Is Your Dog A Zombie Dog?
Thanks Dogadayproject and artist Erik K for the photo
Do you have a Zombie Dog? Do you inadvertently expect your dog to act like a zombie?
Before you answer that lets talk about what I mean by zombie dog.
In our society, I think our free time dwindles and our chores, jobs and expectations grow. We don’t have the free time people had just 20 years ago, and technology pulls us in and sucks away our time.
Spending time with our dogs training, exercising and playing has become one of the priorities that has fallen by the wayside; yet people expect their dogs to behave in the house without these simple things that a dog needs.
We expect our dogs to train, exercise and play with themselves, all while being quiet and obeying all household rules (usually without being taught the rules).
We expect our dogs to be zombies and just hang out quietly in our homes, shuffling around, wandering but not getting in our way or acting out.
We don’t want dogs, well not real dogs anyway; because real dogs need things like training and exercise and interactive play. Most people want this zombie dog that will sleep all day and occasionally shuffle around the house quietly.
Last year I posted a story about the day in the life of my dogs; to which I received some scathing reviews from people who don’t have the time to donate to their dogs like I do. To check out that article and what I do with my dogs; click here.
I totally understand that people work and live busy lives; but I also understand that a living thing (your dog) needs and deserves your time. He needs to be a priority in your life and you need to purposefully put him there.
Let Me Explain What Most Dogs Experience
Most dogs are awakened in the morning to their owners getting up and getting ready for work. They are let out, fed and then left for the day while their owners work. Few are left with toys or interactive things to do and some are crated, typically most dogs sleep during the day while their owners are away.
After several hours 8-12 typically their owners come home, let them out, feed them and then go on about their busy lives until it’s time to turn off the TV and go to bed.
These dogs get no training, no exercise, and no play; they live in a world of very little direct interaction and no way to really fulfill their own needs.
I am going to take a 5 year old child (let’s assume this is young puppy age) and I am going to take the child home and feed him and potty train him but I am not going to really do anything else.
I will provide him with a place to sleep, but I am going to lock him in a room with four white walls, no toys, no electronics, no books, just a little bowl of food and water and a bed.
Now, I am going to live the aforementioned life, getting up early letting the child go potty, feeding him and then leaving for 8-12 hours.
When I return home, I will let him out to go potty again and feed him and I might let him shuffle around the house a little bit before I head to bed. No exercise, no school, no learning, no real social time, no play other than what he provides for himself during the day.
If he jumps on me, talks to me, acts out or does anything I don’t like… I will yell at or hit him so he learns I want quiet and very little interaction from him, only barely acknowledging his existence.
Would this not be considered child abuse?
I am pretty sure that a child treated like this would probably misbehave too, (for those of you that have dogs that misbehave) because if someone is not providing you with the things you need and the stimulation that you need; at first you will probably try to provide it for yourself.
You would probably jump and climb all over the person who feeds you, you might chew the walls, or scratch up the carpet, or scream all day, or cry in an attempt to not only entertain yourself but also in an attempt to seek interaction from the people who feed you.
Even negative interaction like a beating would be better than total isolation and no interaction.
However, after a few beatings and with a little more maturity you would probably act out less and become more zombie like; simply shuffling around like you are expected to, moving from bed to bed or piece of furniture to piece of furniture and sleeping your life away.
It is kind of sad if you think about it.
Not Only Would This Be Considered Child Abuse, This is Also Dog Abuse
The even more wretched thing to think, is that these dogs live a much happier lives than those who have been banished to live outside, in kennels, crates or even on a chain for more on this click this link on How to Create an Aggressive Dog.
We have so much learning and understanding to do when it comes to our pets.
As a child I often had hamsters and other tiny creatures that were kept in cages; and even then I felt bad for their lack of quality of life because of the restraints in which they lived. I had a rat that lived more of her life out of her cage on my shoulder than she ever lived inside her cage.
And, even as a dog trainer, I only keep as many dogs as I can have and spend an adequate amount of time with each day.
I have friends in this business with dozens of dogs, but my opinion is that if you have that many you simply can’t be taking care of all of their physical, mental and emotional needs.
In My Opinion, Dogs are Individuals with Souls Not Property
In my opinion, dogs are individuals and need individual time, and training. They are not property as they are seen by the law and by others.
And, because they have souls and individual needs, I believe that they deserve our time and need to be made a priority in our lives just like we make other things with souls and feelings a priority.
You Must Make Your Dog a Priority
First, people need to understand that dogs have needs. Most people who treat their dogs like “things” inadvertently treat them this way. They get too wrapped up in their lifestyle and all the things that are pulling on their lives and their time.
I must believe that most people don’t mean to turn their dogs into zombie dogs, but instead just don’t understand them and their needs.
As with anything important we must prioritize our time and I think our dogs deserve our time before our TV and our electronics, games and things like facebook.
A living thing has needs beyond food, water and a place to sleep.
So What If You Work, But You Want to Meet Your Dog’s Needs?
I know that most people have to work just to make ends meet and pay their bills; but after reading this they may want to change their lifestyle to more accommodate or prioritize their dogs in their lives.
I talked about this in an earlier article The Working Man’s Conundrum click here to read more about that.
Get up earlier in the morning and take your dog out for some one on one time and some exercise. Set your alarm for an hour or two earlier than you would normally get up and spend time with your dog. To make the time more meaningful, spend some time training while you walk to stimulate your dog’s brain as well as his muscles.
Your dog’s brain needs stimulation as much or even more so than his muscles or his body does! So add some running, some slow paces, some turns and some in motion exercises to your walk. Bring a toy with you so that you can play along the way and make sure to add some serious exercise.
A stroll isn’t as beneficial as a run, and if you combine a run with some dog obedience training then your dog will get even more value from the time he spends with you. For more on that click here for THIS is What I Mean by Exercise for more bang for your exercise buck!
Get some interactive toys and stuff them full of treats and then hide them around the house, or give him something safe to chew while he is in his crate.
And, when you get home take him for another walk or run and again work on training and stimulate his brain for at least an hour.
Then before bed, teach him a new trick, a new skill or play a game with him. This will again stimulate his mind and his body and fulfill his needs.
Not only will this be beneficial for his mind and his soul, this is critical to having a great relationship. Nothing wants to live like a zombie, not a person, a child or a dog.
Your dog can’t entertain himself.
He doesn’t read books, he can’t benefit from the TV, video games or social media. YOU have to spend time with him in order to meet his basic needs.
Remember he is your best friend and a living, breathing thing with a soul and needs to be bumped up on your list of priorities. He is more important than your favorite TV show, social media or even a human friend (your human friends can take care of their own needs).
It doesn’t really matter if you do agility, swimming, fetch, teach him tricks or just work on advancing his obedience; he needs and appreciates the stimulation!
If you make him a priority, I GUARANTEE you will see less bad behaviors and you will both live a more fulfilled life!
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.