Dog Walks should be physically strenuous and mentally stimulating.
Whilst every dog owner recognises the importance of their dog having physically strenuous exercise, not all dog owners realise the need for their dog to be challenged and mentally stimulated. This applies particulary to ‘working’ dogs. Breeds such as Labradors and Spaniels have an in-bred need to search and to carry. In other breeds it is often a need to chase. For dog owners, recognising this need and satisfying it, without allowing it to become an all-consuming obsession, is an important contribution to a dog’s mental well-being and one of the biggest challenges of dog ownership. Parents will always encourage their children to develop their skills and talents to the full, knowing this will give them a more satisfying life. Dog owners should approach their dogs skills and talents in exactly the same way says Packleaders, professional dog walkers in Stevenage & Knebworth.
Any owner who has seen their dog chasing or searching for a ball or stick will instinctively recognise the high excitement the working activity generates. Dogs whose owners do not recognise or honour their dog’s breeding will often see its un-met needs manifested in destructive behaviour. Chasing cars or bikes, chewing furniture or clothing, especially shoes or slippers can be a sign your dog is not having its needs met. If your dog has high energy and you cannot match that energy, there are many devices such as ‘chuckers’ or the old fashioned tennis racquet that will propel a ball far further than a human can throw it, to help ensure your dog satisfies its chase and retrieving needs. Should your dog have a need to search, you can have it practice searching while out walking but it is important to be able to draw a line under the ‘play’ activity and have your dog spend some time in normal doggie behaviour, sniffing, marking and meeting other dogs.
Nevertheless, a little imagination can also be used to provide stimulation for search dogs in the home. Never give a spaniel a treat without hiding it and letting it search for and find it for itself! They enjoy the treat far more if they’ve worked for it. Using dog biscuits intended for the evening meal is a great way of giving your dog a stimulating challenge and burning off its excess energy with overfeeding it, by hiding them around the living room while the dog is not in the room. We always joked that our last dog, a Golden Cocker Spaniel called Laura, could count, as we always hid six of little her dried food biscuits and she would not give up until she found all six.
This video demonstrates the extremely high state of excitement generated in Spaniels when searching and this fantastic mental stimulation helps create happy, well-balanced dogs. In the video, the younger dog, Thomas, is learning about searching from the older dog, Jingles, but doesn’t find the ball first. This doesn’t stop him trying to steal it… and Jingles is so nice natured she often lets him have it. On this occasion, I intervened to stop him stealing it.
Woe betide you if you miscounted and only hid five as she’d be looking for hours if you let her. If you are out all day or find it physically difficult to adequately exercise your dog each dog or just have a busy schedule on a particular day or days, please contact us. Packleaders would love to help and can offer a FREE in-home consultation for any dog owner requiring dog walkers in Stevenage and Knebworth.