The Year 2018 may have been the year of the dog, but are your dogs included in your New Years Resolutions? What fun things do you have planned this new year with your dog? When we think of Resolutions, often diet, exercise and self care come to mind. How can you apply this to include your dog? Maybe your dog needs a check up with your vet? How about overdue dental care? Maybe your dogs want to learn a new language, like yours? January, after all, is National Train Your Dog Month! Start the year off on the right paw.
Your dog might have 5 -10 pounds to lose in the new year as well. It may be time to re-evaluate your dog’s diet. There are several great resources online to reference and check the quality of what food you’re feeding your dog. Be mindful of what your dog is eating. Most people tend to over feed their dogs. Dogs like variety just like people do. As long as your dog is in good health, choices are plentiful for good nutritious food. Is your dog getting enough liquid in their diet? Raw food, air dried raw food, home made food, supplements, kibbles, there are so many choices to feed. There are many resources on feeding your dog, but just like humans, good nutrition is important. Hand feeding is a great opportunity to bond with your dog, and there are many fun ways in which you can do this, and it only takes a few minutes.Think outside the bowl. I am not suggesting that feeding times are times to practice your dog’s stay. Don’t be stingy with your reinforcement. “Find it” is an easy way to start. Keep it fun!
Exercise is just as important with our canine friends as it is for us. Finding a happy medium can be sometimes challenging. Unlike humans, dogs don’t join the gym in January. And if your dog is not in shape, you need to start slow. How much is too much exercise? How old is your dog? Age, temperament and health are key to deciding how you exercise your dog. Too much exercise for puppies can be detrimental to their growth. Depending on your dog’s breed, dogs are not fully developed until they are between 12-18 months of age. I will usually suggest a good 20 minutes for physical exercise, but once again, you need to evaluate who your dog is. There are many forms of exercising. Choose something your dog enjoys, such as swimming, or short hikes. Try to avoid repetitious activities as throwing the ball 50 times for your dog. It’s okay to play ball with your dog, but it should not be the only form of exercise your dog is getting. If there are a lot of loose dogs in your neighborhood, go somewhere else to walk your dog. Speaking of walking the dog, how are your dogs leash skills? Walking the dog shouldn’t be a drag. Besides, you are walking with your dog. If your dog needs help, let’s teach them. Off leash exercise is the best, but make sure your dog has a secure place to run and has good recall skills. Dog parks can be like bars, you can have a great time, or a not so great time. Use good judgment went deciding if your dog is a good candidate for the dog park. Your dog should have good dog park etiquette. How do they get that? Hmmm, that brings me to our next topic, which is training.
Dog training is teaching your dog how to live in your world. It is about communication. Training your dog shouldn’t be overwhelming, scary, or a chore. It should be fun to spend time with your dog. Ohana Pet Training offers several classes at different times and locations. Taking a training class with your dog is a great way to spend quality time together. You may even learn more about how your dog views your world. We often say a tired dog is a well behaved dog, but that does not mean mindless exercise. Mental exercise is just as important as physical exercise. Be creative, play games with your dogs. Games such as hide-and-go seek, tag, and find it, can all constructive ways to incorporate training into real life skills. You cannot be angry with your dog if you have not taught them your expectations. Help your dog understand through good training.
As dog trainers, we often say if you’re not training your dog, they’re training you. For most people, active training on a daily basis is minimal. Passive training is what is happening when we are doing life. Working, watching screens, household chores, gardening, napping, are all activities that are part of our daily routines. Set your dog up to succeed when life is happening. Different developmental stages for dogs call for different action plans. To learn more about enriching your dog’s New Year, consider taking a class!
Wishing everyone a Happy New Year! Let’s all resolve to be kind not only to our dogs, but to each other as well.