A wagging tail, the ultimate sign of a happy dog, right? As a dog owner, you want your dog to be happy. But how do you recognise happiness in dogs? And how can you help your dog be as happy as possible?
Get to know your dog
Each dog is different and has its own distinctive character. As the owner, you will get to know your dog through and through which will allow you to assess its mood based on its behaviour. Don’t expect to get it down in a week, but after some time you will notice that you’re beginning to recognise and identify its behaviour more accurately. Observe your dog. How does it behave in different situations? How does it respond to unfamiliar situations or other dogs? Can you see whether it is frightened or enthusiastic? The better you know your dog’s behaviour, the more quickly you will be able to recognise deviating behaviour.
The behaviour of a happy dog
There are several behavioural signals that can help you recognise whether a dog is happy. A happy dog:
• Shows stability in its behaviour;
• Is happy and calm rather than constantly excited or overly active;
• Is curious;
• Has a normal appetite;
• Will show you its belly. “Scratch me”, this is a sign of trust;
• Has a calm and relaxed demeanour around you, enjoys curling up against or near you for a nap;
• Is affectionate but not clingy;
• Greets you when you get home.
The body language of a happy dog
A dog’s body language says a lot. The position of its ears and tail can speak to its mental state. The body language of a happy dog:
• Relaxed attitude;
• Relaxed ears, not flat or upright;
• Relaxed, slightly open mouth;
• Wagging tail.
How do I know if my dog is unhappy?
It’s always nice to see that your dog is happy. But unhappiness comes with signs of its own. By paying close attention to them, you can catch any issues early on and solve them as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, stress is a frequent cause of unhappy dogs. A stressed dog may show varying energy levels in a short period of time. From very excited to very subdued and back to very excited. Another way to recognise a negative emotion, is the ‘bark’ of your dog. If the bark is different than usual – for example shorter and shriller – this may be a sign of stress or fear. Diarrhoea is another potential indication of stress. Dog owners tend to ascribe stool issues to the dog’s diet but psychological issues can cause the same thing. Has your dog been behaving differently than usual or has it been experiencing physical discomforts? Consult a vet. They can figure out what’s going on.
Undesirable behaviour is another potential sign of an unhappy dog, for example when your dog suddenly begins to display aggression or destructive behaviour. Housebreaking regression is an indication that something is wrong with your dog; it may be a sign of stress or fear. Plus, excessive barking is a sign your dog isn’t comfortable in its own skin. Undesirable behaviour can be unlearned but it is important to find the cause of the behaviour first. This will allow you to attack the issue at the source.
How to make my dog happy?
As a dog owner, there is nothing you want more than a happy dog. Luckily, there is a lot you can do to contribute. Give your pet enough attention and exercise. Dogs love exercise plus it keeps them fit. Enjoy a walk together several times a day plus one long walk every day. Keep your home dog-friendly and make sure your dog really ‘feels at home’, for example by giving it its own spot in the house. Finally, spoil your pet with a tasty yet healthy snack every now and then.
A healthy dog is a happy dog!
Good health is a requirement for a happy dog. Protect your pet from parasites like fleas and worms; these nasty creatures cause a lot of discomfort to dogs. Keep an eye on your dog’s behaviour and visit the vet for a check-up on a regular basis. It is recommended to do this at least annually. Curious how to find out whether your dog is healthy or not? Read all about it in: How to recognise a healthy dog?
Proper grooming is very important to keep your dog happy. This includes its coat, ears, eyes and teeth. What type of care your dog will need, depends on the breed, among other things. Dogs with a long coat will need more coat care than short-haired dogs. We will tell you all about caring for your dog in the blog: Caring for a dog: what to keep in mind.
A happy senior dog
A dog’s needs change as it grows older. It might become less active and its nutritional needs change as well. Older dogs may suffer from old-age ailments. You can accommodate its changing needs by adjusting its grooming regimen and activities. Consider senior food and a modified resting spot at home. This is how you keep a senior dog happy.
Happiness for your dog and other animals
Of course, you care about the happiness of animals other than your own pets as well. So does Yarrah! That is why Yarrah produces sustainable and organic pet food and gives tips on how to make the life of a pet as sustainable as possible. We’d love to tell you why we opt for more sustainable options for the meat in our food and about a vegetarian diet in dogs.