I am ‘Me’
In order to build a bond between you and your dog, it is very important to really understand what the dog needs and how their psychology works. If you’re not giving your dog what he requires, he will let you know by barking, chewing your shoes, jumping on your guests, pulling you on the walk, or one of many other behaviour problems.
His breed decides his behaviour…
A breed profile is like an ‘Instruction manual’ giving you an overview of what the dog is programmed for. It’s our ancestors who have actually created those breeds, and over a period of years, we have designed those finer qualities and capabilities that make our dogs look in a certain way, act in certain way, and support us with certain skill sets. So the more purebred the dog is the more he will be pulled towards the instincts that are coming from his breed side, and he will be driven to perform/response to those instincts.
Not meeting the breed-specific needs…
Not fulfilling the breed related needs can often become a factor in your dog’s physical and psychological responses and the un-utilized energy gets built up in him. Of course that doesn’t mean that we are going to take our dogs for hunting, herding or guarding cattle’s at the farm, but we need to help them by creating combinations of physical and psychological challenges to help the dogs fulfill their breed specific needs.
Today in western countries pet parents are most widely recommended to participate in various sporting activities which utilise the dogs’ energy both physically as well as psychologically.
American Kennel Club has broken down groups of breeds into general categories, usually based on the original tasks the dogs were used for:
- Sporting: Pointer, Spaniels, Retrievers
- Hound: Basset Hound, Beagle, Dachshund
- Working: Great Danes, Mastiffs, Doberman, Rottweilers
- Herding: German Shepherd Dog, Sheepdog, Australian Shepherds
- Terrier: Jack Russell Terrier, Pit Bull Terrier, Wire Fox Terrier
- Toy: Yorkshire, Papillon, Maltese, Pomeranian
- Non-sporting: Poodle, French Bulldog, Dalmatian
Fulfilling the breed-specific needs…
The breed specific needs can be fulfilled in many different ways.
- A walk is a must for all dogs.
- Walk at least twice a day. Walk at the pace of your dog. Let your dog sniff to his heart’s content.
- With Pointers and Spaniels, you can play games of hiding an object and guiding him to seek it out and point at it, rewarding the dog at the pointing phase only.
- For Retrieving dogs, the goal is to teach him to find the object, then retrieve it and bring it back to you. Frisbee playing and other garden games are excellent.
- For Retrieving water dogs like Labrador and Irish water spaniels, swimming and fetching items in the water are obvious breed-fulfilling games for them.
- Scent Hounds need to use their nose so give them an ideal challenging exercise. Play search and rescue using the items of clothing having the scent of your family members. To find one scent and disregard all the others takes a lot of concentration.
- Because of their strength, power and utilising physical energy is vital with a working breed dog then any other groups.
- A good way to channel the drive of a working breed is through Schutzhund training (protection dog training). It has evolved into a competitive sport that tests and ranks tracking, obedience, and guarding abilities. Done properly Schutzhund training stops any aggressive behavior at the sound of a handler’s command.
- Herding dogs enjoy a game of Frisbee or ‘disc dog’, an official dog sporting activity. The International Disc Dog Handler’s Association (www.iddha.com) has complete information on this sport.
- Because toy breeds are so adorable, we tend to let them get away with things. No matter how small your dog is he needs his daily dose of physical activity.
- Agility competitions and exercise are growing in popularity and are great activities to both redirect energy and strengthen the bond between the pet parent and the dog. The dog learns to jump hurdles, run through rings, tunnels, and other complicated obstacles while racing against time, encouraged and directed by the handler. It’s a combination of focus, patience, timing, direction, action, speed, discipline, and at the end fun, excitement, achievement, encouragement, and rewards.
Since you are controlling the exercise, your value as a pack leader is greatly increased in the dog’s mind.