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What Can Dogs Do For Fun?
There are few things in life more joyous and uncomplicated than watching a dog have fun. With a tail wagging the whole body, an excited grin from ear to ear, and a look of unadulterated pleasure written all over their cute, furry face, a dog enjoying themselves is truly a wonderful thing.
But if you're looking to find out what dogs can do for fun, the answer is just about anything. Running, swimming, jumping, sniffing, eating, rolling, lounging, playing, posing, or socializing — the list of activities our dogs enjoy is endless. Our pets are also masters at making their own fun, turning the most mundane of activities into a challenge, an adventure, or just a howling-good time.
That doesn't mean you can't provide a host of engaging and exciting activities for your pet to experience and enjoy, so read on to find out how to put a little more fun in your dog's life.
Signs Your Dog is Having Fun
You often don't need to be a qualified animal behaviorist to recognize when your pooch is having a whale of a time. One of the telltale giveaways is a furiously wagging tail. You know the type we mean — a tail that's rotating at such a high speed your dog's whole body is moving as well, and it looks like he might even generate enough speed to lift off the ground like some sort of canine helicopter.
A wagging tail doesn't always mean a dog is happy, of course, so there are plenty of other signs you can watch for that indicate whether or not your dog is enjoying himself. A big, excited grin is another common sign, while relaxed eyes and eyelids can also indicate that your dog is completely at ease.
Body language is also a big indicator of how your dog is feeling, and learning to understand your dog's body language signals is a crucial task for any owner. A dog having fun may have relaxed ears and mouth, a loose and wiggly body, and a sense of enjoyment that is plain to see.
Other signs of a dog having fun may vary slightly depending on your dog's personality. For example, an active, social dog eager to meet new people might hop, bounce, or even dance around in excitement or participation, while a calmer, more laidback dog may show their happiness in a more relaxed fashion.
The History of Fun For Dogs
When humans and dogs first began living together, probably around 15,000 years ago, the focus for our canine companions was more on survival than fun. By working alongside humans in a mutually beneficial relationship, the wolf ancestors of today's dogs could access the resources they needed to survive.
For much of our shared history, dogs have also primarily been working animals. Our dogs have been trained to hunt, protect, retrieve, and do whatever else we ask of them, so it's safe to assume that fun for fun's sake wasn't really a priority concern for most dog owners through history.
The idea of dogs as pets rather than simply working animals dates as far back as Roman times, but the commercially produced dog toys our pooches know and love today didn't really come about until the 1950s. These toys were the product of a number of factors, including everything from higher family incomes and closer relationships with dogs to better manufacturing processes. For example, Nylabone didn't arrive on the market until 1955, while the first KONG came more than 20 years later in 1976.
Dogs don't need toys to have fun, of course, and the best part is that there are ample opportunities for modern dogs to indulge in the leisure activities they love. Whether it's playtime in the backyard, a romp in the local dog park, a trip to the beach, a doggy sports day or one of a million other activities, there's always something around to keep a dog entertained.
The Science of Dogs Having Fun
From a scientific perspective, we're learning more and more all the time about why dogs love doing the things they do. For example, the University of Helsinki’s Canine Mind research project found that the hormone oxytocin made dogs interested in smiling human faces. This, it's been argued, shows that dogs are instinctively programmed to want us to be happy, so maybe that's why dogs are often happiest when they do something that pleases their owners.
Another study, released in 2017 by the University of Glasgow and the Scottish SPCA, revealed that dogs are happier when listening to reggae or soft rock music. So if you're looking for a tune to entertain the savage beast, perhaps it's best to steer clear of Bach and go for some Bob Marley instead.
There have also been several studies pointing to the importance of exercise and mental stimulation, not to mention interaction with their owner, for a dog's happiness and well-being. As for what your dog likes to do for fun more than anything else in the world, that will probably be down to his or her own unique personality.
Having Fun With Your Dog
Most dogs are pretty adept at making their own fun. Whether it's racing around the backyard chasing birds or sitting at a window watching the world go by, our pets have a paw-some knack for finding fun just about anywhere.
However, sometimes their fun can be inconvenient or dangerous, which is where you'll need to step in and guide your pooch in a more positive direction. If your dog keeps chewing through the furniture or digging up the garden, there's a good chance boredom might be behind this destructive behavior.
By ensuring that your dog gets plenty of regular exercise and mental stimulation, and leaving activities like interactive puzzle toys to keep Fido entertained when you're not at home, you can prevent your pooch having the wrong type of "fun".
There are also plenty of things you can do to add something new, fun, and exciting into your dog's routine.
For example, instead of walking your usual route, why not drive to another suburb or even a scenic park and treat your pet to new sights, sounds, and smells? If you want to harness your dog's brain power and excellent sense of smell, set up a treasure hunt at home and encourage her to search for treats or her favorite toy. You could also sign up for a doggy sport, treat your pet to a puppacino, or even try teaching them a trick or two. Match the activity to your pooch's personality and lifestyle and you'll be on to a winner.
But regardless of whether your pooch is a lounge lizard, bouncy and boisterous, or anything in between, there's one thing we can say for certain about every dog: there's nothing your pet enjoys more than spending time with you.
By a Labrador Retriever lover Tim Falk
Published: 02/08/2018, edited: 04/06/2020
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