14 tips to help keep your dog happy and healthy

We list the top 14 tips to help keep your dog happy & healthy, from yanking on a leash to using harmful human products.

14 tips to help keep your dog happy and healthy

As valued family members, you should treat dogs with love, compassion, and the utmost care. 

Unfortunately, however, even the most responsible dog owners can do things that can potentially harm their canine companions. 

In this article, we give 14 tips to help keep your dog happy and healthy, including never yanking on a leash, and reducing the use of strong scents.

14 tips to help keep your dog happy and healthy

Never yank a dog’s leash

One of the most dangerous consequences of a leash pull is suffocation or strangulation by a dog collar.

Leashes and collars can be deadly, which happens far more often than pet owners imagine.

Reports show that an average of 26,000 dogs every year are injured in a collar-related accident. 

Even worse, high rates of thyroid issues have been found in dogs that frequently pull on the leash. 

When a dog tries to pull on its leash, the collar injures and inflames the thyroid gland in the throat.

Our pets don’t know when it’s time to stop pulling, so their reaction is to try to get themselves free no matter the cost. But unfortunately, pressure from pulling on the collar can entirely prevent oxygen intake or cause a dog’s neck to break in extreme cases.

Studies have shown that using a harness significantly reduces the dangers of excessive leash pulling.

The main advantage of the harness is that it doesn’t exercise pressure in a single concentrated area as a collar does. Instead, the pressure distributes across the shoulders and chest.

A front-clip harness, where the leash attaches to your dog’s front, redirects your dog towards you if they start to strain or pull, effectively preventing leash pulling.

Don’t avoid taking your dog to the vet

We know that taking your dog to the vet is a pain, not to mention expensive, but regular checkups are also crucial for your fur baby’s health.

The vet can identify issues you might not even be aware of, plus they’ll make sure your dog’s weight is in check and their teeth are in good health.

Sorry Dachshund

Don’t make your dog apologize

Many dog owners believe their dogs understand when they have done something wrong because they appear guilty. Still, your dog isn’t ashamed for chewing your shoes or knocking over your plants.

Scientists believe dogs can’t feel complex emotions such as guilt or shame. On the other hand, your dog is reacting to your body language and speech tone. For example, they may appear scared or upset because you are angry with them.

Rather than becoming angry with your dog, focus your time and efforts on teaching your dog the behavior you want to see.

Don’t stop your dog from exploring and sniffing

Dogs are curious creatures who enjoy sniffing and exploring. Walkies allow them to spend meaningful time outside. It’s also a fantastic way to keep them fit.

One thing you should never do is restrict your four-legged friend from exploring and sniffing.

Remember that dogs see the world mainly via their sense of smell. It’s unfair to rush your dog through a walk without allowing them to stop and investigate. Allow them to experience their special moment!

Don’t use human products on your dog

Never use products you would use on yourself or your dog, as many human products can harm your pet. 

Using human shampoo, for example, will disrupt your dog’s acid mantle leaving them vulnerable to parasites, viruses, and bacteria. It also makes their skin feel dry and flaky.

Human toothpaste and sunscreens contain ingredients that would be harmful to dogs if swallowed.

Keep in mind that any cleaning products that contain bleach or ammonia are also hazardous to your dog.

Dog friends

Never isolate your dog

Dogs are pack animals. They do everything together when they are in the wild, loyal to the pack.

For a domestic dog, you are a member of their pack. Therefore, separation anxiety might arise when you don’t spend enough time with your dog.

Make sure you take them for walks and pay special attention to them. Your dog is a member of your family, and as such, they require quality time with you.

If you work long hours, having someone check on your pet is a smart idea. You may also take them to doggy daycare once in a while so that they can socialize with other dogs and people while you are away.

Don’t assume your dog doesn’t mind the weather

Humans wear shoes, so we don’t realize how hot the pavement can get. 

It’s important to remember that when the ambient temperature is 85 degrees, the asphalt surface temperature can reach a sizzling 140 degrees! 

Such temperatures are hot enough to cause burns, tissue damage, and even scar your dog’s sensitive paws after one minute of contact.

Before you step out, check the pavement with your hand. We also recommend taking your dog for a walk in the evening or early morning when there is cooler weather. Take frequent breaks in shady areas as well.

French Bulldog with dog bowl

Avoid overfeeding your dog

Avoid feeding your dog more than their recommended daily intake.

While it’s hard to resist those puppy eyes, you need to be a responsible dog owner. Never use food as a way for you to show affection, as canine obesity is on the rise.

Over 50% of dogs and cats in the U.S. are fat or overweight, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention.

Don’t feed your dog any table scraps. Human foods are too spicy, fatty, or salty for a dog’s digestive system. You also risk your dog becoming accustomed to eating food that isn’t healthy for them.

After all, your pet’s diet is just as important as yours!

Never leave your dog alone in a car.

The temperature inside a vehicle can rise by 20 degrees in less than 10 minutes, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Even if a car is sitting in the shade while it’s 90 degrees outside, a dog might die after just 10 minutes in a car.

Dogs don’t sweat like humans, and they overheat much faster than you think, and the consequences of keeping your pup in an enclosed vehicle can be fatal.

Avoid forcing hugs on your dog

Full-body hugs aren’t good for dogs, no matter how enticing they seem. A hug might be intimidating or uncomfortable, especially if they feel trapped.

Because dogs are not human, having someone come up to them and put their arms around their bodies or necks might make them feel threatened.

Although most dogs would allow trustworthy persons to hug them, this does not mean they will enjoy it as much as humans.

Instead of hugging a dog, allow it to lean into you and pet its back and chest.

Overdressed dog

Don’t dress up your dog

Don’t buy clothes for your dog just because you think they’ll look cute in them.

When it’s cold outside, you should dress your dog for walks. However, keep in mind that they have fur to help them regulate their body temperature.

If you live in a colder climate and choose to use a jacket, ensure that it is not restrictive.

Avoid using strong fragrances

The part of a dog’s brain devoted to analyzing smells is about 40 times greater than ours. This means that there are scents that humans will barely notice but will be very irritating for your dog.

Try to minimize the use of perfumes, cleaning products, vinegar, chili peppers, and citrus scents.

We’re not suggesting that these items can’t be in your house, but you should provide a way for your dog to get away from the smell if they feel uncomfortable.

If you’re cooking with chili peppers in the kitchen, your dog should have a comfy bed away from the cooking area where they can rest.

Secure your dog in the car when driving

People use seat belts, and children use car seats, so why would you not look to secure your dog the same way?

If you don’t secure your four-legged friend in the car and end up in a car accident, your dog can get seriously injured or even killed.

The good news is that there are many options for dog safety. 

There are harness seat belts, zipline harnesses, and different types of carriers. Don’t forget to get the one that suits your needs.

On that note, never let your dog stick its head out of a moving vehicle.

Branches, rocks, or other debris could collide with the animal’s head. The dog might also feel the impulse to jump out of a moving car.

Dog in crate

Don’t make your dog hate their crate 

Dogs are den animals, and whether you supply one or not, they will seek out a small canine cave for security.

When introduced as a happy and rewarding place, a crate provides your pet a secure haven. Dog crates can also be doubled up and used for travel safety.

The most common error dog owners make using the crate as a punishment. That is the worst thing you can do since the dog will associate the crate with being a negative place.

Instead, every time you ask your dog to go in the crate, give them a favorite toy or treat so the dog sees it as a happy place.

Check out our dog crate buying guide to help you buy the perfect crate for your dog.

Join the Conversation

We hope you found this article useful and informative!

At smalldogowner.com, we value your feedback and encourage you to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below.

We would love to hear from you if you have additional ideas, suggestions, or personal stories related to the topic.

Your feedback helps us improve our content and provides a platform for our readers to share their perspectives and engage with one another.

Leave a Comment

Me and my chocolate brown Miniature Dachshund, Pippin, biting my nose!

About Me

Hi, I'm Chris, the author, and owner of SmallDogOwner.com

When my three miniature dachshunds aren't running me ragged, I'm writing articles that answer the questions I've had since becoming a dog Dad.