Ask the Expert: Being A Better Dog Owner

Most of us have a working knowledge of how to care for a dog, and it usually involves three key steps: feeding them, exercising them and taking them to the vet when something is wrong. But is it really enough? We spoke our expert animal behaviourist, Lara Nobre for a few more steps you can use to turn yourself into an expert doggy parent.

Match your dog with your lifestyle
This is absolutely important as different dog breeds have different personalities and will need to be cared for in different ways. Before you get a dog, make sure you consider a range of lifestyle factors, like the amount of time you spend at home, your physical activity level, if you have enough room and if you have other pets. You should also inform yourself of the health issues that are common to your chosen breed, and ensure that you are financially able to care for these problems should they occur. Answering all these questions will help you pick the right dog for your family and will lead to them, and you, being much happier together.

Introduce your dog to other dogs
Although your dog might really love hanging out with you and your family, it is a pack animal and loves hanging out with other dogs more. So if you don’t own more than one dog, simply take your pooch to a dog park, or dog-friendly spot to introduce them to other dogs. This is not only a fun way for them to release some bottled-up energy, it also helps them socialise and makes for a happier, more well-adjusted pet at home.

ID your dog
A properly identified dog will make it easier for you to locate them should they get lost or stolen. You can do this by using a simple collar ID tag, which contains relevant information like their name, your contact details and address. You can also opt to have your dog microchipped at your vet. This digitises the ID process and helps identify your dog should their collar be lost or removed.

Give your dog its own space
Although they might not be as picky as cats, dogs love having something that they can call their own. Be it an old cushion, a cosy spot in the corner of the lounge or a dog house in the backyard, give them their own space as this helps them feel more secure.

Give your dog good food
Good nutrition is as important for your dog as it is for you. But it’s not a simple case of what’s good for one is good for the other. Make sure that you feed your dog quality dog food, as they have different nutritional needs to those of humans. If you are not sure of which dog food to get, schedule an appointment with your vet for some advice.

Treat your dog like a dog
Because we love our dogs so much, we sometimes tend to treat them like humans. Beware of this behaviour, as dogs actually appreciate knowing their place within the family unit. They should be made to understand that you are in control, otherwise they will act out and might become unmanageable. Appreciate them for what they are – an animal companion that loves unconditionally and is incredibly loyal.

Interact with your dog regularly
Regular interaction between dogs and their owners has been shown to have health benefits for both. One of the easiest ways to do this is by grooming your dog regularly. This not only strengthens the bond between the two of you, but also allows you to do a quick health check.

Stimulate your dog’s mind
Dogs are very intelligent creatures and need regular stimulation. Try surprising yours with something different every day – whether it’s a drive around the block, walking along an unfamiliar route, a toy that makes them use their brains, or hiding treats in the garden and teaching them how to find them. An exercised and stimulated dog is happier and less likely to create its own activities.


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