BY LINDA MICHAELS, M.A. — DEL MAR DOG TRAINING
Our precious pups bring such joy to our lives and deliver unconditional love all year long. Consider saying “Thank You” with gifts that keep on giving throughout the year. Some of these may make you smile–all of them will make your dog smile.
- Adopt or Donate. There is no greater gift. Consider adoption to fill that special place in your forever home, or donate some resources to your local shelter or rescue group. Click here to donate to help rescue dogs receive training and become more adoptable.
- Socialize, Socialize, Socialize! Socialization is the most critical learning activity of all. Begin at 8 weeks of age, if possible, or as soon as your new rescue pupster settles into her new home. Participate in socialization activities regularly and frequently. Hang out at Starbucks or run errands together.
- Gentle Leashes. A front-clip harness or a step-in for toy breeds is best. Avoid shock, prong and choke collars. These devices are singled out as equipment to avoid by veterinary behavior experts in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior, 2006 (“Good trainers: How to identify one.” Vol. 1). They can cause a variety of documented medical injuries (“Gentle Leashes”, Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM) and may cause aggression. They are illegal in a growing number of countries.
- Gentle Veterinary Care. Choose a vet both you and your dog like and trust, one that takes the time to bond with your dog, and practices gentle handling and restraint. Consider integrative care. Ask questions. Spay/neuter. Get that orthopedic bed your dog has been dreaming about!
- Positive Dog Training. The scientifically-endorsed, non-aversive method works for wild animals at the zoo and wolfdogs, so it can work for your dog, too! It’s effective, long-lasting, safe, and often very fast, as well as truly dog-friendly. Get a private behavioral consultation to target those behavior problems that have cropped up, or enroll in a class.
- Natural Food. A super-premium grade food with a specifically named meat as the first ingredient is best. Canine nutritional expert, Dr. Doug Knueven, DVM tells us, “There is no greater obstacle to canine health than poor diet.” “Venison Holiday Stew” (made by Merrick®) would be well-received.
- Regular and Frequent Exercise. Check out the many great trails, beaches, parks and neighborhoods you can explore together. Consider enrolling in a dog-sport class.
- Gentle Grooming. Choose a groomer who takes the time to make your dog feel safe and practices gentle handling and restraint. Would your dog appreciate a spa massage treatment or a blueberry facial?
- Environmental Enhancement. Rotate food-toys, interactive puzzles, and safe chew-items to keep your dog busy and happy. Add a window with a view and dog-friendly landscaping. Don’t forget to provide a quiet place where you dog can rest away from all the excitement of the holiday season.
- Your love. Infuse all the above with your love—the best gift of all.
Dogs are our closest, most beloved animal companions, so it behooves us to consider every aspect of their care and well-being during this season of joy and throughout the new year!
Linda Michaels, “Dog Psychologist,” MA, and Victoria Stilwell-licensed Del Mar dog trainer and speaker may be reached at 858.259.WOOF (9663) or by email: LindaMichaelsPositively@gmail.com for private obedience instruction and behavioral consultations near Del Mar and the San Diego Coast. Please visit us at DogPsychologistOnCall.com All rights reserved
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