Getting your first pet can be as overwhelming as becoming a first-time parent. Just like when you have children, no one can quite tell you what it’s like to be a dog parent or the right or wrong way of parenting. Thankfully, there is some universal advice that can help. Here are some of the best tips that will guide you to becoming a better pet parent.
Give Them Their Own Space
When you bring your dog home for the very first time, you need to make sure they have a comfortable environment. While dogs love to be near humans, they also enjoy having some space that’s just theirs. Show your pup toys, blankets, beds, crates and playpens, and food that belongs to them. Some go a step further and give a separate room to their dog!
Give your pet time to be comfortable and adjust to their new home. Let them get used to you and your family before introducing them to friends, neighbors, and extended family. Once your pet is comfortable then take the time to socialize them with other people.
Dress Them Up in Comfort!
Just like you, your dog also suffers from the weather. Dogs that have a sheen, light coat, elderly dogs, and young puppies can suffer from the cold—making it beneficial for them to wear dog clothes. Sweaters and jackets can be worn to keep them warm and protect your pet from bad weather. Tread lightly when dressing your canine, certain breeds won’t benefit from it. Breeds that are built to withstand cold weather, like a husky can easily overheat. Whereas a pug, with its short coat, would freeze to death without a jacket.
Meanwhile, pet boots and socks are acceptable for all breeds for a couple of reasons. In sweltering weather, the pavement can get hot enough to burn your dog’s paws, while in winter, many people use toxic street salts that can harm their paws. Booties can also be used for added traction and to provide a better grip on slippery surfaces (like tile or hardwood) that can be difficult for senior or handicapped pets to walk across.
Play Some More!
Don’t let your canine friend get bored! Bored pets can become destructive or even depressed. Pets thrive on staying active. Exercise them often, preferably on a schedule (dogs love routines!) Dogs benefit from long walks and playtime because it keeps them stimulated. If possible, take them to a dog park where they can socialize with their species, giving you the chance to coordinate playdates with other dog parents. Exercising them will also tire them out, giving you some time to focus on what you’re working on or the ability to leave them alone at home for a while confidently. Every breed needs a different amount of daily exercise, a good general rule of thumb is to allow for anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours of exercise every day.
If you’re running late, you might be unable to take the pup out for a stroll. Don’t worry, there are plenty of interactive toys that you can buy that will keep your dog busy. Brain games like treat-dispensing toys, puzzle toys and Bento Balls will keep them occupied for a while. Hiring a dog walker for a mid-day walk is always a great idea too!
Soothe Their Anxiety
Separation anxiety plagues many dogs, causing a lot of distress for their owners. The signs of separation anxiety often mimic bad behavior, like destructive chewing, digging, escaping, or urinating indoors. Sadly, it’s one of the many reasons canines end up abandoned.
The first thing you can do is to try to understand why your pup is reacting this way. Do they come from a traumatic home before your ownership? Did you recently lose a family member or another pet? These kinds of events can spark separation anxiety in your dog. If it’s only a minor problem, you may not have to consider drugs like Prozac to calm them down. You can do plenty of things to ease their anxiety. This is another reason that interactive toys can come in handy. The treats you give when you leave should be given specifically during this time. Another option is to leave something behind that smells like you. Examples being clothing, blankets, and old socks. Last but not least, CBD or other calming treats, or supplements are alternatives to medication. Which, as mentioned, may or may not be necessary depending on severity of their anxiety.
Train them Well!
The most important trait of being a great dog parent is training your dog correctly. Ideally, this should be done at an early age or as soon as you bring your new canine home. Training makes your dog well behaved, polite, and even safe. There’s nothing more terrifying than a dog who runs off towards potential danger but won’t stop when their owners use simple commands. It’s important to understand that proper training takes time, patience and positive reinforcement. It can also depend on the breed (German Shepherds, and most working breeds, are very intelligent and quick to learn.)
Read as many books on training dogs as you can, try all the techniques and see what works for you. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself, don’t compare your dog parenting to others; after all, you know your pup best!