Sharing your life and home with a canine friend is incredibly rewarding and it's a well known fact that pooches keep their owners fit, reduce stress levels and are great friends to have around. Most dog owners will "humanise" their four-legged friends to some extent which is perfectly okay to do. However, it's also important to let a dog be a dog when they are out and about meeting other dogs and animals.
Dogs just love exploring, it's part of their make-up to have their noses to the ground enjoying all the new smells they come across when they are out on a walk with their owners. Our canine friends are also social creatures by nature which means the majority of them really enjoy meeting other dogs. However, some breeds are more predatory than others with stronger drives to chase things so it's important to know when to let a dog off their leads and when it would be better not to.
Although it is really important to let a dog be a dog, owners should never allow their pets to run riot because this could lead to all sorts of problems whether behavioural or other. Regular training sessions are a must and the key to successfully achieving obedience is to use positive reinforcement techniques, making sure the sessions are done in short bursts on a daily basis. It's important to let a puppy develop their characters but at the same time it's crucial for them to understand who is alpha dog in the household.
Dogs have incredibly acute senses, they pick up things their owners cannot smell, hear or even see. When dogs get wind of another dog's scent there's a ton of information in this "message" which includes the age, health, social standing of the dog and how long ago the message was left there! A new dog in the neighbourhood is something of great interest to existing dogs. When and if they eventually meet up with the "newcomer", dogs will go through a ritual which if they are well socialised will go without incident or sign of aggression.
Well socialised dogs will quickly assess the situation and want to interact with another dog they meet. This could include with a quick game before going on their way with their owners – whether they are on the lead or not. Our canine friends really enjoy this sort of interaction and stimulus because social interaction is part of their make-up which is important to their overall well being and their mental health.
Dogs that show aggression toward another dog are usually the ones that were not socialised well enough when they were young which is why it's essential for owners to let puppies and young dogs say "hello" to other dogs earlier on in their lives when it is safe to do so.
Lots of people take their dogs with them when they are out jogging, running or cycling which is great because a pooch really does get lots of exercise and physically fit. However, this is not the best way of exercising a four-legged friend because they don't get to "be dogs". They don't get to stop and sniff at all those wonderful smells left behind by other dogs and they don't get to explore, socialise or leave their own "messages" in the places they would like to. They might be incredibly fit but they are not being allowed to be "dogs" and do "doggy things".
It's fine to take a dog jogging with you but it's also crucial and much better for them to go on a nice long and interesting walk which makes for a much happier pooch because they get to explore and interact with other dogs they might encounter when they are out and about. It's also important to let dogs off their leads as often as possible as long as it is safe to do so. Playing interactive games with a canine friend in a safe environment provides them with lots of mental stimulus and helps create a stronger bond with owners.
It's also important to never overdo it on the exercise front where puppies and young dogs are concerned because you might end up doing more harm than good. Bones and joints are still growing and if they are given too much exercise, you might well end up damaging their growth plates which could then lead to them suffering from arthritis later in their lives. Serious exercise should be started when a dog is over a year old and where larger breeds are concerned this should be left till even later.
All of our canine friends need to be given as much mental stimulation and physical exercise as possible with some breeds needing more than others. However, it's also really important to let a dog be a dog so they get to all the things they like to do and which are in their natures. Early socialisation is an essential because without this, a dog may well be aggressive towards other dogs they meet. This in turn would mean they are less well rounded and therefore not as happy as a dog that was socialised from a young age.