Earlier this week, I dropped off my senior dog, Sanchez, at the vet for dental surgery. I had a hard time saying goodbye to him, but I was comforted when I was able to leave him with his own iCalmDog, playing music especially designed to comfort elderly dogs. When I asked the nurse if she would make sure his music went with him everywhere—both pre- and post-surgery—she said, “Sure. It’s so sweet that you really love your dog so much.”
February 20th is National Love Your Pet Day, and I’ve been giving a lot of thought to what that means. While it’s really National Love Your Dog Day everyday in my canine household, there are infinite ways of showing your pet you love them. Here are just a few of my suggestions:
1. Speak their language
Dogs are constantly watching our body language so they can understand us. It’s confusing to them when we don’t understand what they are communicating with their body language. To communicate clearly with your dog, it’s important that you become fluent in their species behavior. For example, did you know that dogs see with their noses?
2. Be consistent
Dogs thrive and build confidence with structure and consistency in their environment. Some are so sensitive to the slightest change. Our lives are filled with variables; try and be as unswerving as possible with your pet’s schedule, feeding time, and rules. It’s up to you whether you invite Buster into your bed. But, if he’s allowed sometimes and scolded other times, he’ll not understand why you’re upset and could easily shut down because of confusion.
3. Do some training every day
Dogs trained with positive reinforcement thrive, and it’s fun for 2- and 4-leggeds alike. It not only is a way to show love to your dog, but builds a healthy bond and just might be the best part of her day. Sanchez and Gina, cry for their training time with me very night. And, it really is never too late to teach an old dog a new trick, as you can see in the video above.
4. Let them be themselves
You may have just adopted a Golden Retriever because you love the breed, and you want one with the same behavior traits of the senior Golden you recently lost. But your new Golden might have an entirely different personality. Understand and accept his difference in personality. We don’t always get the dog we want, but we always get the one we need. Their different personality might just be exactly what is best for you right now.
5. Be conscious of their sound environment
Most dogs are much more aware of their sound environment than the 2-leggeds in the household. The sound of the TV in one room and a radio playing in another is enough to make Buster go a little bonkers. And, cheering loudly for your favorite football team may be stressful enough to make Buster bark wildly. Always provide a safe, quiet room for your pets as an option. Better yet if you play some music especially designed for their species. Just remember that dogs will sometimes tolerate anything (even if it’s not good for them) just to be near you. So, if Buster doesn’t leave the room when you blast your music, you might just want to turn down the volume for his benefit (as well as yours).
6. Be still together
Other species do a much better job at being present than humans. Let your pets teach you how to be still and enjoy that precious time together. If your dog is physically affectionate, cuddle up together. Just be present and mindful. You’ll cherish these moments of doing nothing together for years to come.
How do you show your pet you love them? Thanks for adding your thoughts in a comment below. (Also, just an update that Sanchez is doing great post dental surgery!)