5 Easy Ways to be Your Dog’s Best Friend FURever
We all know dogs are man’s best friend, but how to be a best friend to your dog can be confusing. By connecting with your dog, you will help him to feel balanced and be well-rounded. The bond you develop each day helps your dog learn to trust you and look to you for direction and guidance. Here are five easy ways to reconnect and strengthen the bond between you and your dog.
Be their playmate - You see it all the time when dogs play: pure joy. They get to run, wrestle, and get their kicks out. What if you could be the one to provide that for your dog? I’m not saying you need to start sprinting to be able to keep up with your dog; it can be as simple as getting down on the ground and playing with them. Play tug, wrestle a little, and let them interact with you like they would another dog. Showing them that you can be just as fun, if not more, as play time with other dogs, is a great way to reinforce your connection with them. Plus with you, treats happen!
Spa day at home - Spend some time loving on your dog - pet them, massage them. You can learn specific massage techniques and pressure points that can calm them down or benefit circulation (this can be great for older dogs). I know how I feel after a massage; your dog will appreciate the same relief. It’s easy to give them a little ten-minute rub down while watching TV or talking with the family. I massage my 15-year-old dog every evening to help prevent her joints from getting stiff. She knows that when I sit on the ground and call her over, it’s happy time with mom.
Be a good study buddy - Educate yourself on dog body language and stress signals. This is a great way to understand how your dog is doing, and it will also help you to avoid putting them in situations where they’re not comfortable. Look for these signs of discomfort when you take them on walks or hikes, to the dog park, and so on. If you see your dog giving signals that they are scared, you can get them out of the situation right away. They will learn from these scenarios to really trust you and look to you for direction and comfort.
Expand your skill set - Add some new, fun training into your routine. If you and your dog are all set with the basics, try something new and challenging to engage with your dog on a more focused level and reward with treats! It’s no wonder some kids love their teachers. Learning new things is empowering and a teacher can make it fun. If you're not sure what to try, call around and see what classes are offered in your area. Nose work, agility, tricks, hiking… these would all be a welcome challenge for your dog. They’ll enjoy the one-on-one time training will provide, and you can feel good to know that you’re helping provide your dog a well-balanced life.
Get out and try something new - Going on new adventures with your dog is a great way to get out of the house and create a fun and stimulating experience. Now, the term “adventure” is relative. This could mean going on a hike in the mountains, taking a walk in a new part of town, visiting a new park, or hanging out downtown. They will love every minute they get to be out and about with you. This also presents a great opportunity to fit little training sessions into your day. If it’s the weekend, take your dog to a coffee place that has outdoor seating so that the two of you can enjoy the day with each other. Make sure you bring some treats so that while you enjoy your coffee, your dog has something to enjoy too… coffee isn't recommended for dogs.
By including your dog in some of your daily actives, you enrich their lives and strengthen your bond with each other. Whether it’s a walk into town or a quick massage while hanging out in your pajamas, your dog will enjoy the extra attention and will surely be your best friend FURever.
Amber Pickren BA, CPDT-KA
Amber is owner of GentleCanineLLC. After earning her bachelors in Psychology, Amber found her passion working with dogs and has never looked back. Since 2004, she has been training dogs, specializing in behavioral issues. When she's not busy helping other pet parents with their dogs, she can be found running and climbing around Durango with Sadie, Lily and Imogene.