Everyone knows that dogs need food, water, and
shelter to survive. I’m here to
tell you three more things you can provide for your dog that will take their
life with you from good to GREAT! Your dog needs you to teach, to play, and to love. You’re probably already doing
some of these, but this newsletter will give you new ideas for ways you can
truly meet your dog’s needs.
A little training goes a long way. You don’t need to spend a year in a training class
with your dog (although there are some really fun training classes out there, such as K9
Nose Work which every dog can do,
that’ll make you want to keep going back!).
Most dogs need a class or
two so you can teach them good manners. Good manners are the way dogs get more
freedom in life – the better behaved they are, the more places they can go with
you. The more places they can go, the more fun the two of you can have
Teaching can go beyond (far beyond!) good manners.
You can teach your dog really
useful things like getting you a cool drink from the refrigerator, finding your
car keys, pulling your laundry basket to the washing machine. I’m talking about
really cool tricks!
Don’t stop there! Your dog is capable of learning almost anything. You can teach your
dog how to be calm during veterinary visits, how to accept having his nails
trimmed and his ears cleaned. And all of those things can be taught (and ARE
taught at Smart Dog U) with dog-friendly clicker training.
Smart Dog U works with a service dog agency to
teach dogs how to be service dogs.
These dogs can pick up a credit card and hand it to a cashier, bring the phone,
pick up the remote control, indicate high (or low) blood sugar, and provide
balance to a person. The dogs we work with aren’t any different from your dog –
these dogs start out in Puppy Charm School, move onto K9 Building Blocks, have
a little fun in K9 Nose Work, and then learn even more advanced skills specific
to what service they’ll be providing.
Teaching your dog new things – any new things – is
great for his mind. Teaching new
things can tire your dog out. A thinking dog is a happy dog!
Playing with your dog might seem like a no-brainer. Everyone knows how to play with his or her dog,
right? Yes. And no. Some dogs make it easy to figure out what toys they prefer
and what games they like to play. But what happens when your dog tires of that
game or that toy? Then what?
There are some really fun and interactive toys
available to pet parents these days.
Twenty years ago, we had to be creative and inventive– there weren’t many
options on the supermarket shelves for dog toys. From toys that can be filled with
food to toys you can make
at home, the options are as varied as they are plentiful.
Some dogs enjoy learning new games to play. Instead of fetch, try hiding your dog’s toy – see
if he can use his nose as well as he can use his eyes. If your dog loves to
retrieve, get a “Chuck-It.”
It’ll launch the tennis ball a lot farther than you can throw it
yourself – and it’ll give your dog a lot more exercise, too.
If your dog is young, healthy and active, see if
your dog is interested in agility.
Agility is sort of like an obstacle course for dogs. There are tunnels made out
of fabric, jumps (tire jumps, jumps with bars, etc.), A-frames, poles that the
dog weaves in and out, and all kinds of fun stuff. You can make your own
equipment, too. Until the agility bug bites you and you need to find
The best part about play is that it’s fun for both
you and the dog. And that’s what it’s all about.
This one’s easy – you wouldn’t have a dog if you
didn’t love him. But we go past the basic love idea. We’re talking about
things that go past just the emotion and get deeper into how you can keep that
dog you’re crazy in love with healthy and happy for as long as possible.
Safety falls under the Love category. Do you
know what common
household items are toxic to your dog? Know these items, know the symptoms,
what to do. You’ll also want to program this number into your cell phone
contacts: 888-426-4435 (ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center).
Health is a big rock in the Love category. Lots
of people equate food and treats to love. If you do this, you could be loving
your dog to death, literally. Do you know how many calories a day your dog
needs? Do you know what an overweight dog looks like? Is your dog at his ideal
weight? If he’s not, you can help him find his svelte and athletic figure
again. Ask your veterinarian to show you the Body
Condition Chart and help you identify where your dog is on that chart.
Getting your dog’s weight into the normal range can be the best way to love
your dog. Put the treat down! Go out and take your dog for a walk! That’s
something both of you will love and it’s good for your dog’s waistline (and
Teach. Play. Love.
Applying even one of the ideas in this article can
help you and your dog have a happier life together. All of the ideas are easy. They’re all fun. And
they’re sure to enhance the bond and the joy you share with your dog. Have fun
with your dog – he’ll love you for it.
What do you do with your dog to teach, play, or love? Share your experiences with a comment below!