How Do You Knock Your Dog's Socks Off?

IMG_2778 What does your dog want to do?  What makes him or her happy? What makes them dangle their tongue out in joyful, doggy bliss?

Not every dog is born to enjoy the same textbook puppy pleasures. For some dogs, a romp at the dog park is the best thing ever; for others, a stroll around the block really does knock their socks off; and for many, many puppies out there, destroying all the material goods their owner values most is what they love best.  However, for other dogs, a romp at the dog park is terrifying and unsettling, a stroll around the block wouldn’t do a thing for them, and they think that anything without food inside isn’t worth the time it would take to gnaw on. It sometimes takes time to get to know your dog and what they really enjoy.  When you do figure it out, it might not be your first choice, but occasionally going the extra mile for them can be very fulfilling.

This could be a blog about how to reinforce your dog based on what you know about his or her favorite activities.  That’s a tremendously important topic, but not exactly what I want to talk about.  It could also be about how to reduce puppy chewing behaviors, but that’s also not what I wanted to write about.  What I really wanted to blog about was- what do you do, that may not be your first choice, just because it makes your dog so insanely happy?

Here are four activities I find myself engaged in, that so frequently make me ask why, why am I doing this for that lazy, drool-y bag of bones that sleeps in the middle of my bed and leaves dog hair all over the couch?

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  1. Going out to the woods at 6am on Saturdays in either cold or rainy weather.  Yup.  My dogs LOVE the woods, but one of them cannot be trusted off leash around other dogs.  So we go at exactly the time no one else will be there, which just happens to be a time I would much rather be in my nice, warm bed.
  2. Stuffing Kongs.  Cramming little rubber toys full of slimy, greasy, stinky mess is just not my cup of tea.  Once they are frozen though, they buy me such calm and happy dogs that it is totally worth it. A little slice of doggy heaven.
  3. Touching the weirdest, freeze-dried parts of animals.  Bully sticks, cow trachea, turkey hearts, you name it.  If you wouldn’t touch it un-freeze-dried, and would probably never eat it- I get to handle it and give it to my dogs.  Marrow bones would also fall into this category.  Chicken breast is good, but it is just way to normal to really wow my four-legged friends.
  4. Buying squeaky toys for the sole purpose of allowing my dog to pop the squeaker and remove the fluff within five minutes of walking in the door. Seriously.  This is what she loves most about toys. So rather than get upset at the destruction of expensive toys, I buy her the squeaky toys that are on sale after the holidays.  At $1 a pop, it’s easy to stock up on them and be able to offer my pup many moments of blissful destruction.

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Oftentimes, living with a different species can be frustrating. Even more frequently, it can be very, very rewarding.  But I think people often expect their dog to be a “typical dog” that most wants to play fetch, go to the dog park, and sit on the couch watching TV while politely chewing on a Nylabone.  And while those may be things your dog does enjoy- they are also things that we want them to enjoy.

What do you do that is just for your dog?  Just to make their particular little heads explode a bit in joy? And how good do you feel after you have made them so happy?

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