It’s official: we’re a nation of dog lovers, with 8.5 million of them being a member of our families, across the UK. Over the summer holidays, our pups have enjoyed days out, plenty of walks and endless attention from the family, but now the holiday season is over, and we’re all back to work and school, thoughts turn to how we can keep our four-legged friends occupied and most importantly, happy.
All dog owners know that leaving our ‘best friends’ for over four hours is not recommended. This is not just for their safety – or to prevent your home becoming a giant chew toy – but for their well-being too. Many animal charities report that dogs regularly left for over four hours can become agitated and attention-seek when you are home, become unfit and even lacking in enthusiasm; a sad thought for our furry bundle of energy!
So what can we do to make sure our canine companions stay happy and in perfect health?
Doggy Date Lunch Break
One easy way to ensure our pooches aren’t left alone all day – and that they are stimulated – is by popping home at lunchtime, for a quick walk or game of fetch. It’s not just our dogs that benefit from the interaction, but us too, especially on days when we’re feeling stressed at work, as studies have shown that playing with or petting an animal can increase levels of the stress-reducing hormone oxytocin and decrease production of the stress hormone cortisol.
If getting home during an hour-long lunch break just isn’t an option, how about asking a neighbour or family member, who loves your dog to drop-by for walks or interaction? For those who are retired or living alone, this social communication can add a spring to their step and give them a purpose to get out and about. It’s worth asking!
WALKIES… with a dog walker
Over the last few years, there’s been a surge in the rise of professional dog walkers and sitters, due to overwhelming demand for these services from owners who work full time. The walkers/ sitters will come to your home, check up on your pooch and take them on a walk; giving you peace of mind that they’re content while you are busy at work.
All Day Care
Once a luxury reserved for the four-legged friends of the rich and famous, doggy day care has become more and more popular with us dog-lovers who want the absolute best for our pets! Day care providers will usually pick up pampered pooches in the morning (or you can drop them off on the way to work!) and then treat them to an action-packed full day of walks, games and play with other pups before you return home for the final walk of the day!
By Shelley Welti