Thursday, 20 January 2011

What Dogs Need

What do dogs need in order to fulfil a happy life? Well, the basics are obvious - the same as for us, food, shelter, water, company... but what else can you do to make your dog happy? Well that depends on what breed of dog you have.
For thousands of years we have chosen dogs for what the could DO for us. Could they catch vermin? could they help us manage our farm animals? Could they guard us and our families while we sleep? So dog evolved along those lines and the genetic make-up of different breeds became more divided. So it then becomes a bit clearer.

Well, the clue is sometimes in the breed name. German Shepherd.... (that's obvious), Labrador Retriever.... (that's obvious too!), or Terrier (from the French 'terre' meaning ground) terriers used to catch rats and vermin down in their holes in the ground.
I'm not suggesting that if you have a greyhound you lay on little baby bunnies for it to chase after and catch, kill and eat - but you have to give a dog what it needs.

So think about an approximation of what a scent hound does for a living... perhaps you might scatter it's daily food all over the garden and let it go hunt for it !! Perhaps your Jack Russell Terrier might enjoy chasing a tennis ball instead of a rat! Your Retriever might like it if you hid his favourite toy somewhere and he had to play a game to find and retrieve it?
Be creative and get your dog to engage it's brain. These exercises don't always have to be physically exhausting either. You can wear your dog out by doing training and tricks in front of the television in an evening if you are feeling like a couch potato. I doubt that you really can't think of anything at all... so here's one for starters. Cut up little pieces of cheddar cheese (about half an inch) and hide them all over your living room while you are at home one evening. See how many hours of fun you can both have!!