Activities to Keep Your Dog Busy
by Frances McCaskill
Dogs are social, active creatures that like people need attention, activity, structure and in many cases a job! Without daily interaction with your dog trouble will ensue! Bored and neglected dogs get frustrated which can manifest itself in a variety of ways to include acting out with behavior problems by being destructive in the home, not to mention health issues such as being over weight and depressed.
A while ago I adopted a nine-year-old Queensland Heeler who was clearly down in the dumps. She had spent the last few years left to her own devices in the back yard, excluded from family life in the house, she was only walked occasionally. She was overweight, her coat was dull and she seemed older than her years. My heart went out to this girl, especially when I found out in addition to being in bad condition she suffered from acute separation anxiety .
This was a very intelligent dog that needed some life and a sense of purpose breathed back into her, so it became my mission to cheer her up. Hiking became a part of our daily routine, the exercise did us both good. After she relentlessly shoved tennis balls in my lap I discovered she was a ballaholic, so then came regular trips to the dog park where I stood endlessly throwing the ball for an exuberant dog! As a herding breed her true calling was to herd cattle, so off we went to herding classes where she got to round up sheep. Now we had a hobby together that we both looked forward to. Within a matter of months this down trodden dog was transformed and I had developed a great bond with her. The years and the weight seemed to melt off her, there was sheen to her coat and a glint in her eyes, her energy was back and so was her confidence!
When we make that commitment to bring a dog into our lives it is vital that we provide daily activity and stimulation for this member of the family. There are all kinds of activities that can be incorporated into your lifestyle and daily exercise routine, the level and type of activity best suited to the dog will be determined by the breed of dog. For example a Border Collie has a lot of energy and requires a great deal of physical and mental activity, they excel in both agility and herding as it challenges them mentally and physically. On the other hand a Basset Hound has a low energy level and would be satisfied with a mild day walk. In return for providing daily activity to your dog’s life you will be greatly rewarded by the bond that you develop with your dog, you will also benefit from living with a happy, healthy, confident and well mannered dog. Who knows, you may even discover a new hobby together!
Here are a few activity suggestions for you and your canine companion:
Dog Park – A daily trip to the local dog park is a great way to socialize your dog, particularly beneficial for dogs that are left alone all day, they can run around off leash, play ball, tug of war, hang out with their buddies!
Hiking – Whether it’s a stroll in the neighborhood or a hike in the hills every dog needs to get out and about in new surroundings, exercise, take in the new smells, mark its territory and greet dogs along its path.
Running – Need a running partner, interested in cross-country running? Certain dogs can fulfill this role and will provide great camaraderie.
The Beach – I have yet to meet a dog that does not enjoy a good invigorating run on the sand, play with the tide, chase the birds, what Retriever doesn’t like to swim and fetch a stick from the water? Don’t forget to bring some Dry Dog Instant Clean to wipe your dog down and get rid of the sand afterward. Click here for more info about taking your dog to the beach.
Rollerblading - Leash up and rollerblade with your dog, off road of course! Great for high-energy dogs that benefit from a daily run. Only recommended for people that are adept skaters!
Sheep Herding – A fantastic sport for the herding breeds who were bred to herd livestock and without fulfilling this instinct and the need to be mentally stimulated can become a challenging companion.
Agility – A fast moving sport where dogs are directed off leash by their handlers through a obstacle course to include the A-frame, dog-walk, weave poles, seesaw, pause table, collapsed tunnel, pipe tunnel, different types of jumps and hurdles to include a tire, triple and double jumps. This sport does wonders for building confidence, obedience and teamwork skills.
Obedience Classes – Weekly classes are very beneficial for teaching your dogs good manners, every dog should learn basic commands for both practical and safety reasons. Hyper dogs may have a hard time focusing, we suggest trying Sleepytime Tonic so that your dog gets the most out of his class.
Massage – What better way to bond with your dog by showing your love for him by giving him a massage. This can be enhanced by the soothing smells of lavender by spraying your dog with Ruff to Smooth.
Therapy - Enroll your dog in a class to become certified as a therapy dog. Friendly, confident, calm, patient dogs ideally suited for this job. As a therapy dog the pair of you will visit nursing homes and hospitals to interact with the patients to bring joy to their day. Just google ‘therapy dogs’ for more info. A dog that enjoys petting and hugs will be greatly rewarded!