How To Have A Healthy And Successful Relationship With Your Dog

Written by: Dr. Katy Nelson

May 20, 2016

Successful relationships take hard work. Here are some pro tips on how to maintain a healthy and happy relationship with your dog once the honeymoon phase has fizzled.

1. Open communication is important

Healthy couples speak openly and honestly without the distraction of phones, tablets, laptops, Kong toys, rawhides, etc.

dog ignores human giphy
You shouldn’t have to say the word “pizza” to get your pup’s attention.

When you withhold your feelings in your relationship with your pup, you are contributing to the problem. Do you wish he’d spend more time longingly staring at you instead of licking his privates?  Speak up. You’ll be glad you did.

2. Don’t try to make your dog jealous

Jealousy is a part of even the healthiest relationships, so it’s unnecessary for you to make an effort to incite even more of this emotion within your partner.

jealous dog giphy
Remember: a child makes their dog jealous of other pups. A real adult makes other pups jealous of their dog.

Sure, jealousy is an easy way to fan the flame of your human ego, but in the end it will backfire.When you try to make your dog jealous, you are purposefully manipulating his emotions and it’s a matter of time until it blows up in your face. The flame of your ego will grow out of control and take both you and your pooch down in a a fiery inferno of resentment. 

3. Be sure to take care of the business side of your relationship

Money is the cause for nearly one third of all divorces. There’s no shame in your dog being a “stay at home pup,” but it is important to have direct and honest chats about your expectations surrounding money with your little furball.

dog begs for money giphy
Some dogs don’t mind helping out a little.

If your pooch is routinely spending money you don’t have on trivial things, speak up. He doesn’t need another stuffed squirrel squeak toy (he already has seven), and he’ll thank you when retirement hits and you have enough stashed away for that trip to Barbedos Barkbedos.

4. Make time for the things you loved at the beginning of your relationship

The longer you are in a co-dependent relationship, the easier it is to stop making an effort with your dog. The honeymoon period may be over, that doesn’t mean that you and your pooch are doomed for a lifetime of boring routine.

puppy in swing giphy
Get back into the swing of things by doing the stuff you both enjoyed back in those puppy days.

Sure you may need to find a bigger swing, but it will definitely help keep that spark alive and show your dog that you care and are making an effort to do things that are important to him.

5. But also make time to try something new together

Another way to keep your relationship with your canine companion from getting stale is to try something together that neither of you has done before.

dog in sidecar giphy
Go ahead: Buy the motorcycle. Just be sure it has a sidecar.

Not only will you both learn a new skill, it will increase your confidence levels as well. This way, you can grow together instead of apart. Plus, trying new things will keep you both young at heart.

6. Stay connected physically

Sometimes when the newness of a relationship wears off, we forget the things that differentiate our relationship with OUR dog versus any rando dog on the street.

dog hug giphy
You have to make an effort to keep that romance alive.

The relationship you share with your pup is intimate and special. Hug often. Give him pats frequently. Surprise him with a random smooch on the head. He’s not just your friend, he’s your dog and you have a duty to make him feel loved. Physical touch is a big part of this.

7. Never go to bed angry

Maybe he pooped in your shoe. Maybe you forgot to bring home the treats. Either way, take a breath, step back and think: Is this worth getting upset over?

dog angry look giphy
This dog should process his anger and articulate his feelings.

Getting frustrated with your pup partner is normal. How you deal with said anger is what determines if your relationship is healthy or not. Never tuck your little dude into bed if either of you is still fuming. It’s not worth it.

9. Remember: little gestures go a long way

Sometimes we get so busy that we forget to remind our partner how much we appreciate them.

dog brings beer giphy
This dog has got the right idea.

Little gestures are an easy way to not only surprise each other, but to say “I love you.” This works best when it doesn’t feel forced, but rather like you are getting joy from putting a smile on your better half’s face.

8. Continue to compliment one another

When you truly mean it, a compliment can go a long way towards making your pooch feel seen and appreciated.

good girl dog giphy
A genuine compliment lets your pup know how much they mean to you.

A well timed “good boy!” can make your pup’s whole week, by proving you’re not taking them for granted (and vice versa). Remember, we all want to feel treasured by the one we love most.

9. Build in some time apart

Being able to do your own thing sometimes and remain independent is vital to any relationship.

dog reunited with owner giphy
Give him space so that he can miss you. It’ll make reuniting that much sweeter.

When you spend too much time with your dog without taking any time for yourself, it can create an unhealthy codependence. So encourage your pup to hit the park with his friends while you take that pottery class you’ve had your eye on. When you link back up later you’ll have lots to talk about, plus you’ll appreciate each other’s company that much more.

10. Make plans for the future

Setting goals is as important to your overall happiness as a couple of bozos.

dog and grandpa giphy
Growing older with your pup can be a blast!

You’ll both feel more secure if you take time to talk about what you’d like the future to look like. Perhaps that means talking about how many kids more dogs you want. If you’re a planner and your pooch is a more go-with-the-flow kind of guy, you can start small: think planning a road trip, or planning what kind of kibble you should make for dinner.

11. Do your best to keep an open mind

People/dogs change over time.

dog walks on legs giphy
It’s entirely possible that one day your dog could choose to start accessorizing and/or walking everywhere on his hind legs.

True love means accepting your partner for who they are on the inside, rather than only being concerned with their outward appearance. Your dog should be big enough to accept you for who you are on the inside — even if you both know that bangs probably don’t work for your face shape but you wanted to try them anyway. Both of your appearances will inevitably change over time. It’s imperative that the two of you try your best to accept each other wholeheartedly.

Implementing these tips will help your relationship with your dog grow stronger, happier, and healthier. Not only will you both feel more desirable to one another, you will help those around you by inspiring them with your loving, secure relationship.

Featured image via @mamaandgriff/Instagram

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Written by: Dr. Katy Nelson

May 20, 2016

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