Time — Can you ever have enough of it?
Before you get a pet, especially a young dog or puppy, consider how much time you have to spend with it. A question I often ask my clients is “how much time do you spend walking your dog or playing with it.”
Generally, the answer is a sheepish, “we know we don’t spend enough time with him.”
I hear all the reasons: Kids in sports, adults both working full-time jobs, etc. But, all of those were true prior to getting the dog. Dogs take time and if you don’t have enough of it to give to the dog you will most likely be setting yourself up for even more issues down the road.
I had to think long and hard before I got Falcon. I work a full-time job as the editor of a group of newspapers and I have my dog-training business. I generally see clients almost every evening after my editing job ends and all day on Saturdays. Not to mention every Tuesday night and every other Sunday I have search and rescue training. At least at SAR training the dogs are involved.
In order to provide Falcon with his share of my time; I changed my schedule. I now get up 30 to 60 minutes earlier every day so I can play with him outside, make sure he has plenty of time to relieve himself and I set up his indoor play area with puzzles and things for him to interact with when I’m gone.
I am lucky that I have a roommate who is always home and he can let Falcon out several times every day as well. If I did not have the roommate I would have looked into having a dog walker come over or I would have driven home for lunch rather than lunching with my work friends every day.
I block off at least one evening every week so I don’t book dog training clients and instead I spend that time with Falcon and Skywalker going on walks or visiting new places. No matter how tired I am when I get home at night; I either take Falcon for a short walk or we play tug or some other fun game.
Blocking off my training calendar means less money for me; but I also know that if I don’t do this; I am just creating future issues for my dog.
Luckily, physical exercise isn’t the only way to exercise a dog. I give my dogs lots of interactive things. They get fresh, raw bones to chew on as well as bully sticks and yak milk chews. I can stuff Kongs with food and peanut butter and freeze them so the dogs have to work hard to get the food out. Mental energy is just as important (and maybe in some ways more important) than physical energy.
At least once a week I make sure I take Falcon someplace that is either new or where we get to go on a longer, off-leash walk. I want him to stretch his legs; figure out how to navigate terrain at his own pace and just have fun being a dog. I also enrolled Falcon in a puppy class so I would have to block off my calendar from clients for that evening and spend time training the pup.
It is definitely not easy to make enough time for a puppy or dog; so before you make that big decision take a long, hard look at your lifestyle and make sure this is a good time to get a dog.
Below is a video of less than five minute of enrichment. I just put Falcon out with the pool and a hose and he had a great time.