Having a dog can be one of the greatest joys of someone’s life. Dogs are the ultimate loyal companion, and they keep us active and engaged. It is well documented that people who have pets live longer and have increased satisfaction with their lives.
How can you ensure that your beloved canine has the life they deserve? After all, they give so much to you, so you want to be able to give back to them. Let’s look at a few of the most important things, such as exercise, grooming, and attention, that you should make a priority to work into life with your dog.
Exercise—Both Mental and Physical
Dogs have a range of needs for physical activity, depending on their breed and size, but they all need an outlet to utilize this energy every day. This can be done through walks, agility training, running on a treadmill, following you on a bike, or simply playing fetch at the park, beach, or your backyard.
Mental stimulation can do just as much to drain your dog’s energy as physical exercise can—and it’s just as important. Give your dog the opportunity to explore new areas, meet new people and/or dogs, and practice their good behaviour in new situations.
For both mental and physical exercise, dogs respond best when things are kept exciting and challenging. If a daily walk is best for your lifestyle, try and switch up the path every couple of days. If you like challenging them with obstacle courses, try using objects such as balls, Frisbees, and sticks to create a different game. When training for mental stimulation, use your commands in new places and situations to help your dog understand that your boundaries are applicable wherever you go.
Care—Both Physical and Nutritional
Domesticated animals rely on their owners to keep them well-fed and healthy. It’s your job as their owner to provide them with routine veterinary care, dog grooming, and an environment that stimulates and cares for their physical needs.
Regular vet care helps prevent disease and illness, while a grooming schedule keeps their eyes, ears, nails, and coat in a clean state, also helping prevent disease.
Nutrition is of the utmost importance, as well. Make sure that you are choosing a premium dog food that meets the particular needs of your dog’s breed, size, and lifestyle. They may need supplements, too; partnering with your vet on this is a great way to figure out exactly what they need.
Love—Both Affection and Attention
We saved the best for last! The main reason people choose to have a dog is probably that they want something to love that will love them back. Even a few small moments a day when you bond with your pet can go a long way.
Make eye contact with them when they are nuzzling you, give them a quick pet when they lay at your feet, and take a few minutes to play a quick game with them when you return home from work.
You can even try using affection instead of treats when you’re doing training exercises… you might be surprised at how your dog actually responds better to your physical attention than to a food reward!
Putting It All Together
Loving your dog is more than just cuddling them on the couch, talking in a silly voice, and buying them fun toys and treats. It takes dedication, diligence, and—oftentimes—self-improvement so that you and your dog can bring out the best versions of each other.
When your dog’s life includes plenty of mental training, physical exercise, excellent nutrition, dog grooming, and regular vet visits, and all the affectionate, playful attention you can give, then that’s the recipe for a happy, healthy relationship.