9 Easy Ways to Be a Better Pup Parent: Mind, Body and Soul

Dogs and their companionship give us so much more than they take. We owe our pups the most conscientious care, this doesn't mean we need to make drastic changes or a big effort. Small acts of love and kindness go a long way for our furry friends. Have a look at the following tips to keep your dog holistically happy and healthy and see which ones you would like to adopt into your routine.

MIND: Easy ways to keep your dog’s mind active…

1) Rotate your pup’s toys weekly. Keep it interesting and save money on new toys! This prevents boredom and saves money by keeping old toys fresh and exciting. Also, too many toys clutter the house, let’s face it your dog isn’t as good as putting them away as he is taking them out. Pay attention to which toys are his/her absolute favorite and keep those around full time.

2) Change up your walking route. We know walking is a healthy habit for both your’s and your pup’s cardiovascular health but it also benefits their brain. A new itinerary once a week or so keeps things interesting and can bring new smells and opportunities to meet new people and dog friends.

3) Practice obedience daily. This may sound daunting but it is easy when you incorporate training into your daily routine. For example, ask your dog to sit or perform a trick from his repertoire before you put their leash on for a walk and/or before you put their bowl down for meals.

BODY: Keep your pup healthy and out of the vet’s office…

1) Routine grooming. Grooming is about more than a haircut, it’s about health. Regular grooming includes things like bathing, nail clipping, and ear cleaning that are important to the overall health of your pup. Grooming about once a month is ideal, but more frequent visits may be necessary depending on your dog’s lifestyle (i.e., dogs that spend a lot of time outdoors). A regular bath allows you or your groomer to get familiar with your dog’s anatomy, so abnormalities (should they arise) will be noticed. A keen groomer can identify lumps, lipomas, hygromas or infections before they progress into something more serious. Frequent grooming breeds familiarity with the process — your dog will grow accustomed to being handled and will be more comfortable with things like having their paws touched and the buzz of the clippers. And we all know that a clean healthy dog gets more love and snuggles — good for you and good for your pup!

2) Dental care. Did you know that 8 out of 10 adult dogs have some stage of periodontal disease which, if left untreated, can lead to serious health complications? Brush their teeth daily. Yes, daily. Getting rid of tartar helps prevents dental disease, has a positive impact on your pup’s overall health and protects your bank account from costly dental procedures in the long run. Water additives are a good supplement for dental care if daily brushing is just out of the question.

3) Healthy diet and exercise. Daily exercise is critical for every dog — it keeps their weight on target and reduces anxiety among other benefits. Diet is also an important component of dog health. Ask your vet about the best foods to buy your dog and void giving table scraps. Try healthier snack options instead — for instance try giving them a healthy treat of carrots or apples (minus the seeds). Feeding dogs from the table also reinforces bad begging behavior which can be cute at times, but bothersome when you have guests over.

SOUL: The best therapist has four legs and fur…

1) Spend quality time with your dog. Watching TV with your pup cuddled on the couch, telling your dog about how you missed them while you were at work and seeing their ears perk up, are simple things that will help you bond with your pup and ultimately relieves stress for both dog and dog parent. Just a few minutes with your pup relieves stress — it lowers blood pressure and increases your levels of serotonin and dopamine (your feel-good chemicals) and even lowers cortisol (the hormone released when we feel stress).

2) Run errands with your pup. A drive thru bank errand, car wash, or quick pizza run could be a fun adventure for your dog and less lonely for you. Eating ‘alfresco’ is always nice and even better at a dog-friendly restaurant with your pup by your side.

3) Dogs are good for kids! Your children will benefit from the same stress relief your dog provides you as well as mental and physical stimulation. Play time with a pup stimulates their imagination and teaches them empathy and compassion. When a child teaches a dog a new trick they learn patience and perseverance which can greatly increase their self-confidence.

The new year is a great time to resolve to take better care of your dog. Make these habits part of your daily dog parent routine.