Make Your Dog Happy
A well-behaved dog is a joy to be around, but more importantly, training makes your dog happy. Indeed, one of the advantages of reward-based training is the dog wants to work with you.
Ok, we’re not talking about teaching your dog to play chess, but mental stimulation is crucial to your canine companion’s mental well-being. Without mental stimulation he quickly becomes bored, and that’s bored spelt D-E-S-T-R-U-C-T-I-V-E. When an owner can no longer cope with a bad habit such as chewing, digging, or barking then that dog could well end up at a shelter with all that this implies.
So many of those unfortunate behaviors are just that, a natural way of a frustrated dog expressing himself. With a little planning and commitment, it’s possible to prevent those bad habits purely by providing adequate mental stimulation.
So how do we do that?
First up is exercise. A dog that is overflowing with energy isn’t going to pay attention. It’s also important for the dog’s physical and mental well-being that he gets as much exercise as a dog of his size and breed requires.
Praise as a Motivator
Hopefully, both you and your dog are enjoying the benefits of reward-based training. But have your considered praising your dog just for…well…being good?
It’s all too easy to take the quiet calm behavior for granted and only get steamed up when the dog puts a paw wrong. Think about it. When the dog chews your favorite handbag he gets lots of attention but, when he’s resting quietly in his bed he’s largely ignored. How about turning things on their head?
Make a point of praising your dog for being quiet and peaceful. Grab that opportunity when he’s on his bed or padding along nicely on the lead. Don’t overlook the power of praise to motivate when he’s being good so that he wants to stay being good. Do that and you’ll find his behavior improving for very little extra effort.
The Importance of Play
You’ve only to see a Staffy grab a tug toy or a Border collie run after a ball, to know the joy play brings to a dog. Indeed, this makes sense when you think a dog has the mental ability of a two to three-year-old child.
But more than that, play has a physiological effect on their body. Play triggers the release of oxytocin and other feel-good hormones which promote a feeling of euphoria and well-being. At times of stress the levels of these hormones dip down, but they can be replenished through play. Many rescue dogs come with behavioral problems born from an insecure past, but through play you can help have confidence in the good things in life and their hormones will chip in to help them feel better. Of course, play isn’t restricted to rescue dogs, but is something dogs of all ages need to indulge in.
So for a balanced outlook on life, don’t look on play as optional but as essential for a happy, confident dog.