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What ALL Dogs Need and When

Old school trainer Cesar Millan (a.k.a. The Dog Whisperer) says that there are three things needed to keep your dog in a balanced state of mind and body. While I don't necessarily agree with all of his methods, I do believe that he has a good grasp of this concept and that everyone should apply these three simple words into their training regiment. 

They are: Exercise, Discipline and Affection.

To create a healthy dog in mind, body and spirit, it is important to give your dog exercise on a regular basis. Exercise allows your dog to burn calories and use it's muscles. This will keep your dog physically healthy. It will also help your dog deal with mental issues such as anxiety, frustration and boredom. If ANY of these three items are allowed to build up in your dog, it will trigger many different behavior issues. All of them bad!!!! It is recommended that a dog have at least 20 minutes of hard exercise every day to maintain it's current state of mind. If your dog is currently exhibiting behavior issues, longer walks, (as much as an hour or more) is recommended.

Discipline (in this case) doesn't mean applying correction. It means providing proper instruction. Rules and boundaries are essential to achieve a well-balanced pet of any kind. Setting rules and boundaries for your dog is no different than setting them for your kids or your friends. Just like you would never dream of letting kids run wild and destroy your house and car, your dog needs to be under the same type of supervision. And when the dog does something that you don't like, you need to correct the behavior at the second it happens. 

Some dog owners do not want to apply needed discipline when they see unwanted behavior because they think that it's being mean or because they don't want to hurt the dog's spirit ... but it does nothing of the sort. By setting rules and boundaries for your dog, and then praising the dog for good behavior, you are showing the dog what you like and you are also reinforcing the dog's self-esteem and building it's spirit.

Affection can be expressed in many different ways. The most common expression of affection is petting and stroking. Other forms include cuddling, hugging, kissing, playing together and giving food or treats. Affection is important, but it should ONLY be giving to a dog if the dog is calm, submissive and completely under control. By giving affection at the wrong time you only encourage that state of mind.

So many people write to me describing themselves as “dog lovers,” but then think that the term means their dogs should have no disciplinary consequences for anything they do. It’s often hard for me to communicate to them that for any dog, “love” must include exercise, rules, boundaries, and limitations first. Affection comes after that.

Cesar Millan - The Dog Whisperer


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