We all love to get out into the countryside with our dogs, admire the views and hopefully enjoy some fine weather, while our loyal companions give us company on the way. Some people say, you can feel only half dressed if you go out walking without a dog!
Certainly, a happy, well trained dog is always with you, always attentive and always looking for what to do next! Indeed, all dogs are better behaved when they are given things to do that exercise their minds as well as their bodies! Many dog owners take toys with them on walks and once a dog is motivated onto a toy, perhaps a ball on a rope for example, this really helps with keeping your dog interested in you, rather than running off too far getting into mischief.
Holidays4Dogs always makes enquiry on the booking form with regard to whether guest dogs are allowed to play with sticks. However, we do not actively encourage owners, or carers to engage in stick play with dogs. There are many safer alternatives to this on the market, including rubberised tubes to throw for dogs when out walking. These toys are much safer and avoid the risk of a dog stabbing its mouth or eye on a stick that becomes lodged in the ground.
One of the most popular toys for dog walkers is a tennis ball launcher; this is a long plastic pliable handle with a cup on one end which holds a tennis ball. This can then be launched with ease by the dog owner and can be flung far further than throwing by arm alone! The added benefit of these toys is that you can scoop up the ball once the dog has returned with it, and avoid getting dog ‘slobber’ all over your hands!
Dogs love to be doing things when out and about, so retrieving games are ideal. Another suggestion for an activity while walking is seeking articles that you have hidden. You could start off with perhaps an old glove. To begin with, let the dog see where you have hidden the article, and encourage him to ‘find it’ or ‘seek’. This works well for dogs who are already able to retrieve toys and love doing so, but even if your dog will not bring the article back to you, you can reward him with a titbit for tracking and locating the item. Once your dog gets the idea with a ‘seen’ object, try partially hiding the item and again, encourage your dog to find it, going forward and helping him where necessary. Always praise enthusiastically as soon as the dog finds the article. This game can even be played quite successfully with the dog on a lead or long line and in fact, is a good way of providing extra interest to a dog that for one reason or another cannot be let off the lead.
If you have a human walking companion, playing hide and seek with one handler is also a fun game for all concerned. To teach the dog this game, one person will need to hold onto the dogs collar, while the other person (the dogs familiar owner is best to begin with), runs off and finds a place to hide at first letting the dog see the direction the ‘runner’ has gone in. Begin with only very short distances and if your dog has trouble locating the person hiding, they will need to help the dog by stepping into the dog’s visual path and encourage him by calling and arm waving. Gradually, build the distance up and reduce the amount of help the handler needs to give by calling the dog.
Eventually, your helper should be able to face the dog away, while the ‘runner’ finds a place to hide. The dog can then be faced in the direction the runner took and sent to ‘seek’. Once the dog finds the person hiding that person can reward the dog by throwing a ball or giving a titbit and praising enthusiastically.
Using logs and other natural obstacles in the environment is another way to interest your dog and help keep him fit. Of course, you need to be aware of your dog’s current fitness levels and age, so take care with very young puppies, older dogs, or dogs with a history of previous injury
These are just a few a few ideas for having fun while on the daily dog walk. Interacting with your dog while out walking is fun for the dog and creates a stronger bond between you and your pet. Not only this, it creates greater attentiveness and a dog that is focused more on you, is much more likely to want to be with you rather than running off to amuse itself!