Pet owners know, and science agrees, that living with a dog will benefit the lives of humans and canines alike.
But we must put in some work to develop the right kind of relationship. Some habits are great and need reinforcing. Others are bad and need to stop.
You can kick off 2019 in the right direction by addressing these habits with your pets.
Start … sleeping with your pet.
The Mayo Clinic released findings back in 2017 that said sleeping with your pet is good for both owner and pet. Pet lovers the world over rejoiced.
No more side eye from people who thought pet lovers were taking it a little overboard by welcoming Fido or Fluffy into the nighttime sleep space. Turns out having a well-behaved pet in your room as you sleep does ease us towards productive sleepy time.
You’ll want to make sure your sleep environment works for both you and your pet. You’ll disturb your pet, and it’s not good for your sleep efficiency if you’re tossing and turning at night. So give an honest appraisal of where you sleep (temperature, lighting) and what you sleep on (mattress, pillows) and make sure those things work for you.
Stop … your dog from barking excessively.
Even you will admit too much enthusiastic “dog yelling” can be annoying. Turns out a lot of barking is your dog boils down to your pup needing attention.
You can train them to bark less. The key is giving them less attention, not more. Don’t soothe them or call them over to admonish them.
Also, find out what sets your dog off and work to decrease the trigger. For example, balance outside noise (traffic, the neighbors’ loud children) with inside noise (white noise machines, TV volume).
Start … walking with your dog.
The first time someone made the “I will get more exercise!” New Year’s resolution might have been when Homo erectus first walked upright 1.89 million years ago. Luckily you have a pet and don’t need evolution to get you going. Wanting to establish better health habits for you and your pup is motivation enough.
Your dog is a natural training partner since most breeds need to be walked at least once per day. Dogs will love moving and interacting with human friends and getting out into nature. The activity will also ward off boredom and physical ailments like cardiovascular disease, arthritis, diabetes, etc., for both of you.
Stop … feeding your dog from the people table.
Your pet loves the smell of cookies and cooking meat as much as any carnivore, i.e. humans. It’s tempting. It’s also too easy for humans to metaphorically toss our pets a bone in the form of human food to appease them. You know what comes next, right? Yes, your dog parks his keister right at your feet as you eat, looking longingly at your food, waiting for a scrap or a reward.
Again, paying less attention to your dog will help break both of you of the habit of begging at the table. You’ll have to start by setting your dog away from the table with a crate or baby gates or by specifically giving them something else to do, like the challenge of a chew toy.
Start … making new friends with your pet.
When we go out into the world with our pets, the world responds kindly. People with pets who interact with others are more approachable. And when you or a new friend pets an animal, it reduces stress. Who wouldn’t want to share that stress-reduction technique with others?
Studies done by the University of Western Australia also show that pet or dog owners are more likely to meet others in their neighborhood and exchange favors with them. Dogs help build community.
Turns out dogs really are good for the world. Spread the word!
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