Every day I strive to be a better pet parent to Rooney, but there have been times where I fell short on providing him with the absolute best life.
My goal today is to share with you the mistakes I made when I first became a pet parent, in hopes that my honesty will improve your pet’s life.
When we first adopted Rooney, we did take him to a basic training course. I knew that it would help strengthen our relationship and perhaps improve our communication. I believe the early training course did just that. After 6 weeks of basic training, Rooney was starting to build a rapport with us. However, that was the last training course we completed with him.
Fast forward 4 years later and I wish we had invested more time into training. In our defense, I was in grad school and working full-time the last 3 years, and I wouldn’t want my husband to take Rooney to a course without me. These days, I watch YouTube videos, and I try to teach Rooney tricks and manners here at home.
The most important aspect of training, in my opinion, is the mental stimulation provided by this activity. In the past, when Rooney was in need of attention and entertainment, training could have stepped in to help provide him with stimulation. These days that is exactly what we do.
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However, there were times where Rooney would cry and whine wanting us to entertain him, and nothing would do; toys were boring, we had already gone for a walk, and he had already been fed. In these situations, I now believe training is the answer. The good news is that it is never too late to train your dog because training is more than a request or trick, it is mental stimulation to keep their mind sharp.
2. Investing in Better Food
When we adopted Rooney in 2012 I was working at a veterinary hospital. This job meant that I had unlimited access to veterinary professionals and helpful information. However, this also meant that we were on an extreme budget. As a veterinary technician, I had a very small salary (especially for the Bay Area) and, therefore, thought I couldn’t afford expensive dog food. Now, I didn’t buy the cheapest of cheap. However, I didn’t buy Rooney the very best either.
I have always known that the quality of dog food was important. However, because most veterinarians can’t agree on a single brand of dog food to recommend, I still had a lot of choices. At the end of last year, I finally discovered the food that I believe is the right food for Rooney. I only wish I had found it sooner due to the harmful ingredients that can be found in other dog foods. I highly recommend completing more dog food research before bringing your pup home for the first time.
While I have always known that dental health is important, and I constantly buy Rooney the right bones to chew on and check his teeth for plaque buildup, I haven’t always been good at consistently brushing his teeth. Recently, however, I have come up with a solution to help me be more consistent. Much like training, or investing in better food, it is never too late to improve how you care for your dog’s teeth.
At first, I challenged myself to see if I could brush Rooney’s teeth 20 days in a row. During that challenge, I realized that I was much more likely to brush Rooney’s teeth if I saw his toothbrush every day. So it was really a matter of where to keep his toothbrush. Now, I am brushing Rooney’s teeth more often and more consistently.
I hope that every pet parent can learn from my mistakes. The biggest lesson I learned from assessing my mistakes is that it is never too late to make changes or improvements.
Can you relate to my mistakes?
Rachel Sheppard is the author and founder of My Kid Has Paws. She is a Social Media Manager, blogger, corgi mom, animal lover, volunteer, graduate student, and shoe collector.
After graduating from the University of California, Davis with a Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Science & Management, she worked as a Veterinary Assistant for 3 years. Her daily interactions with pet parents inspired her to start her blog focused on pet health, pet rescue, and pet products. She has a true enthusiasm for veterinary medicine and animal science, and enjoys sharing her knowledge and experiences with pet parents.