There’s a lot of misconceptions out there about what your dog needs to be happy. I hear them all the time. It includes statements like “you need to be alpha” or “you have to show him who’s boss”. Honestly what does that even mean? That your dog is afraid of you? That your dog respects you? So let’s get real here.
What does a dog really need from his family? And yes I am using the word family as the majority of us now view dogs as members of the family – and that’s ok!
- Leadership from their family. A good leader is kind, gentle and as fair as possible. This means that your dog isn’t afraid of you.A good leader provides training to their dog so the dog knows what to do when asked. Dogs don’t come programmed to know how to leave garbage alone or how to cope with being on their own when their family goes out. A good leader teaches their dog what to do.
- Regular exercise that isn’t over stimulating. See my post all about exercise here.
- Brain games! These can include interactive feeding, dog sports and find it games.
- Affection. Yes they really do. Dogs are social and they depend on their family to provide them with touch and love. Be gentle to your dog and spend time forming a relationship.
- Time to do dog things! What are dog things? Chewing, Running, Peeing on Stuff, Smelling, etc. Let your dog be a dog.
- Good nutrition. This definitely impacts behaviour as well as health so ensure your dog’s needs are being met.
- Regular health exams. Having a good relationship with your vet is extremely important. Your dog can’t communicate when they aren’t feeling so regular wellness exams are important. A lot of the time when I’m asked to work on a significant behaviour issue there’s an underlying medical cause.
Notice what’s not here? Well I’ll point it out since I’m nice like that. Dogs don’t need an “Alpha”. Dogs don’t need to run wild with other dogs while their owners ignore them on walks. Dogs don’t need acres of land to keep themselves busy on (although it’s nice to have).
Teach your dog what you need them to know. Ensure you’re spending time with your pet. Do a variety of activities and include your dog in your life.