Dogs love the great outdoors. It’s like giving them the chance to experience the life of their Nordic ancestors, explore their immediate surroundings, socialize with other dogs and other pets in the neighborhood, and strengthen the bond between man and his best friend. For dogs, being allowed to roam free means their human masters recognize their need for freedom and space so that they will grow and live healthier, happier lives. Here are 10 things you may want to give to your active outdoor dog.
1. Dog House
Not all dogs can stay inside the house. And while some hounds revel at the idea of sleeping in a humongous den for people, some would prefer staying outdoors where they are a lot closer to ‘home’. And by ‘home’ we mean the natural world.
Unfortunately, letting your dog sleep outdoors unprotected can bring quite a handful of problems. It can get bitterly cold at night or they can get drenched in the rain or even suffer heatstroke from the scorching sun. The wind, together with the debris it brings with it, can also wreak havoc in your pet’s life. These can test the resilience of their immune system, bringing them much closer to respiratory infections and a variety of other problems.
A dog house not only protects them from the elements, but also provides dogs with a den-like structure that they can call ‘home’. A dog house should have adequate protections for it to work. It should be a bit elevated from the ground to make sure that ground water won’t be slipping inside the den. Other mechanisms that can shield the inside from the rain should also be in place.
While protection from the elements is important, so is comfort for your hound. The interior should be warm enough on cold days and cool enough in the summer so your pet can stay for as long as it likes in the comfort of its own private den.
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2. Dog Bed
To go with your dog house is a dog bed. This is especially true for pets that may be quite skinny that their bones are somewhat protruding on the skin. These bony prominences can be crucial points for the development of calluses which, in turn, can lead to pressure sores. Arthritic dogs and dogs with a host of musculoskeletal problems will also find it difficult to sleep on the hard floor of a dog house. As such, an appropriately-sized dog bed should always be considered.
Outdoor dog beds should be made of water-resistant and fully washable material as this will be placed on the ground. It should also be puncture-proof or at least scratch-resistant as the ground can be full of debris with sharp edges.
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Alternatively, one can always go for elevated dog beds. These are just like the beds that people have complete with 4 legs and a platform with which dogs can sleep on. These dog beds allow for better cooling comfort especially in the summer as air circulates upwards from the bottom of the bed and right through the sleeping panel often made of durable mesh material. These beds are also perfect for preventing fleas and ticks from reaching your dog. Remember, your lawn is actually filled with these critters and many more.
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3. Pet ID Tag
No dog should ever stay outdoors or even venture outside the house without its ID tag. Nothing worries a pet parent more than realizing that his or her beloved pet has gone astray. Now, somebody may find the dog, but without any form of identification it would be quite challenging to return the dog to its rightful owner.
Animal Control is quite strict when it comes to pet registration. If they don’t see any identification tags on your pet dog there’s a high chance that it will end up in the dog pound awaiting its fate. And if you’re able to claim it, get ready to pay a hefty fine. As such, it is always a good idea to put as much pertinent information about your dog on its ID tag. Its name, registration number, your contact information, vaccination information, and other things you may want to include should be placed on the tag.
The sad thing about Pet ID tags is that they can get tangled and removed from their attachment. Most would recommend having your pet microchipped so that pertinent information is available whenever and wherever it is needed.
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4. Pet Tracking Device
Sometimes a pet ID tag is not enough to help you retrieve a lost pet. Even if your pet dog has a microchip embedded under its skin, you will still not be able to know its whereabouts. As such, one of the things that you can buy for your active outdoor pet is a GPS tracking device. These are very nifty devices that can be attached to the collar of your dog.
Some products come with their respective accompanying dog collars to allow for a better aesthetic match. The device sends out information on your dog’s whereabouts. The precise location of your dog is quite dependent on the geolocation infrastructure the device is working with. Most operate using GPS often in combination with cellular network providers, wireless internet, Bluetooth connection, and/or radio frequency signals. Some actually incorporate a blend of these technologies allowing for more pinpoint accuracy of tracking your pet.
Many of these devices can be managed on one’s smartphone or tablet. You get instant notifications in cases where your dog has wandered outside its ‘safe zone’. Unfortunately, like the pet tag system, if the device is purposely removed from your dog’s collar, then there really isn’t anything you can do about it.
5. Invisible Fence
Some neighborhoods have very strict rules regarding the putting up of perimeter fences around houses. And if you happen to live in such a neighborhood, you may want to consider setting up an invisible fence to help train your dog to stay well within the boundaries of your property.
Depending on the system that you’re going to purchase, wires are either buried in the ground or laid out on the ground surface. These wires serve as an electronic fence that can trigger a device that can be attached to your dog’s collar. If your dog goes near the boundary wires, an action from the device is triggered. It can be an audible beep or perhaps even vibrations that should help stop your dog from advancing further. Some systems deliver static electricity, but this should only be used as last resort. The idea is you have several levels of correction as the dog goes nearer the boundary. Located in the boundary line are marker flags which dogs can learn to associate with their ‘limits’ over time.
An invisible fence can give your dog the freedom to enjoy your lawn while you are confident it will not stray outside your boundaries.
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6. Doggie Treats
Training is an important aspect of holistic canine care. And when it comes to dog training, whether it is for obedience, agility, or behavioral purposes, nothing beats the use of positive reinforcement in teaching dogs the desirable actions that pet parents expect from them. This is where doggie treats can come in.
As important dog treats are in your dog’s training, these should never replace your dog’s main meal. As a matter of fact, the number of calories that you give to your dog in the form of treats should never be more than 10% of its total calorie intake. For instance, if your pet requires 800 calories per day, then 10% of it is 80 calories. That being said, if the doggie treat contains 8 calories per treat, you’re not supposed to give more than 10 treats in a day.
While most dog training sessions start inside the home where it is quiet and where there are fewer distractions, the outdoors is where your dog can practice whatever it has learned during these sessions. You can look at it more like your pet’s application of what it is trained to do. This is why it is also important that you have doggie treats ready whenever you head outdoors with your dog.
7. Dog Wipes
All dogs need to bathe as part of their overall grooming. But if your hound is actually living outdoors or is spending most of the day outside the home, it would really not be practical to give it a bath on a daily basis. A more practical and easier alternative is to use dog wipes, preferably unscented ones. It’s a great way to clean up your pet after a long day at the bushes and grass or perhaps even in the forest without having to resort to full-scale bathing.
Some dog wipes also come with antiseptic and disinfectant properties allowing you to cleanse the wounds of your dog and prevent infection. This is especially true for wiping and cleaning the paw pads of your pet especially after a walk on areas where there’s an overgrowth of poison ivy and oak. At the very least you’ll be able keep your pet safe even after a whole day in the woods.
8. Dog Brush and Comb
Dog shedding brushes are excellent for grooming your pet, removing tangles, and helping prevent mats. However, for the highly active outdoor dog, the dog brush is an important tool for removing dirt and debris that may have attached or accumulated on the dog’s coat. Depending on the type of brush used, one can also get rid of ticks and fleas that may have chanced upon your dog while it is busy nosing around in the bushes. Foxtails, burrs, and stickers are best removed with a grooming rake and slicker brush, although this is quite dependent on the type of coat that your dog has.
Regardless, one cannot underestimate the importance of dog brushes and combs in keeping your dog’s coat clean, healthy, and free from tangles and mats. This can also help promote healthier skin by minimizing, if not eliminating, the incidence of skin allergies and other skin conditions.
9. Dog Backpack
Exploring the great outdoors with your pet can be made more meaningful if your dog also has its very own backpack. These saddlebag types of backpack can be excellent carriage mechanisms for your pet’s accessories and gear such as toys, doggie treats, dog food, dog water bottle, water bowl, and even emergency first aid supplies. This way your dog can maintain hydration and replenish its energy reserves whenever you’re trekking or hiking.
Dog backpacks can also serve as hefty exercise gear for your pet. The weight of the backpack can help increase the resistance which your pet will have to work against. A full 30 minutes of walking with a backpack should already be equivalent to about 45 to 60 minutes of walking without it. This can help strengthen the muscles, improve your dog’s cardiovascular and pulmonary systems, and allow for greater flexibility in its joints.
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10. Dog Pool
A dog pool is not only good for your canine friend during the summer; it can also serve as a worthy play area in the cold months. Most folks think of a doggie pool as an essential tool for keeping pets cool during the hot summer months. However, these contraptions can also serve as protected areas for your pet to play on or even to rest on instead of lying down on the snow-covered ground.
- Concerned About a Dog Being Kept Outside?, RSPCA
- Dr. Robert Belden, Common-Sense Measures to Protect Your Dog, Yourself And Others in Canine Social Settings, American Veterinary Medical Foundation
- Amy Jamieson, 21 Fun Things to Do With Your Dog, Care.com