How to Make Your Dog Happy: A Guide for Caring Pet Parents

Key takeaways

Owning a dog is a big responsibility, and without prioritizing their wellbeing they may struggle to feel happy.

As a pet parent, it's important to pay attention to both their physical health and their mental health.

We explore how you can do just that and offer our expert tips and advice along the way to make sure your furry friends are as happy as can be!

Quick Navigation

  1. Key takeaways
  2. Look after your dog's physical health
  3. Look after your dog's mental health
  4. FAQs
  5. Final thoughts

Look after your dog's physical health

Your dog's physical health plays a big part in their overall wellbeing. Without enough exercise or grooming, it will be difficult to keep your dog happy.


It's no secret that our dogs need a lot of exercise. They are built to run, and it's an instinctual enjoyment that's essential to experience.
Make sure you research your dog's breed to find out just how much exercise they need. For example, a German shepherd needs around two hours of exercise every day, whereas a little Yorkshire terrier would be happy with a thirty-minute stroll.
Rather than taking the same walks every day, why not change it up? Try:

Taking your dog to a new dog park

Off-leash exercise in fields or trails

Playing fetch as you walk so they run further

Going on adventures with your dog, like long trails, mountain climbs, or even camping

But, aside from their enjoyment, why is exercise important? Check out the following reasons:

Prevents obesity

Promotes good bone health

Helps keep muscles and joints healthy

Helps keep their coat healthy

Top Tip: For your furry friend to live a happy and healthy life, don't skip the walks! If you don't feel like you have enough time to walk your dog as much as they need, then invest in a dog walker. If you're a little strapped for cash, websites like Borrow My Doggy mean you can get dog walkers for free!
Two people taking their dogs for a walk


Grooming for dogs isn't just aesthetic. It serves a lot of health benefits, like:

Helping them regulate their body temperature

Preventing infection or soreness

Preventing ticks and fleas

But grooming is only effective when it's maintained regularly. Follow this basic routine:

Brushing: While dogs shed when the weather gets too hot, it's important you help them shed their coats by brushing them. This will reduce itching, uncomfortableness, and even allergies from their fur. While doing this, you can check them for ticks and fleas.

Checking their paws: It's easy to forget to check our dogs' paws, but it's important we do. Walking every day over different terrains can cause objects to become lodged between the toes or for small cuts to appear. If these aren't treated quickly, it can lead to infection and pain. It can be a good idea to moisturize the pads of their paws, too, as dryness can lead to cracking and infection.

Washing them: Washing your dog is an essential part of grooming. While you don't need to wash them daily, or even weekly, it's good to keep them clean. If they have rolled in something or start to smell, then get them in the bath! Monthly or bimonthly is usually a good routine, but it all depends on the type of dog you have.

Teeth clean: Keeping your dog's teeth clean will help prevent pain, infection, and tooth decay. You should brush your dog's teeth every week, ideally at least three times. You can also use dental chew toys to prevent plaque from building up.

A dog owner washing their dog

Regular checkups

While we can see when our dogs are in need of exercise or grooming, it's not always easy to tell when they are sick or injured. Like many other animals, dogs tend to hide their weaknesses, making it difficult for owners to know when they need to be taken to the vet.
Look out for the following signs that may indicate everything isn't perfect:

Your dog begins to hide

Your dog is sleeping more than usual

Your dog seems withdrawn and lethargic

Their eating behavior has changed

They're developing behavioral issues

Their coat is dull

You still may not pick up on these signs, and don't blame yourself! Instead, make sure your dog is getting regular checkups with a vet. This will help spot any potential health issues early on so they can be prevented or treated straight away.
Expert Advice: Investing in good pet insurance is a must. This will help you cope with any unexpected bills if your pup gets into an accident or becomes very ill. The worst-case scenario is that you may not be able to afford their care. You can prevent this from happening by getting good insurance early on.
A dog being checked by a vet

Look after your dog's mental health

While a dog's physical health will impact their mental health, there are also ways you can make sure they’re mentally stimulated.

Mental stimulation

Dogs are incredibly intelligent and need to be stimulated in order to be satisfied. Without adequate mental stimulation, your dog may:

Become bored

Develop behavioral issues

Run away


Become withdrawn

Develop anxiety disorders

Have excess energy

To prevent this from happening, you should try the following:

Training: Teaching a dog new tricks is a fantastic way to keep your dog's cogs turning. Start with simple commands like 'paw' and see how far you can take it. Soon, they'll be replicating yoga poses and dancing with you! If you're struggling, try a certified professional dog trainer to give you advice or get you started.

New toys: Your dog's toys are essential in allowing them to have their own fun. We can't always interact with our pups, as much as we want to, so toys can be a great way for dogs to satisfy their own boredom.

Puzzle feeders: Food puzzle toys can teach your dog important lessons. The positive reward of a treat for figuring out a puzzle teaches them that good behavior is rewarded. This can help in your training efforts. Like other toys, these are a great way for your dog to entertain themselves for an hour or two, and you can slowly build up the difficulty of the puzzle.

Letting them follow scents: When you're on a walk with your canine companion, you may become frustrated with their constant stopping and sniffing. However, it's a necessity for your dog! Their instincts to follow scents are incredibly strong, so allowing them to do this is very mentally stimulating.

A dog chasing a butterfly


Ultimately, to keep your dog happy, you need to give them your attention. By doing this you can build trust, your dog's confidence, and a mutual bond.
It's not enough to do the bare minimum. Dogs pick up on love and affection, so try adding the following into your routine:

Snuggle time: A great way to spend quality time with your pup is to have extra cuddle time whenever you can. Most dogs love some extra belly rubs and affection and will likely respond positively to it. A little more snuggle time goes a long way!

Playtime: Playing is a surefire way to make your dog happy! Little games like hide and seek with treats, chasing, or fetch can give your dog a boost of happy hormones.

A dog owner caring for their dog


While dogs love spending time with their humans, nothing quite compares to time spent with other dogs. A dog's life is often focused on people, and we forget that they instinctually want to hang out with other animals like themselves.
To make this easier, puppy classes are a great option for a new dog. If your dog isn't a puppy but you still want them to meet other dogs, then there are plenty of meet-ups and groups designed just for that.
Socializing your dog has plenty of benefits, including:

Relaxing your dog

Improving your dog's confidence

Easier training

Help prevent behavioral issues

Prevents fear, anxiety, and aggression

While dogs love spending time with their humans, nothing quite compares to time spent with other dogs.

A busy animal shelter


How do I make my dog feel loved?

You can make your dog feel loved by spending quality time with them. Give them lots of affection and take them on fun adventures!

How can you tell if a dog is happy?

You can tell if your dog is happy by reading their body language. A relaxed posture with an open mouth and a wagging tail means they're content.

How can I help my dog be happier?

You can help your dog be happier by ensuring they get enough mental stimulation, physical exercise, and love. Walking them every day and not leaving them alone for too long will help them be happier!

How do I know if my dog is sad?

You can tell if your dog is sad if they are acting withdrawn, eating less, or hiding. There are other behaviors that may indicate they are sad, so be sure to observe them closely and act quickly if you notice anything out of the ordinary.

Do dogs like being hugged?

Some dogs like being hugged and others don't. Every dog is different, so listen to their body language! Some may feel anxious or stressed when they are embraced because they feel trapped. However, other dogs may understand it's a sign of affection.

Why isn't my dog happy?

If your dog isn't happy, it's because they aren't getting their needs met. They may not be getting the nutrients they need from their diet, getting groomed enough, getting enough exercise, getting enough attention, or even getting enough mental stimulation.

Am I giving my dog a good life?

As long as you pay attention to your dog's needs and prioritize their wellbeing, you are most likely giving them a good life. Make sure they get enough attention and exercise, and remember to show your love!

Final thoughts

By ensuring you're taking care of your pup, you'll make them happy in the process! As long as your furry friend is given love and attention, they'll be content.
If you feel as if you have tried everything you can and they still don’t seem happy, it may be worth taking them to the vet to check there’s no underlying conditions effecting their mood.

Written by

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Lauren Jeffries

In this blog, I combine my two areas of expertise: pets and writing. I share my personal experiences alongside plenty of animal behavior research to help owners look after their pets. I have always lived with furry friends and am now a loving cat mum to two orange kitties.

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