Why did I decide to open this topic?
Well, we – human – try to fit dogs into our environment – we decide what they should or should not like, what they should or should not eat. It is we – people who manage the access to various resources. However what is our goal? Do we take the natural animal needs into consideration or is it our human rules that we look into?
Recently I saw very irritated owner whose dog stopped for some sniffing by the tree. Not one time I saw the owner pulling his dog who just happened to stop by the nearby bushes. Few days ago on an American forum I came across frustrated woman writing “How shall I unteach my dog sniffing??!!
Let’s discuss the matter some more – what are the natural needs of the dog?
– Social contact (with human)
Those needs often and in most cases compete with our own – human rules. Not a lot of owners let their dog dig in the garden, chew on shoes and sniff when one is already late for work…
However not fulfilling those needs we really ask for trouble. The dog will fulfill those needs either way and it can turn out that we will not like his way too much
It is also crucial to fulfill those natural needs especially with problematic dogs as first of all – it makes the dog tired, second of all it builds self-confidence, and finally it reduces stress.
We have to remember that if we let our dog sniff – we make his brain work. That in turn reduces stress and makes the dog even more tired than running on a field.
I will now show how we enrich environment of the puppies as soon as they open their eyes, ears, stand on their own feet and are ready to taste something other than bitches milk.
Building such puppy play field enables puppies to fulfill their natural needs. They sniff, hunt, dig, lick ect. We are using different tools from different materials and we hide a little bit of the doggy food in them, between them ect. Puppies sniff and when they find a treat they lick on it, eat it, chew it (dependently on the consistence). After few minutes (for young puppies) they are tired and fall asleep.
Please enjoy the photos.
The same happens with the older puppies and the grownup dogs, however the playground can be moved outside.
After the breeder does this job and handles the puppy to you – it becomes your job. Of course some will ask – how shall I build it on my own, some do not have the place. Well – it is not about building complicated field at all. It is not even about building at all. Of course it is a lot of fun that you and our dog can have – especially that you can use different treats and hide them in a very strange places (as it happened at one of the seminaries that was held by the pupil of Turid Rugaas) as the water bowl. Instead you can take your dog for a walk on the very long leash and you can let him walk and sniff. If you take him to the woods and let sniff the other animal senses it is even better.
So what can we really do as the owners:
1. Walk your dog remembering about following rules
– Long, loose leash
– Do not pull the dog
– Do not talk to the dog
– Do not hurry
– Let the dog sniff
2. Give your dog something to chew on safely (available in Germany – NYLABONE bones that either a puppy or an adult dog can chew on (be careful to use the right king so that your dog will not tear it apart)
3. Let the dog dig. I know I know – who would want their garden to be full of holes? No one. You can however designate one place for dog to do it or take him to the woods. In Finland it is very popular to make special sandpits for the dogs.
Through ages of joint existence dogs have learnt how to fit in our environment, and they do it perfectly however what is important for us will not necessarily be important for our dogs. I appeal – let the dogs, be the dogs and let them fulfill their natural needs – it will pay off.