As our fall schedules become packed with soccer games, back-to-school nights and work deadlines, our dogs often find themselves spending more time home alone. Combined with less exercise from shorter days and rainy weather, dogs begin to get restless this time of year. Some signs that your dog could use some at-home stress relief include: whining or barking when you leave, more frantic greetings then normal, or getting into mischief during the day.
If you suspect a change in routine and less exercise is to blame for the new stress-at-home behavior, try these tips to liven up your doggie’s day:
- Increase exercise intensity. Pick up your walking pace to a brisk walk or add a few short sprint zones to your normal routine. Your dog will think it is great fun and get a bit more of a workout.
- Use your weekends. Bring your pooch on a weekend family hike and you will have a calmer dog for the first part of the week. For most dogs, exercise has an immediate and cumulative effect so you can use your weekends to make up for shorter mid-week walks.
- Daylight savings resolution. Use the extra hour of sleep you will gain when the clocks go back to switch your long dog walk to the morning.
- Play indoor games. Hide and Seek, Tug of War or Go-Find are all fun ways to burn off energy without getting wet or cold outside. Kids will appreciate the homework break.
- Go somewhere new. Change up your routine by walking in a different neighborhood or park. Fido will be more stimulated be the new smells and sights, even if the length of the walk is the same.
- Replace food bowls with toys. Extend the fun of mealtime and give your dog a mental workout with stuffed Kongs and food puzzle toys.
- Hire a pro. Professional dog walkers will come to your house on designated days and take your dog out for a walk, hike or play. It is a great feeling to come home to a happy and well-exercised pet.
In the next entry, I will describe training exercises to help a mildly stressed dog. What are your tips for keeping your dog busy during the day? Do you have any food toy recommendations to share?