There is a lovely chocolate brown Labrador who lives next door to me. I see him very infrequently either walking with his owner or in the back of the owners car. When I say infrequently I mean perhaps once a month. I don’t think the dog next door goes for many walks.
Leroy and Madison have walks, drives, bike rides and many exciting happenings in their daily existence. They also come to work with me in the studio, so they are rarely alone in the back yard. Compared to my lonely dog neighbour they both lead very exciting lives.
For some dog owners just a pat on the head, a food bowl and the odd walk is enough for their dog. For me I like to include the dogs as much as I can in my life. I believe a stimulated and well exercised dog is a happy dog and as result I am a happy dog owner. There have been times in my life where I have come down with the flu and not been able to walk the dogs for a few days. During these times I have noticed how stir crazy the dogs get and also how their behaviour changes. They get a little naughty and they also create their own games but it only seems to result in some sort of destruction of either a pillow or soft toy.
In our busy and time poor lives it can be difficult to find the time in a day to walk the dog. I don’t believe walking is the only exercise we can do with our dogs. Dogs like to use their brain too. Dogs thinking is often overlooked and many consider just a walk in the park is enough to stimulate a dogs mind. There are many other activities you can do with your dog if you can’t get to the park, however I do believe dogs need to be walked regularly but a day here and there is almost unavoidable in our busy world.
I like playing the “where is it game”. I find an object that both the dogs like, either their ball or toy, and then I hide it. I make them sit and wait, (Madison is very sneaky at this game and will tiptoe behind me to watch where I hide it) then I give the command to them to find the object. Sometimes they find it instantly and other times it takes them a while. Both the dogs love this game and it will entertain them for hours. It seems to use up some of their energy and I love the way they have to use their brain to work out where the object is. I can also catch up on things around the house while they are busy looking and playing.
Sometimes I just the play in the backyard with the dogs and they seem to enjoy it when I spend time with them in their environment. The good old ‘throw the ball game’ is always the the best game in a frantic lifestyle. I will sometimes combine both the ‘ball throwing’ and ‘the where is it’ game, and this seems to burn off some excess energy – not as good as a walk but fun none the less.
These mentally involved games are great if you only have a little time to spare. I think the dogs feel more content after the games, human contact and attention. Ideally a walk and the games would be the best choice but sometimes just a few games and a few pats will be enough for a day but only for a day.
Dogs do need walks and they do need experience different environments. Even a quick car ride can seem like hours of activity for your dog so even if you are popping down to the shop take your dog with you. Of course on a hot day always remember to ensure they have fresh air and never leave a dog in a hot car.
Remember to make your dogs mental health and physical health a priority in you life. If you don’t have time to exercise your dog your self have a look at investing in a professional dog walker or take your dog to dog day care.
It’s unfair to leave your furry friend in a back yard for days on end. Give them some of your love and time and they will reward you twenty fold.
Creative Designer – Catherine Dorrestyn