Americans are known for being obsessed with their pets.  Today, especially, we tend to pamper our dogs more than we did 20 years ago.  While some of the changes in how we treat dogs in today’s society are for the better, sometimes we can literally love them to death! In fact, we may not even realize we are doing more harm than good.  Here are 5 healthy ways you can show your canine how much you love him.  He will love you more for it!

  1.  Healthy diet.  A dog’s diet is more important than some dog owners might realize.  A diet, like in humans, can have a huge effect on the dog’s overall health, activity level, and behavior.  Some of the cheaper dog foods on the market are full of fillers, such as corn and wheat.  These ingredients can cause itchy flaky skin.  They can also cause the dog to carry more weight on its body than it normally would.  When a dog is uncomfortable it is less likely to make wise decisions about its behavior.  Similarly, humans might tend to be a bit grumpy when they are sick or not feeling well.  Thus, a human might say something he/she may not have said when healthy.  The healthier dog foods on the market can be expensive, but they will save you in vet bills later.  It will also save your dog from the discomfort of itchy skin and/or being overweight.
  2. Exercise.  Dogs are born to walk, run, and be active.  Some might be more active than others.  Regardless, they need time to stretch their legs and get some fresh air.  While physical exercise is important, mental exercise is also important.  Basic obedience training is a great mental exercise for dogs.  Make it fun!  Turn it into a game!  Physical and mental exercise should be interactive games with you.  These games will ultimately strengthen your bond with your dog, while teaching the good behaviors you expect from the dog in various situations. A tired dog is a happy, well behaved dog.
  3. Avoid table scraps.  So you buy your dog the best dog food there is on the market.  You have researched it.  You feed your dog the suggested amounts of food and you exercise your dog daily.  But, your dog is still carrying some extra pounds and you cannot figure out how to get your dog to shed them.  The next question I would ask is do you feed your dog table scraps?  Does your dog sit at your side at the dinner table each day and give you those sad eyes?  You feel bad so you let a few scraps slip off your plate onto the floor.  You let the dog eat the dropped food in the name of keeping your dining area clean.  Even though, this seems like a harmless habit, this very habit has a sneaky way of packing on the pounds.  Before you know it, you are in the Vet’s office for your dog’s yearly check up, and the vet is telling you your dog could lose a few pounds.  Scrap the table scraps!!!
  4. Train your dog with it’s food instead of treats.  You bought good wholesome dog food, check.  You exercise your dog daily, check.  You scrapped the table scraps, check.  You even went the extra mile and started taking training classes with your dog.  Fido dropped a few pounds, but he could still stand to shed a few more.  How many cups of those little tiny training treats do you feed your  dog per day?  How does that factor in to your dog’s meals?  Instead of spending the extra bucks on training treats, measure out your dog’s daily portion of food and use it to reward your dog for training and your dog will soon lose those few extra pounds.
  5. Rules and boundaries.  Imagine a world with out traffic laws.  Imagine how hectic it would be to get anywhere, especially high traffic areas.  No right-of-way rules, no stop lights or stop signs.  Society would be a mess with out traffic laws, even if we do not always like them.  Traffic laws give us a universal framework to work within when driving any type of vehicle or just being a pedestrian on the street.  Everybody knows what the rules are, and everybody is expected to follow them.  As a society we know what is right and what is wrong.  It keeps civilization running a bit smoother and safer than if we had none.  Dogs need the same framework to work with in.  Rules and Boundaries need to be black and white for dogs.  There is no grey area!  When dogs clearly understand the difference between good behavior (behaviors you allow) and bad behavior (behaviors you say no to), you will find that living with your dog will be much more symbiotic.  A dog that clearly understands the rules and what is expected of him is a much calmer dog.  A dog with out clearly defined rules and boundaries is probably going to become more excitable and more stressed out over time.  It will never clearly understand how it is supposed to behave causing stress and ultimately bad decisions.  Dogs are social and want to fit in.  But, they also need guidance on what is expected in order to fit in.  Basic obedience training can help set these boundaries and teach your dog the good behaviors in multiple situations.


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