Behaviorist shares 10 simple things you can do to boost your dog’s happiness (and we’re huge fans of number 8!)

Happy dog
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Whether you've just welcomed a pup into your family or you and your canine companion have been by each other's sides for years, making sure your fur friend is happy and healthy is likely a top priority for you. 

And the good news is, when it comes to simple ways you can boost your dog's happiness, there are plenty of them around.

In a recent post shared to Instagram, expert trainer and behaviorist Renee Rhoades shared 10 of her favorites and we love how quick and easy they are to weave into our day. 

So, grab a bag of the best dog treats (you'll need them for some of the ideas below), and let's dive in...

1. Interactive toys: "Puzzle toys, treat-dispensing toys, and interactive feeders are great for keeping your dog’s brain engaged," says Rhoades. "These toys encourage problem-solving skills as your dog figures out how to get the treats."

2. Teaching tricks: "Regular trick sessions not only teach your dog new skills but also provide mental exercise. Learning stimulates their brain and can strengthen your bond," explains Rhoades. If you're looking for some inspiration, check out these 32 quick and easy tricks to teach your dog

3. Scent games: "Dogs have an incredible sense of smell. Hide treats around the house or yard and let your dog find them. You can also involve them in more structured scent work activities," Rhoades says. 

Sniffing uses a lot of energy, so as well as providing a ton of mental stimulation, it also gives your dog a good physical workout too. 'I tried a 45-minute 'sniffari', and it tired out my border collie more than a two-hour hike!' is well worth reading if you're looking to learn more about the benefits of sniffing. 

4. Novel experiences: Exposing your pup to new, safe experiences can be a wonderful way to boost their happiness. Rhoades says that new environments, new smells, and new sights all tick this box and it doesn't have to be complicated either. It might be trying out a new park with your dog or taking a different route when you head out for your daily walk.

5. Social time: "Interacting with other people or dogs is mentally stimulating and important for their social development — as long as all dogs are comfortable and safe," Rhoades says. If your canine companion is still young, 'I'm a dog behaviorist and these are my 6 tips for socializing a puppy' is packed full of helpful advice to help you and your pup nail this important period. 

6. Natural chews: If you've not yet stocked up on long lasting dog chews, it's well worth doing so. Unlike regular treats, which your pup no doubt consumes very quickly, chews provide a lot more mental and physical stimulation as they take a long time to get through. 

7. Hide and seek: "This classic game isn’t just for humans. Hide from your dog and call them to find you. It’s a fun way to engage their problem-solving skills," says Rhoades. Check out these other great brain games for dogs for those days when you'd like to switch things up a bit. 

8. Give choices: "Letting your dog make (safe) choices is the best way to give them the ability to create their enrichment. Let them choose a walking path, the toy they want to play with, or the chew they get to consume," advises Rhoades.

9. DIY puzzle games: When it comes to boosting your dog's happiness and providing them with that all-important enrichment, you don't need to spend a fortune. "Hiding treats under cups and shuffling them around is a simple way to create a homemade brain game - for free!" says Rhoades.

10. Rest and relaxation: "Mental stimulation should be balanced with downtime. Overstimulation can be stressful, so ensure your dog has a quiet place to unwind."

The tips Rhoades shares above are a fantastic way to contribute to your dog's happiness and strengthen the bond the two of you share. And if you're looking for more ideas to bring your pup more joy and deepen your connection at the same time, check out these 32 ways to improve your relationship with your dog.

EcoKind Gold Yak Himalayan Cheese Dog Treats 
$28.95 at Chewy

EcoKind Gold Yak Himalayan Cheese Dog Treats
$28.95 at Chewy
A healthy and delicious chew stick made with just three ingredients, these treats are odorless, natural, nutritious and highly digestible. Plus, they'll keep your canine companion occupied for hours! 

Kathryn Williams
Freelance writer

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has been a member of the PetsRadar family since it launched in 2020. Highly experienced in her field, she's driven by a desire to provide pet parents with accurate, timely, and informative content that enables them to provide their fur friends with everything they need to thrive. Kathryn works closely with vets and trainers to ensure all articles offer the most up-to-date information across a range of pet-related fields, from insights into health and behavior issues to tips on products and training. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with her family (which includes one super sassy cat), drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and reading all the books.