Health & Wellness

4 ways to Drastically Improve Your Day

What you do, think and feel first thing in the morning is a good indication of the way the rest of your day will in fact transpire.

For years I ignored this essential fact and let every morning just happen in its own way, usually leading me down a subconscious path I really didn’t want to travel, starting with a bunch of junk e-mail and the noise of Facebook!

I know it may sound simplistic but think about the way a dog gets up in the morning and their intent for the day.


  • First thing, a big stretch waking up their body with gentle movement.
  • Next thing. Wag. Happy for the next moment whatever it might be.
  • Run around a little bit getting warmed up for all the great things that are going to happen today. No expectations. Just looking forward to it all.
  • Eat a simple breakfast. Not too much. Hopefully a holistic variety, though dogs are usually happy about whatever comes there way.

With the bliss of a dog’s life as a model here are 4 things you can do to drastically improve your every day happiness quotient.

Practice Yoga or Simply Stretch

This is one you can easily end up with the excuse, “I’ll do it after I get the chance to go to 3 more yoga classes.”  What you do everyday counts so start with 10 minutes a morning and soon you’ll find it is a habit.

Meditate, Affirmations, Say What You Want

Self talk is a huge part of what shapes every day.  What goes on in your head is what ends up coming to fruition in a physical way throughout your day, week, month and years.  The average person has 60,000 thoughts per day and studies show that of these more than 80% are negative.

With that in mind start thinking about what you really want more of.

  • Say what you want for the day out loud.
  • Start with your 3 top things: about your life, about your passion, about your livelihood.
  • Practice imagining 6 impossible things before breakfast.


Bleh.  A word that has come to be known with a negative connotation.  Why has this one come to be such a huge problem?

In my experience working with those who have decided to take the next step and get to where they want to be from where they are now, exercise has become fun through making it a game and using things you already have available to you.  Make it simple.  Make it easy.

If you are a dog owner this is a great time to develop an awesome relationship with your dog that follow the simple guidelines of fun and easy. Find a 5K fun run and sign up for it.  There are tons of dog friendly races out there these days as well.

Eat a Healthy Breakfast

Another duh…. you’ve heard this one before. I know I know. BUT again, get some fresh ideas of what to eat and it becomes easier. Buy only the foods for a healthy recipe and that will also become your default choice. It’s the only thing you have in the house.

6 Foodiecrush Recipes

Make everything simple.  We have too much stuff in our lives.  One shopping bag out of the grocery store.  That’s it.  No room for junk.

Thanks for reading. If you liked this post, please subscribe to Big Island Dog and follow me on twitter, Facebook and Google+


Training Companions | Running with Dogs

Looking to change how you view running or exercise?  Choose a training partner you can count on and then those who say they want to go but come up with excuses a lot of the time can fill in as extras!

Studies show training with a companion, training partner, buddy, whatever you want to call it increases your chances of sticking with an exercise program more than two fold.  So why not pick a training companion you know you can count on?

Your dog is always ready to go, on your schedule, happy to be your best supporter every single day.

That being said there are a few considerations to take into account when choosing your dog as your running partner.

Veterinary Recommendations

As with you, make sure that your dog is healthy and physically able to run with you.   A check at the vet is recommended.

Puppies and dogs less than a year old are still forming bones and ligaments so make sure to limit how much time you spend running or walking your dog from a full training regime.  Don’t confuse that statement with refraining from exercise for your young dog at all.  This can also turn out to be bad for development and behavioral problems.  Just don’t plan on making the puppy a running partner until after reaching a year old.

Running Dog Breeds

There are dogs better built for running than others.  The list is long and many times the combined traits of a mixed breed dog are ideal for running.  A few breeds that are most excellent as running partners are:

  • Labrador Retriever
  • Australian Shepherd
  • Portuguese Water Dog
  • Weimaraner
  • Vizsla
  • German Short Haired Pointer
  • Golden Retriever
  • Standard Poodle
  • Labradoodles
  • German Shepherd Dog
  • Belgian Malinois
  • Rhodesian Ridgeback

Keep in mind if your dog isn’t a great runner, walking is highly recommended!  You can find many more breeds and information about dogs that make great running partners by subscribing or stay updated on the latest Dog Friendly 5K Fun Run & Events here.

Start Running With Your Dog

Acclimation is key to gaining fitness and avoiding injury.  Make sure to start your dog off like you would start yourself in a new program.  Start with shorter runs and gradually increase your distance.

More is not always better, especially in the beginning.  Long time runners coming back to the game sometimes go with the 1 mile, 2 mile, 10 mile program too quickly.  If your dog is new to running “muscle memory” is simply not there.  Do the gradual build up and you’ll have a running partner in time that will always be willing to go the distance and be completely healthy doing it.

Trails are a better option to run long term for you and your dog.  Pavement can be very jarring and the joints and ligaments do much better with the give of trials and soft surfaces.  Check your dog’s paws frequently especially early on in a new training program for cuts, scrapes, or cracks and make sure to keep the nails trimmed.  Dog boots are a great option if you are acclimating your dog to new terrain with sharp rocks, hot or cold surfaces..

Use common sense regarding time of day you take your dog running.  During warm weather the morning or late evening is best.  Cold weather on the other hand may require that you let the day warm up a bit before hitting the daily running route.  For those dogs that don’t have a lot of extra fur or aren’t acclimated to the cold, providing a dog coat has become a very stylish option to keep your dog warm.

Hydration is a huge factor for you and your dog.  To feel good hydration is a must.  Dogs sweat differently than we do, with moisture leaving their bodies through their nose, tongue and paw pads. Ignoring the signs of dehydration early on is easy since the physical signs of sweating are absent.  Make sure to bring water for you and your dog.

No matter how much you train or exercise if your nutrition is bad you still are dealing with health issues.  Make sure to feed your dog a holistic balanced dog food.  The type of food and the amount are as important as a consistent exercise program.

If you got some good from this post and want more running tips, K9 Cross Training ideas or Hawaii Lifestyle Retreat plans subscribe.

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Aloha Wags!

Jt Clough

Hawaiian Frosty Paws Recipe

This is the Big Island Dog’s version of a homemade Frosty Paws recipe done organically and with some serious Hawaiian Aloha.

My dogs first found out about Frosty Paws when we found them in a Dog Specialty Store on the Mainland.  They love them.  Big surprise since Labs love anything they can eat, and the Weimaraner loves food as well.

The store bought dog treat ingredients had sugar and other long words that are far from “wholesome” so the creation of an organic aloha version was born.



  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 2 cups (32 oz) plain yogurt
  • 1 bananas ripe
  • 1/2 cup of your choice mango, pineapple, or papaya

*Substitute any of these topical fruits or go without for a less decadent dog goodie.

Paper cups “Dixie-style” only here on the Island we like to use recyclable material to stay on the Green side of life.

Use a blender until the mixture is nice and smooth.

Pour into paper cups and freeze.

Feeding instructions:

  • Take a Big Island Dog Hawaiian Frosty Paw out of the freezer and let stand for 10 min.
  • Peel the paper cup off or simply turn the cup over and tap out with the perfect amount of thawing around the edges.
  • Have your dog sit pretty.  Yum.  Let your dog eat it!
  • Awwww…. your dog thinks you are the best ever.

More whole food in your dog’s diet is a good thing.  Like people, dogs are suffering from too much processed food and lack of exercise.  In the long run its less expensive then buying the treats that are good and wholesome.

If you like this recipe and want more sign up for the Subscribe to Big Island Dog.

Jt Clough, has studied, applied and taught others how to create a balanced life with calm dog training techniques through her lifetime commitment to health and fitness. Clough is also the creator of dog wellness programs and author of the 5K Training Guide | Running with Dogs, Treading for Dogs DVDand K9 Cross Fitness Class Kailua Kona further inspiring people to introduce playtime in life through the eyes of a dog changing unwanted behaviors to practicing a healthy lifestyle.


Hydration | How Much Should Your Active Dog Drink

How much water do you need to stay hydrated?  The blanket answer is 8 glasses.  That’s for us humans.  What about our dogs?  How much water do they need to stay hydrated and what if your dog is overly active?

How Much Water Should My Dog Drink?

Make it simple and it helps to do the right thing.  Find out what your dog weighs and figure 1/2-1 oz of water per pound.  My Weimaraner is 65 pounds.   That means she should have 36-65 oz of water per day.

This is the simple formula.   Of course activity and weather can make a difference so common sense needs to be taken into account.  In other words, the low end of 36 oz is not sufficient if you have taken your dog out on an hour plus trail hike in warm weather conditions in the 65 lb. example.  Make sure to go to the 65 oz end of the formula, especially if your dog has had an all out session, like my Weimaraner tends to do!

Checking for Proper Dog Hydration

Dogs are not able to say they are thirsty and the situation can be easily overlooked by an owner not realizing you have to not only lead your dog to water, but in many cases you need to show your dog to drink it as well.

You can check for proper hydration in your dog by:

Check for a Dry Nose

If your dog’s nose is dry it’s past the time that water should have been consumed.  Time to lead your dog to water, and encourage the action of drinking it.

A dry nose is not the only sign of a dehydrated dog.  Keep in mind your dog can have a wet nose and still be dehydrated or on the verge of really needing to drink.

Elastic Skin

Skin loses elasticity as it loses moisture.   There’s a good reason to stay hydrated yourself as well.   Skin without moisture will remain wrinkled. Ewww… maybe a little water drinking could save a whole lot of dog owner botox treatments!

Check the back of your dog’s neck by pinching the skin between two fingers.   When you let it go if the skin goes back to laying flat your dog is hydrated.  If the skin remains squished or wrinkled your dog needs to get some water intake going as soon as possible.

Checking the Gum Tissue

One can get technical about this or one can think about it in easy terms.  When you run your finger over your dog’s gums, if it feels a bit slimy, you have a hydrated dog.  If the gum tissue isn’t slimy, your dog needs to drink and is on the dehydrated side of life.

The technical way is by using a method to check for capillary refill time. To do this when your dog is hydrated pull the lip up and press your finger firmly against the gums until the tissue appears white-ish in color.  See how long it takes for the gum tissue to fill to pink again.

Now you have a baseline to see if your dog is dehydrated in times of activity.   If when you remove your finger the tissue looks gray in color or takes a long time to refill to pink, your dog is dehydrated.

So there you go, you can choose to use the slimy method or the capillary refilling method.  Either will help you determine how much water your dog needs.

How To Get Your Dog To Drink

It is true that sometimes you can lead a dog to water and yet they won’t drink it even if they need it.  You can make this a habit by enticing your dog to do it, which is a fun way to say:  train your dog to drink.

Tricks are the best way to train dogs and ourselves to do anything.  After all, if it’s fun you’ll do it, and so will your dog.

Use a treat to entice your dog’s nose to the water bowl, drop the treat in the bowl and as your dog takes a little water in while going for the treat, put the word “drink” to it.

If your dog likes ice cubes you can do the same trick.  Drop the cubes in the bowl requiring your dog to drink to nab the “treat”.  I use ice cubes as a full on treat and my dogs love it.  A very sly way to encourage your dog to drink more water.

Done enough times it will become a habit and you can fade the treat by offering it sometimes and not having it others.  With repetition your dog will automatically start to drink.  When you say the word at the moment your dog is drinking you are pairing the action with the word repetitiously.  You’ll begin to illicit the automatic reaction to drink when you say the word and your dog is in proximity of the water bowl.

Another quick fix for some dogs is to add a little beef bouillon to the water mixture.  Lab type dogs can’t help themselves.  They’ll drink in the hopes of food appearing!

Thanks for reading.  If you liked this post, please subscribe to Big Island Dog and follow me on twitter, Facebook and Google+

As author and creator of 5K Training Guide | Running with Dogs, Treading for Dogs and K9 Cross Fitness Classes in Kailua Kona Hawaii I encourage you to make that change you want so badly today!  Get out and get fit with your dog!

No More Pulling! 3 Steps to Fantastic Leash Training

Your dog constantly pulls on the leash.  It is a quick and easy way to dash the enjoyment of taking the dog out as your training partner on a regular basis.

These 3 steps are the foundation to a fantastic leash trained dog.  The golden nugget in all of this is the realization that any bad habit you have can also be changed by following the same plan.  Lay out the 3 basic things you need to do differently no matter what it is and if you find yourself, or in this case your dog doing the same old habit…. Stop.  And start again.   You’ll be happy.  And at the end of the day so will your dog.

1.  Leash Length

This is the biggest mistake people make in the beginning with their dog.  Too much leash.

Dogs learn and think in pictures.  When giving your dog the full leash length you have physically told your dog to hang out at the end of it.  You have set up the situation from the get go, allowing your dog to push the envelope and automatically lose it on all the smells!  No clear boundary is set up for your dog to even know where the line of comfortable should be.

No more than 2-3 feet of leash is the new rule while walking or running.

Dogs have a sense of smell that finds many more individual odors to take in compared to humans by a thousand times.  It is why canines are used as search dogs instead of training humans to locate people, narcotics or bed bugs with their noses!  It is no wonder they go completely A.D.D. quickly and lose focus while in an environment other than home.

Now you at least know why your dog is prone to this annoying behavior!

Because a dog’s nose is their addiction to losing your attention you need to set up leash training so you become the default addiction.  Treats and affection work wonders as a dog’s new focus.

Giving your dog only 3 feet is also key to the 1st step in no more pulling on the leash.

2.  Tell Your Dog It’s Right in the Moment

Dogs do not have the ability to logic.  Humans come to conclusions.  Dogs need to know that they are doing what you want them to in that very moment that they are doing it.  At least in the training or re-training stage.

Don’t expect your dog to walk down an entire block doing the right thing without a lot of encouragement.  Reward in the moment.

Take a few steps with your dog beside you.

Reward your dog in the moment.

Take 5-10 steps and make a turn.  Keep rewarding.

Do this over and over.  To the point you think it’s ridiculous.

Before you know it you’ll be taking way more steps successfully with your dog beside you.  Soon you’ll be to the end of the block and on to the next one.

It’s like anything new.  It’s take a lot of practice.  Don’t get discouraged and try to make it all the way down the block the first time.

Yes.  It is a lesson for us alll.  It’s described as patience.  And done correctly it will bring you big reward in many areas of your life.

3.  Give Directions Ahead of Time

Another big mistake us humans make when it comes to leash training is giving directions to the dog way too late.

Think of giving your dog the heads up on what you want to do way before you’re ready to make a turn, stop or move forward, sort of like you would if you were driving a car.  If you were going to make a left hand turn in traffic you’d use your turn signal and begin breaking quite a ways in advance of the actual turn.

Remember the concept your dog does not process the ability to logic.  Therefore giving directions after you already wanted your dog to do something can be very confusing.  And if you give more than one direction, i.e “lets go”, “no”, “wait”, “stop pulling” all one right after the other without completing any of them, dogs get seriously confused.  It’s easier to default to going out to the end of the leash and pulling you along in the confusion.

Tell your dog what to do ahead of time and then proceed.  Pretend like each new move you want to make is a left hand turn in traffic.  Give a big alert before actually expecting your dog to understand what you want to do.

The Hardest Part of Leash Training

Patience.  Especially if you aren’t starting with a brand new puppy.  Re-training a bad habit can be frustrating and we are conditioned to keep moving forward even if the dog doesn’t get it.

Slow down.  Stop.  Begin again.  No one gets good at anything without a lot of practice.  Only practice the things you want your dog to do and stop repeating the actions you no longer wish to be a part of.  It works.  It’s a good formula for anything you’d like to change in your life.

Thanks for reading. If you liked this post, please subscribe to Big Island Dog and follow me on twitter, Facebook and Google+

The Big Island Hawaii

Welcome to Big Island Dog… my first post to our new life with our dogs and what we want to enjoy, appreciate and share on the Big Island of Hawaii.

I have two dogs, a Weimaraner and a Lab and a wonderful life partner, I call him G .  We decided to live our dreams in our 40′s rather than waiting until later, when the economy recovers, when we get to that “retirement” age… whatever that is, or any other excuse most of us have become accustomed to accepting as the reason we stay in jobs, careers and lifestyles we wish were different.

The articles and insights you’ll find on this site will include many lessons learned in this process.  It includes how I dared to say I wanted to become a minimalist.  This from a woman who came to find out had four closets full of clothes alone before we even get into all the Mac computers and gadgets, sporting goods and dog training equipment packed away in my garage, most of which I had forgotten I had, or simply couldn’t find through all the stuff.  Even the dogs missed out on a lot of fun with the over abundance of “stuff” in our lives since most of it was in bins and shelves piled amongst things I might need someday, never to be actually used.

Funny thing is when it comes to the dogs, now that all the stuff is gone and we are actually here in Hawaii, they are back to having the most fun ever and the toy that came along with them?

One simple tennis ball!  Same for us, only one of anything and only the things that we would actually use.  Everything is simplified.

What do the dogs have to do with it all?

I train dogs.  Yes I have been called by many “the real dog whisperer” as well as a life coach (also adopting this label from the many who have described me as this)… that covers health and fitness, business and personal in case you were wondering if you might need this type of thing in your life!  I enjoy teaching both things and in fact they really do intertwine.  It comes down to what we focus on, what we put our energy into, what we think about and who we spend our time with…. and for me it includes a whole world of dog things that can apply to how we live, play and show our authentic selves.

What you’ll find in Big Island Dog


  • Why we have dogs
  • How to live with more play in your life
  • How to leave bad behavior behind and focus on what you want (that’s for you and for the dog)
  • Create simple habits to build a lifestyle of joy around
  • Develop your life to have the best day ever most of the time
  • Build your business or work around your life passion
  • Make a difference in the world

I hope to inspire others to follow their hearts, live out their dreams and make the world a better place though the playful eyes of a dog.  As the creator of dog wellness programs, health and fitness, and coaching people who are ready to take their lives to the next level, reaching their full potential, I welcome you to the best day ever…. everyday.


Thanks for reading!  If you enjoyed this post please share it, follow me on Twitter or Subscribe to The Healthy Living Wag Report.

Jt Clough, has studied, applied and taught others how to create a balanced life with calm dog training techniques through her lifetime commitment to health and fitness. Clough is also the creator of dog wellness programs and author of the 5K Training Guide | Running with Dogs and Treading for Dogs DVD,  further inspiring people to introduce playtime in life through the eyes of a dog changing unwanted behaviors to practicing a healthy lifestyle.

Does Age Count | When to Begin Running a Puppy or Dog

The age your puppy should start structured running does matter.

Puppies are not fully developed and should not be run at all unless it is in the form of natural play. You should wait to fully run your dog until the growth plates have closed, usually at 18 months.

As a general rule light activity is recommended to start a 9-12 month old puppy, building towards full activity from 12-18 months. Dog breeds like Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Rotweillers and others that are susceptible to hip dysplasia should be a full 18 months old before full structured runs should take place.

For a list of good running dog breeds check this Runner’s World article:  A Breed Apart.

Once your puppy reaches 18 months you should start light activity, do short runs and try to run on softer surfaces such as trails or grassy areas as opposed to pavement.

Exercise for Your Puppy in the Meantime

In the meantime it is still important that your puppy get appropriate exercise. Walking on soft surfaces is highly recommended to begin building ligaments and muscle tissue around bones that are still growing.  The foundation can be instrumental in avoiding physical problems in the future.

Does this mean never walk or run your puppy on sidewalks or harder surfaces?

No.  You can certainly take your dog out on these surfaces as a segway to get somewhere or on a limited bases.  After all, these surfaces are part of life and your puppy does need to begin acclimating to them.

You can also begin incorporating tricks that actually are building core strength along with ligaments and muscle tissue.  Sit pretty is one of those tricks that uses a dog’s front legs and feet to push off, core strength to hold themselves up and builds muscle in the hind legs as a foundation.

Watch the steps to teaching sit pretty in this video.  The video shows sit pretty as a warm up for dogs older than 18 months who need an alternative exercise plan using a treadmill to meet their physical and behavior needs.

Older Dogs

Age matters in older dogs as well.  The fact of the matter is older dogs are going to feel a workout more than a younger dog.  Just like the aging process in humans it is a fact, things in our bodies get stiff and sore in a different way then when we were younger.

That being said it is important to keep an older dog moving.  Watch for signs of fatigue, limping or soreness and base your running sessions on these factors.  There are many dogs that keep going strong into old age.  It has been my experience that these dogs are those who have been active their entire life.

Hmmmm, same with people!  Another lesson from our dogs.

Thanks for reading.  My hope is to give you inspiration and actions steps to move toward a life well played your best friend whether puppy, dog or person!  

Dog Training EcourseJt Clough has worked with dogs in many capacities for the past 16 years. She has helped dogs and their people from training to healthy living and her latest inspiration is with Wonder Dog Fund, created to help pay veterinary bills for dogs that are in need of health care. When her own dog was riddled with a neck injury that came with a $12,000 fee, she realized how many people are faced with difficult decisions when a sudden injury or illness strikes their dog. A portion of every purchase from goes to Wonder Dog Fund, providing financial relief for dog veterinary costs.


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