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Natural Awakenings Greater Boston - Rhode Island

Helping Dogs Have Happy Lives

Mar 29, 2013 01:09PM ● By Abbey Brown

Dogs make the most positive response to a well-structured life. This consists of regular meal times, outings and training sessions, which can be combined into a schedule. It is especially important that dogs have consistent times around meals and going out to do their business. A regular schedule grounds the dog’s expectations. The dog needs to know what is coming next.

An adult dog needs to go out a minimum of four times a day. Geriatric dogs and puppies need to go out more frequently because of bowel and bladder control. Behavioral issues, such as housebreaking accidents, are more likely to occur when a regular schedule is not followed. A dog cannot be blamed for an owner’s inconsistency. It is essential that a schedule be established and followed.

When dealing with any dog behavior, it must be understood how a dog thinks. In a dog’s mind, the impulse to do something is followed by an action, unless taught otherwise. The dog must realize that potty time is outside, not in the house; unless taught, dogs do not know otherwise.

Exercise is also another important element for a dog to have a healthy and happy life. Dogs of all sizes require fresh air and exercise for good muscle tone, contentment and happiness. They also need mental stimulation to develop a well-rounded, socialized personality. This provides the opportunity for them to see other people and dogs. They also can become acquainted with their external environment by riding in a car. If owners’ schedules do not allow for walks or socialization, they can hire dog walkers. Veterinarians often can provide reliable references for dog walkers.

Training is essential for a socialized dog. Trained dogs are happy dogs, as they can have more world experience as a result of their desirable behavior. A dog can obtain a Canine Good Citizenship Certificate, also known as a CGC, from a reputable trainer. This is a recognized certificate from the American Kennel Club that allows dogs and their owners the opportunity to enter specialized facilities to provide companionship for people. This is a wonderful chance for others to experience the warmth of a relationship with a dog. A trained dog also can play with and develop friendships with other dogs.

In his book Understanding Your Dog, author Dr. Michael Fox states that dogs have emotional centers in their brains similar to humans’ brains. This confirms the importance of socialization. Most destructive behaviors, such as chewing and barking, are caused by boredom, lack of stimulation, loneliness and frustration. Just as children are disturbed by a chaotic environment, so is the canine species.

A dog is a valuable family member who responds to love, attention and healthy living within a positive environment. By attending to these few things, we can have happy dogs and a better relationship with them.

Abbey Brown, owner of Abbey’s Dog Training of Massachusetts, in Waltham, has been a dog behavior and obedience training consultant since 1980 and has a master’s degree in psychology and animal behavior. For more information, call 781-891-5439 or visit