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Dog Wellbeing: Our Agenda for a Healthier, Happier 2014

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Weight loss, improved fitness and a healthier diet regularly appear amongst people’s New Year’s Resolutions. If you’re a more, should we say, cuddly pooch, your owner’s 2014 health and fitness plans might also extend to your waistline.

With little concern for weight loss, an on-going commitment to strength and no desire to jog five miles before breakfast or bench-press Basil (although that would help with strength), I’m more focused on creating a 2014 for Basil and I that is healthy and happy, and helps improve our body and mind. Perhaps our agenda might help inspire your approach to 2014 for the benefit of both you and your dog …

WALKIES
Take Basil out for a walk every day! Now this might sound a bit obvious as a dog owner but after Basil’s unfortunate incident with a snow-covered pond last year and my disdain for rain, if it’s wet outside we sometimes cry off walks instead playing games and running around the house for exercise, compensating with an extra long walk the day after. However, working from home also means we spend pretty much every waking second together so this approach can sometime cause us to both to go a little stir-crazy.

This year, I’ll be keeping a keener eye on the weather to ensure we get our daily dose of exercise and a change of scenery. On the advice of Ma Frith, I’m also going to look for ways to tweak our walks be it an impromptu five minutes of dog training, a modified route or sitting on a bench for five minutes to watch the world go by so we both feel a little more stimulated.

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DOGA
Last year I read an article in Metro by their Health & Fitness Editor, Vickie-Marie Cossar about Doga (dog Yoga), which she trialed with her Chocolate Lab Buster. It’s been in my ‘things to do’ folder ever since. It’s now back on my radar, as towards the latter end of 2013 I started attending a Body Balance class at my local gym, which combines Yoga, Pilates and Tai Chi. I’ve never been one for this sort of thing, preferring the gym or bouncier classes, but I absolutely love it. It makes me feel strong, toned and most importantly relaxed, which for a hyper person like myself is a Godsend especially to my boyfriend.

Being a young dog and a Boston Terrier, Basil is also prone to freight-train type behaviour so I think an activity, which offers the same relaxing benefits to dogs as it does humans and that creates a deeper bond is something that will hugely benefit us both. Our Doga debut is TBC but we plan to attend a Doga Mahny class and promise to report back once we’ve mastered our Downward Dog.

DOGGY MASSAGE
Again when Basil is being a little manic, I often sit him between my knees and stroke his ears and head until he calms, and then get him to lie down while I do my own version of doggy massage. Within around two minutes he’s a placid pup and more often than not, drifts off into his own doggy Zen. I also come out the other side feeling relaxed too.

While I think my DIY approach to dog massage is beneficial, I’m keen to learn more and perfect my technique. Again like the Doga article, a leaflet from the Canine Massage Therapy Centre has also been sitting in my folder for some time so this year I will be enrolling in their one-day Beginners Guide to Canine Massage Course, competitively priced at £90.

SUPPLEMENTS
Basil has loved his Lily’s Kitchen ever since we made the switch about six months ago and it’s a wholesome, nutrient-rich diet that seems to really work for him. Unlike his previous food, which he would turn his nose up at unless it was sprinkled with cheese, he wolfs it down with gusto, is full of beans, has a coat that’s shiny like a conker and regularly gets the vet’s thumbs up for being in shape.

However, in addition to a good diet, a supplement is no bad thing. For me, I’m upping my calcium rich food and drinks, and taking Vitamin D. For Basil I’ll be adding Pooch & Mutt’s Salmon Oil to his food. Salmon Oil supplements are said to aid your dog’s skin and coat quality, cardiovascular health, immune response, cognitive/ brain function and their joint function so I think it will be a good all rounder to boost his diet and keep him tip top.

Have you made any New Year Resolutions or plans around your dog or their health? We’d love to hear all about them, just add your comments below.

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