When you’re a pet parent, every day is Valentine’s Day

One thing is obvious to every loving pet parent: Our dogs love us unconditionally. Our cats, not quite as much, plus they can be picky about which human they love in a household — with conditions.


But dogs are just big, furry bundles of love on four feet and a daily reminder of the sheer joy of a being that lives in the moment with a sense of wonder and pure innocence.


So who better to celebrate on Valentine’s Day and for the entire month than your dog? Here are five ways you can spoil your furry friend — that they’d love you more for, if they didn’t love you with all of their hearts already!

 

Let’s get physical


Dogs love to be active (some more than others) so plan an outing to exercise their body, and yours, and to engage their senses at the same time.


Take them to a local park or on an extra-long walk, and be sure that you go into parts of your neighborhood or community that you normally don’t. This will allow your dog to start with the familiar and then suddenly discover something entirely new.


Depending on your dog’s temperament and stamina, going on a hike together is a great way to give them a physical treat. So is a visit to a dog beach if it’s available in your area — although if you’ve never been to one, you’ll have to be the judge on this. Dogs that are afraid of loud noises like thunder and fireworks can also be spooked by the crashing surf.


Someone’s in for a treat


While you can’t give your dog that big box of chocolates — or any chocolate — for Valentine’s Day, you can still give them a tasty treat to enjoy, and they will absolutely love it.


Consider giving your fur bud a special meal for V Day. You can cook the same thing for both of you, but remember to leave out certain ingredients in your dog’s version. For example, don’t heavily spice it, and don’t add onions, garlic, or any related veggies. Definitely no grapes!


Also, and this is very important, whatever you make for your dog, cut it into tiny bite-size pieces first. Otherwise, they’ll just try to inhale the whole thing in one bite, and that’s not good. What is good, though: is the look of utter joy you get whenever your pup realizes, "They made me people food!”


Now, it doesn’t have to be "people food" if you’d prefer not to, and that’s okay as well. Check out these 5 healthy recipes for dogs for some ideas for DIY dog treats.


Quality, not quantity


Another great thing you can do to spoil your dog for Valentine’s Day is to spend quality time with them. Give them some extra-long playtime in their favorite manner, try some hide-and-go-seek, or even teach them a new trick. In fact, trick training is one of the best things you can do for your dog for many reasons.


Think about your own life for a moment. In any interaction you’ve had with an authority figure — parent, teacher, mentor, boss — when you’ve mastered a new skill and they acknowledge it positively, how has it made you feel? Most likely, it gave you a little boost in self-esteem and confidence.


It’s the same thing here, and it works best when you let your dog slowly figure it out. Try teaching them how to shake if they haven't conquered it already.


The secret is to wait until your dog makes a move that is part of what you want. In the case of “shake” say the word while holding a treat, but don't do anything until your dog inadvertently moves or lifts a paw. It doesn't matter which one, but they’ll get the treat.


This might take a few repetitions, but eventually, they’ll realize that it has to do something with "paw." At that point, combine "shake" with offering your hand, open and palm up, and it won't take them more than three minutes to realize that, “When Mom/Dad says ‘shake’ if I slap his paw with mine, I get a goody!”


And in every case, when they finally get it and you make a big to-do about their success, you can see the joy in their eyes. When they please their pet parent and can also learn a new thing, that is a great gift to give them! And, honestly, it's like giving a gift to yourself because there is no greater joy than being able to say, “Hey, I taught my kid something new.”


Other ways to spend quality time together are as simple as cuddling, although a really great way that benefits both of you is to read out loud to your dog.


It sounds weird! But studies have shown that it not only calms both you and your dog but can increase your self-confidence (because your dog won't judge you), and improve your public speaking skills since fear of public speaking is so common. And it’s already been used in libraries to help children.


Finally, take your dog to the pet store and let them pick out some new toys.


Someone just needs a nap


After all the exercise and excitement, give your fur baby a good rest and maybe the gift of a fresh new dog bed or blanket — or both. While humans need to get six to eight hours of sleep per night but often get less, dogs generally snooze away for 12 to 14 hours a day!


Of course, they manage this through frequent power naps and the enviable ability to lie down and fall asleep, waking up fully alert when necessary.


But think of all those human mattress commercials about how janky our bed gets after eight years, and translate that into how much more dogs sleep and how short dog years are, and... yeah, it’s probably time for a new bed, which would be a most appreciated Valentine’s Day gift!


Health is better than wealth


The greatest Valentine’s gift you can give your pooch is a total wellness check.


It’s time to take them to the vet to get their teeth cleaned. While you’re at it, make sure that their vaccines, check-ups, and flea and heartworm prevention treatments are all up-to-date and in place.


If you don’t have it already (why don’t you?), now is also the time to discuss and obtain pet health insurance.


Giving the love back


As stated previously, a dog’s love for their parent is unconditional, but for Valentine’s Day, we can’t give them chocolate and they wouldn’t know what to do with flowers, other than maybe treat them like a squeaky toy and shake the bouquet apart all over the living room floor!


But what we can give them is our unconditional love back, via any or all of the above suggestions. And don’t just save this list for February 14th! You can do any or all of these things for your fur baby then and every other day of the year.

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written by

Paw Team

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