35 Ways to Make your Puppy Happy

"It's a dog's life," the saying goes, but you can make your little one's life even richer. Here are some ideas:

  1. Plan playtime. Make a date with your puppy each and every day to help socialise him. Race him to the park, or recite poetry. You choose. He will bask in your undivided attention no matter what you do.
  2. Take a road trip. He'll love riding shotgun to the ice cream store, the post office or to pick up groceries.
  3. Cuddle up. Even if your spouse hates tearjerkers, we're sure your puppy will embrace them. He also won't keep track of how many Kleenex you use.
  4. Hit the water. Nearly every breed of dog loves H20, so prance through puddles, leap into lakes or race through a river.
  5. Give him a bath. After all that wading in the stinky pond down the street, give him a nice bubble bath with specially formulated puppy shampoo.
  6. Beat the heat. Exercise with your pup in the early morning hours and enjoy that sunrise you've missed the past few years. Swimming is also great exercise.
  7. Walk, walk, walk. To the grocery store. To your neighbor's house. To school to pick up your kids. You'll be surprised what a good time you'll both have smelling life's roses.
  8. Do a dance. Your puppy loves your moves — no matter how lame they are.
  9. Teach him a new trick. Start with fetch and move right on up to cleaning the garage and doing taxes.
  10. Tell him about your boss. Or your boyfriend. And everything in between. You puppy will gladly listen to your secrets — and he promises never to tell.
  11. Snap his mug. You'll both have a ball doing a photo shoot.
  12. Check out your local breed club. You'll learn more about your puppy and meet new friends — for both of you.
  13. Register with your local kennel club. You've put in a lot of work teaching your pup to do tricks (and you've already practiced on the cat walk — see tip #8), so go ahead and make things official
  14. Learn to speak Puppy. He is, after all, learning to speak English at your behest. The least you can do is to take time to study his body language so that you know how he's feeling.
  15. Bring a blankie. Make your vacation easier on him by leaving him with something to remember you by when you kennel him.
  16. Let him sniff. Your life isn't so busy that you can't let him take an extra-long whiff around the park. Such olfactory communication is essential for puppies learning about the world.
  17. Microchip him and make sure he has a collar and tag. Millions of puppies are lost each year. Make sure yours isn't one of them by updating his charms religiously.
  18. Get him fixed. Animals who've had The Operation lead longer, healthier lives. Plus, you'll be doing your part to curb overpopulation.
  19. Let him chew. Yes, it can be a pain, but it is also developmentally appropriate for puppies. Quit complaining and purchase high-quality chew toys at pet specialty stores then let him have at it.
  20. Skip the scraps. Feeding puppies table food might seem like a good idea, but such morsels lead to obesity, intestinal problems, choking and hyperactivity.
  21. Instead, feed him a perfectly balanced diet from a well-known brand like Eukanuba. He'll enjoy the taste and you'll know you're giving him the right nutrients.
  22. Say so long to sweets. Even though she's part of your family, Fluffy does not need her own Easter basket. In fact, desserts like chocolate can seriously harm puppies.
  23. Feed to size. Pups have different nutritional needs based on their projected weight as adults. Eukanuba tweaks its formulas to meet the specific demands of small-, medium- , large- and giant-breed puppies so that you don't have to play dietician.
  24. Don't overfeed. Yes, it's true that puppies burn twice the energy of adult dogs, but that doesn't mean they need twice the food. Feed "smart" by giving your puppy a nutrient-dense meal that allows his body to make the best use of the calories eaten. (Yes, our formulas do that, too!)
  25. Keep it fresh. Always dump the water in your pup's bowl before each meal is served (and between meals, if necessary), then scrub the dish. Without water, your pup could get dehydrated quickly so keep a few bowls around the house.
  26. Brush-a, brush-a. Daily dental care can prevent gum disease, tooth loss and doggie breath. It can even lengthen your dog's life. Get on your vet's calendar. Ensure your puppy has regular check-ups. This will afford his doc the opportunity to get a baseline on his health.
  27. Take him in if he's sick. It is unfair to make a helpless puppy "wait it out" if he's ill. Besides, what you conclude is "nothing" could actually turn out to be something. In which case, you'll want to get a treatment immediately. Rather be safe than sorry.
  28. Give him a "petacure." Clip his claws regularly, or ask your vet to do it for you. Keeping them too long could result in discomfort for puppies (not to mention the havoc it'll wreak on your hardwoods).
  29. Give him an earful. Puppies are susceptive to several ear issues including mites and infections. Ask his doc how to carefully clean his ears, then do so regularly.
  30. Banish fleas. Get your pup on a regular anti-flea regime as soon as possible to avoid a case of the itchies.
  31. Puppy-proof your home. Crawl around on your hands and knees to make sure electrical wires are beyond reach. Move breakables up high; tuck treasures into closets until Pup can be trusted.
  32. Post "In Case of Emergency" numbers. Tape important phone numbers next to your phone or on the fridge with your Vet's information in case of an emergency. Include in the list any allergies your pup might have and the names of medications he is taking.
  33. Take time to train. An unmannered puppy can turn into a nightmarish dog if you don't invest energy in helping him learn to mind. It's also great bonding time for you and your pooch.
  34. Be gentle. Never hit, threaten, frighten or force-train your puppy. Such strategies might result in a change of behavior, but it won't be the kind you're after. Remind yourself that you are the grown-up — you should act like one. Positive reinforcement is a far more effective way of training.
  35. Enjoy your puppy. With all that goes into raising a pup, it is easy to forget to simply be with him. After all, in a few short months, you'll be missing this phase — chewing and all.