All dogs deserve to be happy.
Loving your dog and learning to understand their needs will help you identify the things you must do to prevent your dog feeling worried, upset, frightened and stressed.
Did you know that there is a special law protecting animals?
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 from Fear and Distress. In this section you will learn about this freedom and how you can make sure your dog or puppy is receiving the love, understanding and companionship he or she needs to be free from fear and distress.
When we add a dog to our family we are bringing them into a very new environment and culture with very different rules. On top of that, we are expecting them to understand a whole new language - our language!
But we often make no effort to learn their language. We need to kindly teach our dog to live in our world and teach ourselves to understand our dog’s world if we are to keep them free from fear and distress.
Dogs are very social animals and they need lots of human company.
Dogs don’t like to be alone for long periods of time. They will easily become lonely, distressed and bored if they are left alone for too long.
In the wild, dogs live in family groups called packs. For pet dogs, their human family become their pack. This is why it is so important for your dog to be with you and your family as often as possible, not left alone shut outdoors, locked in the garage or in the basement.
Dogs should have opportunities to experience new environments, meet new people and play with other dogs. Take your dog to visit other family members, friends, and local people of all shapes and sizes. This will help your dog feel comfortable and not scared with different people other than their pack. Off-leash parks are great places for your family to socialize your dog with other dogs. Check out your city council’s website for a listing of off-leash parks in your area.
Puppies shouldn’t be left alone for more than four hours at a time. Boredom can cause dogs to bark or be destructive in your home.
Adult dogs can be left alone for longer only if they are exercised daily and get mental and physical stimulation. If your family have to leave your puppy for more than four hours, ask a friend, relative or local pet sitter to visit and spend some time with them. If you have to leave your adult dog alone for more than eight hours, please do the same.
You must always make sure your dog gets the care and attention they need when you are on holiday. Never, ever leave your dog home alone when you go away, if your dog is not able to go with you - make sure your dog is properly looked after.
Arrange for someone responsible to care for your dog. Dogs can be booked into kennels, or cared for by a responsible family member, trusted friend or professional dog-sitter.
While you’re away, make sure whoever is caring for your dog knows about your pet’s requirements. Leave a list of information, such as how much food and exercise your pet needs, any medication they might be on and how to give it, along with your vet’s contact details for emergencies.
You and your family are your dog’s guardians and you must take responsibility for managing their experiences with the environment and other living things in a safe, understanding and loving way.
Socialising is one of the most important things your family can do for your dog, especially as a puppy. Let them gradually meet people and other animals, and experience everyday sights and sounds, especially in their first few weeks of life. If your family own a young puppy, get advice from your vet about socialisation and how to do it properly.
Training your dog how to behave is another fantastic way to help them cope in your family’s world. Teach your dog basic commands or you could even take them to training classes. Training your dog is a great form of mental stimulation and should be done daily for a few minutes at a time.
Make sure an adult in your household gets professional advice straight away for any behaviour problems that your dog may begin to show.
For more information about training and socialising your puppy, check out our Freedom to Express Normal Behaviour section.