We always want to make sure our dogs are as happy and healthy as they could be, but we sometimes get stuck thinking we’re doing everything we can do. There are always new ways to spice up your dog’s life and some owners might not even be covering the basics. Here you’ll find 10 easy ways to make your dog happier.
#1 – Rotate Toys
Some people only have one or two toys out at a time, while others have every toy the dog has lying around the house. Just like people, dogs can and do get bored with toys and enjoy new things. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to constantly buy new toys. Just put your dogs toys on rotation and when they seem to get bored of what’s out now, put them away and bring out an old toy your dog forgot about. Trust us, it works!
#2 – Go on Walks
Going on walks isn’t just good for exercise, it’s good for your dog’s mind. Dogs need to get out. Imagine if you were stuck in the house all day for your entire life. Sure, you might take your dog out sometimes, but most people don’t take their dogs out enough. Daily walks are an important part of your dog’s physical and mental health. They get to experience new things, get excited and sometimes meet new people and they’ll burn some energy. Plus, it’s a peaceful way to spend some quality time with your pooch.
#3 – Train Obedience
Teaching basic obedience will make life better for both you and your dog. You can teach it yourself, hire a private trainer or go to group classes. No matter what you choose, your dog will enjoy learning the rules and boundaries that make them a good house dog and neighbour and they’ll burn a lot of mental energy from thinking. Trained dogs are happy dogs because they know how to keep their owners happy as well as themselves. Clicker training is an easy and effective tool for training and will help your dog understand what is expected and when.
#4 – Teach New Tricks
Even if your dog isn’t the next obedience or agility champion, they certainly have plenty of room to learn new things. Teaching your dog a new trick is a great way for you to spend time together, plus you’ll be providing your dog with a lot of mental stimulation and yummy treats. And remember, old dogs can learn new tricks, so don’t be afraid to try something new with your senior!
#5 – Maintain a Healthy Weight
Some owners feel this is counterintuitive because limiting our dogs’ food intake means they won’t be able to eat as much as they want. Sure, this might be true, but your dog will likely try and eat his entire bag of kibble before he thinks he’s full. The reality is that a healthy weight will keep your dog happier because he’s going to be healthier and feel better. Excess weight is uncomfortable, increases body temperature, limits their day to day playtime and puts them at increased risk for a multitude of medical conditions.
#6 – Play More
Even if it’s just 10 minutes a day, getting some playtime in with your dog will build your relationship and allow you both to have fun. Dogs get bored and they want to play, even if they’re older, so don’t hesitate to try and enjoy some new toys! If you have a dog that isn’t that interested in toys, you can play with food by making your dog find hidden treats or chase your hand around to get one.
#7 – Be Consistent
The biggest problem dog trainers see with clients is inconsistency. Just like people, dogs need consistent rules and boundaries for them to understand what behaviour is acceptable and what isn’t. Dogs that are constantly being scolded for things they didn’t understand were wrong are always unhappy dogs. Not only does the dog receive unclear and inconsistent punishment, they feel their owner’s stress and anxiety towards them. It’s a bad situation no matter how you look at it.
#8 – Give Them a Bath
While your dog probably doesn’t need to be bathed every week, regular baths will keep them feeling fresh and clean. Not only will you also be more apt to pet your dog because they smell better and feel cleaner, you’ll be getting rid of any allergens that might be on your dog’s coat. You’ll also be getting any pesky fleas off! Be sure to stay away from synthetic and artificial ingredients which aggravate the skin, instead use natural shampoos, conditioners and sprays to cleanse and hydrate the skin.
#9 – Verbal & Physical Praise
Praise is so important to maintaining a relationship with your dog. Verbal and physical praise mean telling your dog how good they are and petting them. They don’t even have to be doing anything particularly well and it doesn’t have to be in training. Spending time petting and praising your dog even for a few minutes will make them feel comfortable, secure and loved.
#10 – Try New Treats
Just like rotating toys is a good idea, rotating treats is too! Most dogs have a few different favourites that can be used on rotation and trying new treats to add to the mix is great too. Your dog will certainly love guessing which snack is coming next and you’ll get to find out their favourite flavours and textures!