Dogs have primary needs much like we do (food and shelter), however their needs are different from ours because they are canine. To have a well rounded, socialized furry family member a dog needs 3 things; Exercise, Discipline and Affection, which translates to body, mind and heart. As a dog owner it is our responsibility to fulfill our dogs energy needs through regular physical and mental exercise, to communicate rules and boundaries, and finally to provide affection. Cesar Millan (The Dog Whisperer) states that it is important that we give these 3 things in this order.
All dogs need regular exercise. The size of your dog does not determine how much exercise your pup needs, however the breed of your dog, her age and her fitness level is a better indication of how much of a workout she requires.
The walk is an ideal opportunity to connect with your dog and spend time training her in a number of different settings to walk calmly on her leash.
Some dogs may require additional activities that will fulfill their exercise needs such as running, chasing a ball or swimming.
Through experience I have found that most dog prefers two walks a day rather than just one longer one because it is another opportunity for her to connect with her social environment. I say ‘social’ because of the amount of information she picks up through smell on our walks and it enables her to feel at one with her setting. I think of the lampposts as Facebook for dogs!
Discipline is necessary to ensure your dog knows the rules of the house and where your personal boundaries are. The rules and boundaries need to be clearly and consistently communicated.
Be sure to correct bad behavior and do not encourage disruptive energy levels in your dog, therefore reward her when she is calm and correct her when she goes outside the boundaries you have set.
It is easy to create the wrong behavior by accidentally giving too much affection at the wrong time. The time to give affection is after your dog has exercised, changed an unwanted behavior into a wanted one, responded to a rule or command, or entered a calm or submissive state.
The time not to give affection is when your dog is fearful, anxious, possessive, dominant, whining, begging or breaking a rule. Giving affection at this time affirms that her behavior is OK.
Our dogs look to us for guidance in their life. They are a pack animal and they look for leadership and confirmation that they are doing the right thing. Personally I have found that a dog that gets plenty of exercise is easier to train and listens to commands eagerly, compared to a dog that is bouncing off the walls because her energy levels have not been met.
Check out my K9 CRACK Dog Blog next week when we will discuss ‘The Art of Recall’.
If you would like me to answer any questions you have about dog training or nutrition please send them.