Is your dog happy? Owning a dog also means that you need to make sure that your dog is enjoying its life. Just like you have your friends and a social life, it is your responsibility to entertain your dog so he or she can enjoy the same sort of fun. Starting with the most basic is walking your dog. Even if you don’t do it so often, i.e. two times a day, make sure that it lasts for a decent amount of time – don’t just go around the corner. But more importantly, don’t be on your phone but actually be present. Not only will your dog appreciate it, but it will also be a healthy treat for you as many studies speak of the health benefits of walking and some even consider it as a form of meditation in motion.
Now, let’s look at things that every puppy loves – toys. Each dog is different and will like a different kind of toy, just like us. There is a large range to choose from and you want to get your dog a toy as soon as possible as otherwise he might bond with your shoes, socks and your other belongings. Even if this happens, do try to stay calm. This is just another form of your dog showing his affection to you since these objects carry your scent. So if you are busy and your dog does this, it is just his way of wanting attention. The last thing you want to do is chase after him! The best thing to do when your dog is whining for attention is to ignore him. If you must react, make him sit and then reward a calm behaviour.
Choosing a Toy
There are 4 main reasons why you need to get your dog toys. The first one is exercise as throwing the ball to your dog and having him return it is a fun way to keep your dog in optimal shape, which is crucial for his health. Also, by having toys, your dog can run around the house and play on its own.
The second reason is intellectual stimulation. When you combine this with exercise, you can not only engage your dog and keep him from getting bored, but you also gain a tool to tame even bad behaviour such as disobedience. There is even a saying that a tired dog is a good dog, so this is crucial for high-energy breeds such as beagles and border collies.
The third reason is of course bonding and not only between the owner and the dog, but also between dogs and other pets in the household. Although, if you have a cat and a dog, a cat will surely exhibit its greater intelligence but your dog won’t mind as even in this scenario, dogs like knowing their hierarchy and all they care about is attention.
The last but definitely not least benefit is maintaining your dog’s dental health. Now this can only be achieved with special toys that encourage chewing which stimulates saliva and helps to diminish plaque and reduce its occurrence. So, entertaining your dog is also a good investment in his health.
Her Majesty – the ball!
Whether it’s a tennis ball or any other ball, your best friend is likely to love chasing it around and playing fetch. You can also opt for a squeaky version, but make sure your nerves can handle the sound first! The ball works so well because it helps your dog express its instinct for chase and hunting.
One of our personal favourites for puppies who are known to destroy pretty much everything in sight while they are struggling with teething.
These toys offer a combination of vigorous teeth cleaning and gum massage to help keep your dog’s mouth healthy while keeping them entertained at the same time. The only downside is that you need to wash them really often as you don’t want your dog eating dust and dirt, something they are more fond of than we are!
Just like us, your dog will choose a toy for no obvious reason and likewise, dislike another one. Some dogs end up liking a soft, plush toy like a stuffed teddy bear which they bring everywhere, even to bed. Just like humans, this is determined by their personality and is entirely healthy unless it is in an obsessive manner. This is not often and is usually a result of a mother who had a false pregnancy or lost her puppies. It can also happen with puppies which were taken from their mothers, brothers and sisters way too early. But if you are taking good care of your dog, there is really no need to worry whichever toy he chooses as the object of his affection.
Believe it or not, your dog can be an athlete too and score one for the team! You can teach your dog to shoot, catch and get into the heart of your entire neighbourhood! All he or she needs is to be taught how to participate in the game.
Furthermore, playing a game with your dog builds communication skills as well as establishes your bond and the rules that will penetrate at the core of your relationship. First, think of yourself as a coach. Along with discipline and authority needed for basic obedience training, you equally need energy and enthusiasm! Unlike teaching your dog the essential commands, these games should be a reward on their own. Be fair and patient, as every star player started in the pee-wees so it will take time, but it’ll be a lot of fun!
Yes, you can teach your dog to roll a football into a net and achieve a goal! But, the key is in a treat hollow ball, that when rolled, randomly releases treats. First, allow your dog to play with it on its own for a few days. It will most likely become his favourite toy!
Then, point to an empty treat ball and tell your dog the command, ‘football’. When he rolls the ball, toss a treat near the ball so he can find it. Gradually increase the time before you release the reward and switch to giving the treat with your hand as opposed to tossing it.
The final step is to substitute it with a football, giving the same verbal command and reward. Gradually build up the distance. So, is your dog ready to score? Set a distinct line in front of the net. Run excitedly with your dog and encourage him to push the ball beyond this line. The crucial thing is to reward him immediately as soon as he does that!
First, you obviously need a toy basketball that is low enough that your dog can reach it while standing on all four paws. First, you toss the ball for him to fetch. Then, you lead him with the treat all the way to the basket net. As soon as he reaches it, you give the command to drop it. Alternatively, you show him the treat and he will open his mouth as a reflex and drop the ball. You are allowed to reward him for dropping the ball anywhere near the net in the beginning. As he improves, require a successful shot before giving the reward.
Now this is a game, not an obedience drill! This means that you need to make it fun for your dog – with joy and laughter. Position your dog with a sit and stay command and slowly walk to the other side of the room. Call your dog to come and reward him with a treat.
Then, put your dog again in a stay position and walk just outside the room. Call him enthusiastically to “find (your name)” and praise and reward him as soon as he does. Level it up by choosing a more difficult finding spot. Call him loudly and let him use his canine nose power to sniff his way to you!
The key to a happy dog
These are just a few of the countless games that you can play with your dog. But the key to a happy dog is to do your best to include him or her in your everyday life. Some people are lucky to have pet-friendly offices! But, even if this is not the case, there is still a lot you can do to enhance your dog’s life. Go to pet friendly cafes when you get to have coffee with a friend. There are plenty of pet-friendly restaurants as well! Take your dog when you meet your friends outside. Simply put, include your best friend in as many activities as you can and while you are with him – be truly there. Drifting on social media does not only make you less there for your dog but also for yourself. We often forget to appreciate what is around us and to live in the present moment, the only moment that we in fact have. Your best friend is there to remind you this everyday, so make sure that you appreciate this gift. Now, go play :)