Be a cool pet parent

Nov 04 2014 : Mirror (Bangalore)
Sniffing walks, loose leash walks, bonding with dog
Bond with your dogs over slow walks

I often talk about the responsibility involved in pet parent . And it is a huge responsibility. But often, we get so overwhelmed by this responsibility that we forget to just have fun with our dogs. Today, I want to remind all you pet parents there on some fun ways to spend time with your dog, without getting overwhelmed.

Take very slow walks, to a point where it’s barely a stroll.Walk at quiet times and on quiet streets. Don’t feel pressured to walk in a certain way, at a certain pace or cover a certain distance. A healthy adult dog of most breeds can do with two 15-minute walks in a day and the walk can be as slow as the dog wants. If your dog is walking too fast, it’s perhaps because he has not learned to stop and sniff around. Encourage sniffing by slowing down yourself and getting some professional help with leash training. Walks should be relaxing to both dog and walker.
Talk a lot to your dog. When he follows you around, he does not always want play. He is quite happy with conversation.When you are cooking, you can talk your recipe aloud to him and pretend to be a chef on TV. Or you could read your book aloud to him. Children can find it very helpful to open up to dogs and read to them. Pet your dog or brush your dog in slow long strokes.Unwind this way, talking about the day’s events. Repetitive actions release endorphin in the body and body contact releases oxycontin. The former helps you and your dog feel better while the latter helps you bond.
If you observe, you will notice that sometimes in the evening, your dog gets into a great mood. Celebrate that mood.Giggle like a child. Tell stupid jokes to your dog and to each other. It’s a great family bonding exercise. And your dog will remind you of this like clockwork, every single day.
If you like cooking, forget the readymade food for your dog.Cook instead. Chicken and rice is a healthy bet. In addition, you can add fruits and vegetables. Stick to fruits like banana, papaya, apple and pear. Avoid seeds and pits. Veggies like spinach, pumpkin, carrot and beans are great for dogs. Sesame oil is fantastic. Avoid acidic fruits and vegetables like tomato, citrus fruits, grapes and chocolate. Experiment with herbs, based on your dog’s taste. My husband likes to cook for my dogs and he shows them a few herbs and asks them what they want.They select the herbs that go into the food. They all listen to music as he explains to them what he is cooking for them. And it’s OK to let your dog into the kitchen, if you don’t mind it.He will not take over your world and rule you. Give yourself that luxury.
Another luxury that I am unabashed about giving myself is letting my dogs on the bed. Unlike earlier held beliefs, letting dogs on furniture does not make them dominate you. Au contraire, it’s one of the best ways to bond with your dog. Dogs love the feeling of having bed and sofa access and as long as you don’t mind the fur on the sofa and bed, it’s perfectly fine to let them have that access. Of course, it will require you to clean their paws and brush them more frequently. But it’s absolutely worth it in terms of the joy they get and the joy you get when your dog lays his head on your lap as you watch your favorite movie.
When it comes to having a dog, I say make pet parenting as fun as possible. Relinquish all other self-imposed constraints. The more relaxed and enjoyable pet parenting gets, the less likely pet abandonment gets.
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