10 ways to make your dog happy


Put a smile on your dog’s face with tips and advice from trainer and behaviourist Jackie Drakeford.

Nothing beats seeing a happy dog — shining eyes, a mouth that’s almost in a smile, and of course that wagging tail! Showing happiness can be subtler too, more a sigh of contentment and a cosily settled dog.  

But sometimes what we think will make our dogs happy isn’t quite what they would have chosen if we’d asked. Here are some tweaks we can all make that our dogs will love!

1. Going somewhere new for a walk

Dogs are acutely sensitive to their surroundings, and a change of scenery is normally a delight for them. It’s important to remember though that insecure dogs might need to visit a place several times before they feel confident enough to really let their hair down. They will enjoy a different walk as long as they can trust us to support them.

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This is the life.

2. Breed-appropriate occupation

What one type of dog enjoys isn’t necessarily pleasurable for all; look at what your dogs were originally created to do and give them something similar, and they can experience real fulfilment. 

Of course, there are some entertainments you can’t allow in their pure form, but you can still, for example, let your pet gundogs get wet and muddy while sniffing out where wildlife has been, and arrange for them to find and retrieve items such as canvas dummies. 

Sight hounds need safe spaces to really run, preferably away from other types of dog, which may misunderstand.  

Herding dogs love the rapid direction changes and challenges of a garden obstacle course even if you can’t manage joining an agility, hoopers, or flyball group. 

Even so-called lapdogs once had a definite purpose, for human companionship isn’t always a simple task, and they were created to be extremely empathetic. These dogs really enjoy inspecting everything you do, from examining your shopping and laundry basket to ‘helping’ with the housework, and where many breeds might find sitting at a cafe with you tedious, companion breeds actively enjoy watching the world go by.

3. Provide safe spaces at home 

Some dogs like to be in the thick of everything, and love all the daily comings and goings of a lively family, but others prefer time to be alone to recharge their batteries. All dogs need somewhere to relax that is not a busy human route through the house, is away from domestic machinery making noise and vibration, and where they can be really comfortable — a blanket on a cold floor is not enough. If a crate is used, ensure that nobody approaches the dog when he is crated, sticks fingers in, taps or rattles on it, or otherwise intrudes on his chosen peacefulness.

4. Multi-dog households 

If you have more than one dog, one-to-one time is extra precious, so try to take each one out on their own for some special ‘me’ time. It doesn’t have to be a long walk — although they will love that — and it doesn’t have to be every day, but once you see the huge pleasure it gives to have you all to themselves, you will want to give them that special time with you whenever you can manage it. 

Read the rest of the feature in the May issue, available to read instantly on our digital edition HERE or purchase the print edition HERE


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