We all know that walking is an essential physical activity for our dogs. It’s one of the things that keeps them excited and fulfilled. But should it be a daily exercise without rest days, or do dogs need days off from walking?
The answer is that dogs do need days off from walking. In fact, rest days are as beneficial as exercise days to your dog.
In this post, you’ll dive deep into why dogs need rest days. Equally important, we’ll discuss how your dog should spend these rest days to avoid making them feel bored.
Why Do Dogs Need Days Off From Walking?
Walking for most dogs can be a highly exciting experience due to the overwhelming sniffing opportunities outdoors.
Meeting, playing, or fighting with other dogs outside can also make the experience more interesting
For some dogs, experiencing this level of excitement on a daily basis can be tolerable. For others, continuous exposure to high excitement levels can considerably increase the cortisol in their bodies.
The rise in cortisol levels can lead to digestive issues and problems in the immune system and skin of the dog.
From a behavioural aspect, high cortisol levels increase the likelihood of your dog being reactive and nervous. Here comes the importance of rest days.
Giving your dog a day off from physical exercise every now and then provides them with a period of no interaction with the highly arousing outside world.
This allows your canine friend to relax and have a calm day. As a result, the high cortisol level starts to decrease significantly.
So, you need to consider rest days as a stress detox to enhance your dog’s emotional health.
In addition, using dog blinders can make the walking experience less arousing and stressful. Check this guide to find the best dog blinders for your canine friend.
That being said, giving your dog a rest day doesn’t mean he’ll spend the whole day doing nothing. This can make your dog feel bored and engage in bad behaviour, especially if you have a highly active canine.
Instead, we recommend replacing the walk with another type of physical and mental stimulation during the rest day.
How Often Should My Dog Have a Rest Day?
There are no studies or research data we can count on to determine the optimal duration of rest days for your dog. The required rest days can differ from one dog to another depending on their activity level.
However, one sign that your dog needs a rest day is when you start noticing them performing a lot of reactive behaviour.
To stay in the safe zone, we recommend starting with giving your dog only one rest day occasionally.
Nonetheless, if an occasional day of rest doesn’t reduce your dog’s stress level, you might need to give it one day of rest every two weeks.
If you still notice high reactive behaviour, your dog can benefit from one rest day a week.
What Activities Does Your Dog Need on Rest Days?
Rest days for dogs aren’t days of complete inactivity. Instead, they include different types of activities that are less arousing and require less energy level than walking outside.
There’s a plethora of activities and mental exercises you can engage your adult dog or young pup in during rest days.
Here are the most recommended ones:
Enrichment activities include many games that can stimulate and engage your dog. Here are some of them:
- Shredded paper
- Searching for food
- Snuffle mats
- Lick mats
- Exploring ramps, seesaws, wobble boards and more
You can spend the day teaching your dog a few new tricks. Dogs are avid learners, and training sessions can be quality time to strengthen your bond with them.
These light training sessions can include fun activities like finding your keys, fetching your shoes, emptying the washing machine, or fetching the mail.
These activities can provide a little mental stimulation to your dog without overstimulating him.
Setting time to play with your dog during their off day is important. You can enjoy playing tug with your dog while simultaneously training them on impulse control.
“Find it” is another game that can entertain and mentally stimulate your dog. This game includes hiding a toy or food around the house and asking your dog to find it.
Some pet parents even hide themselves and play “hide and seek” with their dogs.
Scent work provides multiple benefits for your dog. It can decrease the stress levels of your dog and increase their happiness. It also reduces the reactivity of your canine friend.
That way, scent work can be a great activity for a rest day. Many trainers provide online scent work classes that you can attend to learn more about applying these activities.
Alternatively, you can learn scent work from the numerous free guides and videos online.
If your dog gets highly exhausted from exercising all week long, you can utilise the rest days to give them more hours of sleep.
A lot of dogs don’t get enough sleep every day. If your dog faces the same problem, prioritise providing them with sufficient sleep.
Do Active Dogs Need Rest Days?
Even highly active and working dogs need rest days. As we mentioned earlier, walking is an arousing experience that can highly stress out some dogs.
So, you need to give your dog a rest day every once in a while to help them destress and relax. This is to protect their emotional and mental health.
Do dogs need days off from walking? Yes, your dog needs days of rest from daily walks.
These off days are as important as regular exercise. They help reduce the high level of stress in dogs and make them more relaxed.
They also reduce high levels of cortisol in their bodies. This reduction in cortisol levels protects your dog from bad health conditions.
During rest days, you need to replace walks with mental exercise and try to spend plenty of time playing with your dog.