10 simple tips to help you raise a happy and healthy adopted dog

Adopted dogs are amazing for so many reasons. They are resilient and willing to give a new person, family and home a chance at love. They will love that second family with their whole heart just like they did their first family. Some of those first families deserved that love and had to give up their dog for reasons beyond their control. Other people and families did not deserve that love. That’s the brilliance and tragedy for dogs, they can love us even when we don’t deserve it.

YOU want to deserve all that glorious doggy love and here are ten simple ideas and actions you can take to make your adopted dog happy and show him you are the Dog Hero he’s been waiting for.

ONE – Never use aversive devices to train or discipline your dog. Instead, train your dog by rewarding the behaviors you want him to perform. Never cause pain or discomfort, whether physical or emotional, to your dog while training. It will damage your bond and cause stress to your dog (and probably you, too). Aversive training also tends to not have long term success. Only use positive reinforcement training when teaching your dog.

TWO – Aspire to be the person your dog wants you to be. Your dog looks up to you as the greatest human in the entire world. Bask in that love and admiration and allow it to inspire you to be your best self.

THREE – Laugh together. Dogs love to have fun. They are such playful and silly creatures. Laugh with them. Be silly with them. You and your dog will be happier for it.

FOUR – Be wary of dog parks. Dog parks can be great. They can also be terrible. Do your due diligence and check out the dog parks in your area before you take your dog there. Once there, be willing to leave if your dog becomes uncomfortable. Make sure you know your adopted dog for a while before taking him around other dogs and people.

FIVE – Socialize your dog. Carefully expose your dog to new and novel people, places and things so that he doesn’t become fearful or reactive. Once you get a feel for your adopted dog’s personality (shy, outgoing, fearful, etc.), you can start – very slowly – to socialize your dog. Take it slow and steady, end the session at any sign of stress from your dog and make it fun.

SIX – Observe and learn your dogs likes and dislikes. Like people, dogs have individual preferences. Make a point to discover if your dog prefers chicken or fish and make that flavor a staple in his diet. Can you notice if your dog prefers one neighborhood park over another? What are his favorite types of toys? Treats? Does your dog prefer a belly rub or a butt scratch? Learn all about what makes your pup most happy.

SEVEN – Teach your dog the rules for success. Every person or family has their own rules and routines in life. Teach your dog the behaviors that are important to you so that he, too, fits seemlessly into the household culture. For example, if you don’t want your dog on the furniture, teach him that rule so he can steer clear of trouble. Maybe jumping on the couch is fine but you don’t want your dog to bark out the window at passers-by so you teach him to stay calm in those situations.

EIGHT – Treat your dog like family.  The way to treat your dog like family is to let him live inside the house with you, spend plenty of quality time together, celebrate anniversaries (like that wonderful day that you met) and commit to his lifelong care and companionship.

NINE – Create a dog friendly environment. Set your dog up for success with a dog friendly home. If there are some rooms where that isn’t possible, make those rooms off limits to your dog by using closed doors or baby gates. To create a dog friendly environment, remove items your dog shouldn’t touch and add items that are appropriate for play.

TEN – Give your dog private space. Just like people, sometimes your dog needs some alone time. Give him a spot that is just for him. Somewhere he can go that signals to the family that he doesn’t want to play or interact for a while. Giving your dog this level of choice is great for building his confidence, allowing him to make choices about his life and makes play time even that much more fun.

There are so many great – and easy – ways to make your dog’s life awesome. Share yours in the comments. I’d love to add them to the list!

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