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Monday, February 22, 2010

Room To Run?

Before I continue this post I want to send good wishes to my friend Spike who recently underwent back surgery. Go get 'em you little devil! I remember when you were knee high to a glass!

Room to Run...

A good friend and fellow dog trainer picked up the ad pages of her hometown newspaper and saw an ad for a large dog being put up for adoption. “Needs room to run,” the ad stated.

Room to run? What exactly does that mean anyway? Horses and elephants need room to run; bulls need room to run, but dogs? They just want company and exercise with owner involvement! I am picturing in my mind a herd of dogs running freely through an open field. Are the happy? Have they accomplished their quest for their “need to run?” What am I missing here?

Having owned Newfoundland’s , Goldens, Bearded Collies, Belgian Sheepdogs, Labs and Saint Bernard’s over the span of my life I have never seen the personal “Need room to run,” option come with any of them. Yes I have a fairly decent sized fenced property, but when the dogs go outside it’s to potty or investigate someone walking near the yard, not for the need to run. Once they take care of business they want to be right back by my side, or should I say be by my feet going by all the dog hair that’s attached to my socks!

So my take on the whole “needs room to run” ad is that somewhere in the background there’s a person who chose a dog to be the family companion, but that really has no time to spend with it. Time spent with the dog is basically all that is needed.

Owners that chain the dog in the yard, pen them all day without some interaction, or worse yet, crate them inside all day, may wonder why their dog is going nuts in the evening.

I once knew a person who was giving, yes giving, a beautiful purebred Golden Retriever away because the dog was nuts. Yeah, they were right, I met that dog when it went to its new home and it was out of control! Then I found out that the dog was crated inside the house during the eight hour work day, technically 9 plus hours if you add in travel and errand time, let out for a few hours in the evening, then put back in the crate for the night. Jeeze, I’d be nuts too!

So the next time the urge strikes you to buy that cute little doggie in the window, be honest with yourself and think twice about the “need room to run” ad that you may be placing in the paper some months down the road because you were not prepared to spend the right amount of time with the dog. Believe me, it’s worth saving yourself the aggrivation and money before all the vet visits and food bills come into play. Dogs don’t need that much room to run, what they do need is a fair amount of exercise doing tasks with their owner and the family. A job if you will.

If you should be the person that answers that “needs room to run” ad, do yourself a favor and ask a few questions of the owner such as…

Is the dog neutered or spayed?
What type of training does the dog have?
Where is the dog kept now?
How much family time is spent with the dog?
Has the dog been chained or crated?
Does the dog get along well with other animals?
Does the dog get along well with children?
And finally, is the dog nuts?

Surely a dog that needs room to run has probably not been well socialized to other animals, has not spent much inside time with the family, has become destructive out of boredom, may not be neutered, and may be a an overall basket case!

As well, a dog that has not been brought up within the family home does not know how to behave in such an environment, so you will need to be prepared to train daily. A dog that is not neutered may roam causing havoc with neighbors, a dog that has been tied or penned may bark like crazy because boredom and frustration has become the norm. Can all of these problems be solved? Yes. But do you have the time to invest in it? That’s the real question.

Until next time, keep your head out of the paper and your feet out of the pet store unless you are 100% sure you have what it takes to devote to another living creature.

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