The Four Pillars to a Well-Adjusted Dog
Dog's have needs! I think we can all agree on that. However understanding all of their needs and how to take care of them can be a challenge.
This is why whenever I have a potential client come to me seeking training help, I describe to them the four pillars to support a well-adjusted dog. Understanding and implementing these pillars into your daily life can drastically change your dog's behavior and your relationship with your dog for the better! Helping my students see how they can improve these four categories each day with their dog allows them to see the full potential of what modern training and dog ownership can bring.
The four pillars are detailed below:
Medical and Nutritional Pillar
The health of your dog is top priority. Health impacts every aspect of your dog's life and can even impact their behavior. A dog that doesn't feel well is likely going to misbehave or become aggressive. Having a good relationship with your veterinarian or a team of veterinarians is crucial to being sure your dog is in good shape and great health. Nutrition also impacts your dog's health and behavior. Feeding your dog an appropriate diet will provide them with the nutrients they need to have a healthy gut biome. This means they will feel good and act better.
Physical and Mental Enrichment Pillar
Enrichment provides the necessary stimulation your dog needs each day to feel fulfilled. Physical enrichment can include long-line walks, hiking, biking, and running. However it can also include so much more like using a flirt pole, fetch, and agility. Physical enrichment allows a dog to use their body in an appropriate and breed specific way. Mental enrichment will provide necessary brain work that keeps a dog learning, feeling relaxed, and confident. Examples of mental enrichment are proper socialize interactions with other dogs and people (this can also be physical), the find it game, ditching the bowl, clicker training, and so much more! By activating your dog's mind you will help feed into their breed specific needs and their stimulation needs as well. Read more on mental enrichment here.
It's important to provide your dog with a successful environment in which they can learn and be safe. This is described as management, where you manage the environment and/or situation to keep your dog on track with your goals. You simply will not receive the results you want, or it will take much longer to receive them without proper management techniques. Examples of management are putting a gate up so your dog doesn't enter a room you don't want them in, blocking their view from outside by putting translucent cling on the window or shutting the blinds. Management can also be changing your daily routine to be more consistent, to provide more of what the dog needs to effectively reducing stress or boredom. If you really want to set your dog up for success and be well adjusted, it's important to always consider what management techniques could be implemented to see those results.
We cannot forget about training. The only way for your dog to be the way you want them to be and to know the things you want them to know is to train them. Training provides enrichment, confidence, bond building, and a purpose in life. Every dog needs training and deserves to be trained effectively and humanely. Whether your goals are to teach your dog obedience and potty training, or if you are working with a more complex behavior like aggression, hyper-arousal, or separation anxiety, you want to have a clear behavior treatment plan made out. Combined with the other three pillars, your training results will be even better and happen faster. Higher a certified and force-free trainer or behavior consultant to help you see the potential your dog has and the benefits of proper training!
I hope that by knowing these four pillars, you will see what you can change in your dog's daily life to help them be a well-adjusted dog. Doing so will create a domino effect of positive associations and positive outcomes that you will be happy to see!