This time of year makes us think about fatherhood. We consider our fathers and how well they raised us, or we think about what kind of fathers we were or are to our kids. This Father's Day, we have something else to consider: what kind of "father" are we to our dogs? After all, being a father isn't just about the physical act of siring someone. It's mostly about providing love, care and guidance--something good "dog dads" give to their pets.
If you provide your dog with the following, you're already a good dog dad. If you find yourself lacking, there's always time to improve:
Time. The most important gift you can give your dog is your time. Dogs love being with their human family, particularly the human they look up to the most. This means time together at home relaxing, time outside playing ball and even time together sleeping. Spend as much time with your dog as you can. It will help him feel loved and secure.
Guidance. Dogs are like children in many ways. They need discipline and guidance to learn how to navigate through life, and to feel loved and cared for. Dogs receive guidance through training. Formal obedience training is the best way to learn how to teach your dog the ways of getting along in the human world. It will also reinforce his bond with you, and confirm his view of you as the leader.
Exercise. Most dogs, especially young ones, need regular exercise. This means a game of fetch in the backyard, a hike in the woods or a run on the beach. Take the time and make the effort to provide your dog with daily exercise. Any activity you can do with him that will provide him with both exercise and your companionship will go a long way to helping him feel good.
Vet care. Just as with humans, dogs need yearly doctor visits. Your vet will recommend annual injections for common canine illnesses like distemper and bordetella, and will also provide a rabies shot if it's due. The vet will also let you know if your dog needs a dental cleaning, which is mandatory to keep his mouth and vital organs healthy. And while yearly wellness exams are important, it's even more critical that you take your dog to the vet if he's feeling under the weather. If you love your dog, don't wait. Take him in as soon as you sense something is wrong.
Good food. Nutrition is an important part of your dog's wellbeing. Good dog dads don't skimp by buying cheap food just to save a few bucks a month. Instead, buy the best food you can afford. It will pay off with a healthier dog down the road, which means less vet bills and angst for you and your canine companion.
Love. Of course, don't forget one of the most important aspects of canine care: love. Don't be shy to show your dog that you love him. Your dog's gratitude will make it worthwhile. Pet him, hug him and talk to him as much as you can. He will lap up every minute of it.