How To Keep Your Dog Healthy & Holistically Happy
Health and wellness (“wellness” in this context means looking at your pet’s mind, body and soul) isn’t a topic that just applies to humans, it also applies to the pet world. It’s easy to think that the “personal trainer” concept works only for humans, but having a personal trainer for your pet can be an amazing experience for both pet and human.
Looking at a pet’s overall well-being is something that’s very important, and I work with clients to ensure this conversation gets integrated early-on. There are a lot of indicators that your dog (or your cat, for that matter) is in need of something more.
Does your dog have way too much energy? Is she bouncing around all over the place (or all over people)? Do you have major issues with your dog on the leash (are they pulling, lunging, making you run more than walk)? If you said yes to any of these questions, then these are sure signs your pup needs more exercise! But, not just any exercise will do, it really takes a professional trainer to do the right thing for your specific dog’s needs if you aren't able to do it yourself. (NOTE: This can be the same for other pets like your cat, but instead the regimen is making sure you play with your cat as often as possible; keep them active!)
I developed a program based on the years of training I’ve done and looking at the best ways to help dog owners everywhere. I’ve coined our program DogFit, and we break it into 60-minute sessions with our furry clients. Sometimes it’s not just a walk that does the trick, but an activity that challenges your dog mentally and physically, and is best suited for what they need. Just like the personal trainer for your human body, it’s the same concept for a little dog body!
It’s really important to ensure that your dog gets 10-15 minutes of reinforcement training of current target behaviors or commands. Some of the target behaviors we focus on for many of our clients include, but are not limited to:
Teaching and reinforcing your dog to sit/stay/come (even outside or in environments that they’re not used to like the park, etc.)
Go “to your crate” or spot where they should be adhering to when the human owners aren’t home
What “drop it” means
How to “leave it”
What the word “off” means
And, “wait” (or “stay” as well)
In conjunction with the above, we also do a 30-40-minute brisk walk or have an indoor play and acclimation session (the indoor sessions are usually due to puppies not having all their shots or inclement weather). We focus on:
Loose leash walking at a brisk pace (with positive reinforcement)
Helping your dog get conditioned to children, skateboards, scooters, other dogs, loud noises
There is also the other side of the coin as there are dogs that are more lethargic than others. It’s important to understand what your pet really needs, assessing the best strategy to help them get fully healthy, and then making that strategy a reality in their day-to-day lives.
There’s a nutrition aspect that comes into play, while I don’t have a PhD in Pet Nutrition, I recommend that your vet gives your dog a clean bill of health, and getting your pet’s blood tested, etc. once year (or every 6 months depending on the age) can be really helpful to understand what needs to be done.
The large pet food companies are not bad, in fact, they typically have the money for major research where some smaller companies may not. Dog food is a massive industry and there a range of people that believe in a variety of types of dog food diets; such as vegetarian, organic, holistic, natural, raw, kosher, all-meat, gluten-free, high-fiber, high-protein, grain-free, low-fat, “lite”, and anti-allergy. Here is a great link so you can compare different pet foods to each other: https://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/.
Sometimes pets just need very special diets, and you can get specific recipes made for their individual needs. Different locations will offer a variety of options, and can range somewhere from $300-$400 (on average). Typically, this means is that you will be making your dog’s food. While it’s a bit of an add-on to your to-do list, special diets can mean the difference between your pet being truly holistically healthy and happy (through their mind, furry body and soul), versus your pet not operating at their 100% best.