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LET DOGS BE DOGS!


This is something I am just so passionate about - letting dogs be dogs.


We all love our canine companions, but we often just expect them to fit into our human world and do everything we expect of them, without really giving much thought to what their innate needs are in order to live a happy, fulfilled life.


Some of the following thoughts and ideas may seem a little inconvenient at first, but please bear with me. They are really important.


LET YOUR DOG SNIFF

Sniffing is crucial mental stimulation. If you are walking your dog on lead, please do not hurry them or pull them away from the things they want to sniff. Walks should be about your dog, and sniffaris (sniffing safaris) are one of the most enriching activities you can provide for your best friend. Imagine if every time you found something interesting, you were physically pulled away from it. How would that make you feel? I know I would find it frustrating, and dogs do too. Sniffing is a basic canine right. Please, please give your dog lots of opportunities to sniff. A 10 minute sniffari is much more enriching for your dog than a 30 minute power walk. If you really don't have time to do this, collect lots of leaves, twigs, feathers and anything else your dog might find interesting and scatter them around your backyard so your dog can experience a sniffari safely while you cook dinner or are otherwise occupied.


TRAIN A STRONG RECALL

Teach your dog a strong recall, so you can let them off-lead when it is safe to do so. Dogs need to run, play, jump, sniff and explore. They deserve the opportunity to jump into bushes, use their amazing sense of smell to sniff everything they are drawn to, and safely practice their innate need to chase. Dogs deserve to have friends of their own species, if they enjoy other dogs (not all dogs do and that's okay) but if they do, they must be given opportunities to run and chase and play with nice doggy friends.


LET YOUR DOG GET DIRTY

Let your dog roll around in the grass, and mud, and in all the smelly things they find irresistible. I know the idea of your dog being stinky or needing to give them a bath when you get home after an already busy day sounds incredibly tiring. But this is such a natural and fun activity for dogs - and when we understand this, we can rejoice and feel happy for their joy and enjoyment, stink and all.


LET THEM HUNT!


No, I don't mean let them actually kill real animals. But hunting and working for food is an innate need that dogs require to be truly fulfilled. So ditch the bowl and scatter feed them in the garden, use food puzzles and Kongs®, give them something to chew; raw carrots or deer antlers for example.

Give them dog safe foods in a muffin tray, some blueberries, natural Greek yoghurt, natural, safe (preferably home made) peanut butter, cheese, raw steak, cooked chicken, broccoli etc. Let them actually work for their food. I promise you they will be so much more satisfied than eating the same old boring kibble day after day from a bowl. I can't imagine eating plain weetbix every day of my life for every meal, can you? Giving your dog the opportunity to problem solve and to chew, both naturally relaxing and mentally stimulating activities for dogs, is absolutely vital for their mental and emotional wellbeing.


GIVE YOUR DOG AUTONOMY OVER THEIR OWN BODY

Dogs who are constantly touched and picked up without consent can become anxious and snappy. I know I don't enjoy being touched without consent, and neither do our dogs. It is very simple to give your dog a choice by conducting a consent test. Pat them under the chin or scratch behind their ears for a few seconds, then remove your hand. If your dog moves away, he does not wish to be touched right now, stop. If he nudges your hand or moves in closer, he is enjoying your touch so give him some more pats and then stop again. Rinse and repeat. Your dog will tell you when he has had enough. Dogs are actually excellent communicators if we just learn how to listen to them and read their body language. Please let me know if you try any of these tips and how it changes your relationship with your dog. We are truly blessed to have these amazing canine companions in our life. Let's show them our gratitude by letting dogs be dogs.


©Rebeca Mas 2021 If you need some guidance to understand your dog and help strengthen your relationship, click here to buy my book Sniff Play Bark - Your Essential Guide to a Happier Dog

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