10 Rules for Raising a Healthy Dog
Taking care of your pet
Get an annual physical
Protect against pests, but with restraint
Sweat the small stuff
Provide high-quality food
Don't bother with fads
Keep your pet slender
Start workouts early on...
...but choose the right exercise
Train, train, train
"Anytime you're out with your dog," says Pat Miller, author of The Power of Positive Dog Training, "one of you is training the other." Better for it to be you. Begin as early as 8 weeks, before it picks up bad behaviors, and continue even into old age to keep your dog sharp. Make training about reward, not punishment. (Old-school devices like choke collars injure and instill fear, Miller says, "the most common cause of canine aggression.") When housebreaking, "keep your puppy under close supervision and take it outside more often than he needs to go," says Miller. "Reward it when it goes to the bathroom so it learns that this is the right way to do it." Tip: "A well-trained dog has more opportunities to improve its physical health," Miller adds. Walks, fetch, and agility training are more fun for you both if your dog will come when called, wait when asked, and greet other people and pups politely.