Sunday, 28 March 2010

avoiding guilt about our care of our dogs

Sometimes I think I must be silly to get involved in so many dog activities. Over the last few years Penny and I have done flyball, lure coursing, tracking, agility, tricks, canine freestyle, swimming, and probably best of all, walking together.

I buy her Nina Ottosson toys where she has to figure out how to get her dinner out of the puzzle.

I make puzzles and toys.

I try to challenge her thinking whenever possible. (Yes, dogs do think!)

When is enough enough? As Patricia McConnell asks on her blog, The Other End of the Leash, where do we draw the line on activities designed to keep our dogs interested and happy?

I don't know the answer. I only know I love seeing Penny's eyes sparkle and her tail wag.

I'm a great believer in choice and could never come at the idea that an obedient dog, one that leaps to obey without thought, is the ideal dog. Penny chooses to obey (sometimes after thinking about it longer than I like, actually), rather than acting on a conditioned response. Which, by the way, makes me think of the funny video clip on Noah's blog today.

So I loved reading what Patricia McConnell wrote about the value of choice on brain development.
One the books I’ve been reading on brain plasticity mentioned increased dendritic branching (connections between neurons) when caged rats were allowed to voluntarily exercise. That’s a good thing for the brain, and can lead to all kinds of positive benefits, not only enhanced mental function but also to a better ability to handle stress, for example. But here’s the kicker: there was no effect when the rats were forced against their wheel to exercise, even if it was for the same amount of time. Forced exercise may be good for physiological health, but not necessarily for a healthy brain.
It's a great post, and I suggest you might like to go over there and read it.


Noah the Airedale said...

Hehe, I'm really a good boy but did you notice in the video that I was actually encouraged by Bryan's knee to get back into the shower....sigh.

Penny is probably the luckiest dog we know with all those great activities to keep her occupied.


Twinkietinydog said...

Very interesting, especially since our mommy has often wondered about "too many" or "too few" activities for us.

parlance said...

Noah, you are still A GOOD BOY!

parlance said...

Twinkie, the trouble is that you dogs make our lives so interesting we don't know how to say no to new experiences.