The purpose of this article will be to respond to Hometown News readers' questions and comments concerning pet training and grooming. I strongly encourage readers to ask as many questions as possible via e-mail.
For this first article, I will discuss the importance of exercising and entertaining your dog(s).
Did you know that about 60 percent of your dog's behavioral problems are related to a lack of exercise? These problems exist, because too many dogs are locked up all day, spending up to eight hours or more in a cage or gated room.
Although I do not condemn the use of cages or gated-off rooms to help keep your dog(s) in check while you are away (yes, it is often necessary to lock a dog up when you are away, because they will get in to trouble when left alone) but enough is enough.
It bothers me to know that many people leave their dogs in a cage all day, then let them out briefly in the evening to go potty, only to immediately put them back in the cage so the humans can prepare dinner/clean up. This goes on day in and day out for many dogs, even on weekends when the family is often too busy doing various things to give the dog the proper attention it needs.
With all this neglect, can you really blame your dog for having behavioral issues? Put yourself into your dog's fur. Imagine being alone in a small room with no phone or TV or books, just you and the wall to stare at all day. How would you feel after a while? Don't you think you might get hostile or fearful?
Plus, don't forget, all dogs are bred for a reason, as defined by their grouping. There are hunting dogs, working dogs, herding dogs, etc. All of these dogs have instincts they need to exercise and act on to be happy. Put in basic terms, they need to be able to fulfill their running, smelling and protecting needs.
Everyone gets a dog because they want one, but very few people actually understand the kind of dog they have and know what their specific dog needs to be happy. People get a dog not knowing its' characteristics, and then get angry when the dog does something very natural to the dog but unpleasant to the owner.
For example, people always wonder why their corgies or shelties (both herding dogs) run after people and bite their ankles. Well, this is the dog's instinctive behavior as this is how they would herd sheep or cattle, which is specifically what they are bred and built to do, not to sit in a cage or small yard all day.
Many dogs, once in proper shape, could run and work hard all day, but, unfortunately, many people take this away from their dogs.
I could continue on this subject for hours, but I am not writing a book so I'll wait until the next column. Then I will discuss how even with a busy work schedule you can keep your dog happier and less hyper/destructive while you are away.
Love and don't forget to hug your pets.
Birgit Edler is the owner of Canine College in Juno Beach, which offers grooming, training and day care services for dogs and cats. Call (561) 626-0552 or e-mail Caninecollegefl@yahoo.com.