I am not a morning person. Never have been, and never will be… Or so I thought.
On the long list of suggestions, tips, tricks and techniques of how best to treat Separation Anxiety and manage Reactivity one particular thing kept popping up: Long walks before the stressful time when you’ll be leaving.
We regularly went for walks almost every afternoon, but walking in the morning was something I just wasn’t willing to even consider. But then something happened to me – I stopped sleeping in and was waking up earlier and earlier. At first I was miserable about this because I really wanted to sleep in, but my body wouldn’t allow me to. What to do with this extra frustrating hour or so each morning?
I decided that I would give getting up and walking Phoebe a shot. After all, I most certainly need more exercise and I knew that Phoebe did too.
And so started a new morning routine of taking a 40 minute walk at the crack of dawn.
The change in Phoebe on the days we do this was immediately clear. She loves getting up and active first thing in the morning, and the days we go walking she’s far more relaxed about me leaving, and the neighbours report that her howling is cut down substantially. Another added bonus is that most other dogs and their owners are either still fast asleep or doing their morning pre-work routine, meaning that there are fewer dogs roaming about to make Phoebe and I anxious.
I read a great blog piece over on ‘Wilde about Dogs’ – A Tired Dog is a…Cooperative Dog? that explains this very well, and I can attest to the fact that tiring Phoebe out before a long day on her own, or if she’ll be facing a potentially stressful situation (like lots of guests visiting) she is far more relaxed and slower to get anxious.
I highly recommend exercise for your dog (as well as you!) if you are ever worried about an upcoming situation where you know your dog may be prone to getting over-excited or anxious!
Phoebe’s Effectiveness Summary:
Issue Addressed: Separation Anxiety, Reactivity, Loneliness
Tool(s) Used: Exercise, Regular Walks
Cost: Low. Free!
Ease of Implementation: Easy. The most difficult part is planning your day so that you have enough time to take regular walks.
Phoebe’s Effectiveness Rating: 5/5. This helps to keep Phoebe much calmer and less stressed when it is time for me to leave.