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Small Changes to Improve 2014

Start the year off right
Start the year off right

Have you already broken your New Year’s resolution? It’s been 2 weeks since we welcomed 2014 and about 25 % of those New Year promises for change didn’t make it past the first week.

There are always things we would like to change to make our lives easier or to feel better about ourselves, and those changes include our four-legged family member. Whether it’s to be more consistent with exercise or better about training, we still strive to be better pet parents.

Here are some simple ways to make it a better year for you and your pooch:

Lessen the Anxiety

Have you tried crate training that only ends with your dog whining and barking miserably every time you leave the house? If you only use the crate for your dog when you leave the house, it becomes negatively associated with you leaving. Try to lessen his anxiety by turning the “bad dog” crate into his safe, cozy den that he can play in or nap in any time of day. Try offering chew toys, treats, and even meals in his crate when you’re home. Interacting with him and his crate while you’re home will help him feel more secure in his crate when you leave.

Stimulate the Mind

Ideally, the average dog should get 6 – 8 hours of activity a day. Before you stress out about all the exercise you are going to have to magically squeeze into your dog’s day, keep in mind that activity can be anything from training exercises to a belly rub. Remember that mental stimulation is just as important for a dog as physical stimulation. You can leave your dog with food puzzles while you’re at work, practice a little training to make him work for his dinner, and enjoy a casual walk after work. Adding more mental stimulation to their day will help lessen boredom which may lead to destructive behaviors.

Increase Oral Hygiene

Anyone who has had a dog who needed a tooth extraction can tell you that canine oral hygiene is no laughing matter. Periodontal disease is a serious threat to a dog’s health if his teeth are not properly cared for and the cost of tooth extraction may cause you pain as well. But let’s face it, brushing his teeth every night isn’t happening (despite your New Year’s resolution). The simplest solution is to let him be a dog and chew. Rope toys, fleece tug toys, bones, Nylabones and other hard chew toys and treats are a great way to help dogs remove plaque and tarter from teeth. In addition, there are water additives, oral gels, and oral sprays that may also help. Look for the VOCH (Veterinary Oral Health Council) seal of approval on plaque-busting products to know that it has been tested and really works.

Get the Most Out of Your Exercise

If you feel your dog could use more exercise but you are limited in the amount of time you have for walks, try increasing the intensity of the workout instead. By adding a dog backpack, weighted down by water bottles or the like, your dog will work harder even though it’s the same amount of time he walked yesterday. If you have a bike, have him speed walk or jog alongside you. For well trained dogs that like to work, have him pull you on a skateboard or scooter.

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