Dogs are like us in many ways. They live within families that we call packs. They work together, have rules, and take care of one another. They live within a society, although it’s not quite as advanced as ours. Some get along great, while others struggle, just as we do with each other. In this note/article/blog or whatever it is, I’d like to talk briefly about my most recent findings while studying dog behavior. After all, all of us scientist types have to publish our findings one way or another. 🙂

I’ve developed a new system of helping dogs during the rehabilitation process. Or, I should say, I’ve recently organized it into a system. I’ve been using this system for years, but never really had a name or system for it. I guess that’s part of the growth process though. We all eventually find a way to organize our thoughts and opinions. Here are the five necessities I’ve identified as the key elements each dog needs to maintain happiness and stability. I call it S.P.R.E.D. (Maybe I should tattoo it on my knuckles like the love guru and his D.R.A.M.A method- no? Okay).

1.) Structure – This simply means that dogs require a structured lifestyle. They need a leader and rules. They need to know who’s in charge and who’s there to love them. Basically, they need a family of some kind. Even stray dogs are known to pack up with each other to survive. Lone wolves are not alone for too long. They eventually find a mate and start a new pack. Structure is important, as even the canine kind need love and support! But structure is also a foundation to build upon. And without a good structure, you cannot have a happy dog.

2. Purpose – I believe that purpose is the driving force behind all living things. With out purpose, what’s the point? Why are we here? Dogs need purpose too. Dogs need to know what they are supposed to do and how to do it. Or in other words, they need a job. Whether it’s to love you, comfort you, or keep the mailman away, they need something to do and a good reason to do it. If you do not give your dog a purpose, he/she will find one for him/herself and you may not like it.

3. Routine – Dogs love routine. They thrive and count on it. Dogs need to know when their walk is coming, or when you are coming home for work. They love knowing what to expect and when to expect it. Although dogs can handle surprises well, they prefer to know what’s coming. They will even keep you to the routine after it’s established. If it’s time to walk and you forget, they may remind you by bringing you the leash. Or if it’s time to eat, they may dig at the bowl or bring it to you. Routines can even be loosely based. For instance, my dogs don’t eat at certain times during the day. They eat as soon as the humans finish. If we don’t immediately feed them after we finish eating, I end up with a bowl in my hands and a whining dog staring me down.

4. Exercise – This doggy necessity is one that you’d think was the most obvious. However, a lot of people neglect to provide their dogs with the exercise they require. All dogs need to be walked every day. Even if they are small dogs that do not require vigorous exercise, they still need to get out and move. Dogs can get “cabin fever” just as people do, which can lead to unhealthy behavior problems. Walking your dog is not only good exercise, it’s also a great way to bond with your dog and establish leadership outside of the home. A dog with a lot of energy and no where to direct that energy, means trouble. Dogs will find somewhere to get rid of that excess energy, and that could mean destroyed furniture to you. Ever heard the saying, “A tired dog is a happy dog?”

5. Discipline – The least favorite of the five, but definitely one of the most important. Discipline is a necessity that even dogs will enforce on each other, and sometimes on their people. With out discipline there is no order. All living things need discipline to stay on track. This does not mean hitting, spanking, electrocuting, or anything harsh. It simply means that the rules of the pack get enforced by the pack member that sets the rules.. the most entitled. Dogs will bite, nip, or tackle each other. They also muzzle one another to assert authority. Without discipline, the pack would be in a state of total chaos.

So there you have it. The SPRED method and what each part means in a nutshell. 5 essential things every dog needs to live a happy life. Structure, Purpose, Routine, Exercise, and Discipline.

Please let me know what you think, and please click SHARE (Facebook users) to share with your friends who may not know about this page. Also check out my Facebook page at I’d like to inspire as many people as possible to be better pet parents. Thanks, and may you find patience and peace.