gorgeous small staffy puppy with a chew in its mouth

Dogs bring us so much joy and happiness. So, it’s only natural to want to give just as much happiness back to our furry four-legged friends, as they give us.

After all they’re always there for us – when we’re feeling down, when we’re celebrating, when we’re sleeping and almost always when we’re cooking...

But understanding your dog’s needs can sometimes be tricky. Each dog is unique and like humans, they need more than just food, water and exercise. They need our love, time, understanding and patience. They need consistency and they need to feel safe.

And different dogs have different needs. What breed your dog is will determine their personality type to a certain extent. And also, what background they’ve had and how they were reared as a puppy will also affect their emotional predisposition.

So, there are lots of things to consider when trying to meet your dog’s needs.

Luckily, there are lots of things you can do to make sure your dog has a happy and fulfilling life.

Here are our top 10 ways to help your dog feel safe, happy and loved.

How to make your dog happy

1) Stay positive

Rewarding good behaviour is the best way to help your dog learn what they should and shouldn’t do. And having a positive environment is much better for their mental health too.

To help your dog feel happy at home, make sure you give them treats (not always food based though) when they listen to you and are well-behaved. Especially early on. Giving them lots of verbal and physical praise will also help to promote their happiness and well-being.

Getting frustrated with your dog or telling them off will only make them feel anxious and fearful. This is not only upsetting for your dog, but it can also lead to lots of other issues. So, being positive around your dog is always the best way.

hand holding a dog bone shaped treat in front of a dogs face

2) Stay calm

Dogs are very sensitive to sounds and behaviour. They will pick up on raised voices, quick movements and frustration very quickly.

Always make sure you approach your dog with a calm voice, especially if they can be quite nervous to begin with.

Kneel down and let them sniff your hand before you touch them. Stroking them under the chin and on the chest is always a good approach as they are able to see your hands which means they’re much less likely to be nervous.

It’s also a good idea to make sure you stay calm when there’s an unexpected loud noise. Ignore it and behave normally as if nothing happened. That way your dog will learn that there’s nothing to be afraid of if it happens again.

3) Make sure they’re always in good company

Dogs are pack animals so biologically speaking, they’re happier when they are in good company. That doesn’t necessarily mean other dogs, and in general dogs of the opposite sex work better together than dogs of the same sex. Human interaction is very important to them and having you with them will help them to feel safe and less worried.

It’s always good to make sure your dog is never left alone for long periods of time – even if they do have a fellow doggie companion. If you can’t make it home during the day to see them, make sure you get a dog sitter to check in on them. That way, they get some extra attention and playtime during the day and will feel less worried or bored.

4) Give them somewhere safe to sleep

Having a safe place to sleep is very important. And many dog owners will quickly learn that their dog won’t settle down unless they are happy and feel secure.

Dog beds are usually best placed in a corner. A place where it’s not too hot and not too cold. It needs to be quiet but close to the family.

The type of dog bed you choose as well as the material will also be under tight scrutiny by your dog.

If you’re not sure, simply getting a few different styles of bed for your dog will soon help you learn which one they like the best. Then, you can see where your dog likes to relax the most and move the bed to that spot, so they can enjoy a restful night’s sleep.

baby dachshund puppy asleep in his grey pet carrier

5) Help them stay healthy

Staying healthy gives us the greatest potential to be happy, full of life and full of energy.

And making sure your dog stays bright-eyed and bushy-tailed comes with regular check-ups, careful weight maintenance, a healthy diet, clean teeth and regular baths. Dogs are natural omnivores, so they need a balance of meat, carbohydrates and vegetables.

If you’re not sure about any of these things or have any questions, your vet is always the best person to ask for advice.

6) Training from an early age

Training is very important for dogs. Not only will it help them to be house-trained, it’s also very important for your dog’s mental wellbeing.

Your dog equally wants to make you happy so by helping them understand how they can do that is the key to unlocking a happy and well-behaved dog.

Training provides positive, mental stimulation for your dog and gives you lots of opportunities to praise them and give them treats.

7) Be consistent

As well as training your dog, it’s also important to be consistent in your behaviour with him. Try and be mindful of what sort of messages you are giving your dog, especially early on. This will help them learn what’s ok and what’s not ok.

If they learn that something is ok one day but then the next day it’s not, your dog will get confused and possibly even upset. Dogs are very susceptible to anxiety, so they need a good level of structure and consistency.

Stick to your rules and that way, they can feel safe and confident in their actions.

8) Make your walks count

Walking and running around is one of the best ways for your dog to enjoy spending time with you. Exercise is great for them physically and mentally.

Running around is also a physical outlet for your dog. An opportunity to burn off some extra energy and have fun. It also helps to stop them from being bored which can result in some unwanted behaviours in your dog.

9) Schedule in lots of playtime

Playtime is really important for your dog’s happiness. Mostly because it’s something they would do with other dogs as part of a pack. So, playtime with you is a great way of bonding with you as well as helping them to feel loved and safe.

It’s also about companionship and will help them improve skills that they have already learnt.

To help make sure your dog really looks forward to playtime, rotate their toys so they’re not all out at once. That way, when you produce a dog toy that they have completely forgotten about, they can get super excited when it reappears.

lots of dogs together in a park playing

10) Teach them new tricks

Teaching your dog new tricks is a great way of spending time together, allowing for rewards and praise, as well as providing your dog with some mental stimulation.

You might even want to head out into the garden and do some agility training together! Having ways of playing, spending time together and bonding is always going to help your dog feel happy and fulfilled.

These are all great ways of helping your dog to feel happy and relaxed. And don’t forget, for more tips on how to care for your pet, find us on Instagram and Facebook @meandmypetsofficial.