, Salem, MA


November 29, 2013

Dog Lady: Even active, energetic dogs need naptime

Dear Dog Lady,

Dickens, our 4-year-old bichon frise/shih tzu, runs with me three days a week, 4 to 5 miles per run, plus he gets a 10- to 20-minute walk three times every day. He sees a veterinarian regularly, weighs an appropriate 15 pounds, eats well, has good digestion and is a perpetual delight. But, sometimes, he just plops down at home as if he’s exhausted. Is it possible to exhaust a 4-year-old dog? Is too much exercise making him old early? We’re counting on Dickens being around for a decade or more.

A: Phew, you exhaust (and delight) Dog Lady by describing Dickens’ aerobics routine. For a 15-pound dog, he’s going for the burn and running with the hounds. Vigorous exercise is good exercise for any dog. Still, you must cut your small dog some slack.

A friend once used a charming way to describe his own compact dog’s need for snoozing: “Oscar is nothing without his 22 hours of beauty sleep.” Dogs sack out. This is what they do. They need their shuteye, especially younger dogs. Is it any wonder the dog-bed industry is booming?

Do not worry that Dickens wears out early. Check with your veterinarian, of course. Yet, Dog Lady believes all the exercise you provide primes your dog to endure for a good long time. The workouts give strength to his muscles and sanity to his behavior. Sleep is also a necessity because slumber restores and nurtures him. Leave Dickens alone when he plops down. He’s just doing what comes naturally.

Dear Dog Lady,

I recently acquired a 5-year-old collie-mix. She is a very loving and good-natured dog except when someone opens the door to our house. She barks incessantly and is hard to calm down. I don’t know what to do to stop this behavior. I don’t know if she is being protective or if she is scared. I would appreciate any advice you can give me.

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