Three Keys to a Great Dog

Ready to have a Great Dog? You’ll be on the right path if you cover these three key areas!

Nearly every dog has the potential to be a great dog.  You know the type, the one who tags along on family outings and is enjoyed by everyone he encounters.  It’s that dog who can jog with dad in the morning, go to agility class with mom in the afternoon and cuddle with the kids in the evening!   If you want your dog to be THAT dog, be sure you’re covering these three key areas.

#1  Meet Your Dog’s Needs
Exercise and Enrichment are essential to your dog’s wellbeing and his ability to exhibit desirable behavior.  Most dogs, especially those under 2 years of age have a big exercise requirement. Dogs’ significant intellectual capabilities lay unused in the typical, modern dog’s daily life. Many common behavior problems are rooted in frustration from insufficient mental and physical activity.

Providing plenty of mental stimulation, exercise and opportunities to chew will solve many behavior issues and greatly improve your dog’s quality of life.  Your dog needs to satisfy his urge to chew.  Be sure to provide a variety of chewing options at all times (Benebones, bully sticks, beef tendons, frozen marrow bones, etc.). Physical exercise needs vary greatly among dogs. But most need far more than a stroll around the block to feel satisfied. A bored dog will dream up entertainment, and you probably won’t like what he comes up with!  Mental enrichment can come in many forms. Sniffing is one of the most satisfying ways for your dog to use his brain. Going on sniff walks in nature and hiding treats around the house are great ways to light up his brain with sniffing. Training games and food puzzles are other great ways to provide mental enrichment.

Your dog needs to feel good to be at his best.  Proactive veterinary care and good nutrition are essential.  Do your homework on nutrition.  Don’t assume you’re buying a healthy dog food just because it’s a popular brand.

#2  Train Your Dog and Practice Regularly
Manners training, including leash walking, come, stay and greeting politely help your dog fit into the human world.  A trained dog is able to be more fully involved in his family’s activities.  A well run group class is a great way to train.  Find a program that allows you to work toward earning your AKC  Canine Good Citizen certificate.

Without fail, dog’s who have a “job” become the happiest, best behaved companions.  Both you and your dog will enjoy finding your niche in a fun activity like Agility, Therapy Dog Work, Rally Obedience, Barn Hunt or Nose Work.

#3  Use positive, reward-based methods to develop the behavior you want in your home
Be clear and consistent about the behaviors that will be rewarded.  For example, if jumping up on people sometimes garners attention (touching him, looking at him or talking to him), your dog will struggle to learn to not jump on people. A qualified positive trainer will help you with effective strategies for teaching any behaviors you want your dog to have.