4 keys to long-term happiness with your dog

December 20, 2015

1. Exercise.

Give your dog plenty of exercise and you get a happier, healthier, well-behaved dog. Well-exercised dogs bark less, chew less, sleep more, and rest easier if left home alone. They are also much less likely to rummage through the trash or attack the couch cushions.
Leash walks are great, but your dog needs to run, swim, or do something else that gets his heart pumping for at least 30 minutes every day (For example: Chasing a ball or frisbee, swimming, playing tug, active play with other dogs, off-leash romps or hikes).

Remember: A tired dog is a well-behaved dog.

2. Mental stimulation.

Toys galore: Toys are a great way to engage your dog’s brain. Dogs have distinctly individual toy preferences depending on the day, time, and situation. Pay attention to what your dog really likes to do.

Work to eat: Biologically speaking, your dog is not supposed to have a bowl of kibble plunked down in front of him. He is a hunter by nature, meant to work for his keep. Mimic this by serving your dog’s food in a treat ball. Your dog will spend the first part of the day figuring out how to get at his food and the rest of it recovering from the mental effort. Perfect!

3. Preventing mistakes.

Chewing: Chewing is normal and healthy dog behavior, but it can still be a problem for you and your furniture. You need to teach your dog what is and isn’t okay to chew. In other words, give him plenty of appropriate things to chew right away to get him hooked on those instead of your shoes.

  • Prevent chewing mistakes. When you can’t supervise, put your dog in his confinement area with a chew stick.
  • Interrupt chewing mistakes. If your dog tries to chew the wrong thing, interrupt and trade him for something of higher value that he can chew on. Praise him when he does.

Barking: Generally falls into five categories:

  • Boredom barking: Happens when a dog is left alone often and doesn’t get enough exercise or mental stimulation.
  • Barrier frustration barking: Mostly happens when he is on leash, in cars, or in backyards.
  • Demand barking: Dogs that bark to get something, e.g. to have balls thrown, doors opened, or for attention.
  • Watchdog barking: Triggered by passersby, slamming car doors, a cat on the lawn, etc.
  • Separation anxiety barking: A symptom of underlying anxiety about being alone.

To cut down on any kind of barking, give your dog plenty of exercise and arrange for mental stimulation when he is left alone. Feed him using puzzle toys or stuffed toys. If any type of barking is becoming a problem, give us a call.


Dogs jump up simply to say hello. They don’t know how humans prefer to be greeted and it never occurs to them that they might knock us over or ruin our clothes. Thankfully, consistent anti-jump training can quickly solve the problem. Call us for more information about this.

4. Preventing aggression.

The majority of canine aggression can be blamed on poor breeding, medical issues, or a lack of socialization. All of these require professional help, so call us for advice if you think that is happening to your dog. Aggression is a normal response to stress even in well-adjusted dogs, which is why avoiding stressful situations is crucial in the first few weeks and months. See article ‘Preventing Aggression’ for more information.

Related articles:

Preparing for your new Puppy

Your first day with your dog

House Training 101

Preventing Aggression

Contact us for more information