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Enriching Your Dogs' Life

by Sandi Pensinger

Dogs are meant to live active, engaging lives working, running or playing all day. These jobs involve physical and mental exercise. Most dogs these days spend a great deal of time sleeping on fluffy beds and eating out of bowls with little effort, waiting for us to come home. As a result, they are bored and under-stimulated, and ripe for getting into trouble. Dogs need stimulation and that is not always easy with our busy lives. Here are some tips on ways to keep your dog a healthy and happy pet.

AT HOME
Providing jobs for your dogs while you are busy or away from home will help them from becoming bored
and inventing their own entertainment. Instead of getting into the garbage, barking or chewing on your
favorite couch, they could be working to earn their breakfast.

Treasure hunts can be set up by hiding kibble or food-stuffed toys around your home or in your yard instead of feeding your pets out of a bowl. They will have a good time hunting and be better pets for it.

Food-dispensing toys are wonderful for busy work. They are sturdy rubber or plastic toys that hold food inside. Dogs need to lick, chew, paw, shake or roll them to get the food out of them. These toys include Kongs®, Buster Cubes®, Kibble Nibble®, Tug-AJug®, Bob-A-Lot®, and Busy Dog Ball®.

Chew toys are essential for good jaw health and clean teeth, and they help relieve anxiety. Appropriate chew toys can be Kongs®, natural marrow bones, bully sticks and Nylabones®. Providing plenty of safe chew
toys will help keep your dog from chewing on the wrong things.

Games like fetch, tug, find it, hide and seek, and chase are all great fun and easy to do almost anywhere in any weather.

OUT & ABOUT
There are many interactive activities that you and your dog can get out of the house and do together.

Walks, hikes, jogs, or car rides can provide a dog with new smells, sights, sounds and friends. Allowing your dog time to be around other dogs and people and relax out in the world is an important aspect of caring for him.

Dog Sports you can play with your dog provide mental and physical stimulation and social opportunities.
Exercise can be the most important form of stimulation for a dog. There is a sport for everyone, including
agility, nose work, treibball (ball driving), lure coursing, go to ground, rally, dock diving and musical freestyle.

Training with reward-based training classes can increase your dog’s mental stimulation and improve the bond between you and your dog. It also helps your dog learn to understand what you expect of him or her. Contact a reward-based trainer for group or private obedience classes in your area.

Sandi Pensinger teaches dog agility, treibball, lure coursing ,and adult family dog and puppy classes at Living with Dogs in the Santa Cruz area. Sandi is the author of the Treibball Handbook and the Beginning Treibball DVD. She enjoys training her Jack Russell Terriers and helping her clients to achieve their training goals. Find out more about training and dog sport classes at www.livingwithdogs.us.

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