Office Dog Blog: Tips for Finding Your Tennis Ball in the Snow

Office Dog Blog: Tips for Finding Your Tennis Ball in the Snow

Having had some experience with this myself, I thought I might share some of my pro tips for how to find your tennis ball when it gets lost in the snow. These helpful tips can also be applied to any variety of lost toys in the winter months.


If you lose your ball in the deep snow while playing fetch, sniff around in a zig zag pattern until you find the general area where the ball went into the snowy abyss. Once found, vigorously paw at the area and push down into the snow to help dislodge the ball. It also helps to stick your nose directly into the snow and take a big sniff to make sure you are still on the right track.


When playing with your hooman, make sure you turn and run before they throw the ball, this may affect your ability to see which direction the ball even went, but it should help you get to the ball before it has actually landed. Very high-pitched whining encourages them to throw it even quicker.


Give up.


The next day, remember where your ball might have been and start your search again! Repeat step #1 for a while, if no luck, skip to step #3. Do not waste your time on this anymore and move on to more rewarding activities such as eating poopsicles or telling your hooman to throw a different ball.

Greeting a Dog

Greeting a Dog

As dog lovers, we love to meet and say “Hello” to every dog we see. However, we often unknowingly greet dogs the wrong way. We habitually set dogs up for failure with our over-excited, over-bearing, rude (in doggy etiquette) greetings. Greeting the proper way can help with most behavior issues dogs have when it comes to meeting new people or even old friends. Read on to learn how to help with jumping, excited/submissive urination, and fear or anxiety with people.


This is one of the most common, obvious, and annoying behavioral issues dogs demonstrate when it comes to greeting. One simple way to help this behavior for both owners and strangers is to ignore the excitement. Not the dog, the excited behavior. This is not meant to hurt their feelings, but to make sure it is understood they will not get attention or affection using excitement and invading our personal space. Uncontrolled excitement can also lead anxiety and frustration. We should be quiet and calm when approaching dogs that are excited. Wait until the dog has calmed down, then give affection in a calm manner, with little to no talking. Think of when two polite and well-behaved dogs meet each other. They approach and sniff each other quietly with no jumping or noise until they mutually agree to move on, socialize, or give cues to play.


Some dogs urinate when greeted. There are different causes for this including excessive excitement, fear, or submission. Fortunately, the best way to prevent this from happening is the same no matter what the cause; don’t talk to them and don’t initiate eye contact. Ignore the excitement or fear behavior until they are more comfortable. When you do approach or give attention, do it calmly to avoid sending them right back into the undesirable state. This simple step will go a long way in preventing unwanted urination when greeting.

Fear & Anxiety

A happy-go-lucky dog may jump on you. On the other hand, fearful dogs may run the opposite way, cower, bark, shut down in fear, or even show fear aggression as a response.  As much as we may want to talk to and pet them to show we mean no harm, this is often too much pressure for fearful dogs. They want time and space, and to not feel pressure to be touched. Not all fearful dogs will walk away when they don’t want to be approached. Some will shut down and freeze even if they are physically able to move away. If we approach or talk to a dog in this state they may urinate, growl, bark, or snap/bite. This is clear communication they are not ready to be touched and these signals are often ignored.

Greeting with too much exuberance causes the dog to jump up.
Greet calmly, while ignoring the dog and not making eye contact.

A greeting with a dog should feel quiet and relaxed. Humans often encourage inappropriate behavior, many times unknowingly. The goal is to promote the correct behavior and set them up to succeed. This helps dogs understand what is expected of them in any situation, whether they are meeting a dog lover or someone who is unsure about or has a fear of dogs. It is our responsibility to be in control of our own dogs. By learning a little bit about canine communication and helping other humans recognize their cues, we help promote well behaved doggy citizens.

Exercising Your Dog In Winter

Exercising Your Dog In Winter

Do you get “Cabin Fever” in the winter? Does you dog seem to act up more or get themselves into more trouble during winter? Our pets need exercise and stimulation just like we humans do. Every dog, no matter the breed, needs some form of exercise or stimulation on a regular basis to maintain a healthy weight and mind. If you struggle to find things to do with your dog in the winter, read on for a few suggestions.

Breeds differ in the amount and type of exercise that is best for them. Just like kids and adults, some of the best exercise for physical and mental health is to get yourself outside. It is a good idea to towel off their feet and toes when you come inside to get off any snowballs or sidewalk/road salt that may have gotten on them. You will have a happier, more well-adjusted dog the more they are able to release energy outdoors.

Outdoor Activities

WALK, WALK, WALK.  A simple walk is always my go-to form of exercise and the one I would always say to use the most. All dogs need to walk with their “pack” on a regular basis, ideally this would happen daily. This is the best way to give them structured exercise and to maintain a healthy bond with your dog. If your dog is a small breed or you are worried about the cold temperature, there are many options for doggy coats and booties to keep them warm long enough for a good brisk walk.

Running through deep snow is very tiring. If you have a larger, more active breed, there are many activities to do in the snow. Hiking, skijoring, snowshoeing, or even playing fetch in deep snow can be an effective form of exercise. Fetching in deep snow will also fulfill the searching/tracking instinct that many breeds have as they search for their toy.

If you have a small breed or a small yard, a snow maze can be a new and fun activity for both you and your dog. Use a shovel to carve a path through deep snow in your yard. Create a maze your dog can find their way through. You can even hide treats or their favorite toy and turn it into a search mission for added stimulation.

If you are unable to provide enough exercise outdoors, there are some indoor options to consider.

Indoor Activities

Although walking outdoors is the best form of exercise, you don’t have to go outside to take your dog for a walk. Dogs are able to learn how to walk on a treadmill (always under supervision of course). Some will even ask to go on their treadmill once they learn how! Always start slow and calm and take small steps when training them to walk on the treadmill.

Try some indoor training.  Being stuck inside is a great time to teach new tricks or commands.  Training is a great way to engage their brain, learning is fantastic mental stimulation. It will also help with obedience and will further seal the bond between dog and owner.

Indoor searching/tracking is another option for indoor activity. You can hide a favorite toy, treats, or even yourself or another family member and challenge them to find the scent.

These are just some of the ways to exercise your dog in the winter. There are many other options but the most important thing is that your dog gets moving, physically and mentally.  If you have behavioral or health related questions, your annual exam is a great time to ask your veterinary care team! Call to schedule an appointment 218-444-5797.

Stress and Visiting the Vet During COVID

Stress and Visiting the Vet During COVID

Going to the Doctor or Veterinarian can be stressful for anyone and that includes our four-legged family members. That stress can be increased during these strange times dealing with COVID and all that comes with it.  In an effort to keep everyone safe, you may not be able to accompany your pet and be with them when they come for an exam or procedure. This can add to the stress of a visit for both pet and owner.

Helpful tips

  • Your pet knows how you feel about a given situation. Try to be as calm and positive about the experience as you can.
  • If your dog tends to be anxious, try taking them on a long walk or exercising them before your visit. The more tired they are, the less energy they will have to be anxious and the easier they will be able to relax. 
  • Have all documents and records sent or readily available before your arrival to make wait times shorter. The less time your pet has to anticipate and build up anxiety, the better their visit will go. Records can be sent to Northern Vet by email at

Good behavior outside the house starts with good behavior at home. You can help your pet’s stress level by getting them used to various things that may happen when they come for a vet visit. Most of these suggestions work best when started at a young age but it is never too late to work on it.

Recommendations for home training

  • Be sure to get them used to being handled and touched in places that you may not normally need to. For example: legs, toes, belly, tail, outside portion of ear canal, or lips.
  • Your dog may need to be restrained for procedures; this may be difficult for them to understand. Practice hugging them close to hold them in one spot for a short length of time. If you are able, gently lay them on their side for a time.  Let them go when they are relaxed and not struggling. This will teach them that it is not their choice, but yours, when the exercise is ended. 
  • Good socialization can also reduce the stress of being in a new place. If they have already met many new people, been to many new places, ridden in the car etc., the vet will become just another new place to explore and meet new people.
  • Establish a relationship with your vet BEFORE your pet is sick. Visit the vet early and often, and when your pet is feeling well. Feel free to call to see if staff is available to bring your pet in for attention, treats, or just to get a weight. Positive experiences when they are well will make reduce stress when coming to the vet when they are sick.

We love your pets and want the absolute best for them. We are here to help in any way we can and we want to make your visit go smoothly and with the least amount of stress possible for you and your pet. Let us know if there is anything we can do to help make you visit less stressful. Please call us at 218-444-5797 to schedule an appointment!