By: Tabitha Davies CDT, ACDBC
People constantly go out and adopt a dog or a puppy, usually starting out on the right foot, but tend to lose steam 3months down the line. This could be caused by hitting a road block (behavior that the owner doesn’t know how to fix), a life change (change In job, schedule, or health), or just realizing what a great dog they have and then helping that dog develop bad habits.
So here are the 5 steps to a happy dog and a happy owner!
1) Adequate exercise. All dogs need exercise-the amount needed depends on the dogs breed and natural energy level. For example you can not adopt a Hungarian Vizsla and expect a 2mile walk to cut it. A 2 mi jog or 20 minutes of an intense run will! Dogs who do not get enough exercise have issues that manifest themselves usually through behavior. Anxiety, tension, barking, destructive chewing and digging, and an inability to control their own excitement. Exercise not only builds a healthy body but also a healthy mind and disposition. It is also a chance for you to reward your dog and bond with them. If you have trouble walking your dog on a leash check out a local obedience class to help! That’s a lack of training and not something you as an owner will be unable to handle.
) Proper nutrition! I can’t stress this enough feeding brands found at grocery stores or cheap brands like pedigree,iams, beneful, ol Roy. Etc are made cheaper with more fat and fillers. Causing more bowel movements and larger more frequent potty breaks. Also fat in a dogs diet turns Into energy and the dog has to burn it. They’re not like us where it just straps itself onto a thigh or our stomach, it fuels that bouncing crazy dog energy we all love so much. So if your feeding a cheaper food step 1 needs to get doubled on your priority list. Dogs are omnivores but a key understanding is that byproduct is actually things like stomach kidneys intestine etc. and actually hold more nutrition, vitamins, minerals for your dog than all white meat chicken breast! So take into account that your dog is designed to eat differently than we are and they are not carnivores. Further ensure what “byproduct” is on the label. Beaks, feat, fat, and skin etc. are of minimal nutritional value but many companies do not have to list what type of by product they are using on their label. Another red flag! So look and see if the label states Ground chicken livers, Beef Kidneys etc. that is telling you exactly what cuts of meat are added into your pets food. They need a balance of 30% vegetation to 70% meat. Fresh veggies, greens, and fruits are extremely beneficial for proper fauna and flora in the digestive tract and therefore a strong immune system.
3) socialization- this is not just for puppies!!! The day you get your dog or they are ready to go out into the world you need to make a socialization plan! This includes people in public animals in public and people in your home. Always watch your dog and set them up for success ensure people greet properly and offer them a special treat to give your dog. I am constantly called out for behavioral modification training and its almost always due to a socialization issue. You don’t just do this for a few months then stop it’s a constant all the time plan for success. If your dog doesn’t love treats or is a little plus sized bring their favorite toy to reward and remember lots of verbal praise for a job well done never physically praise for negative behavior in the hopes of calming the dog down the message they hear is good job being afraid that’s exactly what you should be doing!
4) Training- in a class, with a trainer, or at home by yourself… Be consistent and use methods that foster trust and respect. Never physically punish your dog, it will cause fear and can make the behavior worse. If you don’t know what to do contact a trainer whose methods and philosophy you agree with. Start the day your dog comes in to the home and try teaching them new things their entire life! A brain at work gets into less trouble.
5) Veterinary care & grooming is so very important. Yearly physicals and routine tittering vs over vaccinating helps prevent diseases that would otherwise go unnoticed. Your vet will also tell you if fifi needs to shed a few pounds or if fido needs his teeth cleaned more frequently. Many owners do not realize that catching things early prevents thousands of dollars in costly bills down the road. So find a vet you like and a vet you trust and do as much at home that you can to cut down on the risk factors for your dog! Grooming is essential for proper joint health. Routine nail trims and low stress grooming for a coat clear on mats, tangles, and debris help ensure your dog’s natural heating and cooling system is functioning properly and can alert you to potential issues based on changes in their coat.