5 Dog Traits You Should Never Forget If You Live with A Dog
If you are new to the doggie life or you are looking to upgrade your relationship with your dog, this post is for you.
Photo by Janko Ferlič
The following 5 key-traits are common knowledge for ”dog-science”, but they seem to slip many dog-people’s minds. This is a friendly reminder of some of the basics of what a dog is. Knowing them guides our efforts to provide our dogs with a happy and meaningful life. Keep them in mind as you go through your daily doggy tasks.
1. They need to know it all
Curiosity makes dogs extra lovable, if you ask me, but also unpredictable and harder to handle. Being curious is part of being a dog. Dogs are driven by a constant urge to explore their surroundings, and they are committed to never give up until they have everything figured.
This is all backed up (or caused) by a sophisticated system; their infamous olfactory system.
To interpret the world and satisfy their thirst to explore everything, dogs employ their powerful noses with the 100-300 millions of scent receptors (the number varies among breeds) —impressively more than our 5 million. It’s no wonder why they can not quit sticking their nose into everything that gets in their way and then take their time with it.
This enormous collection of information dominates their brains. Seems like they have no choice to ignore it.
Your dog should feel free to make full use of their drive to explore their surroundings. It is part of how they like to spend their days. Restricting your dog’s natural inclination to know everything makes them deprived deep down, unhappy, and eventually less reliable.
Allowing them to engage in uninterrupted sniffing or go and see what’s behind those bushes, adds up to a content dog by the end of the day. In the long run, your dog becomes confident to enter new territories with more ease —do not underestimate that.
2. They need friends
Socialization is one of dogs’ five main needs in terms of their welfare, according to nidirect.gov.uk, which means that they are not in a good state of welfare if they can’t get on with other animals.
Normally all dogs should be allowed to spend the first months of their lives with their families (mother and siblings), where they naturally cultivate their social skills and learn what is socially acceptable and what is not. This makes up for a smooth transition into adulthood.
Then it’s our job to introduce them to their “human pack”, a transition made easier with care, attention, and of course, training.
Apart from needing our love and attention, being social for dogs means interaction with members of their own species. Do not base your dog’s social life solely on humans. Instead, make your dog part of the canine community in your area and let them develop meaningful friendships with as many dogs as they can. This way, you raise a socially reliable and content dog.
3. They like fun
It’s common knowledge that dogs are fun-loving. Playing with each other is a way to share fun, bond, or socialize, and it should be encouraged. Deprived of an outlet for their playfulness, dogs become unstable and problematic.
While playing with other dogs or playing alone with toys is great fun and greatly funny, you should also take the challenge to be their playmates. Dogs love to be entertained and you should think of yourself as your dog’s entertainer. I don’t suggest you become a clown, but I suggest you become more fun.
Playing together with your dog not only exhausts them, but strengthens your bond, and with the right selection of games, it helps them stay mentally fit as they grow older. Whatever the case, be ready to be the first to be physically drained; a reason why many dog folks have a hard time keeping up with their dogs’ endless playfulness.
4. They need action
All dogs need their fair amount of exercise DAILY, and failing to provide that, you are failing your dog. Sounds harsh, but there is no way around it. Lack of physical activity results in hyperactivity, boredom, obesity, and depression.
While the required amount of physical activity varies among breeds, most dogs will not be happy with rushed 20 minutes walks around the block.
Walking is the golden standard in a dog’s life. Walking is probably everybody’s first and often the only option they have (or think they have) when they go out with their dogs. But to meet your dog’s needs for physical activity, a broader plan is needed. Popular breeds like Labradors, Shepherds, or boxers, known for their excessive energy and/or playfulness, require a more serious involvement than walking.
Aim to improve the overall quality of their outdoor experience. Visit the great outdoors more frequently. Prioritize their freedom, visit areas that it is natural to let your dog run free. Do not settle for a tedious routine.
Sure thing is that you get to be part of this, so the benefits add up.
5. They are designed to solve problems
Centuries upon centuries of domestication can do a lot to a species but is not enough to change its genetic structure. One thing taken away from dogs is their survival mode.
It has been a while since dogs as a species had to fight for their basic needs, such as food and shelter, and that is a good thing. However, the part of their brain that was dedicated to their day to day survival is not dead. It’s there and demands daily action.
There are a few activities designed to sharpen their solving-problem skills. These include games that satisfy a dog’s long forgotten but not gone inner drives, such as the war of tug, digging or puzzle feeders.
While these are all great activities that most dogs enjoy, they don’t compare to a visit to the great outdoors, where your dog is allowed to sharpen his/her senses under the sounds and smells of Nature. There, they can unearth a root, chase birds (my dog has zero chances but she always gets triggered by the sight of a bird), discover new intriguing scents, while for once they don’t have to keep pace with us. More like independent animals in a natural setting and less like our pets.
To sum up:
The five traits of your dog you should never forget:
- Dogs are curious beings
- Dogs are social beings
- Dogs are fun-loving
- Dogs are designed to be active
- Dogs are designed to solve problems
I hope this back-to-basics dog science helped you gain some insights on how to raise happier dogs. Sometimes, getting back to the basics is what we need to deepen our understanding of what a dog is and thus strengthen our relationships with them. Now, take your dog for a good walk to the nearest forest park and allow their dogness full play.