Activities You Can and Should Do with Your Dog!


Walk your dog at least 30 minutes twice a day: Not only is this activity good for your dog, it is also good for you! If you need an excuse to exercise regularly, then your dog can provide that incentive for you. No need for fancy or expensive gyms; just a 30-minute walk twice a day around the neighborhood or on a local trail or around the local dog-friendly park will keep both you and your dog in peak physical condition.


Train your dog at least 10 minutes a day: Of course, take your puppy or dog to obedience classes so that you can learn how to train your dog using multiple skills and techniques, but training should not be limited to class time nor does it have to be at a formal dog training class or facility. Simply training your dog to walk politely on a leash can be combined with your daily walk. Don't have a daily walk? Then it's time to start! In the evening while watching TV, simply mute the commercial breaks to teach your dog to sit, lie down, and come. The average half-hour TV program has 10 minutes of commercials, so there is the time you need to train your dog every day!


Socialize your dog at least once a week" This is the time when a training class comes in handy. Not only does the class give you the skills to properly train your dog, but it allows your dog to socialize with other dogs in a controlled setting with human leaders. But even when the class is over, find other dog owners who might join a group dog walk once a week, or if available, go to a clean local dog park where your dog can safely play with other dogs. But check out the dog park first for cleanliness and for responsible dog owners who monitor their dogs.


Expose your dog to new locations and situations whenever possible: Take your dog to dog friendly events that have crowds of people and other dogs, walk by school yards with yelling, screaming kids, walk by building sites with noise from large equipment, walk through crowded areas and along roads with traffic noise. The earlier you expose your dog to novel situations, the more confident he becomes and the more he learns to trust you! You can also do new activities like agility that improve your dog’s confidence while providing fun and exercise!


Play with your dog every day: Dogs naturally play with each other, so play is an important part of social behavior. Your dog needs this activity, so throw a ball or a Frisbee, play hide and seek, run on the beach or go swimming. Set up a doggy obstacle course or agility course in the yard and just play. It’s fun for both you and your dog!


Provide toys and activities that stimulate your dog’s mind and body: Provide chew toys, and your dog won’t be so inclined to chew on furniture or other items, but chew toys are not enough. Dogs need toys that squeak, roll, jingle, or that hold special surprises. Just be sure the toys are safe for dogs and don’t use children’s toys so that your dog knows the difference. Balls, squeaky toys, Buster cubes, and Kong toys are all good and stimulating for your dog. But you don’t have to spend lots of money either—twist dog biscuits into several sheets of newspaper and watch your dog try to unwrap it; hide a favorite stuffed toy inside or under a cardboard box and let the dog find it; hide dog biscuits around the yard or in suitable locations around the house or in your pockets or closed fists and let the dog go find the treats (train your dog to sit and wait for items in pockets or closed fists). Play hide and seek with your dog or hide new toys or interesting, dog-safe items around the yard for your dog to find.


Provide quality food and clean water every day: Just as good nutrition is important for us, it is important for your dog as well. Buy a quality dog food or consult your veterinarian if your dog doesn’t appear to do well with the brand. Don’t hesitate to change brand or formula until you find one that keeps your dog in good condition. Just like people, dogs have different tastes and different nutritional needs, so dog food is not a "one-brand-fits-all" product. As a rule, don’t feed your dog table scraps or people food as many foods that are safe for humans are NOT safe for dogs, including raisins, grapes, onions, and chocolate. Your dog needs access to water all the time, so keep a bowl of clean water refreshed at all times for your dog.


Groom your dog at least once a week: In addition to the bonding activity of grooming—after all, that’s what wild social animals do to create trust—grooming is necessary to prevent health problems: brush coats to clean out loose hair and debris and to detect fleas or ticks, trim nails to keep the dog comfortable and to prevent breakage as well as damage to people and furniture, check ears for debris or irritation, and check teeth for plaque or offensive breath, which may be an early sign of gum disease. If you detect any problems, see your veterinarian to prevent more serious health issues.


See your veterinarian at least once a year and keep all vaccinations current: Just like people, dogs need a yearly checkup to maintain good health and to detect health issues for early diagnosis and treatment. Talk to your vet about any issues, problems or concerns you might have. In addition, your dog needs regular vaccinations for its own health and that of its family. Your town or state may require certain vaccinations against rabies and other serious diseases, or your dog may need prescriptions for heart worm medication. Of course, take your dog to a vet if your dog isn’t acting normally, if it vomits or shows any sign of distress or pain. Human medications are generally not safe for dogs, so always check with your vet first before giving any medications!


Source: Sue Joy of Joy Lane Bullmastiffs


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