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5 Ways to Strengthen Your Relationship with Your Dog

written by Ellie Walker

If you want your relationship with your dog to grow, try looking for new ways that you can connect with your pup on a deeper level. This could include trying new activities together, making changes to your daily routine, or learning to better understand their non-verbal communication. To help you get started, we’ve put together a list of five ways of strengthening your relationship with your dog.

Make every meal time special

For many dogs, the quickest way to their heart is through their stomach. If this sounds familiar, a great way to strengthen your relationship with your pup is by giving them nourishing, fresh food that will make every meal time a special treat. If you make the switch to Freshpet, you can even play around with different types of recipes so there’s no chance your pup will become bored with their meals. Currently, our recipes are available in three distinct formats:

  • Bags: A number of our recipes come in the form of ready-to-serve meals that are available in a convenient, resealable bag.

  • Rolls: Our classic sliceable rolls enable you to choose the size and shape of your pup’s meal.

  • Homestyle Creations: Our original Homestyle Creations recipes consist of two parts - Patties and Mixers. The Patties are designed to be cut up, broken apart, or shredded to enjoy as a complete and balanced meal or topped with complementary Mixers.

Each recipe is developed under the oversight of four veterinary nutritionists and prepared in a way that keeps the ingredients as close to their natural state as possible, while still meeting FDA and USDA standards.

Learn to read your dog’s body language and actions

Your dog may not be able to speak, but that doesn’t mean they don’t try to communicate with you. Dogs use a combination of body language and facial expressions, to display their emotions and show that they love us. Taking the time to learn more about dog body language and how they express their emotions will help you better understand what your pup is trying to tell you. For instance, you may recognize some of these behaviors, but do you know what they mean?

  • Your dog’s head is up, eyes are open and concentrated, and their ears pointing ahead or moving slightly. If you see your dog doing this, it means that something has caught their attention and they are assessing the situation.

  • Your dog’s eyes are wide and staring, their mouth is closed except for when they’re licking their lips, and their ears are slightly back and moving like they’re trying to figure out where a sound is coming from. If your dog is doing this, then they are experiencing feelings of anxiety.

Being able to decipher these and other behaviors – and responding accordingly – is an important part of strengthening the relationship you have with your dog.

Experience new things together

Another great way to build an even stronger relationship with your dog is to experience new things together. This could include making memories during a road trip or vacation, but it could also be smaller, daily experiences like taking a new route for your walk or finding fun ways to keep your dog’s mind active. Some fun ways to do this include:

  • Play games that expand their ‘vocabulary’: Dogs can learn up to 165 different words, which makes the “name game” a blast to play. Start by giving your dog’s favorite toy a specific name and using it regularly during playtime. Over time, and with plenty of positive reinforcement, your dog should be able to associate the name with the toy. You can put this to the test by putting the toy among their others and asking them to bring it to you.

  • Try a new workout together: There are a number of pet-friendly workouts you can do, from running and swimming to stand-up paddle boarding and doga. Doga, the yoga practice that’s designed specifically for dogs and their pet parents, is growing in popularity – for good reason!

  • Take a pet-friendly vacation: If you do want to go big and take your dog on vacation with you, make sure you review our tips for traveling with pets.

Don’t treat training as a chore

When it comes to training, most pet parents assume that when their dog has mastered the basic commands, such as sit, stay, and come, then they’re set. But in reality, ongoing training can be a great way to strengthen the relationship you have with your dog. Dogs are happiest when their minds are being challenged, and doing small training exercises throughout the day is an easy way to not only keep their brain busy but also teach them some pretty cool tricks!

Dedicate time each day to give them your undivided attention

The relationship you have with your dog is just like any other relationship – if you want to strengthen it, you need to dedicate time to it. One way of doing this is by setting aside a part of your day for one-on-one time with your pup. The way you spend this time will vary depending on the dog, but it should be spent doing something that they enjoy. Some ideas include:

  • Cuddling on the couch

  • Taking a walk in the woods

  • Checking out a new dog park

  • Going for a drive in the car

  • Learning a new trick

  • Trying out a new activity, like agility or dock diving

Regardless of the activity you choose, try spending at least 30 minutes a day focusing on it with your pup. Rotating through different activities will help keep things interesting and also strengthen your bond in different ways. For example, learning a new trick or trying a new activity will strengthen your bond through teamwork, whereas cuddling on the couch will strengthen your bond through physical contact.

Have other ideas on how to strengthen your relationship with your dog? Share it in the comments for other pet parents to try!

A person holding a black and white dog reaching for a Freshpet recipe.

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