Socialisation, exercise and training for your dog
Socialisation means getting your dog used to behaving well when he/she is around other people and animals, and in different places. It is particularly important to socialise puppies - 'puppy preschool' classes are available at many vet clinics. The more situations your puppy is exposed to, and has positive experiences with, the better behaved and more confident he/she will be as an adult.
Dogs have evolved to spend much of their day migrating. The 'need' to walk is hardwired into every dog's brain. Some dogs require longer or more regular walks than others. But all dogs should spend some time each day outside the property with you.
It does not matter if you have a large property - to a dog, this is still just a very big kennel behind walls! It is not natural for dogs to spend all their time indoors or in the yard they need to connect with the world and be out in it.
Walking your dog through the streets or park is a primal activity that allows him/her to get to know the territory. Your dog will learn about the environment - other people and animals, and about dangers such as cars, and things to be avoided such as bikes. Walking your dog will help keep him/her mentally and physically healthy. It is an important way for him/her to bond with you.
Energetic dogs may also require some time running off leash (check with your council about the location of leash free parks in your area). Many problems such as digging and barking arise because dogs are restless and bored. Often, these problems can be solved simply by giving dogs more exercise.
Provide your dog with toys, and rotate them regularly to keep him/her interested. You can keep your dog busy while you are out by giving him/her a large raw marrow bone to chew, stuffing hollow (indestructible) toys with food, or providing a large block of ice that has had some treats frozen into it.
Train your dog to ensure he/she is a good canine citizen and to stop him/her getting bored. Training means you have good control over your dog both at home and in the community. It may also prevent or treat behavioural problems. If you need help, ask your vet, local council, animal shelter or dog club/ association for advice, or look under "Dog training" in the Yellow Pages.
You can also enjoy fun activities with your dog by joining an obedience, flyball or agility club. Find details of these clubs online, in the Yellow Pages, or by contacting 'Dogs Victoria'.