Humans and dogs share a special bond. It’s easy to see our dogs’ appreciation for us in their wagging tails, wiggling backsides, and relaxed faces. Just by existing in the world, you are probably your dog’s hero. That said, there are some things we can do that will make our dogs appreciate us even more.
Be Respectful of Their Wishes
They can’t tell us what they want in words, but our dogs are always talking to us. Read our post about learning to speak Dog-lish for more information about canine body language, and then put it into action! When you’re petting your dog, notice what they’re communicating. Look for the spots that make them wiggle with joy, and also for the ones that cause them stress. Stick to physical affection that both you and your pup enjoy! When your dog is showing signs of fear, don’t force them further into that situation. Respect that they have wants and needs, and do your best to accommodate them (while still providing structure and safety, of course!), and your dog will be forever grateful.
Teach Them Something New
Dogs love to learn! When the learning involves treats and fun, it’s even better. Pick a new trick, or a behavior that you’ve been meaning to work on, and commit yourself to working on it with your dog in a way that’s fun for you both. The internet has plenty of ideas for fun tricks dogs can learn if your creativity isn’t cutting it. Just make sure you’re keeping training sessions fun and positive for you and your dog.
Be Clear and Consistent
As we settle into life with our dogs, it’s easy to let some of the rules we set up at the beginning slide a bit. This is understandable! And hey, Fido only jumps on some guests, not all of them, right? No big deal. But it is a big deal, or it can be. If circumstances change and Fido jumps on someone who really doesn’t like it, or worse, someone he can hurt with his exuberance, you’ll be upset, and the urge to yell and punish may crop up. This isn’t fair to your pup, who didn’t realize that the no-jumping rule was still important. Consistency will make your dog feel safe, and will keep you sane!
Remember to focus on what you want your dog to do, rather than what you don’t want. Communicate clearly using cues your dog already knows, and work on the ones they still need practice with. Your outstanding canine citizen will thank you for it.
Feeling the Love
For those who might roll their eyes at this “Hallmark Holiday,” it’s nice to remember that Valentine’s Day can be for loved ones of every species. Even if our dogs’ devotion is unconditional, that doesn’t mean we can’t do more to strengthen the bond. Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!