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19 Sure-Fire Ways to Make a Dog As Happy As Can Be

Although many of us think we really know all there is to know about dogs, there are numerous misconceptions surrounding what the best ways of interacting with them are, and what they actually want. This is the definitive list of what dogs want and actually enjoy from their humans: 



1. Pats, rubs, and scratches (but not hugging)

19 Sure-Fire Ways to Make a Dog As Happy As Can Be


Contrary to popular belief, dogs don’t actually like being hugged. That’s not to say that they don’t love other forms of physical affection – they’ll lap up all the pats, rubs and scratches you give them, but being hugged makes them feel anxious according to a controversial study published in Psychology Today.

2. Stinky, sweaty clothes

Did you know that there isn’t a smell in the world that a dog loves more than your own? This is evidenced by dog owners reporting the frequency with which their dirty underwear gets dragged into the living room… usually in front of a living room full of guests. That’s why it’s always a good idea to leave them with a sweaty shirt of yours if you’re leaving them at a kennel or in another situation that might make them anxious.

3. Their own toys

Although they may love your things because of the scent on them, they also love to have things of their very own. This includes items such as food bowls, dog beds, and especially their own toys. If your four-legged friend is chewing their way through your shoes, it could be a cry for toys or more attention.

4. Challenging puzzles

19 Sure-Fire Ways to Make a Dog As Happy As Can Be


If you’re looking to get your dog a new toy, then why not consider a puzzle toy which they have to solve? Dogs are desperate for mental stimulation, and tend to act out if they’re bored. A puzzle toy can involve a challenge that they have to solve, followed by receiving a little reward or treat for doing so.

5. Going au naturel

Yes, that little tartan outfit for your pooch is mighty cute, but don’t go there. Just don’t. The only justification for dressing dogs up is in if they have short hair or are small in stature, and the temperature outside is below freezing. The truth is that they don’t need any additional clothing for warmth.

6. Chest rubs instead of belly rubs

You should only rub a dog’s belly if it’s your own or if it’s familiar to you. Dogs actually roll over in order to show submission, which is indicative of insecurity and fear, so it’s actually not a good time to give them a belly rub. They much prefer a good chest rub instead.

7. A peaceful nap in a quiet spot

19 Sure-Fire Ways to Make a Dog As Happy As Can Be


It’s said to leave sleeping dogs lie, and with good reason. Just because they seem to be able to sleep through noise and disturbances, it doesn’t mean that they actually enjoy it. Make sure you set up your dog’s bed in a quiet part of your home so they can take themselves off for a snooze when they need to.

8. Checking these “pee-mails”

Despite their desire to sniff everything dirty being repulsive to us humans, dogs actually see the world through their noses, so let yours catch up on all the changes in the neighborhood by giving them their time to sniff around instead of making them rush on a walk.

9. For you to be the leader

Dogs aren’t normally born leaders and don’t tend to want to be in charge, so they look to their humans to give them the structure they need. Failing to do so by setting rules and giving loving feedback can actually lead to serious behavioral issues.

10. A predictable routine

19 Sure-Fire Ways to Make a Dog As Happy As Can Be


Canines do best when their days consist of structured routines, and it can be difficult for them to adjust to schedule changes, even when it comes to transitioning from a weekday into a weekend. Disruptions to a dog’s routine can lead it to chewing, barking, digging or other destructive behaviors. That’s why they need feeding and exercising at the same time of day, every day.


11. No kisses please!

When a dog licks your face as you place it close to theirs, it’s actually a behavior indicating to you that they want to be let go. They actually hate to be kissed or have humans put their faces close to theirs, because they find it intimidating and can lead to them becoming aggressive.

12. Soothing words

Dogs cannot understand actual words, but they definitely can understand tone of voice and expressions. That’s why yelling at your dog won’t make them understand you better. In fact, it might upset them or even cause them to start barking, thinking that you’re playing a loud voice game with them.

13. Nutritious dog kibble

19 Sure-Fire Ways to Make a Dog As Happy As Can Be


Although you might think that you’re doing a good thing by changing your dog’s food regularly, you’re actually not. Contrary to humans, dogs don’t like variety in their food, so find something that they like and stick with it. You can always surprise them with a little treat if you like.

14. For strangers to leave them alone

As much as you’d like to introduce your dog to everyone in your life, you need to be wary of protecting their personal space. If it’s a strange dog that you’re dealing with, you’ll be able to identify what they want by kneeling down to their level and holding out your hand to them. If they approach you, pet them under their chin rather than on their head. If they don’t approach you at all, that’s a message that they want to be left alone.

15. Consistent praise and correction

Dogs like to know what’s expected of them and what they can expect from you, so that’s why house rules and clear signals are important when it comes to dealing with them. Mixed signals can confuse them. For instance, if you don’t want them to jump up at you, make sure you never pet them when they do so. They need consistency in the reinforcement you give them.

16. Being petted gently

19 Sure-Fire Ways to Make a Dog As Happy As Can Be


Another myth about dogs is that they enjoy being petted on the head. While most will tolerate it from their humans, even the most playful dog will lean away from a hand coming toward their face. They’ll feel a lot more comfortable if you touch their back instead.

17. A loving glance

Dogs love all of the attention they can get, but they don’t like sustained contact, because it makes them uncomfortable and pressured. Give them all the love they deserve and look lovingly at them, but don’t stare deeply into their eyes for too long.

18. New friends (from a distance)

Meeting new friends, both human and canine, can be hugely exciting for a dog, but it needs to be done in the right way. They see their home as their territory, so they need time to make nice with new humans or dog. Slow, calm introductions in neutral places work best.

19. For you to be happy

19 Sure-Fire Ways to Make a Dog As Happy As Can Be


Your happiness is important to your dog above all else. Selfless love is the trait that stands out most in a dog, and as a result of having that trait, they can be extremely sensitive to your emotions. They can read emotions very well, so you shouldn’t be surprised if yours acts differently when you’ve come home after a bad day at work.


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