Pretty much every pet owner considers their pets their children, and this is great because our pets most certainly look at us as their parents. Really, how are we not? We feed them, provide them shelter, snuggle them unconditionally, act as their leader, provide medical care, and that’s just the start of it.
This is why it’s always important to take a look in the mirror and ask yourself if you’re being the puppy parent that you can be, the one that your pup deserves. Don’t worry, raising a happy and healthy dog isn’t really that hard — way easier than raising a human child.
#1. Body Language
Let’s start this article off differently than what you’d expect from other articles of this nature. Learning your dog’s body behavior is extremely important, but even more important is watching your own.
Dogs are big sensitive babies, and it’s so easy to make them anxious because they are so responsive to our personalities. If you come home anxious and in a panic, your pup will react to that and might become anxious themselves. Ask yourself this, when you yell or scream at something, how fast does your pupper come running up to you all concern?
You have to be delicate with your pup’s emotions and we often forget about this. My number one rule is don’t get mad or yell, and especially don’t hit. It doesn’t work, and you just make a dog that is already scared even more so — this will turn in aggressive behavior.
Not yelling or getting mad is always important, and that especially goes for training and disciplinary action where we have a habit of getting upset. Figuring out doggy body language takes some time, so here is a great body language tip to get you started.
Body Language Tip: If we have a pup that you’re trying to housebreak, instead of yelling when they go in the house, simply give a stern “no” and immediately take them outside — even if they already completely went in the house.
#2. Food and Diet
I grew up on a farm and I think I’ve seen dogs eat just about everything — they’re pretty much hairy and drooling garbage disposals when you think about it.
There are literally thousands of dogs food products out there on the market, so how do you know what’s the best . . . well, you have a few options.
Is a raw food diet right for your dog?
First up is the increasingly popular raw food diet which has a bunch of potential benefit for your pooch.
Healthier skin and shiner coat
Cleaner teeth — bones are nature’s toothbrushes
There are some risks that you need to look out for like bacteria from the raw meat, choking risks from bones, and unbalanced diets (dogs need a balance of meat, vegetables, bones, and even fruits).
While raw diets work fantastically for some dogs, others simply aren’t great candidates. Puppies, dogs with cancer and on chemotherapy, and pups with late-stage kidney or severe liver failure should all avoid a raw food diet. Puppies need a lot of calcium and phosphorus in the right ratio or bone deformities and other growth issues can happen — raw diets are low in both nutrients.
Maybe you prefer dry dog food
I personally go with a middle of the road priced and available dry dog food — I can find it in pet stores but not grocery stores. As well, I sign up to a email mailing list to see if it gets recalled — you’d be surprised by how many that do, so I highly advise signing up for a dog food advisory mailing list.
Your best bet for finding a great dry dog food is to do homework on the brand before buying, ask your vet what they recommend, as well, make sure protein and meat is the first ingredient and maybe even the second or third. I won’t say what brand I buy because I don’t want to promote, but if you’re curious your hint is “family of dogs”.
#3 Yearly Vet Visits
I don’t know how it happened, but I lucked out with my pup because he loves the vet’s office. He will legit whine when we leave because he wants to go back and see all the people and get up into all the smells.
You always want to make sure they are good on their yearly vaccinations, as well make sure you have a heartworm medication that you’re giving them regularly — usually one pill a month.
It’s important to have a good relationship with your veterinarian, and I always recommend finding a vet nearby in case of emergency. Plus, it makes car rides short and sweet which you’ll thank me for after your pup doesn’t puke in your car on the ride home — don’t worry, sometimes medication, shots, anesthesia from surgery, etc. can cause an upset stomach; your pup is OK, your car seat maybe not.
#4 Dental Care
If you end up going the dry food route like me, you’ll want to make sure you are keeping up with their dental health. I mentioned that bones are nature’s toothbrushes earlier and since we aren’t giving our pups a raw food diet, it’s a great idea to toss the ol’ boy a bone once or twice a week.
Besides being great for keeping their teeth squeaky clean, it will give them some additional protein and vitamins. Best yet, you don’t have to stick your hand in their mouth with those rubber finger toothbrushes or attempt to use an actual toothbrush.
Just make sure the bone isn’t too big for your dog (no bigger than their head). As well, avoid large animal bones as they are usually too hard — ask yourself if your dog could hunt that animal in the wild. Oh, and absolutely no cooked bones because they can splinter.
I personally give my dog bully sticks, and they very popular with dog owners because they softer and easier to digest compare to beef rawhides but shaped like a bone so they last longer (hard to not make a world of jokes) — bully sticks are dried bull penis FYI. They are also rich in protein and the jokes just keep coming. In all seriousness, they are a fantastic replacement for animal bones just watch their high calories.
More Tips and Tricks For Better Health
These four tips will go a long way in helping you set your pup up for a high-quality life. If you want more help applying these tips or would like even more tips and tricks for maximum health check out innovative pet products for all things pet health.