Every dog owner will tell you that caring for a canine is a full-time job. If you have never owned a dog before, then it can seem a little overwhelming at first. After all, this is a whole life that you have taken on, a responsibility for a wonderful pet and companion who is going to be relying on you to make sure that they stay happy and healthy for many years to come. We’ve all seen just how important a dog’s companionship has been during the pandemic, but it goes both ways.
One of the most important duties that every pet owner has is making sure that their animal stays active. There are many health issues that all dogs will face as they age, and many of them have their roots in a diet and exercise routine that does not properly suit their needs.
Of course, every dog breed has their own specific requirements and their own conditions that they may be more prone to, but every pup needs to stay physically and mentally active to ensure health and happiness. If you are just starting your journey with your dog, here are a few pieces of advice to help you get a routine going and set out on this journey together.
Get A Routine Going
There are very few things in life that cannot be made easier with the introduction of a clear, structured routine and looking after your dog is no exception. It’s not just helpful for the dog, it’s helpful for you as an owner to have a set of goals and a timetable to meet every day, especially if you are just starting looking after a dog! Set regular meal times are a great way to make sure there’s less temptation for either of you to do too much snacking, helping to establish a food routine that you can both follow. When it comes to exercise, you should be taking your dog out for a walk at least once a day, which brings us to our next point.
Get To Know Your Dog’s Exercise Needs
As we mentioned, every dog breed, and in fact, every dog, is unique and some dogs will require more exercise-heavy outdoor time than others. Exercise requirements will also vary per age. For example, a puppy will need less exercise time than an adult dog, and too much can have a harmful effect on their health. Your vet will be able to tell you how often you should be walking your dog and how long for, and there are easy tells if they have been pushing themselves too hard, such as being out of breath and showing that their limbs are aching. Remember that it’s just as important to make sure that your dog is exercising within its limits as it is to get them out there and running around.
Think About What You’re Feeding Your Dog
Dogs have a reputation of being able to eat anything, and of actively wanting to eat everything. However, just because they’d love to help you with your dinner, does not mean that they should. Canine obesity is a huge problem but it is something you can manage and avoid if you are careful about what you feed them in addition to an active exercise program. Naturally as pet owners we are pretty obsessive about looking for the best, most nutritious foods on the market, combing through the lists of ingredients and looking for anything nasty that could cause problems. When it comes to supplements, it’s a slightly different challenge. There are so many different options to choose from, and a lot of companies making promises about what they can do.
However, it’s a fact that one of the most common issues facing dogs is joint stiffness and joint pain, and it can make life uncomfortable for them as they get older. Omega 3 has long been proven to help with joint pain (it’s one of the reasons why humans use fish oil to help with our aches and pains!), and one of the most effective sources of Omega 3 are Green Lipped Mussels from New Zealand. They’re one of the main ingredients in YuMOVE, which also contains essential vitamins and antioxidants, and which is the only joint supplement that uses Hyaluronic Acid for dogs to help lubricate their joints. YuMOVE discuss the benefits of hyaluronic acid here, and offer plenty more information about how their supplements can keep your pup running around!
It is important for young pups to meet other dogs and learn how to be sociable, so if you’re just setting up a routine for the two of you, think about looking up local dog walking clubs to see if there are any friendly faces in the area for you two to meet. Socializing is a great way to keep your dog’s mind active as well as their body, but it is always important to be careful.
While some dogs love being around other dogs and having a good old rough and tumble play, others are not particularly interested in being sociable and can actually find it a very stressful experience. It’s particularly common for older dogs to have less and less interest in meeting new dogs and sharing time with them, so if you’re introducing your dog to another animal for the first time, keep a careful eye on how they are behaving and what their body language is telling you. If it looks like one or both of them is not having a good time, call it off.
Keep Things Interesting
Just as some dogs are more prone to putting on a little extra weight than others, some breeds require a lot more effort and attention to keep their brains active and busy. It’s all very well to take them for a jog around the park in the morning, but what about the rest of the time? When we’re all trying to stay home as much as possible, it can be hard to keep coming up with ways to keep your dog engaged and interested. If your dog starts getting bored and feeling like you’re not engaging with them, then they will find ways to entertain themselves or to follow those natural drives to chew, dig, and explore around the house, often not in a way that we would like. Of course, none of this is the dog’s fault, and it’s up to you as their owner to keep both their body and mind active.
Now, it may not be possible to travel to new places for walks right now with the current lockdown restrictions where you are, but if possible, think about what kind of new environments and landscapes you can explore together. Try to think about including more games and activities in your time together beyond the classic fetch! A food reward puzzle is a great way of introducing reward based activity and keep their meal times interesting. If they are happy socializing, then make more time for group activities with other dogs to keep them active. It’s also worth remembering that new toys are a good way to keep them engaged.