Let’s talk about the six basic needs that contribute to your dog’s happiness.
Dogs need movement and exercise. Exercise has a positive effect on your dog’s mood. Dogs need to move and it’s one of their primary needs. After playing, running, or training, rest is essential for a dog. Adequate recovery time must be given after each of these activities to promote learning.
Dogs need to feel safe. Unfortunately, dogs left alone in the backyard for long periods of time do not experience safety/security. It is common to see a dog waiting near the door, despite having a large garden available. Dogs need to feel protected and close to the family group. They must also feel confident about our expectations. For example, on Monday your dog jumps on you and you pat it. On Tuesday, the dog jumps on you again but you have an expensive outfit on that you don’t want to get dirty so you yell at the dog and punish him/her. Consequently, your dog will be uncertain about your expectations and does not know what can happen to him/her. As a result this will make the dog feel insecure, weaken its relationship with you and make it an unhappy and problematic dog.
Dogs need to feel part of the family group and would rather be with us instead of in the backyard alone. The time we dedicate to our dogs and what we do with him/her is important. The quality of time spent together is fundamental with activities such as: playing together, exploring together and going for walks.
Your dog needs to feel important. If dogs are always ignored, scolded, punished or bossed around, they will live an unhappy existence. Every time we say to the dog “good” we strengthen its self-esteem and we help it to believe in its abilities. By giving your dog affection and attention, they are able to understand that they are important and loved. If you decide to give your dog a challenge, choose something that is adequate to his/her abilities and that can be achieved rather easily.
Dogs need a varied life. It is often thought that when a dog digs holes in the backyard it does it out of spite. In reality, at that particular moment he/she most likely feels bored and needs something to do. Dogs do not “spite” or “misbehave”. At that moment they are just trying to satisfy a need. It is necessary to give your dog varied activities. The worst scenario for a dog is to be in backyard all the time and to never go out.
Like each human being, your dog is unique, unrepeatable and has its own calling in life. We must help our dogs to express his/her calling to its full potential as this will make them happy. For example, Border Collies are often engaged in sport competitions because they have the vocation of being sporty/active. Another example are Labradors who have a strong need to be social and love contact with others. That is why they are often used in pet therapy.