The key to a happy, zen, relaxed dog is exercise, exercise, exercise! Training is futile if a dog is not properly exercised. Most dogs suffer from cabin fever and are trapped for hours upon hours indoors with hardly anything to do, yet their owners expect them to be perfect and sleep all day. A fifteen minute walk around the block on leash is not exercise and is just a potty break. Dogs need to run and play off leash to burn off all of their energy. Dog parks are great for dogs that love all other dogs and love to wrestle, but your dog will be in dog world and will not be focused on you. To keep your exercise sessions fun and your dog physically and mentally tired, get creative and do more than a walk around the neighborhood or a trip to the dog park. Here are ten things that you can do with your dog and have a lot of fun doing!
- Skateboarding with your dog is a great workout for dogs that have a lot of excess energy and need a job. Some dogs love to pull and will happily pull you around town, but others that have been trained to not pull on leash may need extra encouragement. If your dog loves tennis balls, throw the ball a few feet ahead of you and say the cue word “Go!” as you throw it. Keep throwing the ball farther and saying the word, “Go!”, till your dog catches on. Also, be sure to teach him the word, “Wait” so that you can slow him down by stopping the board, saying “wait” and then giving him a treat. Pretty soon you and your dog will be zipping all around town and your dog will be so happy to have a job.This dog sport is perfect for working breed dogs that love to pull like pit bulls, huskies and german shepherds. Of course skateboarding can be dangerous so be sure to wear a helmet and make sure that you don’t over exert your dog. Any sort of heavy exercise and long distance running should be limited to dogs over 8 months of age.
- Surfing is a ton of fun for dogs that love the water! To teach your dog how to surf, start out with a huge longboard or paddle board. Start out on the beach and teach your dog to get on the board by luring him onto the board and then treating him as he is standing on it. Keep rewarding him so that he learns to love the board and doesn’t want to get off of it. Then start out in water that barely has any breaking waves and gently set him on the board and hop on the board right behind your dog. Use lots of praise and encouragement. It’s good to put a doggie life vest on your dog so that you can easily pick him up out of the water if you have to. Practice a lot with your dog and you maybe ready for the next doggie surf competition at Del Mar Dog Beach
- Agility is a great dog sport for dogs that have a lot of energy and love to work with their owner. It teaches your dog to focus on you rather than distractions and his surrounding environment. Agililty is a timed event that requires you and your dog to run through an obstacle course that has jumps, weave poles, A-frames, boxes, tunnels and tires. Your dog has to learn how to go through, over and top of all of these obstacles in the fastest and most effective way. It’s competitive, fun, and requires your dog to use his noggin.
- Doggie Freestyle is a form of dancing with your dog to a choreographed routine with music. It builds a great relationship with your dog as you both learn to effective communicate with one another through body language and highly stylized cues and tricks.
- Hiking and playing a game of Hide and Go Seek behind trees and boulders is a great game to play with your pup out in the wilderness. Tell your dog to sit and stay or have a friend hold onto him. Then run away from your dog a few yards and hide behind a tree. Then call your dog and have him come and find you. When your dog finds you give him tons of praise and a treat. This will reinforce your dog’s recall tremendously and it’s a ton of fun for both of you.
- Search and rescue training is another fun thing to do with your dog when you’re out on a hike. Take an old shoe with you and have your dog sit and stay. Toss the shoe a few feet away and release your dog by saying, “ok, go find it!”. When your dog approaches the shoe and smells it, click and treat. Repeat this exercise a few times. Then have your dog sit and stay or have a friend hold your dog. Then go a few yards away and hide the shoe behind a bush or a rock. Then tell your dog “ok, go find it!”. When your dog finds it give him tons of praise and give him a puppy party. Pretty soon you’ll be able hike ahead of your friend and dog, plant an article of clothing, and then run back to them. Your dog will have a ton of fun locating the hidden object on your walk and he’ll be exhausting his mental energy.
- Dock diving is a dog sport that is gaining a lot more popularity. Dog diving measure how far and high your dog dives off a dock after a thrown object. It’s amazing how far some dogs can jump and they really get into it. Dock diving is a perfect sport for dogs that love the water and retrieving.
- Kayakking with your dog is another fun water sport for dogs that can’t get enough of the water. For dogs that really love water, you can tie your kayak to your dog’s life vest and have him tow you around. Of course, this is only for the really strong swimmers and don’t overdue it.
- Taking your dog herding is a ton of fun because you’ll be surprised by how instinctual it is for some breeds. There’s several herding clubs that you can join to work your dog in the field.
- Biking with your dog can burn off a ton of steam for hyperactive dogs. Just make sure that you have an easy walk harness on your dog for extra control and be careful when you’re biking in the street. Make sure that you don’t over exert your dog and ride with caution. Dogs that need to run, but don’t have access to a wide open field for off-leash running, love to run by your side on a nice bike trail.
Have fun, be safe and get creative! Life is all about having fun and sharing those times with people and animals that you love! And remember, a good dog is a tired dog and a zen dog.