Your Dog Needs You!

Being with their people is one of the three essential necessities in a dog's life next to exercise and training. In fact, it is the most important of the three.

photo: dog on top of human on sofa

Be Informed

  • Dogs are a social species and most don't cope well with being left alone for a long time.
  • Dogs need daily companionship to stay mentally healthy. This is a welfare issue.
  • Loneliness and boredom are behind many problem behaviours such as barking, escaping, destructiveness and general rowdiness.
  • Using aversive equipment such as anti-barking collars to stop your dog from barking is likely to cause significant stress for your dog and can lead to more serious behaviour problems.
  • Giving dogs treats and toys is great but no replacement for companionship.
  • Dogs do not prefer to be outdoors. They prefer to be with their humans.
  • Training alone cannot solve problems which are rooted in loneliness and boredom.
  • A dog who develops separation anxiety suffers panic attacks on a daily basis. This is a very serious emotional problem for the dog, not an obedience problem.

Be Mindful

  • Think about how much time you are able and willing to spend with a dog before you get a dog.
  • If you cannot make your lifestyle suitable for a dog, don't get a dog.
  • If you have a dog and you are too busy, re-arrange your life to make more time for your dog.
  • Find someone else who can keep your dog company while you're away, such as a dog walker or sitter, family, friends or neighbours.
  • If your dog develops problems, don't delay to take action. The longer you wait, the worse it gets.
  • Don't resort to 'quick fix' aversive applications to change your dog's problem behaviour. It is unfair, inhumane and risks making the behaviour worse.
  • If your dog shows signs of separation anxiety, engage a suitably qualified professional dog trainer or veterinary behaviourist.

Be Pro-active

  • Take your dog with you whenever possible.
  • Take your dog in the car for shopping trips or errands (but be careful on sunny days).
  • Take up regular exercise with your dog.
  • Play games with your dog.
  • Go to dog-friendly cafes.
  • Give preference to social activities where you can take your dog.
  • Find new friends who have dogs so you can do fun stuff together with your dogs.
  • Don't put your dog outside when friends or family come over.
  • Let your dog hang out with you on the couch when you watch TV.
  • Let your dog sleep on your bed or in your bedroom.
  • Socialise your dog so you can fully include them in your life.
  • Prevent separation anxiety from developing in the first place by systematically practising absences.

Interesting links:

Building the Dog-Human Bond, by Victoria Schade. Looks at the critical role of the dog-human relationship for training success.

5 loving ways to pet a dog, by Jennifer Cattett, PhD, Smart Animal Training.

The Ideal Dog, by Jennifer Arnold. Explores the importance of developing a close dog-human bond prior to training.