Dogs are wonderful friends and teachers. Every dog deserves to be understood and appreciated, and to live in a great home where love and quality time abounds. Every dog owner wants to make his pet happy. It can be a relatively easy task if you know what your loved dog needs. Your pet will jumping from happiness if you give him a few things that can be all that your dog want… unlike people who need a lot more.
The simple things your dog needs:
- Being part of the pack
- Chew toys
- Flea control
- A job to do/training and praise
- Play time with other dogs
- Elder care in the golden years
- New sights and sounds
- A Comfortable bed
Being part of the pack
In the wild, being left alone means most likely that the dog will die. That is not an overstatement. Predators, starvation or exposure kills dogs shunned from their pack, usually. For this very good reason, puppies and adult dogs that are left alone are very distressed and often destroy things, dig, scream, bark and yodel so that the pack can find and rescue them.
Deal with this natural behavior by minimizing the time your dog is alone and by training your pet to calmly accept alone time. Crate training is the best way to accomplish this.
Don’t treat your dog like a criminal by penning him outdoors! Being indoors with you tells your dog that it is a valued member of the family – please don’t plan on penning your dog outside so that it feels excluded, or problem behavior is guaranteed. The saddest dogs I have ever seen are outdoor-only “hunting dogs”.
Often they chew bloody wounds into themselves, are infested with fleas, scream and bark night and day, pace in endless circles and moreover are absolutely heartbroken and have to live like criminals – it’s not fair to exclude a dog from your “pack” like that.
Know that Dogs that are frequently on the move are generally very mentally stimulated, happy and healthy. Give your dog as much exercise as you possibly can! Your dog should get at least 60 minutes of good brisk walking a day or more, every day. Having access to a big yard generally is no substitute for active, directed walking, running and fetch.
There are great gadgets that can help quite a bit with exercising your dog such as the “Chuck-it” tennis ball thrower or a tennis racquet for good long throws of the ball. To get your dog or puppy interested in fetching, use treat as a reward and keep the distance very short at first – like under a foot so you can be quick to offer a treat reward for picking up the ball.
Then as the dog catches on, increase the distance and substitute another throw for a food treat – your dog will be addicted to fetching for life and you will have an easy way to keep the dog moving without wearing yourself out.
No puppy or dog should be without a large selection of chew toys. In the wild, puppies play with inedible remains of a kill such as hide, bones and horns. In addition to fun and games, this helps them to establish dominance relationships with their packmates. It also is very important for healthy gums and emerging teeth. Encourage this natural tendency in your home with good-quality, safe toys that your dog can call his own.
Many people have problems with dog chewing on inappropriate things such as curtains, shoes, etc. often have been deprived of appropriate toys – don’t fall into that trap – get some dog toys and praise your dog for chewing them!
Oh, the torture of flea bites! Infestation of fleas can lead to serious health problems like anemia, bloody sores from chewing and severe allergies causing loss of hair, body odor and “elephant” skin. Don’t let this happen – nowadays there is no excuse!
Talk to your vet about the new systemic flea repellent products – it simply could not be easier to keep your pet and your home totally flea-free. These easily applied products are affordable and well-tolerated – there is simply no excuse any more for having fleas on your dog.
Now flea control is finally simple and easy – pet owners rejoice! Talk to your veterinarian today about modern flea control if you are not already using it!
A Job to Do/Training and Praise
Domestic dogs are genetically engineered to perform an intense task, whether it’s herding livestock, fetching in icy water, digging into rat holes or providing full-time companionship. For a dog to sit alone all day doing nothing is extremely unnatural!
You can make your dog very happy and fulfilled by giving him a job to do, training him to be a good citizen and giving him lots of happy praise. Dogs are insecure – let them know how much you love them by lavishing them with praise whenever they do something that pleases you. Don’t hold back!
Besides the necessary formal obedience training, teach your dog how to do a trick just for fun, such as how to sit up on his hind legs for a treat or to shake hands. Teach him to bring in the morning paper or roll over.
Having a job to do for you – and the resulting warm praise – will be very psychologically satisfying for both you and the dog. Dogs love to do the right thing for people – please teach them how.
Play Time with Other Dogs
The one thing that people can’t do for their dogs is to be another dog! Many communities have “dog parks” – fenced, safe areas where dogs can lawfully run off-leash, play and socialize. If you are lucky enough to be near one of these parks, support it by picking up extra droppings while you are there and helping to spread the word of it’s availability among other dog owners.
If your community is lacking a dog park, be an activist toward starting one by contacting other dog owners via your local pet stores, veterinary hospitals, boarding kennels and your local parks and recreation department.
If this is not possible, find some compatible playmates for your dog in the neighborhood so that he can romp and play with other dogs. It’s very healthy for your dog to engage in the kind of dogs-only, boisterous play that they love and it cuts way down on any aggressive tendencies that a dog may have against it’s own kind.
Remember, dogs do things together that can be embarrassing to people but are perfectly natural for them. They like to sniff each other, play rough, mount each other and roll around in the dirt – just let it happen! Don’t yell and try to boss him around or “censor” your dog’s behavior at the dog park – just smile and let your dog be a “real” dog when he’s playing with his best pals.
Inevitably your dog’s elderly years will be a part of your life. Make this time a great part of your dog’s life by planning ahead. Your dog will likely become incontinent (wet the bed) and may need help getting up the stairs and into the car.
Spend time discussing treatment options with your veterinarian when your older dog begins to experience stiffness, vision loss, hearing loss, excessive gas or other common age-related health issues.
New Sights and Sounds
A well-socialized dog is relaxed most of the time in any situation. The essence of socialization is to expose your dog to a wide variety of people, places and situations while showing by example that everything is fine. Dogs look to their owners for an example and so your calmness during times of stress is a key factor in socialization.
Unfortunately, owners can unwittingly reinforce skittishness by stroking the dog and saying “good dog, it’s OK” when the dog shows fear, in an attempt to be reassuring. This inadvertently trains the dog to be afraid. When a large passing truck unsettles your dog, for example, that is the time to insist on good behavior and act casual.
Smile and say your dog’s name while asking the dog to be still or to sit. Praise the dog for showing the desired attitude – bold, willing, relaxed and attentive.
Let your dog think that a noisy delivery truck is a lucky charm by giving him a treat as it goes roaring by. Give your dog plenty of chances to learn about this by walking on busy city streets, near livestock and other dogs, and where they can be around strangers.
The more friendly people your dog meets, the better. If someone you encounter is not at all interested in the dog, make that OK too by calmly walking by. There are lots of non-dog-lovers out there and they should be given a wide berth.
We have all seen dogs that are terrified by commonplace events and sounds. It’s sad, and it can be corrected with the owner’s time and firm patience. Failure to properly socialize your dog makes it much less fun for the dog to accompany you on trips and errands and can be a real liability if your dog snaps at people when it’s afraid.
Spend the time needed up front to develop a confidant, socialized dog and you will both reap the benefits for many years.
A Comfortable Bed
Yes, it’s true, dogs love to sleep. Many adult dogs enjoy calmly sleeping for many hours of the day if they get enough exercise. For that reason, get your dog a good-quality bed. Make sure that it’s large enough that his head does not flop off the side all the time as he stretches out. Make it a soft bed with lots of padding to protect the dog’s elbows and hips as it gets older. Keep the bed very clean and fresh smelling.
A bed with a removable, machine-washable cover will be very easy to clean. Many times the dog’s bed is a source of unpleasant doggy odor throughout the house, so make cleaning the bed a part of regular housekeeping.
Puppies have a tendency to chew lovingly on their beds. For puppies, often an old towel and newspapers will suffice inside their kennel crate until they cease chewing.
If your dog is crate trained, as many of the happiest dogs are, provide a removable soft, machine-washable bedding insert to keep the crate comfortable and inviting inside. Make sure that any dog bed or crate is positioned away from drafts and from too much foot traffic so the dog can really relax and get some peace.
In a household with children, it is imperative that all children be strictly disallowed from teasing or pestering the dog while it rests in its bed or in its crate! Doing so can result in a bite wound to the child as it gets on the dog’s last nerve. Teach children and their visitors to steer clear of the dog’s bed entirely.