Just like with humans, sharing great moments with you dog really helps establish the foundation of a great relationship. Think about all of the friends and family you have and the moments you've shared together that have brought you together. Your relationship with your dog is no different. It is comprised of a collection of experiences...and not just Fido laying on the floor. Establishing a great relationship with your dog will help further his conditioning and overall happiness. In other words, happy dogs who trust you and love you (not just because you provide the food and shelter) are willing to take direction and open up to learning.
So how do you keep your dog happy? There are more ways to name, but one of them is always getting out and (again just like with humans) sharing experiences together. As much as you think your dog could live on that floor or in that bed happily for the rest of his life...he actually loves getting out of the house and discovering new places. Dogs need (and enjoy) picking up new stimulus from the discovery (otherwise known as sniffing the hell out of everything) of new places and new things.
What are some of the best things to do? We've listed them below.
Dogs love getting out in the wilderness and exploring. Next time your going camping, make sure to pack up extra water, a first-aid kit, and extra food for your dog. If you're going to be walking or hiking to the campground make sure you dog is fit enough and hydrated enough to make the hike. Also, especially for smaller dogs, make sure to pay close attention to other potential predators and keep your dog nearby at all times.
As much as we've compared dogs to humans, the one thing about dogs that are not like humans, is as long as they are with you (for the most part) you can have them run around with you throughout the day. As long as they are with you...it's all about the quality time...they feel more apart of the family and a stronger bone to you, their owner.
One of the most popular activities for a lot of us in metropolitan areas is the dog park meetup. Generally these are broken up into the small (or timid) dog park and the bigger dog park. These are generally fenced in areas anywhere from a few hundred square feed to a few acres. These are a GREAT place to not only get energy out, but for younger and shy dogs, to get them socialize. It's EXTREMELY important to socialize your dog. The yappy dogs and/or aggressive dogs you see walking down the street barking at your dogs were never socialized. They are the social misfits of the dog world...and it's not their fault. They need to be socialized slowly and carefully to condition them into a normal calm state around other dogs.
For this you're going to have your "fetchers" and your "no chance, you get that" dogs. Our dog Griffey is the latter...but there are plenty of dogs that will fetch anything you throw. And this is a great, easy way to burn energy right down the street at a park or in your backyard.
For those of us in areas that offer hiking, this is a great activity to share with your dog. Not only do you get some exercise in, but your dog will get to do some exploring as well. Most national or state parks make you keep your pup on a pooch unfortunately, but there are plenty that are off leash. Make sure to know your dog and pay attention to him if you're going far. Hydration is key especially in the summer months, so take plenty of water and don't push it, especially with the older dogs.
An easy one to do (even in the house if you have to) is a quick game of hide-and-seek with a toy or treat. Dogs love the challenge of tracking or finding something, especially something they really want like a treat. This can be a fun quick daily activity for a few minutes to get the blood going and keep the pup happy.
Dogs love being challenged, but moreso they enjoy the rewards. Conditioning your dog with a clicker or using lure training (using treats for motivation) is a great way to make obedience training more fun. And they take pride in making you, their owner, happy. So whether they're getting a treat for rolling over or you're simply smiling ear to ear saying "good boy" this is a great way to drive home conditioning and positive reinforcement.