We often hear the saying, “dogs are a man’s best friend,” but are humans a dog’s best friend? Whether you’re a proud new doggie parent or you’re known as the “dog lady” in your neighborhood, dog lovers everywhere could use a refresher course on how to love their pup. With approximately 78.2 million dogs in households across the U.S., four-legged companions are clearly no stranger to the typical American family, and knowing how to love them is essential in making sure they live a long, healthy life. There are many things dog lovers can do to win the love and friendship of their pooches, here are just a few.
1. Exercise. Instead of sitting on the couch watching re-runs of Real Housewives of New Jersey, it would be mutually beneficial for your dog (and you!) to get some exercise. Whether you’re taking a stroll in the park, going for a jog around the neighborhood, or simply doing yoga with your pooch in the comfort of your own backyard, getting the body moving and the heart rate up has health benefits for humans and canines alike. Exercising can reduce the risk of arthritis, diabetes, and joint disease, so when you’re sweating bullets with your dog during your next nightly run, try to remember that you’re doing a favor for yourself and your furry friend.
2. Grooming. Remember how you felt during that lazy month of no shaving? Dogs, like humans, need grooming. Not only does going for regular grooming sessions make for a happy pup, but it can also prevent health problems and help you detect fleas and ticks. Clipping your dog’s nails, brushing his teeth, and cleaning his ears can be more of a bonding experience between you and your best friend rather than a chore.
3. Proper Nutrition. Shocking news: table scraps are not enough nutrition for your pup! Ditch the pizza crusts and leftover pot roast and get into the routine of giving your dog a balanced and nutritious diet. You don’t have to be a gourmet chef to get in the kitchen and cook up a feast for your beloved pooch. A number of homemade dog treat recipes look so tasty that you may even try sneaking a bite yourself (don’t worry, we won’t tell). If you’re prone to being a kitchen klutz, check out some organic, high-quality dog food brands or ask your local vet for recommendations.
4. Quality time. Spending quality time with your canine companion is an obvious tip in learning how to love your dog, but in between updating their Facebook status and sending emails, many doggie parents forget its importance. Spend a day at the dog park, give him a doggie massage, cuddle, or even watch TV together. No matter the activity, showing your dog that you make the effort to spend quality time with him is a clear sign of love.
5. Discipline. Like children, dogs need to be disciplined. Many doggie parents don’t discipline their dogs enough because they think their dog will not love them anymore if they do so. But disciplining your dog is actually a sign of love and doesn’t have to involve a screaming-barking match. Use positive reinforcement to establish who’s in control, and reward your pup when he does something right.
6. Socializing. Do you enjoy being cooped up in a house or apartment all day? Probably not, and neither do dogs. Exposing your pooch to different areas, people, and other animals makes for a well-rounded dog who knows how to behave in certain situations. Also, let your pup socialize with other four-legged friends at the dog park (who knows, Spot may meet his love match at the next doggy get together). Socializing is key in teaching your pup manners and makes for pleasant public outings!
7. Give your dog a vacation. Camera? Check. Suitcase? Check. Passport? Check! Where does Fido fit in to the equation? Since many travel destinations aren’t dog-friendly, DogVacay allows you to cross one worry of your list as you prepare to take that well-deserved vacation to the Caribbean. Dog boarding has gotten a makeover since the days of the kennel, as more and more doggie parents turn to trusted and reliable pet sitters and doggy daycare providers when they travel or work. Whether you live in Los Angeles or Chicago, home dog boarding gives dog owners the peace of mind that their dog is being loved and taken care of while they’re away. Stuck on what to pack for your dog’s vacay? Here are some tips.
Loving your dog will come naturally to you as you enter the world of being a doggie parent, but keeping these tips in mind and remembering to spend enough quality time with your best friend will make for a healthy, loving friendship.