Taking care of fur is important for your dog’s health and wellbeing
Regular brushing prevents fur from knotting, removes loose hair and dead skin cells. This way your dog’s skin can breathe underneath the coat of hair. When brushing your dog, you can also easily notice scratches and cuts that may have come as a result of rough play.
Some dog breeds require grooming.
The type of dog breed and how dirty the dog is determine how often you should wash your dog in order to maintain his health. Dogs are washed with lukewarm water in a shower or a bathtub. You can use dog shampoos and conditioners, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Do not wash too often as it makes dog’s skin dry. Some breeds require washing only when fur is very dirty, whereas others need to be washed weekly in order to keep their fur from tangling and felting. Remember to rinse and dry your dog carefully after wash.
How to wash so that my dog is not afraid?
Keep the water pressure low, the water temperature lukewarm and the shower head very close to your dog’s skin to ensure the water pressure does not feel uncomfortable for your dog. To make the water pressure feel more constant, you can keep your fingers in front of the shower head. Be careful not to spray water directly in your dog’s face and avoid water and soap from going in dog’s eyes or ears.
Be stern so your dog gets a sense that you know what you are doing. If you are insecure about washing your dog, he can feel that way too. It is important not to force the washing process but instead to learn to relax together with the help of our course ILOMME Calming down. If your dog is nervous about being washed, start by getting familiar with the shower or the tub first. You can find more useful tools for bathing on our course ILOMME Encountering new things.
Teeth and mouth
It is important to make sure that your dog’s teeth stay healthy as chewing is therapeutic for dogs. Dogs use their mouth for almost everything that humans use their hands for.
It is useful to teach your dog to let you brush his teeth. A dog’s mouth should not smell bad as it can be a sign of infection in the mouth. Make it a habit to regularly brush your dog’s teeth. Remember to check the molars too! If your dog’s teeth form dental plaque, make sure to remove it. Regular chewing on bones and dog chews keeps your dog’s teeth clean and strong. Chewing also increases salivation and enzymes in the saliva kill bacteria in the mouth.
The health of your dog’s ears can easily be checked by looking into them. Ears should not be red or smelly and there should not be any kind of discharge. If they are sore or itchy, your dog may scratch them, rub them against a carpet or a sofa or move with his head tilted. Dogs’ ears can be treated with ear drops that you can buy at the pharmacy. If you notice anything unusual about your dog’s ears, contact a vet.
Eyes should not be red or have discharge either. A healthy eye is clear with a little bit of dark rheum. If the rheum is greenish, it could indicate an eye infection. In this case, contact a vet. Dogs’ eyes can be rinsed with eye drops. However, if they are red, watery, they have green discharge, a cut or dirt in them that you cannot get out, contact a vet.
Trimming your dog’s nails regularly helps prevent injuries to nails and toes as well as keeps paw malpositions from forming. When trimming nails, be careful of the vein inside the nail. There is a course specifically for nail trimming in ILOMME online service. Nails can also be filed with a dog nail grinder.
Paws should be regularly checked for possible cuts or wounds. Paw wax helps soften paw pads that have been affected by for example walking on asphalt or in harsh winter conditions.
Deworming and vaccinations
Dogs’ deworming should be done approximately twice a year in order to prevent endo- and ectoparasites from staying in your dog’s digestive system. This way your dog’s energy is not wasted on sustaining parasites.
Every dog has the right to be vaccinated according to the vaccination schedule. Vaccines protect your dog from dangerous, even life threatening diseases. Some diseases or parasites are contagious to humans as well. Thus, taking care of your dog’s health, you ensure your own health too.
Muscles and joints
Remember to keep your dog’s exercise regular and versatile but also remember to rest. In addition to your dog’s main competitive hobby, practice muscular fitness with other exercises too, in order to maintain a good range of motion and to support and enhance his skills in the primary hobby.
In order to promote healthy muscles and joints, you can take your dog to a dog massage therapist, a physiotherapist or an osteopath. When luring with a treat, you can guide your dog into different positions that stretch his musculature. Remember not to forcefully bend your dog into extreme positions but rather let the dog find the stretch himself, through trust. Only a small movement of the head from right to left or up and down can be enough to stretch the muscles and increase range of motion.
In order to prevent muscle injury, remember to warm up your dog before intense training sessions or walks. At the end of a session, cool down the muscles in order to both speed up recovery time and improve muscle strength. Avoid intense training before your dog has fully recovered from previous training sessions.
Strong muscles support joints and reduce the risk of injuries. Consider what a back ache or a sore neck feels like to you. Stiff muscles will feel just as uncomfortable and tense to your dog. A dog without stiff muscles is a happy dog!
Food and water
Give your dog quality dog food. A dog needs to eat a lot of meat, as his digestive system is not great at utilising a plant-based diet. Thus, food will only pass through his digestive system instead of the dog being energised from it. Find your dog a suitable, non-allergenic dog food that he likes. The food can be dry, wet or raw. For dogs that exercise a lot, give for example salmon oil and other supplements that support health in muscles and joints. Make sure your dog can swallow the food and is able to chew thoroughly.
Make sure that your dog has regular access to fresh and clean water. Dogs need approximately half a litre of water per kilo of body weight each day. If your dog mainly eats wet food, wet kibble, drinks from a lake or puddles or eats snow, the need for water may be less than that. A lot of exercise and panting, on the other hand, increase the need for water.
Incentive motivation and activation while considering breed-specific behaviour
It is important for your dog to be able to behave as is typical of his breed because that kind of behaviour is, as it were, in a dog’s dna. Prohibiting breed-specific behaviour leads to stress and as a result, the risk for problematic behaviour grows.
Digging, tracking, sniffing and marking
You can offer your dog possibilities for digging, tracking and sniffing by hiding treats in the snow or grass or almost any other safe place. Sometimes, instead of a determined and fast-paced walk, you can offer your dog a relaxed round of sniffing and marking. Have you ever noticed that dogs that are running around freely rarely run along a certain route and then come back home? Most often they run around after different odours and stay in the same area for long periods of time unless people move forward and lure the dogs to follow them.
Biting, tearing and tugging
Give your dog bones, chew toys, different kinds of toys and treats to chew. This way, your dog will most likely chew less on furniture and other things that are not meant to be chewed. Also, the stereotypical behaviour of chewing one’s own paws will most likely diminish. When training, you can offer your dog something to chew during breaks. It is a good way for the dog to clear his head and calm down. With something to chew, waiting in a cage or a car is more pleasant and going on breaks will not feel like a punishment.
Dog’s barking is his way of communicating. There is no need to eliminate all barking. Some dogs like to watch the yard and in such a case, you can give them a spot in front of the window where they are allowed to watch the yard.
If your dog barks easily, barking should not be reinforced. Find out why your dog is barking. Is he scared, stressed or trying to tell you something? If a dog is barking out of fear, stress or just for fun, the reason behind the barking needs to be addressed because it points to a problem in his wellbeing.
Playing with dogs
Help your dog find dog friends that are safe to play with. It is fun to wrestle with friends, run around and sometimes even mount one another. Make sure that all the dogs get along and that you know how to read their body language. Dogs can stretch into the most amazing positions when playing with other dogs, and therefore it is also good physical training.
Playing with people
Dog as a species has been co-evolving with humans, which is why he needs human company. Do fun and pleasant things with your dog, also outside of competitive training and competitions. Remember that first and foremost, your dog is your friend and a family member. If there are many dogs in the family, give each one alone time with you.
Remember safety and trust in caring for your dog. Practice caring for your dog, little by little, with the help of treats and with a positive mind. Remember that you are your dog’s best friend and caretaker.