Your dog, 105 degrees outside, and cabin fever

As a dog trainer, everything comes in waves. It seems like all the sudden I’ll have 20 Viszlas in a row, or 10 standard poodles in a row, or everyone is having the same sort of issue with their dog all the sudden. Well, that’s happening this month for sure.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been getting lots of calls from new and previous clients who are reporting that their dogs are doing odd, out of character things. One of my favorites was a lab mix that decided to eat through the drywall of every corner in the house, down to the studs, while the mom was away at work. In other cases, it’s been things like general destruction of toys, television remotes, underwear, eyeglasses….even plain old going nuts in the house for an hour at a time.

Initially I was a little puzzled with these reports since I knew a number of the dogs quite well. That ended last week when I realized that we’d had 60+ days of above 100 degree temperatures this summer. Then it all came clear. No one is walking their dogs and the poor little guys are going nuts. They have cabin fever.

All this destruction, chewing, general unfocused rambunctiousness is classic behavior for dogs who are not getting enough exercise. They are just trying to burn off all that pent up energy in one way or another and their poor owners are thinking they have suddenly gone nuts. That energy has to go somewhere and for a frustrated lab it’s probably going to squish out around the edges and manifest itself via chewing. Despite my warnings about temperatures previously, we’ve got to find a way to get them outside and moving.

I was really happy to see TONS of people out walking, running, and playing with their dogs on Saturday morning when we had a bit of a cool spell. I was on my bike at 6:30 am and haven’t see that many folks out walking their pups in weeks. The dogs looked happy to be out and getting some quality owner time, and the owners looked relieved to say the least.

Now, I’ll be the first to say “don’t walk you dog when it is 105 degrees out there”, but I’ll also be the first to say “get up earlier in the morning and walk your dog for 45 minutes every day.” The destruction factor will be much less in your house, your sanity will be considerably improved (by your dog being happier, and possibly you as well) with the exercise time.

So, when you call me this week and tell me the tale of what was most recently eaten in your house, the first question I’ll ask you is “how much exercise is the pup getting each morning?” Be ready for the question, and if you tell me less than 30 minutes we’re going to have the dog trainer talk. Always the dog trainer talk about exercising.

And, as a final note, remember the joke dog trainers tell each other when we get together. We say that if everyone walked their dog for an hour every day we’d all be out of a job and working in a call center cube within 72 hours.

Steve Haynes
Fidelio Dog Works