Number 5 – Spend More Time with Your Dog
And the very first thing you can do immediately to make your dog’s life richer and happier is very simple: Spend more time with them. Dogs are extremely social beings and they thrive in company. If you watch footage of wolf-packs or wild dogs, you (usually!) will not see solitary canines going about their own business: Both wolves and dogs do everything together – sleeping, migrating, hunting and eating. Living solitary lives is not in their nature, and they suffer if they have to spend most of their day alone.
Therefore, one of the best things you can do for your dog is to devote more of your precious time to them. For example, take them on longer walks, play with them more. If you visit a friend’s house or go for a road trip – take them with you. Make it a habit to include your dog in more of your day-to-day activities, and you definitely will have a happier canine by your side!
Number 4 – Treat them as a Family Member
Especially large and giant breed dogs are often kept outside of the house. And of course, sometimes, this is necessary, as the dogs need to protect livestock or a large property. But in many cases, people simply THINK that their dogs are too big for an indoor lifestyle. However, especially the calmer breeds among them are actually far better suited as housedogs then, for example, small and energetic Terrier breeds. Whatever dog you might have – if you want to make them happier, then do allow them to spend some time in the house. At least a few hours each day. This will do wonders to strengthen the bond between them and yourself. And especially if you have family, letting them participate in your domestic life will ensure that they respect and love every single person in your household.
Number 3 – Give your Dog plenty of Exercise
Apart from spending more time with your dog and including them in your activities and in your domestic life, there are many more things you can do to make them happier. And one of THE most important ones is exercise: A tired dog is a good dog - and will be far more obedient, well-mannered and well-balanced than a dog that is cooped up inside all day long. In the wild, wolves cover distances of up to 30 miles per day. And our domestic dogs still have the desire to migrate in their DNA. Even a tiny Chiahuahua will usually get all excited when they see you pick up the leash. Dogs LOVE walks, as well as playtimes. Of course, you do not want to over-exercise your them (especially during their puppyhood). So, if in doubt, check with your vet how much exercise your dog should have. And then, make sure to give them this amount of exercise. This is one of the very best and easiest ways to make them happier, healthier and calmer in the house.
Number 2 – Be a Calm, Consistent Canine Leader
Unlike humans, dogs absolutely need a leader to feel safe and secure. This leader can be another dog or a human. But as most of today’s dogs (at least in the Western world) live together exclusively with us humans, this leadership role falls to us. If we fail to fill it, our dog will try and assume the leadership position themselves, as (from their perspective) someone has to be in charge. But a dog in “the director’s chair” is not a happy dog: Counter-intuitive as it may seem, dogs need the guidance of a calm, consistent leader to be happy, content and confident. So, if we can be such a leader to them, providing them with loving guidance and direction, we are actually doing them a huge favour.
Number 1 – Provide them with Rules, Boundaries and Expectations
And the number one way to make your dog happier is closely related to good leadership: Providing your dog with clear rules, boundaries and expectations gives them a feeling of safety and happiness. Ideally, you would establish a set of household rules even before bringing your new dog home. But it is never too late to do this, just make sure that every member of the household is on the same page with it. For example, if you do not want your dog to sleep on the sofa, make sure every family member insists on them staying off. Dogs absolutely thrive on their leaders setting up - and consistently reinforcing - such rules, boundaries and expectations. Again, it may seem counter-intuitive to us as humans, but the more strict, clear and consistent you are in upholding the rules you have set for your dog, the happier they will be. And a happier canine companion makes for a happier household!