By Fiona Wallace
I recently changed jobs and it has involved an office move and a much longer commute.
This has resulted in some major changes to my daily routine and also a change in routine for my pets.
The cat doesn’t seem to mind much, but my dogs....boy have I felt guilty.
The close proximity of my old office to my home meant I could squeeze in a quick walk in the morning as well as an evening walk before it got dark, and my trusty dog walker came at lunch and took them out for a good run around the local dog park.
Now I need to catch an early train and, due to some committees I’m involved with, I’ve been late home a few evenings.
In addition, I’m a bit stressed and the pups have noticed.
I’m starting to realize the old after-work walk with the dogs was beneficial for my mental and physical health as well as theirs. So we are all adjusting.
At some point every pet owner goes through patches where his routine is upset. Family emergencies, new jobs, periods of travel, relationship breakups, new babies, the holidays and a myriad of other things happen in life.
While some pets are fine (my cat Larry for example), many don’t react well to life’s upsets. This can often be exhibited in changes in your pet’s behaviour.
Pets may start to chew the furniture, soil in the house or try and find ways to amuse themselves because they are bored. Some pets, especially dogs, can also suffer from separation anxiety - especially if they are left alone and you are bonded.
I know my dogs are happiest when they get exercise so, while I figure out my new commute, routine, and job, I’ve arranged for my trusty dog walker to come twice a day.
This is expensive, but it does ensure the dogs get two hours a day outside the house while it’s light. They are stimulated and get to interact with other dogs, and they are not climbing the walls or chewing the furniture when I get home.
It is also doing a lot to help me feel they are taken care of, checked on and a bit less guilty about forcing this change on them. They are settling down. I know that keeping their exercise levels up is helping.
I’m a big believer that a tired dog is a good dog.
So if you are thinking of getting your dog a present this Christmas, the best thing I can recommend is a regular walk.
The sad fact is that most dogs just don’t get enough exercise, and this is part of the reason so many are overweight.
Furry sweaters, fluffy toys, squeaky balls and yummy treats are also nice presents, but I bet if your dog could talk, it’s a regular walk or trip to the off-leash park with his pals he would like best.
So maybe consider putting this gift of an organized, regular walk on your dog’s Christmas list this year. Think of a regular walk as a ‘doggy gym membership’ and one of the best ways to keep him stimulated, fit, healthy and happy.
Best wishes and happy New Year to all.
Fiona Wallace is a PhD trained nutritional scientist and has worked in the industry for more than a decade. She is a member of the American Academy of Veterinary Nutritionists and the Canadian Nutrition Society and is the current leader of regulatory and scientific affairs for Nestlé Canada. Fiona is a passionate pet owner and shares her life with two energetic terriers, a cocker spaniel cross and large and talkative domestic shorthair cat called Larry. Fiona's favourite place is PawsWay Pet Discovery Centre - www.PawsWay.ca