Agency is about empowering dogs with choices. Choices give dogs the ability to effect change in their environment to create outcomes that are gratifying for them. Agency, when appropriate and safe, encourages confidence and independence and is a key component of mental and emotional health. We control most of what our dogs do in their day to day- giving them agency allows them to be active participants in their own lives.
Safety & Security
Safety and security, being safe from harm and feeling safe from harm respectively, are paramount in general … and especially in the boarding/daycare environment. Establishing routines, creating dog-safe spaces, using humane and science-based positive training and handling procedures and creating rapport with each guest dog as an individual are some of the ways we provide safety and security.
Instinctual behaviors means encouraging dogs to be dogs. Sensory stimulation is a main focus here (especially sense of smell!). Also, endeavors that might get them “in trouble” are the very things they need to have appropriate outlets for! This includes activities such as foraging and scavenging, digging, chewing, shredding, destroying, chasing, vocalizing and more.
Relationships are important for dogs, and, when given the choice, many dogs prefer human company to that of other dogs. Although a lot of dogs are dog-social, many dogs are dog-tolerant, dog-reactive or even dog-aggressive. As a matter of fact, adult dogs don’t need to play in the same sense they did when they were puppies learning the canine language. These are our top reasons we don’t do playgroups. At Percy’s we bond with all of our guest dogs individually since enrichment overall has so many more components for a fulfilled doggie life than just playgroups.
Mental stimulation, or mental exercise, is the single best way to give dogs the best “workout.” Dogs love to problem solve! Canine cognition involves training, brain games, cooperation, social learning and a variety of other enrichment activities where dogs have to think, learn, understand and remember. Besides being super fun, conscious mental activities are also powerful tools. Not only for exercise, but also for resolving the most basic to the most complex behavior issues and even helping keep dogs’ brains healthy as they age.
Physical exercise is as important for our dogs as it is for us! For our dogs this often means walkies, hikes, swimming or fetch, but there are oodles of other fun and engaging ways to give our dogs opportunities to keep their bodies healthy. Dog sports like agility, degility (agility’s more low impact counterpart), disc dog, treibball, herding activities, and canine fitness also help develop and maintain body awareness and overall health.