Healthy, Happy Dogs: Health Training Tips for Owners

Healthy, Happy Dogs: Health Training Tips for Owners:

If you're an ordinary person who loves dogs and has one or would like to have one, you may be overwhelmed by the amount of information on dog ownership, training, and nutrition available to you online and elsewhere.

A well-trained and healthy dog is one of life's great pleasures. In fact, after family and friends, dogs are the most important creatures in our lives; dogs are our best friends! My family always had dogs when I was a kid; I remember them all well. One of my childhood's saddest memories was when our corgi Taffy, a pretty fiery little fellow, got run over on Guy Fawke's Nite. My father and I tended to his injuries, but he died.

The point is that dogs may not be human, but they may as well be, for the emotions they arouse and the love and devotion they give us if they are well treated. Don't they deserve the best we can give them?

Some of the things I believe everyone who has a dog should understand are very simple to apply to ensure you have a healthy, well-trained dog who loves you and will be your best friend for life:

  1. Treat your dog as you would any other family member; dogs respond to love, care, and attention just like the rest of us. Our Marty is a Shitszu-Fox terrier cross, absolutely adorable, and the poor little bloke gets hugs and kisses all day long. He sleeps on our bed!

  2. Be sure your dog knows who's boss: be firm but not physical. Dogs are like children - they need to learn limits but do not respond well to physical violence. In fact, Marty, as a puppy, received (unknown to us at the time) some very rough treatment from a dog groomer we took him to. He still reacts if we try to trim his feet.

  3. Feed your dog food that it likes to eat but is also good for it. There are plenty of dog foods available but make sure the one you choose for your dog is as natural as possible and not full of preservatives or additives that can and do cause ailments such as cancer. Good food is more expensive, but you need less, and it's undoubtedly better for the dog. We recently conducted an exercise comparing dog foods, and the results were pretty bad.

  4. Exercise your dog according to its needs. A big dog requires big exercise, a smaller one not so much. Exercise will enable your dog to burn off the energy they will otherwise spend on things they shouldn't. We find with Marty that throwing and getting him to return a tennis ball gives him plenty of exercise if we can't get him out for a walk. (He also tends to hoon around when the mood takes him, which cracks us up!)

  5. Do not leave your dog at home all day alone. Dogs are social animals and need your company. On their own, they get frustrated and bored (just as humans do). We take Marty where we can. Be very careful that you don't leave your dog in a car for long in summer - they get heat-stressed very easily and can really suffer.

Some easy things I recommend you do for your dog (and you!):

Start training and good eating habits early! Take your puppy to a training school for essential tips and socialization with other dogs and humans. Basic commands such as "sit" "stay" "heel" etc are very important and not difficult to implant if done correctly.

Pick a pecking order of command givers in your family and stick to it. Dogs are pack animals and look to the alpha male;

Get a good vet and stick with them if you can. They will give you good advice on nutrition, vaccinations, etc., and will get to know your dog's history. This is really important if special treatment is needed at any time;

Unless you plan to breed, have your dog neutered at about 6 months; he will not wander and will generally lose any aggressiveness he might have. If your dog is a female and unneutered, you will have to lock her in when she's on heat!

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