(Natural News) Born to retire or born retired? Forget rounding up sheep or scavenging for food; these days, dogs are only asked to be our companions. While many of us would choose this kind of lifestyle, pet behaviorists note that this is not good for your canine friend. They can easily get bored or lonely, leading to inappropriate behavior like chewing on shoes or biting furniture. Additionally, sedentary dogs can get fat very easily and become sick.
Having an office job is not an excuse either — pets are responsibilities. There are five simple ways to keep your dog happy while you’re at work. (h/t to VetStreet.com.)
Give them food puzzles
Dogs are hunters and are naturally curious animals. They love working for their food and being mentally stimulated. While giving treats is discouraged by many veterinarians (pets need to eat well too!), you can make them happy by occasionally leaving goodies inside food puzzles. The little gizmos force your puppy to figure out ways to get the food out. This can distract them for hours.
Puzzles can be incredibly simple or super sophisticated. Pet-care experts recommend beginning with a basic one and adjusting appropriately, based on your dog’s preference. Not all pets are proficient at food puzzles, so it is best to try several puzzles before settling for one. The most common food puzzle is the “Kong,” which is a stuffed toy with a hollowed middle. The top is stuffed with food treats. Dogs need to work for their dinner by figuring out how to open the Kong doll.
Let them socialize
It can be argued that your dog is your “practice baby.” Take some cues from your parents and organize group play dates with your dog and some canine buddies. If you have friends who also have dogs (or even really friendly cats), try setting up a meeting. Dogs love to socialize and need the interaction. They will appreciate the activity, even if it’s only for 15 minutes. If you are truly busy and can’t hang out, you may want to consider bringing your puppy to a doggie day care. These are great ways to get some socializing in. (Related: Help your dog overcome separation anxiety naturally.)
Socializing can also be an intimate affair. If your dog is a little shy, you can just take him out to a coffee shop or similar pet-friendly establishment and let him take in the sights, smells, and sounds. What is key is that they shouldn’t be locked up at home for the entire day.
Behaviorist Dr. Wailani Sung reminds owners that “in nature, canines have periods of rest but also periods of activity. If the owners provide structure to their dog’s days, that can be really helpful for dogs to know what is coming next. Almost all animals follow a schedule during the day and night; it is what we encounter along the way as we move through the day that keeps it different.”
Make it a point to do certain activities at around the same time of the day to promote better mental health in your dog.
Use positive reinforcement (e.g. treats or stroking) to teach a dog a new trick. This way, it becomes a game for the dog. The best part is that this only requires a few minutes each day of focused training. This is also an excellent way to strengthen the bond between you and your dog.
Some of us don’t like grooming our dogs. We dread brushing our pets or brushing their teeth. Unfortunately, our dogs can sense this. They’re highly sensitive creatures and start dreading the activity too. Behaviorists suggest seeing these daily grooming tasks more as a bonding opportunity rather than a chore. Not only will this change your own mindset but it will make your puppy happy too.
These five simple tricks can easily be integrated into your daily habits. You’ll immediately notice a distinct and wonderful change in your dog!
Learn more ways to take care of your best friend at NaturalNewsPets.com.