If you are new to pet ownership, you may have thought about your dog’s physical health, but have you thought about his psychological health? Psychological health is every bit as important as physical health, and ultimately the two are dependent on one another. A bored or frustrated dog can quickly become a destructive dog, and one which suffers from needless stress. Stress can translate into physical ailments. A happy, mentally stable dog on the other hand is subjected to less stress and is better able to weather injuries and illnesses, and may be less prone to them altogether. Here are 5 tips for ensuring that your dog stays happy:
- Exercise your dog’s brain.
Physical exercise like a daily walk is vital to your dog’s physical and mental health, but it is important to work out your dog’s brain too. A lot of puzzle dog toys are now available, including specifically puzzle dog toys for treats. These fun toys give your dog a way to entertain herself, and as a reward, once the puzzle is solved, the toy dispenses a treat! As a bonus, it can be pretty entertaining to watch for you as well.
- Allow your dog to socialize.
Fun dog toys are not the only way to keep your dog entertained. Dogs are often entertained by other dogs and people as well! Even if you have a busy schedule, try to make time for your dog to visit with other furry pals or even with other humans. Organize play dates with other dog owners, or bring your dog to the dog park to socialize.
- Teach your dog a new trick.
Learning new tricks is a fulfilling activity for dogs. They know it makes you happy, and they love to make you proud. Even if you have had your dog for years, there is always a new trick you can teach him. Use positive reinforcement and you will get great results. This helps to strengthen your bond with your pet and keeps your dog entertained. It also provides you with an excuse to give your dog a new toy or introduce a new treat!
- Provide structure.
Routines are important in your life, and they are arguably even more important in your dog’s life. Your dog needs structure in more way than one. Firstly, it is good to have some kind of a schedule you stick to every day for walks, play, feeding, and other activities, so that your dog knows what to expect and feels safe and comfortable. Secondly, there needs to be structure in your relationship, with your dog always knowing you are in charge and you’ve got things under control. This also keeps your pet feeling safe and happy.
- Spend time with your dog.
Maybe the most important thing you can remember to do is spend as much time with your pet as you can. A lot of people who neglect their animals don’t even realize they are doing it; they become overwhelmed by work and other commitments, and do not realize how lonely their animal is without their attention. Make time to specifically spend just having fun with your dog, playing games and going on walks. The rest of the time, even if you have to work or take care of other obligations, see if you can fit your dog into your routine. If you are working overtime at home, there’s no reason your dog can’t sit next to you while you are doing it. Dogs are domesticated animals, and they rely on their humans to stay happy and know that they are loved.
As your dog’s owner, you are completely responsible for his well-being. It is only when you fulfill that responsibility to the best of your ability that becoming a pet owner becomes truly fulfilling for you as well. It may require you to rearrange your schedule a bit, or make some special purchases for your pet in terms of toys and treats, but it is worth it!