Providing dogs with mental stimulation, as well as physical and social interactions are critical factors for maintaining their behavioral health. When there is an imbalance in physical and mental stimulation unfavorable behavior can develop. It’s a shame when a dog is reprimanded for naughty behavior that is in reality a case of boredom.
When dogs are stressed or unhappy it has the same effect as it has on humans; your immune system can become vulnerable and you become susceptible to illness or disease during these times. This means that not only is mental enrichment a good behavioral health benefit but it improves their overall health in general.
My friend has Chihuahua’s so it does not take much real estate to provide plenty of running room for these little guys. The same can be true for someone with 10 acres of land for a Great Dane to run on! Running, fetching, chasing exercises are beneficial cardio workouts, but the mind needs to be stimulated for dogs as well.
Dogs really are not much different than we are. Wouldn’t you go crazy if all you ever did was sit on the couch and watch TV? Most people would answer yes. You need to get out and see people, get some form of exercise, experience new and exciting things. It’s easy to understand that a dog needs the same thing.
Dogs that lack mental stimulation can develop behavioral problems as a result of this imbalance. Exercising is undoubtedly needed, but you don’t want a physically fit athletic dog that is bored to be forced to find his own outlets for mental enrichment.
It’s pretty much a given, the outlets they find, will not be in line with behavior you find acceptable! It doesn’t take a lot of time each day or every few days to provide an array of activities for your dog to keep them balanced with physical and mental exercise.
If you have a dog that spends time each day barking at nothing or chewing on anything he can find to sink his teeth into, furniture included, he or she may be bored. Having them walk on the treadmill, run next to you while your riding your bike or even roller skating like Cesar Milan (the dog whisperer) does, and parks are a great alternative!
There are new smells and activities at the park every single day. When visiting public parks a responsible pet owner will keep their dog on a leash. Even if it’s a 50ft to 100ft long leash.
This provides protection for other dogs being walked nearby, other people, and your dog. It also ensures your dog doesn’t run away to chase a squirrel, rabbit, bird or for males, the scent of a female in heat.
Even if you have the friendliest dog in the world, it does not mean that you won’t run into that one person who has a real fear of ALL dogs. Be considerate of the things you are not aware of…play it safe and use a leash when visiting public areas.
Dog parks are a great alternative but they are not for every dog nor are they without risks. Aggressive or sick dogs should not be taken to dog parks. Unfortunately not all pet owners are responsible owners which means you may not always be aware of a dominant, aggressive dog or which ones may have a contagious aliment.
Not all illnesses have visible symptoms therefore some owners may be unaware of their pet’s condition. Use caution when visiting dog parks until you become very familiar with the others who use the park.
And always help reduce the risk of spreading illness and disease by picking up after your dog! Discourage your dog from exploring feces left by another animal.
My friend takes his dogs to several different parks. He looks for parks that are not heavily populated with people to reduce the anxiety that might develop from being around people who are not respectful of other people or their pets.
When he goes to a dog park he uses a great deal of caution and never trusts what someone tells them about their dog until their dog’s actions can validate the owner’s claims.
When my dogs do go to the park, not only are their appetites good that night but they also sleep well. This applies to all dogs after they get rid of any pent up energy they may have.
The last thing you want to do is reprimand or punish your pet because you aren’t providing the exercise and mental stimulation he or she needs. The needs of each breed vary so research your breed and determine how to meet the needs of your dog.
By giving your dog the mental stimulation he or she needs as well as physical exercise, you will be ensuring your pet has a long and happy life. I know I have some of the happiest pups in the park when I go, and when my dogs are happy…I am happy.