So you’re a first time dog owner… or maybe a lifelong dog owner. No matter how long you’ve had dogs in your life, you know there’s a difference between a dog owner and a dog parent. You also know that it can be hard to strike the balance between keeping your house pristine and just the way you like it and giving up and letting your house go, as they say, to the dogs.
You can do it! It will take effort on your part and a whole lot of patience. Taking on a pup, of any age, isn’t easy, but when you do it right, the rewards are never-ending. By committing to living a dog friendly lifestyle, you are making a promise to yourself and your pet that even though you may need to make compromises, you won’t sacrifice living a life that you love, and you will accept your dog into it fully.
Are you ready to take that step and learn how to really live a dog friendly lifestyle? Let’s get to it!
What Is A Dog Friendly Lifestyle?
There’s more to living a dog friendly life than just owning a dog. Ask yourself:
Why did I get a dog?
What am I willing to do for my dog?
To what extent do I want to incorporate my dog into my life?
If you really want to lead a dog friendly lifestyle, then your dog is more than just a pet. They are a companion and a vital part of the family. You recognize that they have preferences and feelings, and you don’t just want to meet their basic needs. You want to give them an amazing life.
Living a dog friendly lifestyle means fully incorporating your dog into your life. It means not treating them like just another dog but respecting that they are individuals. It means trying to understand where their behaviors come from. It is about respect, learning to understand how your dog communicates their needs, and never forgetting to have fun!
What it does not mean is allowing your dog to have the run of the house to the point that it is your dog's house and not yours. It does not mean getting a black sofa to avoid dark dog hair showing up (or vice versa!) It doesn’t mean giving up all the things you like to do or never going out again unless it’s on your dog's schedule.
Instead, find ways to incorporate your dog into the way you like to live your life. Find the balance, and adapt. You will be happier and your dog will too.
Living A Dog Friendly Lifestyle
Meeting Your Dog's Needs
Making your lifestyle truly dog friendly means that from the get go, you need to have your dog’s needs in mind. A few things to address in the early days, although you can do these later if you’re trying to make a change, are:
Training- You don’t train to turn your dog into a robot. You need your dog to know what you’re trying to communicate. It creates a foundation for you to build on with your dog. It gives them a sense of comfort if they know what you expect them to do. If you have an anxious dog, knowing what “stay” means, takes away the anxiety. Think of training as a path toward understanding between you and your dog.
A veterinarian you trust- Don’t just settle. It’s okay to shop around if you don’t feel comfortable with your first choice. You need to know that the people treating your dog have their best interest at heart, and you need to feel comfortable asking questions or communicating your fears.
Good nutrition- Good nutrition is about more than just feeding your dog. Even on a budget, you can find high quality dog food that won’t break the bank. Does it have nutrients that will help keep your dog in good health? Is it real meat or mostly filler? When selecting dog food, ask yourself “is this full of nutrients and healthy ingredients that will help my dog live their best life, or is it the dog equivalent of fast food?”
Toys- Toys are as important to the mental health of your dog as they are for children. The right toys stimulate your dog's brain and keep them occupied if you’re gone. They prevent boredom and destructive behavior. Toys can also be a comfort; many dogs have favorite toys that they will take to bed or on a car ride. Engaging toys can be anything from a sock with a knot in one end to a hard rubber toy that you fill with treats for your dog to attempt to get out.
Incorporating Your Dog Into Your Style
Life with a dog doesn’t mean you have to give up on nice furniture or nice, unchewed shoes. Your home and your personal style are an extension of who you are. You wouldn’t give that up for another person, and there’s no need to give that up for your dog. You may need to make a few adjustments, but this can be fun and help you find aspects of yourself and your style you’ve never known.
Don’t decorate for your dog, decorate with your dog. This can mean instead of avoiding certain couch colors, find a fabric that is sturdy and easily cleaned.
Give them their own space. This can be a cute dog bed that matches the furniture. If your dog is crate trained, they may find their crate a safe space. You can find attractive crates or crate covers that blend right into the living room decor.
Get the fun dog accessories. Why be utilitarian if you don’t have to? There are fun dog bowls and accessories available, so go wild! Florals? Yes please. Rhinestones on a name tag? Why not!?
Are you ready to start really living a dog friendly lifestyle? You might be surprised where it takes you. You and your dog might find new routines at dog friendly cafes. You might find a love of photography in taking pictures of your dog. You may even, and this is from experience, make a total career change, from interior design to dog training, for example.