Taking it easy

When it's ok just to chill

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It is all too easy to assume that our dogs have to go out everyday for set walks at set times. Often however we have created this need through routine and habit. Your dog asks to go out because it is conditioned to expect it at certain times. It is perfectly ok however to give your dog a day off, in fact it can be really good for them.

If you have an anxious dog for whom the outside world presents challenges, then a day off to relax and recoup can set them up to be more resilient the next time they leave the house. For a period our dog Dita became very noise sensitive, reacting really badly to loud traffic. We gave her intermittent days off from walks and she really grew in confidence.

If your dog would climb the walls at the idea of a day off walks then do consider why they have such a drive. Are you taking them out to throw a ball for an hour non stop, have you created an athletic dog who needs more and more exercise to satisfy their energy? These dogs can benefit from calmer walks, start to decrease the time spent running for a ball and increase time spend sniffing and mooching. Constant running for a ball places extreme pressure on a dogs joints. If in doubt,  video your dog running for the ball, watch in slow mo and see all the twists and turns and sliding they do. Also running to catch a ball is tapping into a dogs prey drive; in the wild they'd do this for short periods, expending lots of energy but it would be followed by long periods of eating and rest. They wouldn't go out the same time the next day and repeat.

Days off don't mean ignoring your dog. They still need interaction. Try some enrichment games, food puzzles, searches around the house, tug play and trick training. 

As I write this it is a miserable rainy day and Dita has no interest in a walk, we will drive up to Pets at Home, she can have a sniff around it then home for some training games.