Friday, May 9, 2008

Avoid Canine Behavior Problems Before They Start!


Bored, under stimulated and under exercised dogs will find much needed ways to expend their energy and fill their time.

Provide your dog with the regular exercise he needs. This is very important in keeping your dog physically healthy as well as emotionally balanced, not to mention the benefits you, too, will receive from regular exercise. Lack of exercise is the number 1 cause of most behavior problems. Regular exercise not only helps prevent behavior problems from developing but also aids in resolving them. Even with access to a yard a dog may not be getting enough exercise. Regular walks, sports and games, like fetch, not only provide the much need outlet to burn off your dog’s excess energy; they are also great ways to bond with your dog.
Many behaviors that are problems to us humans are actually normal dog behaviors that can be redirected and more positively expressed through the use of toys, games, sports and organized activities. The need to chase can be satisfied with fetch, Frisbee, or flyball. Your dog’s need to chew can be satisfied with the use of proper chew toys or Kongs. The need to search can be expressed by hiding toys around the house or yard. Kongs stuffed with treats or peanut butter or liver paste are an especially good choice as they fulfill your dog’s latent instinctual need to search for food and your dog also has to work the food out. Playing a game of “hide-n-seek” with Rover also fulfills his need to search and helps you bond with your pooch. In addition to stuffed Kongs, there are also many interactive puzzle toys on the market that fulfill your dog's need to be occupied and have a job to do, particularly when you are absent. A game can be invented for every natural dog behavior - the only limit is your imagination!
Variation of the environment is also very important in channeling your dog's attention and energies. Choose 3 or 4 different routes and destinations for your daily walks and alternate them in no particular order. In addition to regular daily walks, rotate your dog toys each week, starting with 20-30 toys and swap them in groups of 5-10.
Regular walks, exercise, games and toys will not only help avoid behavior problems it will keep your dog at his physical and mental peak. It will also deepen and create a more harmonious relationship for you and your dog.

Happy Tails!

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