29 Dec 2009, Posted by Joseph Dodds in Sensei Joseph's Blog, 0 Comments
Physical and mental stimulation are probably the most important thing one must provide their dog with, next to food and water of course. The fact is, in a more self reliant situation, dogs would be doing much more exercise than we generally supply them with. It is something you must accept and fulfill for their sanity and yours. Regular exercise conditions them to release energy in a safe, positive and structured means. After this mental and physical stimulation the water and food eaten after will digest well, and sometimes puts them into sort of a blissful, fulfilled, and content sort of attitude. By using exercise, food and water in this way you increase your importance to the dog earning you loyalty and trust. It’s a relationship of reciprocity (the concept of reciprocity as in-kind positive or negative responses for the actions of others; mechanisms for the evolution of cooperation).
Generally the back yard isn’t always enough exercise. Pacing the perimeter of the yard, hearing and smelling thing they cannot investigate. Taking advantage of any stimulus, including our gardens, cats, squirrels, birds, lizards etc. Thus creating a dog, that if given the chance, will drag you down the street. This being very much unstructured exercise, your dog’s prey drive may be heightened and trained to overreact in some situations. When they are in the zone they are in the zone. This may cause you some difficulty when you take your dog out for a walk and you expect them to walk well and listen to our every word. Or not tear up the yard and dig. Don’t take these things personally it is just a conflict in interests. Your dog is letting you know they are under stimulated, therefore creating these games for themselves. We have to change it up on them a bit. They can become fixated quite quickly and it isn’t always a good thing. By giving our dogs some sort of structured exercise based on breed requirements as well as personality types, we set ourselves up for success in many ways.
For a balanced dog one must accommodate this natural requirement and give adequate exercise to their dog according to the breed and personality. If you have a working breed, herding dogs, gun dogs, hounds, and terriers. You are looking at mandatory daily activity, and that’s not such a bad thing for us. If they are not taught to balance their energy you may find them creating jobs for themselves. Such as terrorizing your yard, chewing things, becoming fixated on certain activities, and creating manipulative attention games. Working breeds can be challenging to those with little time. These dogs are natural athletes and workers, they have the capacity to exert energy for much of the day and still look like they want to play. If they don’t have a good way to fulfill this energy release they will divert this energy to whatever works. I am being general here because “whatever works” depends on their breed, personality, and their motivations.
When we give our dogs proper exercise they tend to be more calm and content. Not to mention they will have a big smile on their face. If we make it a point to feed them after this exercise, it sets up this natural process of earning the food they eat. In more natural terms you led them on a worthy release of energy ending in a nice meal, you being the one to lead them gives you a higher rank on the friends list. This is also rewarding them when they are in a calm, sort of decompressed state of mind. If we are able to incorporate training into exercise this becomes doubly beneficial. We are setting up a process clearly indicating to them that we are able to handle whatever situation that may arise. We are in control of the resource and access to the resource. This is where a dog looks at you in a very special way. You have an understanding about what can be expected from each other, hence the term “Man’s Best Friend.” We will provide them with proper diet, exercise, shelter from the elements and an education. Kind of like what all of us should be concerned with. They provide us with respect, companionship, trust, entertainment, good energy, and give us a reason to go outside and play a little.
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