Countless studies have proven that having a dog in your life increases your health and happiness, and ultimately your longevity. But generally, this only applies if you’ve set healthy habits and built a meaningful and well-balanced relationship with your special pooch.

    So since you’re a dedicated doggy parent, who understands that your furry pal’s health and happiness is directly linked to yours, here are 17 ways to prove to your pup just how much they mean to you.

    By building up your relationship right from the start, and by keeping your pup healthy and engaged, you’ll be boosting the happiness not just for your dog, but for everyone all around.

    Note: Although we’ve focused on puppies here, you can apply the points and suggestions below to any dog.

    1. Release Your Inner Kid and Get Physically Involved

    Puppies love interaction, as much, if not more than adult dogs. It isn’t enough just to throw your pup a ball or a chew toy and watch them play around mostly all by themselves.

    You need to playfully interact with them and also get them used to the human touch. Not only will this help to build a stronger emotional bond between you and your pooch, it will also help your dog to establish social attachments with other people as he or she grows.

    All this added interaction will also help to burn up some of that endless puppy energy, giving you some added peace and quiet (occasionally).

    2. Give Your Puppy Plenty of Focus and Attention

    This one goes hand-in-paw with the point above, you see, a puppy requires more quality time than most people realize. Bare in mind that a young pup is new to the world, making them naturally curious, and requiring plenty of mental and physical stimulation for their development.

    When you neglect a puppy’s needs and don’t put in the effort needed for their growth, they will instinctively look for other less appealing (and often destructive) ways in which to release their energy, such as barking excessively or chewing everything in sight.

    This can put a lot of stress on the human-canine relationship, which can all be avoided by just spending more quality time together doing the little things that make you both happy.

    3. Keep On Top of Your Puppy’s Health

    A healthy pup is a happy pup, and who doesn’t want that, right? So keep them up to date with all of their vaccinations and other recommended treatments such as deworming.

    Puppies don’t have the strong immune system of an adult dog, which makes them more susceptible to diseases, issues and illnesses. While developing, their systems are fragile, and a puppy is reliant on you becoming vigilant and proactive in providing the protection needed for optimal health.

    Once a week, take ten minutes out to give your furry pal a quick physical inspection. Check the eyes, nose, teeth and gums, as well as your dog’s skin, nails and bottom.

    You’ll want to do a little research here so you know the general things to look out for, and if you do spot any signs that cause concern, contact your vet.

    Rhodesian Ridgeback Puppy

    4. Explore The Great Outdoors Whenever Possible

    A puppy is born with a keen interest in the world outside. Being out in nature especially, will have a wonderful and positive effect not only on your dog, but you too.

    To satisfy your pup’s curiosity and natural needs, take a trip and explore some woods together, or a beach, a lush park nearby or at least an open field.

    It doesn’t have to be an everyday occurrence, but getting out in nature from time to time will make for one happy pooch. Plus it’s also a great opportunity to bond and build up your relationship.

    Here’s another thought …

    Since many of you reading this will live in an urban environment, whenever you can’t get out into nature, consider switching up your walking routes. Take different streets, explore the nooks and crannies of your environment so your furry pal doesn’t get bored and is at least stimulated by new sights, sounds and smells.

    5. Give Your Puppy The Right Amount of Exercise

    When it comes to walking your pup, the general rule of thumb is five minutes of exercise, max, for each month of age, and that’s twice a day. For example, let’s say your pooch is four months old, then a 20 minute walk twice a day should be your limit.

    A word of warning, exceeding these limits can cause joint damage in young developing pups, especially if you have a larger breed. In fact, if you do have a larger breed puppy, you may want to make sure you don’t max out the limits mentioned above.

    6. Include Puzzle and Interactive Toys in Your Pup’s Toy Arsenal

    Puppies love trying out new things, and providing them with interactive toys or puzzles can positively challenge them, helping to develop their mind.

    This will benefit your pup by providing the vital mental stimulation young dogs need, improving their motor skills and keeping boredom well away.

    And there’s an added benefit for you too: providing enough mental stimulation helps to release your dog’s intelligence, helping to keep your pup well-behaved and obedient.

    Cute Dog Begging for Food

    7. Switch Up Your Pup’s Rewards and Treats Regularly

    Want to increase your puppy’s motivation and focus to learn? Then keep things fun and interesting by making sure you switch up and experiment different rewards and treats.

    If you stick to the same old same old, eventually the goodies your pup does receive for a job well done will hardly seem worth it. When this happens their attention can dwindle, and who can blame them!

    Something else to bare in mind is that while most dogs favor edible treats, some dogs prefer being rewarded with certain toys, or even just a ton of loving affection.

    Experiment with different options and see what gets your pooch excited the most.

    8. Take Special Care of Your Dog’s Oral Health

    This is one area that a lot of doggy owners unintentionally, but unfortunately overlook.

    But, if a dog’s oral health is neglected they can suffer a plethora of medical issues. Tooth loss, infections, and even bacteria entering your pet’s bloodstream and effecting internal organs can all be avoided with a little oral care.

    What can you do?

    Keep your pup’s mouth in check by giving them treats specifically designed to promote healthy teeth and gums. Another great idea is to get your pup accustomed to having its teeth inspected and brushed while they’re young. You can start off by using a finger brush designed for dogs to make things easy.

    You can also make sure your pup has descent chew toys specifically designed to remove and discourage the formation of plaque.

    Additionally make sure your vet is keeping tabs on your dog’s overall oral health.

    9. Get Your Pooch Used to Nail Trimming Early On

    Having unkept nails on a puppy is asking for trouble. Puppies should have their nails trimmed the first week after they come home, and then every subsequent week or two thereafter.

    This not only keeps their nails manageable and puts them on a schedule, it also helps to keep your home free from nail damage. And of course most importantly, it also helps to keep your puppy’s paws safe since overgrown nails cause toes to spread and force joints out of alignment.

    Plus, long nails catch easily on things, and being as thin and fragile as they are at the puppy stage, it doesn’t take much pressure to rip one out of their paws. A very painful experience for any dog!

    Here’s our Stress-Free Puppy Nail Trimming Guide if you need help with this.

    Welsh Corgi Puppy

    10. Check Those Doggy Ears Regularly

    Okay, so in truth this mainly applies to the dogs whose ears are more like soft flaps covering the ear canals.

    If your dog is of a more wolfish type breed where the ears are pointy and erect, you’ll rarely need to check for trapped dirt or other blockages. But messy ear muck and foreign objects in the ear canal can cause nasty infections in some dogs.

    Although your pup may give you a strange look as you’re fiddling around the ears, it’s always good practice to be vigilant with your dog’s health all round.

    11. Lose The Collar

    While having a collar for your little buddy is the smart thing to do, it should come off in the evening when your pup isn’t going outside anymore, for example after the last potty break.

    This allows your dog’s skin and fur to breathe and can be a welcomed relief for your pooch, especially if you notice a lot of night moving, scratching and shaking of the head.

    If your dog is particularly fidgety at night, taking some time out from the collar may also mean a quieter household and a better night’s rest for everyone all around.

    12. Boost The Learning Process

    Puppies learn quicker through visual cues rather than verbal ones. While there’s nothing wrong with using verbal commands to train your pup, dogs respond even better when they can also see what you’re trying to get across to them.

    If you’re barking orders (pun intended) at your pooch with little reaction try a little movement.

    Use hand signals where possible and pay special attention to your body language whenever training is in session. Dogs are great at reading your movements, so boost communication and thus the learning process through motion.

    Puppy Feeding

    13. Feed Your Pup The Good Stuff

    Like the saying goes, “you are what you eat,” and that also applies to your dog.

    A nutritionally complete diet plays a vital role on your puppy’s start in life as well as their ongoing health and development. So make sure not to skimp on providing your pup with the nutritional foundation needed for strength, vitality and well-being.

    Also you might want to check out our Ultimate Guide to Feeding Your Puppy.

    14. Always Keep Your Puppy Well Hydrated

    Puppies need lots of fresh, clean water. Despite being smaller than their adult counterparts, puppies generally consume more water relative to their size due to their growing needs.

    Since a puppy’s body isn’t fully developed and is naturally fragile they can become dehydrated very quickly, ushering in a host of both minor and major health issues.

    How much water a specific puppy needs depends on a few factors like: exact age, activity level, environment (temperature, humidity) etc.

    As a general rule of thumb though, the suggested amount of water puppies should receive is between half an ounce and one ounce per pound of body weight, per day. For those using the metric system, that’s 15-30ml per pound of body weight, per day.

    15. Keep The Perfect Coat

    Managing and making sure your puppy has a clean and shiny coat is more than just about looking good.

    A great coat involves a well-balanced diet, regular brushing to remove dead skin and hair (as well as check for external parasites), and bathing. So, when you look after your dog’s coat, you’re also taking care of their general health.

    Also consider this, when a dog’s coat is allowed to grow unmanaged it can become matted. Not only is matted hair an irritant, but it can catch a dog’s nails when they scratch which is painful and can cause breaks in the skin and nails.

    16. Socialize Through Development

    Want to make life easier for both you and your dog? Then take every opportunity and allow your puppy to safely interact with other dogs and a variety of people (adults, children, men, women etc.).

    Also make sure your dog experiences as many different situations as possible, like going to the park, visiting the local pet store, taking new walks together, and exploring nature.

    You could also take your pup on car rides, to puppy classes, and just about anywhere dogs are allowed.

    The point here is to make sure your furry pal receives the socialization required to grow into a well-adjusted and friendly dog.

    One thing to note, socialization never truly stops. Continue your efforts and look for unusual places and new experiences to expose your dog to. All this quality time together will reinforce the bond you both share and make for one happy pooch.

    17. Keep Your Puppy Safe in Case of Loss

    It goes without saying but your puppy should have a collar and an identification tag including your contact details, just in case the unthinkable happens.

    Furthermore, since collars and tags can come off, if you really want to ensure your furry pal’s safety, talk to your vet about implanting a microchip.

    Microchipping your dog substantially increases your chances of being reunited with your lovable pal in case he or she is lost, injured or even stolen.

    If your pup is a rescue bare in mind that a microchip may already be in place. Your vet can help you locate it and guide you to update the chip’s registration details.

    There are many myths surrounding microchips so if you’d like to learn more, check out our article on microchipping your puppy.