The TV 'entertainer' Cesar Millan is coming to the UK on a tour. I will not put links to the pages to get tickets because I don't want in any way to help this man.
I have been meaning to post about his methods for quite some time but this tour has given me the boost I needed
I will try and keep it nice :D
Among other more controversial methods that I will get to later Cesar Millan I wanted to talk about his fundamental philosophy for living with dogs.
Exercise, Discipline, Affection
In that order
So to start with Exercise.
It is true often on Cesars show he sees owners who never walk their dog. This is cruel and stupid - every trainer or behaviourist will tell you to exercise your dog to a level that is appropriate for the breed. This is not Cesars way - this is nothing new.
Cesar advocates exercising the dog to exhaustion - often dragging unfit or puppies around at speed - sometimes with him on his roller blades. He even recommends running perfectly fit dogs on a treadmill (there was a case brought against him when a dog at his facility was left unsupervised on a treadmill wearing a choke chain)
One major problem with this is what happens next week when two hours running do not tire out the dog because it is becoming fitter??
Also running on a treadmill or alongside someone is good for fitness but it does nothing for the mental well being of an animal
Most zoos nowadays are looking to improve the lot of their captive animals, some animals who naturally would cover long distances every day in the wild.
Do these zoos put giant mouse wheels in the enclosures? Take lions out for a run beside a bike?
No they look at enrichment strategies
Enrichment can be defined as:
“…a process for improving or enhancing animal environments and
care within the context of their inhabitants’ behavioral biology and natural
history. It is a dynamic process in which changes to structures and husbandry
practices are made with the goal of increasing behavioral choices available to
animals and drawing out their species-appropriate behaviors and abilities, thus
enhancing animal welfare (AZA/BAG 1999).
So better to think of ways to enrich your dogs environment and have moderate exercise this way your dog will be mentally and physically satisfied.
Ways to enrich a dogs environment - considering natural behaviours of a dog
Chasing - many dogs love chasing things - just make sure its things you are happy with and not cars, joggers, children on bikes. A few games of fetch and even chasing you around the park will be far more fun for both of you than hours on a treadmill - and changes of pace, twisting and turning and even eye paw coordination will all tire the dog out more.
Chewing - Not only puppies but all dogs love to chew, I love watching Ben chewing a nice knuckle bone - he is on his side with a dreamy look on his face. This is good for their teeth, gums, jaws, and even neck muscles. If you don't fancy big stinky bones think of other things for them to safely chew - chew toys, rawhide/treats, even kongs all satisfy this behaviour
Tugging - Tugging is a natural behaviour too and if your dog enjoys it and you are physically able to why not have a game of tug - just set rules like no biting, let go when I say, and stop it before they get overexcited.
Tearing - Does your dog like ripping toys to pieces?? It is natural behaviour, how about going to a charity shop and getting lots of cheep toys he can deestuff, then you can restuff, fix them up (care not to let them swallow thread) and give them back again - you could even stuff old socks with treats and let them get them (but keep your good clothes away from them)
Digging - its fun and natural. You could get a kiddys sandbox and fill it with earth, hide treats in there and teach your dog to dig there (and not in your flowerbed) or how about a big box filled with scrunched up newspaper and a few treats?
Sniffing - teach your dog to sniff out treats or even scatter a handfull of kibble in the grass and let them sniff it out.
Working with humans - Dogs are descended from the wolves who worked best with people so most dogs (with the right motivation) love to work with people, if you dont have animals to hunt or sheep to herd then you can teach tricks and that can be your dogs work, clicker training is great because it makes the dog use its mind to figure out what you want, this tires them out far more.
Sleeping - dogs like to sleep lots, give them plenty of down time where they can chill and file away all the things they have learnt for the day - it is possible to overstimulate a dog and then they become hyper and difficult to train.
Depending on the breed most dogs need between 1 - 2 hours walking a day, if you made 20 min of that fetching and chasing, played a game of tug and did some clicker work before settling the dog down with a chew then you should have a pretty content dog
I would love to hear your ideas for enriching your dogs environment