It’s your dog’s birthday! You want to give him a treat – but a healthy one. Here are a few suggestions your vet would approve of.
Food-free treats he’ll never tire of
If ever there’s a time when we dog owners want to treat our faithful friend it’s on his first birthday. Here’s how to do it without resorting to unhealthy snacks.
Be unpredictable: We all have our staple strolls but different surroundings, even if it’s just taking the next street, can put a spring in his step. Discovering a new route means there are different trees to sniff, other dogs to meet and, wow, is that a new stick? Put your mobile phone away and get engaged with your dog. The more attentive you are to him, the more he’ll look to you rather than next door’s cat for fun.
Grooming: Grooming is not only a great way to check for bodily changes, it also works well as a reward. Use a stiff brush to do the mucky business of twigs, mud and sticky grass then swap to a soft-bristled brush and spend an extra ten minutes gently soothing him.
Quick-fire fetch: Two balls are better than one. As soon as he returns one ball, throw another. Then pick up the first and when he returns and drops, immediately throw the next. He’ll love the intensity and the extra exercise.
Surprise toy: Leave one or two toys on the floor. Put the rest away in a box and only get them out for special playtime and rewards. If he has a particular favourite, ask for a training behaviour first before you give it to him. Always take it away when you, not he, decides the game is over.
Top tips for party animals
Christmas, birthdays (his and yours) family gatherings, bonfire night... You’ve brought up a well-behaved dog and you want him to share the fun. Here are some top tips for stress-free celebrations.
Another new puppy?
You’ve followed the Eukanuba training guides, raised a great dog, and guess what? You want another!
To successfully introduce a second dog into your home your first dog needs to be well socialised with other dogs. He’s used to being an ‘only child’, so prepare for a few weeks of adjustment when the patter of tiny paws echo around the house.
On meeting allow your dogs to establish their hierarchy – the most outgoing, assertive dog will assume the leadership role. Once that’s set you need to abide by it, feeding, greeting and even playing with the leader first. If you pay too much attention to the subordinate mate fighting between the dogs can break out. Take the subordinate dog to another room, however, and you can fuss over it all you like.
Dogs that live together form a close bond. If you want to get a look-in it’s wise to separate them for a couple of hours a day. Ideally give them different sleeping areas, especially when housebreaking the new puppy.
To adulthood and beyond
At 12 months your cute little puppy has transformed into a beautiful adult. While he may still having some filling out to do he’s physically mature and so able to enjoy longer walks, start advanced training and go jogging with you (although giant breed owners take note – your dog may be two before becoming fully mature). Now is the time to look into activities such as Flyball, Agility Training and even specialist activities like mountain rescue or sheepdog trails.
Mentally he’s still a young dog without a great breadth of experience so he’ll continue to look to you for leadership and guidance. In the pack, at this age a dog looks to the pack leader to keep them safe from dangerous situations and stay consistent with boundaries.
Within the pack there is usually a male and female top dog, with the others taking roles in-between. So give your dog a job within your family pack. Train him to carry your child’s lunchbox on the morning school run (lid on, obviously) or close the front door when you get home. New research shows that emotions like joy, fear, anxiety and anger are part of an adult dog’s biological system and help regulate his behaviour. It’s also been proven that dogs can love, too. But when he’s curled up with his head in your lap, snoring away, you didn’t need a scientist to tell you that, did you?