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By by Hilary L.

Five essential ways to keep your dog happy and healthy

As man’s best friend for at least 15,000 years, a dog is an excellent addition to any household whether you are single or have children. Still, dogs require a considerable amount of time and other resources to be kept happy and healthy. Here are five extremely important things that should be addressed if a dog is introduced into a home:

Always keep them hydrated – Dog owners tend to get into a rut with their dog depending on their own moods. Since the dog cannot speak, he can only make the same cry for help whether he needs a walk, a pat on the head or a drink of water. This last need is the most important as a dog can actually die within a matter of days if not given adequate amounts of water. Place the chore of replenishing your dog’s water bowl at the top of your to-do list. It is a must-do.

Regularly exercise them – Dogs need to run and play. A walk around the apartment complex or the neighborhood is simply not enough. A dog must be given free rein — that is, without a leash — in a place where he can really stretch his legs and get his heart pounding. Not for nothing, one of the most exhilarating feelings in the world is to watch your dog run with all the joy in his heart for no other reason than that he wants to exercise himself. Don’t miss the experience.

Talk to them periodically – While it is fantastic for a dog to welcome his master home at the end of the day with an exciting little dance or a quick lick on the face, it is equally important for the owner to maintain a two-way relationship. That is, they must show an equal amount of joy at being reunited with the pet after a prolonged absence. Nothing is better at attaining this goal than a soft and soothing voice that lets the dog know that you are aware of its presence and value its company. A good scratching around the ears, back and belly also go a long way in enhancing this feeling.

Deal with fleas, heartworms and other insect pests as soon as possible – Dogs can be infested with a wide range of insect pests. Fleas are probably the most well known but often not recognized by dog owners as the real threat to health that they are. A major infestation of fleas on a dog can lead to lethargy, loss of appetite and a heightened susceptibility to other diseases. While not as ubiquitous, heartworms are even more deadly. Preventative measures should be undertaken for both.

Challenge and teach them – Without a doubt, dogs love to please their human masters. It does take time and effort to train a dog to do a trick like rolling over or even just to heel but dogs love the challenge and are eager to please. More than one master has been surprised to find that a dog will eventually run through its whole repertoire of tricks without being prompted if a single treat is offered.

A final thought – Dogs are not particularly complicated creatures but they must be treated with humanity and respect. They will strive to do as you say as long as your keep a humane and consistent hand.

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