I don’t know about you guys but I spend far too much time staring into my dogs eyes trying to understand if she is happy.
I know a few things for fact:
- She loves snuggles
- She loves treats
- She loves elephant the toy she’s had since the day I got her 13 years ago (Who I have managed to not lose, which I consider a feat, even though he may have been damaged slightly by a curling iron once and years of her playing with it..)
Souffie happily asleep after getting hours of cuddles
The there’s all those human things I think I project on her- her need for having more dog friends her desire to sniff a new scent. So even though she is not exactly what you would call friendly towards other dogs, I still feel she needs to socialize and keep trying to help her make friends. This is a losing battle. I’ll also try and spice up our walks and take a different path so she’s not bored by the usual smells and sights on our walks.
But all this wasn’t enough for me. Because doing this once in a while wasn’t going to make her happy in the long run.
So I’ve devised a method to measuring Souffie’s happiness. While not a direct formula (snuggles x treats x 20 minute walk) this at least makes me feel like I am taking care of all her needs. And I’m sharing it with you, because I’m sure I’m not alone in this!
After a bit of research, I found Tamar Geller’s Loved Dog. And I love it. In the book she talks about the 7 needs a dog has. Building on that I’ve broken it down into 3 main elements that I call the Doggie Happiness Index, DHI, which address a dog’s needs: physical, mental and social.
Physical- pretty straight forward… but happiness starts with health right? Here I look at all health, exercise and nutrition. Making sure she is moving enough, not eating too much and not getting over spoiled with treats
Souffie on her way to attend a wedding
Mental– dogs crave routine and security for peace of of mind. So I try to make sure Souffie has a built and established routine (which is not always easy). Also I make sure she is mentally stimulated. She spends a lot of time on her own so I like to get her games that require some thinking, like puzzle toys and treat balls and when we are together try and play more challenging games or teach her a new trick (it is possible to teach and old dog new tricks!)
She demands to be the center of everyone’s attention
Social– well obviously snuggle time falls in this category. And we can’t forget that dogs are pack animals and like hierarchy (which is also linked to their sense of security) so I make sure to get her around other people (and dogs when possible) and make sure she feels loved all the time.
In fact she wouldn’t even let me write this post since it was Souffie time!
So that’s my DHI. This is still a work in progress and would love to hear from you if you have any more ideas or improvements!
I love using Hachiko to help me track all of this! I can set goals for Souffies activity, with an added bonus of knowing how active she was on her own, so I know for how long we need to talk. Also I make sure to log her food and treats so I can both set a routine and also make sure I don’t over feed her (she is getting a bit well… huskier lately!).
Souffie with her Hachiko Sensor. Stylish and fun!
Hachiko Smart Sensors are a great way to keep track of your dog’s activity and behavior. To set routines and make sure they are receiving the care they deserve. Learn more about it and how it can help you keep your dog happy on their website. And to make you happy use the promocode HAPPYDOG to get $5 off!