Bark at Me


Pet Expert Q&A
By Donna Chicone 

Simple Joys: Walking
Include your dog in exercise routines. Everyone can walk year round, even in four-season climates. I always say, “If your dog is overweight, you are not getting enough exercise.” 

 Pet Parent Question
“My dog is overweight. Do daily walks really make a difference?” 

Answer: Obesity is the number one health concern for humans and for canines. We all need to get up and move more. Dogs love to be with their pet parent, and walking is a great way to build stamina, muscle tone and general well being as well as shed pounds.

Research shows people with dogs get more exercise. Be mindful of weather; if you are comfortable outside, your dog will be too. 

I recommend a walking harness. It gives the dog more opportunity to sniff and explore, with you in control of their body. You also eliminate any damage to the neck and trachea, which happens with a leash attached to a neck collar. 

Walking with your dog also gives you time together to enjoy fresh air and nature. It can be a calming experience for both of you and a time to develop your bond and relationship.

Woofs & Smiles!

Dogs and Children

Dogs and children are amazing, especially together. Both live in the moment. When a dog and a child connect, it is inspiring to watch. Their innocence touches our hearts. 

However, both need supervision, especially when they are together. A child who gets excited and runs toward a dog with arms flying and a shrill scream can startle a dog. A young child can pull a dog’s fur or ears and cause pain. A child sitting or standing on a dog is never acceptable or good for a dog, especially older dogs. 

Children need to be taught how to interact with a dog so both can safely enjoy being together. Dogs also need to be introduced to children. A child or a dog who does not enjoy being around the other should not be forced to be together.

 Pet Parent Question:
“I want my child to learn responsibility by taking care of our dog. How much responsibility can I give him?”

Answer: Giving a child total responsibility for a dog is not appropriate.  A child can handle responsibility aligned with their age. A 5-year-old can assist with feeding and go on walks with the pet-parent and the dog. They are too young to have any level of responsibility alone.  

An older child can feed and walk the dog and pick up dog poop. The pet-parent is the role model and teaches the child how to care for a dog. The pet-parent buys the food and takes the dog to the vet. A child can share in these experiences. 

If you allow a dog to sleep with family members, the dog will select whom he wants to sleep with. For many of us, sleeping with our dog is pawsome.

Woofs & Smiles!  

Donna Chicone is an award-winning author, TEDx speaker and advocate for dogs. She is a former nurse, family and addictions counselor, 23-year corporate America professional, and host of Jazz and Jive’s TV Show. She was a devoted pet parent to her two Portuguese water dogs, Jazz and Jive. The three of them spent years as a team doing pet assisted therapy and K9 Nose work. Donna continues her mission as a committed advocate for the humane treatment of animals. She lives in Minnesota with her husband. Recently Donna said good-bye to both Jazz and Jive. Learning to live life after a loss like this is part of the journey with our beloved dogs.