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What Do Dogs Like? 25 Things to Make Your Dog Happy!

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

happy golden retriever

Dogs are our best friends for good reason: They are endlessly forgiving, enthusiastic, and affectionate. Many dog owners, novice and experienced, may wonder how they can return the favor. Even with their endlessly positive attitudes and demeanor, there are plenty of ways to make your dog’s day!

If you’re looking for tips on how to make your dog happy, you’ve come to the right place! We put together this list of 25 different ways to make your dog happy, most of which you can get started on right away. Let’s dive in!

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The 25 Things That Dogs Love

1. Hiking

husky hiking with girl
Image Credit: 2999607, Pixabay

While regular walks around your neighborhood are great, your dog will love the extra excitement of going on a hike through nature. The change of scenery, the new smells and scents, and the new textures are great sources of excitement and mental stimulation for your pooch.

2. Treats

This may seem like a no-brainer, but many of us get caught up in our busy lives and forget to give our pooch treats. Give your dog occasional healthy treats not only for a job well done but also to show how much you love and appreciate them!

3. Cuddles

woman cuddles dog
Image Credit: Albina Glisic, Shutterstock

Our busy schedules are often hard on those closest to us, including our pets. Dogs love to be petted, be it simply lying on your lap while you work, you gently stroking their head, or full-body cuddles, they love the physical attention, and this is a sure way to make their day.

4. Swimming

While not all dogs love to get wet, swimming is something that most dogs cannot get enough of. It’s fun, great exercise, and an ideal way to cool down in the heat of summer. Be it in lakes, rivers, or even your pool, your dog will love playing games with you while splashing around in the water.

5. Tug of War

two dogs playing
Image Credit: congerdesign, Pixabay

Contrary to popular belief, a game of tug of war with your pooch does not make them dominant or aggressive, but rather it is a fun and stimulating form of exercise for them. It strengthens their teeth and jaws and creates a fun way for you to bond with your pooch. Just be sure to keep the play sessions short, and train your dog to “stop and drop” on command to prevent any bad habits.

6. Walks

While you should be taking your dog for daily walks already, a long walk is an ideal happiness booster for any pooch. Change your normal route to give your pooch new and exciting sensory stimulation, take them to the local park, or go on a walk with other friendly dogs.

7. New Toys

Red Heeler Plays Fetch
Image Credit: DortmundFan, Shutterstock

Toys are a vital part of owning a dog: They give your pooch something to chew on, they keep your dog mentally stimulated, and they are a great way to play games and bond with your pooch. The key is to change up these toys as much as possible to prevent your dog from getting bored. Try new toys that you’ve never purchased before, and see how your pooch reacts!

8. Training

Training may seem like a chore that all dog owners (and dogs) need to drag themselves through out of necessity, but when done properly, training can be a fun and bonding experience. This is especially true with reward-based methods: Your dog will likely love the challenge of being given a task, successfully completing it, and then being rewarded at the end. Just be sure to keep sessions no more than 20-30 minutes.

9. Treat-stuffed Toy

IQ Treat Ball-Pet Zone

While you’re on the hunt for a new toy for your pooch, we highly recommend purchasing a toy that you can stuff a treat into. This will provide your pooch with hours of fun while they try and access the delicious snack hidden inside!

10. Socialization

A key part of training and general mental health for your dog, socialization is also an important source of happiness. Just like humans, your dog loves to interact with their own kind, and having playdates with other dogs or taking your pooch to a dog park will make them both happier and healthier. This is especially important for single-dog households.

11. Grooming

Dog taking a bubble bath in grooming salon
Image Credit: Masarik, Shutterstock

Not only is regular grooming an important part of keeping your dog healthy, but most dogs also love it! They love being pampered and brushed and being paid attention to, and they’ll feel great afterward. While bathing should not be done too often and you should avoid harsh soaps and shampoos, regular brushing is something that most dogs adore, especially long-haired breeds. Knots and matting can become uncomfortable and even painful after a while, so a brushed, sleek coat is a sure way to up your pooch’s happiness levels.

12. Hide and Seek

There are tons of different interactive games to play with your dog, and hide and seek is a sure winner! Not only is it a fun game to play with your dog, but it also keeps their senses sharp and hones their tracking skills — and it teaches them a good lesson in patience!

13. Praise

person reaching out to dog
Image Credit: jarmoluk, Pixabay

This may seem like an obvious point, but dogs love getting praise from their owner. Verbal communication is essential in your relationship with your pooch, both in training and daily life, and praising your dog for being well-behaved is a great training method. Even when your dog is not in training mode, giving them verbal praise is a sure way to get their tails wagging!

14. Popsicles

There is arguably nothing better on a hot day than an ice-cold popsicle, and your dog will have the same appreciation too. Of course, you don’t want to give them sugar-, colorant-, and preservative-laden popsicles, but there are many recipes online to make a nice cold treat that’s safe for dogs. These include frozen fruits and vegetables, but even just a plain ice block will be greatly appreciated on a swelteringly hot day.

15. Massage

female dog getting relaxing massage
Image Credit: Rasulov, Shutterstock

Just like humans, dogs get achy, tired muscles, especially older dogs, and they’ll love a gentle massage occasionally. After a long day of running or training or after a long walk, giving your dog a soothing massage on their back and legs is great for both their body and their mind.

16. Good Nutrition

Good nutrition is the basis of a healthy and long life, and if your dog is eating a well-balanced, nutritious diet, they will inevitably lead a happy life too. Make sure your pooch is getting all the right vitamins and minerals that they need from age-appropriate food. Add variety too! They’ll love healthy vegetables and fruits on occasion, as well as organic lean meats and organ meats.

17. Quality Time

Happy man on sofa with labrador
Image Credit: Olena Yakobchuk, Shutterstock

Granted, your dogs see you almost every day, and you already spend time with them during walks and feedings, but one-on-one quality time is often overlooked. Take a bit of time, even just 20 minutes a day, where it’s just you and your pooch. This could be a walk, game, or cuddle, but this time singled out just for them will make them feel happy, seen, and appreciated.

18. Teach Dogs New Tricks

Yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks, and they’ll love it! Dogs love the process of learning — and the rewards and praise that come with it. Besides the basic commands and tricks that they already know, teach them exciting new tricks to get them mentally stimulated. These could include howling on command, cleaning up their toys, and spinning and crawling.

19. Regular Vet Check-ups

vet checking up on german shepherd
Image credit: Freepik

Besides regular exercise and a healthy diet, general wellness is also key to your dog’s happiness. Taking them for a regular check-up with the vet once or twice a year, even if there is nothing wrong, will keep them healthy and help prevent any issues before they arise. If you have chosen the right vet, most dogs love their regular visits!

20. Treasure Hunt

An exciting way to make your dog happy is a classic treasure hunt! Hide a tasty treat somewhere that they’ll need to rely on their noses to find. You can even hide multiple treats in various places that will lead them to a final grand treat!

21. Off-leash Running

a german shepherd running in a meadow
Image Credit: Vilve Roosioks, Pixabay

While running or jogging with a leash is a great way to exercise your pooch while keeping them safe, off-leash time is also vital. Find a safe place, like a dog park, where your dog can be free to explore their natural instincts, sniffing out scents, playing in the water, and generally running free — they’ll love it, and it’s great for their mental health.

22. Teeth Brushing

If you begin when your dog is young, brushing their teeth can become something that they enjoy. Good dental hygiene is essential to keep your dog’s teeth strong and healthy and will prevent pain and problems down the road.

23. Give Them a Job To Do

german shepherd dog protecting baby
Image Credit: Alyona Mikhailova, Shutterstock

Especially for dogs that have specific jobs in their breed’s lineage, giving your dog a job to do or a specific task to accomplish is a great way to keep them mentally and physically stimulated. This can be in the form of a treasure hunt, a specific training technique, or learning a new trick, all of which are great ways to boost your dog’s morale. They’ll also love the reward of treats and praise at the end.

24. Road Trip!

Most dogs naturally love car rides, but if they don’t, they can become acclimatized to it and eventually learn to love it. They’ll love to hang their head out the window, absorbing all the new sights and smells, and of course, there’s the exciting destination at the end.

25. Love

girl hugging a dog
Image Credit: Pezibear, Pixabay

A combination of all the above, just showing your pooch that you love them in any way is sure to get their tail wagging. This includes quality time, exercise, training, and treats, all of which will further cement your bond and strengthen your relationship with your beloved pooch.

Featured Image Credit: aganyga, Pixabay

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