You’re busy. Human life is complicated. Yes, you have opposable thumbs, but that means you have to go to work and deal with colleagues. You have to drive a car and pay for it. Plus all those other bills you have to settle (every month!). Then you’re trying to look good and feel good and act right. It’s a lot.
But sometimes we become so busy that we forget about the one unconditionally loving creature in our lives—our dog, our best friend, our little copilot with an adorable face and questionable hygiene.
So, press pause and think about that snuggle bear. We asked your dog and here’s what they had to say about the subject:
1. Get Me Out of the House
Are you walking your dog every day? The answer has to be yes! (I’ve been guilty of answering no, but yes is the only good answer!) Even if your dog can get out in the backyard on his own, that little plot of land is stale and littered with his business.
2. Snuggle Me
This will come up again, but dogs are emotional animals. Birds and reptiles? They don’t feel that much. But mammals have emotional brains, and emotional beings need connection and physical interaction.
Take some time each day to scratch your dog behind the ears, rub the belly, or give a little back massage.
3. Put Down Your Phone & Pick Up the Frisbee
Okay, you don’t have to have to pick up a totally new hobby and become the power-couple of athleticism. But your dog needs to play. With you. We all buy dog toys and give them to our dogs and expect them to entertain themselves. But it doesn’t work that way (unless you have a puppy who thinks everything is Disneyland).
Your dog wants to engage with you. Take some time to think like a dog and play like a dog. Your dog will be so thrilled!
4. Show Me Some Adventure
Regular walks are key, but you also need to mix things up for your pet. Show your dog new places, offer her new experiences. You can’t do this every day, of course.
But treat your dog to a special occasion now and then. Enjoy a new dog park or trail, check out a new neighborhood, or go down to the dog-friendly pub and let the admiration society line up to say hello.
5. Don’t Be So Confusing
Your dog needs consistency. He wants to please you, but he can’t do that if he doesn’t know what you want, or if you send mixed signals. Invest in dog training classes or dig into our collection of articles on dog training.
Set a few goals—or a single goal!—around something you’d like your dog to learn or improve upon, learn how you can do your part, and be consistent in your expectations.
6. Let Me Sniff Other Dogs’ Butts
Sniffing butts is like the Facebook of dog life. Your dog needs to interact with other dogs, unless there’s a good reason she doesn’t (trauma, aggression, etc.). But if you begin socializing your dog early and maintain exposure to other dogs, your pet will become more comfortable, friendly, and respectable at the park.
Remember, dogs were once pack animals—they thrive and grow when playing and interacting with other members of their species.
7. Tell Me I’m Great
We all like a pat on the back sometimes, and the same holds true for your dog. I use a special, ridiculous voice to express joy, appreciation, and celebration with my two dogs. I hope no one but my partner ever hears it, but it lets our dogs know they’re great and they’re special and I’m so excited they’re our dogs.
The dogs love it, and it serves a second purpose—my stern voice becomes unmistakable by contrast, which helps them to listen and respond when I need them to follow instructions on the trail or in the house.
8. Hook Me Up with Special Snacks
Make sure you have healthy snacks on hand to offer your dog when he sticks to routine, listens well, or when you just want to show him some love.
It’s important that you don’t use treats as your singular mode of satisfying your dog. But treats do create excitement and a sense of reward. They come in handy when training and pair nicely with praise, though your dog will surely accept a treat at any time for any reason, no questions asked.
All right, humans. You’re now ready to re-dedicate yourself to the pet parenting game. You got this!