Two happy dogs running in a field

It’s the International Day of Happiness, and what better way to celebrate than by making your dog happy? Our dogs bring us so much joy, so we have been thinking about all the different ways that we can return the favour.

Here are some simple ways that you can brighten your dog’s day. Which ones will you try?

Let them sniff

Did you know that sniffing releases dopamine for dogs? It literally makes them happy!

Dogs have 300 million scent receptors (compared to our 6 million) and when you consider how much information they can take from a scent, it’s easy to see why dogs enjoy sniffing so much.

A white, black and brown terrier sniffing a log.

Sniffing is a natural behaviour and one of the key ways that dogs connect with and understand the world around them. It is also uses a lot of brain power, and a slow, sniffy walk can tire them out just as much as lots of physical activity.

Stay positive

Positive reinforcement, or training with rewards, is all about teaching your dog that good things happen when they make good choices, so they are more likely to repeat that behaviour in future.

Rewards-based training is fun, builds strong bonds between dogs and their guardians, and science tells us that it is the most effective way for dogs to learn – studies also show that dogs trained in this way are more confident and happier overall.

Find out more about training with rewards.

A black dog enjoys a Kong toy puzzle feeder

Enrichment with food

Most dogs love their food, so a game that involves tasty snacks is usually a winner. There are lots of different games you could play, from scattering kibble around the garden for them to find, or spreading some soft food on the surface of a lick-mat.

Puzzle feeders are a great way to keep your dog entertained – there are plenty of different varieties available to buy, or you can get creative and make your own. Take a look at our DIY enrichment activities blog for ideas.

Let them express themselves

All dogs are individuals with their own likes and dislikes. Some are born to run, while others love brain games and problems to solve – in fact, a study showed that for sled dogs like huskies, doing lots of exercise releases oxytocin (a type of hormone that results in positive feelings).

You know your dog best and you know what brings them joy, so give them lots of opportunities to do the things they love and live their best life, whatever that means for them.

Play!

Playing with your dog is a fantastic way to tire them out physically and mentally, and can also strengthen the bond between you. Whether it’s tug of war, hide-and-seek or a game of chase, your dog will love spending time with you doing something they enjoy.

A golden coloured poodle cross plays tug of war in the house

Give them choices

Allowing dogs some choices in their day-to-day life is a great way to boost their confidence and encourage them to think for themselves.

This could mean that you let them choose where they sleep in the house, or when they stop and sniff on a walk – loose lead walking is a great way to put this into practise as it’s all about going at your dog’s pace and allowing them to explore their environment. If you’d like to find out more, take a look at our training guide.

Find more fun activity ideas in our ‘DIY enrichment’ blog and our ‘five activities to try on a wildlife aware walk’ blog.