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March 22, 2012 at 7:46 AMComments: 0 Faves: 0

A Dog's Basic Needs

By Victoria Swanson More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the Paws & Awws Blog Series

Dogs thrive on a healthy routine and schedule. They crave rules and boundaries, which will make them a long-term healthy and happy addition to your family.

Below are five basic guidelines every pet owner should follow to ensure their dog is happy and healthy!

Set a Feeding Schedule

Remember no free feeding allowed. Food is highest value in a dog's world, so it’s essential to maintain control of it. Provide a scheduled feeding time and have your dog earn their meal.

First, put your dog in a "Sit" and "Stay" command. Second, place the bowl on the ground in front of the dog. Lastly, Release your dog from the command, so they can eat their meal. Allow them to eat for 30 minutes and remove any leftover food. The added bonus of a feeding schedule; being on a feeding schedule also helps with the potty schedule.

Physical and Mental Stimulation

Walks are a dog's best friend. A daily walk or running program for a minimum of 30 minutes is one of the ways to meet your dog's physical stimulation need. While 30 minutes is a good base time, depending on the amount of activity level that breeds needs, they may require more than 30 minutes.

Dogs love and need playtime. It is so important that dog's are given the opportunity to be around other dogs, outside of their home, to interact and learn from each other. One on one time with you for play is just as important, this is a great way for your dog to bond with you through exercise

Challenge your dog mentally. Just like us, dogs need to give their brains a workout too! Puzzles and games are a perfect way to exercise their mind. Training your dog is a PERFECT mental stimulation! What dog doesn't want to learn and communicate with us better? Remember there is no such thing as an unintelligent dog. If you train, they will learn!

Depending on the breed, some may need more mental stimulation than others. This type of interaction with your dog is very important because if they don't have this need fulfilled, they will try to find other ways to entertain themselves. Sometimes these ways they find can develop into bad behaviors; excessive barking, jumping on you, destructive behavior in your home, in door potty issues, and digging. Just make sure to challenge their minds and they will be so much happier!

One-on-One Quiet Time

It is important to have down time with your dog. Making time where you are both just relaxing and bonding through physical touch can provide a much needed relief of security to your dog. Physical touch is a dog's second highest value, be careful how you use this very powerful communication tool with your dog.

I love sitting on the couch with my dogs for one-on-one quiet time. Whether I am watching a movie or curled up reading a good book, I enjoy this bonding time with them. Izzy tends to curl up in a little ball on my lap and Romeo loves to roll on his back for a gentle belly rub. It is our special time, after all the craziness of the day. We can just sit, relax and enjoy each others company. :)

Physical touch is not only beneficial to your dog, but also to humans. Studies have shown that a person who has pets in their life live an average of 10 years longer and are mentally and physically healthier then people without pets.

Set a Schedule / Routine

Have a "Set" Schedule and Routine, I provide my clients with a daily routine to keep their puppies or new adopted dogs on to help establish who is in control of their environment.

  • Potty Time
  • Crate Time
  • Playtime
  • Feeding Time
  • Training Time

There is nothing wrong with scheduling quiet time in a crate or room. It helps teach them that they need alone time just as much as you do! I will schedule "Crate Time" when I am trying to cook dinner and do homework with the kids.

This is a great opportunity for your dog to learn that they need time alone even though you are in the house. Your dog needs to learn to be independent without you by their side every minute. This helps your dog learn to feel"ok" in their crate while you are away for work.

This schedule and routine helps a puppy or newly adopted dog learn what your expectations are and when. This helps to build a confident and secure personality in your dog. Who doesn't want a confident dog?

Relationship Builder

Be realistic with your expectations, dogs are dogs, not humans. Teach your dog that it will serve them better to follow through with what you tell them than to not listen or respond to you.

Never use "Fear" or "Force" when training or working with your dog. This is not the way to build a bond and healthy relationship with your dog.

Instead use a "Gentle" and "Positive" approach to your training to encourage your dog's good behaviors and to help your dog learn to trust and respect you, NOT through FEAR.

Have a discipline method in place to teach your dog an unwanted behavior is followed up with a negative consequence (non-physical, non-yelling).

Remember: Your dog wants you to be happy so why wouldn't we want our dog to be happy? Showering your dog with LOVE is the first step, but it';s not enough! Give them what they deserve, but also instill structure, routine, rules, boundaries and limitations to their everyday needs. You will soon see that they LOVE you even more for giving this wonderful gift to them.

Here's to a HEALTHY HAPPY RELATIONSHIP with you, your family and your "best friend" - your dog!


Tamar Geller

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