Five dog-specific apps to Help you Live Better

Today, there are mobile apps for almost every conceivable topic or need and because so many people now own smartphones and tablets, mobile app usage has seen huge growth worldwide.  It is estimated that by 2020, mobile apps will generate a staggering $189 billion worldwide.1 

There are some really interesting apps that have been developed specifically for dog owners.  We’ve taken a look at five free apps (all available for Android and iOS), which could potentially assist dog owners with many aspects of dog care.

Dog Vacay

Despite the boom in dog-friendly hotel options across the nation, there are times when you need to travel but just can’t take your favorite companion with you.  Although there are excellent kennels available in the US, some people prefer their dogs to have a more personalized pet-sitting service and this led to the development of the DogVacay app.

Dog Vacay allows you to connect with dog sitters in your area who offer services ranging from dog walking, to taking your dog to vet appointments, or caring for your dog in your home or theirs when you are out of town.

With a 24/7 customer support service and daily photo or video updates, you can travel or use the daycare option knowing that your dog is in good hands.

dog-vacay
Pet First Aid

Just like people, pets get sick and have accidents too.  Although many of us are familiar with the correct first aid procedures when dealing with people, we’re not necessarily as confident when required to be first responders in pet emergencies. The Pet First Aid app developed by the American Red Cross remedies that situation, allowing you to check symptoms and watch videos on how best to respond to common emergency situations.

You can learn about early warning signs, learn first aid steps, and take quizzes on pet health and safety. For more serious conditions, the app will also tell you the location of the nearest emergency animal hospital or veterinarian’s office.

A great app to use in emergencies and a great resource to help you provide emergency care for your pet until you can get to a veterinarian.

pet-first-aid

BarkCam

If you’re a dog owner, you will know that no matter how adorable your dog’s appearance, trying to capture “that look” in a photo can be extremely difficult.  This is where BarkCam comes in.  Using a variety of different sounds to get your dog’s attention, the sounds are linked to the camera’s shutter button, so you trigger sound and take the photo at the same time.

When you’ve got your favorite picture, you can edit to your heart’s content using filters, stickers or even text.  You can share pictures on the platform itself or share it on either Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.

bark-cam

Whistle

This app requires a phone for you and a Whistle GPS collar for your dog, which then allows you to track not only your dog’s location but also his heart rate.  Designed to help avoid dog’s getting lost, it also allows you to create custom activity goals for your dog, based on breed, size, and age and can be modified depending on which family member is walking the dog at that particular time.

It is important to keep in mind that because this app has nationwide GPS coverage in the US, there is potential to run down your phone battery much faster on longer walks.

Although this app is free, the required collar costs around $50*.

 

whistle-device
Whistle GPS dog collar

 

 

MapMyDogWalk

There are plenty of apps on the market for runners and walkers and this app is quite similar, but designed specifically for those who walk dogs. The app gives you information on the best dog walking routes in your area and if you use one of these or add one of your own, the app allows you to track progress made and allows you to save this data to compare against future walks. Information on dog parks, waste-bag dispensers, dog-friendly areas and water fountains are all given in this dog-friendly app.
Once again, it is important to note that continually using GPS, does dramatically drain battery power.

map-my-dog-walk

 

We have only taken a look at 5 free apps, but there are far more on the market for dog owners to use. Why not look for one that would make your lifestyle easier?  As businesses are increasingly being encouraged to develop apps, it is possible that in the not too distant future we will see an even greater number of dog-friendly apps, which will likely become more interactive and more personalized to meet user need.

Do you currently use any apps on your cell phone or tablet that make your dog care duties more manageable or is there an app that you would love to see available for dog owners? Let us know which apps make your life with your dog better.

*Price correct at time of article posting.

References

  1. https://www.statista.com/topics/1002/mobile-app-usage/

ENJOYING THE PET BARRIER BLOG ARTICLES?  WHY NOT FOLLOW US ON TWITTER AND FACEBOOK? WE’D LOVE TO HAVE YOUR COMPANY!

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Taking the plunge with dogs and kids: Part 1

Many families like to vacation near beaches, rivers or lakes and all of these have one thing in common – water!  When there are large bodies of water present, we should always think of the safety of our children and our dogs.  This two-part series looks at how to keep dogs and kids safe so that everyone can have a fun and safe time on vacation or on weekend trips.

family-in-pool-on-vacation

Part 1: Kids

Ideally, swimming is an activity that should be introduced when children are still infants.  Many pools and community programs offer instructor-led “Mommy and Me” swim sessions that allow the babies to get used to being in the water and are great for Moms and babies to bond further.

mom-with-baby-swimming-2

It is preferable to then progress to swimming lessons with a trained swimming instructor who can show your child the correct techniques from the beginning – it is a lot more difficult to unlearn bad habits and techniques.  This type of swimming instruction is usually available on a group or an individual basis.  Group sessions tend to be less expensive, but as there are more children involved there tends to be less actual swimming time.  If your budget won’t stretch to professional lessons, you may want to consider teaching them to swim yourself. This does not always work, as learning to swim can be a frustrating process and sometimes kids will take instruction better from a swimming instructor than from a parent. It is also problematic if you have multiple children. If you are keen to give it a go and will be working with just one child, here are some ideas to make parent-child swimming instruction successful.

Make it a regular date

In order for parent-child swimming instruction to work, kids need to swim regularly and preferably once a week.  Make a point of assigning this time in your calendar once a week and sticking to it, except when your child is sick.

child-learning-to-swim

Keep it short and keep it varied

Swimming is a very tiring activity and as much as we want our kids to sleep well at night, having prolonged swimming sessions when they are learning to swim can be counterproductive.  It’s far better to keep it short (15 – 20 minutes for very young and new swimmers) and to keep lesson activities varied.

Make it fun

Making the swimming lessons fun with games and other activities is crucial to keeping children engaged and in building their confidence in the water.  For very young kids, use games involving nursery rhymes and plastic toys.  As they get older, continue to use those techniques, but also introduce games such as “red light, green light,” (where children kick like crazy on green, slow down on amber, and stop on red) to help improve specific swimming techniques. As they get slightly older, drop the nursery rhymes and include the use of more games, varying the games from session to session.

Kids of all ages will learn better if there is variety in the lesson.  If they get to use kickboards, pool noodles, and other flotation devices once in a while this will be beneficial.  Using these items helps to improve stroke technique, keeps them interested, and will leave them wanting to come back for more.  Not all community pools will allow their use, so check on that before taking yours along.

boy-swimming-with-kick-board

 

Make swimming enjoyable

Building up confidence in the water is vital so that kids are not afraid of the water and want to swim. As your little swimmer progresses in ability and confidence, you may want to think about enrolling in swimming clubs where a range of swimming and social opportunities will be offered.

Set rules

Make sure that your children know how to stay safe near a swimming pool.  They must always ask for permission to go in a pool and must have adult supervision during this time.  Rules such as not running by a pool are really important to follow. Use life vests or floaties for young kids when they are not actually practicing their swimming strokes, but do not rely on the floaties for safety. For young kids and those who are not strong swimmers, life vests should be worn for activities such as river floating or when in lake water.  If swimming in the ocean, be conscious of the tide and possible currents.  Where possible try to swim in a lifeguard supervised zone.

river-float-with-kid

 

Even when your child has become a good swimmer, it is possible to get into difficulties in the water.  Always ensure that children are supervised to minimize risk and ensure that you are all able to enjoy a fun and safe vacation.

Learning to swim is not a luxury, it is a necessity! Being able to swim is such an important skill to have.  Swimming provides fantastic exercise for able-bodied children and those with physical challenges and is an activity that can be continued throughout their lives.

Some of my happiest and most memorable times have taken place around water with my children. What experiences have you had? We’d love to hear about them.

 

ENJOYING THE PET BARRIER BLOG ARTICLES?  WHY NOT FOLLOW US ON TWITTER AND FACEBOOK? WE’D LOVE TO HAVE YOUR COMPANY!

Home for the Holidays

Thanksgiving is almost here and the Holiday season is just around the corner.  We are therefore approaching one of the biggest travel periods of the year, with 54% of Americans travelling 50 miles or more at Thanksgiving and 23% travelling the same distance over the Holidays. According to AAA (American Automobile Association), 48.7 million Americans will be travelling to visit family and friends for Thanksgiving.  Of those, 89% will be driving and the average length of a Thanksgiving long-distance round trip is 549 miles. The high volume of traffic is replicated globally, as in the UK for example, 6.7 million journeys of 20 miles or more are made on Christmas Day. So how do you transport kids, pets, and luggage safely and comfortably and happily at a time of year when weather conditions can exacerbate the challenge of driving?

Here are some simple suggestions that can help to make the journey as great as the rest of the trip:

Get a Comfy Seat

Kids grow rapidly and what may once have been a very safe and comfortable car seat, may now have been outgrown by your child.  The diagram below shows car seat safety based on recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics. When you have established whether the car seat still meets your child’s needs, ensure that it is correctly fitted in your vehicle per the manufacturer’s instructions.

Car seat recommendations

 

Add a Pet Barrier

Many people use pet barriers routinely to transport a dog locally, but pet barriers become invaluable on long road trips when all your most precious cargo are on board. The barrier itself can ensure that your dog is safely enclosed and cannot distract the driver or disturb passengers.  It also prevents any luggage or loose gifts from shifting from the trunk to the passenger area of the vehicle should the driver need to brake suddenly.  If you add a pet barrier divider to the mix, you also have the perfect separation of luggage and pets.  So, no more chewed gifts before reaching your destination!

Pet barrier and divider

Take Time to Pack and Pack Extras

Aim to load the car with luggage and gifts before putting the pets and children in the vehicle.  Make sure you have a plastic trash bag in the passenger area. Items such as wet wipes, tissues and water bottles are also useful to have to hand.  Some blankets for changing weather conditions can be a useful addition.

Take a Break

When travelling with children and pets, it is always advisable to allow extra time for the journey.  Try to take breaks every few hours, or as required.  These breaks allow kids and pets to have some exercise and visit the restroom, but also allow the driver to take a rest from the intense concentration required during certain weather and traffic conditions.

Grab a Snack

Having a few healthy snacks and beverages available can make a trip pass more pleasurably and keep hunger pangs at bay. Be sure to avoid sugary food and drinks that might increase hyperactivity. It can also be helpful to have a few additional food supplies in the vehicle in case of extreme weather conditions or emergencies.

Snack ideas for kids

On-Board Entertainment

Some vehicles now have in-car entertainment built in, which is ideal for kids to watch their favorite movies. If your vehicle does not come equipped with this, a portable DVD player may be a good alternative. If you prefer to avoid electronic device overload and want a more all-inclusive entertainment approach, an audio book or music that everyone can listen to can be a fun option.  Stickers, felt pieces and pipe cleaners can be great for younger kids to fiddle with and they often love games of I-Spy whether on pre-printed sheets for them to check off or with the whole of the car joining in.  Older children may prefer car quizzes and, if they are truly craving electronics, downloading the Mad Libs iOS app ahead of time may be a good option.

 

With a little careful planning, what the kids (and even adults) may perceive to be a long and boring journey, suddenly becomes a lot more appealing. If you have any fail-safe tips that your family uses on long road trips with kids and pets, why not share them with other readers?  Whatever your plans during the Holidays, I wish you safe, pleasant travels and a happy and healthy 2017.

Happy Holidays

 

 

 

 

Pupcation

This post will conclude the series on special activities for dogs and we’re going out with a bang. This latest activity is definitely not something you can do every day or even every month: a pupcation, or a holiday with your pooch. I don’t suggest you go on holiday just for your dog. But if you’re planning one already, why not take the four-legged family member(s) along?

New sights, new smells, amazing views
New sights, new smells, amazing views

Taking your dog along on a trip can be fun, however it can be a bit of a hassle and you have make thorough preparations. It all starts with choosing the right type of holiday: any kind of trip which just results in your pooch being left in the hotel room is a no-go. Instead, choose for an active vacation like camping or a nature holiday. Your pup will thank you.

Bringing your dog along on a pupcation has several advantages, for humans and pups. For one, you won’t have to look for someone to look after Fido while you’re away and you know he’s in the best hands: your own. This eliminates any chance of your dog pining and missing you. For your pup, as for you, a holiday means a change of scenery and exploring new things and places. And if you choose for an active holiday, it will mean lots of exercise too. This will lead to a tired, but very content pooch.

pupcation luggage
A Suitcase for every family member

However, as I mentioned there is also a downside to a pupcation. Accommodation being the major one: you will have to look for places that allow your dog. The same goes for any activities you might have planned, be sure to look online whether they are dog-friendly. Of course, it’s OK to plan an activity which doesn’t allow for dogs, as long as you don’t leave your pup on their own devices for an entire day or don’t plan too many of these. Otherwise, it would defeat the point of bringing your dog along and they’d be better off being looked after by a family member or in a kennel.

Taking your pooch along also means packing their suitcase. They will need their food, toys, bedding and such too. A more extensive list can be found here. Also, don’t forget to bring a doggy first aid kit and the number of your vet and a local vet. If you travel by car, please make sure to secure your dog properly. However, as long as you prepare well, the pupcation will be a fun trip for all family members.

Have you and your dog ever gone on a pupcation? If so, where did you go? Feel free to give some recommendations in the comments!

Tricks and Treats

They can't read, so they need other ways to keep busy
They can’t read, so they need other ways to keep busy

To keep our dogs busy and healthy, we don’t only have to make sure they get enough physical activities like a stimulating walk or swim. Like the body, the mind has needs too and needs to be used. Preventing boredom is of the essence. Most of you will probably have some (funny) anecdote showing that boredom leads to trouble, in dogs and humans alike.

One way to keep a dog’s mind occupied is to teach him of her tricks. Most people know about the basic tricks and commands such as sit, heel, down. These are things every dog should know to operate and be safe in our society. However, dogs are capable of learning much more than that. They might even pick up a few tricks on their own, whether you want them to or not.

To teach your dogs new tricks, you don’t need much: a list of tricks, patience, perseverance and lots of treats. However, if you don’t really know where to start and the internet is no help, you don’t have to do this on your own. There are dog schools and trainers who will gladly help you and that offer more advanced classes that go beyond basic obedience. Though, make sure you transport your pooch safely in the car, with a crate or pet barrier, when you go to these classes.

dog treats
Lots and lots of treats

You can find a lot of dog tricks online. Here’s a list of some tricks I liked:

Fun ones:

  • walking backwards
  • barking on command
  • slalom
  • jumping
  • crawling
  • a classic: play dead

Useful ones:

  • difference between left and right
  • opening and closing doors
  • picking up toys
  • switching the light on and off
  • Leave it, for refusing strange food and other non-edible things
  • baring their teeth, useful for brushing those pearly whites
  • find my keys

Does your dog know any fun or unusual tricks? Is there a something you would like him to know? Let me know in the comments!

Group walks: the more the merrier

Group walk in the park
Everything is better with friends by your side

Two weeks ago I wrote about taking your pooch to the dog park. This has a lot of benefits, the main ones being that your dog gets exercised and is able to socialize with other dogs. Another great activity that grants both of these is group walks. After all, the more the merrier.

Walking your dog in a group can be achieved in different ways. For example, on a regular walk, you’ll often run into the same people with their dogs. Why not invite them to a group walk? Or maybe you could ask some of your neighbors along. This is a great way to get to know them better.

However, there is another way for your dog to have a walk with a group of dogs. If you have to leave your dog alone at home when you go to work, chances are you have a dog walker. Instead of looking for a walker who will just take Fido out for a short walk, you can opt for someone who will take your pooch along with some other clients. This way the merry band can hang out and have fun together for a while.

All tuckered out
All tuckered out after his walk

No matter which way you do it, group walks are a good idea. As with any walk, it means your pet get a chance to release energy. Group walks have the added bonus that they are also a great opportunity for our four-legged companions to socialize. Especially for younger dogs who still have to learn doggy manners and protocols, these walks are a great help. But for any dog, they are a way to meet new friends and maybe see some new places.

If you are considering group walks, keep in mind that for some dogs an entire pack of strangers can be intimidating. Be careful when introducing the members to each other and keep an eye on them. If your dog isn’t comfortable in big groups, a group walk can also consist of just one or two others. After all the whole point is the have fun and be merry, not to scare your pooch.

Activities: Dog Sports

This week’s activity is aimed at people and dogs with a lot of energy who like being active. So all the two- and four-legged couch potatoes can stop reading right here. If, however, your pooch is a bundle of energy and you are looking for a way to let him blow off some steam, why not try out a dog sport.

dog sports agility

There are a lot of dog sports out there. You’ll probably have heard of agility and flyball before, but what about dock jumping, hound trailing or scootering?  There are too many sports to list here, but you can see the list over here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_dog_sports

There are a lot of advantages to doing sport with your pooch:

  • Exercise is healthy for both of you
  • It will stimulate your dog’s mind as well
  • A good way for your pooch to release some of that energy
  • It will strengthen the bond with your dog
  • A way of meeting new human and doggy friends
  • It’s just fun
Strengthening the bond
Strengthening the bond

If now I have you thinking that you’d like to try this, good! However, before jumping into this recklessly, do your research. Not every sport is suited for your dog’s breed and, especially, his or her personality. If you have found a sport suited for you, look up what it entails and how much time and effort you have to invest in it. If you are not willing to commit, you can save a lot of time by not starting it in the first place. If all this information hasn’t dissuaded you yet, you can start looking at clubs and schools in your area where you can learn the ropes and to guide you in the whole process.

Also, and this goes without saying, but make sure your dog is healthy and fit enough to participate in any of these activities. And when driving to the club or venue, make sure your dog is properly secured in the car with a crate or pet barrier.

But now, go out and have fun!

Is there a dog sport you’d be interested in? Are you and your four-legged friend active in a dog sports? Let me know in the comments and tell me what you like about it.

Doggy activities: The Dog Park

In the series of things you can do with your dog to keep him happy and active I have so far tackled taking your pooch to the beach and advised you to make a (small) change in your walking route. Today I will be talking about taking your beloved four-legged friend to a place a lot of you will be familiar with already. However, for those of you who are unfamiliar with them or who have some doubts, let me introduce you to… the dog park.

Dog park this way
Dog park this way

Off-leash dog parks are a wonderful place where you can let your pooch off-leash and run around and play with his friends. Because in most states and counties, dogs have to be leashed during their walks, they can be hindered in socializing with their fellows. In their hearts, dogs are still animals that roam, but we keep them in our houses and backyard, thus limiting their space. In the dog park they can be more true to their nature, lose some of their pent-up energy and, most importantly, have fun! And frankly, you can do the same as dog parks are a great place to meet new friends, human or canine.

Making friends and having fun
Making friends and having fun

I my post has convinced you to try out the dog park, please keep the following in mind. These parks are a great benefit for every dog and dog owner. However, in order to keep everyone happy and to keep these lovely places open, it is important that you follow the rules. Some parks have restriction on how many dogs can be inside at the same time. In others there are separate areas according to the dog’s size. And in some of these dog parks children are not allowed in. However, all of these parks have one rule in common, the one rule that all visitors must adhere to: cleaning up the dog’s waste. Following these rules will make the city happy and keep the park open, which makes your dogs happy, which will make you happy. So why not give it a try?

Dog beach: paradise of sand and water

Paradise
Paradise of sand and water

Last week I started the new topic of things to do with your dog by advising you to take your pooch to a new area during the (daily) walk. This will stimulate and motivate them, just like it does humans. Think about it, sometimes you get in a routine and after a while it just starts to feel like a drag. So we go on holiday for a change of scenery and new sights. This is exactly what you’ll be doing for your dog by changing their route.

Today’s advice is pretty close to last week’s, however instead of turning into a new street on the walk, why not go a bit further and take your four-legged family member to the beach. If the new street was like a holiday, then the beach will be like paradise to your dog, a paradise of sand and water.

Making new, somewhat strange, friends
Making new, somewhat strange, friends

For a lot of dogs, the beach is like a foreign place on a planet that is just waiting to be explored. The beach sand will hold thousands of scents from people, various animals, other dogs, and who knows what else. And for the dog who isn’t afraid of water, swimming in the sea will bring exercise to a whole new level. A trip to the dog beach holds numerous possibilities to occupy your dog. From running and swimming to playing fetch, exploring and meeting new friends or just enjoying some sunshine, this doggy paradise has it all.

This Lab want to take the sandy paradise home with him
This Lab want to take the sandy paradise home with him

Before taking your dog to beach, however, you should be prepared. First, look up what is allowed on your local (dog) beach. Are dogs allowed off-leash? Are they only welcome during certain times? Next, prepare yourself for a very dirty dog at the end of the day. After frolicking on land and in the sea, you’ll probably want to wash and dry your dog before heading home, especially if you came by car. Though in that case I suggest you also protect your car by equipping it with some sturdy rubber mats. Also, do not forget to bring plenty of food and fresh water for your pooch. They will get thirsty and should not drink from the salty sea water! Keep an eye out for heat stroke too in summer and make sure there is some shade if you stay for a

longer time. Lastly, do not forget to clean after your dog in case he does his business on the beach. This way everyone can enjoy a nice beach!

Would you be willing to take your dog to doggy paradise? Or have they already been to this magical land of sand and water? Feel free to share your stories and anecdotes in the comments.

Things to do with your dog

Mutual love
Mutual love

The love between dogs and humans is a mutual thing and we love nothing more than spending time with each other. However, at times we have to leave are beloved furry family members alone for a while and they can get bored. When we get back, we want nothing better than to make up for it and to give our dogs a chance to be active and release some energy. But at times, we get tired of playing the same games and going for the same walk all over again. That’s why in the next couple of articles I hope to give you some new ideas on things to do with your dogs to keep them active and happy.

In today’s article I’ll start off with a tip that is easily manageable: instead of going for that same old walk in the same old neighborhood, why not go somewhere new. This can still be close-by, in your own area, but just a different street or park than usual. Even deviating from your normal route or routes just by a bit well make the walk more exciting.

Or when you have some more time, in the weekends or on a day off, you could go for a drive and explore a whole new area, like a nearby forest. Your dog will love exploring new places with different sights and smells. You might even find some hidden gem which will become your new favorite place!

Off to explore!
Off to explore!

You don’t have to go to a new place every day, but it will be nice for both the two-legs and the four-legs to mix things up a bit occasionally. This will stimulate your minds and bodies. So give it a try and I’ll guarantee you’ll get a happier dog. Have fun!