Welcome to part four of my five part series on keeping your dog happy. In part one I talked about How to Keep your Dog Physically Healthy. Part two dove into how to Keep your Dog Intellectually Engaged, and part three covered how to Keep your Dog Emotionally Safe.
Today, in Part Four, I address How to Keep your Dog Feeling Loved!
Part three delved into some heavy material so you’ll be happy to know that today’s article on keeping your dog Feeling Loved is all fun and games (after just a few technical reminders)!
For anyone who knows dogs, you know they are pure love. That’s one of the reasons we love them so darn much. You can be having the worst day ever and all your dog needs to do is drop her chin on your knee and look you in the eye and all that pain and frustration just fades away.
It’s a magical experience and one that dogs don’t need to take any special training class to be able to give you. It’s just who they are. Dogs are one of the best things that ever happened to humans and I’m grateful for those ancient dogs who, thousands of years ago, decided to throw their lot in with the furless two-leggers who could build fires and cook the noms.
So, how do you keep your dog happy?
Part Four: 5 Ways to Keep Your Dog Happy
Keep your Dog Feeling Loved
Dogs are sensitive creatures who exude love and only want our love in return (and maybe just a few yummy treats). That’s why it’s so important to keep your furry family member feeling loved. Luckily it isn’t just simple to do, it’s also good for you and lots of fun!
- Be clear about your expectations for your dog’s behavior. Your dog can’t figure this out for himself; you have to let him know. Things like where to go potty, whether it’s OK to get on the couch, that there will always be enough food and anything else your dog needs to know to live with you successfully and forever.
- Be patient with your dog. You speak different languages and it takes some negotiating to understand each other. Never yell at, hit or otherwise terrify your dog (I know most of you reading this will be horrified at the thought of hitting your dog but probably many of us – yes, me too – are guilty of yelling so I’m including this point).
- Never use aversive training measures. These include electronic collars, prong collars, jerking on the leash, those high-pitched noise devices, etc.
OK, I bet you’re asking where is all the fun I mentioned? I promise it’s coming! It’s just that I wouldn’t be an ethical positive trainer if I didn’t mention the above as bottom-line basics.
Now, for the fun!
- Cuddle your dog as much as you and your dog want. Some dogs don’t like hugs and others do. Some dogs like their family members to hug them but not other people. Some dogs love belly rubs and other dogs prefer butt rubs. You and your dog can have fun figuring out the best way to cuddle and then do it every day. Bonus for you is that petting your pup actually lowers your blood pressure and boosts your mood so total win-win!
- Play with your dog! Run together, play tug with a rope toy, jump in mud puddles, collaborate on a puzzle toy and make up your own fun games that just the two of you know. Jake and I have weekend “PJ Parties” where I put the air mattress out in the living room and we have a sleepover together. Jake loved sleeping in my bed with me (and I loved it, too) until his arthritis made it too hard to jump up (and he won’t use dog stairs -long story). The solution was our fun PJ Parties that give us a chance to cuddle. Create your own rituals with your dog that you will both look forward to.
- Spend quiet time with your dog. Dogs love napping and many especially love napping in the same room where you are. If your pup isn’t a big napper give her a chew toy while you watch a movie or read. I’ll even read out loud to Jake when he’s in the mood. A friend loves to sing to her dog on their morning walks.
- Allow your dog choice. If you invite your dog up on the couch for a cuddle and she’s comfortable where she is, let her stay where she is. You’ll know her choice by her behavior. It’s not disobedient for her to “voice” her preference.
What are the special rituals you have with your dog? What fun new things can you think of to share with your dog?
One of my favorite things about dogs is their ability to live entirely in the moment and to take pleasure in the littlest things about that moment. A walk is the greatest activity and each blade of grass they sniff is the most interesting thing ever. For me, teaching us to be able to do the same is the greatest gift dogs give us. On my own, I never would have learned to enjoy sitting on the grass in the park just enjoying the sun and the breeze and watching birds fly by. Jake taught me that and now it’s one of my favorite things to do.
For as many dogs there are, there are ways to make them happy. Experiment until you find the most perfect ways for you and your dog to enjoy each other’s company.
I’d love you to share how you and your dog delight each other in the comments!
Next week I’ll post the last article in this series on How to Make Your Dog Happy which is number 5: Keep your Dog Well Trained. No surprise I think that’s important, right? That article will include the key behaviors that your dog should know to keep you both happy.
All together these five articles create the perfect framework for a happy life with your dog. Also, I’ll put the whole series into a nicely formatted ebook that you can download and keep for reference. To be sure to receive that when it’s ready, subscribe to my mailing list. Subscribing also gives you access to the online resource library that has lots of free ebooks, posters and tips.