Every responsible pet owner wants their pet to be as healthy and happy as possible. And the good news is that for the most part, that is down to you. How your dog is cared for, the food that they eat, the amount of exercise that they get, and how you interact with them on a daily basis will shape the animal that they are and have an impact on everything from their temperament and behaviour to their physical health and wellbeing.
Whether you want to improve the health and happiness of your existing pet, are adding a new puppy to your household, or are taking on an older rescue dog in need of a loving home, here are some of the top things that every dog person should do to ensure a happy, healthy, and safe environment for their pet.
1. The Right Diet
What you feed your dog goes a long way in so many different areas of their lives. The food that your dog eats will affect a huge range of factors including their energy levels, coat condition, weight, risk of diseases, temperament, and much more. Spending some time researching the best dog food options and choosing the most suitable one for your pet is important.
If you are not sure what type of food your dog would benefit from the most, speak to a vet who isn’t biased towards a certain brand as they are likely to give you honest advice and a range of recommendations rather than simply trying to sell you the dog food brand that the veterinary practice is sponsored by.
2. Add Dietary Supplements
Along with making sure that your dog is getting the right diet for their needs, it’s a wide idea to consider adding dietary supplements to their meals to ensure that they are getting the right amount of key nutrients like Omega-3 fatty acids. This is especially important if you have an older dog who might be more prone to joint problems and needs more of this nutrient in his diet in order to move freely and with minimal pain.
YuMOVE offers high-quality dog food supplements made with sustainably sourced ActivEase Green Lipped Mussels to provide a supplement that may help your dog live a happier and more pain-free life. YuMOVE has helped thousands of dogs around the world by improving their diets; find out more about what they could offer your dog at yumove.
3. Lots of Exercise
Your dog will need a level of exercise that is appropriate for her age, breed, and energy levels. This will vary from dog to dog, so it’s important to take your dog’s personal needs into account and consider what will benefit them the most. Older dogs often need less exercise compared to a dog in his or her prime, and most smaller breeds require a lower level of exercise compared to larger, more energetic breeds.
Ideally, your dog should be walked enough for them to be calm and satisfied when back at home. If your dog is still bouncing off the walls in your kitchen after they’ve been walked, you should probably walk them an additional time each day or make the walks longer. Wherever it is possible, find a secure area to let your dog off-lead since this typically provides more effective exercise.
Good training isn’t just for puppies; it can benefit your dog at any stage of their life and is especially important for dog breeds that need a lot of mental stimulation. If your dog is bored and has started with problem behaviours like chewing the sofa or eating your shoes, then it’s probably likely that they need to feel like they have a mission and purpose in life, which can be achieved by training.
The saying that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks is not true because, with the right positive reinforcement and a bit of patience, it’s certainly possible for dogs of any age to learn something new. If your dog has completed all their basic training and is well-versed in obedience, it might be time to move onto something more fun and exciting like fun tricks and performances.
5. More Mental Stimulation
Of course, it’s important to realise that you might not have the time to invest in one-on-one training with your dog all the time, but if mental stimulation is something that they need, the good news is that there are plenty of items on the market that can help you achieve this even if you need to leave your dog alone.
Dog games, puzzles, and toys that require your dog to do some thinking can all be great ways to keep him entertained, occupied, and focused on a job. Kongs are an especially good toy for dogs who need to be mentally stimulated since they can be stuffed with tasty treats that the dog then needs to work at getting out of the toy – this can take a while and can easily keep some dogs focused for hours.
Like many domestic animals, dogs thrive with a consistent routine and anything that deviates from the routine can stress them out, so it’s important to keep things as consistent as possible for your pet.
Feeding, walking, and any other activities should be done at as similar a time or the same time each day in order to avoid confusing your pet and help them feel more safe and secure in their environment.
7. A Safe Place
While they might hardly look comfortable to humans, crate training your dog can be really handy, and learning how to be in a crate can be a very useful skill for your dog to have since you never know when you are going to need them to get in it for your own safety.
A crate can be used if you have work being done on your home, for example, if your dog needs to travel, or for a younger dog’s safety when sleeping if they are prone to doing things like chomping on the electrical cables.
Make the crate a cosy, comfortable place for your dog, and put a blanket over the top to provide them with a secure environment. Dogs will naturally try to find a secluded, confined space to rest – a crate is perfect for this.
8. Stay Hydrated
Finally, making sure that your dog stays hydrated is important all year round, but most importantly during the summer months when there’s a much higher risk of your dog overheating. Some dog breeds – especially flat-nosed breeds – can be more prone to heat-related problems than others so be sure to take extra care when the weather is warm.
Adding ice cubes to your dog’s water bowl and waking them in the earning morning or evening when the sun is lowest is important to keep your dog at the right temperature and help them avoid becoming dehydrated during the summer months.
You can also get cooling toys to put in the freezer and then give to your dog to chew, which can help them stay hydrated if they’re not drinking a lot voluntarily.
Whether you already have a dog or are considering adding a four-legged companion to your household, knowing how to keep your pet healthy and happy is the foundation of a long and successful relationship.