Who loves you the most? Maybe your first thought is your husband, your wife, your girlfriend or your boyfriend. I’m sure they love you from here to the moon, but no one can love you like a dog. So don’t forget your pup on Valentine’s Day.
Here are eight ways to show your dogs how much to love them:
This one should be a no-brainer. All dogs love treats. You can find heart-shaped treats online here or here, or some extra special personalized Valentine’s Treats here. If you really want to show your dog how much you love him (or it’s too late to go to the store), you can make heart-shaped treats in your own kitchen. For a quick recipe, try Frozen Peanut Butter and Yogurt Treats, no baking required. All you need is a heart-shaped ice-cube tray, peanut butter, and plain yogurt. Spoon into the tray, and pop into your freezer. Instant love!
Take him on a walking tour of your neighborhood, or visit every dog park within walking distance — or a short drive. If you’re near a park, take him for a walk on some nature trails. If you live in a warm climate, go for a long hike. If your dog has some local dog friends, arrange a group walk with other dog parents. Depending on what your dog loves to do, go to an open field or a park and play Frisbee, throw a tennis ball (over and over), or play a game of tug.
3. Go for a swim
Not all dogs love the water, but the dogs that do, really love it! If you have a “water dog” who loves to swim, there are places you can take him to get in some laps. For example, New York City has Water4Dogs. They specialize in rehabilitation and hydrotherapy, but they also offer the pool for fitness and health. And for seniors dogs, their pool is heated to 90 degrees. If you live in a state where the weather is balmy, check out beaches that allow dogs.
Most dogs love massage (if you don’t believe it, check this video out). Massage can calm a nervous dog, act as a warm-up before strenuous exercise, relieve joint pain and stiffness or just serve as a great bonding experience. The best places to massage are the chest, where the head and neck connect, the ears, the head, the back (particularly the lower back), the belly, the legs and the paws.
What dog appreciate most is your undivided attention. Plan some time where you’re just hanging out (minus the computer, cell phone, or television). Cuddling, playing, or even sitting around talking to him if he enjoys it. Pay attention to the things your dog loves to do, and give him the time and the space to do it. Does he like to dig? Make him a sandbox in your backyard or get him a kiddie pool in the yard. If he loves car rides, go on a long drive around town. Speaking of television, if your dog goes crazy over Animal Planet, put on the TV, and watch it together.
Is your dog really smart? Does he love to learn new things? Is he active or a class clown? Sign up for a class in something he loves. There are agility classes, Tricks classes, even scent games seminars and circus schools. If you’ve got a herding dog, like a Border Collie or an Australian Shepherd, book a stay at Raspberry Ridge Sheep Farm and B & B, and sign up for Herding Boot Camp. If you have kids too (the two-legged kind), check out Frolic for events, classes, birthday parties and even camp.
7. Home-cooked dog food
Yes, the way to a dog’s heart is through his stomach. Making your own dog food is also the best way to keep them safe and healthy. You know what’s in it, and you can choose high quality ingredients. A crockpot is a great way to make food in large batches, and then you can freeze smaller amounts—just put in the refrigerator overnight to defrost. Use a basic recipe, and choose your protein, carbohydrates (grains and/or vegetables), fat, and calcium. To be sure your recipe is providing everything your dog needs, consider adding a small amount of a dog supplement to each meal. Your dog will love you even more at mealtime!
8. Pamper your dog
Spend a day making your dog comfortable. Clean his water and food bowls. Wash or vacuum his bed, or get a new one (you can even buy specialized beds, like mattresses or heated bed for older dogs). If your dog gets anxious during thunderstorms, try a ZenCrate (if money is no object), a cave bed, or even a Mongolian Yurt Bed for small breeds. Wash his favorite stuffed toy, or let him pick out a new one. Buy him a water fountain. If your dog is a dandy, pick up a new spiked collar or motorcycle jacket. Or just take him to your local pet boutique, and let him pick out a new toy.
All of these suggestions will make your dog feel special. And don’t forget: it’s Valentine’s Day. That calls for lots of kisses!