Did you know that when dogs engage in species typical behaviors it calms them? Let’s back up and find out what are
species typical behaviors? What can I do to start calming my rambunctious or stressed and anxious dog?
Let’s take a deep dive into this segment of an enrichment plan.
Species typical behaviors are those behaviors that dogs engage in naturally. These can be for dogs as a whole or
we can break down behaviors by breed. While I personally look at each dog as an individual and I don’t look too
far into breed stereotypes, it is true that different breeds are bred for specific purposes. You wouldn’t see a
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel engaged in herding behaviors any more than you would see a Border Collie digging for
rodents. A big however, is that because we are dealing with living beings, you can still have a Boarder Collie
that digs in the backyard and a Cavalier who runs around your ankles.
It can be important for you to know about what breed of dog is in your family. Not sure? Is your fur baby an
all-American dog and you can’t decide on the breed? That is okay! There are plenty of dog specific behaviors
that we can start introducing your dog to that will help calm him down.
We can start with the big one: What do all dogs do and do far better than humans? Sniff! Sniffing is a species
typical behavior that can calm a dog. Giving dogs an opportunity to sniff on their own is an enrichment
opportunity, so it is meeting a basic need. Dogs need to sniff. Go on sniff walks with your dog where he is in
control of how fast you go. Go to a new area for a walk and allow your dog to sniff new pee-mail from different
Other natural doggie activities include digging, licking, biting, chewing, ripping and tearing. All of these
activities also generate a sense of calm in your dog. Now, I am not proposing to let your Terrier dig up your
posies and more than I am suggesting that your Rottweiler shred the toilet paper. However, we can absolutely
make some DIY enrichment activities around the house to provide outlets for our dogs.
Remember that enrichment is meeting a need in your dog, so these behaviors are really important to their
well-being. This is one reason why we should provide our dogs with things to chew and shred.
So, give them Bully Sticks regularly and let them shred their stuffed toys every now and again. They aren’t pulling ears off of stuffed bunnies for the fun of it, they are satisfying an inate need to shred.