Updated: Jun 6
For both seasoned and first time dog owners, I know first-hand that all the advice and information out there can be overwhelming. These two little cuties, Kiki and Mollymauk, keep me and my roommate on our toes constantly, especially when they suddenly exhibit a new behavior or characteristic. Take it from me- WebMD's ability to scare the crap out of us about our own health exists for dog owners too!
Some of my tips are absolutely free, and some of them come with a price tag, but I'm not recommending doing anything outrageously overpriced. Dogs are part of the family, but there's no need to break the bank!
Tip #1 - Don't Train Your Yorkie the Way You Trained Your Border Collie!
This should be painfully obvious, but alas, this is the one I took the longest to figure out. I live on a busy street, and me training those two sweet little girls like my mom trained my childhood Queensland Heeler resulted in them sprinting out in to the road without warning! SCARY!
The good news is, the internet is a wonderful place, with many videos of successful dog owners demonstrating their training styles that are tailored to each specific breed of dog. Dog training doesn't have to cost hundreds anymore, in fact, it can cost you nothing but time and energy. Both are so worth it!
Tip #2 - Embark is your friend!
Embark is the most amazing tool ever! If you've never heard of this, thank goodness you're here! Embark is 23 and Me, for YOUR DOG! GASP! I was amazed and beyond gleeful when I found out about this. For a few reasons, I was skeptical about the breed I was told my little white floofs were, and had to see for myself if it was true! However, I have to emphasize that Embark unlocks secrets beyond the lineage of your four legged bestie. Embark can tell you what health conditions your dog is predisposed to, and if they need an ingredient to be missing from, or more prevalant in, the food you give them. It can also clue you into the instincts driving some of their best (and worst) qualities! Plan prices vary, but I definitely consider Embark to be a worthwhile one time expense for the long term good of you and your fur baby!
"I was skeptical about the breed I was told my little white floofs were, and had to see for myself if it was true!"
Tip #3 - Gut Over Google
That idea that WebMD will go out of its way to scare the crap out of you over nothing is true.... the same is true with googling new behaviors and symptoms your pup displays. If your dog is panting after running around in the yard, or breathing differently while they sleep, that can be totally normal. Mostly, unless your dog is acting like he or she is in distress or unhappy while exhibiting a new behavior or trait, you should be okay. In a pinch, Rover is a wonderful resource! It's kind of like Rover for pet owners, and can provide support and insight!
Please be advised that I am speaking only from experience as an owner, and I am not an authority on veterinary medicine.
Tip #4 - Find A Way To Include Your Dog
You live a busy life! We all do! Finding a way to include your dog in this will make your realtionship with your fur baby ten times better! I take Kiki to family dinner, to any store that allows her presence, and even to work. The kids I babysit love her, and she loves not being away from me for any longer than she has to! I love the look on her face when she knows she gets to go in the car, or on a walk with me. It also makes trips to the vet much more pleasant for her; the car is her happy place and I make her comfortable everytime. She loves greeting my parents with kisses at dinner, and going to the store to help pick out her own treats and toys. Bringing Kiki and Molly with us also shows them both that they can always count on us being back when we do have to go without them. The anxious chewing and whining while we're away has completely disappeared because they know that soon they will get to go on their next adventure! A great way to begin including them is to find a dog park where they can play that you also enjoy visiting, and visit the website of a local adoption center. Oftentimes. they have fun, dog-focused fundraising events. These are inexpensive, accessible, and enjoyable for pets and owners alike... stay tuned for photos of Molly, Kiki, and me at Woofstock!
Tip #5 - Bond With Them... On Their Terms
When I was in highschool, my psychology teacher had us take an elaborate test to find out what our love languages are. By now, thanks to Buzzfeed, we have all taken a test like that, but there really should be tests like that for your dog. The good news is, if you observe your dog closely and spend time getting to know what they like and don't like, you will know what your dog's love language, play language, learning style, and approach to praise is, and so much more! I learned, for example, that Kiki likes to start the evening snuggling on my chest, then moves to the end of the bed before I fall asleep to lay down next to my cat, then does the bulk of her sleeping on her princess couch in my room. Molly looks up frequently during walks, which is a request for reinforcement (she's asking "Am I doing good, Mom?") and it helps her mood to be told she's doing good along the way. Kiki likes to play with a toy by herself, or with her paws and my hands during one on one play, in a game she invented that I call "Stompies." She also stomps her feet and tosses her head at me when following a command she doesn't like, but she does follow the command. Molly likes to spread out next to her Mom (my roommate) and reach for us with her front paws, standing on her back feet. I could go on and on, but hopefully this has provided a thorough, and very adorable, example of how dogs show you who they are and what they want. All you have to do is be willing to listen!
Make Life Magical... For You and Your Pup!
You are your dog's whole world for the time they are with you. The only thing you really have to do to kick ass at dog momming is love them, and love what your life looks like with them in it. If you find yourself wanting a dog, but don't know what's right for you, check out the resources I suggested- Embark, training videos, Rover, local events, and anything else that might come up on your journey to dog mom life!
Please let me know if you find something really cool, I'd love to hear from all of you!
Wishing you and your fur babies the best Summer ever!
Eliza, Molly, and Kiki