Does your dog have only two switches – sleeping or wreaking havoc??
Do they come home after a walk and STILL bug you to play with them??
There are a few common mistakes we make when sharing our homes with dogs who were originally bred to do a job, and these mistakes can make your your life so much harder than it needs to be.
Mistake #1: INCREASING THEIR EXERCISE IN AN EFFORT TO TIRE THEM
Whilst increasing their exercise isn’t a problem, if you are using it as a strategy to try and tire your dog who has been bred to work all day, it’s unlikely to help. Increasing exercise will increase their stamina, as well as their expectations. You’ll be creating an athlete who needs more and more to tire them as they get fitter and fitter.
Mistake #2: EXCESSIVE BALL CHASING
A common strategy to maximise physical exertion in a short period of time is repetitive ball throwing. Whilst your dog may be physically exhausted from constant high-speed running, they will likely struggle to settle at home for prolonged periods due to high levels of adrenaline. You'll be left with a tense, irritable, and restless ball-junkie.
Mistake #3: STIMULATING THEM ALL THE TIME
Sometimes this is intentional, i.e., playing with them every time they ask whilst we watch TV or work from home, or sometimes this is unintentional, i.e. they just happen to live in a busy family home where there is always something going on. Sleep is essential for any living thing. It’s not just puppies who should be sleeping during the day, our adult dogs need plenty of sleep to be at their best too. If we want to share our homes with dogs who are bred to be stimulated by the environment, we need to prioritise developing their ability to relax and rest in their surroundings and create a peaceful sleeping area for them.
Mistake #4: FEEDING A PROCESSED DIET
Many of the popular dog food brands gained their popularity through nothing more than a substantial marketing budget. Processed foods are often made up of high glycaemic carbohydrates – foods that are broken down quickly and cause a rapid spike in blood glucose levels. An increase in insulin in response to high blood glucose levels can occur which is also associated with an increase in adrenaline. These types of diets have been linked to increased anxiety, irritability, arousal, and decreased cognitive function. No living being on the planet was designed with a digestive system specifically for highly processed food. It may be tolerated by the digestive system, but how could it possibly be more nutritious than fresh, natural food?
Mistake #5: FORGETTING YOU HAVE A GUNDOG
Their drive to find, flush, and chase game is hardwired, not taught through training. Teaching self-control around these natural instincts is essential if you want to prevent your dog from losing their marbles every time they step out of the front door. Providing daily opportunities to perform their natural behaviours in appropriate ways, such as through Gundog Activities, is essential.
Mistake #6: UNDERESTIMATING THE IMPORTANCE OF MENTAL STIMULATION
Dogs are highly intelligent animals designed for problem-solving. Either we provide them with appropriate outlets for this through breed-specific training games and activities, or they will find their own problems to solve, and you will both live a very frustrating life together.
Working bred dogs do not need to walk for miles every day. I rarely meet a dog who isn’t getting enough exercise or stimulation. The problem is that it is often the wrong kind of exercise or stimulation, and often too much. The other problem is that we don’t prioritise (or put on our to do list at all) helping them to develop the skills they need to learn to relax and do nothing.
Here are six essential things your pet Gundog DOES need instead:
1) Daily activities that give them the opportunity to work their body AND their brain
2) Breed-specific activities to harness their drive, energy, and natural instincts
3) Low-energy, calm, independent activities such as chewing, to promote relaxation at home
4) A dedicated teacher to establish clear and consistent boundaries, and develop essential life skills, with patience and understanding, using positive reinforcement
5) Good nutrition to avoid rapid spikes in blood glucose levels