Five Tips for Keeping Your Dog Busy

Dogs get stir-crazy, too. If yours is climbing the walls and driving you to distraction, here are five ways to help him chill.

Lots of exercise. “A tired dog is a good dog” is a cliché for good reason. It’s easy to be well-behaved when you’re sleeping off a good run. If a run isn’t in the cards, there are plenty of other ways to tire out your best friend. Try a brisk leash walk, a game of fetch or keep away in the yard or hallway, or a round of hide-and-seek or catch-me-if-you-can.

Put away the food bowl. Extend your dog’s mealtime by putting his food in a Kong or treat ball or other food delivery toy. He’ll enjoy the challenge and expend extra energy.

Let ‘em chew. Dogs are born to chew, and many are content to spend hours on a good project. Talk to your vet and local pet supply store about safe options, then try a variety to discover what tickles your dog’s fancy. Whatever you choose, always supervise for safety and remove the item before it becomes small enough to swallow.

Work the mind. We all know dogs are smart, and mental exercise can tucker a dog out as well as the physical kind can. Do an online search for canine puzzle toys and you’ll find an impressive selection of creative products to keep your dog’s mind occupied for long stretches. For best results, read and follow the training directions that accompany the toys you choose.

Reward the calm. Here’s an easy one that’s often overlooked. Tell your dog “thank you” when he’s being calm. Reinforced behavior increases in frequency. Reward your dog’s calm moments with a treat, some attention, a chew, or a puzzle toy, and he’ll reward you with more calm moments.