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
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.
- Jumping up
- Wag tail
- Relaxed Mouth (a Grin)
- Relaxed, Loose and Wiggly Body
- Relaxed Ears
The History of Fun For Dogs
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
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
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.
How to Help Your Dog have Fun
Mix it up. While most dogs love routine, that doesn't mean you shouldn't mix things up once in a while. An unexpected adventure, a walk in a new neighborhood, a trip to a different dog park, or even a weekend away with the whole family can all challenge and entertain your furry friend.
Don't force it. Dogs have all sorts of different personalities and temperaments, so don't expect your dog to necessarily have fun in situations they "should" enjoy. For example, some dogs simply don't feel comfortable interacting with a whole lot of other canines at the local dog park and will enjoy themselves much more if treated to some one-on-one time with you.
Watch for behavior changes. As your pooch grows older, the things he or she does for fun may gradually change. While as a pup he might love running at a million miles an hour, as an adult, he might prefer a relaxing snooze in the afternoon sun. However, sudden changes in behavior could indicate an underlying health problem, so don't hesitate to visit your veterinarian if you're at all concerned.