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How To Keep Your Dog Happy

A dog is not an appliance. It has a mind and spirit that need occupation and fulfillment. You can't expect a dog to enjoy the same creature comforts that we do. To provide for a dog you have to think like a dog. Ask yourself how dogs in the wild spend their time? Then try to reproduce the scenario as closely as possible. Here's how:

  • Twofer deal - dogs are social animals. While we can substitute for canine companionship to some extent, two dogs are often better off than one
  • Born to run - dogs need exercise. A tired dog is a good dog. A walk around the block won't cut it. Health permitting, dogs benefit from a minimum of 20-30 minutes of aerobic exercise daily
  • Do you hear me now? - clear communication reduces stress. Use one-word commands and reward the desired response. The opposite of reward is not punishment - it's no reward. No dog is too old to learn new tricks.
  • Dogs need strong (but not punitive) leaders - say what you mean, mean what you say, one thing leads to another. Your dog will appreciate you being a good "dog parent" by setting limits of acceptable behavior.
  • Environmental enrichment - the buzz words in zoos for decades. The same strategy works for dogs in the home. Engage your dog's natural instincts. Dogs can be pleasantly occupied working for food - use food puzzles, like puzzle balls or cubes. Chose safe toys that satisfy predatory urges (chasable, chewable, and shakable). Provide an open-door crate to serve as a den.
  • Occupational therapy - learn about and accept your dog's natural inclinations and interest. Go with the flow. Agility training, fly ball, free style, lure coursing, and earth trials - depending on your dog's penchant - can provide fun and exercise for you and your dog.

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