10 Stylish Gifts for Dogs & Dog Lovers

10 Dec

stylish-gifts-for-dogs

that goofy guy a whole lot. He has his own ornament on the tree, his picture is the lock screen image on my phone, and I do own that sweater that says “ask me about my dog.” You could call me a crazy dog lady and not be too far off.

However, there are a lot of gifts for “dog lovers” that are just…too much. Even for me. Though crazy dog lady I may be, I also like things declaring my love for Topher to be just a little more stylish than your average painting of dogs playing poker.

Likewise, one thing that always sticks out like a sore thumb in my house: dog toys. Usually bright and odd colors, torn apart and covered in drool, they’re always the first thing I want to put away when company’s coming over, and they’re the thing my dog wants to pull out and give to that company. People are over! Let’s play with whatever toy is the ugliest, most slobbered on thing we can find!

Today we’re rounding up stylish gifts for dogs or the dog lovers in your life, with just a touch more style. If you don’t have any dogs or dog lovers in your life, you can buy all these gifts for us! Just kidding. Sort of.

  1. Dog Lover Great Dane Breed T-Shirt, from Golden Doodle Goods ($27)
    Wear these shirts as a line art homage to your favorite breeds! Or, if line art isn’t your style, we quite like the more geometric styles of Golden Doodle Goods more recent t-shirt designs as well, like this American Pit Bull shirt, or the ever-popular Pug.
  2. The Odin, from Up Dog Toys ($23)
    There isn’t any toy we could think of that’s got more style and versatility than the Odin, a toy that hit the market this year and fast tracked itself up our list of favorite toys for Topher and Archer. Read our review of the Odin to learn more about this treat ball created with design in mind.
  3. A Bottle of Red Wine Blend, from Chateau La Paws ($12.99)
    Who doesn’t like to unwind on the couch with their dog and a glass of wine at the end of the day? If this sounds like you or a friend’s idea of time well spent, consider gifting a bottle of Chateau La Paws for the holidays. Plus, you’ll be supporting no-kill shelters in the process!
  4. McCadden Bandana, from Billy Wolf ($25)
    For classic, yet fashion forward styles, look no further than Billy Wolf. We love their bandanas, and the McCadden is a classic color palette that’s perfect for all seasons, so you can explore and take walks in style.
  5. The Dogist Book ($17.11)
    Featuring the photography of Elias Weiss Friedman, creator of The Dogist Instagram account, The Dogist book is a tribute to the beloved dogs in our lives. It showcases photos and encounters not seen on the Instagram account, and some truly heartwarming tales.
  6. Do Your Best Hoodie, from Camp Cloon ($32.58)
    For the dog who really wants to get those commands right, they can tell the world they’re trying really hard. I might buy this hoodie for Topher just for the little extra inspiration it might provide us in class.
  7. In Dogs We Trust Print, from Camp Cloon ($12.63)
    Speaking of Camp Cloon products, show off where your true loyalties lie with this map art print. Bill Murray certainly had the right of it in saying, “I’m suspicious of people who don’t like dogs, but I trust a dog when it doesn’t like a person.”
  8. Red Heart Good Karma Rope Dog Toy, from Jax & Bones ($12)
    With so many animals in need of our love and care, maybe you want a gift that will do double duty this season. When you purchase this rope toy for your pup, Jax and Bones donates a 10% of the proceeds to rescue groups to help homeless animals find their forever home. Karma, indeed!
  9. Oaked Bitter Orange Room Spray, from Sydney Hale Co. ($15)
    It’s no secret that we love Sydney Hale Co.’s candles. They’re well designed, smell fantastic, and burn forever. But we know that open flames might not be for everyone, so we were thrilled to find you can now get all their best scents in room spray form!
  10. BarkBox Subscription ($19/month)
    We sing the praises of BarkBox very often, so you may know this tune. However, we think there’s no better gift for a pet parent than this curated box of USA-made goodies. Spice up your dog’s life with toys you might never find in the aisles of that big box pet store.

5 Silly Gifts for Dog Lovers

6 Dec

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As a dog owner, you’ve probably seen it all by now. When it comes to gifts, there’s a huge selection for dogs and pup-parents that range from adorable to downright insane. It’s a delicate balance to choose a gift that’s funny without being kitsch. So we’ve done the leg-work and found our picks for downright silly gifts for dog lovers (and their dogs) that are actually worth checking out this holiday season!

Some are certain to bring a smile to your face. So spread some cheer, and get goofy!

  1. Squeaky Dog Donuts, Uncommon Goods ($18)
    You don’t give your dog people-food, and that’s great! But a little harmless donut-indulgence via toy would make for quite the happy puppy on Christmas morning!
  2. Grinz Ball, Rogz ($10)
    Be honest, these made you smile.
  3. Handmade Dog Slippers, Uncommon Goods ($58)
    We’ll file these under “perfectly weird” and call it a day. For the dog lover who is also a puppet enthusiast… or maybe a wacky sock enthusiast? Who knows.
  4. Year of the Critter 2016 Calendar in Corgi, ModCloth ($13)
    Is 2016 the Year of the Corgi? Ah yes, the forgotten Chinese Zodiac.
  5. Mad Dog Coasters, BarkShop ($29)
    Did you expect me to set my drink down on the table like some animal? Featuring the vintage artwork of Constance Depler Coleman, this coaster is perfect beneath a masterfully mixed Old Fashioned. Cheers!

And with that, go forth and be silly!

10 Non-Rawhide Dog Chews for the Holiday Season

3 Dec

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During the holidays, our pets always get a little extra love from their “grandparents.” Last year, Topher got the biggest rawhide chew I’d ever seen in my life. I have some mixed feelings about rawhide, but since we were home and able to supervise him we went ahead and let Topher go to town. He loved it, of course, and it took him three or four days to finish it off—with no ill effects that we could see.

Still, it started me thinking about what we can do to steer people towards more healthy options for our pets in the holiday season. Step one? Talking about what you do and don’t feed your dog. We never mentioned our aversion to rawhide chews, so how were my (non-dog-owner) parents to know?

This year, we’ll plan on doing a better job at pointing some different options out, if they want to get Topher some extra goodies over the holidays.

But what about the present we’ll be giving our own dogs this year? Maybe instead of being tempted to buy that giant red, green, and/or white rawhide for your dog to chow down on this Christmas, how about trying some more natural holiday treats and chews? Here are some of our favorite non-rawhide dog chews we’ve tried with our dogs.

Nylabones & Hard Digestible Chews

Hard toys like Nylabones or Benebones are a great option for high intensity chewers, aka dogs that will chew anything and everything, and want to chew all the time. Topher is a heavy chewer like this, so we almost always have some kind of hard chew like this in our rotation. You can get Nylabones in flavors or plain, and there’s a bunch of varieties to choose from.

1. Nylabone Holiday Dura Chew ($14.99)
2. Benebone Rotisserie Chicken Flavored Chew Toy ($11.59)

What’s a Benebone? We reviewed this up and coming line of chews earlier in the year.

Bully Sticks

A good bully stick can last anywhere from ten to fifteen minutes, to several days, depending on your dog’s chewing tendencies. Topher, a heavy chewer, can go through an extra large bully stick in about an hour. Bully sticks are a great extra treat for the holiday season, because they’re just as affordable as your average rawhide!

Plus, over at Best Bully Sticks they have some holiday varieties that are a fun change, even though they don’t come in red or green. We had the opportunity to try a few of these holiday varieties, and they hold up just as well as their regular bully stick counterparts.

3. Bully Stick Candy Cane ($3.59)
4. Bully Stick Crown/Wreath ($6.99)
5. 12 Inch Braided Gullet Stick ($3.49)

Still not convinced? Here’s our full review of Best Bully Sticks’ bully chews.

Antlers

Antlers are natural chews that can stand up to tons of abuse. They contain no preservatives or additives, yet are still enticing to dogs without artificial ingredients. Some antlers are also a natural source of essential nutrients like calcium, glucosamine, and chondrotin. So for Christmas this year, why not try giving your pup a little piece of Donner or Blitzen to chew on?

6. Large Elk Antler ($12.79)
7. Medium Moose Antler ($9.99)

Never given your dog an antler before? Read our pros and cons roundup of popular chews on the market to see if an antler is the right option for your pup.

Durable Toys

Supplying your dog with one tough, high quality chew toy could reduce your need to buy them other chews by a pretty large margin. Many of these toys are fillable—you just need to add a little incentive, and let your dog go to town. Instead of the rawhide cane, invest in one of these toy options for your heavy chewer at home that’s built to last through more than New Year’s Day.

8. KONG Extreme Dog Toy ($10.42)
9. Zogoflex Tux Toy ($16.50)
10. Zogoflex Hurley Dog Bone ($10.95)

Not sure if Zogoflex will stand up to your extreme chewer? Read our love letter to this tried and true West Paw Design toy line.

Best Bootie Choices for Winter Dogs

29 Nov

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No, not that booty. We’re talking foot booties!

Typically, dogs shouldn’t require booties, but there are conditions where booties may benefit them and enable them to enjoy themselves in varying conditions. I promised myself I would never talk about putting little shoes on a dog’s feet, but here we are…and I can admit, yes, they are useful.

Most recently, for us, it’s been a matter of getting Sirius’ tender puppy paws accustomed to the cold ground and snow. Unlike Archer, whose paws are warn by many trails, walks, and seasons, Sirius’ paws are fresh and smooth and… not at all prepared for our northern Ontario winters. At least not yet. So, while we know his paws will be ready one day, in the mean time we’ve been looking at booty options.

So let’s share what we’ve found, and help all those pups facing new environmental conditions enjoy themselves.

  1. Pawz Dog Boots, Protex Pawz (~$15)
    While not necessarily meant to keep paws warm, these latex booties will keep the elements away from your dog’s paws! These seem especially useful in wet environments, and most of all if you’re dealing with a paw injury (like a broken nail or cut) to keep the dirt out and the paw nice and clean.
  2. Dog Boots, Ruffwear (~$75)
    Oh, of course you know Ruffwear has your pup covered when it comes to boots! All options in the Ruffwear booties seem to come with some nice tread on the base of the boot, which will give your dog traction in case of slippery rocks or ice.
  3. Waterproof Pet Boots, Colorfulhouse (~$20)
    Waterproof with molded rubber bottom for non-slip. These booties include reflective material to keep your pup visible no matter what time of day you go to enjoy the outdoors.
  4. Durable Dog Boots, Ultra Paws (~$35)
    With a pliable, grippy sole, and velcro fastener, Ultra Paws has a great option for dog booties! These boots are water-resistant, and can stand up to cold, hot, wet, or dry conditions.
  5. All Weather Neoprene Paw Protector Dog Boots, Bark Brite (~$30)
    High quality neoprene boots that are great for all weather conditions. Including reflective material for high-visibility, these booties are water-resistant, puncture-resistant, and aid in traction.

Oh, and the likelihood your dog will want to wear their booties is slim. Get your camera out for the first time you put those babies on them, and get a good laugh in! Then, just remember it’s about making it a positive experience! And if all else fails, maybe booties are not for them and it’s a matter of adjusting your routine.

Apple & Cheddar Dog Treat Recipe

26 Nov

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Every year, Bryan and I host Friendsgiving on the weekend after Thanksgiving. It’s a way to celebrate Thanksgiving with our close friends, some of whom can’t make it home for the holidays. Everyone brings a dish to share, and we spend an evening eating too much and enjoying each other’s company. After all, that’s what Thanksgiving is about, isn’t it?

Since poor Topher doesn’t get to join in eating all that delicious food, I decided to make him some new “Friendsgiving” styled treats for the occasion. Hopefully it helps him stay out of the kitchen! (Unlikely.)

So while you may be spending this Black Friday morning doing some holiday shopping, consider heading home a little early to make your dog a little treat for being such a good sport about not counter-surfing for your Thanksgiving dinner. (Unless they actually did counter-surf, whoops!)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup shredded apple
  • ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • ¼ cup bacon grease
  • ¼ cup buckwheat flour
  • ¾ cup whole wheat flour
  • Makes eighteen 1 ½ inch round treats.

This recipe is partially inspired by a friend of ours who brought cheddar apples to one of our Friendsgiving celebrations a few years ago. If people can develop a taste for cheese and apples, why not dogs?

Really, this question should go the other way around, since Topher loves just about anything. Minus broccoli. And raw carrots. Anyway, I decided to throw a little bacon grease into this dog treat party for a little extra savory flavor, because when it comes to Thanksgiving, and Friendsgiving, more is more.

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350º F.

2. Shred apple until you have a loosely packed cup. Shred your cheese until you have a loosely packed ½ cup.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a regular mixing bowl) combine your apple and bacon grease.

4. Gradually add your whole wheat and buckwheat flours, mixing in about a quarter cup at a time, then add the cheese, and mix until everything is just combined. The dough may appear crumbly, but it will come together as you knead it.

5. Scrape the dough from your bowl onto a clean surface, and knead to bring the dough together.

6. Roll out your dough to ¼ inch thickness, then cut into shapes and place on a nonstick baking sheet.

7. Bake at 350º F for 20 to 25 minutes, flipping once halfway through.

8. Because these treats have a fair amount of moisture in them, turn your oven down to its lowest setting (ours is 175º F) and let these continue to dehydrate for another hour before taking them out to cool.

Other Baking Notes

  • If your dough seems way too crumbly to knead together, add a ½ teaspoon of water and continue working, adding more water in ½ teaspoon increments if you feel it’s necessary. This recipe comes together differently depending on how much water carried over from shredding the apples.
  • If you don’t have buckwheat flour, just substitute an extra ¼ cup of whole wheat flour.
  • You can substitute another kind of oil for bacon fat, such as ¼ cup of coconut oil.
  • It’s important to flip these halfway through baking, otherwise some of the cheese within might glue your treats to your baking sheet.
  • Fully dried, homemade dog treats should last about two weeks in a sealed, airtight container, or for up to a month in the fridge. Because these treats contain fat and dairy, be mindful of the suggested expiration date!

Once they’re cooled, they’re ready for your pup! No doubt they’ve been watching you ever since you started turning the kitchen into a bacon-apple scented heaven.

Looking for more apple treats? Try these!

  • Harvest Apple & Bacon
  • Gluten-Free Ginger Apple
  • Pumpkin & Apple

Find more treats for your pup on our treat index.

How Do You Choose The Right Dog Food?

23 Jul

how-to-choose-the-right-dog-food

If anyone you know has adopted a dog after you did, then you’ve probably been asked more than a few times, “what do you feed you dog?” The pet food industry is an extremely lucrative market, and one that’s constantly evolving as companies, new and old, churn out new varieties of dog food each year. This makes the world of dog food very confusing. It can be difficult to figure out just what food is best for your dog, along with what you can afford.

So, how do you choose the right dog food? Here are a few things to consider, to help you narrow down your food options when you’re standing in the dog food aisle.

A little disclaimer: there are more factors involved in the decision of what to feed your dog than we are able to (or feel qualified to) cover here. If you’re looking to do some homework on store-bought pet food, to find out what’s right for your dog, these tips will certainly help. This post does not cover making your dog’s meals from scratch or raw feeding, as we simply do not have the background research or experience level to talk about these diet options in detail.

Consider Your Dog’s Nutritional Needs

The first way to narrow your choices is to consider your dog’s nutritional needs. A puppy will need vastly more calories and protein, compared with a senior dog who may need fewer calories and more fiber or supplements. Activity level and the size of your dog are also things to take into consideration. If you have several dogs, this may mean that one bag of dog food might not cover every dog’s nutritional needs.

When taking your dog’s breed, size, or activity level into account, your veterinarian or your breeder (if applicable) are great sources of information when it comes to finding out the nutritional needs of your specific dog. Just be wary of anyone peddling a highly specific brand or company—they may be getting a kick back based on what they promote, when other brands of food may also have the nutritional values you’re looking for.

Now that you have an idea of the type of food you want—senior, puppy, active lifestyle, etc.—it’s time to do some research.

The Problem With Dog Food Labels

The label on a dog food bag, unfortunately, doesn’t provide a lot of usable info to pet owners. It will say that it meets certain minimum standards; however, these standards for dog food are extremely low, so accepting them at face value may mean your dog still is not getting adequate levels of all the nutrients they need.

There is one exception to the terrible labeling of dog food. Look for the phrase “complete and balanced” on the bag. It means that this dog food will contain proper levels of all the nutrients essential for your dog. This claim is much more regulated by the government: a company making this claim must be able to support it with data from food trials or lab analysis.

Last, any high quality dog food will have an 800 number listed on the bag. You can call the company and ask questions about the nutritional value of their food. Specifically, ask about the digestibility of the food—this gives you what percentage of the material in the food can be digested by your dog. A digestibility of above 80% is usually fine, though a quality pet food supplier should have numbers above 90%.

A Note On Buying Local

While I’m usually all about buying locally, when it comes to buying dog food…be very cautious. Any dog food that has not been shipped across state lines is not required to be regulated at all. This lack of oversight can be very dangerous, should you end up buying a formula of dog food that’s been created without any testing of it’s nutritional value. While very low cost dog food from big brands may not be very good for your dog, the same can be said of some high-end “boutique” brands.

Simply put, if you’re going to pay top dollar for a dog food, do your homework! Especially if you haven’t heard of the company.

5 Tips For Bonding With Your Dog

22 Jul

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I have a confession: sometimes, when Topher is jerking me around in class or fraying at my last nerve with yet another reactive outburst… I stop liking him very much. I know! It’s a terrible thing to say! But when you own a reactive dog, stress and frustration can become a part of your daily and weekly routine; it’s important to try your best not to hold onto those feelings, not to let them negatively impact your bond with your dog.

Even if you don’t have a reactive dog, there are lots of ways to further bond with your pet! A strong connection with your dog can go along way, from giving you more patience in dealing with their less favorable idiosyncrasies, to helping them feel calmer and more balanced overall.

Create A Routine

When you establish a routine for things like feeding, walks, and playtime with your dog, it’s like making a promise with them. The more you’re able to keep that promise by adhering to your schedule, the more your dog will trust you. It also means they’ll be able to handle the occasional upset to the schedule with greater ease.

Make Up Little Rituals

Just like people, dogs appreciate the little treats and kindnesses you show them day to day. Establishing small rituals makes everyday actions just a little sweeter. For example, Topher gets a small spoonful of peanut butter as a morning treat, and another small treat right before bed. This started because he needed eyedrops several times a day, and giving treats was an easy way for us to help him adjust to being given medication. Now, it’s just another small way we show Topher some love.

Find (Or Create) Activities You Both Enjoy

Life with your dog is a team sport. Nothing will make your pup happier than doing things with you. Doing something fun with your dog reinforces the feelings that spending time with your dog is enjoyable—and this is key when you have a reactive dog, if you’re going to training sessions or getting into other stressful encounters. Whether it’s going on trail walks like Ivana and Archer, or just hanging out on the couch watching TV, find something you and your dog can both enjoy, and pursue it together.

Get On Their Level

One of Bryan’s favorite things to do with Topher is sit on the floor with him. A little face-to-face interaction is great for your dog, whether it takes place on the floor or on the couch (if they’re allowed up there!). A dog who will look into your eyes, even briefly, is a dog who is showing you respect and trust. Show you appreciation with praise, or pets or other affection.

This isn’t to say you should be staring down your dog. Staring and looking are certainly different things. And if your dog is uncomfortable with eye contact, don’t force them. As your bond with them grows, it will get easier.

Listen To What Your Dog Is “Saying”

At any given time, your dog may be providing you feedback about their overall level of comfort. It’s on you to listen, and respond appropriately. If your dog is reacting to something or clearly uncomfortable in a certain environment, it’s your responsibility to advocate for them. Get them training to aid them in learning to accept new people, environments, etc. Or, protect them from situations where they might feel forced to defend themselves. The more you can understand and respect your dog’s feelings, the stronger your bond will be.

We Want To Hear From You, Our Readers!

21 Jul

call-for-submissions

One of our favorite things about the community we’ve built here with Good Dogs & Co. is how many stories we get to hear about our readers’ pets. We think pet stories bring us together in shared experience, in ways other tales (ha!) may not. And we want to hear more from you!

We’re looking for readers to share their experiences with their pets. You can submit your own story by heading to our submissions page, and filling out one of the forms. Here’s a brief reminder of the stories we currently feature weekly!

Adoption Stories

These are essays from owners about their pets. If you have a story to tell about your dog, how they came into your family or otherwise, we want to hear it. Whether you rescued your pup from a shelter or otherwise unfortunate situation, or conducted a multiple-breeder search for the right pup, all stories are welcome. Submit these stories here.

Breeder Spotlights

Being a breeder takes hard work and years of dedication to refining a line. We have nothing but respect for people who have dedicated yourselves so wholeheartedly into really preserving the great qualities of the breeds we love. Share your story with us—we think it’s fascinating work!

Rescue Spotlights

It takes tons of hard work and dedication to rescue animals, and we’re honored to help rescues by giving them our community platform for a day to showcase their current efforts. All you have to do is brag a little bit about the great work you do so well!

Don’t see an option that fits what you want to write about? Please contact us! We love hearing about pet owners’ unique experiences and challenges, and occasionally feature interviews from owners and pet industry professionals. If there is a good fit, we will also occasionally accept pitches for DIYs, recipes, and other articles. Any ideas are welcome!

How To Evaluate A Rescue Dog Before Adoption

16 Jul

evaluating-a-rescue-dog

A common tip given when adopting or bringing a new dog into your family is to make sure the dog you choose fits your lifestyle. In some cases, choosing a dog that fits your day to day life just means choosing a dog of a certain size or build. A small dog for an apartment, an athletic dog to run with, etc. However, what about when you’re trying to choose a dog with a particular temperament?

This was something Bryan and I stumbled into when we adopted Topher. We knew we wanted a dog of a specific type—a Boxer or bully type breed—but other than that, we didn’t really know what else to look for to gauge what kind of personality our dog would have. And when you’re in a shelter environment, sometimes it can be hard to tell just what a dog’s true temperament will be once they’ve settled into a less stressful situation.

This is the situation many people who adopt adult dogs from shelters find themselves in. Adopting an adult dog has many advantages, but its primary disadvantage is that an adult dog will come with baggage. Finding a new home is traumatic, and so their personality may not shine through immediately. So in a shelter environment, how do you decide if the dog you’re looking at is the right one for you? Here are a few ways to briefly evaluate a dog you’re considering bringing into your home.

1. Watch the dog from a distance. Do they appear aloof to those passing by, or friendly?

2. Approach the dog in a neutral way—don’t speak or smile, and try to approach from the side. See if the dog approaches you and the reaction they give.

3. Approach the dog with a big smile and a happy greeting, and see what reaction this kind of greeting elicits.

4. Watch a shelter worker or volunteer walk the dog on a leash, and see how much attention the dog pays to their current handler. This will give you a little bit of an idea of how they walk on a lead.

5. Find an area where you can sit quietly with the dog, preferably off a leash. See how often the dog comes back to visit you. A dog who is slightly more independent when off leash is not necessarily a bad thing, it all depends on your expectations for the level of attention seeking behavior and affection in your dog.

6. If you feel safe, run your hands all over the dog. If the dog seems okay with that, see if he will let you check his ears, his mouth, or handle his paws. Stop if the dog seems uncomfortable or moves to get away at any point. This is just to see how receptive the dog is to being handled.

7. Try handing the dog a small treat. Do they grab at it, or take it gently? If the dog grabs at the treat forcefully, ask them to be gentle and hold the next treat almost enclosed in your hand—refuse to give it to them until they are using their mouth more gently to take it. A dog who cannot understand the notion of gentle may be more difficult to manage later, especially around children or cats.

8. Make sure the dog is introduced to everyone in your family before adoption, especially if you have children. When bringing an adult dog into a family with children, the dog should greet them happily and with enthusiasm. An adult dog who is good with children is usually one who’s grown up with them, and that bond may be harder to teach to an adult dog who hasn’t had much interaction with kids.

9. If you have another dog or cat, try and see how the dog interacts with dogs and cats, or make sure to ask those at the shelter if they’ve evaluated their temperament towards other animals.

These evaluations will give you more of an idea of a shelter dog’s temperament, though no test is fool-proof; adopting an adult dog is as much work as, and sometimes more than, adopting a puppy. You need to be committed to working with your dog to help them grow into their new role in your home.

When you adopt an adult dog, there’s usually a honeymoon period—anywhere from a few days to a month where your dog is still adjusting to their surroundings, and their typical behavior may be somewhat inhibited. You should use this period to help your dog understand what is expected of them. Over time, you’ll begin to see their true personality begin to shine, as they grow into the role of companion and friend.

Is Your Dog Bored?

15 Jul

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Working from home has given me a view into the daily life of dogs…and it’s not exactly thrilling. Mostly, Topher just sleeps all the time. He sleeps in the bedroom for an hour, then takes a lap around the house to check in with the cats. After that, you’ll usually find him sleeping on the couch, maybe watching the squirrels in between naps by propping his head up on the back pillows so he can see out our front window.

Part of me wonders if Topher is just bored during the day. Boredom can actually be a big source of stress for dogs—they crave having something to do, both physically and mentally. If you’ve ever returned home and find your house has been torn apart, or perhaps a fluffy dog bed spontaneously combusted, then its pretty likely that your dog is bored. (They may also suffer from separation anxiety, but that’s an article for another time.)

So, what’s the cure for doggy boredom? How do you keep them entertained so they won’t start investigating the interiors of your couch cushions? Here are a few things you can try to keep your pup more entertained while you’re away.

Give Them Enough Exercise

A daily walk is a great way to tire your dog out before you leave for work—there’s really no substitute. However, if it’s not something you can build into your morning, you may want to look for other ways your dog can get exercise during the day. It might be hiring a dog walker, or just asking a family member if they wouldn’t mind stopping in for a short play session. A tired dog is much less likely to eat your shoes.

Ditch The Food Bowl

Canines in the wild spend up to eighty percent of their time searching and hunting for food. While your dog is most certainly not a wolf, putting all of their food in their bowl on a daily basis wastes an opportunity for further stimulation. Use a portion of your dog’s daily kibble to beat boredom.

Mix some of your dog’s kibble in with a filler—peanut butter, cottage cheese, or perhaps just a bit of coconut oil to make things stick together—the night before, then pour into a hollow treat toy such as a Kong. Freeze overnight, and give the treat to them just before leaving for work. This gives them something to work for while you leave, which can also help with dogs who have more mild separation anxiety.

Puzzle toys are also a great way to banish boredom—just make sure the toy is strong enough to hold up while you’re out of the house!

Rotate Their Toys

It can be worrisome to come home to find your dog has demolished his latest stuffed or squeaky toy. Eating fluff and squeakers can sometimes do serious harm to your dog’s digestion, so be careful not to leave your dog alone with these items.

This also creates a novelty effect. When stuffed toys are reserved and brought out only when you’re supervising, that toy becomes exciting again. Rotating what toys are available to your dog on a daily basis will also refresh his interest in older toys. The absence of a particular toy for a few days will make your dog want it even more, the next time it comes around.

Try Out Daycare

Doggy daycare is a great idea for any dog who’s younger and needs to burn more energy than you might have time for during the day. It’s also an effective way to manage separation anxiety. Your dog plays while you work, and at the end of the day you both go home tired. When looking into doggy daycare facilities and options, always do a test run on a day where you can spend some time at the facility, and make sure your dog is integrating well in the environment.

Put Them To Work

A hardworking dog is usually a happy dog. There are many breeds that even tend towards destruction if they’re not getting enough mental stimulation—they need a job! For dogs, work is a form of play—a mental exercise where they get copious praise and treat rewards for a job done well. This can be as simple as regular training sessions and teaching them new commands, or as rigorous as enrolling in agility or flyball training, or working towards becoming a therapy dog.

Once you start making sure your dog has enough to occupy themselves, you’ll see how much more content they become. Much of our dog’s happiness relies on how we care for them, so make sure you’re giving them everything they need!

How do you deal with doggy boredom?