Restless Spirit: Mike D’Abruzzo

This is written by Mike D’Abruzzo of Self Help Dog Training. I think he sums up the need that dogs have for exercise as a therapy modality well. Read this, and when you’re convinced that you have to help your dog find that fulfillment, let us know. We will send over the coach they need to succeed!

Restless Spirit:  by Mike D’Abruzzo

One of the most overlooked factors when it comes to solving canine behavior problems and getting the most balance from your dog as possible is the restless spirit. The restless spirits of dogs are among the main reasons why I have a secure job solving these problems of imbalances today. Although, if you put me in a time warp and sent me back in time about 150 years I would have a near impossible task at making a living at this profession. Why is that?

Before I can answer that, you need to know what restless spirit even is. Restless spirit is the inner force within the dogs that nags them with a desire to do the work of which is natural to their heritage.

Some examples:

1.      Huskies generally have a strong desire to roam and historically are most balanced when allowed to pull a sled across many miles of territory.

2.      Great Pyrenees generally have a strong desire to defend and are most balanced with a flock and territory to protect.

3.      Most Terriers have a strong prey kill drive and are most balanced when allowed to find and kill prey animals such as mice, rats, and other vermin.

Now, back to why there were less behavioral problems, and I’d be out of a job, 150 years ago. Simply, a much higher percentage of dogs were actually doing the mentally satisfying jobs to which they have been selectively bred to do. Since that time, dogs have slowly moved out of the fields and into the homes and onto the furniture and beds. Basically, collecting an unemployment check in the form of dog kibble and focusing their working drives toward anything that seems to quiet that nagging restless spirit. Most dogs don’t know what their true purpose is, but seem to gravitate toward activities that seem to be in the right direction.


1.      Huskies selectively bred to pull a sled toward the vast unknown, may satisfy this desire by escaping from the yard and roaming beyond the neighborhood (sometimes beyond the county!).

2.      Flock Guardian breeds such as Great Pyrenees that find themselves without a flock and pasture to defend may find a job in being overprotective of the children and yard.

3.      Small Terriers without vermin to hunt may find themselves obsessing about squirrels on walks or the children’s hamster cages.

There are still dogs out their doing work. But, I don’t remember the last time I got a call from an Eskimo about their escaping husky, or a police officer about their k9’s problem of chasing cars in his neighborhood, or a shepherd who’s working collie is chasing and nipping his children’s ankles… make sense? I don’t get these types of calls because these types of dogs already have a job, so it is unnecessary to channel and waste their energy on poor substitutes and therefore there is very low incidence of complaints by owners of true working dogs.


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