From giving unconditional love to greeting us like rock stars when we get home, dogs bring an overwhelming amount of happiness into our lives. In honor of National Best Friends Day on June 8, here are some ways you can show your canine companion just how much you appreciate him.
Provide Appropriate Exercise
Exercise isn’t just good for your dog’s physical health, it boosts his mental health, too. Life is boring for dogs that don’t get exercise, and bored dogs will be forced to make their own fun — often in destructive or inappropriate ways. Taking a brisk walk, playing fetch, or swimming are great ways for your dog to burn off excess energy. Afterward, your pup can relax rather than feeling wound up and hyperactive. Let your dog’s enthusiasm guide you toward activities he truly enjoys. You can also exercise his mind with mentally stimulating games and toys.
If your dog is a canine social butterfly, playdates with other dogs could be his ticket to bliss. But for some dogs, humans are their favorite playmates, and a game of chase or hide-and-seek might be more appreciated. Experiment with different activities to learn which games and toys bring your dog the most joy.
Never Stop Training
You might be tempted to stop training your dog after he’s learned the basics, but training is a fun way to entertain and challenge your dog’s brain. When you use positive reinforcement methods, dogs look forward to learning new behaviors. Training also eliminates your dog’s frustration and confusion because the more he understands what you expect from him, the more confident he will become. And regular training sessions provide your dog with one-on-one attention, something he adores.
Learn About Dog Culture
Most “bad” dog behavior is actually normal dog behavior performed in the wrong situation. For example, terriers don’t dig up the yard to ruin the garden, they simply love to dig. The more you learn about dog culture and your breed’s heritage, the more you can offer safe and fun outlets for those innate drives. Understanding dogs also means communicating with them more effectively. Study dog body language, so you can more easily decipher what your pet is trying to tell you. There will be less confusion and frustration, and your dog will appreciate that you can quickly recognize whenever he’s uncomfortable or stressed.
Give Your Dog a Say in His Day-to-Day
Freedom is a key part of happiness for people, and dogs are no different. However, you likely dictate how your dog spends his time — from when he eats to when he goes to the bathroom. Allowing your dog to make choices in his day-to-day routine can be a great way to bring him happiness. Look for small, safe ways he can make decisions. For example, let him choose which direction to go on your daily walk or which toy to take from his basket. Off-leash freedom can be thrilling for dogs but put safety first. Only allow your dog off-leash where it is legal and not dangerous to do so.
Provide Toys and Chews
Chewing and destroying toys is a normal canine pastime. Tearing stuff to pieces is your dog’s way of having a good time and expressing his instincts. As long as he plays safely with his toys, let him have the ones he loves. Look for more durable options, such as stuffing-free toys, so that you’re getting more for your money. And make sure your dog has access to chewable toys and edible chews. Dogs love chewing; it’s a natural behavior, so it’s important that they have appropriate options to gnaw on. Chew toys, like Kongs that can be filled with food, are extra exciting. And edibles, such as bully sticks or dental bones, can help keep teeth clean while providing your dog with a fun way to spend his time.
Learn Doggie Massage
Every dog has his favorite spot to be patted or scratched. Watch your pup when you’re cuddling him and learn where he would prefer to be touched. Stick to those spots when you want to reward him. However, help him learn to tolerate being touched in other places, too. Consider learning doggie massage techniques. Your dog will appreciate the relaxation and soothing attention. Massage can also be used to ease anxiety or soothe tired muscles. With a little practice, cuddle time can be transformed into a therapeutic experience for your dog.