Make that doggie smile

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By Tracie Korol

All dog lovers know that their pets will delight in the simplest activities. It’s one of their most enchanting characteristics; living in the moment and being grateful for what they have.  Every walk is thrilling. Every car ride brings the possibility of adventure. Each rub is so pleasurable it must simply not end!  Even an old sock can be fascinating.  Here are a few suggestions to create a bonding moment with your Best Friend, sure to result in the dog version of a smile:

1. Under-collar scratch: Most of us miss this vital spot, but your dog will let you know it’s one of his faves.

2. Listen to his heartbeat: place your head on your dog’s chest when he’s at rest and sing a little song to the rhythm. Duke of Earl is a common selection.

3. Pup Pilates: If you do yoga or other floor exercises, let your pal join you on the mat. Most dogs like to be under Downward-Facing Dog.

4. Scratch and sniff: The next time your dog sniffs you, sniff him back! Make it loud and reciprocal. (In Dogland, this is perfectly acceptable social protocol.  Your dog will be delighted you made the gesture.)

5. Bring you dog to work day: Assuming your cohorts are amenable and your dog isn’t a hoodlum, what is more wonderful than a day of new smells and adoration. No wonder you go there everyday!

6. Find the blind spot: Scratch the hard-to-reach places on your chubby dog friend. Sometimes they just can’t reach the itch.

7.  Iambic petameter: Compose a poem in honor of your dog’s quirky traits and recite it out loud, often.  Be sure to use his name.

8. Pupscicles for the Dog Days: Freeze a morsel of kibble or a bit of hot dog in ice cubes for when it’s too hot to move. Count how many licks it takes your pal to find the surprise. Or, how many licks ‘til he decides to cut to the chase.

9. Call of the Wild: Make it a ritual with each full moon to join your dog outside for a Howl-at-the-Moon free-for-all.  Letting loose with a howl is liberating for both of you. Next full moon is April 25.

10. Bombs away: Use a slingshot or Chuck-it to wing a treat to the end of the yard for a game of hunt and snack.

11. Sing a little song: Slip your dog’s name into the Banana-fana song. Caution — if your dog’s name is Tucker, you might want to sing it in the privacy of your home.

12. Frisbee snack: Incorporate a little exercise into treat time by tossing unsalted, unflavored miniature rice cakes across the back yard for your dog to chase.

13. Chill seeking: Rub your dog down with a cold, wet towel on a hot, hot day.  If you can remember to take it out of the freezer, an icy cold towel is even better!

14. Treat fairy: While your dog is asleep, try to sneak a treat under his pillow. Everyone likes waking up to a surprise.

15. High-level massage: The bony peak atop your dog’s head is the nuchal crest. While it has no known purpose, scholars of High Woo postulate it may be your dog’s antennae for mystical energies. Good idea to massage regularly for maximum reception.

16. Almost tetherball: Tie a balloon on a string just out of reach to your ceiling fan and let it spin on low.  Cats enjoy this one, too.

All dogs love a little, special silly time for bonding and family play. Send me your favorite special games for another list of smile-garnering activity suggestions!