Friday, April 3, 2015

Home2K9 Helpful Hint: Your backyard is boring.

Time and time again when engaged in behavior diagnostics with owners I hear  "fido has a huge backyard, he gets to run around outside a couple of different times per day. We throw the ball and he likes to play tug, I don't understand why he acts out so much." To your dog, his yard is familiar, predictable, and sometimes even overly arousing because there is a certain frustration that boredom brings (consider fence fighting with neighbor dogs, squirrel chasing, etc). Not experiencing variety and challenge can be a literal torture for most dogs, causing the very behavior issues you don't want. Imagine how you feel when you're homebound with an illness or injury for example... You can't socialize with anyone else, can't walk around town and window shop, or drive anywhere else to feel inspired, rejuvenated, even calm. Anyone else go a little crazy when that happens? It's a lot like when the power goes out and I have a sudden urge for microwave popcorn and a movie.

Whether due to the illness, or a broken down car, staying home and spinning my wheels within only these "four walls" is aggravating and doesn't feed my heart, soul, OR my mind. Your dog cannot be expected to remain always in the same old backyard no matter what the size. Fido, just like you, needs to migrate and experience the variety life has to offer. This doesn't mean constant freedom, running through fields, but mental challenges, stimulus and training that you share together, and that which increases in difficulty to avoid boredom. A backyard is fantastic for potty breaks, day to day romp sessions among pack mates, and hanging out with family after dinner, but it's only a tool. A big back yard is not the entire tool box for raising/maintaining a happy and balanced dog. 

Get out there and work/walk your dog, bond together, and share in creating a fulfilling variety of experiences for him. Set up habits while the weather is good, that will carry you into the cold and dark months when Fido still needs to get out for fresh perspective regularly.

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