Happiness – it’s that most elusive of feelings, one that we all crave but can’t always keep hold of. Our doggy friends are much the same. They too have their ups and downs and get craggy, sad and upset. So how do we minimize those lows and ensure our pets are spending much of their time in a state of contentment?

Give your dog a space in the house they can call their own

Dogs are pack animals who will follow your lead, but they too need a space they can call their own. Demarcate an area somewhere in the living room, or in the kitchen, where your pet can curl up and get comfy. Put a bed here replete with your dog’s favorite toys. A good bone doesn’t hurt either. This is a space your animal can retreat to when she wants some peace and quiet.

Put a structured routine in place

Dogs absolutely love a good routine. In fact, it’s as beneficial for them as it is for us. Make mealtimes consistent; ensure walks are regularly taking place; and try to keep disruptions to the bare minimum. Sure, sometimes life throws us curveballs, but your animal will be a lot happier knowing that, 9 times out of 10, their routine is going to be looked after. If you’re really struggling to keep up the juggling act, drop them off at a daycare center, where they’ll have the social pressure of other dogs to keep their behavior in check, and plenty of stimulation to keep them occupied.

Keep them busy

This is especially true of dogs with lots of energy. For every couch potato, there are 9 breeds out there who crave stimulation. Walks are an important aspect of this, as it helps a dog to understand their surroundings and take in the sights and smells of other dogs. 

At home, give her toys to play with and let her meet other dogs in the comfort of her home. Socialization should start early to ward off antisocial behaviors.

Be the pack leader

On walks, don’t let your dog lead you. They should be at your side, or a fraction behind you. When the reverse happens, and your dog assumes the role of leader, she also tries to shield you from perceived threats coming your way. She’ll end up barking a lot and pulling you. All this energy expenditure causes stress and anxiety, and it’ll have a detrimental impact on your dog’s mood. Left unchecked, she’ll also become a high-maintenance diva that’s impossible to quell without professional intervention.

The same goes for home life. You set the rules – she doesn’t. Stay assertive but calm, firm but fair. This brings us on to our last point…

Don’t raise your voice

If your dog has a habit of barking, don’t raise your voice to stop her. This only ups the stakes and reinforces that bad behavior. You want your animal to be calm, because if she’s calm, she’s far more likely to be happy. Turn your back on her until she quietens, then give her a treat to let her know that it’s silence you’re after, not noise. Focus on getting her to be quiet for longer and longer periods of time before rewarding her with a treat. This small game will soon help her associate barking with loneliness, and silence with a yummy snack.

In the end, a calm dog is a happy dog. By contrast, an excitedly barking dog will often wear itself out and start to feel crabby. Put a structure in place so that your dog can be more like the former, and less like the latter.

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