Summer has drawn to a close, and we’re all settling into our back to school routines. It seems like suddenly there are mile-long lists of stuff to return, errands to run, and things to accomplish . . . pet care being one of them. One thing is certain: doing a few small things per week is the best way to tackle long lists, and there are some things you can do for your dog on a weekly basis to keep him or her happy and healthy (and avoid those extra vet bills!).
1. Establish a Routine
Speaking of routines — dogs love them. Try not to think of this as a full-blown puppy activity schedule. Instead, think of it as creating a consistent way to make sure all of your dog’s needs are met. In the process, you might just find that you are meeting some of your own needs as well.
Exercise is good for you and your dog. A quick 20–30 minute walk in the morning will help clear your mind and give you a bit of energy to start your day. Plus, it’s the start of a great morning routine for your pup. Your dog will get some of the daily exercise he needs to be happy and non-destructive. After a quick morning walk, put down your dog’s food dish, and that easily, you have ticked off food and exercise as part of an easy morning routine.
2. Give Your Dog a Brain Workout
Exercising dogs’ minds as well as their bodies can help them stay engaged (and keep them out of trouble when they are left alone). The primary reason that dogs tend to misbehave or get destructive is due to lack of exercise, which most definitely includes mental exercise.
This can be as easy as getting your furry friend a treat puzzle, a machine-washable snuffle mat, or treat strategy game. Another fun way to exercise your pup’s brain? Teach them a new trick! Which brings us to our next point . . .
3. Teach Your Dog a New Trick
A new trick or command is a great way to provide the brain workout that your pup needs on a daily basis. (Plus, tricks also contribute to physical exercise.) Commands like “stand” or “dance” require your dog to improve balance, flexibility, and concentration. Best of all, tricks reinforce your position as the master of your dog when you act as “gatekeeper of the treat.” It’s always good to remember that dogs are pack animals, and packs have natural alphas that are in charge. New tricks are a great way to make sure your dog remembers who’s the boss.
4. Meet a New Dog Friend
Socializing puppies at a young age reduces unwanted behavior and makes sure that your pup is happy and willing to be well-behaved around other dogs and humans. For happy and secure dogs, a new dog friend can be a great way to reinforce positive behavior, such as sharing and appropriate types of play. It can also be an easy way to exercise your dog when you aren’t feeling up for a long walk or fetch session. Take your dog to one of the dog parks we have highlighted — they’ll be happy and exercised, and you’ll be relaxed with a tired and obedient pup!
5. Improve Your Dog’s Oral Health
Just like with humans, dogs’ oral hygiene is very important. Bacteria from teeth can migrate into dogs’ bloodstreams and cause infections, not to mention stinky breath and potential tooth loss. In an ideal world, you would brush your furry friend’s teeth daily, but that’s not realistic for most of us. Luckily, there are several ways that you can help contribute to your dog’s oral health on a weekly basis:
- Find a nice chew that will last, or dental chews specifically designed to help clean teeth. (Greenies come in multiple sizes from regular to teeny dog, or Pedigree Dentastix are a great option that comes in multiple flavors.) Rawhides tend to be good, long-lasting chews that also promote dental health, but you should take your dog’s chewing style into consideration when selecting a size and type of rawhide chew. Nylabone also makes a set of longer-lasting dental chews
- For a medium effort option, use dental wipes on your dog’s teeth. Your dog might be more comfortable with a wipe, and they are a great tool to get your dog used to your touching their teeth
- There are several toothbrush options for dogs as well as canine toothpaste. We love this toothbrush option that includes several long-handled toothbrushes as well as finger brushes.
We hope these simple tips help you have a happier and healthier dog, plus a more organized and manageable day!