I can see how someone would think that the following statement describes my dog.
They have excessively high prey drive and are excessively exuberant or playful. This level of energy often spans from their youth into adulthood. They can be destructive and develop bad behaviors if not given enough stimulation and exercise. This often causes problems for others who are not familiar with such a breed.
Fortunately and / or unfortunately this description fits some of us a little too well and to be honest, I’ve spent a lifetime suffering, and causing others to do the same, because this description fits me perfectly. In fact it fits me so well that some have labeled it as a "condition" of mine.
Luckily, I’ve also spent a lifetime leveraging this “condition” to accomplish some pretty amazing things.
I can’t claim to have completely mastered my “condition”, but I have been able make significant progress with it.
Recently, thanks to my dog, I made a groundbreaking discovery about my “condition” that I think many of us can relate to as well as greatly benefit from.
Now I’m not a Doctor nor am I a Psychologist, but I think I’m on to something here. Check out what I diagnosed my dog (and myself) with.
It Turns Out, My Dog Is Crazy
When we told people about the Belgian Malinois that we got from famous SEAL dog trainer, and former Teammate of mine, Mike Ritland, they always said something like “That breed of dog is nuts. You’re going to have to work with her constantly, you’re in for trouble!”.
Now I knew the breed was intense, that’s actually why we got her, but the warnings started to get me worried so we reached out to our new friend Meagan, a professional dog trainer, to get some advice and perhaps discover what we've gotten ourselves into.
It was the way she explained the reason for all of those warnings that had it all hit home for me.
She explained to my wife and me that the horror stories about the breed came from the people who were NOT providing the dog with enough exercise or intellectual stimulation.
“This lack of purpose leaves dogs no outlet for their naturally active tendencies—physical and mental—and it causes development and behavior problems”
Wait… are we talking about the dog?
Here are a few of the problems "my type" of dog, due to the way she was bred, was reported to have in situations she might consider boring or lacking in stimulation.
• Short temperedness
• Excessive night time activities
It was one of those moments where I could read my wife’s mind.
“Oh no… She just described my husband”
Simultaneously in my mind all I heard was:
“It’s simply because of the way she was bred"
It wasn’t that the dog was crazy, defective or easily bored. The dog required more exercise and stimulation than others simply because she was bred that way.
Imagine that. Someone intentionally bred this dog to be active, protective and intelligent. Some species discourage such traits. In fact some species are so lazy that instead of engaging those with lots of energy and intelligence they actually try to medicate it out of them.
"Since when did needing a sense of purpose, being active and intellectually stimulated become a disorder anyways? " -- Eric Davis
Am I Bred to be bored?
So do I get anxious, depressed, restless, short tempered and sometimes have problems sleeping? Ya... I sure do. Whenever I don't feel like what I'm doing has purpose or I've not been sufficiently active or intellectually stimulated during my day I feel all of those things.
"All of those things!"
I was bred to chase prey all day, solve life or death problems on a regular basis and care for and protect those around me.
Imagine that. Someone intentionally built me to hunt for food for my family, solve life and death problems and protect those around me. Why would anyone discourage such traits?
If you look at it this way one could easily say I was bred to be bored because when I'm not doing these things, or their equivalent, I literally feel like my soul is crawling out of me.
"Crawling Out of me!"
So it is for this reason that I reject societies boring sedentary lifestyles, which is killing people everyday, and embrace my “breed” rather than try and stuff it into a mold that was made up by some marketing company that wants to keep me in front of the TV a little longer.
Now I know all of this “mold breaking” sounds exciting and all; but, keeping engaged and active in this day and age isn’t always so easy. I mean we don’t have any predators chasing us across the Savannah to keep us entertained anymore so we’ve got to make up our own games to keep us sane. This is another thing that my Belgium Malinois taught me.
For a long time in my recreational life I didn’t seem to “stick with anything” for very long and that had me feeling bad; but, once again my dog trainer showed me why this was happening and more importantly helped me be okay with it.
Another Tip From Meagan
We were talking about the challenges we were having in keeping our dog “engaged” and interested in training and how we would handle it through the days, weeks, months and coming years. And once again Meagan’s answer rang home.
"At this point I was beginning to wonder if Meagan was actually a Psychologist that my wife had actually hired to train both me and not the dog."
She looked around at all of Indy’s (our Dog) training gear (toys) and asked us how often we changed them out?
We told her that we didn’t change the gear out. We had simply bought her a bunch of stuff and moved on.
“Ah ha” she said. She went on to explain that Indy would only remain engaged with the toys so long as they were providing sufficient stimulation. Simply put. Indy would get bored of the training gear and toys if they were not switched out regularly.
Oh yes…another breed on this planet that likes gear and “loves” new gear. I’m now beginning to believe that I’m not so crazy after all.
"Get it? Some of us just need more stimulation than others."
Yes… This means you’re supposed to want and buy new things to keep you stimulated! It’s almost like marketing depends and exploits this truth on a daily basis. Hmmm?
"When did needing a sense of purpose, being active and intellectually stimulated become a disorder anyways?"
So as it turns out, and this might be a stretch for some of you, it’s not so much that we’re easily bored; but, more that life in many ways has become boring.
Like my dog, I no longer need to head out daily to hunt for food while avoiding larger more crafty predators, and like my dog I must invent and engage in games to keep me from getting too bored.
You see when my dog doesn’t participate in enough stimulating games in her day she starts to “act out”, chew things up, piss on the carpet and misbehave. She gets anxious.
"She Gets Anxious when she doesn't train!"
This Can Leave You Hanging - So Read & Do This
Well - if any of this has resonated with you there is really only one thing to do at this point. Get out and get some!
I know with busy schedules and the demands of life this can be difficult. For this reason I publish content and courses to help my readers reassess and prioritize their life so that they actually have the space to live a good one. Be sure you've subscribed to us to receive announcements when we launch these resources.
To make our content and courses more potent share your answers to these questions in the comment section.
- What happens to you when you’re not active or engaged enough?
- What other areas of your life are effective by inactivity or lack of intellectual stimulation?
- What prevents you from living the life you were bred to live?
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