5 Minute Me-Time
Generally, dogs are pretty good with going with the flow, they do not have much choice but to fit into our routines and lifestyles. They are generally curious about what we do and often come along to ‘help’ with the best intentions of course. All the things the ‘help’ us with tend to be human activities and when it comes to what they want to do, we sometimes get impatient. They want to sniff every bush, every corner, perhaps a dog or two and their owner just want to get the walk over with and prompt them to come along now. During a car ride, 90% of the time dogs want to stick their heads out the window so that their lips can blow in the wind, and their owners would rather have the air con be effective and keep the windows closed. And there is nothing very wrong with this, and I’m sure the dog still enjoys the activity, but how much better would it be for you, and your dog’s relationship, if every now and then you do things that your dog really enjoys doing. Doggy stuff. A 20-minute walk where a dog gets to sniff, and mark and explore is so much more stimulating than an hour’s speed walk.
A short outing in the car where the dog gets to absorb the neighbourhood’s smells and sights will be a lot more fun for your dog. Just do not pop out into a shop and leave your dog in the car.
In multi-dog homes, it is a time saver to walk all the dogs at once, or put all the dogs in the car for a ride or let the whole group of dogs chase one ball, etc. Again, not saying this is wrong. But, scheduling me time for each individual dog in the house-hold will bring you a lot closer to each dog. I’m pretty sure (from looking at my five) that dogs do get fed up with each other’s annoying habits, just like us people do. And just like us, each dog needs a break away from the gang, to do something just for himself, not having to compete for anything, doing it with his hooman is of course the ultimate reward.
You don’t have to turn your schedule upside down, but you can make small changes in your routine. 5-minute changes.
If you have a multi-dog household, you have to watch them while they eat anyway, so how about giving each dog a turn (a dog a day) to give them some enrichment during his meal time. Reward cute and desirable behaviours (obviously, this has to be done away from the other dogs, remember this is me-time and the dog should not feel nervous about having to compete).
Look up some basic Ttouch massages up on the internet, and while you have your coffee in the morning, do a couple of touches on one of your dogs, see what they like, what they don’t like. That specific dog might even learn, ok, when my hooman drinks coffee in the morning before work, that is my massage time.
Instead of taking a whole bunch of dogs on a walk, take only one of them on a short walk, and let them sniff to their heart’s content. You will not get impatient with your dog if you have planned your dog’s Me-time.
Five minutes of me-time, can make the world’s difference in a day for your dog. A lot of behaviour problems start because no bonding or very little bonding between the dog and his human are taking place. You do not have to stick with 5-minutes, you can always extend it. But 5-minutes a day, will have a massive impact.
By Tersha, Trainer