Happiness is defined as a feeling of well-being, pleasure, and contentedness. Our lives today seem to be filled with discontent and division, rather than contentedness and happiness. Shel Silverstein offers this observation; “I will not play at tug o’ war; I’d rather play at hug ‘o war, where everyone hugs instead of tugs; where everyone giggles and rolls on the rug; where everyone kisses, and everyone grins, and everyone cuddles, and everyone wins.” How sad that we humans don’t embrace that concept. Perhaps our dogs know something that we don’t know. Inspirational speaker Alan Cohen lives with his dog, Munchie, and analyzed why his dog was so happy. These are a few of his conclusions:
- He does not need to impress anyone or prove himself. He is what he is, and that is enough.
- He doesn’t hold grudges A psychiatrist friend once told me that a healthy amount of time to feel a negative emotion is about eight minutes. If it lingers longer than that, you are holding onto it too long. Munchie could have told him that!
- My dog gives me a whole hearted greeting no matter how long I have been away. He doesn’t sit on his haunches and complains, “I think it’s time we discussed your commitment to our relationship.” He is just happy to see me, and lets me know it.
- My dog knows it is okay to ask for what he wants—even though he sometimes doesn’t get it.
- He knows that life is an adventure to be enjoyed. He finds joy wherever he is.
- Insofar as I can tell, my dog is an enlightened being, despite the fact that he doesn’t read books, has never attended a seminar, and probably couldn’t balance a checkbook.
- You will not find my dog wasting his energy nursing a worry. He lives in the NOW and is content in the moment . His happiness is not a destination, but a way of life. Perhaps one day, I will wake up as happy as he seems to be!”
There are always new ways to spice up our dogs’ lives, so here are a few suggestions to make them even happier:
- Make sure your dog has several comfy places to relax, some where the family convenes, and others tucked away should he wants some quiet time.
- Many behavioral problems are the result of boredom. Make sure he gets enough exercise.
- Rotate their toys. You don’t have to consistently buy new toys; just put them on rotation and when they seem to get bored with them, put them away and bring out an old toy your dog has forgotten about.
- Make sure your dog knows the rules. Basic obedience will make life better for both you and your dog. Teaching your dog new things will provide mental stimulation and is a great way to bond.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight is uncomfortable and puts him at an increased risk for a multitude of medical conditions.
- Play more. Daily play time will build your relationship and allow you both to have fun. Dogs get bored and they want to interact with their humans.
- Be consistent. Dog trainers often complain that inconsistency is the main reason for inappropriate behavior. Dogs need consistent rules and boundaries for them to understand what behavior is acceptable and what isn’t. Dogs that are continually scolded for things they don’t understand are wrong are unhappy dogs.
- Praise, both verbal and physical, are important to maintaining a happy relationship with your dog. Spending time petting and praising your dog for even a few minutes, will make her happier.
- Keep a schedule. Dogs are creatures of habit. Their regular routine makes them happy, (especially where food and regular walks are concerned)
I am a happy dog…I lie belly-up in the sunshine, happier than you will ever be.
Today I sniffed so many new things…I celebrate by kissing your face.
I sound the alarm! Paperboy….come to kill us all…Look! Look! Look! I sound the alarm.
Garbage man…come to kill us all…Look! Look! Look. I sound the alarm.
Sleeping here , my chin on your foot—no greater bliss. Look in my eyes and deny it.
No human could be as happy as I am.