Dog Exercise Needs Adapting When Returning to Work

The need for regular and frequent exercise is hugely important to our dogs.

Created: 8/25/2020 Updated: 8/24/2021 - Ross Tiffin

COVID-19, dogs, health, weight control

Dog exercise and family routine changed during lockdown. Many of us will remember 2020 and part of 2021 as the time we spent together at home. For some, the home also became their place of work. For others, the home doubled up as a schoolroom or a job centre where people urgently sought work. In some cases, where people were shielding, the home was a make-shift sanctuary. Long shifts and a constant level of anxiety affected the normal routine for front-line workers. For most dogs, essentially, life was very different.

Dogs snuggling up on a blanket

Very few dogs have ever been able to enjoy having their humans around them quite so much. But what happens as people start getting back to work? Earlier we addressed the topic of preparing our pets for a different routine after lockdown. But what about their exercise? This article discusses how to deal with exercising our dogs as the time we spend away from them increases again.

Differing needs between owner & dog

For many of us, our 'new-normal' working life may still be based at or around the home. Experience has recently shown that many people can work effectively from home in this digital age. But, sharing our work-space with a dog requires the dog to be patient, quiet and largely invisible. However, just like children, the need for regular and frequent exercise is hugely important to our dogs.

All dog owners know that dogs have an uncanny knack of knowing the time! Consequently, delaying a walk rarely goes un-noticed. Dogs like routine and are already dealing, as so many of us are, with a very different daily routine. Despite the increasing pressures of our return to work, our dogs' need for exercise remains unchanged.

Dog and owner walking through the autumn leaves

Benefits of a dog walker

Until recently, furloughed workers may have willingly stepped-up to exercise your dog at times when you were unable to do so. However, this cannot be a long-term solution. Finding a qualified dog walker who is willing to exercise your dog might be the long-term solution you are looking for. The pandemic has increased the reach of community media and this can be a good place to start. Alternatively, a search on Google will show up dog-walkers in your area. Also, there are specialist apps that will help you find a reliable dog-walker from your phone. Whether you use a search engine or find someone locally, check that your dog will be safe and well treated. You need to know the service will be reliable: inevitably, you will rely on it more and more. Wherever possible ask friends and family for help. If this isn't possible, ask for references from anyone selling this service and take the time to check them out. Any reputable dog walker will understand that you will have concerns about your dog's welfare and your own security. Don't be afraid to clearly lay out what you expect. Remember that you may need to compromise to some extent, as demand may quickly exceed supply.

Dog walking on an orange lead

Meeting energy requirements

Another concern might be that you have only limited time to exercise your dog but want to do so yourself. While your dog might prefer a regular schedule, this may not be possible even though you are trying your best. One option would be to track the exercise that your dog receives to ensure you are doing it properly. Several apps will track your dog's activity and generate a regular report on your mobile phone.

Compressing an hour's exercise into an explosive twenty minutes of violent activity can be counter-productive, even damaging, to your dog. Joints undergo considerable strain during running, jumping and chasing if they are not used to the load. Therefore, your dog will need a period of acclimatisation to a new exercise regime. Combining your walk with a gentle uplift in exercise adds a sense of purpose to the time you spend together. In addition, it provides mental stimulation. Try introducing an additional activity such as chasing the ball, scent training or even learning some new commands. Stimulation is vitally important for dogs spending time alone in the house without your attention.

A springer spaniel enjoying the buster activity mat.

A different routine for your dog

Organising your own day differently can provide a solution. Remember, dogs can adapt to change! Instead of a quick walk in the morning and a short walk when you get home, try making a change! Could you get up earlier and fit in a decent walk? Or, consider arranging a longer lunch break to allow you to spend more time with your dog then? Alternatively, many people have now adapted to walking their dog further and for longer in the evenings.

If you are able to take your dog to work, this might present a solution. Alternatively, you may be able to find a doggy-day-care facility en route to where you work. Crucially, leaving a dog alone for several hours on-end is neither good for the dog, nor its environment, especially if your dog is unaccustomed to this. Just like people, our dogs need mental stimulation as well as exercise but, above all, they need security and attention.

Do you need further advice?

If you need any further advice, please contact the OSCAR Helpline Team on our freephone number 0800 195 8000 or email