Recipe for a healthy dog

Many people who own horses also own at least one dog. We spend a lot of time thinking about, and looking after our horses needs, but have you ever really thought about whether your dog is getting everything he needs?

The following lists things that will help your dog to stay healthy and happy, and some may surprise you! This list is in no way comprehensive but will hopefully provide you with some food for thought.

Fresh water is a vital requirement. Your dog needs constant access to fresh clean water. Even if you have house training problems do not restrict your dog’s water intake this will not resolve anything. Your dog needs water to stay hydrated in order to function correctly.

Fresh air and sun dogs love to be outside and it is imperative to your dogs health to allow him as much access to these two essential needs as he wants. Obviously during hot weather, your dog should have access to a cool shady area, so he does not become dehydrated or get heat stroke.

Mental stimulation dogs love puzzles and it need not cost a lot of time or money to provide mental stimulation for your dog. Make use of used loo rolls, and hide food inside, or buy your dog a treat ball or “Kong”. Dogs love chewing and this will fulfil this need to help reduce boredom and stress. Alternatively do some nosework with him; it is very good for your dog to use his very well developed senses.

Appropriate exercise dogs very often receive too much exercise. Many people believe that their dogs need at least an hours’ walk twice a day; this is very often too much. If your dog paces and whines after you get home from a walk this is actually an indication that he is over stimulated; providing him with more mental stimulation will help solve this problem, lower his stress levels, and help to avoid training and behaviour dilemmas. While on this subject, it should be pointed out that puppies need very little exercise, as do old, unfit and overweight dogs.

Correct socialisation this should be carefully thought out. Socialis-ation should not stop when your puppy becomes a dog. Make sure you keep his social skills up, but do not force your dog to meet other dogs. This is particularly important if your dog seems to dislike another dog, remember we do not like everyone we meet. If your dog is forced into meeting dogs, this can lead to your dog becoming defensive, nervous and over reactive. Socialisation is a bit of a balancing act.

Grooming care and bodywork not all dogs need grooming, and some dogs positively dislike the experience, but even if you decide that it is unnecessary or impossible to groom your dog, make sure you spend time with him every day to stroke and run your hands over him, this allows you to know what is “normal” for him and will alert you to any sinister lumps or bumps or any injuries he has received.

Bodywork is as important for a dog as it is for a horse. Dogs can suffer from pulled and strained muscles just as we or our horses do. If your dog starts to growl at you, or exhibits strangely almost aggressive behaviour he could be in pain. Bodywork includes therapies such as Canine Bowen Technique, which is a versatile and non manipulative therapy which can help with pain, injury and also reduce recovery time after operations. It is also effective at boosting energy levels for working dogs.

Good diet a good diet, is a balanced diet. Most commercial dog foods fulfil this requirement. Keep an eye on your dog’s toileting habits to answer any questions you have about his/her food. If your dog is prone to diarrhoea, or has behaviour problems, it could mean that the diet is not suiting your dog.

Good home environment the “perfect home” probably does not exist, but you can help by providing your dog with a comfortable place to rest, preferably away from busy areas of the house. His bed should be in a place he feels secure, and where he can receive proper rest and sleep. Lack of rest has the effect of creating problems and can lead to anxiety and behaviour problems.

Pennie Clayton 07910 720961
www.horseandhoundschool.co.uk

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