When we’re on vacation, the dogs never stop moving – except to eat and sleep at the end of the day.
Lily walks 2.5 miles every day.
Then she fishes the shoreline for at least eight hours. I bet she covers another 12 miles in the water. She’s in the water until we head back up to the house.
The other Labradors spend all day swimming, jumping off the dock, swimming off the boat, and retrieving the bumpers.
They are nonstop from 10a – 6p (or later) and stop moving only when we stop for dinner and bedtime.
This has been their schedule for the last eight days. It’s only now, on the ninth day, that they have shown any indication of slowing down. Lily, the persistent fishing dog, the senior at 12.5 years old, has shown no signs of slowing, however.
If you have a healthy, athletic dog, chances are it’d take a week of solid, all-day exercise before you even got close to slowing him down.
We only have the opportunity to truly tire our dogs out when we’re on vacation. Work, errands, and responsibities (who’s going to buy the dog food?) keep us occupied each day far longer than our dogs would prefer.
So what’s a thoughtful dog owner to do?
We’re not fortunate enough to be on perpetual vacation, or afforded the luxury of a wonderland for our dogs.
Transition back to regular life will be difficult for us, as well as the dogs.
Here’s what I do to help ease back into real life:
More frequent walks
- Walks aren’t really for exercise. It takes a week of non-stop swimming before I tire my crew out. I’m kidding myself if I believe a couple of walks each day will actually meet their exercise needs or tire any of my dogs out.
- Walks are for mental stimulation. The dogs sniff. Ooh, a squirrel’s been here. Ah, a racoon’s been there. Rex, the Chihuahua’s peed on this post, and huh, he’s been eating leftovers from the table again.
- Together time with your dog is quite valuable to your dog, believe it or not. The time you spend with your dog, with the focus solely on him, can occupy his time and satisfy some of his needs. And I’m gonna bet you’ll enjoy it just as much as your dog.
Make mealtime a game
- Food dispensing toys are inexpensive and there are so many on the market, there’s no good reason not to use them! Just search the web for “food dispensing dog toys” and you’ll have a large variety from which to choose.
- Divide your dog’s food into seven or eight little piles of food. Hide those piles around the house and let your dog search for them.
- Scatter your dog’s meal across the back porch. Or for an added challege, scatter it in the grass in your backyard. Keep your dog on a leash, obviously, if your yard isn’t fenced.
- It might be as easy as finding a fitness junkie in your neighborhood to take your dog on a hike.
- Dog walkers are good, just be sure your dog walker knows that the point is to let your dog explore, not necessarily to just walk up and down the street and come back home.
Talk Back! What do you do to help keep your dog occupied, his mind and body, throughout the week?
Leave a comment below and tell us what your dog loves!