All terrier breeds are known for being fearless and energetic. Bedlington Terriers are no exception. Like other terrier breeds, Bedlingtons were bred to be hunting dogs. This helps explain their enthusiasm for life, but it also indicates that they need regular mental and physical stimulation, such as can be obtained through play. Failure to provide these can lead to behavior problems in the dog as it tries to entertain itself.
Fetch and tug-of-war are two games that nearly every dog enjoys and that expend a high amount of the dog’s energy. Although most dogs have at least some retrieving instinct, most still have to be taught to play fetch by their human owners; don’t be dismayed if your Bedlington doesn’t seem interested at first. Tug-of-war, by contrast, is usually taught to a dog by its littermates. In some rare instances, playing this game with a dog can heighten its aggressiveness, but this can usually be countered through standard training practices.
Each working breed has been bred for a specific task. This means that certain instincts have been heightened and, in turn, those dogs will particularly enjoy games that provide an outlet for those instincts. Since Bedlingtons are hunters, a game of hide-and-seek lets them express this. There are two different version of this game. One is to simply hide behind a door or in a closet and then call your dog once. The dog will know that it is supposed to come to you, but it will have to seek to find you. The other is to hide its food around your house so that it can hunt for it throughout the day. Your dog might need to be trained on this if it isn't used to scavenging. Also, remember where you put the food, so it isn’t forgotten and left to rot.
Bedlingtons are intelligent canines, and agility training challenges them both mentally and physically. An agility course has a variety of obstacles for the dog to overcome, but the dog has to listen to you to know which ones to do in what order. However, since these courses can be dangerous for an inexperienced dog and owner, it is recommended that you seek professional training to get your canine started.
Although general training might seem more like work than play, it satisfies the same needs and can be quite enjoyable for both owner and pet. Furthermore, training your dog can increase the efficacy of other forms of play by building a bond of trust between pet and owner. The key to training most dogs is to be calm, consistent and firm, and to break down complex tricks into the most basic steps and then teach them to the dog. With a little research or professional training, most tricks, such as "sit," "stay" or "roll over," can be taught in your own home.
- For the Love of a Dog - Understanding Emotion in You and Your Best Friend; Patricia McConnell; August 2007
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