Whether you're feeling guilty because you haven't been able to spend much time with your dog, or just want to try something new and exciting, here's a starter list of activities to try:
Dog Sports are gaining huge popularity, especially because they provide so many awesome benefits: Not only do they greatly improve the Human and Dog bond, they are great for exercise as well as mental stimulation, and can help dogs boost their confidence, which in turn can have an impact on their every day lives.
****Important note: While dogs are social animals, not all dogs will enjoy these activities and some dogs may prefer to not be around other dogs, or people. I've been to a few sporting events, and the dogs looked miserable. Their owners were pushing them to do these, when they clearly didn't want to. Dogs should do these activities because they have a blast when they are doing it; If not, whats the point?
Also, be sure to get the all-clear from your Veterinarian before you start doing dog sports with your dog, especially if they have had any previous injuries.
Here's a list of 5 activities to do with your Dog (Check back for more, soon!)
Certified Therapy Dog
I want to start this off by saying that most dogs aren't cut out to be a Therapy Dog- and that's ok. Therapy dogs should have almost bomb proof temperaments, but more importantly, ENJOY their job!
If your dog loves to work and has awesome social skills with the people or dogs they will be around, then you may want to consider contacting a Certifying Therapy Dog Organization to assess and test your dog.
Agility is an athletic event consisting of different obstacle courses a dog runs through, while following their human handler's instructions. Some obstacles consist of hurdles, weave poles, tunnels and dog walks.
Lots of dogs love Agility, but some don't. Remember- that's ok!
Rally is a fairly new dog sport based on obedience training and how well a dog and a human can work as a team. Rally has multiple stations set up with different instructions for the owner and dog to work through.
I've conducted a few of these and love seeing how well Dogs and humans can work together.
Flyball is a fun relay sport in which four dogs race over hurdles, catch a ball from a launcher, and then race back over the hurdles. Great for active dogs and awesome for ball obsessed ones!
Dogs can smell anywhere from 10,000-100,000 times better than humans can. Pretty cool, huh?! If your dog is always using his sniffer, why not make it a game? Nosework can be done at home, or in sports, and most dogs love it because they can sniff all they want and find cool stuff.
Ready to get started with Dog sports? Finding some in your area can get a bit tricky. Try searching for "Dog Sports", "Obedience Training Clubs" or "Dog Sports Club" near you.
Jaime Devereaux owns Jaime Doolittle Dog Training, in Palm Beach County, Florida. She is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer-Knowledge Assessed and trains in the following cities:
Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Lake Worth, Wellington, West Palm Beach, Royal Palm Beach, Loxahatchee, Palm Beach Gardens, North Palm Beach and Jupiter. 786-521-5023 www.JaimeDoolittle.com