Summer is here! Kids are out of school, families are going on vacations, and maybe you have a little more free time to spend with your dog. You could take them for more walks or throw the ball a few extra times in the yard, but what else is there to do? Tons! Here is a list of 5 fun things to do with your dog.
1. Nose Work
Dogs have amazing noses, but sometimes they don’t use them as much as they could. We can help our dogs start using their noses through fun nose work games. One way is to hide your dog’s food or treats around the room. Use a phrase like “find it!” or “where’s the treat?” to initiate the game, then once your dog has found all of the treats, end the game with something like “all done.” This prevents your dog from continuing to search for food when there is no more food to find. Take this game outside by hiding treats around the yard, the same way you would hide treats inside. It will be more difficult with added distractions.
Another option is to use old shoe boxes or other small boxes to hide your dog’s food. You can start by showing your dog the treat and then turning the box upside down to cover it. Let your dog smell the box and indicate the treat is there – either by barking, pawing, sitting or lying down, nudging, etc – then lift the box and let your dog have the treat. Increase the difficulty by placing multiple boxes in the area but only hiding treats under one.
2. Hide and Seek
Hide and seek is similar to nose work, but your dog is finding you instead of a treat. It may be easier to play this game with other members of your family, so that they can hold your dog while you run and hide. When you are ready, call your dog to come find you. When he finds you, make it a big party! You can then take turns and your other family members can hide.
3. Tricks Training
Teaching your dog tricks can be so much fun forboth you and your dog! You can teach your dog to rollover, shake, play dead, sit pretty, etc; the list goes on and on! All you need are high value treats, a good attitude, and a clicker if you like. If you are unsure about using a clicker, you can say “yes” instead of clicking. You do not have to be an expert to teach your dog a trick. Even if you mess up or your dog doesn’t learn it perfectly, that’s okay! The most important part is that both you and your dog are having fun. Check out our youtube channel for a few how-to videos (including “wave”, “bang” and“rollover”).
Hiking is a fun outdoor activity for people and dogs alike! It is a great workout with the different surfaces and elevation changes, and there are hiking trails for people of all activity levels. To give your dog an added workout, you can use a weighted doggie backpack, or if you have a bigger dog, have him carry a pack with snacks and water.
Agility is beneficial for your dog for three reasons. 1 – It’s a great confidence builder! Nothing boosts a dog’s confidence more than conquering a big obstacle that he previously thought was impossible. 2 – It strengthens their bond with their handler. Working through something tough (and potentially scary) will build your dog’s trust in you because you helped him through it! 3 – It’s great exercise (for both of you!) Dogs are physically exercised by the running, jumping, and climbing. They are also mentally stimulated by trying something new. Plus, you will get a great workout by running around the course with your dog!
Look online and try to find someone in your area that offers agility. If you live anywhere near the Spokane Washington area, come check out Valor K9 Academy’s Open Agility! It is a great opportunity to come out with your dog, play around on the agility equipment, and learn about what else VK9 has to offer. It is open to all dogs as long as they are social (friendly with people and other dogs) and current on all vaccinations. The best part is it’s only $10! Check the website for the next Open Agility date.
There are endless options of things to do with your dog. I hope this list gives you some good ideas on fun and unique ways to have fun with your dog. Get out and try one, your dog will love you for it!
– Becca Lewis is a Training Intern at VK9-Spokane. In addition to helping with daily activities and caring for the dogs, Becca is working towards her “Canine Training Specialist” certification.
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