7 ways to show your dog how much you love them

February 01, 2022

Valgray for Dogs designers dog collars and leashes based in Cape Town, South Africa blog on seven ways to show your dogs you love them. Blog image shows a Chinese Shar-Pei puppy wearing a Valgray for Dogs blush pink dog snood while on the beach.

We know you are barking mad about your fur kids, and we want to help you show your pups how much you love and care for them.

As we all know, actions speak much, much louder than words, so we're going to share seven of our favourite ways to help your doggo lead a healthier lifestyle and feel your absolute adoration.

Here are 7 ways to show your dog how much you love them!

 

1) Learn to listen to your dog

 
Valgray for Dogs designers dog collars and leashes based in Cape Town, South Africa blog on seven ways to show your dogs you love them and understanding dog body language and behaviour. Image shows a Chinese Shar-Pei puppy and wire-haired terrier dog greeting each other and wearing Valgray for Dogs tear-resistant, waterproof dog collars with name tags while on the beach.

Dogs can't speak human (no matter how hard they try!), but they can let us know how they feel and what they think using their facial expressions, bodies and even posture.

Learning to interpret and understand your doggy's body language is an essential part of communicating with your pup; it's also a fantastic way to decrease doggo-human miscommunications.

Here's how your best friend talks to you and what they are saying:

Doggy facial expressions

Your fur kids have the same range of facial expressions as humans, but not all of them have the same meaning. 

Smiling: Some dogs do genuinely smile at their owners. However, a smile or baring of teeth (especially when they curl their lips) is a sign of aggression in the doggy world and is a way of saying, "back off, or I'll get you with my big chompers!"

Yawning: When your pup yawns, they aren't tired or bored. Yawning is actually a way for dogs to self-soothe when they feel stressed or tense. 

Lip-licking or smacking: Yes, your dog licks their lips after a great meal, but they also lick their lips when they feel nervous, anxious or uncomfortable.

Soft, relaxed gazes: A gentle, relaxed gaze (or even a slight squint) means your pooch is calm and happy.

Cold, hard stares: Think of that glare you get when you try to take away a toy your doggy is guarding! You can easily tell your furry bestie feels threatened, aggressive, or even protective when they have a cold, hard stare, and they hold that stare for a long time. 

Showing the whites of their eyes: When your floof shows you the whites of their eyes (known as whale eyes), they are saying, "I'm nervous" or "I'm super uncomfortable." You might see this when your dog is worried you're going to steal their favourite toy.

Looking away or avoiding eye contact: Unlike humans, when your doggo looks away, they aren't ignoring you or avoiding you. Eye contact in the animal kingdom is a direct threat, so when your pup steers clear of staring deep into your eyes, they are really just trying to show you respect and bring calm to a situation.

Doggo body language

Facial expressions and body language go hand-in-hand (or paw-in-paw), and your doggy will speak to you using their body too.

Tail wagging: Believe it or not, a wagging tail doesn't always indicate a happy dog. Dogs wag their tails to display a range of emotions, from absolute excitement or frustration to fear or aggression.

To figure out which wag means what, we recommend watching the speed and direction of the wagging. 

Slow, long, side-to-side wagging, especially those that incorporate the whole body, means your dog is happy and relaxed. While quick tail twitches indicate your dog feels protective or threatened.

Tail height: When a doggo holds their tail high and away from the floor, it shows they feel assertive, confident or aggressive. Whereas a tail tucked between legs or pointing towards the floor means your doggy is fearful or stressed.

Raised hackles: Often accompanied with a snarl, when the fur on your dog's shoulders and down their back stand on end, aka raised hackles, it signifies your pup is upset or stressed out. In some cases, your dog's hackles might rise when they are interested in something new and exciting, sort of like goosebumps.

Scratching, licking and chewing: Scratching, licking and chewing aren't always about having an itch or grooming. Dogs will scratch, lick and chew themselves when they feel uncertain, anxious or scared.

Rolling over: Your dog may roll on their back to ask for a tummy scratch, but if they display their belly to new people and other dogs, it's usually an act of submission out of fear. This act of surrender can also include involuntarily urination (they really don't mean to piddle) and attempts to hide in a safe space.

Flattened ears: If your pooch's ears are tucked back and laying flat against their head, they are terrified and feel very tense.

Bowing: Seen your dog bow with their chest low to the ground and butt and tail sticking in the air? That's your dog's way of saying, 'I'm so happy, I just want to play!"

Pooch posture

Your pup's posture and how they carry themselves speak volumes about how they feel and their mindset at any given time.

Neutral and relaxed: It goes without saying; a pup who has a neutral and relaxed posture is happy, comfortable and confident.

Rigid and stiff: Like you, your dog carries stress in their body, and when they feel threatened, afraid or tense, they will adopt a stiff stature and rigid stance. 

It's vital to remember that your pupper will use a combination of facial expressions, body language and posture to provide you with a full update on how they are feeling, and depending on their breed/s, your dog may 'speak' differently to other dogs. For example, we mentioned above that swift tail twitches indicate feeling threatened, but terriers may use quick tail twitching to show they are excited.

2) Make healthier diet decisions for your doggo

 
Valgray for Dogs designers dog collars and leashes based in Cape Town, South Africa blog on seven ways to show your dogs you love them and how to choose a healthy dog diet. Image shows a Miniature Schnauzer dog and owners at a local farmer's market. The Miniature Schnauzer dog is wearing a Valgray for Dogs tear-resistant, waterproof dog collar and leash set with name tags.

We can all agree a healthier dog is a happier doggy, which is why making better diet decisions for your fur kiddy is an excellent way to show your love for them.

Dry dog food makes feeding easy, but not all dog foods are created equal and just like we should avoid sugars, salts, and refined carbs in our diet, your dog needs to avoid certain things to maintain a healthy body weight and stay on top form.

We suggest looking at the ingredients in your pup's food to ensure they are getting a balanced diet and enough nutrition.

Below are harmful ingredients to look out for:

1) Melamine (C3H6N6)

C3H6N6 is a dog food ingredient used as a protein replacement and is high in nitrogen. Melamine's long term effects (depending on dog size and the amount consumed) include kidney failure and death.

2) Sodium Hexametaphosphate (NaPO3)6

Sodium Hexametaphosphate is an additive used in dog foods and treats to address doggy dental issues. (NaPO3)6 is an ingredient that helps reduce tartar build-up on your pup's teeth but can also cause eye and skin irritation, and respiratory tract issues.

3) Propylene Glycol (CH₃CHCH₂OH)

PG, also known as Propylene Glycol (CH₃CHCH₂OH), is an artificial additive used to keep dog food texture soft and moist. Effect of Propylene Glycol intoxication includes lethargy, anemia, excessive panting, tremors, severe sedation and seizures. It can also affect your dog's coordination and balance (ataxia).

4) BHA (C11H16O2), BHT (C15H24O) and Ethoxyquin (C14H19NO)

All three of these ingredients are artificial preservatives used in dog foods and treats to extend the product's shelf life. BHA (Butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (Butylated hydroxytoluene) cause cancer. And, Ethoxyquin (C14H19NO) causes damage to your dogs' liver and liver enzymes.

5) Carrageenan (C23H23FN4O7Zn)

Derived from red seaweed, Carrageenan is an additive used as a thickener in wet dog food. C23H23FN4O7Zn is linked to gastrointestinal inflammation, increased chances of intestinal lesions, ulcerations, and even malignant tumours in dogs.

6) Monosodium Glutamate (C₅H₈NO₄Na)

Monosodium Glutamate, most commonly known as MSG, is used in dog foods as a flavour enhancer. C₅H₈NO₄Na can damage your dog's nervous system and brain, and it will spike your dog's insulin levels.

If you've spotted any of these "no-no" ingredients in your pups food, we suggest switching their diet up and trying a healthy homemade meal to help them get all the nutrition they need. However, before you make any final decisions, please consult a veterinarian to ensure your dog receives the correct nourishment suited to their breed/s and specific needs.

Here's a guide of dog food ingredient substitutes (if you want to change things up):
  • High-quality protein: Boneless and skinless chicken, egg yolks and salmon, or pork, beef and lamb (in limited amounts because they are high in fat)
  • Essential fats and fatty acids: Plant seed oils (soybean, sunflower, canola or olive oil) or fish oil
  • Healthy carbohydrates: Brown rice, pasta, oatmeal and quinoa 
  • Extra fibre and vegetables: Whole grains, carrots, pumpkin, apples, dark leafy greens (spinach), green beans, broccoli, cauliflower and flaxseed.
Here's a quick and easy homemade dog food recipe for you to follow:

Servings: 8 cups

Ingredients:

1 & 1/2 cups of brown rice (healthy carbohydrate)

1 tablespoon of plant seed oil (essential fats)

1,3 kgs of ground chicken (high-quality protein)

3 cups of dark leafy greens (extra fibre)

2 carrots, shredded (extra fibre)

1/2 cup peas (extra fibre)

Directions:
  1. In a large saucepan, cook brown rice in 3 cups of water, then set aside.
  2. In a large pot, heat your oil (medium heat), add chicken and cook until browned (about 3-5 mins).
  3. Stir in dark leafy greens, shredded carrots, peas and cooked brown rice into your large pot with the chicken. 
  4. Cook until the leafy greens have wilted, and the mixture is heated through (about 3-5 mins).
  5. Let cool completely and serve.

3) Make walkies an everyday thing

 
Valgray for Dogs designers dog collars and leashes based in Cape Town, South Africa blog on seven ways to show your dogs you love them and making time for daily dog walks. Image shows a French bulldog and body-positive owners taking a walk on the beachfront. The French bulldog dog is wearing a Valgray for Dogs tear-resistant, waterproof dog collar and leash set with personalised name tags.

A fantastic way to show your dog love is to make sure you work a daily walk into your routine. Not only is it a great way to get your steps in and blood pumping, but it also ensures your dog gets a change of scenery, helps with their mental stimulation and adds a bit of adventure to their day.

If you'd like to spice up your daily dog walks and make them feel a bit more exciting for both you and your pooch, we have a blog perfect for you! Head over to our post on 6 ways to spice up your daily dog walks with Valgray for tips and tricks to making your walkies routine paw-some.

4) Put time aside for play

 
Valgray for Dogs designers dog collars and leashes based in Cape Town, South Africa blog on seven ways to show your dogs you love them and making time for play with your dog. Image shows a Hungarian vizsla and owner playing on the floor. The Hungarian vizsla dog is wearing a Valgray for Dogs tear-resistant, waterproof dog collar set with personalised name tags and yellow gold accessories.

Young or old, all dogs need to play, and playtime is a terrific way to connect with your doggo and show them your love.

It's important to remember that not all pups chase balls or fetch frisbees, which is why you need to find what type of play your floof knows and enjoys so that you can initiate a good old play session.

Incentivised play:

If playtime is something totally new to your pup and you're struggling to get your dog to join in, we recommend using the same tactics used in incentivised training.

Simply use their favourite treat as an incentive to get them to join you outside or in a play area and perform simple tricks (like sitting or giving you paw) or chase you around and 'catch' you.

Don't forget to reward your dog for their good behaviour and participation in play, so they form a positive mental connection with the activity and time spent with you.

If your fur kid gets a bit too boisterous for your liking, slow down and remain calm. You don't want to shout or make fast movements because they might misunderstand your intentions and create a negative association with play—something you definitely want to avoid.

5) Make grooming a priority

 
Valgray for Dogs designers dog collars and leashes based in Cape Town, South Africa blog on seven ways to show your dogs you love them and dog grooming. Image shows a boston terrier in a bathtub with bubbles on it's head. The boston terrier dog is wearing a Valgray for Dogs tear-resistant, waterproof dog collar set with personalised name tags and rose gold accessories.

We feel better after a bath and a bit of self-care, so it stands to reason your doggo will feel a whole lot better after a bit of TLC.

Unless your dog has a skin condition or has discovered a muddy puddle recently, generally speaking, your fur baby doesn't need regular baths. In fact, washing your pup every three months is recommended because frequent baths can cause skin irritation and wash away the healthy natural oils their coat needs.

But, grooming isn't only about baths. Grooming includes:

  • Brushing their coat to remove excess fur and reduce shedding.
  • Trimming their nails (ask a professional groomer or vet to assist you).
  • Brushing their teeth daily to remove plaque and tartar.
  • Wiping their ears and eyes to remove any discharge and build-up. 

6) Take your fur kid for an annual checkup

 
Valgray for Dogs designers dog collars and leashes based in Cape Town, South Africa blog on seven ways to show your dogs you love them and regular annual vet checkups. Image shows a Yorkshire terrier on the passenger seat of a car waiting to go to the vet. The Yorkshire terrier dog is wearing a Valgray for Dogs tear-resistant, waterproof dog collar with personalised name tags and rose gold accessories.

The best way to show your dog love is to make sure they are healthy and able to live their very best lives.

Make sure you schedule an annual checkup for your pooch with your preferred vet. A yearly health checkup will help you keep an eye on any possible underlying health problems your beloved furball may be experiencing.

Regular veterinary visits will also ensure your dog is up to date on all their shots to protect them against diseases like rabies, Canine parvovirus infection (Parvo), Bordetellosis (Kennel cough), Leptospirosis, Heartworm disease and parasites like tapeworms.

7) Create spaces just for your dog

 
Valgray for Dogs designers dog collars and leashes based in Cape Town, South Africa blog on seven ways to show your dogs you love them and creating comfortable spaces for your dog. Image shows a Whippet dog on a comfortable couch. The Whippet dog is wearing a Valgray for Dogs tear-resistant, waterproof dog collar with personalised name tags and rose gold accessories.

Everyone needs to feel like they belong, and providing a shelter or creating a space for your pup to be themselves is a great way to show how much you care and love them.

When outdoors, make sure your doggo has a big enough shelter from the rain, heat and even just a place for them to relax when they join in on outdoor family activities.

We suggest giving your precious pooch outdoor bedding (old blankets will do!) to increase their comfort levels and make them feel like they are extra special because they have their very own cuddly spot outside.

While indoors, your pooch already has the shelter they need, but that doesn't mean they don't need a spot that's just for them.

To show your dogs you love them and include them in family time, we suggest choosing a spot close to you but not underfoot to lay down cozy blankets that they know is theirs. Or, if your dog is well-groomed and lying on the furniture fits your household rules and lifestyle (obviously), then a special spot on the couch or a chair can also be perfect! This way, your pup can snuggle in their own little space and be present for all household activities as a member of the family. 

We hope our list of ways to show your doggy love has inspired you to shower your pooch with the love and affection we know they deserve.

Please note this blog is for information purposes only. Valgray for Dogs encourages pet parents to consult a veterinarian before making dietary changes or a dog behavioural specialist before attempting to train your dog.

Click here to learn more about Valgray and our story.

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Valgray for Dogs designers dog collars and leashes based in Cape Town, South Africa. Blog footer image for Valgray Blog page 'seven ways to show your dog how much you love them'. Valgray for Dogs blog illustrated footer image shows an abstract pattern made of different sizes and breed dogs.

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The Valgray Collar Sizing Guide
Valgray luxury dog accessory product sizing guide & sizing chart for all size dog collar blog banner. Image from The Valgray Collar Sizing Guide page.

 

Collars for all dog sizes!

Valgray is one of the few brands that cater for the truly tiny pooch with our X-Small collars. We also go the extra mile to ensure we cater for the giant breeds with measurements reaching up to 75cm.

Never try to guess your dog's neck size! Avoid disappointment by first making sure you measure your pup’s neck for the most accurate sizing.

Then, refer to our sizing chart below to find the most appropriate collar size for your doggie. Remember to select a collar size that will fit comfortably and allow for movement.

I don't know how to measure my dog's neck?

Don’t have a tape measure lying around? No problem! To learn how to measure your dog's neck safely with various household items, click here.

Valgray luxury dog accessory product sizing guide & sizing chart for extra large, large, medium, small and extra small dog collars. Image from The Valgray Collar Sizing Guide page.

Personal customisation

We try our best to cater to every breed, but some doggos might need a little extra at-home customisation to achieve the perfect fit. Our PVC-coated nylon straps are soft, making adjustments at home very easy. Use a standard leather punching tool to add additional holes, or use a utility knife to trim the length of your collar.

Interested in learning about the paws and humans behind Valgray? Learn about our journey and how we give back on Valgray, This Is How Our Story Started!