Get active with your canine pal. It will be good for both of you.

Cooper learns to herd sheep with his human momCredit: Photo by Jane Gates

If you have a dog who tends to get into mischief, destroys things in the house and yard or barks way too much, chances are you have a bored dog. Dogs are naturally pack animals and are used to interacting with pals all the time. They want to run and play and work; to be active as much as possible. Especially when young. And for most of us humans, they can sometimes be difficult to fit into our schedules.

So here are some suggestions that might make your pup a better behaved member of your family and more fun to have around. You will have to participate in these fun things to do with your dog, but you might just find they are things you'll enjoy, too.

Train your pet. Yes, I know it will demand time, but it will form a bond and respect that will last for a lifetime. And a well-trained dog is not only a pleasure to have around, but is easy to take anywhere with you. And it is always an extra bonus when someone walks up to you and tells you your dog is better behaved than their child! (That's happened to me several times.) The best way to start out training is to take your new dog to a puppy obedience class where he will learn to be socialized and you will learn how to train him. Even an older dog will benefit – the classes are not just for puppies.

Get involved in dog sports. There are many different athletic sports for dogs. Some are tailored for the talents of specific breeds, some are team sports that will give you a whole social outlet, and some are focused on you and your dog together. Look into sheep or cattle herding, agility sports, coursing, flyball, disk-throwing and other sports. You may find you have as much fun as your dog does. And when your dog gets a chance to work out his energy this way, he is likely to be far more contented and mellow at home.

If you want less formal activities, then consider doing outings with your dog. Get yourself into shape by power-walks or jogging with him in the morning. Run him at a dog beach if you live near a shoreline. Or practice ball-throwing in your back yard on a regular basis. Also consider doing garden design with room for your pets so your dog has room to play and do what-dogs-will-do without competing with your gardening space in your yard.

Always leash train your dog right away and never let him off the leash until you have a reliable recall on him. You don't want to have to deal with lost and found dog worries.

There are many ways to have fun with your dog and, as a result, have a healthier, happier and more calm canine pal. Most activities will also be good for you. And you are likely to discover yourself laughing a lot more, too. Laughter is good for your health, too. So go out and get active with your pet. You will both reap the rewards. There are lots of fun things you can do with your dog.