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Exercising Your Dog Even When Youre Busy

Exercising Your Dog Even When Youre Busy

A Guilt-Free Guide to Keeping Your Pup Happy (and Sane) When Life Gets Hectic

As a dog parent, I know the struggle all too well. You have a rambunctious pup at home who needs their daily dose of exercise and enrichment, but between work, errands, and other responsibilities, it can feel like there’s hardly any time left in the day. Trust me, I’ve been there – curled up on the couch, guilty as charged, while my furry friend bounces off the walls, desperate for some much-needed activity.

But here’s the thing: you don’t have to feel like a terrible dog mom (or dad) just because you can’t always take your pup on a 5-mile hike or to the dog park every single day. In fact, I’m about to let you in on a little secret – there are plenty of ways you can keep your canine companion entertained and fulfilled, even on your busiest days.

Embrace the “Nothing” Exercise

One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned as a dog trainer is the importance of teaching our furry friends the art of “doing nothing.” Now, I know what you’re thinking – how can I possibly get my hyperactive hound to just chill out? But bear with me, because this technique can be absolute game-changer.

The “nothing” exercise is all about rewarding your pup for calm, relaxed behavior. Instead of constantly directing their energy into playtime or training, you’re going to encourage them to simply… well, be. Grab a handful of their favorite high-value treats, plop down on the couch or floor next to them, and reward them every time they settle down and relax.

As one Redditor shared, “I found Laura Van Arendonk Baugh’s ‘Fired Up, Frantic and Freaked Out’ early on in his training and it was a godsend.” This book, along with other resources like “Control Unleashed” and “Chill Out, Fido,” can provide invaluable guidance on teaching your pup to de-stress and unwind.

The key is to be patient and consistent. It may take some time for your dog to get the hang of it, but once they do, you’ll be amazed at how quickly they can transition from bouncing-off-the-walls mode to pure bliss. And the best part? You can do this exercise anywhere, anytime – whether you’re lounging on the couch or caught up in a work-from-home frenzy.

Tap into Their Senses

Another fantastic way to keep your pup entertained and engaged, even when you’re short on time and energy, is to stimulate their senses. Dogs are natural-born explorers, and they absolutely love using their powerful sniffers to investigate new smells and textures.

As the experts at Thrive Pet Care suggest, you can create all sorts of fun, interactive scent and texture-based activities for your furry friend. For example, try hiding their favorite treats or toys in a sturdy cardboard box filled with crumpled newspaper, shredded paper, or even dried leaves. Watch as they use their incredible sense of smell to sniff out the hidden goodies, engaging their brain and satisfying their natural hunting instincts.

You can also set up a “sniff trail” around your home, leading your pup on a delightful detective mission from one scented station to the next. Sprinkle a few drops of essential oils, like lavender or lemon, on cotton balls and strategically place them throughout the house. Or, try hiding a handful of kibble in different spots, challenging your dog to use their nose to track down every last morsel.

The beauty of these sensory-based activities is that they’re not only mentally stimulating, but they also allow your pup to expend energy in a calm, focused way. So, even on those days when you just can’t muster up the energy for a vigorous walk or play session, you can still provide your furry friend with the enrichment and exercise they crave.

Make Mealtime a Workout

Let’s face it – we all have to eat, and our dogs are no exception. But did you know that you can turn your pup’s mealtimes into a fun, brain-boosting activity? It’s true! By incorporating food puzzles, snuffle mats, and other interactive feeding toys into your dog’s routine, you can transform their meals into an engaging, problem-solving experience.

As the team at Petplay suggests, “Love this! I think I’m gonna need to teach my dog the nothing exercise. She’s very good with this in the backyard, but inside is overstimulating for her.” By scattering your pup’s kibble around the house or hiding it in puzzle feeders, you’re encouraging them to use their natural foraging instincts and work for their supper.

Not only does this provide mental stimulation, but it also helps to slow down their eating, which can be beneficial for pups who tend to wolf down their food a little too quickly. And the best part? You can set up these interactive feeding stations and leave your dog to enjoy their meal while you tend to your own responsibilities, knowing that they’re getting the enrichment they need.

Embrace the Power of Nap Time

As I mentioned earlier, one of the most important (yet often overlooked) aspects of keeping your dog happy and healthy is making sure they get plenty of downtime. In our fast-paced, high-energy world, it’s easy to forget that our canine companions need ample opportunities to rest and recharge, just like we do.

As trainer Stacy Braslau-Schneck so eloquently put it, “Learning to chill out is an essential skill for service dogs and working dogs in addition to creating well-behaved pets.” And you know what? That advice applies to our beloved family pets, too.

So, the next time you find yourself feeling guilty about not being able to take your pup on their daily walk or trip to the dog park, remember that it’s perfectly okay – and even beneficial – to let them catch some much-needed Zs. Encourage them to settle into their cozy bed or crate, and reward them with tasty treats when they do. You can even try playing some soothing music or turning on a white noise machine to help them drift off into peaceful slumber.

By prioritizing your dog’s need for rest and relaxation, you’re not only helping to prevent behavioral issues down the line, but you’re also setting them up for a lifetime of physical and mental well-being. And who knows – you might even be inspired to join them for a mid-day snooze session yourself!

Variety is the Spice of Life (and Canine Enrichment)

As you’ve probably gathered by now, the key to keeping your dog engaged and fulfilled, even on your busiest days, is to mix things up. While the “nothing” exercise, sensory-based activities, and interactive feeding are all fantastic tools, it’s important to remember that your pup’s needs are constantly evolving.

That’s why it’s a good idea to have a diverse toolkit of enrichment ideas at the ready, so you can keep your furry friend on their toes (or should I say, paws?). Maybe one day you’ll feel up for a gentle stroll around the block, and the next, you’ll set up a indoor obstacle course for them to navigate. Or perhaps you’ll switch between brain-boosting puzzle toys and good old-fashioned fetch, depending on your pup’s energy levels and your own.

The iHaveDogs website is a great resource for finding even more creative ways to exercise your dog, no matter what life throws your way. From low-impact activities like hide-and-seek and nose work to high-intensity options like treadmill training and agility, there’s something for every canine and their busy human.

So, take a deep breath, embrace the chaos, and remember – you’ve got this! With a little creativity, a whole lot of love, and the right tools in your toolbox, you can ensure that your furry friend stays happy, healthy, and enriched, even on your busiest days. After all, a well-exercised and mentally stimulated pup makes for one very content (and relaxed!) dog parent.

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