In today’s busy world, finding time to adequately exercise your dog can be a real challenge. Some form of the following questions has been asked frequently to me and to Cesar:
“I work an insane schedule so I have a dog walker come to my house to take my dog on an hour walk every day and I alternate that with days at a doggie day care where they get to run around and play with other dogs. Is this enough exercise and structure? How can I make sure my dog is getting the exercise and discipline he needs when I’m working 60 hours a week?”
To such a person, I’d offer the following advice:
I commend you for taking the step to ensure your dog gets some form of exercise every day. Your commitment is admirable!
When I began working with Cesar ten years ago, both of us had the luxury of having one primary job: working with the dogs. Taking the pack out for two hours exercise sessions twice a day was the norm. As additional responsibilities were added to my plate over the past several years, keeping up with this exercise routine not only became unreasonable, but unsustainable.
To your credit, you’ve found creative ways to get the job done. If your dog walker is taking your dog for long walks with other dogs, his energy is being drained and migrating with a pack is reinforcing his good social skills. If your dog walker is making sure his pack is walking behind or beside him during the walk, then your dog will benefit even more.
Doggie day care facilities can be great places for your dog to socialize with other dogs and release energy. Make sure the facility you choose has a dog-savvy staff that stays present and aware of the social dynamics of the pack your dog plays with. Avoid facilities that allow free-for-alls during play activities without supervision. When you pick your dog up from day care, try to keep your energy as calm and assertive as possible to compensate for the excited/dominant energy your dog has been exposed to all day.
If at all possible, try to find 15 minutes at least three times a week that you can personally work with your dog. And take advantage of weekends or days off to spend much more quality, focused time with your dog. Doggie day care and dog walkers are great, but they won’t do much to teach your dog to respect you as a pack leader.
Make those 15 minutes really count by taking your dog through a short obedience routine. You might choose to have your dog to walk beside you, turn when you do, or sit and stay on command. You decide on the activity, remembering that anytime you get your dog to do anything for you, you are empowering yourself as his leader. You are also providing your dog with a significant psychological challenge. This activity combined with the exercise routine you have already established for your dog should result in a happy, fit and balanced pup.