For every experienced and dedicated dog owner, there is someone, somewhere that they can learn from. There are pillars of good dog ownership practice that are considered by many to be useful and it is how we apply these principals that differ from dog owner to dog owner.
Depending on environment, experience and the type of dog, each good dog owner will have something in his dog ownership ‘locker’ that the next owner hadn’t thought of. How we learn from other dog owners and what we do with the things that we learn will dictate the future happiness of our dogs. And the happiness of our dogs, as we all know, is what we strive for.
John Taylor explores the habits that make effective dog owners.
How we learn from other dog owners and what we do with the things that we learn will dictate the future happiness of our dogs. And the happiness of our dogs will dictate the level of fulfillment and reward we get from sharing our life with those dogs. Each good dog owner is different, but by the same token, each dog owner has certain essential things in common.
The seven habits of highly effective dog owners should be common in their theory across the board, but differ in their application depending on the circumstances. They are key principals that any dog owner, anywhere can put into practice to ensure that they become highly effective dog owners themselves.
Nutrition should be looked at as fuel for your dog's finely tuned engine. And as such, it is important for effective dog owners to keep in mind that there is no one universally suitable dog food, just like there is no fuel that works for every engine.
The wrong type of food, served in the wrong portion size in the wrong way can do more harm than you'd think. Highly active dogs need food that delivers energy in the form of protein, enabling them to satisfy their natural instincts, for example.
Effective dog owners will also take into account the age and lifestyle of their dog when looking into his diet. Puppies need food that supports growth, but not all puppies grow at the same rate. Large breeds grow at a slow pace and small breeds grow more quickly, so calcium is an essential concern. Dogs growing more quickly need a high concentration of calcium in their diet.
Understanding the properties and effects of each type of food and how that relates to your dog's lifestyle will empower you to chose the right food for the right time for your dog.
Older dogs have less active lifestyles, so burn off less fat or energy. Therefore they need foods that support their body in terms of delivering the required nutrition, but they need to be fed in a way that ensures no excess calories are remaining.
Oily fish, iron rich greens and roughage are essential at all stages of your dog's life.
Exercise is the flip-side of the diet coin. It needs to reflect the needs of the breed. All dogs require exercise, but the key to effective dog ownership is interpreting the information at hand to shape your dog's exercise regimen.
Young dogs, for example, must not be over-exercised as this can have a bad impact on their growing bones and joints. However, they must be given the opportunity to burn off their energy and to see the outside world whilst strengthening their bodies. Exercising a young dog on a lead allows a dog owner to measure the amount of exercise their dog is receiving. It is also essential to understand that young dogs will want to keep going, despite them having had sufficient or even too much physical exertion.
Knowing your dog's breed characteristics is important in fostering a good and beneficial exercise regime. Long walks, free running, games and play are the ingredients to a successful exercise routine. You will know how your breed responds to certain stimuli and will use this to inform how you exercise your dog.
In older dogs, exercise is equally important. To avoid obesity for example, an older dog must be given the chance and in some cases, encouraged, to exercise in order to maintain mobility and use up energy. Paying close attention to your dog's habits throughout his life will enable you to judge when your dog is tired or in discomfort.
Dogs from time to time will mess up, just like we do. But being able to identify honest mistakes, instinct taking over and fear responses that may cause misbehaviour will set the groundwork for a rewarding and cooperative relationship with your dog.