It’s that time of the year when you are probably back to your old routine of rising early, preparing for work, kids are busy with school and after school activities and you do it all over again day after day after day. Visions of your relaxed summer are quickly fading as your fall routine takes over.
So, how about your dog? After a few months of frolicking with your kids, perhaps vacationing or spending time in the pool and yes, most likely eating more table scraps than normal…he is back to his old routine of staying at home most of the day by himself. (and don’t you wish you had a camera to see what he is actually doing?)
While it is true that dogs do sleep most of the day, there are a few things you can do to put him on a schedule and make his life a bit more interesting.
- Diet- if your Fido has had a summer filled with extra treats and unscheduled feedings, now is the time to change that. Feeding your dog a healthy diet twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening, will help to regulate his digestive system and minimize the number of times he has to “do his business” during the day. If you are out of the home most of the day, this will certainly help to minimize accidents.
- Toys- Introduce a few new toys to your dogs line up this fall. My favorites are toys that release treats or food as the pet plays with them. They can roll, flip and nuzzle these toys and treats/food release. This will help your dog to get a bit of exercise while he eats as well as provide mental stimulation. There are also “guaranteed” toys on the market that can take the force of a tough chewer. If the toy is ruined you can send it back in to the manufacturer for a new one.
- Exercise- this is so key to your dog’s physical health and peace of mind…not to mention yours!! My recommendation is to start with one good walk in the morning followed by another even better walk in the evening. If you can fit in at least a couple of miles at a fast pace with a big dog or a high energy dog in the morning, your dog will have less anxiety all day. This will lessen the tendency to chew furniture or other destructive behaviors. The walk in the evening will release all of the pent of energy the dog has built up during the day.
- Dog park- if your dog is a good candidate for the dog park, this is a great way to burn off energy as well. However, I do recommend walking your dog and getting energy out PRIOR to going to the dog park. To ensure safety your dog should be in a calm state of mind when visiting.
- Gear-don’t have time for a long walk prior to work? Opt for a short one but add a doggie backpack to the mix. A back pack fits snuggly onto the dogs back and can be filled with weighted items on either side of the pack. This will give your dog a tougher work out in a shorter amount of time. (Think of yourself walking with added weights on your legs.)
- Support- if your schedule just does not allow much time for the dog, you have to align yourself with people who can support you. This could be a pet sitter, doggie daycare, friends or family members that have time during the day to walk/play with your dog. If you are financially able to hire a pet sitter to walk your dog midday, that is terrific. Or, perhaps check the prices of a doggie daycare and enroll your dog a couple of days a week. I guarantee you will come home to a tired dog. Or, there might be a neighbor that is willing to spend quality time with your dog during the day as well….and they just might do this for a batch of fresh baked cookies or a pizza once in a while!
- Kids and dogs- gradually introduce pet responsibilities to your kids as they get older. Kids can begin feeding and grooming your pets at about five or six and taking on more responsibilities later. Always supervised of course.
Creating a schedule for your dog and making sure he has an outlet for his energy will make for a relaxed dog and a happy owner!