Eight tips for a happy life with your dog

Tribune News Service

Dogs bring us so much love and enjoyment that we owe them a lifetime of care and commitment to their health and well-being. Of course, this includes regular vet visits and quality food, but don't forget about being a friend to your dog. In honor of American Kennel Club Responsible Dog Ownership Days, here are some of the most fun ways that you can be a responsible dog owner:

Play! Dogs, of course, love to play. Set aside time each day for play sessions. In addition to the bonding time, play also provides an outlet for your dog's energy.

Plan activities with your dog. Include your dog in family activities. Take him to the park or on outings to the beach, or to special activities such as the "Dog Olympics" or dog parades.

Switch out toys. Keep your dog entertained by rotating his toys. Put "old" toys out of sight for a month or two and then bring them out again — your dog will enjoy them just as much as when they were new.

Socialize your dog. Expose your dog to different people and settings regularly. Take him to the park, to the pet store or on a walk through town.

Go to class. Obedience classes can be a great experience for you and your dog. You may even discover that your dog has a talent for learning, and be able to compete in obedience, agility or tracking events.

Give your dog a job. Keep your dog active and alert by giving him tasks to do. Ask him to sit before getting a treat or lay down before going outside.

Praise your dog. Your dog wants to please you. Praise him lavishly for obeying commands and behaving well. Using positive reinforcement will help your dog enjoy learning.

Find the "spot." Scratch your dog's belly often. If you find the "spot," so much the better.

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