DOG BEHAVIOUR

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Dogs can be just like a cheeky little kid - given the chance, they'll run a riot. That's why from an early age you need to establish clear communication with your dog. They're sociable creatures so need a lot of attention as well as clear guidelines.

Dog play = team work

Playing games with your dog will help develop a better understanding and establish clearer communication between you both. Whether it's a simple 'throw and fetch' scenario or something more complex for well-trained dogs like hiding treats and finding them, a game requires both dog and owner to work together as a team.

Dogs are sociable creatures and playing will improve their social skills. Through games, dogs learn to obey instructions (in a fun, relaxed way). Learning to obey is important because it helps in other areas of dog training such as walking and learning to sit and stay. Whether at the park, in your backyard or inside the house you can tailor games to suit your surroundings.

Naming your puppy

Naming your puppy is fun and if you have a family it's a great way to get everyone involved in your new arrival. It's also important in kick-starting training and establishing a relationship with your new companion.

When selecting a name, try for something simple and avoid names that sound like commands as these will confuse your puppy. For example, ´Joe´ sounds like ´no´.

Don't pick something you will be embarrassed to use in public places - a name needs to suit both you and your pet. Once you have settled on a name, use it often and you'll have your puppy responding in no time.

Is your dog bored?

It's no secret that a bored dog can be a destructive dog. So in the interests of you (and your plants) it's best to keep your dog entertained, both while you are out and while you are at home. Try alternating toys, walking in different areas and at different times, hiding treats in your yard so your dog has to work to sniff them out, and taking your dog on a day out. Training is also great for stimulating dogs and can be done in short bursts to keep it interesting.

Minimising stress in aging pets

As your dog ages, you can make its mature years more comfortable by minimising change and the stress it can cause.

Try to avoid altering your dog's routine by keeping feeding and exercise times consistent. Also try not to move household items such as furniture and feeding bowls - your dog will be accustomed to where they are and may be confused if they are moved.

If you do need to make changes, give your dog extra attention and positive reinforcement to help it cope with the alterations. If your dog becomes anxious, try to identify changes you have made that may have caused the stress.

Training energetic dogs

Most working or sporting dogs are very active compared with the typical pet dog. A hard working dog can easily cover 40 or 50 kilometres in a normal working day, and over 250 kilometres every week.

A dog which is "on the go" most of the time needs 2 to 4 times more energy in its diet than a typical pet of the same breed. The age of the dog, the thickness of its coat, the type of work it does and the weather conditions also affect the energy needed by an active dog to keep up its performance and stay in good shape.

 

DR. CHRIS BROWN

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