One of the first thoughts that pop (or should pop) in the heads of most new dog owners is “How do I make sure that my pup is as happy as possible?” In fact, having this thought regularly is pretty much what makes a good dog owner. Your main job as a pet parent is to learn how to make your dog happy, and that includes his physical and emotional health.
The easy and quick answer to that question is – love and attention. Being highly intelligent and very social mammals, on principle, dogs get happier from things that would make any other adequate social being happy. These things may include contact, love, fun activities, challenges, play, etc…
Of course, this is much too general to be useful, so why not go into some more specific examples? Did we miss something – some neat little trick or some basic and general rule? Here are our 40 tips on how to make your dog happy, don't forget to leave a comment if you've got other tips to share!
40 Tips On How to Make Your Dog Happy
It sounds like a no-brainer. Everyone knows that dogs need to be taken out for a walk. What a lot of dog owners miss, however, is that going for a walk is one of the very favorite activities for pups of all breeds, sizes and ages.
Yet, a lot of people view walks as “taking my dog to its outside toilet”, which it really isn’t. If you want to learn how to make your dog happy, be sure he gets nice, eventful and enjoyable walks every day.
2. Snuggle and chill
Going out isn’t the only thing dogs love. Laying with their heads in your lap and napping while you work on your computer and occasionally having you stroke their heads – this is a key part of what a dog would consider happiness.
3. Give them new treats
A lot of dog owners never do this. Their reasoning is that they’ve tried several dog treats before, and the dog loved one of them the most. So, there’s no point in changing the dog’s treat anymore, right? While there’s logic in that, dogs don’t just love treats, they also love new treats!
Most dogs get very excited at the sight of a new treat, even if the old one is still their favorite. Keep giving them the old ones as well if they prefer it, but also add a little diversity – they’d be grateful.
4. Verbal and physical praise
Believe it or not, humans are not the only ones with self-esteem issues. Every animal that’s smart enough to have the mental concept of the “self” is constantly evaluating its own worth, especially through the prism of the ones around it. So, if you want your dog to be happy, make sure to show that you love and appreciate it. Treats are great for rewards and for training, but frequent verbal and physical praise are invaluable as well.
5. Rotate toys
As with treats, new toys are also a great tool to use when learning how to make your dog happy. If your dog has an old, chewed-up toy that’s its favorite, that’s fine, keep it. But giving your dog a new toy every once in a while is great as well.
6. Organize treasure hunts
As all intelligent animals, dogs love games and mental tasks. They also love it when they get to utilize their sense of smell. And, if at the end of the “treasure hunt” they find a hidden treat – what could be better?!
One of the best ways you can learn how to make your dog happy is to play mentally stimulating games with him. Next time you’re out of the house for a while, just hide several treats in some strategic places and see how many your dog has managed to find when you come home.
7. Make sure you’re calm and assertive around your dog
It’s a well-known fact that dogs feed off of our emotions. That’s not some mystic, “energy” mumbo-jumbo either – dogs simply use our emotions as hints as to what’s going on around us.
If we are anxious, the dog is looking for the reason for our anxiousness, if we’re sad, the dog gets sad because it knows there must be a reason for our sadness. And while we can’t always be happy and calm, it’s best to keep the heaviest emotional break-downs away from your pup if it is to have a calm and happy life.
8. Give them regular baths
Some dogs don’t love taking baths, but that’s usually due to incorrect introductions to bathing. A dog that’s been taught to love baths will have a lot of fun whenever you’re bathing it.
But, what’s even more important is that a clean dog is much happier than a dirty one. Dog’s don’t enjoy cleaning themselves nearly as much as cats, so it’d be great if you take care of that when learning how to make your dog happy.
If you're not sure how to give your dog a bath at home, don't worry – it's easy! Check out our video guide on how to bathe your dog for detailed instructions.
9. Keep your dog physically active
Walks are not enough when it comes to the general fitness of a dog. Dogs need to run, to play, and to jump. They need to be in a good physical condition, just like as – a fit dog is much happier than an unfit one.
10. Train obedience
Training obedience may be a bit tiresome for you, but if you do it right it will be a joy for your dog. And what’s more – an obedient dog makes for a much better dog and for a much better understanding between the two of you, which, in turn makes both of your lives much easier and happier.
11. Let your dog see the world
If you’re afraid that the dog may get out of the house, put protectors on the windows, but leave your pup enough of a connection to the outside world throughout the day or it will get anxious and bored.
12. Brush his teeth regularly
Brushing your dog’s teeth may be tiresome and boring, but having teeth problems later down the line is much more of a problem than brushing is.
13. Feed your pup as well as you can
As with us, healthier lives are generally happier. Make sure that you feed your pup with the best possible food for its breed, age, and size.
14. Don’t overfeed your pup
Dogs love to overeat, so it’s up to us to stop them. Overeating can have detrimental effects on a dog’s health and general fitness and that’s not fun.
15. Play hide and seek
Dogs love to seek out and chase things and that can include you. Hide and seek is a great game for dogs and dog owners, particularly in a home with a lot of hiding places. Teaching your dog to hide properly can be challenging, but it can be done.
16. Talk to your pup
Yes, we’re aware that dogs don’t understand our languages, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t like to hear us talk. Often time dogs even bark back, not to say anything in particular, but to take part in the “conversation” – they are a social bunch indeed.
Collars are one of the top safety items in a dog owner’s inventory, but from a dog’s pov, they are a fun accessory that they go on walks with. And dogs can enjoy new collars every once in a while just like we enjoy new clothes.
18. Tag your dog
You know what’s not fun? Getting lost and never seeing your home and family again. If you're looking to learn how to make your dog happy, you also need to make sure that he's never in this situation.
19. Get wet every once in a while
Baths are not the only way to get wet – most dogs love to swim, and if you have sprinklers in your yard – turn them on and get ready for a laugh.
20. Teach your dog some tricks
Just as we enjoy playing with things and learning new tricks to show off with in front of our friends, so do dogs. Training your dog to do some tricks, especially with nice treats and verbal and physical praise, is a ton of fun.
21. Make your dog a popsicle
Who doesn’t love a delicious popsicle? Dogs certainly do, especially on a hot day! Of course, we are not talking about a general, human popsicle, but you can easily make a delicious meat popsicle with some broth, for example.
22. Keep it cool
Dogs are much more sensitive to higher temperatures than most people realize. Especially cold-weather dogs, like huskies, often get tortured when bought or adopted by people that live in warm climates. Make sure that your dog always has access to shade, to fresh air and to cold water.
23. Change your dog’s water daily
It’s easy to forget your dog’s bowl of water in your rush to get ready for work or school. The water bowl needs to be changed daily however, or it gets filled with dust, hairs and saliva. You wouldn’t be happy drinking from such water, would you?
24. Clip your dog’s claws
This can be counter-intuitive for some, but if a dog’s claws get too long they can cause some serious problems and uncomfortable issues in your dog’s paws. In nature, dogs wear their claws out, but in a house they often need to be clipped.
Not sure how to get started? We've got a video guide for this one too! Check out our guide on how to clip your dog's nails.
25. Clean your dog’s ears as well
And while we’re on the subject of cleanliness – dog ears are another body part that needs frequent attention. They are very hard to reach and are a subject to a lot of annoying health problems. If you want to learn how to make your dog happy, be sure to learn how to clean his ears properly.
26. Accept the inevitable destruction of some toys
Dogs don’t have the same sense of property as us. They do, to an extent, but not as much as we do. What dogs do have, however, is the desire to chew things and to, sometimes, destroy them. And while this may irritate us, it is beneficial when learning how to make your dog happy, so why not let them?
27. Keep your dog away from table scraps
Dogs do love eating table scraps – they are not just regular treats, but treats that we eat as well, something that we eat together with the dog. However, 99% of the table scraps people feed to their dogs are exceptionally unhealthy and often dangerous – don’t risk it.
28. Let him sniff
Dogs love to sniff things. We often forget this because our sense of smell is so weak, but for a dog, going for a walk is not just about the walking – it’s about sniffing everything. Depriving your dog of that for the sake of “getting to walk more before we go back” is not a good thing to do when learning how to make your dog happy.
29. Get your dog a job
Well, maybe not a paying job per say, but get him some mental challenges every once in a while – a puzzle toy with treats in it, or maybe teach it to fetch you your keys whenever you’re going out. Some owners teach their dogs to carry their own treats in a bag on their back when they go out – dogs just love to do things.
30. Have a structure to your days and activities
The same way we feel much better when something is going according to plan, so do dogs. That doesn’t mean that your dog’s life should become too predictable, stale and boring, but just that it should have a general structure. A too chaotic life can lead to stress and anxiety, and expecting a pleasant event that the dog knows is coming – like a walk – can be almost as pleasant as the event itself.
31. Get your dog fixed
A no-brainer for some, but still something that needs to be said for others – a fixed dog lives a much longer, healthier and happier life than it otherwise would. You can’t argue with statistics on that.
Twice every year for an adult dog and 3-4 times per year for a young pup is a must if you want to make sure that your furry friend will stay healthy and happy in the long run.
33. Assert your position as a “pack leader”
A big portion of a dog’s sense of security and calmness relies on your position as a pack leader and how consistent you are in your actions as such. If you give your dog mixed signals, if you are too often too anxious yourself, etc., etc., your dog will also become anxious and fearful. And that’s no way to learning how to make your dog happy.
34. Speak to your dog in his own language
No, we don’t mean you should bark (at least not when other people are around), but you should try to understand how your dog thinks. Dogs and humans are very alike, but we are not the same – a lot of times we give our dogs mixed signals or wrong impressions, while we ourselves think we’re being perfectly logical. And as the smarter of the two species, it’s up to use the communication between us and our dogs to be as clear as possible.
RECOMMENDED: Dog Body Language – The Pet Owner's Guide
35. Throw a dance party!
Dogs love to dance. It’s a simple fact of life. And yes, their “dancing” is nothing more than jumping and running around you while you listen to music and dance yourself, but they love it nonetheless!
36. Socialize your pup
Proper socialization is extremely important for a young dog – it will base how it reacts to other dogs, animals, and people until the rest of its life. Do you want your dog to play happily in the park with other dogs? Then socialize him from the earliest possible age, otherwise he may become fearful and aggressive toward strangers – animals and people alike.
37. Take a road trip
Some dogs are afraid of cars, but most love to travel. They love to be with you in the car, to watch outside the window, to feel the wind, as well as to go to new, fun places. Taking a weekend to go out of town with your dog can be a great fun for the both of you!
38. Let your dog sleep on the bed
This is very important when learning how to make your dog happy. Dogs need to feel close to you when they are asleep. It gives them a great dose of security, and it also shows them that you love them. Of course, they can be trained not to sleep on the bed, but if it’s not a problem for you – let them snuggle in your feet at night.
39. Match your dog’s happiness for you
Have you noticed how ridiculously ecstatic your dog is whenever you come home? That’s because it loves you. And while we’re not suggesting that you lick your dog back, it’s important to show your dog that you’ve missed it too – pet it, snuggle it, talk to it.
40. Let it win a wrestle every once in a while
Dogs love wrestling with you – it’s a favorite play for most of them. However, they also love to win every once in a while! So why not let them? If you’ve taught your dog that you’re the alpha it won’t get any ideas and it will just be happy to have won for once.