Your dog, no matter what breed, size, sex, age, etc. has needs. They need to get outside and be a dog. They need mental and physical exercise. They need sensory stimulation. I think we all intuitively know this already, so let’s just call this a reminder. Those of us who have enjoyed the group dog hikes definitely know how great it is for our dog to get a taste of the wild and walking off leash with a pack. Not just great for the dogs but for us too! There is something so awesome about seeing them in that state; it makes you feel good just to see it.

Below is a quote I love by Dr Bruce Fogle from his book “The Dog’s Mind” that puts a little bit of scientific horsepower behind the importance of fulfillment.

           “The dog, even the small spaniel on a satin cushion, remains biologically to his core an outdoor specialist. His mind functions according to the information it receives from his senses and as a domestic house pet living, in most cases, a sensory deprived existence, his capacities remain unfulfilled. The more sensory information that the dog’s brain receives, the more developed his mind will become. Anatomically speaking, sensory stimulation causes nerve cells in the brain to actually grow and make new synaptic connections with other nerve cells. The network expands to accommodate and assimilate new information. This is why it is so important to provide a pup with a stimulating environment. Pups that are purchased and then left at home alone all day, with little sensory stimulation, will try to stimulate their senses themselves, often by being what we consider destructive. If they don’t, they will grow up with smaller brains and restricted minds, poor examples of the potential of their species.”

– The Dog’s Mind, pg. 46

 This is good information to keep in mind when relating to your dog. I always like to say “The more you want, the more you have to give.” I suppose that could be true for everything in life but let’s focus on your dog. Fulfillment of their needs is not the same as “Oh he’s so spoiled already, he gets whatever he wants.”  Or, “We have a huge backyard and two other dogs, he should be happy.” Fulfillment means really supplying them with a great life for a dog, tapping into their primal nature. They can’t enjoy a good book or funny TV show anymore than you can enjoy rolling in dead stuff or sniffing your friend’s butt. These are the things that remind us that man’s best friend is indeed a dog and not a cute furry baby. While we may have our differences, there are plenty of things that we and our dogs can and should enjoy together as often as possible.

So, the more you want, the more you should give. That means daily walks, getting out of city once in a while, swimming, socializing, car rides, etc. along with strong, fair, consistent leadership, basic obedience training and healthy nutritious food.  These are the things your dog really needs and if you give these on a regular basis, then and only then will it be fair to expect them to be the well-behaved dog we all want.  With every piece of this puzzle that is left out it would only make sense that a piece of good behavior goes out the window and a piece of bad behavior comes in.

These are not scientific ratios or anything but it goes something like this.

  • No exercise today: Holes in the yard tomorrow
  • Only 3 walks this week: Jumping and whining
  • Under socialized dog: Underdeveloped brain (fear, insecurity, neurosis)

And so goes the vicious cycle. 

We can get this cycle going the other way though and it’s not that hard if we can just wrap our minds around a few basic things. The main thing is simply a change in perspective.  Here’s how I look at it: Anytime I see my dogs are acting a little crazy, my first reaction is always, and I mean always,“These dogs need to go for a walk!”

Chad Culp, Certified Dog Trainer, Canine Behavior Consultant and Owner of Thriving Canine

Copyright 2005-2013 Chad Culp, Thriving Canine. All rights reserved. 

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