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Dog Activities To Alleviate Boredom
by Karen Rhodes, Family Dog Consultant
Have you ever come home to total chaos created by your beloved house dog? Does your dog display behavior issues such as chewing on objects or himself?
Do you hear a heavy sigh from your pooch when you want to relax from the work-a-day grind and your dog wants to play? Barring any health concerns, does your dog show lack of ambition, or ever look forlorn and lost?
All of this is common for dog owners who do not involve their dogs in physical and mental activities. Dogs get bored. Dogs were meant to hunt, to trot for miles, to exert tremendous energy chasing and catching prey. Being intelligent creatures, dogs will either look for non-boring activities or turn inward, becoming disinterested in life in general.
Dogs are social animals; historically pack animals. Now with extreme domestication, dogs rely on their humans to be their “everything”. We are their buddies, teachers, friends, companions, exercise partners, providers, health care workers, etc. Prematurely separated from their dam and littermates, it is we who must teach puppies to be better companions. But they also educate us because by tuning into your dog you can be a better owner and have a happier, better behaved animal.
Certain breed behaviors may not be suitable to your lifestyle. Look up the Breed Standards and learn whether they are active, laid-back or protective. Pay attention to these when selecting a dog. If you acquire a mixed breed be prepared to learn on the fly because its behavior, personality, and activity requirements are less predictable. If possible visit the prospective adoptee several times, noting whether the demeanor and personality will fit your style and needs.
If considering a purebred dog, use your experience and information readily available to pair with the right pooch and you both will prosper in your relationship.
Certain instincts and behaviors have been ingrained into a pure-breed dog and are described in the AKC Breed Standard. They can be generalized into a breed characteristic or standard. General knowledge of breed type and activity level can help you with your choice. Dog breeds are not categorized haphazardly, retrievers generally retrieve, herding breeds herd; “working dogs” work and so on. Some dogs are quite content with a couch potato lifestyle; others live for physical challenges, mental stimulation and excitement.
Don’t let trends or a popular television show influence your breed choice. There is some bad information out there, many playing on your heartstrings instead of your logical mind as to selecting a dog you are compatible with. If dog breeders and dog professionals say a breed tends to be; “stubborn”, “needy”, “not recommended for first time owners”, “are not to be off leash”, “very physical”, this information is probably true.
Age and physical characteristics of dog has a huge impact on ability and physical stamina so it is up to you to adapt an activity to the age and ability of the type dog. Remembering we are also responsible for their safety. For example, some breeds of dogs are recommended to have a fenced in area or be on leash whenever they are outside. I purchased a beagle pup years ago, she was a gorgeous dog and was very family friendly. I lived in a very rural area in the woods. My son and I trained this beautiful little girl, but Jewel would run every trail her nose came upon. I would often have to go searching for her because and trailing/tracking instincts were so strong nothing would get her to return to us upon command.
We ended up re-homing her to a wonderful man who enjoys hunting with dogs. His experience with beagles paid off and she became not only his most prized hunting canine but his life-long companion.
Before deciding on a breed or type of dog, think about your lifestyle and dog-friendly things you enjoy. We like to participate in; shows, visit dog parks, go for rides in the car, we hike, we go for swims, an occasional trip to the grooming parlor. I enjoy inventing new dog-games, compete in agility games, visiting individuals who are “shut ins, therapy work, obedience trials, camping trips. Don’t let physical limitations of the dog, your friends, or your own limit challenges or limit your imagination. Get creative; explore options and alternatives. Companionship is beneficial to both you and your dog.
Seasons can affect the type of activities you and your dog can participate in. Extreme weather can be most annoying when your dog is displaying “cabin fever” wanting to get outside to play. Indoor play, car rides and other forms of entertainment can break the monotony. Using common object such as cardboard boxes, toilet paper tubes, marrow bones, toys (both bought and created) keep even my youngest dog satisfied when the weather is not so accommodating.
A few minutes to a few hours of spending “quality time” with your dog can be a blessing for you both. Dog activities based on physical exercise and mental stimulation helps both dog and owner health and emotional well-being. It can have your dog looking forward to your next adventure instead of becoming bored engaging in maladaptive behaviors or becoming personality stagnant, overweight, unhappy or seriously depressed.
I consider my dogs family and we love our adventures and outings. When ‘out and about’ we follow pet rules of hygiene, practice courtesy, soak up sunshine, give and receive blessings, and our lives are better for these dog-related activities.
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