Do you work before you get a vacation? Are you tired when you get home after a long day at work? Has your day been mentally taxing? Were you using a lot of brain power? Does anyone feel sorry for you for putting in a good day at work?
Well, dogs need to work too! Most domestic dogs were originally bred to do some type of work. Without the ability to express themselves in the work they were intended to perform, we see problems because many dogs in America are bored. Most dogs solely live in the house and in their yard. Imagine if you could only reside in the house and yard? No work, no school, nothing to bide your time…only the house and yard. How long would it take before cabin fever sets in and you become creative?
All animals have an instinctual way that must be satisfied. Birds fly, fish swim, and dogs walk. Domestic dogs travel in their territory to scavenge and occasionally hunt. In essence, the walk is work. When living with people in an urban/suburban society they must learn to participate in a structured and mental walk because it is the mental activity that makes the dog tired. Dogs need focus & attention. I like to say that dogs need “math class”, because most are in “art class”.
Keep your dog’s head up from the ground. They should learn to ignore other dogs, cats, squirrels, other people, and distractions. As in all things I advise, there is a reason for all things I teach. Dogs are good multi-taskers. If they are busy smelling where Charlie and FiFi peed this morning, how are they paying attention to you? It’s not that they can’t ever have art class, but there are two rules:
1. We can have art class… after math class and when I say so.
2. He or she who makes the rules is the boss.
Dogs are born with drives… things that motivate them. Prey drive, food drive, pack drive, defense drive, territorial drive, and sex drive. (We’ll touch on this in deeper detail in a later article.)
Drives can not be suppressed, therefor they must be expressed. Prey drive is one of the most common drives (this means chase the moving thing) but you should be able to control her drives.
Think of the hunting Labrador: Can’t she just chase the birds in the field? The answer is no, she must wait until the bird(s) are shot, then she is sent to retrieve by the hunter.
Or how about the border collie that herds the sheep? He can not kill the sheep, but the handler instructs him to go left, right, front, back, and that will do. The instincts are under control under the care of a loving, benevolent dictator.
The more mental focus and physical exercise a dog receives, the more satisfied they are. Challenging behaviors and activities are made easier when a dog is in a more tired state.
The mantra that I truly live by with my dogs, “Rules Equal Freedom” . The better behaved (exercised) they are, the better of they will be in all other situations. Dogs must work to be happy!