We know you are committed to your dog, but are you ready to reach ninja levels of dog ownership? Buckle your seat belt, because we’re about to blast through seven ways you can be an even better dog owner than you already are.
We know you want to give your dog the best chance at a long, healthy life, right? Fortunately, there's a simple way to do just that: Make a commitment to preventive care. Being proactive about keeping your dog healthy by doing things like brushing his teeth, giving him parasite preventives and keeping up with daily exercise can help protect his overall health.
Speaking of exercise, the best dog owners respect how important it is to their canines' health. We're not saying that every dog needs — or is able — to run a 10K three times a week: Different dogs have different exercise needs. Talk with your veterinarian about how much and what kind of exercise is appropriate for your individual dog, based on his age, breed and current health.
Learn to Speak His Language
We're not talking about barks and howls — we mean learning to read your dog's body language, which might be trickier than it sounds. See the smiling dog here? Even some of the most informed dog owners probably don't know that a smiling dog might be presenting what behaviorists call a "submissive grin," which can be a signal that the dog is stressed or threatened. In fact, Dr. Wailani Sung says there are plenty of behaviors just like this that we commonly misinterpret.
Brush Up on Training
Whether you'd like to change the tableside begging that you've let linger a little too long, or you just want to teach your pup a cool trick to impress the dog park crowd, make time for training. It's great for your dog's mind and doubles as fun bonding time for you and your pooch.
Enrich His World
Speaking of things that are great for your dog's mind, behavioral enrichment is sometimes a well-kept secret among dog lovers. But we don't want it to be a secret! Behavioral enrichment doesn't need to be fancy or expensive — it's just about changing up your canine's routine in a way that challenges his brain and senses. Feed him a portion of his food from a food puzzle instead of a bowl or walk in a friend's neighborhood instead of your own, so your dog can sniff out new scents.
Invest in a Microchip
How amazing is it that something the size of a grain of rice can help bring your dog back to you if he gets lost? Tags and collars can fall off, so take advantage of the extra measure of insurance that a microchip offers. We all hope that our beloved dogs won't ever leave our sides, but if your dog does run off, having him microchipped can give him a better chance of coming home to you. Just make sure the microchip company always has your most current contact information.
Visit the Vet Regularly
You knew this one was coming! That's because it's one of the most important commitments responsible dog owners make. It's easy to get caught up in our busy calendars and forget to schedule that wellness exam or dental cleaning, but the best dog owners make regularly visiting the vet a top priority. Your devoted dog may not act like he loves you for it, but trust us, he does!
Vetstreet.com delivers advice from veterinarians, trainers and pet experts who are dedicated to giving you the most trusted, authoritative information for keeping pets healthy and happy. Our Find A Vet service connects you with leading veterinarians in your area. Launched in 2011, Vetstreet.com features veterinarian-reviewed medical advice and has quickly become one of the top animal health and lifestyle sites on the web. See more.