Our Gimli boy just turned 2! He’s certainly easier to manage now that he’s older and a bit more chill. Gimli is always down to snuggle, but even more so if you have a laptop in your lap. He’s happy, playful, and brings us a ton of smiles. Here are a few dog parenting hacks we use with him.
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Keep Your Dog Healthy
Pumpkin Regulates the GI system
Pureed pumpkin can move water in or out of the colon depending on the amount. A small amount (1 tsp for our 65 pound Gimli) will tighten him up. Any more will loosen him. He gets loose stool with antibiotics so having pumpkin really helps if he needs to get through a course of antibiotics. If he gets an upset stomach for other reasons, pumpkin helps with that too.
We keep a can or two from the grocery store on hand for any issues. The expiration dates are usually pretty long. A can of open pumpkin can be kept covered (we have these covers) in the fridge for about a week. You’ll have leftover pumpkin. Make pumpkin cheesecake.
Dogs Get Allergy Issues Too
I don’t know about you, but I HATE walking in grass in sandals because my ankles get super itchy. For Gimli its his paws and ears that get itchy. That doesn’t stop him from ‘swimming’ and rolling around in the grass. Our vet said that some dogs are just more prone to skin allergies than others. He suggested a probiotic because the immune system is greatly effected by gut health. Gimli gets one of these probiotics with each meal. (This can help with tummy issues too.)
We also got apoquel, an anti-itch medication, & hydroxyzine, an antihistamine. Apoquel seems to work better for general itchiness, and hydroxyzine works more if he’s sneezing or has other allergy symptoms. We give Gimli those when he’s symptomatic.
Talk to your vet and see what they recommend. After your initial visit/exam for allergies, most vets will allow you to refill prescriptions over the phone if they’re working well for your dog.
Install a Handheld Shower Head
Dogs need baths to keep their skin and coat healthy. This is especially important if your dog has skin or allergy issues. This shampoo soothes Gimli’s skin and makes his coat super soft. A dab of peanut butter on the shower wall can help coax your dog in if they’re fearful. One of my favorite dog parenting hacks is a detachable shower head you can move all around your dog. This is super helpful, especially when rinsing shampoo out. We typically tag team bath time, with one person holding Gimli in the shower and the other lathering and rinsing.
Even if your dog is good for you, you never know how they will be when company comes over. We have a liability step at our front door. You know the ones that if you’re not paying attention you’ll fall down? We set up this baby gate & extender across it to keep Gimli from getting to the front door when we don’t want him too.
While we’re at work it keeps him from going upstairs. It’s also helpful if we need to sweep the first floor (Gimli attacks the broom) or spill something that we need to keep him isolated from.
Use a Long Lead Instead of Recall
While we have a fenced yard, it’s pretty small. We don’t have a spot where we can safely work on Gimli’s recall off leash. We live in a busy neighborhood with lots of roads nearby, so even if his recall was good, I’m not sure I’d risk it. A long lead enables him to safely run free.
We use a 50 ft leash to play frisbee with Gimli a few times a week in a field near our house. Once the pandemic started, we needed a way for him to have fun that wasn’t the dog park or class since we couldn’t go to those places.
Get A Baby Cam to Check In
We don’t use our cameras as much as we did when Gimli was itty bitty. But it’s still nice to check in on him while we’re away. We have 2 of these cameras set up on our first floor, so we can see Gimli wherever he is while we’re gone. There’s a phone app for using the cameras. You can see live video and hear live audio. You can also talk to your dog, but we don’t. It freaks Gimli out. This is obviously more for us, than for him. Being able to check in on him makes us happy.
It’s All About the Treats
Use a Loaf Pan to Store Kongs
We give Gimli a stuffed frozen Kong when we leave for work. It helps give him something to focus on when we leave and eases his boredom. A can of Merrick dog food and a cup of kibble fills 5 medium Kongs. We keep 2 loaf pans for his Kongs, one holds them all together in the freezer and the other holds them in a drawer after they’ve run through the dishwasher. A loaf pan also holds the Kongs upright when you’re trying to fill them.
Easy Training Treats
We keep these Merrick treats on hand and while Gimli likes them he won’t do anything for one. He’s not a big fan of hopping into the car. Having higher value treats makes him more willing to work. Turkey hot dogs and string cheese are both low in fat (high fat upsets his tummy) and highly motivating for Gimli. We keep a small container in the fridge with them chopped up. Similar to the pumpkin, I keep an eye on the dates and we will eat these too if need be to prevent them from going to waste.
What are some of your favorite dog parenting hacks?