So it’s a New Year, and although he or she can’t tell you, your dog has some resolutions—what he or she wants from you! You may see a seated dog looking up at you waiting for a treat and think all is well, but trust me—it isn’t, she wants more.
Here are the five things your dog really wants from you in this New Year:
1. Love, love, love: Your dog wants you to love her—more! Instead of simply showing everyone the new pic of her on your iPhone, spend time with the gal. Sure I tell the world how obsessed I am with my beagle, Sugar, by the pathetic bumper stickers plastered on my car, but I know she loves our snuggle time. When Sugar’s lying on the couch and I come over to give her a nice long rub and cuddle, her eyelids go to half mast, and doggie bliss has officially descended. She looks into eyes and she holds my gaze—it’s doggie nirvana. So spend more time: car time, couch time, walk time. Whichever way works best for you--show them the love. Step it up a notch.
2. A pack leader: Who’s the boss? My spoiled above-mentioned beagle gets treated like a queen—until she doesn’t. And I decide when that happens. Dogs need a pack leader and if they don’t get one—they become one. You don’t want your dog running your house, even if she runs your heart. Dogs need rules and boundaries that are understood and consistent, or dogs will take advantage. And I know. For example, my beagle is allowed on some couches and chairs and not on others, and she knows which ones. Except every once in a while she’ll jump up someplace she knows she’s not allowed. If I let her get away with it, in a few days she jumps up wherever she wants to. The self-professed Queen needs to revert to princess status. And as much as I hate to do it, if I don’t, I know I will find her lounging on my bed snacking on a bag of chips she’s jumped up on the counter to get. And just in case you think I’m cruel, if you ever find me lounging on my bed snacking on a bag of chips, you can kick me off too.
3. Food: My beagle loves dearly anyone who has ever fed her. It’s a very simple way to be allowed into her very simple little heart. She might get this from me. We are simple creatures. And who doesn’t want more food? I usually do, but I know how to zip my lips. Your dog needs you to make the right decision. She can’t stop the madness on her own. Studies done in 2011 by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention says 55% of dogs in the U.S. are overweight or obese. No surprise there, but dogs need to rely on their owners to regulate their food intake. They need you to help them stay healthy. If you don’t, it ain’t pretty. Once I can home to find that Sugar consumed an extra-large box of cereal. My unmoving, comatose beagle resembled a stuffed pig. Do your pooch a favor, make sure you’re doling out the right amount of food.
4. Fun: In the immortal words that could have been sung by Cyndi Lauper: “Dogs just wanna have fu-un!” Sugar could spend all day taking a walk, playing tug-o-war, visiting other dogs, and keeping me company. That said: so could I. But life gets in the way. And though I know life can and does, I also know I could spend a little more time having fun with Sugar, for Sugar. What does your dog like to do best? She told me to tell you that she wants it more.
5. Exercise and health: Well, truth be told, Sugar likes exercise more than I do. I look upon a three-mile walk as forty minutes I could spend sitting on the couch reading. But I know it’s good for me and for her to get up and out. Dogs want to be outside, exploring, playing, and rolling around in stinky stuff. They really want exercise, and most dogs need more—it’s the other half of that diet/exercise plan we food lovers need to put into play.
So ring in the New Year considering doing what your dog really wants. Who knows, it might just be your best year yet.
Jennifer Quasha is a writer and most recently the co-author of "Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Dog's Life: 101 Stories about the Ages and Stages of our Canine Companions" and "Chicken Soup of the Soul: My Cat's Life: 101 Stories about the Ages and Stages of our Feline Family Members." Check out her website at www.jenniferquasha.com.