It’s not always easy being a dog guardian. There are many stages of a dogs life where we can find things difficult and certain behaviours challenging.
For example, the puppy stage where we have that witching hour in the evening, where our cute little puppies turn into wild crocodiles on lots of caffeine!
There is the second fear phase at around six months when the first set hormones are coming in. This is a completely normal phase in the pups development, but it comes with its own challenges. For example, pups may become reactive to things that concern them. It can be difficult to know what to do in these situations.
And then we have adolescence, where those pesky hormones seem to turn off our dogs listening ears, so things like recall can become quite difficult. Male dogs become a little bit more full of themselves, which can lead to some interesting social interactions. And the girls have their first season where they’re full of energy but we have to limit their walks to protect them from unwanted attention. They also become amazing escape artists. We have to make sure that our garden is extra secure so they don’t go off and find themselves a new boyfriend!
In the later stages of their life, your dog may experience cognitive dysfunction which can lead to all sorts of strange behaviours that they wouldn’t normally exhibit. I will talk about this more in upcoming blog posts so keep an eye out for that.
During your time as a guardian there may be many other issues that arise. For example, jumping up at people, pulling on the lead and poor recall, to name but a few. You may also come across more difficult issues such as resource guarding, reactive behaviour, and separation anxiety.
Sounds scary, right?! That’s not by any means the intention of this blog post. Being aware of the challenges we can face as dog guardians can help us understand what is going on, so we can work towards setting them up for success as much as possible.
Here are my 5 top ways to set your puppy and dog up for success!
1. Feed Your Dog a Nutritious Diet
Like us, your dogs diet can affect their ability to concentrate, their ability to learn, and therefore their behaviour. It is important that you feed your dog a nutritious, hypoallergenic, additive free, natural diet.
Checkout how your dogs food rates at Www.allaboutdogfood.co.uk. Here are a few brands that I recommend:
Bella & Duke
You can also check out others on the website. Personally I would be aiming for 85% plus for your nutritional rating.
2. All your dogs needs being met?
We generally know about the exercise we should be given our dog to make sure that they get a good opportunity for physical exertion, but that’s not the be all and end all of their needs.
Dogs are extremely intelligent animals. So it is important that we take care of their mental health by giving them the opportunity to use their brain. This can be through activities such as scent training, food puzzles, and dog training.
We also need to give our dogs opportunity too express their natural behaviours such as chasing, chewing, sniffing and digging, to name a few. Activities that offer this are called Canine Enrichment. Below you can see a collection of different items that you can easily purchase, but also checkout the Canine Enrichment Facebook group. There are lots of free and easy ideas that you can put together for your dog, to not not only stimulate their brain but create positive outlets for their natural behaviour.
If physical mental And natural behavioural needs are met you will hopefully have a very contented dog.
3. Is your dog getting enough sleep?
Sleep is important at all stages of our dogs lives. We should start to encourage rest when all dogs are puppies who stop if your dog is getting enough sleep through the day you are less likely to have issues of being over tired and acting out, issues with sleep through the night (sleep promotes sleep). A general guide is that puppies need 18-19 hours and adults 12-14 hours.
4. A Good Foundation of Training
By training your dog you’re creating a way for you to communicate with each other. You are also creating routines of behaviour that will help set them up for success. There are a number of ways that you can access training for your puppy or your dog, I currently offer classes, one to one training, and online training courses. Whichever route you choose to go down, I cannot emphasise how important getting your training right is for the success of your relationship with your dog.
During my training I use methods which involve reward based training. This method of training is fully backed by scientific research. It’s a minefield out there when you are looking for training because, unfortunately, there are people who are in the limelight who either lack proper qualifications, have out dated training techniques, or offer quick fixes.
Training should be enjoyable for you and your dog and successes should be rewarded highly so that they are repeated again by your dog stop
5. Great Socialisation
Socialisation is an important part of your dogs development and done right it can create happy and confident dog going forwards. No socialisation is not what most people think it is. The word socialisation suggests that they should go be going out meeting and greeting every person and every dog. However this is not what the focus should be on. The chart below shows what areas should be covered during socialisation. I will be going into socialisation in more detail in a coming blog, so keep your eyes open for that.
So, those are my 5 biggest things to be working on to help set you the guardian and your dog up for success during your journey together.
Now obviously those five points are not the be all and end all when it comes to dog guardianship. Dogs may Develop behavioural concerns due to genetics, their experiences, Or their health.
So before I sign off, there is one last thing to ask yourself if your dog is displaying and difficult behaviours.
Is your dog in pain?
Pain and discomfort are common causes of what we may class as unwanted behaviours. If you have an onset of unusual behaviours from your dog, such as growling, snapping at people, refusing to go on walks or reactive behaviour, then it is my advice to take your dog to the vets for a full checkup.
So, as you can see it’s not always easy being a dog guardian. I hope that this brief outline of dog guardian ship guidelines has been useful to you. If you have any questions or would like help we’ve your dog please do not hesitate to get in touch.
The Rewarding Dog Trainer
Helping Your Dog to Grow Up Confident and Content