Recently a young couple came into our facility with a high-energy hound mix. The dog was rescued in Tennessee and driven up to New England. This is their first dog, and they want to provide him with the best care possible.
Every morning around 6AM, one of them gets up early and takes the dog for a sunrise run. The morning run helps to quell the dog’s barking when they leave for work. Later in the morning, a dog walker comes and takes the dog out of a small mudroom for a 30 minute walk.
At 3PM, another dog professional comes to the house and takes the dog for a pack walk in a wooded area, which the company claims is important for socialization. When the owners return home from work at 6PM, the dog is still rearing to go. The running shoes come back out, and the dog goes for another three to five mile jog.
This routine seemed to calm the dog and worked for them for a few months, but now the dog is having more difficulty settling down at night. They shared how the dog violently protested his crate from the very beginning and sleeps in bed with them instead. Recently, the dog has begun waking up at 2AM and begins pacing.
This behavior made the couple concerned that the dog may need to go out to pee, so one of them takes the dog outside. After a quick potty, the dog then wants to play. Now the couple is utterly exhausted. They are trying their absolute best to be good first time dog owners but feel that they should be doing more for the dog. However, there simply isn’t enough time in the day!
After working with the dog described above, it became very obvious that this couple was dealing with a rescue that was exhibiting anxiety. Exercise alone will do little to remedy this problem. You cannot outrun crazy! At best, you will create a highly fit canine athlete that will only be able to recover quicker and in fact begin to demand more from you.
Giving the dog up was simply not an option for them. This couple is committed to saving the dog from a shelter and possible euthanasia. So, how much exercise does a young healthy dog need? The answer is not nearly as much as one might think. Thirty minutes a day of rigorous exercise like chasing a ball or going for a run is plenty for most dogs. And if you can’t do that every single day, you are not a terrible dog owner!
Dogs sleep quite a bit! In a recent article, it was mentioned that many adult dogs sleep during half of our waking hours. A mentally stable adult dog will live in a state of rest until activated to engage from their environment. This goes for working breeds as well. Hunting dogs, herders, and working dogs will rest until it’s time to work. They are extreme in their working state, but when they are not working, they act similar to any other pet dog. And yes, the dogs that are bred for extremes will be more difficult to live with, but these extremes are on the outer fringe of the norm. Additionally, people who get involved with these types of dogs typically have a passion for fostering that type of working relationship with their dog(s).
The reasons that dogs develop anxiety vary greatly. There is a huge difference between situational anxiety and a chronic disorder of the mind. However, fortunately, both can be helped! The road to recovery can be long, but the alternative is not an option for many. The owner must follow strict protocols, potentially for the entire life of the dog. A healthy diet, exercise, mental stimulation, and a structured lifestyle will go a long way in rehabilitating even the most difficult of cases.
There are also various drugs prescribed by veterinarians and behaviorists for dogs suffering from anxiety. If your dog is currently on medications and you have seen a night and day improvement, we would love to hear your story. We simply have not seen much, if any, success with the medications. We have been working with anxious dogs for years. It’s no picnic, but we have lived it and have seen the positive results through training and behavior modification over and over again.
If you can personally resonate with any aspect of this couple’s story or if you are interested in learning more about this trending topic, SIGN UP FOR OUR FREE WEBINAR. We will be going live next Thursday, August 29th at 7PM EST to more deeply explore anxiety in dogs and provide you with some solutions to immediately begin helping your dog to become more calm. Look forward to seeing you there!