Top 10 Holiday Gifts for the Hounds in Your Life

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The following post was originally published by Karen on KP’s Dog Blog, December 12, 2007.

And they’re all free!

1.) A long walk every morning. With this gift, your dog is halfway to nirvana. A long walk promotes an enduring sense of well-being and contentment, and it’s great for every dog’s health. Walking together is also key to your bond with your dog.

2.) A calm environment. Pledge never to lose your temper with or in front of your dog. If you’re a drama queen, decide to stop being one now―hey, if I can do it, you can too. Dogs don’t do well with drama. Serenity is more their cup of tea.

3.) A holistic approach to veterinary medicine. Investigate chiropractic, acupuncture, homeopathy, herbs, nutrition, and all the other alternatives to the standard drugs and surgery that conventional vets offer. In most cases, these methods are less invasive yet more effective at promoting healing because they get to the root of the problem instead of just masking it or suppressing it.

4.) Commitment. Adopt a dog with the same kind of commitment that you reserve for marriage. You will part company only under the most dire and irreconcilable circumstances. Otherwise, never give up on your dog’s behavior problems―there is an answer out there. You just need to find it and implement it.

5.) Respect. Pledge never to disparage your dog. Don’t believe that your dog can’t understand what you’re saying. We vastly underestimate dogs’ comprehension―often they can pick up on the underlying idea. In all relevant matters, consider your dog’s point of view. This, of course, requires empathy, the ability to put yourself in your dog’s position and see things through his or her eyes.

6.) Quality time. Play a new game, like hide ‘n’ seek. Bring home a new toy or object of interest frequently. You get out more than your dogs do―so bring some of the world back home to them. It can be as simple as a pine cone or as elaborate as a fun, interactive toy from your local pet supply store. Hang out together and focus on Fluffy―don’t let thoughts about work or anything else creep in.

7.) Careful observation. Pay close attention to Fido’s appearance and demeanor. Look at him from all angles (his tummy, his paw pads, under his tail, under his lips). This is the best way to detect health problems early on when they are most treatable and least painful.

8.) Hands-on attention. Dogs are sensual creatures―most of them love to be massaged, scratched, and petted. Caress or scratch them the way they like it, not the way you like it. Some dogs like a good hard scratch on the butt, while others like a medium scratch on the chest. Some love a gentle caress, while others like a deep-tissue massage. Find out what pleases your dog.

9.) Some silliness. Dogs are never more photogenic than when they are being silly―a photo captures the sheer pleasure of playtime on their faces. So join them! Even initiate it. Get down on the floor and do a play bow. Find out what gets your dog in a goofy mood and do it every day.

10.) Unconditional love. Love your dog with the fullness of your heart, with every fiber of your being, every hour of every day. Dogs’ lives pass much too quickly, and before you know it, it’s time to say goodbye. Don’t waste a single moment!

These are all gifts that money can’t buy, yet they are the gifts that your dog will appreciate the most. Happy holidays!

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