Adding a new dog to your home is an exciting time for everyone involved, including the dog. As much fun as it is to spoil your new furry friend, it's also important to start forming some healthy habits right away. This is a list of 10 habits you should work on establishing for your new pet that can help both of you to live a healthier lifestyle.
1. Set a strict feeding schedule
Setting a feeding schedule will not only help you remember to feed your new friend, but it will also help you keep track of how much they are eating. My dog eats one and a fourth cups of dry food spread over three meals each day.
2. Don't share food
I swore I wouldn't feed my dog table food when we first brought her home. It wasn't long before I ditched that plan, and my dog suffered for it. She was extremely obese, and she also suffered other medical issues. Make a habit of tell your dog no, and he/she will be healthier for it.
3. Always walk your dog on a leash
This is one very important habit to form. Not only will it help keep your dog close to you, and therefore safe from oncoming vehicles and other threats, but in most states it's actually against the law to walk your dog off the leash.
4. Start a regular walking routine
Establishing a regular walking routine will benefit you and your dog in a couple of ways. First, taking walks is a must if you hope to potty train your dog. Second, walking the dog is a great form of exercise for you and your pet.
5. Teach your dog basic commands
Teaching your dog to come, sit, and stay is important for their health and safety. You should be able to tell your dog to sit and stay when you open the door and not have to worry about them bolting out. Also, if your dog should happen to be away from you without a leash you should be able to call him/her back easily. Without these commands your dog could get hit by a car, get lost or stolen, or be in a fight with strange dogs.
6. Start routine health maintenance right away
The week we brought our puppy home I started to set her health maintenance routine. That included having her nails clipped, ears cleaned, teeth checked, and a bath once a week. I wanted it to be second nature for her and a habit for me. Continuing that care throughout her life has helped me keep her healthy.
7. Work your dog's mind
Working out your dog's mind is as important as working out its body. I like to play food related games with my dog to get her thinking. For example, I placed a piece of food in my palm and each time she touched my hand with her nose I simply said “target” and gave her the treat. Once I could get her to touch something with her nose using the command “target,” I began putting the food under one of three cups then asking her to “target” the food. This game is fun for her, and it makes her think.
8. Get active with high-energy games
All dogs need exercise even though the amount needed depends on the breed. Make it a habit to take the time to play high-energy games like fetch and Frisbee, or to even do dog agility. It will not only help keep your dog fit, but it's good for your health too.
9. Go hiking, biking, or just for a slow walk in the park
Going for a bike ride or taking a hike through the local forest is a great way to exercise your dog and yourself. According to the Mayo Clinic, one hour of hiking burns 438 calories for a human weighing 160 pounds. So, while your dog is getting exercise and exploring a new area, you are also getting fit.
10. Take time to relax and enjoy your new friend
This is perhaps the best habit of all. Everyone needs time to sit around and unwind, and what better way to do that than with your dog? Giving my dog 20 minutes of cuddle time not only gives me time to decompress from a busy day, but also helps secure our bond.
Establishing healthy habits for your dog will help keep them healthy, and it can also improve your health as well.
Content by Threesia Goff.
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