“Unemployed Dogs” Are a Growing Trend

bored-dogI often use the term "unemployed dogs" to describe four-legged friends who live their lives with little exercise or mental stimulation. While most dogs don't need to be actual "working" dogs, it's a real tragedy when dogs are left alone most of their lives and are rarely given the chance to exercise--mentally or physically. A new study out of the UK shows just how out of hand the "dog unemployment" problem has become.

The study was conducted by PDSA and surveyed pet owners in the UK. The study showed that one third of pet dogs were never allowed off leash, and spent their entire lives either inside the home or on a leash. More than a quarter of the dogs were left alone for more than five hours a day, and 35 percent of owners admitted to not giving their dog proper exercise. 

With statistics like these, it's no wonder that we're seeing an alarming spike in cases of aggression, leash reactivity, separation anxiety, and other behavioral issues in the modern pet dog. Dogs that lead a sensory-deprived existence are much more prone to physical and mental stress than those who receive proper exercise and mental stimulation. There's no question that owners love and care for their dogs; it's just that many owners have lost sight of just how important it is for a dog's exercise needs to be met on a regular basis. 

There are all kinds of ways to provide entertainment and exercise for your dog. Here are a few quick tips:

  • If you work long hours and can't get home during the day, hire a responsible person to check on your dogs and provide them with some exercise and playtime.
  • When you leave the house, give your dog an interactive toy to play with, or stuff a Kong toy with his favorite treat.  
  • Exercise your dog in the morning before a long day away from home. He'll be more tired and less likely to get into trouble while you're away.
  • Check out this video for tips about how to exercise with your dog.

We all lead busy lives, and the pace of our world moves faster than ever. Regardless of my schedule for the day or how tired or stressed I am, I always make time to provide my dogs with a walk, time to play off leash, and plenty of mental stimulation. It's a small chunk out of my day that makes a huge difference for my dogs. Find a routine that works for you and your schedule. Your dogs will thank you for it!


  1. Christy Shephard

    December 17th, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    I love this! Thank you for posting this. I was just talking at a group class about how dogs need to have a "job", even if it's just exploring on their daily walks. I cannot wait to share this with my clients ;)
    Take care!

  2. Pat F.

    January 12th, 2014 at 2:30 am

    If you can't give a dog regular off-leash activity in a relatively safe environment, don't get a dog. While many dogs can make do with less than 2 or 3 hours a day of hard running and play, they really need to get out and explore and make their own decisions about which bush to nudge, and be able to run, trot and walk at their own speed; which is impossible on a leash. It is not always easy for city-dwelling dog owners to find safe places for their dogs to run and play off-leash; but it is usually not impossible, if the dog owner has time to be flexible and willing to walk or drive more than ten minutes. Thankfully, more and more cities are creating dog parks; and there are still some woods and hills where dogs can roam under their owners' supervision. Leashed walking and running can be good for the dog; but I truly believe that the dog, unless he/she is quite old, really needs to get out and move on his/her own power, at least a few times a week.

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