OUTDOOR GAMES WITH YOUR DOG

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Your dog loves fresh air and sunshine as much as you do—not to mention all the new and interesting sights and smells the outdoors brings! Try some of these outside games and activities to keep your dog healthy and happy. In addition, playing with your dog, like training him/her, enhances the bond you share and helps your dog keep his/her focus on you!  

 

You can change these games depending on how your dog is best motivated: praise/belly rubs, favourite toys, items to fetch, or treats. If you do use treats, one way to keep your dog from gaining weight from too many snacks is to use some of his/her mealtime food to play the games. As with any activity, keep each session short and fun! It’s better to end the game before your dog gets bored or overly excited. 

  

FREESTYLE OBEDIENCE 

 Take your dog to a large open area or back garden and have him/her follow you around as you deliver commands: SIT, DOWN, STAY, WAIT, COME, etc. Give lots of praise when your dog completes the correct action. Continue walking around so that your dog has to focus his/her attention on you!  This makes obedience training much more fun for you and your dog.  You can then move on to more advanced commands, teaching your dog to, JUMP over something or CIRCLE around (see below). 

 CIRCUS CLOWN JUMP

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If your dog likes to jump, you can burn off a lot of his/her energy by teaching him/her to jump over and through things. Start with your dog on a lead. Place a pole or stick just barely off the ground, and have your dog walk over it.  Say JUMP as your dog goes over the pole.  As you raise it each time, you will need to move him/her back and let your dog get a running start. Give your dog lots of praise every time he/she jumps over. Once he/she masters jumping the pole, do it without a lead and then try jumping through a Hula-Hoop! 

CIRCLE AROUND

 With your dog facing you, take a favourite treat or toy and use this to lead your dog's nose to the right and around your body. Let him/her follow the treat/toy all the way around behind your back and back around to the front. Say CIRCLE as he/she moves around you.  Be patient.  To encourage your dog gives lots and praise and additional treats as he/she makes his way around you.  Your dog will soon be making a complete circle around you. 

 

BATTING PRACTICE 

For a twist on traditional fetch, grab a bat or tennis racket and a dog-safe ball to hit across your garden or a park.  Have 2 or more balls but do not to hit another ball until your dog has brought the first all the way back to you so that your dog learns that he/she must return the item for the game to continue. 

  

OBSTACLE COURSE 

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Set up your own obstacle course.  Try including a tube (such as an agility tunnel/chute, available at most pet retailers) for your dog to run through, weaving sticks, poles to jump over, etc.—you can be creative with everyday items already in your garden, like sticks or Hula-Hoops. Start with your dog on a lead, and walk him/her through the course in the order you want him/her to complete the obstacles. Give your dog lots of praise when he/she gets it right, and recruit friends, family and neighbours to serve as judges—or to bring their own dogs to compete!  Please note: this type of activity is not suitable for growing puppies as your puppy may injure themselves. 

 

If your dog enjoys this type of activity and you are interested in doing something more organised, there are numerous opportunities to do Agility Training with your dog at various local clubs.  All clubs welcome beginners and you do not have to do it at a competitive level so go along and have some more fun with your dog.  

 

 TRACKING 

 While not all dogs will take to scenting and tracking, it’s a fun experiment to try! Go somewhere that your scent isn’t already scattered—or use a strong- and unique-scented piece of leather—and shuffle your feet or rub the leather in a distinct but straightforward pattern. Have someone else stay with your dog indoors or out of sight. Then, have your dog sniff you and your feet (or the leather) and lead him/her along the path you created, encouraging him/her to sniff along the way. If he/she seems to be getting it, try it again, somewhere you haven’t been, and increase the complexity of your trail. 

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WET AND WILD

Fill up a kiddie pool with water and encourage your dog to splash around. For even more fun, grab a hose and have your dog chase the stream of water in and out of the pool.   You can also throw in balls/floating toys for your pooch to fetch (see WET FETCH below).  Add some dog-safe shampoo to combine playtime and a bath!

 

WET FETCH

If you have a body of water available that your dog is allowed to play in—such as a lake or pool—it can be a great way to take fetch to another level and cool off your pooch. Take a couple of balls or toys that will float to the water’s edge and throw them in for your dog to swim after! If your dog hasn’t had much experience in the water, start by tossing the object just at the edge of the water, so all he/she has to do is get his/her feet wet, and slowly throw it farther. Remember that not all dogs like to swim—don’t push your dog to go in deeper than he/she is ready to, and make sure to first teach your dog where he/she can safely and easily exit the water.

 

HIDDEN TREASURE

Start with your dog in a SIT/STAY, allowing him/her to smell a treat and then hide it somewhere in the garden. Release your dog from the STAY and watch him/her explore with unbridled enthusiasm to find it! As your dog masters the game, add a degree of difficulty by hiding a number of treats in advance.

 

 WALKING FOR FUN

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Keep your dog’s interest by changing pace frequently—intermittently walk fast, slow, stop, etc. Do this regularly and your dog will see this as a game—and find the activity fun and stimulating.  Also, dogs can easily differentiate sounds. When you want to stop, shuffle your feet on the ground to indicate you are coming to a stop. Also, change directions frequently. Go left, right, turn in front of the dog, reverse direction, etc. Each time you make a change in direction give a very gentle flick of the lead to alert your dog you are about to change direction so they don’t get dragged.  To make it even more stimulating, include some basic obedience commands along the way (not just at a roadside) such as STOP, WAIT, SIT, DOWN etc. 

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