Spending time with your pet dog

Of all the pets we've had, dogs take up the most time. They are with you so many hours of the day, it's no wonder they become members of the family, and that time together is spent interacting, not just relaxing on the couch together.

It's tricky, finding a balance between your dog's need for attention and discipline, and your own need for space and relaxation. Many an owner has felt like relaxing when getting home from work, only to be confronted by a dog who has waited all day for you to come home and play with him. A solution to this, and your other needs for time off, is to develop a routine that the dog understands. When you come home, understand that the dog is happy to see you, and give him five or ten minutes of attention. Then give a signal (perhaps a verbal command, or clapping your hands twice), telling the dog that attention time is over, and that it's time for the next part of the routine, which might mean a romp in the back yard. This gives you time to wind down and relax a little, and the dog a chance to go potty and work off some energy.

As the human, you can choose when to give attention and when to require some quiet time, and if you communicate these times to your dog, he will learn to act accordingly. As long as there's a balance of attention and quiet time, and an understandable routine, your dog will let you have time off. For example, our dog sleeps in the bedroom with us. As a puppy, if he couldn't quiet down when the bedroom door closed, he went into the garage for ten minutes. He learned right away that it was better to just go to sleep in the warm bed than to complain! Now, closing that bedroom door acts on him like Pavlov's bell: he goes right to sleep, even in the middle of the day. It's all about having an understandable routine.

You should be prepared to spend a bare minimum of one hour a day interacting exclusively with your dog. We recommend much, much more!

Copyright 2001, Steph Bairey -- All Rights Reserved

Steph Bairey is a web developer and pet owner, with 25 years of pet
care experience and 30-40 pets at any one time. Get immediate,
reliable answers to your pet care questions at Steph's website,
Practical Pet Care, located at http://www.practical-pet-care.com.

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