Dog Owners: Getting Back to Basics

Dog Owners: Getting Back to Basics

Have you ever noticed that once you get your pet’s unwanted behavior fixed, it doesn’t last that long?  And, you can’t figure out why?  If you’re in this camp of people (we’ve been there, too) scratching your heads trying to figure out why your dog went back to his old, bad habits, then we may have some tips to help you get him back on track.

1. Exercise:  Exercise is the first—and crucial—ingredient of a healthy dog recipe that can’t be overlooked and must be adjusted to accommodate your specific dog’s needs.  All dogs are different on their exercise needs, and not all dogs have the same energy level.  Therefore, if you have two dogs, one may be more energetic than the other requiring a different and/or stronger exercise routine. You may need to try a few things before you find out exactly what works for your dog, i.e., how long to walk them, if you need to not just walk but run them, if you need to bike them, etc.

A.  Questions to ask yourself


  • Are you giving your dog daily, adequate exercise for his energy level?
  • On top of daily walks, are you incorporating any breed exercises in his daily exercise routine?


Ein and Roscoe, both herding dogs, love to play Fetch

Just a few examples of breed exercises are:


  • Australian Shepherds, Border Collies, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Spaniels:  Fetch in or out of the water; swimming.  During the exercise of playing fetch, make sure that your dog brings you the toy, stick or whatever you threw for him.  Have him sit calmly before you throw it again (no barking allowed as barking isn’t a calm behavior).  Why?  Because you’re working on draining his mental energy as well.
  • German Shepherds, Huskies, Malamutes:  Have them wear a backpack bringing you something (they could be carrying water bottles in it, treats for them, etc.) every few minutes for a duration of whatever is appropriate for your particular dog’s energy level, age, health, etc. (after they’ve walked and/or ran).  You can also harness them to a wagon for helping you with yard work by pulling the wagon filled with gardening tools and supplies.


2. Rules and Boundaries:  This is an important step that often gets overlooked.  In everything we do as dog owners, we must always be their calm, supportive leader.  And, as their leader, we need to always be consistent in teaching and enforcing the rules and limitations.

Dogs size us up literally in seconds.  They know–fast–whether or not you’re a leader or a follower.  If you’re currently a follower and your dog is dominant over you, this is something you can (and should) rectify.  No worries!

Just remember that a dog feels at peace when all of his needs are met (not just the love and attention that we humans love to give our animals).

3. Affection: This is the ingredient, in our dog care recipe, that is often out of place. Make sure that you’re only rewarding (this is what affection is to a dog–a reward) your dog for good behavior and when they’re in a calm state. Whatever actions they are displaying at the time you’re giving them affection will only exacerbate whatever they’re displaying the moment before you gave them the affection. Hence, if you’re petting your dog when he/she is scared, you are only telling them that it’s okay to feel that way, which will make their fear grow stronger instead of dissipate (also, try to not say “it’s okay” when they’re scared).

Kit, a great dog teacher

[pullquote_right]A dog’s language is still the same no matter if they’re running with a human pack or in the wild as dogs.[/pullquote_right]

Important to note, if you maintain a consistent, daily routine with your dogs, more often than not, the basics alone will solve most behavioral issues.

Material Suggestion:  Print out a weekly calendar to log how much exercise you gave your dog each day.  You can also journal changes in their behavior and the steps you’re doing to correct bad behavior.

Happy journey with your pup!