Dogs are a huge aspect of everyday life. Lots of people have them, and some people want them all. But are we thinking clearly about our longing for a puppy? Are we really ready to provide all the care necessary for a dog?
My passion for animal behavior has led me to be curious about pet owners and if we truly are giving these domesticated canines what they need. Poor diets, selective breeding, impulsive adopting, lack of training, and many other questionable decisions we make for our pets. There are dogs all over the planet, and most that I run into aren't the good boy we like to claim they are. It's not Fido's fault, the humans are in charge!
I hope to bring to light a few myths and incorrect behaviors around training and caring for a dog. I've been on my own journey training a lovely Australian Cattle Dog; also learning what is best for my pet. But let's take a moment to reflect on our dog ownership.
Diets and Exercise
Obesity and diabetes can affect a lot more dogs than people may realize. Pugs, corgis, basset hounds, just to name a couple. If your dog's breed has a higher chance of becoming obese, watching their weight should be a priority. Keeping a dog at a healthy weight is a lot easier than doing it for yourself. Find a food with a good mix of vegetables and protein. I recommend Rachael Ray's brand of dog food, but you should also do the research and compare the labels yourself.
Letting your dog outside to potty and have a quick run around is nice, but Fido loves to run and play! Exercise can come in so many different forms for your pup. Dogs like to wrestle, chase, and explore. Take your dog on different routes and rotate to different parks. Play inside as well as outside! Teaching your pup some new tricks can stimulate their thinking as well as their physical skills. Going to a dog park can be great exercise, and improve social skills. Messing around with agility obstacles like tunnels and jumps can also be very rewarding.
Choosing the Right Dog for You
In the past, we've gone on a selective breeding spree and created lots of different kinds of dogs. A dog can be any collective mix of size, energy, and personality. But finding the right one for you is the most important step that people often overlook.
While colors and squished faces are eye catching, it's important you pick the right breed for your personality and life style. Lots of pups are re-homed because at the time they were cute, but they grow and eventually don't match with a person. While dogs can be very different depending on how their lives started, breeds have specific traits that will determine how they act once they grow up. For example: dogs bred for herding will need a more active person to take them on adventures, or they could live and work on a farm. Some dog breeds are more difficult to train and should live with someone who has the time and knowledge.
There are lots of resources out there for you to research and find the perfect dog for you! Finding the right breed, or even a mix of that breed, is not hard to achieve in shelters and other rescue websites.
Is your pup properly trained?
Training can get complex, but it's not difficult. We train our dogs in little ways that we don't even notice. We teach them respect, boundaries, schedules, and even reactions. In a sense, you're raising a child.
Now, we all want to pamper our pooch and give him all the love in the world. While we should give our dogs lots of praise and happy interactions, it's important to do so at the right time. If your dog doesn't respect you, they will take advantage of you. They can act picky about food, be demanding for attention, become territorial over an item, and pick up other bad habits. Having a mix of discipline and praise is important to ensure your dog views you as the pack leader. Discipline can be as simple as sending them to their crate, or asking them to sit. It can seem confusing, but I've learned that dogs are a lot like toddlers. So treating them as such can be helpful towards teaching those boundaries and respect.
Too much of a good thing can be bad, which is why we should refrain from spoiling our dogs. Spoiling your dog is giving him too much of something that is considered a "treat" or "reward." I see all too often people just handing off their table scraps to their dog, without even asking them to sit! This enables begging and could be why Fido keeps nosing your plate while you're eating. Your dog should go lay down away from where you're eating a meal. Only reward a dog with food, especially people food, when they've done a trick.
In the near future, I plan on writing some more in depth pieces about specific training and care. I don't wish to aggressively bash poor dog owners. I think we're in a time in the world were people want to be educated and do more for animals. So I hope to help inspire and teach you some new things.
This article, for now, serves as a brief introduction to what I plan to write about. You can also look forward to my own dog adventures with my pup, Dino (pictured below). Stay tuned!