Our canine companions make our lives so much fuller and enjoyable! Our dogs seem to know when we are sad or simply having a difficult day. They instinctively know how to make us feel better. Some would even say our dogs “smile” when we greet them; although there are some who believe we humans are simply “projecting” our emotions onto our pets. However, we pet parents know that our dogs DO experience emotions, even if not on the same scale as humans. They DO experience happiness as well as loneliness and sadness. As a pet parent, you most definitely would want to know how to make your dog happy!
Part of keeping Fido happy is keeping him healthy, so some of these tips will lend to meeting your dog’s basic needs. However, other tips simply involve spending quality time with Fido. Let’s discuss how to make and keep your four-legged fur baby happy.
1. Make sure your dog has a proper shelter.
Providing the proper shelter seems like a no-brainer, right? To be honest, there are pet owners who that believe as long as their pup has a place to lie down and rest, Fido will be happy.
Now, with that said, not every dog is happy inside the house, so that’s not the recommendation. However, if your pooch would rather live outdoors, the best thing you can do is to provide a dog house that is suited to the size of your dog. Your dog should be able to stand up and turn around in the house without any trouble. If you live in a warmer area, you need to make sure the house is placed in a shady area that will prevent Fido from getting too hot during the sweltering heat of summer.
At the same time, Fido’s shelter needs to be one that you can outfit properly for cold winter nights, too. Some owners have put hay or straw in a dog house and had no issues with their dog staying warm. However, we now know that these materials may contain fleas or ticks and may actually do more harm than good. Instead, provide your outdoor dog with a clean blanket for cooler weather. Be sure to wash the blanket frequently while in use.
Now, let’s talk about indoor dogs. We pet parents never need to worry about providing shelter for indoor dogs, do we? Wrong! When you bring home a fur baby, you need to think about where she will sleep. Many pet parents allow their fur babies to sleep with them. However, this can be uncomfortable for both you and Fido.
If you insist on Fido sharing the bedroom, then invest in today’s best dog bed suited to her size. Older dogs, especially, highly need this. Provide a blanket that is used by your dog exclusively. Our fur babies have an innate need to have their own “space” in the home. The couch is shared by humans. The bed is shared by humans—that is, if you don’t purchase a dog bed for your pooch. If you allow for your seating and sleeping areas to become the place Fido rests, he will never have that “space” of his own. Today’s best dog crate should answer this need which has a detrimental effect on his overall happiness. Some pet parents provide a dog room especially for canine family members.
So, in short, regardless of whether your dog is inside or outdoors, be sure Fido has a “space” of his own, and one that is appropriate in size as well as clean and dry.
2. Provide clean, dry bedding in an area that Fido can call “his” space.
It is important to provide adequate bedding for your dog. Let’s talk about choosing a dog bed.
All dogs need a dog bed. There are many types of dog beds, so knowing how to choose the perfect dog bed can be confusing. Choose a bed that is big enough for the dog to stretch out on. If you have a rather giant pup, explore the market’s best beds for large dogs. Be sure to choose a material that is sturdy (some foam can break down and become lumpy over time.) Take into consideration any medical issues, such as arthritis, your dog may have when choosing a bed. An orthopedic bed can help Fido to get the restful sleep that will help him feel better during the day.
Again, we suggest purchasing a blanket that is just for Fido. You’ll want to wash the blanket periodically (just as you’d strip your own bed and wash your sheets). However, this blanket will carry your dog’s scent, and he’ll associate it with comfort and his own “space.”
If your dog stays outdoors primarily, you may not want to provide a blanket during warmer months (depending on your geographic location). However, you can offer a cotton “blanket” (perhaps cut a square out of an old set of sheets no longer in use). During the winter, be sure to provide a thicker blanket for cooler nights. If the temperatures drop below twenty degrees, it may be a good idea to fix a place in your laundry room or bathroom for Fido to spend the night and stay warm.
3. Be sure Fido always has access to clean, freshwater.
This seems like a no-brainer, but, some dogs drink A LOT. You may have to make a habit of checking your dog’s water bowl multiple times a day. You can invest in a gravity-fed water bowl in order to assure Fido’s water dish is never completely empty.
If you do go with the gravity-fed water bowl, you may need to disassemble the unit at least once a week to wash and dry thoroughly. Sometimes mildew can grow in the bowl, contaminating your dog’s water supply.
4. Be sure you’re providing your dog with the highest quality pet food.
Giving the best dog food is one of the most important parts of keeping your dog happy and healthy. Some pet parents are unaware of the unhealthy ingredients present in many commercially-made dog foods—even the ones made by “trusted” brands.
Most dry, commercially-made dog foods are formulated so that your dog gets the right amount of protein and nutrients. However, some of these dog foods are chock full of fillers and preservatives that can cause allergic reactions in your pup, making him miserable.
Always check the ingredients list on the bag of dog food you’re considering for your dog. Look for any chemically-sounding ingredients, especially if they are in the top five ingredients. Look for keywords such as (animal) by-product or (animal bone) “meal.” These are indicators that the manufacturer used “feed-grade” products rather than real meat to create the dog food in question. Of course, you’ll also want to steer clear of foods that utilize artificial colors (think red #40 or blue #2).
It’s also a good idea to stay away from “rendered” products. Consider the best grain-free dog foods as well.
5. Keep Fido at a healthy weight.
Discuss with your vet what your dog’s ideal weight should be, and work to get her there. Keep in mind—dogs will eat any time you put food in their dishes. They also love to beg when we are eating, and it’s difficult to turn down puppy dog eyes! However, allowing your dog to overeat is actually detrimental to his future health.
Making sure your dog is at a healthy weight offers him many benefits. Heavier dogs may have issues with arthritis. They may develop heart disease as well. Although a chubby puppy is so cute, unfortunately, a heavier dog tends to live a shorter lifespan than a dog that is a healthy weight.
6. Make sure your dog gets the right amount of exercise AND activity.
A tired dog is a happy dog! Depending on your dog’s breed, she may need between thirty minutes and an hour (or more!) of activity each day.
Pet parents can offer exercise in a number of ways. One can break up an hour-long walk into four, short brisk walks during the day. If you have a fairly large backyard, you can set up some “play” items for Fido and allow him to enjoy exercise in that way. Dogs love the dog park. A trip to this happy place is also a great way to provide exercise for your dog. There is no one right way to exercise your pooch.
Now, let’s discuss activity toys—yes, dog toys are not limited to chew toys. Highly intelligent dog breeds—any variation of Poodle, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Australian Cattle Dogs, etc.—all need mental stimulation as well as physical exercise. A simple way to provide this is to purchase food puzzle toys that “exercise” Fido’s brain. Remember to rotate dog toys too. You can place dog treats or even peanut butter in the puzzle toy; offer the toy to Fido, and let him “figure out” how to get to the treat. Many dogs utilize up to thirty minutes tossing the toy, shaking it, and otherwise working to get to the hidden treat—dogs love this!
Mental workouts are just as important as physical activity for a highly intelligent dog. It is important to these dog breeds that they are never allowed to become bored. They can become unhappy, and some highly intelligent dogs will become destructive without adequate mental and physical stimulation.
7. Invite Fido to play daily.
Bonding with your furry friend is important, and it’s not a “one-time” event. Dogs love to play, so spend time with Fido each day to do this. It may be something as simple as tossing a toy and playing fetch or taking a walk together. However, your dog is happiest when interacting with you. Engage him in some type of play each day.
The bonus here is you’ll be happier, too!
8. Schedule regular vet visits – at least once a year.
Once your dog has received all puppy vaccinations, it is still important to take him to the vet for annual check-ups. This is chiefly preventative, but it can also help in the early detection of any major illnesses or conditions.
9. Be sure your dog is under control at all times, especially in the presence of other dogs and unfamiliar people.
Dogs are a lot like children; they need discipline and guidance. They like knowing their parameters, just like a child wants to know what is expected of her. When your dog is out for a walk, be sure you have her under your control at all times. This prevents something as mundane as rearing up on a stranger (unfortunately, not all of us love dogs); it can also prevent your dog from getting away from you and becoming injured somehow.
Dog training is something you should begin as soon as your pup is old enough. In fact, once your dog reaches 3 – 4 months of age, it is time to begin socialization and learning commands. You want your dog to follow your lead and to look to you on how to behave. Dogs want to please their humans; teach them what you expect and the “rules” from a young age in order for your dog to be happy and healthy.
10. Make sure your dog has a purpose.
Dogs hate to be bored. Most dogs can and do become depressed when they have nothing to do. This is particularly true in working dog breeds. Years of breeding development are still a part of Fido’s behavior.
Remember, a tired dog is a happy dog.
Take Fido for walks with you when possible. Let him out to play when you’re working on landscaping or other yard work.
Consider allowing your dog to participate in hospital visits for long-term patients. Your dog doesn’t have to be a certified service dog for this. Contact your local hospital or assisted living home to see if they allow well-behaved dogs to come in as therapy dogs. This will put so much meaning and happiness to your dog’s life.
1. How can I make my dog happy at home?
Be sure your dog’s basic needs are met – food, shelter, etc. Be sure to allow for plenty of exercises and playtime. Provide clean bedding and clean water.
2. How do you cheer up a dog?
A brisk walk will often help. However, dogs may grieve for a number of reasons. If a fellow pet has passed away, you may need to find a “purpose” for your dog. You may be able to provide a stuffed toy in order to help your dog cheer up.
If your dog is a working dog breed, provide a purpose and plenty of exercises. A tired dog is a happy dog.
3. What words make dogs happy?
Dogs can’t understand words, but they do understand the tone of your voice. Use soothing tones to speak to your dog.