Today is National Puppy Day and the Year of the Dog
Today is National Puppy Day (#NationalPuppyDay). Colleen Paige founded this most important day in 2006 “in the hopes of improving the lives of puppies everywhere.” She also is the founder of National Dog Day (August 26) and National Cat Day (October 29). National Puppy Day is celebrated on Friday or Monday if March 23rd falls on a weekend. It was created “to celebrate the magic and unconditional love that puppies bring to our lives.”
In her essay called “The Best Things You Can Do for Your Puppy,” Dr. Zazie Todd asks us to: Get your puppy from a reputable source (and surely not from a puppy mill); Socialize your puppy the right way; and Sign up for puppy class. This is all very good advice, because so many people who choose to bring a puppy or an older dog into their homes and heart don’t have the background in basic dog behavior to give them what they really want and need despite their trying to do so. I don’t mean this in a negative way, but when we become responsible for the life of another being such as a companion animal, we need to know about their behavior and how they express what they need and want, because we truly are their lifelines. For example, a recent study showed that it’s essential to understand dog behavior in order to know when they’re in pain (see also for a discussion of this seminal research project).
I’m a fan of all people who choose to bring a dog into their homes and hearts taking the time to become amateur ethologists and spending time becoming “fluent in dog.” When we make this decision, and it should be a serious and informed choice, we become their caregivers and they assume we have their best interests in mind from “cradle to grave,” the cradle beginning when we welcome them into our lives. For more discussion please see “New Study Shows Importance of Understanding Dog Behavior,” “Dogs Want and Need Much More Than They Usually Get From Us“, “Dog, Cats, and Humans: Shared Emotions Act As ‘Social Glue’“, “How to Give Dogs the Best Lives Possible in a Human World,” and “Living With a Dog Is Good, If It’s Good for You and the Dog.”
“More is better” so let’s not hold back on giving puppies and all dogs all we can and then some, each and every day.
Focusing on puppies, a recent study showed that providing varied experiences make significant positive differences for them (for discussion please see “Giving Puppies Extra Socialization Is Beneficial for Them“). In their study published in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science called “Improving puppy behavior using a new standardized socialization program,” researchers Helen Vaterlaws-Whiteside and Amandine Hartmann showed that “more is better,” and that puppies benefit from the extra socialization in terms of their resiliency and quality of life. The positive effects of extra socialization show that we can always do more for the dogs for whom we are caretakers, and it’s a win-win for all.
I’m a fan of giving dogs and other animals all the love we can and then some. There’s nothing wrong with doing more for the nonhumans who depend on us for their very lives, so why not do all we can to give them the very best lives possible. Let’s “get down and dirty” with our companions and let them sleep in our bedrooms and beds, two things that might be especially important for young dogs who need to feel the connection with, and the love from, their humans. And, of course, be sure they get to romp with their canine friends and have fun-on-the-run to their hearts’ content (please also see “The Power of Play: Dogs Just Want to Have Fun“). Young dogs need to have a lot of social interactions with humans and other dogs, and also with the other animals with whom they share their homes. Also be sure that you come to know your dog as the individual they are; speaking about “the dog” can be misleading because of the enormous amount of variability in personality among dogs, even among littermates.
Let’s freely and openly show all dogs that we really care about them and how much we love them and want them to enjoy themselves as much as possible in a human-dominated world. Let’s do this every single day, not only on the days that are marked as being special for them. This really isn’t asking too much. As my friend’s young daughter once remarked to me, “If someone takes a dog home and they don’t do all they can for them, they shouldn’t be bringing that dog home.” I couldn’t agree more.