Keeping Your Dog Fit, Happy and Stylish
Long known as 'man's best friend', domestic dogs have become very much a part of the family. The demand for dog-friendly options in every facet of life - from cafes and restaurants to accommodation options, indicates just how much we want our pooches to be part of our family experiences. And with good reason - our dogs give us unconditional love, loyalty and joy. We can repay their love by ensuring they are well looked after, through regular exercise, mental stimulation and grooming, and by teaching them to be well behaved and well socialised.
Take a read through our guide to on how to keep your dog fit, happy and stylish as they deserve!
Dogs are intelligent creatures, who thrive with lots of mental stimulation. Keeping them in the backyard all day with little or no social interaction can quickly lead to boredom and behavioural problems like digging, barking and separation anxiety. Highly intelligent breeds like Border Collies and Kelpies need a huge amount of physical exercise and enrichment. With busy lives, it can be difficult to be present as much as our dogs would like, but thankfully there are a number of strategies you can implement to help.
Long lasting treats and natural treats are great for keeping your doggo amused, stimulated and out of mischief when they're alone. As an added benefit, they also tend to be great for keeping your dog's teeth clean!
Interactive toys like Snuffle Mats and Food Puzzles provide excellent mental exercise as your dog works out how to find their food! They are also an excellent way of preventing dogs from gulping their meals, and can help to alleviate hunger pangs between meals by extending meal time. Food puzzle toys like the Classic Kong can be stuffed with treats like liver balls, peanut butter or Kong paste for an extra tasty, long lasting treat. They can also be filled and frozen for an even greater challenge.
Having a number of toys on rotation can also help to keep your dog interested in them. We recommend rotating toys every 2-3 days to alleviate boredom.
Best toys to keep dogs entertained
Our Vets commonly recommend the following interactive toys and long-lasting treats to alleviate boredom and provide enrichment for your dog.
Dogs learn just like humans, by trial and error. Their learning goes on whether we are actively teaching them or not. Dogs learn in 2 main ways - through classical conditioning, or operant conditioning.
Classical conditioning is the process where dogs learn by association. They learn by associating experiences (whether positive or negative for them) with certain events. An example of this is when an owner picks up their keys and bag and puts on their shoes in the morning - their dog learns to associate these actions with the owner leaving for the day, and these actions can often be the trigger for separation anxiety.
Classical conditioning is also the process by which socialisation works. By giving young puppies the opportunity to experience new people, animals, environments and sounds in a way that is very positive for them helps them to become confident and outgoing pets.
Operant conditioning is the process where the dog learns that their behaviour has consequences (whether good or bad). Positive consequences for the dog, like being given treats or a favourite toy, or being taken for a walk, will always make that behaviour more likely next time. Dogs will try to avoid behaviours that have brought negative consequences in the past.
The great thing about operant conditioning is that if used correctly through positive reinforcement, it can create a wonderful bond between you and your dog, and is so beneficial for their mental health and enrichment. It can also help to make them wonderful canine citizens! Common examples of operant conditioning include training your dog to sit, stay, drop and come. Specific training techniques like clicker training can help to make learning more effective, as the sound of the clicker is one that your dog will hear at no other time. They learn that the sound of the click leads to a reward (a treat or toy) for their desired behaviour.
For undesirable behaviours such as pulling or lunging on the lead while walking, there are a variety of products available to help. Gentle leader headcollars can give you more control to prevent lunging and pulling on the lead, whilst front attaching harnesses are designed for very heavy pullers. For help in choosing the right product, take a look at What is the Best Harness for my Dog? and 5 Essential Dog Walking Tips.
Best dog training products
The following products are frequently recommended by our Vets to support positive-reinforcement dog training, and help your pooch learn effectively.
These days it's possible to do almost anything virtually, from turning on your dishwasher to making a cup of coffee, without even being in the room. Luckily, the benefits of our 'smart' world extend to our pets as well.
Monitoring systems now exist to allow you to keep an eye on your dog while you're away from home, and even give them food or a treat! Pet cameras (some of which second as treat dispensers) and automatic feeders can help you interact with your dog throughout the day, and ensure that they are safe and comfortable. Cameras can also allow you to keep an eye on their behaviours (such as barking or digging) while they are alone, and help you to monitor the timing and potential triggers for these events.
Activity and GPS trackers can help you monitor your dog's activity levels and location, while smart bowls will weigh your dog's food and suggest an appropriate food amount based on their weight and food brand. Some automatic feeders like the Sure Feed Connect Microchip Feeder will also tell you how much food was eaten, at what time and by which pet!
Best Dog Monitoring Products
Our top recommendations for ensuring your dog is safe, comfortable and happy when you're away from home include:
It goes without saying that exercising dogs is a must. With their more sedentary lifestyles compared to their ancestors, regular exercise is essential for a dog's physical and mental health, just as it is for humans.
The amount and intensity of exercise will vary with a dog's age, breed, and any underlying conditions such as arthritis. For example, it is not recommended to exercise large breed puppies vigorously as this can place excess strain on their joints and lead to orthopaedic problems. If you are unsure how much or vigorously to exercise your dog, we recommend speaking to your Vet or our Pet Circle Vet Squad for some pointers.
With so many products on the market to choose from, it can become difficult to know which grooming products suit your dog best.
It is quite normal to expect accidents in the house while puppies are toilet training, but older animals can also urinate or defaecate inappropriately for a number of reasons. Submissive urination, kidney disease, urinary crystals, bladder stones or urinary tract infection can all cause toileting troubles and accidents inside the house. Hormonal disease such as Cushings disease or thyroid disease, tumours in the urinary tract or prostatic disease in male dogs can also cause increased urine production or more frequent urination.
In the first instance, it's important to take your dog for a check up with your vet if they are having accidents in the house (but previously been well toilet trained), or if you have noticed changes to their toileting behaviour.
Next, arming yourself with the right equipment to clean up any messes is important. It is important not to use ammonia-based products for the clean up as ammonia is one of the compounds in your dog's urine, and the lingering odour can tempt your dog to urinate in the same place again. Instead, use an enzymatic cleaner to break down the urine deposit and remove the odour.
It is important not to punish your dog for having an accident in the house. Especially if you are toilet training your puppy, punishment such as yelling, hitting or rubbing their nose in it will only serve to make your dog fearful of you. Clean up the mess, and make a mental note to provide more opportunities for them to toilet appropriately outdoors or on an indoor toilet. Have their treats or favourite toy ready to reward them when they go in the right place.
Best grooming and clean up products
The following products are frequently recommended by our Vets for grooming and accident clean up!
Travelling with our dogs has become very common as we involve them in every aspect of our lives. From dog parks and off-leash beaches, dog-friendly rentals and pet-friendly campsites to special provisions for dogs on boats and planes, the opportunity is there to let your dog experience the fun of travel and the outdoors with you.
Whilst it's wonderful to be able to involve them, there are a number of things to be considered before embarking on a journey. Some dogs don't take well to the process of travel, so anxiety aids can be a worthwhile consideration for them. Ensuring that your dog is safely secured with a car restraint or in a carrier, car seat or crate is crucial.
In terms of pet expenditure, dogs owners in Australia have spent over $1 billion dollars in the last 12 months on products or accessories for their dogs such as clothing, toys, leads, bowls, collars and carriers1. This comes a close fourth in the pet expenditure rankings after dog food, veterinary services and health care products. It's quite clear that we love our dog's to feel good and look stylish!
Give your doggo some style with the products below:
1Animal Medicines Australia (AMA) 2021, accessed 7 February 2022, Pets and the Pandemic - A social research snapshot of pets and people in the COVID-19 era, https://animalmedicinesaustralia.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/AMAU005-PATP-Report21_v1.4_WEB.pdf