How To Keep A Dog Happy

Learn how to get the most out of life with your furry best friend.

“How do I know if my dog is happy?”

Introduction - Read This First!

This is a really common question a lot of owners have, and sometimes it’s tough to read your dog’s mind and know if they’re unhappy. But you definitely know when they are having a great time.Their tail is wagging, their tongue is out, and they usually end the day feeling pretty tired. In this lesson we’ll discuss the three basic groupings of activities that your dog can engage in to have fun, exercise, and have a fun social life. 

Physical Exercise

This is the easiest to understand, and the most common recommendation for what to do for a bored dog – take them on a walk! But physical exercise can come in many forms. Remember, “a tired dog is a happy dog”!

Walking, Running, and Swimming

All of these types of exercise are pretty straightforward, and good ways to get out extra energy in a bored dog or puppy. And make sure to practice good LEASH WALKING skills while on walks and runs!
Just remember to supervise your dog when they’re swimming (don’t leave them alone!), and if you live somewhere where it is very hot, don’t keep them outside for too long.

Fetch and Tug-of-War

Fetch and Tug are two of the most natural games for a dog to play. Watch any dogs playing with toys around and tug will be one of the first things they do. Tugging on toys has nothing to do with dominance. It is just a fun game! Refer to the lessons on Drop-It on how to teach your dog to drop the toy when they bring it back.


An easy way to get out extra energy when you haven’t had the time to play with your dog is with a nice chew treat that is not too soft and not too hard – just right to take them a while to chew through and work those jaw muscles! It’s very normal for dogs to need to CHEW sometimes, so make it a normal part of their routine.

Mental Exercise

It’s not enough to just tire your dog out all the time to keep them happy and behaving well. Just like people, dogs need to exercise their minds as well. Mental exercise will help strengthen your relationship with your dog, as well as teach them how to control themselves and to look to you for guidance. 

Basic Obedience Training

This might seem like an obvious answer, but just doing 20 minutes of obedience training can really be tiring for a dog, and fun! Go back to all the training lessons like STAY, LEASH WALKING, or even basic tricks like SPIN for a fun and mentally challenging exercise with your dog!

Tricks Training

While tricks training may seem a lot less important than other forms of obedience training, they actually teach you a lot about how to build new commands with your dog, builds your relationship, and gives them much more confidence from being able to successfully complete simple and fun commands.

Puzzles and Toys

Certain toys can give your dog more mental stimulation when you don’t have enough time to do a lot of training or exercising. And some even double as meal time!

Social Stimulation

For this one, it’s again important to understand that dogs are just like people in a lot of ways. They need to play and have friends! Here are some of the best places for your pup to meet new human and dog friends. 

Dog-Friendly Public Places

This is probably what you got a dog for in the first place! Find places that are dog-friendly, make sure your pup is well-behaved, and go have fun and make new friends. Make sure your dog just JUMP UP on people and walks on the LEASH well, then go to places like the hardware store, outdoor malls, or outdoor restaurants with them. They’ll make new friends, and maybe you will too!

Doggy Daycares

If you have a full-time job, leaving your dog a daycare may be one of the best options for them to exercise and socialize at the same time. It may cost a few dollars, but you can choose to take them only once a week if you want, and you’ll feel much better knowing your pup had a great time and came home dead tired!

Doggy Play Dates

Make friends with other dog owners and arrange a play date for your dogs, especially if they’re puppies and need to socialize and learn manners. You could even hire a trainer to do a class with everyone together!

Other Fun Activities

There are some examples that actually give your dog multiple types of exercise at the same time, and these deserve their own section!

Therapy Dog Volunteering

After all the training and socializing you can do with your dog, a lot of people ask “what can we do now?”. In addition to just going out and having a relaxing time out with your dog, you can give back through volunteering at hospitals, schools, libraries, or even airports. You can to give back to the community, show off your amazing dog, and it can double as a good opportunity to do training in new environments.

We recommend using Alliance of Therapy Dogs to do your certification. Any dog with a fun, loving temperament is a good candidate to be a therapy dog!

Here are some examples of places that therapy dogs can volunteer. Visits can be done as often as you like, fit your schedule, and you can choose to do visits in locations that your dog is most comfortable with. 

Dog Parks

Dog parks can be a great place to let your dog off-leash, meet new friends, and get some exercise. Be careful though, as you never know who is going to the park, and not all dogs are so friendly. Make sure your park is friendly and always be aware of the dogs you see before you turn your back.


Agility training is another super fun way to learn how to be a better trainer, get exercise, make friends, and build a stronger relationship with your dog. You can start off easy with some of our lessons on JUMPS and LEASH WALKING.

Still Have Questions?

Still Have Questions?

Ask About Anything Not Covered In This Lesson

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