5 things every dog needs

According to an ad for dog food, every dog needs five things. It was a little surprising to us how spot-on the ad was. Not that it convinced us to buy their food without further investigation, but it seems the person in charge of advertising understands dogs.

First up – every dog needs nourishment

Kind of obvious, especially considering the source. And so very personal for every family, situation, and dog. We’ll just assume that everyone here does the best they can with the resources and knowledge they have. It’s also a topic that people can discuss forever. Get three dog people together, talking about food. You’ll get at least twice the number of opinions as there are people.  

Comfort is next 

This one’s kind of fun. There are varying levels of comfort. Some would describe it as shelter from the weather, clean water, and enough room to move. Then there are those of us whose dogs have their own pillow on the bed. During the winter our feed fills up with adorable pictures of dogs enjoying the fireplace warmth. With a row of dog beds lined up along the hearth. 

Dogs need companionship

Picture of a Yorkshire Terrier on a chair with head tilted to illustrate 5 things every dog needs

While “pack” theory of dogs has been debunked, dogs are social animals. That’s why most of us don’t remember a time we went to the bathroom by ourselves. Companionship is as simple as being in the same room together, watching tv. It’s going about your life and letting your dog be there. It’s working from home and having a bed just for them next to your work area. And, when you talk to yourself, saying your dog’s name so they look at you and you can pretend it’s a conversation.

Companionship isn’t about having dog friends. If your dog likes other dogs and enjoys playing with them, that’s fine. But you don’t have to feel guilty if that’s not the case. Most dogs only need their people for companionship. You don’t have to look outside the family circle, even if that circle is just you and your dog.

Play is necessary

Dogs are perpetual toddlers. That’s not a bad thing. It just means that they will always be dependent on their people for basic necessities. They’re never going to go to college, get a job, and function independently. As a result, dogs are always youngsters at heart, always ready to play. Even senior dogs have favorite toys, games, and treats

The best thing about having to play with your dog is that you get to play, too. Spending a while just enjoying a game of “Fetch!” is a welcome break from the realities and responsibilities of everyday life. Dogs need to play. Make time to play. You’ll both wind up smiling.

Last but not least: Dogs need a purpose

 A dog’s’ most important purpose is to be your companion. But most dogs love having a “job,” other than just being good all the time. Although we know that’s harder for some dogs than others. 

Having a purpose means that you expect something from your dog. Dogs are incredibly adaptable, educable beings. Stretching their minds, as well as their bodies, lets both of you enjoy a stronger bond and better relationship. Challenging them to achieve enriches their lives. We got involved in training years ago because we saw our dogs being lazy and bored. When you expect more from them, you’ll be amazed what your best friend can do.

Play to your dog’s strengths. Terriers love to sniff. Pointers find stuff. Retrievers fetch. Herding dogs herd. All kinds of dogs originally had a job. When you let them follow their natural instinct for their purpose, they’re happier dogs.

If you have a dog that loves to go sniffing, play scent games. You can challenge problem-solving dogs by playing “find it!” games. Purpose and play go hand in hand. Because everyone, including dogs, learns more and does better when they’re having fun. 

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7 thoughts on “5 things every dog needs

  1. Elisabeth LeBris

    So true all of these(especially the bathroom supervisors)! We play nose work with tiny treats and we have ALWAYS talked with our dogs. Convinced it makes them smarter!

  2. Susan

    I would love some tips for sniff games for my terrier! He gets bored with fetch quickly, he’ll play sit-stay-leave it and sit-down and he’ll chase a squeaky tennis ball in the back yard for a few minutes, but he’s – well, he’s a terrier and he will do things HIS way. Which means most training games bore him. But he does love to sniff!

    1. Golly Gear Post author

      Terriers absolutely need a job! In our training site we talked about how Torque is learning to find the scent in a version of the “shell game,” but you can easily use a treat instead of a scent for your dog to “find.” All you need is three containers and a treat. Another game uses a muffin tin and some treats. Training games should never be more than a couple of minutes at a time and should always be fast and fun!


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