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Did you know today is National Hug Your Dog Day? Now, much like humans, some dogs may enjoy hugs, and some may not. So, in appreciation of their love and companionship, here are some other simple ways to show your pooch that you care.

Think about it: having a dog is one of the best things in life. So, aside from providing essentials like food and shelter, how can we thank them in ways they’ll understand?

Talk to them

Sometimes we’re not aware of this, but dogs respond to our reactions much more than we realise. According to Dr Stanley Corin – an expert in canine intelligence – the average dog can remember about 165 words. More importantly, a 2016 study revealed that dogs not only understand what you say but how you say it.

So while your dog may respond to either words they know or using a high-pitched tone of voice, now we know it’s the combination of the two that really speaks to our canine friends. Which gives us the perfect excuse to do our silly dog voice. What can we say? We love our dog and we’re not afraid to show it!

Get close to them

We’ve seen how words and praise can help you communicate with your furry pal. But what about your body language? Well, this is just as important.

Cuddles, naps and belly rubs all great ways to interact with your dog. So even if you only have 20 minutes a day to give them your undivided attention, those 20 minutes will go a long way. Your furry friend loves nothing more than being close to you, and simple gestures like a tickle behind their ears lets them know that you care.

Have fun together

Dogs are physical by nature and need to be active in order to be happy. And who better than their favourite human to get moving with them? Walkies, playtime and free running in the park are all an important part of being a pup (and pretty much a direct way to your dog’s heart).

Even teaching your pet a trick can be highly rewarding for them. When you work together towards a goal, the bond between your dog and you strengthens. That, mixed in with positive reinforcement, is the most effective way to teach a dog to behave.

From the classic ‘good boy!’ to a game of fetch, what all those things have in common is this: they tell your dog you are there for them. Getting to know your pup is a fun process. Whichever way you choose to connect with them, what matters most is that you are present.