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What Do Dogs Need To Be Happy And Healthy?

Ameera Mills
By Ameera Mills. Updated: April 24, 2019
What Do Dogs Need To Be Happy And Healthy?

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Dogs, like animal other living being, have a series of basic needs that need to be covered. If these are not provided or addressed, an animal’s health can be negatively affected. At the moment, specifically when it comes to dogs, there seems to be some confusion. Some owners wonder whether humanizing their dogs is a good idea, while others deny their pets such love and contact. However, the most important thing when making your dog happy is finding a happy medium between needs and wants.

When we talk about the basic needs of a dog, we primarily refer to food and a roof to sleep under. However, there is a lot more that needs to be considered when keeping a dog happy. For more, keep reading this AnimalWised article where we will be answering your question, what do dogs need to be happy?

You may also be interested in: What to Look For When Choosing a Dog
  1. What do dogs need?
  2. What does a dog need to be healthy?
  3. Emotional needs of a dog
  4. Dog socialization
  5. Dog training
  6. Mental stimulation for dogs

What do dogs need?

Some people believe that adopting a dog is as simple as offering them food and taking them for walks from time to time. This, however, could not be further from the truth. Living and caring for a dog requires responsibility, as dogs have needs that have to be fulfilled.

Do not let this overwhelm you. The most important thing is to know what a dog needs before adopting one: so that you can prepare accordingly. It is also important that as a possible future guardian, you need to know what responsibilities come with your choice to adopt.

Food, water and a bed are essential elements for the development of any dog. But, there are other elements that are also important for the development of a healthy and balance life.

What does a dog need to be healthy?

A dog requires that their biological needs are covered and addressed in order to remain healthy:

Feeding a dog

Quality food, according to your dogs age and health status, is crucial. There are several dog food options on the market which cover a wide range of diets for different: breeds, sizes and ages. You also have the option of preparing your dog homemade food, however, this should be done under veterinarian supervision. Regardless of what diet option you choose for your dog, you have to make sure that they receive the adequate amount of nutrients that they need.

Generally, adult dogs can be fed one to two times a day. Puppies need to be fed more due to the fact that they are still growing, they need to be given food about three to four meals a day. When feeding your dog, make sure that you offer the correct portion size appropriate to the amount of exercise that they perform. In addition, never overfeed your dog or fill their bowls for the day. Dogs need to eat their portions in the moment, as to avoid obesity and weight problems.

When a dog is fed adequately and correctly, not only does it have physical benefits, but a dog will be happier and more energized. Remember to avoid any foods that can be toxic to dogs.


Water is equally important to food, specifically during hotter seasons. There should permanently be a water bowl at your dog’s reach, so that it can drink whenever it feels thirsty.

In order to avoid fungi growth in your dog’s water bowl, make sure to change the water and wash the container once or twice a day.

Bed and shelter

A dog needs a space in the home which they can considers theirs. This space should include its bed, toys and blankets for the cold. Dogs, like any other animal, need a space where they can go when they want to be alone and rest. Make sure that this space is cool enough in summer and sheltered from drafts in the winter.


Having an exercise routine is crucial for your dog's mental and physical health. Before adopting a dog, you have to make sure that you have enough time to dedicate to your animal, making sure that it receives enough exercise in order to channel its energy adequately.

Dogs need to run, walk and breathe fresh air on the daily, especially when living in small spaces like apartments. If you have a small dog, make sure it receives at least half an hour of exercise and play time. Larger dogs need at least an hour to rid themselves of tension and/or pent up energy. Other ways that dogs can exercise, both physically and mentally, are through intelligence games, ball games, treat finding and more.

When walking your dog, remember to use a leash and only let it run freely in a safe and secure environment. If your dog has a chronic disease, such as: arthritis and/or heart problems, consult your veterinarian about an appropriate exercise routine.


When it comes to dog cleanliness, canines require:

  • A monthly bath (or more often, if you live in the country and your dog often gets dirty).
  • Brushing once or twice a week.
  • Their nails cut.
  • Ear cleaning: preventing or detecting parasites.
  • Teeth cleaning: Brush your dog’s teeth daily or at least four times a week to avoid dental problems. For more, take a look at our article on: different ways of cleaning a dog’s teeth.

Veterinary care

A dog should receive vaccines as well as medical checkups from when they are puppies. Making sure that your dog or puppy is appropriately dewormed and protected from parasites: is your responsibility as their guardian.

In addition, if you notice any physical or behavioral change in your dog or puppy, we recommend consulting your veterinarian as soon as possible to rule out any pathology.

What Do Dogs Need To Be Happy And Healthy? - What does a dog need to be healthy?

Emotional needs of a dog

Contrary to what some people believe, dogs do experience emotions. These emotions need to be considered and taken into account if you want your dog to grow up healthy and happy.

Feeling safe is one of the most important things which needs to be taken into consideration when caring for your dog. Your dog needs to have a place to rest where it feels protected, surrounded by people who make the dog feel loved, safe and secure.

Trust in their guardian is also crucial and considered as another basic dog need. It is also important not to confuse this care with humanizing a dog. The reason that this should not be done is that part of a dog’s emotional health includes recognizing its own emotional needs: specific to its own species.

It is also important to establish home rules, educate and socialize your dog. It is important that everyone in the house gives the dog the same commands and/or rules, as to not confuse it.

In order for a puppy not to develop any fears, you need to allow it to explore its surrounding stimuli, including: smell, taste and sight. But, throughout this exploration, make sure that you are monitoring the process, making sure that the puppy is always safe.

What Do Dogs Need To Be Happy And Healthy? - Emotional needs of a dog

Dog socialization

One of the most basic needs of a puppy and adult dog, is socialization. Dogs are social animals, therefore, they need to begin to relate to people, children and other animals from when they are puppies. Socializing your puppy can be done by:

  • Taking it for walks.
  • Inviting people to visit your home and the puppy.
  • Letting children calmly and respectively play with the puppy.
  • Taking your dog to dog parks to meet other dogs.

All of these actions need to be done with your supervision, making sure that the puppy constantly feels safe and looked after. Also, during this socializing stage, it is often the perfect moment to start teaching your puppy basic dog commands.

What Do Dogs Need To Be Happy And Healthy? - Dog socialization

Dog training

Training is also a basic need for any dog. As establishing norms is crucial for a harmonious relationship between you and your fluffy companion.

First, teach your dog the basic commands, such as "stay", "sit", "come", among others. In this way, you can establish communication with your dog at all times. We recommend using positive reinforcement when training your dog, as scolding proves to be counter productive. Positive reinforcement also encourages a dog to learn.

Common dog training methods include; teaching your dog to follow when you call it, teaching them to defecate in urinate in the appropriate places, among other things. You can also train your dog to look for things, avoid obstacles or other more specialized exercises that will keep your canine mentally stimulated. It is incredibly important that when training your dog you remain patient and positive.

What Do Dogs Need To Be Happy And Healthy? - Dog training

Mental stimulation for dogs

In the life of a dog, not everything is about eating, playing and receiving attention. Dogs need to also be mentally stimulated and constantly have chances to develop their intelligence. For this, the best thing to do is to propitiate situations in which the dog can unleash its curiosity safely and explore new places, smells and people. One way of doing this is by taking it on different walking routes to different places.

When or if your dog is ever at home alone, offer it a Kong. This dog toy is designed to keep a dog occupied if alone, helping to keep its mind stimulated.

What Do Dogs Need To Be Happy And Healthy? - Mental stimulation for dogs

If you want to read similar articles to What Do Dogs Need To Be Happy And Healthy?, we recommend you visit our What you need to know category.

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What Do Dogs Need To Be Happy And Healthy?