10 Ways To Be An Awesome Dog Owner!

1) Walk them every day

It doesn’t matter if they are a tea cup Yorkie or a Working Cocker, a youngster or a golden oldie, every dog needs to get out of the house (and the garden!) every day.  In their prime this should be for at least an hour, ideally more, and must involve off the lead exercise.

If you are short of time; make an ordinary walk interesting by varying your route and incorporate some training; for example ask for a sit or a ‘high five’ at every street corner.

Even if they are elderly and can can’t cope with going too far, still ensure they get out on a daily basis.  The mental stimulation gained from a change in surroundings, even for a short time, can really help to keep senile changes at bay and prevent boredom setting in.

walking the dogs

All healthy dogs should have at least an hours exercise a day and they MUST go off lead!

2) Train them and play with them

Training your dog is an absolute must to ensure they are happy, confident and secure.  Like children they thrive with clear, consistent boundaries, praise and regular quality time with their loved ones.

As well as training classes, how about something more fun?  Dog agility is open to breeds of all shapes and sizes, not just Border Collies, or what about Gun Dog training, or Doggy Dancing, or PAT, or CaniX?

When you start looking there are an incredible variety of activities you can chose and all will help build a positive, trusting and deep connection between you and your dog.

3) Buy a doggy headcollar

I LOVE doggy headcollars!  They make your pet so easy to control. Even a tiny Bichon can be a pain on the lead if they are really lively, or have an elderly or infirm owner, and big bouncy dogs can turn a simple walk into a real drag (geddit?!)!

My favourites are Haltis but there are several different makes on the market.  My tip is to take your dog to the pet shop or vet and ensure it is fitted properly.

Many dogs object to head collars when they are first used but only because it is a new sensation to have something on their head and, also, much of their protestations are simply because they can’t mess about and get their own way anymore!  Introduce them to the Halti slowly and use it in the house first before you take them for a walk.  A bit like a puppy learning to wear a collar!

So this is a pretty old video but it stills stands!  Haltis are brilliant!

4) Look after their teeth

You know doggy breath?  It isn’t inevitable!

Huge numbers of our pets are suffering with painful, rotten teeth and it is so easy to prevent with some simple home care.  You don’t have to brush their teeth everyday (although that would be great!), but a simple dental chew a few times a week, or dental biscuits for the non-chewers, or powder on the food, or mouth wash in the water – there are lots of options because brushing can be challenging! – will help to pay massive dividends in the long run for their health.

Watch my video on my top five dental products and how to get the best out of them.

5) Pick up their feet and look in their ears!

It is really important that your dog lets you handle them all over.  I cannot tell you how many I have seen over the years whose owners say ‘He doesn’t like his feet touching’ or ‘Oh no, you can’t look at her ears’.

The thing is, at some point you are going to HAVE to touch them here; to clean dirty ears or to apply drops if they become infected, to clip nails or check for thorns.  If your dog is one which won’t let you look, simple tasks become a total nightmare and, inevitably, the problem will only get worse.

6)  Watch their weight!

Just like us, if our dogs stay slim, they are likely to live longer and be healthier.

It’s not always easy.  If they have been neutered they will be prone to weight gain, and some breeds are just hoovers on legs, but it is important!

Consider feeding a low calorie diet, one for neutered pets or even a breed specific food!

And sadly, again just like us, biscuits and treats, although delicious, aren’t helpful for waistlines.  You don’t need to cut them out completely, but make them an occasional extra, not a daily routine.

Also, human food is not allowed!  Table scraps are THE most common culprit in causing our pets to gain weight!  So resist those big brown eyes when you are having a snack.  More for you and better for them!

7) Bring them for regular health checks

Annual vaccinations are important but just as vital is the check-over with the vet your dog will get.  Our pets are the masters of disguise and very often problems that owners are unaware of are picked up at these routine examinations.  Also, it is a chance for you to ask questions or bring up issues you are concerned about but remember the staff at your local clinic will always be on the end of the phone if you are worried at other times!

8)  Love them but don’t spoil them

Carrying them in a handbag rather than letting them walk.  Letting them rule to roost at home rather than giving them boundaries.  Feeding human food rather than doggy because they ‘refuse’ to eat kibble.

It can be tempting to indulge our dog’s every whim but the irony is, if you love your pet too much, you will end up with a spoilt, confused and unpleasant pet.

Even the teeniest, tiniest dogs are still that – a dog – and should be treated as such.

9) Neuter your girls

The debates will always rage as to whether you should castrate male dogs (a very individual decision in my opinion) and exactly when you should spay a bitch (there is no convincing evidence that either before or after they are fully grown age is better- at the moment) but one thing is very clear, you must have your girl dogs spayed eventually.

A horribly high percentage of older bitches will suffer with a nasty condition called ‘Pyometra’.  The uterus fills with pus, they become very, very sick and the majority require emergency surgery to save their lives.  Also, the earlier girls are nuetered, up until a certain age the lower their chances of mammary cancer.

10) Be their hero!

There is a saying ‘ Your dog might be only part of your life, but for him, you are his whole life’ and it is SO true!

A dog is a not just a pet, they are a family member, loyal companion and they adore you. Return this devotion by caring for them well and being the person they believe you are!

You can follow me on Twitter; @cat_the_vet and find me on FaceBook;  Cat_The_Vet

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