What is on your dog’s bucket list?
Firstly, let’s define what I mean when I talk about your dog’s bucket list. I don’t mean a list of experiences that are difficult to organise and therefore our dog only gets to do once or twice. I want a list of things that we know our dog loves, that we will have the ability to do at least once a week if not more often.
Why should we have a ‘regular’ bucket list?
Our dog’s bucket list should have experiences we can do regularly, simply because life is short. When we are busy, it’s easy to put off the experiences that take more planning and time. It should be simple to give our dogs regular experiences that help them feel happy and stimulated. Help yourself and your dog out by making the list full of fun yet simple stuff.
Also by doing fun and interesting things with our dogs on a regular basis, we know we are keeping their ‘emotional cup’ topped up as per the beautiful poster below by Lili Chin and Sarah Owings. By keeping their emotional cup topped up, we are less likely to see behaviours that humans typically don’t like such as resource guarding, over excitement or overly destructive behaviours.
This is about your dog’s bucket list, not about what we want our dogs to like
To create a good bucket list for our dogs, we have to put ourselves in their shoes and really think about what types of experiences they like. Just because I want my dog Henry to love playing with lots of other dogs, doesn’t mean that he actually wants that (in his eyes other dogs are scary).
Create your list
To give you an idea, here are some of the most favoured bucket list items for my dogs.
Henry’s Bucket List
- Morning and evening play sessions – some sessions with the humans, some sessions with Liana
- Running in a big open field (no other dogs in sight)
- Cuddles on the couch
- Digging in the garden
- Sniffing something new
Liana’s Bucket List
- Eating something novel
- Eating poo from other types of animals
- Sniffing something new
- Rolling in something that is semi decayed
- Having slow and gentle pats and massages (provided that the human doing the patting is not looking at her…she likes the affection but not the attention)
There are many more experiences I could put on for each of my dogs’ bucket list, however the point is that each of these experiences are easy to provide for our dogs. These experiences should also come with the caveat that we only want to provide them if they are safe for our dogs. For example, Liana doesn’t get sick from eating possum poo so I let her go ahead with it. Your dog may be different.
What you get from fulfilling your dog’s bucket list regularly
Of course you will get a dog who is happier if you are making an effort to do more fun things with them. With a happier dog you will also get less unwanted stress based behaviours such as excessive barking or destructive behaviours.
You will also get a dog who sees you as the person who provides all of this fun stuff for them. As a result your dog will be more likely to want to hang out with you and do stuff with you if they see you as a source of fun things.
Lastly, as if you need any more convincing, you’ll have fun and get to enjoy just being with your dogs.
My heart hurts in such a good way to see Henry running full pelt towards me with joy in his face. In the same way I love seeing Liana’s face relax in a way it does at no other time than when I give her a gentle massage.
So, go and write your dog’s bucket list with them. But don’t let it sit on a shelf and gather dust, it’s there to tick off on a regular basis. You might just find that some of the things on your dog’s bucket list are also on your own list.
If you need help working out your dog’s bucket list, then feel free to reach out to Cassandra to book a one on one session.