Dog Training Today with Will Bangura for Pet Parents, Kids & Family, Pets and Animals, and Dog Training Professionals. This is a Education & How To Dog Training Podcast.

Dog Training Today with Will Bangura: #139 Is it Dog Anxiety or Lack of Enrichment

December 16, 2023 Will Bangura, M.S., CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, FFCP is a World Renowned Dog Behaviorist, Certified Dog Behavior Consultant, Certified Professional Dog Trainer, and a Fear Free Certified Professional with over 36 years of experience with the most difficult of Season 4 Episode 139
Dog Training Today with Will Bangura: #139 Is it Dog Anxiety or Lack of Enrichment
Dog Training Today with Will Bangura for Pet Parents, Kids & Family, Pets and Animals, and Dog Training Professionals. This is a Education & How To Dog Training Podcast.
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Dog Training Today with Will Bangura for Pet Parents, Kids & Family, Pets and Animals, and Dog Training Professionals. This is a Education & How To Dog Training Podcast.
Dog Training Today with Will Bangura: #139 Is it Dog Anxiety or Lack of Enrichment
Dec 16, 2023 Season 4 Episode 139
Will Bangura, M.S., CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, FFCP is a World Renowned Dog Behaviorist, Certified Dog Behavior Consultant, Certified Professional Dog Trainer, and a Fear Free Certified Professional with over 36 years of experience with the most difficult of

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Ever thought that your furry friend's anxious behavior might just be a cry for more physical or mental stimulation? Join me, Will Bangura, as we unpack this intriguing possibility. Be prepared to challenge what you know about canine anxiety and discover how enrichment activities might be the secret to keeping your dog happy and healthy. From agility training to simple games of fetch, we discuss how these activities can offer a safe outlet for your pet's energy and satisfy their primal instincts.

Let's add another layer to the mix - socialization. Does your dog get enough of it? And more importantly, is it the right kind? We take a hard look at dog parks and daycares, throwing light on the dangers these places can pose. This isn't about fear-mongering. It's about understanding the importance of safe and breed-specific socialization. So, let's dive deep into the world of canine behavior, learn more about our pets’ individual needs, and pave the way for a better quality of life for them. After all, their well-being is our priority.

Support the Show.

If you need professional help please visit my Dog Behaviorist website.
Go here for Free Dog Training Articles

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us a Text Message.

Ever thought that your furry friend's anxious behavior might just be a cry for more physical or mental stimulation? Join me, Will Bangura, as we unpack this intriguing possibility. Be prepared to challenge what you know about canine anxiety and discover how enrichment activities might be the secret to keeping your dog happy and healthy. From agility training to simple games of fetch, we discuss how these activities can offer a safe outlet for your pet's energy and satisfy their primal instincts.

Let's add another layer to the mix - socialization. Does your dog get enough of it? And more importantly, is it the right kind? We take a hard look at dog parks and daycares, throwing light on the dangers these places can pose. This isn't about fear-mongering. It's about understanding the importance of safe and breed-specific socialization. So, let's dive deep into the world of canine behavior, learn more about our pets’ individual needs, and pave the way for a better quality of life for them. After all, their well-being is our priority.

Support the Show.

If you need professional help please visit my Dog Behaviorist website.
Go here for Free Dog Training Articles

Speaker 1:

Does your dog have anxiety, or could it possibly be a lack of enrichment? You know, when we think about our canine companions, their well-being is at the forefront of our minds. We want them to be happy. Just like us, though, dogs can experience anxiety, and that can significantly impact their quality of life. However, it's essential to consider whether what appears to be anxiety might sometimes be a result of a lack of proper mental and or physical enrichment. Don't go anywhere. We're going to dive into this in 60 seconds.

Speaker 2:

Raised by wolves with canine DNA and his blood. Having trained more than 24,000 vets helping you and your fur babies thrive, live in studio with Will Bangura answering your pet behavior and training questions. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome your host and favorite pet behavior expert, Will Bangura.

Speaker 1:

Would you like to go on walkies? Good day dog lovers. I'm Will Bangura. Thanks for joining me for another episode of Dog Training Today. Hey, do me a favor, seriously, can you? Can you do me a favor? If you're listening to this podcast, if you like or love what I'm doing here, could you do me a huge favor. Could you just hit pause in just a second, take 30 seconds of your time and give us a five star review on Apple Podcast or Spotify, wherever you're listening to this podcast. I really appreciate that. That's the best way that you can say thank you. I love what I do, helping everybody out.

Speaker 1:

Today I want to talk about a topic that gets talked about a lot in training circles amongst trainers and behavior consultants and veterinary behaviorists. The idea of enrichment and making sure that dogs are getting enough mental and physical stimulation is a huge deal right now. 10, 20 years ago, no, you never heard about enrichment as an issue. Now some dogs have real anxiety and we'll talk about that and how we can differentiate between the two, but there are a lot of dogs that what looks like anxiety, what oftentimes is seen as unruly behavior, can be because of boredom, can be because your dog may not be getting enough physical stimulation and mental stimulation, and one of the things that I want you to hear this is very important you taking your dog for a walk doesn't do it. That doesn't cut it. You can take your dog for a walk every day. I'm sorry that's not enough. When you took on the responsibility to have a dog, it's my belief that you need to meet their needs, because, hey, can they meet their needs on their own? Not if they're living in your home, not if you are the one that basically is in charge of what they do. Okay Now, anxiety in dogs can manifest itself in lots of different forms.

Speaker 1:

It can be anything from very subtle signs to more outward behaviors. It can be due to several factors. Anxiety can be due to things such as genetics, environment, past traumatic experiences. But did you know that some dog breeds are more prone to anxiety due to their inherent traits and history? For example, breeds like border collies and Australian shepherds, known for their high intelligence and their high energy levels? Well, often those breeds require more mental stimulation than others. Without it, they can develop symptoms of anxiety. Similarly, breeds such as the German Shepherd, labrador Retrievers those dogs, you know they're big on forming extremely strong bonds with their pet guardians, they can be more prone to experience separation anxiety.

Speaker 1:

So if you're not familiar with enrichment, let's talk about the role of enrichment. Enrichment is crucial in helping to address, bring down and mitigate anxiety, especially in breeds that are more predisposed to it. Now, I've already kind of talked about it, but enrichment refers to activities and environments that provide mental and physical stimulation, which then addresses the innate needs of a dog. And without adequate enrichment, a dog's pint of energy and their intelligence can manifest as what some people think is anxiety. And I've already said that, in addition to mental stimulation, dogs need a lot of physical enrichment. And physical enrichment goes beyond the regular walk. It's about engaging your dog in activities that will satisfy their natural instincts and provide a healthy outlet for their energy. You know so.

Speaker 1:

For example, there's a reason why a lot of Border Collies, there's a reason why a lot of Australian shepherds and the pet parents for those breeds do agility training. Agility training is a fantastic, fantastic outlet for breeds like, like I said, border Collies, australian shepherds. Navigating through obstacle courses not only exercises their bodies, but it also produces mental stimulation. I mean, think about, think about what those breeds were bred for. What is their job? Are they running around Herding livestock? For you, imagine what it's like being a herding dog and actually doing your job every day. Think about the physical and the mental stimulation that those dogs get. And that's what they need.

Speaker 1:

And now we've taken that natural, innate tendency that's been bred in the dog and because we take it out of its natural inclinations and what this breed should be doing, and now we've got them pent up in a house. And you know what if and this is a lot of folks what if you got to go to work for eight hours? Well, what if you've got an hour commute to work? What if you've got an hour commute back? Now we're talking about 10 hours. And do you sleep? Eight, because that's 18. Now we've got five hours, I think, left. You gotta eat, you gotta shower. Where's the time for your dog?

Speaker 1:

Some other enrichment activities. Let's talk about some other ones Fetch and Frisbee. You know what? They're simple, yet they're extremely effective. Playing fetch, playing Frisbee, those games they can significantly benefit, especially high energy breeds like Labrador Retrievers or Jack Russell Terriers. Okay, that offers both physical exercise and mental engagement. Playing fetch, playing Frisbee Now, another fantastic activity for dogs is swimming.

Speaker 1:

There are very few things that are as beneficial as swimming. Especially for breeds like Labrador's, swimming is an excellent form of exercise. The other thing it's gentle on the joints. Hey, it's great for overall fitness. We could all benefit from that, not just our dogs.

Speaker 1:

But it's not just about physical activity and, like I said, dogs need more than a walk. That's just not gonna cut it, especially when we're talking about these high energy breeds, the hunting breeds, the herding breeds. They need a lot, and oftentimes we don't think about that when we're selecting the dog or type of breed we want. But now we've got that, what are we gonna do? Because they get bored, and that's why mental enrichment is just as important as physical activity. And this is all about challenging your dog's mind, keeping them mentally stimulated and engaged, all right. So how do you do that? Well, one great way to do that is by using puzzle toys. Have you ever used puzzle toys? Do you know anybody that's done that? Have you ever heard of that? Well, toys that require dogs to solve puzzles, for treats, things of that nature. They're excellent for mental stimulation. They're especially beneficial for, like I said, these real intelligent breeds like German Shepherds, border Collies.

Speaker 1:

You know one of the way you can get a muffin pan, a muffin tin you know what I'm talking about and you could put oh, maybe two treats, maybe you've got like 12 muffins you can put in that pan. No, in that pan you're not putting muffins, okay, you're gonna put maybe two or three treats and you're gonna put a tennis ball on top of each of the holes that you'd normally pour in the muffin batter. So the dog's looking at 12 tennis balls and maybe two or three of them. Underneath there's a treat and your dog has to find it. It's a fantastic exercise. It costs you little to nothing. Most people have some tennis balls if they have a dog, and a lot of people have muffin pans Maybe not today, in 2023, but you know, I've got a muffin pan. All right, one of the other things, and we should be doing this anyway. But think about it Until.

Speaker 1:

Enrichment through training sessions. Having regular training sessions especially hey, listen even if your dog has gone through a training program, even if your dog responds to your cues and is well-trained, regularly training, maintaining that, running your dog through the paces, having regular training sessions is gonna be great, even if they already know this stuff for mental enrichment, you can also have a lot of fun with it. You can focus on new tricks or new commands. Trick training is a lot of fun. Everybody I know that works or does trick training with their dogs has a blast. It's fun for you, it's fun for the dog and it definitely stimulates them mentally. So that's a great thing that you can do Scent games.

Speaker 1:

Do you know that 12.5% of a dog's brain structure is devoted to scent and your dog smelling? Now, to give you an idea, a comparison, when it comes to humans, the physical structure of our brain less than.01% of our brain anatomy and structure is devoted to smelling and to scent. Again, 12% of the dog's brain structure is devoted to smelling and scent. If you really want to stimulate your dog mentally, one of the absolute best ways that you can do that is through doing scent games Engaging your dog's sense of smell, such as hiding treats around the house or hiding them in your yard. That's a fantastic way to provide your dog with mental enrichment. Also, you know breeds like beagles with their keen sense of smell. They can really benefit from those activities. Do you have a hound type breed? Yeah, that will definitely help them.

Speaker 1:

Scent games for all breeds. It's a fan. If you've never done it. Get on YouTube, go to Amazon, get a book on how to do scent games. Maybe I should probably do a podcast just about doing scent games and maybe I can find somebody who's really an expert in it and do an interview with them. I'm going to have to put that on my list for podcast ideas for 2024.

Speaker 1:

Alright, let's talk about recognizing and addressing anxiety, because this is part of why I'm even bringing this up. Like I said earlier, it's crucial to distinguish between anxiety and lack of enrichment. Now, while both can exist similar behaviors yeah, they're very similar, but their management differs. If your dog shows signs of distress, such as I don't know excessive barking, destructive behavior or restlessness, consider whether their enrichment needs are being met. However, if these behaviors, if they persist despite adequate physical and adequate mental stimulation, well then it might be time to consult a professional for possible anxiety issues.

Speaker 1:

Now, you want to make sure, if you do contact a professional, that they know what they're talking about. Fortunately, the dog training industry is not regulated Anybody can call themselves a dog trainer and they could have no education, no true formal understanding of animal behavior, and they could be doing things that are detrimental to your dog. So you want to make sure that you find somebody that's certified, and there's different certifications. Some are bogus and some are very reputable. The certification council for professional dog trainers again, the certification council for professional dog trainers. You can do a Google search for that. They have a directory of very highly skilled and qualified dog trainers that are certified and also behavior consultants. Now, if you can't find somebody qualified where you live, near where you live, around you, you can contact me.

Speaker 1:

I do behavior consultations globally. I do them virtually. Listen, you're the one that needs to be taught what to do. You'd be amazed. I don't need to be there. I have people all over the world having great success through the coaching that they're getting online with our virtual video conferences. So you can go to dogbehavioristcom dogbehavioristcom and if you need to find somebody, like I said, you can send me a message there. Also, if you've not been to my website, at dogbehavioristcom, there's over 80 free articles on various different behavior problems. It's highly unlikely that you're not going to be able to find an article that is going to discuss whatever kind of behavior problem you're dealing with with your dog. So please check out my website, dogbehavioristcom. Go to the menu, look for articles. Click on the articles. There's a lot of great information there.

Speaker 1:

I want to take a quick second to talk to you about calm dogs. Calm dogs is a natural calming aid that I spent five years researching and developing. That's right. Calm dogs is my creation. I developed calm dogs for dogs with anxiety, fears, phobias, reactivity and even aggression. I created calm dogs to help dogs that have noise sensitivities, like a fear of thunderstorms or fireworks. Calm dogs also works great for dogs with separation anxiety, a fear of car rides and travel. Calm dogs even helps those dogs with a fear of vet visits or grooming. In fact, I'm so confident that calm dogs will help your dog that I make it absolutely risk-free. Calm dogs comes with 100% money back guarantee. My promise to you is very simple Calm dogs works for your dog or it's free. Take the 45-day calm dog challenge. Go to calmdogscom or doganxietycom to learn more about calm dogs and how it can help your dog today, risk-free, at calmdogscom or doganxietycom.

Speaker 1:

All right, let's get back to our topic at hand. We're talking about is your dog anxious or is it a lack of enrichment? Let's talk about creating an enriched environment. Creating an enriched environment for your dogs, about understanding and catering to their specific needs. Part of that involves, first of all, consistency and routine. Dogs thrive, they absolutely thrive on routine, creating a predictable schedule for activities and when they're chilling out, that can significantly reduce anxiety. I cannot tell you enough how important routine structure and actually with that routine and structure, if you can create patterns, that's gonna help a lot. Think about it one of the things that dogs with anxiety, any animal with anxiety, even people one of the biggest things where there's a problem is they can't predict what's gonna happen. If somebody, a human and even a dog, if you can predict what's gonna happen, things are not as scary. So by having structure, by having routine, by creating patterns through your day and it being the same for your dog, that is gonna have a calming effect on a lot of dogs. Now, another thing as far as creating an enriched environment is having a variety of activities, incorporating different types of physical and mental activities. Not just the same thing, but having a variety and keeping things interesting for your dog is also gonna prevent boredom and help with anxiety. Now, the other thing as far as creating an enriched environment having appropriate social interactions. Now, I said appropriate. If you have listened to me for any time.

Speaker 1:

You know I am not a fan of dog parks and I am really, for the most part, I'm not a fan of doggy daycare. Yes, dogs are social animals. They need that social interaction. However, what they don't need is to be around unstable dogs, dogs that are reactive, dogs that are aggressive dogs that are fearful, dogs that are skittish. So I'm very particular about what dogs my dogs get to be around, what dogs they socialize with, and it's just a handful, and that's okay. Which one of your friends, which one of your family members have dogs that you know are chill, very stable and aren't suffering from anxiety, fears, phobias, aggression, reactivity? Those are the dogs you wanna have play dates with. Those are the dogs you wanna hang out with.

Speaker 1:

Taking your dog to a dog park it's kinda like spinning that roulette wheel. It's a gamble. Usually it's not a matter of if your dog's gonna be in an altercation. It's usually a matter of not if, but when. If you frequent dog parks frequently enough and you spend enough time in them, again, it's usually not a matter of if. It's a matter of when your dog's gonna end up in an altercation and if that happens, hopefully it doesn't ruin your dog for life, hopefully it doesn't imprint on your dog's nervous system. Hopefully it doesn't cause issues where, hey, now you do have to hire a behaviorist or a behavior consultant to help you because your dog's all messed up.

Speaker 1:

So, even though socialization is important for dogs, especially for the more social breeds, right, cocker, spaniels, king Charles Cavalier, very, very, very social animals. Now, I said it a little bit earlier, while certain breeds are more prone to anxiety, often what is perceived as anxiety is a lack of proper mental and physical enrichment. By you understanding the specific needs of specific breeds especially if you have one of these breeds and you being able to provide a balanced mix of physical and mental stimulation, you are gonna significantly enhance your dog's quality of life. Remember, every dog is unique and, hey, what works for one might not work for another. You need to be observing how your dog responds to different enrichment activities. You need to understand your dog's individual needs and when you do and you can provide that appropriate mental and physical stimulation, that's one of the great keys to having a very healthy, a very happy and a very well-adjusted canine.

Speaker 1:

Well, I just wanted to take that minute to talk about this. It's a huge topic. You're probably seeing it on the internet social media. All the trainers are talking about it. I thought I would address it. Hey, have a great weekend everybody. Have a great day. Tell your friends about the podcast, give us a review. If you love what we do, I'm outta here. Oh, come on. Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh. Thank you.

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