I can’t believe I’m writing this but I give my dog rest days.
I’m the one who preaches “walk your dog EVERY day” and “never miss a day.” And I mean that. I believe in it strongly.
I believe it is important for a dog to get a walk every day or nearly every day. In general, most dogs need more walks and exercise than they’re getting.
Increasing a dog’s exercise is my #1 training tip, always. (See this post.)
But on the other hand … I have a canine athlete who does distance running and agility. By distance running, I mean he will run up to 18 miles while I’m training for ultramarathons (although most runs are much shorter).
Last weekend, we ran 18 miles on the Mickelson Trail in South Dakota.
After two days of almost 10 miles each, we took a rest day.
My dog is a pet, but he is also a working dog in his own way. He gives 110% at all times to whatever he’s doing. He’s all drive.
And don’t forget mental exercise.
Agility class tires my dog out mentally. He also goes to dog daycare once a week (physical and mental exercise) and we have employees coming and going from our house on weekdays, which keeps Remy on his toes.
All of these things are great for my smart, active young weimaraner.
But while Remy has more energy than most, he still needs a break.
So on one weekend day a week, we rest.
And my dog embraces our rest days fully. Just as he gives 110% to pulling me up a hill or plowing through the agility course, my dog knows how to take a rest day seriously too.
And by that, I mean Remy vedges out on his back, sprawled out across his bed with all four legs in the air for pretty much the whole day.
And he sleeps HARD. Harder than he does during the week. And he yips and runs in his dreams.
Of course, my dog still has energy (he always does), and if I decided not to take a rest day he would be totally cool with charging up a mountain.
HOWEVER, I think a true rest day is a nice break for my dog and I both to recharge, with truly nothing going on.
We really embrace “work hard, play hard, crash hard.”
If we do a walk on our rest day, it’s a relaxing 1 or 2 miles on a leash around the neighborhood for “active recovery.”
Does Your Dog Need a Rest Day?
That’s for you to decide.
I realize that true working dogs might rarely or never get an “easy” day. Remy is pretty pampered compared to a working ranch dog, police dog or guide dog.
Every dog is different with different “jobs” and we all do different activities with our dogs.
We also know most pet dogs are not getting enough exercise so we don’t want to give people yet another reason to skip a walk.
On the other hand … if you do walk your dog every single day, a rest day or a day of doing something else (like fetch or playing in the yard together or swimming) might be a nice change.
Or if you’ve introduced a new running or walking routine for your dog lately or if you’ve recently increased your mileage, he would absolutely appreciate a rest day. He might still have energy – most dogs do – but rest is still an important thing for all of us (mentally and physically).
My dog’s “schedule” looks something like this, depending on where I’m at in my own training:
- Monday: 3 mile run + agility class
- Tuesday: 5 mile run
- Wednesday: 1/2 mile walk + full day of doggy daycare
- Thursday: 1 hour walk + agility practice
- Friday: 3 mile run
- Saturday: Long run 5 to 18 miles
- Sunday: Rest or short walk
I’m just using common sense and I know myself and my own dog pretty well by now. Obviously breed and age play a huge role. My dog is a hunting breed meant to run in the field all day, and he’s been slowly building his endurance all his life.
No matter what your dog’s “work” is, whether it’s obedience class, agility, therapy work, hanging out at your office or daily walks, he might appreciate a “day off” every now and then where he can mentally check out or just enjoy an easy stroll.
I believe in hard work and I love to push myself (100 miles, here I come!). However, because of this I also know the importance of rest.
My dog and I are the same in that way.
How about the rest of you?
Do you give your dog “rest days”?
Let me know in the comments!