You love your dog and want to make them happy - but at the same time life is busy, and you only have so many hours in the day. Here are five ways to please your pooch - and many of them don't take up much time. Just 10-20 minutes a day could make a huge difference to your best friend's wellbeing...
See also: 10 signs of cancer in dogs
See also: Five ways you're annoying your dog
1. Walk your dog somewhere new
Exercise is good for your pet's physical and mental health and taking your dog for a walk is a good opportunity for him to socialise with other dogs and people.
If you want to make your dog happy, don't trudge around the same park, streets, or fields – instead, vary the routes of your walks and take him somewhere new at the weekend if you can. Dogs can get bored like the rest of us and appreciate new places to sniff and explore.
While humans experience the world visually, dogs interact through smell – so give them plenty of time to sniff. If you don't have time to stop every few paces, give him at least a section of the walk where he can explore at his leisure without you hurrying him along.
2. Surprise your dog with a new toy
Dogs love to play – so make time for fun as well as going for walks. Playing with your pet for just 10 minutes a day can make a difference to his wellbeing. If you have a high-energy breed, an active game like tug-of-war will help to burn off some energy.
Dogs like to be challenged mentally as well as physically, and activity game, such as this Trixie Dog Activity Flip Board, £7.49 from Amazon, will help to simulate Fido's brain.
Instead of leaving all of your pet's toys on show, rotate the ones you have – so that you keep some out and hide the rest, then swap them over every week. This helps to keep things interesting for your dog without having to buy new toys all the time.
3. Give your dog a job to do
Dogs are bred for a specific purpose, whether it be herding or hunting, and love having a job to do. If you have a retriever, nothing will make him happier than a good game of fetch. If your arm gets tired, use a ball thrower or bash a ball with a tennis racket across the park.
Gundogs like Labradors have been bred to track scent for generations, and enjoy following the trails left behind by rabbits, squirrels and other dogs when out on a walk. Hiding things around the garden and getting your Labrador to sniff them out can be a hugely rewarding activity for them. Whatever breed you have, try sprinkling a tiny line of bouillon powder leading to a hidden toy for him to sniff out. Don't forget to offer him lots of praise and a treat when he does a good job!
4. Get your dog involved in a sport
If you really want to make your pet happy, get them involved in a sport like flyball. Any breed or mix of dog can play flyball – and there are clubs, events and tournaments across the country. You could invest in a Flyball set to practise at home.
Your dog might also like to learn agility – if you can't get along to a class, you could make your own basic obstacle course at home.
5. Make rules – and stick to them
Dogs are happiest when they know the rules and their place within the household hierarchy. You can teach obedience yourself (buy a dog training book or DVD on dog obedience, or watch Youtube videos for free). You could also go along to a class for a few sessions, or hire a private trainer if you need more assistance.
Your dog will enjoy using mental energy to learn the rules and will be better behaved as a result. A lack of consistency is one of the biggest mistakes dog owners make - so once you've set the rules, be sure that you stick to them.
Allowing your pet to jump up at you but not Grandma when she visits is confusing to a dog, as is allowing them on the sofa at your house but not someone else's. Telling your dog off without setting rules and sticking to them can create stress and anxiety in your pet - so be consistent and reward good behaviour with plenty of praise.