Dog Behaviour – Where I Stand

Lately I’ve observed many different dogs with many different owners who exhibit all variations of behaviour while at the vet clinic.  After seeing this and polling owners about the dogs’ daily routines, feeding, etc, I have found that there seems to be a pattern between dogs who aren’t regularly stimulated, exercised, and taught “manners” and dogs who get all of these things.  One side tends to exhibit more bad behaviours than the other, and I think you can guess which is which.

This has prompted me to want to learn more, to expand the small amount of knowledge I gained while in tech school and really understand more about how to help the dogs and, just as importantly, the owners.

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I’ve been looking into ways to specialize through different organizations for technicians.  There aren’t as many options in Canada but hopefully there is an avenue I can explore in order to find the information I’m searching for.

There is one driving force behind this epiphany:  The desire to help these dogs as well as their owners. To be able to give sound, sensible advice to owners who are at their wits’ end as well as have that advice be backed up by training in the area of behaviour.

There are so many people that I see, mostly through the clinic but some just through random meetings, that have issues with their dogs.  Many, at least from first glance, can be attributed to things like lack of exercise or things to keep their brains busy. I don’t feel like this is fair to the dogs.

Like I’ve said before, these animals depend on you for every aspect of their health and this includes daily exercise and mental stimulation. This could include things as simple as spending some time teaching a trick, fetching a ball, or going for a nice, long/walk to learning to do agility courses or tricks with discs.

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I feel strongly that dogs who are not couch potatoes require this sort of thing in order to be mentally and physically healthy. Without adequate stimulation, dogs tend to become hyperactive or destructive. They need an outlet for the energy they’re taking in, or behavioural issues can develop.

We can’t exclude physical issues when it comes to the combination of lack of exercise and overeating.  Obesity is rampant among the pet population.  This page has some insight on the statistics regarding pets in America.

Many people will pass on their bad eating habits to their dogs, resulting in a huge number of overweight and obese pets. I can’t stress enough the toll that this takes on a dog’s body. They can develop diabetes later in life, just like we can, and I am sure that injecting your dog with insulin every day isn’t really your idea of a good time. Joint disease is also exacerbated by extra weight putting excess stress on those joints. Many larger breed dogs are already prone to this, but every extra pound goes a long way to crippling them later in life.

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According to the CVMA, obesity can also put your dog at risk for things like Gastrointestinal problems, increased cancer rate, reduced liver function, high blood pressure, and impaired hormone release.  See more here.  If you aren’t sure how to help keep your pet at a healthy weight, need ideas for stimulation, or if you aren’t sure if you’re doing the right things, your vet is a great resource for information to keep you informed.

If your dog is one who gives you trouble at home or you can’t seem to get them to lose weight, there are ways to help and your vet can help you with that. Also keep in mind, and I can’t stress this enough, that plenty of exercise and play time can go an incredibly long way in helping with many behavioural issues.

It is never a bad idea to do baseline blood work to screen your dog for early signs of different diseases, or just have a visit to make sure you are doing what you can to make your dog’s life as happy and healthy as possible. After all, many dogs are a part of the family and they deserve to live happy, comfortable lives. The only person with the power to give that to them is you.

Feature photo from http://www.petattack.com

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