• Socialisation is an important part of having a well adjusted dog and the key to having a dog who can cope in a variety of situations without fear or anxiety. It is important to build up good associations and feelings with lots of things your dog is unsure about and have your dog adjust to a range of situations which they will encounter in their life.
• Dog-dog socialisation Many dogs develop sociability issues with other dogs and animals. They develop high arousal or fearful reactions to the presence of other dogs in general or to specific dogs in specific situations. These behaviours develop as the dog learns and making sure your dog has good interactions with other dogs and animals is important. It is good to have an understanding of how to read your dog’s body language so you can gauge how they feel about a situation. This knowledge can prevent unwanted aggression.
• Mental stimulation can be twice as powerful as exercise for animals. Although a healthy lifestyle incorporates at least a walk once a day (or several times a week), it is equally important to stimulate the mind as often as possible. The longest run in the world might not tire some breeds out, but a few fifteen minute sessions of learning new tricks, practicing old behaviours and problem solving (enrichment or interactive games) can tire a dog out much faster than a ball at the park. This should not replace a dog’s normal exercise routine but should definitely be a priority in each day.
• Environmental enrichment is important to keep your dog happy and mentally stimulated. Choosing the right toys and equipment can be hard, but by providing appropriate toys that are long lasting and puzzles for problem solving can reduce or eliminate many problem behaviours such as chewing, barking, separation anxiety and digging. There are many strategies and techniques that can be implemented to save you the headache of a problem dog who is expressing their boredom.
*Ideas for trick training include: getting the mail in, fetching a drink from the fridge, putting their own toys away, doggy dancing, high five, playing dead, barking on cue... there are endless possibilities.