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10 Ways to Be Kind to Your Pet


There are few things in life that give us more pleasure than our pets. After all, the word “dog” is synonymous with loyalty, devotion, and love. On top of the emotional benefits our pets give us, there happen to be health benefits as well. The American Heart Association just announced that owning a dog may protect you from heart disease! So take a moment to consider these “Top 10” ways to be kind to the pets who do so much for us.

#1: Playin’ Around
Most dogs love to play well past their puppy stage in life. This didn’t happen by chance, because a dog’s lifelong juvenile tendencies (called neoteny) are a result of the domestication process. So playing around isn’t just a fun distraction—it’s hardwired in his DNA. Go ahead and play! Get on the ground, run around, play hide-and-seek, or come up with your own special games to satisfy this basic doggy instinct.

#2: Hey, I’m Walkin’ Here!
Sure, walking the dog may seem like a cliché, but as our lives become busier and busier, it becomes easier and easier to let the dog out in the fenced yard and let him “exercise himself.” But taking your dog for a walk is one of the best ways to release some excess energy (and it won’t hurt to get your own heart pumping!). Your dog will be endlessly fascinated by the smells, sights, and sounds of your neighborhood. It will give you both a chance to socialize with others, and you may even make some new friends on your block.

#3: The Comb-Over
You might think of grooming your dog as just another chore on your already waaayyy too long “to-do” list. However, a quiet brushing session can keep your canine looking spiffy and strengthen your bond. It will give you a chance to look over his coat and skin to check for any potential problems, and your dog is bound to love the attention. Plus, the more you groom him, the more he’ll get used to it, and the easier this activity will be for both of you.

#4: The Fix
Spaying or neutering your pet might seem like the opposite of being “kind,” but when you consider the facts, you’ll see how these simple procedures can make life better for both of you. The health benefits are numerous, including avoiding certain cancers and other medical problems. And there are behavioral benefits as well, especially with neutered male dogs, who are less likely to mark or roam. As an added bonus, you will avoid adding to the overpopulation of unwanted pets that already exists in the United States.

#5: Toy Time
There’s an amazing assortment of toys available for your dog. From simple balls to more complicated “brain games,” a toy can bring hours of fun to your best friend. It will occupy his time when you aren’t around and give you a chance to play together when you are. Just be sure that any toys you purchase are safe and durable.

#6: Lip Smackin’ Good
There are very few dogs who aren’t food motivated. Giving your dog a delicious treat is a great way to let him know you care. If he’s at a healthy weight, then the occasional snack is just fine. If your dog needs to lose a few pounds, you can still give him a healthy option (like a baby carrot) so as not to exacerbate the problem.

#7: Train Spotting
Like grooming, you may consider training more of a chore than an act of kindness. But don’t be fooled—training your dog is one of the kindest acts you can do for him. Well-trained dogs end up spending more time with the family and are welcomed more places than untrained dogs are. A trained dog is a pleasure to be around, and he’ll benefit from those positive feelings.

#8: It’s a Date!
We’ve all heard of play dates among children, but did you ever think of arranging one for your dog? Doggy play dates are a great way to socialize your dog—plus he gets to have a grand old time playing around with a canine friend. Whether you meet at a favorite dog park or just in your backyard, a doggy play date is sure to please your pup.

#9: Out and About
Why not take your pet out for a jaunt? Dog-friendly public spaces are becoming more common. Do an Internet search of your surrounding area and you might be surprised by how many places you can take your dog. Certain parks and beaches, open-air shopping centers, and pet stores all often welcome dogs with open paws. Just make sure that your dog is leashed and trained appropriately for public outings.

#10: Time Is On My Side
When you get right down to it, most of the items on this list are about spending time with your dog. You are the center of his world, and all it takes is a little time and attention to make your dog happy and content. And that may be the biggest act of kindness of them all.

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