This week we want to tackle one of your dog’s needs that is important but often overlooked: consistency! Most dogs thrive off of a set routine, and definitely require consistency in training. So let’s look at how you can offer stability to your pup through consistency.
You probably already know that your dog requires physical exercise every day. Each dog will require a different amount of physical exertion, but building this into your routine is beneficial for you both. You wouldn’t want to not walk your dog for 3 weeks and then go on a long and strenuous hike. Just like for humans, this sort of inconsistent exercise can lead to injuries and overexertion. On top of having their physical exercise needs met, your pup needs mental stimulation as well! This can be as simple as ensuring you go on sniffing-based walks (or “sniffari’s”) regularly, using dog-friendly puzzle toys, or even throwing some of their food in the grass or the snow! You can also find lots of DIY suggestions for mental enrichment activities online, like hiding treats in an empty egg carton or a rolled-up towel.
Although you might think that variety in what your pup is eating is something they might crave, it is actually best to keep their diet consistent. If your dog isn’t eating their food well, or has a medical reason to change their diet, this can definitely be done, but frequent changes shouldn’t be necessary if you are feeding a nutritionally-balanced diet. Quick food changes can lead to GI upset like diarrhea, vomiting, or constipation. If you do need to change your pup’s food up, it’s best to transition it slowly over about a week, feeding 75% old diet and 25% new for 2 days, 50% old and 50% new for 2 days, and 75% new and 25% old for 2 days. Healthybud now offers subscription service for all of our foods and treats, meaning that you can sign up to have your regular order delivered to your door at a frequency that you choose (2, 4 or 6 weeks, and you can pause or skip a delivery at any time). You’ll also get a discount when you subscribe, so your wallet AND your pup will be thanking you. You can find out more about our subscription services here.
Training isn’t just for puppies! Whether you’re looking to train a new or young dog, or teach an old dog new tricks, training is an important part of being a dog parent. When you’re teaching a new behaviour, it’s key that all family members are teaching it the same way. This means using the same verbal and non-verbal cues, and asking for the same behaviour in the same situation. Not only can this idea of consistency in teaching be applied to more simple ideas like getting your dog to understand the command “sit”, it can also help your dog to understand more complicated ideas like being calm when another dog walks by on leash. The most important thing with training any of these behaviours is to practice the desired behaviour, and remain consistent in how we ask. It’s also important to remember that dogs don’t understand generalizations. This means that if you are teaching a new behaviour, for example shaking a paw, your dog may be great at shaking his paw in the kitchen, because this is where you have always trained him on it. If you then move outside, to a new location with new distractions, he may not give you a paw when you ask. You need to reteach the behaviour in the new location for your dog to truly understand what you are asking them to do, and keeping the way you ask (body language, verbal, and non-verbal cues) consistent will make this much easier for your pup!
If you have a dog with a longer coat, you likely already know that they require regular brushing. Certain breeds also require regular professional grooming to keep their coat out of their eyes and to avoid it becoming matted. Remember that even dogs with shorter coats require regular brushing for healthy skin and coat, and all dogs will need their nails trimmed, usually every 6 weeks. It doesn’t stop there, though! Dogs should also have their teeth brushed, ideally every day to help prevent dental disease. Lastly, just like we should have a regular checkup with our doctor, dogs should go to the vet at least once a year, but especially as they age ideally twice a year.
Consistency can be hard to maintain, especially during the busy holiday season of December, but it really does benefit our dogs!
Stay healthy, stay happy, stay curious #healthygang!
Lots of love,
-The heathybud team