Is Fido your best bud? Is he part of your family? Do you throw him birthday parties and arrange play dates with other pet parents so he can get together with his friends at the local bark park? Yeah? Me too! I totally get where you’re coming from.
We love our pets and they’ve become a part of our families-if they were human, they’d be the equivalent of your middle school BFF that you would spend hours on the phone with and who called your parents “Mom” and “Dad”. Therefore, you take care of them like you would your own child. You make sure you clean them, feed them, play with them, exercise them mentally and physically, and take them for their yearly check-ups and shots.
When it comes to being a good pet parent, you don’t want to cut corners. I once had a fenced acre of land for my dogs to run in, but I also had a cheap husband. How does that factor in to dog care? He built the fence with recycled materials (not in an eco-friendly way but in a cheap “hey I found this length of chicken wire in the road” kind of way) despite my insistence that we buy solid, sound fencing, and my dogs were constantly running free. This is not cool. There were coyotes running free. My American Eskimo could have been coyote food! The lesson to be learned here is that you shouldn’t go cheap on your pal’s living environment, especially outdoors.
If your dogs spend a lot of time outside, whether it’s because they have a doggie door and a properly fenced-in area or because you like to go hiking with your pal and spend hours on the trail, water is essential. Fresh water in the yard that’s freshened every day (or every hour if your dog is like mine and washes their paws in the water bowl) not only keeps them hydrated but healthy, with no risk of infection from water-born illnesses. If you’re on a long hike or run, then carry a bottle of water for Fido. On hot summer days when you’re pouring sweat, that’s a good indication that your buddy is hot too. Especially considering all that hair he’s wearing.
Inside, your pal needs stimulation. Let’s face it, you are not always home. People have to work, and Spot is home alone. She needs to have something to keep her occupied besides your expensive couch or dining room chairs. We recently rescued a puppy from the local shelter, and it had been a long time since either one of us raised a puppy. We got puppy chew toys, and rope pulls, and pork rolls…we went a little crazy with puppy toys. The weekend was wonderful, full of puppy-bliss and laughs, and then…Monday. She chewed everything but her toys. And this behavior wasn’t restricted to when we weren’t home.
Not only did we learn the finer art of crate training after that (which, for the record, I had fought against and now completely recommend. Kinda of like my resistance to digital photography at first), but we started a toy rotation with her, because it seemed as though if she had ALL her toys, she got bored quickly, but if I changed out her toys every day, she seemed to be happier and more engaged. Now, she knows to not chew on mommy’s expensive bookcases and instead enjoy her rubbery bone thingy until it’s time to switch to her rope pull toy, which she likes to toss into the air and catch… omgshe’ssocute!
There is a ton advice out there, and with the exception of the basics-food, water, excerise-it all varies. Some of it works, some of it doesn’t, you just have to find what works best for you and your fur-kid. I had a Lab puppy 15 years ago that would have chewed the same toy every day and not thought twice, but my Basenji-Shephard mix needs stimulation and variety. Who knew? One thing is for certain, you have many years ahead of you filled with joy and unconditional love…and maybe some chewed socks.