Few things in life give us more joy than our pets. On top of the emotional benefits our pets give us, there happen to be health benefits as well. The American Heart Association has stated that having a dog may protect you from heart disease! So take a moment to consider these 10 ways to be kind to our dogs:
#1: Playin’ Around
Most dogs love to play well past their puppy stage and into adulthood. A dog’s lifelong playfulness (called neoteny) is actually 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 is a total cliché, but taking your dog for a walk is one of the best ways to release some excess energy. When our lives get busy, it’s easy to let the dog out in the fenced yard to “exercise himself.” Going for a stroll with your pup instead can be a great stress reliever for you both, not to mention it will get your hearts pumping! Your dog will be endlessly fascinated by the smells, sights, and sounds of your neighborhood, while you both get a chance to socialize with others.
#3: The Comb-Over
You might think of grooming your dog as just another chore on your already way too long “to-do” list. However, a quiet brushing session can keep your canine looking spiffy while strengthening 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.
#4: The Fix
It’s a common misbelief that spaying or neutering your pet is cruel or unkind. It’s true your pet may not necessarily enjoy the process of being spayed or neutered, but when you consider the facts, you’ll see how these simple procedures can make life better for both of you. There are plenty of health benefits, including avoiding certain cancers and other medical problems. There are behavioral benefits as well, especially with neutered male dogs, who are less likely to mark, roam, or hump. As an added bonus, you will avoid adding to the overpopulation of homeless pets in the United States.
#5: Toy Time
There’s an amazing assortment of toys available for your dog. From simple balls to more complex “brain games,” a toy can bring hours of fun to your best friend. Keeping a basket of toys for your dog 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
Food is a great motivator for dogs (no surprise there.) 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, there are plenty of healthy treat options (like baby carrots) that won’t exacerbate the problem.
#7: Sit, Stay, Good Boy!
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. 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’ll 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 satisfy your pup’s pack mentality.
#9: Out and About
Why not take your pet out on the town? Dog-friendly public spaces are becoming more common. Do an online search of your surrounding area and you might be surprised by how many places you can take your dog. You can also check out our tips for finding pet-friendly restaurants and shops! Certain parks and beaches, open-air shopping centers, and pet stores will welcome dogs with open paws. Just make sure that your dog is leashed and trained appropriately for public outings, and always call ahead to double-check that your destination is canine-compatible!
#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.