I’m a firm believer in training all dogs! Naturally, right? After all, I AM a professional dog trainer! You would expect me to feel this way, and I’m sure you feel like rolling your eyes. But if you read further, I think you’ll find that I can make a pretty compelling argument for training your dogs!
First of all, we all get dogs because we want to share our lives with a furry best friend, right? Well….in theory that’s true, but I meet lots of folks who end up with dogs by default: a stray showed up and they didn’t have the heart to take it to a shelter, the kids begged for a dog, a family member needed to have someone else take their dog, their health required a lifestyle change and they thought a dog would be a great reason for more exercise, etc.
There are countless reasons that people end up with dogs. But I’ve yet to ever meet someone who set out to have a terrible relationship with their dog. Everyone I meet wants to love their dog, and to be perfectly honest, at evaluations, I’ve heard folks say they hate their dogs. Everyone starts out with the best of intentions….lots of dreams, hopes, plans….whether they’ve got a new puppy or an adult rescue dog, I think hopes and dreams are just inherent in any new beginning.
I’ve been there and done that with having hopes and dreams in a new dog….
But somewhere along the way, things can go sour, and much of that has to do with the title of today’s blog. Dogs in America are so very often overfed, spoiled, under-exercised, and bored out of their minds! There! I said it!
Bored, under-exercised, spoiled dogs can really wreak some havoc in a home, and it turns that love affair with a dog into a nightmare experience. And that’s generally when I get the phone call. I completely understand that, and I’m always glad to be called, but I’m always so very sad that owners have let things spiral into something bad before they consider training for their dogs. That’s a tragedy in my mind, because many owners never call me. They just get rid of their dog.
So honestly, if we hope to keep our dogs for 12-14 years (on average), why not train them as puppies so that we can enjoy them for their entire lives?! Training when dogs are puppies or when rescues first arrive in our homes can ensure a much better experience for us and our dogs, and very few dogs that I train ever end up in shelters or re-homed…although it does happen rarely. Wouldn’t you like all of those years to be terrific and fun so that you can love your dog for 12-14 years?
Another reason dogs can be naughty is that they don’t get enough physical exercise or mental stimulation. There’s so much truth in the saying that a tired dog is a good dog. Tired dogs are rarely naughty because they’re satisfied. In a recent book that I’m reading about reactive dogs, the author made the point that many owners think that additional physical exercise is the sole answer to fix their naughty dogs. But in reality, a dog who is over-exercised can be just as spun up as one who is under-exercised. Giving an adequate amount of physical exercise and adding mental stimulation can make all the difference in having a satisfied dog who is really a good kind of tired.
Many people think that if they leave their dogs in the yard that their dogs are getting plenty of exercise. I promise you that in most cases, those dogs wander around the yard a bit, and then lay by the door, waiting to come back inside. It’s like saying that you got all of your exercise while getting groceries. A good brisk walk for 30-45 minutes twice a day and a good game of fetch or running in the yard is a great amount of exercise both you and your dog.
You can cut your physical exercise to 20-30 minutes plus some yard play if you add in some mental stimulation every day. Adding mental stimulation can replace some of your physical exercise and yield a better result, because you’re working your dog’s mind, and that has a tiring effect on him.
This is why training can be so beneficial. If you train commands, tricks and /or puzzles for thirty minutes every day, you’ll keep your dog’s mind engaged through good focus on you. When you’re finished, he’s going to be tired. And very happy. It’s a wonderful combination for your dog, and I think this gives him a life that’s much more full.
He’s only likely going to get to have 12-14 years with you….so make those years count. Never forget that years are made up of one day after another. You have the ability to make every one of those days count….for you and for your dog! It’s easy! Just keep swimming….one day at a time!!