If you own a dog you know it's so super rewarding, but can also be a lot of work. The thing that struck the idea for this blog is witnessing dog parents avoid giving their dog the attention he/she needs. Walking the dog to the mail box and back is not nearly enough exercise and stimulation for you pup. One symptom of an under active and neglected dog is misbehavior, they may start chewing on furniture legs, barking more frequently, ect. I know that a lot of us can relate to being super busy with our lives and not being able to give your dog much of your time. Although every dog breed is different and my need different levels of exercise, training and attention, there is a simple commonality to all dogs that keeps them happy and healthy.
Because my husband and I are at a time in our lives where our schedules are very demanding, we made sure we came up with a routine to keep our Rio boy happy.
If you are struggling balancing life, kids, work, school, etc and can't seem to fit the time in for your buddy, here are some tips that have worked really well for us and give us a peace of mind that we are doing the right thing for our dog.
#1. Stick to a Schedule
We think this is the most important tip of them all!
We wake up at least 30 mins early every day so that we can dedicate a solid 20-30 minutes walking and spending time outdoors with Rio.
When we get back, we always feed him breakfast at the same time around 6:30am. Because he knows his schedule so well, if we get home and I start doing something else and I forget to feed him right at 6:30, he reminds me by walking over and whining by his bowl. Its crazy how dogs have such a good read on time.
Feeding your pup at the same time everyday also helps you know their potty schedule. Which can be very convenient and I always know when to expect him to relieve himself. If it's a work day, Rio goes on his second walk around 3:00pm, not only does he look forward to this everyday, but we do to. I love listening to audiobooks, or talking with my husband and enjoying our fresh air time together as it's coming to the end of the day. Keeping your dog on a routine helps regulate their mood and anxiety levels. When they know to expect something, it gives them comfort and stability.
We all have different schedules, so finding that "sweet spot" time for your dog at least two times a day is crucial.
#2. Show Affection/Pay Attention
Before you leave and when you get home are both times when the dog has raised emotions. So giving your buddy a quick pet and some love, letting them know you will be back soon, helps keep your dog calm while you are a way. When you get home it's common for you pup to get super excited, they may jump on on you, run circles around you, nudge you, it's all their over excitement to see you again. Every time we get home Rio always bring us a toy and I make sure to put my stuff down and do a quick tug a war, a bunch of hugs and petting. Just taking a couple minutes really calms him down and makes him so content. Showing your dog affection is soooooo good for them, all they need is just a little bit each day to make them happy.
#3 Address your dogs basic needs
Every dog needs the basics. This includes things like grooming and healthcare. Make plans to address these things as regularly as needed. For Rio I bath him every Sunday or every other Sunday depending on what activities he did that week. During bath time is a great time to inspect and feel around your dogs body and skin to make sure they don't have any rashes, bumps, or anything that should be addressed. This way during my busy schedule I have peace of mind that Rio is good and healthy.
#4 Smell Walks
An important one that I learned about after reading "Inside of a Dog" by Alexandra Horowitz (such a good read) is that dogs get a lot of stimulation by sniffing. Most of us while we are walking our dogs tend to pull them to keep moving when they start sniffing to much during walks, but I learned that walking around the cul de sac and just letting Rio take his time and sniff whatever he wants to, gives him just as much stimulation as a long walk. Obviously not the same exercise, but allowing them to use their most dominate sense and have the freedom to breath in the world around them is so important. I usually try and do a quick smell walk before bed every night, I don't have to walk far and I just let him leisurely walk me as he sniffs around and does his thing.
#5 Consider Doggy Day Care
Doggy Day Cares are popping up all over, and odds are you have one at least within a few miles from where you live. If we are going to be gone for over 6-8 hours we always consider doggy day care. We prefer ones that actually have an outdoor space, since Rio is a big dog and loves being outside. It can get pretty pricey if you are going all the time, but ask the day care about purchasing bulk deals and almost all of them give you a great discount if you buy a certain amount of day care days ahead of time. This is also convenient so you don't have to remember cash every pickup. I love how tired Rio is after a day at day care, playing and making new friends all day wears him out. He also always seems to sleeps so sound afterward:) If you are in South Orange County we recommend the Camp Bow Wow in San Clemente, and The Dog Ranch in Laguna Beach.
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