Even though many dog owners refer to themselves as ‘dog parents’, we’re inclined to forget just how much our dogs depend on us, not only for basics like food, but to satisfy their emotional and social needs.
Do we expect too much from our dogs?
1. We expect our dogs to stay out of trouble when we aren’t at home
Scientists say that a dog is as intelligent as atwo to three-year old child. You’d never leave your three-year old alone at home without a sitter would you?
But when you come home after a few hours out or a day at work, you expect to find that your pet has stayed out of mischief all on its own.
Thank goodness, dogs aren’t usually able to get into trouble quite as badly as human kids, but expecting them to wait for you to come home in a space where there is little stimulation or entertainment to be had, and still be as good as gold is clearly unrealistic.
What’s the solution?
Of course, most of us have to go to work. The best solution is to give your canine companion an entertaining toy that he can play with all on his own.
What toy would be fascinating enough to keep your dog busy for hours on end? The Foobler was designed to do exactly that, and it uses several strategies to keep things interesting for your dog.
- It has movement because it is round and can roll about.
- It has sound. A bell rings at pre-set times.
- It dispenses treats. When the bell rings, your pup gets his or her reward.
2. We expect dogs to get by without exercise
Four out of five dog owners take their dogs for regular walks, but 20% of us are cringing right now. If you’re in the ‘cringe’ group, consider the benefits of exercising your dog.
Not only will you keep your pet fitter, healthier and less likely to become obese, but you get to share the same benefits. And your dog will be better behaved when he is able to work off some of that excess energy.
Life can get very busy, so consider getting up a little earlier every morning so that you can fit your dog walk in. You’ll be much more wide-awake and alert when you get to the office than most of your colleagues!
3. We take away their jobs and get cross when they try to find one
What was your dog bred to do? If it’s a sheep or cattle dog, it has a strong herding instinct. If it’s a terrier, it loves to hunt. Either of these instincts can get your pets into trouble.
Your collie might decide that kids need to be rounded up and your terrier could decide that bicycles are legitimate prey. But one job that every dog loves is foraging.
This often gets translated into dustbin emptying or stealing food from kitchen counters.
Give your dog a job:
Once again, the Foobler deserves a special mention. Hunters, herders and foragers will all love this interactive dog toy.
Playing ‘fetch’ also satisfies the doggie urge to work. It gives your dog good exercise and satisfies hunting and herding instincts.
And bit of obedience training provides mental stimulation and fun while allowing your dog to feel as if he or she is being productive.
4. We expect our dogs to love being with us – and then we leave them on their own
For dogs, loving us comes naturally, but they do need help with being left alone. The best way to get them used to this is to have a departure ritual. Your dog sees you pick up your keys and take your bag. Then you walk towards the garage and drive off.
Train your dog to handle its ‘alone time‘:
The gentlest way to get dogs used to being on their own is to make your departures relaxed and natural. Demonstrating your feelings of ‘parental guilt’ with lots of attention can actually increase the trauma of your departure.
Help your pet to get used to this by starting with short absences and then gradually extending the time you’re away.
Having a predictable ‘doggie loving’ routine interspersed with times when you prefer to do your own thing helps your dog to adjust to a schedule.
5. Think about it: your dog is not a human
Our dogs are so loving and intelligent that we’re inclined to see them as humans. As a result, we often expect too much of them.
Your dog is not a furry human. It has its own needs and instincts. Next time your dog is ‘bad’, ask yourself which instinct their behaviour satisfied. Perhaps the naughty behaviour is a symptom of an unfulfilled need.