Canines generally have a naturally happy-go-lucky disposition across the board, even a grumpy senior pup is pretty content most of the time. Dogs have very simple needs, although meeting those needs isn’t always the easiest thing to do. As pet owners with full time jobs, families to support, and our own personal needs, sometimes it’s easy to let things like exercise and a daily routine fall to the wayside. Aside from food, water, and shelter, dogs need to feel as though they have a purpose. Your companion needs a job to do and she needs something to look forward to every day. If they’re just living in your home and going through the motions day after day, your canine can become destructive out of frustration and built up energy.
Put Some Variety Into Daily Exercise
If you only got one 30 minute walk every day and spent the rest of life indoors, you’d probably lose your mind, right? At the very least, you’d probably be pretty bored, and maybe even a little depressed. Try new things with your dog as often as possible, let them accompany you on one of your jogging trips or take them swimming. Bring them with you when you go hiking and camping. You can even purchase a backpack made just for dogs, add a water bottle or two and let your pet carry her own treats. By doing so, you give her a chance to feel a sense of importance and pride. When your dog understands their role in the family, they’re also more likely to respect you and obey your commands.
Teach Them New Tricks
No matter what age they are, you can always teach an old dog new tricks. In fact, most canines truly enjoy learning to communicate with you in new ways. If you have a dog who just won’t respond to verbal commands no matter what you do, physical communication might just be the solution to your problems. For a dog that doesn’t recognize “sit,” raise your arm to the side and bend it in an L shape. Then, make a fist while maintaining the L shape, and command your dog to “sit” again. They should pick up on it fairly quickly; you can easily transition from “sit” to “stay” simply by opening your hand, keeping the fingers close together. Of course, you’ll want to reward your dog with small snacks and treats for a job well done.
High-five is also a fairly simple trick that’s easy to learn. Pick up your dog’s paw and say “high-five!” Then reward your dog with praise and a treat; after you’ve done this 2 or 3 times, try it without picking up your dog’s paw. Eventually they’ll begin to understand that all they need to do is give you their paw, they’ll earn a snack AND have the satisfaction of knowing that they were able to please you.
Bring Your Dog Little Gifts Every Now and Then
Now, this might be something you usually save for Valentine’s Day and special dates, but your dog loves it when you bring them small tokens of your affection. You don’t have to spend $20 a week on a new Kong toy, but deer antlers, dental chews, or a Puppuccino every now and then makes your dog incredibly happy. They just want to feel included after all, and they cherish the special things that their owner got, just for them! Another benefit to this is that it further decreases the chances of your dog chewing on household items that belong to you. What for when you’ve got a couple of bones and a ball?
Keep Up with Your Dog’s Hygiene
While dogs do have a natural ability to keep their coat clean, you should still make an effort to bathe them every so often. This should be done more frequently with dogs who spend a lot of time outside and happen to be very active. Canines that enjoy lots of outdoor activity are far more likely to pick up dirt and unwelcome guests such as ticks and fleas. No matter how much prevention you’re using, these tiny bugs will inevitably make their way onto a dog that loves to hike and run through the woods.
Bathing active dogs every 3-4 weeks is recommended not only to remove excess dirt, but also to wash away any fleas that might be lurking. During the bath, run your fingers through your pet’s fur and carefully feel for small lumps and bumps. When they aren’t filled with blood, ticks can be small and difficult to spot, so take your time and do a thorough check.
Don’t Forget Their Teeth, Ears, and Nails
If you’ve ever had a toothache, torn nail, or an ear infection, you already know how completely miserable it can be if left untreated. Your dog’s ear canal runs much deeper than a humans, therefore there is quite a bit more room in that dark, warm space for an infection to brew. Dogs that love to swim often find themselves with recurring yeast infections; there’s also the chance of your pet contracting ear mites. Both will emanate a strong, foul scent and you’ll start to notice thick, black chunks of earwax within the ear canal and along the grooves of the inner part of the ear flap. While there are plenty of eardrops on the market, you should see a veterinarian if the problem isn’t better after 3 days to a week of treating the possible infection at home.
Nails should be trimmed at least once a week to prevent them from growing too long and breaking off. Your dog has a blood vessel inside each toenail called a “quick,” that sits a few millimeters above the tip of the nail. If you aren’t trimming your dog’s nails often enough, they’ll grow out too far. When this happens, the nail will continue to grow into the paw pad, which is incredibly painful, or they’ll break off and damage the quick. When broken or exposed, the quick can bleed profusely. Usually this can be stopped with styptic powder and heals quickly, however if the break is severe enough, a veterinarian will have to cauterize the nail in order to stop the bleeding.
Brushing your dog’s teeth once or twice a week to prevent tartar buildup is easy to do, but also easy to forget. Not everyone is comfortable with professional teeth cleanings due to the requirement of anesthetic on their pets. However, you should still try to schedule yearly appointments as your pet ages as there is a greater chance of broken and rotting teeth; it’s just part of the aging process and needs to be taken care of.
Allow Your Dog to Interact with Visitors
We all know how excited some dogs get when new people arrive at our homes. We often try to avoid embarrassment by secluding our dogs in a kennel or another room. As frustrating as it can be, we have to let our dogs greet new people. Locking them away every time someone comes over will only increase frantic, anxious behavior, and feeling left out all the time is sure to make your pet feel sad and excluded from the family. Not only will it make a huge difference in their happiness and behavior, it’ll improve your relationship with your dog.
Let Your Dog Celebrate Holidays with You
When Christmas, birthdays, and other gift-giving holidays come around, it’s almost always a joyful and exciting time for the whole family. Bake a dog friendly birthday cake or give your pet a couple presents and help them open it up. Thanksgiving for example is a major holiday in which families come together to enjoy a meal. Turkey, green beans, and carrots are all safe for your pup to eat; just don’t feed them too much or it’ll upset their stomach. On the other hand, it also makes your pet feel pretty special! It’s not every single day that they get to enjoy human food. More than anything else, your dog just wants to feel loved, included, and to know that they play an important role. We only have a limited amount of time with our canines, so do your best to make the most of every moment that you have with them. Do your best to give them a loving home, and they’ll give you so much more in return.