Dogs are well-known for their loyalty, affection and devotion to their owners. But owning a dog is also proven to improve your health, boost your confidence and increase your happiness.
Our canine companions deserve appreciation for all that they do. Read on to find out ways to share the love and keep your pooch at the top of their game.
1. Play with Your Pooch
Regular exercise is as important for dogs as it is for people. Try to find activities you can both enjoy while getting your blood pumping. Throw a frisbee around, take your dog for a swim or strap on your rollerblades if your dog likes a good run.
Veterinarians recommend taking your dog for at least two 15-minute walks per day. Although, this is just a guideline. Dogs who are larger and have more energy may need more or longer walks, and some dogs may be fine with only one walk a day. See what works best for you and your dog.
If your schedule doesn’t allow for enough activity time, hire a professional dog walker to spend some time with your pooch.
2. Take Your Dog to a Groomer, or Do It Yourself
Dogs benefit from regular baths, coat brushing, nail trimming and haircuts if they’re a breed with continuously growing fur. They might not enjoy having these done, but they’re guaranteed to feel better afterwards.
Also, if your pet has fleas or ticks, get these treated as soon as possible either professionally or at home.
Cleaning your dog’s ears is another important grooming task. It prevents ear mites and infections, which can lead to hearing loss if left untreated. Check out these tips on how to keep your dog’s ears clean.
Related: How to Give Your Pet a Massage
3. Include Social Time
Socializing with different people and other animals helps to naturally lower canine stress hormones, making them less aggressive and fearful. Well-socialized dogs often become more accepting of unusual or new situations, such as going to the vet. They look forward to outings and seeing new places, and grooming often goes much more smoothly with a calmer dog.
Try taking your buddy to a dog park, or visit friends who also have dogs. Sign up for a dog training course. You can also try some play time with other pets, such as cats or horses. They may surprise you and get along well together.
Spending time with you and other human family members is one of the best ways for your pooch to get social time. Set aside some one-on-one time every day to give your best friend some love.
4. Exercise Their Mind
You can buy commercial toys that are designed to challenge your dog’s intellect. But you don’t need to spend a lot of money to create fun games for your pet. Try a few of these easy ideas:
- Fill the cups of an old muffin baking tin with items like balls or other chewable toys and let your dog figure out how to get them all loose.
- Hide their favorite treats around your house or yard for a tasty round of sniff-and-go-seek.
- Set up agility parks with common items in your home or yard.
- Tie a string onto the end of a long stick, then a toy or object on the end of the string. Dangle the item in front of your pooch, varying how fast and slow you move it around to keep the game interesting.
5. Have Treats on Hand
Giving your dog treats may seem frivolous, or like you’re spoiling your pet. Rest assured that it’s not. Similar to human children, dogs need something to focus on and keep them busy, while improving their physical and mental skills.
Treats will keep a dog engaged and prevent them from chewing on your furniture, digging up your flower beds or other acts of boredom.
A treat can be any toy or food item that your dog enjoys. You can give them as part of a formal training session, for simply being good throughout the day or if you see signs that your dog is getting bored.
6. Keep Your Dog Safe During Extreme Weather
It may not be immediately obvious, but dogs can suffer during cold or hot temperature extremes. Remember to take extra care at these times.
Fur often isn’t enough to keep dogs warm during cold spells. They need extra layers as well as protection from skin damage and other winter hazards. Check out the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ cold weather safety tips for dogs.
Excessive heat can also be dangerous for dogs. They don’t sweat to cool themselves like humans do, so they can be susceptible to heat stroke. Avoid taking your dog out during the hottest times of the day, and make sure they always have enough water and shade. Find out warning signs to watch out for and how to identify and treat an overheated dog.
7. Visit the Veterinarian Regularly
A new puppy’s first visit to the vet should be around 8 to 10 weeks old. Your pup will get a physical exam and potentially a de-worming. You can also discuss important issues such as neutering, vaccinations and microchipping.
Vets recommend yearly check-ups for adult dogs, and twice-yearly for senior dogs older than 7 to 10 years. This gives you the opportunity to catch any health issues before they become a problem, ensuring your pooch stays healthy and happy for years to come.
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