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Monday, May 04, 2009

Balancing Work and Dogs

Dakota & Cheyenne pups walking on a path
Dogs, especially Labrador Retrievers, have a ton of energy and many dog owners just don't how to balance their busy lifestyle while being a responsible dog owner.

Cesar Milan's popular show "The Dog Whisperer" teaches people how to be correct even the worst dog's bad behavior. However, many don't truly hear the deeper message that is being taught during the show. In order to be a responsible pet owner and give your pup the best life possible, you must first learn to balance your life and that of your dog's.

Taking care of a dog is not a full-time job but needs to have structure and balance. But how to do this when you already have a plate full with work, family, social activities, and so on?

Simple: Pen your dog into your schedule.

Dogs need rules, schedules, boundaries or else their energy and boredom get the better of them. This is easy to see when a human parent goes back to work after a few years staying at home, new kids are thrown into the pack which take up more time, or the human parent just becomes lazy after a while of having the dog.

Why does my dog chew the furniture? Why does it go to the bathroom all over the house? Why has it become aggressive? Why? Why? Why?

The key here is that if you want a well behaved and happy dog, then you need to maintain a balance of work and dog. Dogs need long walks at least twice a day - with you in control of the walk and not the dog. They also need some play time at least once a day to be a dog and run free. Meals, play, walks and so on all need to be on schedule. Sure, you pup doesn't wear a watch but it has a built in watch that never stops working.

To give an example of balance, here is our schedule for the Lab Brats:

5:30am - Long Walk

6:00am - Meal (their filled bowls are hidden in the house for them to find when they return from the walk)

7:00am - Settle down for a rest in the sun spots

11:00am - Playtime (30 minutes retrieving balls)

12:30pm - Snack time (small bit of kibble hidden in house)

1:00pm - Back to sun spots

4:00pm - Dinner

6:00pm - Long Walk

7:00pm - Playtime (weather permitting outside)

9:00pm - Bed

Keep in mind that I work from home at this time so this is my own weekday schedule with the dogs. My husband (who works outside the home) takes them for their walks and I do the rest. During the weekend, we go to the dog park on Saturday for at least an hour and Sunday is fun time at home (sometimes with their kiddie pool). Either way, we stick to the same feeding and walking schedule regardless of the day of week or the weather.

And you know what we got for it? Two very happy and well behaved Labrador Retrievers.

Balancing and keeping your pup to a schedule is the first step to building a healthy and happy life together.

How do you balance work, life and dogs?



Blogger Nika + PARKER said...

I (and Parker) totally agree with you - it is a balancing act, but humans are good at doing that, and what great rewards - Happy best friends!!!


May 04, 2009 9:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was wondering, what do you consider to be a long walk. I have gone on 5 mile runs with my chocolate lab, Jefferson, and he is still full of energy. Thank you so much for your website I love hearing stories and the lives of other dog owners!

May 04, 2009 7:37 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Saturdays in the Spring and Summer are my favorite. Gracie and I had a routine of visiting our local dog park first thing in the morning, then heading downtown Salem to our farmer's market. We'd stroll around the market for a while. Then Grace would ride patiently with me as I finished up weekend chores. Then our afternoons would be resting (Gracie) and reading (me). I was completely at loose ends last Saturday. Gracie had TPLO surgery on 4/27 to repair a torn ACL and meniscus in her left knee. No more trips to the dog park or farmer's market for quite a while. We're trying to figure out what to do on Saturdays that is within her medical limitations. Any ideas?

May 04, 2009 10:03 PM  
Blogger Shannon said...

A long walk is different for each pup. Sometimes a lot of exercise can actually have the opposite effect as the pup can build up a tolerance to the exercise. This happens with our Cheyenne if we give her too much at one time.

If you are doing a 5-mile run with your Lab and he still has loads of energy, I would recommend trying to stimulate his brain more with a game of "Find It". His energy may come from not enough mental stimulation.

I would recommend playing "Find It" with Gracie while she is healing. This allows the leg to heal but gives her mental stimulation. In order for her not to get bored, I would try changing around the treats and giving her a new kind of treat to find every few days. Best of luck and fast healing!

May 05, 2009 7:21 AM  
Blogger Anita said...

Hi Dakota and Cheyenne! Just dropping by to tell you that it's my pleasure to give you an award!
Kisses from Rufus and Indie

May 05, 2009 4:52 PM  

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