I 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!