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Discussion Starter #1
I've seen it referenced on here numerous times and I'm curious as to what you all think a "good quality life" is for a dog. I just read a thread where a dog lives in a nice house, is free to roam the house all the time, uses the couch as a bed, but has only about 1 hour of human interaction a day. Is this a low quality life? What about a dog who is crated for 12 to 14 hours a day, yet all the remaining hours are spend side by side with their humans?

What makes a dog happy?
 

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I think that depends on the dog. Some dogs are perfectly happy holding the couch down 24/7 (or nearly that much :p). Other dogs would go stir crazy without a 2-hour run every day. Some don't care if the humans exist as long as they get fed. Others need more attention. Etc. As long as the dog seems happy, he probably is.
 

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That's kind of like asking what makes a human happy. It's highly dependent on the dog. Personally I try to give my dog the opportunity to do things that she loves often-- for her that's tug/fetch, walks, playing with other dogs etc. Everything else is secondary. I like to think she has a pretty good life despite the times when she occasionally has to be crated or left alone.

I used to be kind of judgmental towards relatives of mine who have small companion breeds that never get walked. But having spent a lot of time with them I can see that they are used to their life and enjoy playing and cuddling together and sniffing around the yard. Walks would be ideal but I wouldn't say these dogs live a bad life, at least not from their perspective.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I agree with you both. And I thought it a little presumptuous that people were saying this is a low quality of life for either of the scenerios I posted. I was just curious what you all thought.
 

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I think that stimulation necessary to tire out the dog, a good food, vet care, shelter, safety (aka - the dog is not wondering where it can be attacked by other animals, stolen, or hit by a car) and being kept at a healthy weight is what constitutes a "good life" for a dog.

Every dog is different so it's hard to set things in stone but I think the list above is what works for me. For example, my doberman is a high energy breed and requires a lot of training, play, and exercise. My friend's dog, on the other hand, goes for a single, short walk in the morning and sleeps the rest of the day - that's all she requires. Still, my friend does spend more time with her dog than just the walk, they just aren't doing a whole lot other than "hanging out."
 

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To me, if the dog is receiving adequate basic care, and appear to be happy and healthy, that's what matters.
For example, I have two dogs that live outdoors, not loose in a yard. I have a lot of people scold me, carry on about how they must be so miserable out there all alone. Well, sure if I could bring my dogs inside to live, I would without hesitation. But I spend most of my free time with them, and when I'm not with them, they have toys and things to keep them busy. How much different is it than someone who spends 8-9 hours a day at work and their dog is crated the rest of the time, then only has a few hours of play/exercise/cuddle time before their people go to sleep and they do to? Not very, if you think about it. My chihuahua does not go for walks; it's just too dangerous for him. He's been attacked enough. Instead, we play fetch inside for as long as he likes, whenever he likes, and he likes that just fine.
My dogs are well cared for, fed, groomed, exercised, provided with daily training, and just plain ol' companionship. My dogs are big 'smilers'. You'll rarely ever catch them without big 'smiles' on their faces, bright eyed and ready to go. To me, I feel like that have a good life.

On the other hand, I know people who keep their dogs inside, and are automatically considered perfect pet owners. Their dogs hardly ever get groomed or exercised, they receive no training, no games, just enough to eat and never really seem happy. They seem anxious and frustrated. To me, this seems like they don't have very good lives.
 

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I know what thread you're talking about, and a high energy boxer is not happy as an untrained, unexercised couch potato receiving little attention. That's not arrogance, that's a fact.

I doubt that boxer would be happy with my dogs perfect life, as Kabota simply doesn't have that kind of energy. Which is why I don't own a boxer. Great dogs, I just can't keep up.
 

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I was just thinking about this very thing today.

I take Buttercup for a 2 mile walk every morning and then we go outside in the late afternoon and play for awhile. Jasper doesn't go for walks but I play fetch inside with him in the afternoons and also take him outside in the late afternoon to play. They both eat good quality food and have regular vet care. The bad part is that my husband and I both work full time, so from about 7:30am-5pm they are in their crates (most days I can take an hour lunch and let them out). I feel guilty but I still feel like my dogs are happy.

I knnow someone who has a little dog who is never allowed outside. They spoil her rotten and love her but the dog has never ran through the grass.
 

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I believe that if a dog has shelter, exercise, good food, health care, a human who loves them and respects them and protects them and they are not abused ... and given a chance to do some sort of a job ... whether it be catching critters or being your retriever of that toy across the room .... to just being able to be your little lap dog at the end of the day or the dog in front of the fireplace on a cold winters eve after tending the livestock ... or resting after that competition or the ribbons they worked so hard to earn ... they are a happy dog and have a good life.

I may have painted a pretty picture ... but the truth IMHO is there are so many dogs out there who have just the opposite kind of lives ... it makes me want to cry.
 

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If the dog seems happy and has food/water/shelter then I won't complain even if it's not how I would keep MY dogs.
 

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Basic needs provided for (food, water, shelter, companionship), and then throw in some exercise or mental stimulation on a regular basis, and give them freedom to practise their natural behaviour (socialising, digging, barking, playing/hunting etc) and I think any dog would be quite happy.
 

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I volunteer at a dog shelter. These places do the best they can, but the dogs are in kennels, right next to each other. They are fed nutritious kibble with a bit of canned food. They get walked several times a day for maybe an hour total each day. The have no couch or lap to curl up on, there is no one person caring for them, it is a group of volunteers. If the dog is lucky someone may play with it, train it, or sit in the kennel and pet and cuddle it, but different people each day. Shelter dogs have it very rough.

I currently have buddied with a beagle that has some emotional problems and I am trying to train him, and be his friend, with hope I can help him get out of his fears.
 
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