The holiday season means more time commitments for parties, shopping, travel, dinners, etc. However, something that gets put to the back burner, unintentionally, is taking the dog on walks. I want to share some ways to help you and your dog thrive, rather than just survive the holidays and make the start of the new year better together.
Be realistic with your time
Making sure your dog will get a walk means really looking at your daily schedule to see if you realistically can get a walk in. Sure you might be off a couple evenings if you stay a little late at work during a normal work week. However, during the holidays that could be an every day occurrence. This is when writing down a dog walk on your calendar or on your phone is important so you remember it.
Also, our days can get so blurred with time constraints it is easy to forget. Your dog will love you no less for forgetting the walk. However, it is important to make that time for a walk because it not only helps you, it also helps your dog stay out of trouble when they are home alone.
Modify your walk routine but stick with it
If you usually take your dog out for a 30 minute to 60 minute walk and think there is no way to cut it down, think again. It is not how long the walk is but the quality of the walk that counts. You could do a 30 minute walk in the morning and then at night shorten it down to a 15 minute walk and maybe play with your dog in the house. The one thing I want to get across is that If you stay consistent with the walks but just modify how long they are or what they involve, it still counts as a walk. Other options for walks could be: potty walk, a quick run/walk, to the neighborhood park or hop in the car and take a little walk somewhere else. This will add some fun for you and your dog and a way to relieve the holiday stress.
Carry a dog walking bag
Bringing a bag filled with stuff for a walk can be useful too. Some things to carry in the bag: tennis shoes, poop bags, treats, a light, or maybe a comfortable outfit to change into at the party. I have in the past put a bag filled with the same items I mentioned above to make the transition from party to walking dogs easier. I think it would be even better to keep the bag in your car trunk so you are prepared at any moment.
Let people at the event/party know you may have to leave early because of your dog
Being upfront with the people who are hosting the party will help them to understand when you have to leave early. There will be no hard feelings and total respect for being a responsible dog parent. I think the worse thing you can do is go to a party, then leave and not explain why you left and have everyone wondering what happened. Make sure to say goodbye to everyone before leaving and appreciate the great time. Everyone is happy and you do not have to be stressed or worried that you disappointed someone. People with small kids or elderly family members must do the same thing, so do not feel guilty.
***Bonus tip-set the alarm on your cellphone right when you go into the party so you will have a reminder to not forget about your dog.***
Mini-walks before going to your party
A mini-walk is a little more than a potty break, but it is another way to get your dog out and make sure he/she will be okay for a couple of hours. I think we get in such a rush to get out the front door, we think our dog will be okay because we are not staying out too long. However, parties can go on for a lot longer then you think and your dog cannot hold there bladder forever. I think doing a mini-walk maybe an hour before you leave and for only fifteen or twenty minutes will help your dog get out and go to the bathroom. Then when you come back and are really leaving for the party/event, give your dog a food toy. Your dog gets something to keep he/she busy (mental and physical stimulation) as well as a positive reinforcement that when you leave good things happen. Everyone is a winner.
***Bonus tip- you could even write down in your phone when your dog went the bathroom so that you can estimate how long you have before needing to come home for a walk.***
Hire a professional Dog Walker
If you cannot get to your dog on a walk then having a professional dog walker is the next best thing. They will make sure your dog is taken care of and has a great walk just like you would. I like to text all my clients after each walk to give them a summary or any issue they should be aware of about their dog. I would ask your dog walker if they could text or e-mail you after the walk so you can get an update about how things went and figure out how soon you need to leave the party.
I hope these suggestions are helpful. You and your dog can enjoy the holidays and still have time for those important walks that make being a dog parent wonderful. Now if you have a dog who pulls you on walks, then my dog pulling course called Who’s Walking Who? is for you http://bit.ly/whoswalkingwhocourse There are pdfs, checklists, and videos I share ways to stop this terrible and embarrassing behavior your dog does on leash. Buy my course now and let’s make walks in the New Year better.