Don’t forget these five things to keep your dog happy and give them a good life

Woman hugging Labrador dog outside
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It probably goes without saying, but we all want our dogs to be happy. Compared to us humans, their lives are short, and we want to make them as good as they can be. 

We all have very complex lives that our pups need to fit into, and it’s not always as easy as that. Things like work, chores, and childcare can get in the way of us devoting as much quality time to our dogs as we’d ideally like to. But, there are some simple things we can keep in mind as dog parents to help us give our dogs the best lives we can — filled with the best dog treats, of course!

What’s more, award-winning trainer Lisa Burton of Listen Dog Training has discussed them in a recent Instagram post. Keep reading to find out these five key things that’ll keep your dog happy and help you give them the best life you can!

1. Don’t ignore them when they say no: Our dogs can’t use language like us, but they can convey feelings like discomfort and anxiety through signals like growling. 

As Burton says, “If your dog growls, remember that he is communicating his discomfort in the safest way possible that he hopes you’ll notice this time.” So, it’s important to pay attention to dog body language when you can. Of course, there are times you’ll have to do things your dog doesn’t like, like taking them on a trip to the vet, but in scenarios where the stakes are lower, it’s best to take your dog’s feelings into account.

2. Don’t stop them from being a dog: “He has learned so many ways to fit into your world for you,” says Burton. “Find ways for him to fulfill his species’ needs too.”

Your dog has had to adapt to a world that’s made by humans, for humans, and your dog is just part of your life. So, make sure that you allow your dog to simply be a dog when you can. Give them more time to go sniffing around during walks, for example. 

3. Don’t forget they have no career, holiday plans, hobbies, or social network: Again, your dog is just one part of your life. However, you are the main part of your dog’s life. Yes, we have to go to work and school and it can often be difficult to find time for everything, but when we do have time to spend with our pups we should make the most of them. 

“Fill the hours of his day with company, interaction, exercise, and enrichment,” says Burton. While we might not be there to play with our dogs 24/7, it’s best to be there for our pups when possible.

4. Don’t punish them for your mistakes: “You are in charge of his training. You are responsible for his learning. It’s up to you to set him up for success,” says Burton. 

No dog parent is perfect, and there might be things you don’t get quite right when it comes to training. However, that isn’t your dog’s fault. If you make a mistake, it’s okay to simply move on and try again another day. After all, you and your pup are working together toward the same goal!

5. Don’t compromise your relationship for the sake of ‘authority’: As Burton puts it, “This is 2024. Leave dominance theory in the ‘80s, where it belongs.”

There’s a lot of outdated information that still goes around dog training circles, when it can actually have a negative effect on your relationship with your canine companion. Things like yelling and physical punishment are counterproductive. Here’s the science behind positive reinforcement for dogs for more information.

Ultimately, none of us are perfect, and it’s fine to acknowledge that! But, with these tips, we’ll be able to at least try to give our dogs the best life we can – and that’s all they want from us, too. 

Blue Buffalo True Chews Premium Jerky Cuts Natural Chicken Dog Treats 
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Blue Buffalo True Chews Premium Jerky Cuts Natural Chicken Dog Treats
$7.99 at Chewy
Featuring real, mouth-watering chicken as the first ingredient, these tasty treats are free from chicken by-product meals, corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavours and preservatives — so you can rest easy knowing you're satisfying and nourishing your pup at the same time. 

Adam England
Freelance Writer

Adam is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle, health, culture, and pets, and he has five years' experience in journalism. He's also spent the last few years studying towards undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in journalism. While a cat person at heart, he's often visiting his parents' Golden Retriever, and when he's not writing about everything pets he's probably drinking coffee, visiting a cat cafe, or listening to live music.