How are you feeling? If there’s one thing we can all relate to, it’s being fed up with coronavirus lockdowns. Over the past year, we’ve had to look for new ways to keep busy, active, and feel okay. One of these ways, is by getting dogs. Yes, the coronavirus lockdown has seen a big increase in dog ownership.
Why? Because dogs help tackle loneliness, encourage exercise, and generally make us happier. Something welcome, under current circumstances. However, it brings to mind the slogan “a dog is for life, not just for Christmas”. This is true, dogs are not novelties to stave off the tedium of lockdown, or creatures that will adapt and demand less once we’re back at our workplaces. They are living beings, deserving of a good life.
Thinking of this, we’ve put together some ideas to help any dedicated dog owner make their pup’s tail wag. Because, like us, they need some TLC and variety too.
The classic dog activity. Seems strange to include, but they love it, and we need to remember that. Instinctually, a prey animal gives dogs a reason to run fast. But, living domesticated lives, they don’t get the chance to do this very often. So, we must simulate the chase for them. We might find the repetitive action mind numbing sometimes, but they find it gratifying and it keeps them fit and healthy.
Hide & seek
If your dog is accustomed to “stay”, this is a good bit of fun. Get them to plonk themselves and then find a suitable hiding spot in the house. Then call them, and let the hunt commence. Dogs enjoy solving problems using all their senses, and having you disappear and seeking you out, will make them equally excited each time. Getting to see their pure, in the moment joy, is extremely rewarding.
Doggie spa day
When we’re stressed out and bunched up with tension, nothing beats a spa day. So why wouldn’t a dog want one? They get tense too. It might seem silly, but a doggie spa day will make your dog feel great. Granted we’re talking a wash and a massage, but still, it’s a spa day if you decide it is. It’ll always be hilarious to watch a freshly washed dog have a funny five minutes, racing around in a frenzy.
Though dogs cannot speak, it doesn’t mean our words are meaningless to them. Quite the opposite. Dogs know when they are being praised and complimented, responding instinctually to positive emotion. This primal ability to process emotional cues is what has made them such wonderful friends for the past 10,000 years. In short, dogs are in tune with us. So, don’t forget to lavish your dog with compliments and encouraging energy.
Imagine if someone said you’d have to eat the same meal, every day, for the rest of your life? Even if you picked your favourite, after a while, the thought of eating another bite would turn your stomach. Whilst dogs have fewer tastebuds than us and are far less fussy, they still appreciate variety. The approach recommended by pet MD is rotation feeding.
This means having a selection of different foods you give them in a cycle, enough to keep them interested and create mealtime excitement. However, the benefits are not only measured in tail wags. Rotation feeding is thought to be better for their overall health, promoting a more diverse nutrient and mineral uptake.
Dogs may be domesticated, but that doesn’t mean they’re fully tame. They will always have a wild streak waiting to come out and not in the uniformity of the local park. If you’re the hiking sort, why not take your dog with you? Bounding through woods, streams, and to the top of hills—dogs are in their element.
Dogs need the great outdoors in all its glory to be strong mentally and physically. They also make brilliant walking companions.
Let them sniff
The olfactory system, found in mammals, is responsible for processing smells—using receptors in the nose. We have around six million receptors. Dogs on the other hand, have up to 300 million…it doesn’t take a scientist to work out that a dog’s sense of smell is much, much more sensitive than our own.
When we think about how we perceive the world, for us, our vision is our primary tool. For dogs, their noses are as important as their eyes and ears. Their noses are so well developed they can smell our fear, detecting hormones we release. Unlike us, a blind dog will not have so hard a time adapting to a loss of vision.
With all this in mind, it’s sad when people don’t let their dogs sniff. Think of it like someone constantly covering your eyes. Dogs are hardwired to smell, and for them to be genuinely happy we must let them follow their noses, literally.
Take a dip
Dogs are naturally inclined to enjoy being in and around water. Whether swimming or trying to bite the stream from a hose. To them, it’s a magical substance that does strange and unpredictable things—which keeps them excited. Though depending on the season, you might not want to join yours in the river or the sea.
Break the routine
The final thing you can do to keep your dog happy is easy. Simply break up your walking routine. Go somewhere new and at a different time if possible. Have you ever felt stagnant getting up, going to work, coming home, eating, sleeping, and repeating? Of course, we all have. Life can be boring sometimes and lack variety. Dogs also suffer from boredom with routines that never change. Same walk, same smells. Meh.
Changing your walking route will have a noticeably positive effect on your dog. It’s their version of being surprised with a trip to Disney Land.
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