At the very least, providing your pet with food, water, and shelter are your main responsibilities as a pet owner. But, you also should mainstream your pet to fit your family and your lifestyle. Becoming a great pet owner means making sure your pet is not only basically surviving, but is living a happy and healthy life. There are a few simple ways to do this!

  1. Hug your dog.

Spend time with your dog! Devote at least 30 minutes a day to play time with your dog. Gather the whole family to play a game of catch. Or try hiding a healthy treat and letting your dog look for it. Pet him or her, and give lots of praise and positive attention.

Make sure your dog has access to safe and stimulating toys. Research the chew toys you provide to your dog. Many can cause blockage and choking. However, there are a lot of toys made for safety and durability. A dog provided with durable toys will not need to chew on items around the house! Try filling a Kong toy with fat free peanut butter, a healthy treat, chicken broth, or water and freezing it. An instant puppy popsicle!

  1. Walk your dog.

Even if you have a backyard where your dog plays, you should walk your dog daily. A tired dog is a well behaved dog! Exercise will help every behavior issue. A dog needs this regular exercise to maintain a happy and healthy lifestyle.

If you’ve never taken your dog on a walk before, do some research on leashes. You will want a short leash. Wind it around your hand so the dog walks directly to your side. This way, walks with your dog will be easy and fun for both of you. Enjoy your time together, make it a family event. Take a look at some of the dog walking suggestions on

  1. Train your dog.

Devoting 10-20 minutes a day doing training sessions with your dog gives your dog the confidence he or she needs. Dogs strive on working. Give them a job, they do it, and they feel more confident and successful in doing so.

You don’t always have to teach a new trick. If your dog knows how to sit, just spend 10 minutes asking your dog to sit and rewarding with a small healthy treat. If you have time, teach them a new trick as well! Lay down, roll over, and up are just a few simple tricks.

Another way to “work” your dog is to ask them to do a trick before feeding them.

  1. Research your dog.

Find out about your dog’s breed! Each dog breed has individual needs. I have a dachshund, and I know with his breed I need to pay special attention to his back. He cannot climb steep steps or jump off of high furniture. He needs a lot of exercise to keep his weight healthy to support his back.

What does your dog need? Check out

If your dog is a mix, research the breeds in his mix. A puppy from a shelter or rescue will need probably need extra support behaviorally and with weight and dental issues. Find out more online about specific needs for your dog.

  1. Research food.

Especially with the recent recalls, make sure you are feeding your dog something healthy. Do not trust the misleading labels on the front of food bags. Look at the ingredients, and compare brands. Why feed them something you wouldn’t dare eat? A good food can effect your dogs behavior, health, weight, coat health, and even yard cleanup!

Also, research the benefits of feeding a balanced raw or home cooked diet. I feed raw, and I am thrilled with the results.

Compare food at this website

Do not assume feeding your dog table scraps is keeping him healthy. A better choice is a bully stick to help clean your dogs teeth, found at most pet stores. Many table foods are too high in fat and sugar, and will affect your dogs weight negatively. Additionally, many human foods can be poisonous to dogs in high amounts, and not just chocolate! Garlic, raisins, grapes, and onions are just a few.

Don’t forget to check the ingredients on your dog’s treats. A good natural treat is 100% pure pumpkin. Drop it by the spoonful onto a cookie sheet, and put it in the freezer. When frozen, transfer treats to a freezer bag. Store in the freezer for a healthy treat for your companion, anytime!

  1. Take care of your dog’s problems.

If you are having any behavior problem with your dog, please become involved. Do not just attribute the problem to bad behavior and let it go. If your dog is having trouble house training, seems to have separation anxiety, or has any problem medical or otherwise, do the research! There is an endless amount of support on the internet and in literature for pet owners. If you help your pet overcome the problem, he or she will be able to live a happier life.

Just taking the time to read this article proves you are a dedicated pet owner! If you follow these six steps, you are going to have a lifelong best friend and family member.