As a dog owner, new or long-time, you surely have developed some kind of connection with your dog – a bond. Dogs are the easiest ones to bond with and give affection to, but sometimes no matter how much we love them, life gets a little bit too hectic. You become too focused on other tasks and responsibilities that sometimes you forget to just stop and give your dog affection – a belly rub or even just a stroke on the head.
If you’re worried about how it might take a lot of time off your busy day, well, the truth is, we don’t need tons of extra time to show our dog companions how much we care. Letting our dogs know that we love them each and every day can be easy with simple acts and gestures.
Affection should be one of the most important parts of your relationship with your dog, because your dog’s world basically revolves around you and you’re all they’ve got. We’re sure you’re just like most dog owners that consider their dogs as part of the family. So, take a moment to think of how you show affection towards your loved ones, that should be the same way (or more) for your dog. They deserve it and it makes them healthier mentally and emotionally.
Did you know that there’s even a special dog holiday dedicated to hugging them? Yup! The National Hug Your Hound Day is celebrated every second Sunday of September. It was originally created by Ami Moore, the “Dog Whisperer of Chicago” to remind people of the importance of having a long and lasting bond between a pet and its owner.
Before we proceed to the ways you can show your dog affection, we just want to remind you that every dog breed is different and affection needs vary per breed.
“Some dogs have an insatiable need for constant belly rubs and cuddles, while others are content after a few pats,” says Dr. Katy Nelson, DVM, a senior veterinarian at Chewy, “Just like people, different dogs have different levels of need for affection, and they will let you know if they’re feeling neglected.”
SIGNS THAT YOU’RE NOT GIVING YOUR DOG ENOUGH AFFECTION
- Chewing on your shoes or furniture – Chewing is sometimes attributed to boredom or anxiety. In that case, your dog may need some extra playtime or TLC.
- Frequent barking – Aside from their normal barking to alert you about danger, if the barking is directed at you or another family member, there’s a good chance your pup is trying to tell you something.
- Pawing you – This is your dog’s way of asking for attention or initiating play.
- Whining a lot – Dogs commonly whine when they’re seeking attention, excited, or when they’re anxious.
HOW YOU CAN SHOW YOUR DOG AFFECTION
These are simple ways to show your dog affection and reassure them that you care for them. You probably do some of these already!
- Morning Bond – If you have 10-15 minutes to spare, you could go out for a walk with your dog.
- Lots of cuddles from time to time – Most dogs love being hugged or cuddled. Belly rubs can also be counted under this! Usually, when they ask to be cuddled it’s when they need attention or when they can tell that we’re stressed out. Either way, it’s a win-win situation.
- Let them hang out with you – You can simply just co-exist and not interact, but still share a bonding moment. According to Dr. Oscar Chavez, DVM and professor of Veterinary Nutrition at Cal Poly Pomona University, “Allowing your dog to lay on your lap while you work at your desk on that last-minute proposal, or lay at your feet while you type up that project that’s due, is likely enough to remind him you love him — and it gives you great company, too.”
- Give more attention to Praising them – Oftentimes, dog parents are quick to notice when dogs make mistakes or misbehave, but rarely actually praise them. If you’re consistent with giving them at least 30 seconds of praise, they’ll become a lot calmer over time.
- Making eye contact – Weird as it may sound, making eye contact with your dogs is actually really effective as well. Apparently, it doesn’t work just on humans, but on our furry friends too. Take a quiet moment, speak softly to your dog and pet them gently, and just stare into their eyes. Your dog will view this as a display of affection. In fact, this action will naturally increase your dog’s level of oxytocin, a feel-good hormone that aids in bonding.
If you’re a dog parent that isn’t too affectionate towards their pets or don’t see the point of it, here are a few reasons as to how and why being affectionate towards them will also benefit you:
- Reduces anxiety – Simply being around them just makes any dog lover light up. Interaction with dogs increases oxytocin production, which decreases stress and fear, and provides unconditional companionship to their owners. These things help with mental illnesses of all kinds, including anxiety and depression.
- Adds structure to your day – With how the world is now, your regular activities and daily chores might have shifted. Some are struggling with getting back to the groove of things. Giving your dog some attention means you dedicate time throughout your day specifically for your dog, like walking them or playing with them. It might not be much at first glance, but it definitely counts.
- Helps you increase mobility – As mentioned above, with many dog parents staying at home for the past couple of months, mobility and exercise kind of went out the window. It’s totally understandable, but if you want to get the body moving without any stress, walking your dog or even going for a run with them will not only help your dog release pent-up energy, it’ll help you release yours as well.
- Provides you companionship – Being away from family and friends at this time is not the easiest, sometimes all we have are our dogs. There has even been an increase in dog adoptions throughout the past 18 months because dogs really do become people’s best friends. Companionship can help prevent illness and even add years to your life, especially while in isolation. Caring for an animal can help make you feel needed and wanted, and take the focus away from your problems, especially if you live alone.
- Providing sensory relief – If you’ve ever played with a dog or even gently stroked their head, you know how calming it is. Stroking a dog, cat, or other animals can lower blood pressure and help you quickly feel calmer and less stressed.
Dogs are amazing creatures that dedicate their lives to make everyone happy and feel loved. It is just right that you do the same, most especially today.
Go on and celebrate Hug Your Hound Day by giving your dog more affection than usual! They surely won’t complain.