Does your dog love nothing better than sleeping away the afternoon in a warm patch of sun, or maybe snuggling up next to you on the couch to watch TV? Does she walk rather than run, sit instead of stand, and generally require a whole lot of encouragement to do anything other than eat, sleep, or laze around?
If so, your dog may very well be a lazy Lassie. There's nothing wrong with this per se — after all, humans have all sorts of different personalities so why shouldn't our dogs be the same? — but it's important to ensure that your dog's laziness doesn't affect her health. By ensuring that your lazy pooch gets plenty of regular exercise and eats well, you'll be able to set her up for many happy years of enjoying life at her own pace.
Signs Your Dog is Lazy
Some dogs are full of energy, always racing this way and that, and always looking for the next adventure. But some other pooches prefer to take things slowly, adopting a much more relaxed approach to each and every day. These are the dogs that can sometimes be called lazy but could also be described as laidback, easygoing, placid, or even understated.
The signs of a so-called lazy dog are usually plain to see. Often found curled up on the lounge or sprawled out on the carpet, these pooches love nothing more than just sitting back and watching the world go by. Rather than sprinting anywhere, they prefer to amble. Instead of jumping up excitedly to greet a visitor, they'll show their interest by raising their head a couple of inches and giving a slight wag of the tail.
Dinner time may be the only thing that sees them move at a speed that could even remotely be described as quick, but even then these dogs still don't like to be rushed. Lazy dogs are easy, unworried, and peaceful pets, and they make wonderful companions for anyone with a similarly laidback approach to life.
The History of Lazy Dogs
Historical accounts of the laziness of dogs aren't all that easy to come by. However, it's safe to assume that, in the early years of our relationship with dogs, which is thought to have begun 15,000 or more years ago, there would have been no room for laziness in a canine's skills repertoire.
Humans spent thousands of years breeding dogs to perform tasks like hunting and guarding, and while they also became our companions during this time, they still had important jobs to do.
It's only in more recent times that we may have been more willing to encourage laziness in our canine companions. One can quite easily imagine that the Toy Poodles that were popular with the French court in the 17th and 18th centuries got their fair share of pampering, and were often allowed to indulge their inner couch potatoes.
Throughout the 20th century, as dogs moved from backyards and front porches and into our homes, opportunities for relaxation have only increased. When a dog can spread out on a comfy sofa in air-conditioned comfort, what's to stop him staying there for an hour or three if he's so inclined?
The Science of Lazy Dogs
There are multiple factors to consider when examining why some dogs are so lazy? The first is down to genetics. Dog breeds come in all shapes and sizes, and have been bred throughout history to perform a wide range of tasks, acting as everything from hunters to lap dogs. For example, it obviously makes sense that the Pug, which has been bred for centuries as a much-loved lap dog, will be much more commonly associated with lounging around than an active working breed like the Border Collie.
Next, we need to acknowledge the fact that dogs have their own unique personalities and temperaments. One Labrador might be a lounge lizard, while its brother or sister could be an enthusiastic bundle of energy.
Then there's the old nature vs nurture debate to consider. Many scientists have posed the question of whether humans have made dogs lazy through domestication, often with interesting results.
One Oregon State University study took 10 wolves, 10 pet dogs and 10 shelter dogs, from a variety of breeds and mixes, and then asked them to solve a puzzle box to get to the food reward inside. 8 out of 10 wolves cracked the puzzle, but only 1 of the dogs did. The rest of the dogs looked to humans for guidance and assistance.
Numerous studies have also linked obesity in pets to obesity in owners, so if you struggle to find the motivation to get out there and exercise, there's a good chance your pooch will adopt a similar approach.
Helping Lazy Dogs Stay Healthy
OK, so your dog's lazy — in and of itself that's no big deal, but you'll need to take a few simple steps to make sure your pet stays healthy. The most important thing you can do is ensure that your dog gets plenty of regular exercise. The traditional walk is a great place to start, but trips to the dog park, the beach, or even hiking in the wilderness are also helpful.
Sometimes the new sights, smells, sounds, and experiences mixing up your routine provides can be all the motivation an easy-going dog needs to get moving.
The right diet is also crucial. The calorie intake of a dog that is happy spending most of its day trying out new sleeping positions will most likely be quite different to that of a working animal or a pooch or accompanies its owner for a five-mile run every morning. Ask your veterinarian for advice on what to feed your dog and how much to give her, and remember to go easy on those fatty, unhealthy treats.
As long as your dog gets enough activity and stays in a healthy weight range, the two of you can feel free to spend a whole lifetime of lazy afternoons together.
By a Labrador Retriever lover Tim Falk
Published: 02/01/2018, edited: 04/06/2020