Seven days of games for you and your pup?
It's warming up outside, and with the Pandemic nearly off our backs, it's time to get out there and kick up our heels and paws! The following suggestions of fun activities should always be conducted in a safe, fenced area, preferably your own backyard.
Let's start the week out all wet. If you have a backyard pool, both you and your canine can chase water toys to your heart's content. Maybe get the garden hose or sprinkler out and make it rain on both of you, just like when you were a kid.
A tip: Even if your dog takes to water like a fish, watch how much he ingests while playing. If he consumes too much during a few minutes of play, the balance of his electrolytes could get thrown off. Veterinary professionals call this "water intoxication," which can cause brain damage, heart failure, even death.
Some dogs have a frisbee addiction. Others view one as a mortal enemy. If you have a flying disk lover, getting practice in the fresh air is a treat for you and your dog. While this is an activity most every dog will love, it's an outstanding skill to teach very high-energy pups.
A tip: Experts suggest not throwing a frisbee with a dog younger than a year old. It's best to avoid any kind of sport with puppies that involve a lot of jumping around - including agility and fetch - because the impact is hard on those little growing bones and joints.
Take four or five tennis balls, rub them on your clothes and over your face, then hide them around the yard. Bring your dog outside and see how many he can find.
A tip: Nothing personal, but some dogs will not follow their guardian's scent. (A fellow dog park attendee had to rub pepperoni on tennis balls to interest her Labrador.)
4. Walk dates
To a dog, even better than finding an object that smells like you (or pepperoni!) is exploring all the places around the neighborhood where other canines have left their marks. This is how they catch up on the latest news. It's like having the entire Internet at their paws.
A tip: Having a pal along to share the experience is even better - if the two dogs get along. Check that out before starting on your stroll.
5. Build an agility course
Shop local pet or hardware stores if you want a ready-made setup. They come in different sizes and arrangements, so search for one that will highlight your dog's strengths, such as jumping, crawling, and running. If you are the DIY kind of person, here's how to build an agility course.
A tip: Never scold your dog while he's working through an agility course. If he makes a mistake, calmly lead him back to the starting point and cheer him forward and end with a hug - or his favorite treat.
What some people call a "tech-inspired scavenger hunt," Geocaching can be a great activity to enjoy with your furry, super sleuth. Be sure to give him a special treat every time you "find" something on the hunt. This is a hobby that will require special equipment. (Think of things you would take on a camping trip with your pooch.) To learn more and find current hunts in Michigan, as well as recommendations for helpful Apps go here:
A tip: Being outdoors in unknown areas can be risky for both you and your dog. Don't travel alone and make your GPS your best friend. And be sure to find out what areas do not permit Geocaching.
7. Flirt Pole
No, this isn't a website for pups seeking a handsome or sexy partner. This is a long pole with a rope attached to the end and a lure flowing behind it, designed to get your dog to set chase. Hence, the name "flirt"? Some people who use them with their dogs have said they are an excellent way for both them and their companion to get physical and mental exercise. Some dog trainers often use the flirt pole to practice commands such as "Let go!"
A tip: This is another sport not suitable for puppies or aged dogs.
All in all, there are probably nearly a hundred games to play with your dog. Get creative. These are just a few ideas of ways to have fun with your pup. Perhaps there's a game your dog himself has initiated? My friend has a long-haired Dachshund who greets her and her husband when they come home by running first to one, then, awaiting the word "Hey!", bounds toward the other. Then back and forth several times. Perhaps doing this once is typical of most dogs, but their Weiner has taught them a new game - one he considers fun.
A tip: Whatever game you choose, remember no sticks! They could come from trees bearing poisonous fruits and could cause splinters to get lodged in your dog's mouth or throat, ending everybody's fun. Use balls or other dog-safe toys instead.