All pet parents want the best for their dogs, whether it be the kind of treats they eat or the kind of collars they wear. PawNation wants to help you be the best that you can be for your canine companion. While we're certain you're already doing a stellar job, this year let's all resolve to be just a bit better! After all, there's always room for improvement. Here are 10 simple ways to become the ultimate dog mom or dad this year.
1. SCHEDULE MORE PLAY TIME
Even if your dog is getting a little old and gray, there is nothing that it loves more than playing around with you. It could be as simple as dedicating 20 minutes in the evening to playing fetch in the living room or setting up an agility course in the backyard for your pooch to explore. However little or much you plan on playing, just make a promise to your canine compadre that you will be playing more than you have before. Playing will not just count for your dog's physical exercise; it will help exercise their brain, too.
2. TAKE LONGER WALKS
Taking your dog for a walk can sometimes turn into a chore. After a long day at work, all you want to do is hang out on the couch with your furry pal. But before you head home after that five-minute walk with your pooch, think about the happiness your dog derives from a longer stroll around the neighborhood. Taking a longer walk is especially important for those dogs who do not get a lot of time outdoors. Walks are essential for the overall well-being of your pup. Dog trainers emphasize the importance of walks in your dog's life — it exercises their body and mind, and gives them a way to expel a lot of energy that is stored during the day. Instead of going around the block, aim to go around two blocks. After a week, aim for three blocks. The most important thing to remember is how your dog is feeling during these walks. If it shows that it's tired, plan accordingly.
3. SCHEDULE A VET VISIT
A happy dog is a healthy dog. It's easy to ignore the veterinarian when your dog seems happy, but a healthy dog still needs to have regular checkups. Schedule an appointment with your dog's vet to see how your furry pal is doing, and if he or she is in need of any shots. As your dog ages and changes, its needs will, too. Be sure that it's getting the appropriate attention it needs.
4. TAKE 'EM TO THE GROOMER
Your dog may hate baths, but as we all know, it's for the best. And while it's cost-effective and more comfortable for you to bathe your dog at home, there is only so much you can do in your own bathtub. Spend a few more dollars and treat your dog to the top-of-the-line salon service! If it's been forever since you've taken your dog to be groomed, then he or she is probably due for an ear cleaning, a nail trim and an anal-gland expression. Before you make an appointment, do some research to find the best reviewed groomers in your area and contact them to see if they can meet your dog's needs. Just make sure they know exactly what you want so you can avoid any dog grooming disasters.
5. MAKE MORE DOG FRIENDS
Sure, our dogs loves us and all, but what they really want is non-human friends. The more canine pals, the better! Bringing your pup to the dog park and introducing him or her to different dogs is a fun and exciting experience for your pet. It's also another great way to get all that pent up energy out. Most importantly, socialization is extremely crucial for dogs. It helps them adjust to all the different aspects of their lives, dog friends included. A well-socialized dog is more likely to be a well-behaved dog in the household.
6. SPRUCE UP SLEEPING QUARTERS
Let's be honest: Your dog would be happy sleeping on your cold hardwood floor, but that doesn't mean he doesn't deserve a nice, comfy bed to retreat to. If your dog doesn't have a bed or if it's all beaten up and tattered, it might be time to spoil your pet with a brand new, fluffy sleeping sack. If you feel like pampering your pooch, our friends at See Scout Sleep have got the perfect bed for your sleepy friend.
7. UPGRADE THEIR FOOD
Have you been feeding your dog the same commercial kibble for years? While that's OK and all, it might be time to step it up and introduce your dog to a food that's higher quality and more nutritious. First, take a look at the ingredients label of your dog's current food. Do you recognize everything on the list? Is your dog getting the right amount of nutrients? Consult your veterinarian before you switch your dog's diet. Check out different dog-food reviews and ratings.
8. UNDERSTAND YOUR DOG BETTER
Dogs are like any other important people in our lives — there are new things you can learn about them every single day. The only problem is, unlike humans, our dogs can't really divulge these newfound facts about themselves. We're left to do most of the discovering. Help yourself understand your dog better in the comfort of your own home. Start by being more observant of your dog's behavior. You can learn a lot from just watching your dog (for example, when his or her favorite time of day to sleep and play are). To further enrich your pet parenting, pick up a dog behavior book to find out more about why dogs do what they do. Next, tune in to the Animal Planet to watch their show, "Dogs 101" — a crash course on all things dog. And check out our "Dogs Decoded" articles to learn the whys and hows behind your dog's interesting behaviors.
9. SPEND MORE QUALITY TIME WITH THEM
Spending more time with your dog does not include the usual cuddling or playtime. This means working on creating more quality time with your best friend both in and outside of the house. Instead of leaving your dog locked up inside, why not bring him or her along to run your errands? Dogs love car rides and your pet can help you keep your "to-do" list in check. If your office is dog-friendly, take him or her along into your meetings. Canine coworkers actually boost office morale, reduce the environment's stress levels and increase the overall well-being of the workplace. However you can incorporate your dogs into your day more, do it! They'll appreciate it more than you know.
Next: 10 Ways To Help Your Dog Lose Weight in 2013
10. MAKE HOMEMADE TREATS
Of course your dog will appreciate any old treat, but one that is made especially for them by you, with your TLC? It might just be the best thing ever! Not only will your dog feel the extra love put into this delicious snack, you can also feel good knowing what ingredients went into your dog's tummy. Not sure where to start? Don't worry. PawNation has some simple and inexpensive recipes for homemade dog treats.
10 Easy Ways to Be a Better Dog Ownercountdown
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