Our dogs are family. They make our home-comings warmer, our quiet evenings more companionable, our excitement more raucous, our disappointments less disheartening. They are company and comfort, weaving themselves into our lives and loving unconditionally. It’s only right that we do everything in our power to make sure the canine side of our family lives a long and full life. What can we do to make sure that we’re raising our pups to be healthy, responsible, happy dogs? Puppies are always cute. How do they grow up to be disobedient or unhealthy or cantankerous? What goes wrong?

There are two cardinal mistakes that dog-parents make ( understandable and quickly remedied). The first, mistaking your dog for a human being – s/he is a dog and needs to be cared for accordingly. The second, confusing love with being nice. Love is doing what’s right for your dog, no matter what.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when you start with your pup. Remember, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks so the earlier you start, the better!

  1. Keep your dog safe: There’s a lot of conversation around dog discipline- it’s hard, it’s impossible, it’s unnecessary, dogs don’t need to align to human standards of behaviour and so on. But here’s the bottom line, creating boundaries for your beloved dog is what is going to keep them on the straight and narrow. Teach them that when you speak, they must listen. Your ‘no’ is a no. Your ‘come’ will be the difference between a terrible injury and a peaceful walk away. Your stay/wait/heel is the difference between happy and healthy or hurt and confused.
  2. Feed them right: Young puppies usually need to be fed thrice a day. After the first few months, your dog needs to be fed twice a day ( and no table scraps!) Your dog needs to learn to eat at set times. Make sure that you know how much is healthy for your dog- don’t guess! Use one of these! Make sure that you’re not feeding your dog processed food. It makes your dog look healthy, but that’s all. Your pet needs natural carbohydrates, fresh vegetables and proteins to live a really fulfilled life.
  3. Let them discover the world : Your pet has the instincts of a hunter and an explorer. Let her investigate, sniff, bump and fall. Allow her to stand up for herself. It is important to resist the temptation to pick up your puppy or lead them out of harm’s way. Intervene only when it is absolutely necessary but let your puppy be independent.
  4. Remember their ancestry: Your little ball of fur needs to grow in strength and energy. Make sure you exercise those muscles. Your dog needs 60 minutes of aerobic exercise and brain games as well. Find a few ideas here and make sure you speak to your vet.
  5. Socialise:  This is important. Your pup needs to learn to play nice with other dogs. More so, he needs to learn with different kinds of people. Make sure your dog knows what is expected of him in large crowds; with small children; with unenthusiastic adults and so on.

At Wagr, we know how hard it is to raise a dog ( Jambi is still a work in progress!). We’ve found that talking to other dog parents often helps us– great minds breed wacky dog hacks! With this in mind, we’re creating a platform for you to share your dog stories with other dog parents. But for now, tell us your brilliant thoughts and ideas in the comments! After all, everyone benefits from a responsible doggie-zen.