You don't always have to be nose-to-nose on the couch or playing fetch in the yard to bond with your dog. Regular grooming can be another opportunity to grow closer together.
"Dogs really do feel good after they have been groomed," says Joan Wershaw, owner of the Canine Country Club and Feline Inn in Albuquerque, N.M. "You can tell by the way they prance about after getting all cleaned and spruced up."
Pet experts agree that it's easiest to help your dog enjoy regular nail trims, tooth brushing, and cleanings if you start when he's a puppy. But if your canine companion grew up on the wild side, fret not. You can teach an old dog new tricks.
Dr. Richard Fried of the Lincoln Square Veterinary Hospital in New York City advises his clients to work with their dogs in "short, sweet sessions." Speak to your dog in a calm, low voice, offering lots of praise and treats as incentive for good behavior.
"Start with brief periods of petting, praise, and a treat here or there," Fried says. "Being with your pet, touching, taking care of him, can be very rewarding for the owner, and very rewarding for the pet."
With any do-it-yourself grooming, talk to your veterinarian first if you have any questions or concerns. The annual exam is a great time to have your vet demonstrate the proper techniques for ear cleanings, nail trims, and tooth brushing.
When you're teaching your dog about nail trimming, let him get used to having you spread his toes and touch his nails. As with all grooming, back off if your dog starts to look anxious or panicked. This could mean only trimming one nail a day, but don't worry. You're gaining trust and strengthening your bond.
Bath time is a great opportunity for fun in the tub. Washing a dog periodically can help keep his coat shiny and skin clean. Be gentle as you work shampoo into your dog's fur, starting at the head and making your way towards the tail. "Dogs get into the massage process and really do enjoy it," Wershaw says. "Dogs are no different than people who like to be touched. The touching and petting of the pet during the bathing process is so important in the process of trust, love, and affection."
Here's a tip: Bathe your dog once a week to avoid drying out his coat.
THE BETTER TO HEAR YOU WITH
Keeping your dog's ears dry during bathing goes a long way toward protecting them from trouble later on. Fried advises that you gently tuck a cotton ball into each ear canal during bath time, making sure to remove them afterwards. Experts recommend examining your dog's ears for signs of infection, like waxy residue or a sharp odor, and cleaning them on a regular basis. To prepare for cleaning, you may want to wrap your dog in his favorite blanket and hold him close to you, which helps to lessen his stress and reduce wiggling. The ASPCA recommends removing wax and debris from your dog's ears with a cotton ball moistened with water, or a little mineral oil.
Tooth brushing is another essential element to grooming. "Clean teeth are extremely important," Fried says. "It's a health issue more so than nail trims or bathing."
When you head into the bathroom before bed to brush your teeth, make sure to polish those of your four-legged friend. Daily tooth brushing reaps rewarding, long-term benefits for your dog, including healthy teeth and gums, fresh breath, and a reduced risk of periodontal disease.
"A lot of dogs will put up with using an electric toothbrush," Fried says.
Also, make sure you have a toothpaste formulated especially for dogs. Toothpaste made for people contains fluoride and isn't meant to be swallowed. After all, Fried says, "You can't ask a dog to swish and spit."
Maximizing your grooming time together not only strengthens your bond, it also can help your dog live a happy, healthy life with you, keeping him prepared for your adventures together.
Pooches love chowing down on nutritious, high-quality, hearty meals.
Not all dog foods are created equal and your best friend needs a menu that suits his lifestyle. Purina® Beneful® brand Dog Food offers a unique approach to feeding your dog. Imagine a bowl filled with a tasty variety of bite-sized pieces that are as delicious to your dog as they are good for him. Purina® Beneful® helps keep your pup healthy, happy, and excited meal after meal.
Beneful® products by Purina® are made with wholesome ingredients and are available in a variety of formulas and flavors. All of the Beneful® dry foods offer a combination of satisfying, crunchy kibbles, and moist, chewy chunks packed with abundant nutrition containing flavors that even picky eaters will find irresistible.
Beneful® Prepared Meals™ are available regionally and are the perfect choice for dogs who prefer to dine on wet food. With names like "Savory Rice and Lamb Stew" and "Simmered Chicken Medley," no pooch can resist a bite! Beneful® Prepared Meals™ come pre-packed in individual sizes and are ready to serve and enjoy™.
Beneful® Healthy Radiance™ is a great way for your dog to feel as healthy as he looks—your dog has never tasted anything like this before. The Healthy Radiance Formula has six distinct and delectable pieces. It's packed with real food ingredients—think crunchy rice, salmon, and accented with vitamin-rich vegetables. The omega fatty acids help to promote supple skin and a thick, glossy coat. The great taste and variety ensure that your dog will race to his bowl each time he's fed.
With so many delicious options available, you can spoil your dog—without spoiling his diet. -Sarah Warren
FIRST AID FACTS FOR YOUR POOCH
Heal a Boo-Boo: Keep an antibiotic ointment on hand for minor cuts and scrapes. To minimize the risk of infection, you can apply Bacitracin or Neosporin to a scratch after washing it with soap and water.
Fun in the Sun: Protect your dog from the sun by keeping exposed skin covered with sunscreen ("human" sunscreen works fine). Dogs with fair skin, or very thin coats, often get burned on the bridge of the nose.
Clean and Clear:
If you're spending the day on the beach or at the lake, it's crucial that you clean your dog's ears once you come inside.
Visit the vet for a serious sunburn, dog bite, or wound that needs to be bandaged. If you're unsure about your dog's condition, play it safe—and spend your time together inside. -Sarah Warren
About the Author
About the Author: Sarah Warren met her Chihuahua, Bruiser, on a ranch in Benson, Arizona. It was love at first sight. They enjoy short walks, having their hair brushed, and cuddling.