No one has it easier than the family dog, right? Those cuddly canines are gifted with the freedom to just eat, sleep, and chase squirrels all day, giving no thought to the pressures of paying bills, working a 9-to-5, or managing complex interpersonal relationships. Still, it may or may not surprise you to learn that dogs are just as prone to depression, anxiety, and general unrest as their human companions. If you’ve already noticed the signs, or if you’re just looking to give your pooch the happiest life possible, here are some simple tips to keep that tail wagging.
Focus on Your Own Well-Being
Numerous studies, including one conducted by researchers from the University of Lincoln, UK, and the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, have demonstrated that dogs are highly perceptive of human emotions. If you’re letting frequent bouts of sadness, anger, frustration, or anxiety wear you down, your dog is most definitely picking up on this. As a result, they’re likely experiencing some degree of sadness or anxiety as well. Try to maintain a positive household atmosphere to keep Fido’s spirits up.
Look for Any Discomforts That May be Caused by Diet
Does your dog constantly scratch or bite his fur? If you’ve already ruled out fleas and ticks, this may be a telltale sign of a food allergy. Many commercial dog foods are loaded with filler, grain, corn, and a host of other ingredients that aren’t ideal for dogs. Many of these foods are also devoid of essential nutrients that dogs need to thrive. Even healthy meats may pose a problem, as some dogs are allergic to beef, chicken, or pork and must be switched over to a meat that’s suitable for their digestive system. If your dog is showing signs of allergic reaction or is just constantly sluggish, it’s probably time to replace that overprocessed, mass-produced kibble with a more suitable dietary alternative.
Spend Time on Obedience Training
An untrained dog is a restless dog. Dogs are pack animals, and they need to understand their place in the pack. Obedience training promotes happiness on numerous levels: it helps to strengthen the bond between the dog and human, it imbues the dog with a sense of purpose as a valued member of the pack, and—if conducted properly—it provides plenty of positive reinforcement.
Get Out and Exercise
Dogs need daily exercise. Not only does it prevent obesity and keep their muscles strong, but it also provides much-needed mental stimulation. Bear in mind, though, that it’s not enough to just push the dog out into the backyard and let her chase birds while you watch TV in the living room. Dogs benefit from human interaction, so it’s important to get out there and exercise with your dog if you want to maximize their happiness. The ASPCA recommends a 30-minute walk each day for the average dog, in addition to regular aerobic exercise. As an added bonus, exercising with a dog has been shown to offer serious health benefits for the human companion as well.
Keeping your dog happy isn’t a difficult task. All they ask for is quality time and a loving home. Best of all, it’s a reciprocal relationship. If you cater to your dog’s happiness, you can be certain that he will cater to yours.