Welcoming a furry member into the family is hands down one of the happiest experiences, well, ever. And though they may seem like little stuffed animals—with their big, soulful eyes and fuzzy coats—dogs are living, breathing mammals with a lot of needs. Just like a human, a dog needs to remain healthy, and all-around well-adjusted from the time they’re puppies until long into their golden years. In this article I am going to highlight how you can raise a well-rounded dog!
By: Muqaddas Zahid
As much as we love animals, unfortunately, they don’t come with a manual, but here are some winning tips on how you can get the most from raising a happy pup! For one thing, just like humans, dogs need regular exercise to remain in good health. It can help them maintain a healthy weight, keep them limber as they age, provide mental stimulation, and help decrease unwanted behavior that may be worsened by inactivity and boredom. While daily exercise is recommended for most pooches, the amount and intensity depend on your dog’s age, size, breed, and fitness level. In addition, an assortment of activities is always recommended.
Also variety can help a dog maintain better overall health by introducing changes to their routine that challenge their senses and provide different types of strain on the body. Think about how bored you would be if your only form of exercise was walking on a treadmill! Switch things up by adding activities like hiking, running, swimming, agility, obedience training, frisbee, or treadmill work. Even a change in where you exercise your pet can help keep them more engaged and active.
Keep in mind, dogs need stimulation for their senses and minds as much as for their bodies. Much of the physical exercise that you provide them also offers forms of mental stimulation, such as sniffing on hikes or walks, learning new cues or tricks, and changes in the environment. You can also increase mental stimulation by introducing puzzle toys and new games.
And then comes their diet. What you feed your furry friend creates the foundation for a healthy life. Depending on your dog’s age, size, and unique health, a generic kibble mix might not do the trick. Instead, a custom kibble made just for your dog can be the best way to give them full-spectrum nutrition. You can have their mix tweaked at any time.
It’s also important to have a well-socialized dog to ensure you can take them out in public without worrying. Socialization is the process of introducing a dog to a variety of environments, objects, sounds, textures, people, and other animals in a safe and controlled way so they can have positive experiences and learn to problem solve, adapt, and ultimately thrive. The goal of this lifelong process is to help our pets understand how to respond to new situations. Socializing your dog doesn’t just mean walking them on a leash and meeting the neighbors, either. If you have a puppy, signing them up for socialization classes and group play can be a great way to begin. But this process should continue beyond a classroom setting.
Every new situation we take our dogs into is potentially scary to them, so it’s important to have a strategy. Never force something on your dog or try to speed up the process. It’s better to ease them into new things by rewarding them with treats and praise. Then, slowly build from there. Your dog may be the sweetest, most cuddly fur ball ever, but if they jump on houseguests, beg for table scraps, or bark at the mail carrier, they may need help with their behavior. While you may think the jumping is endearing, other people might not find it cute—they could even be scared by it. But here’s the thing, dogs aren’t born knowing behavior norms—they need to be taught.
Teaching your dog how to behave takes training using positive reinforcement. Training based on force, fear, pain, or punishment has been scientifically proven to have detrimental long-term effects on a dog, as well as the relationship between the dog and owner, and doesn’t actually teach a dog what you want them to do. On the other hand, positive methods of training improve the human-dog bond, provide long-lasting results, and promote a good quality of life.