Spend time together
The easiest way of all to strengthen your relationship with your dog is to spend some quality time together. Short on time? There’s plenty of ways to weave it in by using your shared interests:
• Chances are your dog is an avid fan of ‘walkies’ and if you’re partial to a gentle jog why not combine the two? Try out your local 5km parkrun - you can run, jog or walk with your dog by your side. It’s a great opportunity for you to have fun together and potentially meet other dogs. Who knows, maybe your competitive streaks will come out…
• Although some dogs are shy and retiring, there are plenty that lap up the attention from a well-meaning stranger. Some nursing homes or children’s wards encourage owners to bring their pets in to brighten up difficult days. Volunteering will help you feel more positive, bring a smile to people’s faces and your dog will revel in all the attention; plus accomplishing something together will make you feel more connected to each other.
Much like you treat your human friends to a fancy lunch or spa treatment now and again, apply the same friendship rules to your pet to help strengthen your bond:
• Make your pet feel like a pampered god or goddess with regular grooming sessions. It doesn’t have to be fancy, maybe just a monthly trip to the groomers or a daily brush to help them look their best.
• Approach your dog’s food choices the same way you would your own. We tend to opt for food that is yummy, nutritious and varied. Getting your pet’s diet right in terms of nutrition and taste can win you lots of brownie points. A tailored multivitamin crumbled over their favourite meal can also help keep them in tip-top health. After all, they do say that the way to a dog’s heart is through their stomach.
• Life’s too short to pass up yummy delights all the time so giving your dog a delicious yet nutritious treat fortified with health-benefiting ingredients is a great solution. Treats should make up no more than 10% of their daily calorie intake so remember to use them wisely; rewarding them for good behaviour will make their tummies happy and reinforce your friendship at the same time.
As dogs get older, we begin to cherish our time with them even more. Making each day count needn’t mean skydiving out of a plane with them or hiking to the top of the tallest mountain. Just set aside a date day or night once in a while and take inspiration from these ideas:
• Set aside a sunny afternoon and create a bespoke picnic for you and your canine companion. Include plenty of dog-friendly foods and treats and enjoy the hours in the sunshine. Top it off with their favourite games and a muddy-as-you-like walk.
• Head off to your favourite beach for an evening paddle (if it’s too cold, perhaps only your dog will be brave enough to venture in!). Follow with a gentle stroll as the sun goes down.
• Nothing says friendship more than curling up on the sofa on a cool summer night with your furry best pal and a great movie. You can’t go wrong with a classic like Lassie or Beethoven.