Home Dog Training TOP #52: How to Be More Active With Your Dog

TOP #52: How to Be More Active With Your Dog

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Many owners, including myself, have long been itching to get outdoors with their dogs and take advantage of consistently improving weather. Eventually, regular daily walks and trips to a dog park become boring, and you may want to try something new that would challenge yourself as well as your dog – physically and mentally.

For this podcast episode I interviewed Liz Claflin, the Director of Operations at Zoom Room, which is a franchised indoor dog training gym that offers traditional dog training classes, advanced dog training classes and even doggy playgroups. Liz and her team focus on the importance of keeping our canine companions consistently active and stimulating them mentally and physically to prevent boredom, apathy, depression and other conditions that come with the lack of activity.

During the episode, Liz has provided a number of useful, actionable and creative tips and advice for pet owners on how to keep our pets more active and do it safely. We’ve also touched upon some of the essential supplies you may have not explored or thought of.

Listen to the episode in the video above and find the full podcast transcript below. For more, visit this episode’s post on the official Theory of Pets website.

How to Be More Active With Your Dog
(podcast transcript)

How to Be More Active With Your Dog

Hello, everyone. Thanks for tuning in to another episode of Theory of Pets. As you know, we like to talk about all things pets. And this week I was able to speak with Liz, from a company called Zoom Room. If you don’t have a Zoom Room in your area, they are a fantastic, new, or fairly new, I guess, franchise that is growing and it’s actually an indoor dog training gym. They have locations nationwide. Liz will talk a little bit more about where the locations are and how you can find those. They do offer obedience and agility classes, as well as puppy training classes, things like that. But they also offer playgroups and it’s just a really great way for dogs to get out and about with their owners.

I thought, especially with springtime… As you know if you follow my podcast, I live in Maine. So, we are coming out of very long, very boring winter with our dogs. We do try and find exciting ways to get out and about with them. Thankfully our dogs are younger, but when we’ve had older dogs in the past it’s more difficult to get out in the snow and on the ice. So having somewhere indoor to go would be great. And when I saw Zoom Room I thought what a wonderful franchise that would be to have in our area. Unfortunately, we don’t yet, but I am hoping to see one in the near future.

But I wanted to talk with Liz. She had some great tips about bringing your dog out and about. There aren’t Zoom Room locations all around the country, but they do have a few, and again, Liz will give you some information on that. But if you don’t have a Zoom Room, or a dog park, an indoor dog park, something like that in you area, which most of us don’t, there are some great ways to get out with your pet, but still keep him safe, keep yourself safe and have a really great time. So Liz gave us a lot of really great pointers and tips that I can share with you today. So I will let you guys listen to the interview and get that advice from her.

Interview with Liz Claflin

Samantha: Summer’s on it’s way and a lot of pet owners are starting to get out and about with their dogs. I know I’m in Maine so it came a little later for us. But we are starting to get…

Liz: Oh. You’re in Maine?

Samantha: Yeah. We’re just a little bit north of Bangor, central Maine.

Liz: OK. I’m going to be in Islesboro in July. My parents live there all summer. My aunt and uncle live in Portland so we’re yes…

Samantha: Oh Islesboro is beautiful.

Liz: Yes it’s nice. I love Maine. Not enough to live there.

Samantha: Yes I mean, I love it most of the year, January and February not so much fun. Things are starting to melt, we’re starting to get outside. We love to be active with our dogs, we do a lot of hiking and things with them. So could you share some tips with pet owners to make sure that their dogs are safe while they’re walking out on the city streets or maybe at the dog park, wherever they might go?

Liz: Yeah, there’s a bunch of things that owners can do on different fronts to help themselves and their dogs have a more enjoyable time out in, generally speaking public. Whether that be hiking in a park or at an outdoor dining restaurant or at a dog park or anything like that. There’s a few things. One is we hate retractable leashes. I don’t think that you can find a trainer in the world who’s a fan of retractable leashes. There’s even rumor that some states are planning on banning them, California included, which would be amazing from our point of view.

Samantha: I agree.

Liz: There’s a big safety issue with retractable leashes. There’s injuries that happen to humans frequently. Some of them pretty gnarly in terms of a rope burn that can come from that leash. Yes, I’ve seen some really horrendous scar tissue and…

Samantha: Yes, I was going to say I’ve seen them actually cut through people’s skin, a burn is the least of your worries.

Liz: Yes, I’ve seen people needed plastic surgery and things like that. You really can’t control anybody else’s retractable leash or yours. And there’s no way that your hands can move fast enough to retract it, lock it, it just doesn’t happen when there’s a panicky sort of situation or a dog bolts or something, your brain just can’t think fast enough. It’s kind of like pushing the break on a car before an accident, you only have a certain amount of time and your brain can’t keep up with what’s happening. So the other thing with retractable leashes is they tend to allow the dog to control the walk rather than you controlling the walk. So they get tangled around fire hydrants and poles and bushes and shrubs and they’re wandering off towards other dogs and you’re not noticing because you’re talking to somebody.

So one of the first things is don’t use a retractable leash, it’s not safe, it’s not good for your training. Stick with a six foot or a four foot leash or even what’s called a traffic lead, especially in urban areas and city environments where you really don’t want your dog straying at all and they’re not sniffing grass or trees and things, they’re walking in a city on the sidewalk traffic leads are much shorter, more designed for larger dogs. They don’t work well if your dog is all they down low on the ground. But for a larger breed of dog a traffic lead just gives you a nice handle and enough like 18 inches to connect to the dog and then they can’t wander anywhere. So that’s a good tip for safety in particular.

Another one is just recognizing your own dog’s inherent personality and traits. If you have a dog that has a really high prey drive you need to be careful that they’re not bolting and knocking you over or dragging you down because they see a squirrel or bird or whatever, fill in the blank, whatever your dog’s passion is for chasing. You also want to make sure that you’ve got a harness on your dog if they tend to be a big puller. There’s a huge misconception — and a lot of it comes from bad advertising — that any old harness will help control your dog. And some of them clip on the back, on the top of the dog’s back and some clip in the front on their chest. If the harness clips on the back, of the top of your dogs back, I don’t care what it says on the package, unless it’s a pain based product that’s pinching terribly it it not going to control your dog’s pulling. In fact, it’s going to cause them to rear up on their hind legs more often. It turns them into a husky sled dog. It turns a thing called an oppositional reflex that they can’t control. It’s a reflex that make them want to pull harder, because they feel the pressure.

So, safety and also training-wise, a front clip harness is the only way to go when it comes to harnesses

Samantha: That’s excellent advice. I know a lot of dog owners especially this time of year, like I said summer is coming, spring is here, people are getting out and about and they’re looking for the products that they can use that are going to be the easiest. I get asked all the time about “no-pull” harnesses. People use that term “no-pull.” Well it is about the products you use, but it is also about the training. So I’m glad that you touched on both of those, that’s important.

Liz: Exactly. You’ve got to combine it. At Zoom Room we do all positive reinforcement based dog training. So, of course, we really frown upon prong collars and especially choke chains. Choke chains don’t have any mechanism by which to stop choking your dog. So if your dog is really intent on pulling towards something, another dog, a squirrel, whatever, there is nothing in that device to stop it from choking your dog. So it’s really cutting off air supply, it’s very damaging to the trachea and esophagus. I have commonly seen in dogs who use chock chains in particular, petechial hemorrhaging, which is little teeny burst blood vessels in the eyes. When you pull down the eyes, you see that. The other place you see that in our world is — it’s a little macabre — but in strangling victims. That’s where you see it. It’s so much pressure that it’s bursting blood vessels. You see it in dogs who use choke chains. You see it really regularly. And their owners, they’re not meaning to do it, not malicious people, they have no idea it’s happening.

So, yeah, the worst of the worst, when it comes to safety for your dog is a straight up choke chain, there’s just nothing to stop it from choking. So in terms of what’s the worst, that’s the worst, for the health of your dog. Prong collars we just don’t like because they’re pain based and we strongly believe that there are just ways to control your dog that don’t include pain, that work just as well, such as a front lead harness, or a nose leash, like a gentle lead…

Samantha: Yeah, the gentle leads.

Liz: Yep. They work, that’s like the Cadillac of control with your dog. But like you said, you’ve got to add the training and every piece of equipment can combated by your dog, your dog can be intelligent enough to figure out — oh, well if I just walk sideways, you know, or if I do this…

Samantha: For sure.

Liz: Yeah, you can rely on them to help your dog learn, and to help give you peace of mind and comfort so your arms aren’t getting ripped off. But you have to add the training component in as well.

Samantha: Absolutely and we’re seeing this common trend with establishments being pet-friendly. So some people are taking their dogs shopping, out to restaurants, things like that. Do you have some tips for pet owners that maybe want to take their dogs out? And where could they find establishments that are pet-friendly in their area?

Liz: Yeah, so what owners want, most owners, when we talk to owners, most of the time, when we say, “What do you want out of the relationship with your dog?” One of the top answers is — we want to be able to bring our dogs to to dog-friendly places. But you know, that is a privilege, not a right. So if your dog is not emotionally stable, not only might you be disturbing other people, shoppers, restaurant patrons, your own peace of mind but you might be adding damage to your dog emotionally. So we always tell people, if your dog is a barker, whether they bark because it’s in their nature, it’s in their DNA, they’re just more of a barking type breed, or whether it’s because they are afraid of something and they bark out of fear or whether they’re demand barkers and they bark at you for attention — they don’t belong in dog friendly places until that has been trained and addressed, which is doable. That is all doable. But you can’t… Just because you want your dog in Nordstrom’s — which is a very dog friendly place — doesn’t mean that your dog should be in Nordstrom’s, if your dog is barking. Like, that’s just not appropriate for outdoor dining places or things like that. Barking is a common one, it’s also very easily trained.

If your dog has fear issues, if your dog is really afraid of other dogs and tends to react on the leash, or is really afraid of men or loud noises, you have to be sensitive. You have to be your dog’s advocate. And you have to be sensitive to those things and recognize that your wants and needs may not at all be in line with your dog’s wants and needs. Either work on those in a training environment or respect that in your dog. If you have an eight year old dog who’s petrified of other dogs, you can and should work on that. But you’re not going to Nordstrom’s right now. You have an eight year old dog who’s had that in their life as a habit or as an emotional problem for eight years, it’s not going to go away over night, it’s going to take time.

So those things are important to recognize. Nuisance behavior versus sort of emotional behaviors, they can all be addressed and trained but until that time, you’re really not doing your dog any favors by taking them to places like that. But assuming that your dog is pretty stable and emotionally secure and has basic training and all of that, they’re not afraid of other dogs, or strange people or strange sounds or strange textures or any of that, then the best way to find dog friendly places, there’s some great websites — bringFido.com is one of the best. That’s probably the most popular. Then some states have very specific to their states. A company that has started up a site to track dog friendly places in your state, like in California we have dogtracker.com which is amazing. But “Bring Fido,” covers anything.

The other thing you can do is search on Yelp. A lot of people don’t realize that you can go into Yelp’s search field and say “Best dog friendly restaurant” or “dog friendly restaurant” and they will also pull up and highlight in the reviews, where people have said like — oh this is a great place to take your dog, or this is not a good place to take your dog.

Samantha: Ah fantastic.

Liz: Yes, so you can find some lists on Yelp that way. You can also just do a general Google search. Or if in doubt just search for your area. You know if you live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania just do a general dog friendly Pittsburgh Pennsylvania see what comes up or dog friendly restaurants or parks. You can go to individual websites if you know that there’s a park that you want to go to and you want to know if your dog can be off leash in that park or even be in that park, then you can go straight to the website of course as well or you know last ditch, I know with modern times we don’t like to do this but you can pick up the phone and call the place. Especially if you want to get more nuance. If you know that a restaurant has a dog friendly patio but you want to know if you have a Newfoundland or a Mastiff or a very, very large breed of dog and you kind of want to get a feel for well yeah, they have a dog friendly patio but is it going to fit my dog or are we going to have space, is my dog going to be banging into other peoples chairs? Then it’s good to call the restaurant and ask them for specifics.

Samantha: Yes, I think the specifics are important in not necessarily most of the time if it’s a public place like a restaurant or a shopping center your dog has to be on a leash but even outdoor places a lot of times people go and expect that they can just let their dog run around and have a great time and still you have to have a leash or some places where you know vice versa where you think you maybe have to keep your dog on a leash, you might be able to run free and get a game of fetch or something in.

Liz: Yes, and it’s important to know when you’re going to a place that allows for off leash dogs and usually these are hiking parks, almost every national forest in our country is off leash dog friendly, almost, national parks are all pretty much not dog friendly. And certainly not off leash dog friendly but very not dog friendly to begin with. So if you’re looking at big picture type stuff like national parks, national forests, camping trips. You really have to pay attention to who allows what. But as a general rule national parks are not dog friendly, national forests are. But regionally when you’re looking at state parks or county parks and things, even if they’re off leash dog friendly, you do want to know — but what are the rules? They’ll say you have to carry a six foot leash with you at all times so you can hook your dog up if you need to. They may have rules like your dog must be under voice control at all times and actually listen to your voice. So if you know that your dog is notorious for not coming when called, then you should probably brush up on your training, so that your dog does not disturb others, does not get in a dog fight with some dog who is not dog friendly, doesn’t chase off after a deer or a squirrel or whatever and disappear and now they’re lost.

So, even if it’s off leash dog friendly, really should pay attention to the specific rules they have about that off leash privilege and then figure out if you need to do any extra training and brush up on some things. Whether it be professional training or just some dog training still are perishable, your dog learned them as a puppy — come when called is the most famous and now as a two year old or a four year old they’re not doing it any more. They don’t want to come when called, it’s not fun for them, you’re ruining their good time. So brush up at home as well. Just make sure that you can follow those rules. And if your dog is has a really high prey drive and loves to chase animals and you’re going to a park with a lot of wildlife, keep your dog on a leash. That’s not fair to the wildlife.

Samantha: Absolutely. So speaking of leashes and harnesses and that kind of stuff. What sort of supplies do you recommend that pet owners absolutely have on hand when they’re taking their dog out and about to public place?

Liz: Yes. So in addition to front clip harness if your dog has a tendency to pull. One of my all time favorite products and every Zoom Room sells them, they’re fantastic, it’s a smaller company, it’s called Sadie’s Pet Products and Sadie’s leash in particular is like a miracle. It is the best thing if you love to take your dog to places. It’s called the Sadie’s 8 in 1 Safety Leash. But it is kind of like a regular nylon leash, comes in various tiny width like a half an inch width for smaller dogs up through an inch for larger dogs. They’re all six feet long. Standard length, but it’s two pieces of nylon and they’re stitched together at intervals all the way up the leash. So you actually have a handle like every six inches, I think it is. What that means is that in addition to being able to go from having a six foot leash to a one foot leash if you need to by grabbing the lower down on the leash. It also means that you can tether your dog at a restaurant or an outdoor bar or wherever you need to tether you dog to your chair or table or something like that. But you don’t have to tether at the six foot mark.

So with a regular six foot leash or even a four foot leash you loop the handle around the leg of the chair, you loop the leash through and attach it to your dog and they have the full length of the leash, minus like three inches. With the Sadie’s leash you can tether through the loop at any point down the leash. So you can say, we’re in a restaurant, I need my dog to stay really really close to me, in fact, I want them to be able to sit up and lay down and that’s about it. I don’t want them roaming, looking for food on the ground. And so you can loop your leash through and tether it to your chair or the leg of your table at the low spot of the leash and they only have like a foot of leash or whatever it is that you put it at.

So it’s like you can change the settings on where you can tether your dog. Which is fantastic for restaurants and tighter spaces. If you are lucky enough to live in an area like Austin, Texas where they have outdoor restaurants and bars that are actually inside dog parks, then you might say — OK, my dog’s done playing, I need them to stay really close to me. I don’t want them meeting other dogs right now, we’re done. So you can sort of select the size of leash that you want your dog to have, so that they’re not roaming away from you, bothering other guests, so that’s great.

Generally speaking for equipment, you always want to make sure you have water or access to water, so we always recommend that people carry some type of receptacle for your dog to drink out of, obviously don’t want to share your drinking vessel with your dog. There are some great products out there — H20 For Canine makes a great water bottle that the lid for it actually extends down the length of bottle and it’s like a bowl for your dog. So you take the lid off and it turns into the bowl, like a hard plastic bowl. And they come in two sizes for little dogs versus big dogs. Ollie Dog is smaller, wonderful, philanthropic, fantastic company that makes great products and they make an Ollie Bottle that is actually designed so that you can really share with your dog. You have one water bottle and it has an attachment on it that acts as the bowl for your dog and then you can also drink out of it as well and keeps it really separate.

Samantha: Oh, cool.

Liz: So if you wanted to share, you could. Not so true with the H20 For Canine bottle because the lid is the drinking bowl for your dog, so that would contaminate your water, but with the Ollie Bottle, you could actually share the water. There’s of course lots of different collapsible silicon bowls. Ollie also makes a product called “The Sipper” that’s sort of a folding bowl that opens up, they come in cute designs. So something like that, if you’re just going to a restaurant, totally fine to ask the restaurant to bring — if it’s dog friendly they probably already do this anyway — but to ask them for a bowl. Something like that. But if you don’t want to share, if you’re concerned about illnesses and diseases being transferred through water bowls from different dogs drinking, because they’re probably not cleaning them as regularly as you might at home, then bring your own bowl so you don’t have to worry cross contamination or anything like that.

We also recommend, especially for restaurants, dogs tend to feel safer and more confident when they are lying on some sort of soft surface. It’s one of those sort of weird, why do they all seem to do that but, they do. So if you have a roll up travel mat that you can bring for your dog and put down on the ground, they tend to even without any training they tend to stick to that mat a little more. So there’s company called Mutt Mats out of I believe they’re in Delaware, if I remember correctly. Mutt Mats makes a really easy to carry roll up so it’s like a yoga mat but it’s made out of soft material…

Samantha: Oh cool.

Liz: — and highly washable, they come in a million colors. You can have the top be one color and the bottom be another color, but not a bed. It’s just a mat with some very thin filling in it just to… Very thin. Those are easy and wonderful for carrying around and having a place to put down for your dog, something like that. Then if you have the training, then you can train your dog to stay on the mat and to consider it like this sort of magic carpet that they stay on and they want to be on it. So that’s another really good thing to bring, especially for a restaurant where you know you’re going to be sitting for a while and you need your dog to stay put. So a mat and then combine the mat if you can with training and you’ll have a dog that really just lays down and just is really calm and well behaved at a restaurant, not getting up all the time.

So those are some great things. Water of course, a mat if you are going to be in a restaurant in particular, the appropriate leash and harness or collar. And then also if you are going to be gone for a while obviously you need things like food. Oh, also at a restaurant if you are concerned that your dog might get bored or not have the attention span so to speak to sit still for a long period of time like that, bring some sort of chew for them, a bully steak, something long lasting that they can chew on for a while. Just be aware that the other dogs in the restaurant might be jealous. So pay attention if there’s a dog off leash. That’s terrible. Hopefully the restaurant doesn’t allow that. But if other dogs are straining, pulling, sort of curious about your dog’s delicious smelly object that is just something to be aware of. But generally speaking if you bring some kind of bully stick or chew of some kind that’s longer lasting, as soon as you start to notice your dog getting antsy or bored give it to them and give them something to do for the next 10, 20, 30 minutes, whatever it is.

Samantha: Yeah that’s a great for sure. So some pet parents might be looking for something else to do inside with their dog and especially if the weather’s not so great, maybe through the winter if you live somewhere like that or on a rainy day. Can you tell us a little bit about Zoom Room and what it’s all about?

Liz: Sure, so Zoom Room is an indoor dog training facility and we specialize in all different kinds of training and all of it is geared towards the average pet owner. What I mean by that is we don’t compete. Even though we do things that traditionally are competitive dog sports, we don’t compete in them. Competition sports can be very intimidating for a lot of dog owners, and they’re not interested in doing that. The time, the money, all of that. They just want fun things to do with their dog. So we took a lot of really sort of specialized dog training programs and recreated them into a format that is applicable for all dogs regardless of age, breed, size and noncompetitive to make them very warm and welcoming.

So for training we do all of the standards like obedience training all the way up through therapy dog training. Then we one of our most popular programs is agility. And we have four levels of agility, so you can stay busy for a very long time with your dog doing agility. It’s fantastic physical exercise for your dog. It’s also really nice low impact physical activity for humans, as well. We make it so that with our agility courses all of our equipment is fully adjustable, and so we have puppy agility, we can make it very very safe for their growing joints and bones. Then we can also have big dogs doing it too.

So four levels of agility training. We have a league for people when they finish that and want to get sort of friendly competitive. We have a friendly league that we do. We also then do things like if you have a shy dog, who’s afraid of their own shadow and afraid of the washing machine noise and loud traffic or anything like that, we have a shy dog program. It’s very transformative for shy dogs, to help them come out of their shell and get over those fears and to really help the owners figure out how to help them through that process. We have a program called Calm Down for very very hyperactive dogs that no matter how much exercise they seem to get, it’s not enough. They’re still like a bull in a china shop. They have impulse control issues, and often times they’re like young young pit bulls, young labs, juvenile dogs, teenagers, high high energy dogs, Malinois, German Shepherds, things like that.

We also do scent work which is also commonly called canine nose work and this is based on real working dogs. This is my personal favorite program of them all and my dog adores doing scent work and I love teaching scent work to people and their dogs. So it’s based on bond sniffing, drug sniffing, real working dogs, the same sort of curriculum. And then we’ve made it approachable for all dogs. It’s the type of workshop where it’s all brain-strain. There’s nothing physical going on at all, we’re working your dogs, we’re watching their gears turn in their brains, which is wonderful, most dogs they may get plenty of physical exercise, but not a lot of mental stimulation. So this is a great way to stimulate their brains. Wonderful for senior dogs, wonderful for hyper-active dogs, really good for any dog.

That is something to your point of long winters, rainy days, you can do it at home and it’s so much fun. And it’s not like, people are are like — oh, is that like where you just hide a treat, and you have your dog find it? No. Way more complicated than that. They have to learn specific scents. We start with Birch Oil, and they have to learn how to recognize Birch. That scent from every other scent. And they have to understand that when they find it, a reward comes their way. And a lot of dogs learn how to do an alert, like a sit, or something, or a bark, to tell you — it’s here, it’s here, I found it. You can make it scent work very, very complicated, and so we have two levels of scent and then we have scent classes for advanced scent dogs as well.

We also do Urban Herding. which a lot of people have not heard of. It’s also called Tribal. It’s a German hobby, or German sport that recently came over the pond, into America. It’s probably the newest dog sport in our country. You don’t see a lot of competitive Urban Herding yet. And Urban Herding was designed for dogs that live in major urban environments, city dwelling dogs, who have herding instincts and they have no sheep, because the live in the city, there’s nothing to herd. So it was originally designed for those dogs. So instead of herding sheep they learned how to yoga balls.

Samantha: Oh, cool.

Liz: Which is so much fun. It’s awesome to watch them herd them. They herd them through goals. And it’s based on real herding. So you as the handler will learn herding commands — come by, away to me, go out, different commands. A lot of distance based learning which is really challenging for your dog, they’re usually used to doing, sit, stay, down, right next to you. This is like away from you. They have to learn how to push those balls on command. We like to use white yoga balls, paint sheep’s faces on them. And they have to learn how to push them on command. But then also how to push them in specific directions. So very challenging, very fun. Awesome, awesome activity. A lot of dogs will go home and love pushing yoga balls around their back yard. So that’s another really good one for brain strain and learning new things.

So that’s the kind of stuff that we do at Zoom Room. A lot of these things can be transferred to home. Agility is a little harder, can’t set up an agility course inside your house, but scent work and even to some extent depending on the set up of your house, urban herding can be done indoors as well. So those are really good things to do in the winter or during bad weather.

Tricks, that’s another one. Didn’t even mention tricks. We have two different levels of tricks classes that we do. And tricks are another really fun one. Dogs tend to love learning tricks so much because they see the joy in everybody’s faces around them. That is actually a really fun thing to do at home on a rainy day, just run your dog through tricks that they know how to do and try to teach them new tricks. They tend to really enjoy that.

Samantha: So coming from someone who, we have a chocolate lab who will be three in June and then we have a little two year old Beagle Cocker Spaniel mix, so busy, very busy dogs. Very intelligent dogs, they’re both hunting breeds, very scent oriented and lots of energy in our house. So, I’m jealous because we don’t have a Zoom Room close to us.

Liz: I know.

Samantha: But how would pet owners, if somebody’s listening and they’re thinking — is there a Zoom Room near me? How do they find you guys?

Liz: Yes, so if they go to our website, zoomroom.com, one of the very first things they’ll see is finding a location, so they can see if they have one near them. We’re a growing franchise. We have nine locations right now, but we’re looking to grow pretty significantly in the next couple of years. The other thing is that it’s a franchise. So if someone is like, oh my gosh, I really wish we had a Zoom Room. Well go ahead and open one. Contact me and let’s . . . Portland in Maine would be an amazing place for us, for sure. For sure.

Samantha: Like you were saying, the long winter months we actually… Sadie, our chocolate lab, she loves nose work. Any kind of scent work. And we started with the hiding of the treats because she’s extremely food motivated and now we’ve worked up to essential oils and we do that at home. Thankfully we live in the country and we do have a big area for them to use in the summertime, but we get a little stir crazy in the winter around here. So I’m always looking for things to do and definitely scent work has been a godsend for us in the winter time. It has kept them from chewing through the walls.

Liz: Yes, it really does and it’s enough of a brain strain on them that it ends up making them a little bit tired.

Samantha: Yeah.

Liz: There is a lot you can do with your dog to make them sort of tired that doesn’t involve physical activity. We didn’t talk about puzzle toys, but puzzle toys, puzzle feeders are phenomenal boredom busters for dogs, whether it’s long winters, or just a simple rainy day, or an owner with an injury and they can’t get out and walk. .or a dog with an injury and they’re not allowed out to walk, both my dog and I are injured right now

Samantha: Oh no.

Liz: He’s finally off his bedrest, but I’m on mine for another couple weeks so, it’s been trying. I can’t walk him, he can’t walk anyway and so we’ve been relying a lot on puzzle feeders. He’s eating his evening meals out of different types of puzzles, and there’s a million of them on the market that are phenomenal and wonderful. We recommend them for all dogs.

Samantha: Absolutely.

Liz: Yeah dogs in the wild don’t ever get a bowl of food put in front of them. So it’s actually a part of their instinctive DNA to like to forge and scrounge for food. Most people see this in their dogs all the time, out for walks and they’re dive bombing for that smeared McDonald’s on the sidewalk, chicken bone or something right? They love to scavenge, they like to do it. So giving them puzzle feeders that make them work for their food is not cruel or mean or anything like that, it’s actually enjoyable for that. You’ll see dogs who do puzzle feeders, their tails are wagging the whole time, they just love it.

So that’s another great way to do boredom busting, if you can’t get your dog out for one reason or another, is to invest in some, and they are not expensive, most of them, it’s to invest into something like a kibble-nibble or a magic mushroom or a green feeder or a fun feeder. These are all products that some of them slow down your dog’s feeding and make it a puzzle, but your dog is stationary the entire time. Others actually like the kibble nibble require that your dog roll it around all over the place. So they do get a little bit of a walk in, while they are rolling that toy around. So I forget exactly, one of the companies out there, I think it was the makers of kibble nibble had said at some point in time that if it takes your dog 30 minutes to eat out of a kibble nibble that’s equivalent to a 20 minute walk. I don’t think there is any scientific basis for that, but I do know that my dog is going around and around and around our first floor of our house for the 20 minutes or so it takes him to eat out of the kibble nibble, so it does provide a little bit of exercise as well.

Samantha: Fantastic. That’s a great point, we do use puzzle feeders with our dogs, like I said here in Maine, winters get long, so it’s great. I am looking forward to checking out Zoom Room and seeing how it expands. It’s exciting that you guys are looking to grow, so that’s great.

Liz: Yeah, we would love to be everywhere. We like to be the epicenter of the dog-loving community for every place that we’re located, do social events and have fun and create that environment and create that sense of community that dog owners love.

Samantha: Yeah, absolutely. Everywhere we go you meet somebody that has a dog and wants to talk about their dog and you want to talk about your dog and it’s definitely a community, it’s always the easiest icebreaker. That’s what I always tell everybody, that whenever I’m in a new situation, whether it’s a business meeting or we’re just out to a restaurant and sitting up at the bar with a bunch of other people that you don’t know, it’s the easiest icebreaker is to just talk about your dogs, so it’s great. I love the idea, the concept of Zoom Room, it’s a great way for animals to bond with their owners, but it’s also a great way for owners and animals to come together and be social and I just think it’s a fantastic idea, so I’m looking forward to seeing it grow.

Liz: Yeah, hopefully we’ll get one up in Bangor, Maine at some point.

Samantha: Yeah, that would be so awesome. If anybody’s listening and you live in this area and you want to go in on a franchise, just let me know.

Liz: Yeah, that’s our goal, is to have one everywhere because dogs love it, owners love it. It’s such a social, wonderful thing to do and it’s so good for the dogs so that they’re not unemployed and overweight like so many dogs in our country are.

Samantha: Absolutely, it’s an epidemic.

Liz: It is. It’s a problem.

Samantha: I need to thank Liz again and the Zoom Room team, that was a wonderful interview. I learned a lot from her and I hope that you guys did as well. I hope you enjoyed her interview and if you live near a Zoom Room, check that out.

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