“Head-out-of-the-car-window” happiness

Even cat lovers have to smile when they see a pooch hanging his head out of a car window; fur blown back, tongue hanging out, and as close to a huge, teethy smile as dogs can get. It’s pure happiness in its most natural form.

While our family currently belongs to a cat, we have had the joy of “dog sitting” several times for our neighbors and family members who have dogs. It was during those times I realized that keeping a dog head-out-of-a-car-window happy is very much like keeping kids happy: They both love and live for time with you, new discoveries to entertain their interests, and good old fashioned outdoor fun and exercise.

Fences are great investments for the safety of your dogs, but don’t let a fenced-in yard become a replacement for long walks and outdoor play time. Our neighbor’s Lab mix literally does a little dance when she sees her leash; from what I can tell, smelling new smells, meeting new people and dog friends and marking new spots are like Christmas morning to her. And who wouldn’t want that kind of joy each day?! Check out some local parks too; many cities are creating “dog parks” where you can go with Fido to enjoy some exercise and playtime, and many local walking trails and nature paths provide fantastic new discoveries for your bionic-nose-on-four-legs. Too, studies have shown that “dog walkers” are often more likely to be of healthier weight, and are less likely to suffer from high blood pressure and cholesterol (for some intriguing information on this topic, please visit: http://pets.webmd.com/dogs/news/20100608/walk-your-dog-to-unleash-better-health).  So getting out with your dog truly benefits both of you.

Providing new toys for your dog keeps them from getting bored…and deters them from creating their own “toys” from your belongings; my brother’s first-hand experience with this involves arriving home to ankle-deep feathers filling his living room, clearly the result of his bored dog deciding to claim a couch pillow as his new play thing. Don’t think, however, that you have to spend big bucks to keep them satisfied. You can make new toys from things lying around your house: stuff a tennis ball in the end of an old sock and tie a knot in it, or take an old tee-shirt, shred it into three parts and braid it. You can find some more great homemade ideas here: http://www.make-and-build-dog-stuff.com/homemade-dog-toys.html.

Lastly, bear in mind that “it is a rare thing indeed for a dog to fail to keep its unspoken promise of devotion to its owner and its owner’s immediate family,” so don’t ever fail to keep your end of that promise.  To that end—and perhaps most importantly—just spend time with your dog, and provide good company for him or her if you plan to be away, even if it’s long days at work. Dogs need us, just as we need them, and leaving them alone is just as damaging to their well being as it would be to ours.

To learn more about keeping your dog happy and healthy, please visit: http://www.dogfactfiles.com/.

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