If you’re a dog owner, we’re sure you already know the most important priority: keeping your dog healthy and happy. Sometimes, especially if you’re a first-time pet parent, that can be easier said than done. All of our furry friends are different and have individual demeanors and needs, but we’ve rounded up some go-to tips for keeping your four-legged family member at their best.
Rewards for Good Behavior
Training your pup is much more than discouraging bad behavior, like damaging furniture, begging, or general unruliness. Positive reinforcement goes an extremely long way, and rewarding a dog for good behavior will contribute to their overall happiness in the long run.
For example, praising and petting your pet for good behavior (and maybe even adding in some treats) will make your dog want to chase after the good behaviors that led to such rewards. Whether you’re training a younger dog who is still figuring out their own taste buds or teaching your old dog new tricks (literally), finding a tasty treat that they love can lead to consistent good behavior. For pet owners who love cuddles as much as their dogs do, it can also lead to a bit more of a snuggly demeanor.
Keep the Indoors Exciting
Many dogs would consider time outside as the highlight of the day. Canines tend to love long walks and playtime out in the sunshine, which unfortunately isn’t possible all day every day. By making your home a place where your dog can thrive in between times outside, you’re making the environment in which they spend most of their time that much more enjoyable.
One way that this can be accomplished is by finding a toy that your dog never gets tired of playing with. For dogs that are motivated by treats, shop for toys that can be filled with treats (or peanut butter, which many dogs also love snacking on).
Another option that requires a bit more of a time investment — but one that certainly pays off! — is teaching your dog the names of their toys, hiding them around the house, and letting a game of hide and seek commence. Dogs are intuitive and intelligent creatures, and many dogs also love having a task to do. Fill their time with an activity that yields a great reward in the form of some beloved toys.
This might seem a bit obvious, but it’s worth reiterating: while creating games for your dogs to play alone can be helpful in getting out excess energy and keeping them busy during the day, one thing most dogs love above all is playing with their owners.
Not only will playing together only strengthen the bond an owner already has with their dog, it also provides the perfect opportunity to practice commands, like sitting, waiting, and fetching. For especially active dogs, time in a dog park can also be a special time to socialize and exercise.
Change Up the Routine (Just a Little!)
While dogs do tend to love the comfort and safety of a routine — they are creatures of habit, after all — trying new things keeps a dog’s life interesting. Build in some extra time to go for a longer walk in the morning, rather than just letting your dog out for backyard time; weather permitting, take afternoon playtime out into the sunshine.
Food and Care
Emotional care is essential, but don’t let your pet’s physical health fall to the wayside. Finding a food routine that keeps your dog excited and energetic is essential. Try not to overdo it on treats, but do reward good behavior as you see fit.
When it comes to grooming, it can be immensely beneficial to get your dog into a familiar routine. You don’t want your dog to think of brushing or bathing as punishments, and making this a semi-regular part of their life can curb any anxiety around these essential processes. For dogs who are wary of bathtime, get creative: some pet owners have found success by having treats handy, investing in water-friendly toys to quell the stress of being in the tub, or even spreading peanut butter on the side of the tub to get a pup to get in and stay put.
Similarly, oral and dental care are immensely important for dogs. The best way to care for your dog’s teeth is to remove plaque and damaging buildup through brushing. Dental sprays and chews are also helpful, and should certainly be part of a dog’s life, but they shouldn’t replace brushing, which is the most effective method. If this is a new process for a pup, work up to it slowly. As with many other things, it’s less scary if it’s part of a routine.
Here at Friday’s Dog, we want to make that “Friday feeling” last all week, all month, and all year. By tapping into these methods, you and your pup can stay happy and healthy — together.