Nothing makes us smile like our dogs when they are obviously happy: there’s nothing quite like a sparkly-eyed, grinning dog to banish the blues! And here are our favorite ways to get our dogs smiling in the summer months… let us know yours in the comments below!
1. Challenge your dog’s mental skills and keep his cognitive functioning sharp! Everyone recognizes the importance of physical exercise for dogs, but it’s equally important to exercise your dog’s brain too, just as it is in humans! Playing some interactive brain games with your dog is a fun way to bond and do something a little bit different and more challenging than the typical spin around the neighborhood, while building connections in the brain and staving off boredom. There are many different kids of boredom-busting toys that require problem solving on the market, including games that require your dog to solve various “puzzles” to retrieve a toy or treat, or you can come up with some of your own, like hide and seek – one variation on this traditional game is to hide some treats all over your house and play “hide and seek”with the treats… or, of course, you can be the hider and challenge your dog to come find you! You can also continue to teach your dog different words: one special dog, a border collie named Chaser, christened the “smartest dog in the world” has learned the names of over 1000 different objects. While your dog might not be able to compete at Chaser’s level, you could certainly try to teach him the difference between a couple of his toys or treats and train him to fetch the one you ask for. Heck, if your dog gets good at this, think of all of the things you could train him to fetch for you: a cognitive game could easily turn your dog into a practical helper around the house!
2. Go someplace new: Chances are, if you’re tired of the same old walking route around your neighborhood, your dog is too. Sure, he will always sniff the same trees and posts, getting his daily “pee-mail” and leaving his own “messages” in return; however, notice how different your dog acts in a totally new neighborhood: there are new smells, new turns, new people, dogs, cats, all to challenge and stimulate his senses. Variety is the spice of life, after all, and your dogs are no different. Instead of heading out the door in the same direction, why not take a short car ride together and explore a new place?
3. Try a different exercise: If you normally go on a daily walk, try taking your dog to a dog park and letting him run off leash. If you always go to the same dog park, try a different one. If you always walk, try jogging with your dog, or go for a hike – the change in exercise and pace would undoubtedly benefit both of you! And in the summer months, many dogs love a chance to go swimming; particularly arthritic dogs, for whom the buoyancy of the water relieves stress on their joints but still allows them to get some great exercise.
4. Whip up a frozen treat: One of our Facebook fans, Kat’s Dog Treats, gave us a few great recipes for a cool and refreshing summer treat for your dogs (and maybe even you, the peanut butter banana yogurt pops (sans rawhide) sound so good!):
Peanut Butter Banana Yogurt Pops:
- 1cup plain yogurt (Greek if possible)
- 2tbsp peanut butter
- 2tbsp honey
- 1 banana
Mix it all together and freeze. You can get fancy by using a rawhide stick as the stick (LOVE this idea for the dogs!) or put the mixture in an ice cube tray if your dog is smaller.
Berry Bones Pupsicles:
1/2 cup berries (blueberry/raspberry/
1/2 cup sodium free chicken broth
Puree berries and mix well with broth. Pour the mixture into popsicle molds or ice cube trays.
Apple Bones Pupsicles:
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 cup sodium free chicken broth (or water)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
touch of honey (optional)
Mix all ingredients together and pour the mixture into popsicle molds or ice cube trays.
5. Share a “spaw day” with your dog: By which we mean, a luxurious earthbath in your favorite fragrance, followed by a “facial” with our brand new facial wipes that will wipe away any eye-goo, slobber, or general grime from muzzles and noses, to make your dog even more kissable, and a “paw-dicure” for your dog: trim and file down their nails, followed by a moisturizing shea butter treatment on their hot-pavement callused paws (our favorite product is SheaPet Shea Butter and Aloe Treatment Balm). A well-groomed dog is a healthy, happy dog!