There are so many things we can do with our beloved dogs, but we wanted to round up a few of our favourite ideas … Take your dog on a “sniffari” It’s no secret that a dog’s sense of smell is both highly sensitive and sophisticated. But what many people don’t understand is that dogs really, really, really need to sniff – especially new environments while out on a walk. That’s why your walks shouldn’t be just walks – they should be “sniffaris”. When dogs sniff, they gather important information about the environment, including people, objects, and scents of other animals. Sniffing is hard-wired into their physiology and is beneficial for their olfactory systems, as well as for their mental health. Dogs have an innate drive to investigate and process information via their nose because for dogs, sniffing is like reading a book. Each scent gives them information about the world around them. Sniffing can relieve boredom and anxiety, as well as provide valuable mental stimulation. Sniffing can be especially enriching for senior dogs and dogs who are physically compromised, is it allows them to participate in a small amount of physical activity while still reaping mental and emotional benefits. Make (or buy) a simple apparatus that can be used for mental stimulation Dogs are curious and intelligent and benefit greatly from mental stimulation. Just like physical exercise, mental stimulation is important for dogs as it provides mental exercise, while at the same time reducing anxiety and stress. Mental stimulation reduced hyperactivity, enhances learning and training, promotes environmental enrichment, and strengthens the bond between dogs and their owners. By incorporating regular mental stimulation activities into your dog’s life, you can assist their overall mental well-being, and help them to lead a happier, healthier, and more well-adjusted life. Mental stimulation can be provided through puzzle toys, interactive games, and training exercises that challenge your dog’s brain. All these activities assist in tiring dogs out mentally, which means they tend to have less behaviour issues. Puzzles and other equipment are especially useful for dogs who are left alone for long periods of time as they can reduce anxiety and keep dogs distracted and entertained. Mental stimulation also gives dogs the opportunity to problem-solve which can help to build confidence as well as contribute to their cognitive development. If owners take the time to “teach” their dogs how to figure out puzzles and other apparatus, it can serve as a bonding opportunity which benefits both dog and owner. Wash, groom, trim their nails (and have their anal glands expressed if necessary) Everyone likes a clean dog – especially a clean dog! Regular washing and grooming is not only important for a dog’s physical appearance – it also has scientific benefits for their overall well-being. Regular washing and grooming – with appropriate, gentle cleaning products – assists in maintaining a healthy skin and coat. Washing and grooming not only removes dirt and excess oils, it can prevent skin issues. Brushing and combing keeps fur free from tangles and matting – which can cause discomfort – and removes loose fur (which means less hair on your carpet, couch and clothes!) Combing/brushing promotes healthy hair growth and helps to distribute the animal’s natural oils evenly, allowing their skin and coat to stay moisturized and healthy. Grooming also helps owners keep on top of any potential parasite situation and can be an important means of overall health monitoring. During grooming sessions, you can check for lumps, bumps, cuts, or skin issues that may require veterinary attention. Last but not least, grooming offers an opportunity for bonding. Even dogs who are “bath averse” can benefit as the process can help to desensitise them to being touched and handled. If you notice signs of anal-gland build-up (scooting, licking, tail chasing, foul odour etc.) take your dog to your local vet to have their glands expressed. Clean their bed and wash their bedding If you can pop your dog’s bed (or parts of their bed) into the washing machine, do so on a regular basis. For those beds that can’t be washed, bio-enzyme cleaners are a fantastic alternative. Bio-enzyme cleaners typically use bacillus (non-pathogenic bacteria) and offer a harm-free, chemical-free way of cleaning those parts of your dog’s bed that can’t be washed in a washing machine. Bio-enzymes act as catalysts, speeding up chemical reactions. They target and break down proteins and other organic compounds that are found in pet messes, including urine, faeces, saliva, and other bodily fluids that may be on your dog’s bed. After applying the solution to your dog’s bed, the bacillus spores will germinate and go in search of a source of carbon to eat. They then replicate at a rapid rate until their source of carbon is finished – and then they die off and the “cleaning job” is complete. You can spray a bio-enzyme on your pet’s bed and bedding even after it has been washed in order to discourage re-marking/re-soiling, which will therefore keep odours away for longer. While chemical cleaners can cause skin irritations, respiratory issues and other health issues, bio-enzyme cleaners are made from natural ingredients, which means they’re safe to use both around pets and humans. They’re also environmentally friendly as they’re renewable and biodegradable. Play with your dog or teach them a trick/basic commands If you read our last blog you’ll already know the importance and value of playing with your dog and/or teaching them tricks and basic commands. But just to recap… Playing with your dog promotes bonding, provides physical exercise, stimulates mental activity, aids in training and behavioural development, and contributes to emotional well-being. Regular playtime with your dog can have numerous benefits, and notably strengthen the bond between you and your dog, which in turn promotes their physical and mental health. Playing and bonding can foster trust, loyalty, and enhance attachment, which are essential for a healthy human-dog relationship. Scientific research has shown that positive interactions, such as play, can promote the release of oxytocin, which is known as the “bonding hormone,” in both humans and dogs – meaning that playtime is beneficial for both dog and owner. Playing with your dog can be a form of stress relief for owners and helps to reduce cortisol levels and improve your mood. Playing with your dog provides important socialisation opportunities. If you’re interested in reading more about this, take a look at our previous blog.