Talking dogs: Salutes and tips for owning a canine friend

September 2, 2014


Dog lovers had cause to rejoice the last week of August, as the 25th was National Dog Day. This "Howliday" was started in 2004 to encourage the adoption of dogs in shelters ó and bring attention to the ridiculously high numbers of such dogs. If youíve decided youíre ready for the responsibility of owning and caring for a dog, consider finding your new companion at your local shelter or a pure breed rescue organization.

In honor of canines, here are some ways 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 always are in need of blankets, food, toys and, of course, funding.

Help out a senior citizen in your neighborhood: Volunteer to walk their dog.

The perfect dog does not exist: Be prepared to work on some issues with your dog or puppy. Raising a well-behaved dog doesnít 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 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. Your dogs rely on you to keep them safe.

Give your dog a thorough once over: Brush their coat to eliminate mats and remove excess fur. Keep toenails trimmed for paw comfort, and if dewclaws are present, keep them short to avoid their growing 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 canít tell you about these health and wellness issues; itís 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: Itís good exercise for you both. Dogs benefit by getting some physically and mentally stimulating activity, plus itís 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 heís a pleasure to be around. Love him unconditionally, and rejoice in the love and trust that is returned to you ten-fold.

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