Five Tips For A Better Relationship With Your Dog
Of the dogs I interviewed they all agreed on these five things they needed to lead a happy existence with their human companions. Depending on what was missing in an animals life the level of importance was different for each animal so there is no direct order of importance on the list.
1.Mental stimulation or challenge. All dogs must live in a human environment but still possess their natural “wild” tendencies such as hunting, stalking, tracking, biting, shaking, etc. says Bruce Fogle, DVM, in his book “The Dogs Mind”. He says that because of inherent traits traced to wolves all dogs have a pack trait that causes them to want to do things at the same time and together. This makes them dependent on us to provide proper mental and physical stimulation. Because dogs want to work together with other dogs we can use this to our advantage in getting them to listen to us. Fogle says we need to harness these tendencies in ways nature intended for them. Our failure to do this, he says, creates behavior problems with dogs. By giving our dogs an activity that mimics their genetic needs as dogs (hunting, tracking, pulling, etc.) we can satisfy their need for mental challenge and prevent unwanted behavior issues.
2.Discipline. Although the animals interviewed didnt ask for discipline directly from their owners they said they knew their owners had “trouble taking control of the situation” or ” got stressed a lot and made the dogs feel uncomfortable”. Animals like children need rules, boundaries and limitations. Providing structure for your pets is critical for their development and well being. Dogs who arent given a penalty for misbehaving “throw tantrums” by excessively barking, running away when disciplined or attempting to bite to prevent confronting their fears. Using a calm assertive approach is absolutely necessary when disciplining your pet. Never correct your dog when you are angry or frustrated. Dogs only follow a calm and confident leader. When you share unstable energy with your dog such as being fearful when someone is approaching, for instance, he will probably become fearful also, or protective and aggressive. By providing your pet with rules about what he can and cannot do, you are giving him guidelines as to what you expect from him. This makes him feel secure about his position in your home.
3.Exercise. Dogs need exercise. Dogs who are high energy can be taken rollerblading, biking, swimming, etc. By providing dogs with a lot of exercise they become less anxious and more relaxed. This makes training much easier as well-exercised dogs are much more willing to cooperate. Many homeowners think that putting their dog in a backyard is enough to meet their exercise needs. Although having a yard is a way for a dog to burn off some energy it does nothing to create discipline. Dogs need to go on a structured walk with their pack leader and without it they can become dominant, bored, stressed and under-socialized with other dogs and people. By walking your dog the benefits are three fold: the needs for mental challenge, discipline and exercise are all met. However the walk must be done in a way that creates leadership for the human. Too often the dog is put on a flexi-leash and is way out in front of the human. Some people think that they want to give their dog a lot of freedom by letting them go way out in front but in fact what they are creating is a dominant dog (remember dogs are social and look to other dogs or people for instruction). If your dog is in front you are unconsciously giving him permission to do what he wants beyond the walk. When done correctly, exercising your pet relieves stress, instills discipline and gives mental challenge. 4. Providing a peaceful living environment. Dogs want a home that makes them feel comfortable. They really enjoy quiet time to rest. Dogs who lived in noisy places were very upset and felt bombarded by sound. Some of the dogs were adamant about having specific toys they liked, and all felt having yummy foods and treats were really important and wanted you to keep all that in constant supply. Some dogs who were arthritic felt having a soft bed to lie on very important while others just wanted to be near their family while sleeping. Some dogs felt uncomfortable about having to climb stairs especially the open backed ones. Dogs need a comfortable quiet home meeting their specific physical requirements. 5. Giving Right Affection. The animals I talked with wanted you to know that they love to share affection with their people. They feel at times they would rather not receive affection when their owners are upset. Sometimes they are made to share affection when they do not want to. They say that theyd rather be out running or socializing with other dogs. People use animals often to get their own needs met by petting them, which makes people feel better. Often people will give dogs affection to calm them down when they are excited or aggressive but this only nurtures the problem in the animal. The dog thinks that you are happy with them for their behavior because you petted them and they were given a reward. You thought you were showing them kindness, helping them to calm down. The dog didnt see it that way. Give affection sparingly, at the end of the day to reward your dog for their good behavior, not to settle your own nerves. Instead try yoga, running, swimming or other activities that relax you so you can share calm energy with your dog when you give affection.
By being mindful of what makes your dog happiest: mental stimulation, exercise, discipline, a peaceful home and affection at the right time, you can enjoy a relationship with your dog that is built on trust. Trust is the foundation for a healthy relationship with any animal.