As owners, we like to think that we know what makes our pets happy. But what does science say?
Sometimes, people confuse human representations of happiness with pet happiness, thinking they’re the same thing. They’re not. Pets are different beings.
Here’s a rundown of what makes them the happiest.
Having Plenty Of Exercise And Play
Pets want to be able to run around in nature and enjoy themselves. They don’t want to be kept in a cage or locked up in the house. That’s no fun.
Unfortunately, owners don’t always have the time to take their pets to the park, so they can sometimes become restless.
Dogs who must stay all day indoors probably don’t feel sad. But they will wonder why they can’t go out, and they may become frustrated. Thus, if you want your pup to remain happy, focus on providing them with plenty of daily exercise and play. Larger breeds tend to need more than smaller dogs.
Give Them Good Food
Dumping the same dried food into your dog’s bowl every morning might be convenient for you, but it is certainly a negative for your dog. Often, they’ll enjoy something dry a couple of times per week. But when it’s every meal, it soon gets boring.
Therefore, many owners are turning to fresh pet food – a tastier alternative that is similar to the type of food dogs’ ancestors would eat naturally in the wild.
Try providing wet food every few days as a bare minimum. It gives them something to look forward to and keeps their taste buds active.
Offer Some Kind Of Mental Stimulation
Pets might not be able to think at the same level of abstraction as humans, but they do need to keep their minds busy. Dogs that remain unchallenged and isolated become unhappy very rapidly.
Providing your pup with mental stimulation is relatively easy. Teaching them new tricks, for instance, can stimulate neurons in their brains and encourage engagement with life. You can also give your pet toys to chew on or even construct a maze and get them to find their way through it.
Being Around People
Cats are okay being by themselves, but dogs seem to genuinely hate it. As pack animals, they become tense and anxious when they spend time by themselves.
Owners who go to work in the morning and then return home late in the evening will often come back to distressed dogs. Unfortunately, your pooch doesn’t know that you’re going to return when you leave in the morning. And so they spend the entire day in a state of panic, wondering what’s going on. They don’t have the capacity to extrapolate what’s happened on previous days out into the future.
When you put boundaries around people, most become unhappy. Nobody likes living in prison.
But do the same with dogs, and you wind up with a different situation. This time, making their position in the pack clear actually helps. When your pup knows his place, he is often content.