10 Essential Tips to Make Your Dog Happy
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Dogs are loving and caring animals which don't have complicated basic needs. A happy home, a comfortable place to sleep, a balanced diet and love and affection from their friends are some of the essentials. While all dogs are individuals, they are generally affectionate and loving creatures which find happiness living with their human guardians. Unfortunately, some complications can arise which threaten this happiness.
As caretakers of a dog's needs, it is important we do what we can to ensure their happiness. It is our responsibility, but, fortunately, it can also be our pleasure. This is why AnimalWised brings you these 10 essential tips to make your dog happy.
- What does a dog need to be happy?
- A clean dog is happy dog
- Diet is important for your dog's happiness
- Fun and games
- Dogs are not only a responsibility
- Exercise is essential to a dog's happiness
- Dogs are sociable animals
- Affection, attention and communication
- Veterinary attention
- Positive education for positive puppies
- Keeping an old dog happy
What does a dog need to be happy?
As we state above, dogs generally do not need much to be happy. There are circumstances which can lead to mental issues or stress, but these tend to be extenuating circumstances caused by improper human intervention. In general, if we give them affection, attention, somewhere comfortable to rest, quality food, sufficient exercise and plenty of opportunity to relieve themselves, dogs can be some of the happiest animals in the world.
Not only are dogs generally happy beings, but they return the love they receive tenfold. They are grateful animals who will do what they can to make us happy in return. However, there may be some aspects of their basic needs we haven't considered. Here's what we can do to keep them happy and healthy.
1. A clean dog is happy dog
Have you ever given your dog a bath only for them to run out immediately and roll in some filth? Despite odd behaviors like this, dogs love to feel clean. This is why hygiene is such a priority in keeping our dog happy. Brushing them regularly will also help their coat stay healthy and eliminate knots. It will also helo prevent disease as it gives us a chance to monitor for external parasites.
Cleaning their ears is also important. Just like you or I, a problem in the ear can be incredibly frustrating for dogs. Mites and infections can affect the ear canal and lead to serious problems. If we think this may be happening to our dog, we need to take them for a checkup. Poor oral health can affect your dog's general happiness, so it is also vital we protect their teeth. Even keeping a dog's nails trim can go a long way in helping them to maintain balance (both literally and figuratively).
General grooming can cause some dogs stress, but it is also a good opportunity to bond with your dog. Any time you bathe your dog, clip their claws, brush their fur or perform any necessary element of their hygiene routine, remember to make it a positive and pleasant experience for them. This will help keep them happy and they may even start to look forward to being groomed.
2. Diet is important for your dog's happiness
Some dogs might look happy eating almost anything, whether or not we can consider it ‘food’. This doesn't mean what they are eating is good for their health. While they may seem happy in the moment, in the long run an inappropriate diet will not make them feel good. This is why a quality diet which meets their nutritional needs is imperative in making any dog happy.
It's important to also remember that a dog's diet needs to be adapted to their circumstance. Whether you choose to give them dry, wet or even homemade food, we need to adapt it to their size, age, breed and level of physical activity. For example, a puppy will have different nutritional needs to an adult dog, as well a senior dog. Any specific health problems also need to be factored in. Medical problems such as obesity or kidney failure will need specific diets. Plenty of fresh water is also vital in keeping them hydrated and healthy.
3. Fun and games
Dogs love to play. You may even say they live to play. While the amount will change due as they age, even old dogs will want to engage in fun and games. Incorporating games into their exercise routine is important for various reasons. It is particularly important for dogs which spend a lot of their day indoors or on their own. Expending accumulated energy is vital for dogs which remain sedentary for prolonged periods.
The type of games you play with your dog should also be considered. Using toys and intelligence games helps to develop their cognitive ability, something which also helps to keep them happy. Intelligent dogs which are not sufficiently engaged can develop behavioral problems because they are understimulated.
4. Dogs are not only a responsibility
While it may seem obvious that having fun with our dog is something which will keep them happy, it is something too many of us overlook. We can often think of our companion animals as little more than a responsibility. We feed them, take them for perfunctory walks and brush them when they need it. However, we don't actually enjoy spending time with them and we don't engage in a positive way. Seeing our dogs as the family members we love and appreciate is important for their happiness. It is how they see us.
5. Exercise is essential to a dog's happiness
While games are a great way to stimulate cognition and keep a dog happy, basic exercise is also incredibly important. Physical activity helps the dog to release energy and helps them channel the wild nature which is part of their recent ancestry. Physical exercise keeps their body healthy and helps to prevent diseases which will impede their happiness. It also releases certain hormones in the brain which cause the dog to feel positive.
Dogs are also curious creatures. While it will vary dog to dog, the majority want to explore nature. Its sounds, smells and scenes inspire dogs and give them a sense of freedom they enjoy. Anyone who sees a dog jump around excitedly just from picking up a leash will know how much enjoyment they can feel. However, this leash, along with a collar which has your contact information, it also important to restrain the from having too much freedom.
6. Dogs are sociable animals
Again, the amount of sociability a dog will display depends on various factors. These include the individual breed, their socialization history and personal experiences of the individual dog, among others. However, dogs generally love to spend time with other dogs. It allows them to play and engage in pack behavior they would have had pre-domestication. Dogs will have this with their human family as well. There are some dog breeds which may only bond with one guardian or family, but they are in the minority. Dogs derive happiness from positive interactions with others.
7. Affection, attention and communication
Contact and physical displays of affection are important for a human being's happiness and the same goes for dogs. Showing love to your dog with pets and caresses will not only provide them with happiness, but it will strengthen your bond and keep you close.
It's not just affection, however, which makes them happy. Paying attention to their needs makes them feel heard and accepted. When your dog calls out for something or wants to express their desires, but is ignored, they will be confused. They will feel left out and may even fear for their security. This can lead to behavioral problems and even depression.
By learning a dog's methods of communication, we can know what it is they are trying to say to us. By understanding their needs, we can make them feel understood and keep them happy.
8. Veterinary attention
OK, so many dogs may not be very happy when they are actually at the vet. What they will be pleased about is having their illnesses caught in time for a good prognosis, their immune system protected against infection and anything worrying being troubleshooted. A veterinary checkup will provide a general physical examination, but will also provide an opportunity to check their vaccination and deworming schedules to see if they need updated.
Taking your dog to the vet every 6 to 12 months may provide a couple of hours of discomfort. However, the protection they receive against general dangers will mean they will live a longer and happier life.
9. Positive education for positive puppies
Educating your dog is essential for harmonious coexistence in the home. Dogs are being invited into our world, so it is up to us to ensure they are shown the ropes. Although this may sound counter-intuitive, a dog which is given free reign and allowed to do what they want will not be happy in a human household. They will constantly collide with human routine and cause friction, even if unintentionally.
There is no need to worry. Whether puppy, adult or even a senior dog, it is possible for them to learn. You will just need some patience, time and love. Canine education shouldn't start with tricks for fun, but with the basic rules a dog needs to follow to lived peaceably in the home. This education should also focus on establishing meal routines, walks, games, places not to go and anything which required them to adapt to the home's routine.
Regardless of what you are teaching your dog, it is imperative you do so using positive reinforcement. Doing so will make your dog happy and help them to love you even more. Punishment based training only increases the animals discomfort and fosters stress, anxiety and frustration in the dog. The result will be behavioral problems which will lead to your own stress and anxiety. Through positive reinforcement, your dog will be able to better understand what is expected of them and stay motivated to learn. Treats, affection and encouraging words are some of the best techniques.
Below is a video on some basic dog training exercises to get you started:
10. Keeping an old dog happy
While the tips above are applicable to dogs of all ages, there are some additional elements which can help an older dog to feel happy. They include:
- Respect their limits: after adulthood, some games and activities may not be as appealing to senior dogs. It's not that they don't enjoy it anymore, but they may just be unable to engage with them as they had done before. It is important to respect your dog's limits and not force them to do things when they need to rest. Also, a dog may want to please you, but will hurt themselves if they push past their limits.
- Longer trips: just because a dog is older, doesn't mean they won't need to exercise. They will still need to keep fit and take care of their physical and mental health. This will depend on the fitness of your dog, but also on the environmental conditions where you walk them. Older dogs will feel the cold more and may need more protection.
- Prepare for change: it is not only physical changes which can affect senior dogs. You will need to bear in mind they might have some changes to heir personality. This is could be due to frustration or even some neurological degeneration. We need to offer them more love and understanding than even before.
As you can see there are various way to help keep your dog happy and healthy. However, one of the most important is simply to love them and love them well. This will be the best foundation to building any dog's happiness.
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