Ways to help strengthen your bond with your dog

Just as spending frequent, quality time together with a friend makes us feel closer and improves our relationship, the same goes for our pets too. The more time, activities and experiences you have together will further strengthen your understanding, bond and it’s also enjoyable and beneficial for you both.

There are lots of easy ways to make sure you do this on a regular basis that are practical and flexible to fit around busy schedules. Although walking and playing are often overlooked as an opportunity to bond and considered more a duty, it’s important to recognise these as vital time and activities that help to keep you as best buds. Playtime in particular helps with bond building through the shared communication it involves, and your dog’s association of their happiness and excitement with you as the source. Try not to get stuck into a rut by doing the same familiar walks, instead go to different and new places, or even just change up your route slightly and the toys that you take along – a ball, Frisbee or tug of war rope all make for great interactive play. Exercise is important but not just to provide physical activity but also to provide an opportunity to explore. This is the reason why dogs like to go for a walk; it provides an opportunity to explore their environment, re-encounter familiar items or places, or to make new discoveries not simply because they need physical activity. Exercise provides opportunities to explore their environment using all of their senses; off lead exercise provides optimum opportunities for a dog to explore but can only be safely provided to dogs which will recall reliably.

If you’re an active type and are prone to a lot more vigorous activity than just walking, why not get your dog involved as a furry (and very eager!) exercise partner. With lots of energy to burn off themselves, dogs can make the perfect running partner which will help their health and bring a sense of importance and focus. Perhaps you’re an avid hiker and could include your dog more often in any excursions. Think about your own activities and where your pet could fit into this as a way to strengthen your relationship.

Training is another great way to use and improve communication with your dog, and get them to learn a new trick in the process! The lessons learnt through training are valuable ones that can benefit your friendship in all kinds of instances. Along with teaching obedience and responses to basic commands, it also helps you to build trust and understanding with your pet. This can be vital for situations when you may rely on this established bond for either their or your own safety. Ultimately too, dogs love to please their owners, so by seeing your reaction at their success and hard work it will bring them a sense of joy and achievement. To get the most out of training, be sure to praise your dog enthusiastically and use rewards to communicate their successes.

Physical contact and interaction with your dog, such as regular petting and grooming, also help to enhance your bond. Just like most pets, dogs enjoy the attention and quality time together this brings, and touch can be another powerful communication method. Research shows the human benefits are significant too, in terms of the positive effects on our health such as lowering stress levels and blood pressure. It’s even becoming used more widely as a therapy treatment, due to the impact interaction and establishing a relationship with a dog can have on our wellbeing. Most owners will agree their friendship with a pet is top of the list of the many wonderful things having a dog can bring, so try and use these simple ways to make sure your relationship is the best one possible and it will help to keep you both healthy and happy.

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Which are the more affectionate breeds of dogs?

Different types of breeds offer different traits and personalities, with some known in particular for their affectionate nature, making them a perfect choice for families and young children. Here’s a selection of popular breeds that are renowned for their loving temperament, ideal if you’re looking for a furry friend both to give and receive love from:

Collie – A highly energetic breed that love the outdoors and to run; this means they need regular exercising and activity, but their love of people means playing with them will get you a guaranteed friend for life. They are ideal companions for active adults who love exploring the great outdoors.

Bichon Frise – They look a little bit like a teddy bear, and have a personality to match it! Bichons are known for their sunny disposition and sweet nature, and they love activity and interaction with people. Another advantage of this adorable breed, which adds to their popularity with families, is their non-shedding fur, making them great for any allergy sufferers.

Beagle – If you suffer from anxiety or have nervous children, then a well-balanced breed such as Beagles are great to help assure and relax anyone slightly wary of dogs. Originally a pack dog, Beagles enjoy the company of other dogs so they’re very sociable and get along easily with various other breeds. Their friendly, funny and calm nature means they’re especially good for families with children; a sturdy breed, you won’t find they tire out before your kids do!

Bulldog – Don’t be fooled by their tough exterior and expression, Bulldogs are highly loveable canines that make for great family pets. Their patient and gentle temperament means they easily form strong bonds with both young and old family members. Plus, a sturdy shell means they can handle active and vigorous children. They’re not fussy on habitat either, so whether you have a small flat or large house a Bulldog will be happy wherever.

Labrador Retriever – Labradors are renowned for their friendly and approachable nature, which means they’re happy socialising with other people and dogs alike. A reliable family pet, they love to please their owners and are known for being playful and loving. If you want to test your training skills or teach your children how, Labradors are very good at, and enjoy, learning a new trick, which helps relationship building and satisfaction for you both. However, they are very clumsy and can be boisterous so there is a risk they will knock over toddlers or the more unstable.

Springer Spaniel – If you’re looking for a dog that can match particularly energetic kids, then the bouncy and fun-loving Springer Spaniel is the breed for you! They’re not called ‘Springers’ for nothing. Their love of being around other people means they are good at forming strong bonds with owners, and showing them affection. They have a huge desire to please their owners and love ball games which will keep them active and happy. Perfect for running around and keeping up with children, their gentle and kind nature will mean you can rest assured they’re in safe hands with your pet.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel – Very popular with families due to their compact size and lovely nature, this is a breed that are most often bred as companion dogs. One of their defining traits is as being very gentle and trustworthy, which makes them a great first furry friend for children, and you’ll find they quickly become a valued part of the family.

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Benefits of grooming for cats

We all love to be pampered, and the same goes for your cat. But it’s not only a nice treat that felines enjoy, it’s actually very good for their health and wellbeing too. Plus, that extra bit of quality time together helps to strengthen your relationship and gives you an opportunity to check your cat for any other signs or symptoms that may indicate disease or injury.

Just as we would exfoliate for the benefits it gives our skin, grooming your cat stimulates its circulation and can help improve muscle tone. The brushing motion, with long strokes in particular, distributes the natural oil (known as sebum) that cats produce from glands associated with every hair follicle, and this sebum helps to maintain good skin and a healthy coat. Regular brushing will also free any trapped dirt and minimise tangles or matted areas. Matts are a particular problem in long haired cats or cats which are not flexible because of injury or age as they can’t easily reach to groom themselves, resulting in matts over their lower back. Significant matts create a shield which actually prevents a cat from grooming themself; the skin under the matt is starved of fresh air, so this can lead to dirt building up and the matts becoming a haven for fleas. Another important benefit of frequent grooming is that it helps to reduce the number of hairballs your cat may digest by removing loose hairs – the more that are brushed away the less they are likely to swallow when grooming themselves.

It’s not just your furry friend who will gain from regular grooming; brushing will cut down the amount of hair and dander around the home, and of course we all know how nice it is to have a carpet and sofa that isn’t constantly covered in cat hairs! It’s also thought to have benefits for allergy sufferers too. Several studies also link owners that have frequent physical interaction with their pets to lower blood pressure and stress levels, which means it’s perhaps just as good for us as it is for our cats.

Grooming should be incorporated as part of your regular routine and doesn’t have to be a lengthy process; even a quick 5 minutes can bring the same benefits and will leave you with one satisfied feline. For long haired cats, it’s recommended to do this every day while three times a week should be sufficient for shorter haired breeds. With health benefits all round, it’s definitely something that’s worth prioritising so be sure to fit into your schedule and your cat will thank you for it.

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