, make sure your dog’s health is up for the challenge. You’ll also want to make sure it’s reasonable for her to jog alongside you — interval runs would be a real challenge for a chihuahua. Finally, you’ll want to make sure she won’t get the leash tangled up in your feet. Once you’re off and running, you may find that as a creature of habit and routine, your dog makes an excellent running companion and motivates you to hit the pavement.

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Try Something New: Doga

If you love yoga, try this twist: do doga, or dog yoga, with your dog. Doga may be the perfect pup-and-person workout for you if you like a bit of structure to your exercise, respond well to classes, and thrive on schedule and routine. Generally, the joy of a doga comes from doing the stretches and chants together with your dog in a group, classroom setting.

RELATED STORY: The Doga Fad Explained

Do you enjoy exercising with your dog? Leave a comment and share your workout tips! Consider signing up for PetPlus, a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, boarding and more. 


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. 


6 Smart Tips to Help Your Pet Lose Weight

We know that change can often be a bitter pill to swallow, but the silver lining? All of these adjustments are fairly simple, and if you are able to successfully implement them, you might end up dropping some pant sizes as well.

Here are 6 simple pet weight loss tips to get started.

1. Talk to your vet about finding the right low-cal food

Many of your run of the mill dog foods contain tons of fillers, and a dearth of nutrients, meaning a change in diet can often be a big first step in losing weight. However, when it comes to diet, there is not one catch all answer to every problem. Pets come in such a wide array of shapes and sizes that finding the right food for them is a matter of understanding their specific needs. Contact your vet to find out what food suits your dog best.

RELATED STORY: Your Dog Food Questions Answered

2. Serve up the pet chow with a measuring cup

Arguably the simplest weight loss change you could ever make, rather than using a scoop or a plastic cup to dish out your pet’s dinner, use a measuring cup to help monitor the exact amount you feed them per meal. Overfeeding is one of the leading causes of obesity in pets. Check the label on the side of the bag and make sure to dole out the recommended serving size and no more.

3. Veggies > treats

Next time you are tempted to give your pet a biscuit, why not give them a baby carrot instead? Or how about a little broccoli? Even an apple is a good substitute for those high carb, high calorie treats. Just make sure you know what veggies are safe for dogs and cats before giving them anything from the crisper drawer.

4. 20 extra minutes of daily play time

If your pet is overweight, chances are it is more than just a dietary problem. So however long you normally play with your pet, add an extra 20 minutes to that time every day. Play a little fetch or some tug of war — anything to get your pet moving and burning up some of those extra calories.

5. Add a couple blocks to your walk

Another simple and effective way to help your dog burn off some of their extra weight is to make their daily walk a few feet longer. Depending on how big your dog is, adding as little as one extra block to their daily walk can end up making a big difference.

6. Weekly weigh-ins

If you really want to help your pet lose weight, it helps to be able to track your progress. With a weekly weight in, you are better able to understand what is working for them, where you need to step it up, and how far you have come.

What Do You Think?

Got any pet weight loss tips of your own? Share them with us in the comments section! We would love to hear from you.