German Shepherds are among the most social breeds in the canine world. They just love spending time with you, whether taking a walk or just curling up next to you. So when it comes time for you to leave the house, it can make your Shepherd a little anxious.
For some dogs, the anxiety is so great, it can lead to extreme behavior such as persistent barking or howling, destructive chewing, scratching or digging. These are signs of separation anxiety.
The following tips can help you keep your Shepherd entertained while you're out.
Confine your dog. Try to keep him in an enclosed area when you're out, such as a crate with water, toys, and soft flooring (such as a rug, pad, or blanket). Dogs are den animals, and even large dogs like German Shepherds feel safer in their own small space.
Hire a dog-walker. German Shepherds love people—and there is nothing better than an extra person to love. A dog-sitter can play with your dog, take him for walks, and provide a welcome break while he's home alone.
Doggy daycare. The social German Shepherd is a good candidate for doggie daycare. Just make sure that the facility you choose is equipped to handle dogs that are big and active.
Distractions. Distractions such as puzzle-type chew toys, television, or the view from a big window can cure his loneliness. These tricks can help keep your dog entertained and playing long enough so that he may not even remember you're gone.
Alter your habits. Do you have a set routine each day before you leave the house? Perhaps you jingle your keys, put your bag or briefcase near the door or kiss your spouse and kids. Your dog picks up on these cues, and associates them with your leaving. Try to mix up your normal routine by doing your usual activities in a different order.
Go for a long walk. Taking your dog out for a walk before you leave will help make him too tired to misbehave after you leave.
Try not to cure your dog's anxiety problem by giving him even more attention—you'll only create a vicious cycle of neediness. Likewise, never get angry when your dog acts clingy as you prepare to leave. This can cause even more anxiety because your dog will associate your absence and return with punishment.
With some time and a lot of patience, your dog will have a renewed sense of security—and you can be confident knowing that your dog is fine being home alone.
As your dog ages, you’ll likely notice changes in your best pal’s energy levels, routine and even muzzle. Older pets may require adjustments to help them get around, exercise and live their best life as a senior. One important aspect of caring for a dog entering their golden years is diet.
When it comes to diet, every dog has unique, individual needs, regardless of age. So, there's no one easy answer to the question of soft food versus hard food. Both types of food can provide your dog with the nutrition they need — as long as you feed your dog a high-quality dog food that’s nutritionally balanced and complete.
Signs Your Senior Dog May Benefit from Wet Food
If your dog has very specific health concerns, such as aging joints or weight issues, consult with your vet for more information about what type of food best addresses your dog's needs. That being said, there are a few reasons why you may consider switching your senior dog to soft food.
As your dog gets older, their teeth may become more sensitive, which can make chewing kibble more difficult and even uncomfortable. Switching to a soft food can help to alleviate your pet’s oral discomfort when eating.
However, if your dog is experiencing serious pain at mealtime from a condition like tooth decay or gingivitis, switching to soft food won't remedy the problem. Make sure you talk to your vet about oral care and dental treatment.
Digestion begins in the mouth with saliva, so if your dog has a tendency to scarf down meals, they may not be adequately chewing the food or adding enough saliva to it. Soft food can aid with digestion because it's more easily chewed.
It’s no surprise that wet food has a higher moisture content when compared to dry kibble. If your senior pup is prone to urinary-tract issues or simply needs a little help staying hydrated, canned dog food may be a good choice.
Aging dogs tend to have a slower metabolic rate compared to their younger years, which puts them at a higher risk of becoming overweight or obese. Many nutritionally balanced wet dog foods offer high protein content with fewer carbs than dry food, which can benefit older dogs with slower metabolism. Always talk to your vet if you have concerns about your pup’s weight.
While wet food may be less than appetizing to humans, the opposite is true for dogs! If your aging best friend has started turning their snout up to dry food, wet food tends to be more appealing to picky eaters. Mixing wet food and kibble offers your pup a variety of flavors and textures; try adding wet food as a topper on dry food for a real treat!
Whether you choose dry food, soft food or a mix of both, ask your vet before making any transition. And when it's time to switch your dog's food, remember to do it slowly — even if it's the same brand and flavor — to help prevent stomach upset and allow your dog time to adjust.