While dogs have been our best friends for thousands of years, advice on being a responsible dog owner today can be overwhelming. Let’s get started with the basics – five simple ways to improve your dog’s happiness and well-being.
Whether you’re a new dog owner or looking to improve your long-term companion’s day-to-day life, take a moment to read through the following tips to make your dog happier – your dog will thank you!
1. Provide High-Quality Food
Whether you feed your dog a home-prepared diet, cooked or raw, or have chosen a commercial dog diet, make sure that you put some careful consideration into your choice.
Just like humans, diet is key to a healthy and long life for your dog. What works well for one dog may not necessarily be the best choice for another, so do your research and get some advice from your veterinarian or a local dog expert if you are struggling.
As this Evaluation of Eight Commercial Dog Diets laments, it can be almost impossible for dog owners to fully evaluate the quality of commercial diets. However, while you don’t have to break the bank to provide your dog with a good diet, it is recommended that you avoid budget-priced commercial dog foods that are stuffed with fillers and additives. Therefore, seek out brands with good reputations and ask around to find out what other local dog owners are feeding.
2. Plenty of Exercise and Stimulation
Make sure that your dog has enough exercise to ensure happiness and a long, healthy life.
An under-exercised dog with too much pent-up energy is going to be unhappy, unhealthy, and may develop behavioural problems. The amount of exercise your dog needs will depend on breed and age, as well as personality, so research your dog’s specifics and make sure you keep your pet sufficiently active.
Mental exercise is also important. As the American Kennel Club states, “a mentally stimulated dog is a happy dog”. So, aside from getting those four paws working, you should make sure that your dog has adequate mental stimulation.
This can be as simple as discovering new walks with new smells, trying out new games, or teaching them some new tricks. Playing with toys can also provide plenty of mental stimulation, particularly if they get your pet’s brain working. And if your dog often destroys regular toys, there are plenty of ultra-durable alternatives – as long as you’re willing to spend a bit more.
Older dogs will still benefit from getting out and about, even if they are not as active as they used to be. If they have limited or no mobility, you can get a dog stroller or a trailer for your bike so that they can enjoy the outdoors with you.
3. Regular Grooming and Claw Trimming
While it’s true that some breeds need a lot more grooming than others, all dogs can benefit from regular grooming.
Aside from the essential shed-coat and matted fur removal, it is also a good way to help your pet to relax. Furthermore, while grooming your pooch, you can inspect their body for any lumps, parasites, skin irritation or injuries that may otherwise go unnoticed.
Claw trimming is also essential for good canine health. Trimmed claws prevent discomfort and the development of bad posture, which can lead to other health problems including joint and toe issues.
If your dog doesn’t allow you to cut his claws, medication for anxiety or some mild sedation may be beneficial. I also recommend asking your vet to demonstrate the correct way to trim your dog’s claws before doing it yourself.
4. Awareness of Common Ailments
Obviously, you’ll need to take your dog to regular veterinary check-ups as recommended for their condition and age. However, as a responsible dog owner, you’ll need to be aware of common dog ailments and signs of possible developing health issues.
Your dog will need regular protection against worms, ticks, fleas, and other parasites, which can make him uncomfortable and potentially cause serious health problems. So, make sure you have the renewal dates set up in your calendar.
As your dog cannot speak and tell you when something is wrong, you’ll have to be familiar with your dog’s normal behavior and investigate further when something doesn’t seem quite right.
While major problems are easily spotted and quickly treated with a trip to the vets, you’ll also need to pay close attention to minor issues that don’t go away. They could be underlying signals of a bigger problem and are best investigated – the sooner the better.
5. Spend Quality Time Together
We live in a busy, connected world. Between emails, social media, and hectic work lives, it can be difficult to find the time for ourselves.
Regardless of your day and its stresses, spending quality time with your dog is a great way for you both to benefit from a happiness boost and to deepen the special bond between you.
As this study demonstrates, your long-term stress levels will likely be mirrored by your dog. While stress is necessary from an evolutionary point of view, it can be highly damaging both physically and mentally for you and your four-legged friend.
Make sure that you find the time to spend some quality moments together – banish your phone for an hour and go play together. It will make the world a happier place for you both, while also giving you much-needed time to relax and breathe.
Our dogs bring so much happiness and love into our lives. So, it’s only natural we want to make sure that they are as happy and healthy as possible. As your dog cannot talk, it is essential that you’re able to correctly interpret how your dog is feeling and instigate any necessary changes to his environment.
Follow the simple tips above to improve your dog’s quality of life, and you’ll be surprised what a difference such seemingly small details can make. Focusing on the basics – food, exercise, basic care, and time spent together, is the best way to ensure that your dog is happy, healthy and content.