Ask any pup parent and they will tell you how much their dog means to them.
They may also share how much they’ve changed their lives.
This year my goal is to be more grateful for the gifts in my life, and without a doubt, one of my biggest blessings is my dog, Toby. He is the most thoughtful, caring, intuitive dog you could ever hope for.
The other day I thought: Toby has done so much to show he loves me, what can I do to return the favor? I’m sure many dog owners feel the same way. That got the wheels turning.
Aside from the essentials we provide – shelter, healthy food, good training, plenty of exercise and good medical care – how can we go above and beyond to show our dogs we love them?
These 10 ideas can help show your dog just how much you care.
1. One word: snuggles
Most dogs, like 99.99 percent out there, love to snuggle. We all get so busy with work, kids, chores, house projects, etc. that it can be easy to forget that our furballs would love nothing more than to snuggle up in our laps.
So even if it’s only for 15 minutes a day, take the time to nuzzle up with your pup and get a little extra bonding in.
2. Make playtime a priority
Again, we’re all so darn busy and tired these days that when our pups are running around with boundless energy, it can seem like a nuisance.
I know I’ve had days where it’s like, geez dog, can’t you just chill out and let me be?
But really, taking the time to play with your dog is one of the best ways to show you love them. Maybe it’s a game of fetch, playing tug-of-war or playing with an interactive puzzle, like these from Nina Ottosson.
You’ll never regret the extra time spent playing with your pup.
3. Teach them a new trick
When you first get a dog, training is top of mind. But then as time goes on, it’s easy to become complacent.
Heck, Toby used to be a pro at rolling over when he was younger, but when we tell him to do that now, he gives us a befuddled look.
If you’re looking to spend more quality time with your dog, teaching them a new trick is a fabulous idea.
Simply go to Youtube and find a trick that fits your dog’s ability and skill level. Your dog will love the extra attention as you teach it to them, and as a bonus, it helps them stay mentally sharp.
4. Get to really know them
The more time you spend with your dog, the more you really get to know them. Their quirks, their fears, their favorite toys, where they like to be scratched, even their favorite spot to go to the bathroom.
All of this signals to your dog that you have made an effort to understand them and love them very, very much.
5. Talk to them
That’s right. Simply talk to your dog. They may not understand what you’re saying, but it shows that you’re engaged and want to interact with them.
Sometimes when Toby needs attention, I’ll start talking about how my day went, what our plans are for the weekend and other random thoughts. Sure, I probably look like a nut, but he seems to love the extra attention.
And as a bonus, this might even be therapeutic for you!
6. Give them a treat “just because”
Another way to show your dog you love them is by surprising them with a special new toy or a yummy treat, just because. The joy on their face will be priceless.
7. Let your dog hang out with you
Dogs love just hanging out with us. That whole “man’s best friend” saying? It comes from years of being bred to serve as our companions.
If you’re working on a project, tending to your garden, cleaning or doing some sort of activity, why not let your dog hang out with?
As long as they don’t get it the way, it’ll be a great bonding experience.
8. Plan a doggy spa day
This is one of those things where I can just hear my dad laughing at me. He grew up during a time when dogs were meant for the outdoors and slept in the garage.
But things are different today, and according to a study by Kelton Research, 81% of people they surveyed consider their dogs to be true family members – equal in status to the children in their household!
So, that brings me to idea #8, a spa dog for your doggy. You can either take your dog out to the groomer or do at home.
We prefer the DIY method because not only does it save money, you’ll also bond more with your furball.
Ideas include: Giving your dog a warm, soothing bath, brushing their fur, trimming their nails and, of course, a nice massage with extra TLC to their ears and paws (or wherever your dog’s favorite spots happen to be).
9. Get new gear
Before long, our dog’s supplies – leashes, collars, toys, water bowls, etc. – can get pretty worn out.
Case in point: Toby had a bright orange collar as a young dog that I probably let him wear for too long. One day a family friend said, “Toby’s collar is so cool, where did you get that weathered leather design?” Yup, it was so worn-out it looked like brown leather.
Needless to say, I’ve been doing a much better job of making sure his supplies are in good condition.
10. Plan a puppy party
Another idea: host a puppy party where you invite over your dog’s favorite friends. Make it a fun playdate with treats and activities!
No doubt that at the end of the day, your dog will feel exhausted, happy and loved.
How do you show love to your dog?
Do you have any ways you go above and beyond to show your dog you love them? If so, we want to know! Share your ideas below.