What makes them happy

What does your dog like to do? This is a question that I often ask guardians when we are going to do a shoot. What is your dog's favorite thing to do? I like to capture dogs at their happiest; so if we allow them to indulge in that activity I can usually get some great images. Sometimes people don't know what their dog loves to do; they like to go for walks, they like to play ball, they like to sleep on the couch but they don't have a "love to" activity. Well; that's pretty much like people right? Some people are driven some are happy just doing whatever.

I had the chance to shoot a very happy dog yesterday; a super athlete. This gal loves her Frisbee and was having a great time as I shot away. I love it when a super athlete jams on their breaks at the last moment so as not to crash into me. This tells me that they are so into their game that they didn't notice me until the last second. They skid to a stop; give me a look as if to say "hmmm; didn't see you there," and they are off again. Tilley was one of these dogs and I have to say it was a bit tough to see this flying poodle and not think of my girl now long retired.

Many dogs love to chase; this stems from the hardwired prey drive. Drive comes in many different degrees; for Tilley it was off the charts. Her desire to chase was so strong that she found her own outlet for this behavior. She started chasing shadows which she discovered were a pretty reliable source for her; this is where it all started. But shadow chasing became dangerous so I transferred her chase drive to balls and frisbees; this gave me more control over the drive.

Many dogs love water; and it's not all labs or goldens but many are. I remember one home I went to where the woman told me of her obsessive labs; they were in the pool all day. And if a toy should sink to the bottom of the pool one of the dogs would dive repeatedly until they got down there and retrieved it. Finding what your dog loves to do usually comes from a natural drive that you need to untap. Dogs that do not have a high drive can be more difficult to figure out.

I'd have to say that one of Luke's all time favorite things to do is to sit in the family room. After dinner he stands waiting for me at the kitchen door; he appears to be tapping his foot as he impatiently waits for me to finish up. As soon as I approach the door he flies off with excitement; across the living room and down to the family room where he stands with a huge grin on his face and wagging like crazy. Yep; he's an odd one.

Some dogs LOVE to hike; they are more into the slow paced sniffing walk. They love to check out every step and have no desire to simply charge through the woods at full speed. What about those dogs who love to pull you down the street or around the park? Wouldn't they love to be hooked up to some weights and pull to their hearts content? I often gave weight pulling a thought as Luke dragged me around as a youngster. I wondered how the bully breed people would welcome me and my standard poodle; more than likely with a snicker I'm thinking.

And for all of you with those herding dogs that can't stop rounding up the family. There are places where you can take them to round up flocks of sheep or geese; simply for the fun of it. Expelling energy is a huge factor in doing what a dog loves to do. If your dog is the type with energetic drive then you best go with it. A dog with no where to go and nothing to do can wreak havoc on your yard and home.

"Got a digger?" You use to have a beautiful yard but now it looks like a mine field; ah the telltale signs of a digger lives here. For dogs like this you need to make them a dig box or find an outlet for the drive. Jessie was a digger; a huge digger driven by the desire to find a critter in the ground. We took her almost daily down to the canyons to release this energy and she was happy as a clam with her butt in the air and head in a hole.

For those of you who have couch potato dogs? Just about every home has a couch so you've got it made.

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