Dogs are great companions and seem to love spending time with us as much as we love spending time with them. Below, we’ll take a look at a few activities dogs can enjoy as much as their owners do.
If your dog seems to be a quick learner and likes running around and through things, consider agility training. On agility courses, handlers guide their dogs (off leash) through a series of obstacles that could include tunnels, hurdles, stairs, etc. Such courses are great exercise for your dog and help him learn how to stay focused and on-task. Some dog parks feature agility courses for fun, and there also competition agility trials.
For a different take on agility courses, you might want to look into flyball. This 4-dog relay team sport requires dogs to jump over a series of hurdles, catch a launched tennis ball, and race back over the hurdles. Of course, frisbee is also a great choice for dogs that love running and jumping and can be great exercise for both of you.
Another physical activity that involves both you and your canine companion is dancing. Yes, dancing. Dogs and their handlers work together to entertain folks with choreographed moves set to music.
If you’ve got a dog that’s in great physical condition, consider taking him backpacking. Dogs love hiking at least as much as people do, but make sure that your dog stays on leash or is obedient enough not to run off and get you both lost. You also would be wise to understand basic first aid for both of you in case of injury. And don’t forget to bring a water bowl for your pal and enough water for both of you. If you plan to backpack or hike through a state or federal park, make sure you research any rules concerning pets in the park.
Is your dog the social sort who seems to bring to joy to all he meets? If so, you might want to look into an animal-assisted activities (AAA) program or group. Many hospitals and nursing homes recognize the positive impact pets can have on patients’ moods and welcome canine visitors to their facilities. You don’t necessarily need to belong to a specific group, just be sure you know what, if any, certifications local facilities might require of dogs and/or their handlers. Such work can give your dog a chance to meet new people and give you both a chance to aid in the recovery of various types of patients. This is a great activity for older or lower-energy dogs.
Some dogs are well suited to work on search and rescue teams. Most cities have programs that can evaluate your dog and provide training. Imagine how rewarding it could be to know that your best furry friend might be called upon to help search and rescue efforts in response to a missing person case or some disaster.
Being a dog owner can be incredibly rewarding for man and beast alike. Taking your relationship with your dog beyond daily walks and a head in your lap can make it even better!
If you’re in the market for a new dog, please consider adopting one from a local shelter. Not only can you save the life of one of these wonderful creatures, but many shelter dogs are already housebroken and reasonably well socialized, making the process of integrating them into the family that much easier.