Have you recently welcomed a new dog to your family? Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, adoptions of dogs have gone up in many countries and shelters and breeders have seen a huge increase in demand from people wanting to add a dog to their family. Studies show that welcoming a furry family member into our homes has lasting positive effects, which might be the reason why so many people are drawn towards adopting pets during the COVID pandemic. Our health is positively affected, with a furry friend to help reduce stress, anxiety, loneliness, and much more.
And while welcoming a new dog is clearly great for our wellbeing, it’s essential to also be aware of the needs of the new furry family member.
Recently welcomed a new dog to your family? Remember your research!
You might have planned to adopt a dog for a long time, did all the research, and felt that NOW was the right time. Or you might just recently and spontaneously have welcomed a new dog to your household and are now getting a little concerned that your new furry family member is requiring more from you than you had anticipated. No matter what, your pooch is here to stay – so it’s time to find out what he needs to be happy and healthy.
While there are many things to consider when welcoming a furry member to your family (e.g. potty training, home alone training, playtime, grooming, etc.) we want to focus on two important aspects here: Physical exercise and Mental stimulation.
While all dogs need physical and mental exercise, pet parents of a purebred dog will find it helpful to research what their dog was initially bred for, as this will give you a good indication of what kind of exercises your new dog might enjoy most.
But remember that dogs are individuals just like us. So, your Border Collie might have been originally bred to herd sheep but could turn out to be also excited about retrieving balls, if you just give him a chance to try it.
If you have rescued a dog from a shelter, talk to the staff to get their recommendation. They have taken good care of your dog before you adopted him and they will for sure tell you everything they know to make sure that he has a great start with his new family.
So, no matter if your new family member is a purebred dog or a total mutt, make sure to invest the time to find out what kind of exercise your dog enjoys and needs.
Physical exercises benefit all dogs – including your new dog and your family!
When a new dog is welcomed to your family, one of the important things to consider is physical exercises. Dogs of all ages usually enjoy physical exercise and definitely need it to stay healthy. For apartment dogs, walks are essential as they are their only chance for a potty break, so ensure to schedule 3-5 walks for grown-up dogs (puppies need many more), so they have enough chances to relieve themselves outdoors.
While breed research or talking to the shelter staff will have given you an indication of your new furry family member is more couch potato than a marathon runner, it might still be a good idea to try different things to find out which activities you and your new dog enjoy doing together.
If you are concerned about any illnesses your dog might have or you have given a senior dog a new home, speak to your trusted veterinarian to get medical advice on which kind of exercises will be good for your dog.
Some suggestions for physical exercise:
- Walks in nature
- Hikes with your dog
- Take your dog with you on a running or biking trip
- Play a round of fetch
- Take your dog for a swim at the lake
Mental stimulation helps your family dog to stay happy – and healthy
Another primary component of welcoming a dog into the household as a new family member is mental stimulation. Most dog owners know that daily exercise, cuddle and playtime are important aspects of a dog’s life. But many are not aware that dogs, of all ages and sizes, also need regular mental stimulation to stay happy – and healthy. Bored dogs can become depressed which is often hard for the owners to see as they believe that their dog just sleeps a lot and has become a little lazy. Other dogs become frustrated which can present itself as constant barking, whining, and destructive behavior around the house.
Dogs are smart and want to use their brains, so let’s make sure they get to do that!
You can find some good solutions on the market:
- Dog puzzles challenge the dog to solve a puzzle to get to the hidden treats
- Snuffle mats get your dog to use his awesome smelling sense to find the treats you have hidden in there. If you choose to buy a snuffle mat or make one yourself is up to you.
- Treat balls combine snacktime with play – and the more challenging models make your dog think about the best way to push them to get to the treats fastest.
But you don’t need to necessarily buy things to stimulate your dog as there are great ideas out there that are free and easy to make yourself with things you have at home:
- Make a quick sniffing game using a towel
- Play the shell game using 2 or 3 cups
- One last use for your toilet paper roll
So, you’ve done your research, tried different activities, and found out what kind of physical exercise and mental stimulation your dog enjoys. Now it’s time to start creating a routine for you and your dog and plan daily activities. Include family members in the schedule and make sure to match the activities to your family member’s preferences (some might prefer the task of doing a fun DIY mental stimulation much more than a two-hour hike…).
And now: ENJOY THE ADVENTURE OF BEING A PET PARENT – we promise you, it will be awesome!