Its almost 3pm and I am sat typing away at my desk, my dog Erick is in his usual spot close by snoozing and Ally my other dog is curled up on the sofa. When I was working pre lockdown, then I could generally be found at on my laptop at home around this time, so it almost looks like a normal day. But no its not, I have been home all day with the dogs its been 7 days of being at home with only 1 proper walk a day being had and yet my two are still spark out, snoozing away. Contented you might say.
After a few days of slient nagging ‘Mum why are you still here, aren’t you going to work?’ well Erick more so than Ally. He kept nudging me as I worked at my desk, I know deep down Erick was more concerned that he hadn’t had his usual treat he and Ally get when I leave them. But they’ve easily accepted this new routine of me becoming a ‘home’ mum.
Under the current set of restrictions in place regarding Covid-19 we are only allowed out once a day for exercise, which means one good walk for our dogs if you’re a single pawrent like me. People in multiperson households can take turns taking your dog out durring the day. (You are allowed to take your dog out to the toliet, if you don’t have a suitable garden space). I know there are quite a number of dog owners out there who don’t feel that one walk is enough to tire their dog, but I am here to tell you it is.
I am living with the restrictions and my two hairy dogs get one good 90 min walk every other day and about an easier hours walk on the days inbetween. Plus they get 2 to 3 toliet breraks each day which consists of a boring loop around the block. Now its easy for me to schedule my works as I am not confined to ‘office’ hours like you might be working from home, you may only be able to give your dog a 30min walk at lunch. But it doesn’t matter, you can still tire them out.
Below are my top ways to tire your dogs out on one walk a day!
A Sniff-airi is a way for you to turn your walks into a sniffing game, and sniffing will tired out your dog quicker and better than physical exercise will. Now there are a few ways you can do this, take your dog out as normal and let them sniff their way around your walk. Let them sniff what they want and let them take their time.
I do this exact thing with Erick, he bloody loves following his nose and if I don’t have time to give him a big/long walk this is perfect. A 20 minute walk where his nose is pressed to ground knocks him out once we get home. My other dog Ally doesn’t really follow her nose like Erick, she does like to sniff interesting smells and so I let her.
The other way you can play this is to let your dog choose the walking route. Yes really, just let them lead the way are you going left or right? Obviously they are still on the lead so you can steer them away from danger. While they are on the lead you can also influence the general direction so you don’t walk for miles when you’ve only got 20 mins.
The last way you can play this is game is my favourite way and its good for dogs like my Ally who are happy to sniff something interesting but not that bothered by following her nose. On your walk find a safe spot, ideally a grassy patch and but is can be pavemnet. Then simply scatter some treats over the grass, then encourage your dog to find. You dog will be happy sniffing out the treats, its like an outdoor snuffle mat.
A change of Speed
Have you ever tried walking at different speeds? Its a fab way to engage with your dog and keep them guessing about you’re gonna do next! Dead simple as you’re walking with your dog on lead say their name to get their attention, then change your walking speed and encorage them to come with you. So you have normal, fast, faster still, light jog – any combo of these is good.
If you dog isn’t a puller and will happily walk with you can also consider adding in slow speeds, slow, slower and barely moving. Going slow is really challenging for your dogs and the bigger they are the harder it is. Its because they now have to pause while you take a couple of steps, they have to think about their body postion too.
When I had my dog Flash, I suffered from a sciatica (not fun at all) but it meant that my walks with Flash were super slow and I couldn’t handle being pulled. So Flash would take a normal step and wait for me to shuffle forward, when we turned a corner he’d have almost just move his front legs pause then move his back legs, there was a lot of mental problem solving going on for Flash.
A Change of Direction
If you’re anything like me you probably have set walk routes, just because you’ve worked out its easiest and quickest for you. But now we are confined to only walking from our front doors rather than jumping in the car to our favourite locations, I for one am missing Crammond Beach and Arthurs Seat. Because you’re only walking from your front door doesn’t mean you can’t make the walks interesting for your dog.
Why not change up route, walk it in reverse start at the end and end at start, try walking along new streets, take different routes to the park. Now you might not find any of this super exciting but your dog will. The ‘new’ streets will have new smells, sights and sounds all of which will get their brains working and thinking, this will equal a tired dog!
Most of use have access to stairs, I myself live in a second floor flat and when I am doing my usual job of dog walking, I am forever running up and downstairs to get dogs. We all know how much stairs can work can challenge us mere humans and cause some muscle burn, so turn them to your advantage to tire your dog out. Also getting your dog running up and down will get your dog moving their body in a different way compared to a walk or run on flat ground.
Spend 10 mins running up and down stairs or walking, with your dog on lead or off if its safe. Or you may want to stand at the top of the stairs, throw a toy down for your dog to fetch. Flash use to accidently do this when I lived in a 3rd floor flat he’d carry his ball all the up and drop it when he’d get to my front door ad sure enough it would roll away, through the bars and fall to the ground. He’d happily chase it down too!
Just remember if you and/or your dog aren’t use to this form of exercise then start of slower for a shorter of time and aim to build up. Also if you dog is under one year old then please advoid this game.
Think Outside Of The Box
Have a think about what your dog likes and see what you can do to add it to your walks. Just remember you should aim to engage your dogs brain too. Don’t rely too much on only providing phyiscal exercise, yes it might tire your dog out but you’ll tire them out for much longer with some brain games too.
You can also provide your dog with a food game when you’ve come back from your walk. A food game will challenge their brains and get their noses working too. Check out my previous blog for food games here. This on top of their walk will tire them out so you can work from home in peace.
Take Care and Stay Safe
Suzanne, Chief Canine Happiness Officer
Creator of Practically Perfect Protocol®