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Your Guide To Recognising The Unique Needs of Your Dog

September 02, 2021

At some point, every pet parent has thought that their version of care is the best any pet can get...and this may even be true! However, if dogs could talk, do you think they would agree with that self-analysis? Even if they do, can you be sure that you are not missing something that probably both you and your furry haven’t recognised yet? The only valid question here is - is there a way to find out? As it turns out, there is!

We often tend to think in binaries when it comes to our pets’ needs. This leads to a pattern-based interpretation of their mood, health, appetite and even behaviour, all based on circumstantial conjecture. For example, what would you think of a dog who is usually active but decides to spend the day in bed? Right off the bat, we wonder if the dog is sick. This black & white thinking when it comes to our pets is the prime reason we often miss their key needs. 

When you manage to see the little things about your dog that make you go, “Aha! My dog is unique” it stands to reason that their individual requirements are just as varied. Let’s look at how we can expand our knowledge in terms of our pets’  unique needs beyond pet food and dog toys.

Most dogs’ general needs are the same - food, exercise, play etc. However, when it comes to fulfilling these needs for your own dogs, varying individual requirements and preferences come into play. The key is to read between the lines so you can understand the right diet, the type of play your dog best enjoys and the right exercises to include in their routines. Let’s go over each of these core areas - physical needs, emotional well-being, social behaviour, health and training - to understand how these needs vary even between two dogs of the same breed.

Physical Needs

These comprise the basic needs for the physical well-being of your dog, like nutrition, shelter, warmth, comfort and safety. Despite these needs being common to all dogs, you will notice that individual dogs will have varied requirements.  Two dogs will not necessarily like the same dog food, dog toys or dog beds. Lifestyle, age and health conditions all play a role. 

Details like reduction in appetite, change in sleeping patterns and amount, consistency of bowel movements can provide a lot of insight as to what may or may not be actually fulfilling your dog’s basic needs. For example, gradual loss of appetite can indicate that your current meal plan doesn’t interest your dog anymore and you need to introduce varieties in terms of choice of veggies, fruits and proteins to the diet. An irregular or restless sleep cycle could be due to uncomfortable bedding or the presence of ticks & fleas that are biting your dog. Even your own sleep cycle may be affecting them as your pets tend to adjust their body clock according to yours. 

HUFT TIP: Worried about pesky bugs ruining your furry fam’s sleep? Grab an all-natural anti-tick & flea powder to secure your dog’s bedding and immediate surroundings.

Emotional Needs

Emotional security is a big part of pet care, it’s important to make sure that your canine friend feels fulfilled and safe at home. What you must realise is that it’s the responsibility of the pet parent to guide the way with kind & tolerant leadership for a puppy or a dog to settle in at home. 

Your dog’s emotional needs largely depend on their personality, mood and attachment style. It’s important to understand here that personality and mood are not the same things. A dog can have a very loving and jolly personality, but on days where his/her mood is melancholic for some reason, they wouldn’t play with the same enthusiasm as they usually do. That in no way means that your dog’s personality demands solitude and distance in general. In short, the mood is a subset of personality that depends on environmental stimuli.

Dogs emotional needs

Lack of adequate emotional attention can be expressed by your dog in many ways depending on their personality and responses. It can manifest in the form of increased play biting or chewing on things to grab your attention or losing interest in activities that the dog usually enjoys, like decreased energy, lack of enthusiasm for playtime or outdoor walks. In certain cases, when individual emotional needs are not fulfilled, the dog may develop separation anxiety. 

The basic solution to these issues is straightforward. Dogs need consistency and positive involvement in their pet care routines. Even something as simple as setting aside time to cuddle with them every day, play with them or take them on leisurely walks can do wonders. Training is another way to bond with your dog. Using an appropriate amount of tasty treats as positive reinforcement during regular training sessions can give them a sense of accomplishment. 

HUFT TIP: Introduce an interactive toy to your dog’s playtime for better mental stimulation. The dog toy along with your presence will make your pet feel safe, secure and fulfilled.

Social Needs

Dogs, like humans, also thrive on social interaction. A lack of adequate socialisation with the outside world can take a serious toll on their mental & emotional health. It may even contribute to behavioural issues like aggression and nervousness. 

The indicators that suggest that your dog has social needs that are unfulfilled are pretty clear; without socialisation, your dogs can develop fear and anxiety of anything that is not familiar to them. They can react badly to other dogs and have a tough time getting along with fellow dog friends. If your dog is extremely nervous during walks, fearful of other dogs or bigger dogs, shy or not too forthcoming around other people and dogs, then it’s time to consult a certified behaviourist to understand their insecurities and begin building up their confidence.

Health Needs

A dog’s needs will change with each life stage.  The health requirements of a puppy, adult dog and senior dog will vary.  An inclusive routine can make sure that your dog is healthy and will remain so. This must include a balanced diet, adequate exercise, yearly vaccinations and most importantly, regular checkups at the vet. Frequently, diseases like tick fever or other blood parasites will not be noticeable until exposed via blood tests and reports. What makes it even more difficult to catch it in time is that the symptoms of a disease may take some time to come to the surface.

brown dog

Now, there are different things to look out for when you want your dog’s health needs met. If you have a small puppy, things like deworming and vaccination are a must. Without vaccination, deadly diseases like parvo in dogs can affect not only small pups but adolescent dogs as well. 

Balanced nutrition will ensure that your dog has a strong immune system that can fight off diseases. Again, these dietary requirements will differ for a puppy, adult and senior dog. Food for senior dogs requires balanced nutrition that strengthens their body but doesn’t overwhelm their system. It is always a good idea to get in touch with your vet and a nutritionist to chart a diet plan for your individual dog. 

HUFT TIP: Talk to your vet or nutritionist and just click here to meet all your pet food and supplement requirements.

Training needs

Training dogs is all about communication. Archaeological evidence suggests that about 30,000 years ago, our ancient ancestors first domesticated dogs. However, there is also evidence of joint human & dog burial sites and records that indicate even our ancestors had an emotional bond with their canine friends. The point ishumans have been communicating with their canine companions for a very long time and together, we have achieved wonderful things. Tapping into communication can truly pave a  path for pet parents to bond with their pets better. 

Training also has to be cruelty-free and force-free. Yes, it is a longer process, but it also ensures that it goes beyond a dog being obedient and establishes a rewarding pet-parent relationship. If your dog is having difficulty expressing himself or the expression comes in the form of aggressive and fear, the right training (and lots of patience + understanding) may help smoothen that line of communication.

senior dog on mat

When training adult and senior dogs, the age factor and life experiences come into play as their behaviour may be affected by trauma, cruelty, illnesses and so on. In that case, it is advisable to get a force-free trainer involved.

HUFT TIP: To make training fun for your furries, reward them with your appreciation and a tasty treat so they’re motivated to repeat good behaviour.

There are a lot of permutations and combinations of things that can be done to fulfil the unique needs of your dogs. Learning new techniques, methods and ideas may be required because those needs are not only different for each dog, but they also keep shifting with time. Keeping a close eye on your dog’s physical, emotional, social, health and training needs as well as, understanding how these evolve as your dog grows can give you useful insights to help you keep your dog happy and fulfilled. 

 

*All imagery used is the property of Heads Up For Tails and cannot be used or distributed without prior permission.

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