We were in Suwanee this morning working with a new Home Dog Training client and his Dalmatian, Gizmo. My client works long hours and Gizmo is left at home for ten to twelve hours at a time. He also works some weekends, so this takes him away from the house and Gizmo for even longer stretches. The problem that we focused on during our first dog training session was Gizmo’s separation anxiety. He had been a rescue from the local Dalmatian Dog Rescue group, so Gizmo came with some (understandable) emotional baggage. Separation anxiety was one of those issues. We worked through that pretty quickly and my client is on his way to resolving separation anxiety with Gizmo. His next problem is making sure that Gizmo gets the proper exercise and physical stimulation.
Many dog owners do not focus on the need for proper exercise for their dog. I was very happy that my client actually brought it up on his own and was concerned that he was doing the right thing. Dalmatians are very active dogs and need a hearty amount of exercise and stimulation to remain behaved and well rounded.
The one mistake that many dog owners make when thinking about exercising their dogs is to engage in role playing situations where they encourage their dogs to take the more active, dominant position. Although this is helpful in draining their dog’s adrenaline and pent up energy, it is teaching them and enforcing the fact that they can be the leader and demand things of their owner. This is definitely something that we do not want in a owner/dog relationship. Proper interaction is key in providing exercise while maintaining discipline.
These are some things that I suggested to my client:
- Walk Gizmo on a regular basis. Although walking cannot be considered heavy exercise, it provides a safe physical release in the heat of Georgia. Gizmo should walk on a short leash next to my client, always giving him focus and reacting when he gives a slight tug on the leash. They should also stop often to allow her to sniff and explore.
- Play simple games that drain Gizmo’s adrenaline while not engaging my client. The purpose of the play is to drain Gizmo’s pent up energy while maintaining my client’s dominance over her. Games like Tag switch dominance to Gizmo and if Gizmo doesn’t bring the ball back during a game of Fetch, she is disobeying. I suggest that my client plays a game I call Shag. My client has five or six tennis balls and throws the first one. As Gizmo goes after the first ball and approaches it, he throws the second ball. Gizmo will now run after that one. My client repeats this process, picking up the tennis balls and throwing more as he walks. Gizmo gets a great deal of exercise and my client stays calm and relatively unanimated. He can also end the game at any time by no longer throwing the tennis balls.
- Set up play dates with friendly, neighbor dogs. Socialization is critical in a dog’s behavior and it is also a great tool for adrenalized play. After a short discussion, I discovered that Gizmo loved to play with the Wheaten Terrier two doors down the street. I suggested that my client and his neighbor allow their dogs play together in their respective back yards a few times a week. The dogs should always have their leashes attached in the event an altercation gets out of hand. I also strongly suggest that toys and food are also not introduced during the play date. This could trigger an inappropriate and unnecessary situation. These play dates should take place in the cool of the morning or afternoon in order to minimize the possibility of overheating. There also should be at least two bowls filled with water for them at all times.
- Take Gizmo for a bicycle ride or roller blade skate. My client was young and appeared to have good control over Gizmo. He also was a big bike rider and loved to roller blade. Because of this, I suggested taking Giozmo with him on his rides and skates. I suggested that these treks take place in the cool of the morning or evening and only on streets or paths when there is a minimum of traffic. I suggested that he use a twenty foot training lead so that Gizmo didn’t need to be “right under his wheels/skates”, but also not too far away. He should loosely hold the training lead handle so that he could control her, but also let go if he feels she is going to pull him over. The rides and skates should also last no longer than thirty minutes and cover no more than two or three miles at most. I also suggested that he keep to the same routes so that he and Gizmo get used to the sights and sounds of the trek and that there are a minimum of surprises.
Proper exercise is important for any dog. We all have to remember that improper activities used to exercise our dogs can actually lead to lasting problems.
Please call Robin or myself at (770) 718-7704 if you are in need of any dog training help. We have a lot of good dog training advice at Best Dog Trainers Suwanee Georgia. Find all our phone numbers, text addresses and email contacts at Dog Training Help Center Suwanee Georgia.