Routine care for dogs and their exercise needs

Dogs who come to stay with us for home boarding – and indeed our own dogs – have structured days.  Their main interests are food, exercise, playtime and sleep time, therefore the day is based around these factors.  Where boarding dogs are concerned, wherever possible we try to observe routines which they are used to at home, but as they’re entering a new environment in our home, often compromised routine is easily adopted and very quickly understood.

The boarding dogs are usually accommodated overnight in the utility room which provides them with space and privacy.  The Utility Room door is rarely closed, but fitted with a dog gate to ensure safety and security without creating a feeling of isolation.

Each morning, we usually take the dogs out for a 45 – 60 minute walk early in the morning so they can relieve themselves and have a good stretch after the night’s sleep.  This generally involves an off the lead walk allowing them to roam and sniff and play, gaining proper opportunity to run free.

Due to the medical conditions suffered by our Chocolate Labrador, Maggie, the walk is usually preceded by the giving of her medication in the form of tablets.  The tablets are to be administered at least one hour before food.  The tablets are administered with the accompaniment of ‘Bertie’s Biscuits’ which are very small and all resident dogs can participate in this and enjoy it.  We are mindful of the potential for food aggression which sometimes requires separation at this stage for the giving of treats.

Often boarding dogs are also allowed off the lead, but this is once we have properly bonded and are completely confident that the dog will return.  Often in the case of new boarders we use the extending leads so they can still participate in feeling more free than they do on a short lead, with the guarantee of control and return that the extending lead provides.  Other times, we have boarders who require less exercise as they are older or have medical problems which prevent them from walking on roads (poorly feet), or have mobility issues due to severe arthritis etc and cannot walk for 45 minutes.  For these dogs, they are walked separately from the others to ensure their individual needs are catered for.

On return from the walk, fresh water is available – and is available all the time.  We have a short relaxation time before breakfast is provided.  Feeding time is organised very carefully so that boarding dogs are separated from our dogs to ensure no food aggression incidents.  Our two Labradors will happily eat together but Maggie will react aggressively if another dog attempts to approach her while she is eating.

Feeding: we provide the boarding dog(s) with whatever food is provided by their owners, at the time stipulated by the owners.  If they are to be fed later than our own dogs, we would provide them with a healthy treat whilst our dogs eat their meal.  Our dogs are fed on the raw meat diet which has proven to be extremely beneficial to their general health and well-being.  They only get fed once a day in the morning.

After breakfast we let the dogs out into the garden where they are free to relieve themselves or play.  After approximately one hour, this is usually followed by all the dogs sleeping until the afternoon.  The external door is often left open indefinitely allowing the dogs freedom to go outside for resting, or relieving themselves, but usually the house remains calm and quiet until the mid-afternoon.

Often but not every day, in the mid-afternoon, our dogs enjoy a relaxed gnaw on a fresh beef bone.  This usually keeps them occupied for, in the region of one hour when we generally remove the bones so they don’t eat too much.  We have sectioned off part of the garden so if we have a boarding dog who is allowed a raw bone, they can enjoy that in the safety of a secure part of the garden.

Then, at around 5.30 pm, the dogs go on a further walk of approximately 40 minutes.  Where possible, this also involves an off the lead element so the dogs can sniff and run and play.

The return home is often very exciting for the boarding dogs in particular as this usually means ‘teatime’.  Since our dogs have been on a one meal a day regime, they generally get a treat on returning home, which recently has been a large home made nutritious dog biscuit.

Once the evening walk has been enjoyed, we concentrate on cooking our own tea and settling down for the evening.  Invariably the dogs will sleep intermittently throughout the evening, and periodically they are let out into the garden for relieving themselves and for sniffing duties!  Dogs are retired to bed with a small dog treat at approximately 11.00 pm when we go to bed.  Boarding dogs generally sleep in the Utility room, separated from our dogs by the dog guard.  The dogs understand that they remain downstairs as clearly indicated by the dog guard in the hall preventing them from going upstairs.  But they understand that this is now rest time in their beds until the morning and usually we have little disturbance in the evening, although Boarder’s first nights can be disrupted due to their insecurities, but usually after the first night all is well.

Breed characteristics of different dogs.

Dogs without doubt are an amazing species, they are the most diverse single species on the planet with over 400 breeds, different shapes and sizes not withstanding the temperament differences.  This is an exploration of the hard wired psychological breed specific behaviours that might effect your working relationship and business.

This is a description of examples of 3 different dog breeds, which require differing care and exercise considerations.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier

When dog fighting was introduced as a sport, or form of entertainment, Staffordshire Bull Terriers were bred as fighting dogs.  They were strong, fast, energetic and not aggressive to people.  As such, as a breed, Bull Terriers are renowned for being difficult to have around other dogs.  As such, when walking a Bull Terrier, care should be taken with regard to any walking companions which may be involved as the Bull Terrier may demonstrate their in-built aggression with a companion dog, or indeed any dog in which you would come into contact.  Furthermore, due to such behaviour, all Staffordshire Bull Terriers have a fearful reputation and therefore their presence in a public location particularly one frequented by families with dogs, may not be welcome due to their considered link to dangerous dogs eg Rottweilers, Pit Bull Terriers etc.  A health concern might be hip dysplasia which the breed are prone to.

Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retrievers are one of the most common and popular breeds for families to have as pets in theUK.  They are very playful, affectionate and loyal as a breed hence their popularity.  They need a lot of exercise – both physical and mental – on a daily basis and love to swim which should be accommodated wherever possible.    Due to their mental ability, they are easy to train hence their role as Guide dogs, search and rescue etc.  Walking aLabradorshould involve little confrontation or problems as they are a very sociable, friendly breed, however they do need stimulus to avoid boredom, which, particularly where Labrador Retriever puppies are concerned, can lead to destructive tendencies.  Their proneness to  conditions such as arthritis, hip and elbow dysplasia calls for care when young to control their enthusiastic leaping and jumping to protect vulnerable joints etc.

Saint Bernard

These are very large dogs with low energy levels resulting in them not being particularly playful as a breed, and therefore they don’t need the exercise required by a Labrador Retriever, for example.  They are gentle natured and entirely loyal to their family.  The breed is famous for its previous exploits as search and rescue in Switzerland, where over 2,000 people have been saved by the breed.  Saint Bernard dogs would not need long walks on a daily basis as their size and, particularly in the long haired breeds, mass of hair ensures they couldn’t cope with lots of exercise.  Their gentle nature means they are friendly to other pets, however their sheer size may suggest a threat to other dogs met on a walk.  Health concerns include hip dysplasia, gastric torsion, eyelid problems and elbow dysplasia.

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