Happy pets, happy people

Published 7:38 pm Saturday, October 17, 2015

I’m a true believer that happiness is something we can cultivate. I find that I am happiest when I’m making healthy choices for myself, my family and my friends. We’re all a reflection of what is around us: if our families are happy, chances are we will also feel happy.

This theory applies to our furry family members as well! How can you be sure that your pet is happy? How important is it to go out of our way to ensure the happiness of an animal?

It’s actually pretty simple. Most pets don’t need very much to be happy—their needs are simple and often overlooked! Don’t forget we engineered our pets to be what they are today: co-dependent companions who fit into our very specific lifestyles.

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For the most part, our pets just want to be with us. They want to spend time with us, which is responsible for the majority of a dog or pet’s level of happiness. They also want to go outside, and they want to go outside with us. Your pet also needs good food and healthy communication with their human family members.

As a professional dog trainer, I have the privilege of being invited into people’s homes and learning about their families in a very special way. The happiest pets that I meet are not the ones with the biggest yards or fanciest houses. The happiest pets that I meet are the ones who are fully incorporated into their families.

Give your pet a job

Think about what your pet was made to do and then try and figure out where you can fit them into your lifestyle more often. They might “help” mom or dad with the baby all day or be an “expert” gardening assistant. Maybe they go camping on the weekends or for hikes every morning.

Make small changes in your day-to-day routine.

It’s a fact: we enjoy things more when our pets are around! Did you know that when you touch your pet, your brain releases happy hormones (dopamine) into your system?

To get your pet more incorporated into your lifestyle you can try some of these small changes:

  • Train your dog to fetch diapers or some other item you need throughout the day
  • Take a dog-yoga class
  • Have your cat be part of your daily meditation
  • Find out what restaurants in your area are dog-friendly
  • Have dog play dates with your friends!

Your pet will be better trained, just by default!

Training is communication, so the more time you spend with your pet, the more you are interacting with them and therefore the more chances you give the animal to learn how to interact with you. Animals who are out and about are well adjusted and happy!

The more mental and physical energy your dog spends while with you, the less they have left over to get into trouble. This means a giant decrease in behaviors like chewing, jumping, leash-pulling, barking, digging, and possibly even anxiety and aggression.