Let’s think about the dogs that we share our homes with.
Huskies are bred to pull a heavy load over rough terrain day in and day out. Boarder collies were bred to be physically and mentally active working along side their handlers day in and day out. The Cane Corso (KAH-neh-KOR-soh) was adapted as wild boar hunting, farming, livestock droving, and most famously guarding farmsteads. Beagles were bred to be enthusiastic and vocal rabbit hunters… so how do we meet the basic needs of our beloved canine counter parts?
We must begin by recognizing that a yard… even a big one is not enough for even our lazier breeds such as pugs and bassets.
Yes, some dogs of even active breeds manage to acclimate to living the mundane resistance of being a house/yard dog… but for how long were we able to accept dogs being fed “kibble and bits” or “Ol’ Roy” as being good enough?
So, how do we ensure we are meeting our dogs needs?
*New Places, New Things– Your dog should get exposed to at least three new place, training exercises, or things every week. Things like climbing wood piles to earn a toy, going to agility classes, or going to a new lake or brewery keeps your dog mentally stimulated. Teach them a new trick or ask for a new behavior like climbing into a box.
Puppy Note: puppies should be exposed to at least 6 new things a week.
*Mental Stimulation– Dogs should be provided with a minimum of 1 hour minutes of mental stimulation each and every day. This could include obedience training, trick training, hiding toys for your dog to find in the yard or kong toys. This should be a little longer for breeds like chihuahuas, border collies or shepherds.
Puppy note: Keep your training sessions short with puppies and remember you can do more frequent shorter sessions.
*Physical Exercise: This one varies more while some breeds like Dogue De Bordeauxs should have a minimum of an hour of physical enrichment every day such as two long walks or a short jog, other breeds like Boston Terriers or Labradors may need closer to three hours of very active physical exercise like swimming, running or agility. Dont let the idea of this must exercise overwhelm you. I did compile a list of ways that you can cheat on this if you don’t feel like it’s practical.Here is a link for ways to cheat if your too busy or not active enough to meet your dog’s needs:busy life & a board dog.
*Challenge Your Dog: Challenge your dog at least once a day. You can challenge your dog to swim out a little farther to get the ball, hid a toy in a hard spot, stay a little longer or climb a big rock or leave his favorite toy. Challenging your dog in this way builds a stronger bond and creates trust. It also helps your dog become confident and stay confident.
When dogs don’t have their basic needs met they begin to develop behavior issues. Most of the time when these behaviors are brought to my attention the behaviors are not surprising. Beagles barking and digging, Huskies climbing the fence and escaping and Border Collies herding the children around the yard it’s to be expected when their basic needs aren’t being satisfied. All too frequently very common behavior issues can often be solved by meeting your dog’s need.
Keep in mind that your dog is an individual. Senior Dogs may have special needs as do puppies. More so you can never physically tire out a border collie. However you can Tire them out mentally. Create your dogs stimulation plan by keeping your dog’s breed in mind. If you have a mix breed just use your best guess.