Sunday, March 14, 2010

Exercise and your dog's behavior issues.

The majority of my clients come to me because their dogs are nuts. They chew up furniture, chew up shoes/socks/blankets/clothes. They bark incessantly, they jump on everyone. They chase their tails or just don't listen. They drive their owners nuts as well. issues like aggression is usually a lot easier for me to deal with, as well as the owners, since it is a specific problem. It is almost tangible. However, a neurotic dog leaves the owners feeling totally clueless and helpless. Obedience training doesn't seem to work, nor does positive/negative training. So, what is a helpless dog owner to do?
Go for a walk to clear your head. Take Fido with you.
That's it. Usually.
As with children, a dog has TONS of energy. Leaving them at home all the time keeps that energy from being spent. Your four legged friend is left with all this pent up energy, and it has to manifest itself somehow. So, what do they do? They decide to chew something up. They decide to run around like a maniac. They decide to bark and howl and make life miserable for you. Taking them out and walking them, or running with them, helps them use up this energy, and keeps them balanced.
It's no different then it is for us.
We sleep better when we exercise.
We think better when we exercise.
We look better, and work better, and are more productive and creative when we exercise.
It is the same with our canine companions.
Exercise is nature's way. Out in the wild, a pack of wolves don't lay around all day. They walk up to 10 hours a day, looking for food, migrating, etc. Their metabolism is up and running. It's how they were built.
WE keep our pets in sad shape, physically, as well as psychologically, by keeping them locked up within the four walls of our homes. And the backyard is no better. It is simply a bigger, four walled kennel with no top. They still don't feel like they are going anywhere.
Walking is a very important part of a dog's life. It's what they do.
Fish swim.
Birds fly.
Dogs walk.
So, if you have a dog who is a good dog most of the time, but is acting all weird and neurotic, take him/her out for a nice, long walk. Not a walk where it sniffs every tree, stops at every bush, and marks every patch of ground it sees (imagine how long it would take a pack of 40 wolves to get ANYWHERE if they stopped at every tree to mark!!) A walk where you go for a long time (30-45 minutes) focused on moving forward. You "migrate". This feeds an ancient and programmed need within your dog, and helps keep them balanced and fulfilled. Also, by the time you get home, they are usually spent. They lay around and rest, which is much better then tearing up your newest shoes.
Now, this is not the end all/be all of dog training. This is not going to cure all your dog's issues. However, it certainly doesn't hurt!!
Walk your dogs.
Run with your dogs.
Get in shape with your dogs.
Think of them as furry, four legged fitness machines.
Not only will you feel better about yourself, but your dog will act better as well.

The Doggy Guru
Helping you, Help your dog.

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