It’s that time of year again. We’re all making New Year’s Resolutions and looking forward to becoming better people – more importantly, better dog owners – in 2017.
In your never-ending quest to make your dog healthier, train them better, and enjoy them more, you could spend hours reading, watching videos, and absorbing information. But all it takes is a few small changes to make big improvements as a dog owner. Simple resolutions are easy to stick with, and powerful results will keep you on track throughout the year.
I asked 5 of my favorite “dog people” for their tips on improving the average dog’s life in one simple, actionable way.
These are dog experts who create content that makes dogs’ lives better all year round. I personally have learned a lot from each of them and I hope you’ll do the same.
If you can only follow 5 dog folks this year, these are, hands down, the people I’d tell you to follow!
Without further ado, here’s 5 little ways to make a big difference in your dog’s life in 2017.
One thing dog parents can do to improve their dog’s well being in 2017 is to soak their dog’s kibble meals in bone broth. Kibble is difficult for dogs to digest and despite the quality, many kibbles are lacking in nutrients (or the nutrients are difficult to absorb). Bone broth is a nutrient rich addition that dogs will love and adds the added benefit of boosting joint health.
~ Kimberly Gauthier, Founder of Keep The Tail Wagging, Raw Feeding And Dog Nutrition Blog
Get the full recipe for bone broth over at Keep The Tail Wagging.
2. Use coconut oil to prevent periodontal disease.
Good dental care isn’t just for humans, but our dogs and cats too. Periodontal disease runs rampant in dogs and cats. According to The American Veterinary Dental College, by the age of three, most dogs and cats have at least the starts of periodontal disease. This is such a shame because this is one pet disease that is totally preventable by providing good dental care for our pets. But, don’t be fooled by the gimmicks or chemical laden dental products out on the market. Some common, yet unhealthy ingredients you may find in your pet’s toothpaste of dental chew can include things like wheat flour, wheat protein isolate, carrageenan, animal digest or even sodium benzoate.
Instead, reach for the organic coconut oil, place a dab on your finger and allow your pet to lick it off. Coconut oil helps reduce tooth decay and plaque. Brushing your pet’s teeth is something every pet parent can accomplish in 2017.
~ Tonya Wilhelm, Pet Care Specialist, Positive Dog Trainer, Behavior Specialist and Founder of Raising Your Pets Naturally
Learn more about dental care for dogs over at Raising Your Pets Naturally.
3. Set goals based on your dog’s age, based on their individual learning pace.
At what age should my puppy understand potty training? At what age should my puppy know “sit”, “down”, “stay”? People always want to know if their puppy is on track. We bring our service dog puppies home at around 8 weeks old and by the time they are 4 months they have a solid grasp of the basics.Here’s a quick guide on what we expect from our puppies at 4 months old: http://puppyintraining.com/what-should-your-puppy-know-at-4-months-of-age/Every puppy is different. Don’t worry if your puppy has not yet grasped all of these skills. When training your puppy be patient, persistent, and consistent and soon your puppy will have mastered all of these basic skills.~ Colby Morita, Guide Dog Puppy Raiser and Founder of Puppy In Training
4. Read your dog to see how they want to be petted, and when they want you to stop.
Most of us assume our dogs enjoy being handled and petted. They may be fluffy or sleek but in any case wonderful to touch, and we love to touch them. So they must love it too.
But what if they don’t? What if they are signaling to us that they feel trapped and uncomfortable and we don’t even notice?
Luckily, there’s a way to find out. Watch to see whether your dog initiates petting or just tolerates it. Does she push her head into your hand or lean into your space, or does she draw away or act nervous? Next time you want to pet her, try petting for a few seconds and then stop. Look for any sign that your dog wants you to continue. If she would rather not—why not respect that?
We control so much about our animals’ lives. We can give them this little bit of autonomy and who knows—we might find that they trust us more.~ Eileen Anderson, Science-Based Dog Training Advocate and Founder of Eileenanddogs
5. Visualize, Then Be Patient.
A trainer many years ago taught me “visualize what you want”. While we were talking about dog training, it applies to life. We plan out our day, our meetings, calendars, meals, budget to reach our goals. If we VISUALIZE what we want from our dogs, then we get a better grasp as to what we need to teach them. Breaking down the bigger goals into reachable, teachable K9 Life Skills. When we do that, it gives us back the power to be more patient and confidence, thus bring more fun and rewarding to our pets.Being patient lets us not use our first reaction – which is frustration.If we are frustrated, then it means something did not go our way. Same with being mad. When you break it down, you can think… Why am I mad? What didn’t go my way? Is it worth the stress? How can I make this go my way? With dogs? Did I teach the right thing? Am I being overwhelming to my dog? Did I move too fast in what was teaching? Is my dog frustrated? Motivated? Hurt? This will help you be patient and to look at your dog’s body language to see what they are really trying to tell you.~ Scott Stauffer, Owner/Operator at 2nd2no1 K9 Life Coach, Reward Based Dog Trainer, Trainer of Service dogs, aggressive dogs, and dogs of all temperaments.