Nothing makes a pawrent happier than seeing their furry friend thrive. Whether romping with their mates at the park or ‘foraging’ for their delicious dinner, there are so many ways our dogs can live life to the max. We’ve picked 10 things you can do to help make that happen!
Learn your dog’s language
A waggy tail can mean “I’m excited in a good way!” but coupled with signs like flattened ears or bared teeth, it can also mean “I’m feeling threatened, and I want out”. We all wish our pups could talk to us but in many ways they already can: we just need to listen. Our dogs are giving us signals to read all the time, through body language, behaviour, or even woofs and growls. For instance, did you know that your dogs don’t just yawn when they’re tired? Yawning can be a sign of stress, excitement, or even be a non-threatening ‘calming signal’ when meeting new fur friends. Some great resources to help you get to know doggy lingo are Marc Bekoff’s Canine Confidential, Zazie Todd’s Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy and Lili Chin’s Doggie Language.
Indulge your dog's amazing sense of smell
Depending on their breed, a dog's sense of smell is up to 100,000 times better than our own, while the part of their brains that processes scents is 40 times greater! This means that stopping to smell the roses is a hugely important part of your dog’s walk, allowing them to exchange ‘peemails’ with other dogs, understand the nuances of world around them and be mentally stimulated. In fact, building regular ‘sniffari’ walks into your schedule could be fantastic for you and your dog. Why are we always in such a rush to get somewhere? Maybe we should take a lesson from our dogs and live a little more in the moment… or just take the opportunity to check our own emails! Read more about the spectacularly stinky world of dogs in our blog here.
Keep your hound healthy
Nobody’s living their waggiest life when they feel under the weather. While we all get sick occasionally, there are ways that we can give our pups a fighting chance at staying healthy and happy. Keep them up to date with their vaccinations and flea, tick and worming treatments, and take them to the vet for regular check-ups. Protect their joints and bones by making your home dog-friendly, with plenty of non-slip surfaces and comfortable sleeping areas. Choose a harness that doesn’t choke your pup or restrict their movement. Fight off the fat by giving them regular exercise to strengthen their muscles and kerbing calorific treats. Keep toxic human foods like chocolate, raisons, grapes or garlic bread out of reach of drooling mouths! Last but not least, feed them a plant-based dog food that is nutritionally complete and packed with yummy pulses, vegetables and superfoods.
Play games together
Show us a dog who doesn't love to chase a tennis ball… whether they'll fetch it back or not doesn't make it any less fun! Playing games with your pup – fetch, tug of war with their favourite chew toy, or chasing each other round the garden – is one of the best ways to spend quality time together. And the fun doesn't have to end at dinner time! Meals are the highlight of the day for our furry friends, but they also last less than two minutes for most dogs, who wolf down their food without really tasting it. Why not prolong the enjoyment by scattering their kibble in your garden or around the house, encouraging your dog to forage? Or put it in a puzzle toy or snuffle mat to get your pup using that impressive nose, stimulating their brain as well as their tastebuds. Prefer feeding wet food? THE PACK has a consistency that encourages dogs to take their time over their wet dinner, savouring the flavours and preventing upset tummies.
Eight paws are better than four
There’s nothing that gets a dog’s tail happy-wagging like a romp with their best pals, and a good social life is one of the easiest ways to please your pup. Most dogs love to play and they have clear rules and boundaries they abide by to make sure nobody gets hurt. By socialising your pup early, you can make sure they understand the canine code and develop healthy friendships with other dogs. Of course, your hound might be more of a people person, preferring the company of his or her human pack, and that’s pawsome too! Either way, try not to leave your dog alone for long periods of time, as this can be super stressful for them, not to mention boring.
Teach an old (or young) dog new tricks
Enjoying some fear-free, positive reinforcement-based training with your dog is a great way to work out their brains as well as their legs, warding off boredom and getting tails wagging! From basic cues like ‘sit’, ‘leave’ and recall (an essential tool in any pawrent’s kit) to more challenging tricks and even agility training, this kind of two-way ‘work’ creates a lasting bond between you and your pup. Make sure you use rewards-based training so that your dog wants to respond to your cues, rather than being scared into obedience. Worried about your pooch piling on the pounds with all those extra nibbles? There are loads of small, low-calorie plant-based treats available, or you can reward your dog with pieces of their regular kibble or a squeeze of their wet food instead.
Advocate for your dog
Remember, you know your pup best, especially if you’ve been listening to those canine communications we talked about before! If they're not their usual selves, insist that your vet gives them a thorough check over. And if they seem uncomfortable with being petted by a strange human or approached by a new dog, step in. You are their hooman champion and protector!
Learn about your dog’s breed
This is something you can do even before you bring your rescue dog or pup home. Research their breed-specific needs and make sure you’re going to be able to offer the lifestyle that will make them happiest. If you’re hoping to go for long runs with your hound, it’s probably not a great idea to adopt a Pug or a Dachshund! Don’t overwalk a short-legged dog or take a squashed-face dog outside in the heat. Take your Labrador or Setter for regular swims, and make sure your Collie has a lot of mental stimulation. Even with mixed-breed dogs, there’s likely to be a dominant breed in there and as you get to know your pup as an individual, you’ll be able to work out what makes them waggiest.
Respect your dog as a dog
Regardless of breed, we need to remember that our dogs are not tiny furry humans! The very best thing we can do to please our pups is to indulge their species-specific needs: let them roll in the mud, shove their noses in gross smells, chase a squirrel and splash in the river! On the flipside, resist the urge to dress them up (we’ve all been there!) or take them into human places where they might feel uncomfortable or anxious. The sensory overload of a busy party, a festival, loud firework display or even a dog show can overwhelm even the most sociable pup.
Feed THE PACK!
Because what could make a dog happier than noshing down a healthy, nutritious, delicious meal, bursting with real veg and pulses? Pet parent Emily’s rescue dogs love their plant-based food from THE PACK so much that they scream at her to hurry up and open the can; “I can tell they get excited for THE PACK more than any other wet food I've given them. They even have to lick the spoon when I've finished serving them!” Whether your pup is fully plant-based or a flexi-dogian, feeding THE PACK’s drool-inducing vegan dog food is guaranteed to bring on a full-body wag! Head to our shop and get 20% off your first order of our vegan dog food using PACK20.