As clicker trainers we love to celebrate the human-animal bond, and today the world is celebrating with us! National Dog Day (also known as National Dog Appreciation Day) is a day to show our appreciation for the millions of the dogs in the US that keep us safe and bring us comfort and companionship. KPA CTP Lisa Moore offers these tips on how you can contribute to the well-being of all dogs.
- Volunteer your services—Your local shelter would welcome your gift of time to clean, exercise, and play with some dogs.
- Donate—Animal shelters are always in need of blankets, food, toys, and, of course, funding.
- Help out a senior citizen in your neighborhood by volunteering to walk his or her dog.
- The perfect dog does not exist—Be prepared to work on some issues with your dog or puppy. Raising a well-behaved dog doesn’t just happen; it requires you to be involved and to teach your dog the ways of living in harmony with humans.
- Dogs are brilliant—The science is conclusive: dogs can begin their education at 8 weeks of age, and they learn best when presented with a reward-based education, devoid of physical punishment and pain.
- Do a safety check at home—Outside, check all fencing for possible escape options and protruding nails, and repair as needed. Inside, make sure all toxic plants and chemicals are out of reach from even the most curious and persistent of pets. Your dogs rely on you to keep them safe.
- Give your dog a thorough once over—Brush your dog's coat to eliminate mats and remove excess fur. Keep toenails trimmed for paw comfort, and if dewclaws are present, keep them short so they won't grow into the foot pads. Does your dog have bad breath? This can be indicative of numerous health problems, including dental disease. Any new lumps or bumps? Do the ears have a foul odor? Your dog can’t tell you about these health and wellness issues; it’s your job to stay on top of it.
- Develop a good relationship with your veterinarian—Just like people, dogs need regular medical care; semi-yearly checkups can often result in the early detection of a health problem.
- Commit to walking your dog on a regular basis—It’s good exercise for you both. Dogs benefit by getting some physically and mentally stimulating activity, plus it’s time spent with you.
- Remember why you have a dog—Make your dog a part of your family. Spend time with him and train him so he’s a pleasure to be around. Love him unconditionally, and rejoice in the love and trust that is returned to you ten-fold.
Read Lisa Moore’s monthly pet-behavior column in the Modesto Bee.