All dogs should be allowed to express normal behaviours. A normal behaviour is the way an animal acts in their natural environment. Enough space, proper shelter and housing, as well as company of the animal's own kind, encourages the expression of normal behaviours.
This law is called the Animal Welfare Act. The Animal Welfare Act says that your animal has five groups of welfare needs. These are five groups of things that animals need to be healthy and happy. These five welfare needs are called the Five Freedoms.
Under the Animal Welfare Act, all animal guardians (owners) need to provide these five groups of things for their animals. One of these Five Freedoms is: Freedom to Express Normal Behaviour. In this section you will learn about this freedom and how you can make sure your dog or puppy receives the exercise and enrichment he/she needs to be free to express his/her normal behaviour.
Socialising your puppy means helping them learn to be comfortable in our human environment. It is just like you would do with your baby brother, sister or cousin when you take them somewhere new or introduce them to someone or something they haven’t met before.
Socialisation is one of the most important things your family can do for your puppy as it helps them become friendly and outgoing.
Socialising your puppy is about getting them to meet people and other animals and experience lots of everyday sights and sounds. This includes many different types of people, environments, buildings, sights, noises, smells, the vacuum cleaner, washing machine, animals and other dogs. Remember to introduce new things in a positive way – do not overwhelm your puppy/dog by doing everything at once. Ensure each new experience is done calmly and reward your puppy/dog for responding positively.
If your puppy seems anxious or afraid when they’re doing or seeing something new, just calmly end what they’re doing. Don’t try to comfort or reassure your puppy as this will make them think there was something to be scared about! Just be positive and do something different. This is very important because otherwise your puppy can develop fears of these things.
A well-socialised puppy is more likely to grow up to be a friendly and outgoing dog. If a puppy is not socialised properly, it is more likely to be nervous and fearful as an adult and this can cause many behaviour problems.
A dog needs to learn to be well behaved so that he can live happily with his family. An untrained dog can upset people, run into traffic and be unsafe. Learning how to teach your dog to behave is one of the best things you can do for him. He will know exactly what you want him to do and will be happier and safer.
As you know, it’s much easier to learn when it’s fun. The kindest and most effective method is called “reward-based training.” This is also called “positive reinforcement” – just like when your teacher rewards you for making good choices. It’s easy and something we can all do.
By rewarding your dog when they do what you want, they will want to behave that way again.
Repeat this several times. So, if you want them to sit, give the command and give the reward either during the good behaviour or immediately afterwards.
Your dog will eventually respond to your command without needing the reward.
Rewards can be calm verbal praise, calm physical praise (patting), a treat or a toy.
All dogs need exercise, no matter how big or small. Different breeds of dogs need different amounts of exercise but they all need to run and play every day. Leaving a dog in a back yard is not enough. Playing fetch or taking your dog to an off-leash park where he can run around safely is best.
As dogs get older, many may need less exercise. You and your family can still make sure your dog's life is enjoyable by replacing full on exercise of running and jumping, with slower paced walks and gentle play.
If dogs are not given the freedom to express normal behaviour, they can become very bored and unhappy. Sometimes they can feel frustrated and angry – when a dog is feeling this way it may start to behave in ways people label as naughty and bad. But really, the dog is just trying to get attention to express how it is feeling, so things can change.
Always listen to and follow your veterinarian’s advice. For example, a dog will need to be rested after surgery. Your dog’s vet is the best person to advise your family on how much exercise your dog should be getting, as they know your dog and can take everything into consideration.
A dog that gets enough mental and physical exercise will be a much happier, more settled companion. Mental and physical exercise is a very important component in a dog’s world. Lack of exercise will make socialisation, training and everyday behaviour much harder to work on or deal with.
Dogs and puppies get bored. Boredom can cause dogs to bark or be destructive in your home. Playing with your dog regularly and using appropriate dog toys is a great way to avoid boredom.
Keep some toys stored away: use different toys in different weeks. This helps keep the toys interesting for your dog – and also gives you a chance to clean them.
While your dog hopefully enjoys your friendship, they also need opportunities to spend some time with their own kind in a positive, fun way. That does not mean you need to have more than one dog, but it does mean your dog needs to have some suitable doggie friends in the neighbourhood or at doggy day-care.
However, these friends must be of a similar temperament, age, size and play-style and the interactions must be enjoyable for all. Not all dogs get along, just as many people do not get along with one another.