Monday, May 28, 2012

How Much Time - Really?

I was on the phone with my brother late one night. His small dog, Scooby (see left) was barking on and off. Just enough to be annoying. My nephew was in bed, as were the neighbors I'm sure. Naturally, my brother was getting frustrated.

"How much exercise did he get tonight?" I asked.

"I walked him," he said, testily.

"How long?"

"Long enough."

"He's barking. So, no."

I pointed out that our previous late conversation had contained no barking interruption and asked what they had done that day. A five mile hike after dinner. Bingo. He was too tired to bark.

This led us to a discussion on how much time we really spend exercising our dogs. Because you always think your dog gets more exercise than they do. I started timing my walks to see how much Lily was actually getting because she wasn't as tired during the day as she was in the evenings. It turned out that 45 minute morning walk was really only 20 minutes. Oops. So I realized that I had to start timing myself to make sure she was getting enough exercise.

My brother told me that he realized a few months earlier that their 20 minute morning walks with Scooby were only 5 minutes. He had complained to their trainer that Scooby would not go to the bathroom outside no matter what they did. The trainer said that he would if he was given enough time. My brother said he only had 20 minutes to spare in the mornings and that's how long he was standing outside with him. He (Scooby) would start to go in the house, get clapped at to distract him, get scooped up and raced outside, and my brother would stand out there with him while he wandered around for 20 minutes and didn't go.

"Time it," Wise Trainer said. "Because I'm sure you aren't spending as much time out there as you think."

So my brother set an old stop watch on the key rack next to the front door. Imagine his surprise when he came back in, frustrated as we all can get with a puppy we feel is willfully and stubbornly defying our housebreaking efforts (it isn't personal and they aren't doing it to drive us mad on purpose).

The stop watch said 4:47.

"I felt like an ass," he said.

No reason to feel that wa. We all do it. Sometimes it feels like waaaaaaay more time than we actually put in. He stepped it up and Scooby started going outside. After a few weeks, he was going as soon as he got outside. No more trying to go in the house.

But we can get complacent. Life gets in the way. Our dog's exercise needs can go on the backburner. But we need that exercise too. We need the time outside in the fresh air. We need that bonding with our dog.

Can you spot the tired dog in the picture?)

A tired dog is a good dog.

And a tired dog is a happy owner.

I can't wrap this post up neatly. I don't know if my brother is exercising his little dog more or not. He did when I was visiting, but that's likely just because I made him. Big sisters can do that. Maybe it will stick, maybe it won't. At least he knows it's not the dog.

What about you - do you spend a specific amount of time with your pets? Do you exercise your cats daily for a set amount of time? Or do you just know when your pets are tired, you are done?

1 comment:

  1. We don't have a dog at the moment, but this post really hits home~ I have a friend who lives in an apartment, which I used to think was kind of cruel--I used to think every dog HAD to have a yard. But he is EXCELLENT about exercising his retriever--the dog gets a huge amount of exercise and is very happy. I know other dog owners who, in turn, think that because they have a yard, that's an excuse for not taking the dog on longer walks. That's why I don't have a dog right now. With young children at home, I'm just not confident I would make the appropriate time commitment to keeping him/her as fit as he/she needed to be.

    Great post!