In his book Chow Hounds, Dr. Ernie Ward examines the misconception of dog owners that if their house has a big or fenced-yard that their dog gets plenty of exercise. Studies have confirmed that solitary dogs rest 80% of the time when they are alone and rest 60% of the time when multiple dogs are alone. Dogs like humans need a reason to exercise or it won’t happen.
So why do owners think that their dogs do exercise while alone in the yard. Dr. Ward explains that when they are initially put outside, dogs naturally run the perimeter of the yard to ensure the family borders have not been disturbed. This is what owners see as they turn to go back inside and close the door behind them. When the dog hears the door open again they bolt from rest toward the door. The owner’s thoughts are “Wow! That dog never slows down.” What the owner missed was all of the time the dog spent resting out of the owner’s sight.
Dogs are pack animals and need their human members to provide company and a reason to move. Walking, jogging, fetching and swimming are all great activities. Some dogs enjoy agility obstacle courses. Many of these activities can actually occur in the big backyards.
Dr. Ward’s book Chow Hounds is as entertaining as it is informative. Although targeted for helping those with overweight dogs, it contains valuable information for all dog owners. We at Hearthstone Homemade believe it should be a part of every dog owner’s library. Check it out here.
~Dr Ken Tudor
THE DOG DIETITIAN