Is a tired dog a good dog? We’ve all heard this statement before, but have we really thought about it. I think it is an erroneous assumption to make and is open to interpretation. Imagine being exercised on a treadmill until you are tired, would that satisfy your brain? Providing your dog with monotonous exercise, will not sufficiently stimulate his mind.

All breeds were artificially selected by humans to do a job, be it assisting with hunting, killing vermin, retrieving food for the table, guarding property and livestock etc. Today almost most dogs are living in homes without doing what they were originally bred for. So I guess it is now the human’s responsibility to provide our dogs with the correct type of activities to sufficiently stimulate our dog physically & mentally, otherwise they find activities to do by themselves and it is usually these behaviours that we find irritating or unacceptable . They type of breed your dog is, will by and large determine what type of activities are best suited to keep his body and mind happy & healthy, but most dogs will benefit from some form of training, be it a competitive obedience, sport or just informal fun.

Teaching tricks are often scoffed at, but it has so many benefits. It provides your dog with mental stimulation without having the pressure to perform. It helps to develop mental stamina, attentiveness, vitality, concentration, puzzle solving skills, creativity, memory skills and protects against cognitive decline. Using the clicker training technique, shaping – which is rewarding successive approximations of your end behaviour – enhances your dog’s ability to adapt and work through frustration. A dog’s inner confidence develops through experimental learning successes, as they do not ‘fear failure’. If your dog associates spending time with you as having fun, then it can only improve your more ‘formal’ training sessions for obedience or sport.

When teaching tricks, decide on something that your dog is physically capable of. Have short sessions as learning in short bursts has proven to more effective than longer sessions. So who really cares if your dog can’t do the perfect roll-over, teaching tricks should be about the actual learning, not the performance of as many tricks as possible. The biggest advantage of having fun together is the positive effect it has on the relationship between you and your dog.

At Canine Concepts we are big on tricks and have three levels of classes, with more in development. Exercise is good, mental stimulation is good, but balance is the key to a happy and well behaved companion.

Copyright 2012 Claire Grobbelaar