As we head into a new year, I’ve decided that my New Year’s resolution is to continue to try to make dogs happy. I like a well-mannered dog as much as the next person, but since I started working in a shelter, what I like more is a HAPPY dog. HAPPY dogs find forever homes. HAPPY dogs bounce back better from the stress of shelter life. HAPPY dogs enjoy the company of humans, and sometimes other dogs and feel safe to express normal behaviors.

What does happy look like? Happiness smiles.

A happy dog willingly approaches people, with a trust that we promise will not be broken.

A happy dog greets with all his heart. He may try to sit instead of jump, but joy takes over. He may push his body into yours in an attempt to share as much happy as possible.

A happy dog wags and wiggles and smiles. Happy dogs know they can be silly, even if they are encumbered by a leash and attached to a human.

A happy dog knows that a sit will get him something good.

A happy dog knows he is safe, and loved and that his motives will not be questioned. This dog is so happy he’s got a blurry tail.

A happy dog is stress-free and willing to let it all hang out. And let his buddy have the bed.

I love a happy dog. Manners can come later for shelter dogs. Let them be HAPPY.

The best part is that the two are not mutually exclusive. Not even a little bit. That dog in the first picture? You know, the guy on the desk? He was easily redirected with “touch” to jump back down- something volunteers work on regularly with our dogs. All the practice paid off- after we took advantage of the photo opp ūüėČ Off the desk and given a toy to play with instead of looking for his own fun. Easy peasy.

Happy New Year!