Books and movies are filled with references to bonds between humans and their best friend, the dog. And while most of us feel a close, familial bond to our dogs, the uncomfortable truth of dog ownership is that it’s not always easy. Idyllic walks are prevented by the dog who lunges at other dogs; cuddling on the couch may be precluded by a dog who feels the need to hump things and chew furniture. As a result, many humans are left feeling like they’re missing out on the close relationship they’d like to have. If your relationship with your pet doesn’t quite mimic the scenes of perfection you see in movies, here are 4 things you can do now to improve the relationship.
Invest in Good Training
High-quality training can make a huge difference in your relationship with your dogs. Well-trained dogs are easier to walk and play with, and are better-equipped to interact appropriately with humans and other animals. Provide your dog with lots of socialization as a puppy, and start working on basic commands as early as you can. If you run into a behavioral problem with your dog, don’t hesitate to get help. Almost every behavioral problem, including serious ones like aggression, can be remedied by a qualified dog trainer, so invest a few dollars in a lifetime of good behavior.
Make Life Accessible
Most houses simply aren’t ideal living conditions for dogs. There’s no room to run and play and no areas to hide. Get your dog a crate, which mimics the den she’d sleep in in the wild, and she’ll feel more secure. If you don’t have a yard, make sure your dog gets plenty of daily exercise. Remove tempting items from your dog’s reach. Few dogs can resist chewing on a stray sock, so keep these items away from your dog. Small and older dogs may struggle to join you on the bed or couch, so if you want to spend time relaxing together, invest in pet steps for small dogs.
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Get Plenty of Exercise
Both dogs and people are happier and healthier when they get daily exercise, but there’s a more significant benefit for dogs. Your dog’s life consists of your house, unless you take her out. By exposing her to new sights and sounds, you make life more interesting for her. The result is a better-behaved, less hyper dog. Moreover, dogs and wolves in the wild bond by going on long hunts. A walk or run mimics these natural circumstances and helps you and your dog form an even stronger bond. Many owners are shocked at how dramatically their dogs’ behavior improves when they start getting regular exercise. In some cases, exercise can even improve aggression problems.
Make Miserable Tasks Bearable
Life with a dog is not always fun and games. Tick treatments, grooming, vet visits and administering medication all pose unique challenges to pets and pet parents alike. If you have to give your dog medication or injections daily, this can dramatically increase the stress of pet ownership. But you can make the process easier by giving your dog something to look forward to. Give her a treat while giving her medication and immediately after. You may find that you and your dog both begin to look forward to–or at least tolerate–these less-than-fun aspects of pet ownership. For maximum cooperation from your pet, do unpleasant procedures after she’s gone for a walk and not during times that she’s particularly hyper or anxious.