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4 Ways to Appreciate Your Dog

We are celebrating Pet Appreciation Week until June 12! There are so many ways to celebrate your dog, but to truly appreciate them, here are 4 things you can do right now. These ways of appreciation will make your dog a better dog and you a better dog parent. 

Let your dog be a dog
We all have a tendency to treat cute things like babies, but the problem is that dogs are neither humans nor babies! We can teach them all kinds of bad behaviors if we try to reason or deal with them the same way we would with children. You can’t reason with a dog beyond simple behavior and reward interactions — “If you sit now, you get the cookie now.” But these have to be immediate. You could never tell a dog, “If you don’t tear up the sofa during the next five hours while you’re home alone, I’ll give you a steak when I get back.” Your dog won’t remember after you’re gone five minutes.

Stop being so anxious
Dogs reflect our energy back to us, which is why it’s so important for us to be calm. Your dog will sense your uncertainty in a situation and respond accordingly. Some dogs will become defensive or aggressive and try to protect you. Others will become frightened or skittish, and try to get away from the danger they perceive because they’re reading it in your energy.

One of the more common times for this to happen is when someone is walking their dog and sees someone with a dog coming toward them. They fear a confrontation or a fight, so they tense up on the leash. They may even abruptly cross the street. What they don’t do is continue forward quietly and confidently. All this sudden tension does is send a signal to the dog: “Danger!” It’s not only the best way to make your dog suddenly focus on the other dog, but the quickest way to set those two dogs up to get into a barking match — or worse — with each other.

Let your dog earn the reward
What happens when you give kids rewards they didn’t earn? If you do it too often and they come to expect it, they can become spoiled and demand to get gifts all the time from everyone.

Dogs can be the same way, and this is one of the areas where they are similar to kids. If your dog never has to earn a treat or a meal, then not only will they come to expect to get it for nothing, but they will think they’re the ones in charge of you.
But if you get your dog in the habit of always having to do something you want before they can get what they want, you’ll teach her to be obedient and well-behaved.

Keep your dog healthy
We cannot stress the importance of regularly taking your dog to the vet, making sure that she or he has been neutered or spayed, and is current on vaccinations, flea treatments, and tooth-cleaning. Your dog should also have a full wellness exam every year up until about the age of five to seven, and then every six months after that — starting the more frequent exams earlier the bigger your dog is. Prevention is better and easier than a cure.  

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