How to give your dog its best life
With so many first time dog owners appearing over the past 18 months, it is hard to recognise just what it takes to do the best you can for your dog. I know people who absolutely adore their dogs, but they do not necessarily have all the right attributes that their dog would want. So what does it take to be a brilliant dog owner?
I’m going to start off by saying – buy the right dog! That doesn’t mean the most expensive, or the one I like (Border Collie). It’s what’s right for you. Choose the right breed and buy from the right breeder. Or get a rescue. I don’t mind. It’s you that will be living with it for the next 10-15 years. That’s longer than you’ll have your car or your sofa. After that, it’s up to you..
1: Interact with your dog
Talk to it, play with it, stroke it. You’d be amazed how many people like having a dog around the place, but don’t actually engage with it. NB: Don’t cuddle your dog unless they ask to be cuddled. Above all, be there for your dog so it doesn’t need to rush up to other dogs and people. It should NOT be desperately attention-seeking. It should be happy with its own family.
2: Be present as much as possible
Dogs are sociable and like hanging out together. If you’re going to be out all day, make sure you do plenty with your dog when you’re in. Hire a good dog walker, who walks dogs in groups. Have another dog. Or a cat.
I’m not saying you can’t have a dog if you work. We all have to work at some stage in our lives and I don’t think people should deny themselves a dog just because they are out. Dogs sleep for the majority of the day anyway, provided they have had a good walk in the morning and some play, training and interaction later on.
3: Groom your dog
Check your dog over daily for parasites, grass seeds, sores etc. Just stroke it! Brush when you can, but often. Little and often works wonders. Even if you dog has long hair, tackling it for 5 minutes a day can make a big difference.
Many of the poodle crossbreeds need regular professional grooming, which does take time and effort to organise and of course costs money! Take that into consideration when choosing the right dog for you? Don’t wait until it is a horrible matted mess that has to be shaved to the skin. We have created dogs in different shapes and sizes, so it is our responsibility to care for them properly if we are to be the best dog owner.
4: Feed your dog sensibly
A well-balanced diet makes for a happy dog. Pay attention to the level of activity of your dog, rather than what the bag says. Is it active enough? Or too hyper? Too fat? Or too thin? You should be able to feel your dog’s ribs, not see them.
We all know that obesity causes terrible health problems, so why inflict that on your dog? ‘Just a few treats’ is no good if your dog suffers as a result. You have the power to control your dog’s food intake and therefore to manage its health proactively. Pay attention.
If you have more than one dog, don’t think you can feed them all the same food and don’t just chuck the food down and walk away. Control the food you give and watch how it is eaten. Manage it. Personally, I feed a nutritionally balanced kibble because it works for my dogs. I am not knowledgeable enough to feed them food I have concocted myself. And I can’t be bothered! It’s easy to feed ourselves rubbish, but why should our dogs have to suffer? Raw food carries bacteria which may be leading to antibiotic resistance, which could be fatal for us all. I do not recommend this.
5: Walk your dog
Walk your dog slowly, so it can sniff and experience the world around it. An hour wandering and sniffing is far better than a pavement trudge several times a day. Don’t take it for a run! Dogs don’t naturally go ‘out for a run’ it’s not really their thing. They might run around chasing each other in a game, or chasing prey, but it’s not really necessary for our dogs. Let them be active in their own space, at their own pace.
Doing the same walk every day is useless – dogs need variety. And of course Let. Them. Off. Lead. You wouldn’t go for a walk with a blindfold on. Don’t torture your dog – here’s a lovely place you can’t experience, because I am holding onto you! Here are dogs to say hello to, or be frightened of, but I am hanging on to you so you can’t deal with that yourself. Teach your dog how to behave when they are out and about and they can enjoy a relaxing walk. Which brings me on to..
6: Train your dog!
Teach your dog to come when you call it. Stand in a different room from your dog and call it. Does it come? If it’s barking at a squirrel in the garden and you call it, does it come? If you open the fridge door, does it suddenly appear? Hmm, maybe a bit more work on recall is required… It is absolutely NOT difficult, nor is it rocket science. It just takes effort. And lots of practice. With cheese.
You don’t have to teach tricks to your dog, but it’s fun to engage your brain and theirs. Going to classes can be about focusing on your dog and sharing your experiences with others. Teaching your dog manners will save you both a lot of heartache. Basically, the more effort you make, the more you will enjoy your dog.
7: Say goodbye with dignity
Don’t put your dog through complex or invasive treatments, especially if they are a reasonable age and have had a good life. Let them go, with love. And be there to hold them as they do. It’s hard to part with your best friend and constant companion, but don’t make them suffer because you don’t want to say goodbye?
They make us laugh, they are there for us, bringing so much joy. Don’t they deserve a good life? These points should all have been so obvious they don’t need saying, but can you tick them all? Are you ready to be the best dog owner?
Weekly Focus Challenge
- Think about why you chose the dog you chose? What was it you liked about their breed?
- Why did you choose the breeder you bought your puppy from? What criteria did you have?
- What did you think of the puppy’s mum? Was she what you were expecting?
- Now think about your plans for your dog? What are you going to do with it? Will you go to puppy classes? Are you hoping to do a dog activity in the future?
- How often will you walk your dog? Whereabouts will you go?
- What behaviour issues do you anticipate? What do you think will be the biggest problems with your dog?
- What will be the best thing about having your dog?
- What arrangements do you have in place for when you are away? When you are at work?
- What are you worried about?
Buy the Workbook
The Workbook – A Year With Your Puppy is available to buy. It was written and designed to be a hands-on, interactive book for you. It will help you survive the first year with your puppy, but also act as a memento of that time and the journey you have been on. You can write notes and stick in pictures of your puppy throughout the year. Lovely!
Please CONTACT ME if you want to know more about me and my dogs? And feel free to COMMENT if you want to tell me what you think. If you want to know more, why not FOLLOW ME, by filling in your email address below? Then you will receive an email when there is a new post.
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NB: I am not a dog trainer, or a dog behaviourist, just a dog breeder and owner. I can only offer my opinion, based on my experience.