family fun

How to Show Love to Your Pet

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Knowing how to show love to your pet is more than just petting him or playing fetch with her. Keeping your pet happy requires learning how to show love to your pet in ways that resonate most for him or her.

I have been partnering with PEDIGREE this year in support of helping rescue animals find loving families. The PEDIGREE® Brand is built on an unwavering love of dogs and commitment to dog adoption. Its mission is to fuel shelter dogs with its good food to help shelters better care for them while they wait for their forever homes.

But, whether you have adopted a dog or will (see my post on rescue animals to check out the benefits of adopting), you can learn how to show love to your pet today!

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Learning How to Show Love to Your Pet by Understanding Your Pets' Personality

The foundation of knowing how to show love to your pet is to understand his or her personality. Let me explain...

Hashtag the Super Beagle (shown above) is the third dog to become a member of our family. Before we got him, we had two yellow Labrador Retrievers—Trooper and Parley (shown below). I've been amazed at how different the two breeds are as well as the different ways each individual dog appreciates our love and attention.

Parley was all about playing fetch. In fact, she had a one track mind. She certainly appreciated getting pets, but she almost couldn't sit still long enough to let you pet her, because all she really wanted was for you to throw a ball.

Trooper, on the other hand, was all about nature. He wanted to go on long walks, hike in the mountains, and swim. I should have put swim in all caps, because swimming was to Trooper what playing fetch was to Parley.

And then came Hashtag the Super Beagle... so different in nature and personality than the labs. He lives for getting pets. But, he also wants a good degree of autonomy. He needs to feel in charge. And you need to earn his love and respect in contrast to the labs who lived to make others happy.

If we would have shown love to all of these dogs in the same way, many of our actions would not mattered to them. They wouldn't have interpreted them as love. That's why learning how to show love to your pet is key and first begins by understanding his or her personality and taking actions that make the most impact on him or her.

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How to Show Love to Your Pet: 10 Simple Ways

Once you have identified how to show love to your pet based on his or her personality, here are 10 simple actions you can take to show that love.

  1. Train your dog. How to show love to your pet starts simply with training. Dogs love structure. They are used to following a master. Set boundaries and take charge in a loving way to help them feel order in their lives. The best thing we ever did for Hashtag was to enroll him in doggy boot camp (Check out our obedience school experience.), which trained him and us both on how to interact as dog and pet owner. The key to keeping our dog obedient is for the entire family to be on the same page, using the same commands.
  2. Pet your dog. I don't know any dog who doesn't melt at the mere thought of getting pets. Ensure that every member of your family is petting your dog at least once daily.
  3. Raise your dog to be healthy and fit. While dogs would certainly love to eat anything and everything, putting them on a healthy diet and giving them regular exercise is what's best for them. Steer clear of feeding them scraps from the table and don't feel guilty about sticking to a limited amount of food based on precisely what they need.
  4. Plan play dates. Most dogs are social. Whether you have one or many dogs, find ways to get your pet(s) out and about. Even just taking your dog for a walk in a busy neighborhood is a social outing for him. Or, let her run free in your local dog park to interact with all sorts of different breeds. One of our favorite ways to engage our dog with other dogs is to go to the local pet store. Not only do they get a treat at the check-out stand, but they get to see so many other types of animals on the outing.
  5. Include your pet in family outings and activities. Treating your dog as an equal member of your family is one of the greatest ways to show love to your pet. Your dog already thinks she is a family member, so don't forget to treat her as such. Take him on rides to see the fall leaves. Dress her up for Halloween and take her trick or treating. Let her hang out during family game night. And put her in the middle of your family picture.
  6. Groom your dog regularly. When learning how to show love to your pet, people often think it requires going above and beyond. But most frequently, actions of love are the little things. Like grooming. Some dogs require more grooming than others. Whether you get your dogs' hair and nails done at a professional dog groomer or do it yourself, groom your pet(s) regularly to keep them clean.
  7. Take your dog to the vet for regular check ups. Just like us humans need to have annual check ups to ensure we are healthy, dogs also need regular visits to the doctor—veterinarians.
  8. Give them play time at least once daily. Dogs love to play. Make sure you give yours time to do things he or she loves, like running, playing fetch, wrestling with you and/or the kids on the floor, jumping, playing tug, etc.
  9. Play challenging games with him/her/them. And on the topic of play... Dogs need play time that isn't just for fun, but activities that make them think. Hide bones or treats inside or outside of your house and encourage them to find them. Make them determine which hand a toy is in. Buy toys that have places to hide treats in and give your pet time to play with those toys.
  10. Take them along on errands to places that hand out dog treats. Dogs love to be with their owners and families. Taking them to places that offer treats is an extra bonus. For example, we take our dog with us to the drive through at the pharmacy and bank. How to show love to your pet can be as simple as allowing them to ride in the car with you, so identify all the places you can easily take your pets. (Check out this post on driving safety tips with pets.)

How to Show Love to Pets Who Aren't Getting Sufficient Love

With the amount of love you show to your pet, understanding that some animals go unloved or even mistreated may be difficult. The good news is that showing love to pets isn't just reserved for those pets that are members of your family.  And you can help!

Every dog owner has a tale to tell—whether it’s stories of lives transformed by shelter dogs who have found their forever homes, the impact a family pet has made on their life, the difference good food has made in the life of their pet and more. PEDIGREE® is continuing to rally the support of dog lovers nationwide by calling on them to share their stories by using the #DogTales hashtag on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. For each story shared, the Brand will donate an additional bowl of food to a shelter in need.* Check out the stories at Facebook.com/Pedigree.

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An active part of the Mom It Forward team, Jyl primarily writes about parenting, social good, and all things travel related. In a past life, Jyl was an award-winning copywriter and designer of corporate training programs for Fortune 100 companies. Offline, Jyl is married to @TroyPattee; a mom to two teen boys and a beagle named #Hashtag; loves large amounts of cheese, dancing, and traveling; and lives in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. Topping her bucket list is the goal to visit 50 countries by the time she's 50.

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