Our dogs are part of the family. They comfort us during tough times, they’re always up for an adventure, and they provide us with unconditional love. Wouldn’t it be nice to return that favor and make their lives a little more meaningful? Here are 5 tips to help enrich your dog’s life.
Provide your dog with regular exercise
Regular exercise is important to your dog’s overall well-being, both mentally and physically. Overweight dogs are at an increased risk for developing health issues such as arthritis, heart disease and diabetes. You can cut down that risk by keeping your dog active.
A lack of exercise can also cause boredom and frustration for your dog. Dog’s that don’t get daily exercise are more likely to develop destructive behaviors, such as chewing and excessive barking. By providing regular exercise you’re giving them a routine and a way to burn off extra energy — one that won’t include ruining your favorite shoes.
Keep your dog mentally stimulated
Have you ever heard the saying “a tired dog is a good dog?” Well it’s true, and it’s not just about physical exercise. Giving your dog mental exercise can be even more tiring than physical. A five-minute game of “find the treats” can be just as tiring as a 30-minute walk.
Adding in some interactive play and games every day will keep your dog mentally stimulated. Here’s a few of my favorite ways to give my dog more mental stimulation:
- Make them work for their food
- Let them sniff on walks
- Teach them a new trick
- Use puzzle toys
Make training fun for your dog
Fun isn’t usually the first word that comes to mind when you think of dog training. The first words that come to my mind would be frustration and confusion, but that’s beside the point. The point is there are a few ways to make training more fun for your dog. And when training sessions are fun for your dog it’s easier to keep them motivated to learn new things.
When training with your dog, keep it interesting by switching up their reward. Experiment with using different rewards such as games, toys and treats. Some dogs are highly motivated by food, while others prefer play. Find out which rewards your dog prefers and save those for when you’re working on particularly difficult behaviors.
If you turn training into a fun experience for your dog you can keep them motivated to learn. The key is letting them know when they make a good decision, and rewarding them in a fun way that makes them want to do it again.
Be consistent & fair with rules
One of the easiest ways to confuse your dog is to compromise when it comes to boundaries. Did you toss your dog a bite of food during dinner three weeks ago, yet wonder why he’s begging today? By tossing that food a few weeks ago you encouraged more begging, even if it was unintentional on your part.
Our dogs learn from us all the time, and we tend to send a lot of mixed messages. When you set rules and boundaries for your dog remember to be consistent. Don’t let them get away with something one day only to punish them the next.
Is your dog allowed on the furniture? If not, make sure everyone in the family sticks to that rule. Don’t encourage your dog to jump up on the couch with you if your spouse doesn’t allow it. It’s not fair to your dog for them to be rewarded one day punished the next for the same behavior.
Give your dog a routine
One of the best ways to keep your dog happy is by providing them with a daily routine. They’ll feel more secure knowing when meal time is, when they get to go outside, when they get to play, and when their daily walk will be.
Add in some quick play sessions or activities for your dog to do throughout the day. If you don’t have time to walk your dog in the morning, give them a puzzle toy with a treat inside before you leave for work. At lunch time, take them out for a quick game of Frisbee or fetch. Before dinner, try practicing a new trick with your dog, then take them for their daily walk after dinner.
Come up with a routine for your dog that includes some fun things for them to do every day. Little activities like that will enrich your dog’s life, and by giving your dog a routine you can cut down on problem behaviors that arise due to boredom.