We bring dogs into our human world because we love them with our hearts and souls. We ask them to adjust. Some do, many can’t. As responsible pet parents, it’s up to us to provide ways to help make our crazy human world more manageable for them.
Today is National Spoil Your Dog Day. While there are an infinite number of ways to spoil your dog, here are my suggestions for creating a well-balanced dog. I don’t regard any of these as spoiling Buster, just treating him with respect. Our dogs spend so much of their time observing us and fitting into our world, it’s equally important that we provide them the same appreciation.
As humans, we have the option to take care of ourselves by practicing yoga, drinking green tea and meditating.There are ways that we can provide similar nurturing experiences for our dogs. Recent research shows that stressed dogs live shorter lives. Now you can think of pampering as extending their lives.
1. Silent Meditation Walk
Have you ever walked with your dog in total silence? When I do this with Sanchez and Gina, it inspires me to be more observant of them and connect with them in a way that I don’t through verbal communication. It’s very interesting just trying to observe the world from their point of view. Try it while following your dog’s cues. He may just want to stop and sniff to his heart’s content. Taking in the scents gives him all sorts of information and provides enrichment for him. And non-verbal communication between the two of you often creates an even deeper bond.
2. D.I.Y. Dog Treats
Whether your dog fancies Pumpkin Squeaks or Banana “Mutt” cookies, it’s easy making your own dog treats. Buster will be taking in all the delightful smells, and you’ll be saving money on store bought treats. Best to use all organic ingredients, and make sure the peanut butter doesn’t include xylitol, which is often lethal for dogs.
3. Enroll in a Sport Together
If you have an athletic dog, she might love dog agility. It’s a team sport in which a handler directs a dog through an obstacle course in a race for both time and accuracy. Dogs run off leash, and treats and toys are used in training, but not in competition. Any breed can do it, no matter the size. Best to make sure they are in good physical shape first. Other fun, popular sports and activities include dock diving, canine freestyle, disc dogs, fly ball, lure coursing, tracking and nose-work. Find one that your dog loves and you will be amazed how much fun you’ll be having together.
4. Environmental Enrichment
Providing environmental enrichment helps stimulate Buster’s mind. There are a variety of ways to enhance a dog’s environment. Many often help dogs with behavior challenges, and they can relieve boredom. Examples include food puzzles, music designed to calm the canine nervous system, calming aroma sprays, rotating their toys, and teaching them new tricks.
5. Canine Massage
Dogs reduce our stress. Canine massage is a way of giving back to them so that we reduce theirs. Veterinarian Narda Robinson, Director at Colorado State University’s Center for Comparative and Integrative Pain Medicine, teaches classes on canine massage. She believes that when administered with science knowledge, canine massage can help dogs recover from injuries, illness and stress.
How do you spoil your dogs and show respect for them? Thanks for sharing your suggestions in a comment below.