As pet owners, we want to give our dogs the best life possible. They’re part of our family after all and deserve to be spoiled like our children (if not more). Our dogs live only a fraction of our lifespans, and as their caregivers, it’s up to us to make the most of the years we have with them. It’s true that our pets need lots of love and affection, which means pets, cuddles, and praise, as well as regular grooming and trips to the vet. There are so many other ways to ensure our pets are living their lives to the fullest though, so here are 5 tips on how to improve your dog’s life.
Dogs are well known for being excitable balls of energy no matter their age or size. Even as they get older it’s important for dogs to exercise regularly, ideally at least once a day. This keeps them healthy, as overweight dogs can develop health issues such as arthritis, heart disease, and diabetes. Burning off energy can also prevent destructive behaviors that are often the result of a bored pooch, such as chewing on shoes or tearing up furniture.
Our dogs are always excited to play and can find joy even in just a game of chase. For more structured activities though we suggest going on walks/jogs, playing fetch, or even tug-of-war. Not every pup has its own fenced yard to run around in, which makes it especially important to find structured ways for your dog to burn off some steam.
Like many of us, dogs also thrive in an adventure. For them, this means having new places to see and smell. You can fill this need by taking them on hikes or to the park or even just changing up your walking route every now and then.
Keep Them Mentally Stimulated
Our dogs would run around all day if they could, but it’s safe to say not many of us could keep up with them for that long. When there’s no room for physical exercise, keep your dog busy with mental exercises instead. Humans have all kinds of ways of keeping their brains sharp, from word games to puzzles, and there are plenty of ways to keep your dog mentally sharp too. Food dispensing toys are a great way to keep your pooch engaged and stimulated, especially on a rainy day or while you’re at work. Dogs also have a sense of smell that makes them great at hiding and seek. With a bit of training and a little DIY, another great activity is running through obstacle courses. Even just bringing home a new toy every now and then can provide new kinds of enrichment for your pup.
Another way to keep your dog mentally sharp is to keep them well socialized. Not every dog will get along with others of its kind, but for those that do, make sure to take time to bring them to a dog park or organize doggy play dates with friends. Even dogs need to practice their social skills sometimes.
Let Them Make Choices
It’s easy to say that this tip should be done within reason. If it was up to your dog, there would be no more bath times and no more trips to the vet! Still, allowing your dog to have some independence can do a lot to enrich their lives. Even something as simple as letting them set the pace on walks can go a long way, and yes, that means letting them spend a full minute just sniffing a really interesting leaf. If you don’t have a backyard where your dog can run around and play at their own pace, try to find a park that allows dogs to be off-leash. Our dogs are our faithful companions that will follow us anywhere, so let’s return the favor by letting them take the lead every now and then.
Give Them a Proper Diet
Each dog has different dietary needs based on their age and breed. Make sure to ask your vet what kinds of food they would recommend, and don’t be afraid to do your own research. There are so many different brands of dog food out there, each promoting different benefits, whether they’re grain-free, high in protein, or full of fresh ingredients. You’d be surprised how much happier and healthier your dog can become with the appropriate diet.
Keep Training and Keep it Fun
Despite its popularity, the saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” simply isn’t true. Once you’ve built a consistent foundation of training with your pet it can carry them through the rest of their lifetime. Teaching a dog new tricks keeps them mentally engaged, and the praises and rewards they get keep them happy.
Just like people, every dog is motivated by different things. Some prefer rewards in food, while others prefer it in play or pets. Try mixing it up during your next training session and see what kind of rewards your dog prefers. You may find that giving them what they want can be rewarding for both of you.
Training sessions should also be frequent but short. Our dogs are basically our children, and their attention spans are just as small. Things will go smoother for everyone if training sessions are limited to just a few minutes at a time.