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November 2, 2020
With much of the country still working from home thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, our pups are getting a lot more face-time with us than they used to. But despite being able to be “present” with them more than we used to, that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re playing with them or interacting with them more than we used to. We are working, after all.
So, pet parents, now is as good a time as any to consider how we can make sure our dogs are getting the exercise and activity they need even though we’re short for time. Because in many ways, this time is not unique. We pet parents are perpetually *busy,* and there are myriad reasons why our pups don’t get the typical long walk that they ought to—they’re in their golden years and don’t have the same capabilities or exercise needs they once did, we truly don’t have the time, or we live in an area where we don’t feel safe walking, or the weather’s not conducive.
But don’t fear! There are plenty of alternatives to long walks to make sure your dog’s exercise needs are being met.
The Great Indoors
The dog whisperer himself approves of safe indoor dog exercise if a long outdoor walk isn’t an option for you and your pup. If you have limited time, or you don’t feel safe walking in your area, Cesar Millan says things like running up and down the stairs with your dog can scratch their exercise itch. But be mindful of your dog’s physicality. If they have short legs, this may not be the exercise for them. And if they’re out of shape, ease them into it.
This can be a great option if you want to truly put your worries to rest about whether your dog is getting the exercise, stimulation, and engagement they need while you work.
It can be expensive, but a worthy investment in your dog’s wellbeing. If you’re concerned about cost, talk to your local doggy daycare about deals, price negotiations, packages, or even being on a sub-list for last-minute cancellations.
And do your research! This includes thinking hard about whether doggy daycare is something that would be a good fit for your dog, or would just overwhelm them. If your dog is sociable, and likes other people and dogs, there’s great potential for doggy daycare to be something that frees you up to know your dog is having fun, being taken care of, and getting exercise and engagement all day while you work. On the other hand, if your dog isn’t sociable, doggy daycare can be stressful.
Before sending your little one off, make sure the facility in question is reputable, clean, and spacious. You might also consider asking the staff questions like whether they separate dogs based on size or temperament, and what actions they take if a dog is being aggressive to the others.
Your dog will likely need to be completely up to date on their vaccines before going to doggy daycare, and you’ll want to take precaution against fleas and ticks.
Doggy daycare can be an excellent solution that means you don’t have to worry about giving your dog bathroom breaks in the midst of your work, and it can curtail negative behaviors. If your dog is home with you and isn’t getting exercise or interaction throughout the day, it can lead to destructive behavior and too much excess energy. Psst…if the unthinkable happens and your precious pooch gets into a tussle with someone else at doggy daycare, Bivvy pet insurance covers emergency vet visits and many other needs for less than $1 per month, regardless of size, breed, or age.
Another great option is hiring a trustworthy neighbor kid, or a friend’s kid, who’s looking for a little spending money and/or pet experience, to come let out and play with your dog if you’re working away from home, or if you are home, come pick up your dog for walks or playtime if you’re too busy. You can also use a service like Rover to do the same, for a bit more of an investment.
Young at Heart
If your dog is simply too old to comfortably walk for long distances, don’t worry! There are alternatives for them too, because they do still have exercise needs. They don’t have the same activity needs as younger dogs, but if they’re not exercising and are gaining weight, that’s especially hard on the joints and bones at this stage of life.
Elderly dogs need to stay active to some degree, to keep blood and oxygen flowing to their joints and muscles. Getting mental stimulation at this age is crucial too, as it can fight off dementia. If your aging dog isn’t up for long walks, shorter, more frequent ones are better for them anyway. Do what you can to spend short breaks walking your dog through the day or hire a walker to do it!
Not a Walker?
And finally, if your dog (or you!) is simply not a fan of walking, or you don’t have the physical ability to do it, or can’t go outside, you can swap in a good old-fashioned game of hide and seek. When your dog finds you, reward them—but it doesn’t have to be with a treat! You can use a toy instead. And scent work is great for dogs of all ages—it will spend good amounts of their physical and mental energy too. Put some of your dog’s food in a box, hide it, and let them sniff it out. Obedience, tricks, and agility/obstacle courses are also a great way to break a sweat without walking.
So whether you are, for the first time, working from home and seeing how your dog spends their day and feeling compelled to give them more activity, or you or your dog’s physical abilities are changing, or weather or other outdoor factors are keeping you from taking long walks, take heart. You have plenty of alternatives. And while you’re considering your options, make sure your furry friend is covered with dog health insurance. With Bivvy, your dog doesn’t need a vet exam as a prerequisite to qualify for coverage. So, breathe a sigh of relief…then get exercising!
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