1. Affection and Attention
A dog’s temperament is determined partly by breed but mostly by the way you interact with him. Love is happiness, so schedule some cuddle time with your pup. Curl up on the sofa with a book or a movie and invite your dog to join you. If you don’t typically let your dog on the furniture, make this the exception. You can protect it with a washable throw.
2. Change Your Dog-Walking Route
Dogs get bored with walking the same route every day. Take him through another neighborhood, to the local park, or simply give him the lead and follow him. Don’t rush him and let him take the time to sniff around and check his “pee mail.”
For even more excitement, take your dog on a long hike. Most state and national parks allow leashed pets. Be sure to take extra water and a collapsible bowl along.
3. Train and Socialize
A well-behaved dog is a happy dog. Train your dog to follow the basic commands of sit, stay, drop it, down, and come here. Save roll over and high-five for later. Sign up for dog obedience classes or learn the techniques yourself. Dog training is based on behavioral psychology and is easy to learn with a book or online tutorial.
Just like kids, dogs have to learn to get along with other pets and people. Some communities have off-leash dog parks where they can mingle and socialize. These parks are large fenced-in areas divided into sections for large and small dogs.
If you have friends or family with pets, schedule a playdate. Let the pets hang out in the backyard while the humans visit.
4. Assign Chores
Like people, dogs want to stay busy and feel worthwhile. This is especially true for working dog breeds such as retrievers and shepherds. Train your dog to carry in the mail, fetch your slippers, help you pick up sticks from the lawn, or perform other small tasks around the house.
5. Provide Mental Stimulation
Dogs are pack animals, and look to you, the leader, for everything including mental stimulation and entertainment. Keep him happy with games that make him think. Hide treats around the house for him to find or provide interactive toys and puzzles such as treat dispensers. Durable chew toys like Kongs have holes that dispense treats when tossed around.
Tug of war and fetch are games your dog will enjoy. If he’s learned the command to stay, you can even play hide and seek with him. If your dog hasn’t mastered the stay command, get a family member to distract him while you hide.
6. On the Town or On Vacation
If your dog loves to ride in the car (most do), take him out on the town with you. Some outdoor bars and restaurants are pet-friendly and welcome leashed pets. And Starbucks offers a special treat called Puppucinos, a doggy cupcake with sprinkles.
Going on vacation? Take your dog with you! They hate it when you leave them with a sitter or board them at a facility. Pet-friendly hotels are everywhere, and campgrounds are always an option.
7. Doggy Day Care
Dogs get really lonely in an empty house. If you work away from home for long hours, a doggy daycare center is the perfect answer, even if only for a couple of days a week. He’ll get plenty of stimulation and other pets to play with.
8. Eliminate Stress and Discomfort
Many dogs get stressed during thunderstorms or from fireworks in the distance. The Thundershirt is now a classic product dog owners have come to rely on. It works by applying just the right amount of pressure to soothe the dog.
Some pet owners today are using CBD products for pets to relieve anxiety or the pain of arthritis and other conditions. It’s the same THC-free product people use but in a special dosage with enticing flavors added. It’s available in drops to add to food, in sprays, or infused treats. Find it online or at a cannabis dispensary.