Having a dog is like having a child, a best friend, and an at-home entertainer all rolled into one. Dogs can be funny, friendly, and the best part of your life, but they are also a great responsibility. They depend on their owners to take care of them and make sure they are getting the proper care they deserve. As a dog owner, it’s up to you to ensure your pet’s physical and emotional needs are met. The following are a few tips to cover the basics of good care and help you make sure you dog stays healthy, fit, and happy:
1. Feed Them Right
Choosing the right dog food is always an important place to start when looking at the overall health and well-being of your pet. The food your dog eats can affect their energy levels, coat, and even their disposition. Feeding your dog the wrong food can have long-term consequences on their overall health. Feeding them too much food, or not enough food, can also have a huge impact on their quality of life.
Let’s start with the ingredients in your dog’s food. Many inexpensive brands today are made with fillers like rice and by-products or manufactured meal. Foods that are just fillers and by-products are often not rich enough in the proper nutrients that dogs really need which can lead to malnutrition and leave your dog susceptible to health problems. Also, poor-quality food can lead to long-term issues like cancer. When it comes to picking out your dog’s food, look for something that isn’t over-processed or manufactured and that is rich in protein.
If your dog is underfed, especially as a puppy, he or she could develop physical problems and have stunted growth or not develop properly. A hungry dog can also become a mean and desperate dog and develop attitude or aggression problems if they aren’t getting enough food. Overfeeding causes its own problems though. A dog that weighs too much can develop joint issues, as well as a host of other health problems that can damage their heart and digestive system. In order to make sure you are feeding your dog the right amount, talk to your vet. Don’t rely on the recommended amounts that come on bags of dog food. The amount of food your dog needs will depend on their age, breed, energy level, activity level, and overall health. Talking to your vet is the best way to weigh all these options and come up with the perfect feeding plan for your pet.
2. Provide Proper Training
Proper training is crucial to your dog’s physical and mental well-being. It also provides a great way to forage a connection between yourself and your pet as you establish lines of communication and spend quality time together, all while accustoming your dog to looking to you for commands and structure.
All dogs should be taught the basic commands of sit, stay, heel, and lay down. These are a few other commands that sometimes get added to this list, but these basics will ensure your dog can safely interact with others either at home or on a leash, which will greatly improve their quality of life. These commands are non-negotiable. Most dogs are trainable with repetition, treats, and a little patience. If your dog still struggles with the basics, though, you should look into training camps or hiring a professional. Either way, it’s your responsibility to ensure your dog understands and follows these commands.
Some dogs will only ever grasp the basics when it comes to training – this could be due to mental capacity, temperament, or simple laziness. If your dog doesn’t seem inclined to learn tricks, it’s usually best not to push them: This could just lead to frustration for you and your pet and leave them less inclined to follow the commands they do know. If, however, your dog does well with training you should continue to teach him or her as long as you can. Training provides good mental stimulation for a dog while strengthening the bond between owner and pet. Further training ideas can include high-fiving, rolling over, jumping through hoops, opening doors, or really anything you can think of. The possibilities when it comes to training a smart dog are really limited to your time, patience, and imagination.
3. Make Sure They Have Both Mental and Physical Stimulation
Many dog owners make the mistake of thinking their dog just needs to exercise to burn off energy, but the truth is that dogs need lots of mental stimulation as well. In fact, mentally engaging tasks such as training sessions can burn as much energy for some dogs as physical tasks can. It is important to make sure your dog is healthy and fit in both the mental and physical arena since, for dogs, the two are intrinsically linked.
Mental stimulation for a dog often takes the form of training sessions. The act of forging new neural pathways to understand the links between words and commands is great mental exercise for your dog that can help burn off energy just as well as playing fetch. Mental stimulation shouldn’t be confined to just training, though. Dogs love games, and especially smart dogs often benefit from puzzle toys or mentally stimulating games. This can include having him identify his toys by name or hiding a toy or person and having him find it. Puzzle toys are also great mental stimulation, especially the ones where your dog has to work out how to remove a treat or bits of food from the toy, which then serves as an automatic reward for figuring the toy out.
Everyone knows dogs need exercise to be happy and healthy. People often say a tried dog is a good dog. Dogs who receive the right amount of exercise are less likely to act out, chew things they shouldn’t, or develop other behavioral problems. Typical exercise like fetch, long walks, and visits to the dog park are all great options that should be taken advantage of. While it’s true dogs are creatures of habit, it’s important to change things up every once in a while to keep things interesting. Walking a new neighborhood path, taking your dog to play at a water park for pets, or attending local pet-friendly events are good ways to provide the mental and physical stimulation your dog needs to be happy, healthy, fit, and content.
The Take Away
The typical saying may be “happy wife, happy life”, but one could also change that to “happy dog, happy life”. Happy dogs are less likely to cause problems, disobey, and act out, and a dog is never happier then when they are healthy, fit, and well-taken care of. To ensure your dog has the best quality of life possible, make sure you’re feeding them the right amount of food that is full of quality ingredients that meet their specific needs. Make sure they know basic training commands and try to teach them something new when you can while also ensuring your dog has all the mental stimulation and physical exercise they need. Do these things, and your dog will have a great quality of life and your bond will be stronger than ever.