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10 Tips for Raising Happy, Healthy Dogs so They Live Longer

Happy dogs live longer

What do food, friends, family, and your physician have in common? Together they are partly responsible for helping you stay happy and healthy. Surrounding yourself with loved ones, practicing proper nutrition, and minding your physical health add to your overall well-being. 

Dogs, too, need the love and support of those around them to live their best life. And of course, regular visits to the vet help your dog stay well. Here are a few tips to ensure your dog stays as happy and healthy as possible. 

1. Socialize Your Dogs and Puppies

That’s right, just like when you need to get out to enjoy time with your friends, so does your dog. Socializing with fellow pups offers a host of benefits, including easing anxiety, encouraging good behaviors, promoting fitness, and fostering friendships.

Socializing puppies: It’s best to introduce your dog to people and other dogs when he’s around three to four months old. 

Socialize a nervous dog: However, if your dog is older and hasn’t had exposure to others, socializing him is essential to his health. Use caution as you introduce him to others one at a time, never leave your dog alone with children, and reward good behavior with treats and plenty of praise. 

2. Keep Calm and Avoid Yelling at Your Dog

Honestly, it’s hard to prevent a freakout when your dog shreds your favorite slippers or tears through a bag of garbage, but yelling at your dog could make things worse. Before you raise your voice, know that your dog can read facial expressions and negative commands, so learn to use these to your advantage. 

A recent study in BioRxiv demonstrates, dogs subjected to scary behavior and negative commands were likely to suffer from long-term stress and lower overall cognitive abilities. If your dog is displaying a behavior you don’t like, it’s time to reassess what you could’ve done to help prevent the situation.

Maybe trade your slippers in for a chew toy your dog can enjoy or keep your garbage can closed and locked and take the trash out before your dog can get into it. Remember, before your next blow up, do yourself and your dog a favor, keep calm and carry on.

3. Learn the Language of Dogs

While it’s believed dogs have the mental capacity of a two-and-a-half-year-old, dogs can learn language through repetition. Keep it simple. You know the words: ball, walk, sit, treat, or stay. 

  • It’s playtime — repeat the words you want to associate with it, such as “toy” or “play.” 
  • Exercise time — repeat the word “walk” so your dog recognizes the word when it’s time to go for walks.
  • Sit and stay — when your dog is sitting or staying, say things like “Good sit” or “Good stay” and reward with treats. 

Canines recognize human emotion from your tone and body language, so when you get the chance, be present, and hold a relaxed conversation with your dog. 

4. Feed Your Dog Healthy Treats

Feeding your dog a high-quality diet reinforces his overall health and well-being. So is occasionally giving in to his puppy eyes, and sliding him some table scraps or treats (as long as they make up less than 10% of his diet). 

5. Never Stop Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks

Training your dog is a lot more than just teaching him how to follow commands. Learning something new is good for his concentration, flexibility, stamina, and balance; plus, it’s a great way to strengthen the bond between the two of you. Even as he gets older, training can go a long way to keeping your dog active, agile, and alert.

RELATED: Are smaller dogs harder to train?

6. Tame Your Dog’s Jealousy

Yep, just like humans, man’s best friend can appear jealous when their owners pay more attention to another person or pet. While your devoted companion may not go full-tilt green monster, he can display any number of unhealthy jealous-like behaviors such as growling, hissing, or worse getting into a fight with another pet.  

There are a few things you can do to address jealousy and help your dog maintain his coolness and mental wellness. For pet parents with more than one dog, avoid giving too much attention to one pet over another, and separate toys and mealtimes if needed. Be sure to give recognition and praise when your dog behaves well. 

7. Keep Your Dog Happy When Home Alone

Leaving your dog home alone while you’re at work — especially when they may be used to having you around for long periods of time — can stress your dog. Yet, you have no choice, right? You have to work! 

Dogs have a sense of time and can suffer from separation anxiety when their owners leave. While you may think your dog is calm and collected in his crate or on the couch while you’re at work, he may, in fact, be stressing out and feeling lonely. 

To help prevent health-related issues from this daily dose of solitude, try to return home consistently at the same time (or as close as possible). If you aren’t able to get back around the same time, ask someone to check in on your dog and spend a few minutes with him.

You might enlist the help of a neighbor you trust, or look into one of the many dog-walking services. Make sure you choose a service that does full background checks on their walkers.

8. Your Scent May Calm Your Dog

One trick that might help your dog’s anxiety while you’re gone or during other stressful events like thunderstorms or fireworks, involves leaving a piece of your clothing or something that smells like you with your dog. Your scent alone can help ease your dog’s fears. 

9. Take Your Dog for Scent Walks 

Keep your dog happy AND fit by taking them on regular “scent walks.”

Dog sniffing is normal behavior. They rely on their sense of smell to understand their environment. Whether it’s to sniff out a new walking trail or fellow canine, a dog’s nose knows. With hundreds of millions of scent receptors in their noses, a dog is wired for smell; it’s their way of gathering relevant information about their surroundings. Be sure to let your dog sniff for mental stimulation and so he can stay on top of what’s going on in his world.

While walks for exercise are important, so are scent walks, which exercise their sense of smell and allows their brains to analyze their findings. Dogs are data analysts!  

10. Take a Trip

While keeping up with all vet appointments is crucial to your dog’s health, a trip to the vet makes just about any dog shake and shiver, and may even stress out their owners. To help reduce your dog’s fear of visiting the vet, take him on plenty of car rides that don’t end up with him getting poked and prodded. As always, treats and toys also help. 

These are just a few tips about how to keep your dog healthy and live longer. For more advice on raising happy and health dogs, explore our blog.

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31 Ways to Exercise Your Dog While Social Distancing

ways to exercise your enthusiastic dog

If there’s one thing 2020 taught us as dog owners, it’s that it’s still important to walk, exercise and socialize our dogs around other humans and fellow dogs, even if you have to get a little creative while social distancing. The importance of exercise for dogs is the same as it is for us: We need it to sleep better, digest food, move joints and prevent or reduce risks for health problems. 

BarxBuddy has come up with the perfect solution: An exercise for every day of the month that will keep your dog active and not put his or your health at risk. Here are 31 dog exercise ideas, one for every day of the month. 

1. Play Hide and Seek Inside (or, Outside)

This exercise is best when your dog understands the command sit and stay. If he struggles with these commands you should have a family member help keep an eye on him while you”hide.” You will also need a handful of treats (if you plan on playing for any length you might want to make sure they are healthy snacks).

Ask your dog to sit and stay, or have your assistant ensure he stays put while you leave his sight. If this is the first time your dog has played hide and seek, hide in a location your dog can easily find. 

Once you are in your hiding spot, call your dog. If he doesn’t instantly come running, you can call out to him again. When he finds you, always offer praise and a treat if he really played the game like a champ.

Be sure to change the place you hide every time, so it doesn’t get boring for you or him! 

2. Swim with Your Dog in a Pool (Only with Supervision)

Before you let your dog into your swimming pool for some exercise, it’s important you know that not all dogs are natural swimmers. And, while swimming is a great form of exercise for your dog, you must stay with him at all times while he’s in the pool or other bodies of water. Besides exercising with your dog is fun and good for both of you!

Stay with your dog at all times while swimming.

3. Play ‘Nose Work’ Games

Here’s the perfect indoor or outdoor game for your dog. Hide a few of his favorite snacks around the house or yard and let him go to town.

4. Practice New Dog Tricks

Cooped up with you is the best time to practice some new tricks, if he hasn’t already mastered them. A few rounds of sit, roll-over, stay,  speak, and spin, can exercise the mind and body.

RELATED: 10 Tips for Raising Happy, Healthy Dogs

5. Hit the Obstacle Course with Your Dog

For a great exercise routine create an obstacle course inside or out for your dog. Use household items like a couple of dining chairs and a blanket for a tunnel and a small step stool for hurdles. Outside, you can use other items like boards, hula hoops, and PVC pipes to create a full agility course.

6. Hit the Treadmill with Your Dog

If you can’t get out and walk, your dog can take a stroll on your treadmill. First, you need to get him comfortable around it and onto the machine while it’s off (treats help!). Once he’s comfortable, have him leashed standing on the treadmill facing forward. While holding his leash, turn on the machine to its slowest speed. Offer encouragement, praise, and treats as he walks. Begin with a few minutes, increasing speed and time (up to 20-30 minutes) over several days. For older or injured dogs, check with your veterinarian before putting a dog on the treadmill.

7. Play Fetch

One of the most traditional ways to exercise your dog inside or outside is a good old game of fetch. Grab his favorite ball or stick and head outside and play fetch. Reward your dog with praise and treats when he brings the toy back on command. 

Some dogs are natural at Frisbee and fetch.

8.  Fill up a Food Dispensing Ball

Put a few treats in a food dispensing ball and your dog will work very hard to get them out.

9. Dance With Your Dog

Put on some tunes and get your dog moving to the music.

10. Run Up and Down the Stairs (If You Have Them)

Just like it’s a great exercise for you, up and down a few flights will get your dog good and tired.

11. Play Keep Away

You and another family member toss a small item, like a ball back and forth, keeping it away from your dog. Play fair and allow him to catch it occasionally.

12. Play Doggie Tug-of-War

An old rope or piece of cloth is all you need. 

13. Hide Dog Treats in a Food Puzzle

Similar to a food dispensing ball, put a few treats in a food puzzle and he’ll go to town trying to find them.

14. Chase Laser Toys

Like cats, dogs can find laser toys entertaining.

15. Play Frisbee

‘Nuff said.

16. Bury the Bone

If your dog is a digger, bury a couple of bones around the yard, in a place where you won’t mind her digging up. Check with your veterinarian for safe recommended bones (no chicken bones), or if you’re vegetarian, you might bury dog treats, chews or other veterinarian-recommended treats.   

17. Dangle a Flirt Pole

Tie a treat or small toy to the end of a string on a stick and dangle it in front of your dog just out of his reach. Be sure to let him catch the toy now and then.

18. Play the Shell Game

Grab two plastic cups and dog treats. Show your dog a couple of the treats and let him watch you place them under one of the (upside down) plastic cups on a hard surface. Switch the cups a few times and see if he can knock over the cup hiding the treats.

19. Play Which Hand

If you don’t have plastic cups, place a couple of treats in one of your hands and close your fists and let your dog figure out which hand is the right one.

20. Rotate His Toys

Although your dog has his favorite toys, every dog can get bored, so rotate his current toys. or introduce new ones to keep him interested in playing.

21. Chase Bubbles

Blowing some bubbles around the yard will get your dog jumping and running.

Dogs love chasing bubbles!

22. Teach Your Dog How to Turn On/Off Lights

Large and small dogs can learn this trick. Small dogs might need your help (hold him) to practice turning on and off a wall light switch. 

23. Yoga, or Doga in Dogspeak

While there are Doga classes across the nation, you can learn how to perform yoga poses with your dog at home, thanks to YouTube. Here are a few poses to try out, Wheelbarrow, Inner Dog Mudra, and Heart to Hound Mudra. 

24. Stuff a KONG Toy

Stuff a KONG toy with some cheese or peanut butter and your dog will spend as much time and energy necessary (which is usually a lot) to clean it out.

25. Run Through a Sprinkler

If your dog loves the water but you don’t have a pool, turn on the hose or sprinkler and let him run through the water for a while.

26. Wrestle

Get down on the floor or ground and play wrestle with your dog.

27. Teach Your Dog How to Put His Toys Away

Spread your dog’s toys around the toy box and instruct him to “clean up”. Use praise and treats as he deposits them into his toy bin.

28. Bike Around the Neighborhood

Find a time when your neighbors are either indoor or away and bike around the neighborhood while your dog runs next to you on his leash.

29. Doggy Playdates

If you have someone who doesn’t live with you and you know they have followed CDC or local guidelines for social distancing — and they have a dog, invite them to drop off their dog(s) for a doggy playdate or stay and visit with you while practicing safety measures.

30. Social Distancing and Dog Walking 

Of course, if the area where you live is less populated and it’s possible to get out, you should try to walk your dog, provided you maintain a safe distance from other people and their pets and wear your face mask. 

You can still walk your dog while social distancing.

31. Pamper Fido

After all the exercising, it’s time you give him a doggie massage and apply balm to his pads. Pampering your dog can soothe any aches and relax his muscles before his next round of play.