Ever met anyone who claimed that they would love to own a dog but that it wouldn’t be fair since they live in a small apartment? The small apartment excuse is a common justification that prevents people who want a dog from having one. The only problem is that it is a total misconception.
A case in point is a client of mine who lives in a tiny studio apartment in central Tel Aviv and has a one and a half year old Border Collie. Another client of mine lives in Herzliya Pituach and has a large house with a large yard and owns the same breed approximately the same age. Ironically, the dog in the small studio apartment is a happier dog. How does one explain this phenomenon? The answer can be summed up in two words: exercise and training.
Dogs sleep anywhere from twelve to sixteen hours a day, and when they wake up, they won’t go exercising in their yard. Unless there is an external stimulation, dogs will not utilize the space that they have to exercise. They may chew something, but that’s usually falls under the category of boredom. If you think that dogs in large houses spend their alone time walking in and out of each bedroom to get some exercise fix, it’s simply not true. They just aren’t wired that way. They will lie in a corner pretty much all day. They may chew something or try to dig. The amount of space is completely irrelevant.
Even if the dog has a yard, it will not give him the mental or physical exercise that he needs. Even if he spends the day chasing and barking at people walking by your yard. It’s just not enough. The dog needs to get out of the house and go on walks for the sake of socialization. The only real advantage a dog has to having a yard is that they can use it as a restroom.
So what does the tiny apartment owner do that makes her dog so much happier than the mansion owner? The former takes her dog on two separate forty five minute walks a day and spends ten minutes a day obedience training. Is he stuck in the studio for the remainder of the day Yes, but he has already released his energy from the long walks and feels challenged and a sense of accomplishment from the training. On the other hand, the dog living on the estate displays behaviors of a canine who is antsy and agitated.
The walk (run/bike ride (for our athletes out there)) is how a dog explores the world, releases his energy and gives a feeling of balance. Training challenges the dog to become better and gives the dog a feeling of achievement. The combination gives the dog’s life both purpose and meaning. So just as it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s also not the size of the home of the dog.
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