EPISODE 196 | RELEASED December 26, 2022
Easy Ways to Improve Quality of Life for Dogs with Cancer | Kate Basedow
Stress can prevent treatments from working well, but you can fix that. Learn ways to increase quality of life for dogs with cancer at home, for free.
There are lots of things that you can do to help your dog feel happy and fulfilled, and to increase the human-animal bond. Here are some of the things we talk about in this episode:
- Playing with toys
- Treats and special snacks
- Emotional management exercises
- Scent games
- Environmental enrichment
Links Mentioned in this Show:
Dog walking – the health benefits https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/dog-walking-the-health-benefits
The Benefits of Walking Your Dog https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/the-benefits-of-walking-your-dog
How to Meditate with Your Dog https://mauimedia.com/titles/how-to-meditate-with-your-dog/
The Dog Cancer Survival Guide https://dogcancerbook.com/
How to Clicker Train a Dog 101 article
[00:00:00] >> Kate Basedow: It’s okay if your dog prefers different things. They all have individual personalities and preferences just like us. And for improving quality of life, it’s all about finding what works for your dog and makes your dog happy.
[00:00:16] >> Announcer: Welcome to Dog Cancer Answers, where we help you help your dog with cancer.
[00:00:23] >> Molly Jacobson: Hello, friend. Today on Dog Cancer Answers we’re celebrating the tail end of the holiday season and welcoming the new year. And so we wanna be sure that you and your dog are taking time at this time of year to do lots of quality of life and emotional wellbeing exercises, because those really do play a role in health and wellbeing, both for dogs and for humans.
They help with a high functioning, strong immune system, they help with healing from injury and from disease, so, of course, our dogs with cancer are in need of emotional wellbeing and life quality treats. So joining me today to talk about this and generate some ideas that maybe you can even do today is Kate Basedow, our associate producer.
Kate is a licensed veterinary technician in the state of New York, and the daughter of a mom who grew up on a farm and knows all about the animals.
[00:01:24] >> Kate Basedow: And is a veterinarian.
[00:01:25] >> Molly Jacobson: Yes. Your mother is a veterinarian. Did I not say that? Ugh. Yes. I always have to remember. It’s important ’cause you grew up at your mom’s side, I imagine, doing lots of things.
[00:01:38] >> Kate Basedow: Oh yeah. Doing – de-worming sheep in the barn, and catching ducks with various wounds, and putting staples in one of my dogs on the kitchen floor.
[00:01:48] >> Molly Jacobson: There you go.
[00:01:49] >> Kate Basedow: Yeah.
[00:01:49] >> Molly Jacobson: You know, just normal childhood.
[00:01:51] >> Kate Basedow: Normal things that everyone does. Yeah.
[00:01:53] >> Molly Jacobson: Normal around the house chores.
[00:01:55] >> Kate Basedow: Exactly.
[00:01:58] >> Molly Jacobson: But we aren’t gonna be talking about any kind of medical procedure today. We’re talking about fun things to do with your dog that both of you will enjoy. And you have a lot of points you wanna talk about on your list of ways to de-stress.
[00:02:12] >> Kate Basedow: Oh yeah. Because reducing stress is something easy that we can do right at home to help our dogs have better lives, whether they have cancer or not. I know one of the most basic things that I love doing with my dogs and that they also love is just going for a walk. We have our daily walk routine, both to get us some exercise, get me out of the house, and stretch our legs a bit. And whether it’s taking our usual patrol down the street and back, or going to one of the neighborhood parks to walk along a hiking path, they love getting out and about.
As soon as I pick up the leashes, everyone’s screaming and jumping around, and you wouldn’t believe that any of them had had any obedience training. But they’re all so excited. Pick me! Pick me! And we go for our pack walk.
[00:03:02] >> Molly Jacobson: Aww.
[00:03:03] >> Kate Basedow: And then also, usually once a week I try to take one of them on a private walk.
[00:03:09] >> Molly Jacobson: Oh.
[00:03:09] >> Kate Basedow: So that it’s just them and a little extra special.
[00:03:12] >> Molly Jacobson: Oh.
[00:03:13] >> Kate Basedow: Just mommy and me time.
[00:03:14] >> Molly Jacobson: Mommy and me time for your dogs. That’s genius. So if our listeners have more than one dog, that’s something to keep in mind that it might be fun for them to just go by themselves with Mom. That might be really special. Or Dad.
[00:03:28] >> Kate Basedow: Yep.
[00:03:29] >> Molly Jacobson: Right?
That’s cool. Yeah. Walking is critical, right? We know this in general as dog lovers, that dogs like to walk, they like to walk with each other and with you. It makes them feel like they’re part of the pack and like you are all part of the same family. It stimulates their brain and their nervous system. Obviously it does all of the things it does for us as well to strengthen and limber up and get the heart pumping and all of those really good things.
There’s so much, so much science – we should put a lot of links about what walking does for the human and for the dog in our show notes, because walking may be the very best exercise that anybody in either species could do.
[00:04:19] >> Kate Basedow: And especially because a lot of our dogs with cancer are older dogs, and both because of their illness and because of their age, starting to have trouble maintaining muscle mass – building muscle mass is more difficult, but you don’t want them doing really intense things like running hard after a ball or going for runs on asphalt, jumping off things like a crazy dog. So walks are a great way to keep their body moving and use their muscles to help maintain muscle mass without putting unnecessary stress on their joints.
[00:04:55] >> Molly Jacobson: Right. Because walking is a natural activity that doesn’t require, it’s not stressful for any of their joints.
[00:05:00] >> Kate Basedow: Low impact.
[00:05:01] >> Molly Jacobson: Yeah. And I know you do a lot of rehab therapy in the clinic, so do you have any tips for people who might have a mobility challenged dog? Maybe a dog who’s slowing down or doesn’t want to go for a walk as long or as often. What do you have to say?
[00:05:17] >> Kate Basedow: If they’re having trouble with duration of walks, ideally you don’t want to exercise them to fatigue, or at least you don’t want them to be sore afterward.
[00:05:27] >> Molly Jacobson: Okay.
[00:05:27] >> Kate Basedow: Tired at the end of the walk, not a problem. But if they’re sore the next day, you overdid it. So for some of these guys, it might need to be even just a five minute walk, but do it three or four times a day so that they’re moving more throughout the day, but at one given stretch, they’re only doing five minutes of that exercise. And then build up gradually.
And especially for dogs with orthopedic injuries or who have gone through a surgery, usually the veterinarian will give rough outline of how long they should be walking each week in the recovery process. But for general wellness and exercise, kind of eyeball it by your dog’s condition and what they’re used to, what they can tolerate.
[00:06:16] >> Molly Jacobson: When my dogs were geriatric towards the end of their life, they both had some, they both played too hard as puppies, I’m now understanding. I really should not have let them play so hard.
[00:06:27] >> Kate Basedow: Don’t they all?
[00:06:27] >> Molly Jacobson: Yeah. And they played on the beach and they, you know, like chased and stopped hard. I just can remember both of them like skidding lots of sand a lot. They thought that was really fun. But I think, you know, we all saw the effects later in life when they got arthritis in their shoulders and in their elbows and their knees.
[00:06:47] >> Kate Basedow: At least being on sand is a soft surface with some give.
[00:06:51] >> Molly Jacobson: Yes.
[00:06:51] >> Kate Basedow: Like grass, dirt, sand, those are all much better than – like jogging with your dog is a wonderful thing to do, but you really don’t wanna be jogging with a young dog on asphalt or cement ’cause those growing joints getting that repetitive pressure and impact can do a lot of damage.
[00:07:11] >> Molly Jacobson: Right. So that’s something I think, you know, I always make lists of things I’ll do better with my next dog, and I know that that’s gonna be something I take more seriously, to both reduce impact at younger ages so they don’t build in problems that might surface later, and also to really take advantage of rehab because you guys can do a lot now.
[00:07:33] >> Kate Basedow: Oh yeah.
[00:07:33] >> Molly Jacobson: So if you are thinking, oh, I don’t know if I can take my dog for a walk, maybe check in with your vet, see if they do any rehab services because they might be able to actually help your dog in really low impact ways at the clinic, regain some of that mobility. Which is joyful for them.
[00:07:50] >> Kate Basedow: Yeah, and even if you don’t have a rehab facility close enough that would be convenient to go regularly, it’s worth it to do even a single consult with a rehab practitioner so that you can get a plan for your dog. Figure out what the issue is, which muscles are the problem, if there’s actually an injury or a disease process that needs to be treated specifically to resolve the mobility issue or if it’s just a conditioning problem, and then they can give you an outline of what steps to do to work on it at home.
[00:08:26] >> Molly Jacobson: Yep, that makes sense.
[00:08:27] >> Kate Basedow: And it can be really useful, even just for peace of mind it’s nice to have someone look your dog over, say, okay, it’s just some soft tissue strain or something, and patience and time and building it back up will be fine.
[00:08:42] >> Molly Jacobson: Wonderful. So I know we have a long list. So what’s next?
[00:08:46] >> Kate Basedow: So another one that I love to do with my dogs is giving them new toys.
[00:08:51] >> Molly Jacobson: Oh. In my next life I wanna come back as your dog.
[00:08:54] >> Kate Basedow: Every couple months we get a new toy. Oh, they’re very spoiled. Actually, not at all, they say. They say, we get exactly what we deserve, which is everything. But new toys is – if you have a dog that likes toys, of course – is just a great way to do something fun and so many – like my dogs love, they know when I’m ripping that tag off and then hand them the new one, it’s like, oh, it’s new and clean, and now we can destroy it.
And usually, I’ve figured out if a toy survives the first five to 10 minutes, it’s probably good for a little while, but a lot of toys don’t survive that first five to 10 minutes. But ripping out the squeaker is half the fun.
[00:09:35] >> Molly Jacobson: Yeah, well that’s the point, right? Disemboweling that little animal.
[00:09:40] >> Kate Basedow: Exactly.
[00:09:41] >> Molly Jacobson: Dominating it.
[00:09:42] >> Kate Basedow: Pretending they’re a wolf on the prairie or in the tundra.
[00:09:46] >> Molly Jacobson: So do you stock up on toys when you see them? Do you like buy them year round and then have like a closet in your house where you hide them?
[00:09:55] >> Kate Basedow: I actually don’t buy toys a whole lot. Luckily, I compete with my dogs in a lot of different dog sports and shows, and so we win a lot of toys as prizes.
[00:10:03] >> Molly Jacobson: Oh.
[00:10:04] >> Kate Basedow: And then parcel them out. And my mom also spoils my dogs and buys toys for them all the time. So we’ve got quite a stash.
[00:10:12] >> Molly Jacobson: Okay. So this is sort of an all year round thing.
[00:10:15] >> Kate Basedow: Yeah. Not just for Christmas. New toys are for any time.
[00:10:18] >> Molly Jacobson: Oh, that’s really nice. That’s very nice. One of my favorite things to do, and this is something that I really trained my dogs with, was eye gazing. When they were puppies, I made sure that they felt really good looking at my face by like giving them lots of scratches around the ear and just giving like little massage around their neck muscles while I happened to be looking at them.
And, um, at first they weren’t always comfortable looking at my eyes, but then after a while they really, really would just watch me and enjoy it. And there’s a lot of evidence lately that they’re experiencing a surge in oxytocin, which is the cuddle hormone that makes us feel good.
[00:10:57] >> Kate Basedow: Yeah.
[00:10:58] >> Molly Jacobson: And close to our loved ones. It’s the hormone that moms experience and babies experience when they first cuddle each other right after birth. It’s a bonding hormone. And so it blows my mind that dogs have that same surge of oxytocin when they look into our eyes as we do when we look into each other’s eyes. And obviously I’m feeling oxytocin when I look into my dog’s eyes. So that’s something I really like to do. Do you eye gaze with your dogs?
[00:11:26] >> Kate Basedow: Oh yeah. And I have herding dogs, so they naturally seek out eye contact, but they also all like having their ears rubbed and so frequently we’ll have – I call it little chats, and I’ll be holding one of their heads and rubbing both ears talking to them.
[00:11:45] >> Molly Jacobson: Oh, I’ve seen you do that.
[00:11:46] >> Kate Basedow: Saying ridiculous baby talk things.
[00:11:47] >> Molly Jacobson: You
[00:11:48] >> Kate Basedow: do
[00:11:48] >> Molly Jacobson: that even like in the middle, like when we’re having a meeting, if the dog comes up, you will just like kind of-
[00:11:52] >> Kate Basedow: Oh yeah, yep.
[00:11:53] >> Molly Jacobson: Have a little chat with them, right, right there.
[00:11:55] >> Kate Basedow: Yeah. If one of the girls comes up to say hi during a meeting, usually saying like, okay, you’ve been talking for an hour, so.
[00:12:00] >> Molly Jacobson: Right. Pay attention to me.
[00:12:02] >> Kate Basedow: Time to hang out with the dogs again.
[00:12:03] >> Molly Jacobson: Right. Quality of life for me.
[00:12:05] >> Kate Basedow: Yes. Yeah. Especially if we get close to dinner time, then things, then even the cat gets in on it and – she’s not as big on ear rubs as the dogs are, though. The dogs really like it. It’s one of the few ways to get my teenage puppy to calm down is a nice ear rub and calm talking.
[00:12:24] >> Molly Jacobson: And eye gazing. Yeah. So I would imagine a lot of our listeners probably know what we’re talking about already, but if they don’t, is there a way to, other than just really focusing on, sort of, giving them lots of cuddles and love as you’re around your head or pets. Here’s what, I guess my question is, Kate, do dogs ever find eye gazing intimidating, or is there anything we need to think about that way?
[00:12:52] >> Kate Basedow: Some dogs can, and certainly watch your dog’s body language. If your dog isn’t comfortable with either you yet or your situation, they may feel that direct eye contact is a little too forceful. Most of our dogs, especially if we’re at the point where they’re dealing with a health problem, for most of us, that means we’ve had the dog for a little while and we’ve already built up a relationship of trust and interactions.
But certainly if you find that when you’re making direct eye contact with your dog, she seems really tense or keeps trying to avoid making eye contact – ’cause a common submission behavior is to lower your eyes and avert your gaze, so if your dog is doing that, it may mean that she’s uncomfortable with it.
[00:13:43] >> Molly Jacobson: Okay, so she’s lowering her eyes and looking away, it might mean that she’s uncomfortable, feeling a little bit unsure at that moment. And-
[00:13:52] >> Kate Basedow: Yeah.
[00:13:53] >> Molly Jacobson: You can just drop it. We don’t need to like force our dogs to feel good if they’re not feeling good, right?
[00:13:57] >> Kate Basedow: No.
[00:13:57] >> Molly Jacobson: Like we’re not, this is not about.
[00:13:58] >> Kate Basedow: And everyone has preferences. So, like I said, herding dogs are very drawn to eye contact. And they want to be communicating with you ideally all of the time. But some dogs don’t do that naturally. And it’s okay if your dog prefers different things. They all have individual personalities and preferences just like us.
[00:14:19] >> Molly Jacobson: That’s right.
[00:14:20] >> Kate Basedow: And for improving quality of life it’s all about finding what works for your dog and makes your dog happy.
[00:14:26] >> Molly Jacobson: Right. What makes your dog happy might be very different than what would make any other dog happy. So that’s important, right?
[00:14:34] >> Kate Basedow: And certainly thinking about that brings me to another thing that I do with some of my dogs as a bonding activity, which is grooming.
[00:14:41] >> Molly Jacobson: Oh.
[00:14:42] >> Kate Basedow: My previous dog that I lost last year loved to be groomed. She was a diva and she had a gorgeous coat and she knew she was gorgeous and just loved the whole ritual to the point where at shows, people would stop to watch me brush her because she was enjoying it so much. My 10 year old dog right now also likes grooming, not so much for the actual grooming part, but because my attention is totally focused on her. And she just relaxes, usually we do it in the living room on the floor, watching tv, and she’ll just stretch right out and I brush her whole body and then have her flip over and brush the next side. And it’s a really nice relaxing thing for her. Now the teenage puppy, not so much. For her, grooming is still very much a rodeo. She’s like a furry eel in a dog suit. And so it’s not particularly relaxing for her. And I’m not totally sure how my Corgi feels about grooming. He doesn’t mind it, but he doesn’t love it either.
So for him, I definitely – with all of my dogs, they get treats throughout grooming and afterward to make it a positive experience, but for some dogs, grooming every day, they would be just thrilled.
[00:16:02] >> Molly Jacobson: That’s true.
[00:16:03] >> Kate Basedow: And for other dogs, just stick with maintenance grooming that you need to do, and otherwise leave them alone.
[00:16:09] >> Molly Jacobson: Yeah. Our listeners probably already have an idea of what their dog’s preferences for grooming is, but.
[00:16:14] >> Kate Basedow: Yeah. And the grooming tool can make a difference too. My favorite tool for grooming my dogs is a metal greyhound comb. It works great for detangling and removing dead hair. If I could only have one grooming tool, that’s the one I would have clutched in my hand on my desert island.
Um, but, the metal tines can be a little harsher on the skin, especially for senior dogs. And for my senior dog, I ended up switching to a wooden bristle brush. And it meant that grooming took a bit longer because I couldn’t get through knots quite as fast, had to really take my time, but the wooden bristles are a little bit wider and rounder on the ends, so they’re a lot gentler on senior skin.
So either if you have an older dog that is new to you and not really loving grooming and you’re wondering if maybe it’s the type of brush you’re using, or if you have an older dog that used to love grooming and now is getting kind of antsy and not enjoying it as much, definitely try a pin brush with wooden bristles ’cause it’s a lot gentler on the skin and can make a huge difference.
[00:17:26] >> Molly Jacobson: That makes a lot of sense. There’s a really small, little, it’s actually made of silicone, brush that I used to use on my Maltese when they were seniors, ’cause they didn’t like the heavier brushes that I had been using. But they didn’t mind at all this little – it had like lots of little fingers, I can’t remember the name of it.
But it just sort of smoothed out their coat and it didn’t irritate their skin and I could gently detangle things. And then I ended up detangling a lot of, like if there was a mat, I would just do it with my fingers after a certain point, because they would feel that was just me like playing with their ear, right? But I would just glop on a lot of leave-in conditioner on my hands and then detangle – a pet leave-in – and then just take that and work it into the mat and just untangle it with my fingers. It was meditative in a way.
[00:18:19] >> Kate Basedow: Yeah. And for people with short-haired dogs, they really have it good. You can pick up one of those rubber hound gloves.
[00:18:26] >> Molly Jacobson: Yeah.
[00:18:26] >> Kate Basedow: With the nubs, like you’re saying.
[00:18:28] >> Molly Jacobson: Yeah.
[00:18:28] >> Kate Basedow: And you wear it like a glove and just rub and pet your dog and it-
[00:18:31] >> Molly Jacobson: Yep.
[00:18:32] >> Kate Basedow: -loosens up the hair, feels like a massage to them. My dogs have too much hair for that.
[00:18:37] >> Molly Jacobson: Right. Yeah. Tervuren are not-
[00:18:39] >> Kate Basedow: We need something a little more high powered to get through.
[00:18:41] >> Molly Jacobson: Yeah. You need to get through all that coat.
[00:18:42] >> Kate Basedow: Double coat.
[00:18:43] >> Molly Jacobson: Yeah. So let’s talk about, I would be remiss, as my husband wrote the book, How to Meditate with Your Dog, I have to talk about dog meditation.
[00:18:54] >> Kate Basedow: You definitely do.
[00:18:56] >> Molly Jacobson: Yes. So when I first met Jim a long time ago, I thought it was a cute idea to get people to meditate with their dogs, right? I thought that’s cute. Then we met a couple who had a dog, and this dog was deeply loved by both of them, but let’s just say dad fed the dog, walked the dog, changed the dog’s water, took the dog to the vet, groomed the dog, bathed the dog, played with the dog, trained the dog, trained the dog in all the tricks, right? Like a very talented dog.
Spends a lot of time with dad. The dog preferred mom. She never revealed, as far as I know, I’m leaving names out, I don’t think she ever revealed why dog preferred mom. She claims it’s because she meditated every morning.
She read Jim’s book and she would wake up first and she would call the dog over, and she would do exactly as Jim says, put her hand on the heart and on the back, like on the, just resting gently on the back of the neck or the back, wherever’s comfortable for the dog, sometimes down at the tail, and just spend some time meditating. And the dog’s breathing would start to sync up with hers, which is something I’ve seen happen over and over again.
And dog would just relax and enjoy, and forever after, like mom was the one dog wanted to spend a lot of time with. And so I’m not saying that meditation is more important than feeding your dog, but it might be something that helps, especially with dogs with anxiety. It does not take long, you don’t have to, it’s not hours. Five minutes, one minute, 30 seconds. Just really focusing on calming yourself down and being with your dog.
[00:20:48] >> Kate Basedow: Yeah, that’s what I was gonna say. It calms us too.
[00:20:51] >> Molly Jacobson: Yes.
[00:20:51] >> Kate Basedow: Which our dogs absolutely notice. And especially when our dogs are sick, we’re stressed, we’re worried about them, we’re trying to remember which pills they get when, and did she get her pill today, what if she throws it up?
[00:21:02] >> Molly Jacobson: Yep.
[00:21:03] >> Kate Basedow: We get so amped up with all the details. Taking that time to meditate calms us down. And by calming us, we let the dog relax too.
[00:21:13] >> Molly Jacobson: Yep. There’s a, um, a section in Dr. Dressler’s book, The Dog Cancer Survival Guide, where he talks about how just taking three deep breaths, same amount of time spent breathing in as breathing out, just three deep breaths can start to reset your central nervous system so it’s out of fight and flight and starts to get into rest and digest.
If you are in rest and digest, you can think clearly and you can learn things. If you’re in fight or flight, you have a tunnel vision and you’re just like, I have to figure this thing out and go. So it’s a really, really, I think that might be my actual biggest tip, is breathe. For life quality, right? Calm yourself down. There’s a lot of articles lately, there’s been a lot of studies about the vagal nerve, which is the largest nerve in the body that travels back up to the head and basically says everything’s fine in the internal organs. And the brain then goes, okay, great, so we’re gonna, we’re gonna start to relax. We’re gonna start to digest. If everything’s fine and there’s not too much commotion in the outside world, we’re gonna just sit here and clean up the body and digest the food and enjoy ourselves for a little while.
So when you stimulate that vagus nerve, then you can get this really deep relaxation response. Sometimes when you’re in the middle of a busy day, it just means that you don’t feel as panicked.
[00:22:35] >> Kate Basedow: Yeah.
[00:22:36] >> Molly Jacobson: At least for me.
[00:22:37] >> Kate Basedow: Taking that moment to just ground yourself.
[00:22:39] >> Molly Jacobson: Yeah.
[00:22:39] >> Kate Basedow: Remember, okay.
[00:22:40] >> Molly Jacobson: Everything’s okay.
[00:22:42] >> Kate Basedow: One step at a time.
[00:22:43] >> Molly Jacobson: Yeah. And breathing stimulates it. It’s really quite simple. One minute of breathing at a constant rate, which means four seconds in, four seconds out, six seconds in, six seconds out, it doesn’t matter how long, as long as you’re breathing at the same rate in and out. So if we do that and think of that as one of the benefits of meditation-
[00:23:05] >> Kate Basedow: Oh yeah.
[00:23:05] >> Molly Jacobson: -because it certainly is. Most meditation practitioners will say, Evenly breathe in and out. That’s, this is why, it calms us down. Our dogs like us when we’re calm. Not that they don’t like us when we’re not calm, but when we’re calm, they feel calm.
[00:23:21] >> Kate Basedow: Yeah. And we want them to be as calm as possible because stress causes the body to release the hormone cortisol, which is a stress molecule, and having too much cortisol in the body interferes with immune system function and healing.
[00:23:37] >> Molly Jacobson: Absolutely.
[00:23:38] >> Kate Basedow: Which obviously with our dogs with cancer, we want that immune system functioning as well as it can.
[00:23:44] >> Molly Jacobson: Right.
[00:23:45] >> Kate Basedow: And we want the body to be able to heal, either from the disease itself or from, if the dog has undergone surgery or something else.
[00:23:53] >> Molly Jacobson: Yeah. Yeah. So meditation’s big for me. What else do we wanna talk about?
[00:23:59] >> Kate Basedow: I love Dr. Dressler’s concept of cheat days.
[00:24:02] >> Molly Jacobson: Me too.
[00:24:04] >> Kate Basedow: ‘Cause so many people with dogs either with cancer or other serious health problems adjust their diet to find the optimum nutrition to support their dog’s body for whatever they’re going through.
[00:24:18] >> Molly Jacobson: Right.
[00:24:18] >> Kate Basedow: And it can be stressful. Some dogs will eat everything that you put down in front of them. Other dogs are a lot pickier.
[00:24:24] >> Molly Jacobson: Right.
[00:24:25] >> Kate Basedow: And getting them switched over to a prescription diet or a specific home cooked diet can be a challenge. And sometimes that can create stress in and of itself. And so I love the concept of just taking a day every now and then and saying, you know what, we’re gonna have a cheat day. If the dog wants to eat five Milk Bones, that’s what we’re eating today. We’re cool. We’re gonna have some peanut butter. And as long as your dog’s not eating something that’s harmful.
[00:24:52] >> Molly Jacobson: Right. Toxic. Right.
[00:24:54] >> Kate Basedow: Yeah. Nothing toxic.
[00:24:55] >> Molly Jacobson: Right.
[00:24:55] >> Kate Basedow: But you can have a cheat day and just eat that cheeseburger from McDonald’s and everything’s gonna be okay. And it’s worth it to have that day of skipping the diet or going off whatever they’re supposed to be eating because it’s kind like getting a new toy. It’s an extra tasty treat, they get excited about it, and it just helps everyone relax and enjoy themselves a little bit.
[00:25:21] >> Molly Jacobson: Yes. And in my experience, the farther along you are and the closer may – as you start to have that creeping feeling of maybe I don’t have as many days left with my dog, the cheat days might get a little bit more frequent. That’s just my sense.
[00:25:38] >> Kate Basedow: Oh yeah. My girl’s last week, last year, we had a whole buffet of things that we would offer her throughout the day.
[00:25:46] >> Molly Jacobson: And it’s a pleasure.
[00:25:47] >> Kate Basedow: Oh yeah. We had steak. I think my husband made up grits for her.
[00:25:52] >> Molly Jacobson: Oh yeah.
[00:25:53] >> Kate Basedow: We had ricotta cheese, other cheeses, a whole variety of different dog treats and canned foods. We had cat food. Anything we could come up with that the grocery store had to offer. If she wanted to eat it, it was hers.
[00:26:09] >> Molly Jacobson: Yep. One of my dogs really liked, Roo really liked crispy textures. So, yeah, we just noticed that she liked that crack, crack, crack, crack, crack, when she like, she clearly got a lot more pleasure. She would like just, look so happy when she was eating crispy and crunchy things.
[00:26:25] >> Kate Basedow: My mom has a dog named Babe who loves watermelon. And watching her eat, I really should video her eating should watermelon sometime, because she just so clearly savors every chomp into her piece of watermelon.
[00:26:40] >> Molly Jacobson: Yeah.
[00:26:40] >> Kate Basedow: It’s wonderful.
[00:26:41] >> Molly Jacobson: Again, they’re individuals, right? They all have different tastes. So this can be a fun way, a cheat day is a fun way to learn a little bit more about your dog. Like, oh, do you like this? Try this. Do you like that? Try that. And you might find that they like something that you would never have considered.
[00:26:58] >> Kate Basedow: Oh yeah. I had a dog previously who loved clementines.
[00:27:01] >> Molly Jacobson: Wow. Didn’t mind that sharp, citrusy.
[00:27:06] >> Kate Basedow: Nope. She loved it. Now her daughter will not eat, won’t eat pretty much any fruit.
[00:27:12] >> Molly Jacobson: Right, right.
[00:27:14] >> Kate Basedow: She’s a meat and carbs girl.
[00:27:15] >> Molly Jacobson: Yeah. Yeah. They’re all very different. So, cheat days. That is one of my favorites as well. Another one of my favorites is, okay, so there’s two exercises that Dr. Dressler has in Chapter Two that I think should be done – this is my opinion, and it’s not a medical opinion – if you have a dog with cancer, this is one of the first things you should do. You should do the life story and the gratitude, the, I think he calls it like a pledge of gratitude or a rush of gratitude or something like that. These two exercises ground you to the love that you share with your dog, remind you of all of the good times you’ve had together and all of the gifts that you’ve given each other. They do it relatively quickly, but thoroughly, and it helps so much to just reground to that relationship for yourself to calm down, think clearly, and then check in with yourself.
I think these should be done throughout cancer treatments and definitely right at the end of life like, if you can do it on the last day, I highly recommend it. They give you a feeling of, I’ve said everything that I need to be said. Humans need to communicate, and dogs really do pick up, I mean, I’ve done this now with so many dogs, including dogs that aren’t mine, where I did like a, a pledge of gratitude for like the little dog who lives down the street.
When I was just petting her the other night, I was like, Maisie, I love how cuddly you are, and you’re always just barreling towards me ready for pets, and I love that you turn over on your back and so I can give you a belly rub. And she looked up at me. She knew I was talking to her. I don’t know if she knew the content, and I’m not saying she speaks English, but she could tell that I was paying specific attention to her.
So that’s the pledge of gratitude. Where you just list, like tell them all of the things, and until you can’t think of a single other thing. Like it can take me 10 minutes to say thank you to each of my dogs for all of the things they do for me and with me. And the other one is the life story, which is where you start from the very, very beginning of their life, and you just tell them the story of their life.
I saw you for the first time, you were in the shelter and you were with that big dog, do you remember the big brown dog? Right? Literally tell them the whole story, all of the details, almost as if you were giving it to a reporter, or a biographer. You know, make sure, give them the details. I have seen, when Jim did this with his dog Maui, was his heart dog, right before she passed – I have a video of it. Neither one of us have ever had the heart to watch, but I know that someday we’ll want to, because it’s an hour and a half. She was 15, they’d done a lot together.
[00:30:12] >> Kate Basedow: That’s a long life.
[00:30:12] >> Molly Jacobson: A long life. And I don’t know if I’ve ever been more moved than watching her hold his gaze for an hour and a half and smile while he told her the story of her life. It’s something else. It’s a beautiful thing to do. It’s good for your own heart, you know you feel so much-
[00:30:33] >> Kate Basedow: Oh yeah.
[00:30:33] >> Molly Jacobson: -so much more connected and, and centered in that love. That’s what they offer us.
[00:30:39] >> Kate Basedow: It gives you a chance to revisit all the moments from their story, both the ones that were wonderful at the time and now, and the moments where at the time you might have wanted to kill your dog.
[00:30:50] >> Molly Jacobson: That’s right. Yes.
[00:30:51] >> Kate Basedow: But now it’s funny.
[00:30:52] >> Molly Jacobson: But now it’s funny. Or the moments when they were in, you know, something terrible happened to them and they were really injured.
[00:30:58] >> Kate Basedow: Yeah.
[00:30:58] >> Molly Jacobson: But you helped them and they got better. And I really think that dogs, whatever they understand, and there’s some evidence that dogs do understand us maybe a little bit more than we ever thought, whatever the nature of that understanding is, it’s no doubt that they understand that you’re speaking to them and that you’re speaking about them, and that they are absorbing all of the good feelings that you’re sending out. So those are my two very, very favorite exercises and, um, I think they could be done anytime including before a dog gets sick.
I think those are great, it’s great life quality exercises at any time of life, at any stage of life. They’re my favorites.
[00:31:42] >> Kate Basedow: For sure.
[00:31:44] >> Molly Jacobson: I mean after meditation, ’cause of course meditation’s my favorite.
[00:31:49] >> Kate Basedow: They kind of go together though, so.
[00:31:50] >> Molly Jacobson: They do. Yes.
[00:31:51] >> Kate Basedow: It all fits.
[00:31:52] >> Molly Jacobson: Yeah.
[00:31:52] >> Kate Basedow: Interweaves.
[00:31:53] >> Molly Jacobson: Yes.
We’re going to take a short break to listen to words from our generous sponsors, and we’ll be back with more ways to improve your dog’s quality of life in just a minute.
We’re back with Kate Basedow talking about quality of life. So what are some of your other ideas?
[00:32:12] >> Kate Basedow: My dogs and I also really enjoy training, working together.
[00:32:16] >> Molly Jacobson: Hmm. You do a lot of that.
[00:32:17] >> Kate Basedow: Yeah, and since I do compete in a variety of sports, we train for specific things and with specific goals in mind, but we also just do fun stuff, like silly tricks or teaching random things that I have no serious plan for, but just we’re experimenting. Like my puppy from eight weeks old offered when she would lay down, she puts her chin on the ground.
[00:32:42] >> Molly Jacobson: Oh.
[00:32:42] >> Kate Basedow: And it’s super cute. And so I put that on command and we’ve been working on it as that’s just one of her fun tricks that she does. And absolutely old dogs can learn new tricks. That is a complete myth, yes, old dogs can learn new tricks. And they love it. They like to learn new things. I really like clicker training, especially for tricks and fun stuff, ’cause it puts your dog kind of in the driver’s seat.
And for anyone who’s not familiar with clicker training, it’s kind of like playing the game hot or cold and your dog guesses what you want them to do. And an easy way to start it is by just putting a novel item on the ground, like a large bowl upside down. And at first, if your dog looks toward the bowl, click and treat and reward for that. And then wait till your dog steps closer to the bowl to click or treat. And when they’re doing that reliably, wait till they touch the bowl. And you can gradually work up to them putting either one paw on the bowl, or two like a circus elephant – you can create all kinds of things. And once the dog learns the game, it’s amazing how creative they can be. All of my dogs have been crazy about the clicker, and when I get the clicker out, I have to lock up everyone who it’s not their turn, including the cat. The cat wants in on it too.
[00:34:06] >> Molly Jacobson: Really?
[00:34:06] >> Kate Basedow: Everybody loves clicker.
[00:34:08] >> Molly Jacobson: You can click train a cat?
[00:34:09] >> Kate Basedow: She’s been learning high five.
[00:34:11] >> Molly Jacobson: All right.
[00:34:12] >> Kate Basedow: Yep. And she loves it. So she has to be locked up so she doesn’t steal the dog’s treats either. But my previous dog, Queezle, as soon as I got the clicker out, she would start looking around the room for any item that was interesting.
[00:34:27] >> Molly Jacobson: Oh.
[00:34:28] >> Kate Basedow: And would start doing different things. Like I was trying to teach her how to push open a door on command and had gone into the bathroom to do that, and I had never seriously thought about how many unique items and surfaces there are in the bathroom until I had her and a clicker in there. And she’s whacking the scale and doing a nose touch to the cabinet drawers and trying to grab the, um, sponge out of the tub. It was like, okay, there’s a lot that a dog can do creatively in a bathroom. And they just have so much fun with it.
[00:35:02] >> Molly Jacobson: It almost sounds like when you start a new video game, for the people who play video games, and you don’t really know how this game works, and so you just kind of randomly like, well, what happens if I go over there?
[00:35:13] >> Kate Basedow: Yeah.
[00:35:13] >> Molly Jacobson: Is that what it’s like for dogs? It’s literally like a real live action, like a LARP.
[00:35:18] >> Kate Basedow: Yeah, exactly.
Like they’re saying, all right, what do I need to do to make you give me cookies?
[00:35:22] >> Molly Jacobson: That’s cool, Kate.
[00:35:24] >> Kate Basedow: Yeah.
[00:35:25] >> Molly Jacobson: That’s so awesome. Okay. I will clicker train my next dog. I, I’m committing.
[00:35:30] >> Kate Basedow: Yeah, it’s a lot of fun and I use it for some serious obedience and other competition things too, but tricks are definitely my favorite place to use it, and it’s a nice way to just have fun, see what they offer, and roll with it. And you can change up the training for whatever your dog’s current physical ability is.
[00:35:50] >> Molly Jacobson: Right. Well, that’s what I like about that idea that you, um, you might have one idea, I’m gonna put this bowl in the middle of the living room and I want the dog to put two paws on the top of it, and you can train towards that. But maybe they do something funny or interesting along the way, and then you say, oh, I’m gonna train for that instead, that’s cool.
[00:36:09] >> Kate Basedow: Yeah.
[00:36:09] >> Molly Jacobson: That’s fun.
[00:36:10] >> Kate Basedow: But maybe they’ll pick up the bowl or they’ll put their toy in the bowl.
[00:36:13] >> Molly Jacobson: Yeah. Maybe they’ll do something you didn’t know they could do. Oh, this is very exciting.
I love that idea. Let’s talk about hide and seek games. Those are so fun.
[00:36:23] >> Kate Basedow: Yeah. One of the best things about hide and seek is you can do it in a thousand different ways. If your dog really likes food, you can hide treats throughout the house for them to search for like a scavenger hunt. Um, if they have a favorite toy, you can hide their toy. Or if they have a favorite person, you can hide yourself and then either call the dog or have a family member hold your dog and then release the dog after you’ve gone to hide and do it that way.
It’s just another way to get their brains working and also to use their nose. ‘Cause usually even as their vision’s going a little bit and their hearing, the nose always works. And they can sniff no matter what and it’s such a natural, instinctive behavior for them that they love sniffing and they do it, it’s easy for them. They see the world through their nose.
[00:37:14] >> Molly Jacobson: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I love that. So a hide and seek game, I think of it as I’m looking for someone, but they might be sniffing for someone. Or sniffing for something fun.
[00:37:24] >> Kate Basedow: Yeah.
[00:37:25] >> Molly Jacobson: Wonderful.
[00:37:25] >> Kate Basedow: Would Kanga have wanted to search for food, toys, or you?
[00:37:29] >> Molly Jacobson: Oh, she would’ve wanted to search for me. And we-
[00:37:32] >> Kate Basedow: I had a feeling.
[00:37:33] >> Molly Jacobson: Yeah. And we had hide and seek games that weren’t quite hide and seek so much as just, okay, go find daddy. Go find mommy. And so there would be a little, you know, a presence in the room behind me that, you know, I was like, someone’s in the room with me, turn around, oh, there she is. Little eight pound dog staring at me like, dad wants you.
I always knew what she meant. It was really, yeah. And, and the same, I could send her downstairs to Jim’s office. I could say, go find daddy, and she’d go in.
[00:38:08] >> Kate Basedow: I love that.
[00:38:09] >> Molly Jacobson: Yeah. So we weren’t really hiding and seeking. They usually knew where we were. But it was more like, um, like you would tell a toddler.
[00:38:17] >> Kate Basedow: Yeah.
[00:38:19] >> Molly Jacobson: Go tell your father it’s time for dinner.
[00:38:23] >> Kate Basedow: Keeps everyone busy.
[00:38:25] >> Molly Jacobson: Yes, exactly. And that’s the thing that I think is important to remember is that, you know, keeping busy is important, right? When we’re – not too busy, not overworking, but an active brain is protecting itself from all sorts of things, and it’s, our brains like to be used. Dogs’ brains like to be used. Our hands and feet have tons of nerves on them that feed our brain. So using hands and feet, which almost everything we’ve talked about today, use hands or feet or both and-
[00:38:59] >> Kate Basedow: Yeah.
[00:39:00] >> Molly Jacobson: -that really stimulates the brain. I mean, one of the reasons walking really helps to grow new neurons in the brain is because you’re literally just stimulating the brain, every time you put a foot down, there’s so many nerves in the bottoms of your feet that just go whoop and give information, the brain goes, okay, lots to do. And that’s good for our health. All of these things, we can look at them as fun, we can look at it as life quality, we can look at them as emotional wellbeing, but the reason they are all of those things is because you’re stimulating the brain.
A stimulated brain, a happy brain, is one that’s active rather than passive.
[00:39:37] >> Kate Basedow: Yeah. And boredom creates its own issues.
[00:39:41] >> Molly Jacobson: Yeah. In humans and in dogs. Yeah.
[00:39:44] >> Kate Basedow: Boredom can lead to stress and anxiety, destructive behaviors.
[00:39:49] >> Molly Jacobson: As a Gen-Xer, I can tell you that with a, a librarian mom, I can tell you that I was really lucky to live in a time when there was no such thing as like screens, and to get bored and have a mom who said, well, go find something to do. Because it stimulates the brain, to go find something to do. So if you’re feeling like you’re in a rut with your dog, find something to do.
[00:40:13] >> Kate Basedow: Yeah. And try something new. Go outside your comfort zone a little bit. I just bought a paddle board and next year I’m going to tackle paddle boarding with the dogs.
[00:40:24] >> Molly Jacobson: Very nice. And they’ll have fun.
[00:40:27] >> Kate Basedow: That’ll be another way to get us all outside and out on the water. And two of them like to swim, one does not. But he might like being on the paddle board.
[00:40:37] >> Molly Jacobson: He might.
[00:40:37] >> Kate Basedow: ‘Cause he can just float and hang out.
[00:40:39] >> Molly Jacobson: He might like being on the paddle board floating with you, and then if he gets tired, he can jump off and swim back to shore and it’s, there’s a goal involved. It’s not as big a deal.
[00:40:47] >> Kate Basedow: Uh, hopefully he won’t try to swim back to shore because he is a terrible swimmer.
[00:40:52] >> Molly Jacobson: Oh. Okay.
[00:40:52] >> Kate Basedow: He’s not – swimming’s a great activity to try, but if your dog is just naturally a terrible swimmer, it’s okay.
[00:41:00] >> Molly Jacobson: It’s okay. You do not need to keep going.
[00:41:02] >> Kate Basedow: Move on to the next activity.
[00:41:03] >> Molly Jacobson: Right. There’s lots of activities. Oh, I love it. And there’s all these, you know, like interesting things you can do with your dog. Scent classes, like I would love to have a dog trained to scent out illnesses just for my own wellbeing.
[00:41:19] >> Kate Basedow: Oh, yeah.
[00:41:19] >> Molly Jacobson: Right? We know that dogs can do that.
[00:41:22] >> Kate Basedow: Yeah.
[00:41:22] >> Molly Jacobson: So why not train them? And then if something ever happens for me, they’ll let me know. I can go to the doctor.
[00:41:27] >> Kate Basedow: Yeah. A great party trick that my mom used to do with one of her dogs was she had taught him to find something with her scent on it. And she would have a group of kids or people, whatever, if she was at a school group or a nursing home, put dollar bills on the floor, and then she would rub a $20 bill in her hands and have them put that in the pile too, and tell her dog to go find the most money. And he would go and indicate the $20 bill because it smelled like her hands. So that’s a fun game you can play.
[00:42:02] >> Molly Jacobson: That’s very fun. And all those kids went, oh my word.
[00:42:05] >> Kate Basedow: Oh yeah.
[00:42:06] >> Molly Jacobson: That dog knew.
[00:42:07] >> Kate Basedow: Because everyone thinks that the dog is reading the bills.
[00:42:10] >> Molly Jacobson: Right. Reading, knows that 20 is higher than one. That is hilarious. Your mom is a little bit of a trickster.
[00:42:18] >> Kate Basedow: And for simple scenting type games, you can do like the shell game or the cup game and have three cups upside down, one of ’em have a treat in it, and your dog has to sniff which one has the treat. It’s another way to work their noses, and then they get a cookie at the end.
[00:42:33] >> Molly Jacobson: I love it. Yeah, there’s so many, and agility, of course, is something else that if your dog’s able to do agility – and you wouldn’t wanna do this with a dog who’s got mobility issues or at the end of life necessarily.
[00:42:46] >> Kate Basedow: Doing it just casually for fun, you can modify it to their needs.
[00:42:50] >> Molly Jacobson: Okay.
[00:42:51] >> Kate Basedow: My dog Queezle was a competitive agility dog in her youth and adulthood, and, let’s see, like eight months before she died, we were at a big show that had kind of a feature thing for retired dogs at the end. And for her, we totally took the bars away from the jumps, some dogs they would just put the bars on the ground, and I just sent her through so she could go between the jump stanchions and she would go in the tunnels, and she was thrilled. She lit up, ’cause she was like – at first, she, I, I could see in her face, she’s like-
[00:43:24] >> Molly Jacobson: It’s all her glory days.
[00:43:26] >> Kate Basedow: Are we seriously doing agility with no real jumps? Like, this is embarrassing. But then as we kept going, she was like, okay, this is fun. You’re right.
[00:43:34] >> Molly Jacobson: Aw.
[00:43:35] >> Kate Basedow: But so you can modify it to make it easy for them. If you’re worried about your dog falling off a raised board, walking it like a little bridge, put the board on the ground and just have them walk across it that way. And tunnels dogs of all ages can do and enjoy. Start with them running through one straight and you can call ’em back and forth to the different people.
[00:43:57] >> Molly Jacobson: That sounds like fun.
[00:43:59] >> Kate Basedow: Or walking over couch cushions.
[00:44:01] >> Molly Jacobson: Uh-huh.
[00:44:01] >> Kate Basedow: You can create a little safe obstacle course for your dog to do, even if they’re a senior at home.
[00:44:07] >> Molly Jacobson: This is great. I think the last thing on your list is massage, which I appreciate you, including.
[00:44:14] >> Kate Basedow: Of course.
[00:44:16] >> Molly Jacobson: It’s very important. I used to be a massage therapist a long, long time ago. I do not live by all of the things I know, but I can tell you that dogs really love massage, and I wanna do a whole show on medical massage for dogs, Kate. So I hope.
[00:44:33] >> Kate Basedow: Oh yeah.
[00:44:34] >> Molly Jacobson: We can set that up.
[00:44:34] >> Kate Basedow: We absolutely should.
[00:44:35] >> Molly Jacobson: Yeah. Because there’s very, very simple things you can do for your dog that if you stay, in general, you wanna stay on anything that is a muscle, don’t poke around in joints, right? But when you’re on a muscle, if you use sort of the flat of your fingers with dogs, no pokies, but just the flat of your fingers, and I like to do, if you think about the way dogs massage themselves, they massage themselves with their tongues. And they massage each other with their tongues. So think about your hand as sort of like a dog’s tongue.
That motion, they kind of work the same area, they find a spot that they think needs help, and they, they go and they just give that little bit of pressure. They don’t want deep tissue massage, which is good because you can do damage with deep tissue massage if you don’t know what you’re doing.
[00:45:26] >> Kate Basedow: Yep. Keep it gentle.
[00:45:27] >> Molly Jacobson: So they just want that kind of gentle, little, soft, think of your hands, not as hard, but sort of cushions. Like think of your hands like a dog’s tongue and you’ll get the right pressure and you’ll get the right sort of motion. And the best places are always around the neck, shoulders.
[00:45:47] >> Kate Basedow: Yep. Go under their collar.
[00:45:49] >> Molly Jacobson: Especially under the collar. And your dog will know, like, they’ll like arch themselves a little bit, like, okay, keep there.
[00:45:56] >> Kate Basedow: Lean in.
[00:45:57] >> Molly Jacobson: Lean in. They’ll smile at you if you get the right spot. And if there’s like a little jumping under the skin, if you feel like a muscle twitch or something, could mean a couple of things. Could mean that the muscle’s releasing and they feel better. Or it could mean that there’s like a sore spot there that you don’t wanna work too hard. Because sometimes if we work, and if anybody’s ever gotten a massage where it felt good during the massage, but they were really, really sore the next day, that means that massage was probably too deep for you.
It wasn’t actually therapeutic. It was, yes, releasing a knot, let’s say, but possibly causing a rebound of the exact same problem, only worse, because tissues-
[00:46:43] >> Kate Basedow: Yeah.
[00:46:43] >> Molly Jacobson: -don’t let, they like to be released gently. They don’t like to be released harshly. When they’re released harshly, they’ll kind of submit, and then oftentimes that muscle tissue will shrink back up again, it’ll tighten back up again, almost like it’s in defiance, like, no, I need to be like this. I need to armor up. And it’s because it felt sort of attacked by the deep work. Now I’m making a huge general statement here, but in general, that’s, that’s the case. And so.
[00:47:11] >> Kate Basedow: Yeah.
[00:47:12] >> Molly Jacobson: Just go slowly, gently, sweetly, and put all your love in your, just the pads of your hands, not of your fingertips, not the tips of your fingers, but just the pads. And that’s a really, really, really nice way to do it. And they don’t, also don’t need a lot. I used to do dog massage just for a short time when I was a massage therapist, I would take dogs as clients and, 15 to 20 minutes, even on a big dog, might be all they need or want.
[00:47:39] >> Kate Basedow: And they’ll tell you when they’re done.
[00:47:41] >> Molly Jacobson: Yep.
[00:47:41] >> Kate Basedow: Either they’ll get up or they’ll-
[00:47:43] >> Molly Jacobson: Yep.
[00:47:43] >> Kate Basedow: -shift. You can, you can kind of feel it in their posture.
[00:47:47] >> Molly Jacobson: A hundred percent.
[00:47:48] >> Kate Basedow: And body language.
[00:47:48] >> Molly Jacobson: Pay attention. Yep. They’re always communicating to us. They’re just not using the English language. So trust that if you feel like, oh, I don’t think he liked that, just trust that maybe he didn’t. You might be right.
[00:48:02] >> Kate Basedow: Yeah. And you’ll find that when you try one of these quality of life activities that your dog really likes and you do it a couple times, they’ll start asking you for it.
[00:48:12] >> Molly Jacobson: Yep.
[00:48:12] >> Kate Basedow: Like either if you have a specific chair you sit in when you do massage, you’ll find the dog hanging out by the chair like, Hey, I think we could slide in a massage, or hopping in your lap.
[00:48:22] >> Molly Jacobson: Oh, every dog I’ve ever had has the same way of asking for a massage. And none of them knew each other ’cause this happened with my dogs when I was a kid. They’d come over and like, say my hand is on my thigh, I’ll put my hand on my shoulder so you can see, they put their nose under my hand, lift it, and put their head under it.
Or if we’re like lying down and they’re near me, they’ll go and like, you know, like, okay, right here on my back. Right here on my belly. Right here on my leg. So they’ll just position themselves under my hand and that is a command to begin giving the massage.
[00:49:01] >> Kate Basedow: Yep. Or they’ll run to the car to say, okay, we should go for a walk somewhere today.
[00:49:07] >> Molly Jacobson: Absolutely. Yeah. And I think that’s really, to me, that’s the take home, right? That dogs wanna feel good, they want you to feel good, and they’re often really communicating what they need. And sometimes maybe what we need too.
[00:49:22] >> Kate Basedow: And the really big underlying theme with all of these different activities and kind of treatments is that it’s you and your dog together.
[00:49:32] >> Molly Jacobson: Yes.
[00:49:33] >> Kate Basedow: And it thrives on the bond that we have with our dogs and just spending time with just them.
[00:49:40] >> Molly Jacobson: Yeah. To wrap up, let’s just talk a little bit about the concept of enrichment. I mean, we’ve been talking about it this entire hour, but talk a little bit about what enrichment means for dogs.
[00:49:52] >> Kate Basedow: Yeah. So enrichment has been a big buzzword, kind of, in dog training and behavior, and behavioral management, in recent years, and it’s also in zoos and managing wildlife that live in zoos and other facilities like that. And it’s the idea of letting the animal engage in behaviors that are natural for that species and improving their lives through things that they want to do and that they do naturally.
So, taking your dog for a walk is great enrichment because it lets them sniff new things and see new things and move their bodies. And pretty much any positive new experience falls under enrichment. And it can even be something as simple as like, scattering their dinner across the kitchen floor to let them hunt all the kibbles, because that’s how a dog in the wild would get their food. They would be searching and hunting it down. Or you could use like a puzzle toy so they’re having to work to get their food a little bit.
[00:50:59] >> Molly Jacobson: That’s very interesting. That reminds me of something that my favorite dog trainer, Lisa, taught me a long time ago, which is that you shouldn’t just take your dog on a walk. Every once in a while you should take them on a snifferari.
[00:51:16] >> Kate Basedow: Yeah.
[00:51:17] >> Molly Jacobson: Which is a-
[00:51:18] >> Kate Basedow: I love that term.
[00:51:18] >> Molly Jacobson: Yeah. A combination of sniffing and safari. And, oh, it’s a sniffari. A sniffari.
[00:51:26] >> Kate Basedow: A sniffari.
[00:51:26] >> Molly Jacobson: Yes. On a sniffari. And when-
[00:51:29] >> Kate Basedow: Yeah I guess a snifferrari would be a Ferrari that has smell.
[00:51:33] >> Molly Jacobson: Right? Exactly, exactly. Yeah. It’s a different thing altogether.
Um, but a sniffari is outside on a leash, like, well, we have to use leashes in Maui County, but an outside walk that is not about walking, it’s about sniffing. So you know how your dog wants to sniff that same blade of grass for five minutes, it seems like, it might only be 30 seconds, but it seems like a lot longer? That’s what you do. You literally let their nose guide the entire walk, within reason without trespassing.
But you let them have as much time as they need to sniff because they are so mentally stimulated by sniffing, as you pointed out, their nose is so critical to how they experience the world. And so her point is, go on a sniffari every once in a while so that dog gets to really get to know their world in a really intimate way. My dog sometimes would go, we’d walk maybe a quarter mile and it would take 20 minutes.
[00:52:41] >> Kate Basedow: I believe it.
[00:52:43] >> Molly Jacobson: There’s just a lot of information. A lot of peemail to read.
[00:52:46] >> Kate Basedow: Oh, yeah. I also enjoyed when I lived in the suburbs in college, letting my dogs decide which way we would go at intersections. Like, all right, are we gonna turn here, or are we gonna cross this street, or go that way? And it was interesting. Sometimes they would choose our standard path and follow the normal route. And other times they would say, mm, let’s check out this side street today.
[00:53:08] >> Molly Jacobson: Yep.
[00:53:08] >> Kate Basedow: And check out whole new areas of the neighborhood.
[00:53:11] >> Molly Jacobson: Right. When they’re given that option, they do have opinions and they will express them. People used to laugh at Jim and I as we walked our dogs and say, are they taking you for a walk? And we’d be like, Yeah, it’s their walk. You know, I mean.
[00:53:27] >> Kate Basedow: Exactly.
[00:53:27] >> Molly Jacobson: Right? This is, this is their walk. And so yeah, we would get to an intersection and we’d say, okay, which way do you wanna go? And they almost always decided, especially, at the end of their life, that was the best way for us to know how far we had gone, like, they would go as far as we wanted them to go, but if we asked them periodically, you know, which way do you wanna go? Sometimes they would just turn around and go home, and we’d realize, oh, this is kind of a bad day for them, so they’ve had a 10 minute walk and that’s enough. We don’t need to do 20 or 30 minutes.
[00:53:59] >> Kate Basedow: Yeah.
[00:53:59] >> Molly Jacobson: You know, and then the next day they’d go for 20 minutes and it would be fine, but they, they will let you know.
Kate, thank you so much. This has been so much fun. I hope our listeners have gotten a lot of ideas and-
[00:54:12] >> Kate Basedow: You’re welcome.
[00:54:13] >> Molly Jacobson: -stimulation out of this. I’ve gotten a lot of stimulation.
[00:54:16] >> Kate Basedow: There’s so much that you can do with your dog to brighten your day for both of you.
[00:54:21] >> Molly Jacobson: Yeah, it’s so wonderful and they have such a, you know, they give us so many gifts. And this time of year, ’cause we’re recording this in October, but it’s gonna be airing, right, I think probably Christmas week, the week between Christmas and New Year’s?
[00:54:34] >> Kate Basedow: Yeah, I think the day after Christmas.
[00:54:35] >> Molly Jacobson: Yeah. So, assuming that you’re watching or listening to this at that time, then you know, this is a time of year when all around the world, all sorts of cultures and religious traditions think about coming together, enjoying the ones you love, making sure that, you know, there’s some sort of a holiday that brings folks together.
So it’s just the perfect time of year to really think about how to increase life quality and bring some joy back. And, uh, if you’re not listening to it at that time of year, I think holidays can be held year-round. I think every day’s a holiday when you have a dog.
[00:55:15] >> Kate Basedow: I agree. Especially for our dogs.
[00:55:17] >> Molly Jacobson: Yes. Dogs, dogs don’t know from holidays. Dogs are like, today’s a holiday.
Thank you, Kate. Listeners, if you have need of support or new ideas, please join us on our Facebook group, Dog Cancer Support. You can find that by going to Facebook and typing it in, or just go to dogcancersupport.com and it’ll redirect you to the group.
And as always, you can go to dogcancer.com for this- to listen to other episodes of Dog Cancer Answers, but also to get lots more lifestyle boost and enrichment ideas, recipes, all sorts of tools and all sorts of ideas for you to help you connect more deeply to yourself and to your dog, and to the love that you share with each other. Because that’s what it’s all about when it comes to dogs, right? They give us so much and we get to give back to them in these really fun ways. So thank you.
I’m Molly Jacobson and from all of us here at Dog Podcast Network, I’m wishing you and your dog a very warm Aloha.
[00:56:23] >> Announcer: Thank you for listening to Dog Cancer Answers. If you’d like to connect, please visit our website at dogcanceranswers.com or call our Listener Line at (808) 868-3200. And here’s a friendly reminder that you probably already know: this podcast is provided for informational and educational purposes only. It’s not meant to take the place of the advice you receive from your dog’s veterinarian.
Only veterinarians who examine your dog can give you veterinary advice or diagnose your dog’s medical condition. Your reliance on the information you hear on this podcast is solely at your own risk. If your dog has a specific health problem, contact your veterinarian. Also, please keep in mind that veterinary information can change rapidly, therefore, some information may be out of date.
Dog Cancer Answers is a presentation of Maui Media in association with Dog Podcast Network.