5 Basic Traits of Your Dog You Should Never Forget
The following 5 bullet points are common knowledge for ”dog-science”, but they seem to slip many people’s minds when raising their dogs. This is a friendly reminder of some of the basics of what a dog is. Knowing them guides our efforts to provide them with a happy and meaningful life and honor their dogness.
If you are new to the doggie life or you are looking to upgrade your relationship with your dog, this post is for you.
Photo by Janko Ferlič
Dogs are curious
Being curious is part of being a dog. Curiosity makes dogs extra lovable, if you ask me, but also unpredictable and harder to handle. Dogs are driven by a constant urge to explore their surroundings, and they are committed to never give up until they have everything figured.
This is all backed up (or caused) by a sophisticated system; their infamous olfactory system.
To interpret the world and satisfy their thirst to explore everything, dogs employ their powerful noses with the 100-300 millions of scent receptors (the number varies among breeds) —impressively more than our 5 million. It’s no wonder why they can not quit sticking their nose into everything that gets in their way and take their time with it.
This enormous collection of information dominates their brains. Seems like they have no choice.
Your dog should feel free to make full use of their drive to smell their surroundings. It is part of how they like to spend their days. Restricting your dog’s natural inclination to know everything makes them deprived deep down, unhappy, and eventually less reliable.
Allowing them to engage in uninterrupted sniffing, adds up to a content dog by the end of the day. In the long run, your dog becomes confident to enter new territories with more ease —do not underestimate that.
Dogs are sociable
Socialization is one of dogs’ five main needs in terms of their welfare, according to nidirect.gov.uk, which means that they are not in a good state of welfare if they can’t get on with other animals.
Normally all dogs should be allowed to spend the first months of their lives with their families (mother and siblings), where they naturally cultivate their social skills and learn what is socially acceptable and what is not. This makes up for a smooth transition into adulthood.
Then it’s our job to introduce them to their “human pack”, a transition made easier with care, attention, and of course, training.
Apart from needing our love and attention, being social for dogs means interaction with members of their own species. Do not base the social life of your dog solely on humans. Instead, make your dog part of the canine community in your area and let them develop meaningful friendships with as many dogs as they can. This way, you will have a socially reliable and content dog.
Dogs are synonymous to fun
It’s common knowledge that dogs are fun-loving. Playing with each other is a way to share fun, bond, or socialize, and it should be encouraged. Deprived of an outlet for their playfulness, dogs become unstable and problematic.
While playing with other dogs, or playing alone with toys, is great fun and greatly funny, you should also take the challenge to be their playmates. Dogs love to be entertained and you should think of yourself as your dog’s entertainer. I don’t suggest you become a clown, but I suggest you become more fun.
Playing together with your dog not only exhausts them, but strengthens your bond, and with the right selection of games, it helps them stay mentally fit as they grow older. Whatever the case, be ready to be the first to be physically drained; a reason why many dog folks have a hard time keeping up with their dogs’ endless playfulness.
Dogs are designed to be active
All dogs need their fair amount of exercise DAILY, and failing to provide that, you are failing your dog. Sounds harsh, but there is no way around it. Lack of physical activity results in hyperactivity, boredom, obesity, and depression.
While the required amount of physical activity varies among breeds, most dogs will not be happy with rushed 20 minutes walks around the block.
Walking is the golden standard in a dog’s life. Walking is probably everybody’s first and often the only option they have (or think they have) when they go out with their dogs. But to meet your dog’s needs for physical activity, a broader plan is needed. Popular breeds like Labradors, Shepherds, or boxers, known for their excessive energy and/or playfulness, require a more serious involvement than walking.
Aim to improve the overall quality of their outdoor experience. Visit the great outdoors more frequently. Prioritize their freedom, visit areas that it is natural to let your dog run free. Do not settle for a tedious routine.
Sure thing is that you get to be part of this, so the benefits add up.
Dogs are designed to solve problems
Centuries upon centuries of domestication can do a lot to a species but is not enough to change its genetic structure. One thing taken away from dogs is their survival mode.
It has been a while since they had to fight for their basic needs, such as food and shelter, and that is a good thing. However, the part of their brain that was dedicated to solving these daily issues is not dead. It’s there and demands daily action.
There are a few activities designed to sharpen their solving-problem skills. These include games that the satisfaction that dogs get from is rooted in their wild days, such as the war of tug, digging or puzzle feeders.
While these are all great activities that most dogs enjoy, they don’t compare to a visit to the great outdoors, where your dog is allowed to sharpen his/her senses under the sounds and smells of Nature. There, they don’t have to keep pace with us, and they are allowed to be fully themselves; more of independent animals in a natural setting than our pets.
That’s it for today. I hope this post helped you gain some insights on how to raise happier dogs. Sometimes, getting back to the basics is enough to deepen our relationship with our dogs. Now, take your dog for a quick trip to your nearest forest park.
Feel free to complete this post with your recommendation, insights, or questions. And if you feel like it, share it with your dog folks.