Four steps to a perfect dog. (Part 1)

Recently I contributed to an article published by Bupa on raising the perfect family dog here is the link to the article which also contains some ideas from other dog trainers around Australia:

5 Dog Training Tips for a Great Family Dog


  1. Exercise.

Give your dog plenty of exercise, and you get a happier, healthier, better-behaved dog. Well-exercised dogs bark less, chew less, sleep more, and rest easier if left home alone. They are also much less likely to rummage through the trash or attack the couch cushions.

Leash walks are great, but your dog needs to run, swim, or do something else that gets his heart pumping for at least 30 minutes every day. For example: Chasing a ball or Frisbee. Swimming. Playing tug. Active play with other dogs. Off-leash romps or hikes.

Remember: A tired dog is a well-behaved dog.


2. Mental stimulation

Toys galore. Toys are a great way to engage your dog’s brain. Dogs have distinctly individual toy preferences, depending on the day, time, and situation. Do some detective work and find out what truly tickles your dog.

Work to eat. Biologically speaking, your dog is not supposed to have a bowl of food plunked down in front of him. He is a hunter by nature, meant to work for his keep. Mimic this by serving your dog’s food in a Kong or treat ball. Your dog will spend the first part of the day figuring out how to get at his food and the rest of it recovering from the mental effort. Perfect!

Kong stuffing for pros. Don’t just throw in a few cookies—take your Kong stuffing prowess to the next level. But start with easier Kongs and then make them tougher, so your dog succeeds while developing perseverance.

Easy stuffing = loosely packed food and pieces small enough to fall out.

Difficult stuffing = Tighter packed food, with some big pieces that take effort on your part to get into the Kong.

Stuffing tips:

  • Use a matrix (peanut butter, cream cheese, baby food) to hold in smaller bits
  • Stuff with meat and mashed potatoes and freeze
  • Stuff with cheese cubes and then microwave briefly to nicely coat the inside
  • Plug the small hole with peanut butter, then fill the cavity with broth and freeze to make a ‘Kongsicle’ (can be messy, so give it to your dog outside

A sample recipe for an advanced Kong (courtesy of Jean Donaldson):

Layer 1 (deepest): Roasted, unsalted cashews, blueberries, freeze dried liver bits.

Layer 2: Kibble, cookies or liver biscotti, cheerios, sugar-free/salt-free peanut butter, dried banana chips

Layer 3: Baby carrot stick(s), turkey and/or leftover ravioli or tortellini, dried apples, dried apricots

Pack the layers as tightly as possible. The last item in should be a dried apricot or piece of ravioli, presenting a smooth finish under the main hole.

(For more recipes, see

If your dog has lots of energy, give him all his food this way. And remember to clean your Kongs regularly with a bottle brush and/or in the dishwasher.

Part 2 to follow

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