By Steve Dale
The New Year is the perfect time to set goals for yourself and to improve your pet parenting. Every person and dog is different, so your goals may vary – but if you’re looking for some ideas, here are five ways to become the best pet parent possible in 2018!
An initiative in veterinary medicine, Fear Free began with the intent of reducing fear, anxiety and stress of vet visits. Most cats and many dogs are very fearful of the vet visit, but no veterinary professional ever went into the profession to do anything other than to help pets.
When pets are that terrified, pet owners pick up on this stress and become anxious themselves. The result is that they are less likely to return for their pet’s routine exam. After all, people don’t voluntarily put themselves into stressful situations. Plus when animals are terrified, the exam itself suffers: blood work may be skewed and the heart can beat so rapidly that hearing an abnormality is challenging. Find a Fear Free Certified Veterinarian or a Fear Free Veterinary Practice near you at www.fearfreepets.com.
In truth, Fear Free begins at home. Love is a great start, but offering enriching environments and appropriate exercise is essential to ensure your pet’s physical and mental health are constantly improving. Learn more about how you can create a Fear Free home here. <www.fearfreehappyhomes.com>
Use tasty treats, like Vita Bone biscuits, to make vet clinic visits a positive experience. The goal is to adjust the current association of terror, so your dog pulls you into the clinic door instead of hitting the breaks.
Dogs age far faster than people – one year for a dog is equivalent to six or more years for us. Imagine not seeing the doctor for six years – many don’t, although it’s not advised. While we can observe the obvious, like a dog who isn’t eating or who is limping, dogs can’t tell us if something is wrong.
An early diagnosis often improves the outcome, prevents suffering and may actually save you money. The best medical prescription is to visit your veterinarian for checkups twice a year for life.
Any change in your pet’s behavior may be an indication that something is medically askew. Pets don’t “act out” to get back at us out of spite. When a pet is behaving poorly, and a medical explanation is ruled out, consider that the dog may be anxious, or simply doesn’t know any better. If the dog is ripping pillows to shreds when you leave, it’s not because your pup is trying to get back at you, but perhaps an indicator of separation distress.
Instead of responding with punishment or aversive techniques, set your dog up for success, and reward good behavior with treats, like Vita Bone biscuits, and praise, of course! Remember, some problems – such as thunderstorm anxiety, separation anxiety and aggression – may require a qualified professional, such as veterinary behaviorist <www.dacvb.org> or certified animal behavior consultant <www.iaabc.org>
It turns out that dogs are motivated not as much by what we say, but more how we say it, and how we look when we say it. A new study indicates dogs understand our smiles as comforting, just as people do. So, resolve to smile at your dog more. Not only will your dog benefit, but you will too. Every time we smile, endorphins in our heads do a little “happy dance.” And with luck, your dog will smile back!
People who spend time with their dog doing various activities find the experience incredibly rewarding, and the resulting human-animal bond can be very special. Activities could be an organized canine sport, such as agility; or local events with a dog trainer, like nose work; or participating in a Pet Partners < https://www.vitabone.com/giving-back> sanctioned animal assisted activity. What’s best for one person or dog may not be best for another, but the bond is always intensified when you spend quality time with one another. Take the time to share a slice of life in a special way and partner up with your pet.