As responsible pawrents, we should all want the best life for our dogs. That, however, means more than just providing with the basics like food, water, and shelter.
Fret not – it does not take much to improve the quality of life for your dog. All you need to remember is this simple mantra: let your dog…be a dog!
How dogs became pets
Dogs were not always man’s best friend. It was only through thousands of years of evolution and domestication that dogs have become the friendly, intelligent, and cooperative animals that we know and love so well today.
Indeed, studies have shown that dogs are able to respond and understand human cues like pointing without any training, while there is also evidence that dogs release oxytocin – colloquially known as the ‘love’ hormone – when interacting with humans whom they have bonded with.
Despite all that, however, dogs are – at its core – still dogs that retain certain characteristics and behaviours that have been passed down from their ancestors.
Therefore, it is important that we understand what these mental and emotional needs are, so that we can provide them with the kind of environment at home that will allow them to thrive.
Stimulation is vital
Dogs are among the most intelligent animals in the world, so it stands to reason that they require stimulation to work their mental faculties.
Failure to provide a stimulating environment can cause chronic stress and psychological suffering to your dog, leading them to display unwanted behaviour like uncontrollable barking, excessive chewing, repetitive circling, and re-directed aggression.
That is why dogs that are tethered, caged, or left in an empty room often display frustration-related behaviour.
Two’s company, three’s even better!
Dogs are naturally social creatures, even if they may seem introverted or shy at the start.
As such, they crave social contact with humans and other dogs, and love it when they can socialise in a safe and comfortable environment.
In fact, studies have shown dogs prefer interaction with humans over other dogs, and react positively when they spend quality time with their pawrents.
On the flip side, dogs that are socially isolated or kept apart from their pawrents for long periods of time react poorly, and often results in a weak or possibly negative human-animal bond.
So, here’s a reminder for you to grab your furry friend now and give them a great big hug!
Giving back control to your dog
According to studies, a lack of control over their environment has a great and negative influence over a dog’s mental state.
This issue is exacerbated in a restricted environment in which the dog’s choices are removed, such as when they are unable to escape or hide, or when they do not have access to food, water, or shelter.
A lack of control can lead your dog into a depressive state called ‘learned helplessness’ – this is when an animal feels helpless because they are unable to do anything to avoid negative experiences and emotions.
After all, our dogs are not our prisoners. They should be treated as family members, and be allowed the freedom to control their environment.
And ideally, our dogs should be provided with an environment that sufficiently enriches their physical, mental, emotional, and social state.
This can come in the form of chew toys, puzzle toys, training, trips to the dog park, or even outings to a pet-friendly café.
So, let your dog be a dog, and you’ll end up with a confident, happy, and well-behaved furkid!
To learn more about training methods and other information download our Unchain Their Love Handbook here.