It's safe to say that we are living under extraordinary circumstances. However, your dog is probably pleased that you will be spending so much time at home. The American Kennel Club's chief veterinary officer, Dr. Jerry Klein, explains how to make the most of your time at home with your dog and how to properly manage that time.
Q: We all lead busy lives, but how much time is the optimal amount for your dog?
A: First and foremost, it is important that before getting a new dog, the amount of time you're able to dedicate to a dog is discussed. Some breeds need more attention and activity than others. Puppies need more attention than adults. Puppies learn the rudiments of housebreaking in their first 4-8 months. On average, dogs should not spend more than 4-8 hours by themselves. A bored dog can easily become a destructive dog.
Q: Is there a difference between quality time and quantity time? Do dogs know the difference between the two?
A: The definition of quality time is: time spent in giving another person one's UNDIVIDED attention in order to strengthen a relationship, especially with reference to working parents and their child or children. Substitute "dogs" for "children" and we have a fair comparison. We are lucky in these times to have the availability of dog walkers and doggy day care - luxuries that weren't common 20 years ago.
Q: Most of our time with our pets is spent during the night/sleeping hours. Does just your presence help them feel calm and loved, even though you are asleep?
A: As domesticated dogs crave a bond between themselves and their human, your presence certainly gives them a sense of security. However, one should not have to resort to counting "sleeping time" as part of the undivided attention.
Q: What are a few things we can do in order to enhance the time we have with our dogs?
A: Consider doing more tasks or chores that you usually hire someone to do yourself.
For example, one-on-one walks, playing games or sports, such as fetching, or get your dog involved in agility. Even training and obedience exercises are quality time. Grooming your dog, even if it's not "the works," but just combing and brushing, nail trimming and providing daily dental hygiene ensures you're giving your undivided attention. Your dog will perceive it as attention spent strictly on him.
(To learn more about responsible dog ownership and ways to keep your dog busy during the Covid-19 pandemic, visit www.akc.org.)
(Dr. Jerry Klein is the AKC's chief veterinary officer.)
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For more tips on dog ownership, visit the AKC at www.akc.org.(c)2020 American Kennel Club, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.