4 GSPs and the Lazy Dog Trainer
Professional dog trainer by day, amazingly lazy dog owner by night - that's me! With 4 GSPs and a bloodhound (don't tell GSP rescue about that one!), I've got my hands full. It's important to me that all of my dogs stay mentally engaged and happy...but remember that I'm a lazy dog owner :) Here's how I do it!
Most of my dogs don't get free food. My motto is work, hunt or play for all food. Dogs love to eat, and you have to feed them - preferably twice daily - so it's a great opportunity to provide some mental stimulation for your dog. I use Kongs, treat balls, and other interactive food toys for meals. I also measure out meals and use that food for training sessions.
My dogs all have a job. The bloodhound trails, one GSP does scent work and obedience, another is a search dog, another is a therapy dog. This means that each dog gets one-on-one training on a weekly basis. I have goals for each of the dogs, and those goals help keep me motivated to train and keep my training sessions focused.
I provide supervised, structured play for my dogs. This means fetch, tug or chase with individual dogs and moderating group play. My dogs have very limited access to the outdoors so that when they do go outside, they are excited to play. Short, intense play sessions allow my dogs to get alot of exercise in short bursts. Fetch, tug, and chase are also games that exercise both the body and mind.
How do I know that its all of these components that make my dogs happy and stable? Sometimes I am a very busy dog owner, so I don't always provide regular training, structured play, and interactive toys for all of my dogs. When one of my dogs seems overly exuberant, becomes more mischievous than normal, or performs a truly naughty act, I stop and think - what has his schedule been this week? And without fail, I can see a failure on my part to provide 1 or more of these components.
Remember that in choosing to adopt a GSP, you can think smart and manage your dog's needs - but GSPs are still a high energy breed that need regular exercise, plentiful mental stimulation, and a great deal of human contact. If you can't provide this with some regularity, then GSPs are likely not for you. If you're ready for a can-do dog who's always up for some fun, then a GSP may be just the right dog for you!