There are many fun things to do with your dog. Here are some examples of activities you can enjoy with your canine friend:
In agility trials, human handlers guide dogs off lead through obstacle courses that consist of hurdles, teeter-totters, tunnels, balance beams, weave poles, climbing structures, etc. Agility trials can be very competitive, or they can be done just for fun. Dogs gain confidence, release energy and learn how to stay focused while in high spirits.
Most dogs love to ride in the car. Take your dog along if you’re visiting friends or family. For a special treat, include a side trip to do some shopping with your dog. Some dogs love to browse at pet supply stores (many of which allow you to bring your dog inside). Your dog may ask for a treat or two, so be prepared to spend a little money on this outing!
Dog Parks and Beaches
Dog parks or beaches — places where dogs are allowed to roam free — are becoming more common in many cities. Some are securely fenced, have safety signs posted with park rules, and require that you clean up after your dog (take some bags in case they’re not provided). Social dogs enjoy meeting new dog friends and returning to see them time and time again. You might make new friends as well! If your dog is toy-sized, supervise him or her closely around other dogs. While trying to play, a big dog may injure a small dog unintentionally. For more information, visit www.goldcoast.qld.gov.au/central-suburbs-off-leash-dog-exercise-areas-and-prohibited-areas-4063.html to find out where your local dog park is located.
All dogs should receive some obedience training. How far you take it is up to you – some people want their dogs to compete in serious obedience trials, while others just want a dog who will obey simple cues in daily life. In either case, both you and your dog will enjoy the benefits of better communication and the increased bond between you that results from time spent together teaching, learning, and practicing. For more information, call your local animal shelter and ask for a referral for a training class.
Playing hide-and-seek with a toy or item of clothing can be a tracking challenge for your dog, you may need to start with a treat inside the item so your dog understands the game. It’s a great winter activity to stay occupied indoors.
Using clicker training or lure training (using treats for motivation) to teach your dog to do tricks is a great way to spend time with your dog, improve your relationship, and make obedience training even more fun. It’s great to show guests your progress and dogs love to show off their new tricks.
Vacations. If you haven’t taken a vacation with your dog, give it some thought. It can be very rewarding to have your dog along on your adventure, and many hotel chains accept dogs these days. To find dog-friendly accommodation, visit http://www.dogzonline.com.au/accommodation/accomlist.asp. The website called www.dogsonholidays.com.au includes vacation rentals, such as houses, caravan parks and B&Bs. When thinking about involving your dog in any strenuous activity, consider his or her health and physical ability. If your dog has not been exercising regularly, schedule a visit to your veterinarian. If more than a check-up (blood work to look at organ health, x-rays for joint health, etc.) is needed, your vet will advise you. He may also encourage you to increase your dog’s exercise level gradually.
Remember, your dog loves spending time with you, so get out there with your canine companion and have some fun!
By Sherry Woodard, Best Friends animal behaviour consultant