6 daily routines for a happy dog

Keeping a dog in the family is a joy and a responsibility.

Every day carries a roster of must-do activities, many of which cute fluffy friend will remind you about soon enough if you neglect them.

1. Feeding

There is little danger of forgetting this responsibility, and your dog will remind you. Constantly.

But just picking Fido’s favorite isn’t enough. There’s more to consider about dog food than how to make your dog happy by dishing up their favorite.

  • Feed once or twice a day  Your dog is allowed treats throughout the day, but make sure they have one or two meals at regular times every day. Stick to those meal times, your dog will remember.For their own peace of mind, this regularity can do them a power of good.
  • Look for brands that offer ‘complete’ food  These will contain the full nutrient mix your dog needs, often alongside ingredients to care for their teeth or reduce flatulence. Take the time to choose just the right dog food for your curly friend.
  • Don’t overfeed  This can result in either unmanageably high energy levels. Then Fido will need to burn off all that extra protein and calories, or he will gain unhealthy weight.Be careful to manage your dog’s quantity of exercise against the amount of food and follow the dog weight/food serving chart on the dog food packaging.
  • Eating between meals  Treats or the occasional shares in your diet are fine in moderation, but be careful not to treat too freely.
    Dogs have an endless appetite, but the calories will pile on and obesity can cause lifelong health issues in dogs.
  • Don’t forget the water!  Alongside Fido’s food bowl, there should always be fresh water.
    Dogs know themselves when they need to hydrate, but make sure this bowl never runs empty (because some breeds will empty a water bowl in seconds when they’re thirsty enough).

2. Walkies

Walks are essential to a dog’s life, for a variety of reasons.

They are exercise to keep your dog healthy, they are your dog’s connection to a broader social world, and they are essential bonding time for the two of you.

  • Walk your dog at least once and most likely twice per day.
  • Regular walks increase your dog’s cardiovascular fitness and reduce their blood pressure, as well as strengthening muscles and bones.
  • When taking a walk, your dog has the chance to socialize with other dogs (see below) either through scent trails or in person. This connects them to a broader social world and reduces their sense of isolation.
  • This is also your special time together like a dog and owner, so take your time and walk your dog with love.
  • Take enough time to be sure that your dog has done all the toilet breaks during the walk.

3. Socializing

Dogs are social animals and it is hard-wired into their psychology to want to be part of a large, loving, and supportive pack.

Therefore it’s essential to extend the size of their family of friends, loved ones, and trusted playmates as much and as often as you can.

  • Regular walks are an essential part of exposing your dog to a wider social circle.
  • Stay calm when meeting new dogs and people, even if Fido is agitated. Your dog will follow your lead, so make it clear that you’re comfortable with anyone new to Fido.
  • Try socializing in friendly pet shops. They are quiet, controlled spaces, without the noise and distractions of parks or city streets.
  • Reward all successful social interactions with praise and treats.

4. Exercise

It’s a dog’s life, they say. But don’t dog’s lives look nice and easy? No job, no taxes, waited on hand and foot by humans. It sounds like a life of luxury.

But actually dogs like a bit of activity and purpose in their lives. Without it, they get bored. And boredom can adversely affect both their mood and behavior.

In response, give them some purposeful exercise, a proper workout to make them feel challenged.

  • Go the extra mile on your next walk  Don’t hang around to smell the lampposts but drive on out into the wild and uncharted parts of your neighborhood.
    If you live near the countryside, take full advantage of the terrain and make a proper hike of it. Your dog will let you know when he’s tiring, so plan a route that allows the way back to be quicker than the way out.
  • Play fetch  It’s a cliché because it’s true. Dogs love retrieving. Use a slingshot with a tennis ball, or a frisbee, both to save your arm and also add to the challenge to your dog.The further it has to chase an object, the more a mentally and physically fit dog will love this game.
  • Keep Fido guessing  Try feint throws and curve balls to turn a game of catch into a mental exercise of predicting where the throw will go, as well as a physical one.
  • Tug of War – If you have the strength to, a simple game of pulling on a pull toy will be an excellent exercise for your dog’s teeth, jaw and neck muscles.
  • If you’re stuck indoors  Try creating an obstacle course from household objects or make a game of hide and seek by concealing some of Fido’s toys and treats. Or check our 13 Best Indoor Activities for Dogs.

5. Hygiene

As much as your pup might have no interest in keeping clean (often the opposite!), bathing them and cleaning their teeth are essential elements of how to keep your dog healthy.

A clean dog is a healthy dog, as they say!

  • Groom your dog regularly  Brush their coat to avoid dreadlocks and tangles (if they have a long coat) and to keep them clean, tidy, and free of any little bugs that like to hide in their fur.
  • Bathe your dog  Maybe not daily, of course, but it is important to bathe them.
    This should be a relaxing, pleasant experience for you both. Get the water to body temperature and apply it gently, just as you would groom your dog – neither of you wants to be splashed.
    When finished, let them shake themselves dry. Be sure to get well out of the way, unless you want a soaking too!
  • Brush their teeth  Dry food keeps a lot of teeth issues at bay, but active teeth cleaning is needed to prevent tooth decay entirely.
    Poor dental health can lead to heart and liver issues in the long term, so this is far from a cosmetic issue.
  • Nail trimming  Long nails can also cause issues for your dog, so keep an eye on them and get your dog used to allow you to trim them.

6. Mental Stimulation and Training

Even long after the puppy years are over, your old dog is still capable of learning new tricks (and developing bad habits that might need training out).

Keeping up training activities can help keep your dog mentally active and gives them a task to engage with to earn the treats and praise they love positively.

  • Keep challenging them – up the ante all the time.
  • Try using puzzle toys, which dispense treats once a mental puzzle has been solved, to mentally occupy your dog when you’re busy.
  • Make it fun! This isn’t punishment, and it’s for your dog as much as you. Make sure you both enjoy the learning process.
  • Mental exercise can be as exhausting for dogs as physical. This is great for reducing misbehavior but also means you should go easy on them ad keep training sessions short.

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Read more:

Are fruit and vegetables healthy for dogs?
13 Common Mistakes to Avoid Training Your Dog
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Frequently Asked Questions

  • How much Time Should I Spend With my Dog?

    Puppies need a lot of contact time with their owner but, as your dog gets older, this becomes less and less essential.

    Most dogs are left alone for over eight hours a day while their owners are at work (see below), although some breeds and individuals do better with this alone time than others. Also, some pet dogs live in a two or more dog house so may have a 24-hour company.

    To some extent, it depends on the individual dog but, unless your dog is suffering separation anxiety, an hour or two of concentrated activity might be enough. The important thing is the quality of time spent, not quantity.

  • What Should I do About My Dog While I'm Away From the House?

    It’s difficult to know what to do with your dog while you’re at work (or otherwise out of the house). But it is still essential to keep your dog occupied. Here are some tips for how:

    ● Mental Challenges – Leave puzzle toys, a Kong toy or foraging ball, or even hidden treats, to give tasks for your dog to be engaged with while you’re out.

    ● Get Help – A professional dog walking service can give Fido some much-needed company. Not only will he get more human social contact, but he will likely be socialized with several other dogs and may even make a new best friend.

    ● Doggie Day Care – It’s not for all dogs, but some love the social whirl of a nursery for other dogs.

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