Activities for Your Dog
26 Apr 2013
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Activities for Your Dog
A dog that has to spend all his time in the kennel or simply lying around the house is a very bored fellow. Inactivity leads to boredom and excessive energy build up. And that is the perfect recipe for behavioural problems. Dogs were bred for specific purposes and each breed has been developed focussing on a certain skill. For example, Shepherds as herding dogs, Hounds as hunters etc.
Dogs used to earn their food. But today they simply sit around and sleep when we are at work and wait for us to deliver their “free” food when we get back. This results in mental as well as physical problems. There is the risk of them getting too fat and also there is the risk of behaviour problems developing. If you don’t do something about it, you will end up with an unhealthy spoilt brat.
You come back from work and when your car reaches the gate or honks, you can hear your dog howling or barking so excitedly. And you are thinking “Oh. He loves me so much. Look at his excitement”. WRONG. This is one of the basic signs of a unexercised stressed dog. This happens because while you were at work you dog was at home, probably alone, recharging his batteries. If you don’t provide your dog with activities, he will resort to finding his own activities like ripping your couch into shreds or chewing on your favourite pair of shoes and things like that.
How to prevent this? Exercise your dog. There are a lot of fun activities you can do with your dog which will not only help him, but also strengthen the bond between you two.
Never walk your dog like in the illustratioin
The first and foremost important activity is taking your dog for daily walks. It is absolutely important that you do at least the walk every day. Now it has to be specifically said that You need to walk your dog and not the other way around. If the dog is leading you, it will lead to another set of behaviour problems – the Alpha Struggle [shall be presented in another article]. The walk doesnot necessarily mean walking slowly with him. It can be walking, jogging, running, cycling etc. Any good workout that takes out his built up energy.
The importance of the walk is that it satisfies the basic canine migratory instinct and helps in giving him a mental workout as well. When walking, it is important do what is called as a Pack Walk [ shall be covered in another article]. The importance of you leading the dog cannot be stressed enough.
Just like us humans, dog are also extremely social beings. You need to make sure to socialise your dog from a young age itself. This has an advantage of developing your dog with good behaviour and reduces his aggression tendencies. While walking your dog, fellow walkers provide one of the best opportunities for socialisation.
Playing fetch is, I believe, the most common exercise and in many cases the only exercise that a dog gets. It usually requires no training as almost all dogs have their prey drive and will try and retrieve anything that moves. A squeaker ball adds to the fun. Be sure to stop the game before he gets bored. If he gets bored of the game, he may not be interested the next day as well.
Fetch gives physical exertion as well as mental work if you incorporate commands in the game. Once your dog is good at playing fetch make him “stay” while you throw the ball. Then say fetch while he runs for the ball. When he gets back give a “drop” command and praise him when he does. This way, a mental workout can also be acquired.
Tug of war is also another great exercise but you need to keep strict vigil so that the game does not get out of control. You can play with him or if you have more than one dog, they can play with each other. Make sure things are under your command. Game should commence only after your command and should end on your command.
This is one of my favourite games. I would hide a treat at some place in a room with my dog standing outside. Then go out and give him a whiff of my hand and let him into the room. He uses his sense of smell and finds out the treat. This is great mental work for the dog and also improves his senses and attention.
Dogs are born hunters. They have a prey instinct and will chase anything that moves. This can be taken advantage of. A toy tied at the end of a rope and attached to a PVC pipe or a wodden stick or just something you can buy from the store. This can be used to provide the dog with some good old chasing action. The advantage is, it can be done even in small confined spaces as well.
A lot of new sport activities and competitions have been developed for dogs.
The following are a few you could try
· Fly ball
· Agility course
· Lure course
· Frisbee / disc
· Weight pulling
Grooming your dog daily is a must. It helps in removing any dead skin cells, dirt, fleas or ticks that have found their way onto your dog. It really improves your dogs skin condition and he will learn to love it.
From time to time, take your dog to the beach. You can have a fun time playing fetch or frisbee and he can have a time to cool off as well. My dogs enjoy trips to the beach from time to time. Also this can contribute to the socialisation as well.
I have also noticed that some dogs love to play soccer. Of course you will need to buy any large ball and inflate it to 75%. He will have fun kicking it around.
This is a look on a few of the activities you can do with your dog. You can always experiment and improvise. Just make sure it’s fun for you and your dog and both are enjoying it so that neither you nor your dog feels like quitting on the second week. The health benefits that your dog gains through these little activities are very high. Following these give both physical and mental benefits for your dog and you will get a calm and submissive dog like you always wanted.