Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Sunrise Walks - Early Morning Explorations for Crepuscular Canines

Woof Woof, Miyuki here.  The human baby of the family has been waking up very early the last few weeks, before the sun rises, and even before the kookaburras start singing!  Which means early morning walks for me! 

Dr Renee thinks that if you have to be awake so early, it's much better to get up and enjoy the morning together as a family, rather than start the day out grumpy because it's cold and dark outside.

Although I'm getting on in age, I still enjoy an early morning adventure, even with this colder weather!  Dr Renee tells me about some of her patients who don't get walked every day.  Imagine that!  Daily exercise is such an important aspect of our lives, for many reasons:
  • We spend enjoyable, relaxing family time together
  • I get to explore other environments that are constantly changing and stimulating
  • I exercise my senses by sniffing lots of spots where other doggies have been, remaining vigilant at all times true to my guardian nature, and listening to the world around me
  • I exercise my muscles by climbing our local sandhills or jumping over the rocky headlands or going for a swim in the ocean
  • I exercise my social skills by meeting, greeting and playing with other dogs
  • Apparently exercise releases endorphins, which are like happy hormones, helping to keep our whole family calm, relaxed and stress-free
  • Endorphins also boost the immune system, meaning I'm less likely to get sick or suffer from allergies or other health problems

We had a lovely family walk along the headland a few mornings back, (one of the many mornings when aforementioned toddler has been awake before me), and I thought I would share some photos to hopefully inspire some more doggie people to get out and explore with their dogs.  The sun was rising, the air was fresh, the ocean was calm, what a beautiful start to the day!

Climbing over the rocks at our local headland

Cuddles from the human baby of the household

Giving our human baby a kiss

I hope this post inspires you to get outside and enjoy this lovely cooler weather together!

Dr Renee's Comment:
Daily exercise is an often neglected part of life that is essential for health and well-being, both for ourselves and our pets.  I meet many pet owners who only take their pets out for a short walk a few times a week, or in some cases not at all.  This is not sufficient and can contribute to many behavioural and health issues in our pets. 

Dogs are crepuscular creatures, meaning they are naturally most active at dawn and dusk, so these are the best times to get out and about with them.  An unchanging home and garden environment lacks challenge, and pets that are underexcised are understimulated.  For some pets this will manifest as behavioural issues (eg excessive barking, digging holes, destructive behaviour, obsessive licking/chewing and resultant skin problems), for others physical health problems will become apparent (eg obesity, diabetes, arthritis). 

There are a small minority of pets who require a tailored exercise program if they have problems like severe arthritis, other joint issues, heart disease, or difficulties dealing with heat stress.  There are also pets who have behavioural issues such that it makes it difficult and very stressful for the dog owner to take them out and about.

If your pet has a health or behavioural issue that prevents you from getting out and enjoying the great outdoors together, speak to your Vet to ensure the issue is being adequately addressed, and to discuss other ways to ensure your pet is adequately stimulated, both physically and mentally.  Playtime within the home environment and providing mental challenge in the form of food foraging games and toys like the Nina Ottoson puzzle toys ( ) are two ways of addressing stimulation needs.  Miss Monique just asked me to point out that the Nina Ottoson toys are also great toys to use for cats, and said she will post a photo proving this in one of her upcoming posts!  (She is such a tease!)

Roar Kingdom can provide information sheets with unique ideas on how to incorporate more exercise, play and mental challenge into your pet's daily life.  You can find them here:


  1. So inspiring Dr Renee, Our new addition to the family Sandy Mills is Due home tomorrow, so the early morning walk for the whole family is a great idea

  2. Oh, lovely pictures, Miyuki!! And I agree - I think no matter what size, all doggies should get a walk every day unless they are sick or something It doesn't have to be miles and miles but just to get out, stretch the legs & have a change of scene...otherwise it's almost a form of cruelty, I think!

    Not that I'd ever go for early morning walks, though - hee! hee! - oh not me! I'm not a "morning doggie" and my human, Hsin-Yi, isn't a "morning human" either - she is actuallu really grumpy in the mornings! :-) But we always go out every day in the afternoon/evening. And sometimes on weekends, we go on late morning walks...although not much since we moved to Australia coz it's just too hot most of the time!! :-)

    Great post and information from Dr Renee!

    Honey the Great Dane

  3. I came to this blog from Animal Talk radio (Dr Kim and Dr Jeannie) and they promote natural rearing and NO chemicals such as heartworm poisons. I'd love to take my dogs walking at dusk and dawn, but these are the peak mosquito activity times so I can't risk taking my dogs out at thee times. I would love to read a blog post on safer alternatives for heartworm protection and how you protect your lovely dog.

  4. Natural rearing methods such as those advocated by the famous herbalist Juliette de Bairacli Levy provide an excellent start to ensuring puppies and kittens grow into healthy pets. Minimising reliance on chemicals is another important facet of health.

    Roar Kingdom has a wellness plan that outlines holistic methods of parasite control. It covers intestinal worms, heartworm and fleas and can be found in the Wellness Plans section here: