The 26th of August is International Dog Day—a day founded in 2004 by animal rescue advocate and author Colleen Paige. Paige established this day, along with the National Dog Day Foundation, to celebrate all dogs (we’re talking marvellous mutts and playful pure breeds), encourage their adoption from shelters and rescue organisations and emphasise responsible pet ownership. ‘All a dog wants to do is love you and be loved by you,’ Paige reminds us. ‘Dogs are amazing, courageous, sensitive and sentient beings that deserve compassion and respect.’ We’ll woof to that!
Once you take on the responsibility of having a fur child of your own, we believe that dog day should turn into an everyday event. Because of that, we came up with a list of ways to show your pooch you appreciate them and are giving them the fullest life paw-ssible—this 26th of August and throughout the year.
Take them for daily walkies
The dog days of summer are coming to an end—which is excellent news for pawrents that want to walk their pooch throughout the day (and not just when the pavement isn’t scalding!). It’s so important to bring your dog for daily walks that last about 30 minutes, whether they’re a pup bursting with energy or a more mature pooch who likes to take it slow. Walks benefit your dog (and you!) in multiple ways, including helping them maintain a healthy weight, improve joint health, regulate their digestive tract and better their mental health.
💡 Our tip: Try exploring new areas or take different routes—it’s extra stimulating for your pooch to experience new sniffs in new places!
Give your dog agency
So much of our dogs’ lives are dictated by what we want them to do. While it’s important to instil discipline so that our pooch isn’t wreaking havoc, it is equally important to give them some level of agency (the ability to make choices for oneself and be in control). Bioethicist and writer Jessica Pierce, Ph.D. made this harrowing discovery:
‘If I could identify the single most significant problem facing homed dogs right now it would be lack of adequate agency. Dogs have very little control over their sensory environment, their social interactions, and the basic elements of daily survival, all of which are orchestrated by human guardians. This lack of control—a near-total loss of agency—has significant fallout for their physical and especially their psychological well-being. Fortunately, there are countless easy ways to enhance our dogs’ agency…’
Pierce goes on to note that in some cases, our dogs have a better idea of what’s right for them than we do. Take this example—you see what looks to you like a friendly pup across the street and you want to introduce your dog to them (Maybe they can become friends, you think). You may disregard your pooch tugging in the opposite direction as a sign that they are simply being lazy and should socialise, so you pull them closer to the other dog. In this situation, your dog knows what’s best for them. When dogs are forced into situations they’re not comfortable with, it can lead to immense stress and even injury in extreme cases. Likewise, you and others interacting with your dog should always ask for your pooch’s consent, like when it comes to giving them a pet or a cuddle.
💡 Our tips:
Let your pooch lead the way on a ‘wild sniffari’. As Pierce suggests, ‘When out for a walk, let your dog choose the direction, pace, and length of the excursion. If your dog wants to stop and sniff here and there, let her.’ This, of course, if your pooch doesn’t decide to rummage through a stinky skip!
Do the ‘5 second test’ for consent; pet your pooch for no longer than 5 seconds. Then, wait for your dog to ask you for more (e.g., rubbing their head against your hand, moving closer to you). If after a few rounds of this you see your dog is happy to be touched and keeps asking for more, go for it and give them all the pets and scratches they deserve!
Relieve their tension through a doggie massage
While us humans can easily communicate when we have a knot in our back and need to schedule a deep tissue massage, our pooches aren’t quite so lucky. Since we know their bodies are often being exerted to maximum capacity when we’re taking them for stimulating walks and sniffaris, it’s likely that our pooches wouldn’t say no to a doggie massage (though ask for their consent first—see our tip above!). The trick when massaging your pooch is to apply light pressure with a flat palm and using techniques like stroking and kneading. Not only will your dog’s tension melt away, but yours will too by watching them enter a state of zen!
💡 Our tip: Don’t massage your dog without expert guidance, otherwise you’ll be doing more harm than good! Check out videos like ‘Massaging Your Dog’ by Teacher’s Pet with Victoria Stilwell or ‘How to Give Your Dog a Relaxation Massage’ by Canine Pain Relief to be sure you won’t leave your pooch with more knots than before the session begins!
Keep on top of your pooch’s dental health and weight
Along with taking your dog for their regular check-ups and making sure their vaccinations are up to date, it’s important to keep an eye on their dental health and weight. It is estimated that nearly 50% of dogs in the UK are either overweight or obese—which can take years off those precious pooches’ lives. Similarly, dental disease is at the top of the list of most common problems for dogs in the UK, according to a recent study by the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) at the University of London. Failing to keep up with a teeth cleaning regimen can cause your dog to be suffering in silence with dental pain. If ignored for long, they may end up developing periodontal disease, which can lead to life-threatening conditions, including kidney, liver and heart disease. At this point, your dog may need to be put under general anaesthesia for a deep cleansing and having rotten teeth removed. While it is easier to start training a puppy that it’s ok to have a finger poking inside their mouth for a couple minutes a day for the sake of their pearly whites, older dogs can also be taught, too, if you start gently.
💡 Our tips:
Don’t skip out on daily walks with your pooch. This can be easy to keep up when you’ve implemented structure into your dog’s life.
Feeling hopeless because your pooch does not like having their teeth brushed? Try gradually introducing your finger to their mouth and praising them for not ripping it off! Then introduce your finger to them, but this time with a special dog toothbrush that goes over your finger, like this one from DogsLife. Then, add a drop of a flavourful dog toothpaste (*do not use human toothpaste on them, as it’s toxic for our four-legged friends) and allow them to inspect it for a while before you go in and start brushing. This process takes time but is paw-sitively worth it in the long run. Offer your dog some dental chews and treats to complement teeth brushing.
Feed them a nutrition-packed, plant-based diet
Know how us humans are told to ‘eat the rainbow’ to be healthy? Same goes for our hounds. By feeding your dog a plant-based diet like that from THE PACK, you are giving your dog a variety of premium superfoods in the form of pulses and legumes that are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and plant-protein. Unlike traditional meat-based dried kibble and wet sludge—which are often filled with highly processed, single-coloured ingredients that require artificial colours to be added to them to appear somewhat palatable—we pride ourselves on providing nutritionally complete, naturally drool-inducing meals of varying textures that make for happy and healthy pups. Now that’s how you show appreciation and say ‘I woof you’ to your four-legged friend!
💡 Our tip: Join THE PACK!
If you want to discover more about raising a happy, healthy plant-based dog, download our FREE eBook.
If you are new to THE PACK you can get 20% off your first order using THEPACK20 at checkout.
Or 30% off your 1st subscription with code PACKSUB30.
Winner, winner, plant-based dinner!