One of the biggest learning curves in adjusting to varying pet mobility is having multiple dogs with different needs.In Aimee's latest instalment she discusses the adjustments she's made to meet the needs of both her labs, Fergus and Bonnie.
Fergus is used to long walks, plenty of swimming and play time. where as Bonnie is very limited in her mobility. We wanted to ensure that neither missed out and that we managed to stay on track with both Bonnie and Fergus' routines. We have two dogs with two very different sets of needs. It definitely hasn’t been easy! To compromise, we have been very careful to give both dogs alternating, small chunks of what they need on a daily basis.
Both dogs have been fed using puzzle feeders, snuffle mats etc especially during lockdown and Bonnie’s Rehab. With Bonnie being on reduced exercise I have had to ensure she gets the correct amount of food, enough to help her to
continue developing and not too much to let her gain weight. I found that if I got organised for the week ahead with weighing out their food for the week and then distributing this into different puzzle feeders made life easier. I blend kibble up and freeze it into any container I have. then give the treats and puzzles during the day.
For a while playtime for them together has unfortunately been off the cards, so I’ve had to become creative in ways to control their playtime. I have found that a game of ‘find it’ in both the house and garden is a great game they can safely play together with me. Catering to their all time favourite companion games of ‘bitey face’ and chase has just not been possible. In fact to stop the chase game, I found that over the summer placing them in a play pen in the garden limited the space they had and allowed them to play a gentler version of ‘bitey face’ and cuddle. Anyone with multiple dogs knows the allowance of their bond time is essential. Even without the exhilaration of running, it's clear that they value that time together. I am slowly allowing them more time to play chase in the garden and whilst out on walks. But always monitored and limited. If its
getting too rough or they are running for too long, then I will use their stop command and they will stop and sit. I am then able to re call them back. This allows them playtime but keeps it safely controlled.
Bonnie is allowed 2 x 30-40 Minute walks a day and Fergus is used to long full day walks at weekends and holidays. I have a list of local places that I have deemed to be ‘Bonnie safe’ so we have changed how we spend our free time. This is often comprised of allowing Fergus a big walk of a couple of hours and
then letting Bonnie have her little walk which will often include a cafe for a drink and some cake (for us) so she can sit and people watch. Then Fergus can have another big walk. During lockdown we pack picnics and blankets to cater for a decent stop time.
I really wanted Bonnie to do Agility, the same as Fergus but I’m not allowing her to do that due to the impact on her joints. Instead I’ve discovered Hoopers, this is a low impact activity that has a series of Hoops and Tunnels to guide the dog around. I’ve made some equipment at home to do some basics with Bonnie
and we will soon be attending a class. It will be good to learn a new sport together with Bonnie and I just know she will love it.
Fergus on the other hand absolutely loves a game of fetch, of any sort as he is a working gun dog. So we play fetch when Bonnie is not around. I don’t want Bonnie becoming Fetch obsessed as its a huge amount of impact on her joints. As an alternative to allow her to play in a similar style we hide balls and dummy's for her to find, this gives her the fun and satisfaction of playing without the damage to her joints.
But it's not all outdoors and mum madly running around after them both. One low energy activity that's never changed and that they both love, is putting a film on. The fire roaring with an abundance of snuggles on the sofa!
It can be stressful meeting the needs of a pet with mobility issues, so always also make sure to take the time for you both to recuperate!