Why does your dog chase balls forever, or like its own company? Perhaps it doesn’t like either of these things, but you need to be the alpha dog and help it. Ball chasing and dogs loving their own company are not social dogs.
Reinforcing this behavior is bad for dogs and will only end in tears for everyone.
But my dog loves to play ball only
This chasing ball activity is something that many people who own a working dog have fallen back on. There dog cant heard sheep anymore, and this is an easy thing to do. Throw the ball a million times and your dog will fetch it. But just like TV is a bad child minder, so is relentless fetch for a dog. In fact studies have shown that most dogs gain a very elevated stress level from such a pointless activity, that while you think they are enjoying it, they are enduring it to please you.
Consider that border collies are one of the smartest dogs out there, but you are relegating it to being a fetching machine. They can’t stop because they are trying to please you, and you don’t stop because you think they are having fun. After about the first ten minutes, they are not having fun, they are increasing their adrenaline, then cortisone levels to the point that it takes days to purge this stress related hormone from their bodies, and it is doing them long term health damage.
Relentless ball fetching also means your dog can become ball obsessed, fall into ball guarding, become aggressive if the ball is taken away, and can bite or ignore any dog that approaches, this is the opposite of a relaxed social dog that enjoys an interaction, as most good pack dogs do.
My dog prefers its own company
There are very few dogs for which this statement is true. In the wild, there are such things as lone wolves, but these are usually wolves that have been rejected by the rest of the pack, because they are not team players.
The reason that most dogs seem to enjoy their own company, is that they were never taught to play properly or share from an early age. Most vets will tell you that there is an important developmental window between the age of 3 and 5 months where a dog should play with other dogs, or its social skills will be very reduced. It is not impossible to turn one of these dogs around, but it will take extra care, as it will often be too aggressive or very timid compared to regular dogs.
If you don’t start practicing off lead regular walks with your lone dog now, it will become a much more embedded behaviour. You won’t be able to trust your dog around other dogs or other people. You will never be able to take them down the street or to any social events. And when you leave them home they will become more and more destructive as fear and boredom set in.
It is true that some breeds seem to select one owner as their preferred master, and that some dogs can seem aloof, but this is usually a complete smoke screen. The danger of course is, that the more that a dog ages away from being a puppy, and the more it is isolated, the more that this behaviour is reinforced.
It’s the old ‘getting back on after falling off a horse’ thing. Except in this case, the alpha dog (the owner) is falling into human compassion thinking they are doing the right thing by separating their dog, whereas they are doing the complete opposite for what it really needs in the mid and long term to live a happy long life.
Long term dog walking benefits
Having met all of your dogs physical and mental needs means that when it goes home to sleep, it does so knowing that it has worked hard in its pack and can now rest. It has no residual stress, and all of its organs are functioning in peak performance.
It means that your dog doesn’t have to stay in the backyard, you can potentially take it to social functions or down the street when you have a coffee. It will live longer, and it will live those later years in comparatively good healthy with strong bones (from a good raw diet as well).
The only reason that I know that people don’t realistically daily off lead walk their dogs, is that they can’t be bothered. They say they are busy, that it’s not necessary, yet complain when their dogs show all of the signs of boredom such as digging, barking, separation anxiety, destructive chewing etc.
Dogs are meant to meet up with dogs every day. In all types of weather, except the extreme heat days and thunder storms. If you have a dog, this should be your dogs legal right to get a daily social dog walk off-lead. Once you begin this you will both see massive increases in health and a very happy dog.
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