Tips & Articles
Enrich your dog's life for the best bond and happiest companion animal.
By Cindy Aldridge and Dara Wittenberg
Many dog parents lead busy lives and don’t always spend enough time with their beloved pets. Needless to say, spending quality time with your dog is important – it’s essential to their long-term health and happiness. Besides making for a healthier pet, it can contribute to your own overall health and life satisfaction.
Below, Rescue Me Dog Training offers some tips on making compassionate lifestyle adjustments so you can spend more time with your pet. We also offer some suggestions on building a happier life both for your dog and yourself:
Checking in on your dog more often.
Dogs aren’t supposed to spend more than 6 to 8 hours alone at a stretch, says the American Kennel Club. If you’re always at the office, you could make it a point to check in on your dog more often. You could come home at lunchtime to give your dog a potty break, for example, or just pop back home a couple of times a day if your office is nearby. You might even be able to cut a deal with your employer to have your dog at the office some days. Of course, you could also hire a dog walker, or make a deal with a neighbor to take Muttley out in the middle of the day.
Working or studying from home.
Working from home as much as possible can free up a great deal of time. It saves you from lengthy commutes, having to get ready for the office every day, and other time-consuming activities. Working or studying at home means you can keep your dog company AND get a little exercise during the day during a couple of dog walks. SO much better for you than sitting ALL day. You could make a comfortable spot for them near your work area – like putting in a doggie bed.
If you cannot work from home, but are allowed to take Muttley to work with you, you can use that dog bed under your desk for him.
Daily walks and fun activities.
Most breeds need at least an hour of exercise a day, ideally, and the more active ones need at least two (this will really help with behavioral issues, as a tired and stimulated dog is less likely to get into trouble by displaying destructive behaviors that often stem from boredom. To save time, you can both exercise together. Some exercise activities include going on walks, taking your dog to the beach and swimming, running with your dog (as long as they have finished growing so you do not cause damage to delicate growth plates) . You can also play-exercise – playing fetch, hide and seek, and tug of war, for example. Purina offers some game suggestions.
Some of your dog’s walks should be guided by them; let them sniff and explore when and for however long they want. This could be done best on a long leash or in a safe fenced in area, so that they get a sense of freedom, autonomy and just plain fun. Remember the dog walk is for THEM, not just you.
Take time to train your dog.
Training your dog is vital to a happy life together. Training your dog helps be calmer and more disciplined -and enjoyable- in a variety of situations. You can take them places knowing they won’t act out. Of course, obedience training strengthens the bond between you both and builds a more meaningful relationship. You can reach out to Rescue Me Dog Training to arrange training lessons with an experienced trainer. Consider group classes too to help your dog behave well around other dogs, and to listen to you in stimulating circumstances. Training your dog should be a fun, stress free experience that enriches both your lives. Teach your dog the basic cues (name recognition, recall, sit, down, stay, off, loose leash walking/heel, drop it and leave it, and maybe the “place” cue). Once your pup has mastered these cues, expand your experience to trick training- so MUCH FUN and it builds an even better bond and understanding between you and your dog! Consider this book: Brain Games for Dogs or The Big Book of Tricks .
Give your dog varied sources of daily enrichment.
While walking your dog sufficiently and training with your dog enriches their experience and builds the bond you two share, this is not enough. Dogs are active, curious creatures. Feed that part of their characters too; consider using a food puzzle to engage their brains, use a flirt pole to exercise them or check out these suggestions from the Humane Society and the ASPCA . Your dog will be more confident, happier, and much less likely to display destructive behaviors.
A well socialized dog is a happy dog!
Socializing your dog during their early development between 3-12 months is vital. If you get a puppy from a breeder, make sure they are working on this before they hand over your pup at 8 weeks, and you must take the reins and work on socialization daily. Socialization entails helping them get used to other dogs, pets, strange/loud sounds, humans and all manner of new experiences that could otherwise be very scary for your dog. A well socialized dog will have lower anxiety levels and be more settled and well behaved in public. Good socialization is vital to a healthy, well-balanced dog. Even if your dog has not finished all their vaccinations it is important that you expose them to all sorts of stimuli (gently and watching their response so you do not overwhelm them). You can’t take your dog to the dog park if they are not fully vaccinated but you can still expose them to the presence of other dogs and take them with you to dog-friendly stores and restaurants, to friends and family, and more. Once vaccinated you can organize fun playdates or parties for your dog and their furry best friend/s. Check out this short article on socialization .
Check out this article to learn more about the crucial developmental stages.
Understand your dog’s breed characteristics.
Dogs have some universal needs – like quality time with you, exercise, food, and love and care, yet their inherent needs (and wants, health, energy levels, pain points, and more) are also influenced by their unique breed and personality. Ensure they have outlets for instinctual needs - this might mean opportunities to dig, chase, sniff, retrieve etc.
Spending time with your dog helps you better understand their unique personality (and associated quirks). Learning more about their breed will help you better understand them. Retrievers, for example, love swimming, and terriers enjoy having a space in the yard for digging things up. You can look up your dog’s breed to learn how to better care for them.
Be your dog’s best and vocal advocate.
YOU know what your dog needs and likes, so speak up for them in social situations. Don’t be afraid to tell people they cannot stroke your dog or even allow their dog to approach yours. Don’t be pressured into putting them into situations you know they cannot handle. Not every dog wants to say hello to every dog or person they encounter. If they want to sit under the table while you are out at a restaurant, then please do not force them to interact with dogs or people. Dogs are like us- they do not always want to meet and greet everyone who comes our way, and maybe they only like certain people or dogs. Honor their social preferences and speak up for them.
While you cannot be with your dog every waking moment, that’s okay, but make a point of spending quality time with them daily: for walks, for play, for training, for companionship. Being a responsible, loving and kind pet owner, means you will need to make some thoughtful and compassionate adjustments to your life to make you and your pet happier, healthier, and more fulfilled.
5 Habits of Good Dog Parents.
A great article on puppy socialization in the time of COVID- 19:
How to read a dog's body language.