You and Your Dog—You’ve got this!.
No question Covid 19 has introduced new stresses, new pressures into our homes. For those who have taken on the additional joy of a new pup or an adopted dog, we thank you! Check out our post for easing new family members into their new environment (Newly Adopted Dogs: 5 Tips for Success). Today, we’d like to share a daily schedule that we all but guarantee will calm your dog and reduce their stress. It’s really good for you, too!
By the way, the recipe is easy. Effort = Results. The ingredients are time, long line leashes, and love.
Like many humans, dogs are most available to learn in the morning. Human children go to school in the morning (at least they used to!) There’s a reason for that. After a natural resting period, natural learning occurs. The same is true for dogs. After sunrise, dogs are looking for rituals and instructions on natural etiquette: Who’s in charge? Which way are we going? When do we hunt? Who eats first? So, first thing in the morning, be the leader your dog wants you to be. Take your dog for an “fun educational walk” on a long line leash.
WALK #1: The Educational/Play Walk – preferably before breakfast
- Exercise your dog’s brain, not only his body.
- Twenty to thirty minutes, depending on the dog’s natural energy level, health, and breed.
- If a full 20 – 30 minute walk is not possible before breakfast – cut it back to 10 minutes before breakfast and follow up after breakfast. Do wait 30 minutes after your dog’s breakfast.
- Use a 15 foot leash minimum, or 30 to 50 feet. A long line leash allows you to educate your dog and your dog to make choices. NO retractable and flexi leashes! Retractable and flexi leashes teach dogs to pull.
- Short leashes—6 feet and shorter—keep your dog from trotting and cantering, and stop you from “seeing” their choices!
- If all you do is play ball, your dog will learn to play ball and not much else.
- The whole point is for you to lead and teach and your dog to follow and learn.
Bonding happens all day! But in the natural world, midday is a time for sticking around, resting, playing, and pack activities. Offer quiet time in a crate, an exercise pen, at your feet, whatever works. Extend rest time by offering bully sticks and other appropriate materials for chewing and gnawing. (Read our post: Dogs Need To Gnaw!) While your dog is resting, do your work, garden, talk, answer emails, zoom, finish those projects.
Afternoon to Late Afternoon
Afternoon to Late Afternoon
WALK #2: Chuck-E-Cheese Walk or a second Educational/Play Walk
- Go on! Play ball. Play hide and seek. Choose fun activities that involve skills like recall, follow, party, settle. Go running. Swimming. Hiking. (Read our Ready to Go posts!) Take your dog on a nice long, exercise-oriented walk. Good for you. Good for her. Stuck inside? Try a treadmill.
- Thirty minutes, more or less, depending on the dog’s natural energy level, health and breed. Think Border Collie vs. Basset Hound.
- Long lines are always more fun than short leashes.
- A dog with a tired brain and a tired body will be less likely to scratch, rip, whine, bark, bite, and generally cause havoc.
- Include your dog in your afternoon activities if you can. If not, long term chewing and gnawing opportunities like outdoor knuckle bones—bones intended to be chewed outside—promote successful cohabitation.
The natural day ends at sundown. Before dark, a pack unites, drinks water, hunts, eats, and prepares to rest. For these rituals, pack members look to their leaders for guidance. Having a consistent, routine strengthens your bond and builds confidence. Your’s and your dog’s!
WALK #3: Sundown Stroll – Educational and Calm.
- You can never have too many educational walks!!!!! But remember, education should be relaxing – not stressful.
- Go as a family, include your dog in family activities.
- Limit high energy playtime to day time.
- Our students always tell us about the “zoomies,” that frenetic time at the end of the day or evening when your dog loses it.
- Walks #1, #2, and #3 plus enough bones to keep your pup engaged will make the zoomies go away. Add additional tricks to expel whatever energy your dog has left. Learning new tricks is an educational way for dogs to expel energy.
- After dark is calm, social time.