8 Tips to be More Intentional with Your Dog

8 Tips to be More Intentional with Your Dog

Being intentional with your dog reflects a different level of thoughtful care and attention, the same we bring to our own lives. Being intentional with your dog is a way of connecting, grounding, and strengthening our bond with purpose through mindful action and consideration.

 You’re probably thinking, “Why would anybody need pointers on connecting with their dog?” They’re members of our family, our inner circle of friends. They’re our co-pilots on grocery runs and cross-country trips. When they’re not catching the breeze out the window, we’re spoiling them with treats, toys, and belly rubs. I’ve been a dog owner for many years, read every article, and tried every tip to both improve my dog’s life--along with my own.

Here are a few tips I’ve learned:

  1. BE A GOOD PARENTOur pets need discipline and guidance just like the rest of us. For instance, my dog Hobo likes to run. And I mean he really loves to run. With reckless abandon. But as Hobo gets older, his joints are becoming more sensitive and stiff, so it’s my duty not to let him run wherever and whenever his heart desires. It isn’t good for his joints, and he suffers for days after a mini-marathon. Being in touch with health allows me to be sensitive to his joys as well as his pains.
  2. SCHEDULE DAILY PLAYTIMEWe get it—life gets busy. But that doesn’t mean it’s okay to put our pet’s needs on the backburner. We all have our busy schedules, so make sure you block out time on your calendar specifically for playtime, even if it’s just for a 15-minute game of fetch or tug-of-war. It’ll do wonders for improving both of your moods and building a healthy relationship.
  3. AVOID JUNK TOYSReduce your dog’s carbon pawprint by purchasing sustainable, biodegradable toys for them to chew on. Dogs can’t exactly recycle, so that means we’re responsible for raising conscious canines with zero-waste. Some plastic toys can be fatal when ingested, so it’s important to read the ingredients list no matter how innocent they look. Aim for hemp products with non-toxic, recycled materials like reused cotton or other natural fibers. Many of these products are swallow-safe and fully compostable, so there’s no need to feel guilty if your good boy buries it in the backyard. Get started with these 7 Eco- Friendly Dog Toys That Aren’t Ruff On The Planet
  4. BECOME WORKOUT BUDDIESIf you’re already athletic, then this is a great way to multitask. Increase that one-on-one time with your pet by including them in your next workout. Whether that’s walking, running, or biking through the neighborhood, you decide what works best for you and your dog’s health.
  5. BUY QUALITY DOG FOODWould you be happy eating junk food every day for the rest of your life? There are plenty of ways to diversify your pup’s menu while keeping their health, allergies, and food sensitivities in mind. Reading dog food labels is a MUST. Every brand claims to be the best, but not all of them are equal. Doing your own research and talking with your vet about the best approach to your dog’s diet pays off. Prioritizing foods with lean proteins and real meat is a great rule of thumb. Avoid chemical preservatives and high concentrations of wheat, corn, or soy fillers. Of course, if you have questions or concerns, please talk with your vet.
  1. TUNE INTO THEIR BODY LANGUAGEHumans communicate a lot through their everyday body language, and dogs are no exception. From a confused head tilt to the speed of their wagging tail, your best friend spends all day communicating their needs in other ways. But most dogs are pretty Stoic in their demeanor when it comes to pain. Plus, if they are developing something like dysplasia or arthritis, it might take a long time before any signs show up. Recognizing slight limps, gaits, and flinching, and being able to translate them appropriately will elevate your relationship to new heights. Everything is a cue once you tune into their frequency, so it’s time to become multi-lingual and start learning your canine’s language. When Hobo is relaxed on the floor--as taught to me by my vet--I work with him to gently compress and stretch his legs. As a result, over time, his flexibility has dramatically increased. (Note: Please consult your vet first!)
  1. HYPE UP THE HYDRATIONI’m sure you already know how much water dogs need. Unlike you, they wear an overcoat no matter how hot it is outside, and you can never see them sweat (just pant). Having fresh, clean water on hand is vital for keeping your pup hydrated and happy. Keeping a collapsible water bowl handy for long car rides, hikes, and errands is my favorite pro-tip. To keep the temperature cool, I even toss in a few ice cubes for Hobo to gnaw on.
  2. SPICE UP THEIR STYLEAs mentioned earlier, your pet should reflect your style. I select collars, leashes, and bandanas that fit Hobo's nature and wash and groom him with the same care I put into myself. Sure, Hobo doesn’t seem to notice any difference, but he knows how much I care about him. Yours will too. Our pets are members of our family, and they’re a reflection of who we are. Show them some extra love by upping their fashion and grooming game.

THE LONG AND SHORT OF IT

Our canine companions bring so much value to our lives. It’s time to start returning the favor with intentional actions that grow your relationship together and your pet’s health and well-being. Ultimately, being intentional about how you treat your dog is about prolonging their lives and the love you have for each other.