Summer is just around the corner for most of us, so it’s now time to dust of the dog and, yourself of course and, head to the local park for some fun games with your pet. There are a great many dog activities you can choose from that will suit all breeds and, the good part is they are free to play, you don’t need any expensive equipment, and above all they will help to keep your dog in tip top physical and mental condition.
One of the most favorite games of all dog breeds, when they learn the rules of course, is fetch. When you teach a dog to fetch it not only adds to your arsenal of dog training techniques, it also helps to strengthen the bond you have with your dog, which will have positive benefits in all areas of your relationship.
When teaching your dog to fetch use a ball that is not too small or too hard, as he could swallow it or damage his teeth. If you have a puppy that you would like to teach to fetch a ball and bring it back, here are some puppy training techniques that will help make playing this game a success.
Put your puppy on a long training lead. Show him the ball while at the same time teasing him a little to get his interest. When your dog shows interest, role the ball across the floor, but only a foot or so and, ask your dog to ‘fetch’ or ‘ get it ‘. As soon as your dog picks up the ball begin excitedly calling him back to you. Once he is in arms length, hold on to the ball and ask your dog to ‘leave ‘ or ‘ drop ‘. When he opens his mouth, praise him and give him a little food treat if you like, or another game of fetch. Keep practicing this exercise by increasing the distance you role the ball across the floor.
Find the treat
Find the treat is another one of those fun games to play with your dog, as it encourages the dog to use his primary sense, his sense of smell. Begin by hiding a food treat, for example a little bit of cheese or sausage for your dog to find. Although dogs have a highly developed sense of smell they still need a little encouragement to discipline their searching abilities, so make it simple to begin with, by basically leading your dog to the treat, while using a word such as ‘ find ‘. Soon you will be able to hide treats in any place and your dog will quickly find them.
If you really want to develop and test your dogs abilities in this area you could try the search game in your local park. Use your dogs ball or a small piece of cloth for this exercise. Again, begin by putting your dog on his training lead, as this will help you to guide him initially to the ball or piece of cloth. Begin by walking a little way and, while your dog is not looking discreetly drop the ball or cloth. Walk on a few feet then stop, turn around, give your dog his command, such as ‘find ‘ and begin walking in the direction of the ball or cloth. Encourage your dog all the time you are doing this. When he finds his ball, give him plenty of praise and play the game again. Practice developing this exercise in just the same way as you did with the earlier example.
A lot of dog breeds enjoy games which involve tugging, especially the larger breeds. Again this is an excellent way of helping your pet get rid of pent up energy however, like all games they are much better enjoyed when everybody plays by the rules. To make tug one of those fun games to play with your dog, make sure that you always initiate this game; your dog must be aware that the tug toy is yours and not his and, it is up to you to decide when you play this game. Don’t over stimulate your dog during this game, and do make sure that you teach him the ‘out’ or ‘ leave’ command first, so as you have control over the game at all times.
Some trainers suggest that you should always ‘win’ the tug toy from your dog, as a way of not encouraging dominant behaviour. I wouldn’t play a game for too long that I didn’t win at occasionally, would you? It’s OK to let your dog ‘win’ his tug toy now and again, providing he plays the games by your rules.
Catch the Frisbee
One last game that is especially popular with a lot of dog breeds, especially with breeds such as Collies, German Shepherds and Retrievers for example, is ‘ catching the Frisbee ‘. If your dog has not played this game before, do make sure that he is healthy enough to do so, as this game can be quite physically demanding. To teach your dog to catch the Frisbee, begin by getting your dog to take the Frisbee by rolling it a foot or so across the floor. When your dog is happily picking up the Frisbee, you can then stand back a couple of feet and throw it to your dog for him to catch. Once your dog is catching the Frisbee from this distance consistently, you can begin increasing the distance gradually.
Go ahead and have fun with these five dog activities. They are a great way to keep both you and your dog healthy. However, do remember not to over do things, especially in hot weather. Take frequent breaks between your play sessions and, don’t forget to take plenty of water for your dog.