6 min read

Keeping Dogs With Special Needs Happy, Healthy And Active

"No Walks? No Worries!" is a wonderful guide for dogs on restricted exercise

Anyone who's lived with a dog knows that from time to time they need to restrict their friend's activity. And, likewise, we all know how hard it is to keep a dog from running here and there when they're not supposed to. I used to create what I called "enrichment games" for the dogs with whom I shared my home that could keep them mentally active when they weren't allowed to frolic, and I wish a new book called No walks? No worries!: Maintaining wellbeing in dogs on restricted exercise by Sian Ryan, who has a degree in clinical animal behavior, and Helen Zulch, a veterinarian, was available because often my dogs would look at me and say something like, "I thought you had a Ph.D. in animal behavior, is this all you can do?" Outstanding photographs by Peter Baumber accompany a most readable text.

The description that accompanies the book tells it all:

He's going to need six weeks crate rest; just keep him quiet while he recovers." These words - which often form part of the treatment requirements for dogs undergoing surgery, or requiring long-term medical care - can strike fear and dread into a dog-owner's heart. Not a lot of advice is available regarding appropriate mental and emotional support for dogs whilst their usual exercise is limited, and owners are left to manage as best they can, which can be stressful for both owner and dog, and can lead to behaviour changes and problems. This unique book, written by professionals in their field, aims to help owners identify the individual needs of their dog, and, in addition, offer support in preparing their dog for a period of restricted exercise, when surgical interventions are planned. Ideas and tips for mental stimulation and emotional support - as well as alternatives to physical exercise and guidance on how to teach specific skills - are included. Beautiful, specially-taken photographs illustrate every chapter, and worksheets enable owners to chart the progress of their dog's care plan.

Readers will learn how to plan for restricted exercise and how to cope in emergency situations, identify a dog's individual needs, plan a daily routine including relaxation, socialization, and mental stimulation, develop activities to replace walks, use odors and toys made of food, and assess the dog's progress. There also are guidelines for giving a dog the emotional support they need as they recover or adjust to a life of restricted activity.

I really can't say enough about how valuable this book is. Most of the authors' suggestions are very simple to employ -- minimizing slippery surfaces, creating obstacles courses, using an underwater treadmill, using interactive toys, and scattering food on the floor or lawn -- and the photographs are extremely helpful.

I hope No Walks? No Worries! receives a broad and global audience. I felt enriched as I read about how simple it is to enrich a dog's life. I'm sure dogs with special needs will thank you for your efforts to make their lives the very best they can be when they are unable do all the things they previously loved to do.