You can't miss what you never had. Which is why kenneled dogs don't miss being inside and farm dogs don't miss watching the television. But if we all lived by this rule, life would be pretty boring, which is why K9 Magazine and our assorted dog owning friends put our heads together to come up with 42 things that make our dogs happy.
Dogs are unique, and they are motivated by different things and we know you'll feel it's your job as a good dog owner to understand what really gets that tail wagging. Once you have a repertoire of things you can do, aside from the blindingly obvious, you will be in the powerful position of being able to bestow happiness on your dog.
These things may have zero educational, developmental, or even nutritional value to our dogs, but if they make that tail or even that little stump wag, then we've got them in our do's list.
1. Bath time. A great time to bond, enables you to examine your dog for unusual lumps or growths too. Some dogs love the attention more than anything else.
2. Top Gear. Many dogs love the excitement of going out in the car. The new smells that come through the window, the new sights, the new sounds, all mean ‘fun’ to a dog. Next time you have to make a trip to the shops, take the dog.
3. What’s in a name? Ensure your dog associates his name with good things. Randomly call his name and offer some fuss or even a smile. This reinforces a positive association with the name.
4. Make the tail wag. Set yourself a challenge of seeing how many times you can make that tail wag without touching the dog. Use body language, intonation and different sounds. Your dog will benefit from the interaction.
5. Massage the soul. Your dog will get a lot of good socialisation if you take the time to give him a rub down. Legendary racer Mick The Miller got one every day.
6. Play wrestling. What is the point of having a dog if you can’t get down on the carpet for a bit of a friendly scrap. Use your common sense here and encourage your dog to play.
7. Going to the vet. Surprisingly some dogs actually like the vet’s. There are always other dogs to meet and the vet is usually a dog person with plenty of fuss to give. Don't try to be a vet yourself however, always refer anything causing you concern to the vet.
8. Pretending to be a dog. A good, yet quite possibly best kept private, way of interacting with your dog is to get down and play dog. They won’t get what you are doing, but they will love it nonetheless.
9. Sprinkler systems are go. For those dogs that enjoy a bath, this is the ultimate fun sensation. Put the sprinkler on first then let your dog out, rather than scaring him with a cold, unexpected jet in the face. This is a great activity if you are busy doing something but can keep an eye on progress.
10. Talk the talk. It doesn’t need to be deep or meaningful, but your dog will benefit if you do talk to him. It enables them to become more familiar with your voice in different situations and can be relaxing for the dog. It may feel odd at first, but you will find your dog to be the best keeper of secrets you ever had.
11. Dancing are we? Broadcaster and journalist Danny Baker once wrote a whole article about dancing with dogs. Not heelwork, but proper dancing. Don’t force your dog into it, instead throw some shapes in the kitchen and he will join in before you know it.
12. Sleeping on the bed. If it doesn’t cause a problem regarding allergies or quality of sleep, your dog would probably love being allowed to sleep near his master. Don’t use it as a treat or reward though, either do it or don’t.
13. Snooker on the television. One dog that made a mark on all at K9 Magazine was a huge fan of snooker. We never knew if it was the movement, the colours or John Virgo’s soothing voice, but this dog was transfixed by snooker. Take the time to discover what your dog would watch if given the chance.
14. Sunday Jumpers. In the same way the lead elicits excitement, certain items of clothing do the same. If you wear the same coat/jumper/trousers to go walking in, why not do your best to keep them just for that purpose? This will make the association for the dog more real and will also enable you to stimulate the association that gets him all excited. Fun.
15. Be pleased to see your dog. He’s always excited when his master gets back from work, and how happy does it make you?
16. Keep the routine varied. Don’t let your actions become predictable. Remember that for every hour your dog is lying idle, for them it feels like seven, so even small variations can make a dull afternoon interesting. Next time you go upstairs, get him to chase you give a little fuss as a reward.
17. Your dog, the porter. Some dogs love to carry things. So let them feel important and give them the next unimportant thing you have to take upstairs to carry for you.
18. Sitting at the top table. Most dogs try to get on your chair once in their life, and it makes for super photo opportunities.
19. Winning at tug o war. Just once in a while give him the satisfaction. He will still know who is boss if you have trained him well.
20. Scratching inside the ears. It’s one of those hard to reach places. At the same time have a check to make sure the skin is clean and pink.
21. A little goes a long way. A tiny piece of human food, broken up is a top treat. Just give them something and they’re happy, they’ll never know it fell on the floor earlier.
22. Chilling out. How content does your dog look with his head on your lap as you both consider the mysteries of the universe? Do this as often as you can.
23. Pursue odd habits. They are what make your dog unique and could be the key to understanding your dog better, he’ll love the attention and you could learn something invaluable.
24. Getting the mail. Don't deprive your dog of the satisfaction if he likes to grab the mail, use it as a training opportunity and get yourself a handy helper.
25. Teeth. Clean them every day and ensure he can enjoy his food into old age.
26. Pet Friendly Garden. No loose pack gravel or steep drops and he should be happy. Let common sense rule.
27. Eyes. Dogs convey a lot via their eyes and they should always be bright and clear - any change should be investigated.
28. Quality time and exercise. Find an activity that suits you and your dog i.e. agility, heelwork and look forward to it all week.
29. Sensible house keeping. Don't deck your house out entirely with wooden floors, perhaps even create a doggy room with bean bags, toys, and other fun stuff.
30. Canine communication. Understand it more every day through interaction - you'll find lots of tips here on K9Magazine.com.
31. Forever chasing bubbles. Some genius invented a machine that makes bacon flavoured bubbles. Good exercise can be had chasing these elusive, low fat treats.
32. Hiding out. Some dogs like a place to be alone. Ensure there is somewhere in the house where your dog can be unseen and unbothered.
33. Feed him well. Good quality food prepared with thought will help health, development and condition.
34. Water on supply. Always ensure your dog can get a drink at his leisure.
Here are some don’ts to ensure that you know what not to do in your pursuit of canine contentment.
35. Don’t punish after the event. Prevent don’t punish, dogs don’t function like us and punishment rarely reinforces the right message.
36. Don’t use your dog’s name when telling him off. If you need to shout at your dog, perhaps to stop him crossing the road, try not to use name. It could undo all the hard work you put in following point number 3.
37. Don’t give your dog chocolate. It is not healthy for teeth or waistline and can be poisonous. Stick to healthy treats like liver or fish. Get fish at the end of the night from your local chippy and see your overweight dog slim down.
38. Don’t feed your dog at the table, then tell him off for begging. Your dog will value consistency the way he would in a pack environment.
39. Don’t make it easy for him to be naughty. Leave your mixed grill on the floor while you answer the door and what do you expect? If it is in tact when you get back you don’t have a dog, you have a saint.
40. Don’t start training too early. Be sure to let the puppy stage take as natural a course as possible.
41. Don’t make your dog beg for attention. Surprise the little chap by launching a sustained campaign of fuss when he is least expecting it and watch that tail go.
42. Don’t inadvertently praise bad behaviour. Laughing when your dog does something you don’t want may be easily done, but could mess up a whole lot of your hard work.
We hope you enjoyed our 42 ideas! We'd love to hear your own stories about games you play, ways you make your dog's day. Contact us and comment to share the fun!