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8 Super-Simple Things Every Dog Owner Should Start Doing Immediately

Because every dog deserves some TLC.

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1. Play games with your dog that will stimulate their mind.

Not only do games help build a strong bond between you and your pup, they also challenge your pet’s mind. Bored dogs can sometimes act out and become destructive, so games are key to keeping them on their best behaviour. A great and free example is playing hide-and-seek with your dog, where they’ll have to use their ears and nose to find you.

2. Give your dog a food puzzle so they have to work for their food.

Dogs are natural hunters and scavengers, and you can satisfy that desire (and keep their mind active) by using a food puzzle. Put their food or a treat in a food-dispensing toy, and your dog’s challenge will be to figure out how to get their tasty reward.

3. Brush your dog’s teeth at least a few times a week to prevent toothache and gum disease.

If dogs lose an adult tooth, they can’t regrow it, which is why proper dental care is vital for dogs. Aim to brush your dog’s teeth multiple times a week, which will keep their mouth healthy, their breath fresh, and plaque at bay. Using a doggy dental chew daily can also help.

4. Easily expose your dog to new scents by switching up where you take them for a walk.

Dogs read the world through their noses and can smell up to 100,000 times better than humans. Whenever possible, take your dog to new places on a walk or take different routes to the park, so they can experience new smells and sights and learn more about the world. This is great for keeping them engaged and entertained on a walk.

5. Give your dog something to do when you leave the house to prevent separation anxiety.

Dogs are very social creatures, and this can sometimes result in separation anxiety when you’re about to leave them for the day. This is a condition where dogs become extremely distressed when they’re alone, which can lead to destructive behaviours. To help prevent this, ensure something “good” happens when you leave your home – e.g. give them a puzzle with a treat inside or something safe to chew on. Chewing is especially great as it will calm your dog down, because it’s a stress-relieving activity for them.

6. Get into the habit of taking your dog to the vet regularly.

It’s definitely a myth that you should only take your dog to the vet when something appears to be wrong. Routine checkups are vital for preventative care and keeping your pet’s health in check. Young dogs should visit once a year, and dogs over the age of 7 should visit twice yearly.

7. Dry your dog’s ears thoroughly after they’ve been in water.

Dog ears are prone to infection, especially after they’ve been in water. Bacteria and yeast thrive in dark and damp dog ear canals, and dogs with heavy or very hairy ears are especially susceptible because their ears lock in moisture. After every bath or swim, make sure you clean your dog’s ears safely and thoroughly using cotton balls and paper towels to avoid irritation.

8. Give high-energy dogs a dedicated area to practice digging regularly.

Not only do dogs love to dig, it’s also an ideal way to help them release some pent-up energy. Making sure your dog gets enough activity throughout the day is key to preventing them from destroying objects around the home. Give your dog a sandbox or a specific section of your garden where he’s allowed to dig. Use treats and toys to visually mark it, so he stays within those boundaries.

Good oral health care is vital to keeping your furry loved one happy and healthy. Purina® DentaLife® are currently offering a free sample of their dental sticks, which are scientifically proven to help reduce tartar build-up in dogs, for healthier teeth and gums.

Illustrations © Ben Armson / BuzzFeed